…now draw the rest of Soul of New Phyrexia

Soul of New Phyrexia - M15

Soul of New Phyrexia – M15

New Magic stuff!

Last night I found out that my Soul of New Phyrexia card had been spoiled.

I almost forgot about this guy since I painted him a year ago. I always enjoyed painting Phyrexian stuff, so I was pretty excited about this guy. Phyrexian aesthetics tend to suit me well since I like painting weird flesh metal stuff, sprinkled with a dab of oil and smoke.

I wasn’t very happy with my old Phyrexian paintings, so this was a chance to redeem myself. Here is the description I received.

“Show us a massive Phyrexian construct (40 feet tall) lumbering through the oil-slicked land. Tubes and pipes writhe from under its feet. The giant machine’s construction has hints of the silhouette of Elesh Norn – the Phyrexian praetor. Some of it is plated with cracked white porcelain intermixed with plates of black darksteel covering its hull. At its head is a grinding maw, looking something like a lamprey crossed with a drilling machine. Its body has the Phyrexian organic-machinery look, maybe it has smokestack vents along its arms/legs issuing forth vile pollution.” 

I put together a short little process shot of the painting, although it feels a little like the famous “how to draw an owl” meme. Sometimes my final changes quite a bit from my sketch, but with this painting I stuck pretty close to the original sketch.

soul of new phyrexia process

The first image is the black and white sketch that I submitted to my art director for approval. After receiving approval, I started to add the base colors using overlay layers and some opaque painting.

The major change I made along the way was his face and chest. Originally I had him dripping some toxic slime from his face hole, but then I remembered that I was supposed to make his maw look like a lamprey crossed with a drilling machine. It pays to pay attention to your brief!

Sarkhan Vol

Sarkhan Vol – Khans of Tarkir

Apparently I forgot to post my Sarkhan Vol painting from the upcoming Khans of Tarkir block and Tyrant’s Choice from Conspiracy.

It seems crazy to think that it has already been six years since my original Sarkhan Vol painting came out in Shards of Alara. My painting style has definitely changed over the years, so much so that I always hate looking at my older paintings.

I wish I could go back in time and shake myself and yell “stop being lazy!” I’m sure in six more years I’ll say the same thing about this painting. There are already several things about it that really bug me, but what are you gonna do?

The next painting I want to talk about is Tyrant’s Choice. Some people had a problem with this painting because they said a cell couldn’t hold water since it would just leak through the bars. There are several explanations for this, and this was done deliberately.

Maybe there is glass between the bars, maybe it is magic (whenever something can’t be explained, it must be magic!), or maybe the area beyond the foreground bars is also flooded, but you can’t really tell since that is where the viewer is and it would make it too hard to see and understand what is going on if I made everything look like it was underwater.

153153 Inquisitor's Decision 08

Tyrant’s Choice – Conspiracy

Sure those explanations could work, although the magic explanation is stretching it a bit, but the main reason I did this was because of artistic license. If you took the foreground bars out of the scene, it would completely change the drama of the shot. I knew I wanted the bars in there, regardless of the logic.

I also intentionally placed the bars so that they are almost creating tangents with the figure, same with the bars behind his head. Tangents cause unease. This guy is fighting for his life, so I wanted that added tension. I wanted it to feel claustrophobic; I wanted it to feel like the world was closing in around him.

Sometimes tangents can be a good thing in a painting…sometimes. Tangents are sort of like the dodge and burn tool. As long as you know how to use them correctly, they can make your painting look better.

Kabam Stuff

Ravenmarch Poster 16

Ravenmarch: Empire in Flames

I have a few new things that came out recently for Kabam. By recently I mean they probably came out a couple of months ago; sometimes it is hard keeping track of when my paintings have been released.

The first is a poster for the game Ravenmarch: Empire in Flames. It is a free-to-play game, so go check it out!

The turnaround for this one was fairly short. I think after I turned in my color comps I finished the final in a week. I was given reference for the character designs, so I can’t take credit for them.

I left the top and bottom fairly open because they needed to add the title and credits. I also wanted to leave the bottom fairly dark so that you could read the text.

The next two paintings are for the games The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age (browser) and The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth (mobile).

I had already painted Gandalf before, but they wanted a new version. Originally I wanted to paint his face in a different angle so that it wouldn’t look too much like my first painting, but they ended up wanting another 3/4 view.

The entire time leading up to and after the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I avoided looking at any images of Smaug. I didn’t watch the trailers, I didn’t look anything up about the movie, nothing. I wanted to be surprised when I saw him for the first time while watching the movie.

Of course I then received an email from Kabam asking me to paint Smaug. Noooo, spoilers! It was funny though because they kept asking me to make him look like he does in the movie, but I had no idea what he looked like. I also didn’t know anything about the fire effect on his neck before he spits fire, so I was a total noob when it came to Smaug. Luckily they were able to give me some reference.

WotC Concept Push 2014

renton push 2014

Renton Concept Push 2014 – Wayne Reynolds, Vince Proce, Steve Prescott, Steven Belledin, Cynthia Sheppard, Me :O

I just returned from a 5-week concept push at WotC. I was joined by Cynthia Sheppard, Steven Belledin, Steve Prescott, Wayne Reynolds, Sam Burley, and Vince Proce.

It was great seeing and working with everyone again, even if we were trapped in a tiny room. After 2.5 weeks Belledin and I broke out of our room and joined the others for some shenanigans, tomfoolery, and general ballyhoo.

Cynthia and I stayed on for an extra two weeks, while the rest of the guys left after three. Prescott didn’t want his food to go to waste, so he very graciously gave me his leftovers. When I opened the bag I was greeted by half of a pepper, a yam, a handful of cereal, a few chips, and some other odds and ends. I wonder where the top of the pepper went?

daarken pepper

Steve really likes pepper tops.

I kept the cookies and olive oil and gave the rest to Cynthia. Of course I had to take a picture with the pepper before giving it to her. Little did I know, she also took a picture of it as soon as she got back to her hotel room. That pepper is famous now.

After four concept pushes, Renton really feels like a second home to me, sometimes even like my real home. I think I actually know my way around Renton better than where I live. In fact, I’m headed back there today to meet up with the next concept push crew.

The Mysterious Trip

One day Colin forced us to leave the office. Forced us I say! Usually when full-timers have an excuse to leave the office, they jump at the chance. I think our general reaction was “how long is this mysterious excursion going to take because we have a lot of work to finish?” Crazy artists.

We were led to a dead end in the middle of a forest. Is this where they dump concept artists after their time has come to an end? After trekking through the woods, we crossed some railroad tracks and came upon a huge wall covered with graffiti.

This was where our epic group shot was taken. Notice that I am so white that my shadows are cool, unlike the warm shadows of the other artists. Ok, it’s probably because the sun was bouncing off of my white jacket and blowing out the shadows with white bounce light, but still, I’m pretty white.

It was a pretty fun little trip, plus we need some sun from time to time.

I had a great time and I would just like to thank everyone for the opportunity. Till next time!

Déjà vu – Return of the Woodies

Wood Elves - Revised Version © Games Workshop

Wood Elves © Games Workshop

You may remember this painting from a few weeks ago of the Wood Elves from the new army book. Apparently there was some confusion over the release date of the painting, so I was asked to remove it. This of course caused even more of an uproar; conspiracy theories were flying left and right. I honestly don’t believe there was any nefarious intent behind the leak, especially since I was the one who approached GW about posting my work, not the other way around.

Some people were questioning the timing of the “leak,” but it was really just a matter of me sitting at home thinking “hey, I haven’t been able to post any of my Warhammer work lately, I wonder if any of them have been released.” As a freelance artist it is often hard to find out when or if your paintings have been released unless you see them online or you email your client. I emailed GW and asked which of my paintings had been released so that I could post them.

I received a list of all my paintings with either “released” or “not released” next to them. It said my Mortis Metalikus, Tau, and Wood Elf painting had been released. I’m sure the Wood Elf release date was just a mistake. Maybe they read the calendar wrong, or maybe they received the wrong information, or maybe they confused it with one of the hundred projects they probably have going on, or maybe it was just a typo and it should have read “not released” instead of “released.” In any case, I doubt it was intentional.

Wood Elves - Original Version © Games Workshop

Wood Elves – Original Version © Games Workshop

Like I mentioned in the first post, I ended up painting two different versions of the Wild Riders. I originally painted them without the helmet because that was what the original Wild Riders looked like. After I turned in my painting, they informed me that they had changed the minis and that I would need to change my painting to reflect that.

This happens a lot in the gaming world. Often times you will paint something based off the original IP and then the client will come back and say “hey, we changed how this looks, please change your painting to make it look like the new version.” Of course this can cause a lot of wasted time on my end and on the client’s end (since they have to wait for me to make the changes) but it happens.

I had this happen a few times when I was working on the WoW TCG. I play WoW, so I know exactly what the models look like. I was commissioned to paint a fire elemental, so I went ahead and painted him. After I turned in my final they came back and said “we are changing the model of the fire elemental in the upcoming expansion, so please change your painting to look like the new one.”

So the two versions of the Wood Elves painting didn’t have any hidden meaning or agenda other than the fact that I painted what I thought the Wild Riders looked like, only to find out GW had changed the minis.

treeman-hey-3

“Hello Mr. Treeman!”

I spent a lot of time reading various forums and it was very entertaining to read what people had to say. What I found really interesting was that the Treeman in the background received just as much, if not more, attention as the Wild Riders.

I just saw the new Treeman the other day and I apologize if I got anyone’s hope up. I actually didn’t know what the new Treeman would look like when I was working on this painting, so I was basically just told to paint a “Treeman.” I painted this back in July of 2013, so they may not have even known what the new Treeman would look like.

There was also some question about the Dryad in the foreground. I had mentioned this in the comment section of the original post, but it was never my intention to deliberately make the Dryad look masculine. Again, sorry if anyone took offense or felt cheated with my rendition.

Thanks for taking a look again at this painting, hopefully I’ll have some new stuff to post soon!

Journey into Nyx

Disciple of Deceit

Disciple of Deceit

The other day WotC spoiled some more of my Journey into Nyx cards. I think I actually still have one more card that hasn’t been spoiled that is supposed to be in the set. I dunno, maybe they used it for something else, that has happened before.

Hmmm, I wonder what she’s hiding  underneath those masks. Probably a cookie. I choose the middle one. I really hope it is a cookie or some other form of tasty treat.

The next two illustrations were a bit weird to work on. Sometimes you receive briefs that say something like “show a dude looking awesome and doing awesome stuff” and you think “ok, yeah I know what to do for that.” Then there are times when you get something like the Riddle of Lightning or Font of Return.

Here is the official description I received for the Font of Return.

“The viewer stands at the foot of the rotting dock leading out to the Underworld’s river, as shown on the temple art reference. Submerged just below the surface of the water is a KANTHAROS, a type of ancient Greek drinking vessel featuring high, flared sides and high handles. This vessel has been hammered from gold. A handle might project partially from the surface. The water of the river is unnaturally still and thick, like honey or oil, and is tinged with a purplish cast. A reflection of a wailing face is seen within the ring of the cup.”

Font of Return

Font of Return

If you are thinking “wait, what?” then you aren’t alone. I think the whole “black water with a purple glow with a screaming face inside of a cup” thing threw me off. I decided to leave out the dock because that was going to pull the camera too far away from the focal point, especially when it went to print.

Looking back now, I think the particulates in the water are way too bright, although they kind of fit the whole Nyx look. I probably made them brighter to read at the small size when it went to print.

I wish I had been able to make it look more like the face was actually under the surface of the water, but again it was going to be very tiny at print size so I couldn’t do anything too crazy to it.

Riddle of Lightning

Riddle of Lightning

The Riddle of Lightning illustration was a bit more straightforward. Yup, it’s a lightning bolt striking a guy and breaking a rock.

What’s going on with that lightning bolt you say? Glad you asked.

Two weeks ago I had posted my other Journey into Nyx cards, one of which was Keranos, God of Storms. Take a look at the sweet belt Keranos is wearing. Sorry for the crotch shot.

Do you see any resemblance? Eh, probably not since it is actually kind of hard to tell. The lightning bolt in Riddle of Lightning is supposed to form the skull hanging from Keranos’s belt. Well, I guess it isn’t a hanging skull but rather a huge skull belt buckle. They should probably sell that at shows.

Keranos's crotch + lightning = win!

Keranos’s crotch + lightning = win!

Keranos uses lightning and he has a skull belt buckle and the Riddle of Lightning is…lightning, ohhh yeah, I see what they did there. I wasn’t sure how literal the skull-shaped lightning bolt should be or if I should just hint at the shape of the skull. If I hadn’t pointed it out, I’m not sure anyone would have noticed.

That’s it for now, see you next time!

Old & New…Kinda

Dark_Umber_Hulk

Dark Umber Hulk – Tome of Magic, 2006

Is it Throwback Thursday yet? Eh, close enough.

I was searching through my hard drive today while I was uploading some files and I came across this Dark Umber Hulk I painted for D&D back in 2006 for the book Tome of Magic.

The good old D&D days, when my paintings were loose and fairly horrible. I’m really not sure how I got away with most of these paintings. At the time I thought they were incredibly detailed and refined. I was young, what did I know? Well, I guess I wasn’t that young.

Is that the sharpen filter I see? Yes, yes it is. How do you make a painting look cool? Add a sharpen filter; at least that was what I thought eight years ago. For some reason the year 2006 doesn’t sound that long ago, but when you say eight years you suddenly realize you are old.

This one actually isn’t as bad as some of the other old D&D paintings I found. I think I’ll keep those locked away in a dark well guarded by a green shark swimming in green acid with green acid coming out of his mouth.

Drow

Drow – Races of Eberron, 2006

I also painted a Drow for the Races of Eberron book. I think I needed that sharpen filter on this one. Everything is pretty soft and squishy. Now you know why I’m called Daarken, most of that painting is solid black.

One might think she is sitting on an invisible chair, but oh no, she is actually assuming her battle pose! Or I guess I should say post-battle pose since she just sliced that dude up. The lesson you should learn from this painting is that you should never linger in your awesome post-battle pose for too long, lest another tentacled beak monster sneak up behind you.

Little did I know, five years later I would paint another Umber Hulk and Drow for the game Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth. It’s always interesting to revisit and old idea or an old character.

The layout of the box cover went through several different iterations while I was working on the painting, so my first sketch was very different from the final.

Skirmish Drow 04

Sting of Lolth sketch, 2011

I think I actually liked the pose of the Umber Hulk better in this original sketch, but I had to change it to fit the new layout. I had to use a more upright pose in order to make him fit the tall triangle of the new composition. I still needed some parts to break the frame of the picture, which was why I raised his hands.

I believe in the original sketch I still had to have a character on each end because the illustration was going to wrap around the box and there would be a character on each side of the box.

dcdrow

Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth, 2011

The cover layout was changed to this square format and they wanted it in the shape of a triangle with various elements of the illustration breaking the picture frame. They still wanted the right side of the illustration to wrap around the box, so I had to make sure there was a character on that side that could be seen on the side of the box.

Looking back, there are a few things that really bug me about this painting, but I won’t mention them. As soon as you point something out, that is all anyone ever sees. You can’t unsee it!

The character designs aren’t mine. I was given various illustrations and pictures of the miniatures so that I could make my painting look like the figures included in the box.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little Throwback Thursday tribute, even though it isn’t Thursday yet.

Wacom Companion – Update

Photo Apr 06, 4 01 16 PM

I approve.

I’ve been using my Wacom Companion daily for all of my professional work for the past 6 months, so I figured it would be a good time to make an update.

My first written review can be found here and the video review can be found here. I might make an updated video review as a companion (no pun intended) to this written review, but I’m not sure.

I also want to take this time to go over some FAQs. I’ve answered these questions probably 10 times each on my YouTube channel, so hopefully more people will read these before asking the same exact questions over and over. If you want to know the specs, your best bet is to go take a look at the official Wacom Companion page. They list all of the specs there in great detail.

FAQs

Can you flip the Companion and use it left-handed?
Yes. This would actually solve the accidental pressing of the power button too because the button would be on the top, out of the way of your hand.

Can you attach the Companion to a desktop and use it like a Cintiq, using the desktop’s computing power?
No, only the Wacom Hybrid can be used this way. You can attach external monitors to the Companion, but you can’t attach it to another computer and use it like a Cintiq.

Does the Companion come with Photoshop?
No, you have to buy Photoshop separately.

Can you run other programs on the Companion? Can you watch movies and play music on it? Surf the net?
The Companion is a full standalone Windows computer. If the program in question is a Windows program and the Companion meets the required specs, then yes you can use it. Same with movies and music. I’m not sure why people don’t think of the Companion as a full standalone computer. It is no different from a laptop other than it doesn’t have an attached keyboard and it has a pressure-sensitive stylus.

Can you use a keyboard with the Companion?
Yes. Again, this is a full standalone computer. You can use either a USB or Bluetooth keyboard. In fact, Wacom even sells their own keyboard specifically for the Companion.

Can you pinch/zoom/rotate in Photoshop?
Not that I know of. I know you can pinch/zoom/rotate in other programs (like the Windows Photo Viewer) and on the web, but I have yet to figure out how to do it in Photoshop. Maybe if you create gestures those might work or maybe there is some other setting in Photoshop that I don’t know about.

What gloves are you wearing to prevent smudges?
My gloves actually aren’t for preventing smudges, I wear them because I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my wrists. They are the Handeze Flex-Fit gloves.

Are you affiliated with Wacom?
No, I just love Wacom products. I’ve been using Wacom tablets since 1999 and I’ve never had a single Wacom product break.

Photo Apr 05, 7 16 33 PMWear and Tear

I’m sure people are wondering how my Companion has held up over the past 6 months. I know several of my friends have had problems with theirs, so I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t had any problems with my computer. It seems like the cable is causing a lot of issues with people, but mine is fine.

I was a little worried about the screen getting scratched after repeated use, but so far I don’t have a single scratch on my screen. I am very careful though when I paint, so maybe that helps.

I actually wore off a little spot on my stylus where it touches my hand, which is kind of funny. My old Axiotron Studio Pen had that same problem. It had sort of a matte finish to it, but I had worn a completely smooth section in it.

The battery life still seems good. It lasts long enough that I’m never out in public long enough for me to need to charge it. I would say I still get 4+ hours or so working in Photoshop, but I haven’t actually let my computer drain down to 0. I read that completely draining your battery down to 0 can damage the battery, so I usually avoid doing that.

I’m still on the original nib, so I’m glad Wacom fixed the old Intuos 4 nib wear problem (which was due to the surface texture of the tablet). I remember when I first bought my Intuos 4 I had to change the nib after 1 week.

Now that I think about it, my Companion is still in perfect condition other than the little spot on the stylus. The screen is great, the unit itself is great, the cable is fine, and nothing else is broken.

gpuGames

People also want to know about gaming on the Companion. I usually don’t put games or other programs on my computer if they aren’t for work because I try and keep my work computer strictly about work. That being said, I installed some games for the purpose of this review.

Now the problem with gaming on a tablet PC or laptop usually isn’t the RAM, the processor, or the GPU, it is cooling. You can have good specs but if you can’t keep your computer cool, it will explode. Ok, maybe not literally, but it will die. Laptops and tablet PCs aren’t really known for their robust cooling systems, and neither are Macs for that matter. I tried playing Fallout 3 on my Mac desktop and it blew out the GPU. I don’t mean it blew it out after playing for days or weeks, I mean it blew it out after 30min to an hour.

Even though I tested some games, I only tested less graphic intensive games because I didn’t want to take any risks. This is my work computer, so I don’t want it to die.

I tried to record the process using several different programs (FFSplit, Open Broadcaster Software, Camtasia), but I couldn’t get an adequate result from any of them. OBS was the best out of the 3, but the playback was so choppy that you couldn’t actually see anything. As soon as the game started playing the video would freeze during playback or lag. Maybe the Companion can’t handle playing a game and recording it at the same time, who knows.

So far I’ve tested The Banner SagaShadowrun ReturnsBatman: Arkham Asylum, and Deponia. They all ran pretty well. Even after playing for several hours, the computer wasn’t hot at all. It wasn’t even warm. Back in the day I had an Alienware laptop and that thing would get so hot you could probably cook an egg on it. No really, a freaking egg.

If you want to try some more intensive games, I would recommend looking for some benchmark tests first and then try the game under the lowest settings before increasing them.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

  • Low - Avg FPS: 25.823 – Min: 12 – Max: 42
  • Medium - Avg FPS: 33.273 – Min: 18 – Max: 41

Shadowrun Returns

  • Avg FPS: 38.742 – Min: 26 – Max: 51

Deponia

  • Avg FPS: 43.226 – Min: 0 – Max: 53

The Banner Saga

  • Avg FPS: 44.127 – Min: 1 – Max: 54

Not too great, but not too shabby either. I believe some of the lows dropped to 0 because of loading screens. This isn’t a gaming rig, but you can still play games on it. I will probably avoid playing games on the Companion since this computer is supposed to be for work. I don’t need more distractions.

companion pie

Infinite pies!

Layout

I wanted to free up some real estate, so I got rid of the on-screen menus and went with radial menus instead. I just set one of the rocker buttons to open the radial menu.

The other cool thing about the radial menu is that you can have menus inside of menus! Infinite pies! You can also put actions inside of the radial menu, which saves a lot of time. I rarely have to go through any of the Photoshop menus anymore since most of my actions and commands can be found inside the radial menu.

Here is a video of the radial pies in action.

In conclusion, the Wacom Companion is still an awesome computer and I love it.

New Art Fo Yo Face!

Mortis Metalikus

Warhammer

Sorry for the long absence yet again. For the past 7-8 months I haven’t posted very many new paintings. I’ve been working with some different clients lately and it’s hard to tell when or if my new paintings have been released. I started thinking that maybe I didn’t do very many paintings in 2013, but I actually finished roughly 117 paintings. In 2012 I think I finished 126, so I wasn’t too far off.

I contacted my art director at Games Workshop and confirmed that a few of my paintings have been released, giving me the go ahead to post them online.

I haven’t worked on very many sci-fi titles professionally, so working on 40k is a nice change. The first painting is of Mortis Metalikus from Crimson Slaughter: A Codex Supplement. I have a few process shots on my CGHub page if you want to take a look. I painted this roughly 6 months ago. I’ve been working on several other paintings for Games Workshop, so I’ll post them as soon as I can.

Magic: The Gathering

Several of my God paintings for Journey into Nyx were posted today on the WotC site.

Kruphix was a pain in the butt to paint. He seems like he would be easy to paint, but the problem with Kruphix is that they wanted him to be a completely flat silhouetted shape. Not only that, but he had to be filled with Nyx. In order to make a flat shape read, I had to try and come up with poses that made all 4 of his arms read. It was also hard to make a flat hard-edged shape fit in with the surrounding environment. Yeah, he was just weird to paint in general.

I just realized that in the first painting I forgot to paint his bracelets…maybe no one will notice. Oops! I think I actually like him better without them.

Keranos, God of Storms

Keranos, God of Storms

Keranos, God of Storms was much more fun to paint, and a lot easier. I think out of all of my Theros cards, Keranos was one of my favorites. After Journey into Nyx comes out in May, I’ll offer prints of these three paintings on my inPRNT gallery.

I probably won’t have the proofs from Journey into Nyx until early May. As soon as I have those, I will add them to my shop. I’m a little behind with updating my shop, so I haven’t added the Born of the Gods proofs either.

Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully some more of my illustrations will be released soon.

Update – The cards have officially been spoiled on the WotC site. Here they are.

Kruphix, God of Horizons

Kruphix, God of Horizons

Dictate of Kruphix

Dictate of Kruphix

Keranos, God of Storms

Keranos, God of Storms

First Mentorship is Done!

Figure painting from ref. assignment (right) - Ben Liou

Figure painting from ref. assignment (right) – Ben Liou

After three short months, my first intro to digital painting class has come to an end. Technically the class ended several weeks ago, so I’m a little behind with this post. I thought it might be interesting to post some stats so that you can get an idea of what the class entails.

Paintovers – 1,462 minutes
Assignments turned in – 164 (6+ GB)
Portfolio reviews – 207 minutes
Skype calls – 1,241 minutes
Demos – 1,482 minutes (10 week course), 1,804 minutes (12 week course)

I also wanted to post a few more assignments from my students. As I’ve said before, I’m very happy with the progress everyone made. My assignments were pretty insane from time to time, so I really appreciate everyone’s hard work and dedication. I actually had to change a few of the assignments because they were a little too crazy. I think I probably broke everyone after the very first assignment. Pain is good right?

Portrait assignment - Jeff Obrien

Portrait assignment – Jeff Obrien

Several people have asked to see progress shots from the students, so I posted a few before and after images. To be fair, I’m not sure exactly how much time elapsed between the before and after shots. What I do know is that the before image for each student was included in the portfolio they submitted for review.

The progress is pretty impressive right? All of the credit goes to the individual student. They are the ones who put in the time and effort to improve, I simply guided them through that process. I’m really excited to see where they are in a year from now. Hopefully it won’t be that long before the advanced class starts!

The next intro to digital painting class starts on the 21st of this month. I still haven’t finished the advanced class, so I decided to go ahead and start another intro class. I still have 3 more demos to film for the advanced class, so I’m not sure when it will start.

Now that the holidays are over, my freelance schedule is back in full swing leaving me no time to work on the advanced demos.

The Waiting List

I have decided to change the way I handle the waiting list for the intro and advanced class. People already on the waiting list won’t be affected, so don’t worry.

As it is right now, most of the people on the waiting list have been on there for 4+ months. Many things change in that amount of time so a lot of people are canceling, which is perfectly fine. While that is good news for people at the end of the waiting list, it causes a lot of lost time when trying to nail down a final roster.

Week 2 (left) and week 4 (right) still life assignment - Felipe Gaona

Week 2 (left) and week 4 (right) still life assignment – Felipe Gaona

Over the past 3.5 weeks I’ve been trying to track down and e-mail people on the waiting list for the upcoming class. I usually then have to wait anywhere from a few days to a week before I receive a reply, and many times the reply is that they can no longer take the class. I then have to move to the next person on the list, e-mail them, and wait again for a reply.

So far 11 people have either canceled or simply not responded. This is causing things to get a little backed up since the class is starting soon, which means I have less time to record and upload portfolio reviews before the class starts. It is also giving people less time to make their payment.

From now on I won’t be adding people to the waiting list. Once the current list has been exhausted, I will simply post about upcoming classes and the first 10 people to respond will be accepted. Hopefully this way I can avoid too many cancellations.

Since I have many international students, there might be an issue of when I post about openings due to the time difference. What I can do is post at two separate times. During the first post I will accept the first 5 people and then I’ll post again at night and accept the next 5 people. Hopefully that will give everyone a chance to apply.

There are still 26 people on the waiting list for the intro class, not including the 10 people currently enrolled for the class starting on the 21st. Given that 11 people have already canceled or not responded, we might get through the rest of the list fairly quickly. During the first intro class I think 4-5 people canceled.

I just want to thank all of my students one more time. I had a great 3 months and I’m blown away by everyone’s progress. I hope to see you again in the advanced class and I’ll see all of my new students in 10 days!

Born of the Gods

Kragma Butcher

Kragma Butcher

It’s been around four months since I posted any new art, so it’s way past due.

Back in August during the Oakland GP (at least I think it was the Oakland GP), someone came up to me and asked if I had painted a minotaur for Theros. Hardly any art had been spoiled for Theros and this was long before any of my art had been spoiled.

“I don’t really remember,” I lied. “I did those paintings so long ago that I’m not really sure what I painted for Theros. Usually it can take a year before my art comes out.”

“No,” replied the fan, “you painted a minotuar.”

How did he know?!? After that conversation I went online to see if anyone had spoiled my minotaur painting, but I couldn’t find anything. It was such an odd and specific statement that he had to have seen it somewhere. It was just weird because that card wasn’t spoiled until just last week.

Strange things are afoot at the Oakland GP.


I actually painted 7 more cards for the Theros block, so I guess they are saving them all for Journey into Nyx. Sometimes you paint cards for a certain set but then they never come out. One of them was painted for Theros, so I’m not sure what happened to it. Now the whole Born of the Gods set has been spoiled, but it isn’t in there either. Hopefully the rest of my cards will come out in May.