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!
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".
But, that's part of the fun, too.
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!
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...
Had just a bit of that nostalgia feeling while doing some minor research today for the current ConceptArt.org 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.
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).
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 us...as 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 dinosaurs...so 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. :)
In other news...keeping rather busy with freelance. Lots of creative juggling.
"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:
FROM THE ILLUSTRATORS' PARTNERSHIP
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: http://ipaorphanworks.blogspot.com/
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: http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/home/ 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. http://www.illustratorspartnership.org/01_topics/article.php?searchterm=00267
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
|STOP THE U.S. ORPHAN WORKS ACT NOW.|
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. :)
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.
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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
And here is a sketch in progress as inspired by a recent EOW for a Woodland House Mouse...how could I resist drawing a story for a mouse. :)