Appreciation day!!

As an act of appreciation to my patrons I am creating small hand drawn character sketches and posting them out to you!!!

So, expect them to go out sometime next week! If your address needs to be updated, please go ahead and do it as soon as possible or shoot me a message with an alternate address!

Thank you all!!

Digging out!

Hi friends! Finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel! I seriously underestimated the time I needed to complete some client work. That coupled with an ambitious promotion for the month of Inktober and teaching Saturdays made for a crazy month.
I am cranking through the commissions tied to the Inktober promotion and should be complete this week.
I have been scanning the Inktober artwork as it is completed and will spend some time this week cleaning them up. I will share at least one post on how that promotion came together.
Then it is onto the prize!!

August artwork giveaway WIP

Wanted to share an update of sorts! Been very busy hustling on all fronts and am really glad that I was able to work this piece out while hanging in the livingroom with my wife.
The forces of resistance were shouting, you worked all day, take it easy. The reality is drawing is restful for the most part when I let go of the preconceptions that I want to assign to pretty much everything I work on.

Septembers artwork is coming! Going to roll the dice, literally to see who ends up with either art or perhaps both!! Exciting!

Thank you for the support!

Patreon Sketch to Finish, Art card 3, part one

As I prepare to launch my first-ever Kickstarter, a shortlist of support items that add value and flavor to the main reward are necessary. Part of my campaign rewards are art cards, and while I will share more details later, the skinny for now is I am creating five cards.

I have posted some of the artwork from the other cards here in Patreon, and I am starting to get a feel for what value my commentary on my process can add.

This artwork for card three has been extremely challenging for a couple of reasons. I am out of practice finishing artwork for this series. Yeah, I draw every day, but finishing artwork is a different task. I have not inked anything for this project in forever, and as you will see from my posted files, it was a struggle. That is a good thing! I am retraining my drafting muscles, and while it hurts, I am finally coming around. This the process thus far on the Art Card 3! There are going to be five total in the series, and they will be part of the backer offerings for my Kickstarter the first of the year!

The goal of each card is to enhance the story in the comic-novel, and this one is no different. This scene takes place in book two; I will explain in another post, promise! There were several things as a storyteller I needed to convey — determination in the face of hopelessness, and isolation.

I have attached a PDF with the steps and notes detailing the process of completing the artwork to this point.

So, the first image is the culmination of hours of work, and I hated it. So much so that I completed another thumbnail sketch at lunch the following day and tried a different approach. One of the critical elements in the composition is the dragon hidden in the trees above the impending conflict. I wanted it to be subtle, so the viewer has to do a double-take. The vantage point of this drawing made that problematic.

So, my new thumbnail is from a higher vantage, above the trees and we are peering down on the scene. I liked the dark shapes of the wolves(let’s call them that for now) coming into the clearing.

I scanned the thumbnail I created at lunch that evening and imported it into CSP (Clip Studio Paint). Scaled it up to the size of the artboard and used it as the rough for me to digitally draw over.

I needed some visual reference for forest details to enhance my art. Using my Pinterest account, I found some lovely images with more information like leaves, and how the tree roots fan out an interact with the ground. I don’t use the reference to “copy” a scene. It is mostly to “inform” the scene I am creating. This concept is essential to note. If as a creative, you always need an exact composition to render in your style, you are limited in what you can create by the source material. However, if you use it as a reference to ground your creation, then you are only limited by your imagination.

Please read the PDF, and hopefully, you will get some inspirational tidbits from it. This piece is about 10 hours in so far; I am rusty at finishing things for this book. Part of the process was reminding myself how I did stuff and getting the feel back for drawing these characters and settings. I hope you enjoy it!

Sketch to finish, Art card 1, part one

As the writer, illustrator, concept artist, and designer (phew) of this book. There is not a task that doesn’t require my attention. That is fine, and I have no complaints! So, most of the time, everything I create in my physical sketchbooks has to have a purpose. This share will focus on a piece of artwork that possibly will have multiple lives.

But, how do you take a real sketch and use it as the basis for something digital? Well, this is the process I am employing to make a concept sketch into finished digital artwork.

There is a PDF attached that illustrates with notations every step, you might get the most from this article 

First, I scanned the drawing high resolution and grayscale. Let’s just say I have plans.

I am using the software, ClipStudio Paint (CSP) for this digital piece, so I used the import option and dropped my scan in place.

On a new blank layer, I started to rough in the rest of the character’s body. I am partly ashamed and shocked that I have not drawn this character in a long time. So, there was much going back and looking at the earlier drawings to get the details right.

Once I am happy with the rough sketch, I turn the opacity of that layer to 25% to lighten the lines. Creating a new layer and naming it “tighter” I start to layer on the character’s costume.

Note, I am a big fan of naming layers. It makes the organization of the files much easier in the long run. From experience, when you open a file you have not worked on for over 6 months you have little recollection of what is what.

Using the rough of her body, I sketch the clothing on the new layer. I am not worrying about the pose or the anatomy, just the manner of dress for the character.

Once I am content with the tighter pencils, I begin to digitally ink. As a general rule, when I ink, I use many layers. Anything complicated or that would look best if I drew through the shape, I use another art layer.

When I draw, I have to “see it.” It is anything I am trying to capture with pencil or pen. There are moments in the process where I can’t see it, and when that happens, I typically jump to another area of the piece that I can “see” and work there. I was having such a moment and jumped to a sketch for a panel idea I had, inking that. I will save it and use it later hopefully.

Part of this particular project is still a mystery. I am not sure of what style the final coloring will look like, so the stones are black for now.

My first challenge is the hands are not right. I never really resolved them in the previous drawings, thinking I would figure it out when I ink the piece. Time for source material.

I snapped a photo of my daughter’s hands in the position I needed and imported them. When CSP imports an image file, it creates a new layer for that image and takes whatever name the document had for the layer name. Fortunately, I had named the layer something besides, DCP2019223534434345243.jpg.

Once I repositioned the image of the hands, I saw my problem. The angles of my character’s forearms were not correct and creating no space for me to draw the hands accurately.

Here is where I wished I had created each arm on a separate digital ink layer. I selected the part I needed to move and rotated it to the new angle using the photo as a guide.

More to come in the next post on this subject; however, that post and the ones after till the completion of this particular artwork won’t be made public. So, if you would like to see the rest, why not subscribe?

I hope this post was a blessing and encouraged you to go for it and chase those creative dreams down!

Decorative Art Cards-1

Launching a Kickstarter campaign encompasses many parts, some of them moving. While my KS is to fund my book, the reality is I need to prepare some side dishes for the main course. I am adding bookmarks and art cards (mini-posters) that will be printed and have foil and letterpress details. More on the overall plan and how these fit into everything will come in a future post.

The attached PDF has all of the illustrative steps to this article. I am getting smarter at this and combining the support images into one PDF so that you only have to download one document. I have also added the steps listed below to the actual material. Wow, huh?

Step 1: The first thing I did was sketch out my ideas. I am working on a 1st generation Surface Studio, and for quick sketches I prefer Sketchable. It is a Windows 10 app. The cards are going to enhance the narrative of the story by revealing hidden details and undisclosed plot points. Every part of the artwork on these cards must accomplish that. I also would like them to have an illuminated text feel to them, but with my spin on it.

Step2: I exported the final roughs for the first stage of production. Create the graphic glyphs and ornate elements that adorn the borders and corners of each art card. These cards will be drawn digitally in ClipStudio Paint, but I want to save some effort and time by creating a template that I can draw over. So, I placed the exported roughs from Sketchable into Adobe Illustrator. I’m not going into the weeds on the tools and options for this or any other software I reference. Tons of video tutorials readily available online will be more thorough. I am sharing the process of how I am creating the artwork in my project. This programs strong suit is manipulative vector curves and setting type. I researched Esty for the most popular art card sizes. I had initially been thinking 6 x 9in; however, the research painted a different picture. There was probably ten times the amount of 5 x 7in cards on the site. Also, 5 x 7in picture frames, pre-cut matte boards are commonplace. I placed the rough on its layer and scaled it to the approximate size that felt right. Remember I have an illustration going in the middle space. The beautiful thing about vector artwork is that size is irrelevant. It is infinitely scalable.

Step 3: On a separate layer, I created some circles that mirrored the negative spaces of the intertwining dragon tentacles.

Step 4: I added a line segment that runs on a 45-degree angle; this will serve as my center point, my equator for the design.

Step 5: I used the pen tool to free form the base for my vector tentacles.

Step 6: Continuing the task at hand by roughing in the shapes. I can go back and add more points and adjust pretty much everything.

Step 7: After a bit of editing the points and adjusting the curves, I arrive at something that feels right. Note that I always start with a rough sketch at least. I believe that previsualization is essential, and the only way to do that is to sketch it out. But, you should feel free to deviate from your original idea as you go.

Step 8: I change the shape of the vector line to have a taper at the start and end of the line segment. Using a little known keyboard command (Shift-W) turns your select cursor into a line segment shaping tool. Using this, I apply a fat end to the line segment where it will curve into its mirror twin.

Step 9: I use the tool option in step 8 until I am content with the lines outlook.

Step 10: I use the mirror tool to duplicate the line segment along my equator line and start the task of creating the other line segments.

Step 11:  I apply the same process as 6 through 9.

Step 12: Again, I use my unique tool option to fatten one end of the segment. The end that will join it’s mirror twin.

Step13: I mirror the new segment and like the balance overall. I am not worried about the small point where the red tentacles join on my equator line. These lines are serving as templates for me to draw the final artwork over.

Step 14: Now, I start to create a more structured part of the design. These elements need to define the corners of the piece visually. So, I give them an architectural type feel. Not unlike the illustrative artwork from the Saturday Evening Post illustrations from the Twenties by J.C. Leyendecker.

Step 15: I cut the pure shapes with the scissor tool and keep the sections I want. I find that working with pure shapes, circles, ellipses, rectangles, etc., helps provide balance for the viewer’s eyes.

Step 16: Using my trusty mirror tool and center guides I set up within my document earlier on, I duplicate the elements to all four corners of the piece, deleting the tentacle parts from the top corners. Something special is going there.

Step 17: I hid the placed rough to show you the progress at this point in the project. Still much more to do, so stay tuned!!

I hope this was a blessing to you and inspired you in some way to pursue the creative dreams that are inside, waiting to come out.