Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lots has happened...

...since the last post.
I'm still a student at TAD.  Recently,  the first entertainment 2D semester ended.  2 more to go!

I started a paid internship with Massive Black Shanghai (later renamed to Brilliant Colors LLC).  I Just found out that ImagineFX magazine actually did publish a brief interview with me about it.  One of the reasons I haven't posted any updates is because most of the work I've been doing has been NDA.   All the work I've done for them so far has been for Riot Software (League of Legends). I've been doing splash illustration work for them, as well as character design (new characters and reskins).  There are now several people alongside me, most other TAD students.  We've had to learn to work as a group, passing different character designs and illustrations around.  Also learning about working with clients and getting used to making a lot of changes... it's been a tremendous learning experience.

I'm on break from that now, and my latest endeavor is to develop my own world as a mobile adventure game, 3D navigation style through 2D images, like the old game Riven, and release a book at the same time (marketing strategy).  Anyway, it's still in the planning stages.  I want to have a sketch-style working prototype within the next couple of weeks, and have already gotten a good start with the pitchdoc.  I'll be taking a break from art while I learn some scripting and work on some writing as well.

Also I'm catching up on TAD work I fell behind on when doing the Riot stuff, and will be posting that soon too.

In non-art news, I've just started playing Star Wars the Old Republic.  So far, so awesome.

Anyway, I hope all my online friends are doing well and have their own set of exciting developments.


^This is the first splash illustration I worked on for MB Shanghai (Brilliant Colors), for League of Legends (Riot).
The original purpose of this illustration was to promote the re-designed Gangplank character and replace the old splash art.
I worked in it in a collaboration with Jon Neimeister ( and Alex Konstad (  under a tight deadline. Trying to be efficient with 3 people on 1 piece without "too many cooks in the kitchen" is challenging but can also be really rewarding. We all had a hand in it during all stages of the process. When you take out the lack of sleep and a few annoying client changes, it was a "blast" ^hahaha^ 


Another splash, later done for League of legends' "Snowdown" event. This is the Christmas themed skin obviously. I didn't design the reskin
It was tricky because Maokai is a complicated, sort of "messy looking" character. Also, they wanted him in a cozy christmas living room, but since LoL is a fantasy game, I had to make it look recognizable but still not modern. Log cabin seemed to work as a bridge between modern and fantasy. It had to look cozy, but also dark and creepy. I dunno, maybe it's too dark.
Anyway, if you notice the painting on the wall to the left, it's actually Riot's 2011 Christmas login screen
I did this one on my own, though I got feedback from the group, including our art director, Randis Albion.
Anyway, Riot ended up making changes to this before it actually went on the website. This is what it ended up looking like:

I prefer the original better so that's what I posted

Anyway... there's a good bit more Riot stuff where that came from!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recent figure painting work

Unfortunately, I can't share everything I'm doing at TAD.  (Two of the major projects we've worked on, plus my recent internship with Massive Black Shanghai.)  But I do have a great figure painging class with Jon Foster, so here's some of the stuff I've done for it so far.
First project - study of a Jon Foster sculpture.  Had fun chiseling brushmarks with this.

Watercolor.  Decided to add my own environment and scenario to make it more of an illustration than just a weekly homework study.

Another weekly figure assignment, and another time I decided to have fun adding a background.  I discovered how to mimic some of Painter's effects in Photoshop with this one.  And made it sort of an art deco theme - why not?

Based on the photography of Peter Hapak.  Love his series.  (I added the fish though hehe)  This was a combination of mostly acrylic (base), some colored pencil, and some light oil as a finish.  I'm glad I tried it!

This was done almost all in acrylic, with some oil.  We used the Zorn palette (ivory black, alazirin crimson, yellow ocre, titanium white, burnt sienna, and NO blue!)  My own composition but I tried to capture the spirit of Zorn's work. 

Here's my acrylic master copy of Nicolai Fechin.  I didn't stress over exact strokes/proportions as I did in capturing the feel, texture, and brush style.  I think I learned a lot from this!
Process, featuring my monster palette knife - like, favorite tool evar!
Original painting.

30 min limited value watercolor.
60 min limited value watercolor.

Bougereau crop master copy in oil pastel.  This was super-challenging because I only had black, white, and a blender - no gray oil pastels!  Lots of finger smudging!  I may go in and fix some areas digitally, like making it more subtle.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TAD Summer Workshop 2011 (Catching Up, pt. 5)

Another thing I did this past summer was the TAD workshop!  Busybusy... Anyway, it was a great experience, and brought back memories of the 2009 Illustration Academy.

It was also great to be able to meet some of my classmates (and teachers!) from the previous spring's semester in person.  Though it seems like everyone in my group went to last December's workshop instead...

I didn't really go out and experience Kansas City, due to having no transportation and being busy with the workshop.  But that's OK.

Anyway, the main project we had that first week was to design a new character class for Team Fortress 2.  Much of it was about paying attention to silhouette, making the character unique from the others in shape, but fitting in with them well.  Just like the IMC, we had so many demos and lectures going on, plus figure drawing, so it was hard to get a whole lot done.  But honestly, it's more about learning than producing.

Here's what I ended up with (orthos were done later though):

I had to leave halfway through the workshop, so there were two other projects I missed, but I'll take what I can get!

Here's a totally unrelated Environment of the Week entry I worked on while there too.  Definitely stuff that could be fixed on this though.

So... here are some photos!

Flooding on the way to KC.  Don't remember where this is but I LOVE it.

Anita Kunz paints Michele Bachmann.  Originally done for a news magazine, but you can see it here: 

Jon Foster does a head painting demo in Painter and Photoshop.  Lots of great stuff here.

Demo party:  3 for on1 (George Pratt, John English, Vanessa Lemen)

Ted Kinsella watermedia demo.

Andy Brinkman being... Andy.  Haha

We really have a ton of room, the whole 6th floor of a fairly big building.  Great space!

Figure Drawing

Mark English and Colin Boyer going at at.

John English, figure painting

Vanessa Lemen giving an imaginative head painting demo.  Love the way that red bounce light pops it!

Ron Lemen giving an excellent rush lesson of human anatomy.  He drew out a crapload of boards like this, super-fast.

George Pratt painting his entropy character in a demo.

Talking w/ class

Marshall giving an anatomy demo.

I love this face!  Artists...

Me working on my character.

Boy, Kansas City looks a whole lot like it could fit right into the Team Fortress 2 world.

View from the (unsafe) fire escape outside my window.  I love this ivy place.  Supposedly a waterfall goes down that building when it rains, which is why it's so grown in the first place...

Jason Manley critting our TF2 characters.  Was great to finally meet him!

Marshall Vandruff and Terry Brown just talking with us casually.  I think we were discussing introversion/extroversion here.

Our building used these cool old industrial elevators.  Here's Brent Watkinson coming up!

Terry Brown giving and American illustration history lecture.

Right before our zombie character design lecture.

Hahaha, I knew this would become a common sight...


Awesome building ouside my hotel.  Dieselpunky goodness.

At a rest area on the way back.  Who knew state governments could actually have a sense of humor?

The Illustration Masterclass! (Catching Up, pt. 4)

(OK, so I'm a little late to the party on this one, since this happened all the way back in mid-June... but here goes!)

I went to my first Illustration Masterclass (IMC) this summer, and I certainly hope it isn't my last.  It was amazing.  I got to meet and hang with some of the greatest people in the fantasy industry today.  Let's just say that my Spectrum autograph collection has grown...

To save myself some work, James Gurney has an article here.

The artists included:
Ian McCaig, Donato Giancola, Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos, Adam Rex, Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Rebecca Guay, Scott Fischer, Irene Gallo (AD of Tor), Scott Allie (Comics writer, editior of Hellboy/Buffy and others).  Guest lecturers included Peter De Seve, Mo Willems, and James Gurney.  I want to shout out a big Thank-you to Rebecca Guay for putting it together.

One of the best things about it was the social aspect of it.  There people from all walks and stages of life (some great pros among the students, people who have had careers like matte painter, concept artist, Nickelodeon animator, children's book illustrator/author), toy illustrator, architect, and many others).  It was great to all have our meals in the same place and talk to new people every day.

And at the end of it all, I still managed to do a painting.  (Well, not finish it, but get a good start!)
Here be it:
16" x24", Oil

The class photo.  Lots more people here.  Guess where I am?  Yep, hanging from the tree!

Shot of faculty, courtesy James Gurney.

Interior of conference room.  We probably had nearly 20 lectures here in the course of a week!

Setting up in the upstairs (traditional) studio

Critique with Adam REx, Irene Gallo, Boris Vallejo, and Dan Dos Santos

This is priceless - Donato Giancola and Greg Manchess fighting over who's the best artist.  Either that, or giving a demo of taking good ref by roleplaying a slave and master... or something.  I'll let you take your pick.

Peter de Seve!

Donato starts a drawing for a middle earth painting.

James Gurney, guest lecturer, makes his rounds through the upstairs studio.

An excerpt from his lecture on composition, discussing the use of eye tracking technology

While looking for a teacher on the lower floor, I discover Ian McCaig giving an impromptu demo by sketching a student.  Boy can he ever draw!

Underpainting.  I think there's a beauty to how this is already!

Anticipating another lelcture.

Greg Manchess working on a book cover painting.

Ian McCaig giving a demo on concepting creatures based on what's around you.

Donato Giancola's bio lecture

Me and Ian!  He's an amazing guy, such an awesome attitude and full of energy and creativity.  I aspire to be like him in personality as well as art.

Left: art director's sketch, right: finished painting.  lol

Instructors in wrap-up roundtable discussion, pt. 1

Instructors in wrap-up roundtable discussion, pt. 1

People's work set up for open studio, upstairs

People's work set up for open studio, upstairs

Here's a WIP of my own painting!