Conflux 13 Header Art

This is the art for the Conflux 13 convention that I was commissioned to do on the theme of Grimm Tales (read, dark fairy tales and fairy tale reimaginings). If you head over to the Conflux page, you can see it at work and even buy your membership to the con if you are a spec fic person looking for a fab trip to Canberra (alternatively, you can click on the pic and it comes up full size).

For this art commission, I tried a technique I haven’t used before: this one was all drawn on black cardboard (with lots of ruler measurements to keep the symmetry) and the parts not meant to be black were cut out and the rest just scanned onto the computer. I think the incising made the blacks nice and sharp and gave the work a neat dark feel that I felt was appropriate for this particular project. I used Photoshop to fill in the rest of the colours and viola. The cool thing about this was that it was only about 14 hours of work from concept to completion and so I was able to knock it off while listening to audiobooks – all in all, a productive and happy art day.

I’m pretty proud that my artwork gets to play a part in a spec fic convention whose guests of honour are Ellen Datlow (squee!) and Angela Slatter (also squee!). Can’t wait to catch up with everyone at the con.

This artwork complements the art I’ve designed for the Conflux 13 convention cover (my usual ink drawn style):

Hope you like it.

S

 

 

 

Angry … Cows?

A friend challenged me to an exercise in creative concept art – draw some Angry Birds (yes, as in the game). But make them cows. Angry cows.

To meet the brief, I took a look at the original Angry Birds characters. The main thing you’ll notice about these characters is how very simple each design is, in terms of outline (most are based on a circle) and basic body features. The other thing you will notice is how unique each character is and, therefore, how easy each is to distinguish from the other characters, even in tiny, screen form. Angry Birds characters differ markedly in one or more of the following:

  • size – from the tiny Blue Bird to the Chubby White Bird and Big Red Bird.
  • shape – many of the characters are based on a round body model, but some are egg-shaped or even triangular, with differing tail or crest configurations that make them recognisable even in silhouette form.
  • colour – aside from Red Bird and Big Red Bird, all of the characters are swiftly recognisable by their colours, which is essential on a tiny game screen.
  • personalities – even though most of the birds are, as advertised, angry to be sure, there are also ones that look worried and determined and even a bit crazy.

The following character sheet was my take on the brief:

angrycows-angrybirds-colour

Here, I have gone with different colours, shapes (while most are modeled on the circle, a couple have been modeled on the inverted triangle and on the trapezium), sizes and outlines in order to make each character distinct. I have also varied the personalities, from the angry red bull and crazy orange bull to the suspicious yellow pineapple-esque cow, sad blue Ankole-Watusi and sleepy Highland Cow.

Note – for extra cowish brownie points, I also looked up breeds of cow, searching for unique types that I could include as characters. The first two cows are Highland Cattle – these have wide horns and amazing, long fringes that make for interesting character opportunities. The central, blue cow is modeled on the Ankole-Watusi (these are incredible looking cattle – definitely worth Googling). The black and white cow is based on the Holstein-Friesian – the classic, spotted dairy cow. The pineapple cow … was not based on a real cow breed (sorry about that).

Below are the characters in silhouette.

Walt Disney animation (particularly in the early days – Donald, Goofy, Mickey Mouse etc.) designed their characters based around the principle that they should be unique enough to be easily recognisable in silhouette form. Thus, you can recognise Mickey by his ears (the distinct shape that is, even now, the Disney logo), Goofy by his teeth and hat and stance and Pluto by his narrow ears and whip tail and the bump on his head (as distinct from the shapes of other canine characters). The same holds true for character design (especially casts of characters) today.

angrycows-shapes

Note – the twin cows (the green one and the black-and-white) have the same silhouette. If I drew these again, I would place the bangle on the opposite foot of one to make them unique in silhouette.

Enjoy.

If you want to catch more of my art, please check out my Flickr portfolio.

If you like my stuff and would like to hire me on a freelance basis for concept or commercial or book cover or book interior art, please check out my contact page.