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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In an effort to build up my traditional portfolio with pieces that look more like book covers, I did this one this week. I’m trying to find a good balance between graphic and narrative. I’m also learning to use MDF effectively. I got this MDF in a lumber yard and it’s not as smooth as the one I got at the art store. It threw me off a little the first time I used it (for a piece that is still under wrap.) For this one, I gave a few coats of clear medium before I transferred the drawing on the board. That made the paint glide on in a more enjoyable manner.
Illuxcon has been over for a
few many weeks now and I have yet to write anything about it. Not because it wasn’t great, but I came back completely exhausted and overwhelmed. So here I am, making a very late attempt at a summary.
There were many firsts at Illuxcon this year. It was the first time the show lasted 5 days (Wednesday to Sunday,) it was the first time it was held in Allentown (before it was in Altoona, PA,) it was the first time I had a travel companion (I went with my buddy Sybiline, whom I met at a different convention – see? conventions are important,) first time there were other french speakers I got to hang out with.
The whole lasting 5 days thing came with its lot of changes as well. There is now two parts to the main show, one that lasts the whole five days and a weekend salon that was also juried but was only held on Saturday and Sunday. The life drawing and live music events were merged together and held on Thursday night. The showcase which used to last 4 hours was now twice as long, Friday and Saturday evenings.
I was on the waiting list for the showcase and only learned that I had a table less than two weeks before the show so I had a lot to prepare. Traveling across the border with paintings is a problem because while there is no duty on art, I’m not allowed to work in the U.S. and selling art would be working (weirdly enough, I’m allowed to have a booth and to take orders for sales, but not to actually give the art to the buyer, even if it’s already painted.) So I only brought Pink! as a display piece, and some prints as “promotional material.” Had I had more time to prepare, I could have shipped the originals to the show in advance. I’ll know for the next year. Two nights of showcase is a lot, the artists in the main show have to man their table for much longer, but finishing at midnight twice in a row takes its toll. And after 11p.m. there aren’t that many visitors doing the rounds.
As usual, the art in the main show was stunning. The new venue offers much higher walls than the old venue and some of the artists really took advantage of it. Michael Whelan and Donato Giancola had massive pieces that would have never fit in Altoona. I’m always overwhelmed by how nice almost everyone is at such events. I have a problem recognising faces and I’m often embarrassed to be recognized by people whose face I don’t remember (wear your name badge people!) The embarrassment is compounded by how much some artists get out of their ways to explain their techniques, answer question, review portfolio and offer precious advice even when you are obviously not in the market for their paintings.
When youhad the weekend salon to the main show, you get a gigantic event. A lot of new faces there and also artists who had been in the main show in the past. The weekend salon is a lot less work, the artists only have to be present at their tables for two days instead of 5. The down side is that it was very hard to hang around the weekend salon because the space was smaller than planned (apparently the museum floor plans were not very accurate!) and everyone was there at the same time, since there was only two days to see everything and there were still lectures and demos going on. I was very glad to see friend of mine have tables i the salon, it was a great way to introduce new artists to Illuxcon.
Lectures and demos
As usual, there is so much good programming that I had to make very difficult choices. I mostly went to demos and practical lectures: Nonie Nelson on anatomy, Jason Cheeseman-Meyer on perspective, painting demos by Jeremy Wilson (I found his way of working very alien, I guess that’s a good thing) and Armand Cabrera. I also went to the Schindehette/Ruppel talk about concept art vs illustration and the M:tG panel, and the Hildebrand talk about colors (which turned out to be about anecdotes and Michael Jackson and not so much about color theory.) Overall, I felt more rushed than other years, like everything was crammed together and I never had enough time to see what I wanted to see but I really enjoyed what I got to see.
Of course, there is even more to Illuxcon. Meeting new friends, catching up with old friends, meeting people I had known online for a long long time for the first time, seeing some I had not seen in years. Talking to heroes and discovering new inspirations. Of course, no convention is complete without swag and this one is no exception. Aside from a crapton of business cards, I bought two great sketchbooks. I really like books that have process pictures, either just drawings or drawings with finished pieces.
Here lie links.
The only upside to being so slow is that a ton of other people have already posted about Illuxcon and I can make a list of posts. Ha!
Armand Cabrera’s painting demo
Recap by Eric Super Villain on Massive Fantastic , with a video
Review by Juan Carlos Barquet, IlluXCon Student Scholarship winner
Mike Burns’s notes from the lectures and panels.
Jane Frank’s superlative and glowing review. Jane is an art dealer specialised in speculative art and has given very interesting lectures on business at Illuxcon over the years.
A lecture by Jane Frank at Illuxcon, posted by Drawn Today podcast.
Jon Schindehette, art director extraordinaire’s Illuxcon review.
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
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’m preparing a lot of other surprises for the upcoming months.
Over a year ago, I posted a turn-around for a woman called Zoltara. She’s inspired by the character played by one of my friends in an Exalted game. I changed her around a bit to make her fit better for the universe and turn her into a portfolio piece. I just finished a new piece with her (hiding and spying, it seems that’s what Night Castes do.) And I discovered that I never posted her completed character sheet. So here they are.
I’d like to wish all of my readers a wonderful Holiday time. And no matter what you celebrate, do it in style!
These are a few concepts for a building. It’s a secret tower located in a remote mountainy area and it’s at the junction of several lay lines of energy. The bottom levels are mundane installations that allow a small group of people to live there and the last levels comprise a library and the hearth, where the magic essence is concentrated.
It’s called the Manse of the Lazy Bend due to the lazy river flowing next to it, bending and snaking its way around the spectacular rock formations of the area.