Friday, October 5, 2012

Just Stop It

I was contacted by one of my clients who I had painted a copy of Super Dungeon Explore for. He had acquired a mini from sodapop as a bonus character and wanted to know if I could paint it up. I wanted to, but there was a bit of a snag, I haven't owned any paints or brushes for about three months.

Now I still have plenty of friends who have all their stuff, and I was able to borrow what I needed to complete the job, but it got me to thinking about the fact that I haven't painted for quite some time. 

When GW relaunched their paint line this year, I took a long hard look at where I was and where I wanted to be. I did some basic calculations for replacing all of my paints, along with the investment in a new warhammer fantasy army that I had been planning, and when the cost broke four figures I knew I was done. I got all my paints packed up and traded them to someone who would be able to use them while they were still good. With all the minis painted that I had been planning on, I was able to wrap things up nice and neat.

Except there was a blog that I had been maintaining for the last two years. To say I was attached would be a bit of an understatement.

I had a hard time reaching this decision, but I received some solid advice through this TED Talk. I highly encourage everyone to watch it, it's only 3 and a half minutes, but the relevant point for this post is to focus. If you're going to paint, paint all day every day. If you're going to draw, draw all day every day. If you really want to succeed at one, you can't spend your time worrying about the other, or you won't get either.

This is and always has been a painting blog. Now that I'm not painting, I've decided to take my own advice and just stop it: therefore, this blog will become an archive of the several glorious years of my life I spent painting toy soldiers. I may have one final project on the horizon, but that's still up in the air. If that comes to fruition, I'll post an epilogue, but otherwise, I'm content to leave this blog for others to find, share, and enjoy.

Two final points:

First, don't be afraid to finish. There are 24 hours in a day, and you can't just keep adding new time commitments onto your existing schedule forever. Eventually, as I've found out first hand, you'll run out of room, and then you have to start making sacrifices. That's not a fun road to go down, trust me. Instead, consider the idea that we're constantly starting things, and expected to maintain them, but rarely in our lives are we allowed to finish things. It seems like the internet is especially geared toward this phenomenon of endless effort. There are a million search results on how to start a blog, but precious few on how to end one. Focus on giving yourself permission to examine what you're doing, see if you've accomplished everything you set out to do, and if so, stop doing it. The only way we're going to be able to transition into the next phase of our lives is if we're unencumbered by the past.

Second, I'm still drawing. As a matter of fact, I'm drawing more now than ever. I plan on turning my drawing into something bigger in the future. And I still have plans to do some dreadball illustrations at some point. In the meantime you can find me posting things every weekday:
on twitter
and facebook.

My gratitude goes out to everyone who has been part of this grand adventure for the past two years. Thank you all for making it a journey worth taking.

Now it's time for me to just stop it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Customizable Blood Bowl Poster: Beastmen

Coming back at you this week with a brand new poster for your Blood Bowl Team. You can download the pdf here, fill in your own team name, and print straight from Adobe Reader. Enjoy!

Beastman Blood Bowl Illustration Poster Games Workshop

Friday, September 21, 2012

Customizable Blood Bowl Poster: Goblins!

Coming back at you this week with a brand new poster for your Blood Bowl Team. As always you can download the pdf here, fill in your own team name, and print straight from Adobe Reader. Enjoy!

Blood Bowl Team Goblin Poster Illustration Games Workshop

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dear GW, Stop It

Oh, a storm is coming? Really? Because last time I checked we hadn't even received news that the last storm you said was coming had actually run it's course and cleared up. I know you guys live in England and all, but really, how many storms/dark tides/ominous omens are heading our way? You can only have so much "bad" weather before it becomes commonplace and is just referred to as "weather".

"How's the weather today Bill?" 

"Well, the sky is the color of fire, it's raining acid, and there's giant mechanical aberrations everywhere. You know, the usual."

Stop it. 

And it's getting dangerously close to 2013. Photoshopping a static image and having it scroll across the screen isn't exactly a new trick in the playbook. That's some Ken Burns stuff.

I get that motion graphics is a highly specialized technique that is an artform in and of itself. It takes very talented people months of intense work to create even 30 second spots in digital animation, I've actually worked in the field myself. That being said...

Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should. 

Buying a copy of Adobe Aftereffects doesn't make your Photoshop guy a master animator. He's your Photoshop guy, let him be your Photoshop guy. But who will do the animation you may ask? No one. 

Stop it. 

The new models are cool enough. You've invested so much money and development time into making these staggeringly cool new chaos models, just show us the models! Or how about one of the many, many sketches and concept art pieces I'm sure exist as part of the production of the Chaosy-Mecha-Dragon-Thing? I'm sure those are gorgeous, and speak to the quality of work that has been put into this model.

It just kills me to see this, because I know the product is so good. It's a cheap used-car lot ad for a Bentley Dealership. You already hit the home run guys, just let it speak for itself.

Just stop it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Originality, Practice, and a new Chaos Poster

Most weeks when I sit down to start a new piece, I'm expecting an evolution of skill. From project to project, the difference in craftsmanship isn't very pronounced. While a better concept will ultimately result in a better execution, I "know" roughly how good a piece will look well before I've finished. It's one of the big barriers of extended practice, not being able to see yourself dramatically improve every time you do a new piece. Except for that every once in a while, something weird happens. 

Blood Bowl Poster Chaos Games Workshop

You can download the new poster here.

Those of you who have been following my work for a while will recognize instantly how much better this is than anything that has preceded it. This is one of those very rare moments, not of evolution, but revolution. This is a game changer, and inevitably will become the new standard by which all my other work will be judged.

So what gives? How did I make such a dramatic change in just 1 week?

You don't always have to be original

In a speech I listened to long ago, an industrial designer was trying to tell us something important. It would be several years before I finally understood his message. He said, quite simply, that most of the problems had been solved, and it wasn't my responsibility to try and re-solve them. 

"Of course it is!" I thought. "If I'm going to be original, I can't build my work on someone else's ideas!"


Einstein used an existing system (math) to address his questions of the universe. Picasso painted with materials made by other people, most likely in a mass manufactured setting. Beethoven composed music for the instruments that everyone else had been playing for hundreds of years prior. My point is that even with 95% of their work already done for them, it took the lifetime of massively dedicated individuals to reach the zenith of human achievement. Originality is important, but it must be tempered with moderation. 

They already solved your problems

Enter the DC Comics Guide to Inking. I bought this book on a whim to get free shipping from Amazon. I rightly figured that someone who had been professionally working in illustration longer than I've been alive has a thing or two they could teach me. I got the book about a week ago, and read the first third of the book.


I haven't even started in on the rest of it. The information contained in that book is so incredibly useful that I dare not go too fast for fear I'll miss something. But, in that first third, I learned enough about inking to revolutionize my technique. Every single thing I was doing wrong was covered in stunning detail. Not only did the book show me how it was wrong, but why. Most importantly though, it showed me how to fix it.

It was relieving in a way to realize that I'm not very unique and that I am running into the same mistakes as everyone else. Because if I make their mistakes, then I can make their victories as well. Needless to say, after seeing what this book could do for me. I went out and immediately ordered the other four in the series.


Time for the practice thing again. 

It's not enough to just keep slamming your head against the wall for ten thousand hours and then call yourself the master. This needs to be very deliberate practice with the intent to improve. Ten thousand hours of drawing lousy pictures will only make you really good at drawing lousy pictures. 

I just keep looking at that guy at the top of the post. I still don't believe I did that. But I will. In the meantime, it time to start the next poster sketch, and I can't wait to see what happens this time around...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Customizable Blood Bowl Poster: Wood Elves

Coming back at you this week with a brand new poster for your Blood Bowl Team. As always you can download the pdf here, fill in your own team name, and print straight from Adobe Reader. Enjoy!

Wood Elf Blood Bowl Poster Illustration Games Workshop

Friday, August 31, 2012

Customizable Blood Bowl Poster: Dwarves

Coming back at you this week with a brand new poster for your Blood Bowl Team. As always you can download the pdf here, fill in your own team name, and print straight from Adobe Reader. Enjoy!

Customizable Dwarf Blood Bowl Poster Games Workshop