November 26, 2011

New-ish WOW card

So I just realized this morning some Warcraft cards I made a few months ago had been released without me realizing it.  It's tough to keep up on when stuff hits the street.

One of the diffucilties in making Warcraft art is that the provided reference is in-game models, which are often times confusing to decipher from a screenshot.  Below I show trying to figure out what the texture is telling me the costume is supposed to be.  Usually the in-game assets are pretty good, and I have a great appreciation for the modelers and texturers at Blizzard making tiny game models make sense while being creative under technical constraints.

And below is the final card art... With a bit of experience you get good at assuming what the game artists intended, but it's sometimes difficult to know when to be literal and when to extrapolate.

November 24, 2011


Here's a mostly-personal piece that i finished a little while back.  it's actually a complete digital overpainting/reworking of an acrylic i did a million years ago.  the original was a greyscale illo for Dark Matter (one of the campaign settings for WotC's Alternity system).

i just always liked the concept of the piece, and the concept of Revenants in general.  they have some of the appeal of vampires (undead that retain their personalities from life), but with more of a work-a-day vibe that i find more relatable than vamps.

Click image for details views (it was fun getting in there and painting all the ligature marks on her wrists)

 Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2011

Then and Now

For little over a year now I have been reworking designs I did early in my carrier when I worked in TV. You might wonder why I am doing such a thing. It all started when I was talking to a friend about my time working on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I could not remember a demon I had working on. I went back to my files to remind myself and dug up the design and I was horrified. Absolutely HORRIFIED.

I felt compelled to correct this travesty of design. What started as an attempt to sooth a bruised ego eventually became a fun and cathartic exercise to see how I would approach concept problems today versus 8-7 years ago. In time, I realized that in many ways I was creating something I wish I had seen so many years ago when I was desperate to improve my abilities. In a time when it felt like everyone around me was so much better and had always been so much better it would have been nice to see peoples less then amazing work.

It takes time and hard work to improve and advance. After doing this art thing for most of the last 12 years in varying degrees of stressfulness it is reassuring to see that maybe I have been heading down the right path, and that if you are a artist just starting out, that if you stick with it, you too can look back and be horrified by your early work.

2002 / 2010

2003 / 2010

2003 / 2010

2003 / 2011

2003 / 2011

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2003 / 2011

November 15, 2011

Character step-by-step

Another private commission completed - slowly but surely the list is being worked off! This time I saved a few steps and put an animation together. I have a few different ways of creating a character - here for example it shows a pencil drawing which is being colored digitally afterwards.

I was hoping to have the time to write up a more elaborate description for each step, what I was doing and thinking. But time is a bitch and this will have to wait for another while.
Hope you like it! =) It might take a little while to fully load:

November 14, 2011


Chris and Craig really brought their A game with their posts, so I wanted to share this new piece with you guys. I finished this piece up a few days ago while in between a few projects and waiting for art orders to be sent for some new cards. I've been wanting to do some new, kick ass samples to send over to Blizzard and this is one of the next batch I'll be mailing over to try and snag some work for their TCG. Based off of the Tier 11 Mage Armor set, I decided to illustrate one of the spell abilities a fire spec mage has, Scorch.

November 13, 2011

Dragon Empires Primer

Damn... it ain't easy following Chris.

Here's a recent cover for Pathfinder's Dragon Empires Primer. A clean Asian-inspired aesthetic seemed appropriate for the project, so that meant no fog, no explosions, and no flying debris. There went three of my favorite usual staples. Inspired by the dojo scene in The Matrix, I went for a "bullet time" still frame.

The two combatants don't appear to like each other very much, and several subtitles come to mind: "Come At Me Bro," or "Stop Trying to Hit Me and Hit Me," or "You Got Some Wasabi on Your Chin, Here... Let Me Wipe That Off."

Many thanks to Sarah Robinson at Paizo for leading me out of my comfort zone.

November 11, 2011

Crosis, the Purger

Before discussing our cuddly friend here, I wanted to mention that I just got back from my first IlluXcon convention in Altoona, PA. It was totally incredible to get a chance to meet so many of my art-heroes like Donato Giancola, Dan Dos Santos, Eric Fortune and Mark Zug just to name a few. It was also great to finally meet in person the four other Shadowcore artists in attendance. I'd highly recommend IlluXcon to anyone interested in imaginative art, it's totally worth the trek.

Alright, this piece was done as updated art for an older Magic card called Crosis, the Purger, here's the previous incarnation:

The Art Director wanted me to keep the key elements of the original design while hopefully making it more intense and realistic. I wound up looking at a lot of reference of beetles and scorpions for wing and carapace ideas.

Crosis, the Purger - 14 x 18 in. oil on masonite

November 10, 2011

Shadowcore at Illuxcon

This past weekend was Illuxcon 4! Not only was it an amazing four days of workshops, demos, lectures, and the best in contemporary illustration work out there, it was also the first opportunity for some of the members of Shadowcore to gather in one place. Chris Rahn, Mike Sass, Christopher Burdett, Anna Christenson, and Tyler Jacobson attended Illuxcon and shared their work with all who attended. Chris Rahn and Tyler Jacobson had booths in the main show of Illuxcon. Mike Sass, Christopher Burdett, and Anna Christenson took part in the Showcase event which took place the second night of Illuxcon. The Showcase is a four hour exhibit event that allows those not in the main show to share their work with all who attended Illuxcon. I think it is safe to say we all had an amazing time and hope that the rest of Shadowcore can make it out to Illuxcon next year!

From left to right: Chris Rahn, Mike Sass, Christopher Burdett, Anna Christenson, and Tyler Jacobson.

Tyler Jacobson in his booth in the main show!

Chris Rahn in his booth in the main show!

Christopher Burdett's table in the Showcase!

Anna Christenson's table in the Showcase!

This should be Mike Sass's table in the Showcase... Sorry Mike...

*EDIT NOTE* Cynthia Sheppard was nice enough to share a photo she took at Illuxcon of Mike Sass's very impressive banner which was right next to his table. Thanks, Cynthia!

The one, the only, the Mike Sass Banner!

Everybody just goes crazy for a chance to hold a Shadowcore flyer!

We had a spiffy new flyer printed for Illuxcon so that we could spread the word and so that those not able to attend could be there in name at least. We all had them at our tables and gave them out to all that we could.

Front / Back
The Shadowcore flyer!

Even the great and powerful Jon Schindehette (Senior Creative Director at Wizards of the Coast) loves his Shadowcore flyer!

I hope that next year all twelve members of Shadowcore can make it out to Illuxcon, it is the premiere event for illustration and a super fun time to be had!

November 8, 2011

Murder and Zombies

A while back I was asked to do the following two pieces for Wizards of the Coast.  What I always try to do when approaching client work is add elements that are going to make the pieces interesting to me.  If I lose that feeling that I am learning something new or adding details and elements that I like to a piece, the image will usually fail in my mind.

In this case I wanted to play around with the point of view, and especially in the case of the Zombie painting, explore variations in skin tone and lighting (something that I've been focusing on in the year since).  The very stylized fog was also kind of a throwback to some of my earlier stylistic choices in my work.  In the case of the Bloody Murder piece, it was a good opportunity to paint some snow, and I was really interested in exploring the pink/green color scheme.  I think this was the first time I'd really pushed pink in a piece before.

Here are the final pieces:

And here is a short walk-through of the Murder painting! 

I'll always start with thumbnail sketches.  In this case, I did a bunch and then neatened a few up and sent them to the AD to see which ones she liked more.  If the deadline is very short, I don't always send thumbnails off (although I will still do them), but instead I will just send a final sketch, similar to the one below.

After thumbnail approval- or before the final sketch- I'll gather references for items that seem important to the piece.  In this case I took a few photo references for the characters, and also gathered a lot of references of houses from the internet to help inspire the setting.

So next is a sort of abridged progress.  I'll usually draw out the sketch and include values in some way.  Depending on the piece I'll sketch in values or in line, or alternating between the two- but usually it will be something more like a line drawing with some multiply layers to add value.

After that, I'll start in with a variety of multiply, color and hard light layers to get in some very rough colors.  Then I'll pick a spot and start to render, skipping around to the next areas that look interesting or are bothering me and I want to see completed.  Once everything is in, I'll just keep refining and adding details until I'm ready to call it done or I need to move on to another piece.