Title: Study of Daenerys Targaryen
Size: 8.5″ x 11″
Notes: This is a study of Daenerys Targaryen I worked on from a still frame of the final scene of HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 1. In this scene rises from the funeral pier cradling three newly hatched dragons. I chose this to study this shot in order to practice my digital painting skills – particularly rendering form and texture – and because I hadn’t yet painted a dragon.
I started with a lineart sketch with the scratchboard pen, then rendered the forms with dull conte, worn oil pastel, and a touch of digital airbursh with generous blending – all in Corel Painter. Working in greyscale first helps me concentrate on getting the lighting and forms right before I introduce color. I took some small liberties with the design and adjusted the lighting slightly in order to make Daenerys and her dragon read better.
Notes: A close study of a great horned owl in preparation for my own creature design: the Nightcowl!
Somewhere along the way you came to believe that you can’t draw or design. Someone, maybe another kid, a parent, a teacher said something critical and you believed that your drawing was no good. Or maybe you sailed through those years confident in your abilities but ran into a wall when your work was reviewed by a professional, and then your were crestfallen. Whatever the source, you came to believe that you can’t draw or design.
Drawing is something technical, it’s a skill that can be developed over time; design is something more fundamental but also more abstract, it’s about communicating an idea and problem-solving visually. Unfortunately, the fear of failure with drawing or with design is like shooting yourself in the foot because it inhibits progress with both.
A lot of artists don’t like to talk about their fear of failure, and yet professionals have managed to learn from their failures and grow into success. I was one of those kids who drew in my comfort zone and was praised for it by everyone who saw my drawings. That’s kind of like professional success wherein you’re paid to do what people know you can do consistently and because they recognize your speciality. But I also didn’t challenge myself with different subjects or styles until entering art school. It’s hard no longer being a big fish in a small pond but I’m growing faster than I every have before since then.
These growing pains led me recently to examine my own fear of failure and I found advice of design mentors on my journey. I’m happy to share them with you here:
“Put it on!” McCaig said. ”We’re all ten-year-olds when we’re drawing. It’s the rule.”
“Why?” I asked.
“‘Cause before you were ten, you probably never thought about whether you could draw or not. You simply did it. Drawing was as natural a way to express yourself as speaking. Then you hit ten and got stupid about it. Drawing was important, and if you couldn’t do it like Leonardo, you didn’t do it at all. So, I’m taking you back to ten, so I can un-stupify you.”
“Suppose I don’t want to learn to draw?”
“You don’t have to. You already know. You draw perfect people and creatures an worlds every night in your sleep. I’m merely going to show you how to do that while you’re awake.”
I must have looked skeptical, because he went on. “Dude, it’s your first language. You started scribbling pictures before you knew any words at all. Don’t you see? It’s not a magic trick, and it’s not a special ability. It’s a language, and you already know how to speak it.”
“Then why can’t I draw?”
“Because you think you can’t. It usually takes about six months, one hour a day, to change your mind.” He whooped again. “Go on. Put on the T-shirt.” …[snip]…
And yeah, I was shocked, because now I could draw. Maybe not like Leonardo, because even if you speak a language, that doesn’t make you Shakespeare. But it does mean you can communicate, which I think is his point. it’s not what the drawing looks like, but what it’s saying. If you focus on that, it’s amazing how the drawings seem to look better, too.
Ian McCaig’s point about drawing like a 10-year old moved me profoundly. It reminded me of how proud I was after successfully skiing down a difficult slope without falling once as a little girl. Yet my dad in a moment of wisdom told me “If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” When I get frustrated with my art, I think back to hitting the hard cold snow, picking myself up, dusting myself off, and trying again. I learned how to shift my weight, avoid and compensate for ice and bumps, and even jump. Every time I fell I learned something. It’s the same with drawing an with design.
No one can make your progress but you, but these words of encouragement have helped me along the way and I hope they help you too.
Do you get bored setting up your perspective lines when drawing a landscape or cityscape? Want to save time and get back to the fun part – drawing?!
Well, thanks to Johnny Quan, a member of DigiPaint, the Facebook critique and resource network I founded for Academy of Art University members, I learned about a fantastic tool today which was developed by FreddieArtMedia at DiGi Art QuickTools. And even better, it’s free! So, with thanks to his generosity and a nod to his awesome work, I’m sharing it here with you! Go to Digi-Art QuickTools here or here to download and then view the tutorial below. Enjoy!
City of Shadows Poster | Commissioned by Skeleton Crew | Featured in the 2013 Academy of Art University Spring Show
Notes: Poster illustration commissioned by Skeleton Crew for their City of Shadows web-series; text by Dustin Sklavos. The theme is a complex one - it’s about coping with psychological injury suffered through unavoidable attraction. Allyson is still recovering from her last relationship when an accident renders her comatose; as a result she must confront her demons or risk losing her life. The story is painted with surrealism and psychological horror with an understated film noir style. I wanted to capture all of these elements in a single, clear, image.
Title: My Zombie Husband
Medium: Graphite & Colored Pencil
Size: 8.5″ x 14″
Notes: This was originally a character design with a focus on rendering realistic folds from a collection of reference photos. In cases like this, I applied my understanding of fabric and folds in this to make an unnatural body with broken limbs look realistic – this character was based on four distinct poses to give the impression that the zombie had suffered several broken bones. I also took the opportunity to tell a story with this design. I then scanned the pencil drawing and digitally painted it, which adds additional elements such as the time of day and mood of the scene.
If you look for the clues, you can learn more about this particular zombie. Even though his ring finger is half-bitten off, he still wears his wedding ring. He’s missing a shoe, perhaps he was turned when he was getting ready for work one morning. Most people wonder what the role of the raven is. Is it and its flock assisting the zombies by circling above human prey? Did the flesh in its beak come from the Zombie Husband’s cheek, implying that the zombies will eventually be consumed by the ravens? One viewer wondered if the ravens were created by the remains of the US government to combat the zombie threat. But is the red glint in the raven’s eye suggesting that it too is a zombie, or is it merely a reflection of the gore around it?
This character was based on my husband (who was a fantastic sport modling those awkward poses and giving me great zombie faces). If there’s any special meaning in that, I suppose it’s that I don’t want him to ever die…and I do mean ever. : P
These are quick (5-20 minute) drawings of live models and studies of their clothing and folds from class this last summer of 2011. Studies like these help me to understand how the body is held underneath clothing and how different fabrics behave when wrapped around it. These quick studies gave me an opportunity to practice simplifying the figure and designing my illustrations to communicate attitude in the figure and story. I drew them with compressed charcoal an charcoal pencils. In a couple of instances, I added colored chalk pastel.
A 4-point turnaround of my Aphrodite character in Bruce Timm’s style. A turnaround is a series of front, 3/4, side, and rear view illustrations of a character designed so that all members of a production team will know what a character looks like from all points of view. Sometimes a 3/4 rear view is included as well. A turnaround is part of the model sheet package along with an expression sheet and “gestures” or poses. For more information, check out this more detailed explanation by Mike Milo.
Even though I completed this turnaround early on in the character design process, and so it isn’t as sleek as the newer gesture designs, the practice of developing Aphrodite into a 3D form led to the final, more sophisticated, look for her poses here and here. This exercise helped me become more familiar with her as a character and made it easier to discover the shapes that describe her form in more evocative ways.
It usually isn’t necessary to color turnaround illustrations, but I decided to do so with this early design. In the process, I learned a few finer points about outlining contour lines, coloring, and shading. For example, the form of her breasts and the gold bands that wrap around her gown are described better with this shading than in her gesture poses. This was a great opportunity to practice lighting a character consistently when viewed from different orientations.
Alex is available for freelance, internship, and contract positions. If you would like to work together, send an email to email@example.com.
Alex Bond grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, studied Psychology at Reed College in Portland Oregon, and completed a thesis project on Internet RPGs before discovering it was a lot more fun to draw cool things for the entertainment industry herself. She returned to the Bay Area in to earn her MFA in Illustration at the Academy of Art University and pursue a career in art. Her splendid knowledge about people, creatures, and history; her mad research skills; and excellent team playing nature are assets on any project.
Alex is passionate about the potential of digital art and interactive entertainment, and is deeply interested in the growth of both mediums. She believes art in the application of games serves to immerse the audience in a character’s point of view and is constantly searching for ways to enrich these mediums. She brings a unique and diversified perspective to her career as a digital concept artist, matte painter and compositing artist combined with regular jaunts out of the studio to practice traditional plein air painting.