Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Psychochronography in Blue (Part 4)

As is suitable for a TARDIS Eruditorum cover post the story begins in the past.  If you want to go right back to the beginning you can check out the previous posts for volumes 1 2 3 (click the numbers) and the tangentially related A Golden Thread before we continue.

But those are not the beginning of the tale of this book cover, except in the way that my parents being born is the beginning of mine.  No, this books gestation began way back in Phil's Blog, but the cover began back in June, when I had the idea for the cover.  Except it wasn't to be this book's cover, because both I and Phil both agreed it would make a better cover for Volume 5, and thus it shall be.  This left me lacking an idea for this book though, so I went to do some roughs, which after a surprisingly small number of adventures would eventually lead to the following.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Slow Cooked Speed

I'll be honest up front.  Three of the speedpaints that follow pretty much stink.  Whether the other three do I leave to you to decide.  One thing is certain though; the relative quality of these things is usually based on the following:

1) Whether it's based on a photograph
2) How long it takes to do
3) Whether I'm using a technique or software I know well

If it's based on a photo, I took a little time over it, and I'm using tools I'm comfortable with, the results will usually at least be acceptable.  Anything else and quality becomes a complete crap shoot.  Worth noting for future reference I think.

Oh, and before we proceed to looking at pictures, you might wish to come back on Monday as well - I can pretty much guarantee another new post then.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Painting Class: Painting Still

Well, I'm sort of amazed how fast the last few months have gone by, and how little artwork I seem to have done in that time.  I was worried at one point that I was slipping back into the mode I entered that eventually led to the creation of this Blog - that of not being fussed to do any art, a state that lasted close to 10 years.

Thankfully though I am doing art - less than I probably should, but vastly more than I was during those 10 years.  The stresses of the last couple of months are wearing off too, so more is likely to be forthcoming.  After this post I have one more planned before the end of the month (possibly 2, but the other will be quite personal and have no art in it, so you likely don't care).  Which brings me back to this post, and why I'm commenting on how time has flown:  It's an art class post.

The last post I wrote on the subject was after my last class waaay back in August.  It doesn't seem that long ago, yet it was almost 3 months.  I started another class about 10 weeks ago and just finished it.  I didn't attend all 10 sessions (I think I missed 3), but I painted a reasonable amount in those sessions I did attend, and at home when I missed one of those 3.  As a result I have 5 new paintings of vastly differing quality. They are all on canvas board, painted in Acrylic, but the sizes vary.  Incidentally, all the photographs but one are from angles other than that at which I was painting as I took them as an after thought rather than during the process.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Psychochronography in Red, White and Blue

And here, sooner than planned, a new book cover.  This time though there's a twist - despite the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who being in less than a month, this is not a Doctor Who cover.  In one way it was far simpler than those, and in a couple of others gave me some pause for thought.

While not a Who cover, it is a cover for Dr. Sandifer (or Phil as he's known to his friends (I assume - I've never actually spoken to the good doctor except via i-correspondence (that's email to you (and yes, I did just do, and am still doing, a run on sentence with four sets of nested parentheses - hardcore). It's for his latest exploration into psychochronography, titled A Golden Thread: An Unofficial Critical History of Wonder Woman.

Which subject led to the first pause for thought: Given the legendary litigiousness of the US comics industry, how do you do a cover for a book about Wonder Woman without actually featuring Wonder Woman on it?

Read on oh truthful reader, and discover the answer, and more...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sketching for July/September '13

With over a month since my last post, you'd think I'd have lots to show.  You would be wrong.  It's not that I've not been active (though I've not produced anywhere near what I should have - almost no speed paints for example), just that much of that I either can't show, or can't show just yet.  Mostly though this month (and the end of the last) has just been a fairly tough slog.  Long time followers will know that October 5th marks an unhappy anniversary for me, and  as such the two weeks around that date are usually a pretty horrible time for me emotionally.   This year though I also had two friends pass away in the time since I last posted.  The latter was very close, and died on Thursday.   I won't post my thoughts on that here - it's best left to other places, but obviously it's affected me deeply.

But on to happier things, at least for this post.  We've had a house guest for a few weeks, and he's likely to be around for a while longer.  While his presence is obviously a minor distraction from the art thing he's also the model guest, and we're very happy to have him. I do also have some things coming up soon - I'm taking a new painting class, and I'll be posting the results before long.  One of the pieces seems to be fairly popular, (though of course, being me I can't see why) and overall there should be three or four paintings by the end of it.  I've also been working on a new book cover for Dr. Sandifer, and that should be hitting the electronic store shelves in the next few weeks - I'll have a post about it ready when it does of course.  There are also another two covers that are essentially done, and just waiting on a final page count.  Those I'll probably blog about in December and January when the books go live.  So yes, things are happening, even if it's not quite in the places I would hope (anatomy practice, sketching, that sort of thing - I've had no mental time for it the past few months, but hopefully that will change soon).  For now though, let's get the sketching up to date...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Speeding Back to Action

Back again.  I'm not sure I'm going to write detailed reasons for post delays any more, as mostly they just boil down to "Because Life."  Time just tends to get away from me sometimes.  Anyway, I said a few days, and it's been seven, or at least it will be seven if I manage to finish this post on the same day I start it, which was not the case with my latest speedpaint. This is a speedpaint post by the way, if the title didn't give it away.  It starts badly but gets better, so stick with it if you're going to look below.

Ready?  Then I'll begin.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Collection of Pleasingly Structured Lies (№ 2)

I had meant to do a speedpaint tonight. This would allow me to write a blog post about it tomorrow, which would be good, since my artistic progression is probably the main reason people read my blog (Actually, that's not true - I get more views from people who want to know about my book covers, Red Faction or how to trace a picture of Mickey Mouse - but I'll take what I can get).

Anyway, I didn't do the speedpaint. I had read an article on io9 earlier today that inspired me to write some fiction instead. I'll link the article at the end of this post so as not to spoil the story that follows, assuming you actually want to read it.

Despite this having happened a few times recently my writing fiction is not generally a common occurrence, so it might be months or years before I'm inspired to write any more. Either way, you are free to ignore my random writings, and I assure you I will get a speedpaint done, and an art based post up in the next few days.

I wrote this pretty rapidly over a couple of hours, and it's now gone two in the morning, so I hope you'll forgive a few grammatical and spelling errors. If it transpires that anyone other than my wife actually bothers reading it I'll clean it up a bit (she's a good proofreader - well, she's good at most things, so that's no surprise).

OK, I'll cut to the chase and get on with it.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Painting Class: A Head of a Time

And another post, coming in just under the wire for the month. And this may not be the last (don't hold your breath though). I have to be honest, this month has seen my art more or less go hang. I'm working on things at work, that while fun also leave me feeling drained of mojo at the end of the day (so there is lots of art, just not the sort of stuff I can share on here). Add to that a little mini-crunch this week and a bad, if short lived, head cold and I have very little sketching done, and very small number of speedpaints. I did finish another painting class at the start of the month though, and that's what I'm posting today (yeah, the title's a bit of a giveaway). If you want to see the previous painting posts then hit the tag at the bottom there and you'll be set.

Right, off we go.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sketching for May/June '13

I've not been terribly good at keeping up on the blogging of late have I (and long term followers will know this is nothing particularly new)? To be honest I've not been terribly great at keeping up on the art either. That's not to say I'm not doing any, but a good chunk of it is for work, so you'll either never get to see it or you won't for a few years. The work stuff is a big learning curve right now, and as a result it's having a knock on to the art-as-hobby area. In all honesty this last week I might have gotten back on the horse properly, but Saints Row IV was out and I was too busy playing to actually draw anything (I did work on it of course, but even so there were plenty of surprises in there I'd somehow missed during development, and I had a blast). Plus it's right in the middle of allergy season, and I hate drawing when everything is slightly blurred from the results.

So yes, the art and the blog have not been my priority of late (there have been other things going on too, but I won't bore you with them), but now SR4 is done and dusted and there's less pure knowledge being assimilated at work I should be getting back to it. But not this week - I have a deadline of sorts this week.

Anyway! Sketching.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Pirate's Life

Yeah, I missed a couple of weekends and haven't sorted out the sketching from two months ago yet, but I was busy. I'm here now, and ready to show one of the things I've been busy with. It's the first really finished digital piece I think I've done since November, and it took a while. I have some other stuff coming up I'll briefly mention first though.
I was working on a cover for Book 4 of Phil's TARDIS Eruditorum series, but we've both agreed it would be better suited for book 5, so I need to come up with other ideas, while still working on the #5 cover (it's a reasonably big job). I've also got this months sketches to scan in, and then I have to decide if it's a separate post from the previous two months or not (probably not, I didn't do all that much), and another speedpaint post is almost ready (I just want to do one more speedpaint for it).
Saints Row IV is out next month (probably this month by the time I post this, which means I should probably do a post about my work on the previous one before it's irrelevant. Beyond that I'm almost done with another painting class, so I'll be posting the results of that too. Remember the last one and set expectations accordingly. But now, on with this post...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Collection of Pleasingly Structured Lies (№ 1)

I have depressingly little to report. I have started several pieces, but most of them are some way off from being something I can show. I scanned two months worth of sketches, but have yet to arrange them into something I can display (and if you're a regular reader you'll know that's a pretty major undertaking, which is why I decided to do it less often, but now I realise that just means I have more to do when I get around to it). I haven't done any new speed paints (though I'm hoping to do one today), but I have done some speed sculpts. Digital sculpts you understand, if it was real sculpting materials I would just be showing off a blob of Playdough.
I also started a new painting class with Paula McCarty, so there may be something to show there in a few weeks. Other than that? Not much. Nothing to show anyway. But I don't want to leave you hanging, so since I can post pretty much whatever I want on here you're going to get a little fiction.

I don't write. I am not a writer. I am a story teller though, as I suppose many people with kids are. At bedtime my son insists I tell him a "Story from your mind," whereby he picks two random things (invariably robots and something, or, when that is banned for being overused, a cat and a refrigerator), and I have to tell a story about them. I have yet to write any of these down, although some of them may be worthy of me doing so.
I had to write this down though it wasn't a story for my son, it was a story for me. I had an incomplete dream (I rarely remember dreams), and decided I had to know how it would have ended, so I wrote it down and completed it. I'll leave you to it, and hope you enjoy it, as my tale telling is rarely something I draw attention to.

Until the next time - fiction!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Slow; It's the New Speed!

Okay, okay, I'll post some of that art stuff this blog is supposedly here for. Today it's speedpaints (sort of) as you may have gathered from the title. A while back I said I would post these speedpaint updates every four paints or so, but this time there's a couple more. I've also said that speedpaints generally take less than an hour and a half... Not so here, for reasons I'll explain with each paint. I'm cutting my preamble short this time (though there will be general update info at the bottom), so let's go look at 'art'!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Musing 5b: It's Just an Illusion (Part 2)

Let's talk some more about optical illusions.  If you missed the first part of this series (and this may be the last part, unless I think of something else worth saying) you can catch up here.  That's not required reading to understand this part, but it may be of interest.  So, illusions! Fascinating things.  In the previous part I discussed how illusions help us understand art.  This time I'll be looking at how they can also make the artist's life hell by lying about what we're seeing when we are trying to reproduce it.  This issue doesn't effect all artists - some people just have the natural power to overcome at least some of these illusions, and for others you can either learn tricks to get past them, or use "mechanical" means to do the same.  That is not what this post is about though.  I'm not going to go into every optical illusion that causes problems, just a small number of prevalent ones or I'd be here all week.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Interlude: Thoughts on the Blog's Future

So I've been debating with myself for some time over certain aspects of the Blog (there's probably a dirty pun there if you look hard enough). Every post so far has some images, and those images are either exclusively by me, or reference for something done by me, and this was fully intentional.  This has its advantages; after all, this is an art blog, but also some disadvantages.  For one, it means that I can only post about subjects I have images for, rather than any old thing, and for another it means I can only post as often as I have work to show.  Sometimes though I want to talk about other things, sometimes art related, sometimes just random things that I want to vent about.  Sometimes I want to write something that may require images that I didn't take, or paint, or use as reference.

I think this post is only the third time I've written written a post with no image content, although this one at least has an icon, the others didn't.  Interested in what I have to say rather than show?  Carry on then dedicated follower (you mad crazy fool).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Three Year (and One Month) Retrospective

As I mentioned last time, I did have quite a lot planned for the blog's third birthday.  I had images of all the major stuff I've done laid out for comparison, a sketch from each month since the blog began laid out in a time line and a few things more.  You don't get any of that.  Firstly the drive with those images on died, including the original scans from the sketchbooks, but that was OK since I had all of them uploaded.

Unfortunately on the day I went to get the uploaded images Flickr (where I uploaded the first years worth of images for reasons I've now forgotten) changed how things are linked so those early images also appear to have gone.  I have lower res versions on facebook still, but you can imagine I was a bit fed up with the whole thing by this point.  Oh, and my sketchbook fell apart, which really capped my lethargy for the whole thing.

Over the next few months I'll slowly transfer the images from facebook (those I also placed there) back over to the blog so there's still a record of the first year of progress.  No point having a blog about progression if the first year is a blank after all.  So after all that I've cobbled together two images for discussion below.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sketching For April '13

So first of all there was supposed to be a retrospective this week, celebrating 3 years of the blog.  No, that's not a long time compared to some, but for me it's a very long time indeed. Unfortunately the hard-drive with all the images for it, as well as some for my next post on optical illusions, died.  There was more on it than that of course (a terrible speed paint and vast tracts of my reference material - most of my art was backed up though), but those are the two that most have an effect on this blog.  So I still plan on doing both the Retrospective, and the other A Musing post, but that'll have to wait until I get my act together again.  I'm not sure why the drive died, but it's probably because of a static spark or getting jostled wrong when I was trying to transfer it over to my new PC.  Yes, I finally got myself a new PC; built it myself in fact. Other than a handful of small issues (and the large one regarding the drive) it's been a relatively smooth transition.  Far smoother than I thought it would be at least.

So other than ll that this has been a good moth for sketching, even though there are only two images in this post.  I filled about 10 pages in the last three weeks of April, which is rather more than I have been achieving.  None of it is directly from reference (although much of it is inspired by photos and the like, but not drawn until much later), and some of it I'm quite pleased with.  You'll note the lack of an image woth the worse sketches of the month - that's because while there were some hideous ones they were all ones that were mostly rushed.  Those below are ones I either spent a little time on or that turned out well despite being done very quickly.  OK, on to the images.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sketching For March '13

I don't have much to say today.  Yes it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted, and yes this sketching post is a bit late this month, and yes I have yet to complete part two of the last A Musing post.  I could give reasons and excuses as I usually do but what's the point?  Sure, my wife was sick last week but since she spent most of that time in bed I could still have snuck off and written a blog post, but obviously I failed to.  No, I was far to busy playing video games (Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider mostly, I preferred the later, but they were both pretty solid, even if I preferred the original Bioshock to Infinite), and watching TV.  And sketching!  I did do a lot of sketching this week (though you don't get to see it until next month of course).  OK, more at the bottom, lets go look at some "Art."   I'll keep writing it to a minimum until the end of the post though.  Most of it would be what I say every month anyway...

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Psychochronography in Blue (Part 3)

If a blue box making a strange Whooorp-ing sound appeared next to you right now, and turned out to be a time machine containing an eccentric alien with a British accent, what would you do?  You wouldn't need to go back in time to read the first two chapters in this exciting adventure because thanks to the wonders of the internet you could just click HERE for Part 1 and HERE for Part 2, allowing you to catch up in mere minutes, freeing you to see the end of the world (risky, but with tree people), the fall of Rome or the birth of your great-great-great grandchild with the Doctor.  When clicking those links do be careful of which wi-fi provider you chose though, you never can be too careful...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Musing 5: It's just an Illusion (Part 1)

Let's talk about optical illusions.

Usually when you think of optical illusions you're thinking of something that's messing with your brain; "Look all the dots are wobbling!" "Look, that staircase is impossible!" "Look, the candlestick is two faces!" and so on.  But really we rely on optical illusions all day, every day.  Without them could we look at a photograph and make sense of it? Understand a representational illustration? See a movie, without the illusion of motion?  I'm going to say that no, we probably couldn't, and that such art forms are as reliant on illusions that can fool our brains into seeing something that isn't there as novelty videos of dragons who's heads follow you around the room.  Illusions are central to our understanding of art - they make art possible, and yet at the same time they make art very difficult.  We'll get to the why of that in a later post, but first let's look at some common illusions and why I believe they make a case for art, in general, being dependent on them.

Before we continue I should point out that this essay is going to be a bit of a ramble, and will be split into two parts (the next coming soon).  I have a copy of Sketch Book Pro open in one window, and I'm writing this in the other. I am hoping it will all tie up neatly with a nice bow, but I'm not writing it for my English lecturer so I'm just going  to go with the flow and hope for the best (If you're lucky I'll proof read it before publishing).  As usual in these posts there's the caveat that I'm not an expert in this stuff, and I'm definitely not qualified in these areas, so you probably don't want to quote me in case I'm an idiot :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

At the Speed of Walking Pace

Well, it's only four of them, but I have managed to crank out some speedpaints. Highly variable quality, and unlikely to set the world on fire, but worth posting anyway, and some with process images too. My folks have gone off home now, so it's almost business as usual, and other than that I don't have a lot to say that I didn't already cover last time. It does occur to me that I won't be doing the 3rd anniversary post until the end of next month because the blog started in April not March (and the first real post wasn't until May), so thanks for pointing this out in the comments (that's a joke, people almost never comment on this blog; 12,700 views, 58 comments - 12 of which are mine and 15 my brother's. You're a verbose bunch aren't you?). Feel free to comment on my observation of your lack of comments - heh.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sketching for February '13

Yes, it's been a little while, and I'll be honest, this post probably wasn't worth the wait. Various things either prevented me from sketching, or just made me not feel like doing so much last month. This is not to say that I didn't, or that I sketched a lot of junk (well, yeah, a bit), just that I didn't get as much done as usual, and certainly not as much as in January (about the same amount as December, maybe slightly more). I also didn't really focus on anything, and discovered that the focus I did on arms a few months back was probably a waste of time because I've forgotten how the darn muscles go in the forearm, again (why do I have so much difficulty remembering this - I need to come up with a mnemonic or something. Seriously.

Outside of sketching I've been working on another book cover (It's actually pretty much done now), I recieved my copy of the Doctor Who Anniversary Special that I did a spread for, and it turned out looking far better than I was expecting at such a large size. The book has some wonderful work in it, both written and drawn. I was plesantly impressed :). In other news, I have family in town, so this month is going fairly slowly too. I'm really going to work on improving things somewhat once they leave as I've clearly been slacking since about November, and there's really no excuse for it. OK, on to the sketches...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

January '13 and (December '12) Sketching

They say it never rains but it pours. I don't know who 'they' are, but they've been saying it for an awfully long time. Right now, with the rain streaming down the windows this seems a particularly apt term, as I do seem to have rather a lot to be getting on with after a month of relative artistic calm. Much of this comes from work, and so you may never see it dealt with here (though it's not out of the question eventually), but some of it I'll be dealing with here eventually. Eventually is an important word there, as I won't have much time to update the blog or do side work to show for a little while, so if this is the only post during February I hope you'll forgive me. But you're not here to hear me bemoan my work load, you're here to see art (come to the wrong place I suspect), so lets get on with it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Welcome Return to Speed

It's been a crazy few weeks. I didn't mention this in my last couple of posts, but the company I work for filed for bankruptcy and put most of it's assets up for sale. I won't go into the details (You can look up THQ bankruptcy if you have an interest), but suffice to say it was a stressful time all round, and while I still have a job (under a different parent company, but still with the same team in the same place), many people didn't, and that makes me very unhappy.
And given all that stress art has not been at the forefront of my mind. Even so I've sketched more this month than at any time since September, and given how little I'd drawn in December I felt I may as well hold onto that for a post in early February.  Which leaves us with the few speedpaints I've managed to cobble together over the last two months.  My last speedpaint prior to this was also in September, and I have no interest in leaving it that long again as the quality level drops sharply if I don't do them for too long.

Monday, January 14, 2013

After the Radio Times

I thought I'd already written this post. That's a weird way to start a post you have clearly yet to write, but I'm guessing it was a weird dream that led me to believe that it was the case. That or I'm a time traveler, which is a nice segway because this is another Doctor Who image. I thought it would be a fun and interesting thing to paint, thought it might be a little challenging, but it wasn't - it was very little fun and incredibly difficult to do. But we'll get there soon enough, or perhaps we already did...