She’s a memory now.

During the week I’d found myself re-working an old sketch idea.  I sketch a lot in meetings and I’d done this sketch several years ago.  I was able to find it in one of my old notepads and mixed it up with some of the new sketch ideas.  I originally had the whole body in, he has eyes, hands, bony landmarks etc.  But during one of the layer on/off moments I decided it looked better without these features in and this kinda emphasised a memory fading somewhat.  The scratchy background came about as I wanted the rough paper look of an old document, in conjunction with the anatomy vibe I think this gives it a coldness which contrasts with the emotion the entity is feeling.

The dragon-fly wings (what dragon-fly wings??) – well a friend asked me to listen to Karnivool’s Themata.  Whilst I was painting this pic I loaded the song up on youtube.  There’s a fly buzzing around and well hey, there’s another textbooky type thing – pictures of dragon-fly wings – so in they went.  This whole picture was done in less than a day (just for my own timing records); I’m overdue and I’ve done all my preparation for the next Randolph Carter frame or two so I couldn’t work on this any longer than I have without neglecting the graphic novel/comic.  For any anatomy buffs I have taken considerable license with this picture so don’t nobody mark me on my lernin’.  I’m always drawing characters like this so it’s nice to see one get to the digital form.

My Hellboy

I woke up yesterday morning and I this image was the first thing in my head.  So I jumped to it.  I told my son I wanted him to model as reference for me, which he loved; especially when I told him I’d give him horns and bad nails.  I was especially enthused as I’d been struggling with how to paint hair reasonably quickly and since my son has a bundle of that, here was an opportunity to work on a process.  I’ve been doing more frames from the HPL story and the characters have hair, something I haven’t ever really worked on before.  I came up with a few problem solving ideas whilst I worked on this picture so hopefully that will hold me in good stead as the HPL graphic novella streams out.

Once again, it’s hard not to point out all the things that I did wrong but today they are at least just drawing faults and not technical faults.  I did try colourising this picture but I was either over it, wanted to move on and was rushing it, or I was just plain crap at it.  So that got shelved.  I had gained an affinity with the b&w version though.  “An affinity” this is my usual excuse for finishing a picture out of laziness.  Anyway, b&w is what gets posted.  I’m glad this idea just came to me, it’s fun, it makes me laugh.  My son loves it…well he LOL anyway.

Full Throttle

Ok, so there’s been a dry spell of “product” coming to the walls of Shunned House recently and it’s not for lack of action behind the scenes. In my own right I have done two pages for the forthcoming graphic novella of H.P Lovecraft’s ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’ which in their own right consisted of six mini-frames. We’ll be posting that under our new comics link from the front page. I have also spent time on two incomplete pictures one of which is, “Full Throttle”. This picture was NEVER destined to be posted in the gallery. It was a project born out of I NEED TO PAINT SOMETHING one afternoon.
I started with the figure…as I habitually do in nearly all my art and opened it up from there.  With so much HPL stuff floating around my head the obvious next step was…”Oh, he’s fighting tentacles!” I then realised he looked like a bit of a sailor so I moaned at the prospect of having to draw a boat and sea and….oh crap…loads of stuff!
For the first time I was experimenting with the idea of painting up the contrasts in dark blues to light blues (as you can see in the unfinished picture) and colourising it all later. I’ve been watching a few time lapse videos by proper artists (such as this one by Henning Ludvigsen) and it seemed that it’s a popular technique.  I can’t say how exciting it was to finally add colour after hours of painting.

As I wanted the early days of Shunned House to show my progress whilst I was learning how to use Photoshop I thought this perceived drought was covering up some of my developments.  This pic also features my new signature as my old one was a thirty second piece of crap…the new one being a coupla hours pice of crap 😉  So just as a a pic on this post and not a picture on the galleries, here’s the pun-titled and incomplete ‘Full Throttle’.


Well I’ve finally done my homework and completed the final piece of Pickman’s Gallery, Room One.  Apologies for the delay.  I tried sooooo hard to stay focused on this piece and not rush it.  In the end I really sped up and just wanted to get it completed.  So for me, there are still loads of errors.  I learnt a lot about making sure my initial sketch is bang on before moving on with the digital stage of the process….and then I learnt I could fix it up quite adequately if I hadn’t sketched it right initially 🙂

I was really happy with how I put the cat together and how FAST I did this (for me).  I sketched the whole thing up just using the pad in less than an hour.  I started with a rough outline and started sketching in multiply and screen scribbles until the form/shape was about right before I added colour and fur.  Another story from the cat was a follow on from something Dust told me this month about less detail away from the focal point.  Whilst the cat isn’t a focal point I treated him like he was a mini-focal point in the whole composition…his face having all the detail and his legs being quite detail-less.  I applied this thinking to the whole pic; I treated the bright hand as the focal point, everything else was a step down from there in detail…hence I chose to do that first.

A few nice wins for me with this one.  As I ended it I thought I’d strayed from this guy supposedly being a scared ghoul…his face was going to be more obviously distorted…but this didn’t happen due to time.  He was also going to have Elder signs and other bizarre markings up his arms…but again, this was cut due to time restrictions.  So maybe it doesn’t belong in Pickman’s gallery in the end…but I thought it might still belong as it finishes the narrative of where my first guy got his snack from 🙂

Pickman’s Gallery Grande Opening

Hey, another “LIVE” button off the main page! As Dust hinted in the last post, we gave ourselves a project through July to try and recreate The Pickman’s Gallery. Inspired by the story ‘Pickman’s Model’ by H.P.Lovecraft we created a few illustrations in the style and with the content we thought might have been painted by Pickman himself. I was particular lazy, busy and rubbish this month so I only managed to contribute the one painting; ‘Feeding Ghoul’. All my other pictures finished on the digital cutting room floor. I have however, another sketch that might grow up into being a Pickman’s gallery piece. Hopefully, I can work this up soon.

So the ‘Feeding Ghoul’. I started by thinking I wanted to swim against the tide of BIG monsters and have a small yet nasty character. I decided I wanted him to have a BIG head, though. In the end his head isn’t big in the way I wanted it to be. The plan was also to have him well hairy but near the end of this project I was having yet more trouble with clean edges and Dust introduced me to the ‘preserve transparencies’ function…I couldn’t go on. I knew the next picture could be done so much better and without the hassles that were now inherent in this picture.  The last 2-3 hours on this picture were purely doing fixes. I wanted to start afresh. I kinda cheated with this guy in my terms; the cheat was to include a knob. I figure if you want to convey disgust in the viewer, stick a hairy knob in your picture. I did, so I did…it worked didn’t it 🙂 As I get better I’d like to think I could convey disgust with more subtle techniques. Learnt heaps again…hopefully you can still see me improving at this stage. I think the painted end-products are starting to catch up on the coolness of the original sketch now. Gotta post a huge thanks to Dust for carrying this project this month…I wanted to contribute loads more but have struggled with output this month…post World Cup hangover perhaps?

Thanks for the props homie. Ah the Gallery, if two years ago someone had told me that Lovecraft had written a story about some artwork that me and MAS had done I would have laughed in their face, but here is the proof if proof be needed. Two of my pics are me trying my hand at speed painting which was fun, 2-3 hrs then walk away, looking forward to developing this. The other two began life as a photo montage of some clouds and some seaweed, the framed one represents the painting Pickman did and the photo is supposed to be the photo the d00d finds in pickmans cellar without revealing all the story (I think I just did)

“What it showed was simply the monstrous being he was painting, But by God, Eliot, it was a photograph from life!”

Old Warrior

This is more of a sketch/character study than a “piece”. I wanted to bang out something quick again (like with Blue Guy Sketch). There’s a lot of good and the usual bad with this picture but the original sketch I did at work in a meeting several years ago and I’ve always liked it. With the advent of doing all this photoshop stuff, now was my chance to scan it and put some life into it. I concentrated less on the smoothing in this one than I should and the anatomy got away from me a bit too. I think that, despite these short comings (and a background), the activity of doodling this piece was a great learning exercise and still conveys a story.

To give the story away, this is supposed to be an aged orc warrior of some social standing.  He’s overweight and long since passed his best but still wears the trimmings of his plunder.  My guess is he stole the gold embossed, leather robes off a fallen foe many years prior.  Orc hands wouldn’t craft something so fine.

I used a few new brushes today and I blended a lot better than previously but not up to what I can do…I’m more interested in rough brush strokes at the moment anyway.  My favourite part of the picture is the lower half, the way I got the cloth and the gold to flow works nicely on the eye I think?  Hey and I did a “fantasy” pic…I don’t believe it myself.  It’s all Dragons and Angels from here on in 🙂

Unholy Introductions

What a marathon.  I simply couldn’t stop with this one.  I consider this to be digital picture #5.  There’s a story that’s meant to be being told here, lots of clues for you to follow.  Obviously I had to learn a bit about materials on the fly, loads of sheets, curtains, pants, jackets etc.  After my last effort I promised not to use any filters, overlaid images or any Photoshop aids and I managed; bar using gaussian blur on the moonlight.  This meant I had to get creative with my problem solving.  An example of this could be the floor.  I might have previously grabbed a wooden floor and put it in there?  Maybe….dunno…but I got to work with the transform tool and perspectived up a separate image I created just for the floor.  Great fun!

Either I couldn’t get the face right or I wouldn’t get it right.  By this I mean that I started with a pretty good “regular” skin tone version, which I then modified with my brush in the ‘colour’ mode.  So he looked dead.  After that I was all about not screwing it up and probably shied away from getting liberal with the shadowing.

Lots of fun stuff in here.  I did a bigger moon but most of that ended up off the page.  The bats are a bit of a tip of the hat to a vampire pic by Mark Gibbons that Dust has.  I like the smashed window and the roseary beads (Oft referred to as:  Rosemary Beads).  The quickly painted in crucifix and Jesus figure.  Thanks to my wife for the colour of the bed sheet, I actually asked, “If you were decorating this room, what colour would your doona be?”

I wanted some more “texture” in the painting.  But I didn’t know how to get this without overlaying stock photos or using filters or just painting it in.  But just for the record I’m still using the bog standard circle brushes and I’ve seen the other guys using all kinds of mad shapes.  I gotta get messy like the pro’s do 🙂

How do I get messy…?

Digital Head Study #1

Hey that guy looks like….yeah, I know!

Learning the craft 101 continues.  This time I’m wrestling with using reference materials to get the skin tones right whilst being a little worried that I’m “cheating”.  That’s why the pic is probably titled a “study” as my goal was to learn more about the face and the range of colours you get; remember in primary school when people had pink faces and that was that done!?

I’ve used what I’ve learned about composition of stock photography to create the wall in the background.  A touch of multiply here and there and a liberal dose of blurring.  Maybe the tentacles should be out of focus too…but here, I’m having fun.  One of the easiest things on the screen to create and with the best results (effort:results ratio is pleasing).  These were obviously scratch drawn, three colours and with some multiply and screen use I have shadow and shine/slime.  So they aren’t out of focus as they’re the second character on screen (and they make me smile).  I was tempted to have the glowing 8 eyes in the darkness but hey, we’ve seen enough of the glowing eye cliche from me for a while.

I was happy with how much cleaner I made this pic.  Even comparing it to my earlier efforts on site, I can see I’m getting better at blending colours and using the opacity of brushes/smudge/blur tool to merge colours much better.  I can see these early entries on site being painful to look at very quickly as I make bigger early steps.  But I keep reminding myself what fun that is too.  It’s not always possible to see your skills improvement documented so visually.

A mention of Henning Ludvigson‘s work must be made.  He does properly what I was trying to do here and after playing Arkham Horror a fair bit with Dust, I’ve been exposed to his work a lot.  So we have photorealistic people doing something whilst tentacles creep around the corner.

The story?  What’s happening in this picture?  Well maybe that’s for you to decide, I have my own story but it’s kinda fun to let you imagine to, yeah.  I must get writing, I have my next story due and I’ve already illustrated a pic for it so I need to get that up and keep moving forward.

Blue Guy Sketch

Well this is an exercise in getting something out QUICKLY!  I grabbed a sketch out of my work diary, scanned it in and just banged some colours onto it.  Kind of the opposite method to the other digital pics I’ve done, where I’ve thought long and hard about every step.  I started to get stuck choosing a palette/swatch so I just stopped and used the colours existing in the default selection.

I want to do an online comic on this site and I wanted to see how long a “good enough” pic would take.  Obviously my digital art skills suck still so the finished product isn’t anything like what I envisioned and not even as good as the original sketch in my diary!  But this blue guy took about 4 hours with my current skills on Photoshop.  It’s still a messy pic, but I’m getting used to putting colours into my art – I’m an inks or pencils kinda guy, these “colour” things amaze me!!  I could of spent longer cleaning the picture up but that wasn’t the exercise here.  Needless to say it might be a while before I feel competent enough to bust out the comic.

Dust and I talk about getting out non-glorious pics just so that one keeps learning the art.  I probably learnt something today?  I definitely consolidated some of the things I’ve learnt in the past and I had fun.  Now I’ve just got to live with that artist’ depression, “I could do better!”  I understand this will have to be, as always, next time…

197 and counting 🙂

The Terrible Old Man

Well this is more of a post for posterity really. Here lies my very first Photoshop digital art illustration effort. I really enjoyed doing it and learnt LOADS!!! But it’s nothing like the image I have imagined. The mental image is darker, the skin flakier, over all it’s not so damn cheery!!

The piece is based on a cool little short story of the same name by H.P Lovecraft. Three robbers decide to invade an old man’s home at night and liberate him of some pricey artifacts such as the gold doubloons he’s been witnessed buying things with in town.  The locals know the old man as a weird sort and give him fair space.  But these robbers don’t know him so well and see a frail, easy target.  As night falls two robbers enter the building as salesmen of some sort whilst the third waits in the car listening.  What he hears shocks him as he hadn’t expected his comrades to be so rough with the old man.  The screams he hears are haunting.  Finally after the screams die away and as the third robber expects to see his friends coming through the gates he sees the old man, walking towards him on a gnarled cane, a slight yellow tinge to his eyes.

The image represents this moment as the terrible old man is coming through the gates.  So it’s not something I’m proud of as a piece of art maybe more a sign post of where I started. I hope some of you get something neat out of it regardless.