Friday, May 30, 2014

George R. R. Martin Portrait Process

When I started this piece, I knew I wanted the image to have a design fitting for a Tshirt, so it had to have an interesting silhouette. I didn't want it to look like it was just a rectangle pasted onto a shirt, I wanted it to look like it belonged.
1. Initial Sketch
1. With my sketch I established the overall shape of the portrait, as well as a base color to serve as a suggested shirt color. I was trying to make sure I had all of the features where they needed to be so that things wouldn't look wonky once I started painting.
 2. Here I start to give the face some form, I'm working in broad strokes, trying not to think about detail for now, I want the bigger shapes to work on their own first.
3. Punching up the values with an overlay layer. By saturating the blues I'm trying to give it more of an icy cold feel to it. I knew from the start I wanted to give him bright, glowing, blue eyes like the wights / white walkers are described as having, and I was following the visual cues from the show. Also started blocking in the beard, again broader strokes first, detail comes later.
 4. Hey, it's starting to look like George! Here I added in the rims of the glasses, brightened up the eyes and started laying in the fine beard hair details. Now that it looks like the right person, time to rough him up a bit...
 5. Snow. He had to be covered in snow. This was pretty much a requirement if I'm going to make him an Other. I thought icicles hanging down from his visor would be a cool touch too. I tried to make sure it didn't look like the ice was melting, because after all he isn't emitting any heat, he's a source of cold. I also start working on the fur-line.
 I wasn't entirely happy with the fur the way it was, so I thought back to the show, and looked up some photos of good-ole Ned Stark, and took a close look at how his cloak worked. I saw the fut didn't actually completely encompass his neck, but instead, it came to intersecting leather straps in the shape of an X that keeps the cloak on the shoulders of the wearer. Much happier with the change. In order to get the leathery texture, I downloaded some photos of leather from CGtextures and placed them over the straps to make them look real, and from there I added hand painting to keep it from looking too photo-like. I was having trouble painting both sides of the fur cohesively, so I copy pasted and flipped the one side onto the other, you can see their identical above.
7. Even more snow. Seriously, every inch needs to be covered, these guys are from a place called "The Land of Always Winter". I also covered up the fact that I mirrored the fur by adding the snow on top, I'm pretty happy with how that worked out. From here I just kept adding more and more detail, including the little gem that I saw usually accompanying the hat George is always wearing, I thought it gave another interesting element to the piece.
8. At this point, I decided to do some end of the painting level adjustments to really make the piece pop more, especially with the eyes. Also, since I didn't bother masking out the piece in the beginning, I had to do it at the end, the red area shows the part that is masked out. Everything that isn't red is part of the actual printed image if it were to appear on a shirt.
9. Final Painting
9. After some consideration, while I still think the painting would look awesome printed on a Navy Blue shirt, I decided that for showing off the image online, it looks much better on a black background. It just makes everything pop out more in my opinion.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my process of how I turned George R. R. Martin into a White Walker. I know it doesn't happen that way in the books but I hope that other readers can enjoy the homage.

And a sincerely warm thank you to George R. R. Martin for creating my favorite world to get lost in  and explore. I can't even begin to add up all the hours I've spent enjoying this story.

Buy a print of the above piece on my InPrnt shop! CLICK HERE
Buy a print of the above piece on my InPrnt shop! CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"The King of Winter", A Tribute to George R. R. Martin

George R.R. Martin "The King of Winter"

Game of Thrones is such a huge thing these days. It's everywhere, and everyone is talking about it with great excitement. Like many others, I got my first taste of the world of Westeroes (and far beyond) thanks to HBO's show based on the "Song of Ice and Fire" novels by George R. R. Martin. I watched the first 2 seasons and soon became completely consumed. After hearing how great the source material was and me being unhappy with having to wait a year for the next season, I eagerly sought out the novels and read them all, back to back to back to back to back. By the time I was done I was completely engrossed, and ever since it's been my new favorite piece of media. There's just so much to enjoy from these books, so much so that you are pretty much guaranteed to miss many of the extra golden nuggets of enjoyment first time through. I've enjoyed these books and the show so much that I'm always itching to come up with a fun idea for a painting based on the series. But because of the show's popularity, there's already tons of other fan-art out there already, so it can be tricky trying to come up with what I could paint that might stand out. Do I paint a creature? Do I paint my favorite character? My favorite scene? I thought about it and decided to paint George himself, immersed in his own world, as one of the Others. After all, he is the one true creator of all that belongs to the World of Ice and Fire, without him, we wouldn't have any of it.

I've been sitting on this idea for a while now, but I decided to finally give it a go thanks to a Tshirt design contest currently going on with on the topic 'Portrait of an Icon'. I'll have a post up on the step-by-step in creating this painting up in the next few days so keep an eye out if you want to see how this piece was made. Thanks for stopping by!
Buy a print of the above piece on my InPrnt shop! CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

John Dies at the End, Part 1: Meat Monster with Process shots

“Prepare to meat your doom!”

Meat. Dozens of the wrapped and now partially-unwrapped hunks from the freezer, laying neatly on the floor next to the bed in an almost ceremonial fashion, the objects arranged in the rough shape of a man.

I moved the light toward the head area, where I found a frozen turkey still in the Butterball wrapper. Under it, wedged between turkey and torso, was the disembodied deer tongue, flapping around on its own accord.

Hmmmm. That was different.

Excerpt from John Dies at the End, by David Wong.

Initial greyscale sketch
John Dies at the End is a novel later made into a movie written by David Wong, the pen-name of Jason Pargin (shhh, don't tell anyone!) who is the executive editor of humor website At it's core, JDatE is a chilling horror story coated with the perfect amount of hilarity resulting in a very deliciously entertaining meal.

Final color sketch
My first experience with JDatE was watching it on Netflix (it's still available for streaming) and I really loved what I saw. Being a big fan of, when I learned that the guy who wrote the book it was based on was an editor for the site, I became very interested in reading the book, so I hunted it down and devoured it with much pleasure. If you like horror and you like witty and immature humor you might really like this book/movie.

The book and movie are both very different from each other, yet both great, each showcasing the different strengths of each medium. One of my favorite parts of the movie was the scene depicting the monster made of  meat, the costume that they made was really beautiful and had an appropriate edge of silliness to it which was perfect for the film. However, the way the book describes that scene is a bit different, and the description of the monster is different as well. Feeling the urge to paint something JDatE related, I decided to tackle the book description of this scene.

If you want to know exactly what it says, pick up the book (you'll only regret not reading it, trust me). But for my painting I wanted it to be as close to the text as possible. I spent a lot of time skimming over the text to make sure I had all the details, from the bedroom setting to the Butterball-turkey head. It was a very tough challenge for me. I wanted the unsettling mood to be just right, the pose needed to convey what I wanted it to and despite the monster's lack of eyes, I wanted it to stare into the viewer, as if it was ready to step forward.

I really pushed this piece further than any other piece I've done so far. I called it "finished" about 4 or 5 times before finally posting it online. It got pretty tiresome at times, but in the end, I think it really paid off, and I'm very happy with how the piece turned out. Thanks to Stephen Najarian, and Alex Gustafson, for giving me advice on the piece, and extra special awesome thank-yous to JDatE connoisseurs Liz Goss and Heather Hudson, for their very helpful suggestions to help me nail the piece as close to the book as possible.

Heather in particular offered me some really great insight to the piece and pointed out something really important about the piece as a whole. In the end, the piece as it was was doomed to fail as a fully fleshed out illustration for a general audience. It lacks the storytelling elements necessary to convey a clear story to the viewer and winds up just being a meat monster in a bedroom without any context. I spent so much time trying to nail the details and rendering everything as best I could, but because I didn't plan it out better, there will always be something missing.

It was very frustrating to hear this advice, not because I felt put down, but because I knew I could have an even better piece if I hadn't missed the opportunity. It's the kind of comment that's going to rattle around in my brain come time to tackle the next piece, and it'll be all the better for it. So a sincere thank you to Heather for that push.

Still, that's not to downplay my excitement for the piece. Despite the fact that most people won't know what they're looking at, I think any JDatE fan would be able to instantly recognize this scene, as I feel like I've succeeded in depicting the description in the text. In the end I'm still left with a piece I'm very proud of.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing the new piece as well as seeing the process shots throughout this post. This won't be the last JDatE piece I make, but I don't want to give too much away. I will say that it's monster related, and that's all. Lastly, speaking of, I'm hoping to announce some news regarding a project I worked on for them soon which I'm very excited about sharing. If you're interested in purchasing a print of the Meat Monster piece, click this link to my InPrnt shop. Alright, that's all you're getting out of me from now, go read and watch John Dies at the End!
Click the above image to go to my InPrnt shop!