Saturday, October 31, 2015

Police Sketch Artist

Last weekend, a bunch of Illustrators were hanging out at a bar in Allentown, PA. During our drunken revelry, we ended up inventing a new game we like to call 'Police Sketch Artist'.

The game works like this...

As a whole, the group decides on a famous and unique looking celebrity. Whatever artist amongst the group does NOT know who the celebrity is (by name) is tasked with drawing a picture of them using only descriptions given by his/her peers. Much like a Police Sketch Artist would have to do, hence the name.

At first, it seemed like the challenge would lie in the abilities of the artist drawing the image. But we soon realized that the real difficulty came not in drawing, but in describing the person. Trying to identify what features truly captured the person's character was far more challenging than we initially thought.

In the end we came up with some really great drawings that came surprisingly close! More times than not, the artist drawing the picture was shocked at the similarities when we showed them a real photo of the celebrity they had been drawing.

I've included some of the best below. I could credit all of the artists and the celebrities, but I think it would be more fun to see what reader can identify them all. Give us your best shot in the comments section!















Friday, October 30, 2015

Inktober 2015! (part 3)

Inktober 2015 is nearly over.  Tomorrow is the last day and I will miss seeing the stream of updates on Instagram and Twitter.  I have seen some friends grow significantly in their proficiency and confidence with their work.

I have also made some little discoveries along the way that I think have improved my sketching.  Moving from pen to pencil has made me more deliberate with my pencil sketching.

One of the things I love about ink drawings, especially a good India ink, is the immediacy of it.  As soon as you make a mark, you are committed.  When I see a wonderful ink drawing, I can't help but admire each stroke of the quill or brush as a distinct moment in time.  Each line is a decision made that can't be unmade.

I am going to wrap up my 3 Inktober posts with a feast of images from past and current artists who I think do some wonderful work with ink.

Joesph Clement Coll

I love how the silhouetted shapes in the background are drawn with the same flowing lines that flow through the background without breaking that movement.

A gorgeous hi-res scan below sent in by Cory Hinman in a comment on my first Inktober post:

Another great hi-res image:

Nicolas Delort

I know that his work is isn't purely ink, some of it is scratchboard, but it is still essentially ink.  Really, it is just too good not to share here.

Seriously, this Where the Wild Things Are piece is one of my favorite images.  I guess it was a poster for Mondo and it sold out the same day it was released.

One of those pieces you wish you had done.

James Montgomery Flagg

The face and pants of the man on the left... there is such confidence and spontaneity in the pen work here.

It is beautiful how much form, shape and depth is created in the drawing below with line work.

Kim Jung Gi

Kim Jung Gi has been featured on MC before, but I had to include a few of his amazing drawings here.  If you aren't familiar with his work, go search YouTube for him and watch him draw then come back and look at these closer.

James Jean
I have long admired Jean's work, especially the Fable series he spearheaded for some time.  He has a unique and fascinating style.

And I end with this exquisite little drawing by Charles Dana Gibson.

If you didn't participate in Inktober this year, consider it for next year!  It is a challenge some days to keep it going, but it has been neat to see other artists from all around the world and cool to be part of it.

I need to think of a clever name for an oil-painting-a-day month...

Howard Lyon

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What, How, and (most importantly) WHY?

-By Lauren Panepinto

I was at IlluXcon this weekend, and for those of you that don't know, it's an art convention for Science Fiction and Fantasy illustrators, mostly working traditionally, held at the Allentown Art Museum in PA. Cons are exhausting times to be an Art Director. (Especially a really really recognizable one.) For example, I had hours of official portfolio reviews every day, then Marc Scheff & I gave one an epic 2-hour mega-condensed-version of our Art Business Bootcamps. In between, almost every minute you're free, you're giving impromptu portfolio reviews, mostly to young artists who are hungry for any kind of feedback you can give them. There's a joke that at the height of a convention an AD can't walk a full 10 steps without being stopped with a portfolio review. (Trust me, we test it.) Eventually you have to start saying no for the nite - but we're terrible at it - I saw ADs giving reviews in a hotel lobby full of drunken artists at 2am (looking at you, Cynthia Sheppard, ha). Hell, I even gave a few drunken portfolio reviews. (Yes, I warned them, but they still gave me those puppy dog eyes.)

There was someone there who had never been to an art convention like that before, and they were blown away, and the first thing they asked was Why. Why do all you crazy ADs (and many of the pro artists) give so much to artists who often have no chance of being hired by you anytime soon, if ever. It was after my 50-something-th portfolio of the day, so I couldn't really give an answer other than well, because you have to, these artists need guidance, and it's our responsibility to share info.

It was an ok answer, but the question stayed with me…

This week Marc & I launched the online version of our Art Business Bootcamps. We've been working really hard on them (thank god Marc has a computer science degree from Harvard is all I'm going to say) and we've been shooting video and expanding and designing the bootcamps, and building websites and learning new software platforms, and we were thrilled to get it all revealed finally. And I was telling a non-artist friend about it, and they asked Why. Well first they asked how the hell do you have time to do all the crap you do - I mean it's not like Creative Director is a low-impact job, and Marc not only works as a full time artist, but also runs the tech and monitors every class for smArt School, runs Every Day Original, Dear AD, and has kids. A newborn even. And this friend asked Why. Why are we working so hard? We're clearly not charging enough for it to be profit - in fact we've been working every angle we could to bring the price down as low as possible for artists. So why are we killing ourselves?

I said it was because art schools don't teach this stuff, and artists need it to survive. That ADs knew this info best and artists needed to know it. But that didn't explain why WE had to do it. Why do we run the bootcamps, and why did we start Dear AD? Why does Dan run this blog? Why does Jon run Art Order? Why does Rebecca run smArt School & the IMC? What about Schoolism, Art Camp, One Fantastic Week, Illustration Age, all of these resources? If any of these people were in it for profit they'd be in much more lucrative endeavors.

So this Why was sitting on me through the rest of the weekend, and the whole ride home, and the past few days as Marc & I launch yet another project. And when I think about "Why" there's luckily another friend I have who's an expert on Why, Simon Sinek. He literally wrote the book Start With Why. If you haven't seen his TED talk, then definitely watch this:

So I started thinking about this in terms of Simon's Golden Circle concept, and this is what I came up with:
My very unscientific golden circle sketched out
And I think it actually answers a lot. My "Why" is simply because I want more artists to make more cool shit. I want them to be freed up as much as possible from all the periphery of the business of having an art career, and maximize the time spent making awesome art. Myself included. I'm pretty sure everyone else I mentioned above who mentors this scene has a similar "Why", even if their "How" and "What" are different. Honestly, if you dig deep enough, I am angry that a traditional art school education doesn't give you these tools, except when you happen to run across a very very good teacher. I am angry at the confusion and wasting of time and effort that learning these skills on their own takes artists, and I am angry at how many fabulous artists don't make it into a long term career because they are missing this info. I am frustrated by the lack of communication between clients who most of the time really do want to get great art and support artists, and artists who need great clients to support them with jobs that inspire them and pay them fairly. I want to not only educate artists, but make a community of shared resources that support artists not only getting the best client commissions, but also help them do personal projects and turn them into successful entrepreneurships.

That is why we kill ourselves to do portfolio reviews at cons, create networks and projects and education programs, and are so so protective of our scene. I'm honored to be in a community that has so many pillars supporting this attitude, and it makes me feel like a superhero to contribute to that. I was extremely lucky to find a work partner that feels exactly the same way I do, with as much passion, and the very same Why.

Now go make your own golden circle and figure out your own Why. Draw it out and tack it to the wall next to where you draw or next to the computer, and let it inspire you and keep you on your path. And if any of Drawn + Drafted's projects can help you, use them. And if the new Bootcamps can help you clear obstacles to making awesome art, then I hope we'll see you in January.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Phantom in the Maze

Greg Manchess

This is number seven in Michael Swanwick’s The Mongolian Wizard series of short stories, The Phantom in the Maze, to be released soon on

As usual, I read the story a few times, listing elements that I felt were good visual hooks to help push the story into the viewer’s mind and create interest. From there I started putting pencil blobs on paper, generally sketching major shapes of what I thought would be different elements.

Thumbnails to establish the composition

Those shapes led to creating an overall design that sits on the page. I use the montage approach to entice the reader so that I’m not describing one scene and dictating to the viewer/reader how they should visualize it. I want to inspire their own imagination to create the world in their minds, their way, like all of us do when we read. I don’t want to take that away from them, so I give them just enough.

A more finished sketch to develop the figures.

The series is full of wonderfully subtle but exciting ideas. This particular story deals with a time shift, amongst other eccentricities. Things can phase in and out, and it provides a nice reason for the shifting montage images.

An outline sketch to move shapes around and decide on the composition.

All takes place in an old institution, with the feeling of a past era to the costumes and characters. I chose an old window to help represent this. The main figure can be almost any one of the female characters in the story. There’s a sundial in a garden, but instead of using just a plain design, I opted to gain a strong visual by using an ancillary sphere. And the ever-present Freki, the protagonist’s right-hand sentient wolf, part of the Werewolf Corps, serves as a visual anchor.

The final sketch drawn directly to the board. 

A strong acrylic wash to seal the colored pencil, and leave some peeking through in the finish.

Each story tends to have a color all its own. I chose to work with greens countering blues as the overriding color scheme for this one. Technically, I drew my elements out, then projected the final sketches to the board. I sealed the pencil sketch by applying heavy washes of acrylic color. Once dry, I painted oil over the top.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Watercolor and Oil: "One of Those Days" Work In Progress

-By Justin Gerard

Quick post today as I am just getting back in the door from Illuxcon! It was another great year of mayhem and mischief and we are already looking forward to next year's event in Reading, PA. I'd like to send a special thank you to the the event's staff, and particularly the folks at the loading dock. You guys are the real MVP's.

These preliminary images are for a new painting entitled, "One of Those Days," which will be another in a series of images involving dwarven hunting accidents. The plan for this painting is to do a watercolor underpainting, seal it in acrylic and finish it in oil. A good, clean, simple plan. What could go wrong?

Tune in next time as I go through the technical process of working in oil over a watercolor painting!