01 February 2023


 It has finally happened. After my first year as a lecturer, I went on tenure track at UNG. At three years, I went through a pre-tenure review and was supposed to do my tenure review after five years, or so I though. Actually, it was during my fifth year, right at the beginning. That was early September of last year and I've been waiting for an answer ever since. Recently, I was notified by the board that decides these things that they have recommended me for tenure and promotion to associate professor to the university president. I just got the letter back from the president, who has to sign off on these things, officially congratulating me. The tenure and promotion start in the fall, the start of the next academic year. So all that work and stress paid off. 

09 January 2023

Last year's work

It's finally time to take a look and see what I accomplished in the previous year. As it stacks up, it doesn't seem like a lot, but I did a lot of image prep, production, and video work that doesn't show well for an illustration blog. I also did a lot of work on product development that I can't quite show yet and I have some personal work that's still in progress. But here's what I have done.

Okay, so it's not very exciting, but this is a frame from an animation showing another ground cutaway. In this case, the machinery is rendered, but instead of a realistic background, a schematic of the different soil types is shown. This was partially a stylistic decision and partly to keep the cost down.

I guess this one is my big illustration of the year. As usual, it's showing geotechnical onsite applications. This one was for an anniversary publication for this company. The problem here is that I had to cram a whole bunch of different applications into one image. This one needed a dam with a lake in the background, windmills in the distance, a bridge, sheet piling along a road, rock anchors on a cliff face across the river, a shotcrete wall with soil anchors, and measuring equipment in the foreground. It's obvious that no one image could ever include all of this in reality, so I have to try and fit it in as best I can. I did what I could. It won't win any awards, but it does what it needs to and the client liked it. I like specific areas of it. For example, I like how the dam turned out. The guy and testing equipment near the bottom look pretty good as well, but the whole thing just doesn't come together. In this case, the whole is definitely not greater than the sum of its parts.

Here's a screenshot from another animation. I was working on some of these for a long time, not because they took so long to do, but because there were pauses in the process and it took the client a long time go make decisions and answer questions. There was government funding somewhere along the way and that just makes things much more complicated. This one shows a seismic process where these hammers and devices are put down boreholes to measure soil density or something. I just remember it took a long time to get our questions answered about what they actually did and how to depict it.

Once again, I taught Life Drawing over the summer. In addition to teaching, my responsibility has also come to include keeping a roster of models current and finding new ones to replenish our list. I worked with some new models this time and they did great. This is one of our new models. She was fun and exciting to work with. This is a sketch I did in class with the students. Like all drawings from life, it's a bit rough as I'm trying to put a lot into a limited time. Often, I'm trying to get the likeness correct, but I'm working hard and fast to do so. These are just simple charcoal drawings done on newsprint.

Another new model for our class. I always try to end each session on a long pose, at least an hour, sometimes a bit more. That's actually not very long (for me anyway) to try and get in a full figure or a good likeness of someone. I think this one turned out fairly well. For these longer poses, I try to get a good lighting setup and find an interesting angle.

This is a model I've worked with for a number of years now. He's always been great. This one is just a quick sketch, but I liked how it turned out. The students were surprised at how much it looked like him. A likeness can be accomplished with very little drawn on the paper. As you can see, the figure is only briefly roughed in and I spent most of my short time on the face. This one is still on newsprint, but it's done with Nupastel for a bit of color. It's nice to mix it up once in a while.

Here's one that might resemble something from the previous year. That's because I started on it back then. I had been working on this one and then paused for quite a while for the client to figure stuff out. I was finally able to get back to it and finish it up. I had to solve some issues to get this final result to work. Real 3D artists might scoff at this and they're probably right. I'm not great with my 3D work, but I do what I can. For each project, especially animation, I try to learn one new tool or technique that I hadn't used before. This one isn't great, but I do kind of like it.

Another big illustration to end out the year. If you recognize part of this as something I've done before, you would be right. With my primary client, we often reuse artwork to save cost for the final end client. I had illustrated the bottom rig before and we used it as the base of this illustration for a large exhibit. The other two pieces of machinery were illustrated anew for this project. It was tough to fit everything together, bit I came up with something that worked. This was the central panel in a three-piece exhibit. It was quite big; exhibit graphics are usually six to eight feel tall. The dark parts at the top and bottom are essentially bleeds. Those sections roll up into the hardware that holds the whole thing up.

And finally, a personal piece. I like to keep up with my traditional drawing just to make sure I can still do it. If I can improve any along the way, that's a bonus. Since I teach this kind of work over the summer, I like to make sure that I'm able to do what I expect my students to do. This was a concept I had for a while. The last element I needed was a skull, so I used one that we have in our drawing studio at the university. They aren't real, but they are realistic. My idea was to add some color to make it stand out, but how do you do bone in a black and white drawing? I did an Internet search for real human skulls to get an idea of what the color should be and used Nupastel for it to contrast with the rest of the drawing, which is charcoal and white Conté crayon. This image is my take on the theme of Death and the Maiden. What you mostly see is death in a position of power, often seducing the weak or innocent young women. In my version, the maiden has the upper hand, as she is contemplating and even smiling at Death, symbolized by the skull. I spent a long time on this one and I'm quite pleased with the result.

So that's what I have for 2022. I had hoped to have more professional illustration work, but that's how it is. I'm trying to get more side work, but it's hard to predict. Teaching and all the associated duties, especially as I work toward tenure, does take a lot of time.

15 September 2022

Applying for tenure

 This one really snuck up on me. After five years on tenure track, it is time to submit my final portfolio for consideration. Based on when I started, I thought I still had more time, but it was mentioned at our department meeting that my deadline was coming up. It's good I was told then, because I had no idea. But I collected all my info to format and get ready. This includes documentation to show my accomplishments in teaching, service, and research. I got everything in on time (barely) and now it's just a waiting game. I wonder how long it will take for the decision to be reached.

06 April 2022

Some current work

What have I been up to? Well, there's always something. Recently, I finished another illustration. This was a big, complicated one. It was hard for me because of all the complicated parts and construction settings I had to include in a limited area. I took longer on it that I had planned initially. It came out better than I was hoping for a while. But if the client is okay with it, that's the important thing, right. The agency I did it for put up a movie showing how the image progressed from early sketch to the end result. You can see it here. 

28 January 2022

My work from 2021

It's a bit late, but I thought I should put up work from last year. I don't know that there's much good work, but here's what I have. As always, I did additional work that isn't ready to show in a public forum for one reason or another.

Is this an illustration? Maybe not, as it's mainly a photo. It might not be very exciting, but you do what you have to do. My job was really to create text that looked like it was in the ground, more or less. It had to match the perspective of the photo and I tried different versions to see what would work. I don't know if this does, but it's what eventually got chosen.

This one probably isn't exciting, either. It's a 3D model I had to build for an animation I was working on. I say 'was working,' because I still haven't finished it. It's not for my lack of effort, but it's still being reviewed by the end client. Sometimes, projects can take a long time, depending on how much red tape companies have to go through. For what it is, I guess this little model came out okay.

Here's a shot from that same animation. These little items are geophones that are strung together and planted in the ground. You may notice a similar ground cutaway to other work I posted from the previous year. They are sort of part of a series. I like how this one was turning out, so I hope to finish it someday.

I've been doing a little work for OUR, Operation Underground Railroad that is an organization seeking to free sex slaves in a crime commonly called 'human trafficking.' This was for a digital billboard. It's nothing much, just a bit of image editing with some typography. It's what they were looking for, so I do what I can. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to create more promotional materials for them in the future.

Here's an actual illustration, finally. It's pretty good and I've done something like this before. It won't win any awards, but I tried to do something cool with it. The important part is just the little patches along the runway. As long the client is happy, that's what counts, right? 

Here's another frame from a 3D animation. This one also is still in progress and I'm waiting for approval so I can continue. I didn't build this bit seen here in the upper left; I just organized it for animation and textured it to fit along with the rest of the scene. Yes, it's another ground cutaway.

I taught Life Drawing again this summer, which was nice to do again, since I didn't have it last summer. I hadn't done this kind of drawing for a while, so I wanted to give it a try and make sure I could still do it. I did some practice charcoal drawings before I returned to the classroom. Here is one of the first ones I did. Sorry if this might be NSFW, but it's art. I ended up doing quite a few, as it was fun to do some traditional drawing again. I still try to be classy. This one is currently in our faculty show we are having at UNG.

After a few black and white drawings, I wanted to try and add some color, but in a fun way. I didn't want to do full-on color, but I liked the idea of looking for source material that had an interesting splash of color where I could work with pastels. These are all just on newsprint, so they aren't great works of art that will last for posterity. They are just fun little exercises. After drawing the the red coat, I hesitated for a while on the idea of adding some red as reflected light on the figure. Unlike with digital art, there's no going back once a decision like this is made. Luckily, I liked how it turned out and looked for more ways I could implement this technique in future drawings.

Here's another one. I did this drawing with the idea of recording my work so I could turn it into a tutorial. I've done a lot of digital art tutorials, so I thought I should try some traditional art. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how much video my camera would record in one take, so I lost a bit, but I did realize how to do this and pulled it together in the end. In addition to the tutorial videos, I made a time-lapse one so you could see the drawing come together (except the part I didn't record) in just a few minutes. You can see it here. Sorry if the music isn't great. I had something cooler that was a good duration. It was an instrumental piece and the music publisher is in Germany. But a day or two after I uploaded it to YouTube, I got a copyright infringement notice from them. Weird. 

Yet another one. I did say that I ended up doing quite a few this year; this is just a small selection. You can see a lot more of them in my gallery on Deviant Art. This one is a bit different. I kind of like it, especially the contrast between the natural curves of the figure and the hard, artificial edges of the chair. After the other tutorials, I had a request to do one based on drawing the face, so I recorded that while I was working on this drawing. A figure drawing isn't the same thing as a portrait, so getting the likeness right isn't the prime concern. The face looks good here, but it doesn't exactly look like the model. I'm only a little bit disappointed.

This is the last one. I was quite pleased with this drawing as I went back to my idea of adding a shot of color. The thin, diaphanous fabric was a challenge, but in the end I was able to pull it off. I spent a lot of time on this one, trying to get all the anatomy correct. I do like the hints of orange reflecting back on the skin and think it works well to pull everything together. As it was not the full figure, I worked a bit larger and could put a good bit of detail in the face; this one is pretty much a portrait.

My last professional illustration of the year. This one isn't much to look at and it changed quite a bit from the process of going from comp to final. For what it is, it looks pretty good, but I was disappointed in what I ended up with based on the client's request. Earlier versions were more interesting visually, but with commercial work, that's not the most important point.

06 December 2021

Published in 3x3

I had a personal digital painting from last year published in 3x3's Annual 18 this year. It won an award of merit, so no money or anything, but it's nice to win and it helps me toward tenure. Click here to see it. 

3x3 Annual 18

11 February 2021

Upcoming presentation of my work

Just a quick note here: I'll be giving an online presentation about my work to a local library. You can watch it live from wherever you are. It will be 16 February starting at 7:00 pm EST. Click here to watch. Since I wan't be seeing you, I hope you see me there.