Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Books with my art!

Hey all, just wanted to remind everyone that Spectrum 18 is finally out! In it you will find a nice full-page treatment of my "Wizard Alley" piece on page 268 (As well as nearly 300 pages of other incredible artists in the fantasy and Sci-fi genre)! Woohoo! You can buy it here on amazon:

Also, while I was at IlluXcon, I ran into awesome artist Jim Pavelec, who gave me my complimentary copies of his new book "Hymns and Wretched Offerings to the Golden Ones", which features 3 pencil drawings of mine. It's an amazingly beautiful book, and well worth buying, though you should hurry because there are a limited number of editions as I understand it. You can get it one of two ways, either from Amazon:

That is all. More sketch pages coming soon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sketch Catch-up. Part 01

Been too long since last I posted sketches from the sketch book, so here is the first of 2 posts to catch up! Also, thinking about how I want to design and arrange a printed "sketchbook" that I am going to make to sell at cons and stuff... it was very obvious from IlluXcon this year that I shoudl have had one already!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In The Valley of Glencoe

This is a watercolor/pen and ink piece I did for my wife's friend Olivia for her wedding present. We attended the wedding which was in Edinburgh, Scotland, back in April. The piece was created from a combination of sketches and photographs I took on site.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The BoneDoctor

New piece I am working on for my book. He is called "The BoneDoctor"

Also, I recieved some good news when I was out at San Diego Comic-Con a couple weeks ago: my "Wizards in the Alley" piece is getting a FULL PAGE in Spectrum 18 this year!!! WOOHOO!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gateway Journal Day 07: The Mechanized Market

Just across the Great Canal is the neighborhood known as Watertown, so named because it is surrounded on all sides by water. Here there are also many canals and waterways, but it is a bit more working-class and industrial than Canal-City. There are numerous warehouses and small factories of various sorts and the waters a little more polluted. Today I ventured there by water taxi to see something I read about in a guidebook.

In the center of Watertown is a small but well-known market called "The Mechanized Market". It is found in a wide, but fairly dank and lightless alley that stretches about half a mile. Here, there are no merchants standing behind stalls or in tents, calling out to you to buy their wares. Nope, here all the selling is done by machines... vending machines of a sort. And everything is for sale, and I do mean everything.

The market got its start a long time ago during a period of uncommon prosperity. Merchants found themselves with an overflow of stock, and often could not sell many items because they did not have room to display them. So an enterprising young merchant named Kilao built a machine that would sell his overflow stock (usually shoes and umbrellas) for him. Customers put a coin in a slot, turned a knob, and out popped the desired merchandise. He called it a "Personless Merchant". He chose a well-travelled alleyway that saw a lot of daily foot-traffic and soon it became a great success.

Other merchants took notice and followed suit with their own machines, all of varying designs, and all custom-built to sell specific items: toys, flowers, live animals, dead animals, animal skulls, music-boxes, spectacles, newspapers, postcards, snacks, wigs, clothing of all types, alcoholic beverages, glass eyes, vegetables, spices, magical trinkets, wands, baubles, fabric, daggers, maps, watches, raw meat, and even small boats!

According to some locals, there was once a vending machine that sold corpses of recently deceased folk who made no arrangements for their interment. This machine had appeared very suddenly overnight and was the subject of much scandal and shock. The owner, a secretive mortician from Tower City named Cornelius Crane, defended his machine, noting that there were many legitimate uses for fresh corpses. But the city council saw the matter differently, and ordered the machine removed, which also began a new era of regulation and taxation on the machines.

Today, the alleyway is still busy with activity, but perhaps not as much as in its heyday. There is still an impressive variety of "Personless Merchants" here today, but one also notes the many long-unused machines, or some which are in serious disrepair, barely working and often guilty of stealing coin or vending expired merchandise.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gateway Journal Day 06: Nightfishing

So, after my ordeal the other night, I had to spend today talking to an overworked detective in the local Citywatch Station. Lately, there apparantly have been increased incidents of some sort of underground anarchy group that is tagging walls and knocking over streetlamps and such throughout the city.

The sense I get is that in many other neighborhoods people just deal with it and get on with their lives, but around here, in Canal City, folks tend to get a little more upset about this stuff disturbing their little paradise. I guess I don't blame them, but at the same time, it seems like a lot of real crime (like getting mugged at blunderbuss-point) gets overshadowed by Mrs. Klenderring's overturned flowerpots..... which may or may not even have anything to do with these so-called anarchists.

So my day was pretty much shot. When the sun was going down, I went in search of something that I could draw at night, braving the evening hours despite my ordeal from the night before..... can't live in constant fear... besides, now I am armed.

Anyways, I lucked out because last night, many of the canals in the neighborhood were lit up with thousands of lanterns of the Nightfishermen. Nightfishing is a long-held tradition here in Gateway, and on certain nights of the month (I think the moon cycle has something to do with which nights are the best) people travel from all over the city to go to the most popular spots... some of the best are here in Canal City.

It is so ingrained into the folklore and history of Gateway, that several little religions and cults have sprung up around the tradition, and often predictions about the future are made based on what kinds of fish are caught, how many are caught, and how big the fish are....

There were so many boats packed into the main canals, it was hard to find a good subject to focus on, so I wandered the lesser-traveled canals and found a small boat that really epitomized the bizarre and somewhat humorous nature of this tradition. I asked another onlooker if he knew anything about this particular boat. He said he thinks the leader of this particular Nightfishing cult believes that it is his destiny to one day catch a giant squid in the canals, something that has been rumored to have occurred once in the History of Gateway, over 300 years ago. The day after it was caught, an enormous tidal wave crashed into the city and wiped out entire neighborhoods. I suppose this particular Nightfisherman draws some sort of connection between the two events.

This night, thankfully, no giant squid was caught.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gateway Journal Day 05: MUGGED!

I've never been mugged in my life before, until last night...and I have lived in places far more crime-ridden than this part of Gateway.

I was walking back from the Tilted Table, the sun was going down and I got a little lost, which is fine because usually that's how you find interesting stuff... besides, I wasn't in a hurry. Anyways, I happened upon the coolest little garden wedged between two rowhouses... it had this amazingly ornate little gate and there was a bench, so I decided to step inside, have a seat and look over my map of Canal City.

As I am sitting there, I hear this voice behind me: "That's my bench yer sittin on there."

I jumped up and turned around to face a hooded, hunched over figure who had four arms (a Trevian I think they are called), and two of them had guns in them, pointed at me. Needless to say I gave the Trevian whatever he wanted.... which was money. I was given a daily stipend by my benefactor which I can pick up at any one of a local chain of banks whenever I choose.... lucky for this gentleman I had just picked up a few days worth of my allowance that very afternoon.

He also wanted to look through my bag, in case I was holding out on him. I had a bottle of sap-n-citrus water (a popular beverage here), he took that, then he discovered my sketch-journal. He flipped through it, complimented me on my skilled hand, then pummelled me over the head with the butt of his gun. Nice fellow.

A little girl and her mother who live in one of the houses next to the park found me when I woke up. They graciously took me into their home, tended to my wounds, and offered me a meal and a place to stay for the night, since clearly it wasn't safe for me to wander around these parts in the dark.

I was glad to find that the mugger did not take anything other than the money and the drink.

So today, I bought myself some protection. I decided that since I would probably find myself in worse neighborhoods than this one throughout my travels, it probably makes sense to have a little insurance policy along with me. People here in Gateway seem to carry weapons around with seemingly little scandal (though some public locations and businesses prohibit them): swords, daggers, and small blunderbusses like this one. This gun, which was previously owned, fires a single projectile with the aide of two leystones which propel the shot forward when the hammer falls and they strike each other. Of course, they don't always work, or the leystones can lose their juice, so this one came with a handy little bayonet to attach on the end

This is actually the first deadly weapon I have owned, so hopefully I won't have to use it, but maybe it will make me less of an obvious target. Good times.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reckoning concept art that I can finally show!

So, today there are a bunch of articles all over the 'net about the game I have been working on: "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning", like these:

Gamespot Article

G4 TV Article

Joystiq Article

RPGFan Article (Be sure to check out their extensive screenshots gallery too)

So, since some of the articles feature some of the concept art I did for the game, I figured I would show it on my blog! So, enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gateway Journal Day 04: Looking Inward

No Leystone for me today, instead I decided to hang out in a café due to the torrential rain.

Something I was told at the outset by my benefactor was to be sure to showcase the people of Gateway, and not just the architecture and the details. So I decided to sketch some of the patrons at the Tilted Table Café, where I am told the pastries are top-notch.

As I have said before, Gateway is full of people of all shapes and sizes, but there are definitely some types of people that you see more of than others, at least as far as I can tell having only seen the Canal City section of Gateway so far.

Humans are very common and are everywhere, with the same range of diversity that you might expect to see in a typical major city.

Next are the Torrans and Argethians.

Torrans are a very solid, stocky people with massive square heads, large hands and kindly facial features. They tend to range anywhere from 7 to 9 feet tall and have little or no hair on their heads. They have been described to me as spiritual folk, who are generally good-humored and come from a mountainous land where they lead simple, almost monastic lives worshipping nature and tending to well-manicured gardens. Here in Gateway, they seem to live pretty much like everyone else and are held in high regard for their mental and physical healing skills. The one exception to this is the Argethians, some of whom apparently regard the Torrans with some amount of suspicion, which has been known to cause “issues” in certain neighborhoods. I think it goes back to an old, bitter war from some time ago.... same old story, I guess, no matter where you go.

Argethians are a close cousin of humans , except they have skull-like noses, pallid, grayish skin, very small ears, and generally tend to look, well, OLD. Not to say that an Argethian can’t be healthy and fit in their youth like anyone else, the gentleman I sat near in the café looked like he was quite capable of beating me to a pulp. But an Argethian’s skin is tight to the bones in the face and somewhat wrinkled. Szerta, the woman who owns the pension I am staying in, is an Argethian. She tells me they look the way they do because of a curse placed on their people long ago by a God who was jealous of their beauty, but she sort of laughed it off as an old legend.

The Salorans, or fish-folk as they are known, are less common, but by no means a rare sight in Gateway. They tend to be more magically attuned than your average citizen and can vary quite wildly in size, shape and color, just like regular fish. I am told there is a Saloran who is as big as a city block here in Gateway. Apparently, as Salorans grow older and wiser they become more fish-like, losing their humanish legs and arms in favor of fins and fish tails and eventually returning to the Sea, if they live long enough. As such, Salorans can be quite old, I have heard they have been known to live over 500 years.

By no means is this the extent of the range of peoples of Gateway. There are folk who have 4 arms, some who are half-man, half-bird, some with floating heads or limbs, and still others with crab claws for hands.

Speaking of crab claws, one thing I have noticed is that a lot of stuff in Gateway seems to make reference to the Sea and creatures from it, which I suppose makes sense since Gateway is located on several major bodies of water. To illustrate what I mean: my coffee mug was adorned with sea shells and a sea serpent of some sort, and my snack was a squid-biscuit sandwich with lemon jelly. I know what you are saying, but actually it wasn’t bad! If you ever find yourself at the Tilted Table Café in Gateway’s Canal City, I recommend you try one!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gateway Journal Day 03: Gondolas A-Plenty

Quick journal entry today. Decided to draw a variety of the gondolas that one sees in the waterways of Gateway's Canal City... I was just struck by the variety and elegance of them.

Many of them are "taxis" essentially, ferrying folks from one place to another for a modest sum, but others were personal vehicles or delivery vehicles. The personal vehicles tended to be a little more lavish, or festooned with designs and lanterns. I had fun trying to catch glimpses of the eccentric characters that rode in these as they zipped past me on my perch.

So, a little info about propulsion: Gateway is a very magical city, but not always in the way you would expect. Magic has become very common, ever since the invention of Leystones, often referred to as "stones". They are essentially crystals or gems infused with magical energy that can then be, for a lack of a better term, "programmed" to do different things.

Easily 80 - 90% of the watercraft I have seen thus far utilize Leystones as their primary mode of power, though they often vary in the exact way they are employed. Some are mounted on poles that the gondola steersman puts into the water and uses to steer. Others are mounted on the rear of the craft and essentially push them forward. Apparantly there are varying arguments as to which method is the most efficient or proper... I will stay out of it for my part.

As you will hopefully see in my journals in the coming months, these stones are used everywhere, for many things.... and people usually walk around with them either hanging on a chain around their neck, or floating just above their head (they have become something of a fashion accessory too, given that you can purchase a variety of styles and shapes of Leystones).

They are also used as power sources for massive "machines" or "Constructs", as they call them. For instance, the trains here in Gateway use massive leystones to hurdle from one end of the city to the other.

There are people who don't use them, either out of stubbornness, or because they feel they are a waste of money (Leystones apparantly have lately become subject to serious inflation, there are certain manufacturers of Leystones that are favored by Gateway's ruling council, making it increasingly difficult for the "mom and pop" Leystone maker to compete with rising costs).

Anyways, I think I am going to buy one tomorrow and see what things are possible... I am a little apprehensive about it, but I will be sure to get some instruction first before I accidentally turn someone into a wombat or something.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Street Scene with Bird Fail WIP 02

I posted the sketch and the first WIP of this piece a while back, but now I am back on the train and ready to put the finishing touches on this one, although I think there is still alot left to do.

I have struggled with this one a bit more than usual because I have been working from a loose drawing as my base. usually, I like the drawings for more finished pieces to be a lot tighter and more detailed before I start the color, generally because I rely on the drawing to help with texture and detail. But with this one, I am actually painting over much of the drawing because it was very loose.... soooo, we'll see how it turns out, I am a bit nervous.

And yes, this is a streetscene in Gateway, but you will have to wait for the appropriate journal entry to find out any more.

Check it out, Andrej Dugin and his wife Olga Dugina (amazing illustrators) have a website! http://www.duginart.com/

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gateway Journal Day 02 Part 2: Exploring Canal City

Today I explored the neighborhood around my lodgings. I am in "Canal City", which, as its name unmysteriously implies, is criss-crossed with many canals and waterways.

All of the boroughs of Gateway have simple names, like Canal City, Harbortown, Fishtown, etc., a system devised after "The Unification"... Apparently Gateway used to be a conglomeration of several smaller cities a few centuries ago, each of which had their own governments and were constantly at war with one another. Occasionally, someone will use the "old" names for places (adding to my confusion), but for the sake of this book, I am going to stick to the simplified naming system...call me a tourist.

The Canals vary in size and usage, and all manner of boat and ship can be seen on them. Obviously, the wider avenues are used by small cargo ships and touring boats, while the narrower ones are mostly local traffic. In some places there are pipes which dump what appears to be sewage or waste water of some sort into the alleys, which dulls the charm, but i've seen worse.... Of course, this is a more residential area, we will see what the industrial sections yield.

Overall, though, the effect is a pleasant one, the area around where I was sketching the first image was fairly quiet, a few people going about their business. Every now and then a head will pop out of a random window and look around, or call down to a wayward pet, or the sounds of playing children or arguing merchants will echo through the narrow alleys. The seductive smell of corner bakeries meets you around every turn, and I have to admit I found 2 of them to be absolutely unavoidable. I don't know what I ate in the second one, but it was delicious.

From what I have read, Canal City encompasses some of the oldest sections of Gateway, which is very clear when you observe the various architectural styles as well as the sense of newer structures stacked on top of the foundations of older structures. The elevated train lines are later additions that in many cases had to be built right up against or even through existing buildings, which I imagine is somewhat of an annoyance to those who live in said buildings.

However, I get the sense that almost no amount of annoyance can drive away residents around here, this is likely some of the most coveted real estate around, and I imagine most residents represent several generations worth of ownership.

More Canal City drawings tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Interview on CGTantra.com

The fine folks at CGTantra.com (a CG website based in India) have posted an interview they did with Yours Truly. I will be one of the judges in their upcoming CG art competition: ArttWar 5. Thanks to everyone at CGTantra!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gateway Journal Day 02: The View From Here

So, before I went to bed last night, I decided to sketch the view from my window in the pension. I think it's a pretty good snapshot of the typical Gateway skyline, at least as far as I can tell thus far.

The pension is at the end of a short little dead end street, just off of a major thoroughfare with lots of shops and cafes.... There are also a few shops on this street as well, including a barber shop and, conveniently, a hat store... In case the haircut isn't so good.

So far, Gateway seems to be the bustling beacon of commerce and diversity it is reputed to be. Obviously, I have only scratched the surface, and my guess is that in the year to come, I will see many sides of this city, including its darker corners... a fact I suspect my benefactor is well aware of as he has requested that I move around and try to stay in each of the major neighborhoods of Gateway during the course of my visit here. As far as I can tell, there is no agenda on his part other than bringing images and stories of Gateway to the people of our world. Then again, everyone has an agenda, don't they?

In the distance, you can see some of the spires of Tower City, the next borough over. Most of those towers are the homes and workshops of the world's most powerful sorcerers and alchemists, or renowned schools for magical arts. They don't all appear to be occupied though, which seems odd, especially for a city as full of magic as this. I plan on visiting there for sure, but my path will lead me in another direction tomorrow.

After breakfast, I am planning on heading towards one of Gateway's many canals. The closest one to where I am is about 5 blocks, and is a major thoroughfare, so I am hoping to see some interesting boats, etc. You can never go wrong with a lovely shot of a canal.

My morning meal was prepared and served to me by the humorless Szerta, pictured here. I was able to convince her to stand still for 2 minutes so that I could sketch her. She claims she was smiling too. Don't ask me what was in the bowl, it's on my plate too.... I am trying not to look at it. She tells me it's a fruit, and quite delicious, but I have my doubts. She must have known where I was from, though, because the rest of the food seemed fairly conventional: peppery fried eggs, toasted bread with powdered sugar, black pudding, and a very sweet and smoky sausage...not too shabby.

Maybe I can muster up enough courage to try the "fruit", since I am going to have to try new stuff anyways.... Gateway has a greater variety of foods than anywhere else in the worlds, so I need to summon an adventurous pallette to participate in the whole experience. Well, wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gateway Journal Entry - Day 01 : It's the Little Things

A drawing of a lamp. Hardly seems like an exciting way to start off my travel journal of Gateway, but when I saw it, it seemed oddly appropriate.

I guess it's because so many things in this city are more than "just a lamp", like they often are back home. The uncommon is common here in Gateway, a city that teems with creatures and beings and people from an unknowable variety of places.

This lamp is in the lobby of the pension that I checked in to this morning after a very long and "tricky" journey here. The old lady who runs the place, her name is Szerta I think, tells me her grandfather bought it from a travelling junk salesman in the Nathru-Val. She says they used to be very trendy a couple of centuries ago…. I don't know if you can see it in my drawing, but when you turn the light on, a bit of smoke comes out of the cigar on the little face in the middle… there were, apparently, a variety of lamps like this that had little smoking faces…. I guess it's no weirder than the wall-mounted singing fish that were popular back home several years ago…

It's just one of the many bizarrely intricate and fascinating things that I seem to be finding around every corner here. I consider myself very lucky to have been given this opportunity to come to Gateway and draw what I see.

My mysterious benefactor/client has made sure I have enough time, money, supplies, and resources to really dive deep into life in Gateway, and record it for curious types back home. Although I have planned to be here for about a year, I can see how it would really take a lifetime to truly explore this unbelievably vast and intricate city, maybe two lifetimes.

So, I am going to unpack, study some street maps (no easy task, I assure you) and plan my route for tomorrow. I will try to post these as often as possible, but, as you can imagine, it's tricky getting information back and forth. Wish me luck!

A falconer-monk, and some domed monasteries....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"The Offering" Framed!

So, the great Gregg Spatz, fantasy art collector extraordinaire, sent me this image of "The Offering", a piece that he commissioned me to make, in its shiny new frame... and I DO MEAN SHINY: according to Gregg, this frame actually has STERLING silver in it, and was "damned expensive"! Wow, how about that!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Horizontal Format Sketching

Doing more sketches in a horizontal / film-aspect ratio format. I noticed that I almost always impulsively start my work / sketches with a very similar vertical rectangle. I think making some of my pieces look like little scenes from a (for now) non-existent film is kind of a neat idea. What do you think?

I am also going to be concentrating a lot more on environments as the main subject matters of my pieces, with figures occupying the space and providing a frame of reference instead of being the main focus.

Thanks for checking them out!