Category Archives: Sketches

Game On

Android Game Sketch
This funny little guy will not be so friendly in my game.
My hobby is painting. However, hobbies generally don’t pay the bills. I went to college for computer science – so during the day I develop and test software. When I was younger I had this little dream, as many young programmers do, of developing games for a living. Well reality hits you when you hear of terrible working hours and comparatively low pay. If you develop business software you will generally make anywhere from 25%-50% more than a game programmer. So those who develop games have not just a passion, but more of an obsession for games. I would describe my interest in games as an occasional diversion. I’m actually more interested in telling stories than playing one out. So I decided to change my focus to the business side of software development.
Character Sketch for my Android Game
You will be seeing a lot of this little guy in my game.

The creative spirit never dies however and I have always had an interest in creating my own game and telling my own story. I just never found the time nor patience to complete a fully functioning game. All the software I wrote was more to prove to myself that I could learn something new and have fun with it. I never had anything anywhere near commercial release. This precedent is about to change. With the relative ease of creating a mobile application and getting it to market, I see a new opportunity to take my creative urge to the Android market.
Android Game Character Sketch
He’s a little goofy, but very dangerous.

During the last year I have been spending time learning the Android platform. After months of reading documentation online and in books, I have reached a point where I can actually start my concept drawings for characters and scenes in my game. So before you are character sketches and a level-world sketch. This game is not breaking any new technological barriers – it’s a 2-D space shooting game in the theme of Galaxian or Galaga. The point here is not to invent some new graphics rendering engine or some new A.I. algorithm, but rather tell a story with engaging game play. The sketches of the characters are in 3 frames; this is to study how the animation will look when in game play. I have done these drawings in pencil and when happy with them, I will move them to my Gimp editing software for a digital copy.
Sketch of a Level in my Android Game
Ever seen another planet? Well, you still haven’t – this is just a drawing!

As the game development progresses, I will have more about how the game will work. I hope to have something to market before the end of the year, but I have other interests (painting) that I split time with so I’m not sure if I will make that self-imposed deadline. At any rate, I hope you find these drawings interesting. There will be more to come soon.

Coming up next….my encounter with a successful artist. See you next post!

The Eyes Have It

Early Grisaille Painting of Joker and Doc Holliday Playing Poker
Early Grisaille Painting of Joker and Doc Holliday Playing Poker
Whoa….eyes can really grab your attention can’t they? They are such a confrontational part of the body. They reveal intentions and they hide motivation. So what better way to grab YOUR eyes than by painting some dramatic eyes in a portrait?

Say hi to the Joker. Yeah, that guy has a few screws loose. Heck he has a few screws, a dozen bolts, and a score of clamps loose. But what is behind that pasty white makeup and lime green greasy hair? He’s always smiling but is he really happy or just burying some deep torment? I think we know the answer to this one. He’s just freakin’ nuts and that’s about as far as you need to go with the psychoanalysis.

This is a midterm expression of the current painting that I will be wrapping up this week. The final product has changed slightly which you will soon see in full color. This is simply a side trip to gain another glimpse into how I approach a painting. Most likely when looking at this painting, you are immediately drawn to the eyes of the Joker. Yes, this was by design. With his crazy makeup and manic expression, what better way to tell the audience that this is no typical portrait. This is a journey into the darkness with a twist of just plain goofiness.

Contrast this with the eyes of Doc Holiday. What is he telling us by looking at us? He’s visibly annoyed to be sure. But perhaps he is also just a bit scared. I mean he is playing poker with…ahem…the Joker. The whole idea seems riddled with slapstick. But that is the intent here. To take two personalities with essentially nothing in common and shove them together into a scene of pure farce. It’s one of my new ideas: the movie mash-up.

Why mash-up movie characters? Well why not? We all watch them. We all love them. Why not bring together the characters we love and observe them in a “what if” scenario? I like to equate it to the idea of an all-star game. Let’s take baseball’s all-star game. The game is just an exhibition of the best of the best that satisfies the fan’s fantasy of what the best team on earth would look like. In reality you would never see such a juggernaut of a franchise. In this same manner, you will never see this collision of characters in a film or any other media – except on canvas. It satisfies my curiosity of what a universe that features a gun-slinging outlaw and a eccentric deranged clown would look like. I simply look for a trivial commonality, in this case: cards, and I bring them together in an arrangement of derangement. How do I get the derangement? The eyes have it.

The final product will be revealed next week and a new episode of Brushes and Bytes Video Blog will follow that. Though the updates have been sparse of late, that does not mean I have not been working hard to finish this piece. I also have new ideas coming down the pipeline so keep coming back for more updates. Time to wrap up this baby. Until next time…

Prepare for Pirates!

Sometimes the hardest part about solving a problem is getting started. Where does this problem come from? Perhaps we see the problem and only think about the multitude of hurdles that could impede us as we work to completion. Perhaps we worry that we’ll invest laborious hours and heavy emotion into a project only to find us left wanting in the end. Or perhaps we are simply trying to put the horse before the cart – we have no attack plan. I’ve experienced all of these problems in painting and in other aspects of my life. I’ve learned through my failures that a good plan is required to solve any complex problem. No architect lays concrete or erects beams of steel before drafting a blue print. The same principles apply to the artist. For any subject with multiple characters or objects, we must conceive of the compositional sketch before we touch the canvas.

The Luncheon on the Grass c. 1865 - Claude Monet
The Luncheon on the Grass c. 1865 - Claude Monet. This shows the level of detail Monet put into his sketches so he knew what he wanted when he hit the canvas.

When I started painting in oils back in 2005, I never really sketched out my ideas. I simply had a vague idea about a scene I wanted to render and I went about doing it on canvas. In my mind, I was never going to make a mistake and my imagination was going to transfer to the canvas perfectly. Then I learned that what you expect to happen often doesn’t. I made many mistakes as I painted – both in form and composition. The results were paintings that disappointed me so much that I have them laying in a dark closet to only see the light of day when I need a harsh reminder about the dangers of impatience. Six years later, I sketch my ideas for days if not weeks before I even look at the canvas.

I think the best choice I’ve ever made in my little art career is carrying a sketch book. This book keeps everything from 60 second doodles to full pencil renderings of projects I want to pursue. Thanks to my wife, I now have two avenues with which to create my preliminary sketches. I was gifted a digital pen and pad so that I can now render simple sketches or full color digital paintings on the computer. Nothing can replace the pencil and paper, but this digital pen can do some great things. For example, I can draw a quick sketch, select a few colors for the sketch, and then move around the elements just to get a rough idea on what might work in the painting. I can also simulate oil painting in my sketches by clicking the mouse and changing from pencil mark to brush stroke. I admit that this system does take some getting used to. I’ve been training my eye to not look at my hand and focus instead on the screen. I’m practicing almost everyday so I’m making progress. I’ve completed some sketches of multiple projects that I plan on completing this year and I want to share with you the project I’m working on now.

Composition Sketch for upcoming Pirate painting.
Pirates Compositional Sketch - This was done with the Bamboo Pen & Touch program and adobe illustrator.

Based on the Pirates of the Caribbean films, this painting will depict pirate ships, a sea monster, and some familiar characters. With all of these elements in mind, I simply couldn’t jump on the canvas and try to sort it out as I went – the results would be a mess. So I’ve been sketching on paper and on the computer. You notice in this sketch that it’s a compositional sketch only. This means there are no details, no faces, no waves, no boards, and no puffs of clouds. This sketch is only to get the layout of the main elements – pirate, ships, and the monster. I then plunked in a few basic colors to get a quick idea of the color scheme. I’ve since settled more or less on this layout and so I printed this out as a reference for the duration of the work. The sketch is to scale so I can place markers on the actual canvas of where the subjects will be. I love this pen and pad. The product is the Bamboo Pen & Touch if you are interested in purchasing it. It only retails for about $100 so it is certainly affordable. You can expect to see more of these digital sketches on my blog and my website. Remember that preparation is crucial to the problem-solving process. This applies to every aspect of life and not just art – think before you leap and sketch before you paint.

In other news, I’ve just created a YouTube account and will start posting small videos of my painting projects for everyone to see. Anything on this channel will also reside on my website. I’ll have more information on this in the near future.

In my next posting, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite artists. Stay tuned and subscribe! Thanks!