Thursday 27 December 2012

Friday 21 December 2012

Beyond the Patchwork Circus : The Midwinter's eve

A two headed dragon, and their rodent navigator are searching for the witch Rayleigh, who mysteriously disappeared just before the midwinter's fest.

Monday 17 December 2012

A Voyage to Redemption

A Voyage to Redemption is the sixth chapter of the short story: Torment and Fugue.

More previews here.

Hope you like it! Happy Holidays.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Torment and Fugue: Soliloquies and Solutions

"In ordinary circumstances, he would have found the sight of the waterfalls, the vines, and the carvings to be beautiful, maybe even mystical. But, all he could see and feel was a sense of decay, antiquity, and a foreboding of some unwholesome revelation, or a confirmation of the acrid truth, which chilled him to the bone..."

An Excerpt from the upcoming story "Torment and Fugue" which is one of the stories in The Nightmare Theater anthology. More excerpts from the anthology here->

Friday 24 August 2012

Summer Solstice

From the story 'One of Many Winters' which is a part of The Nightmare Theater anthology.

More from the story  here.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Gestures, Head and Hand Construction Videos

I recorded some quick videos on how I start out sketching simple gestures, heads and hands.


Hand Construction 


Head Construction

Saturday 18 August 2012

The Command System on Terminus

"Not yet. It is enough for the moment that you know that a scientific refuge will be established on Terminus. And another will be established at the other end of the Galaxy, let us say," -Harry Seldon, Foundation

Friday 3 August 2012

One of Many Winters: Excerpt 1

Here is another painting and an excerpt from the upcoming story "One of Many Winters" which is one of the stories in The Nightmare Theater anthology. More excerpts to be released soon!

"Ole Lukøje swiftly glided over the long, bowed bridge that connected Gray Street to the vacant grounds of Riverton Elementary School. Whispers of water could be heard from a distance; the accumulated ice had stifled much of the river’s flow. A flock of noisy larks trotted in and out of a frozen bush at the school-end of the bridge..."

In collaboration with my talented friends, Nathascha (painter) and Vidyuth (writer).

Saturday 28 July 2012

The much anticipated twirl.

They waited and waited, and then she finally did it, though in her own idiosyncratic style.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Danse Macabre

"'I’ve taken you by the hand , for you must come to my dance'. These are the words I utter on this day. On this occasion, I took a more visual approach, since I've taken a particular interest in environments. And thus, I painted the Danse Macabre. Humans are occasionally admirable, but more often than not, they just amuse me."

Signed, Grim Reaper- 1578 CE

Some music to go with it.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Book Reviews and Musings.

It's my opinion that science fiction and fantasy have had a significant impact on society beyond just entertainment. We see various ideologies of societies being reflected in these works of fiction along with other human, moral or social dilemmas.In a sense, I think art and life influence each other. As an illustrator, I'm often inspired and influenced by the books I read. I make an effort to see the underlying themes and thoughts of the writer, and see if I can learn from them and add further philosophical or sociological depth/intrigue to my illustrations. Here are some of my thoughts on the books I've read in the last month or so.

The City and the City: My first China Miéville novel and it's mightily impressive. Very pulpy and dare I say, very classy , the story is based around two really bizarre cities, with political and social intrigue. The cities are incredibly fascinating. The backdrop is  possibly a commentary on the minds of  the common people, more so than a commentary on the people in power. The common folk feel that their national borders are being encroached and threatened. It's interesting that Mieville managed to convey the sense of xenophobia, without evoking a religious,nationalistic or a cultural plot device. Very existential in nature, it has got one of my favorite chase sequences in fiction. I wonder if Miéville was being cynical about the irrationality of xenophobia as well as the fear in an absolute authority. It's sufficiently interpretative and I like that. I might be inspired to work on an environment with two distinctly separate architectural designs and somehow make it appear coherent. The chase sequence would be interesting to illustrate as well .

Hyperion: Dan Simmon's Hyperion is very much a study of characters and an analysis of emotions and actions of humans. It's wonderfully written in a frame structure, and you get to care about all the characters who are set in very different worlds. A combination of noir, fantasy, science fiction, detective narratives slowly unfurls the plot without over complicating things unlike its sequel, 'The Fall of Hyperion'. It could be argued that this was an occasion where the mystery (concerning the planet Hyperion and the Shrike) was better left unsolved, more so because it's the characters who drive the story. Having a back story behind characters is always nice for character designers or illustrators, and there are plenty of characters here to draw inspiration from. Incidentally, this saga was influenced by John Keat's poetry.

The Foundation Series: A tale that chronicles nearly five hundred years sometime in the distant future, it's centered around a fictitional science called 'psychohistory'. which combines history, sociology and statistics to make general predictions about the behavior of large groups of people well into the future. It is said that Asimov was inspired by the History of the Roman Empire, its decline and its fall. You can certainly see the influence, particularly around the dramatic vignettes concerning the planet Trantor. It's an incredibly imaginative tale, even if some of  the characters are cardboard cut-outs. In the later books in the series, (which I feel weren't as terrible as some have said) you get a glimpse into Asimov's philosophical musings in his later years, which I thought was interesting. I like the fact that while science is the hope of human civilization in the series , it's not all glam, glitter or mindless explosions but an interplay of mathematics, sociology, psychology and such. That, indeed, makes it not such a light reading exercise, but is intellectually stimulation. I think this series would be a really good reference(and an interesting exercise) for those science fiction illustrators who want to portray something innovative/futuristic subliminally,  without resorting to something extravagant. 

Septimus Heap: One of the lighter books I've read recently. It's certainly one of the better fantasy book series out there and is deeply layered. It's difficult to write a children's fantasy series in the wake of Harry Potter, but Angie Sage has put together a clean, crisp and an enjoyable series. It's quirky and the characters are very engaging and rich.

Consider Phlebas: Here's another instance of a poet influencing a novelist. There are a number of parallels between Iain M. Banks' Consider Phlebas and T.S Elliot's The Waste Land. As to whether they are deliberate or not, I'm not entirely sure. T. S. Eliot and Iain M. Banks are pretty much polar opposites. The former, a right-wing literary poet, and a self proclaimed 'anglo-catholic', the latter a left-wing novelist, and an atheist. This is the first book in Iain M Banks' Culture Saga. It is an interesting insight into a post-scarcity,anarchist and a utopian society. I like the fact that characters aren't described objectively and not pigeon holed into good/bad people,  and that the main focus is on a conflict between ideologies, each convinced that it is operating in the best interests of the galaxy.  The prose is very readable and evocative. It isn't as refined as Hyperion, but then it didn't need to be. The scope of this series is quite vast, and you're left with very vivid imagery, both ideologically and visually.


The Stand: I have to say that this is the 'Lost' of post apocalyptic novels. Memorable(though sometimes overused) characters, intriguing dialogue and character storylines but with very little pay off at the end where the plot devices are either over explained or not explained enough. If you like Stephen King, you'll probably end up loving this. There are quite a few character scenarios, ( A deaf mute trying to communicate with a retard who can't read or write) that would be interesting to explore visually. I don't hate Stephen King per se, I'm just often let down.

H.P Lovecraft: Not much I can say about this misanthrope materialist that hasn't been said already. Very absurdist and very dire in the tone, the short stories are enjoyable, especially if you have a contempt of the world around you. It's bit of a hit and miss with his stories. Some are really really good, some aren't quite. But, I enjoyed reading them more so than Stephen King's work, because in Lovecraft's weird world, humans rarely are the pinnacle of existence!

Seeking Samarkand: A collaboration.

Here's another collaboration with Nat. It was a contest submission for  The Lost Kids. Hope you like it.

Friday 22 June 2012

She who was once a bride.


 I was inspired by Robert A Heinlein's quote.

"Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist-a master-and that is what Auguste Rodin was-can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is...and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be...and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her matter what the merciless hours have done to her. Look at her, Ben. Growing old doesn't matter to you and me; we were never meant to be admired-but it does to them."

 Though I'm nowhere near as accomplished as Rodin, I thought it was an incredibly interesting psychological vignette and I wanted to portray it as best I could.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Studying Composition

I've been studying some of the old masters to get a sense of how they arranged multiple figures to create a sense of mood,atmosphere or indeed add to the narrative. Here are some of studies. I've been looking up Gustave Dore, Gerome, Russian Socialist painters, Repin, Shishkin and a few others.

The following is a breakdown of some of the studies. I find it really helpful to do this. Studying the shapes and the implied lines helps me to see how the eye is guided around the painting.

I also find it a really good exercise to experiment with abstract shapes. Designing big, medium and small shapes, contrasting the soft curvy shapes with the hard ones. Soft, round shapes and big S curves evoke emotions of calmness,stability whereas the harder, sharp ones bring out anger, unrest or danger. Molly Bang talks more about this in her wonderful book on composition. If you're working digitally, the lasoo, marquee tool comes in handy to quickly build up compositions. Later on, you can possibly use some of the more interesting arrangements and build environments or figures.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Exploring Portrait Styles

I usually approach painting portraits with a simple complimentary color scheme.(Reds, Browns, and Greens). I slowly build up the tones and colors with each layer to get the subtle variations. It does help if you apply a color layer on top in Photoshop, and subtle color variations. Even if the choices are arbitrary, it gives the piece a certain kind of 'color quality'. I also like to have my brush strokes to be visible. So, I leave some of the areas unfinished. It serves as an interesting compositional element, in that, there is a contrast between the rough and the well rendered. Here's an example of how I usually paint portraits (or have been of late). This is more of a quick study than a finished piece.

This Week, in our weekly Skype sketching sessions,  Matt and I thought we would explore various portraiture styles, picking out a reference, using one of our favorite artists and spend two or three hours working towards the style.

Richard Schmid has a style that evokes a lot of emotion. I love the perception and the interpretation of the subject in a direct simplistic way. I think his vignetting helps you to focus on a particular moment in the character's life, a sharp and clear impression about a character without distracting you with  too many details. James Gurney has a lot of interesting thoughts on vignetting.

I don't read a lot of comics, and I don't usually find most comic styles interesting. However, I'm fascinated with noir. Marcos Mateu-Mestre's Framed Ink, an engaging read, got me to explore this style. As a side note, I found it helpful to set the Angle Jitter to Pen Pressure and use a rake like brush, create random brush strokes and build on them. I ought to do more of these. It helps with my line quality and also to get a solid head construction and likeness in, before I dive into painting.

There are quite few classical styles I've been wanting to explore. Sfumato is one of them. The soft, blurred(almost smoke like) painting style gives it a nice atmospheric feel. Here's a quick study of Jean-Jacques Henner's 'Head of a Girl'.

Caricature is a really interesting way to go about studying features. Here, I was trying to combine an exaggerated style with the realistic lighting techniques of style of the Disney Interactive artists. Sam Nielson is one I keenly follow.

Friday 25 May 2012

Steampunk Rickshaw and Others.

 Here's a time machine put together by a mad scientist with a very specific taste in design.

Some of his design/stylistic explorations.

Friday 18 May 2012

Saturday 12 May 2012

Concept Pirate Ship

Originally a fighter ship, it was later hijacked and redesigned by pirates who fancy themselves as artists. It can possibly navigate through both air and water(Though, the functionality is a bit suspect).

Comps, Thumbnails, and More Ships.

Friday 4 May 2012

Nightmare Theatre: Act 1: Sandman of Slumberland.

I haven't collaborated with anyone before, so this was a very interesting and an exciting experience, not the least because I wanted to learn from Nathascha Friis' stylized approach to things.  You can check out her interesting blog over here.

The choice of a theatrical setting was made so that we could study lighting, compose multiple figures in perspective, and see if we could add emotion and mood to the piece. A particular inspiration was Helnwein's theatrical work.

We decided that I would work on the background, and that Nat would develop most of the characters. As it turned out, we did a bit of both. After a while, it seemed prudent to paint over in turns since our styles complemented each other quite well,and that did save a lot of time.

The difficult part was to make the characters seem real enough so that it would seem like a  stage play, and still have a surrealistic, dream like feel to them.

The following is a step by step description of the collaboration.

More Acts to follow!