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Showing posts from August, 2011

World Con

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I'm fresh back from World Con (The World Science Fiction Convention) so I thought I'd go through the archives and pull out something appropriately "spacey" to post.

Some highlights of the Con were:
Lunch with Irene Gallo (Art director, Tor Books), Gregory Manchess and Jon Schindehette (Art director, Wizards of the Coast).A panel discussion by the Killer B's, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford and David Brin. All three delightfully opinionated and 3 of the best living SF authors.Meeting Michael Flynn, author of the stunning "Eifelheim"
The Hugo Awards Ceremony where Alastair Reynolds didn't win but should have.Catching a glimpse of Larry Niven handsomely attired in an electric pink shirt.And on a related note, I've contributed a few pieces to "Project Icarus", A serious study of technologies and designs to get us to a nearby star in the next century or 2. They are currently looking for a volunteer graphic designer interested in contributing a few…

ROBERT RIGGS (1896 - 1970)

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Nobody talks much about Robert Riggs anymore, but he was once one of the nation's most highly regarded illustrators.

As Walt Reed wrote, "Robert Riggs was awarded the Gold Medal for Excellence by the New York Art Directors Club for ten consecutive years and received many additional awards." He was elected to the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame.  His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts and the U.S. Library of Congress.

What made Riggs so special?  If you went through a checklist of factors that normally make an illustrator stand out, Riggs seemed to have none of them.   His work was not flashy or innovative or glamorous.  He had no special talent for anatomy or facial expressions.  His compositions and colors weren't stylish or bold.  If anything, he favored basic, symmetrical compositions with conventional color schemes:







Furthermore, his subject matter was hardly topical or cr…

JAMES GURNEY GETS HIS CAR INSPECTED

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Illustrator James Gurney wrote:
"Yesterday I took my car to the shop because it needed an inspection. The rain was pouring down. There wasn't much space in the waiting room. So I sat under the awning out back between an old rusty engine and a forklift. While I waited, I sketched the mud puddle beside me. The rain streamed off the corrugated roof  and splashed the water, making big bubbles. The puddle was a sea of overlapping ripples."
I love this little study, not just for how it looks but for what it signifies. 

Gurney is the creator of the famed Dinotopia series, whose books, calendars, posters, prints and collectibles have become a publishing sensation.   He is renowned for his illustrations for National Geographic and his more than 70 book covers, as well as stamps and animated films.


He authored two excellent books on art, Color and Light and Imaginative Realism and in his spare time he writes one of the best, most informative art blogs around.    I get exhausted just …

Watercolor demo

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I'm posting early this week because I'm heading off to the World Science Fiction Convention! Hope you enjoy this demo.









































Watercolor and gouache on Arches paper. 15"x 20"



This is transparent watercolor except for 3 or 4 opaque gouache strokes needed in the highlights. Keep in mind that transparent does not mean it has to be applied that way, I do like luminous pastel feeling watercolors but I don't want to always be limited to that. I've laid the darks on pretty thick so that they are in fact no longer transparent. I only buy watercolor in tubes because the hard cakes just don't release enough pigment to paint in a full value range. My favorite brands are Winsor and Newton and Holbein.

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These are color roughs from "The Return" sequence of "The Prince of Egypt" 1998. The cool temperatures were an important color statement for this part of the story. Acrylic on illustration board.

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41 ILLUSTRATORS AND HOW THEY WORK

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A superb new book about illustration, written by the well known expert Fred Taraba, has just been released by Dan Zimmer's Illustrated Press.

An instant classic, the book describes the art and the working techniques of 41 great illustrators in loving detail. It provides a wealth of information you won't find anywhere else, including preliminary sketches, reference photographs and other helpful materials.


The reproductions are beautiful, many from the originals. The production values are excellent.


Taraba wisely chose to sidestep the illustrators who have already been covered exhaustively (such as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish or N.C. Wyeth) and focus instead on brilliant but slightly lesser known illustrators who deserve greater recognition today.  Austin Briggs, Joe de Mers, John Gannam, Andrew Loomis, Alice Barber Stephens, Saul Tepper, Coby Whitmore... this book is a goldmine of under-appreciated talent.   I recommend it highly.  It is available through the publisher.  

5 ARTISTS AT COMIC-CON: CRAIG ELLIOTT

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Every year at Comic-Con I check in at the booth of Craig Elliott, a talented artist who works for Disney and Dreamworks on animated films such as Mulan, The Emperor's New Groove, Treasure Planet, Shark Tale, Flushed Away, Bee Movie, and Enchanted, Monsters vs. Aliens, and The Princess and the Frog.



I like the strong designs in Elliott's visual development and layout work for the movies.



But  I especially like that Elliott is one of those artists with the ambition, energy and curiosity to keep growing after his day job is through.   Every year when I see him, he seems to have broadened his horizons further.  


His core style is in what he calls "the grand tradition of American illustration, Japanese scroll paintings and woodblock prints, fantasy illustration, and great artists of Europe."  He works in both digital and traditional media, including oil paintings (for exhibition in Paris and the US), sculpture, landscape architecture, and he has now started designing jewe…
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5 ARTISTS AT COMIC-CON: ASHLEY WOOD

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Ashley Wood's energetic pictures have spawned an entire industry.  He went from drawing comic books to multinational production deals with development partners and global media outlets who produce video games of his characters, toys, collectibles, movies and books.  Wood seems to be everywhere, from art galleries in China to movie studios in Hollywood, and shows no signs of slowing down.


In his talk at Comic-Con, Wood proved to be as energetic and blunt as his art.  He said that not long ago his career "really sucked balls"  but he found the right publisher who believed in him, and teamed with the right people.  Mostly, he worked hard.


Sometimes Wood seems to crank out art like one of the gattling guns on his robots, spewing explosive rounds.
I work every day, it's a compulsion.  People say I'm prolific, but as far as I'm concerned people who say I'm prolific are just fucking lazy." Wood is not the most refined, cautious artist you'll ever meet. …