This blog...

...was initially for pieces done on a computer, but has since become a free-for-all. Here you'll find process work (digital and otherwise), sketch pages and studies, sometimes with commentary.

You can see the rest of my work here.

Remember kids : if you can't make pretty designs, at least make pretty lines!


Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Morning Mecha 008

Bonus creepy baby head/anemone from a dream I had last night. And a dumb baby. That's pretty much all babies.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

porndrawing log - 08.30.09

1) pause movie
2) frame forward
3) frame backward
4) open Photoshop
5) hit timer
6) get nasty!

If you can draw fuck-faces and have them not look like retarded horse women, then the sky's the limit. There were probably better uses for my time today, but most of them wouldn't have given me wood. And hey, I learned something about drawing asses, so suck one!

Ok, I need a new project...

comic plug -- King City

The best comic of 2008 is now the best comic of 2009-10! King City #1 hit shelves this week. Image is reprinting the original Tokyopop run and its much anticipated epic format!

Learn about it here!
Follow Brandon Graham's exploits here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

lifedrawing log - 08.29.09

3-7 minute gestures, courtesy of Naked Lunch.
The model was holding a fan in a few of these, which my drawings should have reflected better, among other things.

A question was asked about my current lay-in process, so listed below is what I'm trying to be mindful of at these lifedrawing sessions. The hierarchy gets shuffled and expanded every month or so :)

Earlier thoughts :

-What is the action (story) of this pose?
-If I was to describe that action in a single, fluid stroke, what would that stroke be? Is a second major stroke required? Am I including all extremities (hands, feet, head) in these early strokes? Afterthoughts read as afterthoughts.
-Can the severity of these establishing action lines be pushed further for greater dramatic effect?
-Do I know what angle I'm viewing the ground at? Can this angle be altered for greater dramatic effect?
-If there's a prop (like a chair or a stick or a wall) that the model is interacting with, is it being included as part of the gesture? Again, afterthoughts read as afterthoughts.
-Where will the top of my drawing terminate? (Make a mark.) Where will the bottom terminate? (Make a mark.) I must establish some physical parameters of what I'm drawing, so things don't get too distorted.
-Which shoulder is higher? Which hip is higher? Which foot is higher? (Make marks.)
-Higher hip is usually an indicator of the supporting (locked) leg in standing poses. This will result in a higher, more flexed buttock, the other being invariably lower and more relaxed.
-In sitting poses, where is weight distributed? Which limbs are being used to prop up the body? What is "pancaking out" on the ground?
-Are all compressions (squashes) and opposing stretches taken into account?
-What masses can be consolidated? (limbs resting on/near limbs, etc.) What masses are better dealt with individually?
-What's in front of what? Which feature is closest to me? Which is furthest away? How can these features be enlarged or reduced for greater dramatic effect?

Later thoughts :

-Does the line I'm about to draw describe gesture or form? If it describes neither, why draw it? These "wasted strokes" do not advance the drawing.
-Is the contour I'm about to draw best represented by a straight line or a curved line? Drawing straight things curvy and curvy things straight messes up a lifedrawing fast, but you definitely need both for it to be a success.
-Am I looking at the side, front, back, top or bottom of something? Is it tilted away from me? On which axis is it tilted? Would a center line help me at all?
-What direction are the knees pointing? Find the axes (they resemble hinges).
-What's happening with the arms? What are the axes of the condyles of the humerus (at elbow - indicate with "barbell")? Using these axes as guides, can I now determine which direction the elbows are facing? Is an elbow pointed (arm bent) or nested (arm straight)?
-What's happening with the wrists? What are their axes (indicate with "barbell")? If the hand is supinated, axes of the aforementioned condyles and wrist will be parallel. If the hand is pronated, the axes will appear twisted.
-What's happening with the hands? Are they relaxed (naturally curled), raised, gripping, pointing, flattened? Where are the thumbs? Do some digits protrude more than others? If time is running out, what basic, gestural shape would best be used to describe the entire hand?
-What's happening with the feet? Are they turned inward or outward? Are they planted, arched, dangling, flexed one way or another? Where is the heel? Where is the big toe? Can I see the instep?
-If the model is female, is there any cool hyperextension happening in the limbs or hands?
-What's happening with the head? Is its cranium (spherical part), proportional to the distance between the pit of the neck and the bottom of the sternum? In which direction is the head looking? Where is its vertical center line? Can I correctly place features on it? Where is the jawline? How much of the neck is visible? How much of the face is obscured by hair?
-What direction is the light coming from?
-Do I have time to indicate heavier darks of side planes, under planes or cast shadows, thereby "popping" the features that need it? (I sometimes do this as I go, based on how obvious the lightsource is.)

Afterthoughts :

-Is this drawing working? If not, where did it go astray? Can I quickly make a comparison drawing to test out this theory? What is the before/after analysis?
-Did I avoid boring parallels and right angles?
-Did I make use of negative shapes in determining spatial relationships and strengthening silhouette?
-Were my strokes economic and resolute? Hairy, interrupted lines slow down a drawing, for you and for the person who eventually sees it! For less hesitant results, I must make decisions and execute them swiftly, with confidence. If a decision is wrong, so be it. If there is no time to make a new drawing, or alter the current one, I will simply try to better my thinking on the next pose. Move on.
-If a pose wound up overly complicated, what could have been downplayed or omitted? Was something getting in the way of an important element? Was it moved to accomodate?
-If a pose wound up overly simple (i.e. dull), what could have been morphed, moved, tilted or otherwise altered for greater dramatic effect? Was another camera angle or lighting rig necessary?
-Was I mentally present, trying to figure things out, or was I off in la-la land, just copying?

For this sort of study, I'm more interested in understanding what a subject is doing than depicting what it is. I'm building a design foundation -- information that would allow me to continue construction later, sans model. Does a nicely rendered kneecap help this cause, or would an axis indicating a hinge point suffice? Of what use is drawing an eye or nose or breast if I haven't yet given attention to the masses upon which they lie?

If I've left out something important, you'd better let me know!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Made the papers!

Well, dang...some of my lifedrawing made it into The Austin Chronicle.

Thanks, Naked Lunch!

Throw a texture behind it...done.

Make any sketchpage look like you spent more time on it using this lazy, time-tested method!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Uh, no thanks."

In an effort to get myself thinking of poses BEFORE I start to draw them, I'm now choosing offhand remarks and bits of random dialog to drive gesture. This one is "Uh, no thanks." I could (and probably should) do this same exercise with facial expression, too.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Morning Mecha 007

Here you have it...the crude origins of "Mechamonk."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Zbrush - Femhead 1

Started from a sphere at 11 AM -- my first female zbrush head!

Ears and eyes are undeveloped at this phase, and a few major planes are looking dodgy, but eh...I'll come back to it later. In the meantime, I made a little corrective paintover to refer to...

Also : I found out I can avoid frequent Zbrush crashes by toggling between "draw" and "edit" mode right before saving. That shit was driving me bonkers...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Z Sphere experiment 4 - blockout revisited

Would have been faster just to draw it, but the method was worth playing with.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Zbrush is nifty and all, but nothing beats pencil and paper for fast and furious fun.

Z Sphere experiment 3 - proportion blockout

I'm not great at correcting and refining the "adaptive skins" these z sphere chains create (yet!), but the chains themselves -- their flexibility -- could be a powerful proportional blockout tool in my concept work. I could potentially pose and paint right over them...

(And yes, I'm fresh out of a screening of District 9...)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Z Sphere experiment 2 - pumpkin prototype

The stem is a subtool, and man, are subtools hard to position and switch between!

The pumpkin body is already getting up there in poly count...not sure how much I'll be able to mangle it with facial features before my compy starts billowing smoke.

Really, I'll only know I'm getting the hang of this program once I'm capable of making something that isn't a lumpy, organic blob.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Z Sphere experiment 1

For some reason, the term "z balls" is funnier.

Continuing to putter, this time incorporating z spheres...subdivision is still low on this guy, but the jaggies sort of work on a purely conceptual level. I'll either leave him here (as I overflattened his horns), or pull him out later for detailing practice. Tonight marks my first series of Zbrush crashes! Go, technology!

P.S. -- Thanks for the tips, people! I done got my Dam Standard brush on!

It's definitely more fun working in the lower subdivision levels, mainly because I can see potential in the jaggy artifacts that gets lost when more geometry is added. Turning 'Smt' on and off while subdividing preserves some of it, but my little machine can't handle the polys!


The ever-gracious Vinod Rams gave me permission to paint over a recent badass character design of his, and here it is, just in time for Gen Con!

See Vinod's original pencils here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Morning Mecha 004, 005

*wipes crust from eyes*
This gives me an idea for a series of drawings : take a piece of contemporary tech, like a traffic light or a blender or what-have-you, and marry it to a high tech mech body...

This other little ditty has, for no reason, another Zbrush head sketch pasted in...still trying to figure out how everything works....

Thanks to Nick Southam for the "poo."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Intro to Zbrush

First time messing with's your token blobby head sculpt, but man I'm excited!

Below is my veeeery first stab, which was even blobbier, but I can see how I could use this as a useful springboard for doing Photoshopped variants.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Most people know him as Henry Waxman. Wendy and I know him simply as "Ratman!!!!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

lifedrawing log - 08.04.09

Last night's model was just phoning it in, forcing me to take more drastic measures with gesture. Really, they're things I should be doing more anyway, but listed below are notable departures that made this girl's stiff, bog-standard poses more flavorful...

1) Camera angle changes! Here we see her from above during a dull, lying-down pose in profile, and also from a front 3/4 when the view I had was also just a profile. I hate profiles!
2) more drastic weight shifts
3) worm's eye camera
4) bird's eye camera
5) interpretive torso twist -- Her features (including her raised arms) were squared up, perpendicular to the ground. Boo...
6) cleared a line-of-sight pathway to an invisible object on the ground -- Her legs were in the way.
7) Extreme push. Again, her body was very up-and-down here, so I went for more of a recoiling "Get away!" type of thing.
8) "Arms up for no reason" became "arms up in inquiry" (The question mark is such a cheat!)
9) Couldn't tell if her pose was more defensive or more attacking here, so I tried some different stuff. Again, the pose she pulled was very up-and-down...not a lot of forward or backward momentum.
10)Trying to be cool and experimental and change the p.o.v. while fisheyeing the camera lens. Probably needed to curl her legs more underneath her to get that effect right...

What I eventually want are for reaches to look like reaches, relaxed poses to look relaxed, startled poses to look startled, etc... I suppose I could just go for more shadow information and try to flesh these drawings out more anatomically, but I think it's more important to convey a clear action/story point, even if I have to fabricate one myself.

It's worth mentioning that I wouldn't even be considering this stuff if not for the Drawn To Life books. They've really opened my eyes by emphasising (and reemphasising) important points about gesture drawing. They're only just beginning to sink in.