03 January 2020

My work from 2019

Back again. Sorry it's been a while. I'm not sure if my work shows it, but it seems like it's been a busy year. As usual, I try to do more new artwork. This year I've been keeping up with my usual teaching schedule, including a class over the summer. There wasn't that much freelance work in 2019, at least not that got finished. I'm still involved in some long-term ongoing projects, so not everything I've been working on is ready to be shown, but this should be it.

Oddly enough, I almost forgot about this one. I did it early in the year as a little exercise in speed painting and then had my class do something similar. The brushes are all taken from photos of various objects and then almost stamped down. It's a quick way of putting in detail quickly. I started on monochromatically, then tinted the image on higher layers in Photoshop. I also did some painting with my standard brush to put in highlights and tie things together. It's not great, but it is interesting.

Here's one I had been planning to do for a few years now: the lovely Jennifer Connelly. This was mainly done as an in-class demo during my spring digital illustration class to show how I go about painting a portrait in Photoshop. I like the end result, but it was a bit more challenging than I had supposed. First, my source material was very small, so I had to interpolate, or basically make up, most of the detail. Second, the lighting was difficult because most of the photo was so dark, making for unusual skin tones. But I eventually pulled it off. I do like the bright highlights on the hair to contrast with the overall shadow everywhere else.

It's my first completed freelance project of the year. You can probably guess that it's mainly a 3D render. Most of the models were derived from either an earlier scene I built or 3D files from other sources, so it turned into more of a rendering and compositing project. I built the foreground geometry for it and as usual, did a lot of painting in Photoshop to finish it off. Multi-pass renders really help out, especially for depth, which I'm really trying to work on. I painted the water by hand. It's supposed to be a sewage treatment plant, so originally, the color was a bit different, but the client didn't like that much realism, so I redid it with blue to look more pleasing. I do like the end result. Hopefully, I'll get paid for it someday.

Another demo I started for my illustration class, just to show my process of using layers, clipping masks, blending modes, and so on. Like most digital artists, I keep a collection of lots of photos to serve as source material and inspiration. I had been meaning to do this for a few years now and finally got around to it. I do like the way it turned out, but painting all those architectural details was tough. If you look closely enough, you might see that I'm just winging it, especially as the image goes farther back. Some of the more geometric parts still look a bit rough, as I did it all by hand, instead of using shape tools or another more precise method. So if you focus on discreet areas, it might not look so good, but I hope that the overall effect works. It was fun to work with a limited color palette and some extreme atmospheric perspective. The photo had people and other details that I left out for more of a somber mood.

There's always a job you just have to slog your way through and just get it done. The client wanted something conceptual for an ad illustration, but provided practically no source material. This can be a common problem for illustrators. I spent a lot of time looking for imagery to work from and did the best I could. Some parts are okay, but some are pretty weak, especially where I'm making stuff up without really knowing what it should look like. In the end, there was concern over parts of the image looking too much like the source images, so I had to remove details that I felt made it more interesting. As a result, the final is more bland than I would like, but the client is always right. Anyway, I hope it works.

As you can probably tell, these are from my summer life drawing class. While I do love digital painting, there really is no substitute for using traditional media to create something tangible. Drawing, especially from life, is a must for all artists. The best digital artists I have known have also been able to draw really well.
While teaching the class, I always use the opportunity to do a lot of drawing along with the students and I got quite a few from this class and drew some models I hadn't worked with before, along with some old favorites. I actually ended up with a lot that I liked. Some were quick sketches and some were more finished. These are some of my favorites that I feel were more successful. I keep thinking about uploading more.

This is the last drawing we did for that class. It's a bit unusual, but it was for a specific exercise. The model was our class skeleton. I had named it Dr. Bones, but later I was told that a previous class had already given it a name: Saul. The two names are not mutually exclusive, I suppose. But we used this opportunity as a practice doing drapery, a skill just as important as drawing the figure. I liked how it was going, so kept on it, even after the class was over. I entered some in drawing competitions during the year,  including Saul here, but sadly, none were accepted. Maybe someday.

Here's yet another little in-class demo. I had found this photo years ago and thought it could be turned into a cool digital painting. Textures like this are always fun. I changed it significantly from the original and did my own thing with the color scheme. There may be a hint of photo brick texture in there, but other than that, it's all painted by hand. I am quite pleased with this one.

Nothing new here. It's just a Pettibone and pipe on a train. I've done a zillion of these over the years, in all sorts of combinations. This one is not necessarily for any one particular client; it could be for any of quite a multitude of them, or none at all. It looks a lot like past work. Maybe it is. There's nothing here unique to any one end job. In fact, I like pipe and Pettibones and trains so much, I paint them just for fun. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


I'm quite sure everyone recognizes this guy. It's another image I had been wanting to paint for a while now. I started it during my fall digital illustration class as my portrait demo. It was harder than I expected at first, due to the complex mix of warm and cool lighting on the face. If you know anything about how I start out digital paintings, you may know I try to use PMS colors, at least initially. That was harder here, but I kept going and eventually as the colors mix, new colors appear that work.

At first, I wasn't sure I would paint Andúril, but metallic objects like this are fun. I did change its orientation and position from the original photo, as I felt it made more sense outside of the context of this scene in the film.

My last freelance project of the year. I can't say I'm too proud of this one. It is what it is. I had to do it quickly and without much accurate source material, as usual. It went through a few iterations until it got approved by the end client, but as you can tell, it's mainly 3D, so that makes for easy changes. There's really not that much to it. The geometry is simple to build and for multiples like this, I use instances, so when I change the master version, all the copies of the object update. After the render, it's painted up a bit in Photoshop it give it my signature look. I hear it was well received.

And the last one, just completed a few days ago. This one was inspired by a painting one of my students did in my last digital illustration class. An avid comics fan, he did a portrait of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I thought his image was pretty cool and thought about doing one myself. I chose this one because of the cool pose, lighting, and textures. One element I wanted to add was a strong light wrap from the window behind her. It's just my little touch. The costume elements are successful, I think. Metallic or shiny surfaces are fun and easy to paint, once you have a system down for it. I simplified the background a lot to focus on the subject. I think it actually came out with more detail than I had originally intended. I like it, but I hope I did Gal justice. She was a great choice for Wonder Woman and made her a serious character. I like that her costume became more Greek armor than a bathing suit, which seems to be what a lot of female superheroes wear. I tried to capture her beauty and strength, but I'm not sure I did. When really studied for detail in the face, the source image was not as good as I had thought at first. I really worked on it and kept coming back to fix problems, but what can I say? Female faces are hard.

I guess that is a lot. There is actually more. I did a lot of production work, web images, brochure layout, photo editing, and some animations that I'm still involved in. When it's all put together, I guess it's a good bit of work for the year. Out of all this work here, there are a few that I really like. I hope you like them as well.