Happy thoughts with a warm feeling.

“One of the nice things about being an artist is never having to waste money on greeting cards again.”

I picked up that line from a friend somewhere in past, and I wholeheartedly have to agree with it. As every year comes and goes, I haven’t had to buy a greeting card for ages anymore. And just as last year, I loved drawing this one.
Last year I was overwhelmed by long lists of accomplishments on almost everyone’s homepage. Hence why I had decided to go against the stream and not to look back in the past. This year is no different. Though, with one minor exception.

I remember when I wrote last year, that I was looking forward to a hopefully brighter future. One without the need to look for heroes. Unfortunately, we got worse. Murphy, I blame you again, old boy. Just having to think of the many things people have had to go through this year: Paris, Mali, those crashed airplanes and I’ll probably forget a lot more.. It seems we’re still a long way from a future where we work together as an intelligent species in order to be able to write this post on board of an intergalactic starliner. But let’s not dwell too much on the past, and instead look ahead to the future, with a positive view.
This year’s pretty girl is sitting on a stack of presents, and naturally acting as one in the process. I’ve been dying to create an illustration like this for a while now, but never found the right reason/moment for it. Intentionally, she was to be a bit more saucy, but since this greeting card is ment for my grandmother as well I.. wisely decided against it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make the rest of the family and a few of my closest friends quite happy with her and thus providing my share for a warmer Christmas and new year.

As is usually the norm, I decided to add the complete process here as well, this way you can actually spot the many mistakes and errors I made during the creation process. Or just be awed by the process and stare/ogle at her enticing beauty like I do. Anyways.. -hum- I also decided to add a shiny wallpaper for all of you, just like last year. You can download it here for free and adorn your desktop with it, for an even warmer -hum- Christmas experience.

So, with that in mind, the only thing for me to wish you is: lots of fun in the snow (if we’ll get any this year), a lot of hot cups of chocolate (with a marshmallow of course) and some solid positive vibes. Happy holidays folks.

A happy Christmas & a merry new year. Or something like that.

Happy HolidaysI’ll start of with a few classic tropes in times like these. “Another year has passed.” “So many things have happened.” “I wonder what next year will bring…”
And now I’ll let you in on a small secret of mine. I only care for one of these three feeble sentences. Guess which one. I’m not one to look behind. If and when I do, it’s mostly about stuff I really like, but with a mind as forgetful as mine, that’s unlikely to happen very fast. Hence, I look ahead. No long lists of accomplishments here, sir. Oh no.

I look forward to a hopefully brighter future. One without the need to look for heroes. One where we don’t cherish a football god and where instead, we work together as an intelligent species in order to be able to write this very post on board of an intergalactic starliner (one can always dream, right?). Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be all negative here and whatnot, I too stop to smell the roses once in a while, but I see no point in doing that at the end of every year, pure out of obligation or because everyone else does.

So that’s why I drew this illustration. A pretty girl sitting behind a window in a warm fuzzy place, dreaming and staring out to what lies ahead. I made a few of my closest friends (hopefully) quite happy by turning her into this year’s Christmas card and I’ve added the work in progress and results in this post for you to see as well. So for now, just enjoy the snow (if you have any), get toasty in front of the fireplace and have a hot coco with a marshmallow in it. I know I will. Happy holidays folks.

Oh, and if you’re as big a fan of this sweetheart as I am, you might want to grab the free wallpaper I’ve included at the bottom. Because, you know, it’s Christmas after all ūüėČ


The Grand Army of the Republic Wants You

Here’s a question to all you budding artists who are reading this: “Haven’t you ever wondered how your art will look like in about five or so years from now?”

Well, a couple of years ago, when I was trying out various styles, I had that same question. Nowadays, nothing has really changed, I’ll have you know. Though I can say I made some vast improvements on various levels. Anatomy being one of them. Or.. well, at least I hope I have. That’s more for the experts to decide, really. Anyway, a couple of days ago I decided to do something I normally never do; to redo a painting from a couple of years ago. I chose to do this particular piece, because (in contrast to the happiness level I had reached about it, back then) I never “really” was fully happy with it. Something felt “off”. Either it was her mouth, her build or the way she was standing. Or maybe it was the way I had painted her skin .. something (or all of it combined) felt very wrong.

So after various amounts of tweaking and eventually leaving it to move on to other projects, I decided to rebuild this one from the ground up. I only kept the pose and outfit and gave her a completely different style, look and attitude. She now looks more like what I had in mind in the first place. My inner demons were pleased when I finally finished the new, improved version. And only then do I truly know that it’s “done”.

Because I love to help you guide through the entire process, I created a small work-in-progress version as well, showing you how exactly I came by to this final result. Let’s go through the entire process with the usual four steps, which you might remember from last time, should you have read it already.

Just as last time, I’ll begin with a simple line trace for Step #01, the hard (please-let-this-be-over-quickly) work of every drawing. If you (or your clone) made it through this part in one piece, we can step over to the next part.

Step #02 is still gruntwork, since we’re adding the basic colors and shadows at this stage, though I’d like to adress you that you pay strong attention to the light here, since you don’t want your subject to look unrealistic. I didn’t want to emphasize the light and shadow this time, so I kept it light and fluffy for once.

Step #03 is the where the jolly part kicks in and where I take it over from my clone; the detailed coloring of the subject. This is where my reference material kicks in as usual, especially for those “detailed” specifics in this instance -hum- ..

To end the process, we have Step #04, where the icing of the cake happens. The magic. The good stuff. My all-time favorite, the small details, the textures, every bruise, scratch and dirt spot has to be taken care of in this process. Everything to make your painting just that bit more shiny. Usually followed up by some/a few/a lot of corrections since I’m going very micro in this stadium. This is normally the point where you best mirror your paint or take a step back, just to see if and where you went wrong. Though, I’m no expert in this, since I *still* need to remind myself of this a bit. If you did something wrong big-time, then it’s usually back to Step #03, get past start and earn yourself a quick 200$ on the way. Or does that only count for Monopoly?

A comparison between the old and new version of “Join The GAR”

And oh yeah, here’s a comparison of the old versus the new result. What do you think? A lot better, right? I hope you guys found this as fun and informative as I had making this. Now, onto the next one, shall we?.


Cover design “Hush”

The Cover for 'HUSH'

Monsters exist.

Today we¬†finally have proof. As today marks the day¬†where I can finally tell you all about how I’m proud to say that I got to design the cover for the¬†first book¬†‘HUSH’, of the book series¬†FIRE AND STONE by A.J. Coulson. Not only do I have the privilege to call this person my good friend, he also wrote a¬†great novel for which I’m stoked already¬†to read it when I’ve got¬†some free time to spare.

For a while now I’ve been dying to share this great piece of news with anyone, and since the book is¬†out now, I believe I finally can. Though I was only responsible for providing the cover art,¬†I did try to do my job as good as I could, by creating the right atmosphere for this commission. Honestly, it did took me a while to give it ‘just’ that dark feeling but¬†I believe it turned out all right in the end. Now don’t come asking me questions about what you see here though, that you’ll have to figure out for yourself by actually reading the book.

And since we’re getting fairly close to the holidays, I’d say to treat your beloved ones with some great literature and read for yourself what it’s all about. In case I sparked your interest, you can always find the novel back on Amazon.

Right, that’s enough promotion for now. Time for me to get back to the drawing board.


A Peek Behind The Curtain

So summer has passed and again there’s this gap already from a couple of weeks, in between this and last post. Honestly, I *am* trying to keep consistent by posting¬†at least once every month, but unfortunately work and just life in general catches up with you *fast*. It’s like you blink and all the sudden there’s another month gone by? Where the heck did that summer go?

Now, I am not here to bore you with¬†the past, but with stuff that should give you a small peek behind the smokescreen of this¬†artist’s way of working. As I’ve been hearing left and right, people actually seem to dig the work in progress of an artist as well. I’ve discussed this previously (a couple of posts ago) as well, yet didn’t explore it further and just¬†went on my way. Well, I’m here to announce I’m going to try to change all that. Big words, I know, since I’m not that good with promises and all that jazz.. But I’ll try to stick to it from now on. Promise. I’m even planning to dig out some old paints and find a way to show you lot how I got to ‘m.

Since words are just words, I decided to give some meaning to my words and introduce to you the the first one of the series.

At first I’ll start with a simple sketch. That’s where almost all my paintings start. It’s not a necessity per se, but I like to start with that start of pencil ‘n paper in my hands. Note the small thumbnail I made in the upper left hand corridor. It indicates how I imagine the vehicle would look like from the left. After scanning, I’ll move on to photoshop.

All my paints usually go through four stadia, depending on how complex they are.
For Step #01 I’ll add a simple trace of the lines, it’s the grunt-work of every drawing in my opinion. If you made a finished sketch, this is usually the work you can let your mechanized clone or monkey do (depends on your preference – I went with clones). After this stage, we go into Step #02 where the basic ground colour is added and shadows are applied. Pay strong attention to the light here and always strife for the most realistic feeling when dealing with the objects.
Step #03 is where the fun part begins for me; colouring of the character(s) and all the various objects & details. This is where you’ll love your reference material for just that right touch, when it comes to color and how they act in every environment.
At last there’s Step #04, my absolute favourite one. Here I get to apply the further detailed colouring, the small details & textures that give your paint that extra finishing touch. A few small corrections here ‚Äėn there might occur as well. I usually advise to stand back a bit from your paint at this stage and give it a fresh eye. Mostly, I myself tend to skip this step (not professional – I know, don’t look at me like that!), which usually ends in me going back to step #03 and see where I went wrong.

Vehicle Design

If you made it this far with your own artwork, the only thing left for me is to congratulate you. I hope you had a blast on it and are inspired to get going on the next one. With that in mind, I got a few more paintings waiting for me …

Anyway, I hope that this way, all of you got a better and useful view into my way of working.

Until we meet again,

Let’s “Sketch” It Up!

A Contemporary Buffalo.

A Contemporary Buffalo.

Hi! So how was your weekend? In case you’re an artist and you were sitting at home, I’m gonna say mine was better.
You’re probably curious to find out why, so if that’s the case, let me tell you why.

This weekend I got to attend a meet-up with the guys from Sketch. A whole bunch of fine artists, one of them my buddy, Jintro, the creator of A Song Called City. Together we both created an illustration for the attendees of the local happening at Kunstbende Oostend. Let me tell ya, despite the fact that I’m looking very concentrated (doesn’t every artist does when he’s drawing?), I had a blast creating that illustration!

“Most¬†of the things, even almost everything¬†in life happens with some good, honest preparation. But the best things in life happen all of a sudden.” It’s a quote I remembered just now. Something I must’ve read a while ago. The fact that I actually still remember it, must mean that it actually has some value to me, right? This weekend was pretty much just like that, I almost had no previous knowledge of this event, and all of a sudden a get a text telling me about this event. Next thing I know we’re four hours later registrating for this. I want to thank all the people involved, especially¬†Britt and Sacha, for creating this opportunity and letting me be part of it.¬†I’m hoping¬†to see all of you pretty soon again.

To round this up, a small video to get a feel for the mood, with everyone -including me- at the table doing our thing. Just make sure not to blink!

Pixelated Fluctuation

One’s interest can fluctuate very fast. In my case, all it takes is¬†a shiny looking show, a fancy tune, and stunning graphics. I recently had¬†an encounter with pixel art again. I say again, because I’ve been here before. Last time, if I remember correctly, was when Minecraft first came out. Although I was too enslaved by that game back then to create any art about it. So¬†last evening, after working on a new paint, it dawned on me. I’m working on a new style. Again. I hardly ever can be kept interested for long at one subject at the time. I need change. Keeping it fresh an’ all, you know? (that felt wrong)

At the end of the day, every artist out there tries to come up with a good painting/drawing, and so do I. So I was trying to figure out the good old pixel art. You know, where you literally see the pixels in the painting … – I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. And although I can’t say I’m an expert at it, I did manage to form (what I can only hope) a pretty result. Even considering making (yet again) another portfolio in this style. Because, once again,¬†I feel like it. It’s about to become worse even, as I’m¬†considering turning this into something of a game … Let me put it this way, I’d love to play a game with this kind of graphics in it. But since I can’t seem to find anything satisfying enough (oh yeah, I’ve looked), I just ‘have’ to make my own graphics.

A Pirates Life

A Pirates Life

About the topic; I had¬†this little story in mind about¬†me and a couple of friends of mine. It’s basically where we all become pixelated and have similar adventures like in some blockbuster movie or an old-school game from the old days. In case you’re wondering, the painting here is¬†from this one scene out of¬†“Pirates of the Caribbean; The Black Pearl” (Hadn’t done any pirate-themed painting for a while, so yeah).

– Because I can.