Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beneath the Fold (Acoustic) Process

I'm back to break down another illustration, this time the album art for the acoustic version of Beneath the Fold, in step with the release of the track over at the Dogs of Winter site. It's phenomenal in my humble opinion - as well as free - so do your ears a solid and go grab it!

I wanted this image to be more airy and illustrative, a bit of a departure from the rest of the artwork since the song has quite a different tone than the rest of the album. Here goes:

Step 1:

This is the first thumbnail I came up with. I tried some other things (it's always good to explore your options) but, as often happens, the first thing that comes to mind has the most potential.

Step 2:

I decided to tilt the viewpoint and changed the man to a bird, in order to work in the bird from the artwork from the original version, but making the tone of the illustration match the spare, atmospheric feel of the acoustic version.


Step 3:

The final tonal sketch.


Step 4:

I've cleaned up the drawing and started to work on the texture of the background, overlaying different values with a splatter brush I made in Photoshop.


Step 5:

Next I fill in the solid shapes of the trees and shadows, keeping in mind the values in my tonal sketch.


Step 6:

I give the trees some texture with the splatter brush, then mask off areas and add lighter values for the highlights.


Step 7:

Finally, I add a little more atmospheric light to push the background back, and give it the same yellow cast as the rest of the images.

So that's that... now move it along to Dogs of Winter dot com for your free song!

From Soil to Shale process

Dogs of Winter are releasing an acoustic version of Beneath the Fold from their latest album From Soil to Shale next week... it's beautiful and haunting, and you can download it free from their website! Ryan asked me to do a process post to go with the release, so here's how I came up with the cover.

Step 1:

At the beginning of the project, Ryan gave me the 9 tracks to use as a guideline, plus the title From Soil to Shale. I used the title and the imagery it suggests as a base, keeping it in mind as I listened to the songs over and over, jotting down ideas as they came into my head. I came up with a few dozen thumbnails, which I edited down and sent the ones I was happiest with to Ryan. This one was the most iconic, and seemed to work best as the cover:

I imagined the top and bottom as 2 separate images that the viewer's mind would connect. The top image is straightforward, a gnarled tree, but where the ground would be is a separate image of shattered shale, in which the crack doubles as a visual representation of the roots.

Step 2:

Loose tonal structure to see how the composition would work.

Step 3:

Here's a preliminary version of the final image. Tonally it's working, but the linework isn't there yet.

Step 4:

More detail added to the crack, the bottom is finished. For the top half I did the final tree drawing in pencil, scanned and overlayed it on a neutral background.

Step 5:

Shading added to the tree in Photoshop

Step 6:

Different values are layered in the background of the top image using a large spatter brush in Photoshop. I used this brush throughout the series as a unifying element.

Step 7:

In the final step, I added a slight yellowish cast to the image.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I was looking at Drawn! today and found this fun little flash-based web app, Odosketch. It has a limited pallette and brush sizes, but sometimes I need limits imposed on me to spark my creativity. It's also limited in a lot of the same ways traditional painting is... no undo, no zoom, and if you paint too much in one area with certain colors, you can't go in and paint over it anymore. That was frustrating, but worth noting for next time.

Here are two sketches I did, and to my surprise they both ended up in the 'Featured' section!

Here's the fun part... click the images to watch them drawn from scratch!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm on the silver screen

Larry Bruce: Memoirs of a Bicycle is at the Coolidge this month! It's the animated short I made with the illustrious Mike Annear and the legendary Dan Flynn a few months back... It's on the BIG SCREEN before the main feature, so if you go to see a movie get there early!

Now that I'm famous I should really start researching helicopter payment plans.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's here! It's finally here!

The new album from Dogs of Winter, From Soil to Shale, hit the streets today, and it can be yours for the low low price of... FREE! The guys are offering it on their website available as a free download, with 9 killer tracks and a digital booklet with 9 of my paintings. It's been a long time coming, and I'm proud that I can be a part of this fantastic record.

Here's one more image from it, click it to get the album!

Monday, May 11, 2009

For the Love of LARP

I should be finishing storyboards right now. Instead I painted a LARPer. It's gonna be a long night. DAMN YOU MIDNIGHT CREATIVE BURST!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Design Paradoxes

I found this on kottke today... it's some fantastic advice and reflection on design paradoxes, and working with clients: 11 Design paradoxes. From #8:

"Truth is, nearly all jobs start off the same, and our responses as designers determine the success or failure of each job. There are no good or bad projects in design, only good or bad responses. Good projects are made not found."

Having just finished Art and Fear, which focused more on the fine arts - i.e. producing work for yourself/galleries - it's great to read some thoughts on the commercial art world that I live in.

Side note: I love the page width of that blog, I wish more online reading material would follow it's (and the New Yorker's) example, it makes for much easier readability.

Oh, and here's some new art... another piece from the Dogs of Winter album:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Art and Fear

I bought Art and Fear last night after work, and I couldn't put it down until I went to bed. Well, there WAS that one hour when Lost was on... but come on, it's Lost. This book is fantastic, I would recommend it to anyone who is making any kind of art. From the Amazon description: "The authors explore the way art gets made, the reasons it doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way." It focuses on making a LOT of work, and in the process learning from your mistakes along the way. I love this quote:

The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.

On a related note, here's a list of good rules to remember.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dogs of Winter

Working on some more images for the upcoming Dogs of Winter album. Here's one!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I've been up late painting the past few nights... don't know what's been inspiring me but whatever it is I like it!