Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Beautiful Day in the Studio

By Eric Fortune

Hello Neighbor. Today, I would like to give you a tour of my studio. Prepare yourself. This is where the Magic happens. Welcome….to My World.

Ok, so if we could all look past the raw wood beams, exposed drywall, and plaster you can see my work place. A bedroom turned studio.

As you can see I’ve altered my art desk a bit to allow it to hold multiple desk lamps at a further distance from the table’s surface. This gives me more consistent lighting as opposed to hot spots and shadows from a lamp that is too close to the painting. It does make the desk a little top heavy so I’ve placed small weights on the bottom to help keep it grounded. Was it worth it? Perhaps.

I have another portable art desk in front of my main desk. It comes in handy when I need to lay out ref, other paintings, the cutting board etc. But it’s also great for when art friends stop by to paint and hang out i.e. mostly just hang out.

The rest of the room is mostly for my computer, printer, etc. and hanging files for organizing invoices, clients and the like. I hope it’s not too weird that I have a bunch of my own paintings on the wall. I really just don’t have a lot of room for them and thought they would be even more weird scattered all over my house. Plus I’m obsessed with my own work and spend most of my days staring at old paintings wondering where it all went wrong…

These are a few photos of my basic set up while working. I’m right handed so I keep most of the supplies on the right side of my desk for easy access. I like my light shining in at a slight angle from the left. The windows to the room are also on my left side so that during the day shadows from my hands aren’t being cast onto the area I’m working on. There’s a small Tupperware container which I store my paints in. I lay a paper towel at the bottom and then set my paints onto the towel. Every now and then the paints need to be sprayed with water to prevent them from drying out. In this way I can keep my paints usable for quite some time. I prefer a basic round water color palette for mixing. Fairly simple. Some things that you may not notice that are very helpful when painting: my hair dryer on the left of my desk, and my eye dropper for adding water to paint mixtures. I love my eyedropper. Perhaps someday I’ll do a “What if I won the Lottery Dream Studio Edition”. Or I can sand down the compound and just finish the walls that are already there. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed the visit.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Princeps - a book cover

-By Donato

A new book cover for Tor Books, the fifth in a series of novels authored by L.E. Modesitt Jr. These have been a true pleasure to tackle as the main character is a scholar 'magician', and seeks to place others before himself. A great alternative to the overly ambitious alpha hero. With the later trait in mind, the protagonist taps the government treasury to feed and care for the poor, placing himself at risk of violent repercussions from the wealthy landowners and fearful of military reprisals.

The ambiguity of elements in this painting is what makes it all work for me- Is it snowing? Ash falling? Mana from heaven? And is that a statue behind him or a rider just too close for comfort?

You decide.

Wish I had more to share...but as much as I like my computer, nothing compares to the bliss of creating art at the drafting table. Back to the studio... Enjoy!

And another Middle-earth drawing:

Aragorn at Helm's Deep

11" x 14"

And another in progress for the gallery:

Daphne and Apollo

48" x 28" oil on panel



-By Jesper Ejsing

Here is an illustration I did a year ago for Wotc.It is 2 fighters, a girl and a guy, but the guy is a werewolf and is newly transformed. The setting is a tomb. As always I am using acrylics on watercolour board. It measures 50 x 40 cm.

Step 1

I start out with a bunch of thumbs. Mostly I search for a solid shape or silhouette. In this case I new the 2 figures needed to stand close, so I needed them to overlap in a clear way. One idea was to have the biggest of the 2 kneeling thus making more space to the female. Also this composition I think is more dynamic than having them stand straight next to each other.I was so happy with my thumb that I didn’t rework it as a sketch. All I did was to add a grey tone in computer and cleaning out the rim lights with a digital brush. In my sketches I use graphite powder for grey and an electrical eraser for cleaning the whites. But this thumb was so small that it would have been smudgy.

Step 2
My Art Director Mari said that the swords was too big. So when shortening them the one resting on the ground was moved to rest on her shoulder. I sketched each figure separately adding the equipment and constantly trying to get the best and most powerful drawing while still keeping my original silhouette from the thumb. When I am happy I transfer them both to the board and draw in the background. The absolute most difficult part was the wolf head.

I used countless references of wolfs and had 2 books on wolfs resting almost on top of the drawing for a whole day, still not being able to nail anything usable. I think the problem in using the photo ref was that it constantly became just a big guy with a wolf head. In my head the face had a human facial expression, and that is one pretty hard thing to search up on goggle or in a book. What finally succeeded was that I used my laptop at home when I was far away from all my ref and my drawing. I sketch a head digitally ( the change of media also had a thing to do with it ) and turned the other way, because at that point I had tried every thing possible facing right. And within minutes I got it right. After transferring to board, I inked the whole thing and add all the grey tones and black.

Step 3
I scan the grey tone/black and white board and print out a copy. On the print I do my colour rough. This painting was going to be one out of 6 covers in a series so I needed a strong and clear colour theme. I settled on red/purple. The rough I thought was a little over the top, so when moving to painting I decided to tone it down a little to keep it less happy and colourful. It is a werewolf anyway.
I masked out the figures with frisket film and started with the background. I quickly block in all the areas and then start working out the details. It almost looks like the stone pillar is disappearing in the bottom behind the werewolf, but I needed that space under his arm to be very light to be able to read the silhouette.

The face of the girl was a step further in the direction I have been going for the last 2 years. I added freckles and small cuts and greys to make her look dirty and real. The hair was a challenge and I had a girl pose for me and draped her long dark her to fit my sketch. The final is a mix between her hair and that of Pam Anderson's.

The werewolf was going to be having bits of armour strapped to places on the body as if his transformation had burst apart his equipment. I like the part of the ring mail that hangs in small chains underneath his neck. I promised myself NOT to do the rings individually, since that is just plain stupid and uncalled for, but here I am painting each ring individually. I am glad I did.

One thing that I am particularly happy with is the face of the wolf guy and the small differences in tones and value in his face. I got the exact expression I wanted: Something in-between panting, snarling and just crazy. ( that is what I myself remember best from transforming ).

When doing the legs and the rock he is resting on, I just got tired and feed up with it. I pulled away and went for a walk and when I got back I decided to just leave it at that. I was going to render all kinds of stuff, but I think it is better off with areas not too overworked or detailed. It needs areas where the eye can rest without having to decipher details and elements. That being said I wish I had clarified the area from foot to leg.

If you guys and girls out there have anything to ask or add feel free to do so. I would happily answer all. I have only focused on stuff that I can remember and being all cradled up into my own way of doing things I might have skipped or left out important facts.
Monday, September 26, 2011

Art Out Loud 7 Recap

-By Dan dos Santos

This past Saturday, the Society of Illustrators hosted Art Out Loud 7. The event consists of multiple live demonstrations by some of the industry's top pros. This time around, artists Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Donato Giancola, Rick Berry, and Greg Manchess were kind enough to donate their time.

The event was quite fun. The room was packed, with over 100 people in attendance. A lot of friends and professionals roamed the room, as the five artists painted and shared insights. For those who couldn't make it, here's a brief recap of what you missed.

Boris Vallejo:

Boris was working on a private commission. He came prepared with a completed drawing, toned with acrylic and ready to jump into oils.

For those of you who haven't seen Boris paint before, it's pretty incredible. He paint quite fast. Just 20 minutes in to the show, he has a nearly completed background.

Boris then spent the remainder of his time painting the dragon.

After 4 hours, he had completed a large chunk of his painting.


Like Boris, Donato had a drawing already prepared.

He proceeded to tone the drawing loosely using an acrylic wash, and then jumped right into oils.

Donato completed half a figure, and started laying in a face, all the while talking to the audience. He took time to show off his sketch book, and talked about his concepting process. He also brought some original art, and free posters and catalogs for the attendees.

Julie Bell:

Working on a private commission for the same series as Boris, Julie came in with a painting progress.

Quiet, yet diligent, Julie picked away at her work, painting a face in painstaking detail while the audience looked on.

Rick Berry:

Rick was the only artist to come in without a prepared drawing. Instead, opting to show his experimental approach to picture making. His loose 'stream of conciousness' approach allowed him to produce 3 or 4 monochromatic paintings in a short period of time.

A teacher at heart, Rick spent a lot of time talking to his audience, and even went so far as to invite them to paint on top of his work so as to familiarize them with his techniques.

Greg Manchess:

Greg painted a nude, working from a mish-mash of reference. Taking a head from one photo, legs from another, and torso from yet another... bringing them all together into a single beautiful pose.

Precise in his painting, Greg completed the entire piece with time to spare. So he decided to paint a second portrait... and completed that one too!


All in all, it was a really wonderful event. The crowd was enthusiastic, and I feel the intimate atmosphere really encouraged people to ask a lot of questions. I can only assume it was a fantastic learning experience for those who attended (I know it was for me). Of course, a great big thank you goes out to the five artists who made it all happen!



-by Arnie Fenner

I was thinking about portraits the other day, partly because of the "Making Faces" show currently going on at the Society of Illustrators, partly because I had just received a copy of Brain Movies that features Iain McCaig's portrait of Harlan Ellison on the cover, partly because I noted the sale at auction recently of what, to me, was a not-terribly-good painting of Robert Silverberg by the late Ed Emshwiller. What makes a successful portrait, particularly when the subject is a writer? The answer that immediately comes to mind is: personality. If the artist is able to capture something of who the writer is, not merely what they look like, and elicit responses from viewers and which prompts conversation...then there's a good chance of creating art, not just a painted version of Glamour Shots.

Now, I've never really heard of any controversy surrounding a genre writer's portrait; certainly nothing like the brew-ha surrounding John Singer Sargent's painting of Madame Gautreau aka "Madam X". The flip-side is that I've heard very few people say anything positive about some of the clever f&sf writer portraits that have been I think I'll point out a few.

H.P. Lovecraft has been drawn many times over the years, one of the earliest being the one above by Virgil Finlay with one of the more recent being by Matt Buck below.

Above, Michael Whelan's portrait of Isaac Asimov. Since Asimov devised the Three Laws of Robotics, Isaac's AI companion is appropriate.

Above, a pair of scratchboard pieces by Mark Summers: Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe respectively.

Above, Rowena Morrill's painting of Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon joked at the time that she had made him look too puny. (I'd run a link to Rowena's website, but it looks like her homepage has been hijacked.)

Above, a pair of portraits of Tarzan's dad, Edgar Rice Burroughs; the first is by Reed Crandall, the second by Tom Lovell.

Above, Donato's painting of Starship Trooper, Robert A. Heinlein.

Above, Greg and Tim Hildebrandt transported J.R.R. Tolkien to Middle-Earth for this painting.

Above, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as painted by Anita Kunz.

Finally, a pair of portraits of Harlan Ellison; the top a classic Bosch-inspired painting by Leo and Diane Dillon, the bottom is a mixed-media work by Iain McCaig.