Thursday, November 7, 2013

Two New Interviews

In the wake of Magic's Commander 2013 release this past week, I've gotten to do a couple new interviews about me and my art:

1. Interview with SvenskaMagic.
August Undin and I talk Commander art, explore my goth phase, and I discover (while answering) just how much my career was set up during my formative years. Yes, this one's in Swedish, though it's easy enough to translate through the majesty of Google, and the original English text can be found on the interviewer's blog.
*The comments on my Facebook provide additional laughs re: Magic cards being the secret to beauty. Ha.

2. Interview with MTGBroDeals.
Renee Hupp asks about my commander preferences, how I feel about painting classic cards, and what's up with my obsession with drawing hands.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Magic Card Art: Rubinia Soulsinger

Card Name: Rubinia Soulsinger
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link:

Medium: Digital
Original Art Available? Drawing (sold)
Artist Proofs Available? No

Artist Notes The first thing a fan asked was whether or not I designed this art from a dyslexic misreading of Rubinia's name as Soulsigner rather than Soulsinger. No, and yes. The art brief mentioned that Rubinia was used to conscript creatures into an army, plus the card is a reprint, so unlike usual I had a decent idea of what she was going to do. My husband actually suggested the scroll and quill, and I ran with it because I thought it was awesome- like a recruiter trying to get your signature, but in a more alluring/powerful way?

After the "signing" suggestion, I did assume I was initially incorrect, and that it was -signer all along, but on closer inspection later I realized I was right the first time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sketching at the American Museum of Natural History

One of my favorite things to do in my leisure time (that I don't do often enough) is take sketch trips to parks and museums. On Monday I had a lovely opportunity to visit the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, and brought my sketchbook along for some fun.

Diprotodon australis, "Two Forward Teeth" | A huge distant cousin of the rat, or the largest wombat known to have ever lived...

T-REX! | AMNH has the real deal on display, whereas the skeleton at the Smithsonian is a cast.

Mammuthus primigenius | Mammoth skull & partial front leg.

Besides the sketching, it was a treat to see the detailed diorama paintings by James Perry Wilson. He did such an accurate job of matching his paint to the physical objects in the dioramas that you can barely tell where the real world ends and the two-dimensional begins.

Not to mention, I got to walk in Central Park for the first time. Wish there had been time to sketch there too... Next time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Master Study in Oil: J.W. Alexander's "Isabella"

The painting Repose by John White Alexander caught my eye at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year. I hadn't previously heard of or studied Alexander, but Repose resonated with my soul in the same way some Sargent paintings do. It came up in conversation that it was impossible to find a good art book about Alexander's work in print; you're more likely to see him in compendiums on American art or bad b&w reproductions.

Of course, I wanted to see more of his work in print too, and I saw this as a challenge. I went looking around online and there really wasn't much. There's a digital Kindle book containing a good number of his color paintings, which is worth grabbing for $2.99 if you have a full-size color Kindle. But nothing to be found in a printed book with the same color images. I thought I had something when I contacted an independent bookseller about a 40+ page show catalog from 1980 (the same year the Met acquired "Repose"). They said it had color plates... I got my hopes up, but when it came in the mail, I saw that it had only four color plates. The rest was reproduced in black and white. What a shame.

Study After "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" by J.W. Alexander
approx. 6x13 in. Oil on paper, October 2013

I hate giving up on a dull note, so I decided to get the best reproduction I could find of my favorite JWA work, "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" and do a master study. No color plates available? Fine. I'll make one.

Pencil sketch, on my drawing board next to the reference image

Unlike copying a photograph, which teaches you how to mimic lens trickery, copying a master painting (especially if you have an opportunity to do it in person) forces you to explore how the original was created, and contrast the methods of the master artist against your own. For example, immediately after putting down my first pencil stroke, I thought, "huh, did JWA start this painting with a drawing at all, or did he go straight to paint?" It's got an alla prima feel to it... not having his process notes available, I made a mental note and forged ahead the way I start my paintings...

Early and late stages of underpainting

The same story applies to the underpainting. Of course JWA wouldn't have used acrylic, but because it looks like there's color showing through thinner-infused brushstrokes in the background, my best guess is he used a warm/sepia-toned ground.

Creating masked edges and a border

This step was for presentation/preference only. JWA's original work has non-standard dimensions, so I masked off the edges around the small painting area and painted in a black border on the 11x14 paper. By tearing strips of tape down the middle, I masked out what looks like a torn paper edge. Combined with the bits of sepia underpainting showing around the border it should have a classy antique look when the tape comes off later...

The palette: titanium white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, raw sienna, prussian blue, ivory black

Before deciding on a palette, I did a bit of research. As I've mentioned before, my pal Aaron keeps a blog on oil palettes from all kinds of painters, so I popped over to his 19th century section and cross-checked some common colors against what I have in my studio. It's sort of a pared-down version of what Bonnat or William McGregor Paxton might have used.

Oil painting in progress.

At this point I'm focusing heavily on the subtle temperature shifts in the background, caused where the warmer toned ground is showing through the cool paint.

Almost finished. Note the spots of paint daubed on the reference photo for loose color matching.

My biggest takeaway from this study was getting a feel for how Alexander uses subtle gradients over large areas, or maybe more succinctly large abstract shapes, to create depth and interest in simple compositions. That kind of thing really sinks in when you mix and lay down the paint for yourself.

There's also a lot to be said for the experience of recreating the glowing effect in Isabella's dress- I observed JWA's technique in the reproduction, and tried to recreate it by carefully applying white paint only in the brightest area, and using more thinner as the highlight dissipated (letting some of the underpainting show) before blending that into darker pigments.

Someday I must go to Boston and see the piece in person, to appreciate it fully and uncover the mysteries left unsolved in the digital reproduction. Oh, and if anyone has a John White Alexander book in print, please leave a comment!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Commander 2013 is Coming November 1st!!!

I'm so freaking excited about the Magic: The Gathering 2013 Commander set. Look!! A sexy product shot of my Jeleva art on the Mind Seize box:

See the rest of the boxes and get more info on Commander 2013 at

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Magic Cards, and a Blog Announcement

I was having one of those roller-coaster days yesterday; on the back of an in-depth review of the new Theros art for Magic: The Gathering, I made an informal remark about how selective I am about which pieces of card art I post on my blog and put in my portfolio.

That was mostly meant as a teaching moment about putting your best work forward. Probably 1/3 of my Facebook feed is now young artists and students, and that's a point I've been trying to drive home a lot during portfolio reviews. But after sleeping on it and meditating for a bit, I realized that I do also feel guilty for not making every painting equally accessible, and part of my statement was an excuse. I'm a terrible self-critic, and maybe I should lighten up a bit; plus I've seen whispers on reddit and other sites like "heeey, when is she gonna post [xyz painting?!]" and I don't want to let down fans, even when I don't feel a piece came out as strong as it could if I had it to do over again.

I made another informal statement in the comments about a plan I've been devising for the last month. I intend to make a tagged entry for each of my Magic cards, like a Cynthia's Magic Card Database type thing, so that they're all in one place here on the blog and easy to search. They'll be listed under the tag "Magic: The Gathering Card Artwork." There's always The Gatherer for quick searches, but I've always regretted that Gatherer doesn't cover special cards, like my DCI Judges' foil promo of "Bribery," or my Innistrad Zombie token. Plus, doing it in blog form, I get to add notes about any interesting stories regarding the artwork, or links to step-by-step process pics. It feels like a good idea, and I'm planning to go live with it within the next month. Hopefully that will satisfy people who've had a hard time searching for my work in the past.

Meanwhile, I just received my whiteback proofs for Wingsteed Rider and Scholar of Athreos in the mail, just in time for next weekend's Escapist Expo! As a quick note: I am still horribly behind on sending out sketches and signatures by mail- if you're waiting on something from me, I promise I still have it and it's coming, and I apologize for the loooong wait. I'll be changing up my policies on sketches-by-mail soon and will try to keep that info up-to-date on the new Magic blog section, too.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Magic Card Art: Wingsteed Rider

Card Name: Wingsteed Rider
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link:

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Magic Card Art: Scholar of Athreos

Card Name: Scholar of Athreos
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link:

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

IlluXCon 6 Magic: The Gathering Panel

Listen: Exclusive Coverage of the Magic Artist Panel at Illuxcon 2013

Joshua Krause from was kind enough to record audio of the Magic: The Questioning panel at IlluXCon 6! We did an informal turn-based Q&A from the audience, which was mostly comprised of up-and-coming artists and art students curious about the hiring and commission process for Wizards of the Coast.

Participants (also pictured L to R in the photo above) were as follows:
Winona Nelson (moderator)
Anthony Palumbo
Jeff Menges
Karla Ortiz
Cynthia Sheppard (me)
David Palumbo
Randy Gallegos
Steven Belledin
Donato Giancola

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Cover for Call of Cthulhu "Denizens of the Underworld" Expansion

© 2013 Fantasy Flight Games | Digital Painting | Art director: Andrew Navaro

My latest cover for the Call of Cthulhu: Denizens of the Underworld expansion was just released to the public while I was at IlluXCon last weekend. This was a really fun assignment, and a big challenge. The composition was pretty much set in stone before I started working, but creatures aren't normally a staple in my artistic diet. I had more questions for the art direction team than usual, but Andrew was very patient with me as I figured out the byakhee anatomy. I learned from this that I love rendering creepy scaly skin.

The box art, courtesy of

Monday, September 9, 2013

Packing for IlluXCon 6!

What ho? Do I spy an 11x15 inch charcoal drawing of Jeleva??

Coming soon to the lands of Nephalia... or the Lehigh Valley, you decide.

To see her and other traditional works of art in their full, unadulterated (and in-focus) glory, come to IlluXCon 6 at the Allentown Art Museum this week and weekend! I'll be showing my art in the Weekend Salon event, and there's a ton more to see in the Main Event and the Showcase. Not to mention all the incredible programming! For those interested in hearing about what working for Magic: The Gathering is like, I'll be participating in a panel Saturday at 4PM alongside Winona Nelson, Donato Giancola, Jeff Menges, Dave & Anthony Palumbo, Randy Gallegos, Steve Belledin, and Karla Ortiz to talk about our experiences and answer your questions.

Anyone who's followed my blog for a bit knows I gush about this show every year (and I've had the privilege of attending every single one so far), but this year there's an exciting venue change, and more artists than ever before. Also, being pushed up to September, I will NOT be bringing a winter coat for the first time...

To Pat, Jeannie, and all you lovely artist people who will be there, see you within the next 48 hours! <3

Monday, July 22, 2013

Magic Card Art: Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge (spoiled at SDCC!)

I've never been to San Diego Comic Con, but anyone can tell you it's huge.

Every year, Wizards of the Coast holds a Magic: the Gathering panel at SDCC, and they'll show off some cards in advance of upcoming releases to drum up publicity and excitement. I'm very pleased and honored to have a piece of art among this year's SDCC spoilers- Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge was released to promote the Commander product coming out later this year!

Card Name: Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link:

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

Artist Notes:*Not to be confused with Gevalia, the coffee company.

Compared to the direction of my current work, Jeleva's (visual) design is simple. I made a conscious decision not to define her body under the swirly cloak; I think a black mass coming toward the viewer is more intimidating than a cheesy leg action pose or a heavily-designed outfit, and it doesn't distract from the face and arms, which are screaming "I'm HUNGRY, and I'm coming after YOU!"

(Or, as one commentor pointed out, she might be about to squeeze an epic booty. You decide.)

^^Here's the actual card^^

Getting to paint a mythic rare card is a special treat, not only for the collectible value, but because of the card's potential in actual gameplay. I know enough about the basic rules to play (poorly) now, but I've never played EDH/Commander, so the folks who use Jeleva as a commander will have to write to me and tell me how she does.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Magic Card Art: Young Pyromancer

Card Name: Young Pyromancer
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link:

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

Artist Notes: This was a funny one. I mean, there was definitely a sense of humor to the art brief here. Not Unhinged funny, but close enough. The Young Pyromancer is essentially a Chandra Nalaar fanboy, performing some fire magic while wearing homespun bits of Chandra-like clothing. I imagined the skirt piece being made out of his mom's drapery or something.

Far too small to see on the actual card, but the front piece of Young Pyromancer's belt is engraved with "Chandra."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Two New Portraits, "Cassandra" and "Vasara"

I've got two new digital portraits available at my Print Store. Cassandra and Vasara are two of my favorite models, and I've used each of them as reference for paintings in the past (and future).

"Cassandra" - 2013, digital painting

"Vasara" - 2013, digital painting

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

3 Days Left to Support Art PACT

3 days left, and less than $2,000 to go...
**UPDATE**Art PACT has reached its funding goal! Congrats to the artist community and a sincere THANK YOU to all who donated their money, time, and resources. There are still perks available, and keep reading for information on the project:

PACT will become an invaluable resource site for genre artists, kept up to date with features such as a master client list (with contract terms, pay rates, and other information), contract and other legal forms, articles and interviews relevant to the art job market, and more.

A quick personal note about why I think this is a worthwhile effort: 4 years ago, a small group of artists and I created a little database on GoogleDocs with similar information, and it was extremely helpful to each of us, but at the end of the day it was only the sum of 8 peoples' experiences, and tough to keep up to date. I can't even describe how useful it will be, especially for new and emerging artists, to have access to information about where they can get work, and what they can expect from various clients.

There are a ton of awesome perks for those of you who help fund the project, including amazing original art you can own (which is selling out really fast), prints, and if you contribute $100 (the Protégé Package) you can choose from twelve professional illustrators to meet with via G+ or Skype for an hour, myself included. We're offering portfolio reviews to students, or will answer questions about our work and the industry. Here is the full list of Protégé Package participating artists:

There are other side perks, too. This morning, artist Michael C. Hayes announced on his blog that he'll fund the project on behalf of an art student(s) who can't afford it, and wants to get a portfolio review from any of the Protégé Package artists.

Click here to make a contribution to Art PACT!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

First "Unfinished Melody" Process Video is Now Available!

Noah's Art Camp, Part 1: Painting the Female Figure w/Cynthia Sheppard. HD and Closed Captioned video.

Noah was nice enough to release the first hour of my Noah's Art Camp video series to the public! Now everyone can hear me sound like a total dork. ;)

I've received some good critique on it so far (and I almost can't wait to make the next video so that I can employ some of that critique), but I hope it's an enjoyable and useful insight into the process of making Unfinished Melody, and as one general approach to digital figure painting.

Feel free to comment here on the blog with questions, and here are some that have already come up, to head off some FAQs at the pass... I'll try to update this if more good questions arise:

Q: How long did the painting take, from concept to completion?
A: From initial sketch to finish, the painting took 5-10 hours per day over the course of two weeks.

Q: Are your reference photos always pieced together like that?
A: No. In fact, this was kind of an edge case on the reference altogether, where I wasn't using professional lights, and I didn't get one good shot. The kind of reference I used for this painting was not as much for lighting as it was for nailing down a workable form in the sketch. If I could go back, I would have done a better job on that part to show what really good reference looks like, but that early on I wasn't 100% sure I was making an in-depth demo, and I did a lazy job. Live and learn.

Q: Were you using references besides what is shown in the video?
A: No. I have a single monitor (Wacom Cintiq) setup, so if there are no reference images on screen, I wasn't using any at the time.

Q: You started out with a man's hand gripping her ankle- why did you change your mind?
A: At first, I wanted the dying soldier to be reaching out to the girl as a caring gesture (or as a feeble attempt at protection?), but as the piece progressed I realized it wasn't reading that way at all. It looked more like he was the one holding her back, and it made him both the enemy and too much a focus, so I painted it out. At the risk of looking bad at planning, I thought it was a good teaching moment for the series: if something isn't working, don't keep painting it.

Q: You use (insert hotkey command) instead of (other hotkey command) in Photoshop- why?
A: Admittedly, I'm not the most efficient Photoshop user. The reason is, I started using Photoshop 20 years ago (like, before layers existed), and while I've made an effort to keep current as new features come out, I still do a lot of things an older way, or just never realized there was a command for something, and my cohorts rightly tease me about it mercilessly. :)

Q: At what resolution were you working?
A: The original digital file is 15 x 10 inches, at 600 dpi. Or, 9000 x 6000 pixels.


Q: Where can I find the music in the video?
A: All of the tracks are free to download from Each track name and artist is listed at the end of the video (pause at 1:00:50).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Signing at Fairfax Comics & Gaming this Saturday

I'll be signing cards and will have a small selection of prints available this coming Saturday, July 13th, at the Magic: The Gathering M14 Prerelease, hosted by Fairfax Comics & Gaming! I'll be there during the day, beginning at 11:00 AM.

Visit and check their event calendar for full details. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Updates to Print Store, Website, & Blog

Normally I take care of website/blog changes at the beginning of every year, but this time I'm late. Or early, depending on how you look at it, I guess.

First of all, I'd like to point out that I've made some updates to my Print Store, with the latest painting and some other goodies:

Here on the blog, I just spent some time going through every one of my posts and re-labeling them, so that now you can view the posts by their categories (see the "Entries by Category" list on the right). If you're just looking for career talk, tutorials, or videos, etc., hopefully you can find it more easily.

Website updates are coming, too. For the first time since its launch I've kept the same website design for over a year- almost two now. But that's about to change, in favor of a clean layout. My portfolio's going to be light for a while (both in content and background color), while it goes through a major transition. I've just got too much new work coming out next year that doesn't fit with anything I've done before it, so I'm making an entirely new portfolio for 2014. Meanwhile, older work and other archived stuff will be available here on the blog.

That's a small preview of what the transitional site update is going to look like. You can already see how much less saturated the body of work is becoming. I hadn't realized how freakishly saturated my body of work was before, and I've made a conscious decision to stop assaulting peoples' eyes with color. Apologies if you really like my highly-saturated work... I'm going through a phase where I hate it.

I'm sticking with the large thumbnail layout for now because it's been working fine, omitting some useless and broken crap, and re-instating an "About" section that will hopefully answer some FAQs about me and my art.

And now that my blog is (finally) organized, I can even point out that there's a label for website updates like this one! Check out the "Art Career Talk: Portfolio link to see the evolution of my portfolio website from 2006 onward. Spoiler alert: the thumbnails keep getting bigger.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Making of "Unfinished Melody", and videos for Noah's Art Camp

Yesterday, I posted about my new digital painting, Unfinished Melody.

Apart from being a deeply personal piece of artwork, I screen-captured most of the process to create some digital painting tutorial videos for my colleague Noah Bradley's 12-week online summer course, Noah's Art Camp.

You would need to sign up for the camp to gain access to the full one-hour tutorial videos, but to give you a brief overview, I made four videos, each covering one of the following topics:
  • I. Painting the Female Figure
  • II. Painting the Female Face
  • III. Painting Hands
  • IV. Painting Fabric

Apart from lots of process footage from Unfinished Melody, there are shorter mini-demos, live segments, and slide shows in each video, covering a variety of more specific related topics from basics like gesture drawing, to more advanced stuff like how to properly shade a young woman's smile lines.

In this video still from "Painting Fabric," I'm ranting about explaining the benefits of keeping fabric samples in your studio to use as live reference.

The origin was a humble sketchbook thumbnail, which evolved into a sketch from imagination, then a sketch using reference, and so on, all of which is documented in "Painting the Female Figure."

Noah's Art Camp also has weekly assignments with instructional video demos by Noah himself, and other artists like me have contributed tutorials and footage of their work. Go check it out to learn more.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New digital painting, "Unfinished Melody"

I want to share with you my new digital painting, Unfinished Melody:

A girl, despite being injured and surrounded by death, is captivated by a melody in her head, and attempts to rise up so that she can finish playing it.

It’s simultaneously a narrative painting and a dramatic metaphor for the current state of my artistic career, as well as a minor nod toward my 2009 painting, Half Her Heart’s Duet, created during a time at which I also wanted to (figuratively) burn all my paintings and start over.

Unfinished Melody toys with various themes: obsession, vulnerability, strength through adversity, and creativity. Music and musical instruments represent creativity/creation in both this painting and the earlier Half Her Heart’s Duet, and the small, half-shadowed stringed instrument in this piece intentionally resembles the shape of the guards’ shields, suggesting that creativity is a form of protection. While painting, I thought of each arrow as a bad idea, or a piece of shoddy career advice I received somewhere over the last four years. Some of them were deflected, and some stuck. The broken one that's stuck in her (my) leg is the notion that just good enough is fine. It's not. Just good enough will kill you, slowly. Her intent to rise up mirrors my intention to bring my whole self back to my art, despite so much advice to the contrary.

The specific imagery I chose also (I think) relates to various bits of media I consumed during and just before creating this piece. For example, HBO's Game of Thrones had just aired its infamous Rains of Castamere (Red Wedding) episode a week prior, so [SPOILER] the idea of mass slaughter was fresh on my mind.[/SPOILER]

There’s also a tiny part in one of my all-time favorite TV shows, BBC’s Sherlock, where Moriarty is telling the famous tale of Bach hearing his son playing one of his songs at the piano and stopping before it was finished, so the dying composer got out of bed and finished it. That's where the title came from. I thought the idea of being 'unable to cope with an unfinished melody' was a perfect way to describe this painting and what it stands for to me personally as the obsessed artist.

In my next post, I'll talk a little bit about how it was made.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Death to the Old, Long Live the New

Have you ever wanted to burn all of your paintings? You'd think that would be an upsetting feeling, but sometimes it's the best thing, because it means you've outgrown your old work.

"Fallen and Forgotten" adapted from a piece for ImagineFX. 2012-2013, Digital.

Allow me to speak from my heart for a minute: I outgrew my work a long time ago.

After starting the full-time illustration career, I lost sight of where I wanted to go next, so I just drifted on, and tried some things that worked and others that didn't work as well as I planned. Even "successful" pieces from last year like Omens were a stab in the direction I want to go, but fell just short of the mark. Then last week everything changed. I finally completed a piece that (I feel) is more worthy of my signature than anything that came before it, and is a clear starting point for the look and feel of my next body of work. I can't show off that particular piece for at least a year, because it's under nondisclosure, but waiting to release it gives me time to settle into a cocoon and undergo a period of intense growth and change.

I need to use the time to meditate on what my future career looks like, too. I want to continue working in games, and pursue more books after re-tooling my portfolio, but I might wait to pursue gallery work for a few years. Some might be upset by this, but after trying for a couple years to make it work, I'm putting oil painting on the back burner. I still plan to use traditional media, but probably more in the form of graphite and charcoal drawings. I think I jumped into oils prematurely, naively thinking I'd be able to put in the same level of quality as my digital work, but I need more training and practice in the medium itself before continuing down that road professionally. My sincerest apologies to original art collectors who expected more oils- it's not you, it's me.

As for burning my body of work so far, obviously that's not a real option (unless I build an Archimedes death ray like James Gurney). Growth is about building on the past, so while a lot of work will have to be retired, it won't be forgotten.

I'm so excited. Time to shut up and go draw.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shogun Rising, a Graphic Novel

Do you enjoy stories about Samurai warriors? Forbidden love? ...Zombies?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you should watch this short video:

"Shogun Rising is an original story and full 48 page color illustrated graphic novel about love, samurai, and zombies. Near-future Tokyo is zombie apocalypse ground zero. Survivors are forced to flee to a remote samurai village. Hiroshi, a samurai prodigy, and Mizuki, the daughter of a ruthless Tokyo crime-boss, attempt to navigate the new world and their forbidden love. Tensions arise as cultures clash and the chances of survival diminish. And yes, samurais will totally fight zombies. But who will win?"

The Awesome Horse Studios team, (Marc Scheff, Aaron Miller, Noah Bradley, and I) did all of the concept artwork for the upcoming graphic novel Shogun Rising. We're currently using Kickstarter to fund the project. Go here to find out how you can help make this happen!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"A Saga In The Stars" at Gallery Nucleus, Opens Tonight!

"A long time ago, in a gallery far, far away..."

I'm so excited to be participating in A Saga in the Stars: A Tribute Event to a Galaxy Far, Far Away, with a new painting:

11x14 inches
oil on illustration board

All framed up in the studio

"...I considered painting a scene much like the end of the final battle in 'Return of the Jedi,' where Luke embraces his father as the dark side of the Force leaves him. In the end, I stripped that concept down to what I felt was its most important element- Darth Vader's severed hand and his light saber, flickering with its final glow, portraying the moment Darth Vader ceases to exist, and Anakin Skywalker is reborn."

If you're in Los Angeles, definitely go check out the show. My paintng will be displayed among the work of many talented artists (see the list below). The painting will also be available for sale on the Gallery Nucleus website after the show officially opens. UPDATE: The painting has been sold! Huzzah!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Magic Card Art: Bribery (DCI Judge Promo Foil)

Card Name: Bribery
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link: None

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

Artist Notes: This was printed as a DCI Judges' foil promo only, so it's unfortunately not a widely-known piece.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Magic Card Art: Wake The Reflections

Card Name: Wake The Reflections
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link:

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

Artist Notes: As a nice, unexpected surprise, this piece was accepted into Spectrum 20. :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

*This Weekend!* StarCityGames Open Series DC

I'll be a special guest at the StarCityGames Open Series DC this weekend, March 16-17th. Come say hi! I'll be sketching things and signing cards, and will have a few prints and playmats for sale, too.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Painting Daenerys: A Time-Lapse Digital Painting Study

So there I was, labeling some spice jars and looking up recipes for a Game of Thrones S3 premiere-themed dinner, when I decided that it would be fun to make some sort of art to put on an invitation for my friends. For fun.

Several hours later, this happened:

Youtube link if you want it in HD:

What's cool about accidentally making a fan art digital painting demo is a lot of people have asked about fan art lately. Some students wanted to know if it's a worthwhile practice for learning painting skills.

I'd say yes- if you're talking about photo-referenced fan art studies, it's about as useful as any other photo study for learning how to mimic visual images with your digital brush. Try to approach photo studies in a way that helps you get the most out of them. For example (as shown in the video demo):
  • Paint by sight instead of tracing or painting on top of a photo. You get a different learning experience when you make the extra effort to measure proportions by eye.
  • Pick your own colors instead of sampling from the photo. Same principle.
  • And for an even deeper practice, don't faithfully recreate a single photo pixel for pixel- reference two or three images of the same subject if that's available to you. Many portrait artists do this to give their paintings a more lifelike feel.

Digital Study of Daenerys Targaryen

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Magic Card Art: Shadow Alley Denizen

Card Name: Shadow Alley Denizen
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Gatherer Link:

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

Artist Notes: My first card released in 2013. The year's not over yet as I'm writing this, but 2013 has been a good year for me, and I think this card art kicked it off nicely. It was the start of my putting more detail into my cards- if you go back and compare this next to, say, Scorned Villager, you can see how rough the older art looks in comparison.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Month of Love: 20 Illustrators, 20 Sketches Every Day in February

Awesome lettering design by Jeanine Henderson

The concept is simple: 20 illustrators create one sketch every day for the month of February, with the overarching theme of LOVE. I'm so excited to be a part of this amazing team of artists, and to see what kind of awesome work is generated here.

Visit the Month of Love Blog:

Meet the Artists:
For me, free-form sketching like this is a great way to generate ideas for future paintings. In fact, the very first seed for my painting Omens started as a red pencil sketch on the back of a Magic Card proof (trivia!). And this challenge couldn't have come at a better time— I've been "cocooning" lately. That is, I've been holed up in my studio trying to find a new direction to take my personal work. Imagine the grumpy old writer repeatedly wadding up paper from his typewriter and throwing them in the garbage... soon enough I will emerge, changed.