a blog about illustration, concept art and other topics
Posts which contain some documentation of the process. The documentation can be video, gifs, multiple work-in-progress images, commentary or other means to give some insight into the making of the artwork.
This image started with me not knowing what to draw.
Like many artists, I have folders upon folders of inspiration saved on my hard drives. Some are artist-specific, some are themed, and some are just random images I found and liked but was too lazy to sort. This image started by looking through one of my landscape photo collections. The winter-lake image you can see at the bottom center made me stop. Maybe it was the image by itself; maybe it was the soundtrack of “Jotun” by Max LL that I was listening to at the time, which made me pause. Something clicked and I knew I was going for some temple/structure in a lake that would fit into a Conan-like Sword & Sworcery story. With that idea in mind, I collected the other reference images from the web, then I just worked. The references I used are Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin, Japanese woodcut printmaker Yoshida Hiroshi, and French comic book artist Moebius. Also, one thing that you’ll probably see reoccurring in future artworks is the exploration of “noise” or “digital texture.” It’s something that I explored in the past, specifically for some of my bird stylizations. With my current exploration, I’m trying to add texture but to do it more deliberately than the previous technical explorations allowed for.
On instagram I got asked to show more of the style exploration.
I’m not going to show the full erotic drawings I made, but to provide a little bit more than just those detail shots I made slight variations of one drawing. On purpose, I only changed what photoshop-brush I used for the drawing and slightly altered the way I drew the image. This is nothing special, I just did it in the context of Lars’ request.
This is similar to the drawing that kicked off the exploration I mentioned in yesterday’s post. To me, that looks very digital. Very clean lines, no open ends, solid black fills, all lines drawn with massive smoothing on to make sure there are no bumps/shakes in it. A little bit of sharpness and angularity to the drawing. The pen pressure/line thickness is spiking rather than increasing smoothly. The lines are drawn fast and fluidly. I do like this style in general, and I think it goes especially with something a bit more exaggerated. And maybe that’s why it felt so wrong because the drawing of a woman I did, wasn’t exaggerated. Here are two examples of when I utilized the same brush/drawing execution in the past but pushed further than I did here.
This is similar to how I drew the fantasy scene I posted yesterday. I used a photoshop brush that leaves a little bit of a breaking line. I did not use any line smoothing. The lines are drawn more slowly to let jitters show when they happen and due to the way the brush is set up, I had to use very little pressure when drawing to retain the brokenness of the brush. Because of that all the angle changes appear just a little bit softer than in the previous drawing (it’s most visible in the clothing folds). There’s also little to no shading done with the line itself, that has to come via the coloring. Since I had a worked-out sketch underneath these drawings I would say there’s a lot less “searching/questing” done in this drawing than I did for the previous fantasy scene. I don’t like the look I created here, so this is something I will explore further in the future.
This third one I made using a “dry ink brush”. Its basic shape is similar to the brush that I used for the first drawing, but it has a bit more texture. I utilized a little bit of smoothing and drew everything very impatiently. That led to hard edges, hard angles, sharp lines, toothy texture and sometimes linethickness variation that isn’t “perfect”. It’s leading to a look I haven’t really explored all that much because I just need to look at Sean Gordon Murphy’s inkwork and then what’s the point of doing anything anymore.
I was using a solid line brush with just a tiny bit of texture to it, using medium line smoothing for the fundamental drawing so I get relatively smooth, even lines. Because that looked to clean (and digital) I altered the brush settings slightly to show a little bit more texture, turned of smoothing and filled in the blacks with very fast, short lines and left spaces unfilled. This adds just a little bit of an “analog” feel.
These differences can certainly be pushed quite a bit further. Especially when you add proportion variation or vary the coloring process. But that wasn’t my intention for these versions.
And for last here is a gif that shows the file setup. I don’t think it shows anything special, but maybe some person finds it interesting nonetheless.
Lets’s close the first month of freelance with a set of illustrations I did for Dino Trocknungen GmbH and in collaboration with Kassel based design agency Lockruf. Dino Trocknungen was going to brand a set of construction waste containers and wanted to utilize their mascot for this purpose. They were acquiring a new truck as well, which was potentially gonna get a print on the door(s). So they were looking for poses/actions of their mascot which would suit the theme but also needed to fit onto the containers. With this info and some temporary design layouts from Andreas Bollerhey (of lockruf) I had a lot of fun just sketching proposals. The client selected his favorite sketches, Andreas gave me some additional info on how he’d like the files to be set up so he could make adjustments for the final layouts, and off I went to create the illustrations.
I had the opportunity to design a mascot for a private beer brewer and illustrate one small vignette that can be used on a label, sticker, card, etc.. Initially, the goal was to cartoonify the client into the mascot, and I briefly explored some options based on some of the cartoons/comics the client grew up with. The last option I threw in because in our conversation I had learned that there’s a family crest that features a bull and an axe. He liked the bull and so that’s the option we went with for the final illustration.
Shortly after announcing my return to freelance, I got an e-mail from a musician who had seen and liked some of my various explorations from the past years. The musician was looking for someone to create an album cover for him. The music wasn’t going to be published, instead, it is only for his own private use. For a briefing, I received a spotify-playlist of music from other musicians, a short description of the theme of the music that he wants to collect into an album, and a budget. From there I listened to the playlist on repeat and did a couple of sketches. I’m happy to say he liked all of them, but he decided on only commissioning me to finalize one for now.
The band name and album title I made up myself from the description that I was given.
I’m really happy with this project, I had a lot of fun listening to the playlist and letting my own imagination & emotions guide me through the process of making those comps/sketches. I’m also happy that I got to work on the one sketch that I threw in as an “out there”-suggestion.
I don’t know when exactly I discovered Harry Mack. It wasn’t too long ago but before the pandemic. I saw one of his Guerilla Bars videos and followed his channel on youtube. But it was only when the pandemic hit and he started a series called “Omegle Bars” that I became a big fan of him. The concept of the show is that Harry chats up random people on a chat-roulette site called “Omegle”. He offers to do a freestyle for his chat partner based on random words they provide. Harry is marvelous in his freestyle performance. But the series really shines because you can see and feel Harry lifting the spirits of the people he encounters. And that positive energy is so strong that with every episode I can’t help myself but be happy myself, for Harry, his chat partners, everyone. I had the opportunity to join his HappyHour stream a few months ago. Here’s the time-stamped link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HViiFqbGD2g&t=2523s I think you can easily see just how happy I was!
A couple of days ago I was feeling anxious. There’s time-sensitive bureaucracy I have to deal with so I can freelance again. A job that would have been beneficial for the aforementioned bureaucracy just fell through and I was putting myself under pressure to produce portfolio artwork that I didn’t really want to do but which would make it easy to get some quick jobs. I wasn’t in the best mood or mindset and I was spiraling down fast. So I stopped my “work performance”, turned on a Harry Mack video, and let myself be uplifted. This then turned into me being motivated to draw something Harry Mack related. It turned into a sketch and the sketch turned into an illustration.
The following illustration is based on the “Alpenkrähe | Red-billed cough”. After doing the Subalpine Warbler, I felt like I was not pushing myself in any way on these latest images. So in this illustration I avoided using curves as much as possible, constructed the body out of chunky rectangles instead and deliberately made everything – from the basic proportions to the shading – a little bit more abstract than before. And at the end, I created a second interpretation on the same basis because I felt again like I was sticking too much to what I already established as a safe look.
Unfortunately, I did not write any notes while creating this illustration and thus there will not be any additional text to accompany the process-images. Due to being busy at work & the Tendonitis flaring back up again I had to split the work on this image over multiple evenings.
Sometimes “inspiration” really just means to look at something you’ve seen already multiple times again, but this time you see something different.
As I got out of the shower I looked out the window which had fogged up due to me enjoying warm water on my skin while we had just seen some snow coming down a few minutes earlier. The view out of the bathroom window isn’t very inspiring by itself, there’s the wall of the next house a few meters away and some branches hanging from a tree which sits between the two houses. I’ve seen that view for 3 years on an almost daily basis and I don’t get excited about it, usually. However for some reason this time my brain made me realize and actively consider that there is a wall, and yes there are tree branches – but have you noticed how everything looks like it’s 2D. It’s all flat, there’s no volume to it. Whatever chemistry happened in my brain at that point took those thoughts and turned it into multiple ideas for artworks. This was one of the ideas and the most straight-forward one. So everything you need to know is already in the first image here. The ref-photo I took a couple minutes after the post-shower-epithany and the quick composition doodle that followed after.
I knew I would be going for a simple composition and color-theme on this image. Mostly bright greys to give the impression of mist & fog, but with a little bit darker values on the branches and the bird. I knew that I’d need a bird with a colored pattern to it’s feathering and looking through the bird guidebooks I found the “Balkan-Bartgrasmücke – Subalpine Warbler”. I liked the red’ish chest coloration but ultimately I decided to use this bird because I saw an opportunity in its head-shapes.
So the next step was to lay down the base-shapes without any detailling.