Saturday, March 31, 2012

Haven, the Free City

Welcome, traveler! Anything is possible in "Haven, the Free City." This is another game cover I did for Gamelords in the early 1980s. This depicts the gateway to the Free City, a spot of heavy traffic where all sorts of races, classes, occupations, and moral levels interact. The merchant offers you fruit as he points you to the broad street beyond the Gate. Meanwhile, petty thievery goes on in the crowd at the gate. To the lower left, someone is stealing a piece of fruit from a display. The sign is bastardized Greek/Italian and says "Poma Fraiska" which means "Fresh Fruit." You can see an elf and a hobbit in the lower right area of the image. The game offered you a variety of entertaining scenarios, from the "Thieves' Guild" to street fighting to organized criminal intrigues, all in a Renaissance-style environment. The title went in the parchment-like space in the top half.

"Haven" is brown ink and acrylic on illustration board, 11" x 14", January 1983. Clikonthepik for a larger view.

Friday, March 30, 2012

More Dragon Claws

I must have a dozen dragon drawing books by now. And there are more of them out there. These dragon claw studies were copied from a book called "Drawing Dragons" by Jim Hanson and John Burns, and the back legs were copied from one of the sample dragon illustrations at the back of Tom Kidd's book "How to Draw and Paint Dragons." I have other dragon parts I need to learn to draw. I am not "authorized" as yet to draw an entire, detailed dragon. I am following the sequence of most of the books which teaches how to draw dragon parts before you depict the entire creature. Maybe a dragon will appear to me in a dream and give me this authorization. I hope one doesn't fly into my apartment as the bat did.

Pencil on sketchbook page, 8" x 10", March 29, 2012.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Philosopher King

This picture is precious to me, so much so that I never tried very hard to sell it. It now resides in my closet with other art, after being on the wall for many years. This character is from my world of Noantri. He is Redon IV (Redon the Fourth), the first ruler of the kingdom of Eridu on Noantri New Earth. He is one of the Theophores, or bearers of great psychic power, who held the Gateway open so that the Noantri people could travel to their new world. He and his associates founded the city of Eridu very early in New Earth history. The center of the city was the Great Library, a place not only of collected learning and memory but of government and civilization. The leader of the city was a pope-like figure called the Ensi, meant to be a philosopher king. Redon was the first Ensi. He is known as Fourth because he was a living Avatar, reincarnated for the fourth time and in full possession of the memories of his previous three lives. He would go on to complete his cycle in five more incarnations. Here he is depicted on the top balustrade of the Great Library, looking out over his city as the dawn approaches.

I've written heaps of text about my imaginary world and its people. All of my texts now gather either real or pixel dust in my storage spaces. I do have a Noantri blog at but I don't add to it very often. If anyone is interested, I will post more Noantri stuff. They don't have dragons in Noantriworld, though.

This figure was done from a real model, Maryland costumer Marty Gear, who patiently posed in my hat and cloak while I photographed him. The painting is inspired by a work by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, "Saint Genevieve Watches over Paris." I didn't intend to copy it literally; I just wanted the mood of the Puvis painting, which was done in 1898. I gave this painting a "cover format" composition (empty top half as background for lettering) just in case I ever decided to publish my imaginary histories.

"The Philosopher King" is acrylic on illustration board, 16" x 24", August 1992. Clicquez-vous for a larger view.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Retrostyle Digital Model Drawing

This is a drawing of a model found in one of my "Art Models" books and it is all in digital medium. But I tried to give it that "retro" look that you can find in old-style mid-20th century figure drawing manuals. In those days, women had these big triangular torsos and narrow waists, flaring out to larger hips. This was because their heavy girdles and "foundation garments" which they wore to get a fashionable look actually shaped their figures even when they were nude. Nowadays, womens' torsos aren't as hourglass-shaped, at least in my limited art model drawing experience.

This drawing is sketchy and still in monocolor. I am working toward getting a sharper, more contrast-y, more precise, and full-color look for my figures, before I start putting the chain mail bikinis on them.

Digital drawing media Photoshop, original drawing about 7" x 9", March 28, 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dangerous Dame

This sinister-looking lady is from another set of game illustrations I did for another game designer's project. Like the earlier gameworld of "Haven," this one was set in an intrigue-ridden Renaissance-era port city, but in this game plot, the main characters were upper-class types, either nobility or military officers. The game was named "The Powers that Be." There was a lot of drawing-room skullduggery as well as infiltration, spying, and assassination. This character, Dame Ingaria, may have loved animals, but treated people wretchedly.

My character portraits and environments were included with the game book, and were to be used in play scenarios, as the master set them up as printed cut-outs to help the players visualize who they were dealing with. The characters I illustrated were "non-player," thus could not be role-played by a participant.

This game was of the old school type, with no computer involved, just a lot of papers and dice on a table. The illustrations made things more interesting for the players. Unfortunately, this game did not sell well, maybe didn't sell at all, and I earned almost nothing from a lot of art.

Dame Ingaria's original art is ink on Strathmore bristol board, 4" x 5", March 2003. This art was then scanned into a file and colored in with Painter 7, a graphics program I no longer use, although the current Painter 12 interests me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pin-up not Paint

My work schedule now goes till 9 PM and when I get home on work nights I am mostly too tired to paint on the Major Painting. So I did this digital pin-up girl sketch instead. There are some proportion problems with the right arm but I am not investing too much time on this sketch for now. Fantasy pin-ups have perfect round breasts too and I am not boob-skilled just yet. But at least I did a drawing tonight and in digital medium.

Photoshop, 5 1/2" x 9 1/2", March 26, 2012.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Haven for Thieves

I used to do role-playing game art, long before the advent of the elaborate video games that are now popular. I would do a color cover and a lot of smaller black and white drawings which went into the book interior. I never played the game, but the art director and the designers told me what to illustrate and gave me plenty of descriptive text and scenarios to work with. The game company was "Gamelords," based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It has long since faded away.

This is the cover for "Haven 2: Secrets of the Labyrinth," a game set in an imaginary Renaissance-era port city full of the usual wicked and adventurous characters. In this scene, a prostitute and thieves set up a naive soldier. You can see the thief running off with the soldier's purse, while another one in the alley plunders his baggage. The prostitute makes a hand signal approving the thief's work. Prostitutes wore face veils in Haven, for some reason.

"Haven" cover is acrylic and ink on illustration board, 11" x 14", December 1982. Click for a larger image. Published as a game book cover in 1983. Believe it or not, you can still get this game if you want to play and/or collect it. It is sold here at the "Different Worlds" vintage game site.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Snaky Dragon Graphic

This dragon is based more on a serpent or snaky model than the heavier lizard or mammalian dragon forms. Its wings aren't practical and would not enable flight, but then dragons couldn't really fly in our universe's physics, no matter what. This is a graphic rather than a rendering, the kind of thing someone might want for a logo or a tattoo. In my experience most clients love loads of detail in the work, but there is room for the simpler design.

Pencil on sketchbook page, March 23, 2012.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Box of Light

I bought a container of "body wash" called "Everlasting Sunshine." (Not to be confused with the "Eternal Sunshine" film.) I also bought a bottle of shampoo called "Refreshing Waterfall Mist." Bath products are creating for me a world of warmth, clean moisture, bright light, and harmless, fragrant plants, an organic Heaven. I want to be the person who names these products. It is like poetry you wash with. It is like those magical pools whose edges of flowing water match the infinite horizon. My bathroom has no windows, but now the sun will shine there. Meanwhile, a mesh crate in one of my studios has been packed with sunlight. Where shall I escape to? I hear the waterfall in the distance, and the singing birds, and I will be cleansed.

It's a photograph. March 23, 2012.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dragon Claws

Dragon claws - the better to climb up the crags and snatch your prey! Some dragons have talons like raptors. Others have scaly versions of five-fingered hands that are almost humanoid. Some dragons even have opposable thumbs, so they can do calligraphy or fix computers or uncork bottles of wine.

I am still working through these copies and studies of dragon parts, but I hope that I will be able to do a fully detailed, entire dragon portrait sometime soon.

Pencil on sketchbook page, March 22, 2012.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Dragon Legs

I'm still drawing dragon parts, copying from my teaching books. Here, I am using not only Peffer's but another one, "Drawing Dragons" by Sandra Staple. This compact and well-laid-out book has many useful examples to learn from. I have many more "draw dragons" books in my collection. I'm working in pencil but my standard-issue HB is a bit too hard to sketch with, leaving a rather pale line, so I will experiment with softer leads like the commonly used "B." The Staple book has lots of interesting looking variant "species" of dragons including close-ups of heads and faces. I'm really enjoying doing pictures of mythical and imaginary animals.

Pencil on sketchbook page, around 8" x 11", March 20-21, 2012.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy NoRuz

NoRuz, meaning "new day," is the Persian New Year, and it is celebrated on the first day of Spring. I've been involved with Persian culture now for almost 20 years. This winged disc symbol with its kingly figure is known as the "Faravahar." It was originally the symbol for the soul and fortune of the Great King of imperial Persia, and also the royal insignia. In the carvings of Persepolis, this heraldic device appears wherever the king is depicted. In much later times, perhaps the late 19th century CE, the Faravahar became the symbol of the monotheistic Zoroastrian faith, both in Iran and in its Parsi form in India. I did this "cosmic" version of the Winged Disc as a NoRuz greeting card to be sent to my Persian friends. The blue Earth is behind the winged king-disc. The seven colored stars symbolize the Seven Attributes of the one God, Ahura Mazda. Have a happy Spring, and an auspicious, fortunate NoRuz!

"Cosmic Faravahar" is watercolor and ink on Fabriano paper, 10" x 17", spring 2002.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Foo Dog Caterpillar

This beastie is here to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the founding of this Blog, "Art By-Products." I started ABP in 2008, and it seems as if no time has gone by since I started it. This Blog has become an important part of my life as it is one of the few ways I get to share my art with other folks all over the world. Thanks for your faithful visits, my handful of By-Product fans.

The "foo dog" is really a lion in Chinese art, but this fellow is neither lion nor dog. It's a large species of moth whose caterpillar resembles a shaggy Chinese dog. As he grows older, his wings will become moth wings and he'll be able to fly around and defend his territory.

Foo Moth is Photoshop, about 6 1/2" x 7", March 19th, 2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Warriors of the Ancient Future

This picture is a combination of my interest in ancient Persia as well as my fondness for big, complex industrial structures and "future history." It is from my own private fantasy world. Barbarian riders, their costumes and gear inspired by those of Sassanid Persia, ride past vast ruined industrial towers on a distant world. They will become the
advanced Aurian people of Noantri New Earth. The central standard-bearer holds the flaming symbol of Ahura Mazda, the God of Light. I have no idea how warriors on a distant planet happened to ride horses that are identical to those on Earth.

This is in acrylic, and the background sky was done with an airbrush. Nowadays I do not yet feel confident enough to do something like this in digital medium, and I am not sure when I should attempt it. I've painted digital works before but I don't think they are up to my standards, except perhaps my panorama of the city of Surakosai. Right now I am doing just small single figures and parts of dragons and other learning practice drawings.

"The Riders of Pars" is acrylic on illustration board, 18" x 24", August 1992. Click on the pic for a larger view.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dragon Legs

A dragon's got to have good legs, and nice sharp talons on gripping hands so he or she can grab the prey, or the cheeseburger. Here are some more studies of lizard legs, including the sturdy quadruped set of a frilled lizard, in the center, making a threat display. The dragon rampant at the bottom is adapted from Jessica Peffer's example, showing how a dragon can be built like a big lizard or dinosaur who walks on the back legs, using the front legs for grabbing. Peffer also likes to equip her dragons with fins, and I think that's a good idea, since once it's airborne it doesn't have a lot of ways to control airflow. If you don't put a lot of horns, ornaments, fins, and spikes on a dragon's head, it risks looking like an oversized lizard, like the iguana at the top. Some dragons can have humanoid arms, as Peffer explains, with five-taloned usable "hands." Other dragon appendages are more animal-like, with big crushing talons. See how much is known about creatures that in ordinary thinking do not exist.

Dragon legs and studies are pencil on sketchbook paper, 7" x 10", March 17, 2012.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Japanese Girl Poses

I have a lot of figure drawing resources, as long as photographs are good enough. One of my favorites is a Japanese model-book featuring a bevy of lovely women posing in "dramatic," chiaroscuro light. They take unusual poses, often off-balance or squirming on the floor. This makes drawing interesting, as they are not doing the same old thing. I managed to do a figure drawing page today from my Japanese book. I also have been looking at the fabulous pin-up work of Frank Cho, whose voluptuous women are twice the size of these little Japanese ladies. Art Models 6, which you may remember, has some plus-size models and maybe I'll draw some big curvy ones next.

Figure drawing page is pencil on sketchbook paper, about 8" x 11", March 16, 2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Houseplant Sketch 2002

The apartment maintenance have been doing some much-needed repairs on my ceiling and in doing so, have moved a bookcase and the stacks of books and magazines in it. One of the volumes was my 2002 illustrated journal. In those days I lived exactly where I do now, but I didn't have my day job yet. (How is it that a simple part time 3 day a week job can take up so much time and energy?) So I had lots more time to do drawings, one on every page of the written journal, and also did much more mathematics study. My written entries describe my struggles solving systems of equations in three variables. I would have to do a lot of reviewing to re-learn that business.

In 2002 I drew in brown ink which I still like using. I would draw anything including the potted plants in my quarters, some of which I still have. But I don't have this one. This rather dilapidated miniature palm bit the dust many years ago.

Drawing of plant is brown Pitt pen ink on sketchbook page, some lines re-drawn in Photoshop, about 3" x 5", March 2002. Ten years ago.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sustainably Raised, Chiseled and Focused

I haven't done an "end-cap" billboard for Trader Joe's in ages, but here's one. This is another California wine special. We advertising folk get a printed handout that tells us what to write on the sign, so the red wine is to be described as "chiseled and focused." No idea what that means, but I hope it doesn't mean that the wine is so pungent it feels like a chisel in your mouth. "Sustainably raised" is another piece of current ad-language which can mean many different things, depending on what is being sustained. Anyway, I hope I get a taste.

Chalk markers on black-painted Masonite board, about 36" x 24".

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Volcano Wizard

The "Volcano Wizard," here calling up flame to control the destructive force of the mountain, is a character of mine who some of you might remember. I did a lot of work with him over the decade of the 1990s. I wrote a number of stories, did lots of art including portraits, and most of all, made a graphic novel starring the wizard and a crew of geologists under the shadow of a huge volcano about to erupt. This graphic novel was never finished. I started it in 1999 and got to about 40 pages before I ran out of time and energy. I have a complete plot summary and want to finish it, but I have to devise a different strategy for working on it. The graphic novel is called "The Flaming Ramparts" and has a lot of intrigue, psionic magic, and volcanic explosions. It's set in my modern world of the Noantri. How can I do more on this and finish it? I just don't know right now. I need a wizard to help me with this problem.

The picture above isn't quite from the graphic novel. The volcano wizard doesn't wear Gandalf-like robes, just the normal clothes of his world, although he does have a showy white cape. He glows with a brilliant orange aura when he unleashes his interdimensional energies, and is surrounded by any number of orange artifacts. He bequeathed the Orange theme to me, which is why I am almost always wearing or using something orange. (Now you know!) However just now I am wearing purple, for the weeks of Lent...but the purple belongs to another psionic adept from that world, who has not shown up in any graphic novel or story. Color goes between universes.

"Volcano Wizard" is acrylic, ink, and gouache on red paper, 7"x 10", fall 1998.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Countless artists have depicted volcanic lava dragons, or dragons that look like they are made of lava with a black scaly crust. I'll probably do one of those someday. Back some years ago I had the idea, but decided to save the lava only for the dragon's drool. If you were a fire-breathing volcano dragon, wouldn't you drool lava?

This picture was done on grey paper, so I added the black parts with ink and the lava with gouache. It was done at a time when I was watching Mount Etna erupt almost every night, through a live "lava-cam" which was set up on a nearby cone. I had lots of fresh visual reference, at least for the volcano part. The volcano-cam was later destroyed in an eruption (what a surprise!) and current observation cameras at Etna are placed far out of range, which takes away that dragonish intimacy with the lava. The title is "Typhoeus, Volcano Dragon." "Typhoeus" (or Typhon) was a huge fiery monster who was eventually imprisoned by Zeus under Mount Etna, where he resides to this day.

Typhoeus is ink and gouache on grey paper, 8 1/2" x 9 1/2", October 1998.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hillsborough Almost Spring

There's a tinge of green on the ground in the hills of Virginia wine country. I had a number of sips at Hillsborough Vineyards, in the top vertex of the triangle that is the state of Virginia. The beautiful grounds, expansive views, and the hospitable hillside estate, even without the wine, will be a reason for me to return later this year when it's all leafy and green. I sat outside with the WinePad (the "I" of Wine!) and did this study of some farm buildings on the estate.

This drawing was touched up in Photoshop when I got home, that is, I corrected the roof lines and silo dome. I haven't had a lot of time to do winery drawings in the winter, even on the iPad, and maybe with longer days I'll get more work in. That way I could make a less sketchy and more accurate representation of the scene, or whatever wine bottle or vine is in my line of sight. Or "wine of sight."

Autodesk Sketchbook pro "for the WINe," March 10, 2012.

And: R.I.P. Jean "Moebius" Giraud, one of the greatest fantasy illustrators of the 20th, 21st, and any century.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Magic-Using Dragon

Writing, especially fantasy writing, is one of the few creative activities that just about anyone can do. It needs no expensive equipment and you can write at any level you are at, whether high school or PhD. The texts that you see published are a tiny proportion of the texts that are written all over the literate world, writing that never sees any print or even Net presence. These texts are written solely for the satisfaction of the author and his or her friends. Every so often, an ambitious writer will try to publish his or her fan writing, or even original work. It is always rejected, but at least the would-be author tried. I am among that number. I have stacks of old and unreadable writing that I amassed over the years. What you see on my various blogs are the more coherent passages that make enough sense to publish on the Web.

This illustration is from one of these fan texts, written by a lawyer acquaintance. I wanted to illustrate it simply because it was so generic, so character-less, that anything I did could be re-interpreted as any story. I didn't tell him that, of course, but I did him the favor of reading his novel-length manuscript (quite a job, I will say). It was almost entirely in dialogue, which had all the excitement of a corporate legal document, but it did have one mildly interesting idea: a dragon who was intelligent and was able to use magic just like a human magic-user. This dragon could battle with human wizards, as he is doing here. In the book, this dragon didn't have wings, but portraying him without wings made him look like a fat crocodile, so I added them anyway, which annoyed the author. Since this book had no chance of being published, it was not much of a deal. I later sold the art to someone else at a convention.

"The Wizard-Dragon" is acrylic on illustration board, 13" x 22", July-August 1992.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bat Wing Dragon

Most dragons have wings like bats' wings. So I took out my animal photograph books and copied out some photos of bats and parts of bats. Here's the odd part. While I was drawing these drawings, a real live bat got into my apartment and flew around wildly, having no idea how to find the open window and get out. I tried to, uh, bat it to the floor with a dusting mop, but I couldn't capture it. However I did get a close-up look at a real live bat. Synchronicity at work! But sometimes synchronicity can get downright annoying. I called the local animal control and found that the police take care of animal intrusions in the off-hours. Meanwhile the bat was still flying around in my bedroom. I opened the window and closed the door, hoping that the creature would find its way out. The policeman arrived and found no bat. So either it finally found its freedom through the window, or it's still hiding somewhere in my room. I am not sleeping there till I can check all the hiding places. Meanwhile I'll sleep on the living room fold-out couch. Fortunately, though the bat bumped into me a couple of times careening about, it didn't bite me.

But that won't stop me from finishing my challenge practice drawing for tonight. Here are my bats, and an adaptation of a bat-like dragon from Peffer's book - as well as a little sketch from memory of the hapless "large brown bat" specimen who spent a couple of difficult hours trapped in an alien environment. Pencil on sketchbook page, about 8" x 11", March 9, 2012.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cat and Unicorn

I've done more animal art than I thought, as I look through the color slide pictures that I've been transcribing to digital. If I had enough references to work from, I could put together a passable horse...or unicorn. Cats were easier, as I could always visit my friends' cats and do sketches of the real thing. I also had (and still have) a book on "How to Draw Cats." Even if it doesn't really say this, I think the first line of text in this book should be, "First, find a cat." Well, you won't find a cat perched on a unicorn, for various reasons, so this all came from my imagination.

The colors in this picture are almost completely restored, or re-painted, in Photoshop, which didn't exist when this picture was painted and photographed in poor light. Fortunately I clearly remember making it. I wanted to evoke my memories of the hazy greenness of summer in the hills of western Massachusetts, where I once spent a turbulent semester in art school. This was in "Tanglewood," the arts center where the Boston Symphony plays their summer concerts. That was an age ago. Now, in the unimaginable 21st century, I could restore the old colors to this little painting. My Tanglewood season was in 1972. I painted this unicorn picture in 1980, and named it "Friends of Tanglewood" after the Symphony's fund-raising organization.

"Friends of Tanglewood" is acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 11", August 1980.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dragon Front

Here is the head and shoulders of a majestic dragon. This beast was modeled on little spiky desert creatures. Dragons almost always look better when they have horns and spikes on them, and lizardlike scales. That is the "traditional" reptilian look although I will be drawing pictures of fishy and birdlike dragons as well. I have not learned to draw dragon bodies or feet or wings yet, so I will not draw an entire dragon without explicitly copying it, just yet.

My dragon and pin-up drawing program is not just for fun. I intend to get good enough to sell my work. Once upon a time I sold my work to individuals and publishers but now that I am in the digital world all the rules and strategies for commercial fantasy art have changed. If a client wants it, I can still produce a piece in "conventional" drawing or painting. I need to redouble my efforts to manage my time efficiently and sell artwork, rather than drift along as I too often do.

I wish someone would comment here so I don't feel as though I'm posting into a void. I do not do art only for myself. I want it to reach other people. I always like to know that someone other than myself is looking at it.

Dragon drawing is in Photoshop, 10" x 7", March 7, 2012.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Moldworld Creature

Some years ago (this Blog has been here since 2008, ancient history!) I posted about my imaginary world of "Mycelium," a planet where molds and fungus are the dominant plants. This image revisits Mycelium, depicting a mold-munching, amoeboid creature called a "mold pig." This specimen is about 6 feet long in its current form. Despite its changeable shape, walking along on short pseudopods, it has some porcine characteristics, such as a taste for roots and blobs, a fondness for wallowing in mud, and a corpulent figure. The dark spherical things on the surface of the mold pig are buds, which will eventually drop off and grow into other mold pigs, if they are not eaten by Mycelium's predators. The mold pig grows eyes when it needs them, but its main senses are smell and touch. Despite its ungainly quality and slow movement, the mold pig can be quite fierce and resistant to attack, as it can suddenly produce spikes and tusks from its interior and charge with surprising speed and strength. Don't bother the mold pigs, and they won't bother you.

"Mold Pig" is Photoshop, 10" x 7", March 6, 2012.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Another Practice Page

"Art Models 6" is truly a wonderful resource. The models are all captured in poses that have a hint of motion, rather than the usual static statue poses. ("Art Models 4" specialized in those "classic" poses, which is why I didn't buy it.) Not only that, "Art Models 6" has more pronounced lighting, so that you can see the 3-dimensional form of the body instead of just a flat figure. Today's practice page features two poses from A.M.6. One of the models is wearing high heels, which no live model I have ever drawn has worn. High heels are the current symbol of "empowered" women despite the impossibility and pain of walking any distance in them. It's a paradox I don't quite understand, but I don't wear high heels anyway. In the fantasy illustrations I aspire to, women even wear high-heeled spacesuits and battle armor! Therefore I must know how to draw this, whether I like it or not. I am going to have to do hundreds of studies like this, both of dragons and human figures. My aim is to attain the spectacular level of proficiency in digital fantasy art that is shown by the young Asian boys on CG Hub. You can see it at the link on this Blog, to the right of your screen.

Two nude studies from Art Models 6 are done in "digital pencil," 8 1/2" x 11", March 4 and 5, 2012.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

True Secrets

Remember in my portrait of Lizzie, I included a rendering of a racy girls' "confession" magazine, "Modern Love." This is my copy of the cover of "True Secrets," a magazine in my possession at the time. I was working on my gouache (opaque watercolor) painting skills so I just copied the thing as it was, even the different typefaces of the story titles. I would guess this was about 1969 or 1970, I was still in high school when I did it. I saved the art, but the magazine has disappeared into a well-deserved oblivion.

"True Secrets" is gouache on cardstock, 6 1/2" x 9", c. 1970.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pin-up Style Nude

Ms. Pin-up from Art Models 6 is as finished as I am going to render her. I could do more on the hands, face, and feet if I wanted to, but I've already spent quite a lot of time on her. At least she's got a nice, mildly seductive look on her face, rather than the ill-tempered mood of my previous pin-ups. A pin-up girl must look like she is having fun, or at least being a good actress. Plain old art models can be as pissed off as they want, and they often look that way.

This study is digital from the beginning; no pencil was used in the preliminary drawing. For some reason, it looks like pastel, maybe because I used some "granularity" in my Photoshop coloring. I didn't want it to look too smooth and airbrushed, even though some of the greatest pin-ups ever, by the renowned Alberto Vargas, were done with airbrush.

More pin-up girls (and maybe a pin-up boy, too!) coming, though I have to work on a big commission which is getting done only a few inches at a time due to the difficulty of blending acrylic paint on a surface.

Ms. Pin-up is Photoshop, 8" x 10", February-March 2012.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Black Bolt Ballet

Superheroes are my favorite figures to draw and paint. I've done pictures of them all my life and only academia and intellectual shame can stop me from depicting them. You can tell a lot about a person by whether he or she likes superheroes or not. I did this tiny superhero portrait to entice a fan to buy it, since it showed her favorite character, "Black Bolt." "Black Bolt" was a Marvel character, the king of the land of the "Inhumans," where everyone was a freak. The royal family was especially freaky and all of them had superpowers and costumes. Black Bolt, as king, was the most powerful. He had control of vast electromagnetic and gravitic energies, which were regulated by a tuning fork that he wore on his crown.

The most characteristic thing about Black Bolt was that his voice had a hugely destructive power. Any time he spoke, things blew up. (I know some people like that...) If he spoke loudly, it was as if an atomic bomb went off. So he had to stay mute all the time, unless he needed to use his voice of doom as a weapon. Strangely enough, you never see Black Bolt using sign language or writing things down and showing them to people, he's always enigmatically silent. I liked him because he had one of the best costumes in the Marvel world, black with silver lightning bolts on it. In this tiny portrait, I used a leaping ballet dancer as model for him, rather than the massive figures of comic book conventionality.

"Black Bolt" is acrylic on Strathmore illustration board, 5" x 8", October 1982.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lizard Legs and Mammalian Dragon

Most dragons are portrayed as reptilian, complete with scales, long body, and short legs. The closest modern creature to a dragon would be a lizard, even though the lizard is tiny compared to the dragon. Iguanas seem especially dragonlike, but without the long graceful neck. Dinosaurs must have been real dragons, even without the wings and the fiery breath. I did this study of lizard legs, front and back, copied from identification photographs in the Audubon Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. It's interesting that the lizard front legs can be almost humanoid, with five-digit "hands," but the grasping talons are not at all like our fingers and the lizards have no opposable thumb. The lizards also have a lower stance than a mammal would. There are some dragons without wings, and many of the Old World or alchemical portrayals of dragons were based on fanciful renderings of crocodiles.

Other dragons have a mammalian form, like this one which I copied, with some adaptation, from Jessica Peffer's dragon drawing book. Unlike the reptile dragon, this quadruped is goat or horse-like, though with feet, balancing tail, and horns from other animals. This mammalian dragon has a hide, tufts of hair, and a mane rather than scales and spikes. The wings are adapted from bat wing shapes, another mammal's feature. The mammalian dragon, which was also portrayed in ancient times, looks less fierce than a reptilian dragon.

Lizard legs are pencil on 8 1/2" x 11" sketchbook page. Mammalian dragon is pencil on sketchbook page, 7" x 6". February 29-March 1, 2012. Click on drawing for a larger view.