Oct 29, 2014

...now with A3 scanning facilities...

YAAAYYYY! It's been a long time coming, but I now have my very own A3 scanner.
And it only came about, oh,  43 hours after I reeeaaallllly needed it.

But that's okay, because I now have an A3 scanner! So the first thing I scanned was the life drawing study I did a few weeks ago. It was the big, long session I mentioned in episode 3 of the Gord & Jay Talk Art Podcast (an entirely warranted and necessary plug, I'll have you know!)

Anyway, here it is-

The picture isn't finished yet, I'm going to try and get back to it in the next week or so. The model's name is Karen. She was pretty amazing. It looks as though that pose would be easy enough to hold. But ask any life model and they will tell you that there really is no such thing as an easy pose, especially one you have to hold for FIVE WHOPPING HOURS!
So, anyway, the piece was made in watercolours, with that trusty white gouache I love to use for flesh tones.

Before I forget, I want to extend a welcoming hand to my newest follower, jorisburla from Zurich. Please feel free to make yourself at home!

Back soon!

Oct 21, 2014

On Comics

I've always had a hot and cold love affair with comics over the span of my life.
I was big into superheroes when I was quite young, dressing up like Batman, the Incredible Hulk, Spidey... Then in my early and mid-teens, most Saturdays would include me taking a train into Melbourne city to visit comic shops and spend waaaay too much money in them. I always took spare bags and boards to put the comics straight into after the comics were purchased and my collection reached into the thousands.
I still have fond memories of those trips into town. The annoying walk from home to Blackburn Station. The anticipation of what I would find while on the train, looking at the eastern suburbs of Melbourne as they flew by. The eagerness to be there already as the seemingly endless escalator at Parliament Station rose in front of me. Sitting at the bottom of the stairs at the old Bourke street Minotaur shop, securing my comics with a sigh of contentment.
Then I kinda lost interest in comics in general after my teens. I still picked up the odd book, and anything by Bart Sears was eagerly snapped up. But I just didn't have that same love of them that I once did. I never completely lost the love, but I think I just found other things (faerie and fantasy art) more appealing in my twenties and the first half of my thirties.

Today, not a huge amount has changed. I still like the idea of comics, and do pick the odd book up, but there's no use denying that my tastes have permanently changed. I'm no longer a comics reader.

But the strange thing is, my future artistic pursuits directly involve comics.
As I've mentioned a few times recently, I've been wanting to get back to that comic I created a few years ago, called The Circle. The more I've noodled with the story and the characters in my mind, the more I really like the project and what it represents. Because, to me, it encapsulates all of the things I love to draw and write about: fantasy, faerie and comics.
I recently heard a bit of advice attributed to the wonderful artist, Rebecca Guay, of whom I used to collect the Magic cards she illustrated back in the day. To paraphrase, she basically said that for an artist who may be encountering difficulty with conflicting influences and tastes (ie. me!), they should pick their three top favourite artists/disciplines/media/genres and just treat them as their desert island choices. By this I think she means that an artist that is having trouble deciding in which direction to go, may need to make an ultimatum and just stick to it.
Bloody good advice, that. And like all good advice, it is startlingly obvious once you know it.
I made my choice on my own artistic direction last year. Implementing it has been the sticky bit.

But I'm seriously working on it. Now that I've closed the doors on commissions for a little while, I've been able to get back to some of my personal projects. Numero uno is The Circle. Numbers 2 through infinity are also The Circle. There is The Circle. There is nothing else.

I had it all mapped out with how I want to get The Circle done. It all started with this year's 24-hour Comic Day. Regular visitors may recall that I made a children's book called Klogg the Troll back in the 2012 24-hour Comic Day. Well, this year, I came armed with serious intent to do a The Circle comic.
Of course, I failed miserably.

As I tend not to exactly follow the rules tied to these sorts of events, I came armed with an already written story, including page plot breakdowns (in text, not rough drawings) and a lot of the panel layouts already in my head.
I also had a fairly clear idea of how I wanted to draw the comic. I was thinking of a nice and simple style, kinda cartoony (but not really), with some rich blacks and limited detail.
Of course, it didn't take very long for those plans to going flying out the window and for me to end up with work like this-
I can barely stand to look at this stuff. It is sooo not what I intended and there's some terrible work in there.
So the 24-hour Comic Day was a total bust. I basically came out of it with nothing usable. You can hear me talk in more depth about all of this in the upcoming third episode of The Gord & Jay Talk Art Podcast.

The experience DID strengthen my resolve to do this story and to do it well, though. So it's going to be back to the drawing board with a healthy dose of development before I even attempt another page of it again. So stay tuned for lots of character studies and such in the near future. As a taster/teaser, here's the old rendition of the character Wildling, now in colour!!!!

And while we're on the topic of comics, I thought I might list my Top 5 all-time favourite comics, as it's been a while since I've done something like this... so here they are:

1. Brute's & Babes: Mael's Rage. Just an awesome comic in every way.
2. Slaine: The Horned God. Has it all, really.
3. WildC.A.T.S v X-Men: The Golden Age. Painfully good.
4. Amazing Spider-Man #347. A great self-contained single issue.
5. Dota 2: The Secret Shop. Gods, I love it!

Good Journey (still going)

Oct 18, 2014

Podcasting and technical nightmares

It's been busy times here at RoF HQ lately. I've had the past week off from work (the last one until February, sob), so I've been hard at the drawing board getting projects complete and setting up the next ones.
But the big thing has been the recording, editing and release of the very first 'Gord and Jay Talk Art Podcast.' Gord and I have managed to spread ourselves all over the interwebosphere to promote the podcast. You'll be able to find us on Facebook, iTunes and a new blog specifically created for the podcast, and on that very blog you will find all of the pertinent links and information. So instead of me putting up all of the links here as well, why don't you pop on over to the blog right here.
This is Gord's design that we went with for our logo.
Awesome, isn't it?
So we're pretty pleased with how it came out. Granted, the audio isn't super crisp, and there's a delay on Gord's voice that I couldn't work out how to fix. I think we've made a solid start. There's plenty of room for improvement of course, but that's all part of it.

Let me tell you, though, they don't make it easy, those nerdy folks. Trying to work out stuff like RSS feeds and how to get iTunes to acknowledge that feed nearly made my poor artists brain go flop-bot. Seriously, I'm not awful with technology, but I felt like a stubborn 90 year-old grandpa being forced to work out email for the first time with this stuff.
And the worst things is, I'm relatively certain I haven't done it right anyway. The first episode of the podcast IS on iTunes, but it doesn't seem to recognise it as a channel with future episodes to come. It looks like it is set up as just a once off. sigh...

So we're putting the call out to all techno-humans everywhere that may know their way around this sort of thing. We (really just me) need your help! We need somebody who can get all of this stuff sorted and make it run smoothly. We'll give you a fancy 'technical director' title and praise your obvious superiority on the podcast too.

If you're interested in lending a hand, just let us know through the FB page. And thanks in advance!

So I have a few other things on the go at the moment that I'll make individual posts about, including one on the recent 24-hour comic day (what a disaster!) and a long life-drawing session I recently attended (not such a disaster), so I'll be back soon with more stuff to show very soon.

Good journey! (yep, still on that He-Man kick...)

Oct 7, 2014

How He-Man made me 'me'

I'm going through a bit of a He-Man kick at the moment, of which I do so about once every 10 years.
I don't know how it happens, it just sort of clicks and then I'm obsessed with it all over again. It usually lasts about 3 months, then I'll move onto the next re-discovered obsession.
But for the moment, it's all about He-Man, Skeletor, Stratos and my personal favourite character, that aquatic fiend Mer-Man!
Some of my very earliest memories, and certainly some of my fondest ones, involve He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I was at the perfect age and definitely the target audience for the He-Man toys and cartoons. And I happily obliged by gobbling up as much of the franchise as I possibly could.
I can vividly recall He-Man-themed birthday parties, running around the back garden with my brother, and fellow fan, Ryan, with plastic replica He-Man swords in hand. I can still see the toys aisle at the department store we used to go to and the lines of MOTU figures on display.
And those mornings when the cartoon was on. I can still almost feel the carpet beneath me as I sat in front of our huge old TV, with the twisty dial to go through the stations. There were a couple of Christmas' there that were pretty He-Man intensive. There's a few photos of our old living room after the tornado that was Ryan and I had torn through all of the presents. There's MOTU toys, wrapping paper and my brother striking an uncanny He-Man pose. I must try and find that photo.

I think that my most vivid He-Man memory, though, is the one where I recall getting Mer-Man and just loving how he smelled. Something about that particular figure made it smell different to the others. I can still remember sitting on the back seat of our car and looking at the Mer-Man figure, still in his packaging. That night, I put the figure of Mer-Man on my pillow with me and fell asleep quite the happy little lad.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was obviously a big part of my formative years. I believe that its early influence is still evident in me to this very day. Granted, I'm still a fan, so it affects me aesthetically in that respect, but I think it has deeper roots too.
As fans of the Filmation original cartoon will know, the episodes ended with a character essentially summing up the moral of the story of each episode in an outrageously overt manner. Sure, it was corny, but one wonders how much of my own moral code is based on those little monologues?
My parents managed to instill in my two brothers and I a good grounding in morality. We weren't religious at all, but somehow we grew up knowing the difference between right and wrong (the shock and horror!). But I'd say that, at an impressionable age, what kid wouldn't be influenced by He-Man's treatment of those around him, be it friend or foe?
I certainly was.

He-Manic morality aside, I think the biggest way that MOTU influenced my young and impressionable mind was through the themes and settings it contained. Masters of the Universe is essentially a sword & sorcery story. As proof, the two main combatants utilise both of these very things. He-Man, with his brute force, uses his SWORD in a variety of ways (as a weapon, a shield, a deflective devise and whatever other needs require it for.). Skeletor, that dastardly fellow, is pretty buff too, but he relies on his skills in SORCERY in battle.
Also, the setting for the original series is a land called Eternia. It is a place of wild and wondrous beauty, populated by a huge variety of beings and creatures. Essentially, it's a fantasy setting, much like Middle Earth, or Narnia for that matter.
These settings and these sorts of beings are still very much the type of thing I am still drawn too... and like to draw! In fact, I would go as far to say that the reason I am a fan of fantasy things is because of MOTU. It's possibly also the reason I tend to dislike Science Fiction, but that's the subject for another post, methinks.

So, couple together the fond memories, the moral compass and the aesthetic appeal, and you get a strong connection to the subject at hand. That's why I still have lots of the action figures, the original theme song as my ringtone, a healthy stack of comics, DVD's and books and a big chunk of my head and heart for it. I, in some way, am a product of that world.

I'd love to do a whole series of illustrations depicting the MOTU characters; but for now, this is all I have time for...

Back soon, by the power of Grayskull...