In our speed painting exercise this week Josh and I played a artist warm up game. Each of us made a few squiggles on a document. We then traded documents and over the next hour built up our speed paintings based on the underlying structure of those squiggles.


You can see how Josh built up a ship entering the atmosphere of a particularly bad planet or the corona of a star. The line in the bottom right was not directly included in the structure but if you look at the clouds in the foreground and the bloom of the light source you can see how even that squiggle informed the composition.

For some reason Josh’s squiggles always look like fun shaped hills or architecture to me. Next time we do this I’m going to actively try to go in another direction, but for today we get a serene scene of man fishing under his favorite tree. Josh’s critiques included adding more atmospheric discoloring to the background hill which helped the foreground stand out. Also, not as much my main tree, but my other two trees I didn’t have time to work into the painting. They where started using a custom stamp brush I made, so without reworking the strokes and adding foliage they feel much too crisp. I think the most successful thing for me in this exercise was managing to make the flip of the original squiggle on the bottom right of the image inform the reflection of the bridge in the water.


The Do

Quick sketch blog update with a new piece I did for the Imagine FX forum challenge, “The DO.”

The Brief:

Design a futuristic or fantasy hairdo fit for a galactic empress. Feel free to include adornments of various kinds, as long as the hairdo shows that this woman knows what’s hip tomorrow. (She rules the fashion universe!)



Man With Sword

One of the things I’m working on while practicing my illustration is developing pre made book covers. The one I started working on last week was a very simple, often used cover concept, “man with a sword.”  In spite of doing some fairly successful rough sketches and thinking it should be a very easy project, I found I was I was struggling. I was having some issues with my sketches but mostly I kept running into this problem where as the image got more refined and the character more developed I liked it less and less to fulfill the assignment I had set for myself. I wanted a man with a sword and to imply that there is some kind of story going on, but at the same time it needs to be ambiguous enough that it could fit many possible stories since I don’t know who is going to purchase it. After trying several times to develop a tight illustration I was getting very frustrated. So I stepped back and started just laying down a more abstract set of strokes. Trying to keep to a more traditional painting method and a more abstract concept I built up a much stronger image.


It’s not as detailed as most of my work but it manages to be engaging and hint at a story while remaining very open for interpretation. After completing this piece I’m excited to try to merge this looser style of brush stroke with my more tight illustration style and find a way to blend the two.


The Hunting Grunkals of Fid


The Hunting Grunkals of Fid.
Grunkals are a species of Goblin that inhabit the center region of Bas. Fid is their largest city. Unlike other Goblins, their colors very greatly even within individual families.


(Right) Boots is the First Gun, and leader of this particular hunting party. He is especially talented at tracking the Pepkin Turkey, featured in this image.

(Left) Bok “Piggy” is the horn bearer of Boot’s Hunting Grunkals of Fid.  He got his nickname in school for his pinkish skin, unusual for a Grunkal. The nickname is meant as a complement because pigs are considered very useful in Grunkal society. If they wanted to offend him, they would call him human. Like most horn bearers he comes from an upper class family, and the rest of the party find him quite obnoxious. In the working class, being called a horn bearer has become akin to being called lazy, bothersome and entitled.


(Right) Baguny is the parties first hand. He’s responsible for scheduling and making sure the party meets there quota of game for the month. He tends to get annoyed when they get behind schedule especially if it’s because Piggy the Horn Bearer is talking to much to Boots.

(left)Thuny is the second hand and is responsible for supplies, packing and unpacking for hunts and keeping the muskets clean and working. He’s a simple, easy going guy who quietly goes about his routine.


Thid is the second gun of the party. He’s very good but isn’t interested in being a hunter his whole life. He’s getting experience in the party but planning to transfer to defense when he gets Boots’s approval. He’s shown with his trusty hog Rugals.


The Interpretation



Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. My body trembled as the Great Tortoise of Fis came to a halt in front of the scout. The scout was hollering frantically at the cleric but I could not make it out. There was no need, the mahout cleric’s bellowing and waving sword told all. It was time to return. The roving cities of Bas were in peril and so was Sol’Ashe.

The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” could be a little over rated both in reality and the world of make believe. I’ve written an opening based on a picture crated in response to a challenge. I neither know the challenge nor how accurately the picture matched that challenge. I interpreted my way to suit my purposes.

Another creationeer might want the horseman to be an adversary or one getting ready to flee and offering one last challenge. Is the city a garrison, town of clerics, farming community or a tower of magic? Is the tortoise gigantic or the people tiny? So many questions. When a story is developed the purpose of the story from the creationeer to the reader needs to be clear.

Is the story going to be a short story with a single laser sharp idea, event, concept or question being conveyed to the reader. Is the sole purpose to leave the reader puzzling and thinking about the subject of the story? Maybe it is a short story with its own conclusion but also can be an event that is part of a much larger world and longer story. The reader, again, brings their owner perceptions and experiences to the story which affects the outcome of their read. The link here is that with language being filtered so finely the picture is even more so. Having both together strengthens the message but is still open to interpretation by the receiver.

Now, you say, reality is different. Wish it was, our legal system and all the “eye” witnesses would not lose so much credibility if this was true. Indeed, the stop motion cameras of the football world is all about the “angles” since the picture does not tell all. How dull would our world be if it did!

Keep creating and challenging those interpretations.

Speed Critiques

When you work in a creative field one of the most important things to come to grips with is that you are never going to be your best. There are always new things to learn, new techniques  to master, and new mediums to explore. It’s not a passive activity. You constantly are trying to develop your skills. You try to get who ever you can to look at your work, and you practice constantly. you not only have to learn to be critiqued, but how to provide feedback to other artist. In that spirit Josh and I have started what I hope to be an ongoing series on speed painting. In the exercise we are decide on a scene, we each speed paint an interpretation of the scene, then critique each others paintings. Then will post one of the basic critiques, and the reasons behind the feedback.

Today’s speed painting exercise:
Assassination Successful
Paint time: About an hour and a half.

My biggest concern with my own painting was that I had foolishly suggested doing a crowd scene knowing that laying in characters, even just as background elements is something I still find very time consuming. So much so that after this exercise I’ve been practicing more on silhouette studies with several characters in a scene done very quickly. Here are a couple of the studies I felt where on the more successful side.


We decided the scene would be a sci-fi banquette where earths emissary has just poisoned the new leader of Alpha Centauri.

Josh’s interpretation of the scene after an hour and a half.


Given my own concerns about the scene, right away I’m struck by the variety and uniqueness of each of josh’s characters. We talk for a bit about getting that uniqueness and expression in characters and he suggested http://www.silvertoons.com/ for inspiration and recommended a couple books, Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes, volumes one and two, by Walt Stanchfield. Which I promptly ordered. Never miss an opportunity to find a new resource. I also really like the lighting he’s set up coming in through the large windows. At first I believe the story isn’t coming through as strong as it could. I didn’t suggest it while we were talking, but looking back, maybe he could be clutching his heart to reinforce he’s in distress and not drunk. I also did pick up that  the woman on the right, who he didn’t have time to finish the face on, was probably the culprit, and the woman on the left suspects her. So although I feel the stories not as strong as it could be, the foundation is there and those issues would probably be cleared up as the painting developed.


Compositionally there are two things I would adjust. First, although it is a good layout rule, I suggested that it would give more tension and depth to the scene if he shifted the bodies in the foreground a bit so not all the heads are resting on the upper third.


Second I would change is extending the windows down past the shoulder lines. I’m finding the horizontal line crossing behind their heads a little bit distracting.


Comparison between the original and my adjustments.


Product Updates

Just a little news on the progression of our iOS game Fillip Frog’s Fly Feast! Spencer has made great progress on the behavior of the flies and other bugs while Mark has gotten the game mechanics of the frogs attack working well. Our next step is pushing out our progress to devices in order to start tweaking and reviewing game play potential. The whole process is taking quite a bit longer then we planned but the results are looking beautiful.


Gellini’s Special Gift is also coming along nicely. The story and illustrations are almost completely laid out and we are reviewing the words to illustrations relationship in the next week, at which point Daniel will be doing final layouts, Joshua will be producing the traditional art assets while Colleen finalizes the text for the story.

21st Century Warlock

This was a piece done for an ImagineFX.com forum challenge, for which they have not officially posted a winner of but I believe it was the winning piece based on the votes of the forum participants. I’m very proud to come out on top in this one because there were some very good entries.

I started thinking about my character and while sketching I started making him a little business man like, then loosened up his shirt and he became more Miami chic. So I rolled up his pants and gave him strapped sandals making him look a little like hes done with business and ready for the beach boardwalk or the everglades. So then I started thinking about Florida and what kind of warlock would live There. That lead me to a Haitian population concept and shifted him to being more reminiscent of a witch doctor. These are just a few of the silhouette studies I did.


I then created the initial sketch for the piece with a implied story.


And the final piece. There were supposed to be a few more details, but I was running out of time.




And here is a detail.