Week In Review

So happy it's Friday! I've got so much fun stuff to look at from this past week. This week in the magazine we saw a change in the publishing model. We shifted from a 3 day a week release schedule to a 5 day a week release schedule. That ups the ante for getting the articles released, and ups the number of articles that require art. Luckily, I've got access to a talented pool of artists. Check out what went live this week: Dragon magazine and Warlord essentials. I love working with David. He hits the concept well, he gets the IP and where I'm trying to go with the characters. We has a great knack of giving the pieces life and energy. I hate Jeremy Jarvis for snatching him up so quickly for Magic. David... come away from the light! Hint: If you want to get noticed by Jeremy... do stellar work for D&D, let us fall in love with you, and he will come knocking on your door. It happens all too often.

Roles: Defenders. Artist: Alex Aparin. Alex is a new find for me. I just started working with him this month. I found his submission in ArtDrop, and was happily floored when I received his first illustration for D&D. I waited all of about 5 minutes before I showed him off to the rest of the D&D AD's...and hoped that Jeremy wouldn't notice him right away. Class Acts: Wizard. Artist: Sarah Stone. I started working with Sarah last month, and haven't regretted it for a moment. She brings a very fresh look and feel to D&D. All of the other D&D art directors were amazed that I took a chance on her. Not because she didn't have skill and talent, but rather because her portfolio had such an anime look to it. I was confident she could hit what I was looking for when I saw what she was doing for Sarah Robinson over a Paizo Publishing. Hit it she has.

Power Play: Martial Power. Artist: Tyler Jacobson. I was introduced to Tyler through Irene Gallo at Tor Books, and I have enjoyed our burgeoning relationship since that day. He has several images in this months issue... I love the Deva piece he did for Power Play: Divine, but you'll have to wait to see that latest one too. Class Acts: Rogue. Artist: Sarah Stone. I've already mentioned Sarah, but I have to share a story. I'm a simple kind of a guy, and simple things make me smile. In this case, it was praise for this image from the Editor-in-chief, Chris Youngs. His prime direction for this piece was "I want to see a character that makes me say 'I want to be that character'". Apparently Sarah caught that vibe well enough that he said "damn, I want to play that character"! Very nice work everybody!

Getting the Research Done

Getting Started. There isn't some secret, mystical ritual involved in getting a research project off the ground. You'd think that was the case sometimes. I hear so many people state that they don't know where to start. If you are at a loss of where to start, then give this a try. Write down you challenge. Whether the challenge is "to illustrate a massive medieval battle scene", "design a innovative corporate logo", "Create a highly detailed monster, a monster that can be produced in a medium poly model", or any other challenge that you can dream up. The purpose of writing down your challenge is to give yourself a bulls-eye, and a focus for your research. One hint you can follow! Be very specific with your goal. Don't go with a very generalized statement like "Paint an elf", instead refine the challenge more fully like"...

To develop an illustration of an elf in a very active and dynamic pose, and utilizing very distinctive armor and weapons in the style of wow." Now you've captured your challenge. Flesh It Out. Once you've got your challenge statement in place, flesh out the supporting details. Do you have restrictions to deal with (size, format, color palette, lines, shapes, etc.)? Do you have support data you need to consult or reference (demographics, market placement, sales channels, art descriptions, etc.)? Are there any other details or guidelines that you can write down to help keep your research focused and relevant? Research. You have you bulls-eye, and your supporting info, now comes the fun/hard work. Start pulling together your research material. Hit the web, the library, get out into the world and take photographs, do whatever it takes to give yourself as much information as you need, and a little bit more. 

Let's take my new product line investigation I mentioned earlier as an example. The concepting team and I had a nice chat to define the scope of our explorations, set some goals and milestones in place, and then we all dashed off. In this example, we will be gathering material to help us explore the market place, a demographic range, products and toys in that space, and potential "white space" in the market. So over the next two weeks (give yourself a timeline too!) the team will be pulling together materials, and start filling our "mood board". Unlike "reference material", the items on our mood board are not being used to create the final product, they are just an exploration of a concept or idea. The images / materials / items that end up on the board are used simply to help us focus and define our vision.

Character Revamp

My final design for the assignment and Bob's notes to fix up my mistakes. For this assignment, Bob had given our class the task to update the design of a classic cartoon character, and to figure out what makes it work. Basically, this exercise is supposed to flex our design skills to add something new to it. So, I went and watched Speedy's catalog of cartoons (I avoided the cartoons that stared Speedy and Daffy) and did studies of the said character. For my final, had taken elements from the 1953 prototype Speedy. It's nose, buck teeth, thick eyebrows, round cheeks and saucer-eyes where the elements that worked well for the original. 
However, I kept its clothes, whiskers and tail from the 1955 revision. Since I wanted to make my Speedy to be a cute little rascal, I shrunk him town (he measures at about 2 heads in height, four if you add the large hat) and enlarged the hat. That way, it would emphasize his cuteness. All in all, Bob liked it as a whole. He was quick to note that Speedy's hat seemed tacked on. He also notice that Speedy was missing his right ear, and felt that both ears should be more at an angle. After giving me the necessary notes, I soon went to work fixing my mistakes. The poses will be added to this post on a later date. From an aspiring animator/ cartoonist.

Interesting Solar Projects

We invite you to browse through 21 interesting mini solar projects, solar system kits and circuits that use the sun power to energize devices. Solar power is basically the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics or indirectly using concentrated solar power. CPS systems (concentrating solar power) system use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. More than that, solar power systems represent after all, clean electricity from the sun. Solar energy is the greenest and cleanest source of renewable energy. This generated electricity is available to help power the houses, businesses locations or community buildings.

The most important element is that this type of energy is nowadays the cheapest. Electroschematics.com represents your source of information and we invite you to also discover interesting solar projects here http://www.electroschematics.com/solar-projects/ with all the needed specifications and guidelines. You can also discover solar charge control circuit schematics . Our project will definitely fulfill your requirement in terms of technical details, information, ideas and most of all innovation. Nowadays, this world is in total progress and its changing every second, so keeping up with all the changes in the electronic field is essential for us and for the comunity. How to maximize solar panel efficiency and output power?

There are many means available to increase solar panel output and efficiency. Find out about each of them and get yourself informed. Our research and ideas will help you understand perfectly every concept and how to deal with it. From solar cell technology to solar cells glazing and solar panel orientation let us guide through and inform you at the highest standards. You can also check out projects about pathway lighting with LEDs or automatic solar garden lights. We concentrate our efforts into offering the best solutions based on our inventivity and creativity in a domain so explored and so useful. We invite you to log in and be a part of a community of passionate and smart people, ready to meet your exigencies.

A Touchy Subject

Recently I was asked for my opinion on a question. How to deal with a career that has two very divergent audiences? I've been asked this question by folks who do pin-up and fantasy, editorial and sci-fi, erotic art and children's books, and a host of other combinations. I think there are as many answers to this question as their are combinations. Here are a couple of possible solutions... Alter Ego. I worked with an artist years ago that had two names, one for his high buck, high brow editorial work, and another name for his fantasy and exploratory work. While that heped seperate his audiences cleanly, and allowed him to try all kinds of other genres and content without polluting his bread & butter gig, it also meant he had to maintain two portfolios, two websites, two marketing campaigns. Yep, it was a lot of work, but it fit the bill for him. Split Personalities. I've also worked with an artist that keeps his name the same, but has two different websites, one for his bread and butter pin-up work, and another for his passion, fantasy and sci-fi illustration. While not as clean a break (a web search will pull up both of his websites), he isn't overly concerned with his fans stumbling across his alter egos. His work is pretty classy pin-up so he see's the cross over as a "not bad thing".

Catching up

Sorry for the silence. I have been swamped lately in both my work and private life. A quick thank-you to the folks that kept me company on ArtOrder chat earlier in the week while I was sitting in the airport on my trip down to Cryptic Studios (off to look at the latest vertical slice of Neverwinter. I'd like a take a few minutes to catch up on a few items. HP Lovecraft Creature Lab It was great fun being part of HP Lovecraft Creature Lab process. Everyone had some great concepts. I've received nothing but praise for all the artists that participated from my art director and editor friends in the industry. I'm sure a few of you have been, or will be, contacted for potential work (I know I've added a few folks to my list). I know that everyone has waited paitently for the announcement of the winner. I was hoping that Richard and Sarah would be able to dig out from their mountain of work, but both of them have expressed their utmost regret about not being able to participate. Since I've been in a similar position lately, I completely understand. After a little vote tallying, and some careful negotiation with a semi-sane Swiss accounting firm. The consensus is that Craig J Spearing's Shaggoth is the winner.
Dungeon Delve Challenge. I've been trying to spend a few minutes each day looking at all the sketches that are being posted in the Sketch forum. There are some great explorations in there, and it has become a great place to get some feedback on your sketches and thumbnails. Don't be afraid to post, even your very rough stuff. It's all about the process. Sketches by Jon Foster. Speaking of process and sketches, let me jump off on a tangent for a moment. Dan Dos Santos and Jon Foster both did a post on sketches and their importance in their process on Muddy Colors recently. They were a really great read, and are highly recommended. Read Jon's thoughts here, and Dan's thoughts here. For all the folks that tell me "they don't do thumbnails", I think Jon's insights might be especially useful. T-Shirt Challenge. I been working on my own t-shirt ideas for the T-Shirt Challenge. I got way outside my comfort zone and tried some new processes. They were failures in the sense that I didn't really end up with a final t-shirt, but they were a great success in the fact that I had great fun exploring some new techniques, and got the change to do some wacky tie dye t-shirts with my family. I'll try and put together a couple more ideas before this week-end, and post my photos in the T-Shirt challenge discussion.