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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last post of 2011, First illo of 2012

This piece for the New York Times book review will be in tomorrow aka New Year's day 's paper! Not a bad way to start the year, eh?

The review is for "How it all began" by Penelope Lively. (Read online here) A retired schoolteacher, Charlotte Rainsford, has been mugged on a London street. Her hip has been broken and her bag stolen by someone who, Penelope Lively briskly informs us in her 20th work of fiction, will disappear from the rest of Charlotte’s story. This casual nastiness sends Charlotte to her daughter’s house while she recuperates, thus disrupting many of the characters’ routines — to trace the relationships among an assortment of relatives, employers, students and illicit lovers.

Big thanks to AD Nicholas Blechman!

2011 has been a great year, thanks to all of you! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NYTimes illo-Apps to Keep Children Happy

This illo is for the NYTimes practical travel page, it's online now and will be in print onX'mas day! The story is about the top picked apps for iphone/ ipad to keep children entertained during long holiday travels.

I have never thought I would draw angry birds or elmo for a job, this is a milestone of my career. Big thanks to AD Corinne Myller, always a pleasure to work with.

Happy Holidays everyone and safe trips if you are travelling! I can't believe 2011 is almost over...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ding Dong Kim Jung Il is dead

North Korean state media announced that Kim Jung Il has died today. Here is a portrait of north korean dictator Kim Jung Il that i did a few years ago. I've always found North Korea interesting and had a chance to go as close as most people will ever get to North Korea earlier this year.

the DMZ, demilitarized zone between north and south korea. I went on a tour with some US Embassy folk.

It was creepy to see the North Korean soldiers so close and checking us out with Binoculars.

We rode down one of the 3 tunnels that the North Koreans dug into South Korea. we got stuck halfway and had to crawl down the rest of the way. Were the North Korean's storming down the tunnel to get us? got a little creepy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Talon of Umberlee

Recently I created a cover/ad materials for D&D's organized play release called Lair Assault: Talon of Umberlee.  Unlike any other project I have worked on, I was tasked with creating an image that would be used not only for the print materials, but also for any other needed advertisement for the release.  This meant, all the element in the image needed to be movable so that marketing could place items where they needed for various banners and things of that like.  So, I had to paint everything on separate layers.  I have never done anything like this before so I was some what at a loss on how to even approach it.  I normally paint flat in Photoshop and Corel.  I decided I would do an overall sketch of all the elements together as a composed image and then break them down and paint them out separately.  It certainly took a lot of time but it was really fun.  I worked with AD Kate Irwin on this one.  Always a pleasure.   

Here is the result:

This is a breakdown of how it all went and how each layer was placed in.  It was really a challenge keeping everything in order and in the right place.

...and here is the final booklet.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Exposing myself, Vol.2

My Photobooth library was getting overcrowded, so obviously it is time to share some reference shots. The majority were spent on a project I still can't fully share, but there are some sneak peaks here, as well as many photos of bed head and neglected shaving.

One project, The Silence of Eggs, had it's own personal collection of weird. Nailing just the right variation of psychotic focus took a bit of work.
Note use of tools on rare occasions when my face is not elastic enough.
And, by the way, I own these pants.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A modern kung fu fairy tale

These illos are for this month's Utne Reader magazine. The title of the story is " The Master and Mike DiMeglio". It's a true story about the Chinese White-Crane kung fu legacy and the master-apprentice relationship between Dr. Yang and his favorite pupil Mike DiMeglio, who betrayed the master and got kicked out of the training.

It was a very fun project as I could fully unleash my Chinese-ness and incorporateSumie in the pieces. The project also got me a little nostalgic that I went so far to dug out this sumie painting I did back in high school. I remember being pretty proud of it but now it's almost embarrassing...still cool to see how my work has evolved though!

Big thanks to AD Stephanie Glaros.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Glitches for

This project starts with me busting my knee while climbing, scaring the hair off of my friend Renee, her first time belaying me. Irene called me for a project during thanksgiving week, and truth be told, I wasn't going anywhere for a while (as Chris so kindly pointed out); So why not work on an illo for a wicked story? Plus I would never say no to Irene. If I really detail how much I like working with her, I'd have a restraining order in my hands. I'm busy handling Ted's while we're on that matter.

This time around, the story is called Glitches, written by Marissa Meyer. It is a prequel to her book, Cinder.

Thumbnails flowed easily this time around. They normally do with stories from Tor. Like I've mentioned before, Irene takes the cookie on matching stories with illustrators. This translates beneficially for the artist. Sometimes the mood of the story matches perfectly with the artist's work, sometimes it's the characters, or the setting. Whatever it may be, with her projects, there's always something evident for one to latch onto. After a single read, I had collected plenty of concepts to work with, the main theme being a juxtaposition of inorganic over organic.

Number 2 being the choice, I sent Irene a somewhat cleaned/incomplete inked drawing. I'll explain why...

Here's what I showed Irene...

Here's what the complete one looked like...

Irene is a seasoned art director. Far be it from me to doubt her skills at understanding what I had drawn. My reason behind it is always that I hate to leave my art directors treading on too much faith. They're already putting a lot of trust in me by handing me a project, best not to push it. This time, it was easier to say "looks a bit empty now, but the background will be filled out" than "I'll make some sense of this mess, please trust me".

While on this stage we also went over some tweaks on Cinder's mouth. When working with linework, any tiny detail makes a giant difference. Irene pointed out that the lines describing her philtrum and upper lip gave her the appearance of a more mature woman. In the end, we decided to remove them altogether since we were aiming to make her look like the young teenager that the character is.

After a couple of color schemes, we chose the green dress. By the time I was done with this illo, my knee was back to normal (ish), so I'm back to finding new ways to destroy my body against a wall.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Hengeyokai and other Characters

Recently, I was asked to design/update, some creatures for D&D called Hengeyokai.  The particular ones I worked on took the form of a Badger and Hare.  I also did some small illustrations showcasing these characters in October's issue of Dragon Magazine (404).

This brings me to some other characters I have worked on for D&D over the past year or so.  Jon Schindehette has put me to the task of creating a number of heroes the latest D&D Character Option books.  You have probably seen some of these guys popping up in the D&D products and if you are illustrating for D&D then you have probably received them as reference.  So I thought I would share them all.  Here are a few from the Feywild as well as some Elemental Characters.

Many more to come at a later date....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Corporate Dealmakers

Without fail, if I leave my studio for any extended period of time, I will get a commission that I can't turn down.

On this occasion, I went to Altoona, PA with some artist buddies to check out Illuxcon. I have a not-so-secret interest in fantasy art and this convention is the premiere showcase for original genre paintings.  While drooling over idealized yet heavily armored women and every variety of slimey monster, I received a call to do a cover for Larry Gendron at The Deal.  I went from the dude staring at paintings to the dude sitting in the corner sketching. So it goes.

Lacking a scanner I was forced to take pictures of my thumbnails my ipad, send them to my laptop and work them up in photoshop. Not exactly my ideal creative situation, but it worked.

The topic was the top 100 corporate dealmakers. When I first talked to Larry, he was trying to find reference for the top ten, so I could put them on the cover. Considering the idea of doing ten likenesses while basically scrawling on napkins left me very scared. Lucky me, editors couldn't nail down the names and faces, so instead I got to go a bit more abstract (thank Jebus).

The idea was to show these imposing corporate character as getting ready for, or running into, battle. We agreed that a color scheme based off "300" could be a nice touch. My apologies to loincloth enthusiasts for keeping the characters in suits.
running, standing tough, walking
 We settled on the standing and looking threatening option.
Pretty fun going really atmospheric, pulling out white suit highlights and really saturating the reds.
Thanks for reading!