October 11, 2011

Zombie Holiday

There's not too many things better than getting a mail from your favorite group of creatives, whether it's editors with a piece of new fiction you have the opportunity to contribute some vision to, being added to a call for artists on a new deck or manual, by someone new that you've just met, or an art director you've worked with for years throwing you a project they trust you with, or simply filling in for someone who's flaked.. Perhaps even regardless of payment, the opportunity to shape folks gaming experience, or unconsciously add to a writers narrative?  It always curls the biggest smile on me jib.. Absolutely Magical.!  Like unwrapping a present on Holiday, or lifting the first print from the block..  These mails remain Beginners mind for me, the latest one just as exciting and uplifting as the very first.. I checked email just around a year ago to find the rare opportunity to do two illos for Jon Shindehette and Dragon Magazine, and the same old sensation hit me.  One of the briefs called for a big obsidian sacrificial Altar, inside a shadowy rocky valley, being protected by a sickly tribe of once strong warriors, now defiled by life draining magic.. and then I heard them moan.. "That which we call Brains.. by any other name, would taste as sweet.." =)  Times like that make me think, becoming a SF&F freelancer rather than a CA, was actually the right choice for once.?  In any case; not a lot of turn around time, but a brilliant simple brief I knew I could have some fun with..  It was also one of my first digital illos, in which a couple weeks earlier, Craig Spearing had shown me just how quick it could be, to manipulate color from a grayscale image.. (my inner traditionalist still hasn't forgiven him for this, mind you.. evil bastard) but he was right!  Here's a couple process shots of grayscale to final execution.. A lot of the tones come traditionally from scumming and erasing back into the graphite with deductive marks, before I scan the final sketch.  In my limited experience with digital, I also find bringing back some of that original tone from the sketch with the History brush quite helpful, but I'm still on the arse end of the learning curve.  Traditional oils will always be my illustration end game, but I sure do like to play with all the new toys, and find new ways of achieving the old.  Even though I've quite a ways to go, with a bit of 3/4 theatrical spotlighting, and extreme facial expression, I think this Zombie Holiday isn't too bad for one of my first adventures into the digital world.. Hope you dig it..  Chuck


  1. Hi there Chuck, loving the new piece especially as it's one of your initial forays into digital work.



  2. great textures!

    You mentioned using graphite on the greyscale image... after scanning the original sketch, how much digital work did you do to get to the "finished" greyscale image?

  3. Awesome piece, Chuck! Who doesn't love zombies? ;) I really dig the vertical format of this one. That's always an interesting challenge when creating a composition to fill that space effectively. Well done, man.

  4. I love this one, even in digital you didn't lose the cool Chuck aesthetic. (and yes, I am an evil bastard. Mu-ha :).

  5. Gracious thanks All,

    Eygji, I scan in my sketch done on Graphics360 into PS, and work the contrast and values for another couple hours before that Grayscale image is where I want it.. Craig originally showed me just how important the grayscale is to digital, so I try and do as much as I can traditionally, but some elements inevitably get pulled forward, and set back.. My buddy and co-author JimPavelec.com, along with Donato Giancola get some of their value structure from drawing prelims on toned paper Chiaroscuro, Italian/Dutch/Flemish style.. It's something I've not tried myself, but I'm having one of my student do that to throw some more textures into the digital work..

    Eric, I love that vertical format too, such a huge nouveaux poster/tabloid tradition that accompanies it, but I've noticed it rarely shows well on screen.. I think if I had me druthers, I'd work with a vertical screen like in Japan.. =)

    Hahahaha.. Craig, I do place blame on you..
    and Adam... and Lee.. "Welcome to the Dark side", he says.. =)

  6. That's great to hear.. thanks for the details.
    I've seen some of Donato's prelim sketches (on his website?) and they are pretty impressive.
    I've really been trying to figure out how to improve and mesh my use of traditional and digital. Trying to find the right balance.
    Do you teach more than the figure drawing class at PNCA?
    Do you happen to know if it possible to take just a class at PNCA without being in a BFA or MFA program?

  7. I'm teaching a painting class in the Illustration Dept. this semester, pretty sure you need to be enrolled to take it, but you may want to check with the registrar.. I know the Continuing Ed. classes don't require a program, so if you see Paul Missel teaching one of those, that's your best bet.. =)

    Otherwise, I'm always up for an email overlay or crit or just chat about Illustration, as are most of us are, and you don't need anything for that.. =)


  8. Thanks! I just might take you up on that email offer one of these days... :)

    I have been giving some serious consideration on going back to school for my MFA... hmm...