Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Radioactive Beach



If the guys at "Spitpaint" can turn out interesting little pictures on a theme in 20 minutes, well, so can I. This piece, on the theme of "Radioactive Beach," is inspired by the destruction of the Fukushima nuclear plant complex in Japan by the tsunami of 2011. Anybody here in North America remember that? The disaster is still going on but it somehow doesn't get in the news any more. I did this piece while listening to a piece of very dark ambient music, played live and improvised as I listened by the adventurous "Darth Buddha," otherwise known as John Tocher.

I hope to do more of these visual improvisations on a theme. I might do them on the iPad too if I have the time. 20 minutes maximum for this game.

"Radioactive Beach" is Photoshop, 7" x 3.5", April 23, 2014.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tree Fantasy Pin-up


Here's another attempt at doing a fantasy pin-up. My model is from a book of photographs called "1960s Glamour: 20th Century Pin-ups." The girls in the book are not professional models, but amateurs whose photos were published in British mens' girlie mags in the mid-century. The surroundings or interiors where the models posed are now historically interesting. 

My figure is halfway OK except for the upraised right arm which I have never been able to do. It looks awkward in the model, too, which brings up the question: is the model ever awkward, and if so, do you draw her that way. Or do you have this magic figure drawing ability that can "clean up" poses and make her look graceful no matter what. I tried to put in the big round boobies which are so necessary nowadays for a pin-up babe. The photo models in the '60s didn't have implants but most of the pin-up models nowadays do. This leads to the question of whether you should alter the breasts of your model to make them look like the standards of the 21st century. Remember this is fantasy not real life. Anyway, I tried again. I am again recommended by my fellow artists to keep drawing live nude models. If I find one available I would be happy to draw her. But she won't look like a fantasy girl.

Ink and markers on sketchbook page, 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", April 22, 2014.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Priestess of the Pentacle


I don't depict faces very well, it's part of my general failure to depict people well. But this one is marginally better than my usual. I copied an old fashion photograph to get something right. I forget what was in her hand originally. I put a Pentacle in her hand as a shameless ploy to attract a Pagan customer. Sure enough, someone bought it at a convention auction, and I think she was a Pagan, too. I used to be a lot closer to the Pagan community. Back in the "old days" I designed covers and logos for Pagan and New Age conventions and even helped run one or two of them. Now I'm not even sure the Pagan movement is still active. It must be but I don't have the contacts I used to, and their leadership is getting old or even dying off. I remember Paganism being kind of enjoyable, full of pleasant symbolism and a friendly view of Nature, colorful and tolerant of most lifestyles. It was also a good source of art clients though now as they age the Pagans, never the most financially secure of people, have no money to spend on luxuries like art, and no space to display it.

"Priestess of the Pentacle" is 6 3/4" x 8 3/4", watercolor and metallic acrylic paint on illustration board, October 1997.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lady Elixir


Just experimenting with newly acquired picture books of Victorian garb. I think I'd be a good Victorian lady if I had the clothes (and the money) for it. No use being in a historical era if you are poor and can't enjoy it. It isn't "steampunk" yet though. Just because someone is dressed in 19th century attire doesn't make it Steampunk. But I would call this one "Mysticpunk" as she is holding a nice little glass of the Elixir of Life. Swig that down and live forever, or at least into the far future. You know you want to.

Ink on sketchbook page, about 4" x 5", April 20th, 2014.

And speaking of new life, Happy Easter and Happy Spring to my little band of Art By-Product readers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Dragon on your Windowsill


The dragons of the town alight on windowsills, looking for a handout. They might look fierce, but all they really want from you are some leftovers. The larger types participate in the defense of the town if someone is so rude as to invade it. The windowsill dragon species is no bigger than a dog. It is best to keep on friendly terms with them. 

This piece was drawn in my "storybook style" and even though I hadn't been through my self-study of "drawing dragons" my creatures weren't too bad. The architecture is from the rooftops of a French country village. 

Ink and watercolor on illustration board, 8 1/2" x 9 1/2", October 1997.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Vandal Savage character portrait


And…here's another character portrait using the previous posting's stance, from a long time ago. The character is "Vandal Savage," a perennial DC Comics villain, who is immortal and evil and endlessly determined to have his way. ("Vandal Savage" has to be one of the best villain names ever.)  I was especially fond of the black and white costume, with its "jodhpur" pants and its somewhat Nazi-ish collar and epaulets. He holds what appears to be a high-tech Molotov cocktail.

He might be an immortal master villain but he looks a little wimpy in this illustration. This is because I didn't use a fashion template but created the figure by myself. You need those exaggerated fashion proportions for a mythical being. This is one of my perplexities with illustrating human figures in mythic roles and situations. Their proportions are NOT "realistic" yet all the art figure training and practice I have done demands a strictly "realistic" rendering and proportion for human figures. So when I depict a heroic or mythic character, they look like some random person dressed in a costume rather than a legendary larger-than-life figure. I know, this is not exactly a dire problem but it is a factor in my endless quest to do art work that conveys excitement and doesn't suck. 

"Vandal Savage" is acrylic on illustration board, 6" x 10", August 1988.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Digital Costume Sketch


For a long time, well not quite an aeon, but certainly a year or two, I've wondered how concept artists, game artists, character designers and costume designers were able to draw these lifelike figures that somehow all were in the same position or looked the same. Here are some examples from the "Massive Black" concept art catalog. This is the level of artistic quality I aspire to. But as you know I constantly struggle with drawing human figures.

Why were they all in the same position, I wondered. I realized it must be some kind of template, a pre-drawn figure that you can just trace when you need to design a costume over it. These are common in the fashion industry and in graphic design but are completely forbidden in the artistic world where you are expected to draw all your figures from scratch with a live model. Tracing is outright cheating. But this is what the concept artists do. So I found and sent away for books of fashion templates. And there you go. These figures, with their exaggerated proportions, were what I need to make decent-looking character and costume designs. 

The young prince above, who is vaguely inspired by the comic-strip "Prince Valiant," is my first experiment using a template. The line-art template depicts a fashion model in that standing position. 


Using the magic of Photoshop (which replaced tracing paper) I digitally drew my own "prince" costume design over a faded-out version of the template. After I had done my own drawing, I discarded the template and finished the costume design and added a reasonable head and face.

Eventually I hope to be able to draw decent figures all by myself but given my endless struggle I am glad to have this resource to "draw on" even if it isn't "good" artistic practice. When I put the costumed figures into action positions I will still need to be able to draw rather than trace from templates. 

You see, I still have not given up hope that someday I will do digital art with the quality of "Massive Black." I don't know whether I will ever professionally do concept art or illustration, but that, and comic book art, are the types of art I really care about.

Template and design are 2 1/2" x 6 1/2", digital something.