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.