Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3d- Tideswell Arok

Link to full image!

Been throwing myself at 3d again. It seems to go better each time I try, much like successive zerg rushes at poorly defended bunkers :)

I rarely post here about things not related to art- that's what livejournal is for! But! I wanted to link to this radio station- Radio Krutushka . It is a worldmusic station that ranges from traditional folk music of all stripes to more modern adaptations of the same. Perfect for a little midwinter escapism, and plus, if I post it here my mom will be able to find it. Hi mom! :)

A happy new year to all of my watchers! I hope it brings the peace and wellbeing we are all hoping for. A little prosperity wouldent hurt either ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I was determined to get something done for ArtOrder, and now that school has subsided for a month or so I finally have my chance! So here's my take on Krampus. My inspiration was from the Christmases I spent at my grandmother's house in rural new hampshire. Unlike most of the people I know who grew up with disney movies and such, Fae and faeries have always scared the hell out of me. On the occasions where my mother would boot me outside to walk about in the woods or something, I would try to spot every ring of toadstools as quickly as possible lest I step into one and get trapped in some horrible nightmarish servitude to fickle, wicked and yet childish masters. TVTropes has a great list of it here.


The idea here is that the things that truly frighten us aren't necessarily big hulking musclebound figures brandishing crude implements o' hurt. Sometimes it is also the frailty of things that terrifies us, the fact that even as a somewhat dessicated, elderly looking figure is still more than we can handle. That those skeletal and fleshless arms, those claw like digits could so easily stick us in a crude, all-too-small sack made of a dead sheep and not only carry us about but restrain us and give several other of our peers the same treatment.

on a side note, I'm aware that most depictions of Krampus borrow heavily from the wild man fur costume thing. I felt that took away from the vulnerable quality too much, but tried to add it back in just a little via the sheepskin pack.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bookbinding part two

A shot of my deconstructed children's book. It was an illustrated abridged version of Narnia, now it's Aslan's head. It's mounted on a wood board I varnished. This piece will be shown at the Museum of South Florida spring of 2010.

Clamshell box built to house Lizardmen :) I thought it would be cool if the box opened up into a battlefield for you to display a few units on. The air plant in the middle shot dropped out of a tree and hit me on the head as I was photographing so it became impromptu terrain XP The book is coptic stitch and contains illustrations and notation on the different types of lizardmen in the box along with some personal stuff.

Lastly, a japanese stab book for Kaitlin Reid :) I have yet to paint the cover. The crane charm was folded by Jason Keller and then varnished by myself, and I attached it to rope and constructed the tassel.

Bookbinding projects

One of my bookbinding projects was to make a set of three codexes that were housed in a book box. I wrote the books as well, the yellow book is about the history of cider and cider recipies, then there is a honeycomb one about mead and a red one about wine. It was fun, though a lot of work. I was one of the very few and the proud that critique day, pouring rain too I might add.

The back of my final project, a codex with a folio of art from each of the classmates. It's a quarterbound french stitched codex.

Shot of most of my dummy book projects lined up. From left to right- tunnel book, tunnel book, french stitch codex, coptic stitch, pamphlets, buttonhole book, piano hinge book.

Tunnel book. :) It's a sea serpent! Tunnel books are totally a pain in the butt to make, but they are pretty cool when they are done.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Digital figure painting

If possible, I'd love to forgo oils in class and just do this. Mmmm.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hello netizens!

Today I present you this artsnack recently finished for WarSpider Games! Please do go check out the game!

also I figured I'd post the finished version of the image from the last post :) It could use some work, but there ill be time for that later

Friday, October 09, 2009

Woo! Thank you Blizzard!

Celebratory post here to say that I got my first piece into the Blizzard fan art gallery! Woo! Not only that, they used my image as the thumbnail for the gallery on the main page, making this possibly the most eyeballs to ever look at a piece done by me. Check it out!

also, here's a wip of the piece I am working on this very minute. It's a mock Pulp cover, some kind of horror/sci-fi/fantasy mashup. Mmmm, mash. Still very early in on this one :)

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Poor things are overlooked :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

I've always liked green men. The idea of a wood spirit is cool, using natural leafy shapes to define vaguely human features is cool...they're just cool. Anyway I decided to make a "thorny green man" and use the zbrush image from the last post as ref. This piece was done in illustrator :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Playing with Zbrush, and some WC concepts

More concepts to post. My scanner decided to go AWOL, so, these were scanned a little bit slipshod before class today. There's much more I'd like to show you when I next get near a scanner!
I've recently conquered one of my main issues with Zbrush thanks to various tutorials on Vimeo and youtube. Previously I had lots of odd geometry on anything I worked up (like fractal fingers) and I was only able to be really successful with a very limited number of zspheres. Fortunatley I'm over that now! So here's my first piece of Zbrush (or a shot of it, the full body exists but it is not finished) which I am using as a lighting refrence for a adobe illustrator project of the same subject. Fun!

Last but not least, I've compiled a character sheet for the main dragon character I'm using in my children's book. I'm rather pleased :)

Well that's it for now folks! I've got a more juicy update coming for you later in next week :) Cheers!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Concepts- dragon and vaguely mammalian alien

For my Children's Book class I was told to focus on something I'm allready good at and try to wham out some portfolio pieces. Alright then, dragons it is :)

The book will be called "A Dragon's Guide to the Care of Humans", it's written in a sort of guide book style from the veiwpoint of a dragon. It feels a little like a kid with an ant farm only on a larger scale :) Target audience is more teen or young teen or various subculture folk than the wee Timmies of the world but I think it'll be fun. Anyhow this is my indonesian dragon design. Tribesman and such to follow, along with africa, europe, australia and the americas :)

This image is one of the rejects from a game project I'm working on for Mouseplay Productions. It's very interesting working on character design for a distinctly alien but very empathisable (is that even a word? I dont think so..) species. You can kinda see here I went and did one concept on the bottom right first and then went on to make it more and more alien/accessorized/unfriendly. The end concept still had to be likable so no giant fangs this time..well ok maybe a couple. In the end this came out too much like existing earth species and was rejected over some other things I came out with, including one dapper yellow dude that I'm sad I cant say anything more about but happy that he's greenlit :)

That's all for right now folks! More to come later as I tie up some projects, until then, thanks for dropping in!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

And now for something completely different.

It should be known that I have a folder in my work directory especially for dragons, I do so very many of them. Between working for Marc Aranha of War Spider Games (who bring you Shalkith at and soon enough, the sequel Dragon Clash), the family buisness being rennaisance festivals, and a healthy exposure to D&D at a young age, I have somewhat of an affinity for that which is big, scaley, and flying.

That said, when I saw the new WoW expansion with Neltharion/Deathwing rising up from the earth to carve a bloody, burning path through Azeroth on his quest to get himself some dragon wimminz...well...that just demands tribute.

Stormwind doesnt stand a chance XP

Hopefully the piece will be done soon, I've been working on it as a warm up peice off and on since about Blizzcon ended. Just need to bring the rest of the piece up to Deathwing's level and populate the city and earth some :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

There's more than one way to skin an owlbear.

So...after some amount of work, this is the musculature and face shape I went with. The feet were possibly the hardest part. I kept wanting to give it what basically amounted to owl feet but frankly they just arent that great for bearing 15 feet tall owlbears around on the ground all day, nor are they particularly well suited to bludgeoning. So...after talking with some good friends and throwing some works in progress around on instant messengers, I went with a combination of the flat, sturdy bear paw, thick but gangly ostritch toes and big meat hook predatory bird claws. If I wasnt trying to come up with something that still had the old timey D&D flavor in addition to being less cut&paste fantasy, I think I would have made it far more spindly and bird boned. I've fought these in D&D though, and they're definatley not spindly. Oh, as a footnote, I used the most normal head shape (pretty close to barn owl anatomy) in order to keep the original concept more visible. I ended up deciding that out of the three I liked best, this one would give me more freedom with the creature's skin covering and patterns and such before players started going "Whaaat is that?!". We gamers tend to be a finicky bunch. We'll groan about the busted old stuff but when it gets updated/changed too much we'll pitch fits. I'm looking for that happy medium.

Here's the first round of possible fur/feather/scale/whatnot layouts for the Owlbear. They're a little hard to distinguish without color and line weight, bear with me. No pun intended.

A. This was actually the last one I did..I think I labeled these backwards. Anywho, this one has short stiff fur that sticks out straight. I thought a short striped tail might be fun for signaling and such. I shouldent technically be thinking about pattern too much at this stage but I did anyhow. Aside from the back of the neck the fur is pretty much svelt and form fitting compared to the classic owlbear.

B. I thought mabe some large plates or scales might be fun. Really the difference between feathers and scales is very small, it's all just modified hair; or rather hair and feathers are modified scales. There are a few other scaley designs in here. The blank areas denote smaller scales.

C. The head ornamentation is based off of a bearded vulture! This one also has fairly floofy front claws, which is basicly me thinking about whether or not I want to echo wings with the front arms. Seems risky, you lose a lot of form that way but I kinda like this one.

D. In retrospect I wish I had have made the hanging fur that runs from the chin to the tail much longer. This is another fairly simple offering.

E. Wildebeeste! This one I like also...maybe it's just the beard though. :)

F. Shaggier that E but more cropped than some. Also this one would keep the disc like face shape of the owl parts intact. Apparently the beak is thin and the two disks are shaped that way to better channel sound over the owl's ears, and beaks (which are technically a type of horn) evolved because teeth are too heavy. Also beaks are very fragile, much like fingernails. I LOVE SCIENCE!

G. Cockatoo! Hey there is a lot that can be done with a crest like that, all kinds of signaling and displaying and badassery, did I mention headbanging? Also I'm digging the floofy tail, reminds me of a giant anteater.

H. I rather dislike this..I think I was thinking about Macaws, but, it's so wretched I'll just move on XP

I. here's another scaled one. I think I was trying to play up how scales are so similar to feathers here, especially around the head. I'm either very anal or very loose with scales, so, this is more of a reminder to myself of the concept should I choose it and dive in more seriously later..there's a lot of scale(size) and layout issues I'd devote more thought to.

J. Bird of Paradise! The back half is ctually very unadorned compared to the massive back floof. I think this one has some potential..but I think it might also be too far from 'owlbear'. Still, I dig :)

K. This one seemed like a good idea at the time. Another BoP.

L. This was the second one I did actually. I wanted to have a go at the feathered raptor bit, which I later retried. Lots of bare skin/scales on this inbetween the patches of feathers. He looks fast :)

M. So, this I like also. It's all skin flaps, which I thought could be fun as they could in theory be raised like feathers, so, it could have the laid back face where everything is pressed tight to the body, and then it could have these big threat displays where the skin flaps stand up and flush with color, and also give the face that owl-y flat look. This could be done with the scales and fur to a degree as well, but this idea tickles me for that.

N. If you're sticking your head into corpses to pull out the deeelisssious organmeats, having gore stock to your beautious and delicate plumage sucks. So here's one that's bald. There's a lot that could be done here in terms of coloration- just look at Cassowaries.

O. Another go at the feathered raptor bit. You can tell I'm getting tired >.> It might work out though.

P. Te classic Owlbear. Shaggy, floofy. Probably some extra floof. Oh you can also see an artifact on this one that I forgot to erase on the back feet >.> Glad I didnt keep those!

So...Of these, I'm most excited about the skin flaps and the scaley ones, E, F, C, G, and...well, the classic might hold merit. Dangerous waters though. It now becomes a question of how much I can play with the recipie before my pie becomes..uh...something not wholly pie-like. Yeah okay my analogy-thinking part of the brain went to sleep. Good night!

Owlbears, part 2

Starting to work on designs for the beak/snout. The back half anatomy needs tweaking still but I wanted to get /something/ down today and start working towards a concept I liked. Oftentimes the face of a critter really determines the patterns the rest of the body follows, little nuances in texture and features around the eye often show up on prominent places of the rest of the body in creatures both fantasy and real.

So far...I'm leaning towards the crested/hornbill-y ones. The upper left was a stab at using teeth to mimic the beak shape, but in the end that's somewhat likley to go south I think. Maybe. Who knows it could probably use another shot.

On the subject of heads.. how a creature is equipped to eat tells us a lot about the creature. One of the things I kept finding about own skulls was that their beaks always seemed thin and fragile compared to their big talons, and I'm guessing that's because most of the damage they inflict comes from the feet and not the head. That leaves the mouth to become specialized for delicately picking things apart and eating the juicy bits, and can also make it a good place to display what a good mate that creature could be with flashy colors and patterns.

I had thought about making the beak more ...prehistoric. But then I felt that I might be skipping out on something that could make my design unique. After all, I'm going to be giving this thing claws like meathooks and formidable size. As long as I dont make the beak too fragile, I think this might help set my design apart. We'll see.

Hmm. You know, I think it needs a tail.

Of Ursa and Strigiformes, part one

So, there's a challenge on Art Order at the moment on redesigning the Owlbear, a classic D&D monster that suffers from what I call Cut&paste Fantasy Syndrome and what many others call Flipbook Fantasy..that is to say, it has essentially been a bear body with an owl head for the past decade or so since it's creation.As much as I have a dislike of Cut&paste fantasy (probably from years of hearing the less educated members of our north american society try to stammer out exactly what they were looking at [usually a centaur..] in my mother's shop at various rennaisance festivals over the years) I do actually like the owlbear...I mean, more often than not it has been portrayed as, well, a fuzzy round thing with HYOOGE EYES. I mean, that's just a recipie for cute. There have of course been plenty of more ogreish depictions. In the end though, it is essentially still an owl with a bear body tacked on.

Now, I've been doing studies in my sketchbook for the past couple weeks of various skulls and body layouts for various owls and bears, trying to figure out what it is that really stands out to me about each. I've also contacted various friends of mine with experience in things like wild bird rehabbing, biology degrees and a passion for all things bird-y to help fill in my embarrasing lack of knowledge about owls. What can I say? I'm all about the lizards and great cats. Here's a three factoids I've learned.

  • 1. Despite the steriotype, owls are rather dumb. They're very good at what they do in the wild, but they tend to be ragefull and stompy and hard to deal with in a falconry setting.
  • 2. Owls have amazing hearing..partly because one ear opening is slightly lower than the other. This allows them to triangulate the origin of sounds more exactly..and as my friend and vault-of-knowledge on all things bird Jennifer Miller put it, "nothing's better at hearing mouse farts".
  • 3. If you study skulls, you'll find that owls have extraordinarily pointy faces. There's a huge mass of feathers that covers up all but the tip of the beak. This might translate in interesting ways over to a redesigned owlbear.
I also did some research on nocturnal predators spurred by a random thought I had one night- why isnt everything that hunts at night matte black? Well, turns out that somebody did a study on just that with orb weaver spiders recently. The scientists took two groups of spiders and painted one group black, and left the others alone. The group with the yellow spots intact far outperformed the altered group. What this means is that color, even striking patterns like on the Orbweaver, is in fact beneficial to these spiders. I cant make a huge statement and say that panthers need big yellow spots (though I suppose that's been done to the reverse in the panther's cousins) but in a fantasy setting I think I just found my justification for bold markings on an ambush predator.

As for bears, I've decided to indulge in my love of all things prehistoric and study Cave Bears, which I previously didnt know so much about. The wonderfull thing about this is that A; they are allready very optimized for fantasy proportions, and B; most of my refrence is bones, so I wont be influenced too much by floofy bear parts. I've done a few cave bear skull + skeletal studies to start off and get a familiarity with the anatomy I'll be weaving, and I cant help but feel I found the right place to start. There's even photos of bones of the juveniles, who look adorable and will be fantastic for keeping my proportions straight.

So that's step one.
Now I need to play with sillhoettes and figure out some proportional stuff, and then decide what to do about the skin of the creature. I dont know that I'll use feathers, that seems like a slippery path right back to people seeing this creature as an owl headed bear. We'll see! Next time, I'll post pics :)