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.


'Tis the Season

Took a picture of the Clementines I like to get this time of year. They just happened to be delivered the day I finally checked with the produce guy about them at my local grocery store. Hilarious! He even took me out back to get a box from the unopened crate flats cause I didn't believe him at first, heh. The white bowl is one that I picked up a few years ago just for holding the Clementines. Delicious!

Had a rather nice and quiet Christmas with my family this past week. The weather when I left home had highs in the mid-twenties along with a bit of ice and snow which mid-week turned into foggy mornings; however, my return home ended with highs in the mid-eighties. That's Texas weather for ya! Thank goodness, I didn't have all the travel problems that too many other people did travelling during Christmas vacation.

Even with the economy tanking as much as it has, I have to say I'm looking forward to the coming New Year. I've been gathering together my list of creative goals for next year as a 100% freelance artist since I'm no longer working as an in-house staff artist, too. I've got all kinds of enterprising professional strategies! Wish me luck!


EOW Progress: Menolly's Dragon Stones Cove concept

I'm sad to say that I wasn't able to make the deadline for the EOW #100 challenge. There are some other artists that did finish and they've posted their most excellent work in the final burning thread on conceptart website here.

However, being such a fan of Anne McCaffrey's early Dragonriders of Pern books, I'm determined to finish all five of my own concepts when I have some more time once again after the holidays. I did get close to being happy with the above concept, and I may just revisit it again in the next year to do a tighter print-ready illustration of "Menolly's Dragon Stones" featured in the book, "Dragonsong".


More EOW: Benden Weyr -- Just Add Dragons

More progress during the day, about another hour or so between other projects. I'm feeling pretty happy with it, maybe too many clouds...hmm. In any case, I will still be putting final touches to this one and the others over the weekend to wrap it all up for the EOW challenge. You know, little final things like ledges and "dragons" and people and such.


EOW Progress: Benden Weyr concept

This concept-in-progress of Pern's Benden Weyr is still very much in the early coloring stage. Also currently missing the various peoples and the dragons which will all be added at the end. Just a couple more days to get it and the others completed for the EOW challenge -- in between the paying projects that also have deadlines next week, d'oh!

But, that's part of the fun, too.


More EOW: The Mountain Progress

It's been alot of fun pulling this image from my head into Photoshop after visualizing this particular scene from the book for so many years. Still in progress, after about an hour of coloring before the storms hit last night. :)


EOW Progress: The Mountain concept

Just found out this morning that there's been a change to the deadline for the EOW challenge -- yay! Even a few extra days will help me juggle these concepts in and around my job projects for a bit more polish.

Meanwhile, I've posted a progress shot from one of my Pern epic environment concepts: "The Mountain". I plan on posting a series of progress images here and on my CA sketchbook once I've finished them all. Lots to do yet for this, but you can see that I've done a quick pass on the background imagery, potential lighting and palette.

You can see the original thumbnail sketch for this here. OK, back to work!


Latest Environment Thumb...

I went back and forth about determining that final EOW concept scene -- whether to go with Ruatha Hold during a celebration or Gather of some kind, or maybe some other scene related to Landing and AIVAS. Finally decided to float above both of those and go with a key scene from "All the Weyrs of Pern" -- the Yokohama spaceship.

The two images I posted will likely be merged somehow for the final environment concept so that just the edge of Pern and the
Yokohama is showing and there will still be a view into the bridge where Ruth is floating and gazing down through the window at Pern and the Southern Continent so far below...


Another Quick Thumb...

I decided to include Half-Circle Sea Hold as one of my selected environments for the EOW challenge. Here's the quick thumbnail sketch that I did the other evening (took a break from all art yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends -- yay! -- still feel full from all the lovely foods....mmm.). Anyways, I've already decided on some layout changes to this one to better frame the Sea Hold docking cavern; and of course, will be including people to help show scale and context (particularly for those unfamiliar with the various Pern locales).


Some Quick Thumbs...

Here are some quick environment thumbnail sketches I did for my EOW epic last night. I've already rethought the layout on two of them. :) I might end up doing a bowl-side view from the Hatching Caverns instead of the current aerial view...well, we'll see. I've been thinking that I may end up doing interior scenes for the final two environments, too. I'll decide tonight for sure. Time is running out!


It's Gonna Be Epic!

Had just a bit of that nostalgia feeling while doing some minor research today for the current Environment of the Week (EOW) challenge. It's the 100th challenge, so the topic has been appropriately selected as "Epic", and for my epic series narrative selection: Anne McCaffrey's Pern. Yup -- that's my not-so-great first acrylic painting posted above that I did in high school some 20 + years ago -- totally inspired by those dragons, that world, and Michael Whelan's interpretation of the same. Now, I've got to come up with something completely different! And, also still not in the direction that Tony DiTerlizzi went with his Pern version. :) The challenge deadline is December 9th to give us all enough time to come up with concept art that meets the following criteria:
  • Come up with an epic narrative (my pick, "Pern")
  • Your epic saga of choice is going to be pitched as an RPG
  • You create 5 different environment concepts from this narrative
  • The art must be cohesive (in other words they all need to be from the same artist style, same world and be visually designed)
  • Presentation of your five Enviros and the design of the layout and titling counts!
  • As does a consideration of the possible player demographic of your game.
In any case, this project will give me a great opportunity to rapidly develop some additional environment concepts which I've been lacking in my portfolio. Sketches I have plenty of, heh. This rather topsy-turvy year has somewhat allowed me to continue to revise and update my online portfolio to include more of the kinds of artwork and project opportunities that I would like to be working on all (or at least most) of the time, rather than the extremely varied art and design projects that I've done in the past just so I could pay the bills. :)

Anyways, as a long-time fan of the original Dragonriders of Pern I'll enjoy pulling out a few of those visuals that have been stuck in my head for so many years from reading and re-reading the two series (Dragonriders of Pern and the Harper Hall trilogy) from elementary school through college. Ok, alright -- I admit I still re-read the Harper books every now and again (and, nope -- I don't plan to read the new ones).


Introducing Norbert

Yes, this is a drawing of Norbert. Where did I meet him? Well, I had a dream about him the other night. Not entirely sure what made me imagine this kind of a character since I haven't been drawing any dinosaurs or reptiles of any sort lately. My more recent projects involved creating art about Christmas, crystals, canids, and comics...but no reptiles. Hmm. And, just how do I know his name is Norbert -- well, in that dream I asked the safari guide what he called him (this was a rather convoluted dream), but he hadn't given the creature a name; so in honor of Hagrid's baby dragon (you know the one...from Harry Potter) I had decided to call him Norbert.

He's a juvenile of his kind of whatever they are. I don't remember that part if I ever knew. And as a juvenile he's actually about the size of a camel which is rather bigger than a large dog. When we were "introduced"...I remember I had my back turned to the tent opening (I was unpacking my bag on the cot), felt somebody nudge me on the back, and when I turned around I just about freaked out because of all of Norbert's rather large sharp and many teeth right in my face (!) but luckily he just wanted to be petted.

The guide also told me that Norbert had kind of adopted the tourist group as his own herd. This turned out to be a good thing because the adult versions of Norbert weren't quite as friendly although they were happy to see dinner. I do remember seeing an adult checking us out when we were walking along the river, but I didn't see the entire body...just the rather large head floating alongside, about the size of a mid-size car, and later the large and vicious claws when he reached out to grab some "food" that happened to be walking along the riverbank. I think that, like the hippopotamus, the adult versions of Norbert tend to spend most of the day floating in the water and, then like the Nile crocodiles...they reach out suddenly to snatch their prey whether above, below, or beside the river. But, they do have those rather long and sturdy legs, like the I imagine they could still trot right on out of the water if they felt like it...or were hungry enough.

Yeah, this dream had an edge of nightmare about it. But, Norbert was sweet. I'd like to write about him in one of my stories some day. :)


International Self-Portrait Day

It's International Self-Portrait Day over on the ConceptArt forums. Above was my quick contribution for this year. Yeah, no pink in the hair. For now. Posted the initial pencil sketch below, which was colored in PS7 as usual and posted above. Hmm...about an hour coloring.

In other news...keeping rather busy with freelance. Lots of creative juggling.


Happy Halloween!!

Many wishes for Happy Halloween fun scares and tasty treats!
The usual before and after sketches: pencil line-art below, color version (in PS7) above.


Almost Fall Fairy

We're supposed to finally get a real cool front in the next couple of days, dropping the temperature (at least at night) to 40F for a few days. That will be lovely. So, in tribute to the cooling weather and the Fall season, here's this year's Fall Fairy sketch. :)



I'm a bit busy...all kinds of creative stuff going on. I'll post more about that later. Anyways, here's a quick sketch from the sketchbook. I'll post a quick color version later. :)


Orphan Works: Proposed Legislation Adversely Affecting Artists' Copyrights Just Won't Die

I read this post over on the SCBWI board today and it pretty much states what I'm thinking, too:

"I've been contacting my representatives all week -- I hope they're not sick of hearing from me yet.

I find it especially disturbing the way this is being done.

First it was "hotlined" on Friday evening and passed in the Senate.

Next, first thing Tuesday morning a statement was issued to Wired magazine online by a lobbyist that the bill was dead for this legislative session. That article quickly spread around the blogosphere and a collective sigh was heard. Not that I'm big into conspiracy theories but I do have to wonder exactly who's side that lobbyist was working for.

The IPA was an organization that did not take the bait and continued to urge action on the part of independent creatives.

Now the vote is being cast just as the first VP debate is going on.

This legislation, as currently written, has always been and continues to be a sledgehammer approach to a problem that requires a scalpel solution."

And then received another email today from the Illustrators' Partnership of America that's definitely worth sharing:


Orphan Works: "We Are Our Work"
Voices from the SBA Roundtable


Tell Congress that corporation lobbyists don't speak for us.
Here's where they can go to hear the real voices of artists.

"I fought for the rights of Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. Others made millions while Superman's creators lived in near poverty. Jerry was a clerk and Joe was a legally blind man who lived in his brother's apartment, slept on a cot and worked as a messenger.

"I met and fought for their small remaining rights when they both turned only 60 years old...The battle took months and the settlement was meager, but it let the men live the remaining years of their lives with dignity.

"You know what they cared about most? They cared about having their names once again associated with their character, Superman! Why? Because it was what they were as people. They were their work. Why do we have copyright law? Because we wish to protect people and their creations, even if they are 'hard to locate.'"

--"Orphaned Works Legislation," by Neal Adams, Artist

For this and more written statements you can use as talking points
Go to: Orphan Works: "We Are Our Work":

The SBA Roundtable is the only forum so far conducted by the government to consider the economic impact of the Orphan Works Act on creators.

These are the real voices of the creative community.
Tell Congress not to accept substitutes!

- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership

Please post or forward this message immediately to any interested party.


For news and information:
Illustrators' Partnership Orphan Works Blog:

Over 75 organizations oppose this bill, representing over half a million creators.

U.S. Creators and the image-making public can email Congress through the Capwiz site: 2 minutes is all it takes to tell the U.S. Congress to uphold copyright protection for the world's artists.

INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS please fax these 4 U.S. State Agencies and appeal to your home representatives for intervention.

CALL CONGRESS: 1-800-828-0498. Tell the U.S. Capitol Switchboard Operator "I would like to leave a message for Congressperson __________ that I oppose the Orphan Works Act." The switchboard operator will patch you through to the lawmaker's office and often take a message which also gets passed on to the lawmaker. Once you're put through tell your Representative the message again.

If you received our mail as a forwarded message, and wish to be added to our mailing list, email us at: Place "Add Name" in the subject line, and provide your name and the email address you want used in the message area. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.



Little Girl Lost sketch

A quick sketch and Photoshop coloring job to test some brushes I modified. Before sketch (blue pencil as usual posted below) and after (posted above) with quick coloring in Photoshop.


Pencil in Progress

One of my rough pencil explorations for a sequential art project I'm in the middle of developing. Something different than the stuff I usually do (you know -- cute, sweet, and probably something with lots of Christmas sprinkles), so it's becoming a fun challenge and giving me the opportunity to stretch my skills in a direction that I've been really wanting to do. I'm enjoying it. :)


Mermaid variation

One of the early sketches for a small project I'm doing.


Illustration Friday: Canned

Initial sketch for the latest Illustration Friday project, "Canned".



Nothing to say at the moment, other than I'm keeping busy. Here are a few recent doodles from the sketchbook.


Pixie Dixie photos

Working on a bit of this and that...but either can't post it just yet, or it has to wait till later this week or next (personal illustration art -- more adventure bits and pieces, of course!). In the meantime, here are a couple of quick photos that I took of my mousie, Pixie Dixie. She has to be the friendliest mouse that I've ever had the chance to meet. You can see just a bit of my cat, Tabby, in the bottom photo: patches of orange and gray stripes from her right flank.


Twilight Flight

A sketched environment with the usual col-erase blue pencil (not non-photo or non-repro blue). One of several I'm playing around with in between working on other things. I'll post more later.


Practice and other Oddities

The top post is one of the scenes from an animation short that I started working on when I went back to school, and then put away on the shelf, so to say, until I found time to work on it again. The elements were built of various watercolour paintings that I cut up in Photoshop, and then composited in Combustion (with some nice Z-space) with some of the set animated there as well. I've been thinking about this old project rather alot lately. For some reason, I'm always most interested in working on my projects when I have actual paying projects that I should be spending every minute on. Ah, well.

More male portrait sketch practice. I don't create many illustrations of male characters, particularly human males, in most of my personal artwork. For me, it's simply more interesting to create a different female character (generally human) because in some fashion it is another aspect of myself that I am actually drawing. In my own little mind, I live that character as I draw it...I know what my character is thinking as well as its motivation for whatever pose or moment that I choose to capture them in. Hmm. I guess I'm trying to say I like to draw my characters from the inside out, which is why I find it more of a chore, er, I mean a challenge to draw men. Plus, the human female form is much easier to draw what with all those nice curves. :) In the face, too. And then there's always the possibility of using my own self as a reference if I need one.


Breaking in the Sketchbook

Today's sketches include some random bits that I did in my new sketchbook, (some with a reference, some not) along with a quick rough sketch of an idea I had for Illustration Friday's topic, "Forgotten" (posted above) that I'm not gonna have time to finish before Friday. I'd like to work on it another time, though. They're all drawn with the usual blue pencil although I did a bit of experimenting with my scanner and Photoshop color settings when I exported them for web posting which is why they're all variations of blue to dark gray.

The story behind it -- well, actually there are 2 stories. My first story thought was based on some childhood memories that I had from when I was about 6, and some of my experiences during the interesting traveling we did around Europe one summer. The other was a thought about that little toddler that was forgotten at the Vancouver airport when his parents were so tired and overwhelmed that they didn't realize that they'd left him behind. And, I wondered: what if it wasn't just days that it took the parents to retrieve their forgotten child; what if it was years? Like if they were traveling interplanetary rather than from one continent to another on Earth. So, my illustration story is about a forgotten child in a spaceport.

Ran out to get a new Strathmore (now Canson) Field sketchbook (my current fave) at the closest art supply store...and the pickings were mighty slim. The art supply section was considerably downsized to what seems to be a mere 10 ft square section. I'll have to start doing my art supply purchasing online like I did whilst working in-house. Just means that I need to plan my purchases, and buy bulk when possible. And if I run out of 2-H pencils, micron pens, drawing and marker pads, vellum, bristol, etc...I need to remember that the nearest stocked arts supply stores will be about 10-20 miles away. I won't even talk about the fact that the nearest comic book store is even further away these days. Sigh.

So later this afternoon I went ahead and did some online ordering since it takes about a week to get here with ground shipping; ordered a couple of pads of Denril Vellum (one of the things I'd hoped to pick up at the art supply store today) among other items (like a couple more sketchbooks which were about half the price). I really like Denril Vellum for tight line-work, particularly when I'm tracing over my tight pencils on my lightbox in order to get clear sharp lines with Micron inks for the final art (before scanning and coloring on the computer). It's a method I picked up years ago when I was doing multimedia artwork -- creating characters and scenes which were colored in Macromind Director and/or Studio 8 and then animated in Director (by me) and assembled in Authorware by the team of programmers. Like I said, it was a while ago. :)


Variations on a theme

After drawing a left foot when I should have sketched a right (d'oh!); I thought I maybe needed to do a bit more figure drawing practice. Plus, I wanted to do some experimenting with costumes. So I paged through a few mags I had around and looked at some stills and video of fashion shows online.

The above sketches are a minor sampling of the scribbling I did today in my sketchbook. And, it looks like I need to get another sketchbook -- I finished up that particular one with these.


Pixie Dixie

My most recent pet mouse, Pixie Dixie. At the moment, my only pet mouse, but one is plenty. She's a really sweet little mousie. When she sees me (I've had her about 2 weeks now) she'll stretch out, walk around her cage a bit, and then reach up for me to pick her up. I'll put my hand down into her little 5 gallon aquarium, and let her hop up into my palm. She'll wrap her little tail around a finger and squeak or chitter at me. I wonder sometimes what she's trying to say. I only keep her out for a little bit before putting her back in the tank -- it's much safer there...I have a couple of cats, too. :)

I get a batch of mice about once a month to feed my two snakes, Copper (corn snake) and Ghost (a Texas rat snake). Since I've had those guys about 18 years (I really didn't think they'd live that long, so I must be doing something right), that's a lot of mice that I've seen. Which is why I rescue one or two once in awhile. Guilty conscious, don't you know. Although, since I'm not a vegetarian I'm not feeling really that guilty...I eat meat, too.

Although except for sashimi, my meat is always cooked.


sketchbook: faces

Some random faces from my current sketchbook. Spent about 15-20 minutes sketching each one with my Sanford Col-erase blue pencil. I felt that I needed some practice doing realistic portraits versus my usual somewhat stylized quick sketches of made-up people.


Me Now

Well, here's the "After" or I should call it "Me -- Now" sketch that accompanies the previous "Teen -- Me" post. :)


The Dreadful Teen Years

Happened to read about the "Teen Meme" off of a couple of artist's blogs I regularly read last week, and had thought about doing one of my I started mentally sketching something. And then today read over on Lines and Colors that there was actually a starting point and a collection of links. Very cool.

My own teen years were not a favorite time period. I confess that I tried to forget about it as much as possible. But I remembered enough to do the above quick sketch and some commentary.

Think that I'll do my "Imaginary Inner Teen-Self" for my next sketch, heh. Quite a bit different.


Illustration Friday: Wide

Possibly not the most comfortable way to travel far and wide, but certainly would be one of the most interesting -- held securely in the massive claws of a flying dragon. Above is the color concept, and just below is the final pencil.

The initial sketch is posted at the bottom. I had a bit of trouble figuring out how the right wing should be properly drawn when I started sketching, so I did a smaller thumbnail to help me. In any case, I think what I ended up with works fine. If (or when) I do a more finished version, though, I think I'll do a quick sculpey of the dragon first so I can see how the wings should be positioned. All in all about four hours total of creative fun!


More Progress

Here's a coloring progress of a previous sketch. I'm kind of liking the sepia-tone look of it. Has almost a watercolour wash feel with it, too; although it's all Photoshop.

And here is a sketch in progress as inspired by a recent EOW for a Woodland House could I resist drawing a story for a mouse. :)