Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sometimes, even though you may not think it, silence is a good thing. I haven't had any time these past few months to really post anything because, well, I've been doing NDA work for a few different places. I didn't realize it before Mid-South Con, but we actually have some local-ish companies that do RPG art. Since then, I've been contacted by one of them: Schwalb Entertainment, to do some art that seems right up my alley.

The Role-Playing Game that I was able to be a part of is called Shadow of the Demon Lord, and I was asked to participate in the Uncertain Faith expansion. This is actually my first time to do any sort of RPG work and I can say that the experience was incredible! I honestly want to dive right back into it as soon as possible, but until then I have been throwing around personal and commission pieces that are in the same vein. Below are the two pieces that were assigned to me...

(left: Blade of Secrets; right: Priest of the Old Faith)

Both, as they appear in the book itself. ©2016, Schwalb Entertainment.

The best part, honestly, was just how flawless it was to work in this method. It felt very natural, and the Art Director for Schwalb Entertainment (Robert Schwalb) was incredibly easy to work with for me. The turn-around was about two weeks for both pieces. As time goes on, I hope that more pieces end up showing up for this as the ideal goal would be doing RPG and CCG art overall. Although, don't get me wrong, I'm all about illustration in general, but book covers and games seem to be where my art is ultimately headed.


Other than that, I've been doing personal commissions for quite some time.

I was contacted not too long ago by a woman that I met at a convention about doing a fantasy portrait of her sister. The process, overall, was just as smooth and flawless as the two pieces above. Below shows the process of which a typical commission goes through to get to completion.

Studies of the actual person.

Poses / Thumbnails

Final Render


Other than that, I've started to do lunch doodles again, with the promise to turn them into fully-rendered pieces as time goes on.

I'm going to try and keep up with this a little more closely again. After all, it was far too long ago that I updated. Also, if you have any suggestions of things you'd like to see, such as reviews or more work in progresses or something, let me know and I'll make it happen!

Until next time,

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Let me start off this post with a double post of inspirational soundtracks.


Perturbator in general has been keeping me pumped for the past couple of weeks in terms of the inspiration and drive for my personal projects. That being said... Honor: Decoded is back in session, but more on this later...

Alright, now that the music that's been stuck in my head can now get stuck in your head, let me begin the real purpose of this post. It's mainly to talk about things that happened both before, during, and after MidSouth Con.

Quite a bit has been transpiring since before the convention even began, what with the start and release of two pieces of work that I've been contributing to: Lunch Doodles and a short story by my fiancee, Ashley Webb, entitled the Tawny Woman.

Lunch Doodles is a collection of drawings and paintings that I've done during my lunch break at work. Each one is voted on from about 5AM to about 12PM and the one with the most votes, or whoever got their vote in first, is the one that I draw. If you'd like to be a part of it, check on my Facebook page during the weekdays to vote! I typically post these as early as I can on weekdays so that I can get as many votes as possible. My plans with these are to eventually make a volume every other convention, and then maybe one day turn into a submission based annual or quarterly that other artists can contribute to.

If you'd actually like to be involved, email me or contact me on Facebook and I would love to get you involved. 


The second thing that I was going on about earlier is that I actually got one of Ashley's stories bound up in a little book! It was written by her, but I helped to design the layout and painted the cover. It was partially a surprise for her, but she seemed to enjoy it. The awesome part about it is that it's a horror short story! You'll have to either ask her about it, or find us at a convention so that you can inquire about some of her writing. She typically writes horror or dark fiction. In time we'll do even more of these so that she can fill up a table herself with nothing but her writing and tapestries!

If you're an aspiring writer or a writing enthusiast, check on her tumblr page to follow along with her daily prompts or read some of her entries on the topic that she posts for the day!

Fast forward to the day of the conventions...

First, let me say that I had a blast at MidSouth Con and I actually recommend it to anyone that is in the Memphis area. It was filled to the brim with stuff to do and people to meet.

Our table... filled with art and a super excited Fictional Tortoise!

This was an example of one of the days that are table was set up. It was overflowing with art and tapestries. Again, can't speak enough for the con itself. It was filled up.

A few of the pieces that I worked on during the con.

I had never actually been on a panel before, so that was a much different experience than what I was expecting... and couple that with the fact that it had been my first run at it, and why not dive into the deep end with six. 

Here's the panel layout that I was on...

Getting Started In The Comics Industry
Our panelists will discuss how they go started & will give tips on how you can get into the Comics industry.
Larry Cathey • Charles Ettinger • Mathew Kaminski • John Martin • Marshall Wood

Gamers Anonymous  
Gaming Addiction? Our team is here to help ween you off of your game... by getting you addicted to a few more!
Larry Cathey • Charles Ettinger • Mathew Kaminski • John Martin • Marshall Wood

Preparing for an Art Show / Exhibit
Ideas on how to determine if your art is good enough for an art show and how to prepare for it.
Larry Cathey • Charles Ettinger • Mathew Kaminski • John Martin • Marshall Wood

The ART of Gaming
Panelists will discuss the amazing artwork found in RPG books, CCGs & boardgames and how that art brings those games to life
Larry Cathey • Charles Ettinger • Mathew Kaminski • John Martin • Marshall Wood

Drawing a Block
Learn how to over come the artists version of writers block and get back to creating.
Larry Cathey • Charles Ettinger • Mathew Kaminski • John Martin • Marshall Wood

Digital Comics
Declining sales and pirating has led some publishers to find new ways to publish their comics, while others are just adapting to the digital age while still having great success with the printed comic format.
Larry Cathey • Charles Ettinger • Mathew Kaminski • John Martin • Marshall Wood

There was a hell of an intimidation factor, walking into that Art of Gaming panel as the definitive newbie in the room. But through all the panels, I got to meet some incredible people, and will hopefully be able to join in on some more panels in the coming conventions. I was terrified at first, but by powering through six in a span of two days, you quickly acclimate, or you fall...

There's always more to come... like soon we'll be most likely heading to Hypericon and then after that it's looking like Memphis Comic Expo might be our next adventure. It's all going to come full circle. It seems like SO much has happened in a year... I started conventioning only one year ago, and I'm already at panel level. Holy crap this is hopefully shaping up to be a very exciting year!

As always... there's gotta be another sample of things to come:

More soon!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I don't know why I've been feeling anxious and pent up... maybe it's because everything that I've been working on I've been keeping close to my chest. Here's everything that I've painted for the past few weeks all wrapped up into one post. Not much to talk about at this moment besides art... I'll have a post later today that actually gives you something a bit more than just an onslaught of art.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

There's a Demon Inside

Title: There's a Demon Inside
Medium: Photoshop CS6
Scale: Original is 6" x 8"

Notes: Continuing on the vein of things that scare me...


I think that laziness sits on our shoulder every day. We just have to learn to shrug it off.

Lazy people tend not to take chances, 
but express themselves by tearing down other's work.
-- Ann Rule

On a pretty regular basis, I feel like I have to give a sort of pep talk to some creatives - trying to boost them up. I don't really mind it so much, and I think that Ashley says it right whenever she catches me trying to fall into a slump, "There are a million other people out there that aspire to do what you're doing. We both have to slog through the muck for awhile to get to where the people that we aspire to be, are." I think that a lot of creatives forget that there's a struggle there to get your work out there. Imagine if it did happen overnight - what would that say about the industry as a whole? I think that ultimately hard work is really what makes one go from being a simple hobbiest to a full-on creative.

There's a simple system that I try to follow to break laziness, and keep in mind, I'm a weird numerologist - so bear with me for just a second...

Take anything creative. This can be art, this can be writing, this really can be anything that you enjoy to do. Break it down into a 3-2-1 system.

For example here's what I try to follow every week (albeit I don't post them as often as I should, but that's another thing altogether).


3 - Fan Arts.
Typically this is what I do for my daily doodles. Every day, before I head to work I take a vote on who I should draw for that day during my lunch break. This is not only a way to keep me active at every moment that I have free - even during my full-time job - but to keep my pencil moving and continually find inspiration. I love when I get either obscure reference pieces to work on, or original thought pieces. Although these are a bit on the rarer side, they tend to push the limits of what can be done in approximately thirty minutes.

Just a small sampling of my lunch doodle entries...


2 - Digital Paintings.
These are pieces that I try to pump out to keep my table fresh whenever the next convention rolls around. I can also fit commissioned pieces in here - if life and the full-time job don't get in the way that is. As of late these have been fan arts mostly as well, but see my previous post about how to make a piece your own - no matter what it takes.


1 - Original Content.
This is really where the week gets difficult, and it's probably the hardest one to keep up with. But I try every week to come up with something that's purely my own - or rather ours (Ashley and I). These are where pieces like the one above pops up, or where Honor:Decoded came from, etc. These are probably the most taxing, but also the most rewarding. Without these, I would find that doing art is more just a hobby and a copy-cat exercise than anything else. What I mean is, without these pieces, it's hard really to express both your creative muscle and really to get the potential for client work. This is more-or-less my portfolio building exercise. Again, it's really hard to cram an original piece every week with working full time, but I really do try. Most of them I just can't show because they are either contest entries that have a deadline or annual entries or just personal pieces (these are luckily the ones that make it to the page the fastest).


This system can apply to just about any creative exercise... for example I was trying to talk Ashley through the process - and she's a writer - so we went through the 3,2,1 as - 300 pages of a book she likes a week, 2 daily prompt entries, and 1 original content piece. This is just an example and again, these aren't hard and fast rules, but they give you at least a primer to get you started.

And lastly... I can't leave you without a teaser for what's coming next...

Honor:Decoded making a comeback!

Hopefully this little chat got you a start to your day - and as always - for more work, check all over my blog and on one of the social media outlets listed to the right...

Until next time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fan Art: Jessica Jones

Title: Fan Art: Jessica Jones
Medium: Photoshop CS6
Scale: Original is 3' x 3' (Biggest piece I've done to date!)

Notes: I didn't know how I'd feel about it up front, but this show has actually been pretty amazing! It reaffirms my love for really well written, flawed female characters.
On a side note, this piece is flippin' huge! This is definitely the biggest piece that I've made by quite a bit - 3ft by 3ft!


Just got done with another convention this last weekend - Tennessee Comic-Con. It was one of those weekends where you question what you're doing just a little bit. Ultimately it ended up being just a reaffirmation that I need to be more choosey about my convention schedule, but there's always a moment when at cons where you're just like... "This is really it isn't it." That's not to say that I didn't have a decent time. I met even more people, met even more artists, and ultimately, it got me out of the house. Between work and ... other work, Ashley and I don't really get out much, so conventions are like our little mini-vacations. We get to hang out with people, chat, share our love for all things creative. I think she described it perfectly as, "We are like carnies. But the misfits of the misfits. Like there are all these people walking in costumes and we are even further outside that bubble trying to make a living doing this." Sometimes I think we both agree that we are insane for even attempting to do this, but ultimately, it's the joy we see on people's faces that keep us coming back for more.

Those smiles keep me coming back every time!

I just hope that the next show is even better. Here's looking at you, MidSouth Con!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fan Art: Rey from Star Wars: Force Awakens

Title: Fan Art: Rey from Star Wars: Force Awakens
Medium: Photoshop CS6
Scale: Original is 7.5" x 7.5"

Notes: I felt a tad on the obligated side to make a Star Wars fan art piece. I will admit though, that I haven't seen the movie yet, I just enjoy the character design of the new characters in the movie...

Whew... almost fell behind already.

Alright, so I know that I said that I wanted to make sure that I stick to my goals for the year. I want to also make an addendum onto that by saying that I want to actually blog more again. I used to make sure that I had some sort of text attached every time I would update when I first started... let me go on to say that I will make sure to apply that from here forward as well.

The goals statement being said... I am currently working on about fourish pieces all in tandem at the moment on top of some fan art pieces. Fan art will still always be a big part of work as it helps me to not only practice techniques, but to give my mind freedom to just have fun playing. Most people give fan art a bad name, but I like to look at it as - sometimes an artist just needs to have a way to express themselves without giving themselves a complete headache. Sure it can be considered a bit lazy on our (my) end, but I usually try and change up the piece from the original.

You can always use the design.
A lot of times when I do fan art I will use the basic character elements - such as the hair style, clothing, etc. - but use my own poses or lighting on said characters. A majority of the pieces that I do use this technique.

Gaige from Borderlands

For example, Gaige here... I used a lot of different reference angles of her to really capture as many of the fine details that I could. There is no realistic version that I could find of her, short of directly copying a cosplayer. I used many different references and many different angles. Most people forget that part about art that you need to make it your own, no matter what the subject matter is. In my opinion, unless your in a leadership position, in the entertainment world you will be doing fan art of some sort for a good portion of your day. That's not to say that you can't inject your voice into the piece. Every piece needs to have an equal amount of love in it or it won't be effective.

Reference angles for my Borderlands piece, above.

Make sure that you inject your style in every piece that you do, no matter fan art or not.
Even on the fan art piece of Rey that I did, above, on the original, there's a very stylistic choice made on every stroke that I did.

Close-up slice of the Rey fan art piece.

If you look at the entire piece up close, every spot has been informed by all of my skills with painting in gouache, charcoal smudge, and pencil. I try to tell every artist that I come across that asks me about process to follow one simple rule, especially when digital painting: every inch of every painting you do needs to have multiple stroke types or it ends up looking flat, almost plastic. I've seen many, many examples of people that call themselves digital painters forget the painting part. I mean, it all comes with time in my opinion, you need to learn the tools and all that, but most people just use that good 'ole solid round brush and just push that circle around. Don't get me wrong, I have seen it used to great effect, but the difference is all about stroke economy at that point.

I would merely suggest that you play around with some textured brushes, try out some traditional media - even pencil will suffice - and learn how to move that media as well. That way you can implement that type of media in your digital painting as well.

I believe that fan art is art just as much as anything else in the art world, but a lot of artists will give it a bad name. I say challenge those rules, make it your own ultimately.


Coming soon...

Work in progress of my next original.

Keep on working your ass off, and as always, 
any questions or comments, leave them below or on my facebook page.

Follow Mat @artofmatk

Follow Ash @ashley.storyteller