Litup LP3 – Review

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Litup LP3

This is the light box I wish I had back in school. The light box I used back at the Academy of Art University was small and about as thick as a brick. The Litup LP3 is extremely thin and has an active area of 16.93×12.2. Plus you have to admit, it looks pretty slick.

As always, you can watch the video review instead of reading the wall of text.

The LP3 light box is just that, it is a light box that is used for tracing drawings. I’m sure photographers and graphic designers have other uses for it, but for me it would be used for tracing drawings. It doesn’t transfer your drawing to the computer, it is just a good old fashioned light box.

The Light

What is cool about this light box that older boxes don’t have is the ability to change the brightness level. If you are in a dark room, you might want to use a lower brightness level so that you don’t burn your eyeballs. The LP3 also remembers your last brightness level setting. If you turn off the LP3 and turn it on again, it goes back to the previous setting.

During the video you will probably notice that the light flickers or has a rolling black bar. You can’t actually see the flicker in person, but you can see it through the camera due to the difference in refresh rates.

I tried testing the LP3 out with different types of paper. Obviously regular printer paper is fine, but I also tried 100 lb. Bristol Board. The light is strong enough to easily trace your drawing onto Bristol Board. I don’t have any watercolor paper around, but if I ever do, I will update this review.

The surface doesn’t seem to get hot either when working for long periods of time. It has been at full brightness for two hours now and the surface still feels like it did before I turned it on.

Litup LP3

Litup LP3

The Cons

There really aren’t many. The only main problem is that it has to be plugged in to use it. Most electronic devices do, so that isn’t a surprise. Some of the fancier models from Litup actually have a battery that allows you to use the device without plugging it in. If you are worried about using it without the cord, you might want to consider getting one of the upgraded models.

I saw some reviews that mentioned the cord is too short. I guess it really depends on how far away your desk is from the outlet. Sure it could always be a little longer, but for most cases I think the cord is probably long enough. I only mentioned it in the video because I was grasping at straws.

There seems to be quite a bit of variance with the cord length. Customers on Amazon are reporting the cord length to be anywhere from 36 in. long to 62 in. long. Maybe they received a different product, but my cord is 76 in. long. Unless you have a severe lack of outlets in your workspace, the cord should be long enough (unless your cord is only 3 feet long). According to Amazon, receiving different cord lengths could be a problem when ordering this product. Maybe Litup recently changed the cord length, but the short cord length reviews were from last month.

Conclusion

I really can’t find anything wrong with the LP3. The comment about the cord and power issue are so minor that I wouldn’t really even consider them as cons. I was really grasping at straws trying to figure out something to say that could be improved upon, and it appears these issues have been addressed with other models. I would have been extremely excited if this product had been around 14 years ago when I was in school.

Dragons of Tarkir

159802 Kolaghan's Mastery

Kolaghan’s Command – Dragons of Tarkir © Wizards of the Coast

At PAX East, Wizards of the Coast previewed some of my paintings from Dragons of Tarkir, although I think the entire set has been released online by now.

I only have three cards in Dragons of Tarkir. I actually had to opt out of the second wave of commissions because the deadline was going to be a little too close to the birth of our son. This was the first time I declined Magic work, so I was a little afraid that they might forget about me and not hire me again for the next block. I’m glad I did though because it gave me more time to prepare.

There are so many new names in Magic and their work is incredible, so I always worry that one day I won’t receive any new Magic work. I think most artists feel this way once they have been in the industry for awhile. This fear also helps push me to try and create better art. It doesn’t always mean that I do produce better art, but I definitely try to. At the same time it is also exciting to see all of the new names and what they bring to the game.

Boltwing Marauder - Dragons of Tarkir © Wizards of the Coast

Boltwing Marauder – Dragons of Tarkir © Wizards of the Coast

Thinking back, I probably should have opted out of this wave as well. At the time I was on-site at Wizards of the Coast for a concept push working on some secret stuff. During the concept pushes I’m at WotC from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday through Friday. It is a normal full-time job. That means in order to work on my freelance, I have to do it after hours at the hotel.

Typically I would get off at 6:00 pm, shower, and then eat some dinner. That means I probably won’t start working on my freelance until around 7:30 pm. I would probably get in a good 4-5 hours of work before I had to go to bed since I wake up at 7:00 am.

So after getting off of work, I had to work on all three of these illustrations. Of course two of them aren’t exactly simple. Multiple figures, horses, and dragons. I’m getting old now, so working 12-13 hours a day isn’t as easy as it used to be.

If you have ever had to work in a hotel, you also probably know that they don’t exactly have the best desks. Most of them are way too tall, which would wreak havoc on my wrists. It also doesn’t help that I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists and cubital tunnel syndrome in my left arm. I probably could have gone back to the office, but after being there all day, you kind of want to get away. Plus I think they turn off the A/C at night, or maybe that is just on the weekends.

Foul-Tongue Invocation - Dragons of Tarkir © Wizards of the Coast

Foul-Tongue Invocation – Dragons of Tarkir © Wizards of the Coast

It also didn’t help that I was struggling with all three of these paintings. Horses are always hard to paint, plus I think dragons are hard to paint as well. I think it is mainly their wings that give me problems. Multiple figures with multiple horses and dragons? Blah.

I often go through these periods where I feel like I forgot how to paint. I was definitely feeling that when I was working on these. I couldn’t figure out the colors, I couldn’t figure out how to render certain things, I just felt like I couldn’t paint. Maybe I get this way when I’m burned out, I don’t know.

Foul-Tongue Invocation gave me a lot of problems as well. I wasn’t very happy with this painting and I sort of wrote it off as one of those paintings that you finish and then throw away. The dragons are usually a lot larger than that, but I had to show one next to a human and make them both important and both read at card size, so I had to just make the dragon smaller. Sometimes you gotta bend the rules to make something work. Maybe this is a baby dragon. Yeah, my excuse is that this is a baby dragon.

Foul-Tongue Invocation detail

Foul-Tongue Invocation detail

I also didn’t like how the girl’s face looked at card size. The glowing bits from her eyes and mouth just made her look weird at card size. The glow from her eyes and mouth was in the description of the card, so I had to put them in there. It looks a lot better larger, so take a look at the detail shot.

I actually completely started over on her face too. The first one I painted was pretty horrible and the lighting was bad. I also didn’t really capture the features that I wanted. Instead of trying to make something work that doesn’t, I just deleted the face and started over. Sometimes you just gotta throw something away and start over.

It might seem a little silly to worry about these things, especially when the images on the cards are so small that most people won’t even see the details artists worry about. I think I mainly do it because I don’t want to create a bad painting, regardless of how big or small it will be printed.

New Tutorials & Mentorship

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Working with Layers – For Beginners

After speaking with some of my students, I have come up with some new tutorials and additions to the online mentorship.

Video Tutorials

I’ve been doing video tutorials for many years now, but lately I haven’t been able to produce very many tutorials due to my schedule. Creating a tutorial of an entire illustration takes weeks, sometimes months to produce. Plus I usually don’t have the extra time to create personal paintings.

I have decided to start creating some shorter tutorials that are geared more toward beginners. Watching professionals create an entire illustration is great, but sometimes it isn’t very useful to amateurs. Plus many times the artist assumes the audience already knows the basics of Photoshop. These shorter tutorials will focus more on the basics instead of creating an entire illustration. This way I actually have time to create new tutorials.

The first tutorial focuses on layer modes. I talk about some of the various layer modes I use, what I use them for, what they do, etc. If you are already familiar with layer modes and how they work, this tutorial probably isn’t for you.

I plan on making the next tutorial about blending. It seems that beginners always have a problem with blending in Photoshop. There are several techniques when it comes to blending, so I will go over them in the tutorial. I am not sure when the blending tutorial will be available, but it should be soon.

If my schedule allows, I will still offer free tutorials on my Enliighten site. Unfortunately I have bills to pay, so I can’t always offer everything for free. Providing cheaper and/or free content is still important to me, so look for more in the future.

Personal Paintovers

In my mentorship I do paintovers of every single assignment for every single student. I had one student suggest that I offer paintovers of paintings not created in my mentorship. This would be open to anyone, you don’t need to take my mentorship. This way if you need help with a painting, I can show you how to fix it directly.

The personal paintovers are a little more expensive than my other tutorials, but that is because each tutorial is unique and I can only sell it once instead of creating one tutorial and selling the same one over and over. The paintover is yours and yours alone.

You can submit just about anything you want; it could be an illustration or just a character design. I don’t do very many mechanical things or vehicles, so I am probably not the best person to do those types of paintovers. I also don’t do 3D, so I won’t be doing any 3D paintovers.

You can purchase the personal paintover from my store. After you make your purchase, just send me the image you want me to paintover. A Dropbox link to your file is probably the best way to go.

Advanced Digital Painting - At Your Own Pace

Advanced Digital Painting – At Your Own Pace

At Your Own Pace Mentorship

This was another suggestion from a student. I understand that many of my students work and have families, so trying to do a homework assignment every week can be very difficult. The “at your own pace” mentorship is tailored to fit your schedule. If you need 3 weeks to do one assignment, you can.

So why would you want the structured mentorship over the “at your own pace” mentorship? The “at your own pace” mentorship does not offer discounts (except for the military discount) or payment plans. The “at your own pace” mentorship also doesn’t allow you to have live chats with all of the other students at the same time. Since the mentorship will be tailored to your schedule, it will just be a one-on-one chat with me and no one else.

I will probably only offer the “at your own pace” mentorship to a few people at a time. Since I will still run the normal structured mentorship, I don’t want things to get too confusing since I will have several students all working on different things. If it turns out to be easier than I am expecting, I will offer more slots.

The Intro to Digital Painting – At Your Own Pace can be purchased here and the Advanced Digital Painting – At Your Own Pace can be purchased here.

You might notice that the Advanced AYOP is a little more when it comes to adding the premium assignments. That is because the AYOP premium assignments will be a little more personal and you will have more input. I will email and discuss them more with you than I normally do with the structured class. Emailing individual students takes time, plus you don’t know how long it will take for people to respond, so I can’t do that with the structured class. Hopefully this will allow you to create an even tighter portfolio.

GP Vancouver 2015

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Vancouver Convention Center

Over the weekend we attended GP Vancouver. This was my first Canadian GP and only the second time I’ve been to Canada (I think). The first time was for my sister’s wedding in Winnipeg. I hate flying and my wife doesn’t like boats, so luckily we were able to drive to Vancouver.

You know you are in Canada when it is 34 degrees outside and people are wearing shorts and t-shirts. I remember one time during GP Albuquerque it was snowing outside and Rob Alexander was walking around in a t-shirt. Crazy!

We were only in Vancouver for the weekend, but I was really impressed. It has the big city feel without the cramped crowded streets like San Francisco or Seattle. For a big city, it was also incredibly clean. The buildings were cool, the trees were huge, and the air was fresh. Plus everything smelled of maple syrup and people said “eh” and “aboot.” What’s not to like about this city?

The food was amazing. Everything I ate there, with the exception of the convention food, was incredible. There is a food truck near the convention center called Japadog; you must eat there before you die. The butter and shoyu fries were the best fries I’ve ever had, they finally unseated the duck fat fries I had in San Jose. The hot dog was also the best hot dog I’ve ever had. I need to go there again…soon.

Hippo Token

Hippo Token

In honor of my first Canadian GP, I created a special token for the event. Behold, the legendary hippo token!

When I was first asked to create a special token for the event, I had no idea what I wanted to do. With the help of Twitter, I decided to give hippos some love and create a baby green hippo token. Now I know hippo tokens aren’t exactly popular, but I wanted to do something different. Sorry, no goblin token this time!

Even though I went with an obscure token, it still seemed pretty popular. I guess there are more hippo fans out there than I thought there would be. Hippo army ftw!

I’m not sure if I will be selling them online or just making them available at shows. Tokens are cheap (2 for $1), so shipping and the time spent driving to the post office probably wouldn’t make it worth it. I was thinking about maybe making them a special bonus if people bought something else, but who knows.

The Grand Prix was great. It wasn’t as large as some of the other GPs I’ve been to, especially when you compare it to something like GP Vegas, but it was still good. It was probably better that this one was a little smaller because it really helped my wrists.

I tried to get to everyone in line when it came to alters and drawings, but unfortunately there is a limited amount of time. There is only so much I can do in 9 hours each day. Thanks to everyone who came out to the event and dropped by, I really appreciate it!

I kept hearing about the Vancouver Aquarium and how people will drive to Vancouver just to go to it, so we had to check it out before going back home. It was awesome. The shows were great and they had a lot of cool things to look at. I was bummed that the Monsters Revealed exhibit hadn’t opened yet, but I guess that gives me an excuse to go back. The area around the Vancouver Aquarium is beautiful, plus it was only a couple minutes away from the convention center.

I just want to thank everyone at Game Keeper and WotC for a great show. I hope everyone had a good time, I know I did!

WotC Concept Push – 2015

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Day 1 at WotC

I just got back from another 3-week concept push at WotC. Of course I can’t tell you what we worked on and unfortunately you probably won’t see any of it for another couple of years. Boooooo, I know.

The concept crew this time consisted of Tyler Jacobson, Cynthia Sheppard, Chris Rahn, and Steve Belledin, with additional help from Sam Burley.

I have to say, out of the 5 concept pushes I have been on over the years, this one was probably the hardest. I felt like I was spinning my wheels and I don’t feel like I produced as many concepts as I usually do. Typically I feel like that during the last few days of the push, but I felt like that by day 2. I had actually worked on some of this stuff last year, so maybe that was why I was feeling burnt out.

There are two things that were probably my greatest contribution to the push. The first was my laptop. There was a TV in the room we were working in, so I brought in my laptop and hooked it up. Movies galore! We seemed to be the talk of the office. Every so often someone would walk by and look through the window. We would then hear them comment about whatever movie we had playing at the time.

For me, watching movies while I work is something I do every day, but I guess for others it is a novel idea. I really hate working in silence. I actually find that when I work in silence, I become more easily discouraged, frustrated, and more prone to putting my painting down and walking away.

turtleneck

Turtleneck & Chain – The concept artist edition

My second best contribution, and probably my greatest contribution in my entire art career, was the Turtleneck & Chain concept artist edition photo. The day before we were listening to the song by The Lonely Island, so later that night my wife thought it would be a good idea for me to photoshop our heads onto one of the Turtleneck & Chain pictures.

The original picture only had three people in is, so I was only planning on adding the heads of Tyler, Chris, and Cynthia. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I should add all 5 of us. I combined a few other Turtleneck & Chain photos into this one, and behold, my greatest creation ever!

Initially I was just going to use the photo of myself that I photoshop onto all of my photos, but it was really grainy and it didn’t match any of the other heads. I went to the hotel bathroom (it had the most light) and took a few pics of myself with my phone.

Tyler Tech...wait, what is that on the roof?

Tyler Tech…wait, what is that on the roof?

It’s actually really funny how many people thought this was a real photo. To me it looks obviously photoshopped, but I guess I can understand why some people might be fooled. Chris and I do make a pretty good couple. I think I need to hang a large print of this above my mantle, when I have a mantle that is.

I foresee some turtleneck and chain shopping in the near future. All I need now is a furry couch…

One day when I was walking around the parking lot, I noticed that Tyler apparently has an office next to the WotC building conveniently called “Tyler Technologies.” That Tyler and his ego, jeez! Of course when I stopped to take a photo, Tyler himself was overseeing his building. Probably to make sure everything was running smoothly. That guy is everywhere!

Mentorship 2.0

Hey everyone!

It’s that time of year to talk about my mentorship again. After teaching 5 classes, some changes have been made.

Pricing
As you can see by the table, the prices have changed. If you sell products, even digital ones, most states require that you charge sales tax. That sales tax is then given to the state. In Washington, I am required to charge 9.6% sales tax on products I sell. I then have to give that 9.6% to the state, I don’t get to keep it. If I don’t charge people sales tax, I have to pay the 9.6% out of my own pocket. The new prices reflect the 9.6% sales tax plus a little extra because Paypal takes an additional 2.9% (3.9% for international people).

Video Only
$300

Economy
$450
Standard
$700
Premium
$900
10 Weeks x x x
12 Weeks x
Video Paintovers + JPG x x
Video Paintovers + PSD x
Standard Assignments x x x
Personal Assignments x
Portfolio Review x x
Access to Resources x x x x
Private Forum x x x x
Live Chats x x
Contact with ADs x

Modular Options

Intro Class

• Upgrade from 10 weeks to 12 weeks (video only). Only available to economy and standard tier students – $110

Advanced Class (currently the advanced class is only 10 weeks)

• Add contact with ADs (Standard tier upgraded to Premium tier only) – $55
• Add premium assignments (Standard tier upgraded to Premium tier only) – $55
• Upgrade from 10 weeks to 12 weeks (video only). Only available to economy and standard tier students – $110 (currently unavailable)

Payment Options – Economy, Standard, and Premium tier only

• Full – 5% off
• Two Payments – 50% up front, 50% at week 5
• US Military Discount – 20% off (can’t be combined with the 5% off)

Reservations

When I first started the mentorship, I had a waiting list since I can only accept 10-12 students at a time. That failed because too many people were either canceling or not responding. One time I had around 30 people cancel. I would often spend several weeks trying to track down and email people on the waiting list, only to either not hear from them again or receive a cancellation. That would then cause more problems because it gave new candidates less time to pay for the class since I would have to try and find last-minute replacements.

I then decided to do a first-come, first-served announcement a couple of weeks before the starting date. Even then I had around 10 people cancel after agreeing to take the class. That ended up being worse because new candidates had virtually no time to pay for the class before it started.

What I am doing now is I am requiring a non-refundable deposit of $100. Hopefully this will weed out the people who aren’t really sure if they want to take the class. These reservations will be available for purchase through my store. Only 12 reservations per class will be available and I will make them available for purchase roughly 1 month before the starting date. That should give people enough time to get their tuition together. Right now only the Intro to Digital Painting reservation is on the store. The Advanced class requires a portfolio, so I have to approve each person first before they can make a reservation.

The $100 deposit will be deducted from the total tuition. So if you are taking the Premium tier ($900), after you pay the $100 deposit you will then owe $800. The discounts only apply to the remaining balance, it does not count toward the deposit. Same with the payment plan options, they only apply to the remaining balance.

I want to make this extra clear, the reservation is a non-refundable deposit. If you cancel, you will not receive a refund.

Dates

Registration for the Intro class opens on March 10th and the class starts on April 10th. Registration for the Advanced class opens February 5th and the class starts on March 5th. Since I have to approve portfolios for the advanced class before you can register, send them in now. Just send me a link to your portfolio (website, blog, DeviantArt, etc.) to mentorship@daarken.com. I will then let you know if I think you are ready for the Advanced class. If you have taken my Intro class in the past and you want to take the Advanced class, send me an email.

I look forward to seeing your submission! See you in class!

Fate Reforged

Archfiend of Depravity © Wizards of the Coast

Archfiend of Depravity © Wizards of the Coast

Two of my illustrations from Fate Reforged were spoiled the other day, so here they are!

The first card is Archfiend of Depravity. This card was fun, but very tricky. The description called for a demon floating above a pile of dead bodies. Although I have to admit, painting the pile of dead bodies was pretty fun. Not because of the subject matter, but because it allowed me to paint things I don’t normally paint, like feet.

It was a good challenge, but now I wonder if the government has me flagged for Googling piles of dead bodies. I think most artists probably have some pretty weird Google searches.

The body pile ended up taking me maybe 2 days to paint? It doesn’t seem like much and a lot of it is hidden in shadow, but it took a lot of time. After I turned in my painting, my AD said that the demon was too small at print size and they were going to have to crop out the body pile. They own the image and they can do what they will with it, but I was a little disappointed since I spent a lot of time painting it, plus I felt it made the illustration better. I completely understand though, they need the illustration to fit their needs, so you gotta do what you gotta do.

I was very surprised when I saw the spoiler because they left the body pile in! Yeah I guess the demon is a little small at print size, but I think the card makes much more sense with the body pile considering the mechanics of the card.

Outpost Siege © Wizards of the Coast

Outpost Siege © Wizards of the Coast

The next card is Outpost Siege. Battle scenes are always tough for me. I tend to have a problem creating cool and dynamic fighting scenes, which is why I find it weird that so many of my illustrations these days are battle scenes.

I was never really fond of this illustration. I had a lot of trouble painting it and I was just never satisfied with the results. Most of the time I don’t post paintings I don’t like, but sometimes I have to. If I didn’t, I would never be able to post anything. If I really hate a painting, I won’t post it. I think I’m mainly unhappy with the people and not so much the dragon.

I believe I have 1 more painting in this set. Unfortunately I had to opt out of the second wave in the third set (Dragons of Tarkir) since our son was going to be born during the time as the deadlines. I should still have 3 cards in Dragons of Tarkir, but I was pretty bummed out because this was the first time I turned down work from Magic, plus I had helped concept two of the three sets of Khans of Tarkir, Dragons of Tarkir being one of them. Ah well, it was probably better that I opted out instead of turning in mediocre work.

“For the Emperor and Sanguinius! Death! DEATH!”

Blood Angels © Games Workshop

Blood Angels © Games Workshop

Of course, as soon as I post something saying I have nothing new to post, something new comes out.

Several of my Blood Angels were spoiled when Games Workshop started taking pre-orders for the new Codex Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard Edition. It looks like it is out now, so go pick one up before they sell out!

Painting anything from Warhammer 40k is super exciting, so it was great to paint 7 Blood Angels for the new Codex. I also painted a little blank side view of a pauldron so that GW could swap in and out various company markings.

When GW approached me to create the new Blood Angels, they wanted me to update the old front pose they used to use for all of the various Space Marines. If you have ever looked at a 40k Codex, you know which one I’m talking about. They wanted something more interesting and dynamic and they wanted different poses for each one.

Blood Angels Sketches

Blood Angels sketches

The sketches I did for the various poses are pretty straightforward. They wanted a standing pose with no background, although I added a little bit around the feet just to ground them so that they didn’t look like they were floating in space. A few of them changed slightly as I took them to finish, but they are pretty close to the original sketches.

I was on a fairly tight deadline (partially due to my commitments with my other clients in addition to these), so I may or may not have copy and pasted a few legs, heads, and arms between the 7 paintings. Shhhhh.

What’s funny about this guy is that after I submitted my file, I noticed that he had six fingers on his right hand. Of course I didn’t notice this until several months after I had turned in my final and by then it was too late. This version is the fixed one, but if you look at the book, he probably has six fingers on one hand. “You killed my father, prepare to die!”

Yeah I know, I remembered the trigger discipline on the Angels Encarmine, but I forgot to on this guy. What can I say, he likes to live dangerously. I mean, you gotta when you have six fingers! I dunno, maybe he just finished shooting his gun in the air while yelling “yeehaw!” That makes sense right? Maybe I’ll add a muzzle flash…

Ah screw it, I already went back and removed one finger, I might as well take his other finger off the trigger. Ok, here is the new new version.

Codex Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard Edition prints

Codex Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard Edition prints

Anyhoo, the Codex Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard Edition looks super awesome and it comes with prints of all 7 of my Blood Angels. I wish I could get one!

I like how they cropped the right arm off the guy with six fingers. Maybe they noticed it and decided to crop it, or maybe it just turned out that way.

That’s about it for now. Just remember, “Be bloody, bold, and resolute!”

Blast from the Past – 2006

Hero Japan Marketing

I wanted to post the concepts I created for Crytek for the game Ryse: Son of Rome, but I was told I’m not allowed to show my work to anyone. Since I can’t post any of my new art either, I figured I would continue from my Warhammer post and show some of my older paintings that have never been seen before.

Behold! Paintings from 2006! I would say “there can be only one,” but then this would be a very short and boring post.

These were illustrations and concepts I did back in 2006 (I graduated in 2004) for Widescreen Games for the game Highlander. Unfortunately Widescreen Games is no longer around and the Highlander game was canceled back in 2010.

Oh man, it’s always weird going back and looking at your old work. These paintings are 8 years old now, 8 years! I believe these were actually my first “real” video game concepts. By “real” I mean concepts for a big client and title. I had worked for a video game company called Mind Control Software before this, but we weren’t making big games, we made word and puzzle games. Other than this work, I was working on D&D interior illustrations, card art for Fantasy Flight Games, and a few other random things for smaller clients. I think I started working on Magic: The Gathering in 2006 as well.

new_yorkMy stuff was pretty dark (hence the name) and loose back then, and apparently everyone had huge hands and feet.

This painting was the art test I did for Widescreen Games. Widescreen Games was a very professional client, so they paid me for this art test. In this day and age most art tests seem to be unpaid, so I was grateful that Widescreen Games knew and understood the value of paying an artist for their art test.

The cool thing about working on the Highlander game was that the game spanned different timelines, which allowed me to paint designs from various cultures and time periods. I’m usually known for my fantasy work, so I hadn’t done very many paintings of characters in contemporary clothing. This was a great opportunity for me to practice painting jeans and Chucks. Now that I think about it, this was the last time I painted people in contemporary clothing, other than studies from life.

As always, this wasn’t all of the work I did for Widescreen Games. The rest isn’t really worth showing.

Ancient Gaul, Pompeii, and other stuff

Vikings, gladiators, Romans, oh my! I can’t really remember who Antonius was with. He looks like a typical fantasy character while the others are more historical. Maybe he was with a barbarian horde? I can’t remember.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it really is weird how your perception changes over time. Looking back at these paintings I can see how off my proportions were, yet back then I thought they were correct. I remember reading this article that explained a scientific reason why beginning painters can’t recognize their mistakes, but I can’t seem to find it anymore. If anyone knows which article I am talking about, I would love to read it again.

Feudal Japan

I’ve always loved Japanese armor, so I had a lot of fun working on these. I used to periodically run down to Kinokuniya in San Francisco and look at their armor books. Looking back now, I’m not really happy with my designs. I think I really could have pushed these more, plus the paintings themselves are kind of blah. Before you say anything about the samurai hero using a Chinese sword, I was told to do that. Joe, I’m talking to you!

Modern Day – New York

Now you can’t say I never painted mad bling (not my idea), although I’m not sure why he is squatting and pretending to hold a chainsaw. I don’t think he was initially supposed to hold a chainsaw, which is why his hand doesn’t look like it is really holding it. Or maybe he was and I just screwed up, I can’t remember.

There is Still Hope for Me Yet

So, as my students said after showing them this post,  ”there is still hope for me yet.” Yeah I know, my paintings were pretty lame back then. Thanks for rubbing it in!

It’s always fun to look back at your old work and see how far you have come, but I also cringe at my old work and I feel a little silly showing them. I need to figure out a way to systematically remove all of my old Game of Thrones paintings from the internet. Those should never been seen by the human eye, ever. Pew pew! (That’s me using lasers to remove my Game of Thrones paintings from the internet.)

Wacom Companion – Screen Protectors

Photo from Amazon.com

Photo from Amazon.com

Now that the Companion has been out for more than a year, companies have started making screen protectors for it. When I first purchased the Companion, there weren’t any screen protectors available, so I had to risk scratching my screen. I’m always super careful with my things, so I went about 7 months with no problems.

I use the Companion as my only work machine, so I use it a lot. After 7 months my nib had worn down quite a bit, but I didn’t notice how much it had worn down. It had worn down enough to create a sharp edge, which of course scratched my screen. <insert Vader “Noooooooo” here>

It was completely my fault. If I had been paying more attention to my nib wear, I probably wouldn’t have scratched my screen. Luckily it wasn’t that bad, so you can’t really notice it. Anyway, I went on Amazon and found a couple of different options regarding screen protectors for the Companion.

Posrus & Skinomi

I’ve been using tablet PCs since around 2009, so I have quite a bit of experience using various screen protectors. Back when I was using the ASUS EP121, I used the Posrus and the Skinomi screen protector. I used a few different options for the Fujitsu ST5112 as well, including the one from Fujitsu. Out of the 5112 screen protectors, the one from Fujitsu ended up being the best, even though it was really thick and made everything look a little blurry.

Skinomi screen protector after only 3 weeks of use. No bueno.

Skinomi screen protector after only 3 weeks of use. No bueno.

The Skinomi screen protector was a pain to install because it was one of those wet install screen protectors. It was a glossy protector so everything looked super crisp and clean, but that also meant there was a ton of glare. After only three weeks of use, the screen looked like the surface of a lake, or maybe liquid mercury.

The Posrus protector was an anti-glare screen protector, but it also scratched very easily. Not only did it scratch, but the scratches made everything on the screen look blurry. At least the indentations on the Skinomi protector didn’t make everything blurry. The Posrus protector had to be replaced after about a month or two.

Sure the Skinomi and Posrus protectors were for the ASUS EP121 and not the Companion, but since they are made by the same company, I’m sure they are pretty similar. Posrus offers a Companion screen protector, but based on how the Posrus protector performed on the ASUS, I didn’t want to take the chance.

Photodon a.k.a Awesomedon

There was another option by Photodon that looked promising, so I gave it a shot. They offer several different options for the Companion, a 25%, 35%, and 85% anti-glare and also a clear version. I went with the 25% anti-glare.

The Photodon screen protector is by far the best screen protector I’ve ever used. It is easy to install and it doesn’t affect the colors or touch capabilities. I also don’t really notice much affect on the sharpness of the screen, although I guess I didn’t sit and inspect it before and after. It does have a little bit of a matte feel to it, but if you buff the screen with the cleaning cloth that comes with it, it becomes much smoother.

The other screen protectors lasted anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months max, the Photodon screen protector lasted 7 months. Quite an improvement. Plus that 7 months was with me using the computer 7 days a week, 8-15 hours a day. The scratches also weren’t huge indentations like the Skinomi protector, instead they were fine scratches. They also didn’t make the screen blurry like the Posrus protector. They did cause my nib to get caught a little and make squeaky noises, which was why I decided to go ahead and replace it. Paying $20 every 7 months to protect my Companion seems like a pretty good deal to me.

If you have a Wacom Companion and you are looking for a screen protector, Photodon is the way to go.