Friday, December 12, 2014

Catching up a bit

So I haven't posted much here lately. I've been busy actually for this holiday season. I managed to attend CTN (Creative Talent Network) Expo here in Burbank about 3 weeks ago now. From that by pure hap chance I landed a bit of an internship and training at an animation studio. Funny because I hadn't really thought about doing animation, despite my talks with Disney, for years now but then I am illustrating a Sci-Fi game too. It was originally something I very much wanted to get into but I like traditional 2D animation and Disney is now completely 3D. Not that they are the only animation company but that was the dream spot, now . . . we'll see. Marvel Studios from the guy I have talked with that worked there sounds right up my alley. They are a tight small team though and breaking into it isn't easy. But there are plenty of other places to be that are just as good and more accessible. Meanwhile my work for Rogue Games has continued with the following sketches. The end of the year will bring a lot of new changes hope fully for the better but it definitely seems to be bringing something with it. Funny thing I have noticed - You hear a lot of pros talk about not having a social life while working away especially when trying to get that 1st job. Everyone I have talked to got that 1st job because of their social life essentially, they knew someone in the business. I have been dedicated to my craft but gotten no where professionally because no one knows who I am. I started to go out and talk with people and have a social life of sorts and in one week I picked up the internship, got a personal meeting with a manager from Riot Games, meet someone from Marvel, got my work reviewed by some pros and their advice, meet an Illustrator from NY in person that I had kinda known online and meet the guys from Konami and got their cards. I've gotten a lot more exposure in a week essentially and potential leads to jobs that I actually want than I have for the years trying before hand totaled together. Part of it is I am sure I make a good personal impression. Not so great online but I have an easy going friendly personality. This isn't to say go out and party all the time and neglect your craft (it's Friday night and I'm drawing and doing this) but you have to know how to mix it up properly if you really want to get ahead. People want to hire their friends after all and friends with proper skills are the best.

I didn't design the alien but the suit design is mine. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I have be doing some Illustration work for Rogue Games, is who I applied to and hired me but the contract says Gorilla Games and if you look up the title that I am working on - "Battlestations" it is published under Gorilla Games so for them in a vague sense of the word. I have 6 illustrations to do, an ample time frame to do it in and the joy of being part of a working world that I have been after for awhile now. The funny part to this is I came all the way out to LA to make contacts and try to get some work. Now that I am here I have done just that; except the work I got was from a company I applied to when I was back in Korea and is remote freelance work so has nothing to do with my being in LA at all. Still I will enjoy my time here and the different pace that LA seems to work on. I won't go into too much detail about the work I am doing now as I'm not entirely certain how much I can disclose. I haven't been given and NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) for this but don't want to shoot myself in the foot either from something simple.

Meanwhile I have been doing other things as well. Nothing with anything in mind just things that come up as I go along my day. Such as this one which will end up being a genie of sorts in a treasure room as far as my thoughts on the matter are right now. It started with me just wanting to draw the upper torso in a particular way and then coming up with a reason for it and a setting to make it fit. It still needs quiet a bit of work to it but the idea is there and I got what I wanted from it so far.

Then there was this one which I have been looking at Katsuya Terada's work lately. Not that this is a recognizable influence from him but just someone whom I was concerned with at the time of the sketch. It came after a life drawing class at the Art Center in Pasadena with a model who kept tilting her head and always seemed to be showing a bit of the underside of her chin. I liked the head pose, I liked Terada's work, I like sketching girls and things like Tank Girl so it seemed to work for me. Probably a bit more line work on this one, definitely some shading and then some colour and I should be good with that as well. Nothing however beats that sketching out phase for me. There is a reason I want to do concept art. Sketch after sketch after sketch if I could do that all day I'd be ecstatic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I'm working on

So I've been very busy trying to settle into something here in LA. It has been fun meeting new people and different artists and a lot of actors. But that hasn't left me much time for anything else namely the reason I came to LA in the 1st place. I am going to try to go back to adding to this site at least once a week. For now here are some things I have been working on to pass the time when I have time. After I finish detailing the last one in high contrast the I think I may start on a series of Asian demons like the Dragon demon here at the top. Something I enjoy doing, mixing my cultural love with the fantasy stories and hopefully something I can make good use of in getting a nice little job somewhere doing what I want to do instead of running around just trying to get by.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Disney tours

So last week I got a behind the scenes tour of the Disney studios particularly the animation studios here in Burbank. I got to see the little memorial to the late great Robbin Williams, actual props from movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Prince of Persia and visual development art from various  movies. It was a wonderful experience. Left me awe struck at the sight of such a fun looking place to work and such a nice crowd of people. I wanted to plead my case for a job right there, even a janitor position, just let me be here around all the wonderful art and in a place that I dreamed of being as... well, a kid and adult still. But I kept my composure as my friend there is still new to me and it is not good to not show proper restraint at times.

I did bring my sketch book though and showed it to the animators and even got a chance to show it to the Lead Concept Designer who's face I will completely remember but who's name escapes me at the moment. Hopefully though there will be another opportunity to learn the name. I got some kudos all around from the team even saying that I drew extremely well and it was a shame Disney has switched to 3D animation instead of doing 2D. You're telling me at this point. My 3D isn't fully developed yet. But they suggested I possibly look to the live action films and video games as that seemed to be a style my art fit into since I am more realistic with my designs. That works for me! Just sign me up!

The most interesting or bizarre thing but one that left a lasting impression I am sure, was we got to talking about what I do as a day job. I teach martial arts and fitness most of the time. I have a background that includes training with Navy SEALs, ex-Secret Service, bodyguard operations, and over a dozen different martial arts throughout the last 26 years now. All that concluded the tour with me showing the Disney animation department how to take a guy out in a couple moves no matter what his size. Fun stuff. It also lead them to suggest repeatedly, and others here in LA as well, that I should do combat consulting for games and film. I would definitely be game for that! Now just someone tell me how do I go about doing it? 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Medivac T-Shirt design

I got asked to do a T-shirt design for an Army helicopter medivac unit in Korea. Few guidelines except a wounded soldier, an angel lifting him up and a helicopter. I went with a bolder more graphic style because it will stand out more on a shirt and be easier to print and well, it just happened to fit in the style I was working in at that time. The unfortunate thing is that I was given this assignment while in the middle of moving to LA.

So, I only had a couple hours here and there to work on it as if you have anything to do in LA it will take you an hour to get there regardless of the time or distance unless it takes you more than that. I spent, and I kid you not, 30 minutes on Hollywood Blvd for a job interview an only went a quarter of a mile. Even with GPS saying it is 8 miles away it also reminds you estimated time is in 45 minutes, which I am finding actual traveling time is double what the GPS says thanks to never ending traffic. I don't care if it is 3am there are still families walking around and traffic like it is rush hour somewhere. It is at least a bit easier to find parking than San Francisco but that's probably because by the time you get there you pretty much need to leave because it will take you just as long to get back.  So you can blow 5 hours just doing one thing. Doom on you if you need to go anywhere else.

Now much to the fun part of doing this assignment I was given little direction and not much feed back along the way. We'll see what they say in the end. Can't argue with the price they got it at though and you would think military budget is big but the offer for this was for free. Not exactly what I'd like to hear for me to put in time and effort but comp work for something you are connected to and support isn't always bad. My wife is and I was military and this was something I enjoyed doing. Hopefully it will reflect back on my wife in a positive way and it at least gives me the US Army as a client on my resume. I already helped design a Christmas flyer for them and have now let them know continued use of my services and time will need to be compensated. Hell, give me an M-4 I'll take that as payment we can do a barter. I know they have them laying around. Some outdated night-vision  goggles or cool camping gear, a tank or Humvee and you can have me for a year! We'll see if this helps by having a big name albeit government client or if it hurts for the price they retain me at. Either way onward here now in LA. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Now in LA!

This won't be long as being on the internet means I am at a McDonalds parking lot by Venice Beach right now. I recently moved to LA no house, no solid job, nothing. But then I've heard it said to just pick up and move you either have to have a lot of money or nothing. Well I don't have a lot of money. No fear though, I'm a Personal Trainer and there's always a job for that and the pay here is much better than in the tiny little nowheres I have been lately. Hopefully I can find a nice little art job with a studio as well and this can be a fun change for my little family. For now it means falling behind in Art Camp 2 mostly though because there has been a lack of downloads for the videos. So even though my time is scarce right now I still have it but that is usually late a night like always, only now I amy have it but I can't watch the lectures without sitting in a parking lot somewhere during that time and for 2 hours to just do that. Honestly I don't have time to just do that and nothing else. At home I can draw while I listen to the lectures even draw on the computer if I need to or do something else, but sitting in my car in a late night parking lot there's nothing comfortable or workable about it. So anyway, that's why this has slowed a bit. On the other hand anyone in LA feel free to drop me a line and make a new friend. I  could use some help finding things in the city such as a good life drawing group.

In the mean time here are a few more quick sketches just for fun.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quick Colour Matching in Traditional Paints

Looking around the Art Camp 2 Week 5 stuff I see a lot of people apologizing about their colours being off in their traditional master study paintings and other paintings that are referenced from photos. Here is a bit of advise to help you out in matching the reference colours traditionally: 

Make a colour copy (on paper from a copier/printer) of the image or print out a colour copy if you are looking at something online, make sure the colours come out as you want them to be. Now either when you are setting up your paint colours to use or if you mix them while you work take a small daub of the colour and paint it on the colour copy in the area you are trying to match. If the colours blend and you can't tell the difference between them you are good to go. If the colour is off try again until they blend into each other. Just make small dots on your colour copy to test your mixed colours so you leave plenty of the actual colour. And that's it! As long as your drawing is accurate and you test your colours to get them to match then you can come up with a pretty close replication of what the image is. You can even use this to get accurately matched colours for your own Illustrations if you have good reference you can use or are just trying to get a specific colour.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Art Camp 2 WK 4

So week 4 was about experimenting with drawing materials: graphite, ink, charcoal, I used markers and coloured pencils as well for the Moebius piece. It seems the average student in Art Camp has never or almost never used traditional materials. I find it hard to believe that any art student would not have picked up traditional materials somewhere throughout their lives. If nothing else pencil and paper is so much cheaper than a computer and Photoshop. But then this goes back to the issue I have heard so many times now from different instructors that people can't draw any more and just are using computers to paint over photos. 

The images below aren't super accurate. I wasn't going to waste my time and be lectured about being too accurate again. So they were done quickly, a single evening and just to fill the assignment more than anything. Which meant I finally got some discussion from one of the instructors. He told me how Rackham did his watercolour technique. I still wonder was it just a statement, a critique on what he thinks I should've and didn't do or what? It didn't offer advise just - this is how he did it. A wash of colour, blue and brown, and lift light areas out with water and a dry brush and add other colours where needed. Funny enough I knew that and that is exactly how I did it. It seems anything good I have done gets little or no attention which is not to say they aren't busy but if I did well I'd like to know. It is just as helpful and sometimes more so to know what went right as well as when you are wrong. So I can't say the comment was really helpful. It is starting to seem to me that despite its advertised all levels the instructor feed back is aimed at young, uninformed artists who most likely have never taken an art class. Provided these are the people who probably need help the most but the stuff they lack in their art is basic enough they can find a critique anywhere to let them know the same thing. Those that are pro or near pro level I think need it just as much. If they are already pretty skilled but lacking that one thing to push them over the top it is probably because at this point they don't see it just yet. One good critique could get them past it and start a career for them. Why not really help someone get going then? 

This current week, 5, is about experimenting in painting materials oil, acrylic and traditional paints. Honestly, I like to paint, oils are wonderful for my detailed, blended, layer upon layer style. I have neither my supplies though, money for it, space to do it or the time. I will work in watercolor this week as that is something I have been wanting to do to develop the look I like for my art. I hope the weeks after get away from basic art class kind of instruction and into something deeper. The topics suggest they will. We will see with the level of instruction. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Art Camp 2 Wk3

This week was about perspective drawing from observation and imagination again using 1, 2 and 3 point perspective. Honestly, I didn't put much into this week. I worked on some other stuff and tied to get my family life on track again. But I have done whole classes based on nothing but perspective so I don't feel I missed much. Now I still did some just because I do think it is something you should be able to use. Now I finally got a written critique about this one but that was just to say, "Curved forms like those pagoda-style roofs are going to be tricky, the thing to remember is that there's still a enclosing rectangular solid that you can build from the corners." So does this mean I need to work on that or that I did okay with them and it is just an observation to be aware of whenever any of us do something like this? Because I did put the corners in perspective with each other so I'm not sure which way it goes. I would assume he thinks I didn't think about it and just tried to draw it out and mentioned something he quickly thought of and moved on. This is also the same guy though, who after I critiqued someone else's work giving a quick draw over so they could see how they needed to improve the stance of their figure, went in and did the same thing, almost the exact same drawing I did as if I did nothing and his wasn't posted right under mine looking the same. Then there was a video critique where the instructor says pretty much the same thing I said after the other one posted his comment in another thread which was, "I'm glad you agree. It is nice to know I was pretty much on track". Now if you are wondering why I make an issue of this here it's because why under value someone else's information just because they aren't part of your little circle? Especially if you are just going to say the same thing? I'm going to stop here. There's more I'd like to say but now probably isn't the time when I'm trying to get hired still and everyone in the freelance Illustration & Concept Design business literally seems to know one another. 

What is the lesson to take away from all this for me though? Once again in life it really is not what you know but who you know that gets you places. Honestly in retrospect of my life I think I would have not been so good at school work and spent more time partying. I like being smart but it has paid off not at all in the long run so far. I know people who did horrible in school but made a decent career for themselves because they knew someone. I don't think college is the way to go anymore. Trade schools are much better focused and usually have some kind of internship were you get practical experience to use in getting a job plus they are a focused learning environment so you learn what you need to. 


Art Camp 2 Wk2

So this week was all about keeping a daily sketchbook and drawing from observation and imagination, which everyone who keeps a sketchbook does. The big issue is doing daily sketches. Still this is something I like to do anyway and already do. Sometimes I may work for a few days on one particular sketch turning it into more of a drawing but that mostly comes from not having much time to everything I should be doing in a single day (Like posting this last week.) but I do draw something daily so this wasn't that big of a stretch. The practice is solid though and nothing builds skill like repetition. Mostly I drew from imagination because it is just simpler for me to do since I run around with a 3 year old all day and I don't have to sit in front of a certain reference. Especially since one of my best chances to sketch is when he plays at the park if there are other kids around but that is always up in the air so maybe, maybe not. 

The funny thing about this week is I got 2 reviews one that basically came back pretty negative and questioned my ability to draw because the Valkyrie painting is pretty photo real in its execution. It always makes me wonder if it is because they assume I am some young kid just starting out and couldn't possibly do that kinda of work so I must have painted on top of photos because that is the popular thing. Now I used photos for reference but I painted it all over again and think it is funny the same person who gave me this critique and said I should just try doing things from my head uses reference to get his images to look as he wants. I matched my photos quite a bit though and that is the big issue but it lead basically to him saying I probably can't draw. The next day another instructor critiqued my sketchbook and some other sketches from the Rabbit story which are all from imagination, zero reference since they were done at work. In his critique of my work not only did he say I had strong drawing skill but commented that my worked reminded him of Harry Clark and Edmund Dulac who along with Arthur Rackham were exactly the look I was going for with my storybook sketches.  So can I draw? You judge, but like I mentioned before Iaian McCaig, Jon Schindehette and everyone else I've talked to always said I can draw well. Just be careful of judging people before you know much about them. 

The following sketches are for this week and were all from imagination except the last page and the one with the tiger on it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Morrigan Final

Here is the final I came up with for this project. Let me cross my fingers my fingers and hope for the best with Treehouse Brand Stores. I'd really like to work with them so I hope this fits in with something they can use. If it does get used it would be a limited edition art print which would be a nice way to break in. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Accurate Drawing Short and Simple

I was recently asked in Noah's class by another student to share some of the secrets to my line drawings that can be seen from the previous post here Art Camp 2 Week 1. The big secret is patience, going slowly and experience, time. Here is what I told him though:

As for how I get my lines the way they are, and by this I am assuming you mean accurate or deciding which ones to pick out, the short answer is experience. I have been doing this since high school back in the early 90's. But for a better answer consider this when doing these kind of things:

Every shadow, highlight and in-between tone is a shape. It is as simple as that and if you outline each one, and I usually try to do it according to value - darker outlines for darker shapes lighter outlines lighter shapes, then you get what I did for the studies. 

To make them more accurate look at the study of N.C. Wyeth or the 2nd Bargue copy. There you can see a pretty tight grid over each drawing. They all have it but these are the 2 that I left it on. For copying photo reference there's simply no better way, except possibly tracing it, but I used to suck at tracing so I would just redraw everything (again lots of practice). At a small level and with patience it is easier to make sure you are getting the lines set right. 

Now to do it from life there is probably no better way than the atelier way but it doesn't have to be size sight. I studied at the Safehouse in San Francisco for a little while which is where Karla Ortiz is from. She was a class ahead of me there. There we used plumb lines (anything that hangs straight on a line) and knitting needles to measure things by holding them out at arms length, taking a smaller measurement - say the width of the head because that fits into the height of the head and using that to lay in the outline of the form starting with straight lines boxing it in. So the head is about 1 1/2 head widths high. Easy enough. Now you know the basic size relation and box size of the head. From there start using smaller measurements with the more detail you put in and use the plumb line to check how things really line up vertically. You can also use the angles of the face like the triangle of the nose pretty much continues on to the corners of the mouth and to the start of the chin on each side. There is a good book on atelier drawing called "Lessons in Classical Drawing Essential Techniques From Inside the Atelier " by Juliette Aristides, check it out for a crash course on realistic drawing and how to measure out everything. 

So basically define an edge for every "shape". Start with big measurements and the outside proportions. If those are right everything else can easily be found. If they are wrong your insides will be way off and so will the whole drawing. Then get into smaller and smaller shapes and lines within the drawing. 

I did a quick walk through of the steps in another Frazetta study. I started with the black outline shapes. Then moved to the red reducing my grid by half then to the blue lines reducing that grid by half again to tighten up some details. It is still rough but basically what you will end up with is the final black line drawing. Then if you want to add tone just pick 3 or 4 tones from white to black and fill in the shapes accordingly. I go with 100% White, 100% Black, 50% Black and 20% Black for my tonal studies.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Art Camp 2 Week 1

So I started Art Camp 2 with Noah Bradley this week. For this week we are doing shape studies, Master studies in line and Bargue plate drawings. I studied at an atelier in San Francisco and this is just using the same technique we did there. We were doing cast drawings though. The second step usually in classical atelier drawing programs after Brague plate drawings. Now I have a week to do all this plus more. Glad I am more practiced at this now helps me be faster knowing what to do and how to get it accurate. We had a whole month of 4 hours a day for 4 days a week plus to do 1 drawing but they had to be precise and every little grain on the paper was filled in so it all looked smooth like a photograph. Sounds tedious and boring and it can be honestly. Some times you just wanted to say, yeah done, and move on but slowing down helped a lot in developing detail and I found that the biggest thing separating me from the pros was the amount of time spent on a project. So slow down, add more detail and really love what you are doing and you will improve quickly.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Update Morrigan Dragon Age

So, right after I posted the last one I made some changes in her face especially. I figured it would be more engaging to have her looking out at the viewer. I pulled a picture of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent due to her pronounced cheek bones and triangular face in that one being in line with the character Morrigan's face from some videos I watched of the game being played. Much to my surprise when Jon Schindehette did reviews today for Rebecca Guay's SmART class her mentioned the exact same things I had done 2 days before as being something that those who did the character needed to focus on to match her likeness even using Maleficent as an example and Olivia Wild whom I had not thought of at the time. So that was nice to know that my thinking is inline with what I need it to be to be successful with this project.

I wasn't able to get a review at the time from Jon as I am only monitoring the class right now but I will be sending this to him as soon as it is finished especially since he asked everyone to send him their finished projects for this and we'll see how things go from there. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Since I don't post often enough even though I am working on stuff. Here's a 2nd work in progress shot. I still need to add more details especially to her and I have changed some things since the last one. I think with some more vibrant colours on her she'll pop as the main focus nicely. Hope Jon Schindehette likes it well enough. Can't wait to do another version of this with my own character and crows with skull type heads flying around as well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Something I have been working on to follow along with a SmART school assignment from Jon Schindehette and his new company Treehouse Brand Stores. They do merchandising for games so the requests that I undertook was to create a art print for Morrigan from Dragon Age. This is just a work in progress shot so I'll post the final in awhile. enjoy until then. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Drawing Brushes for Photoshop

So they say it doesn’t matter what brush you use in Photoshop you can achieve almost anything with any brush if you know how. I have heard this from just about every artist that works in digital art I’ve listened to. I agree it is not about the brush. It won’t make you better. However, I also agree with the idea that you need the right tool for the right job. When I first started working in Photoshop and trying to sketch in it because I love to sketch, I had a difficult time honestly because I was using brushes that came with Photoshop and getting hard dark lines. This messed with me as I like to draw lightly and gradually build up my values or go over a line and make it a bit darker when I like it. Having nothing but dark lines they all blended together and I had a hard time reading them and knowing where I wanted to go in my drawing.  So I looked around for brushes online and kinda found something I liked. It wasn’t the best but it worked for me well enough so I used it but still sketched mostly on paper then scanned it in to get a good drawing.

Then my computer got stolen and everything I had with it including all my software, digital portfolio and of-course my brushes in Photoshop. So I went about putting it all back, as much as I could anyway. I couldn’t find the drawing brushes I had been using or maybe they just didn’t feel right anymore or give me what I wanted. So I just drew with whatever but didn’t really use it for anything serious.

I then took an ink brush from an ImagineFX tutorial and changed its settings and got a drawing brush I liked. Then I changed them a bit more and liked it even more for sketching and shading. Here is a one minute life-drawing sketch I did with the light drawing brush.

 I use them set to about 5 pixels to draw with. If you leave it at that or around there and shade with the light drawing brush it will give you some texture as well making it seem more like an actual pencil drawing. The regular drawing brush I use mostly for dark lines that I want to bring out if they need it or with bolder paniting. I have these set so you can do a full range with the settings at 100% opacity and right now I am at 50% flow. The drawing below was done with just these 2 brushes no change in the settings 100% the whole time just control of the pen pressure.

I found that holding the pen straight up and down is good for the dark and hard lines where holding it as far to the edge as you can to shade like a pencil gives a very light stroke from barely perceptible to as dark as you want without having to lift or layer over an area to build up the gradation. You can go over an area though, with this same technique and lightly fill in the potential gaps left on your first pass depending on how fast or wide you made your strokes originally much like doing a smooth atelier drawing.  In-fact these are the brushes I used to draw and paint the “Valkyrie” piece I previously published here as I like to handle my painting like drawing in colour and be able to blend softly. I also used them in this piece section to draw in the flowers here and to put in the light colour in the background mountains behind them.

Now the really interesting part of this is I decided to use my light drawing brush for my eraser setting as well. And just like using it to draw I can lightly fade out an area or with more pressure erase an area all together in the same stroke. This is much more natural to me and I am loving it. I don’t have to set the eraser to a low setting and hope I don’t overlap making one bit of an area stronger than another because of that and then trying to blend it back in. I can just erase like I normally would on paper with a real eraser.

So, here are the brushes for you to enjoy because it sucks trying to find something good to draw with and get a natural media feel.

Alright, apparently I am having an issue uploading them here so if you want right now you can email me and I will email them out to you or you can wait and I will try to get them up ASAP.

Here is the link now to the brushes -