Friday, August 30, 2013

Pause and Draw: The Lady Vanishes

There are all sorts of fun challenges and themes to practice drawing and painting. I've been working on a Draw-A-Thousand-Heads challenge for over a year now (around 830!) and really enjoy the habit. If you're new to the blog, there's not much to it. Draw one thousand heads and get better! I've noticed it allows me to experiment more since I'm not necessarily trying to brainstorm a specific story or idea. It's a fun activity that helps me practice drawing more consistently. I've heard of some other methods from fellow students and illustrator friends and decided to start implementing them. For this week, it's Pause and Draw! I found out about this from fun posts I'd see from Matthew Sargent, a friend from Columbia College days. Basically, watch a movie and every so often pause and draw. This also connects with another method I've heard about of speed painting based on film screenshots/stills. There's a cool blog where some Academy of Art grad students are sharing their speed paints. Another awesome animator lady out of the Academy, Sarah Barrie Fenton, is doing this on her blog (and tumblr), too. It's a good quick studies habit. This helps with studying lighting, composition, characters, and also drawing or painting quickly to keep the energy going. Time for me to start stretching those drawing and painting muscles more often!

Today I decided to watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. I really enjoy Hitchcock's dramatic lighting, compositions, and story-telling. I've also been meaning to watch more since I've only seen a few: Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, and The Birds. There's a lot more to watch. So two birds, one stone! I gave myself a 10-15 minute time limit for each and opted for good ol' pencil and pen.

It was really fun! If anyone has some Hitchcock priorities for me, please leave a comment! I picked this one since it was the first I came across on Netflix that I hadn't seen yet. I'm going to aim for doing the Pause and Draw and tv/film speed paints at least twice a week. I'll either share them here or on my Facebook page. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Speak with the Spirits

Tempest Brookshire, Lv. 11 Badass

And so it began two years ago when our new adventuring guild was formed on the West Coast. When moving from Chicago to the Bay Area three years ago I left behind not only awesome friends and family, but my previous adventuring party. I wasn't really too sure that we would play much once moving, but luckily the word of our DnD nerdiness got around and we met our wonderful members of our guild. A Guild Called Quest was formed and we've adventured ever since! I've been wanting to do some direct DnD-inspired illustrations depicting our characters since my Chicago guild's adventures. At last, the process has begun! First, of course, with my own character.

different pose sketches with notes on all my current equipment; I wanted to make sure I had everything!

I wanted to do an interior illustration similar to what I see in the Dungeons and Dragons books. I decided to focus on my character in a pose with minimal background. I started sketching different poses and concepts--either surrounded by numerous spirits of the dead or summoning spirit animals.

Add another five to the drawing challenge!

I then started drawing heads to get a feel for Tempest's character. I've sketched her out before but this time I really wanted to nail it. I liked the middle top one since it felt the most animalistic, was different from other ladies I'd drawn, and most importantly felt like Tempest to me.

They're watching you....

Next I knew I needed to design her totem. I am currently equipped with a Lv.8 Watchful Spirit Totem. I did research on Native American totem poles and then image research on the animals: I knew there had to be a raven since Tempest worships the Raven Queen, then went with two favorites: owl and wolf!

I did a rough sketch with little reference for the details just to get an idea for what all her equipment might look like and her position in the pose. It was time to get up!

Don't mind my hotmess of a closet back there...

I took a bunch of photos in the pose with different hand and head positions. When you need a staff, get a broom! One day I hope to have sweeter props: validate my cosplay and fantasy purchases as illustration costume pieces! Yes!

Then the tight drawing... I left the staff to draw once I transferred the drawing to bristol for inking. I did some research and internet browsing for armor ideas and was inspired by Leather Lore's designs. I haven't had the pleasure of purchasing anything from them so I can't speak on the quality exactly but damn does it look cool! I also wanted something that was a bit feminine/sexy but still made sense as armor--not just a bra.

There ye have it! I inked each wolf separately, Tempest and her equipment, then through the magic of Photoshop was able to manipulate the lineart like I wanted with ease.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tempest Brookshire is Born

Well, technically, she was "born" two years ago when I first rolled her stats, picked her race and class (shifter, shaman), and birthed her via my sweet, drunk role-playing skills with my Dungeons and Dragons adventuring guild! I bring you, an in progress illustration of Tempest Brookshire, my DnD character. I've wanted to illustrate her for awhile now and have just sketched about here and there. Time to give Tempest her own awesome illustration!

Hopefully it'll be finished to share on Friday, but if not I'll share the finished product soon. I foresee more illustrations of our guild's characters in the future...

My cat, Scottish Play, enjoying my company as I transferred and inked parts of the drawing.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reference Informs and Inspires: Roses Are Perty

I had an idea to start a series of posts dedicated to sharing some of my reference photos. Reference is so important for illustrators, and most artists in general. Not only is reference great to inform on details, but I've found it to be mighty inspiring too. Oftentimes I'll refer back to reference photo shoots when I get bored or need a visual stimulus. Sometimes I already have the composition in mind when I go to shoot reference, but when locations and nature are involved I often like to just have a theme or looser idea and allow my photo shoot adventures to be more open and exciting.

This post is from my shoot at Oakland's The Morcom Amphitheater of Roses. It's located between Oakland Ave. and Grand Ave. It's a brisk walk from my apartment and I went May of last year with some friends to enjoy the roses. 

The view from atop one of the many hills in the neighborhood.

I was really drawn to the texture of the color on this kind. I was so amazed to see so many variations of roses all in one beautiful place.

If you're near Oakland, I highly recommend checking out The Morcom Amphitheater of Roses. It's very peaceful and free and open to the public. I'm sure the roses are in pretty bloom now, so if you can check it out. I hope these photos help to inspire you as much as they do me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sketches of Skull Ladies

It's nice just to sketch. I gave myself some sketching time last week and decided to draw some ladies (not surprised there). I often like to draw this fusion of beautiful women with skulls--either both eyes are mere sockets or just the one. I like playing with the juxtaposition of beauty and decay, youth and death. I think I'll do some more sketches in the future and then paint one of these fine ladies with some sick inkwashes and watercolor textures.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Here are the best fifteen heads out of the next batch of 100! I've now hit 800 heads out of 1,000; only 200 more to go! I'm excited about finishing this drawing challenge. It's been a lot of fun and has really benefited my drawing skills thus far. (If you're new to the blog, I've been doing a Thousand Head Drawing Challenge: draw a thousand heads and voila, you've improved!)

I also thought to share just the inked version, done traditionally with dip pens.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I've shared most of my thesis illustrations on this blog, but here is the last! This was created as a production painting for an original zombie apocalypse story called Sidge McDougal's Zombie Crisis. I've shared some other work on this project so if you'd like to see more Sidge, check out this post where I share Sidge's character design process. There's also this other production painting for the story you can check out. I'll definitely continue working on these designs and story in the future with the story's creators. Originally thought as a series of films, the concept has evolved to be a possible animated series. I'd love to hammer out more character designs and maybe even do some animated storyboards in the future.

a series of thumbnails exploring scenes and environments

value study along with color thumbnails

Typically, I like having lineart throughout my illustrations, but I decided to keep the lineart focused on the characters and keep the rest of the illustration loose and a bit painterly

the final production painting (I had previously went on a fun adventure to a vista point here in Oakland where you can see the whole bay... definitely was a vital reference. San Francisco is burning!!!)

our heroes look on, knowing this is only the beginning....