Monday, November 24, 2014

Magic ProTour Qualifier and visit to Havre de Grace

As an artist for Magic, I get a lot of really interesting opportunities for travel and exploration, and I've been taking advantage of a lot of them since I've been on my own this year. I'm also guilty of failing to document most of my trips- I'm the type who doesn't like to be on my phone or behind a camera the whole time I'm having an in-real-life experience so I forget to update social media, then when I return I'm often swamped with work or email and writing about my travels gets put on the back burner, and then forgotten forever.



Last Saturday's journey was up to a ProTour qualifier (aka "PTQ" -a small-ish event where folks play competitive Magic, and the winner(s) get to move on to compete in an upcoming ProTour). That was the official reason for leaving home, but there were so many unique aspects of this trip that I feel compelled to sit down and spend a minute time typing them out before getting back to business.


Spencer Silver Mansion: Living Room | digital painting study from life (while sitting in front of a fireplace)



PTQ's don't normally have artists, since they're hosted by independent game stores, but John Klisavage who owns Washington Street Books wanted to make the experience for his players different. I happened to luck out and take another artist's place because he had a schedule conflict, and it was drive-able for me. The PTQ itself went great- I got to sign a lot of cards, do lots of sketches and alters, and chat with folks. A good day's work, and I think people had fun.

Now, the trip's first interesting side feature was that I got to stay in a beautiful historic Bed & Breakfast built in 1896, called the Spencer Silver Mansion. I also had extra down-time since it was only a one-day event, so I got to do some sight-seeing and sketching that I'm normally too rushed or tired to do during events.


Concord Point Lighthouse | Graphite in moleskine sketchbook

One of the best places I visited during the whole trip was John's store itself. Washington Street Books is a collector's paradise. You think that you can find anything in a big city, but this is the kind of out-of-the-way place where you find amazing things you can't even find on eBay. He has everything from rare old books to movie props from The Last Samurai. I ended up doing a fair bit of Xmas shopping at the store, and picked up a couple things for myself...some Magic cards, comics, and an all-Japanese box set of collectible figures from Final Fantasy 9, including Princess Garnet, who is my video game alter ego (still totally geeking out about it!!!). John was kind enough to let me browse through a bunch of his collectibles and even sent me off with some of his Lone Wolf Cub comics. You just don't have nice personal experiences like this working from home all the time.


One of the many many display shelves at Washington Street Books- I spent a good deal of time with the Star Wars collectibles, duh.

For those who like my step-by-step posts, I'll leave you with a two-night digital painting study I did of my cozy bedroom:



Thanks again to John K. (and family) for the experience and for hosting the event, Carol for taking great care of me at the B&B, and all the players and fans who came and said hi. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Karen Memory" | Tor.com Book Cover Reveal!



"Karen Memory" | Digital painting, 2014
Cover for novel by Elizabeth Bear
Art director: Irene Gallo

It's with immense pleasure that I get to show you my latest illustration: the cover artwork for Elizabeth Bear's novel Karen Memory, published by Tor Books. This was actually my second time working with the inimitable and talented Irene Gallo. I don't know if she knew how badly I've wanted professional excuses to paint Steampunk-oriented stuff, but let's just say this was one of those dream jobs you spend years hoping for.

See the official post via Tor.com

Prints available in my INPRNT store: http://www.inprnt.com/gallery/sheppardarts/karen-memory/

Friday, October 3, 2014

Magic Card Art: Canyon Lurkers



Card Name: Canyon Lurkers
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=386503

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? No
Prints Available? Yes
Artist Proofs Available? Yes
Foil Artist Proofs Available? Yes

Magic Card Art: Sultai Soothsayer



Card Name: Sultai Soothsayer
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=386679

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? No
Prints Available? Yes
Artist Proofs Available? Yes
Foil Artist Proofs Available? Yes

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Magic Card Art: Sorin, Solemn Visitor



Card Name: Sorin, Solemn Visitor
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=386672

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? No
Prints Available? Yes
Artist Proofs Available? Yes
Foil Artist Proofs Available? Yes

Artist notes: My first Planeswalker! Eeeee!!! I could not have been happier for it to be Sorin, either. You know, me and vampires and all. ;)


^^Some of the early sketches. The mood was "mysterious," as Tarkir is definitely not Sorin's home turf, and he was supposed to look and feel a bit out of place. Because of that I decided early on to make the terrain warm, in yellows and oranges. Some folks have even commented that Sorin's gray skin looks blue because of the color contrast between him and the landscape.

If I had to pick a favorite technical part of the painting, I'd choose the scrolly armor. Metal filigree is up there with fabric as one of my favorite things to paint. Thankfully, Wizards provides us with detailed reference, so I was able to look closely at the original designs before attempting to render them. But maybe the coolest thing of all is that dragon bones in the landscape weren't actually part of the assignment, and I was unaware of the lore reasons for Sorin being on Tarkir (his search for Ugin). I had just read that Tarkir was "littered with dragon bones" and thought they'd make an awesome visual backdrop for our vampire protagonist. As a humorous extension of this happy accident, the painting has earned the nickname "Is That Ugin?" among my close friends. And there was also one evening where we were just looking at random objects around my apartment and asking each other if they were Ugin... [at my lamp] "Hey guys, is that Ugin?" Repeat ad nauseum. Heh.

*UPDATE: Want to see a larger version of the image? Wizards featured it in their Wallpapers section!

Magic Card Art: Treasure Cruise



Card Name: Treasure Cruise
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=386705

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? No
Prints Available? Yes
Artist Proofs Available? Yes
Foil Artist Proofs Available? Yes

Artist notes: This will now and forever be known as the "on a boat" card. For the uninitiated, just watch this video (NSFW):


Seriously though, this was probably the most challenging assignment I've ever had to date, because... it's a boat! As I remarked on Facebook, I was confused because I'm a figurative artist, and I finally got an assignment where people didn't fit in at all. But sometimes it's good to push out of your comfort zone, and now that Treasure Cruise was in the winning deck at a Legacy tournament, it looks like the boat isn't gonna sink any time soon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Magic Card Art: Vampire Token (KTK)



Card Name: Vampire Token (from Khans of Tarkir set)
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: No

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? No
Artist Proofs Available? No

Monday, July 7, 2014

Magic Card Art: Altac Bloodseeker



Card Name: Altac Bloodseeker
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: coming soon

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? No
Artist Proofs Available? Coming Soon

Artist notes: Third and final card spoiled for M15. This and Blood Host were painted before some of the other art I've shared recently, and it's interesting from a technical perspective to see my heavier use of the flat & angled brushes in these two. I don't dislike it here, but it was something I was playing with at the time and consciously scaled back a little in future paintings.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Magic Card Art: Blood Host



Card Name: Blood Host
© 2014 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: coming soon

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? No
Artist Proofs Available? Coming Soon

Artist notes: Second card spoiled for M15... Dinner parties at my house can get kinda weird.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Personal Work: "Soulbound," and DeviantArt Updates

First off, here's a new personal piece I finished yesterday:

"Soulbound," digital painting, ©2014
[prints available here]

This piece was originally conceived as an entry for a male pin-up challenge on the Women in Fantasy Illustration Facebook group, believe it or not. Through a couple conversations and the ideation process it ended up evolving into something else- there's a story that's been developing behind the scenes, and you can see some recurring symbolism and themes emerging in my recent personal work. If you're feeling adventurous, see if you can spot some of it.

On a style note, I really enjoy that aesthetic in 19th century paintings that feels like you're watching actors in a Greek tragedy, with sheet-draped actors and the intimate eye-level POV. I don't know how many more I'll do like this because I don't want it to become a crutch or a formulaic "thing." I dig it here, though.

"OMAIGAHHH..."

Second off, I finally updated my DeviantArt account again, with loads of work from this year so far. There was some shockingly old (translation: bad) work still on there that I cleared out, too. And I don't want to hear about how DA is a great place to show an artist's evolution. No one needs to see that crap within 100 miles of my portfolio. Those lazy compositions, the blinding saturation, the knuckleless sausage fingers...

Yeah, sausage fingers.

Ok, my dear readers... It's been a day. Time to paint.