Acrylics, Even.

I'd been forewarned by some of my friends that Magic players like to get cards altered at tournaments. Rather than make a mess of things with a Sharpie I took some acrylics to October's Toronto GP, so I could make little paintings like these:

A few people were surprised I'd only been using acrylics for a few hours, but they trusted me with their cards anyway. Back home I decided to try them at a slightly larger scale -- and to compare my M. Graham acrylics with the newer Winsor & Newton Artists' Acrylics. Both boast longer open time than older acrylics, and WN's claim of minimizing color shift during drying was interesting. So during an evening at Tom's studio with Greg, Ben, Allen, and Chris, I did.

I think the M. Graham paints' longer open time was more important to me than the lack of color shift in the Winsor & Newton paints. In the end, though, I was glad I could go back to oils.

In conclusion, napkin doodles:


Painting in Feeding Hills

A couple of weeks ago I was at the L5R charity tournament organized by Team Whiplash -- Eric, Ralph, Kevin, and... a couple of other guys I haven't talked with as much -- in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. I go nearly every year (and nearly every spring, for the Massachusetts Kotei they organize), and this time decided to do some painting at the event. I brought along my oil paints and the tired ronin from July, in a convenient 5"x7" travel size. It was a leisurely day of chatting and painting, and ended with a nice visit with my older brother and his family. I don't see them often enough.  Thanks for a fine day, everyone.

Here's a quick scan of where the painting left off:


Blight Mamba sketches.

My work for Scars of Mirrodin came just as I was trying out my gridded sketchbook, so my early posts about it had to skate around the NDA-covered bits. I try to avoid for-hire work on my blog, but I thought some process sketches might be interesting and this is a good example. Also, since I'll be at the Toronto Grand Prix this weekend, Magic has been on my mind.

(I know it may not look like many thumbnails, but in my defense I do a lot of erasing. Any sketch that feels wrong at the outset gets erased and that spot gets another chance to be useful.)

And the final:

(I also talked about sketching in Ninja Mountain episode 83, if anyone's interested. I like to think there isn't anything particularly scandalous in the episode.)


Game Session Sketches

Back when I was doing some work for Adventurer's Vault I got a copy of the D&D 4E style guide. I thought some of the ideas for the new dwarves were interesting, so when it came time for my group to try 4E my character was a female dwarf fighter, who I sketched during a couple of sessions:

Some time later I was talking with William O'Connor (Website Blog Dracopedia) who had done a lot of concept work for 4E. He told me they had made a concerted effort to make female dwarves interesting to players -- research had shown they were played even less than monster races.

So I guess their new marketing targeted me. I'm always surprised when that happens.


September is also sketchy

Dragon*Con in Atlanta is this weekend. I'll be attending, and will have work in the art show. If anyone wants to get together, drop me an email. This will be my first Dragon*Con, and I'll be glad for an orientation.

I have a few more robot sketches, some of which are more giant than others. These were done pretty quickly on the heels of the last batch -- I was just slow sharing them.


Back Up To Speed

Just some quick sketches today, as things get back to normal after GenCon.

I started with an old idea of a wyrm with a tower, which I've not been able to nail down, and ended up working on a few "woman with her giant robot" compositions.


GenCon Post

The titular "post" in this case leaning toward "the station or rounds of a person on duty." This was my table in this year's GenCon art show. (Shooting at f/2 with the available light made for quite a shallow depth of field. Sorry about that. Next time I'll try a flash.)

This year I wanted to emphasize my paintings -- which were mostly new -- and my playmats. The playmats would easily take all the table space I could get, but I also wanted to have paintings on the table, where people could get a close look at them. While sketching some display ideas it struck me I could use an LCD desk mount. (I also considered extending the tabletop for more display surface, but let that idea go for another time.)

I think they worked admirably. The paintings were convenient for passers-by to see, were secure, and didn't interfere with looking through the piles of mats on the table.

The LCD arms I used are model 5402 from MonoPrice.com
I've also been asked about my panel extenders. They, along with the stiffeners and support bar, are from ProPanels.com. The GenCon panels are 38.5" wide, with dark grey carpet, if you're looking to match.


Centaur Doodle 4

Last month I listened to Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, which no doubt influenced this centaur sketch.

In other news, I'll be in the art show at GenCon next weekend. No doubt I'll also be slightly frazzled.


Mind the (Graphite) Dust

I did a couple of sketches for The Treasure Chest of Art. I put in some tone after scanning them, but this is the only record I have.

These are a couple of pages from my dot grid journal. I haven't used it all that much, as most of my recent sketching hasn't been aspect-ratio specific (and it doesn't fit in my pocket). I should have the top right one painted and with me at GenCon.


A Week's Painting

I arrived at this year's Illustration Master Class with a couple of rough thumbnails, and spent the first day refining them into the sketch from the last post. Rob, Dan, and Donato gave me some good advice at the early stages. When it came time to work up the drawing Steve knocked out a quick model for me, and I shot fellow students -- Grant, Aaron, Kim, and Annalisa -- for reference. And, of course, I made stuff up.

The drawing -- which I mounted on a panel to paint over -- was roughly 17 3/8" x 12 3/4".

I started painting by glazing in the sky, roughing in the smoke on either side of the ring, and blocking other parts in. I'm trying to work back to front, and to stay patient.

Next I worked in the ring, and the spattered explosion. At this point the sky was still tacky, so I held off editing the spatter until I was comfortable I wouldn't pull anything back up.

More work in the ring, and the first stage of paint on one of the main figures.

The first layer of paint down on the first face. I wiped off the first three or four attempts. I also gave the sky and smoke some more attention.

The first layer down on the second face, and a second layer on the first. I also darkened the smoke behind the figures to help separate them from the background. A bit of paint on the midground figure too.

More work in the midground, foreground, and figures.

The week was almost up, but I was able to get a first layer of paint down on the remaining figure and the flag, and do some general trouble shooting.

And this is how the piece ended the week, photographed after I got home (and adjusted a little in Photoshop).



At the Illustration Master Class in Amherst I've pulled out the bottom sketch here for some more attention. Here's the new sketch and drawing. I should start in with oils later today.


Sketching in turns

I'm sure it's no surprise I'm typically busy, absent, or both. Through June, I'm facing a lot of both. Things should let up some in July, but it's looking like this will be a tough month.

I think it was Faber who asked me about doing a naga piece -- probably while I was in Nuremberg. He wasn't the only one to have mentioned them, but he was particularly earnest. At this rate I should have something in just a couple more years.


Chicago, Pre-Milkshake

During the second half of the inaugural podcast from the Drawn Today Blog Aaron Miller mentioned my joining his drawing session while I was in Chicago. Here are a couple of quick sketches from the session. I did feel much better after the milkshake, though.


Working on Progress

I finally got back to this piece during an ensemble Ninja Mountain episode, and got in another 30 minutes talking with Torstein Nordstrand after the recording. He was up late waiting to hear back from someone in California, so I didn't feel bad that I was keeping him up.


Quick, Show Something!

A couple more pieces for Cosscut Games, lest I get too used to not posting anything new.


More April Thumbnails

Yes, I realize it's May now. Here are a few more sketches from my trip to Calgary last month.


April continues

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by at C2E2. Also, special thanks to Aaron and Laurie, not just for putting up with me, but for doing it for an extra day.

I picked at this piece a little during the latest recording session, but was too busy listening to find good reference or make good decisions, so I don't feel like I made any progress. I'll try to be more prepared for next week.


Painting, Shooting, and Podcasting.

(A quick reminder at the top: I'll be at C2E2 in Chicago this weekend.)

As if learning to paint weren't hard enough, I'll also have to learn how to photograph or scan paintings. One would think an array of color management tools would make the job easy -- that finding sun in Western New York would be the hard part -- but that doesn't seem to be the case. Anyway, here's roughly what the piece I started at last year's Illustration Master Class looks like now, after a couple of fits and starts of extra work.

I also worked on this piece a bit more, mainly whilst chatting with Socar, Patrick, and Jeremy.


April 2010

I had an excellent time in Calgary and Saskatoon Easter weekend at this year's Iron Samurai L5R tournaments. Thanks again to all involved.

Here are a trio of sketches from the trip. On the left, I was half remembering a story of Tomoe Gozen. I worked it up a bit more whilst recording part of episode 60 of Ninja Mountain. After so many weeks away it was great to catch up with Jeremy and Socar again.

Another trip is coming right up: next weekend, April 16-18, I'll be at C2E2 in Chicago. I will be in the artist's alley, perhaps looking very much out of place. Still, you're welcome to come by and wish me a happy birthday!


Searching For a Solution To a Problem I Don't Know

A couple of new sketchbook pages. I think there could be something to the last one.


Wait, I'm Home This Weekend?

Yep, I've been traveling. Whilst in the Seattle area not only did I get to have a fine time at the Tacoma Kotei, I also got to catch up with friends I see all too rarely. Special thanks to (in roughly chronological order) Franz and Imelda, Jon, Mary, Jeremy, Richard, Greg, Leon, Drew, Dierdre and Raven. Obviously, I've left people out. Also obviously, it's because I'm a jerk.

Shortly after my Seattle jaunt I was off to LunaCon. It was my first real convention experience without a table to sit behind. I discovered things like panels, fresh air, lunch, people to talk with, and how an art show check in/out system works. (Also that if you don't follow the "whole dollars only" pricing rules you may get whapped on the head with a stack of papers. Repeatedly.) It was also great to see/meet Eric, Matt, Dan, Marc, Kelly, Hillary, Bill, Joe, Kris, Michael, Dan, Bob, Sue, Patricia, and... so many other people who also have names. I made no promises, right?

And look what my Golden Wyrm painting came back with! A hard worker, that one.


Crosscut Update

I didn't mean to miss two weeks in a row. Sorry. If it makes you feel any better I did do some vaguely horse-shaped scribbles in my sketchbook, they just didn't make it up for one reason or another.

Here are a couple of pieces from my project for CrossCut Games.

I've also posted a new L5R piece over on DeviantArt. I'll bend my "sans NDA" rule a bit by mentioning it here.


Character thumbs

The third of these really has the mood I was after (imagine gaunt cheeks and a graying beard). However, I wanted to have more action to the piece, so the search continued.