Massive updates on the way!

3 05 2013

My portfolio site and blog has been out of commission for a long while, but I’m going to being the painstaking process of resurrecting t today.  Here is some recent Corel work to get things started.


Bjorn web



13 05 2011

Started as part inside joke, part pet project I’ve actually begun generating some imagery for the fabled “Vacationland” comic.  To those in the know there are some familiar faces in my two new portfolio images.  For those who wondering what its all about hit me up some time and ask, but its better explained over a fine Tiki drink then it is here on the old blog.  Either way here is cover attempt numero uno!

Digital Inking so good!

13 05 2011

Using digital tools as a big part of my toolbox for illustration has been something I’ve always liked.  The ability of the technology to create the aesthetic and visual qualities I love so much has had such a huge impact on the process of my work, it would be hard to find a way to work without them.  Weather I’m using the tools to edit work I’ve done in the “real” world, or more commonly simply producing it strait onto the computer the artwork is fully realized only after I’ve gotten it up on the screen.  My process has evolved so that the very structures of the software have a bearing on the way I produce my work, and even working in my sketchbook hanging around in Borders I’m constantly thinking about what can be done with the drawing once its scanned or redrawn into the digital realm.  I’ve reached a point where there is very little if any mechanical interruption from the computer, and all my effort while working is bent on the art itself and struggling with the various aspects of drawing, painting, design and content.  Even for somebody who was raised on computers, and has been digitally editing work since I was in high school, reaching a point where the machine is equivalent to a highly versatile paintbrush has not been easy, and required a huge amount of personal discipline.  Tablet drawing and using art software such as Painter or Photoshop is definitely my preferred working medium, but the knowledge used in the computer to produce the work is always influenced and informed by some very real technique or medium.  One thing that any of you who knew me in college however was that of the various different techniques I tried, I steered almost completely around inking.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love ink, black Sumi ink and brush have a nearly elemental quality to them, and the volumes of information conveyed in the stroke and structure of black line are nearly unique in the library of illustrative technique.  Add to that the history of inks use as an illustrative tool and aesthetic, and the incredible martial control displayed by its masters and its easily one of the most interesting techniques to be working with.  The thing about this mystical and nearly canonical technique of drawing was that I am a person who very much likes to be showing my absolute best craftsmanship whenever possible, and when I look at a drawing I’ve made I want my control of the medium to be apparent.  It may be in many ways ego driven and highly anachronistic from a critical standpoint but for what its worth when I draw I want to draw like a master.  Ink on the other hand didn’t want to be mastered.  I created wiggly, confused strokes devoid of gesture, and my pen work was spotted and weak.  Frustration over this lack of control produced a product far from mastered appearance.  If anything my total lack of ability with ink in the real world drove me further into the use of digital tools, but it wasn’t until recently I found a way back to that untouchable black wonder.
Using Corel Painter for nearly two years strait for drawing I’ve become as handy with a tablet pen as I am with the colored pencil in my sketchpad, and I’m now at the point that brush selection, and other various more sophisticated tools within the program are at my disposal as a controlled tool, rather then just trial and error.  It is within Corel that I took my stand, and have attempted again to master the look and visual quality of that most awesome technique.  Painter allows me to not only have the ever present digital control of editing, and redrawing, but it has also allowed me a working environment where I could set up a laboratory that many others in the digital art community have been working, and the actual technical implementation is something studied and documented in a less artistic, and more scientific way.  Learning about digital inking technique, and the development of the various tools of the trade shed huge amounts of light on my own failings as an inker traditionally, and faults in my past as they related to my own technique with the brush.  Though still in an infantile stage in terms of mastery the product I’ve been able to make working in Corel is light years ahead of any previous attempt, and so I’ll post the shorthand of the technique here, of any and all wondering what makes it so different.

The basic elements of drawing and illustration, design, color, light, subject, space ect. are obviously the paramount concern, and after working up some simplistic sketches or thumnails to get a feel for what I’m gonna be making I’ll start sketching with the tablet and get a feel for what my final might look like.

In this case its just a single figure from one of my more recent illustrations (My fiancee, armed with automatic weapons dressed for a night in the club).  The pose and gesture get worked out the old fashion way, multiple drawings, reference, and some pulling, squishing and moving around to get it the way I like it.  I’ve noticed because of how quickly I can alter a proportion, or change the weight of a line my sketches, and under paintings digitally have come down significantly in terms of detail, and the image above is a good baseline for about how complex the usually end up.  The sketch is on its own dedicated layer, or layers, and in the end all the pencil work gets compressed together above the “Canvass” layer and just sits there until I don’t need it anymore.  These drawings are made using the pencil tool, more often then not one of the square tipped tools to get a little more control over line quality.

This next image is showing two steps in one.  After starting a new layer I’ll take out either Sumi brush tools, or the pen sets and go to work creating the “Ink” layer.  Using them on a separate layer I can turn on and off the sketch as I work to check and make sure I haven’t killed the gesture, or lost some factor of the pose as I go.  My pen work will start out rather rough and then I’ll go back in and address any of the line work to get the weighting and thickness to my liking.  A boon to this in painter is that the pressure controls and pen angle affect the line quality in a way “Similar” though at first kind of illogically to a real brush.  The longer I’ve been working with it the more use to its own science I’ve become.

Once the ink layer is laid out I’ll shut down the sketch layer for good (second hidden step) and make myself a new layer for the color.  In this case its below the black line, and the properties for the layer are default (So the color would obscure anything below it) and after figuring out how I wanted to do the color design I’ve made this layer my “Local” colors.  Their not particularly realistic but in terms of how I’m using them they are painted to be the color of the surface as it would appear in the light.  One of the ultra awesome things about working digitally is your ability to constantly play with the properties of the colors and their effect on one another.  After a few variations I’ve found something I like and I’ll go ahead and hide that layer.

For those comic book art historian types the shading layer should appear pretty familiar to the old three color process tests.  Because of the way I want the lighting to work out in the end I’ve selected a cool color to go to work with for the shading, in this case its the topmost layer and the properties of that layer are to multiply, or combine as if it were transparent.  This works for this drawing because the line work is in black, but if it were colored I would have to change the stacking order of the layers.  If I want some added detail or to work it out ahead of time I may add another sketch layer to work out the shades but more often then not I’ll just start laying them in and work them around as I go.  The color and shading are laid out using the same brush tools for the line work, and it helps greatly because the edges retain the same line quality, giving a nice thread of similarity through the treatment of the sketch.

Flip back on the local color layer and wham! the colors combine with the cool shading layer and a nice glow effect to the lighting is achieved with very little effort.  In this case here I didn’t have anything in shadow producing light, but if I had knocking it out of the shade layer usually provides enough of a value punch to give it that light producing effect.  This drawing in the final ended up with another multiplied layer of color over the existing ones altering it to an orange pallet, but on the highlights I knocked out the mask of the orange to let that pink show through.

After working on this technique for a few days and reading up on how it can be used with vectors and other means of finishing I’ve gotten a little bolder and started to move on to environments and more complex lighting, and I got to say now that its something I can execute some control over, its definitely quickly becoming and addiction to draw with.

Comic Con Follow up!

1 09 2010

Wow, well okay these last two weeks have been pure chaos for Dani and I.  We got back from Chicago, and had basically two days to sit down and get back on our feet before coming back up to Portland and moving all of our stuff over into the new place.  I’ll have another post to detail the new environment and plans, but without further digression here is my take on the Chicago trip and Wizard World’s Comic Convention.

Nineteen hours is a very long time to be driving a car.  Of the trip itself I will only say that despite getting to see some new places, my experiences of the Midwest echo everything that I had been told about it from the get go.  Its flat, the roads are strait, there is corn, and the people are very friendly.  I have no desire to ever make another nearly 24hr car trip in my life, and if I have a say most likely will never drive across any of the states we passed again.

Chicago itself was a different beast, the city is coiled up in the center of a massive urban sprawl of what seems like near endless manufacturing wasteland and economically depressed Midwestern city.  Flying by it at about mach 3 (The average speed of a Chicago expressway commuter) made me feel like I was reliving the final moments of the death star, only in broad daylight and with a billboard every two miles telling me about yet another amazing casino hall buffet.  After blasting through the city center we made our way to the “Village” of Rosemont, which as it seems to be is nearly entirely composed of the convention center, and about fifty hotels.  Excusing the empirical lack of on street parking, and some very rude auxiliary police, Rosemont was home to some fabulous dining, (Check out  The Ram, should you ever find yourself there) and an extremely well run convention facility.

Unloading our gear and setting up the both was smooth, and getting into the hotel and mentally prepared for the days ahead went off with nearly no complications. (Thank you Marriott Courtyard)  Day one however highlighted some of the challenges of doing one of these conventions for the first time.

The event itself was broken up into three sections, retail vendors and exhibitors, panels for famous people, and the “Artists Alley”.  The first major hurtle we had to overcome was that we had elected to set up shop in the exhibitors and retail section rather then with the artists.  The thinking was that the merchandise we had would seem more legitimate, and we would have more space to operate if we were in the vendor section, then we would in the independent artists market.  The case was more accurately put that we didn’t have nearly enough merchandise to fill the cube of space we were given, and altering the shopping traffic pattern of people by placing handmade goods and art in among t-shirts and comics wasn’t the best plan.  It was kinda uphill at fist to establish how to pitch our goods to people who were set in a mode of finding their beloved Spiderman Issue #335, or searching for that perfect Leaf Village headband to complete their Naruto cosplay.  That being said the convention goers were well financed and had plenty of time, so as the weekend wore on we had quite a bit of repeat business.
Dani’s Hot Cross Bunnehs were an instant hit, and we had sold every one of the rag dolls by the end of the four days.  Her other handmade Bunnehs did very well on sticker sales, but not as good with the stuff animal variety, I attribute this to two factors, first the character was new to everyone, and second everyone was poor.  The Warcraft fan art I brought with me got a lot of attention on the first day, but no sales, so I quickly adapted the illustrations over to sketch cards (Baseball Card sized print outs) and sold them for two bucks a piece, and those things moved.  Megan’s jewelry did steady business as well, but the second big snag after our location, was the investment we had made in 8/10 prints.

People wanted Posters or sketch cards, and the business for 8/10’s, outside of characters the audience was familiar with, was non-existent.  All told two 8/10’s sold after the four days.  In terms of cost, Dani and I finished in the black for the trip, although after some minor impulse buys, and feeding ourselves not by much, this was also mainly due to the patronage of our friend Megan Walker who financed the lion’s share of the trip.

Defining success for the convention can be done a few different ways, and I think no matter how you split it we did very well.  We made some sales, networked new art commissions and contacts, got to see a huge number of nerds, and brows through an amazing assortment of geek merchandise for four full days of gorgeous weather.  I think given the experience I would love to do another convention, but the next time I would be making quite a few changes to how I went about it, and that shows that we learned from this one, which for me is the most valuable part of the trip.

Its a hell of a Town

17 08 2010

I’m taking off today for the Chicago Comic Con, with my ever amazing, talented and lovely fiancee, and our awesome, multi-talented, and studio operating(In real life for those in denial), friend Megan Walker.  We have a massive pile of art and merchendice ready to set up in our booth, and were in the process of packing it all into Megan’s massive, eco-hating SUV for the 17hr road trip.  Suffice as to say I’m wicked excited.  If you want to see the line up for the con, head over to wizard world and check it out, its gonna have some Shatner, Patrick Stewert, and the entire cast of BSG, so even if I don’t sell a damn thing its gonna be amazing.  Dani and I have made a bunch of new stuff for the con, Prints, Original Drawing, Bunnehs, Hot Cross Bunnehs, and a slew of sketch cards.  I did a series of Warcraft fan art portraits, one for each of the faction leaders.  Here is a look at em before hopefully the find a buyer or two in Chicago.  More updates to come once we touch down and get all setup.

BTC@The Big Easy Portland!

8 07 2010

Finally finished up the playbill for the Big Easy show of  BURN THE CLOCKS.  Definitely check it out if your in town, and if your not…well its worth the trip these guys are fantastic.  Kept the image greyscale for ease of printing, and tried to give it the same sort of loose look as the first poster.  Oh and man was this a good excuse to draw GODZILLA!


28 06 2010

I know a lot of people with pretty awesome hair.  For instance, a good Norse friend of mine, Chris Carney, has flowing vikingesque locks surrounding his head.  My friend Peter, nearly covered in a fine coat of Greek fur, or my roommate David and his Henry the VIII gotee.  Adding to this is my Fiancee, who has lovely midnight hair, that is amazingly beautiful.  Her bangs, have been recently dyed black, as she is going to be entering into an education teaching certificate program that would not encourage such roguish appearances as professional.  She has been saddened by the loss of the color and despite my best efforts to console her, still feels at loss at her now all black hair.  So as a means of paying tribute to her lovely locks I have draw her hair into my daily portrait of some elfish woman.  Though I believe the nerdy qualities of drawing my significant other into an elf may in the end cost me some scorn, I hope maybe by seeing her haircut isolated on another image she might see just how awesome it is, and count herself again among our friends of great hair!

Getting down to business with the new Burn the Clocks poster…and most likely making an awesomely metal image of a Death Knight, cause lets face it…who doesn’t want to draw that.