Category Archives: Art Process

Great Forest thumbnails


Thumbnails are integral to my design process. I like to explore the possibilities before I start. References play a huge role in my thumbnail explorations. I look at color, texture, values and composition in photo references and distill my thumbnails down to the basic essence of what I see.

Thandie


Using a reference photo of actress Thandie Newton, I blocked out the form and proportions using digital pencils. I used the digital pencils as a starting point for the painting shown below.

Bob and the T-Rex


Here’s an analysis of this composition, with notes. Below is the grayscale version to check for highlights, midtones and dark values within the composition.

Space Port


Working through designs in an iterative fashion is part of a good designer’s workflow. Why stop with one quick sketch? Spend some time exploring the possibilities. Use references to assist. In the thumbnails below, I found some really interesting shapes in a few photos I took while traveling to Italy last year. You don’t have to go to Italy to find great shapes, though. They are all around you. Many students rush past the exploration phase to move towards the final design. In my view, the most important part of any artistic endeavor is in the sketching phase. Sketches are […]

Self Portrait Animal Morph


Process work for a project I assigned for my Concept Design / Advanced Illustration class. I had to go through several unsuccessful drafts during the sketch / planning phase before moving forward with an illustration I felt happy with.

Painting Forms Fundamentals


I’m teaching a course on exploring concept design. This is an example of the first project I am assigning for my students. The first example shows simple volumetric structures with shading and a light source. The second example shows a more complex arrangement of volumetric shapes. Shapes can be overlapped, tapered, extruded, and intersected with one another. Understanding these fundamental examples is key to tackling more complex work.

Ford Hotrod


Above is a video capture showing how I begin a vehicle illustration. The key is to start with volumetric shapes and keep in mind that all horizontal lines will converge towards vanishing points. Perspective is absolutely important for all artists to study.

Prepare to Board


Planning your composition is crucial. Below is a breakdown of how I direct the eyes around and within the composition. There are also foreground, midground and background elements, with a focal point. Plan with your principles of design before going full bore on details.

My Favorite Toy


Last year I was approached by writer Jesse Young to illustrate a 4-page comic story based on an idea he had developed. Yesterday, all 4 pages went up and I’m super stoked with how the comic pages turned out. Below are the thumbnails I created for the story, based on Jesse’s script. And here are two pages from the completed four page story. Jesse has worked with several artists in creating fantastic short format comics. His stories cover a broad range of genres and styles, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them all. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to […]

Commando Apes


For this composition, I started in with some research on helmet shapes. Below are some quick silhouette studies. Inks (using Ray Frenden’s LandoCalbrusshian inking brush for Manga Studio): Inks with black fills: Final image:

Drawlloween Day 1: Ghost


I’m participating in Drawlloween this year, where the goal is to draw 31 horror / monster themed creations. Given my hectic course load, carving out time for this event will be a challenge. I’ll do my best to keep up, but I make no promises. Pencils: Inks:

Giant Size PC Weenies comic cover #3


Below is my process for putting together a comic book cover, inspired by the Bronze Age Marvel Comics trade dress. Using a custom brush in Manga Studio, I prepped the pencils. Inks were added in Manga Studio as well. Colors were added using Photoshop, after importing the art into a Marvel Comics trade dress template that I made some time ago. And here’s a “distressed” version.

More Silhouette Studies


References are good to guide your design, but don’t be slave to them. Use them to inform your design, but don’t forget about shapes and proportion.

Vintage Gas Can


Simple subjects make for exciting explorations. Take this ordinary gas can. It has a certain character thanks to its weathered patina. For this particular illustration, I opted to focus on using shapes and textures to define the form and as well as establish a mood.

Image Manipulation in Designing a Movie Poster


When I assign projects to my students, I usually prepare an example to show them. This quarter I’m teaching Image Manipulation, a class focused on learning some Photoshop basics. Throughout the process, I want my students to not only use the program, but to learn valuable design skills as well. One of the requirements in this course is for students to show their process work. This means showing research, synthesis, analysis, pre-production sketches before proceeding to the final design. These are all important components and careful thought needs to be made before investing time working on a project. By planning […]

Ratrod Rex


This piece is heavily inspired by my interest in YouTube shows like Roadkill (with HOT ROD’s David Freiberger and Mike Finnegan) and the latest MadMax film, with a side of Jurassic Park thrown in for good measure. Pencils: Inks: Colors:

Process: Mad Max Goon


I still have the Mad Max movie on my brain. After a much needed time to recharge and catch up on all things (including sleep), I wanted to try my hand at one of the many goons featured in the recent Mad Max film. Pencils, Inks and Tones were created using a mix of Manga Studio and Photoshop. Enjoy! Of course, how you present your work is just as important as your work itself (at least it does, in my humble opinion). Below I’ve documented my process work, neatly labeling the parts of the process as well as employing visual […]

Working with Clipping Masks in Photoshop


Clipping Masks are pretty powerful when used with shapes or type. Essentially, it allows the type or text to serve as a mask, permitting the images to appear only within the type or created shape. tFor this to work well, I recommend using a thick typeface (I’m using the type “Phosphate Solid” for the example above) to make it easier to see the images that will reside inside. After typing some text in, bring in your images as separate layers into the file you are working on. It’s important to stack your images ABOVE the type layer for this technique […]