My Work in Progress

A sketchblog where I post a few of my scribbles from a variety of works-in-progress, usually from my rather random personal creativity outside of the daily grind. I occasionally, but not always, post the final artwork.


My Queen's Herald: the Work-In-Progress

So, this is the final version that I submitted. A fun little project that I enjoyed participating in even so it was mostly last minute crunching (I was sick most of Saturday, bleh, so no artwork), especially since it stretched my skills a bit and forced me to make painting decisions rather quickly in order to meet the Sunday midnight deadline last night. While I wasn't able to include everything that I wanted to, I'm pretty happy with what I ended up with; and the best part, I can continue working on it so that it's a bit closer to the vision in my head, and finish the bits I had to leave out. Yay!

I really enjoyed the research for this particular project, too -- from learning about heraldry and all the rules (I ran out of time to fully include the design idea in my banner), to learning about various types of armour and associated finding reference photos online of what I think is an attractive man (part of the extra criteria I mentioned before, heh). Yup, that part was particularly many interesting choices. :)

Anyways, here are some of the progress shots from the initial revised thumbnail layout I mentioned previously to the final color that I posted in the CHOW 99 thread.

Thumbnail of my revised layout:

Progress 01: Working on the detailed pencil
(hot press illustration board, 2H pencil)

Progress 02: Working on the detailed pencil
(hot press illustration board, 2H pencil)
I initially was planning on doing two illustration boards with the Herald on one board and the background scene of the Queen and her entourage and the gateway (the black frame -- gateway art wasn't completed to meet the deadline), but time was running out so I ended up doing less detailing for the underdrawing and planned on painting it all instead...depending, of course, on how much time I had left at the end. The Herald, though, being the main subject of the piece needed to be detailed and finished even if I couldn't get to the background.

Progress 03: Final detailed pencil
Scanned in sections and composited in Photoshop at 240dpi, approx. 10"x14". The final detailed underdrawing took about 4 hours time and included pulling references (armour, etc.).

Progress 04: Color decisions and blocking in elements
(elements are on various layers):
I wanted the Herald to pop from the background and I was already planning on him being warm red with layers of color over that so that's what I blocked first. I also wanted the background to be green (think forest) with cool blue undertones to provide some nice secondary lighting as well as be a nice compliment to the Herald...and with the right mix of colors the overall color choices would help maintain the fantasy look that I was going for.

Progress 05: Focusing on painting Herald
(the handsome face - most important!):
I wanted a rather detailed face for my herald, since I was trying to create an interesting and attractive character (at least, to me). So that was my initial focus. Once that was finished I planned on working broader rather than one small area at a time.

Progress 06: Still focusing on painting Herald
(close-up of the almost finished face and his little fierce dragon announcer):

Progress 07: Still focusing on painting Herald
(close to final paint of Herald):
At this point, I was seriously running out of time so I stopped creating progress JPGs and simply focused on finishing the concept. So, for my final post, here are a couple of detail shots of the submitted piece.


Oh, that Herald

Did a couple more quick sketches of my Herald after doing some thinking of the layout. I didn't feel that the pose as it was in the initial sketch was very dynamic. He's just kind of standing there, isn't he? Anyways, there's also the point that the Queen (maybe that's who it is in the back, maybe not) is rather far away from her bodyguard (remembering the brief). However, my original thought was that this particular Herald of mine was one of several in attendance to the Queen at this particular function. But, without me telling the story (and since I'm planning on leaving alot of the detail out of the background to focus on the Herald), how will the viewer know?

So I'm rethinking the layout, too. Not sure I'll have time tomorrow to sketch some more (don't have time at work, that's for sure...too busy) so Saturday will have to be crunch time since I want to get this concept finalized. And that means a bit of color, and definitely tighter lineart.

Oh, and I finally got my hair cut. I was getting tired of trying to see through my bangs - felt like an English sheepdog. But, there's still a nice bit of pink along with the blonde. Whee!


The Queen's Herald: rough sketch

Over on the CA forum, one of the weekly concept challenges is designing The Queen's Herald (although for this particular one, 2 weeks dev time has been given, although I'm only just starting today with the due date on Dec. 9th).

So...what is a herald? The internet has quite a variety of definitions, of course. Anything from the medieval horn-blowing announcer or a tourney score-keeper to a diplomat; a knight in shining armour or a commander of armies to a police constable.


Per this particular character's artist brief, the Herald is "...a powerful member of the Queens' court, announcing her arrival and departure, and acts as her body guard and protector. A knight of unrivaled power, The Herald is the one who champions the Queen and all her ventures. This character must be powerful. Watch your anatomy - we need a heroic, but believable character. This character needs to look the part - poised, strong, in control even in adverse situation. The character needs to be executed in a more realistic manner - no cartoons or comic styles will be accepted."

I need a temporary break from my own stuff. This will do most nicely. I particularly am also enjoying the added spice of the, er, creative suggestions from the "private" section of the CA forum, heh.


That Neo-noir film

Went to see Blade Runner "Final Cut" last night at the Dallas Inwood. Great film to see on the big screen. Had some fun discussion with my friends both before and after the film. We got there a bit early to have some chat time in the bar before the movie. It was all good. :)

Brought back to mind of another Halloween costume I threw together several years ago (my how time flies...): I dressed up as Pris. That was fun. Stuffed my long hair up under the short platinum wig, got a studded dog collar to wear around my neck, and painted my face and hands white, and finally did that black streak across the eyes. I still remember dancing in the window over at one of the clubs in West End...heh.

Yup, that would be the inspiration for the above quick sketch. Eh, still need to fix that's not right and is bugging me. Later, maybe.


Rough Color

Just throwing in a bit of color under the sketch to help me make some decisions about how I'd like to finalize the background and the light direction, etc. Having some fun. :)


It was a Happy Halloween

Presenting my costume for this past Halloween...

Yup, my substitute costume turned out to be a Goth fairy -- something I have always wanted to try and hadn't gotten around to doing 'til this year. It's the stockings, ya know; not the wings that are the big attraction. That and it goes so nicely with my pink-streaked hair.... I had the wings from another occasion, and used the same glittery skirt from last year, although trimmed it a bit shorter and tattered it more; got some new stockings to match my nice arm warmers, touched up the pink in my hair, threw on a black babydoll t-shirt from my closet, slipped on my lovely Weitzman boots (I briefly thought about wearing hiking boots, but I liked the pointy toes of my Weitzman's better) and had some fun with the make-up before heading off to work.

Sadly, no -- the reality didn't quite match my imaginary vision of myself (the above sketch), but I still had fun. :) Wait 'til you see it all in boggles the mind. Ha.


Fun with...

...costumes! As complicated as my idea has gotten from its original conception (think kindergarten school play as the basis for the first amusing idea), I think I'll probably end up wearing a t-shirt with the message "YES -- THIS -- IS my COSTUME". I'm sure I'll at least win 2nd place...ha.

However, I'm still moving forward with the process, cause now I'm curious to see what I actually end up with, even so it won't be ready for the office Halloween Showdown. Especially since it involves trying to be crafty with stuff I haven't played with before. I love a creative challenge. :)

Hmm...I wonder if I can make a little door for my little plush owl to pop out of, a la a cuckoo clock....


Midnight Geese

Last night I'm lying in bed writing my "one-paragraph-a-night" bit of story in my spiral notebook, listening to the north wind starting to blow as the cold front blew in...when I hear the wild geese crying out as they flew by overhead.

Their calls were so sweet and melancholy.

It was just a couple minutes past midnight -- I was curious enough to check my cellphone on the nightstand (it's my 2nd alarm). Then, a few minutes later, another flock flew by. Or were they circling overhead? I don't think so; somehow the calling voices sounded different.


More studies: Vasilissa

Did some more studies at today's sketchgroup meeting over at HP Books. It was good to see so many people today! Well, I managed to volunteer myself to help out with the development of a new blog for the Dallas Sketchgroup. Sort of based on some suggestions that I made to the mailing list after the meeting announcement went out last week...and, hopefully, with the addition of alot of good feedback from the other artists in the group this coming week.

During today's sketch session, I focused primarily on Baba Yaga's infamous hut, as well as giving some thought to the skull fence that surrounds the yard. Didn't have any bone references with me so I didn't add the ribs and the other random bones that I was thinking about while I was sketching the fence...but I may yet add those in later. Also did some rethinking (and alot of draw:erase:draw) on Vasilissa's running pose. I think I'm finally satisfied. So, that would be the below scan of the latest tweaked layout for the one illustration I'm doing based on my re-interpretation (like, urban fairy tale) of the classic Russian fairy tale, Vasilissa the Brave and Beautiful. Col-erase pencil over my ink jet printout... I've posted previous rough sketches for that...sadly, I'm still working on it. Well, actually, it's a good thing since that means I haven't abandoned it and am scheduling time to be with it. :)


Feeling so sleepy....

But, I have more artwork I'd like to do this afternoon and later this evening, among other little apartment chores, before I call it a night and sit down with the latest book to read before bedtime. Just got in some new stuff to check out. I'm a bit fascinated with one set since it only caught my eye because the premise is so similar (in some respects) to one of the stories I've been working on for the past 2 years. And I only started writing that one because of a wee interesting dream I had (like people haven't said that before...isn't that how Frankenstein got thought up and then written by Mary Shelley?).

And there's a lovely storm to look forward to late this evening...there's a cold front coming.



Other Progress

I've found that I can get my in-house high-res illustration work finished faster and without a major headache (the little ones will always occur) by planning and working with certain points kept in mind:

1.) Figure the art will be used for a variety of projects...not just the one the original request was for (for example my worst case scenario -- it gets blown up to 10 feet high when the first request was for letter-size)
2.) Get the layout approved, but make sure there's enough stuff around it to allow for various formats (vertical, horizontal, round, diamond...whatever fits)
3.) Realize that other projects may take priority so it will have to be set aside at various times to work on other concepts
4.) Realize that it may get cancelled and never finished; or it may float back up after a year and need to be completed -- quickly

While I'm doing my painting in Photoshop (I very rarely work with Painter), I start with the high res sketch...usually scanned at about 450 dpi and the working file maybe about 11" x 14". From there I'll do a quick pass with the background and make up a palette for the major colors. Key elements I'll do what I call a middle color pass, under the lineart, usually just a solid color to separate the elements into individual layers. Gives me a chance to see if the color scheme is working or not.

Since the file size gets pretty big with too many layers (125MG/900MG as shown in the Photoshop panel at lower left the way I have mine set up), I generally do the background details first with various layers, and then merge them before I work on the main characters. I want to keep the 2nd number under 800 MG as that in my experience, keeps Photoshop and my machine happy. In any case, I definitely save iterations of my projects (version01, v02, v03, etc.). That way if things change, or the file goes wonky, the art gets used in another project, or whatever...I still have a file somewhere with enough layers to more rapidly do the updates requested...or at least have enough art that I don't need to start from scratch.

And the images posted today are from one such project that isn't finished. Another work-in-progress, in fact. Ha.

The first image with the red silhouettes shows a part of the initial sketch with flat color to break up the art for the detail color passes. The second image shows updates to the character lineart and positioning (I wasn't happy with the original sketch...but not because I didn't do it...) and some of the color choices I was making for the character on the right; and that I'm close to final on the background art. After I'm satisfied with the middle value coloring I've done under the drawing, I'll do an "over-painting" layer. Basically, a layer over the lineart with the detail painted over the lineart and the middle value coloring. My final steps will be to add final highlights and shadows over the entire piece once the character detailing is complete. Basically, start broad and work over the entire canvas; then spiral in for the detailing; then back out again for final tweaks. Makes sense to me, anyways.

The close-up view of the deer at the top shows some of the overpainting in progress, the lineart, as well as the middle value coloration under the sketch. BTW I cropped all of the images in to focus on the characters...there's alot of elements to the sides that aren't included in the posted images shown here. You can also see that the illustration is in no way complete...particularly since all the detail at the moment is in the head of the animal; and the background trees are still floating above the snow... Maybe one day I'll get to finish it. :)


Just a Little Mermaid...

Hmm...maybe I'll give her some fangs, too.

A quick mermaid sketch this evening after I did some more work on one of my fairy tale layouts. She's nice and twisty, I think. Next step -- color. After I finish up the others. :)


Just for fun...

Here's a quick concept for a book-cover that I did just for fun on Sunday night as part of a discussion thread I've been participating working on some other things. Nice bit of interesting comments it was getting, until the server went down at some point this afternoon...evening? Ah, well.

Still unpacking, that will ever end... **rolls eyes**

Also did a rapid color version of a sketch I doodled while I was cat-sitting this past Friday. You can still see some of the vertical lines from my notebook, although they blended a bit with the trees fairly well. Might actually end up finalizing that, since it turned out to be a bit popular. Still working on the storyboard concepts; and writing my YA novel...even if it's only a paragraph or two each night (although the final version may end up better fitting in the adult fantasy/sci-fi section -- we'll see how that goes); and mocking up my YA graphic novel (found some excellent reference material this evening as well for a section I've been a little reluctant to finalize); and, of course, working on my fairy tale illustration set (will be going to board this week on a couple of those).

So, that was my weekend for the most part. Believe it or not, I also have an idea box and a notebook(s) with entirely too many other creative projects that I want to make time to work on one day or another....but they will simply have wait till I have these other at-home projects finished first. And let's not even talk about the day job projects that pay my bills. ha.

Oh, and...still listening to Muse.


Old Stuff

I recently found some of my older digital illustrations that I created for work posted on the internet by my employer for various products that are now for sale at the consumer level, so I'll be updating my portfolio site with content as well...since the art is no longer under NDA. Some of them were painted 2-3 years ago... In any case, here is a sample. I'll be posting more, with detailed (and larger) images in my portfolio, of course. :)


sketch: in the clearing

Definitely still in-progress. Not quite the seated pose I want for the girl just yet -- she needs to be leaning more to her left against the wolf's shoulder; need to fix that left arm too....and I will probably need to shoot a quick reference photo so I can get the legs better positioned for the final color illo. Too awkward at the moment. But it's getting there.



These past few weeks have kept me crazy busy...and without much opportunity to post since my home machine was unplugged for the most part. So, what's been going on: moved to a new apartment, along with the usual "exercise bootcamp" or what I call moving stuff up/down 3 flights of steps both ways (it's amazing how the pounds just drop off after a few days of 95+ degrees and 12 to 14 hour-long daily workouts...only problem now is finding pants that actually still fit me, heh); and the usual work, work, work; random sketching; penciling my YA novel; and a few friendly social occasions.

Sketch-wise, I haven't gotten back to my fairy tale series (see previous posts) as quickly as I'd hoped, but as of this week I'm slowly getting back in gear along with the ongoing unpacking and sorting of all the crap that's creating a labrynth in my new wee apartment. The current notebook sketches (top and below) I scribbled when I was at a concept art workshop at one point which I unfortunately had to leave early; and at another time as I was getting my hair streaked with more lovely pink highlights as it was the only paper I had with me. Basically explorations on another take with a modern fairy tale twist about Vasilissa. I've got a real deadline for that one rather than self-imposed, so I'll be focused on getting it finished before returning to my other ones already in progress. I'm also working on some pre-production character designs and storyboards that I'm planning on using as a kind of introduction for some prospective feature work. Figured I'd give it a shot. I'll post a few of those eventually. In any case, the next few weeks will be so creatively busy! I'm not even letting myself get reeled back into the new Fall tv season season...I need and really want to focus on these illustrations and visual development projects at this time.

And, then there's discovering Muse....

May I say with intense appreciation to this my recent music addiction: You guys rock!! Wow -- and what a great concert that Sunday, Sep 16th! Love how that Matt plays his guitars...mmmm...and the piano...and what a voice...and writes that music! Yay for YouTube! ha! The drummer and bass player do such excellent support, too; and round out the band most excellently. Been listening to their music entirely too much, heh. It even has me making space and getting my keyboard out again so I can do some wicked piano playing of my own. To be honest, rather poor playing actually, but still fun for me. Funny, I only vaguely recall a mention of the group (this after some deep thought) from a few years ago in one of my 3D classes because one of my old instructors at school said that he was working on some part of a bit of a 3D concert video for the band...which I actually saw yet again at the Muse concert; but I never actually heard their music, even though I usually listen to one of the local alternative rock radio stations in the area. Wasn't until I started reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series (over and over and over...sigh) the weekend that Eclipse was released shortly after the final Harry Potter (which I had quickly finished as previously mentioned), and got curious about the music playlist that she posted up for each of her books as a cool soundtrack for her readers...and read about how much Muse inspired her while she was writing these books so that I got curious enough to pick up one of their CD's...and got Absolution. Loved it -- wanted more! And the next day while driving to work I found out that Muse was gonna be in town in a few weeks for a we had to go, of course!

Ah, well. Enough on that. It's been a weird, stressful summer for me personally so I'm still allowing myself to indulge in this unusual, but most likely temporary, musical and reading wackiness. But, for now...back to the sketchbooks!


With a Side of Iron

Some sketch studies of those interesting extra-jointed fingers. While I have rather long fingers myself, I don't have that extra joint like that of the fae characters in this set of books... Since I tend to have a bit of a problem drawing "realistic" hands, I thought it might be a good idea to fit in some practice sketching these. Not that I erase a hole in my illustration board when I'm pulling together the final drawings -- ouch. Yesterday after work, instead of sketching in that little hour of time I have before heading for bed, I did some more research to make sure that I had all the descriptive info that I wanted regarding the key characters for the montage. In some respects, I'm still a little uncertain about some elements, but I'll just go with what I feel is best then.

And here's another one of the fae rough sketches that I'm developing into a finished drawing, a
kelpie and his rider. Should have a nice set of five Sidhe or Fair Folk illustrations once I'm done: the modern fairy montage, the summer gate, the kelpie (or maybe pooka) and his rider, the Wild Hunt or Sluagh sidhe (haven't posted a sketch yet), and finally...not sure what the final one will be just yet.


Going Under the Hill

Here's the first rough sketch of my next fairy tale project. This one will be a montage of a few key moments from one of those stories by Holly Black. Just for fun...and probably will be a part of the set of fairy tale illustrations I'm doing this year to help update my portfolio.

I started out with the roughest of scribbles to lay out bits (er, main characters and sets) in my little black sketchbook that I want to be in the final illustration. At this point in this particular sketch, I've also begun tightening up the face of the main character in the sketch, and fixing her proportions (lower body doesn't yet match the upper). However, I'm still doing some manipulating of the layout which means some other character sketches, too (I'll post them tomorrow night or Monday); and I'll be doing some fun little Photoshop rearranging of all the bits before going to a final tight drawing (yup, I still love doing pencil work). And then finally, painting digitally a la Photoshop and Painter.

All of this and the TD illustration, and apartment packing, too. Still moving in a couple of weeks. Somewhere.


Of Water

Been reading about elementals this past weekend while doing some random research. Which is partially what inspired this quick sketch.


It's Been Busy

Managed to squeeze in the last Harry Potter book between finishing up a couple of freelance final illustrations due the following Monday morning and completed some new color concept sketches for my final assignments for July, with finals due this past Monday. Spent about 4 hours re-reading The Half-Blood Prince first, and then settled in to finally read The Deathly Hollows. It took about 6 hours, but what a lovely read; and, IMO, a fitting conclusion to the series.

And that's all I'll say about that.

Still working on a variety of personal projects with my own art and writing that just won't go away. Well, it would help if I had more time to work on them, though I'm not sure where that will come from, LOL. Did manage to get farther along on some portfolio pieces after a couple of desperate energetic evenings -- not sure how I managed that. And, now there's another little TD over at that I'm getting myself involved could I resist the call of fairy tales, heh.

Still moving at the end of the month; and I'm still not sure where just yet. Stay here for awhile longer or no. (Preferably -- No). I almost feel like throwing a dart at a map of the US and just going where that lands. Almost. long as it's not along the East Coast or in the South. One is a nice place to visit, briefly; the other has never been a place I have appreciated more until I managed to kick off the sticky mud from my feet and move away. I simply do not like the South. I have my reasons, yup; illogical and completely personal. But, the southern US is pretty in pictures. Unfortunately, I do not have the kind of finances that would enable me to drop my day job and just take off in an instant. A lovely dream, though.

I recently heard from my old illustration instructor who is now living up in Seattle, Washington. It's interesting that Seattle is one of the cities I've never visited, but know several people that are currently living there or have worked there in the past. He and his wife (she was a fellow art history student for several classes) live in a beautiful Arts and Crafts home that they're fixing up here and there. I'm totally jealous - ha. It was fun to chat about some of the old classes and discuss some of the different projects we've each worked on since I graduated back in '92. He's currently working for a game company up there that I've only recently heard about. Seems to be much enjoying it, and is quite busy. Also been hearing from some other folks that I haven't talked or emailed in forever...July seems to have been a time of friendly reconnection, yup.


Solitary Monster

Another quick sketch-note for a future personal "Solitary Monster". Maybe "Self Portrait as Dragon"? Just add pink -- ha! If or when I actually do develop this further, I'll have to get some reference for those wings...and fix that hidden hand.

Some of my friends don't quite understand that I actually enjoy my own company -- I like to spend time with me, myself and I. My immediate family knows that about me very well. heh. Having the occasional solitary weekend helps me relax. Drawing, studying, reading, doing chores. I admit that I'm not much for shopping or going out or doing alot of "blah, blah" on the phone, either. Erk. On the other hand, it also makes me a little happier about going to the office to be a little social with the other artists and my co-workers once again once the weekend is done. :) Over the years I've found that I actually do prefer working with a team of artists that I get along with and appreciate, even if we're all working on separate projects individually. You get critiques, a chance to learn from your peers, and a bit of creative chatter. For me at least, it is much better than working completely on my own, even if it meant I could be in my own home studio. I think if I ever went back to 100% freelancing, I would try to get space in a shared artists' studio.

My younger brother asked about doing some web design work for a new site he's wanting to develop. Unfortunately, now is not a good time. I'll see what we can work out. My mom left me a voicemail today to let me know she was up in northern Germany with the Tante's. It sounds like she had a good trip up from Austria. This week is my stepsister's birthday. I'm sending out a card tomorrow...and sending my other siblings a reminder to do the same. ;) You're reminded!

A couple of articles I read the other day about military brats provide some interesting explanations about some typical reactions to certain situations that I hadn't really considered...and gave me some additional insight in part as to why I rejected going into the military myself although that was certainly an option with the scholarship I was offered to West Point when I graduated from high school years ago. There is also a book and a series of online articles by the publisher about military brats that seems to resonate with those that have read it. I may have to check out the book myself. If it's good I'll be sure to recommend it to my brothers and sisters...


Putting it all together...

Today's quick sketch -- designing a personal flying machine. Hey, why not? Great for summer flights of fancy! Having a bit of fun concepting a kind of "one-man band" contraption that has all the bells and whistles for flying. I wonder if I could get it to work...hmm. With all of the "continuing education" experience with my I.D. textbooks, you never know. Yeah, all that studying is making my brain hurt.

This week will have to be my last push to wrap up some of my personal concept projects for my portfolio. It's supposed to be a bit rainy still, so hopefully I will get everything wrapped up like I've got scheduled. This weekend required some at home time on a set of illustrations for work, so I didn't spend the time I'd originally planned for portfolio updates. Ah, well. Also, I have some more freelance illustration work starting in the next couple of weeks for more textbooks, so I really need to get my latest personal stuff finished and everything updated for my portfolio like I've been wanting to for the past few months. Ok, it's been quite a bit longer than that. sigh. I probably will pause the daily mini-sketches for a while so that I can use that 30 minutes or hour (maybe 2) after work to squeeze in time on my book projects again. As it is, I've stopped watching tv except for morning and evening news....
And no games. D'oh!


Hello, Summer

Not the first day of summer just yet, but it's certainly getting hot enough to feel like it. 20 minute quick sketch after a rather long day of busy.


Almost Ready to Fly

Bah, I should just forget about setting deadlines for my own work...I rarely meet them as something always interferes...even if it's only me doing the interfering. ha.

Busy at work, busy at home.

At work, I'm really an elf and it's always Christmas, fa la la la laaaaaaaaaAAAAAAHHHHCK...! Not really. I'm just a bit off my production schedule but I should catch up again this week since my new projects are slowing down just a bit at last. But, I'm still busy. Looks like my department is getting an intern or two for the summer after all. I'm not sure what changed since I was told repeatedly that we weren't having any interns in my department at all this year, which was a disappointment -- imagine my surprise when I found out a week or so ago that we were having interns after all.

Interesting. Yup.

At home I'm squeezing in a couple of new environment drawings and light studies since I don't have very many new ones to pick from...most of my usual daily work (home studio work as opposed to "office work") I could probably better define as being mostly about character development. Except for the illustration work generally, since that's more of capturing a moment which may or may not have backgrounds but definitely has a character or two. In any case, I can use and re-use the new environments in a couple of my other personal projects. I've posted some progress shots of the various bits. I find it very relaxing when I'm drawing with a pencil...can spend hours just making rocks. Silly me. The rough sketches include the two environment layouts I'm developing.... You can see where I've layed out lines for the buildings that I want to sketch at the proper perspective. Part of my reference is from a photo I took during one of my trips to Europe. The rest is all my imagination.

I've also scanned in the rough layout sketch I'm working from for my "revealed" or unmasked sketch. That's the 2nd rough at the top. If I had more time for development in my home studio (wasn't moving, etc.), I think I'd do it all traditional. Since I don't, I'll do the pencil detail work on paper, and all of the coloring in Photoshop and Painter.


I decided to move at July's end. Haven't decided where just yet. I hate moving, but I enjoy starting out in a new place: arranging furniture, unpacking and sorting, putting up and organizing my library, hanging up pictures, making a home. I may just put everything in storage. Or maybe not. In any case, I may have to postpone my trip to Europe again for another year.



Unmasked in progress

Here's the latest update to the dress sketch. I'm taking it slow, heh. Still have the background and secondary characters to sketch out. Over the weekend I checked out some different materials for the main character to figure out what fabrics will best give me the colors that I want to have in the final piece, too. When I started this illo, I decided to use a kind of visual story or metaphor of the character being revealed in the illustration (since it's also part of the relaunch of my website), hence the mask being moved over to the side. Not happy just yet with how I've sketched it, but it's a decent start. I probably will do a separate sketch of the mask on another sheet before I'm happy. Although it may actually all get painted over (digitally) when I'm working on the color final.

The final leaf design of the summer mask will be based on some rather large leaves by a river in a London park from a photo that I took when I was visiting London one summer. Here's one of the leaf photos I'm using as my reference. Believe it or not, the leaves are at least a foot if not 2 feet across. Those are ducks down below in the water.

I've already picked my palette (lots of lovely summer greens with secondary gold and brown colors and accents of some of my other favorites) which is definitely helping pull this illustration story out of my head onto my sketchpad. This one will be finished over the weekend, and I will post the final version when it's done. :)

Meant to add...I've been wanting to do an illustration like this for some time. One of the inspirations for it has been a long time favorite artist of mine, Adrienne Segur, from waaaay back when I was in 2nd grade, believe it or not. I was so enthralled by the Fairy Tales that she'd illustrated...that I checked out the book so much from the school library that I got in trouble. :( It was fun to find a bit more info about this artist this weekend as well as read an interesting article by some other favorite writers and artists of mine over at the Endicott Studios.


Train of Thought

This rough sketch is part of the new homepage art that I'm working on for my updated portfolio. I'll be re-launching my website at last during the first week of June. Hurray! I think I finally have enough new pieces that I like, and all of that together with some previous projects fits in with the new creative career direction I've been steering myself for the past 5 years. Most of the art I'll be posting is recent work I've done in my free time or for freelance projects that aren't part of my toy design day job. So, rather than posting all of the wide variety of creative professional work that I've done over the years in my online portfolio (web, graphic design, illustration, branding, multimedia, software UI development, etc), I'm going for a more focused presentation that shows the type of work I'm most interested in pursuing currently and for future opportunities.


Over the weekend I decided that working with licensed art (well, let's say most licensed properties -- most recently I've been working with Disney styleguides for product design again so licensed art was on my mind a bit too much this past week) is like having to translate a foreign language.

I blame my random internal dialogue process for that bit of an odd revelation. :)

Just as with any language, with licensed art you have to understand the specific "grammer" or structure (since this is graphic design). Within that structure you have "words" or images which can be used in many different ways to create a "sentence" or product; however, because of the required structure of the particular styleguide (some licenses have quite a variety of styleguides, like the Disney Princesses, for example), you can only use these particular images, colors, fonts, patterns, borders, characters and backgrounds in certain ways that fit within the overall pre-defined license "message". That message can also change depending on who the target audience is, and how that audience probably feels the licensed characters should appear in whatever particular situation or story format the product design puts them in. It helps if you tend to buy the products developed for a particular license (yup, that's one of my excuses for some of the toys in my work area...ha) or at least do the research and find out what the various retailers are selling, who's buying the product, and how that product is being used. Is it for a little girl, or a little boy; or is it even gender specific? Is it for adults only, and not children? Is the product designed for interaction, to be played with; or is it supposed to be a collectible or display item only? What materials satisfies the design requirements of the styleguide, the purchase requirements of the consumer, and still fits the product line standards that I'm creating this toy for?

Yeah, all that thinking sometimes gives me a headache, too.

But, there's more!
And maybe I'll go into that another time. Just not today.