Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SmArt School with Greg Manchess, September 13th


--Greg Manchess

To pull a person into your image for the split-second opportunity you have to capture their attention, you need mad skills to do it. Skill is not automatic and must be learned. Learned through hard training.

And training takes focus.

My SmArt School online class starts up again this September 13th! For 15 weeks we are going to focus on just how that’s done. Over and over again, on each of your paintings, I will guide you to understand depth, value, contrast, line, overlapping, light, and lots more, including paint mixing, and application. Building an image a level at a time, working your way to the finish. With every piece.

I’m not talking about technique either. I’m talking about learning to use each of the principles above to build powerful composition, and composition, used well, will give you concept. Not the other way around.

That’s right. I doubt you’ve ever heard that before. Learn to design good concepts by understanding powerful composition first. In my class, over the course of the Autumn semester, you will learn more about composition than you even thought possible. It takes 100% focus, but the simple principles are easy to understand.

It’s just the massive dedication you might stumble over. But then, you knew that…right?

Join me this Fall and we’ll step our way through it together. We have a great time, and if you want more of an idea about my teaching, listen to what this student said about my class. (scroll down)

Find out how focused training can give you the skills to produce the paintings you want.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Toned Paper Drawings

by Cory Godbey


As I've been working my way through my 2017 sketchbook, one facet I'm particularly excited to show is the toned paper and white charcoal drawings.

While I've been putting together yearly sketchbooks since 2008 it's only been since 2015 that I've included toned paper drawings and studies in those sketchbooks. Why only since 2015? I have no idea. I really should have been doing this all along because they are a joy to create.

They are relatively quick to do and when that white charcoal hits the paper they really come to life. 

One of these days I'll to do a post on the how and whys of creating annuals sketchbooks on a theme but until then here's a look at some of the finished toned paper drawings from my upcoming 2017 collection. If you're going to be in town for New York Comic-Con I hope you'll stop by and take a look! I'll be debuting the sketchbook and related work at the show in October.


If you, like me up until pretty recently, haven't gotten around to exploring what this medium has to offer, the materials list is nice and simple. Low stakes entry point, well worth experimenting.


I start most all my work with a brown Prismacolor Col-erase. From there I'll lightly work up the drawing switching back and forth between a BiC 0.5 and General's Kimberly 2B. For anything darker I'll go with a General's Kimberly 8B (or 4B). A blending stump can be useful for rendering. Lastly, the white charcoal.

As for paper I usually work with a Strathmore 400 series. I'm sure there are others but this one has always done the trick for me.

And here's a quick look at the progression:



I've found that doing these pieces are great for studies or just taking a thumbnail and working it up into a more respectable idea. This might sound simple and obvious but somehow or another it took me years to get around to putting any real time into the medium. Again, I say all this to say if you, like me until relatively recently, haven't given toned paper a shot, go for it. It's a delight.

These can make for great pieces for collectors and they lend a nice visual variety to a sketchbook.





2017 marks my tenth annual sketchbook. 

Over the last decade I've gone from collecting random drawings done throughout the year to creating an intentional series on theme. One of the major things I've learned in that time is that by creating a framework for yourself, by creating works on theme, you give yourself a world to explore. It's concentrated development. When you take one main idea, one theme, and turn it around in your mind you begin to uncover new possibilities and directions that you might not have thought of otherwise. 

I know that's been the case for me over the last ten year's worth of personal work and toned paper drawings have become an integral part in my creative process.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Arahbo, Roar of the World

-By Jesper Ejsing


I love Magic the Gathering. I play with the cards every week, and the time I am not playing I am sorting out teh decks and try to come up with different new combos for playing. So I was extra thrilled when I got an assignment for a magic card for an upcoming Commander card. Commander is a special format within Magic and is my favourite format.

Mark Winters, my art director at Wizards, ask me to do a huge cat lord, an elephant size cat looking like a mix between a lion and a snow leapoard. He is roaring and surrounded by snow leopards in a snow canyon. “Great!”



I had a complete pure image in my head and sketched it out right away, loved it and submitted it for approval and got a green light a couple of days later.

And then I started looking at it... And my evil mind started to doubting it.

The sketch was too static. He looked moaning rather than roaring his pose was passive and the weight was weak and he was looking away from the camerea. “This is a Commander, Jesper. You cannot let this weak illustration be the Commander”, I said to myself, and started all over again. But I couldn’t go completely back to scratch, I had approval, so I needed to stay within the same angle, zoom and so on. But I could make a better Lion. I changed its face and posture. I raised him up so that he was rearing back, as if in a mid jump, roaring and showing teeth. I gave him horns, one broken to show how old he was. I even sketched in an ethereal glowing crown hovering above his head, but abandoned the idea because it would collide with my plans for the lightsource.


I was super happy with the new drawing and started painting a color comp. I tried 2 version. My ususal purple and blue, and a bluishgreen with a hint of warm brownish. I knew I would like to paint the purple one, but the card was a Green/White card and the second rough would do that way more justice. So I chose the more difficult one.


I painted it and sent it to Mark.


When I got the mail asking for some minor revisions my heart sank. First off, the horns was making him look too much like a demonic creature. “ Argghhh, Jesper. You should have known, he is right”, I cursed at myself. And painted away the horns. The second revision was harder. Mark was really liking the more stoic lion from my first sketch, and he asked if I could put his lifted foot down to make him less attacking and more regal? “I know, Mark” Palm to forehead. “ I went to far from the first sketch. Actually I looked at the old one again and found that what I liked about it in the first place was the regal pose…

I sucked up my nervousness, tightend the belt and painted the whole leg away. Mind you, this is acrylic paint on top of a complete final painting. Lets just say I held my breath a lot. I repainted a new leg pulled in under him a bit, added a cliff and some rock to rest on, and painted some the leopards in the background so they would match the new leg. Also; after I removed the horns the weight of the movement of the whole body seemed a bit shifted, so I removed a couple of fur strands. I am super happy with the final result. And a bit embarressed that I had to go through so many changes of heart. But it was mainly because I was nervous of not doing a great job.