Ice to Meet You

This was a fun one to do. The previous illustration I posted felt like it was missing something and I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I was originally going to have a large troll (this is set in Norway after all) standing just to the left hand side of the house with his nads out, totally oblivious. I messed around and decided to make it a snow scene and it seemed natural to have something huge frozen in the ice. I might do another two of these “frozen dinosaur” scenes just to make a trilogy. Stay tuned.

Late Night Deli

Just a quick study today. This one, unlike so many others, didn’t cause me any stress. I kept things super simple and didn’t go too crazy with the detailing. I found with this piece that I was initially drawing everything too precisely, so I had to go back and “correct” the shapes and proportions so they were wrong, which sounds weird to say, but it adds to the style. This is another place in NYC. I’ll probably get off the New York hype train at some point, but I just love the buildings! Enjoy!

Under the Rug

I’m not sure why, but this one took ages to get right. Above is the final version, and funnily enough it was also the first idea I had. However, as is often typical when planning pieces, I go through a series of roughs first in order to find something that is perhaps more well thought out or clever. I tried a version where the tower is on fire in an attempt at irony, but it didn’t sit well compositionally (I’m not even sure if that’s a word). I tried adding an FBI undercover van and entitling the piece “Who Watches the Watchtowers?”, but I wasn’t sure without the title whether people would get it. I tried adding a pile of used fire extinguishers – nope, then a caveman trying to make fire – also nope. I almost settled on someone carving Easter Island heads (they’re called Moai, so wikipedia tells me) from the rocks, but I thought people would try to read into the connection between the fire watchtower and the heads (there isn’t one by the way), so I scrapped the idea. I eventually settle on my first rough because it fit the series of illustrations I’d done previously. The best ideas I have usually come fully formed, but every now and again I really have to try and try, and it can be incredibly frustrating, and I just have to settle on a piece because if I don’t it’ll never get finished and I’ll never draw anything ever again… ever. A tad melodramatic perhaps. Anyway, I settled on this idea and I’m not sure what I think of it yet. I hope you enjoy it.

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!

Booking heaven!

This was going to be a quick piece – a bit of drawing from life, but then I got carried away. As with every illustration I do, I get to a certain point (usually when all the flat colours are applied) and I think “I hate this stupid picture and myself! Why do I even do this?! Aggggghhh!” Then I unfold myself from my desk, stretch, and contemplate jumping out of a window. Luckily I’m not a complete moron, so I just go for a walk instead. This one took a long time. Not because the lighting is complex, but because there are so many bloody books that had to be individually detailed – which is my own fault, so maybe I am a moron. My computer is old and slow as well, so I had a couple of instances where Photoshop refused do anything, then promptly died, losing me about an hours worth of work, which is not at all causing me to lose hair. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this as much as it was inconvenient to draw. Cheers.

Bully

I tried something different with this one, that being the light being overcast and thus diffused, rather direct light. Not sure how I feel about yet. I think perhaps I haven’t fully grasped how to paint this type of lighting yet – it could be my values are off a bit or maybe my use of colour is wrong. Either way it’s good to do this type of work because it breaks me out of my comfort zone. I also messed around with the hue and saturation to give it a bit more atmosphere and washed-out look. Enjoy!

The Clock Maker

This was a fun piece to do (even if it took a while to finish, but i’m sure you’ll all appreciate that procrastination won’t get done on it’s own). I added the lighting effects to the main character in the same why (I hope) that SPA Studio’s did for their movie, Klaus. There’s a lot to take in to consideration for the lighting in this piece, which subsequently made it quite tricky to pull-off, and I’m still not a 100% sure I’ve got it right. So, what are the principles of lighting I’ve used here;

  • Ambient light – this is the soft light coming in from the moonlight on the top planes of the character.
  • Contact shadow – simply the darkest shadow where two things touch.
  • Bounce light – this is the light that bounces up from the desk where the lamp light hits. So all the planes that face down get illuminated.
  • Direct light – this is the light cast directly from the lamp.
  • Rim-light – this is the thin strip of bright light we see around the edge of the character and certain objects cast by the moon.

There also the texture of things to take in to account. Wood for instance is less reflective than polished metal or glass and thus has to be rendered appropriately. Anyway, that’s enough technical waffle. Hope you like the piece and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process GIF up top, and whether you’d like to keep seeing them. Cheers