I did these two animations of a Gold Dagon and a Red Dragon in flight a long time ago, but only now am I getting around to posting them. Originally intended as flip-animations for the corners of the Draconomicon, they weren’t used because it would have meant creating new graphic layouts for the corners to accommodate them. I guess that wasn’t in the budget.
These were done in Painter, which has a cell animation interface that’s good for this sort of thing. Click on the images to see the animation:
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 1:30 PM PDT
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Step Three: the Painting
Part I is here
I do my drawings on the computer, in Painter: it saves so much time, even if the finish is going to be done traditionally. In this case, the final will be a digital painting.
The drawing proceeds quickly, though you’ll see that I wasn’t happy with the spacecraft until almost the very end. When I’ve laid down a good tonal foundation, I take the drawing into Photoshop to colorize it as an underpainting. In the process movie below, watch as the spacecraft gets bent and distorted and wrenched until I’m finally happy with the perspective and the design (click on the image below to see the movie):
Since the kids were the Stars of the painting, I spent the most time preparing them, from the shooting of reference to the amount of time I spent making sure they fit their descriptions and represented the story (again, click the picture to see the movie):
No one changed as much over the course of the painting as this character. Incidentally, the next two images appear here at full resolution, akin to looking at a traditional painting with a magnifying glass:
Two armored human warriors accompanied the kids on their trip to the surface. I chose to leave their helmets off, in order to see that they were not Atevi, even though in the text their helmets were on. In the movie below (and in the first movie) you can see that the presence of the warriors changed over the course of the painting. At first, the one on the right was in full light, but I realized that they were stealing too much attention from the kids, whose tale this is, really. So I moved him into shadow. I could well have done that with both of them, but in the end chose to simply put enough of the second warrior’s figure into shadow to separate him from the massed shape of the children:
Finally, observe how much time I spent getting the perspective right on the spacecraft. In this modern age, I should learn how to build my architectural elements in one of several available 3D software applications. It would save me a lot of time. And yet none of them incorporate curvilinear perspective, which is essential to my way of viewing and presenting a realistic expression of the real world in a painting. So in the end I depend on my internal software to tell me when things are right. Or “right enough.”
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 6:58 AM PDT
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Step One: Sketches
Intruder is the fourteenth book in a long-running series of science fiction classics by award-winning author CJ Cherryh. Like Intruder before it, this was a tale of taught political intrigue, and a good read, as always. But as an illustrator, CJ’s books are challenging. Much of what happens in Ms. Cherryh’s books is in the heads of the POV characters, and action often defers to political intrigue. Reading the book entirely is essential, to get a feel for the characters and the arc of the story. I hate to use a scene from the second half of a book for fear of giving away something important, but often by the middle of a book in this series I’m still looking for a visual hook.
The main protagonist in the series is Bren Cameron, a human spacefarer who serves as the paidhi-aiji, something of an ambassador of the humans on a world of big, dark aliens called the Atevi. He has been on every cover but one.
Fortunately, in this novel, I found my image about halfway through. The story revolves around a visit to the alien homeworld from some human children, friends of Cajeiri, heir to one of the most powerful factions in the political landscape. It had what I needed: the important characters, Bren included, and something I hadn’t painted for CJ yet: a spacecraft–the shuttle that brought them, plus a couple of space marines in armor.
That’s a lot of figures (though not so many as in the last painting!), so a simplifying scheme was in order. I wanted to see the spacecraft, even though it would end up behind the title at the top of the cover. I would take advantage of its shadow to obscure less important characters and put the focus on my Stars: the children as they arrive on an alien world for the first time. With that in mind, I set to work looking for a composition that worked for the client and me. In the end, we settled on the last one–a rare departure. I can’t tell you how many times the first sketch or iteration of the first sketch turns out to be the best. But in this case, it took all twelve to know that the others weren’t “it.”
Step Two: Reference
Good reference is essential. There are artists who make everything up out of their heads, and if you know your stuff you can do it. I do it more than I like to admit, but even if you understand light and perspective and anatomy very, very well, good reference will fill in the holes in your knowledge and add realism and life to the final image.
I was most concerned about the spacecraft, since I have not painted many in my career, but had a very definite idea about how I wanted it to “feel.” I gathered tons of pictures, hoping to find inspiration for something that looked muscular like a helicopter, but sleek like a fighter jet. I also shot photos for the principal characters, using one of my favorite models ever, my son Tyler:
I spend a good day going through the pictures I’m going to use, organizing them and choosing the ones that best fit my vision. I arrange the chosen images together on my left-hand monitor, then take screen-snaps of them, name them, and file them. By the end of the session, I have a dozen or more reference collages, of everything from previous covers to aircraft.
Next up: The Painting
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 6:53 PM PDT
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Hugo-winning Clarkesworld Magazine has just posted a new interview with yours truly, with my good friend and author Nayad Monroe:
Posted by Todd in Blog Home at 11:54 PM PDT
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New cover art for R.A. Salvatore’s novel, The Last Threshold.
Like Cerberus, a three-headed gatekeeper…
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 10:32 PM PDT
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I have to toot my own horn a little bit. I’m transitioning into a new phase of my career in which I give the story-teller free reign. It’s time to let the caged beast roar. As such, I’ve written a pair of short stories, one of which is out now and another which will release soon. Then I have sold a novel to DAW Books, release date to be determined.
Reviews for “Tales of the Emerald Serpent” are coming in, though, and they’re all good. I recommend it! And not just because one of the stories is mine. If you loved the Thieves’ World anthologies of the 80s, this is right up your alley.
Reading it Forward
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 4:14 PM PDT
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This is the cover artwork for an anthology a friend has put together to pay off his cancer bills. Shawn Speakman is something of a wonder, and not only because he has survived two bouts with cancer. He also knows enough talented authors to pull together an anthology like this one. He has dubbed it “Unfettered” because he gave everyone free reign to write whatever they chose, but also because it represents his chance to break the bonds of debt by paying off his cancer bills. He’s opened his own publishing house to do it, called Grim Oak Press. I volunteered the logo, website artwork, and book graphics for the venture, as Shawn and I have been friends for several years now. I was only too happy to volunteer the cover art for his anthology as well.
We’ve discussed many things, and he read early drafts of a novel I have since sold to DAW Books (more on that in another post, when I have more to tell). He asked me to contribute a story of my own, and I happily agreed. Are you kidding? To share the stage with this list of giants? I’d be perfectly happy even if I’m at the back, dressed as a tree.
Shawn will be selling signed editions of this book when it’s available, so pay attention: it will have the signatures of as many of these heavy hitters as he can arrange to sign it. This is one of those rare opportunities that you don’t want to miss. Go here for more information.
In the meantime, here are some detail images, and an interview that I did for Shawn’s website.
The cover for the Unfettered anthology began months in advance, when Shawn and I first talked about his plans for the book. At the time, we didn’t know what any of the stories would be about, so Shawn suggested an upraised fist with a broken manacle. That seemed a little obvious and simplistic to me. We batted the idea around some more, and agreed that Shawn, himself, might be appropriate, since the anthology–theme, title, and content–was inspired by his (second) victory over cancer.
That’s where the idea lay until June of 2012, when it finally came time to do the painting. Since it was largely fantasy based, we agreed that Shawn ought to be in a cloak, and the notion of broken chains seemed more than appropriate. But then what? That alone might have made a good cover, but with so many authors contributing, I felt like the cover should say more. I’m on record as disliking montages as a general rule, but they have their place; the book itself was a montage, so it would work well here, provided I had enough imagery to work with.
Shawn sent me a list of stream-of-consciousness visuals derived from the stories he’d read so far, and asked his authors to send more. While there was some good symbolism, not all of it worked compositionally, and there was a fair bit of redundancy (at least three dragons, for example, including my own), so I realized that I would have to interpret loosely the ones that worked, and fill in the gaps between with other things that had the right emotional content.
And so, there is Shawn, tattered from his fight, but unbeaten, swinging his shattered chains. The knight and the Vatican derive from Shawn’s story, as does the spectral face above it. The owl, the faerie, the rose blooms, and thorny vines were also inspired by stories, and are the most literal elements. The crows and the splash of blood are things with emotional heft that filled out the movement of the piece. The ghostly, anguished face just above Shawn’s fist is thematic, and could apply to many of the tales within–it’s certainly background to a personal battle of any sort. Finally the teeth of a dead thing beneath the leaves began as a quest to fulfill one of the author’s suggested image ideas without giving away the points of a plot I hadn’t read… and finished as a glimpse beyond the veil to the things that frighten us most; the unknown, a foreshadowing of horror… or death.
It may seem overly dark for a project that is ultimately uplifting and hopeful, but it serves the stories, and ultimately that too is symbolic: it is always, as they say, darkest before the dawn. Let light be drawn out of the darkness then. Turn back the cover and read the book…
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 7:35 PM PDT
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The cover for “Tales From the Emerald Serpent” is exciting for me, because my first ever published short fiction is in this anthology. Several authors combined efforts to bring this world to life, including Harry Connolly, Julie Czerneda, Alyssa Fayden, Lynn Flewelling, Martha Wells, Juliet E McKenna, Michael Tousignant, and Scott Taylor.
My story “Between,” falls in the middle of a three-author story arc which begins with Michael Tousignant’s “Three Souls for Sale” and finishes with Scott Taylor’s “Charlatan.” My tale revolves around Torrent’s part in an over-the-top scheme. That’s her in the middle.
There are detail shots on my website.
Purchase a Print-on-Demand copy today at Lulu.com:
Or search for the title at Amazon for an eBook!
©Todd Lockwood 2012
Below is my interior illustration for the story. Details can be seen here.
©Todd Lockwood 2012
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 9:27 AM PDT
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The latest from RA Salvatore. Detail shots on my website:
©Wizards of the Coast
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 10:54 AM PDT
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New from Wizards of the Coast. Detail shots at my website:
©Wizards if the Coast
Posted by Todd in Art!, Blog Home at 10:51 AM PDT
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