Tag: essay

Hiatus, Problems with “Samples”

It’s quite evident that I have not been posting for several months. My excuse this time is major video projects and because I got upgraded into a French writing course, which meant I had some 2-7 hours of writing homework. I just couldn’t get myself to sit down, think about this blog, and write in English. When studying a language intensively, it sometimes becomes hard to think, write, read, or speak in your primary language. Usually, it’s the opposite, where I just can’t formulate anything in French out of sheer mental exhaustion in that part of my brain. Anyways, I am lucky I can spend most of my days right now learning. I really don’t look forward to taking that day job to pay the bills and being back in that monotony. It depends on the job, of course.

I want to let everyone know that whoever finds us a returning client for video gets a percentage kicked their way for a year on projects. We’re not really decided on the percentage, but it’ll be something we’ll deem worth your time. So, if you know someone who needs video work, motion design, colour grading done and has money to pay for it, send them our way: stereokroma.com

Since this has been an issue for us lately, we don’t do spec. work. Here’s some informative links my partner found on this subject. Link 1, link 2, link 3.

There’s very few projects we’d genuinely say we’d work for free, and there’s very few excuses you can give us for why we should work for free. It most often comes up that a “sample” is requested. In the most recent and serious case, it was during a second job interview, where all portfolios and demoreels had already been reviewed, so there would be no other reason for this other than to collect free ideas. It was not a 30-90 minute test either, it was something that would’ve required several hours of work. Let me be clear: this is incredibly unprofessional and insulting.

I believe I talked about this before, but it’s so obvious someone is trying to shop around and clearly has no idea what the job entitles or what they want if they need to ask for a sample. There are cases where a sample is asked for as a proposal, which in my books is fine because it is usually a write up or a simple sketch and it’s for a several thousand dollar large project that requires a lot of commitment from both parties. Most of the time, when I am personally asked for a sample, it’s for a client that is not going to pay more than $500, $200, or even $100, so it is a pure waste of my time to do a sample. Often, they also want a sample that’s going to look like the finished product. What? So you basically want me to do the whole project, call it a “sample”, then decide whether or not you want to pay for it? That’s shady and shitty of you. I pretty much always say no and let them roll off my back, unless the person agrees to pay for the sample itself. In my experience (ohh some 10 years or more of freelancing), the clients who waffle and who ask for ridiculous things like this cause the most problems. They’re the ones who want the most changes, who ask for impossible changes too late in the process, who just can’t make up their mind or don’t pay in a timely fashion. Everyone I ever worked with who looked at my portfolio and hired me on the spot was always great to work with: they understood the process, they understood why it costs why it costs, they didn’t try get me to give them discounts or held out my payments for months; they were just timely, understanding, and a pleasure to work with.

I think in the future, I will write several articles talking about different things like the process of creative work so everyone understands why we do things the way we do them. I know I ramble in here about it, but I really need something I can point people to.

Anyway, I have several art events I want to post about and tonnes of updates, so stay tuned. I will slowly start rolling things out and catching up. You can always keep track on my website or one of my many other social media pages that are unfortunately easier to update (I really prefer having a blog). I’ll also be posting some of my French writing, if it’s of interest to anyone.

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Painting Cliche Things

Even though most of my portfolio is acrylic and oil paintings, I actually haven’t painted in a few years. It’s kind of ironic, especially since I’d really really would like that someone commissioned some portraits from me *cough*, but I can understand why not if my portfolio is a bit out of date in that field and the few I have painted are with either myself or really impatient models. I’ve yet to paint a portrait that really flatters someone, please someone give me the chance! I know I could just do it on my own, but I am so poor right now I can’t “waste” materials like a canvas and paint. Sigh.

harbour_sunset_wallpaper[1]What I really wanted to say is that it’s been so long since I’ve painted that I somewhat feel like I am starting over, if that makes sense. I think when anyone pursues art as a profession or hobby, they go through a “phase”. It doesn’t matter what art form it is. Photography: you’ll want to take the perfect sunset, the perfect flower close up, a bird close up, an insect, a cool cityscape, meaningful portrait. Film: Depending on your tastes, you’ll want to make that mafia film, zombie movie, coming-of-age film. Painting: You want to paint a landscape, a cityscape, a portrait, and something in the spotlight (that’s the one I’m doing now).

 

The most iconic images, you’ll want to recreate…and if you’re starting out, you’ll be disillusioned that you’re being original even though what you’re really doing is practicing forming ideas. That’s actually perfectly okay, and I encourage it! If you talked to me bird[1]maybe 5 years ago, I would’ve chewed you out for being generic, but I’ve long since realized there is no such thing as an original idea.We’re all inspired by something around us, and being in a society where you can easily access art lets us absorb lots of previously done ideas. It’s impossible one of those ideas won’t show up in your art. Likewise, when something feels really original, it’s more because it’s culturally relevant and probably something that hasn’t been seen in a long time*. Going through this “phase” lets you get those really generic things out of your head and it’s like baby steps for learning how to develop an idea so that it will be more your own. It’s the training wheels of concept.

Making something your own, IFlower+Wallpaper[1]‘d argue, is more important in art than pursuing being original. But I’m a pretty traditional painter and don’t really care for reinventing the painting medium. I’m not gonna start using my foot or house pant, or painting with gunpowder and fire. It’s not my thing. I appreciate academic painting.

So right now, I am recreating an image I painted very long ago of a ballerina in the spotlight. I’ll explain more later. I anticipate I will probably want to do a pretty cliche landscape next, because I really feel like going through baby steps and seeing how much my painting technique has improved and how I can make really cliche images into my own thing.

* There are things that are truly original, like art depicting new technology, a huge change in culture and society. You can’t say that before the 2000s, pro-LGBT+ art was readily present and sci-fi art definitely was non-existant in something like the 1500s. But you know what I really mean… painting yet another Bob Ross mountainscape is not original, even if you have a different composition and style.

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Credit: Bob Ross.
Photos: No idea, but googled sunset, flower, and bird close up.


Oh yeah, why do photographers obsess over photographing the moon? It pretty much ALWAYS looks the same, maybe slightly rotated.
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Tips on Commissions

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As I’m uploading these, I am realizing how destroyed my laptop is. I can’t see the watermark I placed on this image because the lighter values in my screen bleed out to white. Anyway, today I’d like to talk about COMMISSIONS (again)! This is a new commission I recently finished, and I will be putting it up on my site soon with more WIP updates. It was for an individual into gaming to use on a profile. I get a lot of individual commissions by average people (as in, not institutions or corporations) and I’m pretty average myself – I know where everyone is coming from.

I want to use this person as an example of a great commissioner: They came to me with a clear idea of what they needed, what dimensions, they had a reasonable range of how much they were willing to pay,  they even had references on hand, and overall were co-operative and respectful. They paid immediately. Beautiful.

I have a lot of problematic inquiries.

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Rant about writers, publishers, and other vague individuals commissioning art

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Here’s another one from this year’s archive of unposted stuff. I held off posting this because it’s a sample for a children’s book. I get frequently approached specifically for children’s books. It boggles me. What on my website gallery captures this particular interest? Maybe it’s the choice of style… but you know, just because you wrote a gleeful children’s story and it’s fashionable in our desperate economic time to put on a happy face, it doesn’t mean I am suddenly going to drop everything and draw bright, friendly, optimistic pictures. It’s artistic integrity. I have a firm commitment to the sense of realism to everything I do, whether it’s the anime/cartoon style, or super realistic images. Realism doesn’t mean it looks photo realistic, it refers to the conceptual aspect of a style.

Now this guy didn’t do what typically happens. He had a story that actually fit my style – it was a darker, grittier story, and it was more for boys I’m guessing or girls with that strand of interest.

But what I’ve experienced and seen happen to other illustrators has been that people inexperienced with working with artists treat illustrators like mindless puppets. Let me get this out there…I really don’t give a fuck how good you think your idea or story is. You’re talking to creative people…creative people have ideas all the time. It’s easy to have an idea, but it’s hard to have a truly great idea… and then when you do, that doesn’t make you king of the hill. An idea by itself isn’t worth anything until it’s actualized. You have an idea, but you can’t draw, so you go to an artist. Because you can’t draw, you must treat the artist with respect. For me personally – I’ve been kicking around doing this for 8 years professionally. I think I have some idea of what I’m doing, and I don’t need a condescending tone from a client like I need them to tell me how to move my hands to make the lines. I have a professional demeanor, so it’s not going to show, but I do get really irritated when I deal with this. And you know what? That irritation ends up going into the work, unfortunately. It’s subconscious, and I am human, so it’s hard to let it go sometimes.

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Weird…comic

So I posted a little screen shot of this a while back… Let this demonstrate the learning curve I went through the past 6 months in terms of digital art with this image. This is before I took any classes and I was generally really frustrated with digital painting because I had no clue how to approach it.

When I made this, I shaded it in gray and separated absolutely everything. I planned on applying an overlaying colour, but I soon discovered how difficult it is to get that to mix right. I thought it would be a quick solution… but the values are very light, and the shirt there has some patterning….ended up being a bad idea. I should’ve just straight up tried to colour this instead of being scared, because trying to overlay colours after proved to be as much guesswork as I would’ve done if I had just coloured it. Back then, I had no idea how to read the colour picker and make a smart choice on colour.

Anyway….the colour I did on this originally was so hideous I deleted it, and just threw on this stylized gradient map to apply colour. It looks pretty funky…the “idea” is that the desert is so scorching hot, it has bleached out all visible colour. Whatever…

I wouldn’t put this in my portfolio for a large array of reasons.

1. It’s not my style. How do I know that? It’s a complete fluke and looks awkward. When I throw it into my artwork folder, it stands out because it’s weird, not because it’s unique or a step up from what I’ve been doing.

2. This colouring is a sad excuse for colouring. I mean, some of the values are gross…you don’t exactly have a lot of control with a gradient map unless you want to drive yourself totally insane.

3. The scale is wonky – it looks like a tiny comic strip because of the font and proportions of the picture elements, but the details are very small. If this was printed on a page as a spot, it would look off because the details would become hard to read. In comparison to some of my recent comic work (the SFX collab I am doing), this looks very poorly thought out, even though I was more fighting with my inexperience with digital art.

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My biggest hurdle with digital art has been dealing with the layering and the whole…mathematical side to it. Gradients are math, all the layer blending modes are math, colour picking is a math. The process is very inorganic. There’s just something about doing it with your hands and watching the pigment of whatever medium you’re using react, and learning what it’s doing… it’s probably the same for making music on a real instrument versus a digital instrument. Something real gives you the whole process from A to Z, digital is like straight from A to Z without anything in between. You apply a blending mode and BAM! there it is – no way to observe how it happened.

Anyway, this was to let off some steam on job searching.

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Concept Art – First Sketch from Thumbnail

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Scaling up my selected thumbnail and combining features and sketches to get to a final idea. I had to look up saddles to get the shape of mine right. I changed the proportions to fit better with the body. I imagine such a mid-heavy creature needs a balanced front and back, so he/she needs a sturdy tail and heavy skull. I decided not to draw the human character in because I don’t have a design ready for it – it would just be a bunch of BS and I feel like the saddle already dictates scale.

One thing I’m super anal about is dragon wings. It’s ALWAYS bothered – always – since I was a small child – that most dragon wings are drawn as thin, flimsy bat wings. Nobody stops to think that such a heavy creature needs a little more than that? How do they get it off the ground if they don’t have the strength to move that much air? I feel like thinking of such things is a duty of the character designer. Your character can look cool, but if it looks unbelievable (not necessarily that it needs to make sense or look realistic, just feel believable), then your design is garbage.

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Review of St Cuthberts Mills: Saunders Waterford Series

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What you see here is the same pencil drawing with masking liquid over the parts I want to leave white and then several layers of dry watercolour. The masked out areas are parts of the ground, the windows on the building in the background, reflective spots in the water, and the electricity shooting out of the car as it reacts with water. The electricity is a bit exaggerated, but hey – it’s drama! This panel should scream panic and disaster when it’s finished.

What watercolour paper is this?

9×12″ block-pad of St Cuthberts Mills: Saunders Waterford Series

Really nice paper given to me by one of my best friends and artistic colleagues for a birthday present. To me, her name is Natasha, but I think her pen name is Pal El and she illustrates comics for an online comic magazine called Premiere Pulp. I would like to be certain of these things, but she’s very secretive.

This image is 1:1 on this paper. It takes watercolour fairly well – I find it takes a while for it to sink, so you have to be more patient with manipulating colours. It’s good if you want smooth, even washes. I would rate how this paper handles wetness as Medium; when it is extremely wet, it does have some minor warpage.

The texture is very smooth. Because it comes in a block pad, you don’t need to pre-soak or stretch it, though I would recommend putting down a wash of water before starting anything to dissolve some of the glue. I believe this would improve the absorbency of pigments.

The front of this pad does say Aquarelles, which are watercolour pencils that take small amounts of water – so I will assume this is what this paper is designed for. Not for heavy-duty attacks like I tend to use. Like with the splash – I will put down lines of ‘dry’ pigment, and soak the whole area with water to encourage it to do what it must.

Here is an image of some of the abuse I put this paper through:

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