Freyja

Freyja character design. This one was difficult, but is perhaps my favourite of the bunch so far. I seem to rarely draw women, so I often find myself having to relearn how to every time I make an attempt. In most forms of art it is well documented that you should “stick to what you know”, though somehow this advice is disregarded when it comes to character design, though I suppose this is because who wants to hire an artist who can only draw feet, even if said feet are really, really sexy (bad example, there’s all kinds of perverts out there. Yes, I’m looking at you).

Freyja (not ‘Freya’, as is the modern spelling) is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen and possesses a cloak of falcon feathers.

The challenge here was making the character fit the description above and also fit the aesthetic of the previous two characters, Odin and Thor. I chose to focus on beauty, war, and gold, while incorporating the necklace and cloak of falcon feathers. It felt too easy to draw the cloak with the hood down, which is how I had approached my initial sketches, and I wanted the character to stand apart from the other two who both have capes, so she had to be hooded. I used a lot reference of Viking shieldmaidens from Pinterest for the look of the leather armour and also got some prompts for the colour scheme from old traditionally painted versions of the character. I like the fantasy aspect of the cloak, but generally with these medieval type characters I like have one foot reality and so try to weave in how someone of that era would actually dress; tunic, tabard, sword belt, leather armour, all layered appropriately. There’s not a lot more to say on this one except that it was fun.

Cheers

Matt

Scared of the Dark

I quite like the composition of this one as I think the balance between light and dark helps lead the eye. As I mentioned before, I’m trying to incorporate the new style in to some character work, it’s early days yet and the character here isn’t as refined as I’d like but it was only a quick piece. Enjoy!

Capturing the Essence

This is one of those rare occurrences where I actually like a piece I’ve made. I focused on simplifying and abstracting a lot of elements here because I often get into the habit of adding too much realism and detail. There’s nothing wrong with realism and detail, but a piece that should take a couple of hours can end up taking a whole day to complete and be none the better for it. The focus should be on capturing the essence of an object and allowing the viewer to complete the illustration with their own details, rather than making the piece so realistic that there is no room for interpretation. If you look at the backgrounds of popular animated shows like The Flintstones, Samurai Jack, and Scooby Doo, you don’t see a renaissance painting, you see abstract and simplified shapes.

Anyway, above is based on a place in Norway called Hamnoy. Enjoy!

Frustration

There are days where everything seems to go right. The work flows, you feel good, and the piece you makes excites you. This is not one of those days. This piece was really tough to do and took a long time to complete. It’s another of those illustrations that I’m not sure how I feel about. I think mostly because the composition seems a bit off, there’s a lot of information being bombarded at you, and there are too many colors. Next piece that goes up is going to be a simple one… I hope…

Cheers

Matt

In Case You Hadn’t Noticed…

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been sticking to a certain style recently. I’ve found that in the past the work that I post on social media and on here is “all over the shop”, for lack of a better term. If you came to my website I think you would be hard pressed to say what my area of expertise is… maybe expertise is the wrong word, perhaps “aesthetic” is better? These last few posts have been an attempt at creating a unified and recognisable brand for my online presence. Not all of my work will include the Handyman that’s been making an appearance so far, but I will at least attempt to keep the style the same. I think with all my previous work I’ve been experimenting and testing what works and what doesn’t – some are hits and some are misses, that’s just how it’s been. I think I’m finally working towards something now that is uniquely mine, and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how refined the work is. I don’t doubt that you’ve seen very similar work elsewhere – Ty Carter, Szymon Biernacki, Scott Wills, and Brian Edward Miller are all hugely influential, and I feel like I borrow little bits from all of them. I’m committed to staying on course for the time being, building up a body of work, and seeing how far I can push these pieces. Anyway, I hope you’ve had a great day, and thanks for reading!

Cheers

Matt

A Question about Originality

I’m enjoying doing these pieces. I believe they’re getting more and more refined as I do them, and rightly so; practice makes perfect, and all that. The majority of the illustration is a replication of an existing photograph, albeit my take on said photo. Because I’ve essentially copied a photo and just added some bits of my own, the question arises, “is true artistic originality possible?”

A site called Deviant Art did an interview with an artist a couple of years ago in which the illustrator claimed their art was original and not inspired or influenced by anything or anyone. I found this answer odd, because the artist used ink and watercolours to paint popular landmarks – surely then, they were inspired in some way by the landmarks themselves? Also, without some outside influence or inspiration, how was the choice of ink and watercolours made? As someone who has been making art for a while now, I know how vital the work of others (be that film, music, paintings, etc…) and the reference I use has been to my growth.

At the time of reading the interview I felt angry that someone would claim they were entirely original and uninspired in anyway, but as I processed what this person said, I came to two conclusions; one – they were wrong and the very work they had produced was a contradiction to their statement; two – true originality is a myth. That’s not to say something can’t be original in terms of being unique, but to create something that hasn’t been inspired or influenced in some way is impossible.

Anyway, thanks for reading my opinion on that. I was just going to talk about my process again, but I thought this might be a little more interesting. And as always, I hope you enjoy the work I’ve made. Cheers.

Making things hard for myself

The above illustration is actually only the top half of a larger image. As far as composition goes I think this is an improvement on the original (see below). The reason for this is the reduced colour palette and the shape of the canvas. A limited colour palette tends to bring a piece together more harmoniously; there’s fewer colours to clash against each other and the use of values is more noticeable, thus you can be more subtle with their use.

As for the canvas shape/size, the key difference from the original is that the focal point for the viewer is much more clear – your eye is drawn to the window cleaner; he is in that right third (a compositional mainstay), and he stands out very clearly.

The image below is the original. While it’s not an awful picture, I do think there is a bit too much going on. It’s also not clear where the eye should be led, and I think it’s fair to say that the window cleaner stands out a lot less in this version despite the colours remaining the same. Suffice to say it would’ve taken probably less than half the time to complete this had I just painted the top half – you live and learn. I could be totally wrong of course, so feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. As always, enjoy!

Lighthouse

Another study today. This one was a little more complex than the last one, because there’s more going on with the buildings. I injected a conceptual aspect to the piece with the torn paper, as it made things a little more interesting and leads the eye. I used the mixer brush in Photoshop to give the clouds a soft look which turned out quite nice. These pieces are fun to do and don’t require a lot of messing around since they’re a study of a real place, the only challenge really is how to incorporate a conceptual idea into it.

By the way, i’m going to be making some minor changes to the website in the coming weeks which will include a “shop” section where you will be able to grab prints of my work. You can still get prints for the time being by going through the “Contact” page and messaging me.

Enjoy!

Little Merchant – study

Quick character study here. I’m playing around with line-work a little more than I usually would as a way to test things out, and it means I don’t have to be so careful with edge control for colour. I quite like this for what it is; a simple character scene. Not everything has to be ridiculously time consuming and intricate. Is there a story here? Always, but whether it’ll get expanded upon or redesigned is another question. I’m going to try and pump out some more of these character scenes just so I have plenty of fodder for publishers and agents. Enjoy!