Friday, August 28, 2015

Come Learn How to Create Compelling Worlds at the OneFantasticWeekend Workshop

Imagine you had a job where you not only had to come up with ideas for stuff, but you had to come up with GREAT ideas on nearly a daily basis in order to keep your job. That is the job of a concept artist and oftentimes an illustrator. Doesn't sound easy does it?

Now imagine that instead of working for someone else, you worked for yourself? Not only do your ideas have to be great, they have to be THE BEST and they have to be UNIQUE.

But how do you learn to develop ideas? Let's say you can paint circles around everyone in your field - that's great! You can sell an idea like nobody's business and that's a big leg up.

But if your ideas are the same tired tropes everyone has seen a million times, then it may not matter how shiny your image is - the next person down the line that has a better or more unique idea may win out, despite not being able to paint as well as you do.

I see a lot of tutorials online about how to paint and draw, but rarely do I see tutorials on idea development or world-building in general. But I do believe it is a skill that can be taught, or at least coaxed out of the willing by giving students tools that are unique to creating compelling concepts.

But before you set pen or pencil to paper to come up with great ideas, the most important thing is attaining a certain MINDSET that allows your creativity to flourish, to allow the ideas to find you, rather than you having to struggle to manifest them out of thin air.

I have taught these principles at colleges and in my own online tutorials, and now I will be doing it again at One Fantastic Weekend, a workshop for artists and illustrators that will focus on aspects of the job beyond just the technical ability to render a scene. At the workshop, I will work closely with the students to help each of them look within to find the ultimate source of inspiration for their visual worlds.

Throughout 4-day course, I will introduce students to methods for developing, iterating and refining ideas, making them better, and making them YOURS by applying my 6 "Mantras" of World-building, the first of which I will share with you here:

"In order to create compelling worlds, you must have a passion for your own"

Sign-up for the workshop ends on September 21st, so there isn't much time left! If you want to learn more about world-building, concept art and the business and life of being an illustrator or creative professional, then you should come to our workshop. It promises to be a unique experience unlike any other art-related workshop out there.

For more information, visit:

And if you are still on the fence, here are testimonials from just a few of my former world-building students:

"I gotta say, one of my favorite things I took from the course are the mantras. The mantras are my constant reminder for keeping a fresh mind during the creation process. World-Building can be as fun as you dare make it to be. And Sean's course provided valuable philosophies and techniques that I will forever apply in my art."

- Ritchie Ramirez, Fall Seminar Student

"Sean Murray's course is full of inspiring and challenging assignments. He really encouraged me to dig deeply for solutions to creative problems, rather than going with the first sketch or first impression."
- Paige Carpenter, Fall Seminar Student

"Sean Murray's World-building for Illustrators and Concept Artists is an excellent course. The assignments and feedback helped me get a grasp on many of the different elements of the world I was creating, while at the same time allowing me to make some interesting work for my portfolio. It's pretty much a must-take course if you're into worldbuilding, and even if you're not there's still a ton to learn. And it's been the most fun course I've taken yet!"

- Eva Toker, Fall Seminar Student -

See you at the workshop!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Book of Wizards is available for purchase!

At long last, my personal project, funded by Kickstarter, entitled "Gateway - The Book of Wizards" has been completed and printed, and is available for purchase on my etsy page:

It features over 70 illustrations and is 126 pages long. It details the lives and exploits of some of the most famous and infamous wizards of The Great City of Gateway, and their connection to the underground movement to over-throw Chancellor Gideon and his Inquisitors, who have outlawed magic within the city.

I wrote and illustrated the entire book, and this book will be the first of hopefully many future Gateway projects.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sketchbook - The Reckoning

I started a new sketchbook this year - I am going with the smaller "moleskine" sketchbook with the thick paper.

I had a bunch of these lying around from back when I worked at Big Huge Games/38 Studios. To commemorate the launch of "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning" they had moleskines printed up for with the Reckoning "swirl" pattern on it that I designed.... everyone at 38 Studios / Big Huge Games got one but they had a bunch of extras so when the company went belly-up I grabbed a few more.

Thing was, I really didn't like working on the moleskine back then, I was still into my larger, 9x12, ring-bound Canson sketchbooks. My hesitation was the smaller surface area, but I decided to force myself to try it for more than one page because the issue with the larger sketchbook is the portability and awkwardness of it. I want to be able to have my sketchbook with me ALWAYS (A.B.Y.S.S. - "Always Bring Your Sketchbook, Stupid").

Another thing I did to realize this goal was I used velcro to be able to attach my pencil, my erasers, and my iPhone. I can even stick a kneaded eraser onto the velcro.

Anyways, I think it's working out - I find myself sketching in my sketchbook way more than I used to and I really like the sketches I have been doing.

Doing this also made me realize that we can be stubborn sometimes as artists. We get used to working a certain way, with certain materials, but the truth is if you just give something a chance, let it run it's course instead of instantly saying: "I don't like this, it doesn't feel like I expect it to", you may find that you can adapt to a new way of working and solve other issues that the old way was holding you back from. 

Eventually, these sketches will be included in my second volume of a published collection of sketches. In the meantime, you can purchase my FIRST collection of sketches here, on my Etsy site:


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Commorus Rex - Grand Levitator

Hey everyone, here is the final version of Commorus Rex - Grand Levitator. Another piece for Gateway: The Book of Wizards.

Hope you like it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Some life-drawing stuff

Here are a few examples of some recent life-drawing I have been doing in my sketchbook. 2 Sketches of guys in costume from my trip to Montreal, a sketch of an old car at a British Car Show in Woodstock, NY, and a sketch of musicians at the Celtic Sessions Night at Elephant Tapas Bar in Kingston, NY.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My New Online Seminar - Helping Artists Become Better World Builders

Yesterday, I announced that I will be offering a 6-Week Online Seminar this Fall on the subject matter of World-Building for Artists (or anyone frankly, but the focus is on visual world-building and design).

The focus of the class is on developing great ideas that are unique to your personality and your individual creativity through the power of visual design. I believe I can help anyone who takes this course create new fantasy worlds that have never been seen before.

Check out the blog and let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Precarious City sketch

Just playing with visualizing different parts of Gateway... here, architects and engineers tempt the fates in order to accommodate the extremely rugged terrain.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lord Sebulus the "Head" Wizard

In an attempt to immortalize himself, Sebulus the Grandiose transferred his soul and his magical powers into a giant carven stone head. He didn't count on the fact that his former natural body was the very means by which to draw magical energy from the aether, and therefore turned himself into a waning battery of magical energy. His powers can and are only replenished now through payment, or generosity, and he is quickly running dry on both. His few remaining loyal servants are only loyal to the point of a better paying job coming along.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Book of Wizards piece: "Bethan Chandary and Her Amazing Acrobatic Fish"

Bethan Chandary was the consummate performer, delivering a nightly street show full of spectacle and wonderment - and in a city such as Gateway where anything can happen around any street corner, and which has (or at least had) the highest population of Magic-users per capita, that's saying a  lot.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quick Sketchbook Page!

Hey all, just a quick sketchbook page scan. I am going to start posting more of these going forward.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ambassador Grexander Quann

Quann was a regular visitor to Gateway, and a welcome friend to many, but his visits required a good deal of preparation, planned routes, and a constant escort, to ensure his safety, and the safety of others.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spectrum Live Preparation!

Hey everyone! So, I'm working hard to make sure I am prepared for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live next week!

I've got my banners, business cards, Gateway poster and postcards, the sketchbook, and a majority of the prints printed and ready to go. The only things left are to sign all the prints, put them in bags with backing board, and ship the boxes of the sketchbooks out to KC... but I still feel like I am going to forget something. 

I am so excited for SFAL... what a once-in-a-lifetime chance to rub elbows with some of my heroes of illustration! I am totally geeking out.... check out this list of exhibitors!  

Saturday Night is the Awards Ceremony where the Gold and Silver Spectrum winners will be announced, of which I am ONE! Whoa! My piece, "He's Gone Full Bird" was nominated for a Gold or Silver Award in the editorial category! Also, the piece "The Gravemaster" was chosen for inclusion in Spectrum 20 in the Unpublished category.

My booth is #314, behind Charles Vess (!!!!!!), so please come out and see me! It's going to be a hoot!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

From Fishwizard Press - Sketchbook Collection Volume 01 available for purchase now!

Hello! At long last, the first book published as a result of my Kickstarter campaign from last May is printed and available for purchase on my Etsy Shop!

If you would like a copy, just follow THIS LINK, or click on the Etsy shop widget on the right! You will also find art prints available there as well.

Thanks for all your support!


Also, be sure to sign up for updates from Fishwizard Press on the Fishwizard Press blog.... the "publisher" of all of my art books (it's basically just me.... haha).

Monday, April 22, 2013

A School of Fishwizards

I have heard the cries of the public: "MORE FISHWIZARDS!!!", and I have answered their clarion call. Behold:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Illiandar The Mage Tree

Illiandar is famous for being the final resting place of more wizards than any other in recorded history. Trees are a favorite spot for Wizards in their final hours since the trees absorb and often manifest their powers. Illiandar, named for the first wizard who died beneath its boughs, is very powerful and sought out for its power and wisdom.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mr. Grimly and His Race Crew

Gonna keep the details minimal on this one, but let's just say: Wizards + Steam Engines + Racing

Hope you like it!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Updates: Sketchbook off to print and Spectrum Nomination!

OK, got a couple of things to update you guys on.


In case you haven't been following my Kickstarter, one of the stretch goals was to print a collection of my sketchbook sketches in book form. Said book is now in the process of being printed and should be available in about a month, and will also be available at the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2 convention (May 17 - 19 in Kansas City).

I will also find a way to make the book available for purchase by anyone who missed the Kickstarter and wants to have their own copy. Here is a peek at the cover of the book:

The other news is: I was nominated for a Gold or Silver Award for the editorial category in Spectrum 20! It is an amazing honor and is the first time I have been nominated (Though Spectrum only started publicly announcing nominations last year with the kick-off of the first Spectrum Live). I'm up against some very tough competition in my category, all the pieces are amazing. It's also an honor to be included amongst this list of artists I admire greatly. Thanks goes to all the judges (Tim Bruckner, Irene Gallo, Tim Kirk, Mark A. Nelson, and Michael Whelan) for their hard work this year!

Here is the video of the nominations, and below is the full list, and below that is the piece that was nominated, which was used in an article about Kickstarter projects in ImagineFX Magazine..

Here's the list of Nominations from Spectrum's website:

  • Craig Elliott: Forest Awakening
  • Michael C. Hayes: Procession
  • Android Jones: Ganeshatron
  • Greg Ruth: Three Outlaw Samurai
  • Dan Dos Santos: Dragon Empress
  • Brom: Wipi
  • William O'Connor: Wargriffin
  • David Palumbo: Fed
  • Shaun Tan: Never Leave a Red Sock on the Clothesline
  • Charles Vess: Tanglewood: I Didn't Know She Was a Bottle Witch
  • Jennifer L. Meyer: Aesop's Ark, Ch. 2, P2
  • David Petersen: Mouse Guard Black Axe #4, Page 19
  • Paolo Rivera: Daredevil #10
  • Paolo Rivera: Captain America #1
  • João Ruas: Fables #121
  • Daniel Dociu: Guild Wars 2, Norn Lodge
  • Theo Prins: Southsun Cove
  • Paul Sullivan: Franken-animal
  • Justin Sweet: Marauders 2
  • Allen Willams: Tree of Tales
  • Dan Chudzinski: Turbulence
  • David Meng: Sashimi
  • Virginie Ropars: Mothra
  • Virginie Ropars: Acanthopis III
  • Katya Tal: Blanket Fairy
  • Sam Bosma: Stability
  • Chris Buzelli: Book Monster
  • Sean Andrew Murray: He's Gone Full-Bird  (That's me!!)
  • Victo Ngai: Best of the Best
  • Sam Weber: Cancer Monster
  • Ed Binkley: A Cob of Chiseldon-Brimble
  • Lucas Graciano: Dragon Swarm
  • Tyler Jacobson: Ruric Thar, The Unbowed
  • Kekai Kotaki: Stampede
  • David Palumbo: Taken

  • Cory Godbey: The Fish Master
  • Lucas Graciano: Guardianship
  • Kekai Kotaki: Ride
  • Andrew Mar: Tell-Tale Heart
  • Tohru Patrick Awa: Sudden Shower

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ramus of the Red Templars

New piece for the Book of Wizards depicting Ramus, the leader of the wizard gang called the "Red Templars". Hope you like it!

Also, I have set up a blog that will be the place to go for information about the books I am publishing. There isn't much there now, but you can sign up for e-mail updates so that you can find out when the various books are out and ready for purchase. Find that here:

On that front, the Sketchbook (Sean Andrew Murray Sketchbook Collection Volume 01) is designed and ready for print, I am just waiting on the printer to let me know they have the files and everything is a go. I will send another update when that happens.

Thanks all!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Book of Wizards: Mistress Ocheka the Ash Summoner

Check out the latest Book of Wizards piece, Mistress Ocheka. Be sure to get the book when it comes out to find out what the heck is going on here!!!! :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Wizard: Oona - the Witchmasker

Here's a new piece I just finished for the Book of Wizards. I will tell you one tidbit about this guy: what you think is just a mask, is his ACTUAL HEAD!!!!! WHAT?!? His original head, which was removed ritualistically in order to become a more powerful Witchmasker, is hanging from his belt. Deal with it. :)