Category: Work & Freelancing

Conventional Wisdom: Boreal 2014

I just got back from Quebec City where I attended my first Boreal convention. Boreal is a French language literary convention with a focus on science-fiction, fantasy and other speculative genres.  It has hopped about to different cities in Quebec, but this year it was in Quebec City.

Weirdly enough, due to my heavy networking on English language forums and attendance of events like Illuxcon and the IMC, most of my art and publishing contacts are American, or at least, not Quebecers. We have a thriving local industry and I wanted to learn more so I signed up! I also volunteered to take part in the programming and I ended up participating in three panels.

There is a side of me who feels like a fraud whenever I’m put in a position like that, but I manage to rationalize it. It turns out I had a ball. I really enjoyed myself and I was lucky to have fantastic co-panelists. One of the subjects was touchy (the one about misogyny) but I felt that there was respect all around, both at the panel table and in the audience. I also got to see Christian Sauvé’s conference about being a critic and a variety of panels, I visited the exhibitors room and met great people. I also had two original paintings with me, one of them being a cover for Solaris winter 2014, so I was told be a lot of people that they had recognized it, which always feels good, the other one was Un Bon Cygne.

It’s a fairly small scene but a lot of my fellow con-goers and all the staff and volunteers went out of their way to make me feel welcome.

As usual, my tips for anyone thinking of going to a small to medium-sized convention are the same:

  • Do it.
  • Wear your name tag, make sure it’s visible.
  • Bring a portfolio and business cards, take them everywhere with you.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach people and introduce yourself.
  • When it’s lunchtime and a lot of people are milling about, it’s ok to ask perfect strangers if you can join them. Eating with someone is a great way to get to know them.
  • Be nice and non-creepy.
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SteelButt Jack: Une couverture pour Solaris

(For this article in English, click here)

Dans le monde de l’illustration comme dans le monde des jeux vidéo, parfois on travaille sur quelque chose et on ne peut pas le montrer à qui que ce soit. Et quand enfin, on peut le montrer, on a l’impression que c’est complétement dépassé par rapport à ce qu’on fait maintenant. C’est ce qui est arrivé avec cette couverture. Elle n’est pas très vieille, je l’ai faite en septembre/octobre 2013, mais j’ai quand même l’impression que mon nouveau travail est différent.

Solaris est le plus vieux magazine de science-fiction et fantasy de langue française en existence. J’ai reçu la commande pour la couverture de Joël Champetier, le rédacteur en chef. Ses instructions en gros disaient: “On aime tes trucs digitaux et traditionnels, propose nous quelque chose qui n’a pas de tentacules.” Ouais, c’était aussi ouvert que ça. Alors j’ai fait des tonnes de compositions dans mon carnet de dessin, j’en ai choisi 6 que j’ai refait au propre et que j’ai envoyé. 3 que je peindrais avec l’ordinateur et 3 que je ferais à l’acrylique.

The thumbnails I sent Mr.Champetier from Solaris. The brown ones are for traditional paintings and the black and white are for digital paintings.

Les vignettes que j’ai envoyées à M.Champetier. Celles en noir et blanc sont pour peindre dans Photoshop  et celles en brun sont pour peindre traditionnellement. Le monsieur en veston aurait été un portrait de Dr.Penfield avec un homoncule sur le dos, un genre de mélange de neurologie et de fantasy.

Joël a choisi le pilote de jet pack. Il a dit que dans toutes les années de Solaris, il ne pense pas qu’ils aient déjà eu un jet pack en couverture, aussi cliché que ça puisse être. Cette information en main, j’ai commencé à travailler sur un design de jet pack et un costume cool. Je voulais un style diesel punk, mais qui ne ressemble pas trop au Rocketeer, il est de la même époque, mais il est un gars différent qui vient d’un monde plus rude.

refrences_solaris

Les références que j’ai utilisée pour faire mon dessin final. En faits, j’en ai utilisées plus que ça. J’avais quelques photos de Matthieu pour différents détails et des photos que j’ai trouvé sur internet pour des choses comme des pièces de laiton, des trainées de vapeur, de jet packs et des habits antiques.

Armée de ma vignette approuvée et de mon design de jet pack, j’ai demandé à mon ami Matthieu Legault de poser pour mes références.  Matthieu est un auteur avec 7 livres publiés à son actif, mais je pense que c’est la première fois qu’il est sur la couverture. Il avait un chandail qui ressemblait un peu au manteau de mon design et j’avais un gros sac-à-dos, des lunettes et des bottes gothiques alors c’est l’étendu de son costume. Nous avons essayés toutes sortes de poses, dans ma cours et dans ma cuisine mais en fin de compte, c’est avec le tabouret que nous avons réussis à lui donner l’air de voler. Sinon il avait juste l’air de se tenir sur un pied. J’ai aussi sculpté les formes de base du jet pack et je les ai installées sur un mannequin en bois pour avoir les angles des ailes et des fusées et pour imaginer leurs ombres sur Matthieu.

This is the design of the jet pack that I decided to go with. In the end, my model had hair that pit exactly the period I was going for, so I decided to use that instead of a helmet. I also included the progression of the drawing I did from the references.

Voici le design du jet pack que j’ai retenu. Finalement mon modèle avait une coiffure qui cadrait parfaitement avec l’époque que j’avais choisi alors j’ai décidé d’aller avec ça au lieu du casque. J’inclue aussi une progression du dessin que j’ai fait à partir de mes références.

Parmi mes photos, j’ai choisi celles qui étaient le plus dynamiques et qui ressemblaient le plus comme quelqu’un en train de voler. Elles n’étaient pas exactement comme ma vignette, mais je dirais que c’est une amélioration. J’ai fait plusieurs étapes de raffinement pour le dessin et plusieurs motifs possible pour la trainée de vapeur. Le dessin au trait avec la fumée est celui que j’ai envoyé à mon client pour approbation.

This is the drawing that I used as reference when painting. All of the value problems have been solved.

Ceci est le dessin que j’ai utilisé comme référence pendant que je peignais. Tous les problèmes de lumière ont déjà été réglés.

Quand j’ai eu mon approbation, j’ai fait un rendu en noir et blanc dans Photoshop pour ne pas avoir à prendre de décisions pendant que je peignais. Je n’ai pas rendu les oiseaux parce que mon plan était de faire juste des silhouettes d’oiseaux en vernis sur un fond de MDF non-vernis. L’idée étaient qu’ils aient l’air loin et subtils.

Le transfert de l'image sur le panneau de MDF.

Le transfert de l’image sur mon panneau.

J’ai imprimé mon dessin sur 3 feuilles différentes que j’ai assemblées et dont j’ai frotté l’endos avec du carré Conté terre de sienne pour les personnages et blanc pour la vapeur. J’ai ensuite clippé/collé la feuille à mon panneau et j’ai tracé toutes les lignes. Le résultat était un peu sale, mais j’ai pris une guenille à peinture propre et j’ai frotté légèrement le panneau pour enlever le plus gros.

first_steps_solaris

Ici vous pouvez voir les 3 premières étapes de la phase peinture. J’ai commencé avec les éléments graphiques parce qu’ils m’aident à établir la valeur la plus pâle de ma composition. Je passe ensuite aux foncés les plus foncés. Je ne fait pas vraiment de grand lavis très pâles au début parce que j’essaie d’éviter de celer le carré Conté sous des sections transparentes où il restera visible. J’efface beaucoup de lignes à mesure que je peins. Et si je mets trop de peinture quelque part, je dois l’essuyer très vite ou sinon attendre et le sabler. Je ne peux pas peindre en pâle par dessus de la peinture foncée ou vice versa.

Certaines personnes sont surprises d’apprendre que la phase peinture est souvent plus courte que la phase de planification et de design. Toutes les décisions difficiles ont été faites et il ne me reste qu’à étendre de la peinture et à ne pas tout ruiner. La partie ne pas tout ruiner serait plus facile si je travaillais à l’huile. C’est dans mes plans, mais pour tout de suite, je travaille encore à l’acrylique. Pour cette peinture, je n’ai utilisé que deux couleurs, terre d’ombre et titane écru. Je suis une grande fan du titane écru, c’est très pâle, mais pas aveuglant comme du blanc. Ça fonctionne aussi très bien avec le style sépia que j’utilise pour le moment. Dans le passé, j’ai peint plusieurs pièces sur du masonite et du MDF non-vernis et sans apprêt mais ce MDF là est différent, je l’ai acheté dans une quincaillerie et non dans un magasin de matériel d’art et il est doux comme du suède et la peinture ne glisse pas bien dessus. J’ai acheté un grand morceau que j’ai fait tailler en plusieurs panneaux, alors pour mes peintures suivantes, j’ai décidé de lui donner quelques couches de médium brillant avant de transférer le dessin. Ça marche bien mieux pour moi.

steelbutt_jack_web

Voilà la peinture finie et retouchée. J’ai enlevé de petites taches du MDF, ajouté un peu de fumée, enlevé un oiseau et retouché le personnage un peu.

Quand j’ai eu terminé, j’ai vernis seulement les parties qui étaient peintes alors le reste est mat. J’ai ensuite pris une bonne photo et je l’ai envoyée à Joël. Il voulait plus de fumée alors j’ai allongé la traînée et fait d’autres retouches et je lui ai envoyé le fichier haute résolution.

Et c’est comme ça que j’ai fait cette illustration.

SteelButt Jack: A Solaris Cover

(Pour cet article en français, cliquez ici)

In the illustration field like in the video game field, sometimes you work on something and then you just can’t show it to anyone. And then when you CAN show it, it feels like what you are doing now is completely different. This happened with this cover. It’s not that old, I only did it in September/October 2013, but I feel that I already work differently now.

Solaris is the oldest French language genre fiction magazine in existence. I was commissioned to do a cover by Joël Champetier, the editor in chief. His direction was basically: “We like both your digital and traditional stuff, pitch us something that doesn’t have tentacles.” Yep, that open ended. So I did tons of thumbnails in my sketchbook and I picked 6 of them to clean up and send. 3 that I would paint digitally and 3 that I would paint in acrylics.

The thumbnails I sent Mr.Champetier from Solaris. The brown ones are for traditional paintings and the black and white are for digital paintings.

The thumbnails I sent Mr.Champetier. The brown ones are for traditional paintings and the black and white are for digital paintings. The gentleman with the the suit would have been a portrait of Dr.Penfield with a humonculus on his back, it was supposed to be a kind of neurology/fantasy mashup.

Joël picked the guy with the jet pack. He said that in all of Solaris’ years, he didn’t think they ever had a jet pack on the cover, as cliché as they can be. With that, I started working on cool jet pack and outfit designs. I was going for a diesel punk look, but I didn’t want him to look too much like the Rocketeer, he was from the same era, but he was a different guy from a grittier world.

refrences_solaris

The references I used to make my final drawing. Actually, I used more than that. I used a few pictures of Matthieu for different details and I used images I found around the internet for things like brass fittings, jet contrails, jet packs, ancient outfits.

Armed with my approved thumbnail and my jet pack and outfit design, I asked my friend Matthieu Legault to model for the character. Matthieu is a writer with 7 published novels under his belt but I think it’s the first time he’s on the cover of one. He had a sweater that somewhat looked like the jacket in my outfit and I had a big packpack, goggles and goth boots so that’s the extend of his costume. We tried all kinds of poses, in my yard and in my kitchen, but in the end, the stool was the best way to make him look like he’s flying. Otherwise he just looked like a guy standing on one foot. I also modeled the basic jet pack shapes and stucked them on a mannequin to get the angles of the wings and rockets right on Matthieu and the shadows.

This is the design of the jet pack that I decided to go with. In the end, my model had hair that pit exactly the period I was going for, so I decided to use that instead of a helmet. I also included the progression of the drawing I did from the references.

This is the design of the jet pack that I decided to go with. In the end, my model had hair that fit exactly the period I was going for, so I decided to use that instead of a helmet. I also included the progression of the drawing I did from the references.

I choose amongst the pictures the ones that were the most dynamic and looked the most like someone flying. It’s not exactly like the thumb, but it’s an improvement. I went through several rounds of refining the drawing and several possible designs for the contrail. The line art with the smoke swirls is what I sent the client for approval.

This is the drawing that I used as reference when painting. All of the value problems have been solved.

This is the drawing that I used as reference when painting. All of the value problems have been solved.

When it was approved, I rendered the values in Photoshop so that I wouldn’t have to make decision in paint. I didn’t render the birds because the plan was to have them just be silhouettes in varnish on unvarnished MDF. They would be very subtle and translucent to make them look far away.

Le transfert de l'image sur le panneau de MDF.

The transfer of the image on the MDF panel.

I printed my line art in 3 different parts that I assembled and then rubbed the back of the drawing with Conté crayon, white for the smoke and sienna for the character and birds. I then clipped/tapped it to the board and traced all the line. The result is a bit messy and dark but I wipe it lightly with a dry paint rag and it gets much better.

first_steps_solaris

You can see the first 3 steps of the painting phase. I started with the graphic elements because they help me establish what the lightest value is going to be. Then I get started with the darkest darks. I don’t really do big washes because I try to avoid sealing in the conte powder under nearly transparent layers where they will remain visible. I erase a lot of the lines as I go. Also, if I put too much paint somewhere, I have to wipe it off very fast or else I will have to sand it off, I can’t paint in white on top of dark or vice versa.

Some people are surprised to learn that the painting stage is often shorter than the design stages. All the hard decisions have been made and all I have to do now is slap paint around and not screw up. The new screwing up part might be easier if I worked in oil. It’s in my plans, but right now I still work in acrylics. For this painting I used only two colors, raw umber and unbleached titanium. I am a very big fan of unbleached titanium, it’s quite light, but not dead or blinding like white. It fits well with the sepia style I’m going for at the moment. I the past, I have painted plenty of pieces on raw unprimed and unvarnished masonite and MDF but this was a different type of MDF that I had gotten at the hardware store, not at the art supply store and it was soft, like suede and the paint didn’t glide so well on it. I had bought a big piece and had it cut into several panels, so for my following pieces, I gave a few coats of gloss medium on the MDF before transferring the drawing. It works much better for me.

steelbutt_jack_web

This is the finished and retouched painting. I have removed tiny flecks in the MDF, added a bit of smoke, removed a bird and did various retouching of the character.

When I was done, I varnished the piece, only on the the already painted parts so the rest is raw and matte. Then I took a good picture and sent it to Joël. He wanted the contrail to end closer to the rocket, so I changed that in Photoshop and did some other touch ups. Then I sent him the high-resolution file.

And that is how that piece was done.

Art Catalogue

catalogue_art_2013_coverwebI just finished putting together a catalogue of all the paintings I have for sale, and also a few who are already sold. I’ve wanted to sell art outside of shows for a while, but it’s pretty hard if I don’t have a list of the art available anywhere. So here it is. It’s pretty much a work in progress, I will be updating as new pieces are added and as pieces sell. I also have a section on commission because a lot of people don’t know that it’s possible to order a painting to their specifications.

The Holidays are coming, so it’s time to buy or order art, whether you want to give it away or just to brag to your visitors!

Click here for the CATALOGUE

Je viens juste de terminer un catalogue de toutes les peintures que j’ai à vendre, et de quelques unes qui sont déjà vendues. Ça fait un bout que je veux vendre des toiles en dehors des expositions mais c’est difficile si je n’ai pas une liste des pièces disponibles. Alors c’est fait. C’est une travail en progression où j’ajouterai les nouvelles peintures et noterai celles qui sont vendues. J’ai aussi une section sur les commandes parce que plusieurs personnes ne savent pas qu’il est possible de commander une peinture suivant leurs spécifications.

Le temps des fêtes approche et c’est le temps d’acheter ou de commander de l’art, que ce soit pour le donner ou pour impressionner la visite!

Cliquez ici pour le CATALOGUE

Entrevues sur Drink And Draw Montreal

J’ai déjà mentionné ici que je suis maintenant une collaboratrice du webzine Drink And Draw Montréal. J’ai commencé une série d’entrevues avec des illustrateurs québecois, mes deux premiers invités sont Nicolas Francoeur et Donald Caron. Vous pouvez les lire ici:
Entrevue avec Donald Caron, maître de l’horreur
Entrevue: Nicolas Francoeur

J’ai aussi fait une entrevue avec François Vaillancourt, peintre de trompe-l’oeil: Entrevue: François Vaillancourt

Je vous prépare plein d’autres surprises pour les prochains mois.

I already mentioned here that I am now a collaborator on the  Drink And Draw Montréal webzine. I started a series of interviews (in French) with quebecois illustrators, my first two guests are Nicolas Francoeur and Donald Caron. you can read them here:
Entrevue avec Donald Caron, maître de l’horreur
Entrevue: Nicolas Francoeur

I also interviewed François Vaillancourt,  trompe-l’oeil painter: Entrevue: François Vaillancourt

I’m preparing a lot of other surprises for the upcoming months.

Baby steps

I just had a fantastic meeting today with Suzanne and Julia, two other Drink & Draw Montréal contributors. We talked about the future of the site and I mentioned that I didn’t post very often because each of my post is such a laborious process that it takes ages to come to fruition and involves much procrastination and stalling. I have known that I was stalling for a long time, but the discussion we had validated my feelings (and my choice of topics) and I decided to write smaller articles more often and it would increase my output.

Of course, I didn’t come up with that idea. That’s where the expression Baby Steps comes from. The thing is, often we don’t notice how much we are stalling while we are stalling. We are procrastinating because a task seems too arduous and it’s just easier and less scary to do something else. It’s the reason you hear about people trying to do a novel, but never finishing it, but you rarely hear about people trying to do a short story but never finishing it. It’s much easier to do a short story, so chances are you will finish, even if it’s rubbish.

The same can be said of anything, making art, packing for a move, doing our taxes. It seems so big and complicated that we push it back and never do it. I have been doing that with my writing for DnD. But our meeting gave me plenty of ideas of articles that shouldn’t be agony to write, so expect more in the near future. And we are planning on putting the drinking back into Drink and Draw, so expect more of that as well!

Drink&DrawMtl

artist_anteaterss

Back in January I started writing a series of articles for DrinkAndDrawMTL.com titled Petit guide de Survie pour Artiste (Small Survival Guide for Artists) because I thought resources about art were not as plentiful in French as they were in English, and there wasn’t that much specifically about Québec. D&DMtl was derived from the loose networks of artist gatherings around the world where artists meet to socialize and draw. It so happens that in Montreal, people don’t gather to draw anymore, but the blog survived and has a sort of webzine format. I thought it was a great platform for me to work on informing artists and art hopefuls.

You can find my first 3 articles here:

And the Google translate versions here (it’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing):

Also, D&DMtl has plenty of English or bilingual articles!

Art Books, I has them

Recently, Gurney Journey and Muddy Colors had features on art books and a lot of people seem to be curious about art book collections. I’m in the process of packing to move and I thought I could take a few pictures of my art books since they were all in the same place for once. I don’t have a very big collection, but I’m aiming for voluntary simplicity in books. I also suspect I move way more often than the people with the book hoarding thing going on.

Mah books

Mah books

Often when I see pictures of bookshelves I end up thinking to myself:”Well, cool. but I can’t make out what all these books are at that scale.” So I thought I would list the looks, or at least, most of them. I think it’s going to motivate me to write all the book reviews I’ve wanted to write, and crosslink them to the picture. Some of them are not exactly art books, they are reference books, picture books or books by artist friends.

1

  • The GAG Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
  • Book of the Five Rings, got neat prints of samurai.
  • Dover Victorian Design
  • Peck – Atlas of Human anatomy for the artist
  • Molly Bang – Picture This
  • Steve Prescott- Aggregate
  • Textbooks from my costume history classes.
  • WotC- The art of the Rath cycle.
  • The making of Alien Resurrection
  • Will Eisner- Graphic storytelling and visual narrative
  • L’harmonie des couleurs sur le web (basically tons of palette samples for website, useful for quick and dirty graphic design jobs or to get a client to pick something)
  • Ken Hultgren – L’art de dessiner les animaux.
  • PML- René Lalique
  • The Spiderwick field guide
  • De Fontenoy à Waterloo (book on european military uniforms in the 1800’s)
  • Uniformes Militaires. Book on various military uniforms I picked up in a bazaar.
  • Donato Giancola’s Middle Earth book
  • Juliette Aristides – Classical Drawing Atelier
  • Peck- In the Studios of Paris, William Bouguereau and his American students.
  • Loomis-  Figure Drawing for all it’s worth.

2

  • Alex Wreck- Stolen Sharpie Revolution
  • DiTerlizzi and Black -The first volume of Spiderwick
  • Strunk & White- The Elements of Style (not an art book, but I think everyone who needs to communicate in writing needs to read it)
  • Art & Fear
  • Tim Burton’s Oyster Boy book
  • The Art of War
  • Speedball calligraphy handbook
  • Perspective made easy
  • Speed- The practice and Science of Drawing
  • How to survive and prosper as an artist (already wrote about that one ha!)
  • Le Ramat de la typography, like Strunk & White but in French and pretentious
  • Bridgeman boxed set
  • Bridgeman constructive anatomy
  • The New drawing on the right side of the brain
  • L’anatomie humaine (this is not so much as anatomy book as it is a compendium of antique engravings of anatomy, artists used to display the human body in very weird ways.
  • Pat Manocchia -Musculation (shows what muscle groups we use during each movement, it’s a body building book, not an art book)
  • Matthew Meyer – The Night Parade of one Thousand Demons. Book about Japanese monsters.
  • Alan McKenzie – How to Draw and Sell Comic strips. I got that book when I was about 12 and I LOVED it.
  • L’Univers des araignées (tons of spider pictures)
  • Jonny Duddle-Le Croque Pirate
  • Lottie Paris Lives Here illustrated by Scott Fischer.

3

  • Bammes – Complete guide to Life Drawing (awesome)
  • Some Walter Foster and Disney books
  • PML – Spiders and Cabriolets & Fer Forgé
  • Grand Cours D’anatomie artistique
  • Star Wars Episode 1 Ships and vehicles concept art
  • The Art of the Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Those 3 giants binders at Famous Artist course books.

4

  • The art of Exalted (meh)
  • Thierry Labrosse – Ab Irato #1
  • James Gurney – Journey to Chandara
  • Norman Rockwell – My Adventures as an illustrator
  • James Gurney –  Color and Light
  • James Gurney – Imaginative realism
  • Wynn -Altered Curiosity (that’s a very weird craft book)
  • Encyclopedie de la Mythologie
  • Spectrum 16 (I know I know, I have only 1 Spectrum)
  • The art of the Dragon
  • Petar Meseldžija – The Legend of Steel Bashaw
  • Once Upon a time Walt Disney – This is the book of the Disney Exhibition at Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal. It’s full of concept art and influences for early Disney movies.
  • The Art of Daren Bader
  • Magritte book of the exhibition at Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal.

5

  • White – The Animator’s workshop (a classic)
  • a bunch of PML books, PML books are super cheap books filled with images that I used to find at bargain bookstores.
  • Dover’s  World of enchantment: The Art of Maxfield Parish
  • Calvin and Hobbes
  • Some art magazines.

Missing: Giant pile of early Realm of Fantasy that are already in boxes.

Links: