Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Illustrated Zazzle Products

A few years back I started posting items to my own zazzle store in an attempt to make a few extra bucks on the side.  At the time I don't think I realized how few extra bucks that would make,LOL. But recently I got a second wind and decided to start making some new designs for their new iPhone 4 cases and iPad cases along with some other products. Actually all of these illustrations are ones I did for other projects. One day I would like to see what I could come up with for ideas if I was to sit down and do my best to design a pair of shoes or a tie or t-shirt with that being the end product in mind. Regardless, I think I have a couple of interesting and funky designs that could be a hit amongst the right crowd. I have sold some items and enjoy making them so that is what counts for now.  Head on over and check out some of my designs!*

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to Make Models and Maquetts

About a month ago I was reading through James Gurney's blog ( and came across one of his great posts on how to make models as reference for illustrations. He got the info from Dragan Bibin's blog ( for this particular method. They both made it sound so helpfull, cheap and easy that I wanted to give it a try for myself on my recent dinosaur illustration. Below is  a series of pictures showing the process. You start by making a basic armature of the subject with aluminum wire. build bulk onto that with aluminum foil which is then covered with masking tape to give the gesso something to hold onto. I wasn't going for a super detailed look so for the most part I was happy with the structure after the masking tape stage. However you can also go on to add wads of cotton saturated with acrylic gesso which is easily shaped with a  small brush. I did do a bit of this and was surprised at just how easy it was to get detail with this method. Now you cover the whole thing in acrylic gesso and let it dry. From here you can chose to use it as is or paint in the rough colors of the subject as I did.
Next I was bale to get into the business of lighting the whole set up as I wanted it in the final illustration. The idea is to allow these models to show you where the light hits the forms. For this Dino illustration I needed light coming from below (the rainbow road), and light coming form two weapons in the characters hands and from behind (the black hole).
The final illustration is below. Click on the image for a larger view

Other posts on this illustration here and here and here

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Finished Dino Illustration


I'm finally near finish with the dino illustration. I'm sure the client will still want a few minor fixes to the faces and such but overall it is done. 121 hours to date. WOW! It's times like this that I wish I didn't keep such close track of how much time these illustrations take.  Actually this time isn't accurate because for a good part of the painting process I was recording video to make  a video demonstration. At first I was only getting about twelve minutes of recording at a time and I kept having to stop and upload the vid to my computer every time it stopped. Needless to say I stopped recording at some point. Mostly I stopped because the video was coming out beyond terrible. The painting is larger than 24"x36" and had some weird light glare issues on the video and I kept stepping in front of the shot. I might still try to salvage some of the video but may just take the time to make some good tutorials on the topics that the video would have touched upon. Painting metal, painting space and stars etc. So for now I'm just posting the near finished product. I do have some good photos of the painting process and models I made of the dinos. Hopefully some good info that will help others.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Color and Composition Samples

WHile working on the color samples for a recent illustration I saw a couple of composition issues that were bugging me. The sword was going off the top edge of the canvas and almost touching the larger planet. This sort of thing creates a tension and draws attention to that area. I also don't like how the sword is basically pointing the viewers eyes right off the canvas. SO I made a couple of new composition samples posted below. The first oen still has an issue with the sword and the top edge fo the canvas and the second one just seems to have too much space. I like the closeness of the horizontal versions personally.
click on the images for larger views
Below are the colors samples. Basically I create these by printing the drawing onto thick 8"x11"paper and cover the print in liquitex matte gel medium. The gell keeps the paint from effecting the ink. Then I jump into painting my initial color ideas with acrylic paint. The first color sample takes anywhere from an hour to four hours depending on how complex the painting is. I think this image took two or three hours. Then I scan it into the computer.
Now I am free to change things in the sample working directly on top of the prvious sample. That way it only takes a few minutes to make small changes and scan again, I keep doing this until I feel I have exhausted the ideas I want ot try. By this point I have 5-10 samples. Now I go into photoshop and make duplicates of some to experiment even more by moving color sliders around and even saturation and contrast. Sometimes I might want to just effect the background so I make aduplicate and erase aroudn the foreground elements. I then throw this foreground over the background on the copy. Now I can select the foreground or background layer and make adjustments to each seperately. By this point I may have as many as twenty differnt samples but I begin to see some that I really don't like or that are just so similar to others that it would only be annoying to the clients trying to see the differences. SO I chose those that I feel need to be seen by the client and put them into one file like the one below, numbering each one.
Other posts on this image here and here

Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dinosaurs in outer Space Background

An updated sketch juxtaposed over some reference photos for the background and a bit of photoshop mixed in. This is roughly how the client wants the background to look and will help me in working out the final Illustration.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Process Sketch for dinosaurs in Outer Spcae

It's been a while since I've posted. I've been too busy to post about the topics I have been wanting to. Lately I've seen a lot of blogs where artists just post in process sketches. Since I love seeing that sort of thing I figured I may as well do a bit of that. SO here's a really bizarre piece I've been working on and having a lot of fun with. Still a long way to go.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Samples from my Current Book in Process

(CLICK ont he images below to get larger views) I finally have some proof that I have been busy working on a new book over the past six months! Below I'm posting a bunch of images taken from some of the process of the new book. This book will be published by Wind RIdge Publishing in Vermont as soon as the illustrations are done. First up is the Character turn-around of the head for one of the main characters in the book.
Below is a character lineup of all of the characters in the color sample stage where I got a feel for how the faces would be painted and the colors of their clothing.
Below is one of the spot illustrations from the book. Not 100% done yet but close.

Below are a couple of the earlier illustrations in the book, also not 100% done yet. The faces in these are just rough lay in and will be fixed later.

Below is a close up of the dog character (Jake) as he sticks his head out the window and gets a good look at the car wheels.

Below is some of the process work for one of the illustrations. I've got some character sketches, background sketch, and one of the color samples for the scene.

Long Book Reading Video

I am finally getting around to posting this full length video of the book reading with illustrations and a bit of animation and noises mixed in. Enjoy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's in a grey? : Making Concrete Observations

Wow! Has it really been so long since my last Post? Sorry, I've been doing a ton of work with my current children's book and still marketing my previous book. I finished off the longer video for that book a while back but never had a chance to uplaod it to this blog.
I've had a ton of ideas for topics I want to blog about but they are all quit time consuming ideas to put together. For today I decided to lay out my observations on the color grey as seen in the natural outdoors and as effected by light and shade. A friend of mine used to use black and white directly from the tube to make his greys for roads, concrete, metalic objects etc. He would often even make large areas of color in one uniform tone and hue across an area of space in his images. I'm not saying that is necisarily a bad thing as he did get many comments of approval of his art. However in my own observations I've noticed that this sort of application of color is often not true to nature. In the real world colors and surfaces get lighter as they recede in space and they tend to get cooler as they recede. Shadows will also be cooler than areas hit by light. You can get a good representation and create the appropriate value and contrast to form objects in an image just by using a monochromatic color scheme and even just with black and white. However I have found that my children's book illustrations are enhanced by exagerating colors.

Below are a few photos with concrete, sidewalks, pavement, roads etc which are generally thought in the mind to be just plain grey. In the center of the images I have extracted bits of the "greys" from the surrounding image to make it easier for us to see exactly what colors are in those greys. Things that would effect the colors are the time of day, the amount of light, the source of light, nearby objects which bounce color into the shadows etc.

Below is one example of one of my color samples of an illustration I will be painting soon. I did a number of samples for this and a couple just went with various values of grey worked from black and white. That may have worked fine for some applications but both the author and I agree that it just won't do for our children's book as this image would seem too dull in relation to the other images in the book. The sample below has a grey interior to a car which I have infused colors into and yet still read as grey in the overall picture. You can get these kinds fo greys by mixing complementary colors together and adding white. I wanted the areas nearest the sources of light (windows) to be warmer and the darker and deeper nooks and cranies take on more of a purple hue.
The image below is another image I'm working on for the same book as the above image. I do still have a lot I want to work on for these grey areas but I think this image will still work to get my point across. To the right you can see some areas I cropped out of the image and then crystalized in photoshop to help see the colors in the greys. In the concrete oning above the doorway, my goal was to have the area be dark enough to suggest not much sunlight is getting under there, and yet I also wanted to have some reflected light from the building effecting the color of the concrete. Then just to tie things in a bit better i decided to take some of the purple from below and work it into the top of the image. The concrete walkway admitedly overdoes the purple and I do plan to desaturate that. I don't want it to compete with the girls sweater and it is also currently popping off the canvas.
This last image comes from my previous book. I did about five or six color smaples of this image having bluer tones and greener tones in the concrete. In order to tie the whole image together, the author and I decided on the below color scheme. The color scheme in this image is quit warm with mere accents of cool color making the warms dance. I treated this concrete almost the way you would treat a water scene in which the sky colors are reflected onto the water top. A grey made with black and white would probably look great but I feel the colors I used below have more to say about the mood and atmosphere I was trying to achieve than black would be able to accomplish.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's been a while since my last post because I've been extremely busy with a new booka nd doing lots of marketing work for my previous published book. I worked for a while on the book website and I'm currently working on the book reading video. This is a short sample of that and I hope to have the full version finished soon.Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Favorite Illustrators and Painters

Yet another blog post I’ve wanted to put in writing for some time now but haven’t been able to find time. Below is a list of websites for some of the artists who have inspired me and kept me moving forward in my career. If I hadn’t found these artists, I’m sure I would have made precious little improvement with my art over the past few years since graduating from Mass Art. Below is a vast array of artists from highly textured oil portrait painters, to highly imaginative fantasy art, fantastic children’s book illustrations and a few breathtaking landscape painters. All of these styles have pushed me and prodded as I struggle to discover my own voice in the world of art and push forward with some sort of unique style. I wrote a bit about the first few and ultimately had to resort to just listing websites for the rest. I wanted to include some images of some of there work but I don’t have time to send requests to each artist or even just to collect the images and upload them. I hope you’ll journey over yourselves and feel free to let me know of some of your favorites in the comments. Enjoy!

One of my recent favorite illustrators would have to be Richard Watson. his website The website doesn't do his work justice since he uses lots of texture which is more evident in the books than on the website.

An illustrator I found about four years ago is James Gurney. He is probably my biggest inspiration since graduating from massart. I think I first saw his work displayed at some illustrators guild museum or something. He is the illustrator and author of a series known as Dinotopia which was made into movies and I think cartoons as well. He spent a lot of time working on site with national Geographic’s doing illustrations for them. He also does tons of prep work and makes sculptures of his characters before starting a painting. I wish I could put as much time into my work as he does and I wish I had all of the ala prima painting experience behind me that he has. Take a look at his painting gallery. I unfortunately have to work mostly from photo references for now but he uses lots of live references, gets live models, paints landscapes from life, on and on. When painting dinosaurs he uses real life animals with similar textures as reference. For example he’ll look to elephant skin and crocodiles to get the textures for dino skin. His use of color, compositions, attention to detail, original ideas/concepts, ability to merge the imagination with the real world are just outstanding. He shows me what true passion mixed with illustration can be. When talking about the Dinotopia series he mentions that he loves the concept because he gets to bring dinosaurs back to life and put them beside humans. He sees it as painting history more so than fantasy or sci-fi. As a kid he was always fascinated by dinos because he knew they were once alive not like unicorns, dragons, trolls, and vampires. His website. . .

Ok, you may not have heard of the others so far but I know you’ve heard of Norman Rockwell. He is definitely one of my favorites. I grew up with his work all around me because my grandfather has a huge collection of his. He actually has so many prints and mugs, and plates and calendars and other objects with Rockwell paintings that he could open his own museum. I have a few norman Rockwell collectors books that I look through every now and then for inspiration. I also went to the Norman Rockwell museum a couple years ago. His figures are some of the best I’ve come across, he paints some of the best facial expressions I’ve come across, he paints hands better than I could ever dream of doing, his themes are touching, timeless and meaningful, everything in the painting belongs there and helps tell the story, he tells stories better than most illustrators. There are many website but this seems to be the main one .

One of my favorites for book design and layout is David Wiesner. He is also amazing for his ability to tell the entire story without words. You’ve probably come across his book called “Tuesday”. It’s all illustrations. Granted the story is nothing spectacular but it’s fun for the kids and adults. He’s also got a knack for point of view perspective where he can take you from the top of a clock tower looking down on the town in one image and bring you down into a swamp with the turtles in another image. For part of his process he talks about how he gets his ideas. He makes and interesting image then asks the question what happened before and after that particular scene. He can then build an entire book around it.

Another great story teller through illustrations is Chris Van Allsburg. He’s the only illustrator I know of who made an entire children’s book out of graphite drawings, no color. He works with so little and yet he gives the reader so much. My favorite images of is are those with glowing aspects. You may have seen his image with the woman cutting a glowing pumpkin with a knife. I mostly know him for his book “ The Mysteries of Harris Burdick”

One of my favorite painters is Scott Burdick. He is one of the ones who helped me to love texture in painting (although my clients tend to hate texture so I do very little with it for now). He’s also great with light and shadow on forms. His website is amazing. His wife, susan Lyon, is also really good and is also featured on this site. Be sure to click on some of the images for close-ups. I love that they show there work back years ago so you can see how they progressed.
Another somewhat recent favorite is holly hobbie the author and writer of the toot and puddle series. She has amazing layout skills, Great range of medium in each book. Unique painting technique and great color harmony. She has cute and simple characters with terrific stories to back them up.

Some other great ones who I don’t have time to write about and may be worth your time to have a look at.
William Scott Jennings
Charles Kerins
David Renn

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My New Book is Available!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my book which was scheduled to come out before Christmas but I forgot to write again wehn it actually became available. You can now buy the book on Amazon

or to get it signed or to purchase a whistle with the book you can go to my website or the book website