Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Style?

Okay, so a little while ago Greg Manchess came to Rexburg to do a seminar and workshop and he did some portfolio reviews. I told him that I thought it would be cool to do some young adult book covers and then he told me that there was absolutely nothing in my portfolio that said publishing. Sooooo... I'm trying to explore some different painting techniques and what not to make it feel more like those super cool young adult book covers. Here's the first in what I'm sure will be a nice, long process.

Any critiques would be extremely helpful. This is just an experiment, so I probably won't change anything, but for future pieces, I would like to streamline my process a bit. So far I've been painting in mostly the same way that I usually do, but subduing the line a lot more. I think it turned out okay, but it took a lot longer than I would have liked. Maybe that's just the way it is.

Anyway, feedback is appreciated as always. Hope you enjoy it.


  1. Hey,I think this piece is definitely a step in a good direction for you. I feel that this image maintains all of the qualities of your amazing drawings but also has the addition of beautiful rendering. On this particular piece I am losing the top of her hair line. The airbrushyness over her hair on the top doesn't really add anything and I personally think it's somewhat distracting. I would try and render out portions of her hair with to the same level as you've done her face. Perhaps the area of her hair that would be shiny or catching light could be rendered and the rest could remain dark. I like the designed shapes of her hair. It has a really nice flow to it. I also really enjoy what you've been doing with integrating paint strokes and splatters into your images. I think that helps a lot to make them more interesting.

    A couple comments overall on your pieces that I think could help take it up another notch; I think your pieces overall lack an extra bit of contrast. This more recent image is a lot better as far as contrast goes but I still think you could push it. I think most of your images are really graphic in nature so I think having them read a little better (using contrast) would help. If you take your images and zoom way out you should still be able to tell what's going on. With this image for example you are using a really nice bit of contrast between her forhead and her hair but everything else seems to get somewhat lost. I would force yourself to push your lights against darks and vice versa. The illustration of erasmus is working well because of contrast. For example on your image of the centaur vs. sphinx if you squint down all you really see are the sphinx's hands. You lose everything that's going on with the centaur's lower half and his hands. Anyway you get the idea. Since your images have no background environments you really need to push the silhouette and the contrast of your characters against the backgrounds. You can still play with lost and found but make it a conscious choice.

    Also, if you are considering branching out into the publishing arena, your stuff needs to have more vibrant colors. Everything you do has an "earthy" feel to it. It seems like all your colors are dulled down and gray. Not saying it's a bad thing, but forcing yourself to use rich vibrant colors will also help the contrast issues in your pieces. Plus, unless your are illustrating dark-themed books all the time, you need to have some vibrancy in your portfolio.

    Anywho, I really like this latest image. I don't miss the line at all on it because of the nice way you've rendered it. Rendering does take a lot longer, but I think it looks better in the end. I think you should also learn to draw on your cintiq. I know you can but it will speed up your process loads in the end.

    Alright, that's enough for today.

    Stephen out!

  2. Another thought,
    You have some nice painterly textury stuff in your images. I think it would help to also overlay a texture on top of everything. If you can find a nice gesso or canvas texture you can do an overlay over everything. This is how I do it anyway if your curious:

    Fill a layer with 50% gray. You can go to edit > fill and then choose 50% gray. And then add a bevel/emboss effect to it and choose texture. Then you can choose your awesome gesso/canvas texture, or any other of your choice, and adjust the settings accordingly. It's a minor thing but it will give a tooth to the image is nice because you don't have to go quite as tight underneath it.

    Just an idear.

  3. Oh Stephen, how I've missed thee. Thanks for the comments. I've been wondering how to get a good photoshop brush that feels like real pencil, but I haven't been able to conjure one. I'm thinking that maybe the whole adding texture over the top of everything might help things feel a little better.

    Anyhow, the cintiq is fantastic and I draw on it, but I'm never satisfied with the results I get. I'll keep trying, but I just REALLY like how pencil looks.

    I've struggled with the whole vibrant color thing since forever... I don't know what it is, but every time I think I'm pushing things, it still ends up feeling a little more on the neutral side. It's probably just a personal preference thing. Anyway, thanks again for the critiques. I've got a lot to learn about painting still so it's nice to hear from a stallion like yourself.

  4. What did he say your portfolio did lean toward?
    Also: I'm with Stephen - good direction. I also think that in general you just need a story: this image for example- why? what does it say? Is she some sort of warrior princess preparing for battle or a spy of some kind? I think that working from sketches is a great way to get some good images but I think we need to work from the story side too.
    I think another two hours working out details in the lit part of her face/hair would really make it sing.

    And I was always struggling with being undersaturated too- I would finish a painting and then just go into hue/saturation and drag it up a notch. It got me to see what I was missing out on.

    Good luck, Randy- hope I'm helpful. :)