Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tonight's life drawing.

Warm-up - The Day of the Crows.

Man, I love painting foliage :)

Doctor Photoshop - Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Big Brush

Ok, a text post for a change!  I've been doing a lot of "plate extensions" lately, which I believe is great practice, and amazing for helping you learn how to create and match the textures and styles you see in other work.


There's always a however.

There is a danger.  The tendency, at least for me, is to jump into laying out the "fiddly bits" - splashes of colour and texture that dot rocks, bricks, know, the stuff you WANT to paint.  The danger is, when you do plate extensions, you can pretty much do this - but when you go back to doing your own paintings, it will hurt you.  A good painting is BASED on large shapes.  Beyond being about anything, a painting at its heart is a collection of lights and darks organized in a pleasing manner.  When you start putting moss on rocks before you have established firmly the rock and its relationship to the sun, you are begging for trouble.

There are a couple of things you can do to combat this.  First of course, is stay zoomed out to the point you can't see the texture.  That helps, but honestly, our eyes are damned good at finding texture, and tend to care less about the big shapes.  I think we're wired to find mushrooms and poisonous spiders - in other words, our eyes and brain are constantly trying to zoom into those big shapes.  Is that rock halfway in shade?  Who cares?  Is that a rattlesnake sunning itself on the top?  Yeah, that I care about!

This brings us to the best technique - The "fat finger approach".  When you are doing a painting, find a brush size that seems as big as you could possibly use effectively...and then make it half again bigger!  Set those big shapes down when you can't work small.  Yes, you'll go "over the lines" sometimes, but you can always cut back away from the outside of the shape, which will probably make your edges more interesting anyway!

Many of us are good at doing this initially in the "blocking in" phase, but then forget when we start focusing on the details.  DON'T!  When you "zoom in" to your painting, just think of it as a completely new painting that only covers part of the larger composition.  The true secret is that every phase is the "blocking in" one.

I haven't done a lot of it yet, but I'm guessing painting on a tablet like an iPad would be great practice for this, because you literally have a "fat finger" to lay down value and colour with.

Yesterday, I destroyed a painting by jumping into laying down streaks of cool moss and tiny rocks.  I felt SO GOOD about the image, and then I zoomed back out.  It made no damn sense.  My friend Chris Oatley talks about this in his blogpost about "The Hudson River Painters Vs. The Texture Monster" here.  I love me some texture brushes and photos, but you have to get the big shapes to read first.  If it looks good zoomed out, you can make the zoomed in look great just by spending more time....but the reverse is FAR from true!

I hope this has been at least a little helpful, I felt like laying down into words my personal experience this week.  If you enjoyed it, let me know, I will write more :)  In the meantime, you can follow my work either here on this blog, on my website: or my Facebook page:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

morning warmup.

Quick one this morning, about 30 minutes. From "Sword of the Stranger", which I have never seen, but the backgrounds are amazing  If anyone cares, I'm getting a fair number of these from

Monday, August 26, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

This morning's plate extension.  Wanted to play with the ground textures...and added a person so it would tie the composition together better.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Morning plate extension

More from "Attack on Titan". As you gain confidence with plate extensions, you should try zooming more and more out, so you have to create more and more of the 'new' image.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Attack on Titan plate extension

Wanna play more with made made structures, this is a good way to practice.

Plate Extension study

Another plate extension, this from the anime "Seirei no Moribito" - Ah, rocks!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Plate Extension

Haven't done one of these in a while - It's a plate extension of a screencap from Brother Bear. To me, these combine the observational work of a study with some original thinking as well, and are great for environment artists.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Alice revision.

Spent a bit of time on the figure.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Alice in Cyberland

I think this will be one of my vis-dev ideas I'll work on for CTN-Expo.  Cyberpunk Alice in Wonderland.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Created a quick starfield illustration for a friend's project....meant to be printed BIG and used as a poster for a teenager's bedroom.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Daily warmup drawings.

Started searching pinterest for "climbing" pictures about halfway through.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Couple of Characters

Trying something a bit different in Sketchbook Pro.