Friday, April 27, 2012

Sisa of the Five Claws

Here's another character portrait commission from my days with Philadelphia fans in the late 80s. "Sisa" was a commander and adventurer in a game that my client played. She was his role-playing identity in the game. Her symbol was a severed dragon's claw in grey and red, and she wielded a fantastic (if impractical) five-pronged pole weapon. Battle-magic symbols are painted on her forehead. Her armor, while it covers her up properly rather than a steel bikini, seems a bit restrictive in the torso. As one fan on seeing this said to me, "Sisa, don't breathe." I suppose it could be like a corset. Armor is never comfortable.

The campaign went on for months, but I delayed painting the character because I was not sure how to depict that shiny armor. By the time I got the painting done, the game was finished. I hope Sisa survived.

Sisa is acrylic on Strathmore illustration board, 9" x 12", spring 1987. Click on image for larger view.

Note for By-Product viewers: I will be going away from my studio for a week, to attend my elderly parents. During that time I won't be posting to this blog, unless I might be able to do an iPad drawing or two. I'll be back on May 6, if all goes well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dragon Folded Wing

I haven't posted any dragon drawings in a while. I have been preoccupied with day job work and an upcoming visit to parents and relatives. This step-by-step build of a partially folded dragon's wing comes from Staple's draw-dragons book. This is only one perspective view of a wing, and in dragon action it could be anywhere from edge-on and nearly invisible to a picturesque full extension. This page also has a little dragon head, rather goat-like with a wry expression on its face.

Pencil on sketchbook page, about 8" x 10".

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Noantri Wine Kegs

Mount Etna has had a lot of activity this year, some of which is visible in YouTube videos. Etna erupts spectacularly and its blasts are harmless, as long as you aren't right at the crater. For thousands of years, Etna has been a tourist destination, and the villages around it are now resorts for winter skiers and summer vacationers.

Etna's eruptions remind me of one of my Great Unfinished Projects, my graphic novel THE FLAMING RAMPARTS. Set in my imaginary Noantri world, which closely resembles the Mediterranean and Sicily especially, it's the story of an alternate Etna monitored and ultimately challenged by a "volcano wizard" who wields modern scientific psi-magic. I have 43 pages but have not done anything on it for a long while, due to time constraints. Maybe I'll be able to do something with it after my Big Painting is finished.

Here is a single panel from RAMPARTS. "Akri" is a small resort town up on the slopes of Mount Aitna, the alternate Etna. This scene shows a restaurant family bringing in extra supplies in anticipation of a tourist and guest rush for the Winter Solstice Festival as well as another showy but non-destructive eruption at Aitna's summit. They've got kegs of wine as well as a box of multi-colored peppers (seen at lower right). As you can imagine, something unforeseen will happen. You may notice a dark, cone-shaped hill in the background behind the buildings...

Scene of Akri is ink and watercolor on Fabriano board, about 6" x 5", circa 2003.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Architectural details, Cambridge, Mass.

In the 1980s I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and my neighborhood was filled with handsome old wooden buildings. They had a lot of decorative woodwork on them which I never tired of drawing, then or now. Here are two studies of architectural details, done on site free-hand. No ruler or perspective device was used. Buildings like these remain in older neighborhoods all the way through the American East and Midwest. Wherever I see them, I like to draw them. These images were rescued from copies imbedded in a plastic portfolio book. I drew them with a Rapidograph technical pen and they are about 5 inches wide. Date of making was late summer 1986.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ailinn the Harper

This was a commission for a character portrait that one fan gave to his friend, who had created the character. The tale, which as far as I know was never finished, let alone published, was set in the 16th century somewhere in the British Isles and starred this fellow, a blind (or visually impaired, perhaps) harper. I was given very specific data so that I could do the portrait exactly as the author wanted. But I never got to read any text. I was given the character's name: Ailinn the Harper.

This figure was derived from a photograph I took of a real costumer playing the role of a harper. Occasionally I've been able to persuade costumers to pose for me wearing all sorts of outfits and using lots of props or weapons. I have an extensive library of poses that I really should find and go through, just in case someone commissions a character portrait from me again.

"Ailinn the Harper" is ink and watercolor on Arches illustration board, 7" x 10", April 1993.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bronze Sun

I haven't done one of these Photoshop improvisations for a long time, and I had a moment, so here's one. This is in a somewhat neglected series of mine called the "K-series," digital abstractions inspired by "K" Kandinsky. I also get to figure out some visual problems on these digital pieces before I commit to acrylic solidity.

Which is more permanent, pixels or acrylic? I just saw a video of a new exhibit of David Hockney's work, in which a large room is filled with his paintings on his iPad. Some of them are projected on iPad screens mounted on the wall, but most of them are printed onto paper. Is this iPad art taken seriously as art only because a famous artist did it? Or can my Photoshop and iPad efforts be Serious Fine Art too?

You know those geometric abstractions that I crank out every so often? My educated, sophisticated fans love 'em. But they are a real pain to paint in acrylic, especially when I want a smooth blend. But if I used Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, I could produce 'em in almost no time at all. Since no one buys these, (ok, very few people) I could do what I wanted without spending weeks pushing sticky paint around and filling my cluttered space with even more unsold painting clutter. If I were David Hockney, collectors would line up to buy prints of my digital work. Instead, I get lectured on how the Collector must have a Real Painted Piece to go up on the wall, and how the Collector hates digital art anyway. I am not referring to any specific Collector here. All I have to say regarding this is, if the Collector wants a Real Painted Piece, he has to pay a whole lot more for it because I will be spending much more time on it.

Nevertheless I firmly believe that digital art is here to stay, at least until some apocalyptic event demolishes the Internet, fries all our computers, and erases every digital file.

"K-10 Bronze Sun" is Photoshop, about 10" x 7" if you printed it out, April 22, 2012.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Red Hot Darkover

Back in Darkoverland, there was an unmistakable element of romance and eroticism in that world. Marion Zimmer Bradley and her female fan base were not immune to the bodice ripping that went on under the Red Sun. This was a piece designed to appeal to that part of the Darkover mythos. If I had red paper to work on, and some fashion magazines, I would go there. Note the glowing "matrix stone" on our Darkover babe's neck. Ah, the old days, I hardly remember them. The title of this one is "Matrix Ecstasy."

Ecstasy is colored pencil and gouache on red paper, 7" x 10", October 1992.

Friday, April 20, 2012


During the1980s I hung out with a group of Philadelphia science fiction fans, even though I lived in the Boston area at that time. I would commute to their events, stay over after partying, and go back up to Boston the next day. We would also get together at science fiction conventions. They often bought my art, especially my Darkover-themed pieces. And sometimes they commissioned work from me directly, often from gaming scenarios they were playing.

This is one of those game illustrations. It shows two gameplayers in a romantic moment under a great sacred oak tree. The gentleman lover has put aside his armor, weapons, and helmet which can be seen at the tree trunk. They are in an underground world in a hollow Earth, so the light comes from a magical sun that moves about inside the vast cavernous space. The interior world is so big that the inhabitants can build sparkling cities like the one behind the meadows. This city is called "Mountainspire." The peaceful city, inhabited by elves, is surrounded by fertile farmland and forests which grow happily even under an artificial sun. This game is now gone and forgotten.

"Mountainspire" is ink and watercolor on illustration board, 22" x 15", June 1987. You'll want to click on this image for a larger view.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Airplane in the Mall

I went shopping in the local Mall (Tysons Corner Center) and was surprised to find an airplane parked in the lower level. It was sitting on a carpet of straw in a rustic-themed stage set. The plane was a brilliant orange with black areas which made me glad as that is my favorite color combination. The plane was decorated with advertising for Hamilton Watches and there was a sign saying that it was there to represent this old brand of timepieces which are used in aviation. Here's a watch collecting site which explains the presence of the airplane in the mall.

I don't think the airplane flew into the mall. The Websites which mention this ad campaign say that the plane is actually a scaled down mock-up and is not airworthy. But if you go to the Hamilton watch site, you can see another orange and black plane being flown in aerobatic maneuvers among the spires of the Alps.

I drew this in my sketchbook as mall-goers appreciated the plane and took each other's picture in front of it with their cellphone cameras. I used a black fine point Pitt drawing pen on my 10" x 7" sketchbook page, then scanned it at home and added color in Photoshop. April 18, 2012.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Little Green Fire Lizard

As I transcribe the hundreds of slides from my archives to digital, I find that I did attempt to depict dragons before my current project to learn them systematically. This is one example, and it's fairly recent compared to what I have been unearthing before. It's not really a dragon, since it has a short neck and long spidery digits. It's a fire lizard, a creature that is tiny compared to a full-scale dragon. They are common characters in Anne McCaffrey's "Dragons of Pern" books. A fire lizard would be no bigger than a bird, and not even a big bird like a hawk or a goose. It would be more the size of a blue jay or a dove, though with a long whiplike tail. Nevertheless, it would have fiery breath and batlike dragon wings.

I used to do batches of quick fantasy illustrations on colored paper, especially to sell at small prices at conventions. This is from one of those sets. I haven't done anything like that recently, but if I had the time and an appropriate convention show, I might do it again. I learned to do illustrations on colored paper, long ago, from my bloggin' buddy Tristan, as well as other artists such as David Cherry, who is still active as an artist somewhere in Texas.

"Little Green Fire Lizard" is mixed media (ink, gouache, pencil, etc.) on grey paper, 10" x 7", fall 1996.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Duke's Dress Ball

This is the last cover I did for Gamelords, before the company began to fade away. It is for a game called "The Duke's Dress Ball," in which you and your fellow players play a gang of thieves who have infiltrated a high-society event. The thieves attend the ball in order to lift as many valuables as they can get away with, while they pass as fellow nobles and party-goers. (The Duke's security systems must be very weak.) On this cover, you see a female thief, in a glorious green satin gown, dancing with a handsome gentleman, while she is picking his pocket.

This is a rare piece of art for me to paint because it contains an idealized self-portrait. The woman in green is supposed to be me, if I wore fancy clothes and make-up. I also recall that the golden background of this scene was especially difficult to paint, since I was using a thick coat of a color (raw siena, a golden brown) which is not very opaque. It turned out all right but the surface of the painting was unusually rough.

Gamelords is gone but you can still get this game, and see the cover with lettering on it, at this site, "Different Worlds." Who knew that someone is still selling games that are almost thirty years old? I wonder if anyone has ever bought a copy.

"The Duke's Dress Ball" game cover is acrylic on Strathmore illustration board, 11" x 14", April 1984. Klikonit for larger view.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I thought that I had blogged this piece before on "Art By-Products" but I guess not. I'm doing a similar concept to this with my Big Painting, that is, an evocation of Earth imbedded in a geometric abstraction. This painting, titled "Earth-X" after a Marvel Comics series, is still hanging on my wall, since I don't really want to sell it. I really love the color scheme of orange, black, and sky blue. "Earth-X" may be another Earth in another universe. Maybe the sky is orange and the land is blue there. This is a tiny painting done on colored paper, so all those orange areas are the original paper color. At one point I used it as the header decoration for my original Blog, "Electron Blue," which ran from 2004 to 2008. I have a whole lot of these geometric abstractions in my studio collection. People (usually educated refined arty types) love these abstractions but very few have ever bought one from me.

"Earth-X" is acrylic gouache on orange paper, 10" x 7", November 2003.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

iPad Landscape Demo

I brought my iPad to the Falls Church Arts gallery where I was supposed to sit and attend the art. The other person who was also assigned this task mentioned that she was about to get an iPad. She was already working with digital photography and photomanipulation but asked for a demonstration of iPad art. So I sat down with her and went through the process of creating a landscape sketch, from memory here. You can see the imprints of the "scatter" and stipple "brushes" on the leafy areas. For some reason the art establishment doesn't like sketches or paintings from memory, they insist on being on-site. Most of my iPad landscapes are on-site, plein Pad. I showed my co-art sitter how I take the folding cover of my iPad jacket and use it as a sunshade so I can see the screen, because otherwise the skylight and sunlight reflect off the shiny screen and prevent me from seeing what I'm drawing.

She was delighted at what the iPad art apps can do and can't wait to start working with her iPad. You can do photomanipulations with it too. Her iPad, being the current model, has a camera built-in. She's gonna have a lot of fun.

Improvised from memory landscape done on the "Art Studio" app, April 14, 2012.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hair Door

I get my hair done every couple of months. I get a dye job and a cut. "Better living through chemistry" I say about hair dye. While I am waiting for the dye to take effect, I sit in the back of the salon and draw. Now I do this with the iPad. This is the door into the salon, plus a red tablecloth over a promotional display table, cars in the parking lot, and the main counter to the left. I would have done a lot more but I only had the time for the hair dye and then it was washoff and cut time. Now my hair is refreshed. I need more time to make more detailed and larger iPad sketches. This one was done on the "Art Studio" app, April 13, 2012.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sacramento Street, Cambridge 1984

During most of the 1980s I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I lived what feels like a slow-paced, leisurely, dreamy existence from today's vantage point, although I know I went through plenty of turmoil. For many of those years I didn't even have a day job, as I pulled in numbers of modestly paying freelance jobs such as the game illustrations I've been showing here. I didn't have computers or the Internet to distract me, and I didn't even watch that much TV.

What I did, anywhere I could, was make sketches. In the spring and summer I could do this out on the sidewalk, anywhere I could park myself and my folding seat. I lived in a neighborhood full of interesting old architecture, so there were plenty of things to draw. This back alley, near Sacramento Street, was a couple of blocks away from my residence. I would draw the scene on site in black and brown inks with a Rapidograph pen. Then I would take it home and color it in with watercolor.

When I moved to the Washington area I was not able to do street sketching, at least not the way I did it in Cambridge. There are plenty of places in my town to draw, but if I sat out there I would be run over by a car or even told by residents or police to move on. Sketching venues are restricted to public places like Starbucks coffee houses, parking lots, or parks. And who has the time to sketch and watercolor anyway? I have to check my Facebook page, the online music chatroom, and my Yahoo mail, and do my blog.

Cambridge back alley sketch is ink and watercolor on sketchbook page, 4" x 6", July 25, 1984.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Clouds

The clouds were beautiful today, as they often are this time of year. There were patches of dark rainclouds interspersed among pastures of vaporous creatures (the Floating Cats are back!) in blue skies. I did these drawings from memory, which is not as good as righteous Plein Air, but I did actually observe these skyscapes while I was outdoors. The top image is done with markers, and the bottom one is in colored pencils. The page is in my wine and landscape sketchbook, so I officially declare outdoor drawing season Open. Original image is about 7" x 9", April 11, 2012.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Intrigue on the North Bank

The next cover I did for Gamelords was this colorful scene of a street fight between two clans. Imagine the Verona of "Romeo and Juliet" with all its plots, romance, and violence and this is the scene of the game, which was called "Intrigue on the North Bank." You could play doomed lovers, street bravos, scheming elders, or other stock Renaissance characters. Unfortunately, no one ever got to intrigue on the North Bank because the game, and my illustrations for cover and interiors, never got published.

"Intrigue" cover is ink and acrylic, 11" x 14", Spring 1983. Klik for larger view.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Corwin of Amber Tarot Card

I may have already shown these cards on this Blog but this is a newly renovated version of one of my Amber Tarot cards, freshly restored from the old slide. Roger Zelazny's "Amber" series features multiple universes, swashbuckling action, hard-boiled characters, and psychedelic visions. The plot is about a widespread royal family who can travel between dimensions and who are all fighting each other to take charge of the royal homestead, the original Reality of the world. Corwin is the hero of the story. This series was very popular in the late 1970s and I liked it too. In the story, each character has a magical Tarot card set by which they can communicate and even teleport to the location of another card in the set.

My fantasy/science fiction friends urged me to make a set of these cards, and so I did. The 17-card set went to Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon in Miami, Florida, where it was sold as a set to some folks from Kansas City. It resurfaced a couple of years ago when the owners tried to sell it, and offered it back to me for much more than I could afford.

I would love to have really good scans or hi-resolution photos of the set but that is unlikely to happen as they are all in frames. My old slides are not very good and have faded with age but if there is any interest I will re-scan the slides and restore the images with Photoshop to the best of my ability.

This figure is Corwin, whose heraldic colors were black and silver. I used Renaissance finery from the parade illustrations of Albrecht Durer for the costume design. Corwin's Tarot card is the Page (or Jack) of Swords. I did these cards when I was still a graduate student in Greek and Latin classics. The more art I did, the less I was interested in academics. This soon led to my abandonment of academia and the prestige and good living it conveys.

"Corwin of Amber" Tarot trump is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 4" x 7", summer 1977.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In Memoriam Thomas Kinkade

I somehow expected the so-called "Painter of Light" to last forever, to be painting something into his nineties. Maybe he would have cast aside the popular style that made him so much money and gone into some more "fine arts" or "serious" type of work. At one point, Thomas Kinkade did show some "plein air" paintings done outdoors. You never know, he might have gone on to do abstractions or book illustrations or even church paintings. But it won't happen, since he's gone so soon.

I've always been a Kinkade fan. Back in the 80s, I went to a talk by James Gurney at the 1984 Worldcon in Anaheim, California. At the talk he presented a book that he had done with the then-unknown Kinkade, called "The Artist's Guide to Sketching." I bought a copy of this book which is now a valuable rarity. It inspired me to make countless sketches wherever I go, now on iPad as well as paper. I never knew then that Kinkade would become the American corporation that he was. In fact when I saw the first popular pictures by Kinkade I was surprised to recognize Gurney's collaborator as the artist.

I refer to April as "Kinkade month" because on some days this month, the world really does look like a Kinkade picture. The flowers are out everywhere, wildly colorful with azaleas and tulips and white dogwoods and redbud trees. The grass is an unnaturally brilliant shade of emerald green and the sky is either misty pink or glassy pure blue as it has been here these recent weeks. Arty types complain about Kinkade making ultrasweet, deceptive fantasy landscapes, but if you go to the right place here in Virginia at the right time of day in April, you will see real Kinkade scenes, complete with flowers and cottages and perhaps an old wagon and a stream. (The winery is next door.)

I prefer fantasy to reality. I am comforted by the imaginary world that Kinkade made up, of cabins in the woods or cozy villages where everyone helps their neighbor, where summer afternoons stretch on in warm silence or snow falls on pure winter nights. I have wanted to create that kind of nostalgic fantasy art myself, but I'm too busy learning to depict dragons.

This image is my homage to Kinkade. It is adapted from a real wrought-iron decorative gateway and garden in front of an urban cottage near my workplace. Maybe Kinkade is now in a Heaven that looks like one of his paintings.

Photoshop, original 7" x 10", April 8-9, 2012.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Naked Sword

Despite its suggestive title, the game for this cover was supposed to be a traditional medieval fantasy battle player. I was instructed to put a female warrior in reasonable, non-bikini armor in a prominent place. This was probably because one of the writers, the one who was giving me directions, was a woman. Nevertheless, our female warrior isn't wearing a helmet (and neither is her male co-fighter) so it may be that the Orcs they are battling would make short work of them. Or maybe not, because the humans are the heroes. This game, unfortunately, never got published, so my cover disappeared into the fannish black hole, except for my retrieved color slides here.

"The Naked Sword" cover is (was) acrylic on Strathmore illustration board, 11" x 14", November 1983.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dragon Wings 2

You can't get too far away from the bat wing design for dragons' wings, unless you put feathers on it and make a birdlike dragon. When the "traditional" dragon was imagined, thousands of years ago, people didn't know anything about dinosaurs, yet alone pterosaurs. But people knew what bat wings looked like. As you remember, I found that out personally when a bat flew into my apartment. Fortunately, I haven't had any more critter intrusions. As for dragons, I'll continue to work on wings. These are from Sandra Staple's book. The colorful dragon diagram at the upper left is the result of my testing some colored pencils I inherited. Those colors, purple and mineral green, go into storage as they don't match the Virginia landscape. The yellow-green, though, is perfect for all those fresh spring leaves just coming out now. I'll retrieve the purple pencils when the Cabernet Franc grapes are ripe.

Dragon wings studies are pencils on sketchbook page, 8" x 10", April 7, 2012.

Note in memoriam: I am shocked to hear of the passing of Thomas Kinkade. He and his art were reviled by anyone "respectable" in the art world. They called his work "kitsch" and "saccharine" and much worse. But I've always liked it and had a fondness for Kinkade's paintings. I hope to write more in a later post.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dagny's Dreamworld

When I was a Rand fan back in the late 1970s, as well as a beginning fantasy artist, illustrating Rand's magnum opus ATLAS SHRUGGED was an Olympian dream that I hoped one day to achieve. In this drawing, in an "engraving" style I no longer use, I tried to depict Dagny Taggart, the heroine of the epic. I used the famous old film star Greta Garbo as my model. It isn't very good, but I was still an amateur.

Just today I finally saw the movie that was made of ATLAS. In those older days, ATLAS was considered unfilmable, what with its long explanatory dialogue and abstracted characters. But the crew here, under the command of producer John Aglialoro, has done a fair and faithful job re-creating the world, plot, and characters of Rand. Instead of setting it in the fifties, which I did with this picture (steam engine!) and my comic book adaptation of a couple of years ago, this version sets it in 2016, when trends we see today have reached catastrophic proportions. Rand's industrial world isn't quite like the "real" world; individual executives and company leaders seem to run their businesses with a personal hand, one by one. There are lots of juicy scenes of rushing trains and flaming steel mills, which I appreciate, while the hot consummation between steelman Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart takes place in near-total darkness, with appropriately industrial heavy breathing.

I used to believe that Rand's vision of economics would actually work. All you had to do was let the geniuses and the hard workers have their way without government interference, and prosperity would blossom forth. Now it seems that neither capitalism nor socialism nor any other system is working, and I'm not sure why. Is it because there aren't enough geniuses or hard workers? Is it because people are essentially greedy and dishonest? Do we need more trains? We'll find out how the Rand dream plays out in the next two installments of this movie, which is in three parts, just like LORD OF THE RINGS.

Dagny is ink on Bristol board, 8" x 10", July 1978. Klik as usual for a larger view.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dragon Wings 1

These dragon wing studies are copied from Hanson and Burns' dragon drawing book. There are plenty of versions of dragon wings in the other books which I will study and copy. The books contain analysis of how the wings attach to the dragon's body and how many points of articulation are on them. There are also elements of texture and color which I am not currently considering. I think the ones on the top are the best-looking but are not sufficiently connected to the body. The middle ones, which seem to appear in many fantasy drawings, don't do much at all, connected to the body only by a strong arm-like limb.

A dragon is a big creature and its wings have to be big, but our universe's physics would never allow a traditionally designed dragon to fly. It is just too heavy and its wingspan too small to lift it into the air unaided. The closest this universe has ever come is the pterodactyl, which is pretty dragon-like if you look at the re-creations done by paleoartists. As for the fantasy dragons, remember what Anne McCaffrey said to me about their flight..."They levitate!"

Dragon wings are in pencil on sketchbook page, about 8" x 10", April 5, 2012.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Unfortunate Courier

If his masters thought that they had the best chance of getting their secret treasure moved by a single courier under cover of the night, they were very wrong. Someone knew exactly where the hapless youth's path would take him, and they set upon him while their young scout looked down the alley in case any lawmen might pursue them. Scream all you want, courier; no one is going to come help you in this low part of town. Maybe they will leave him alive if he doesn't resist. But probably not. Haven is a brutal place, fit only for rats (see foreground) and thugs. Such is the life of the Thieves' Guild.

This is a cover I did for Gamelords' role-player "Thieves' Guild." As you can see, the plots and scenarios concentrated on thefts and street crime, with bigger bosses behind the scenes organizing crime for profit. It took place in the same city of Haven, where there was no shortage of criminal manpower, and human life was cheap.

I painted this one in opaque acrylic, rather than the acrylic watercolor over ink I used for the other ones. That way I could get more dramatic lights and shadows, and brighter colors. Nowadays, all this kind of art is done in digital medium.

"Thieves' Guild" is acrylic on Strathmore illustration board, 11" x 14", November 1983. It was published as a game cover in 1984. Klik for larger view.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not Always a Dragon

Sure, dragons are grand and noble and fierce, but they aren't the only critters in this world. How about us little folks who are too small for dragons to notice? The kind who live in cozy burrows under roots or rocks and come out in the moist cool night to find our dinner? No fire-breathing, cloud-climbing for us, just the spaces under the dead leaves and the light of the moon, or no light at all when the feelers find our way. The greatness flies overhead, we do not even look up.

Critter, Photoshop, 6 3/4" x 4", April 3, 2012.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Busted in Gameworld

The thief has been caught! This is an illustration from one of the game books that I worked on for Gamelords. I did many black and white pen drawings for different possible scenarios in the game. I used an old-fashioned pen and ink style to keep with the "Renaissance" era setting. Here, two policemen (or militia members) haul a thief in front of a tribunal. The trial and the fate of the thief would be part of the game play.

This image was rescued from a book of plastic page sleeves full of my illustrations of the time. I would copy the ink drawings on a Xerox machine and place them in the plastic portfolio book. I didn't know until too late that the toner "ink" on the Xeroxed pages stuck to the plastic of the sleeves, so you can't pull the paper out without wrecking the whole thing. For this image, I stuffed the whole open plastic book onto the scanner. This resulted in some minor distortion and fall-off which I have handled as best I can in Photoshop, which didn't exist when I did this drawing.

Original drawing of "Thief" is ink on Bristol board, 8" x 5 1/2", spring 1984.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fox Meadow Springtime

The last time I visited Fox Meadow vineyard and winery, it was a freezing January day in 2011. This time it was still chilly, and more so at the higher elevation. But the view was beautiful in every season and the wine was good too. It was warm enough to sip outside on the decks. I did an iPad sketch of the vineyard and the hills with the bright green of new grasses under the framework, and bright green new foliage on the trees. The vines have buds but they are still tiny and brown and have not yet exploded into greenery. I wish I could have stayed longer.

iPad sketch was done in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, finished in Photoshop when I got home. March 31, 2012.