Sunday in the studio

Oct. 22nd, 2017 17:53
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So finally in the afternoon, some light arrived…

Und dann kam doch ein wenig Licht am Nachmittag…

5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

If you would like to purchase this daily painting, please send your bid by email. Startprice 150 Euro. End of sale October 23rd 2017 at 6.00 pm (local time Berlin Germany). Terms of Sale and Right of Withdrawal.

Wenn Sie dieses Tagesbild erwerben möchten, senden Sie bitte Ihr Gebot per email . Mindestpreis 150 Euro. Ende des Verkaufs gegen Höchstgebot am 23. Oktober 2017 um 18 Uhr. Beachten Sie bitte die Informationen zu den Verkaufsbedingungen sowie die Widerrufsbelehrung.

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.

Flatness and Depth in Painting

Oct. 22nd, 2017 09:58
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Posted by James Gurney

This scene was on the back cover of David Drake's paperback collection of military science fiction short stories called "The Fleet Book One." 

To make the typical '80s air battle look more incongruous, I imagined it taking place at a low altitude over farmland. I set up the scale by introducing the fighter craft in the foreground, and then repeating them way back in the scene. I also softened the colors and compressed the lines of the croplands as they went back to the horizon.

When I was in art school, many of the teachers spoke dogmatically about the importance of making the painting reinforce the flatness of the picture plane. But that idea never really interested me very much. The flatness of the picture plane is a given. It's easy to make a painting look 2D—colored stuff on a rectangle of canvas.

The real fun for me starts when the surface starts to fall away and pulls me back into infinite depths.
Read more:
Modern art theory: "The Importance of Flatness"
Previous post on "Houding" (a theory of pictorial depth from classical Dutch theory)
Amazon: The Fleet Book One

Chelsea Farmers Club

Oct. 21st, 2017 18:53
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Always a great pleasure to visit the Chelsea Farmers Club in Charlottenburg. A famous chef in Berlin told me once, he goes there in his spare time to get inspiration for his work here, through the different fabrics, patterns and colours, so well displayed… well he is not the only one…

Immer eine große Freude ist es den Chelsea Farmers Club in Charlottenburg zu besuchen. Mir erzählte einmal ein berühmter Koch in Berlin, das er hier oft, in seiner freien Zeit, durch die Stoffe, Materialien und Muster, so wunderbar dekoriert, neue Inspiration für seine Arbeit findet… nun da ist er ist nicht alleine…

5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.

Colossal Dreadmaw

Oct. 21st, 2017 12:00
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Posted by Ejsing

By Jesper Ejsing

The latest set of Magic the gathering is out and it contains one of my favorite illustrations.
I was asked to do a huge T-Rex looking at a juicy pirate ship sailing on a jungle river. The Set is called Ixalan and is a world of colorful feathered dinosaurs vampires and pirates. 
I tried different versions of this illustration and ended up submitting 4 different compositions or thumb sketches if you´d like. They are very different.
1 is an establishing shot. The Dino and the ship have no interaction and everything seems to be taking place off to the right side. I was too carried away with doing a different take on a T-Rex so it ended up not looking like a T-Rex. 
2 I kind of like. It is a low angle perspective as if seen from the ship. I choose this angle to avoid having to portrait the whole ship and its crew looking up at the Dino because I needed him to be the main character. I really like it a lot because it has a feeling of being a snapshot taken right before the Dino snaps it jaws on the ship. A very impactful angle and a cool action piece. Only thing that bothered me a bit was that the ship only was a pair of sails on a mast and we did not see any water or river or anything and it was hard to se the size of the T-Rex because of the angle and not enough to measure him against. 
3 that’s why I tried a third version where the Dino was charging in from the side. I ended up disliking it. The ship seemed like a toy ship in a pond and the high angle made it look like a comic book panel rather than a cool illustration. Everything is too evenly placed around in the image making it boring. Aaaaand the Dino looks fat. 
4  The forth version was a different take. I always try to add some personality and character to the monsters I paint, and with this sketch I cleaned the table and started all over. My thoughts went to what went wrong in the last ones. I knew I wanted to center the important elements. I choose a low angle to avoid the feeling of a too well placed establishing shot. Also I needed a shot a bit more from away  to be able to have both the river, ship and T-Rex in the lense. What I really like about this composition is the overlapping ship in front of the T-Rex. I added tall sides of jungle cliff sides to frame the action. I like to use this effect to avoid the attention to drift around in the image. Also it makes it possible for me to create a strong triangle composition with the water surface as the bottom part or the triangle. One more thing that really appealed to me about this sketch was that the main figure was a light figure on a dark background. This is something I rarely chose for card illustration because it is harder to read in card size. I usually go for a strong dark silhouette to make sure you can see what is going on. 
I clearly asked for permission to paint the forth one and my art director agreed. So I went on to next stage and sketched the real drawing up on a watercolor board. When I started sketching I noticed the close interaction from the T-Rex and the ship and thought it would be even better if I added a lookout in the topmasts. It is always better to have a person in danger than an inanimate ship. Someone we as a spectator can read ourselves into. Also to enhance this I tried to make the Dino face more smiling and looking cruel at the same time. The way the head tilts comes from inspiration from birds like parrots. The eyes are placed to the side of the head so the need to turn the head sideways to look at a thing closely. That was the gesture I was going for. 

When I started greytoning the picture I slowly strayed away from the light Dino in a dark background. It turned out that I had a lot of different planes in the picture that needed to be clear from each other. I think of them as set pieces in a theater. The framing Cliffside are one plane, next is the ship. Behind the ship is a plane with the T-Rex and then the background. I needed the background to be light so I could use the 2 cliff sides as frames for the central focal point. So I made at least the edges of the T-Rex darker up against the background with a kind of projected light onto his face making him a lighter background fro the ship. 
I traded the original painting of the Dreadmaw for a
Black Lotus, a very old magic card from
Back in the days when I started playing Magic I had one in
1994 but sold it for 200$ so I could buy myself a
HVS Video Machine. 
The most difficult part of the painting was doing the face of the Dino. I knew I wanted his skin to be white with the coloring taken directly from an amazon Parrot. The different shifts of color in the maw and the drop shadow from his eyebrow down over his face was really hard to not make too dark. I try all the time to make my shadows lighter and lighter to make the image seems like it is a real lit environment. I struggle a lot with this coming from a comic book background where dark shadows and ink line is king. 
I used the strongest colors in the middle of the painting and in the focal area and used a mix of green bluish green and muddy brown everywhere else. Instead of doing a flat white or bluish water surface I went with an almost brown with only ripples and splashes in light. This is to avoid the water surface to be too prominent since I wanted the attention to be higher up with the face and the mast area. 

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Posted by James Gurney

The Norman Rockwell Museum produced this new video about the Famous Artists Course (Link to video)

The clips include color video of some of the faculty of 1950s American illustrators, along with Walt Reed, who was one of the faculty helpers, and Elwood Smith and Howard Cruz, who took the course.

Norman Rockwell in his Stockbridge, Massachusetts,
studio surrounded by his many studies for Art Critic. Bill Scovill 1955
Their exhibit "Learning from the Masters" will be on view through November 19.
You can still get secondhand copies of the Famous Artists Course.
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Posted by Charley Parker

A Woodland Stream, Peder Mork Monsted landscape painting, oil on canvas
A Woodland Stream, Peder Mørk Mønsted

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, which has a high res version of the file. The original was sold through Sotheby’s in 1987 and is presumably still in a private collection.

As far as I can tell, the majority of Mønsted’s paintings seem to be in private collections. He is one of my favorite painters, based solely on seeing images of his work; I’ve never seen an original in person.

If anyone is aware of Peder Mønsted paintings in public collections here in the U.S. (particularly on the mid-Atlantic states), I would love to know about them.



Oct. 20th, 2017 18:40
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The evening light paints with a magnitude of colours at the moment…

5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.

The One You Have With You

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:00
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Posted by D Palumbo

Actual pixel crop from a recent reference shoot using a highres DSLR, fast prime lens, and studio strobes

In talking with students and aspiring illustrators, I've been happy to see that shooting reference is becoming much more well understood as an important and widely used tool. That said, I'm still amazed at how many people will go to the trouble of finding and posing a model but still short change themselves with laziness and bad habits. Careless lighting may be the worst offender, but another common thread that gives me concerns is the phone camera.

Yes, I'm here again with yet another post about photography and illustration. What I want to look at specifically is: how big a deal is it really if you shoot reference with a phone rather than a conventional camera?

The Set-Up:

This is actually a subject that I'd been wanting to look at for quite awhile now, but it didn't make sense until I upgraded my phone to a current, top selling model. As a Samsung Galaxy user since 1
st generation, that means today's comparison will be done with my new Galaxy S8. For the traditional camera, by contrast, it didn't seem appropriate to use anything too recent or expensive. I gather a key reason that artists choose a phone camera in the first place is because something more professional is or seems out of the budget. By that standard, I decided to use the camera that I bought when I was just starting out, the 2006 released Canon Digital Rebel XTi with an old 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. B&H has the same kit listed right now at $170, which seems about the going rate on eBay.

Samsung Galaxy S8 specs:
cost: $750
resolution: 12 megapixels
max aperture: f1.7
sensor size: 5.76 x 4.29mm
angle of view (35mm full frame equivalent): about 27mm, plus digital zoom

Canon Digital Rebel XTi with kit lens specs:
cost: $150-$200
resolution: 10.1 megapixels
max aperture: f3.5-5.6
sensor size: 22.2 x 14.8mm
angle of view (35mm full frame equivalent): 29-88mm

To test the two head to head, I had a model pose in both full body and portrait scenarios. Again taking limited budgets into account, I set up using only conventional lightbulbs instead of flash units (two 100w bulbs). This lighting was far from ideal, so we're not going to see either of these devices performing at their best. The intention is more to see how they will perform in an improvised studio setting with cheap and easy lighting.

I also want to make a point to say this is not a sales pitch for either camera.  They were chosen simply as general representatives of a current phone and outdated DSLR respectively.

My Expectations:

I think it's possible that the Samsung will outperform the aging Canon in overall image quality (tonal range, color accuracy, etc.) as camera sensors have improved by leaps and bounds over the 11 years between these two devices' releases. But it is worth considering how much smaller the sensor is in a phone vs a DSLR, and I wondered if newer tech can win out in what would otherwise be a solid disadvantage of size. The
large f1.7 aperture will also allow the Samsung to do better in low light, allowing in between 4 and 16 times as much light as the Canon kit lens, which should mean lower, cleaner ISOs.

On the other hand, I'm very strongly expecting that the optical zoom on the Canon (or more specifically, not being restricted to only wide angle) would make up for any outdated tech or slow optics when it comes down to practicality.

Though I would also give a DSLR an edge for processing flexibility thanks to shooting raw files, the Galaxy S8 is among a handful of more photographer friendly smartphones that features that option as well if you shoot in “pro” mode and enable raw+jpg.  For this comparison it really ought to be a draw. The Samsung also puts out images about 20% larger, though that's mostly accounted for in the wider 3:4 image ratio (vs 2:3) and, again, shouldn't really make much real world difference.


Canon (left) zoomed to a "normal" view and Samsung (right) with the default wide angle
This was the primary concern that I had about a phone camera, and the most often cited reason why people are dubious of artists using photo reference in the first place. All lenses “distort” to some degree, in the sense that no camera lens can see the world in the same way as the human eye and brain. All are imperfect in some way (which is fine because my actual astigmatic eyes are also decidedly imperfect). The important thing is understanding, anticipating, and making use of that distortion.

I've written in the past on how you can think of painting is terms of wide angle, normal, and telephoto scenes. If you plan to shoot your reference with an appropriate angle lens and place yourself an appropriate distance from your model, you will be letting the natural spacial distortion of the photo reference properly inform your painting. Distortion looks fine as long as it is consistent throughout the image. It's more or less the same as making sure that your light sources are consistent and you don't have conflicting lighting inside of an image.

Why does this make phone cameras at a disadvantage for shooting reference? Because they only have one angle of view* and it is decidedly in the wide angle category. This is great for shooting groups of people and/or shooting in small spaces, which is what they're mostly expected to be used for. The angle of view on a phone seems about what we see with a good bit of peripheral vision included. When it comes to shooting a single figure or portrait, however, you begin running into problems.

Spacial distortion in wide angle lenses becomes very obvious in portraits and close-ups.  Again, Canon left and Samsung right.
The closer that you stand to your model, the closer it will feel that the viewer is to the model. With a wide angle lens, you need to get pretty close to fill the frame, especially with a portrait. The result is spacial distortion that only looks natural if the scene supports that we as viewers are uncomfortably close. Otherwise, the distortion is as out of place as a top lit figure standing next to a side lit figure.

The DSLR, however, is designed to allow changable lenses. In the examples here, I'm using a "standard" zoom that moves from wide angle to short telephoto. A phone can "zoom" as well, but it is doing so digitally. This means it is enlarging a portion of the photo by cropping and upscaling, similar to enlarging a lowres image off the web.  The result is degraded image quality.  Since the DSLR zoom is created by physically moving lenses, the image quality does not degrade. This means I can stand further away from the model and still fill the frame.  In this way, I get the distance needed for natural looking shots without sacrificing detail or sharpness.

Canon (left) and Samsung (right), both taken at the same distance from the model.  Digitally zooming with the phone is essentially the same as shooting this full view and then cropping and enlarging later.
I imagined this to be the biggest issue and, in actually practice, I definitely feel the fixed wide angle of a phone is far and away the biggest concern. There are attachments designed to convert a phone lens into a longer focal length, but I'm not aware of any that don't just swap compression issues for poor optical quality.

Image quality:
This was what had me most curious and, at a first glance, I was ready to simply eviscerate the Galaxy S8 on image quality. When it comes to camera sensors (where the image is actually captured), bigger is usually better. So the question was, do the years of advancements make up for the miniature size when comparing a new (small sensor) phone to an old (big sensor) DSLR.

The sensor of the Canon is around 13x the surface area of the Samsung. That means, with similar output resolution, the Samsung is squeezing 13x as much information into it's tiny sensor on an inch-for-inch comparison. In addition, phones have not traditionally supported shooting in raw format, which is a compression free camera file which I strongly recommend using if you are not already. On comparing the Samsung jpegs vs the Canon raw, it was looking very bad for the Samsung.

HOWEVER. The Galaxy S8, along with a handful of other recent smartphones, does save raw photo files if you tell it to, and this was where I found the most surprising results. I've read that there are also 3rd party apps which enable saving raw files if your device does not give that option.

Fine tuning exposure in Lightroom allows me to extract more information from highlights and shadows, in addition to a number of other very useful tools

Jpeg files are more limited in post-processing than raw files because they discard information that the camera thinks you won't need. With processing software like Adobe Camera Raw or Adobe Lightroom, that extra info can be used to fine tune color and achieve a broader, more even tonal range. This is normally the main reason that I recommend shooting raw, however the surprise was just how much compression and funky internal processing the Samsung was also adding to jpeg images, probably to get results that look really punchy at web resolution with bargain rate file sizes. Printed out, however, the contrast felt harsh and the detail rendered was, well, underwhelming. Some areas going gooey from compression and others looking over-sharpened through the phone's software. These files were generated in parallel to the the raw from the same single shot, the only difference was how the phone was saving them. When working with the raw Samsung files, image quality was, by comparison, remarkable.

Actual pixel comparisons
Meanwhile the Canon, hindered by the slow kit lens, did struggle to get enough light for a usable shutter speed, especially considering the now almost laughable top ISO of 1600 (and top of range ISO is usually best avoided if possible). With the lighting I had on hand, I had to make some compromises. The final settings for the Canon ended up being ISO 800, 1/50th of a second exposure, and f5.6 aperture. A faster lens would definitely have been a help. Still, even pushing the ISO for such an old model, results were certainly adequate. Head to head, the raw unzoomed Galaxy S8 takes it for me with cleaner microcontrast detail, though the Canon does have the potential for improvement through a lens upgrade if budget allowed.

As mentioned briefly above, zooming in with the Samsung in order to correct the distortion issues led to a heavily compromised image quality. In the default jpeg mode, I can only describe it as “VHS-esque.” Another surprise though, shooting in raw and then cropping and upsizing with Photoshop (the raw file records the full field of view even when zoomed in, so you have to manually crop and enlarge to get the zoom effect) actually did limit the damage noticeably. It should be noted though, I was only zoomed to about half the digital range here and the output I ended up with was reduced from 12 megapixels to just around 1.5 megapixels before scaling back up.

I want to state that again for emphasis, as it may be the most important point in this article to understand: In digitally zooming to correct the wide angle distortion, which I personally feel is critical, my 12 megapixel phone was only able to produce a 1.5 megapixel image at true resolution.

Actual pixel comparisons
My final verdict was a bit mixed, but not entirely in the way I'd been expecting. The Galaxy S8 is capable of impressive quality that rivals a larger but long-in-the-tooth camera like the XTi. Again, capable of. If you only use the default auto settings though, you're giving all that away. But the real issue for the smartphone continues to come down to the forced wide angle. This one issue alone decides it for me, particularly as the modular nature of a DSLR (or other changeable lens camera system) allows one to improve in pieces over time as budget allows. It is nice to see that zoomed in raw images from a smartphone are as good as they are, but it still falls quite short of the cheapest possible normal or portrait lens when shooting those angles, which accounts for about 90% of my own reference shoots. 

In the end, you know how much image fidelity you want: either "more" or "no opinion."  If your work doesn't demand detail or you can do without the subtleties, and I'm aware that describes many artists whose work I really admire, you certainly can work with what's already in your pocket. For the work that I aim to do, however, I do better with better. 

I believe it was the marketing brains at Apple who popularized the wisdom that the best camera is the one you have with you. I certainly won't argue that. But if detail matters to you at all, I'm of the opinion that a purposefully chosen tool will still serve you best, even if it's been collecting eBay dust for the past decade

*It's worth noting that some recent iPhones have both wide angle and portrait length lenses that you can switch between. In theory, this should eliminate the wide angle distortion problem entirely.

Flagg Draws a Model

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:19
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Posted by James Gurney

In this 1934 video, James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) draws a female model while talking about the importance of perceiving the skull underneath. (Link to YouTube).

In the video he lays down a few preliminary structural lines, and then at 2:04, the video makes a jump to a nearly finished drawing. Flagg dramatically signs the drawing, turns to the camera, and as he puffs on a cigarette, he says: "If you're searching for a beauty, and you want her to last, pick yourself a good skull."

Flagg was a star illustrator from 1900 through World War I (for which he designed the famous 'I Want You' poster) and on beyond WWII. He was known for his lightning portrait sketches, but he also had a reputation for being cantankerous.

His model is Ilse Hoffmann, whom he describes as the 'wood-nymph or elfin' type, but not the 'classic' type:
"Flagg had a long-term relationship with another one of his models, Ilse Hoffmann, the daughter of Hans Heinrich Lammers. His biographer has argued: 'Half Flagg's age, Ilse was a complex and unhappy woman. Enraptured with her beauty, Flagg felt perpetually compelled to paint her, in spite of her being a poor model because she hated to pose. He was dazzled by her physical grace, her humor and intelligence, by her good taste and her coquettish manner.' He described her as the great love of his life and was devastated when she committed suicide in 1945." Source
Flagg, Portrait of Ilse Hoffman
Read More
Online: Bio of Flagg at Spartacus Educational
More about the love life of Flagg
Book: James Montgomery Flagg
Video by British Pathé
Thanks, Sascha Karschner


Oct. 19th, 2017 18:28
[syndicated profile] edwardbgordon_feed
Walking through the park this morning, I was thinking of Edvard Grieg´s „Morning Mood“ from Peer Gynt.

Als ich heute morgen durch den Park ging dachte ich an Edvard Grieg´s Suite „ Morgenstimmung“ aus Peer Gynt.

5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.

Biopunk Truck

Oct. 19th, 2017 10:15
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Posted by James Gurney

I painted this image for Thomas Easton’s science-fiction story “Down on the Truck Farm” (1990). 

In this biopunk future, living vehicles are genetically engineered out of the organic parts of animals:
"The genimal's legs were mounted high, above the wheels, their joints reversed; as they ran, they pushed against the tires, spun the wheels on their bony hubs, and propelled the vehicle down the grassy greenways that had replaced paved roads early in the Biological Revolutions."
To paint the setting of giant marigolds and pumpkin plants, I set up my easel outside in the garden.

Making Myths

Oct. 19th, 2017 06:00
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Posted by Muddy Colors

Guest Blogger: Jeffrey Alan Love

The story of how I came to illustrate NORSE MYTHS: TALES OF ODIN, THOR, AND LOKI by Kevin Crossley-Holland actually starts with John Harris.

Growing up, if I saw a book that had a John Harris cover, I would buy it. I loved his artwork. In 2013, after I committed to making art that was personal and meaningful instead of just work that paid the bills, I attended Illuxcon. John was exhibiting, and after working up the nerve I went up to him and told him how much I loved his artwork and how I was trying to become an artist myself. He was incredibly kind and gracious, and we talked about our shared love of mystery, of leaving things indistinct, and how by painting the space around the object you describe the object itself. How you can just give enough information in a painting to allow the viewer to be drawn into it, to bring their own story to it, sparked by what you have suggested. From the outside looking in to the science-fiction & fantasy art industry, it seemed that rendering and realism was king, and to hear one of my heroes talking about composition and storytelling in this way gave me a lot of heart to continue pursuing a personal path for myself.

That night John stopped by my table, where I was exhibiting my new portfolio. We talked some more as he looked over my work, and then we said our goodbyes. I thought that would be that – a wonderful experience with an artist I idolized, a memory I could call upon to give me strength when I felt discouraged by the pitfalls of trying to make my way as an artist.

A few months later I got an email from Alison Eldred, John’s agent, saying that John had shared my work with her and asking if I would be interested in having her show my work around in the U.K. After jumping up and down for a bit I replied yes, please.

I think we knew that this job was a possibility on the horizon for a couple of years before I talked to Ben Norland at Walker Books. I realized that it was going to be something special when he told me he had worked on A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness with the illustrator Jim Kay. If you haven’t checked out that book, do so – Kay’s illustrations are phenomenal, deeply affecting and emotional, a perfect fit for the text. And most importantly, from my point of view, they were in black & white!

Ben sent me a draft of the text, and asked me to put together a wish list of images from it. Reading through the text I was struck by the power of Kevin’s writing, and found it nearly impossible to not just circle every paragraph. I could easily have made this a thousand-page book. “Those mountains over there… they’re made from Ymir’s bones. The sea was made from his skull, and his brains are the clouds.” Every sentence rang with visual possibility.

Those mountains over there… they’re made from Ymir’s bones. The sea was made from his skull, and his brains are the clouds. Every sentence rang with visual possibility.

Once Ben had the final draft he laid out the text, leaving areas blank, sometimes full-pages, sometimes columns, sometimes just a thin band across the top of the page, suggesting the placement of the art with the caveat that I could change anything I wanted or suggest something different. In the end I really enjoyed having the text already in place to work with, as it gave me something to work from, it implied a design that allowed my mind to play with the possibilities. Large blocks of text suggested looming figures in pure black in which the type could be reversed to white, narrow columns suggested deep wells or spears thrust into the earth, a strange-faced man juggling razor-sharp daggers.

Another favorite artist of my childhood, Victor Ambrus, had always impressed me with the way his compositions played across the two-page spread, and I tried to bring that to this book, a sense of fun and play with the design, using the full spread instead of confining myself to contained squares.

I work digitally for sketches in photoshop, as for me sketches are not about drawing ability but composition. I’m only interested in value, shape, and edges and whether or not the image is reading and telling the story I want it to tell. In general I use only black and white, and photoshop allows me to copy/paste the sketch over and over, so I can make Thor tiny in one version, and see what happens if I make him GIGANTIC in another without having to redraw him – I just lasso, copy and paste and I can see if it works within seconds. That efficiency with time was always important with previous jobs, but it was invaluable this time around – I was doing thousands of sketches for a 230-page book, with paintings on EVERY SINGLE PAGE. To make things even crazier, my wife and I had our first child in the middle of this project, and when we emerged from our shock I did the math and saw that I needed to finish three paintings a day to hit my personal deadline for the book. Ben and Walker were excellent about giving me as much time as I needed, but I’ve always prided myself on hitting deadlines, and didn’t want that to change now.

The wonderful thing about nailing down the composition in the sketch phase is that I get to just have fun making the final art.

I print out the digital sketch and lightbox it onto Stonehenge paper. I paint the silhouette with black paint or ink, depending upon how much surface texture I want at this stage, and then I coat various brayers, paint rollers, socks, petrified sticks I found on the beach, sponges, brushes, old shoes, my fingers, etc. with paint and start distressing the image. Just about anything can leave an interesting mark, and I try to have fun and leave myself open to happy accidents at this stage.

I intentionally relinquish control of the piece to the materials and let them do what they want. I used to cringe when something happened on a painting that I thought was a mistake or weird – now I love when that happens, when something surprises me in the process. The pieces begin to resemble a Rorschach ink blot, and I start to see things within them. Using white and black ink and paint and colored pencils I go back into them and try to bring out a little further the things I see within the silhouettes so that the viewer will see them too.

Then it’s just the simple matter of painting day after day, piece by piece, until it’s done and you look back and wish it really was a thousand-page book and that it didn’t have to end and you could keep painting it forever, because this truly was a dream job for me.

Thank you to Kevin Crossley-Holland for letting me run wild with his words, to Ben Norland for being such a joy to work with, Alison Eldred for her friendship more than anything, and John Harris for seeing something in my work that was hidden from me, and for sharing it. And thank you to Muddy Colors for sharing it as well.

Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love, is available from Candlewick Press and Walker Books.

A Few Tips for Accuracy

Oct. 18th, 2017 18:38
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Posted by James Gurney

A few days ago I visited the old mill town of Greenwich, New York and painted this streetscape.

In the video (link to YouTube), I share some tips for getting accuracy using the traditional pencil-measure method.
Gouache tutorial
How to Make a Sketch Easel
My videos are also available as DVDs at Kunaki
Music by Kevin MacLeod 

Im Wald

Oct. 18th, 2017 17:31
[syndicated profile] edwardbgordon_feed
Autumn light and colours in the forest…

Herbstlicht und Farben im Wald…

5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.

The Plain White Piece of Paper

Oct. 18th, 2017 06:00
[syndicated profile] muddycolors_feed

Posted by HeatherT

Blue Ribbon - 18x24 Oil on Board

My mouth is dry and sweat has begun to bead on my forehead. It’s been two weeks since I finished my last painting. I don’t know why, but for some unknown reason, the sandstorm that has swept great empty dunes over the creative desert of my brain won’t stop blowing. My eyes cringe against the wounding sunshine. In truth, I know what lies buried beneath the sand. There is a great treasure trove of ideas, hints at masterpieces. But no matter how hard I try, all I can do is stare out at the wasteland of sand that turns a brighter and brighter white as the time passes. My fingers grip tight over a quivering pencil.

This is what future faces me. The plain white gritting piece of paper.

Every ounce of effort must be applied just to put the graphite tip to that pristine white sheet. Why, I ask myself, is it so difficult? Then, in a quick, reckless stroke, a single line is applied, spoiling the clean space. A guttural emotion of triumph overwhelms me and with all hesitation abandoned, the pencil takes hold of my senses and releases what has been waiting, caged within.

Blue Ribbon Sketch

Okay, so that’s a little lyrical, but it gets the point across. We’ve all been faced with the struggle of starting something new—and yet all it really takes is simply putting the pencil to the paper and letting it do it’s job. Forget about making the perfect sketch. It will work itself out. It might take one time, it might take twenty. Here are some of the sketches I started out with before they became completed into paintings; some exceptionally simple, some worked out multiple ways, and some fairly fleshed out from the beginning. All of them began the same way—as a ridiculously frustrating plain white piece of paper.

Chuck sketch

Chuck - 12x12 Oil on Board

Game of Chase sketches

Game of Chase - 48x24 Oil on Canvas

The Insatiable Mr. Toad sketch

The Insatiable Mr. Toad - 18x24 Oil on Board

Etherium sketches

Etherium sketch

Etherium - 18x36 Oil on Board

Alice sketch

Alice sketches - notice how I ran out of paper
space? I just grabbed another piece of paper
and kept on going...

Alice background sketch

We're All Mad Here - 24x48 Oil on Board

Crimson Ribbon rough sketch with associated reference file markers

Crimson Ribbon composition sketch compiled in Photoshop
after drawing each element separately.

Crimson Ribbon - 18x36 Oil on Board

I Am sketch

I Am - 36x60 Oil and Gold Leaf on Board

Das Denkmal

Oct. 17th, 2017 18:38
[syndicated profile] edwardbgordon_feed
The Soviet War Memorial in the Treptower Park this morning with a strong rising sun in the back still with a layer of mist… quite gripping and monumental..

Das Sowjetische Ehrenmal im Treptower Park heute morgen, im Hintergrund die starke aufgehende Sonne fast verscwommen noch hinter einer Nebelschicht, sehr monumental und berührend…

5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.

Decadent Dollhouses

Oct. 17th, 2017 09:50
[syndicated profile] gurneyjourney_feed

Posted by James Gurney

Carrie Becker is a photographer and a sculptor of miniatures who produces exquisitely detailed interior scenes. 

In "Barbie Trashes Her Dreamhouse," she presents rooms of a hoarder's home stuffed to the gills with clutter.

After completing a masters program in sculpture, Becker traveled through rural Kansas, exploring and photographing the interiors of abandoned houses.

She used this inspiration as she outfitted each tiny room, implying the backstory to her imagined alternate reality.

After the viral success of her Barbie-themed project, she worked on a theme called "Lilliputian Entropy," showing European-style rooms fallen into disrepair. 

Paschalis Dougalis

Oct. 17th, 2017 11:46
[syndicated profile] linesandcolors_feed

Posted by Charley Parker

Paschalis Dougalis, wildlife art, watercolors pen and ink
Originally from Greece, Paschalis Dougalis is an artist and wildlife illustrator currently based in Munich, Germany.

Douglais has a special interest in birds, and owls in particular. He works in watercolor, gouache and acrylic for his finished pieces, and often works from life in zoos and parks, capturing animals in watercolor or pen, often Bic pens.

I particularly enjoy his drawings on toned paper in which he works out from the middle ground with both ink and white gel pens.

Though there are a few images on his website, his blog is more active. Douglais’ YouTube channel includes a number of videos of him working on location.

There is a brief interview with Douglais on Birdingmurcia.


Where it all begins...

Oct. 17th, 2017 06:00
[syndicated profile] muddycolors_feed

Posted by Julian Totino Tedesco

Working on the sketches is definitely one of my favorites steps in the creation of a cover. It's also, I believe, the most important. As I love seeing other artists doodles and sketches, I thought of sharing some of mine, in the hope that others would enjoy it too. Plus, it's a nice excuse to show some of those sketches that weren't picked up and couldn't see the light.

To me, it all starts with my beloved sketchbook. Whether a commercial assignment or a personal illustration, it always begins with a doodle.

I have taken the habit to sketch quite small, for two main reasons:

First, I need to let the ideas flow and not get stuck by technical aspects, and second, because if the composition works on a thumbnail, it will definitely work bigger.

Cover ideas for "Witchfinder: City of the Dead". Dark Horse Comics.
At this point, I don't judge or repress any idea. Anything goes. Sometimes an overused idea can take a very interesting spin by changing just a tiny detail, but I'm only able to see it once I'm in front of all of my doodles. Sometimes the better idea is a mix of two or three others that didn't work on their own. It works as a sort of dialogue: Once I put the ideas on paper, those ideas sparks new ones.

Cover thumbnails  for "Witchfinder: City of the Dead". Dark Horse Comics.

Cover thumbnails  for "Witchfinder: City of the Dead". Dark Horse Comics.

From all the ideas I sketch, I select only two or three and proceed to developing them in Photoshop, before sending them to the editor.

Cover Sketches for "Witchfinder:City of the Dead". Dark Horse Comics.

At this stage I work the sketch on a cover template with the exact size of the final cover and, if possible, with the title on a separate layer, so I can know exactly which space is going to take up and how much is going to cover the image and where.

Look what happens when you don't pay attention to the cover dress:

These are a few sketches I did for the cover of "Comic Artist" Magazine. I really liked them, and the editor too, but still, they were rejected. Why?
Cover Sketches for "Comic Artist" Magazine #3.
Here's why: Being used to doing comic book covers, my main concern was to leave space enough at the top of the image. I knew there were going to be some texts on the sides, but nothing too big, I thought. I was dead wrong. The editor sent me the trade dress and it was way more information that I was hoping, so we had to go with a new sketch, according to it.

Every item in the cover ( Title, credits, bar code, etc) is a compositional element that will generate a weight in the image's balance, so one have to have that in mind when working on a sketch.

As fun as it is to sit down and throw ideas on paper, things don't always go so smoothly, and sometimes it's hard to find an idea that's appealing to us, or to get hooked with our theme or character. When that's the case, I try to balance things my way.

I remember being very dry of ideas with this Luke Cage cover. All I knew about the story was that it took place in New Orleans...
Cover Sketches for "Luke Cage" #3. used the excuse to drawing something that I always enjoy, which is people playing music. It's not every day that you can put that on a superheroe cover, but it worked out this time. The editor chose the sketch and I got to draw what I wanted, while still making sense with the story.

Cover sketch and final version.
Also, if I see the slightest chance for humor on a cover, I'm going to take it.
Cover for "Web Warriors" #6
Cover for "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" #11
If you can't come up with a new idea, try to come up with an interesting way to portray an old idea. Try to have fun with the "How" instead of the "What".

"Spider-Men". Doodle, Photoshop sketch and final cover.
To me, this cover wasn't about the idea of the Spider-Men, jumping mid-air, but about playing with a graphic element and a limited color scheme.

Ideally, you'll want to come up with something that's sensible with what the cover needs, but also, enjoyable for you and representative of who you are and the things you like. To me, the best place to find that out, it's my sketchbook.

As always, feel free to share your creative methods and tips in the comment sections, or to ask anything you want about mine.

Thanks for reading!

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