Friday, February 28, 2014

Art Education

So, I decided I would expand this blog to include more tips, tricks and all around art information, which is actually the main reason I started this.

Now first and foremost I have a Bachelor in Fine Arts (Which was nothing but a waste of time for me from THAT school.) I have attended some online training with Computer Graphics Master Academy (CGMA ) in Concept Art, studied very briefly with the Safehouse Atelier/Massive Black in San Francisco ( and am currently auditing classes online at smART school ( ) for Illustration which is essentially a mentorship that others go through and I get to listen in on. As well as all this sounds, and most of it was this last year even though I got my degree in 2007, I am essentially self taught as my college classes left a lot to be desired. That is good and bad seeing as you don’t know what you don’t know and therefor can’t always be sure you are heading in the right direction or even know what the right direction is.

That is actually where I have found myself until recently thanks to attending the Spectrum Live Fantasy Art convention last year and meeting a lot of great artists up to and including Ian McCaig, who designed Darth Maul for Star Wars and is a personal hero of mine and spent quiet some time talking with me about improving my art. There was also the workshop I attended in San Francisco with Massive Black that started me off on really improving my art and getting more of a direction to where I was going. Thank you Coro, Carl and everyone else. Now I have Donato Giancola, Dan DosSantos, Greg Manchess, Todd Lockwood, and Rebecca Guay from the smART school to listen to each week and hear what they have to say about being an Illustrator, very, very helpful.

Then there was my biggest problem though – What the hell is the business side of things and where do I find work? Well just recently I came across Noah Bradley who is an Illustrator and Concept Designer. You can find him at . I will highly recommend you check out his sight and if you are interested in Illustration or Concept Design as a career get his Art of Freelancing lecture with all the notes and resources and sign up for his 12 week Art Camp. It is $250 for the camp, less than half of what one month at the Safehouse cost, a 10 week class at CGMA, and 12 weeks of just being able to listen in on class but not really participate at smART school all of which happen to be $600. Now the next one starts in May so I haven’t actually taken it yet but looking over the syllabus it is more in-depth than most anywhere for one class and seems to have a definite Illustrator approach to it for the exercises. If animation is more your thing then check out Chris Oatley at where he offers constant free email information on improving your art and a 18 month program called the “Magic Box” that is a digital painting class for $18 yes $18 each month. These two guys are against the high cost of art schools and are trying to make it easier for those of us who can’t really afford them to still get a decent education in the field. Plus there is a ton of stuff on the web that can help you depending on what you are interested in. I am into Illustration and Concept Design. I wont list everything here I think is good not all at once anyway, (I still don’t type that fast and don’t want to be up all night.) but you should know

Muddy Colors - all the famous Illustrators from         
                            smART and big name Art Directors
Gurney Journey - James Gurney if nothing else
                             read his 2 books “Color and Light” and “Imaginative Realism”
The Art Order - by now former Wizards of the Coast Art
                            Director Jon Schindehette
Concept - which is a slew of everything

With these four basic blogs/forums, Noah Bradley and Chris Oately you should be able to find anything else worthwhile linked somewhere from online life drawing sessions and still life lessons to designing futuristic spaceships on alien landscapes. I must also recommend Riven Phoenix's Figure Drawing course. It breaks down the human figure into easy and workable measurements and guidelines that lead you pretty quickly to being able to create much more accurate sketches of figures. I have not got through all the videos offered as there are well over 200 if you pick up the course for only $45 at definitely helped me with even just the 1st 20 lectures. 

So there is a quick bit of info on how to get an art education for almost nothing online. I would also HIGHLY recommend Andrew Loomis’ book “Creative Illustration”. Written in the Golden Age of Illustration, mid-1940s, it is the definitive guide on making good art. If you own nothing else own this book. It is in print again so if you are like me you and like to read from a book and get away from the computer you can get a copy or if you want a completely free education it is here  or download it here both also have his other books as well which if you are just starting off drawing I suggest starting with his 1st “Fun with a Pencil”. It uses simple caricature drawing as its means of really drawing but it shows you how to use simple shapes to design and draw anyone or anything.

Now just because it bugs me - I don’t know if you use blending stumps. I never do. I have tried them but didn’t really care for them and never bother with it now. But if you are into it let me help you out instead of paying whatever the outrageous price for rolled up paper is a the art store do this instead:

General blending on a large area is easily achieved with a soft paper towel or tissue. Something you should already have lying around the house. Just remember the softer it is and more of a “tooth” it has the more graphite/pastel/whatever it will pick up lightening your colors, meaning you will most likely have to go over them again. I recommend those crappy, hard and smooth brown paper towels in the bathroom to even out a surface without really taking away too much media. If you aren’t at school or work and don’t have some around a simple sheet of regular paper will do. Now you don’t have to roll it up just put it on your finger tip and use it flat and smooth. If you want something rolled to get into the tiny corners and don’t want to fold up the paper here is what I did when we were required to have them – lollipop sticks are great. They are the same thing, rolled paper. They are tight, get good corners, can be peeled for new surface area and are a lot cheaper and more fun to get. Try and eat your stumps when you are burning oil in the studio and can’t stop it won't taste as good. 

Finally, since I have been busy and this is an art blog after all I offer up this piece, which served a 5 fold purpose.

      1. Inline with an assignment from Dan Dos Santos’ class to illustrate a book cover using one of the pantheon of planetary gods and include their symbol somewhere on them. I chose Artemis the Greek Goddess of the Moon and the Hunt.
      2.  ImagineFX Fantasy art contest to do an illustration of one or more of the pantheon of the Greek Gods. Got lucky on that one.
      3. SketchTheater monthly contest to traditionally sketch a Lover’s embrace.
      4. It was after all Valentine’s and I wanted something nice for my wife and it is so hard to shop for gifts in Korea.
      5. A portfolio piece to hopefully help get some freelance Illustration work.

We’ll see how things turn out in a couple weeks with the contests and hopefully soon with everything else. Everything in the piece is a symbol for Artemis from the amaranth and asphodel flowers and plants around them to the deer and hawk and of-course Orion her only love.

Monday, February 17, 2014

So here is the final version (at this time). I finished awhile ago but have been busy and slow about uploading. This was done completely out of my head, no references for anything. Can make it better in some ways - loser, more expressive but I am sure with a bit of reference it could also be even better technically. I am happy with it though where it is at. It is what I wanted to do in a way I wanted to do it, and if it goes into the storybook illustrations then it is how I want to be able to do most of the illustrations and so far have been able to thanks to the initial sketches.