New Gumroad tutorial up!

If you are interested in using a combination of 2D and 3D techniques to make images of spaceships, please head over to my Gumroad (link on the header) and check out my newest tutorial! For $15 CAD you get 2 hours of narrated video, the 3D objects, textures and PSD used to create this image:

190702 Ship Tutorial image only.jpg

Your support is greatly appreciated, and will help me continue to pay rent so I can make more art to share with you!

The Ars Aquatica Project

Here it is, the entirety of the “Ars Aquatica” project I worked on for #Mermay and #MaySketchADay. I actually started on April 16th, and finished today on May 31st….so this is about 6 weeks of work for me. I was doing a bit of freelance and living my life at the same time, so this isn’t 100% of my time, but I still think I worked pretty hard on this, and I feel like I learned a lot doing it.

I hope you enjoy looking at the results as much as I enjoyed making them!

Week One of #MaySketchADay and #Mermay

So I have combined the two prompts this year, and I’m making a world loosely based around how I’d create an aquatic themed set for Magic the Gathering. Here are the first week’s entries:

Stranded Crew

Stranded Crew

Jerung Necromancer

Jerung Necromancer

Nautilian Conclave Ritual

Nautilian Conclave Ritual

Ocean Giant

Ocean Giant

Coral Clearing

Coral Clearing

Symbol of the Past

Symbol of the Past

Coerced Loyalty

Coerced Loyalty

This is only the first week’s images, and I’ve got plenty more planned :) Stay tuned!


So, for a little over a month, I’ve been working on an “urban fantasy” style story idea, where a boy gets into a fight with his stepdad in Toronto in 1990, goes out to a rave, and wakes up in a park in Vancouver in 2018….no memories of how, but now he can see fae beings living alongside the humans. Here is some of the work I’ve been doing :)

181124 Changeling Meeting1.jpg
181124 Huntsman1.jpg
181125 Unseelie Meg1.jpg
181127 Unseelie Hunter1.jpg
181128 Gnome Sneak1.jpg
181129 Hulder Dancing1.jpg
181203 Bus Stop1.jpg
181206 Office1.jpg
181209 The Turtle General1.jpg
181210 Hag2 Meg Greenbanks.jpg
181212 Warrior Patrol1.jpg
181214 Campus1.jpg
181215 Barrier1.jpg
181217 Art Deco1.jpg
181221 Conversation1.jpg
181223 Underground Bar1.jpg
181226 Nick and Conn Bridge1.jpg
181226 Forest Magic Card1.jpg
181227 Forest 2.jpg

Whew! There’s a month’s worth of personal work on this project :) If you are interested in the stories behind these images, my Patreon (link on the top bar) is free to read, and has writeups for each individual painting. Thanks for following along!

Convention review - Fan Expo Vancouver

Last weekend (Oct 12th-14th), I tabled in artist alley for FanExpo Vancouver, a yearly convention held downtown in the Vancouver Convention Center.


This year, the convention was held in the west building of the convention center, downstairs. It was the same location that Siggraph used in August, and where Wizards of the Coast holds the Vancouver Grand Prix Magic the Gathering event.

As convention centers go, it is functional, but plain. Unlike some cities I’ve been to events in, this space doesn’t have any food purchasing options inside the room, which is a little inconvenient if you just need a quick bite for lunch but don’t want to leave your table for a long time. Worse, there is no easy access to coffee! (Though there was a lemonade stand outside the entrance doors) Seemed like enough easy access bathrooms for that not to be a problem, and there is fairly easy load-in and out capabilities from the outside.

As another thing to be aware of, it is downstairs, underground. My girlfriend’s phone worked fine, but mine basically didn’t work for the entire con, and there was no free wi-fi. Something to keep in mind if you plan on using your LTE/4G for credit card processing!

The Con:

FanExpo Vancouver 2018 was a 3-day con, starting at 2:00pm on Friday for VIP badge holders and then opening up to everyone at 4:00pm, and staying open until 9:00pm that night. Saturday and Sunday started at 9:30am for VIP, 10:00am for regulars, and then went until 7:00pm and 5:00pm respectively. Friday was a LONG day, as I worked a half day in the studio before I came to the event. My scheduled setup time was from 10:00am-noon on Friday, but I didn’t get off work until 12, so I actually set up in the hour between 1 and 2. Not a big deal for me, and it worked out ok since my setup is not complex.

They only had one staff member handing out exhibitor badges when I arrived, and I’m glad there were only about 6 people in front of me in the line, as it wasn’t moving super fast. Slightly worrisome was that badge pickup was in the back of the exhibit hall itself, so we were permitted to walk right through everything with no proof that we were actually supposed to be there! The rest of the event, security seemed fine, but during setup, anyone could have walked in and taken anything from the many tables that were set up but didn’t have people watching them.

Like many smaller for-profit conventions, there weren’t a lot of panels or things to do except shop and get pictures taken with celebrities. Frankly, I have no idea what someone with a 3 day pass would do for the entire weekend. While not tiny as these events go, I could easily have walked through the entire hall and seen all the exhibitors in about 2 hours. It seemed like most people just bought a one-day pass, which I believe hurt my sales. Buying seemed focused on things people knew they wanted, and they weren’t there long enough to think things over and come back to a table that they might have shopped at if they were there for multiple days. It also meant that no one was holding out for Sunday to buy, so if you sell fan art that is in high demand, that might actually work out in your favor. Tickets weren’t that expensive in comparison to some other conventions, but given the relative youth of the attendees, might have taken spending money away from teens. My impression was that for many people, the event was the entertainment more than a vehicle for purchasing more things. If you are just looking to get into cons, nervous about crowds, or otherwise like things slower, this might also be a good con for you. Personally, I’m trying to maximize sales, so the larger the crowd, the better my chances.

I heard from several vendors that it felt slower than the year before. As I was operating my table, I don’t know how other rows faired, and sometimes things are not evenly trafficked, but our row felt pretty quiet. Using cosplayers as a measure, there was never a time when traffic was bad enough that a cosplayer stopping for photos blocked view or movement.

The entire con had a very anime vibe to it. Most of the cosplayers were anime characters, and  most of the vendors outside of artist alley seemed focused that direction as well. There were some other cosplay booths, and a couple of ones catering to video games and computer equipment, but I would have liked to see some more book sellers and comic book shops. Vancouver already has 2 other anime conventions, and I was hoping this would bring out more fans of other forms of the entertainment industry. It did not. Again, if your work sells well at those sorts of events, it might be a great thing for you, but I didn’t see a lot of the demographics that buy my work, and my sales were reflected in that way. I don’t do fan art, and primarily create more environment-based images, so my audience is not the same as those who are looking for pictures of their favorite character in a cool pose.

Con staff was wandering around but never talked to me while I was tabling - I also never needed anything, so that was fine. I do wish that our tables had a trash can, but it wasn’t that far to the walk my garbage to one at the end of the row. We did have the form to signup for next year waiting on our table Sunday morning, so that was well handled. One thing I did find frustrating was that both exhibitors and attendees were forced in a very spiral path to get down to the convention floor by foot, which was a pain when carrying heavy supplies or trying to make a quick run for food or coffee, since there were none in the hall itself.

Overall, it felt like a reasonably well run con, but not one where my target audience attends. It was actually my worst convention of the year, sales-wise. People were very friendly and complimentary of my work, but it wasn’t what they were looking to spend money on. It’s always fun to meet people and share the work I’ve been doing, but currently I do not have plans to exhibit next year. That said, I did make a few industry connections with people who walked by my table, and names on my mailing list that did convert into more Patreon support.

One other thing to note is that time time of year seems to fluctuate. Last year it was mid-November, the year before that I believe it was in Spring. This time it was middle of October, and in 2019 it will be in March!  Moving a con around like that makes it harder to plan your events, and is probably not helping FanExpo any.

Two weeks of images!

I didn’t realize I forgot to post last weekend, so here is a large dump of two week’s worth of warm-up sketches, renders and things I did to learn new stuff in software. This week, as part of #inktober, I modeled and rendered my scenes that I drew in pen, so I’ve included those drawings as well :)

Elven Stellae1.jpg
180926 Incursions Forest1.jpg
180927 Incursion Field1.jpg
180928 Temple Steps1.jpg
180929 Fountain1.jpg
180929 Incursions Shore1.jpg
180930 Scout Tower1.jpg
180930 Village1.jpg
181001 The Orchard of the Order1.jpg
181004 Globe House1.jpg
181006 The Spire1.jpg

More daily sketches

Another week of rapid 3D sketching, mostly using Gravity Sketch, Oculus Medium and Octane, with a bit of Photoshop to tie things together.  I try to keep my working time on these to about an hour each, so that I can learn things without getting hung up on little details.

180819 Landing1.jpg
180819 Pit Stop1.jpg
180821 Down for Repairs.jpg
180821 Mining Guild Outpost1.jpg
180822 Fjord Dawn1.jpg
180823 Jump Gate1.jpg
180826 Beachside1.jpg

Some environment "sketches"

When I don't have a lot of time to make personal work, I try to make environment sketches, either drawn or in 3D.  They help keep me sharp, they let me practice and try new compositions and ways to handle textures and surfacing.  Here are a couple I've done in the last little while.

180818 Tundra Supplies1.jpg
180816 Alien Fungus1.jpg
180808 Abandoned Base1.jpg
180808 How Far Ill Go1.jpg
Land of 5000 lakes1.jpg

What do you do to practice and keep yourself sharp?

Character Design Self-Teaching.

I decided to spend a couple of days unpacking the character design logic from Gears of War.  My own personal characters have tended towards a minimalism that I got from Alex Toth being a huge influence on me, and I'm trying to broaden my style to make it a bit more current.  The GoW style is *too* micro-detail for my personal tastes, but I thought pushing past my comfort zone might be a good way to learn.

I started with a relatively simple design from the GoW3 art book, and did a master copy.

Photo 2018-02-09, 11 18 36 AM.jpg

Next, I was interested in how they portrayed women as well as men, so I found a picture of a 3D model of one of the characters, and drew that as well.

Photo 2018-02-10, 5 15 06 PM.jpg

As my third and final (for now) master copy, I found one of the characters that was "bursting" with micro-detail, and copied him.

Photo 2018-02-11, 9 59 19 AM.jpg

Only after those 3 studies did I attempt to apply the design language to my own character.  I didn't try to slavishly copy exactly, but rather to learn the ideas of the master copies and apply them my way.

Photo 2018-02-11, 9 59 55 PM.jpg

I had a lot of fun with this process, and I recommend it for anyone who is trying to stretch their visual libraries and sense of design.  Learn first by observing and copying, and then try to take that to your own idea.


Thanks for reading!