Monday, September 23, 2013

My Illuxcon 6 Notes are up for grabs

Me and my Showcase table (night 2: Return of Jafar) Photo courtesy Will Dudla
Today marks one week since Illuxcon 6 ended, and man this year was the best one yet! Hopefully at some point I'll get a chance to come up with a post that chronicles my con week but until then I just wanted to share the notes I took while at the con.

With so many great demos and lectures to attend and a lot of them overlapping, or with having to leave in the middle of one to have a portfolio review, there's always been this slight frustration that I'm missing out a little. I shared my notes from last year's IlluXcon and I got some good feedback so I thought I'd try it again this year in case anyone missed out on something they wanted to attend. I know my notes can never live up to actually going to the events themselves but hopefully some of you can get something out of what I wrote.

Below you'll find my notes which you can read right here on my blog, or if you prefer to have them on your computer you can click on the link below to access a Dropbox folder where you can download a .doc file containing my notes from Illuxcon 6 as well . Let me know if you're able to get anything out of it as well. Enjoy!

Illuxcon 6 notes (.doc file):

Mike Burns’s Illuxcon 6 Notes                   

How to Build a Portfolio: Jon Schindehette & Lauren Panepinto

A Portfolio is…
            - A collection of your best work
            - Targeted at a specific ‘market’ or ‘client’
            - Has a ‘purpose’

In order to create the most successful portfolio for yourself you have to answer the question “What do you want to do?”

Make sure to have leave behinds for your portfolio reviews. It gives the art director something to remember you by, and they can write notes about your work on the back.

Put your best work first.

An art director will decide yes or no based on your first image, the rest of your portfolio is just to show consistency in quality.

Order the work in your portfolio based on quality and flow rather than by grouping the horizontals and the verticals.

Don’t print your horizontal pieces on two separate pages and have to view the piece across a two-page spread. Keep one image on one page.

Don’t print horizontal images smaller so that the art director doesn’t have to turn the book, it’s more important to see the image large. It’s part of the art directors job to turn the book if necessary, it’s not as bad as it may seem.

Important points for doing work for Magic: the Gathering. Their art requires strong composition, strong outlines, and strong contrast. Magic cards must have a quick read. The art must be readable upside down, from across the game table.

Figure Drawing Demo: E.M. Gist

When drawing the waist, it’s better to build it up from 2 triangles rather than just two parallel lines.

Remember that everything under the skin connects and overlaps, and the skin lays over everything, revealing what’s underneath.

Mass = Effect of light on structure

Most important parts to a dynamic pose: Head, Ribcage, Hips

When drawing from life/reference, if a shadow/detail on the model would appear awkward in your drawing, don’t draw it exactly the way you see it, adjust what you see so it appears comfortably in your drawing.

Concept Art Vs. Illustration: Jon Schindehette & Robh Ruppel

Illustration = the end product is the final piece
Concept Art  = the process is the final piece

Concept art says, take an idea that’s /-------------------this general-------------------/
…and narrow it down to something /-this specific-/

In order to make it in the art world, you need to find the one thing that you want to do and be best person at it, Make people seek you out for that one thing, then start to build up your other skills / fields (for example get really good at environments so you can start getting work for that, then start building up your other skills

When you’re given an art test to do for a company, it isn’t just about skill, it’s also about how you think. If an AD gives you 3 items that take up to 72 hours of work to do in the span of 24 hours, they are trying to see how you’ll split up your time. Will you spend all of your time on just 1 item? Will you split up your time equally among all 3 items? Why? Make decisions based on making the highest impact.

If you have 10 things you need to do, but you only have time to do 3, how are you going to decide what you wind up doing. What gets done and what does not. You never have enough hours in the day to do everything, so you have to be good at making the decisions of how to approach what you have to do.

Jon stated that illustrations for him come in a 4-step process:
1. Thumbnail
2. Detailed Drawing
3. Color Studies
4. Final

Take some time to think about how to get the job done.

Figure out what process works for you. Everyone has his or her own workflow, there is no right way other than what’s right for you.

Concept artists are mainly broken up into 2 groups: Character people & Environment People

Character artists need to focus on: action shots, gesture, and expression

Environment artists need to show that they understand how the real world is put together (how does a bush fit into the ground), focus on the size of bricks, floor planks, etc. in relation to size of the character occupying the space.

Biggest environment no-no: Generic – think about how the buildings are held up, what are they made of, does it fit into the setting? Don’t just think “I want to make a cool looking castle” look at real castles and learn why they look the way they do, how they’re built, etc.

Carry a sketchbook to help you understand your world. A sketchbook shouldn’t just be considered a book full of pretty drawings, it’s not just to build up technical skill, it should be considered an examination tool.

When using reference from the real world in a fantasy setting, aim for making the viewer feel “this kind of reminds me of…”

Accurate details & Abstract shapes. You want to aim for believable scale and detail while also having interesting shapes.

Painting Between the Lines: Donato Giancola:

When tackling a book cover illustration, you don’t always have to pick a climactic moment. Take a non-important moment in the story, and try to capture the essence of a character.

Focus on in-between/mundane moments and elevate them.

Take on the biggest challenges in your work today, It will force you to learn and push yourself and your work forward.

Find ways to throw curveballs at your viewers.

Drawing and Inking Demo: Sean Murray:

Sketching is less about practicing technique and more about generating ideas.

Perspective is about thinking

Travel the world using Google Earth, walk through a new part of the world to help influence your work and make your own worlds more lush.

Niko-G Pen & Holder (Sean’s tools for inking)

Digital line work: Brush settings at less than 100% opacity and not 100% black, gives it more of a traditional inking feel.

Sean prefers to eliminate the white of a drawing instead of setting the drawing layer to a Multiply layer.

Magic: The Questioning: Winona Nelson, Anthony Palumbo, Jeff Menges, Karla Ortiz, Cynthia Sheppard, Dave Palumbo, Randy Gallegos, Steve Belledin, Donato (I think that’s everyone:

Maintain a professional relationship with all clients, they will help you down the road. Everyone talks to everyone in this industry so don’t burn your bridges.

Don’t let jobs push your portfolio in the wrong direction (something you don’t want to do) learn when it is wiser to say no, but keep in mind too many ‘no’s will make them think you don’t want to work with them.

Communicate, ask questions. An AD would rather answer an email than have to fix a problem that could’ve been prevented sooner.

6 week turn around (usually) 2-3 cards assigned per set of work, each set is commissioned in 2 waves.

Silhouette and shape are the most important things to focus on. Card must be readable from upside down and across the playing table.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Twas the Day Before IlluXcon

Twas the day before IlluXcon, 
when all through my mind,
I was so freaking excited, 
can't wait for good times.

Excuse that awful joke. It's the Eve of IlluXcon and I'm getting super excited! I've been waiting for this convention to come back around since the last one. While getting all of my stuff ready for the con, I realized I wanted to have a little more to have on display at my Showcase table so I spent the past couple weeks working up some original drawings for people to look through, which will also be available for purchase.

Below, you can see all of the drawings I did. If you'll be at IlluXcon this week and you like what you see, swing by my Showcase table and grab some for yourself!