Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Postcards Are In!

I got the postcards in the mail today! They are true to color, and they look and feel fantastic. I can't wait to find 250 people to give them to! ( I may have ordered a few more than I needed to. Better to have too many available than to run out, right?) (P.S. See my awesome white couch in these photos? Believe you me, paint nor curry comes within miles of that thing!)

As far as the portfolios go....

Blurb's smallest page limit is 20, and I simply do not have enough pages. Game over. Do not pass go. K.O. So from there, I looked at some local printers.

I found a printer that was willing to print and bind my small order. Unfortunately, even with so few pages and such a small order, it still requires work to set everything up etc, so the price I was looking at was near $200 for a 8x10" portfolio, and 4 5x7" leave behinds. Then I asked for the price of just the 8x10", but it was still going to be almost $90. While that might be fine and good in another situation, I had already dished out almost $90 on nice postcards, so another $90 simply was not in my allotted budget for promotional materials.

 Now I'm on to doing this thing myself (as far as binding goes). Printing wise, I've seen Meijer do some good work (believe it or not!), and I'm told Staples prints and binds, so these are things I will need to look into- literally tomorrow because I am quickly running out of time! This is difficult however, as I don't often get out of work on time for these things. Yipes. And we'll see about their prices. Who knows? Maybe I would have saved money with Meijer or Staples, but lost out on the hassle of putting this thing together! I'll be sure to let you all know what I discover!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Overnight Prints Postcards

Sent out the postcards today, and I'd like to share a little bit of what that's like.

I have used Overnight Prints in the past and have always been very happy with the user interface and the items I receive from them. And *BONUS*! They're having an Earth Day sale until tomorrow! 67% off! Get those business cards people. Might as well! (Remember, you can click on any of my images to enlarge it and read it better)

Home page. See that postcards section on the right? Lovely, no? Right there. Saying, "Hey, you don't have to look any further. I'm here. Click on me!"And when you do click, you get the option at the top of the page to download their Adobe friendly templates for your business cards, or postcards, or brochure, etc. A quick download away, and you get a template with instructions written on it. And wouldn't you know, this setup they give you is exactly how they want the postcard uploaded (sounds elementary huh? You'd think so, but I've dealt with a company that makes it way more complicated, even though they offer you a template. It's nothing but a big pain in the neck). 

Below is the screenshot of the template in Adobe Illustrator CS5 with a dialogue box where they ask you to change the CMYK settings. It's seriously the hardest thing you have to do (just scroll down and select the right setting)- aside from deciding what how you want to design your postcard!

All that's left after that, is to save your postcard as a PDF, tiff, or a jpg, etc (all the usual suspects), and use their easy downloading software back on the website. Just click, download, and decide where you want your image, front or back.  It's nice because you can see what you're doing, and you know everything will look good because you've used their template that instructed you exactly what to do.

From there, you have the option for rounded corners (for an extra $2 per 100 cards, but I just really prefer the feeling, and you'd be amazed. It's those sorts of little things that can help people pick up your card or even keep it!). You always have the option of a matte finish, or a glossy UV coating. I opted for UV because even though light bouncing off the gloss can obscure your image in the right conditions, it also helps with keeping the color vibrant. A matte finish feels good in the hands, but the colors will appear slightly duller, and you'll lose some of the detail in the dark ares. And, ta-da! You pay, and all is good. Overnight Prints is priced well, and although you may balk at the price shown here, they are large 5x7 postcards... and there are 250 of them. Seems pretty reasonable to me! 

I went for a vertical format for my postcards, just because it's different and it allows me to blow up my images so people can see them better. I zoomed in on Lancelot and Guinevere because the rest of the piece is essentially unnecessary to capturing peoples' attention in a split second. Although I will be handing these out primarily, these sorts of conventions typically have a table where people lay out a few extra business cards and postcards that people can pick up at will if they like. And if they don't have a table, people usually find some sort of surface to leave their wares! You'll see postcards, business cards, stickers, and magnets strewn about unsuspecting decorative hotel tables where these conventions are often held!

I mentioned earlier the matte vs glossy option in the case of keeping things vibrant. Both of the images I decided to use are pretty dark, so to lose information in these areas is a pretty good bet with the matte finish. Also, you may notice that Lan and Guin are significantly lighter and a little more saturated than the finished version I posted yesterday. There I'm just trying to compensate for the printing process. A computer screen is backlit, so images that appear bright on screen will actually be much darker when printed. I'm making a calculated guess and lightening my images ahead of time slightly to compensate for that. You don't have to do much, just enough lighter that you don't wash our your colors or values, and you can be confident your guesstimate will be good.

That's it! Soon I'll have the Blurb portfolio books ready, and I'll have that process available for you too. Until then, I'll just keep on keepin' on getting ready for the big weekend!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Finished for Good!

Lancelot and Guinevere struggle with their emotions for each other and Arthur.

Preparations are in the works for Spectrum Live in... what is it? 28, 27 days? Oh boy! Getting those postcards for handing out and a few little portfolio books made. Postcards I'll be sending to and the portfolio books I'll be making through I've used both of these companies before, and have been extremely happy with their user friendliness and the product they produce. I'll be going through a little bit of that on the blog as I do it, and update all-a-ya'lls with the process. We've got to get these things out soon so that I get them back in time - just in case, for any last minute "oh shucks that printed too dark" surprises that may need fixing!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pretty Much Finished

Here we have it! I think we're pretty much done here. I'll probably look at it in the next couple of days and make a few adjustments to whatever bothers me at that point. But from where it started to here, I'm extremely pleased.

In about a month will be the Spectrum Live! Show in Kansas City, Missouri. I've got the hotel and the ticket, and I can't wait to go! The hotels in the near vicinity are all booked up, so it should be a really fun event with lots of fellow illustrators to meet! I plan to make Lancelot and Guinevere a postcard I will be handing out along with my business cards. I may get to one more piece before I go though, and if it's good enough we can update the website. I'm also hoping to get into the portfolio review section of the event, but we'll see, as spots fill up fast! But I'll be right there waiting by the computer to press enter and get to hopefully have a good talk with Irene Gallo, the art director of Tor Books, and John Schindehette of Wizards of the Coast. Totally stoked. And I'll be sure to bring my camera and show you guys what it's all about. I'm just excited to get excited about illustrating. Conventions are always such a rush that way!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lancelot and Guinevere - More Progress

Sorry for not posting sooner. The day job has been very busy recently! But here's some more progress, and luckily it's the weekend, so there will only be more to come!

Lancelot is looking a lot better, and we added some arm gauntlet things which I think are helping the whole chain mail debacle quite nicely. Well, not a debacle. I just haven't decided how to go about giving the chain mail enough detail to be chain mail, but restraining myself from rendering it out completely (because that's unnecessary, and it's not my main focal point, so I don't want to even go there sister!). I like how the pattern on her dress is behaving, and I think it adds to her royal appearance. Lastly, I'm not too sure about those leaves in the foreground, so we'll have to play with that. I'm lovin' it. Now we just have to take it to the finish! Bring her on home!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lancelot and Guinevere continues!

More progress! We're aging in the right direction, we've fixed the size of some things like hands, and given our Lancelot a stronger jaw and bulkier arms... all good things. I'm pleased with the direction it's going. Sorry Arthur- look: this is love. Even Merlin probably can't deny it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lancelot and Guinevere

Hey! Guess what? Lancelot and Guinevere are going digital. I described my initial idea for the painting here. I thought I wanted to do this in oil, but as I working on the color and value studies I said to myself, "Self- why would you draw this over again when this is looking so nice?" And so I've decided to do it digitally.

It's moving along SO FAST. Lightning fast. I can't believe it. I'm loving how it's looking, but there's still a lot to do. I want Lancelot to look a lot older, and Guinevere too. Also, I'm not dead set on the background situation, but I do know that I want it to be ambiguous and keep all of the center and interest on our very personal, close moment here between our dude and dudette. I also need to do some more research to make known their individual connections to Arthur: I'm thinking she needs a wedding ring with a dragon symbol on it, and his clothes could have the same symbol, or something similar.

Below are some photos of my initial thumbnail ideas.

I'm also including some of my initial reference that helped the idea to form into what it has. I won't show my photo reference as a courtesy to my reference model, and to myself because we both looked fairly ridiculous, and that's just not something I need to extol on the internet, haha! But here are some other photos that got the brain juices going. Perusing the internet, reading King Arthur stories, and viewing real 14th and 13th century medieval art at the Detroit Institute of Arts are how I went about collecting my stockpile of images. These are just a few. I also looked at other works of art done on Lancelot and Guinevere to give myself an idea of what else has been done on this well known subject. All in all, progress is good, I think it's gonna be a good one!

Edmund Blair Leighton - The Accolade (Guinevere and Lancelot)

John Collier - Guinevere going A-Maying

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pulp Magazine

I did it! I got a painting done in one day and submitted it to the ArtOrder pulp magazine challenge! Now, there's always room to improve before the deadline of the real call for art, but for now, this is what I was able to accomplish.

For this post, I thought it might be interesting for me to walk you through my thought process as I show the painting progress. Without further ado...

I decided to do this slightly differently, and follow the method I saw Donato Giancola use in his most recent video, which I blogged about here. I gessoed a board, drew directly on it, then sealed the drawing with matte medium.

Then, I layed in some color with acrylic paint to get a basic feel for the color I was going to lay down in oil.

Beginning stages in oil. Things are left blurry so the edges I want to be crisp and clear (around my center of interest) can be snapped in later.

A whole general feel is visible now in oil. We're headed in the right direction, but the darkness needs to be bumped up and the saturation brought down in the shadow areas.

Mmhmmmm! Do you love that warm floor with the light coming in? Do you love how their shadows are red, and her dress is red so that we see they're in cahoots? Do you love her purse on the couch so that we don't think she just pulled the gun out from behind her back out of nowhere like a cartoon character? Me too.

But now, and you can't tell in this shot, but now he just looks like he's looking down at the shadow, and for some reason that just doesn't give the glazed over, "oh no" look I'm going for. Also, I've dulled back the top of her red dress to help her lean back into the shadows. Before, with the red all the same on the dress, she just looked weirdly un-proportional, and kind of like she just had purple skin.

Uh... but them's crazy eyes. Not going for that either...

Mm, enough "oh no my life is in danger", mixed with anger. Maybe not enough anger, but eh.

Pretty good. This is what I sent in. There could definitely stand to be some real dark darks. So there will be touch ups before the deadline in April. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that I do well on the ArtOrder challenge! You should check it out, there were lots of different interpretations!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pulp Value

The idea is coming together after the reference I took. The struggle I'm facing is to make the story I'm trying to tell instant. That there's no figuring it out, or discovering pieces along the way... nope. I've gotta make this puppy read now and completely. This value study is ridiculously fleshed out, but I was enjoying myself after a brief time away (due to a bruised nerve, but the right hand is back in business, no worries) and I was also thinking it out more. What I need to do now is to adjust the different compositional elements and lighting to tell the story and not follow my reference so religiously. These are the goals. I have until Sunday to submit it to the Art Order, so there's some work to be done! But it's possible. Let's do this.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pulp Art Challenge from the Art Order

Another piece I've got cookin' came about from a recent challenge from The Art Order. The ArtOrder "is a blog for and about the fantasy and sci-fi illustration community that is committed to mentoring, artistic improvement, and career enhancement". I find the blog really informative and interesting, especially this recent article on defining the vocabulary and framework for classifying and talking about fantastic art, found here.

The Art Order often gives challenges to help keep artists inspired and working, and there is often guest judging and critique from current illustrators and art directors; it's just a nice atmosphere for sharing the type of work we fantastic illustrators enjoy. The challenge I will be participating in is in celebration of old Pulp Magazines, and is actually an open call to artists outside of the 'order's challenge, and will be part of a Pulp Art Tribute show for this summer put on by Gallery Provocateur owner Veronika Kotlajic.

These are actual pulp covers that I've been using as inspiration for my own design.

It's about action. Suspense. Dames. Standoffs. Men with chiseled jaws and slicked back hair! You get the picture. What I've decided is to do something with a little twist, a detective scene where the hero thinks he's saving the girl, but she's really been on the bad side the whole time and now is the opportunity to turn and reveal to him he's been foiled. Here are some of my initial sketches.

He's pushing her out of harm's way, she pulls a gun on him.

He realizes - tonk!- Crap. There's a gun pointed to my head. And see, the other bad guy shadows are relaxing with their guns a little bit, and are laughing because they've been in on it the whole time, waiting for the moment when our dame would spill the beans.

And this one: maybe he's running away, thinks he found a quiet room to escape to, but lookey here, who's been waiting for his arrival. As you can see, most of them are fairly similar, and I do really like the situation and much of the composition ideas for it, but I think I could explore it a little more if I give myself some time. And who knows, once I take reference photos it might help to expand upon those ideas further.

Face studies based on what I'm going for. I referenced popular pulp hero Doc Savage and classic pin up illustrations to get the right 1930s to 1940s look for my characters. Now, I don't want them to be caricatures in the finish because it's not really the look I'm going for, but it helps to exaggerate the idea now, because I will want to exaggerate things slightly to really accentuate the feelings of the characters and the style of the genre.

Headed in the right direction, just need a day or two to sit on the idea before we progress. The Art Order's deadline is in a couple weeks, even if the actual deadline for submissions to the open call aren't until April. That's because the Art Order is allowing time for adjustments to be made for anyone that receives a critique they actually want to follow up on in time for the Pulp Magazine Tribute Show. I'll keep you posted on this progress and Lancelot and Guinevere's (the research for which has been going swimmingly)!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's Next?

I finally have settled into my new job, new apartment, new locale, and... I've got internet! Let the games begin!

What's next you ask? What's next in the world of illustration? Well, I'll tell you... Lancelot and Guinevere! That's what next! I haven't done an honest to goodness portrait piece in a while, and it's long overdue. I'll be sticking with my love of fantasy, but focusing on the relationships within those worlds, rather than the bizzare and fantastic nature of the worlds themselves (don't get me wrong. Horse-men were a blast to paint!). I figure this makes a more interesting piece in the end anyway.

I was recently inspired greatly by Donato Giancola's recent painting video he released, which is only about $50 from his website. It has been a huge inspiration starter, and it's just a great video to watch from start to finish, to have in the background, and to just keep in the back of your mind when you're trying to do your best work. I've watched it three times already, and I'm still excited to watch it again. You get to watch a master of our time- in the moment- paint. It's just incredibly watchable, informative, and inspiring. What I'm getting at is that he said a couple things that really stuck with me. First: That his fantasy paintings have become more about the research and history involved to make them believable (researching reality to create fantasy) and that his sci-fi paintings have become more about the people that inhabit them rather than the worlds themselves. Second: Painting is like a sport: you can prepare for the big game, but in the end it will depend on the other team, the weather, all sorts of factors you can't prepare for. What you've learned in school gives you the roadmap for how to play the game, but each game is different, and there's no rule book for that exact one. He says it more eloquently, but I just loved it. It is a game, and that's why I keep coming back.

I have several thumbnails started for Lancelot and Guinevere. Although there are several different versions of these characters historically, I'm going to try to portray a very 1953 "Knights of the Round Table" version of the pair (it's a wonderful movie with some big name Old Hollywood stars). Lancelot and Guinevere will be inherently good, torn by their love for each other and their devotion for their King. It will be a moment where they are struggling together and internally with this issue. Basically, they're gonna kiss but they shouldn't! That's the moment. The point of no return. Que Phantom of the Opera. So we're looking for a moment jam packed with tension. Interested? Well, look forward to when I post the progress. I even broke out the old dance costumes and my mom's old bridesmaid dresses for the reference photos for this. Oh yeah. It just got serious.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spectrum Submissions

Well, here I am apologizing for another delay in blog posts. But I have a very good excuse: I don't have the internet! Soon, very soon. It's just been awhile getting all of my things in order with a new job, new apartment, new bank... in short, it's been Crazytown over here.

I was able to get out my submissions to Spectrum. Unfortunately, the printing gods were not smiling on me for about a week, thus, the final things I sent to Spectrum were not quite the color quality I'd hoped for. But as my friend Kyle says, you gotta be in it to win it! I'm not confident based on what was printed with the time and resources I had left, but we'll see. Anyways, here's what I sent (in the saturation and quality I had hoped to send them in!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Where have I been

Hello! I feel awful that I haven't updated in the past few... oh let's not count. But some very monumental things have happened since my last post. If you recall, I was living with my sister in San Marcos, California, and during that time I was able to get a pretty cool freelance illustration job. Although I'm not at liberty to talk about it yet, gettin' 'er done was part of the reason for my recent disappearance from the blog. I hopefully will be able to show you some of the job later this month, or in February.

The other reason: Well, I had to drive back to Michigan! My parents came to help, and together we drove through some of the worst winter blizzards of my life in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and I'm a Michigander mind you! Worst winter driving of my life!) But we made it back in one piece. Here was where I may or may not have slacked off given the holidays, and my long time departure from my long term boyfriend.

In the meantime, I had been preparing another sort of portfolio for the other graphic art work I do. Things like marketing, logo design, typography on packaging, etc. And luckily, I was hired immediately for a job I applied to where I get to use those skills! Hallelujah, I get to use the skills I was trained for! So I am very thankful, and very excited to get to be in a collaborative, creative atmosphere again.

On the flipside, freelance fantastical illustration continues, so now I have two jobs (oh brother!). And that is what you can still expect to see from this blog. Long story short, I'm still here, and I will be updating all of you on what's to come. I don't think you'll be seeing anything new in the coming weeks, as I am preparing some older pieces to submit to Spectrum's juried competition. Spectrum is basically my guidebook and go-to for eye candy for the kind of illustration work I enjoy and want to produce. Here is a bit on them:

Believing that there was a tremendous amount of high-quality fantastic-themed art work created each year that some how wasn't being represented in other annual art books and shows, Spectrum was established in 1993 by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner with the intent of providing creators with a regular showcase for the best fantasy, science fiction, horror, and otherwise uncategorizable artwork created each year.

Also, I look forward to their new convention happening this May in Kansas city! So, those are some more immediate things to look forward to. I'll show you guys updates and revisions (centaurs, Aloja, Steve Irwin, Dragon) for Spectrum soon, so keep your eyes peeled!