Month of Monsters: Syphilitic Sylvester - Drawing Process

I thought I would mix things up today. Instead of just heading straight to the finished monster, I felt like sharing my drawing process in the hopes that it's either helpful and/or mildly interesting. The first step is figuring out the creature design. If I were doing a larger piece, I'd probably take some time to play around with a few ideas on a scrap piece of paper or in Photoshop. Often, the sketch is redone several times until a desired design is found.

Yeah, that looks better. Let's try this design.

Now it's time to clean up the drawing. Yay! The monster is taking shape.

Now it's time to throw down some ink. Nice, but it needs some details and line variation.

Oh yeah, now we're talking. He's definitely got a skeezy vibe going on now.

And the finished monster in all its syphilitic glory.

 

Original art for sale. SOLD

 

 

 

 

Tips and Tricks: Jack-O'-Lantern Photography

It's that time again when pumpkins are sacrificed in the name of spooky glowing decorations. While there are plenty of interesting subjects to photograph this time of year (costumes, fall colors, holiday festivities), photographing jack-o'-lanterns can be a little tricky especially if you want to capture them in the dark. Low light photography is a bit more complicated, but don't let that deter you from experimenting. The results are well worth the extra effort. And, in truth, so long as you keep a few key things in mind, it's not very difficult to achive that great glowing photo.

Hold Still

No, not the pumpkin, they are pretty stationary by default. Well, unless they're sentient wandering jack-o'-lanterns, but that's an entirely different topic.

With any night time or low light photography, the more steady your camera the better. Even if you think you are pretty good at holding still, really, nothing beats not holding your camera at all. This means go pull out that old tripod, or if you don't have one of those, finding a nice spot on the ground or table, or even pressing your camera body up against a stationary object. This will afford you the opportunity to get a greater depth of field, minimize any camera jitter that would cause fuzziness, and not have to use the flash.

Experiment

Now that your camera is nice and still, play around with the composition. Get close, use the rule of thirds, fill the frame, and try different angles and perspectives. If your camera will allow tweaking of the aperture settings, try using a small depth of field (low number for aperture - like 3 or 4). You'll never know if there is a cool shot hiding in your subject if you don't try different things. In the world of digital photography the only thing this will cost you is a few extra minutes.

Flash

I for one am the first one to say "Argh! Yuck flash! Blerg. Evil evil awful flash!" That's not to say that it has its time and place. If you are able to adjust the strength and/or position of your flash, this can actually add an interesting lighting element to a low light photo. Sometimes a little flash actually does work, just remember to keep it gentle. Bright harsh flash will drown out the wonderful orange glow of jack-o'-lanterns and destroy the creepy otherworldly atmosphere of the photo. Again, experiment.

Have fun this Halloween, and happy spooky photo shooting.

MaAH Illustration: Doppin

maah_image4_sketch

Initial digital sketch.

maah_image4_ink1

Beginning to ink the piece digitally.

Doppin

Final image.

Yesterday, P.G. Holyfield released some exciting news about his novel, Murder at Avedon Hill. It's going to be published though Dragon Moon Press.  As a fan of the story (and friend of the author) I couldn't be happier for Patrick. As I've said upon numerous occasions, it's a wonderful story and it deserves any and all recognition it receives. So, big congrats! I can hardly wait for its new release. You can see the official press release here. He also released a special announcement episode, here.

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I was going to wait to post this image when the corresponding episode of MaAH was released, but with the recent good news, I figured now was as good a time as any.

Patrick asked me a while ago if I would be interested in doing another image for one of the last chapters. I, of course, jumped at the suggestion. The image itself was left open to whatever scene I wanted to do. After refreshing myself on the events of the applicable chapters, I sent a few ideas off to Patrick. From that correspondence we decided on this image (as to prevent any major spoilers of the plot).

For this illustration I decided to do the whole thing digitally. This method worked well for the last MaAH illustration I did, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to expand my digital art skills.

The first image is a rough concept sketch for what I had in mind. That was approved. I then moved on to the inking.  The great thing about working digitally, I found, was that if I made a mistake at any point, I could easily redo or adjust the image. In this case, I found that I had placed the arm in an awkward position.  I also noticed that the eye position was a bit off. So, I just moved everything around a bit until I was satisfied.

For coloring I shaded with sharp lines of different color shades rather than doing a blended shading. The only reason for this was that I hadn't really used that technique much and wanted more experience. Plus, I like the look. I also changed the color of the ink for the spirits from the original black to a light blue. This was done using a clipping mask layer (in Photoshop) under the ink layer. During the coloring of the spirits, I also found they needed more detail, so I added some swirls and additional line details. To get the spirits to look transparent, I filled them with color on a separate layer, then reduced the opacity of the layer.

The hardest part of the coloring, oddly enough, was the background. I was having trouble getting a texture and color that I really liked. After adding several textured layers and tweaking the color settings, I finally found a combination that I liked, while also matching the described scene in the story.