On the Mat

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Mar 142012
 

So GP Seattle-Tacoma was a lot of fun. REALLY busy, though. There was very little time to just hang out chatting as the line never shrank until the last few hours on Sunday.

As well as the playmats produced for tournament prizes, people requesting sketches on their own mats has become the big thing at recent shows. Playmats have been around for ages so I’m not sure why this has suddenly become so popular but I suspect the new mats with their smooth surface that takes drawings much better has encouraged this. Just a hunch.

I lost count of how many sketches I did. Some were certainly better than others – that’s always the case – but hopefully everyone was happy with their pics. These shows can become a blur and I often worry about getting too punchy and producing crappy scrawls.

One of the most bizarre pieces done was a hodge-podge Phyrexian that came about from an impromptu jam. I had drawn the upper portion of a Phyrexian warrior but had to call it at a certain spot when I had run out of time. Later the mat’s owner brought back the mat to show me that rkpost had added a lower torso and thighs to the creature (apparently he hates to see things unfinished) and then he thought he’d leave the legs for Mark Tedin. Franz Vohwinkel was last to get his hands on the mat and managed to bolt on a rather natty mini gun – with requisite ammo belt – to the Phyrexian’s free arm.

Here’s the crazy jam for you to enjoy –

Jam mat drawing featuring Venters, Post, Tedin and Vohwinkel

After the show, Mark and I were talking about doing this again and seeing what craziness happens. Only time will tell…

Finally, here’s a look at the finished Phyrexian Dreadnought playmat with all the noodly rendering completed.

Phyrexian Dreadnought mat finished

Mar 022012
 

One of the latest things happening at Magic tournaments, especially the new slew of Grand Prix events, is the attending artists producing playmat sketches for tourney prizes.

A lot of times these are done on the day – they are, after all, just a really big sketch – but I decided to have a shot at my mat before getting to the show…

So, if you’re going to Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma, you could win this Phyrexian Dreadnought playmat:

Phyrexian Dreadnought mat prize for GP Seattle

The Magic card is included for scale! This wide mat also gives me a chance to try out the larger image window on the blog’s new format. Mmm, roomy.

The mat’s about eighty to ninety percent done at this point. I’m sure it’ll be on show with the other artists’ mats during Saturday and possibly a portion of Sunday. Considering rkpost and Mark Tedin are attending, I think it’s fair to say there’ll be some damn nice looking mats to win.

Don’t miss out. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Event Alert: Grand Prix Seattle / Tacoma

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Feb 282012
 

I’ll be attending Grand Prix Seattle / Tacoma this coming weekend. I should be there Saturday and Sunday from about noon onwards (I-5 traffic allowing).

Come along for all manner of signing, sketching and shenanigans.

Click this link or the image for event info and location.

Jan 302012
 

Man, it’s been two and a half months since I posted here? What’s that, twenty years in internet time?

So, I’m still around, still working the freelancing gig, still keeping an eye out for new work (who isn’t?). The last few months have been filled with seasonal holiday shenanigans, training in ZBrush, swearing at Painter, occasionally dealing with a flooding basement, and trying to deal with a backlog of card signing requests. Y’know, the usual.

So, here’s a quick sketch I did one evening after returning from the upstairs room I call my studio to find my wife watching one of her perennial comfort movies, Beetlejuice…

And when I say quick sketch, I really mean quick. This took four minutes.

Beetlejuice 4 minute sketch

Those of you who’ve seen me sketching at shows, are probably not surprised by that. Attendees who want a free sketch get what I call my “thirty second goblin” which is a goblin head-shot that takes 30 seconds when I’m really in the zone, 50 the rest of the time.

Anyway, I decided I needed to do a better bio-exorcist pic, so here’s a color version I whipped up as a warm-up one lunchtime…

Beetlejuice color sketch

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! Wait, damn, does that mean I should have done a third sketch? Hmm…

Nov 182011
 

I have a longer post about GP San Diego that I’m working on, but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you the two cases I designed for mine and my wife’s phones –

iPhone Case Designs

The images aren’t stickers they’re actually imbedded into the cases and are nice and solid. We got these done at Uncommon and they did a great job.

The one on the left is based off the designs I did for my wife’s site, Gothic Charm School. The one on the right is a tweaked version of my Skirk Marauder image. No, I can’t make the Skirk one available for purchase as it’s copyrighted to WotC, but one for my personal use is just fine.

So, would you be interested in a phone case with some of my fantasy art? I certainly think it’s a cool new way for people to enjoy my art. Let me know.

Event Alert: Grand Prix San Diego

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Nov 042011
 

I’ll be attending GP: San Diego next week! You can expect to find me there prepared for all manner of signing and sketches.

My hours (approximately) –
Friday Nov 11th 12:00 – 2:00, 3:00 – 6:00
Saturday Nov 12th 11:00 – 1:30, 2:30 – 6:00
Sunday Nov 13th 11:00 – 1:30, 2:30 – 5:00

Hopefully, I’ll see you there.

Oct 312011
 

It’s Halloween, so time for a couple of suitably unpleasant pictures that – bonus! – you’ve probably never seen before.

These images were both called ‘Doom’ and were destined for promo chips for the short lived game Clout which unfortunately folded before enough people could realize the game was so much more than Pogs and that even though some manual dexterity was required, the tactical aspects of the game were surprisingly meaty.

First of all, the one that really speaks to my claustrophobia. This has the unofficial title of ‘Crushing Doom’…

Crushing Doom.

Brr. Still makes me wince.

This next one might as well just have the unofficial title of “Ouch!”

Burning Doom.

Or maybe “That’ll Leave a Mark”.

I find that damage that cuts along lines you don’t expect are always more unpleasant to our jaded slasher-movie-going tastes. That’s why rather than a clean separation of the head the energy slices through the back of the skull, and more importantly along the length of the jaw.

This second piece was also my chance to use acrylic washes working wet on wet to create the energy blast. The green paint was applied first, then washed away and re-applied, rinse, repeat, until the color’s density was sufficient and nicely saturated but the edges were still soft. After leaving it overnight to ensure the green was fully dry the purple was added in washes to maintain the soft blurred edges that sell the gaseous quality of the effect. Perhaps it’s a dragon’s breath weapon?

Working to get a good transition between such opposing colors as green and purple is always tricky because if the purple bleeds too far into the green, no matter what you do it’ll leave a trace and dull the green. I was mostly lucky and it looks like the only issue I had was in the lower right corner.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I haven’t ruined your appetite for all that leftover Halloween candy.

Oct 272011
 

… to the second year of the blog – which is finally underway, hey, it was a big deadline! – and to doors which, well you know how it goes; one closes and another one opens.

Or, should you prefer, there’s this toast…

Orcish Settlers.

Orcish Settlers (from 1997’s Weatherlight) was one of those brain-fart ideas for a picture.

Back in ’96 I was leading the team in charge of card-naming and flavortext and I was solely responsible for all the cards’ art descriptions. When this card lost its working title and became ‘Orcish Settlers’ this image jumped fully realized into my brain and I asked if I could be assigned the piece.

Obviously, it’s the goblinoid version of American Gothic by Grant Wood. The orcs’ clothing mirror the original’s and were significantly pushing the envelope on how anachronistic the piece could be within the world of Magic the Gathering. The house was a bigger problem as it would tear that same envelope into confetti.

So, I burnt the house down. And it gave a nice fiery background for a red mana card which was an added bonus. And the card’s power ended up destroying lands, so double bonus!

That just left me with explaining why the house was ablaze. One burnt piece of toast and a guilty look later and I had my punchline.

Still amazed I got away with it, though.

Oct 072011
 

Presuming the internet hasn’t crashed under the weight of people trying to order the new iPhone, I thought I’d just mention this blog turns one year old today.

Blimey.

Nope, no idea where the time went. Admittedly, 2011 has been a hellish year for us and many of our friends. Hopefully 2012 will treat everyone better (well, except the bankers) and hopefully we manage to get to 2013 without the world going and doing something stupid, like ending.

Looking back on the blog;

Well, the website didn’t get much done to it. Unsurprisingly, the blog effectively is the website and may be for some time to come. I should probably get a redirect set up.

I never got a chance to work on that Baron Sengir repaint. It kind of fell at the first hurdle as it was meant to just be an overpaint of an unused calendar piece but it didn’t take long to see the compositional problems in the image. That left me with only one option which was to start a completely new image. Hopefully I’ll get to try that soon but paying work still has to get first priority.

Speaking of which, I’ve managed to dig up enough time to clear through 90% of my card signing backlog. Hopefully everything will mail out this weekend.

I’m still thinking about doing a limited edition painting via Kickstarter. Finding time to actually do a cost-analysis on it is proving to be the major hurdle currently.

I finally completed the pdf list of all my Magic art that’s for sale. You can find my contact info on the right sidebar if you’d like a copy.

Looking ahead;

There’s a couple of Warcraft pieces to share. I eventually need to complete the big Yawgmoth Demon WIP multi-part article. I also have an armload of other goblin images most of you have probably never seen.

But until then… Booyah! Skirk Marauder sketch!

Skirk Marauder Sketch

The Skirk Marauder is still one of my favorite goblin paintings due to the sheer malicious glee and hint of sadism in his eye!

And with that, on to year two…

3D Goblin – Stage 3

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Oct 052011
 

I had to put the goblin sculpture aside a few weeks ago due to a new project making my schedule a little fuller than I’d originally planned. This is how far I got after a grand total of approximately eight hours work…

Goblin Sculpture Stage 3

We’re at stage 3. The significant geometry of the goblin’s head and shoulders has been done. Here’s a laundry list of the changes:

  • The brows got a little more furrowed.The nose got longer and the nostrils deeper. The flared outer parts of the nostrils got tidied up and better integrated with the face.
  • The lips and jaw had the planar brush lightly applied to them. For the lips this had the effect of creating a stronger edge to the lip line, better delineating the change from lips to surrounding flesh. For the jaw, this was a subtler change, removing a little of the curvature in the flesh, unifying the angles and giving the suggestion of bone along the jaw line.This is particularly noticeable in the middle image above.
  • The ears received a few tweaks in front and a significant amount of trimming in the back. At a certain angle (one I commonly use in goblin paintings) the upper rear of the ears had proven to be too chunky. By creating gentle slopes from the top and bottom rear of the ears that thickened toward the center I created the slimmer profile of ears I was used to but with a solid connection to the head that made it believable that the giant ears could be supported on the head rather than tear off under their own weight (ouch)!
  • The skin around the eyes was changed to compliment the alterations around the nostrils and bridge of the nose.
  • The skin of the cheeks that is forced upward due to the goblin’s smile was better blended with the upper lip. The previous version was a little too pronounced making the cheeks feel more like a significant protrusion than just cheeks pushed up and out in a smile.
  • The mouth was hollowed out more in preparation for the addition of teeth, gums and tongue. That’ll be stage four!

Yeah, even though at first glance the changes may appear to be minimal, there’s actually a lot of tweaks going on.

And there’s at least one more detail pass to do before moving on to a texture pass. Just look at this close-up to see that I’m still working on a relatively low resolution sculpt. The polygons are easy to spot.

Goblin Sculpture Close-Up

Finally, here’s a color test I tried out. This is just a proof of concept; a rough pass to see how a colored version might look. The eyes are especially bad at the moment as I’ve yet to learn how to use more than one material in a sculpt. The eyes obviously need to be more reflective as they’re currently quite dead which makes them bloody creepy, but not in a good way!

Goblin Sculpture Color Test