Illustrating Concept Art For My Story 12.18.2019
My current project requires a lot of world building. When creating a visual world I generally start off by writing ideas and researching visual elements for inspiration.  For this project my inspiration came from a lot of European castles and dark fantasy settings. This city palace is the head of the Aurican Empire in my upcoming illustrated story. The palace acts as a home to the Imperial family to a large amount of the nobility. The palace sits on a mountain coastal range on the island called Imperia.
For this painting I started off with a very simple sketch. Just to plan out the design of the palace. After that I added faint perspective lines and set a horizon line. I began to sketch a tight drawing at this point. I indicated where windows would be, and mapped out where everything else would be.
A challenge in this painting was lighting, the concept art all had to placed over the same background. I wanted the palace to fit in over the dark background: a starry night sky. I chose my main light source (the moon) to be located far left. After that decision I was able to block in color values and start adding details. The palace needed life, after all there is a large population of people living in it! To create the illusion of life I painted the windows so that they would gleam with light. I am quite pleased with this as a piece of concept art. Now I just have to create a blueprint so I can recreate the palace from different angles!

Cropped version of my promotional bookmark

Creating Self Promotion Materials 11.15.2019
As a freelance illustrator it can seem overwhelming trying to reach art directors and publishers. My main method of soliciting potential clients is via email, I use MailChimp specifically. In the 21st Century this is the most practical and economic way to promote my artwork. I send out my promotional email every quarter, featuring new artwork and some kind words. I do receive positive responses from art directors, publishers, and editors through email but I always feel a little underwhelmed by the whole process.  
A few of my professors in college were illustrators back in the 60’s and 70’s, they always told stories of breaking into the illustration industry before the digital era. Back when you had to walk up and down Madison Avenue with your 10 pound leather bound portfolio in hand, meeting with various art directors and editors. As a kind of sociable individual, I almost envied this archaic hustle and bustle my instructors did as young emerging creatives. 
Currently I haven’t been able to find any professionals in publishing willing to meet with me to review my portfolio for an interview. Submissions are all through email and some by mail. At this point I began to realize that mailing would be the most personable way to reach out. To me mail seems somewhat intimate, and tangible unlike it’s digital counterparts. So I started integrating mail marketing materials into my yearly solicitations. I mail out materials twice a year, usually 4” x 6” postcards. Recently I have started introducing bookmarks into my mailing materials, I mean these are all going to publishers and I figured they could really use the bookmark day to day and be reminded of my illustrations. 
Mailing does have the downfall of being expensive, it is definitely not the most economic way to reach people. Since I started getting illustration jobs I figured I could use some of that income to put back into my career development. Another benefit I have found working with printed materials is getting more experience in creating artwork that is intended for print. As a book cover artist my work needs to look spectacular in print. Creating bookmarks and postcards has given me the opportunity to have a lot of trial and error with printing different types of illustrations. All in all I would really encourage my peers and fellow creatives to dabble in printing material for self promotional pieces. 

My digital painting "Hellfire" in different stages as a GIF

The Process of Illustrating "Hellfire" 10.10.2019
I really wanted to illustrate a night time scene, in a fantasy setting. So I sketched out a couple concepts and really was hooked on the idea of a young man looking at a burning city. In particular, the city is his home, so the character's body language is meant to look sad and angry. The facial expression is what captures the man's woes, his clenched fist is the symbol of anger.
The city is primarily inspired by some Medieval castles and forts on the Meditarranean. I also took some inspiration from the Brutalist Architecture movement. I intended the city to have a cold, rigorous structure. In contrast to the calm seaside the city is engulfed in white hot flames.
I had to photograph a lot of references for this painting, at first I struggled with the figure. You can see in the animation I had a different figure sketched out at first. As I ran into problems I decided to scrap that figure and move onto a more powerful pose. The man's legs are spread a bit, giving him a stronger and more stable pose. I wanted that to reflect his personality. As soon as I started painting the figure I felt it was a much more successful composition. At the last minute I thought the painting could use a more dynamic feel, so I slightly cropped and rotated the image. This effect helps create stronger diagonals in the piece, in some cases the diagonals really help create a dynamic composition.
Before finishing the painting I also did some color correcting. The piece had started off with a lot of purples, then shifted more into cooler blues. With the cooler blues I thought the effect of the flames was less intense. With such fierce fire I figured the sky and setting would become a warmer tone from the reflected light.

My digital painting "Ambushed" in different stages as a GIF

The Process of Illustrating "Ambush" 8.13.2019
After reviewing my illustration portfolio numerous times, I couldn't help but notice my work seemed to be missing something. I felt I needed a somewhat crowded scene, with multiple figures depicted. I immediately  thought of some type of battle or scuffle, I came up with a short narrative in my mind and wrote some little story. At that point I started sketching and was on the path to creating a personal illustration.
For this digital painting I wanted to evoke action, but at the same time give the effect of being still. Capturing a moment in time is always fascinating to me so for this particular work I wanted to focus on body language and facial expressions.
I started out with an extremely rough couple of sketches, then decided on a composition and color palettes. At that point I started photographing some references and sought more references on the web. After compiling enough imagery I defined the anatomy, drawing almost nude sketches of the figures. The next step was to photograph similar clothing on a model to have a reference for all the drapery. This stage is always a challenge for me, without access to period costumes all the time I find myself improvising. As difficult as this may sound it actually helps me develop my drawing skills. I get to look at a jacket photographed on a model, a modern bomber perhaps, and then through drawing I transform it into a more Renaissance or Medieval fashion. This particular piece was not meant to be set in a certain period, more in a fantasy world, so I had liberties in the costume designs.

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