Friday, May 31, 2013

Downfall graphic novel character design

Downfall is my first real project in the world of sequential storytelling. It has been a lot of work so far, and over the past year has proved to be quite a balancing act with the rest of my projects and commission schedule. But it is finally starting to come together, and while there is still a lot of ground to cover before its complete, I want to start offering some sneak peaks at the work that is going into the book.
To start with, there are two main characters in the story, and here are the initial sketches for each of them, and the rendered color finals.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Legend of the Five Rings sketches

Some of these are from the recent sets, some not. I just haven't shown them anywhere before, so this is as good a place as any to show how this work started out. Are they all works of genius? probably not. But they are some of my personal favorites from recent years. As you can probably tell I develop them to different levels of completion in this stage, and I would like to say its an artistic choice, something done for the needs of the individual image. But really its just how much time I had to devote to the sketch phase of each piece. And how confident I am in the art director not asking me to make huge changes to the image.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Some sketches from conventions

This is something I'm calling the King of Swords. This is one of those sketches that really probably wouldn't have happened if I was at home in the studio, looking to do something original, or practical, or super artistic. Its inspired by a kind of symbolic, iconic look that you might see on playing cards, or Taro cards, just kind of graphic and basic. You know, the kind of thing that can be drawn while doing fifty things at once, which is how it can sometimes feel to be running a booth at a convention.

This is another sketch that was just a matter of streaming consciousness when most of that consciousness is engaged elsewhere. I was always a big fan of Conan art, and Frazetta's work in general, so a lot of the time at conventions I find myself drawing barbarians and giant monsters, or like this one, armored dangerous looking characters that bear more then a passing resemblance to the Death Dealer character Frank made so popular. It's a well I've visited more then once, but when it's a fun place to visit I say go for the fun stuff whenever possible.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shaintar: Legends Arise players guide

Way back in 1998, I was still working at a company that did most of its business with websites and marketing. So it was an exciting time for me, because I was getting my career off the ground. But the problem was, it was the wrong career. I never really wanted to do graphic design, though it was fun, it never really got my juices flowing the way fantasy art did. Or does.
Anyway, lucky for me, this company was made up of other people who had a great love for games and the game publishing business, so we decided to split our efforts between the websites and corporate work, I.E. "stuff that actually pays a paycheck", and creating roleplaying game books.
So we devoted as much time as we could justify to the creation of our first game book, hired a full time game writer named Sean Patrick Fannon, and a year later, we published our first book to great industry acclaim.
But eventually the reality of the business caught up with us, and the costs of publishing in such a niche business, and we sold the game publishing side of our company, and moved on. I went into freelance, others found jobs with other marketing companies.
Sean Fannon however, has stayed very much a part of the gaming business ever since, and the world he had created and shaped for many years is something he has continued to pour his heart and soul into for all the years since that time.
He has finally managed to craft a definitive version of his world using the Savage Worlds rules system, and will soon be launching a kickstarter campaign to help fund the main world book.
When I heard he was finally taking his project back to market, I knew I wanted to help as much as possible. So I contributed as much art as I could to the initial product, the Players Guide, which will serve as an introduction to his world, and a sampling of the much bigger project still to come. It's free, so go grab a copy.
Anyway, on to the art.
When I get a chance to work on passion projects, which is a true rarity these days, it is something I tend to relish quite a bit. I try to use it as an opportunity to try new things, and experiment with ideas and styles I've not used before, but always wanted to try.
For this project, I knew Sean had a lot of basic, fantasy style character art. Which has been a very popular way to illustrate fantasy RPG's for the last few years. But that meant he had almost no scenes from the world itself, something that is really a necessary part of any good setting book. So I used it as an opportunity to brush up on my landscape skills, which I don't get many chances to use these days.
And in order to create a look that fit with the other work in the book, they had to be done in pencil, which made it an even more unusual project. In the end, I did kind of cheat by adding a lot of texture, shading and detail onto the sketches digitally, but I think it still fits into the pencil style pretty well.

Spectrum Live 2

The second time as it turns out is even better than the first. I don't have the official numbers, and I didn't do any kind of survey to support this claim, but I'd say the attendance numbers were at least double last years show, though the consensus among the exhibiting artists did seem to echo this sentiment.

It was a lot of fun to see all the usual suspects, and to meet a few new ones. The awards ceremony was even better then last year, and to see so many of my friends get the big awards was a lot of fun. Many great booths, and from what I hear the panels and demos were also pretty excellent.

So as tradeshows go, or as art shows go, or as shows go, it certainly went. As in, it went well. Which is a combination of factors mind you. For example, the attendance numbers at most shows are a huge indicator of its success, that and the accompanying sales they bring with them.

At this show, this is not necessarily the case.

The new reality we face at a show like this is that we aren't there to make money. In many cases we actually lose money by exhibiting. We are there for the immersion it offers in the world of fantasy art at its best, and to be surrounded by the people that create it, which may sound a little strange, but when it is the thing you do, all day, week after week, and year after year, it becomes an unusual and isolated life we live in this business.

And to be surrounded by it, and those who live it with you, for even a few days, would seem like more of the same to some people. But it offers such a concentrated dose of inspiration, and other people so inspired, that it is a rare thing indeed for those with a love for the work this business is built around.

Its a show that is growing, and hopefully will keep growing for years to come. As much as I like tradeshows about comics, and shows about games, in all their forms, and even shows about books and movies, this is the one that's about art.