Tuesday, April 18, 2017
It's interesting to see the direction evolve from costumes true to the art direction of the new "Final Fantasy: Storm Front" video game, to the upbeat and festive demeanor that is so crucial to "The New Day's" identity. You can see the progressions in the costume designs, the entrances, and the ice cream cart that the WWE Superstars ride down the ramp and into the ring.
Monday, April 17, 2017
I was in the mood to do some quick Tarzan studies tonight. Once again I lost track of time, so I can't say exactly how long each took. It's safe to say I did them in about 90 minutes total. What a realization that occurs each time....either I am pleased with the quick results, or horrified. I would say a mix of both tonight. The monkey in the last frame (Nkima) is particularly bad. From one of my favorites - "Tarzan and the Lost Empire."
Thursday, April 6, 2017
With A-List Superstar matches, captivating story-lines and a few surprises, the City of Orlando, Florida exploded in spectacular entertainment.
I had the privilege to work with the talented WWE Creative team to design the wardrobes and entrances for the WWE Superstar Hosts of Wrestlemania 33, "The New Day." In a viral-style cross promotion with Square Enix's "Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood," Superstars Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E made their debut in Final Fantasy inspired costumes while riding a Final Fantasy-themed Ice Cream Tricycle. Assignments like this are a blast for an Artist like me!
Every detail of the wardrobe was meticulously planned. In an iterative process of design, ideas evolved from conventional to more daring and dazzling. The results were successful, and full of paintings, model sheets, concept art and storyboards. Final Fantasy fans will notice the decor of Chocobos and Moogles on the Ice Cream cart and the cartoon caricatures branded on the Jumbotron. As WWE Superstars, "The New Day" can showcase anything with their outrageous presentation and lively charisma.
I helped design Triple H's entrance, one where H drove his custom bike down the show ramp with wife Stephanie MacMahon on board. Orlando Motorcycle Police provided them a regal escort into the ring.
I'd like to express my thanks to WWE for giving me the opportunity to work with such talented colleagues - artists, writers, and creative directors - on the spectacular pre-production of this titanic extravaganza.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Last year I nearly finished reading the entire series of Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels. Burroughs wrote 24 novels about his greatest character creation, starting with "Tarzan of the Apes" and ending with "Tarzan and the Castaways." Along the way aside from my freelance schedule I began designing rough illustrations from one of my favorites - "Tarzan and the Lost Empire."
As with most Tarzan novels, Burroughs quickly establishes empathy for his characters. There are plenty of newcomers to enrich the plot, as Tarzan is captured by an ancient Roman civilization hidden deep in Africa. Every gladiator movie or Biblical epic film I can think of must have come to life here first. As Tarzan is forced to fight alongside other prisoners in the Colosseum arena, we are introduced to violent battles, a scheming emperor, secret romances and a colorful finale.
These rough sketches were created in pen and ink, dry brush, charcoal and a variety of pencils. I was inspired by the pen and ink methods detailed in Henry Pitz's classic instructional book "Ink Drawing Techniques." My efforts do not reach the depth or fidelity of Pitz's examples, but I gained a passion for experimenting with ink and other media while attempting to visualize details of Tarzan's story from "Lost Empire."
An artist needs to persevere in his personal work, and I find that illustrating books is an easy way to thumbnail, conceptualize and create story moments, while constantly providing an opportunity to try new mediums. I am not sure if I will ever complete my Tarzan illustrations, but I'm excited enough to continue trying.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
I've been practicing the art of Watercolor since last summer. The warm weather is perfect for outdoor painting, especially when I can find a shady alcove to set up shop.
I'm not working in any sort of conventional manner with Watercolor. For starters, I don't actually soak my paper, I tend to just streak it with a big flat wet brush. When the paper is close to drying, I have planned a loose workflow in my head. Every painting has its own workflow, as determined by what I want to accomplish in that particular setting. I work direct most of the time, no pencil, just straight brush with color on the wet surface.
Trees have always astonished me, provoking a sense of wonder for the miracle that is nature. If trees could talk, the stories they would tell. An old, twisting tree whose winding branches reach up to the heavens and expand far from their base like some protective canopy invites me to come near. New York's Westchester County is replete with beautiful trees and landscapes, and provides me with many possibilities. Each painting is an exercise for me. What can I do different from last time? How much tree do I actually need to describe? Would it be useful to design selectively and simplify or draw every branch?
After spending some time struggling with the medium and evaluating my results, I finally understand why years ago friends like Ray Lago (great water illustrator, voice of reason and all-around nice guy) surmised that watercolor may not be best suited for my temperament. Back when I had a partial share in a studio space with him a few other guys, I lacked the patience for Watercolor. Today, I am eager to expand my traditional skills and explore more mediums. Digital deadlines as a storyboard artist have inspired me to step away from the screen and reconnect with myself. I have the luxury to improve, question and experiment - something I can't do when on a client deadline.
My sketchbook is full of pencil drawings I made every day for a month or two, usually after school drop off and a morning run. It's the little efforts that accumulate to a big result. I was able to satisfy the draughtsman in me by doing tree studies in pencil, purely as an observation and note-taking process. With this confidence gained from routine exploration, I was ready for bumping it up a notch with Watercolor.
Being spontaneous is what I love so much about drawing and painting, and my direct approach brings me the most satisfaction. The results are uncertain but captivating. Either way, I am having fun and conditioning myself to associate good feelings to Watercolor. With that reinforced, I'm sure to be productive well into my future journey as an Artist.
Monday, January 30, 2017
I recently illustrated a series of watercolor/brush and ink drawings for a History Channel promo.
The network's new "SIX" is based off real Navy SEAL missions, and authentically captures the inside world of America’s Elite Special Operations unit, Navy SEAL Team Six.
In this promo spot, cast member Barry Sloane reads a letter from a WW1 soldier to his younger brother, written from the front lines of the trench war conflict that dominated Europe a century ago.
Many assignments I accept are created on a digital format. I use Photoshop and/or Storyboard Pro on a Mac platform and draw on a Yayanova 19" tablet. Most clients don't have a preference how I work, but they understand that if working digitally it can be easier for me to react to changes, notes, and iterations. For this project, the director and I quickly agreed a traditional approach would be best. I created some samples by applying brush, ink, and watercolor on different paper stocks, and found a smooth press 140 lb. gave me great results.
I'm no expert with watercolor or brush and ink, but my recent practice of painting trees around Westchester came in handy. Watercolor can be a fascinating medium, one that evokes mood and allows room for the viewers imagination. Painting these images of WW1 was a thrill for me, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to interpret this soldier's historic letter and share my results with History Channel audiences.