To commemorate my inPRNT launch, I have decided to do something special. If you purchase a print by the end of the month, your name will be added for a chance to win a free copy of my art book Elysium! The book will be signed and I will do a sketch in the front. If you already have my art book, then maybe I can send you something else, like a tutorial or some Magic proofs.
Just send me a screenshot of your receipt (with all sensitive information blurred out) so that I can add your name to the list and verify you made a purchase.
Unfortunately this will be limited to US residents only, international shipping is pretty ridiculous these days.
If there is a print you want to buy but it isn’t on the site, let me know and I’ll see if I can add it. I can only sell prints of images I own the rights to or images that I have been given permission to sell. Basically that only includes my personal work, my work for WotC and for Blizzard.
I had never been to Portland before, but I’ve heard that it is supposed to be full of hipsters! Actually, I didn’t really see any hipsters…maybe I was in the wrong part of town.
Some of my friends from Seattle were there, so it was funny to hear them argue with the people from Portland over which city is better.
I also got to hang out with an old college buddy who I haven’t seen in about 10 years, Emi Lenox! Emi has an awesome comic called EmiTown published by Image. If you don’t know about her, go and get her book! She gave me a copy of vol. 2 while I was there, so I’m a happy camper.
Sunday night she took us to Biwa for dinner, it was awesome! Thanks for the tasty food! Hopefully next time we will have more time to hang out.
I think Saturday I ended up working for 13 hours and Sunday I worked 9 hours. My wrists were pretty dead by the end of the show, but it was worth it.
I know some of the other guys put in longer hours than I did. They are insane.
I would like to thank Tim and all of the WotC staff for inviting me out there and to all the fans who dropped by to say hi. I would also like to thank Cascade Games, Ultra PRO, and WotC for the beautiful Progenitor Mimic playmat that was made specifically for this event. The playmat came out great!
So what is next? I’ll be at GP Las Vegas next month. This is going to be a special GP because they are going to have an art gallery on-site at the Cashman Center from June 21-23. The art gallery will feature large format, museum-quality work from the Modern Masters expansion.
According to Cascade Games, “art from every mythic rare card and every rare card, will be on display for all to see, along with every single new piece of art in Modern Masters. Over one hundred gorgeous pieces of art will be hanging in the Modern Masters Fine Art Gallery.”
This sounds like it is going to be a great show, so please be sure to drop by. It is free and open to the public.
See you there!
The other day I finally got my new Jaja nibs in the mail. It only took a couple of months, several e-mails, and several forum posts to finally get them.
In the end, these new nibs don’t work. They only work sometimes, they can scratch your screen protector, and they only last a couple of months before they need replacing.
Update 4 - Ok, let me preface this by saying this review covers MY experiences with the product. I am a single person, therefore everything I say must be taken with a grain of salt. Just because my stylus or nibs don’t work, doesn’t mean they won’t work for everyone.
Everyone should realize that any review written by a single person does not account for the entirety of the value of a product. You need to read as many reviews as you can and decide for yourself whether or not you want to purchase the product.
That being said, look at the reviews from other sites. Most sites give the Jaja anywhere from a 2 to a 3.5 out of 5. The issue with the original nibs was so pervasive that they had to redesign the entire nib. Obviously my claims are not unfounded and are shared by many.
I also want to say that everything I have said in this review is based on actual experiences I have had and from information I was given by employees at Hex3. This is why I take pictures and videos. I do not appreciate the validity of my experiences coming under question or that I am making up information simply to misinform the public due to some nefarious reason.
Ok, back to business. It took about 2 weeks for my replacement stylus to come in the mail. I was hoping it would actually work this time, and upon first testing it, it performed as advertised.
I was a little dubious though because when I received the previous shipment of replacement teflon nibs, they too worked fine the first day but failed to work after that. I wanted to make sure this stylus continued to perform before making any announcements, and it was a good thing I waited.
Day two came around (today) and I noticed that sometimes no pressure sensitivity would be recognized. I quickly took out my phone so I could make a video showing that there wasn’t any pressure sensitivity.
At the very beginning of the video no paint comes out, which is exactly what happened with the other replacement teflon nibs. Sorry about the small video, all I had available was my phone because I was sitting in a doctor’s office.
If you have keen eyes you will see in the video that, once again, these teflon nibs scratched my screen protector. You can actually see the scratches appearing as I am painting. Now let me make this clear one more time, I am using a screen protector. Yes it is probably much easier to scratch the screen protector as opposed to the actual screen, but I am not willing to take the risk.
After my review of the new teflon nibs, I received an e-mail from none other than Jon Atherton. Well, I believe it was Jon Atherton based on some of the things he said in the e-mail, plus he was the one who responded to me on their support forum, which has now been completely deleted. He also left a comment on this blog post.
Anyway, in the e-mail he assured me that “the metal part of the tip is very highly polished, so that under a microscope you can see that it is incredibly smooth, and all edges are rounded. They are then coated in Teflon, much like a none stick frying pan – this gives just the right amount of glide. There is simply nothing here that will cause a scratch.”
My claim that the previous teflon nibs scratched my screen protector came into question, which was why I took pictures of the scratches in the last update. The fact that these new nibs also scratched my screen made me examine them more carefully. What I found was pretty ridiculous, and somehow humorous at the same time.
These tips are not smooth like I was assured. If you run your finger over them, you can actually feel gouges, chips, or burrs. I tried to carefully brush them off to make sure they weren’t just pieces of dirt stuck to the bottom, but they wouldn’t come off.
Ok, maybe this new nib is just defective. I tried the second nib, it was even worse. You don’t need a microscope to see the imperfections, these photos were taken with my wife’s phone. In fact, you can see them with your naked eye and feel them with your finger. No these aren’t tricks of the light or weird JPG artifacts, you can actually feel them.
Upon further examination, with the help of a pick glass, I found that they are actually gouges or places where the teflon has chipped off. Some of the nibs actually look like weathered metal from an ancient relic, not an “incredibly smooth” surface like I was lead to believe. I would actually love to see what these look like under a microscope.
I also want to point out that I checked both new nibs and both nibs I got in the previous shipment and all of them are like this. These nibs were like this straight out of the box. None of them were dropped and they were only used a couple of times, some for only a few minutes. It could be that the nibs aren’t supposed to look like this, but if that is the case, then there is a major quality control issue that needs to be addressed.
Just for fun I also took a pic of the old plastic nib, and it too is completely covered in scratches.
This is why my screen (protector) keeps getting scratched. There is absolutely no way I am going to take the chance of testing these on a screen without a screen protector, would you?
I refused. They then asked me again to test it on a bare screen and added a couple of question marks at the end for good measure.
I asked if they would reimburse me for the screen protector, since you can’t take it off and put it back on, and reimburse me for the screen if it became damaged in the test, but they did not reply to my question.
I was then asked to test it on a Macbook Pro trackpad to see if my screen protector was causing the issue or if it was the stylus. I tested it on a trackpad and sometimes the cursor would move but sometimes it wouldn’t. It was then determined that the issue was with the stylus itself and not because of my screen protector.
I was also told that my issue of no paint coming out of the stylus regardless of pressure was not known to them and that the new nibs fix every known issue. It took me about 3 minutes to find someone else who had the same exact problem I did with the new teflon nibs. In fact, the person posted their problem on the official Jaja Facebook page 10 days prior to my post.
Now that all of the bad news is out of the way, here comes the good news. I took a video showing the Jaja actually working. When it actually works, it is a very nice stylus.
If they could eliminate the scratching problem and the problem of it not always working, it would be a fantastic product. I really wanted this product to be amazing. I am a professional illustrator and concept artist, why wouldn’t I want a product to succeed that would benefit my profession?
Maybe I got another stylus that is defective, I don’t know. Maybe I emit some crazy electrical field that always causes my equipment to fail, I don’t know. Will I continue to use it? Yeah probably, but only sparingly. I don’t want to completely destroy my screen protector.
I would like to say thank you to Hex3 for sending me a replacement Jaja.
My rating of the original Jaja with the plastic nibs – 1 out of 5
My rating of the original Jaja with the teflon nibs – 1 out of 5
My rating of the replacement Jaja with the teflon nibs – 3 out of 5
Well, my Asus EP121 is dead. I would post a picture of it but I don’t have it because I never got it back from the repair company, even though I own it.
Remember in my previous post how I said I had to send my Asus in for repairs and that I was using my Fujitsu again? Well I finally found out why my computer has been gone for over a month.
Back in April I shipped my computer to Lifetime Service Center because there was a problem with my DC port. Basically if you moved the cord at all, the computer wouldn’t recognize that it was plugged in. I’m sure everyone has had a device at one point or another where you had to “jiggle” the cord in order to get it to work. I know headphones have this problem a lot. Anyway, I assumed it was probably because the solder came loose. When you inserted the pin, you could feel the connection getting pushed farther into the computer, which was why I thought the solder just came loose.
I considered fixing it myself but if you open the computer, you void your warranty. I had purchased an extended warranty (from Canopy), so I figured I should put it to good use.
I live in California and I had to send it to New York, so it took about a week for it to arrive. On April 30th, LTS (Lifetime Service Center) “assigned” my computer to LTS. Then 3 days later, on the 3rd, they assigned it to a tech. Three days just to assign my computer to a tech? Well, whatever.
Another 3 days passed and I got an e-mail saying “This is the Lifetime Service Center notifying you that we have received your unit, and that a technician is currently evaluating it to determine the problem. He is running some tests to find out what part is causing the issue.”
Wait, I thought they already assigned my computer to a tech? So now it took them 6 days to simply assign my computer to a tech? Also, why are they trying to figure out what the problem is? I told them the DC port needed to be fixed. Why does he need to figure out which part is causing the problem? The problem is with the DC port.
Nine more business days pass without a word from LTS. I e-mailed them on the 18th asking where my computer was. When I originally sent them the computer, they told me it would be fixed and shipped back within 7-10 business days. It had already been 13 business days. Notice how in the picture it says “Free Repair – In 5 days or less.” Yup, that is a complete lie.
On the 20th they e-mailed me back saying “Our records show that your unit has been submitted to Buyout status which, in this case, means that we were unable to repair your unit because the screen was not available in a timely manner. Your warranty company (NEW) should be contacting you within the next 5-10 business days to offer you either a replacement unit or equitable compensation.”
Uhhh…why the hell are they saying they need to replace the screen? There was absolutely nothing wrong with the screen when I sent them the computer. The only thing that needed to be fixed was the DC port. Not only have they had my computer for 20 days now, but now they are telling me they can not fix it and that I will have to wait another 5-10 business days just to hear back from NEW.
Furious is a bit of an understatement as to my state of being. I wrote LTS back expressing my anger, but of course they never responded to it, and still haven’t to this day. I called LTS. They were closed, so I called NEW. I went through their automated system and was put on hold. A few seconds later the machine says “we are experiencing technical difficulties, good bye.” Ok, things are starting to get really shady now. I called back 5 more times, each time I was automatically disconnected because of their “technical difficulties.”
I waited until the next day and called both LTS and New. When I called LTS, the lady said “we weren’t able to repair your computer because the screen was broken and we couldn’t get a replacement.” I told her how there was nothing wrong with the screen and that I sent it in to fix the DC port, not the screen. She replied “oh…uh…I’ll have to have a tech call you back later.”
I then called NEW. Their phone actually worked this time. I spoke to the guy and he also said the same exact thing about the screen. Again, I told him I didn’t send it in to repair the screen. He replied “well, there is no one here who can help you, so I’ll have someone else call you back. Someone should call tomorrow, but if no one does, someone should the next day.”
Two business days passed without hearing back from either company. I called both companies again. First I called LTS. They finally put me through to a tech, who acted like a dick to be honest. He came on the line and acted like nothing was wrong and asked me why I was calling him. I told him how they have had my computer for over 3 weeks and that I sent it in to fix the DC port, yet they said the screen was broken.
He told me he had no idea how it was broken or if they broke it or if someone else broke it. He also said none of the techs recorded it in their notes, so once again no one knows how or when it was broken. He then informed me that they can’t fix my computer because either the replacement screen was taking too long to get or wasn’t “economical” for them to purchase, that I wouldn’t be getting my computer back at all, and that I would receive a refund “eventually.”
So I said “so I’m not getting my computer back at all?” He replied “nooooooooooope.” He actually said it like that. Then I said “you are telling me I sent in my computer to repair the DC port and instead someone there broke my screen and now you can’t fix it and I won’t get a computer back.” He replied “yup, that is just how it works sometimes.” No apologies or anything, just smart-ass replies.
Imagine you took your car in for an oil change and then the mechanic tells you that the engine is now broken, they don’t know who broke it, they can’t fix it, and you will never get your car back. Yeah, that is how I feel.
I immediately called NEW and told them how someone was supposed to call me back, but no one did. They put me through to someone and I again explained the entire situation and how LTS broke my screen. He of course said that no one at LTS admits to breaking the screen and that they had to wait 1-2 more business days to hear back from LTS about whether or not they could repair my unit or if they had to reimburse me. I just spoke to LTS and they said it was unrepairable, so I’m not sure why they would have to sit around for another 1-2 business days before deciding what to do.
This morning at 6:30am NEW called me and said that it has been determined that the shipping company was the one who broke my computer. Really? The last time I spoke to them the tech himself said he didn’t know how, when, or who broke the screen. You would think if the computer arrived with a broken screen when it was sent in to only repair the DC port, they would have told me. Instead they waited more than 3 weeks and only told me after I e-mailed them asking where my computer was.
I dunno about you, but if someone sent me their computer to fix the DC port and I opened the package and the screen was cracked, I would have said something. I would have especially made a note on the customer’s account because that would have shifted the liability over to the shipping company and not myself, but according to them no one recorded anything related to the fact that the screen was broken. In fact, they told me they had no idea how it was damaged, but now they claim it was the shipping company.
The thing is, I shipped my computer back in the original box. I then wrapped the box in 3-4 layers of bubble wrap. Then I placed that box inside of another box that had 2-3 inches of space around all sides and then filled those spaces with air cushions. To top it all off, the Asus EP121 uses gorilla glass. I guess it is always possible it could have been damaged during shipping, but I highly doubt it.
Now it will take them another 7-10 business days to send me a check, but only for the amount I paid for the computer, which doesn’t include the $100 I paid for the warranty. So if you boil it down, it is like I never had a computer to begin with since they reimbursed me (or plan to), I don’t have a computer anymore, and I took a $100 bill and threw it in the trash. The fact that they won’t give me back my own computer tells me they are going to refurbish it and sell it. I don’t even know if the screen is actually broken since I never saw it.
The other problem is that this was my main work computer. I did 100% of all of my professional work on this computer. Luckily I have my Fujitsu that I have been using, but that computer is about 4-5 years old now. I can’t even use the new features (OpenGL) in CS6 because the video card is too old. Also, the EP121 isn’t being made anymore so I can’t really buy a new one. The ones I have seen online are all used or refurbished.
I just Googled LTS and apparently this site gave them a 1 star rating. Yup, that about sums it up. I will never again purchase an extended warranty from a third party. I would warn anyone against getting a warranty with Canopy. If I had known they were going to destroy my computer and never send it back, I would have just tried to fix it myself. I’m sure some people have had success with third party warranties, but based on this experience I wouldn’t take the chance.
WotC posted some of the new slivers from M14 today, and boy oh boy is there a lot of hate going around. Many people hate the return of slivers, the rule change, and the art.
It is actually pretty incredible how much people hate the art, and they aren’t shy about letting people know.
What is really frustrating for me is that a lot of people don’t realize we work from a style guide. I didn’t come up with the design of the sliver, WotC did. I was given the design and told what to paint. All I did was simply execute the painting.
When I saw the new designs in the style guide, I thought they looked cool.
I think some people realize it was WotC’s decision and not mine, but still, some of the comments are just ridiculous. This one is my favorite: ”How lazy are these computer generation guys getting, do they even play magic??? Or just make stupid pictures.”
Actually, I started playing Magic in 1995 and I still play. Back in high school I went to tournaments and placed 1st several times. Also, I didn’t come up with the design of this “stupid picture,” so thank you. Am I lazy? I usually work 80-120 hours a week, 7 days a week with virtually no vacations. So yeah, I’m going to say no to being lazy, but again, thank you for your very insightful commentary that was based on a complete lack of knowledge.
This was a good one too: “New slivers look f****** retarded.” I guess people these days never heard of the saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” The internet is a great platform for anonymous people to voice their hatred for anything and everything. Trolls will be trolls.
People are probably thinking “hey, we are entitled to our opinions.” Yes you are, but do you really need to be such a dick about it? A little tact goes a long way.
Several people said they are going to quit Magic because of the new slivers and some people said things like “Go to hell, Wizards. Go to hell and die.” C’mon, really? So Wizards should die simply because a person doesn’t like the new slivers? Absolutely ridiculous. I think back when I was working at BioWare Mythic someone said something about how I should die because I was an uncreative artist. Nice. Yes, a lack of creativity definitely calls for the immediate death of a person.
That is always the problem with reinventing something; if you change it too much, people complain because it isn’t what they grew up with and loved. If you don’t change it enough, people complain because you are being too “boring” and “uncreative.” Actually, people will just complain no matter what. You could give them free stuff and they will still complain. I actually have people complain about my free tutorials. I mean, if you really don’t like my free tutorials, you don’t have to watch them. Problem solved.
I can understand and respect why some people don’t like the new design direction, but when people start bashing me for a design I didn’t create, I get a little annoyed.
I think I’m done with my rant for the day. I usually don’t go on these long tirades, but it just irks me to no end when people bash others when they have no idea what they are talking about.
I don’t want to forget about the people who actually like the art. Thank you!
Sooooo anyway, love them or hate them, the new slivers are coming.
Update – Doug Beyer answers the question about the art change.
“Why the art change to the new slivers?”
“In case you hadn’t heard, today the official Magic Twitter account @wizards_magic tweeted pictures of some new sliver cards from the upcoming set Magic 2014. Slivers have evolved a bit since you last saw them.
Not everyone reading this was playing Magic when we saw slivers last, so for a bit of background: Slivers are a feared, uncontrollable race of rapidly-evolving predators. Their species is organized into a hive structure, much like some social insects. But slivers don’t just share food and resources — terrifyingly, they also share adaptations. Whenever one sliver innovates a new mutation, that mutation spreads rapidly throughout the entire hive, so that every individual can grow, and adapt, and hunt more effectively.
These slivers previewed for Magic 2014 are more humanoid than the beak-headed, one-clawed, one-tailed forms we saw before. The reasons are basically twofold.
First, the thinking in Creative was that the earlier sliver anatomical design was not really adaptable enough to meet the art needs of another batch of slivers. After Time Spiral block, the range of different body morphologies of the one-claw sliver was already in danger of being played out. We had already seen two-headed slivers, two-clawed slivers, two-tailed slivers, brainy slivers, leafy slivers, spiky slivers — a lot of variations on that one design, an anatomical theme that was never actually planned out beyond the first handful of slivers in Tempest and Stronghold. M14 adds a host of new slivers, and we decided it was time to broaden their range of potential morphologies.
Second, these new slivers were going to appear in the core set. The core set is of course meant for everyone, but it’s the set that we especially like to put in front of newer players. It was felt that slivers’ appeal would be greater for a wider audience if they could be given more of a personality than the eyeless, beaked creatures could support. We wanted them to be able to look you in the eye like other fantasy races, to be capable of a greater range of body language and even, sometimes, to generate facial expressions.
The visual evolution also helps differentiate the older slivers from the newer. The designers and developers felt it was important to have these slivers’ rules text work slightly differently than before, in that your slivers only “see” the slivers on your side of the board, and don’t grant abilities to your opponents’. From Creative’s end, that rules difference wasn’t a huge impetus for the visual change in itself, but it made for a logical time to make the change.
Between these reasons, the new super-adaptable-but-tends-to-be-more-humanoid morphology was devised for slivers. Many iterations were worked on. Many designs were tried and abandoned before this one in the attempt to get this race to a new evolution. This new design has these movable plates that lets the slivers rearrange their anatomies, and one of their arms is often elongated and sharpened, reminiscent of the sliver claw — it’s actually really clever what the guys have come up with. I wish I could show you all the concept art and backstory writing we developed for them. But I don’t have that here with me at home (I’m posting from ye olde laptop in my bedroom as per usual), and anyway I think it’d probably be too early to show. M14 previews won’t officially start for a while. But it would definitely make a good article on DailyMTG at some point.
I know you’ve only seen a few of these evolved slivers so far, but I’m curious to hear your initial thoughts. Whether you have thoughts about how you think they’ll be received by others, or it’s your own personal reactions, my ask box is open.”
So the lesson here is to gather the facts before blaming the artist and saying things like “what the hell is happening with the artists?”
I’ve been using Tablet PCs for all of my professional work for the past 4 years or so. You’ve probably seen my review of the Fujitsu ST5112 and the Asus EP121 that I posted on my Enliighten site a year ago.
When I posted the review of the Asus EP121, I hadn’t used it for very long. Now that I’ve been using it for over a year I figured it would be time to post an update with some new thoughts and concerns about both computers.
If you didn’t see my previous review, here are the specs of the two computers.
Windows 7 32-bit
4 GB RAM
Intel Core Duo CPU U2500 @ 1.20 GHz
2MB L2 cache
Display – 12.1” XGA 1024×768
Size – 12.77 x 8.66 x .88
Weight – 3.5 lbs
80 GB hard drive
Battery – 9-cell: 10.8V, 7800 mAh, 84 WHr max. Up to 9 hours
Levels of Pressure – 256
Price – $289+ Used
Windows 7 64-bit
4 GB RAM
Intel Core i5 470UM @ 1.33GHz
3MB L3 cache, Turbo Boost up to 1.86GHz
Display 12.1″ Wide SVGA 1280×800
Size – 12.28 x 8.16 x .67
Weight – 2.56 lbs
64 GB SSD
Battery – 4-cell lithium ion battery, 34W/h Up to 3 hours
Levels of Pressure – 256
Price – $500+ Used
If you don’t want to read through the rest of the post, the quick and easy conclusion is that both computers are still awesome for painting even though both computers are no longer being made. I’ve seen and read a lot of reviews of people saying these computers are only good for sketching and shouldn’t be used for pro work, but I disagree. I have done 100% of all of my professional work on these computers.
That being said, I actually had to send my Asus in for repairs. Luckily I kept my Fujitsu around, otherwise I would be screwed. Even though my Fujitsu is 4-5 years old, it is still a great computer.
I just finished working on a painting that had a working file size of 1.2 gigs and the Fujitsu was still able to handle it without any problems. It was a little slow when flipping or saving the image, but other than that it was fine.
Going back and working on my Fujitsu made me realize how good of a computer it is. I feel like it is much sturdier than the Asus.
The reason I had to send my Asus in for repairs is because the AC adapter connection was loose, causing it to not charge the computer. The adapter pin for the Asus is also extremely thin and fragile, so it can break easily. I had my computer sitting on the couch and it slide off the couch and dropped maybe 15 inches in height onto the carpet. That small drop completely snapped the adapter pin in half.
The fall could have caused the connection to become loose, but the connection problem didn’t occur until at least 6 months after the fall. I’m guessing the solder just came loose over time.
There are covers over the USB ports, which are a little hard to open. About a week or two after I bought the computer, one of the USB covers snapped off.
The other problem with the Asus is that I can’t find a good screen protector that lasts for more than 3-4 weeks. I have tried two different brands, but neither held up.
The Posrus screen protector scratched very easily, causing everything on the screen to appear blurry. The Skinomi screen protector (as seen in the picture) didn’t scratch, but rather became covered with indentations. The surface is a little gummy, so it feels weird when you use the stylus.
I never had any problems with the screen protector for the Fujitsu. Unfortunately the screen protector for the Fujitsu isn’t cut for the Asus, so it doesn’t exactly fit. I guess I could always try and cut it to fit.
I’ve also noticed that sometimes after waking up the computer it won’t recognize the stylus or touch. I usually have to restart it a few times before it recognizes anything.
The battery life is pretty crappy. Usually I can only get 2-2.5 hours out of it, if even that. It doesn’t matter much if you have access to an outlet, but if you don’t, then you won’t be working for very long. Unlike the Fujitsu, which has a replaceable battery, the Asus has an internal battery which can’t be swapped out. Once your battery runs out, you can’t do anything other than find an outlet.
Most of the problems with the Fujitsu are the same ones I’ve talked about before.
It is an older computer, so it is a bit slow with certain actions. Also, it isn’t multi-touch, which reduces my efficiency.
A new problem that cropped up two weeks ago was when I was using the docking station. In order to use the docking station, you have to remove the battery from the computer. That means it relies on using the AC adapter.
The docking station has its own port for plugging in the AC adapter, so I used it. While I was working I moved the computer to a different angle, which caused the cord to move. Apparently the dock connection was loose, so it powered off my computer. I ended up losing about 30 minutes worth of work. After that I started using the AC port on the computer instead of the docking station.
The Fujitsu isn’t as bright as the Asus so it can be hard to see when working in areas with a lot of light, like in cafes or outside.
The stylus for both computers is pretty horrible. I bought the Axiotron Studio Pen, which is much better. Unfortunately the Axiotron Studio Pen is no longer being made either and you pretty much can’t find it anywhere online.
In the end, both computers are great for painting. I highly recommend both computers, even though they are no longer in production. I have heard good things about the Samsung Series 7, although that computer is getting hard to find as well. There have been rumblings about the Windows Surface Pro, but apparently it shipped without the drivers that allowed pressure sensitivity in programs like Photoshop or Painter. Wacom announced plans to make their own tablet pc (finally!), so I’m waiting for that one to come out.
Battery life – **
Durability – ***
Performance – ****
Display – ****
Portability – ****
Battery life – ****
Durability – ****
Performance – ***
Display – ***
Portability – ***
This past weekend I was in Temecula, CA for the Dragon’s Maze prerelease. I also wanted to post some of my new cards and a few process shots of Hidden Strings and Progenitor Mimic.
I don’t go to very many prereleases unless they are close enough to drive to. I had a lot of fun in Temecula and I would like to thank Damyan of Tier 1 Games and all of the fans for having me out there. Despite there being only a handful of people, I still wrecked my wrists. Hopefully I will do a little better in Portland and Vegas.
Speaking of Portland, I’ll be at the GP from May 11-12 along with fellow artists RK Post, Tyler Jacobson, and Mike Dringenberg. A special playmat featuring my art from Progenitor Mimic will be available. There is actually an interesting story behind the art for Progenitor Mimic.
A week before the final was due, I received an e-mail saying that they had to change the mechanics of the card and therefore I needed to change the painting.
The new painting needed to include a second figure and they both had to be standing. Oh crap.
I decided to paint them standing on some type of magical thingy, and since this card now copies itself, I wanted to make it look like the copy was being created from the magical “walkway.”
I tried to make it look like the copy was rising up from the magical walkway, which is why part of her legs are disappearing below the walkway while magical remnants still cling to her upper legs. I’m not sure if it really comes across though.
When the painting was first posted online, it was fun to read the comments from the fans speculating what it was all about. Several people got very excited about the prospect of Simic angels, but many pointed out that the Simic angel had Boros armor designs so it was probably a card that took control of another creature.
Sorry Simic, no angels for you!
The one card I am happy with is Hidden Strings, so I wanted to do a little tutorial. Unfortunately I never record any of my freelance paintings, so this will be a written tutorial.
Here is the description I received from WotC.
Show a female Dimir vampire who has mesmerized a Boros knight. His sword lies on the floor, his vacant stare looking off at some faraway place. She lazily puts a pale hand on his shoulder and looks at us, her gaze telling us that this is child’s play for her. Another knight is off in the background, slumped to the floor. A pale, bluish light illuminates the blackness of the undercity’s gloom.
I started out with two sketches but I can’t remember why I decided to go with the second one. I did this painting almost a year ago, so I guess I forgot. Looking back now, I think I like the first one better. Whoops.
Like I usually do, I started out in black and white. It is much easier for me to get started when I don’t have to worry about color, especially if I’m working on 8-9 paintings at the same time.
The figures were feeling a little small, especially at print size, so I tried to make them a bit bigger.
Here is a closer shot of a WIP of the girl’s face. I typically start with faces since they are usually the focal point. It also helps me focus on something and gets me excited about starting a new painting.
People usually ask how far I take my black and white painting before I start with color, but it really depends. Sometimes I only take a black and white painting as far as the first sketch I did for this painting (the one I didn’t pick to do) while other times I take it to an almost completely rendered painting.
At this point I am ready to start with color. Boros players might be thinking “Hey, his armor shouldn’t be dark.” You are correct. Boros armor is usually silver or white.
I decided to go with dark armor because otherwise the girl’s hands wouldn’t read at print size. Her hands are pretty important to the story, so I didn’t want them to get lost. Also, the dark armor could show that he has become corrupt and is now under her control.
1). For the first stage of adding color, I added an overlay layer and started blocking in the base colors.
2). After I have the base colors down, I start painting opaquely on top of everything.
3). I added another overlay layer to push the blue glow in the background.
4). I added a soft light layer and painted it with blue to bring some harmony to the greens in the middle ground. I also added several color balance adjustment layers.
I typically only use layer modes to get the base colors down or to add effects. The majority of the color work is done with good old-fashioned opaque painting.
One of the problems with working digitally is that people tend to think you can add color in one step. Well, you COULD, but it would look like crap. Adding color is a long process, most of which is done with traditional techniques.
I am also adding in some foreground elements, like the hanging moss and the figure on the ground.
Also, more rendering. This is where patience comes into play. The hard part is knowing how much or how little to render or refine.
I decided to ditch the stairs and go for a more simple pillar design. I think the stairs were going to be too small for stairs and the ground was getting a little cluttered, not leaving a lot of space for the sword.
I also desaturated the colors.
Some of the perspective is a bit messed up, but I guess I didn’t notice it at the time.
I just realized that I haven’t really even started painting her outfit or her other hand. I also haven’t worked on the guy in the foreground, right now he is still just a dark lump.
Magically I finished painting her outfit, hand, and the dude on the ground all in one step!
For the background I did a gaussian blur to push the depth and to pull more focus on the main figures.
The easiest way to blur parts of your image is to select the entire image, copy it, and then paste it. You then apply the gaussian blur, add a layer mask, and fill it with solid black. Then you paint with white in the layer mask to reveal the blurred areas.
I also added some floating specks of dust to give the painting a bit of atmosphere.
As always there are many things I wish I could go back and change, but all in all, I think I am pretty happy with how it came out.
The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age, by Kabam, is now live! I played the game for a bit to see which of my paintings are in it that I haven’t already posted. There might be some more in the game that I haven’t posted, so if I ever see those in the game I’ll be sure and post them as well.
Looking at my files, I think there are at least 10 more paintings that I haven’t posted yet. Well, there are actually a few more but I’m not as happy with those so I probably won’t post them. :O
If you play the game, you might notice that a few of the paintings look different in the game than what I have posted. After my paintings left my hands, a few of the concept artists over at Kabam made some changes so that the paintings would fit better with their game.
Sometimes gameplay or designs change, so it isn’t uncommon for video game companies to change your art after you turn in your finals. Unfortunately I don’t have any of the changed files, so I can only post the images I created. I think they did a great job changing my paintings! The artists over at Kabam are awesome.
One interesting character is Azog. Back when I did the painting, he still had both of his arms. He also had some scraggly hair in the original concept that was given to me. I think a few of the costume details are different too than what was shown in the movie.
Now that I think about it, I think when I was working on the painting they still hadn’t nailed down the face. I remember leaving the face blank and just adding a smiley face as a placeholder because they wanted me to hold off on the face. If you see him in the game, you’ll notice they changed it so that he has his fake arm and no hair.
Most of the other characters I worked on didn’t have very many changes. I know for Yazneg I had to change his skin color a bit, but other than that, there weren’t very many big changes.
I hope you enjoy the rest of my paintings and be sure to play the game! Thanks!
Update – Unfortunately I will no longer be able to sign cards internationally through the mail. This applies to people wanting me to sign cards for free, not sales made through my website.
Several of these issues have come up over the past couple of weeks, so I would like to remind people of a few things to keep in mind if you send me cards to sign or alter through the mail.
1. Make sure you include a SASE. This is extremely important! If you don’t include one, I can’t send your cards back. This also means I have to buy an envelope if you don’t include one. I sign cards for free, so please don’t make me pay for an envelope or postage to send your cards back.
2. Please check to make sure you wrote the correct return address on the SASE. In the past I’ve had people leave off apartment numbers, street numbers, etc.
3. If you live in another country and can’t buy US stamps, you will need to Paypal the shipping amount to me. Please still include an envelope, or else you will need to Paypal me the amount to cover the envelope as well. Also realize that in order for me to return cards to foreign countries, I have to drive to the post office and fill out customs forms, which takes quite a bit of time. Again, I sign cards for free and driving to the post office costs time and money.
5. Sending cards to me through the mail is always a risk and one that you must understand and take responsibility for. The US mail isn’t always the most reliable, so please be aware that there is always a chance the cards could get lost or damaged. If you send me a flimsy envelope and the cards aren’t even inside a sleeve or hard case, then be prepared for the possibility of bent or damaged cards. If you want to reduce the risk of damaged cards, send them in hard sleeves and include a sturdy envelope or bubble mailer. You could even include a piece of heavy stock paper or cardboard.
6. If your cards are ever damaged or stolen, you need to contact the service used to ship the cards. Please do not accuse me of stealing or damaging your cards. All cards are sent back in the condition I received them, so again, I can not be responsible for what happens to them once they leave my hands.
7. I sign cards for free, so please don’t send me your cards if your only intention is to flip them. It takes time out of my day to sign and return cards. I am not here to make you money, I am here to sign cards for people that enjoy my work and enjoy the game.
8. I try and return cards as soon as possible but be aware that it might take some time. Typically I will return them within a day of receiving them, but it could take longer. Alterations usually take longer, so you might have to wait a few weeks. When doing alterations, I always tell people ahead of time that it might take several weeks to more than a month for me to finish them. If you agree, please do not e-mail me every few days asking if I am finished yet. I will e-mail you when I am done.
9. I will not declare a lower amount on customs forms. It is actually illegal to declare the wrong amount, and I will not do it. Not only that, but declaring the correct amount protects you and myself if the cards are ever lost or damaged. If you are sending cards from a foreign country, be prepared for the possibility of paying an additional customs fee. I am not responsible for any customs fees.
10. If you have something specific that you want drawn or altered, please let me know when you make the order. If you don’t give me any special instructions, I will just draw whatever I come up with. There are plenty examples around the internet and on this site of my alterations and sketches, so please check those out before making a purchase. Unfortunately I can’t really accept returns for someone not liking my drawing due to the fact that art is very subjective. You accept the risk when you place the order.
11. “I saw you draw something for someone else, but the drawing you did for me isn’t as good.” Again, art is very subjective. I always try to do my best when doing a sketch or an alteration, regardless of the person or the subject matter. Unfortunately not all drawings/alterations are the same.
12. If you have sent me cards in the past, please check with me before sending more cards. I tend to move a lot and several times in the past people have sent me cards without asking and they ended up sending them to an old address.
13. If you want signed or altered cards, I would highly suggest asking me instead of going through a site like eBay. The sellers on eBay sometimes inflate the prices by more than 10x. Also, I have seen some cards on eBay that claim I altered them, even though I didn’t. The safest bet is to have me personally alter your cards, that way you know they are legit.
You probably noticed that my previous store was hardly ever updated. It was quite an ordeal to update, so I usually never got around to doing it. Zencart is nice and free, but it is a bit clunky. I am now using WooCommerce and so far I love it. It is so much easier to update and I think it looks a lot better.
The other great thing about WooCommerce is that it is a free WordPress plugin. I’ve seen a lot of other people use sites like Shopify, but I’m a little hesitant to pay $30/month (for their cheapest plan) plus 2% per sale, and you only get 1 gig of file storage. Shopify stores look awesome, I just don’t think I’d want to shell out that much; I would hardly make a profit.
So anyway, over the weekend (well, a few weekends ago) I finally decided to create a new store and started from scratch. I added 130 products, counted all of my proofs, and customized the store. Yeah, I tend to go a little crazy when I get a project stuck in my head. I usually don’t stop until it’s finished…or go to bed until it’s finished.
The new version of WooCommerce just came out the other day that allows multiple file downloads per product. This means that the video tutorials are now broken up into smaller parts so that they will be easier to download. When I first launched the new store it was still using the old WooCommerce that only allowed one file download. I just made the update yesterday, so hopefully everything runs smoothly.
There were a few hiccups when the new version of WooCommerce came out because it isn’t quite compatible with the theme I’m using. I was able to sort out most of the problems, but there are still a few. Multiple product images still don’t work and if no products are on sale, random products will populate the sale section even if they aren’t on sale. I guess that means I’ll always have to keep something on sale!
I bought some copies of my book to sell at shows and conventions, but I thought I might put some on the store to see how they do. Unfortunately they are more expensive than the ones on Amazon. The ones on Amazon aren’t signed, these are. I also do a little sketch in the front of the book. The other reason they are more is because I have to buy the copies first in order to sell them. If I sold them at the Amazon price, I wouldn’t make a profit.
Since this new store uses WooCommerce instead of ZenCart, that means your old account won’t work on the new site. Unfortunately that means you will have to create a new account. The upside is that this new store is much easier to use and navigate and less confusing when it comes to download links.
I also added new products like acrylic alterations and the ability to buy a proof with a sketch on the back, an alteration on the front, both, or none of the above!
I hope you enjoy the new store! Please let me know if you find any bugs or have any problems. Thanks!