Sunday, April 19, 2015


Last May I got contacted to do some work for Doomtown Reloaded and now that the set has been released I can show this painting that I did for the game.  This was by far my favorite image that I worked on on the set and I thought it would be cool to try and show a little bit of a step by step that I took in completing the painting.  For the most part I hate having large files with lots of layers, it takes longer to save and I am always afraid of photoshop crashes so I usually merge layers down once I am satisfied an area is complete so there will be a few steps missing but you should get the idea.

Okay first is the sketch, the prompt I got for the card was for a slightly crazy middle aged man working on an unruly steampunk machine.  I did this quick sketch in my sketchbook and off it went to get approval.  For some reason when I am sketching I freeze up when I try to draw within the confines of a box/layout, so although I am thinking and know the general dimensions I like to sketch something on a wide open page and then later size it and fit it into the dimensions of the page layout (which is what the black box is)

After getting approval from the AD it is off to shoot some reference,  I am cheap and do not want to hire models and because I know the expressions, look, and feel that I want for the character I usually find it easier to pose myself.  I set up some lights, put my camera on a tripod and have a remote timer in one hand and start snapping some photos.  Having good reference to work from is super important and this was one of the reasons the painting came along so easy, I had a good foundation to start from.  DO NOT skimp on the reference!

My next step is usually looking at all of the reference photos and picking out the elements I like best and combine them together, for instance a head from one photo, a body from another, favorite hands and then combining them into one image.  I merge them together and do a loose outline to help nail my proportions and get the hands and face right so I have a good base while painting.  Because I like to merge layers semi often the drawing got merged down and painted over during the course of painting but you get the idea.

On to the actual painting!  The first few steps are establishing base rendering for the all of the major elements like the background and the figure.  Once I was happy with those I started working on the steampunk machine in the foreground.  I started with basic shapes and slowly built up the rendering and detail, I merged all of those layers down unfortunately so there is nothing left of the build up of detail, however I do have a lovely shot of the figure with the base coat of paint on the body and face and he is lookin pretty ugly at this point.

Here you can see me slowly building up the figure, I keep certain elements on separate layers, especially if I am not sure if I am going to keep them or change them.  I have individual layers for the stripes on the shirt and the tools incase I want to make changes.

Here is the finished face and hands on the figure.  Not gonna lie, the facial hair was put in specifically to help cover up what felt a very strange looking face, without it you really could not tell where the nose ended and the lips began (illustrating 101, if an area is looking weird sometimes one of the best and easiest things to do is to cover it up with something else!)

Next is the smoke/atmosphere.  Not gonna lie I could not wait to paint this in A because I knew it was gonna be really cool and be fun to paint but also B to cover up large areas of the painting so I did not have to needle away at painting steampunk machinery and detail (hey, any shortcut you can find while working on a deadline, especially if it makes the painting better as a result!)

At this stage I am really happy with where the painting is at so I started thinking about making some color adjustments to help push the color.  I felt that you couldnt really feel the heat and warmth from the machine so I added an overlay layer at a very low opacity to help give the painting an overall warm "glow"

At this stage I thought that I was done, I showed the painting to some friends and my friend Mike Burns gave me a helpful paintover and showed me some places where the painting could be improved on and made better.  I went back and added those things and sent this off to my Art Director.

I hope that this was in some ways helpful, I think in the future I will have to plan these step by steps out from the beginning so you can see a better more linear progression of the painting than a series of rapid jumps.  thanks for reading

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Refined sketch

So finally after several months of putting this on the back burner I am getting back to work on my ambitious Game of Thrones Painting.  Before I get too far ahead of myself and talk about the drawing and composition and what the message and themes I want to get across in the painting I thought it would be best to start at the beginning and explain the inspiration for this piece.

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my all time favorite artists is Alphonse Mucha.  Most people know him as one the driving forces and pioneers of Art Nouveau and his posters for Sarah Bernhardt.  What most people do not know is that he was an exceptional oil painter.  His crowning achievement as an artist was completing a master series of work called the Slavic Epic, a series of 20 large scale multi figure paintings depicting the history of the slavic people. When I first saw these paintings I was completely blown away, I was fascinated by the sheer amount of work skill used on each painting, let alone all twenty of them.  There was one painting in particular that has stood in my mind constantly.

The Hussite King Jiří z Podĕbrad

What I love about the paintings in this series is the powerful emotional impact each painting has, each painting moves you in different and interesting ways.  What I love about this painting in particular is the tension between two powerful forces and the bystanders waiting to see what is going to happen/who will win the standoff.  I have always loved emotional high drama paintings and this is one of my favorites.

In the fall I thought it was time to push myself further as an artist and I thought a great challenge for myself would be working on my own epic multi figure painting.  As a huge fan of the Game of Thrones books I thought it would be the perfect subject matter to use for my painting.  One scene/event from the book that really fascinated me when Daenerys Targaryen conquers the slave city of Mereen. There is no exact scene in the book or the show but I imagine that at some point soon after taking the city she would have presented herself to the ruling families of Mereen.  There is a lot of tension in Mereen with Daenerys taking over the city, releasing all of the slaves, and upsetting a social order that has been in place for thousands of years.  The people of Mereen are obviously intimidated and frightened of her, I mean she has dragons...Dragons I say!  Though they are scared and intimidated by her they are also angry at her for imposing her foreign rule on them and taking away their primary resource of slaves, and they are not going to go down without a fight.

This is exactly what I want to depict in my illustration, Daenerys, the conquering mother of dragons presenting herself to the elite slave families demanding they submit to her, giving up their whips and control of their slaves.  The slavers on the other hand although they are submitting to her, some of them are showing their anger and dissent, showing the seeds and tension for a combustable conflict.  Daenerys and the slavers, the battle may be over but the war has only just begun.

Below is a more refined sketch for the painting, all of the major elements are starting to be placed and the figures starting to be grouped while also trying determine the overall lighting scheme.  Next up is cleaning up the sketch some more and beginning to acquire some props and maybe begin shooting some reference.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Message for the Bloody Gate

I know that it has been a while since my last post, but freelance work and some small personal pieces for my upcoming convention C2E2 have gotten in the way of me posting more updates to my big Game of Thrones painting.  I am still working on preliminary  designs and sketches and now that the freelance work is out of the way I will have more time to work on it and post updates to it so stay tuned.  In the meantime here is smaller and less ambitious Game of Thrones painting of mine, a painting of everyones least talked about great house House Arryn.  Stay tuned for some more Game of Thrones inspired work, including updates to my huge Daenerys painting.