Monday, September 16, 2013

Personal Project: The Precipice

So in the last month or so I've made the decision to free up some time and buckle down on my personal project: The Precipice. This is something that I've had  on the back burner for a while now and I chip away at it here and there when I can. Some of you might recall the promotional banner I posted a while back:

I'm not at point where I want to divulge too much of the story (hell, the story isn't even fully realized yet) But I do want to post a few updates to show you all what sort of progress I've been making. I can't really describe what it feels like to be painting my own stuff again. It's a real treat to crawl back into my dark corner and think up this stuff and my hope is you'll enjoy following my process along the way.

The Precipice is focused around a new approach to exorcism and the byproduct of it's activities. One of the first pieces I made was the hospital showers at the end of last year:

You might also remember a character sheet I did around that same time for the main protagonist in the story:

I've had a lot of fun lately working out her character and understanding who she is and who she'll become as the narrative moves forward. I realized that while I might have developed an interesting costume I missed the mark on her personality. She doesn't have the history and cynicism that I initially pictured. One way to expand on that idea was to put her in a position that would show the audience how she would react in a given situation. And so I present the first panel in a small, surreal, single-page comic that will hopefully give you an introduction into her behavior, mannerisms, and psyche:

This is a all pretty new for me in terms of style and storytelling, but I'm having a blast so far. A lot of it actually stemmed from a Visual Narrative class I took with Marshall Vandruff not long ago. I started to understand the craft of story development and realized just how far I have yet to travel. Here's a block out of the 1st page of a 4-page comic I did for his online TAD class: (sidenote: John English, Jon Foster, Vanessa Lemen, Jason Felix, Anita Kunz, Francis Livingston, Stephanie Shirazi, Brent Watkinson, Mark English, the whole lot of them, Great, GREAT people. Can't speak highly enough of what they do and who they are as individuals.)

It's funny because I absolutely hated comics growing up. But this year alone has showed me the benefits they can bring to really fleshing out your own world. More to come:)

As you might expect, being an exorcist or 'Reclaimer' and I've started to call them, demons play an important role in their particular line of work. Last year I took a stab at designing something that would look cool but would also fit within the design ethos of The Precipice. So the Fallen Harpy was born:

I had a lot of fun with this character and even used him as a base for my first runaround in Zbrush:

But as time moved on I started to realize that a lot of my favorite horror monsters/villains remain iconic for a reason. All I really managed to do with the harpy was re-design a Greek mythological creature without any real purpose for being. So I thought about other ways I could design something that would stick with people and become a staple of The Precipice universe. Behold the Milkman:

With his design I felt like I was pulling from somewhere that felt familiar and yet new all at the same time. He set the stage for my legion of antagonists to follow and I'm getting really anxious to show it all. Right now I'm in the middle of a new demon concept and it's definitely more challenging than the last. Here's a set of first-round sillos:

The final design will change quite a bit from where these started out, but I'm liking the overall direction. Can't wait to fill you all in on the backstory. I might reveal some of this in an upcoming Livestream I'm hoping to do this coming friday (9/20). Just got my account setup last week so feel free to follow along!

I'll be sure to post the time on my facebook page the day prior to the stream:

So there you have it. Here's a taste of The Precipice and where I've been focusing my energies in my spare time. Mind you I had to make a tough decision to create that spare time. I left a company I had been working with for nearly 2 years. And I gotta say, though it wasn't easy, it's been very fulfilling knowing that my personal work is moving forward :) Hope you all like it. Stay classy!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Something I've been working on recently. Was definitely a departure from my typical style. I really enjoyed rendering simple shapes and geometry. Very mindless and cathartic at times.

All Minecraft characters and copyrights belong to Mojang and their respective holders.

By the way I'm starting to promote my new Facebook art page little by little. Still lots I'd like to share but will have to sit on for a while. Can't wait to show it. In the mean time head on over to and hit the like button if you want to follow along ;)

As always, thanks for checkin'!



Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer 2013 Update

Wow it's already been 3 months since my last post. Time is moving entirely too fast these days. I get distracted with work at and it feels like a whole week has flown by without any recollection of its passing. Which is why I need something to pull me away from the daily grind every once in a while and recharge. And the TAD Summer Workshop did exactly that.

In the first week of July I flew out to Kansas City, Missouri and spent the next 3 weeks working alongside some incredible students and instructors. For week 1 Anita Kunz was the visiting artist and she assigned us with our first project: create a conceptual portrait of a well-known public figure as if it were commissioned by Rolling Stone magazine.

I had fun working on this one. I've been reading/listening to quite a few books and interviews with Stephen King lately. I'm realizing that a lot of my personal work leans towards darker, more thematic tones and who better to learn from than the king of horror? But what he said in a recent interview was very telling and mirrored what I think a lot of us as artists think about from time to time. He admitted that he wasn't sure if he would still have a loyal readership long after his passing. He referenced Tolkien and how his books are passed down generation to generation. But King isn't as confident that his books will maintain that same sort of longevity.

I just found it interesting that even the proverbial "King" of horror can't escape that gnawing feeling of self-doubt.

On Tuesdays and Thursday evenings we had figure drawing from 7-9pm. I can't really explain how important that was for me to be back in figure drawing sessions. Myself and a few others fought to have figure drawing re-instated at my alma mater, but to no avail. And for the last 2 years I've had a tough time trying to find a place that offers free figure sessions. But the workshop gave me a chance to, at least in part, get back to figure study with good ol' charcoal, pastel and paper :)

For week 2 we had Mr. Jon Foster dropped in and had us paint a monochromatic portrait of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. Jon was such a cool dude. Extremely humble and easy to talk with. My roommate John Pacer and I along with Mike Slaton had a chance to pique his brain a bit about the illustration industry over dinner one night at the hotel. Jon gave us all a bit of insight and professional experience about what to seek out and what to avoid in the commercial world. Good stuff.

It our third and final week Francis Livingston stopped by the studio and gave us our third and final project: a traditional landscape/cityscape painting of the surrounding area (West Bottoms). I went out and shot photo reference with the TAD crew on two separate occasions; once in the late afternoon and once during the golden hour. I'm always fascinated with how light interacts with its environment under specific conditions. Here's a few pics that interested me from the shoot.

By the time I got back to the studio I narrowed down my composition selection to a handful of images that I felt had potential. I really wanted to go for a nice widescreen format to push the cinematic aspect of the final piece. As an entertainment designer, I'm always interested to see how I can make my images feel like they were pulled straight out of a movie and/or video game.

In the end I ended up going with the top image. I loved how there was just a slice of light pouring through the alleyway dropping everything else by contrast into cool tones. I just made a mental note to widen the light shaft a bit and add some red accented windows to the far building. Once my thumbnails were approved I transferd the drawing onto the final canvas (12" x 24") and got to work! It had been nearly 3 years since I had played around with an oil landscape and I have to admit, it was a nice respite from the typical digital work I normally do.

Overall I was really happy with the outcome and I'd love to do more of these as weekend side-projects in the future. Keep you all posted!

In between assignments I would take breaks and work on personal stuff or just wind down in my sketchbook. I must admit, I don't keep up with my sketchbook work on a daily basis so it was a lot of fun for me to not worry so much about the outcome and just go at it with inks and pens. There was a cat that had been watching me for a while while I sketched the dumpsters out back. It eventually jumped up on one of the garbage lids and started posing for me, haha. Cute cat.

This a WIP crop and initial thumbnail of what I intend to use for the first demonic entity we encounter in my Precipice story. It had been a while since I had done much personal work and it felt good to get something twisted out of my system. As far as the design goes, the goal here is to get people asking questions about the character, rather than just accept the being as a typical hellish force. I'm working out back-stories and lore for each of these figures and over the course of the project we'll get a chance to find out why they look and act they way they do and the circumstances that led to their appearance.

To completely counteract the dark stuff I started thinking about a potential pinup series that could be fun to work on. I've been seeing a few of Alex Negrea's drawings lately and the guy just knows how to handle line weight. I've personally found, when it comes to portraits, it's just easier for me to work with values in certain spots as opposed to line. Painting them seem to be much more natural for me than drawing. Which is why Alex's work has been so helpful lately; picking apart how he goes about constructing the forms with thick-to-thin line weight. It's good stuff. So I think I want to take this into a series called "Pinned". Classic pinup themes with an alternative twist, a-la Suicide Girls. We'll see.

Last but not least I want to show you all a few people that I met out in KC. I loved every minute I spent out there and the group made it all worth while. Check 'um out:

Alex Hill:
John Pacer:
Rachelle Fields:
Ellen Barkin Söderholm:
Maggie Ivy:
Cody Shank:
Mike Slaton:
Andy Brinkman:
Darren Kennedy:

Thanks for stopping buy everyone! I have a few more (candid) pics to post from the workshop in due time, but until then, stay classy internets ;)

P.S. I should also mention that I recently made a Facebook page for my artwork. I'm not going public with it until a few of these NDA's are lifted. But feel free to hop on over and give it a 'like' if you got a minute: