Fantasy Art

Fantasy Art
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The First Step in Illustration

I don't often take on illustration projects anymore, but I'm working on one right now.  There isn't really a nondisclosure agreement on it, but I've decided mostly to only share the process on my Patreon page.  So if you'd like to see what that's all about go here: and contribute a dollar.  Then, if you want to, you could withdraw your pledge after a month once you've seen all you want to see.  I won't resent you if you do that, and while you are there you even qualify to get 50% off on some of my artwork that is available for sale.  So for a $1.00 contribution you could buy a $500.00 painting for $250.00 and then bail out.  I promise I won't resent that either.

The project is a role playing game about pirates on an island ruled by semi intelligent apes.
Here's a little video I made for my patrons.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Snow White Part 5

The little space goblins are enthralled by the young lady's attributes as am I.

Eventually all the the excess space at the top and left of the painting started to bother me so I took the painting outside to my work table and cut it down with a power saw.  I had an old picture frame that was right for the new size so after touching up the few scratches this caused the painting was finished and sold.

There is as much wrong with this painting as there is right so let's review the goods and bads.
1. The idea, I love the little goblins and the play on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
2.  Her skin tones came out very nicely.  This is still the hardest thing for me to do and I'm proud of any painting where it comes out nice.
3. You've gotta admit that's one nifty space pistol.  I know you want one of those.

1.  I hate the orange color on the back wall, wish I'd painted it out entirely.
2.  That negative space between her back and her left hand and fruit bowl.  It makes this ugly straight line.  My eye goes directly there whenever I look at this picture and I suspect yours does too.  There are much nicer things to look at in this picture, but that dark straight line grabs your attention.  I should have moved the bowl so that it overlaps her figure and breaks up the straight line.  Or just cheat and give her a little more curve in the hip. Actually most of the straightness was caused by her hip curve being hidden by the blanket in the photo, but it doesn't look that way in the painting.  Terrible mistake, completely ruins it for me.
3.  And I'm sure I don't have to tell you her head's too small.

Most of the time I'm a -learn your lessons and move on- kind of guy, but I'd like to revisit this one someday.  It could be so much better.  Who knows, I might even put clothes on her next time.
 ...just kidding.

Sometimes I crop a slice out of a photo of my work and print bookmarks from them.  Some compositions lend themselves to this better than others.This one loses the cool space gun, but still has boobies so it's all good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Snow White Part 4

I tend to save the skin on the central figure for almost the last and the head and hands of the figure for absolute last.  There are two reasons for this.  
Firstly, as the most important elements of the painting I save them to get the greatest amount of attention.   This is the dishonest answer.
Secondly, the actual reason, is that I'm a coward and this is the part of the painting that intimidates me the most.  I'm completely comfortable drawing the figure in charcoal, but when it comes to painting I always feel like a raw beginner again.  The head hands and feet are the most challenging so I put them off.  Many artists paint the central figure first to establish the colors, and the strongest contrasts of light and dark.  this makes it easy to do a background that doesn't overpower the figure.  If you've already done an overpowering background it's hard to make the figure stand out as the focal point, the star of the show.

None of which seems to bother anyone in the illustration business these days.  If anything they seem impressed by it.  They glorify it.  Look at a copy of Spectrum Annual to see what I mean.  You'll see page after page of cluttered confusing graphics where every inch of the surface is as attention grabbing as the main character.  It's less of a narrative and more like a rectangular block of texture.  Like static on a TV screen.  It's not that the artists featured aren't amazingly talented, they are.  Zoom in on any portion of a painting and you will see startling realism, and astonishing detail.  But they don't know when to stop.  Or else the client doesn't allow them to stop.  Perhaps once one artists has packed a rectangle with eye stabbing microscopic filigree from corner to corner everyone else feels cheated if they don't get the same volume per square inch on their own project.

On the other hand perhaps I'm just old and bitter.  I'm certainly old.  And, it must be said, I'd tried many times in the past to get into the illustration business or to get my art into Spectrum to no success.  That can make you bitter if you let it.
But these days I don't care that much.  I rarely take on illustration assignments and when I do it's more as a favor for a friend than a career building ambition.  So any bitterness I once nurtured has hopefully been thrown aside.
 I wrestle with that question whenever I find myself feeling disdainful of modern illustration.  Is it an honest dislike or is it sour grapes?

I'm going to say much more on this topic, but not today.

At this stage the girl in the painting no longer bears any resemblance to my model.  This usually happens which is why I'm not a portrait painter.  Painting portraits is an entirely different skill from painting people, perhaps in the same way that writing songs is different from writing stories.  Both admirable skills, but not the same skill.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Snow White Part 3

These little minion space goblins make the painting but at the same time they don't dominate it.  They are more the setting than the object of our attention which is of course the girl.  as such they don't get lavish detail or bold colors, they need to be interesting, more collectively than individually, but not distracting.  This is a balance that I may have only partially succeeded with.  The purple contrasts with the yellows in the back wall and the yellow green of the goblins providing a sense of space behind them.  Still seeing the world through a sign painters eyes it's possible I exaggerated this a bit much.

Look closely at the shadow in the center of her thigh and you can still see the hard zigzag line where I transferred the image with a ball point pen.

The background and foreground elements are as done as I plan to do them.  The minions seem to dominate for the moment but only because they have been resolved and solidified more than the girl has at this point.
Superficially the fruit-bowl looks like apples pears and grapes, but if you look closer they are all as alien as the rest of the scene.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Snow White Part 2

Her hand was in the wrong position.  She may have moved from one sitting to another, but more likely I moved at some point.  Even leaning forward and back can change your vantage point enough to distort a picture if you fail to compensate for it.  If I was closer to her I'd see more of the front of her belly and the length of her fore-arm, lean back and I'm seeing her more from the side.  At any rate I needed to erase her hand and re-draw it in the right position.  At this stage "Erase" means paint over it.

My friend found a website with a list of "Rules of etiquette for life drawing."  I'm perversely proud to say that my group violates every rule on the the list cheerfully and egregiously.
1. No talking.  (We chatter the whole time)
2. No laughing or making jokes.   (We're a riotous band of hooligans)
3. Do not attempt speak to the model at any time whether she's working or on break.  (As long as she holds still we chat up the model all day)
4. Maintain a strictly professional relationship with the model and your fellow students, do not attempt to make friends or include them in any social activities.    (Our models and fellow students have become some of my best friends.  We go out after class and go to parties at each other's houses)
5. No Photographs under any circumstances ever, don't ask, don't think about it.  (OK We never do it without asking, but we always ask and they usually say yes so I tip them extra and take a pile of photos without which I'd have a hard time doing paintings like this one.  several times the model handed me her own camera and asked me to take some pictures with that while I was at it.)

I kind of want to say that I respect the traditions of other groups, but no I really don't, I think they're silly prudish and self limiting.  I'd argue that, having never had sex with any of my models, no improprieties have taken place, but by some standards everything we do is impropriety enough.  So there you go, if you came here looking for scandal there it is.

I have promised never to share my photos on the internet to which several models have said "post them anywhere you like I don't care" but I still don't, just in case some kind of problem could emerge from that later.  But I'll make a few exceptions with carefully cropped anonymous photos like this one.  This shows that at some point either I moved or the model did and her hand just looks all wrong in the position I originally put it in.  So I painted it out and moved it.

The thing about that kind of sponging texture, like we did on the wall, is that you will lose the effect if you paint over it too many times and then you can't go back unless you paint the whole thing white again and start over.  I really liked the gritty stony texture that I had originally, but I eventually glazed over it so many times that it became smooth an opaque looking, almost creamy.  Plus it got too red and then too dark.  I always wished I'd kept it in this warm range.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Snow White Part 1.

When I first drew this figure it was just the girl and no background.   However I had gotten a reputation as the guy who always puts monsters and stuff in his life drawings so the models would often run over to my easel during break to see what weird stuff I was doing.  On this occasion I hadn't done anything weird and she was terribly disappointed in me.  So I added all these little space aliens and a laser pistol.  She was delighted after that and took a picture of it to show all of her friends.

This picture illustrates how brutal I can be to my original drawing.  The paper is wrinkled, faded, smeared and torn plus you can see the ball point pen lines where I traced over the drawing to transfer it to the board for painting.  This bothers some people who think I desecrate my art by doing such things, but I don't see my newsprint sketches as works of art I see them as a tool that I use to help me create a work of art.

Having traced the sketch to the board I inked the whole thing with India ink and sponged in a stone texture for the wall behind her.  Looking back I wish that I had left the wall just like it is, but as you will see I changed things as I went along.