Jae Seakahh Take Two

I really enjoyed painting the elf pirate… queen… chick… woman… and I wanted to paint her again. So I chose a really simple, static pose that I feel conveys a lot of her personality. Strong, powerful, confrontational, but also beautiful and intriguing. I hope that is coming across successfully. I’ll walk you through my process step by step and at the end you can see an animated GIF of the progress so far. This illustration is FAR from done, however, but I wanted to have something to show you and thought this would be an interesting way to do so.

ETA: This seems really dark, but one of the final steps I do to an illustration is adjust the values and levels, so that it’s brighter and more easy to “read”. So keep that in mind as you view these previews! 🙂

Step 1: Sketch phase! I love this part. It’s one of my favorite steps. I try a few different poses and settle on one I like. I’ll often find pose reference and have a few open to be able to quickly check proportions and such. This is actually a decently refined sketch, and I’ll try to remember to save the rougher, sketchier part when I do another illustration.

JSOceanWIP1

 

 

Step 2: Values! Here is where I determine the basic value composition. I try to stick to about 4 values to determine how everything flows. This could change over the course of the illustration, but I try to keep it basically the same.

JSOceanWIP2

Step 3: Lay in the background! Pretty self explanatory. Again, I’ll try to save more of the steps next time so you can see how I get from A to B while wading through the weeds of blobs and colors.

JSOceanWIP3

Step 4: Start in on the character! I generally start with the face, and in this instance, I later changed my mind regarding the lighting situation, but you can see here that I started to refine her features.

JSOceanWIP4

More refining as well as blocking in clothing and accessories.

JSOceanWIP5

That face was NOT working. Above is where I called it a night and below is where I took her face first thing in the morning. If you’re feeling frustrated with something and it’s late at night… STOP and come back another time. Rest. Relax. Step away for a bit. In this case, I feel like it worked out very well.

JSOceanWIP6

Much pretty. I’ll probably refine more and will add skin texture and such later, but I moved on so I could again come back fresh to the face later. Remember, face and hands on a human are THE most important parts. Get those right, everything else will usually work out ok. Get ’em wrong? Newp. All fail.

JSOceanWIP7

She’s coming along nicely and I’m continuing to work on her. Check back next week and maybe I’ll have her all finished! She’s a personal piece between NDA client work though, so if not, be patient 😉

Here is the animated GIF!

JSOceanGIF1

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Speaking of client work, I’m happy to say that I’ve had a couple of exciting commissions come my way and I can’t WAIT to show them off! I had the opportunity to work on one of my most favorite properties of all time, one of my most favorite nerd worlds, and it was super fun.

Convention Conversations Pt 2

In Part 1, I talked about the various types of convention-goers I’ve noticed so far. It’s by no means conclusive, but it can be a small guide to how to open up a line of communication with someone who is approaching or passing your booth/table. Also keep in mind that this is simply how I felt comfortable chatting with people, and your level of comfort will vary.

I’ve never been the type who felt at ease trying to start a conversation with every living soul who passed by. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, it just didn’t feel like me. I spent the first hour or so of Spectrum watching the various types of convention-goers and deciding how best to bring them over. It didn’t take very long to notice some trends, and to come up with some opening “lines” that didn’t sound too “used care salesman.” I was pretty nervous at this point, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to easily talk to mass amounts of people without getting all bijiggity.

I made sure to smile at anyone who looked over my way, as an opening welcoming gesture. From there, I noted their reaction. If they moved on quickly or gave a small smile and looked away, I basically left them alone. Now, I’m not sure if that is the right thing to do, but I put myself in their place and felt I wouldn’t want to be harassed if I showed no interest in a table or booth. Everyone is different, though, so that could obviously vary.

If they gave a good smile or nodded my way, and were close enough that I wasn’t yelling at them, I would ask how they were doing. You generally get “good”, “fine”, “ok” as replies. Again, if they gave a short reply and moved on, I let them go. If they responded positively to my question, and veered toward me, it was a good sign that they were open to conversation and more open to looking at and possibly purchasing some of my prints.

I like to ask people questions about themselves, because it puts people at ease and because I’m curious about everybody! Generally, my questions started with asking if this was their first time at Spectrum. You’d be amazed at how many people have been to all of them so far! I joked with them that now they have to go to all of them so they can be that one guy who has all of his Spectrum badges in 20 years. You hear that, Spectrum?! KEEP IT GOING!

What it must be like organizing an event for fantasy/sci-fi artists

I also asked if they were an artist or a fan or both. I got a pretty even mix of all three, and with those who were artists, there was an automatic subject to talk about: our art.

My favorite convention-goers were the artists who were interested but unsure about whether they should ever have a table or show their work. I loved it if they had their sketchbook or a portfolio with them! I know not everyone is like me, so you may not be as interested in these types of guests as I was, but they were a lot of fun to talk to. Once they realized I wanted to talk to them, they had a million questions about the industry, what it’s like to have a table, how I got “so good”, etc. I put “so good” in quotes because, like any artist, I never judge myself as “good enough”. But it was fun talking to those who believed in me more than I believe in myself, if that makes sense! I spent lots and lots of time talking to the Dabblers. It was fun encouraging them to pursue their dream so that they could someday be sitting where I was. It feels good to build others up.

If the individual stated they weren’t an artist but a fan, I loved hearing who they were there to see, if they had specific favorite artists, or hearing what brought them in. Was it dragons? Knights? Magic the Gathering? Let me tell you, the M:tG autograph gatherers are extremely interesting and fun to talk to. They are like bounty hunters on a mission. They will hung you down if you’re a M:tG artist! A few of them said they look forward to hunting ME down for my autograph on Magic cards in the future, and that made me feel really good.

You think I’m good enough for MAGIC!?

You may think that engaging in conversations would be a waste of time, but there were a few people who didn’t show much interest in buying a print, but after talking for a bit, they chose one to take home. A couple of them came back later and purchased something. I also believe that chatting with people shows that you’re approachable, and others who may be shy or intimidated will see that they, too, could approach you when you’re available.

The challenge was when I was in conversation with one person, and others walked up appearing to be interested in chatting too. I tried to bring them into the conversation as well, and if not, the very least I could do was make eye contact and smile in a way that assured them I am eager to talk to them as well. Sometimes they didn’t get a chance and would walk away, sometimes they’d stick around, and sometimes they would return later when I wasn’t busy.

The bottom line is that as artists, and especially as introverts, it can be easy to lose ourselves in a sketchbook or to sit down and hope someone comes up to buy our prints. Unfortunately, this won’t work out well at all, in my experience as both a convention-goer and now as having had a table. I know I’m not an expert since I’ve only exhibited once so far, but this is also coming from talking to numerous other artists. If you hide behind your sketchbook, people won’t want to bother you and they’re more likely to pass you by. Think about what it’s like to be on that side of the table, are you going to interrupt an artist that looks like he or she is working? I know I’m not!

I hope this post has helped in some way, and if not, well… here is a sketch I did that I may or may not take to finish! Yes, the bottom corner says ‘dead guy’.

JSShipSketch