Cover for The Guardian Herd: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I wanted to get one last post in before the end of the year because somehow three posts in 2013 seem better than two, which is what I've done to this point. So here are a couple of covers that I did for books that came out this year.
Cover for the last book Michael Grant's Magnificent 12 series. Link
This has been a fun series to work on. The books are humorous action/adventure stories, and I liked the challenge of coming up with a dynamic and adventurous composition that fits the tone of the book. Like with the previous cover, I went with a crazy perspective, this time with the kids climbing on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
A full wrap cover for Apache Portal, by Carl Grimsman. Link
I never imagined that I'd ever get a chance to paint a cover for a Western/historical fiction/teen romance/fantasy adventure novel, going for an updated take on the old Western movie poster look, but that's what happened here. This cover was designed by the author who self-published it, so he gets credit for the composition. But he did let me tweak a few things to make it all flow together better, and we both like how it turned out.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I did this almost a year ago but didn't post it because it felt like the time for posting fall colored pictures had passed. But it's fall again so I'll post it now. So last year in the digital painting class I teach we did the assignment where you illustrate a piece of music. I told them they could do a narrative of the lyrics or just try to capture the feeling of the music itself. I decided I wanted to do the assignment too, so I did this based on the song "Landed" by Ben Folds. That song has elements of sadness, hope, excitement and emptiness all rolled into one, and it's in the music, not just the lyrics. I wanted to try and capture the way that music makes me feel in an image. I don't know if it really worked, and for that matter, I don't know if visual imagery can ever move people as powerfully as music can, but music can certainly paint a picture in my head. And my class came up with some really good stuff on this assignment so it must have been a good exercise.
Monday, October 01, 2012
Here's a portrait study of an imaginary person that I did as a demo for the digital painting class that I'm teaching. The focus was on color saturation and how that relates to color temperature. The excercise was to do a head study using just one hue and to vary the saturation of that hue to produce warm and cool colors. From that point, it's not much of a jump to go to full color with varied hues. The image above started out as the top left version in the image below.
I still remember the day I had the realization that the key to being able to paint was understanding the relativity of warm and cool. Once I started to figure that out, I started to feel like I knew what I was doing when painting. Well, sort of. So that's what I try to teach in my class: values, then warm\cool, then full color.
Saturday, September 01, 2012
Looking at it several months later I feel like the perspective is a little inconsistant between the Eiffel Tower and the kids, but if I'd made it match, the kids would probably be really fish-eye distorted with big backsides. It also looks to me like the smoke monster thing is about to tap the kid on the shoulder...not very threatening. Just a tough composition overall...but I do like the colors.
I also want to call attention to an independant film that I did some artwork for-- Unicorn City--about some loveable nerds who are into the live-action role-playing thing. It's directed by my friend and coworker, Bryan Lefler. It's kind of quirky (by design) and a little like Napoleon Dynamite, which Bryan worked on. But it's really quite original with a great story and fun characters. And the best part is that it's finally available in pretty much all formats. Check out their site for the trailer and details on how to get it: LINK
I was going to post the unicorn image that I made for this movie, but I'd rather have people just see it in the movie first. Then you'll know why I'm reluctant to post it! ;) But here's the story behind it: They had filmed a scene with a really kitchy poster of some unicorns on the wall but hadn't secured the rights to use that poster art in the film. They contacted the artist who refused to let them use his art. So they needed to replace it with something else. So Bryan comissioned me to make the most intentionally cheesey, purple-and-pink-unicorns-in-love poster that we could imagine. Mission accomplished. Just see the film. You will see.
Monday, May 21, 2012
I've been trying to get out and paint outside as often as I can. So far that has been four times this year. Here's what I've come back with so far (minus the one that fell in the dirt which wasn't good anyway):
Friday, March 23, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
This post is mainly for the students in my life drawing class, but for anyone out there who still looks at this blog... it can be for you too. Thanks for looking.
Right now, we are focusing on learning to draw heads and faces better, as well as working on our tonal (rather than linear) drawing skills. Learing to draw tonally is a step in the process of learning to paint. So, I did this demo for them in class, and actually remembered to take some pictures along the way to document the process. Keep in mind this is just one way to do a tonal study of a head. It's not the only way--nor the way I do it every time--just the way I did it this time.
Here is what I accomplished in the first 20-minute session. I started this one out by toning the white paper with my vine charcoal and wiping it around with a paper towel to create a gray midtone to work into. Then I did my initial lay-in drawing into that. For the lay-in I did more of a direct drawing approach and didn't really use construction lines. I probably should have for the sake of the demo, but I don't usually do that when drawing from life. I definitely thought about the construction lines, but I didn't actually draw them. Instead, my measuring technique is more about trying to see the model's face as a series of interlocking abstract shapes that fit together with the background like puzzle pieces. If you draw one puzzle piece correctly then the one that's next to it (the negative space around it) will look correct. You check them all against each other to make sure they all relate correctly. It's very important to get all the features lined up at this early stage. You are laying the foundation for the rest of the drawing here, and if the foundation is bad, well, you know what happens.
In the next 20 minutes, I tried to establish the value pattern. I don't want to think about detail at this point, so I squint at the model so I only see larger shapes. I erased the charcoal that was there to get the lighter value of the skin in the light, and then darkened the other larger masses around that. This is where all the phrases like "see big", "general to specific" and "large to small" apply. It's always so tempting to jump into details and start drawing eyelashes and pupils, but if you can learn to ignore all that until you have this tonal value foundation done, you will be much better off and you will avoid over-modeling things. Plus, you will be amazed how much of the likeness can be achieved with no detail.
Now that I have all the larger value groups established I can start to add the dark accents and highlights that I see into those areas. But you have to be careful to keep any dark accents or highlights subordinate to the overall value group that you put them in. So you keep squinting. If you stare with eyes wide open into the shadow areas you will see all kinds of detail as your pupils open up to let more light in. But if you draw that detail it won't look right and will seem overdone.
Also, at this stage I can start refining edges to get the variation in edge quality that makes things look natural and interesting.
In this stage I start to look at the subtleties of features and facial expression to get a little more of her personality and likeness into the drawing. Likeness doesn't always have to matter, but it matters to me. I like my drawings to look like the real people who were there in front of me. I'm still working on learning how to make good designs out of those likenesses.
Now, this last stage could take a really long time, or a short time depending on how much refining you want to do. In theory, the idea is that you should be able to refine quite a bit without snuffing the life out of it as long as you keep squinting and trying to see the whole and how all the parts relate to the whole. A lot of the time, the refinement process will be subtractive--erasing out unnecessary lines and detail until all that's left is the essential. And so that's what I tried to do in order to get to the final stage shown at the beginning of this post.
Well, hopefully that helps you guys to see it written out in addition to the things we have talked about in class (for those of you in my class). It's all in Barrett's book as well as many other books and other artists' web demos. If you hear it from enough different sources eventually it all starts to sink in.