24 December 2013

Changes a'comin'!

Shame on me for not posting more frequently! I have many reasons- life in general has been a whirlwind of excitement and challenges, and I've been honestly working towards reshaping my professional future.

All of that said, you might have noticed that the lostskies.com site is down. The main reason is because I failed to update my credit card on file and my space was reset by the time I went to pay again. Totally my fault, but it is an opportunity to rethink exactly what Lost Skies is all about.

When I came up with the name Lost Skies, I meant it to be a synonym for Alien Horizons, the skies of other worlds and realities, or it's sister idea- the notion of a Lost Worlds. So, using "Lost Skies" felt original enough to invoke that feeling... I fear it might have been a bit too esoteric a term. I've sometimes even referred to the entire tomb of my work as "Tales from the Lost Skies", and that still holds true. Still, Lost Skies doesn't exactly roll of the tongue easily. I've owned this domain and created many works under the Lost Skies banner for eight- going on nine- years.

But as all things begin, they should also evolve. I've never really liked the negative connotation that comes from the word "lost". Lost in my own thought, lost in direction, lost in process. Lost can mean confusion and certainly losing something can be bad. We are scared of losing money, opportunities, and loved ones. I've had many losses this past year, including my father. Though not an animal, the implied spirit of "Lost Skies" became sort of my talisman- more so a state of mind. Unfortunately, it began to overshadow the original mission of the idea.

So, I'm changing it up. Lost Skies will always be an endearing part of my creative evolution, but it really only was the chrysalis of my evolving work. I'm still a bit away from unfurling the new banner for the world to see, but just know that Lost Skies is in the December of it's years. Fitting that I say this on Christmas Eve.

So what's on the new horizon, you ask?

I've taken inventory of how many unfinished stories I have set out to write. I love to write. I've always used it as a vehicle to showcase my artwork or filmmaking. I've written three finished screenplays, as well as a number of pilot episodes for television series, Roleplaying games, comicbook and webcomic ideas, and even a few cardgames. They're all buried under the potential weight of start up costs among other attempts of jumpstarts and obsticals. I never could quite figure out how to go about things and so I just went for it, and met may fantastic people along the way. I realized as I was making a list of all the story worlds I had created, I have a lifetime's worth of work ahead of me.

SO the real problem is that I have so many ideas, where do I start? That's not a bad problem... I'm grateful God has blessed me with an active imagination. Now it's time to hone it into a razor-sharp focus and get things done. 2014 will see these changes come to fruition.

So, Merry Christmas and have a fantastic New Year. My gift to you is this amazing video I found that has really made me realize the way my father lived is the way I should be living. Take care!

What is a Warrior? from notthisbody on Vimeo.

25 August 2013

"Woven" book cover

"Woven" by Michael R. Jensen & David R. King
I had eluded to a new project a few posts ago... well this was it! Woven co-authors Michael R. Jensen and David Powers King approached me to create an alternative book cover for their book. The illustration features the two main characters of the book- the princess and the ghost. They didn't want to use any convention of transparency with the ghost- and he seems very real to the princess, but I convinced them that a visual cue was needed... so he gradates out.

I wanted to create that classic YA fantasy feel- somewhat like traditional animation... "Disneyesque" in it's appearance. I liked the way it turned out.

I had severely limited time- so I had to turn to some quick techniques to deliver. I used a forest texture brush for the background, I drew the figures separately, scanned, and colorized in Photoshop.

There's quite a bit of head space- that's for the title.

As it were, the cover was offered to the publisher as an alternative to what their art department had conceived. While it was turned down- events with Michael's bio and the whirlwind of media coverage over the controversy ended the project. I fully support Michael Jensen and his decision to be true to himself and I fully agree that a work should be judged on it's own merits and content and not anything beyond that.

In the end it comes down to this: Keep moving forward, that's how winning is done!

24 August 2013

23 July 2013

Sailing the Lost Skies

The original Lost Skies logo. Seeing the sailing ship lost among the clouds gives a better idea of what I meant by the term "Lost Skies". I think it may be time to bring this l'il guy out of retirement.

It’s been a long, crazy month. We’ve been dealing with a myriad of home repairs that I won’t get into here, but suffice to say it dominated most of my time. Outside of that, we just went through the busiest time of the year for my day job. While I enjoy it, it really makes for some stressful days. A vacation is certainly in order!

All that said, up until recently I haven’t been able to put the time I want to in drawing. I did take at least a half hour every night to do some doodles to unwind, mostly heads and some gesture work. I normally work from my imagination.  I have picked up an exciting art commission- I’ll talk more about it when the time is appropriate.

I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought as to my professional future. My good friend Robert Schaupp has given me some great advice and encouragement. He is certainly on the same journey as I am, we are taking different approaches and some what parallel but different paths. He has his sights on the big two: Marvel and/or DC. There is no doubt in my mind that he will achieve his goal.  I, myself, want to become a Star Wars comic artist or a book cover/interior page artist like Michael Whelan, or Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, Boris Vallejo, Frank Frazetta... aiming the arrow high! But that's what you need to do in order to achieve great things. 

So a big part of all this is gearing up to work professionally. I certainly believe that solid draftsmanship skills are essential. And that comes with practice. But how do you know if your getting any better? One piece of advice that Robert constantly gives me (and I’ve heard and read before) is so deceptively simple that we need constant reminders to use it. Mirror your work. What does that mean? If it’s in Photoshop, flip horizontal. If you have a mirror at your desk, look at the work's reflection… or do what I do- hold it up to the light from the backside. ALL of your drawing problems will become very apparent!

The thing I see mostly in amateur work are lopsided eyes. It’s plainly evident to me when I see them… and it’s the first thing I check with my own art via the mirror method.

So what’s next? After this commission, I have some small freelance items, then back to the graphic novel. To be honest, I wouldn't mind doing some more finished painted pieces- it seems to truly be my first love (aside from my gorgeous wife, of course).

02 June 2013

Real Drawing Skill Earns My Respect!

In the video above, Sergio Cariello discusses his artistic approach. I've been storyboarding a feature length film, and I utilize some of the ideas he talks about... but I've learned more in this video.

Tom Floyd over at Captain Spectre and the Lightning Legion is now an official ERB artist, drawing the new Carson Napier of Venus Strip. Tom is retired and is making a go in his second career as a pulp comic artist. I've been following Tom at his blog- I love his style. And, he's doing what I want to do... and I can see myself in his path in twenty years.

Working with your hands, actually drawing and gaining skill is far more impressive than using reskinned, off-the-shelf digital puppets and calling it your own art. It's a crutch. Learn to draw well and find success on your own merit.

24 May 2013

Two Features and a Graphic Novel

WOW! It's been a bit. Again, I've been busy with all that life brings and happy to do so. Right now I am working on artwork for two features. The first one is called "The Story of a Satellite, Rafael and the Mother Who Gave Birth to Him"- a Galacian feature film by the amazing ALSO Sisters set to film this summer. I'm helping with some onscreen artwork. I had reviewed their work for a webisode called IGNOTO a couple of years ago. They are amazingly talented and after reading the script, I can completely see this film going to Sundance and Cannes! I could easily go on and on about how how talented they are, and how much success they'll see. They have an Indiegogo campaign- please donate and become a part of a future hit!

The second feature is with director Lonzo Liggins. I'm not sure if we're at the point of openly talking about the film, but I will say it's a hilarious comedy! I am helping with storyboards and marketing materials and there are quite a number of talented people- both cast and crew- on the project. Once I get the go ahead, I'll talk more about it.

After these two projects (which should finish up fairly quickly) I am going to work on my upcoming graphic novel. I've mentioned the 'future noir' that I had been working on for years. I have completely rewritten it, and decided that the best incarnation of it should be a graphic novel, which will certainly be the blueprint for a feature film in the future. The plans are all there, I just need to do this strategically.

All this culminates to the upcoming, first annual SALT LAKE COMIC CON! I am so happy that there is a local event that is being organized. I plan on having an Artist Alley table. More info on that as it comes up, but I will certainly be there!

Well, that's where we're at right now. More soon!

03 April 2013

Artist Showdown #101: Medusa!!

Honestly, I've never heard of the comic book heroine Medusa. I've heard of the Greek myth, so I guess it's along those lines.

In any case, I probably redrew this one about 5 times. The most time spent was on the version before this- I roughed in the body and clumsily searched for a decent drawing with my pen work. It came out sloppy.

So I redid it- I took my time with the pencils, trying to go for actual comic pencil rendering. It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. I love her pose. The hair needs work.

I decided to leave it alone. No point in using pen and ink, and I think I'll stay away from inking for a while until I can get my pencils the way I want them. But when I do decide to do inks again, it will be with my crowquill pen and brush.

31 March 2013

Space Western!

My next entry for Comicvine's Artist Showoff Character Creation contest #64- A Space Western! There's actually three different characters. It's not as painterly as I wanted it- but that will take practice. Actually, this is the first "finished" illustration I've done in a long time that depicts an actual situation, and not a pinup. Special shoutout to my buddy Mark Green for giving me some reference poses- it really helped put this illustration together on such a limited time.

Here's the descriptor I used on Comicvine:

Cal 10862 had narrowly escaped the slave camps on Epsilon Alpha IV, losing his arm along the way. He's since become the fastest draw this side of the Orion Frontier. But while the gunfighter's reputation has earned him many jobs, it's also earned him a spot on the Imperium's Ten Most Wanted list!

Now on to the next contest: Medusa!

27 March 2013

Iron Frost 2

Well, here was one of my Iron Frost sketches that I decided to ink and color. It turned out decent, but it wasn't the design I wanted to enter into the Comicvine contest. I was late in entering anyway, but I wanted to finish it.

This one has the classic Iron Man coloring. In all honesty, there's no way to tell this is Emma Frost. That's why I didn't use it.

I've been working on my Space Western illustration. I have a solid concept for it, but I need some figure and hat reference for it. I'm approaching it in an old school illustration way. I've asked my friend Mark Green to pose for me so I can get the angle of the hat just right, and to also get the pose just right. I'm excited for it- I think it will turn out!

24 March 2013

Iron Frost

Comicvine had another contest for the amalgam of Iron Man and Emma Frost. Between work schedules, sick kids, and lack of inspiration I couldn't pull it together in time. But I did work on a color comp before my final illustration, and since I didn't make the deadline to enter it, I might as well show it here.

I went for those Lisa Frank stationary sort of colors. It works okay. The armor is uninspired, the problem I had is that I don't feel that Emma Frost would wear a helmet- she's too vain. But it's the helmet that's iconic about Iron Man. Oh well. Chalked up to another learning experience.

In the meantime, my Captain Cody had won the character creation contest, and for the next contest, I picked SPACE WESTERN- with inspiration the likes of Firefly, Bravestarr, and the Galaxy Rangers. I have a really good idea already cooked up for that one, I just need to get my stuff together and actually do it!!! I gave a deadline of April 1st.

16 March 2013


For Comicvine's Artist Showoff #100 (that I got to choose). I went with a 90s animated look... I'm not happy about the anatomy- especially in the arms and legs. Admittedly, I struggled with this one a bit- redrew him 4 times. I learned quite a bit, and I do feel that this is one of the most dynamic poses I've ever done! Keep on keepin' on!

My Captain Cody of Galaxy Patrol won the Cyborg contest on Character Design #63... I need to figure out what to do for that one.

08 March 2013

Captain Cody of Galaxy Patrol!

Another Comicvine forum contest!  Here's the write up about this character, kind of made up on the spot:

Captain Cody of Galaxy Patrol was in a debilitating accident while saving passengers on a space yacht that was caught in the shockwave of a supernova. His new cybernetic arms can harness the plasma energy in space, which he can discharge as powerful energy blasts. His mission- to hunt down all the pirates that caused the star to explode!

Cheesy, no?

Anyway, it was a fun exercise and good warm up to OMEGA RED- which is due very soon!

26 February 2013

Updated Dejah Pen Drawing

Well, here she is again. I drew it much smaller then the last one, but refined her costume a little. Not as much detail or time on the face... and I need to work on drawing feet!

I'll update this post with what pen tools I used soon.

In anycase, I've mostly figured out her design. I have Dejah Thoris, now it's time to draw John Carter, Warlord of Mars!

So, I decided that for the #100 contest should be OMEGA RED. He has been one of my favorite villains since Jim Lee drew him over 20 years ago. Omega Red is due March 12th.

I'm also attempting a cyborg contest on the forum- that one is due on March 8th. I'm still trying to think of something to do.

23 February 2013

Quick Dejah Thoris pen sketch

I haven't drawn Dejah Thoris for nearly twenty years. I admit, this one is a little sloppy. Actually, I'm not happy with it at all. However, that's how you improve- you put the successes out there AND the failures, and you learn from them pushing yourself to get better next time.

It started out as a quick sketch, then I broke out the ink. I didn't really spend much of time on anatomy... it was simply experimenting with tools and having some fun. Her hair got away from me- I dried out my brush pen on her it. All in all, it turned out okay. I think I'll put her into an action pose next time, fix the anatomy, more detail on her costume and accessories... and not let the hair be so wild!

I was furious at the liberties taken with the story in last year's movie. I'm a book purist, and frankly I feel that they wrecked the feel of the story. I could go on and on, but in the end, the effects were amazing, even though the feeling of it was not. It didn't even come close the the vision I have had Barsoom in my head.

In other news, my Martian Manhunter entry for the Comicvine Artist Showoff has won! It was a close contest, but I made it! So what do I win? I get to chose the next subject for contestants to draw for the Artist Showoff #100- a milestone for the forum to boot! The only frustrating thing is that I forgot my forum pass word and the site is undergoing maintenance until the end of February- and their password recovery tool is disabled! Frustrating!

18 February 2013

Martian Manhunter

Well, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. It's been a while since I've finished a drawing, much less colorize it. So, at the suggestion of my good friend Robert Schaupp, I've been attempting to do the no-prize forum contests at Comicvine.  The last one was my ATOMA drawing, but here's the newest contest entry for a simple pinup- Martian Manhunter! It turned out okay- but it's all about creating a drawing with a deadline!

05 February 2013

Loss brings me back to the Workshop

It's been a very hard winter. My dad passed away after a long fight with cancer and Parkinson's, and we laid him to rest with full military honors just a week ago. He is the one who got me into comic books, movies, and cars. He took me to my first air show, and he loved adventure stories.

So, this next project is very personal to me. It is a high adventure comic series that will have the classic feel of all the old serials, and will certainly be in the Milton Caniff school of cartooning- with a heavy dose of my other heroes: Al Williamson, Wally Wood, and Mark Schultz.

As you can see here, I'm preparing some reference material- the heroine's plane- a P-38. I haven't built a model since my dad gave me my last one when I was 13, so it's a mess. It certainly has been a journey of memories, though.

I will be formally announcing the title and character sketch soon, as I can finish them- probably on my birthday next month. And you may have noticed, I've taken more steps in consolidation of projects and efforts by even merging all my blogs into my longtime standing Lost Skies blog. It's time to simplify so I can focusa lesson I learned from my dad.

So, with all the renewed efforts with the upcoming web comic, all I can say is "This one's for you, Dad. I'll be seeing you again, one day."

01 January 2013

A New Resolve

Earlier, I talked about ten things I have learned in 2012. It's a good exercise to reflect and try to learn from it. I also mentioned no resolutions for this year. Well, crap, maybe that's a lie... I feel the urge to resolute finishing some long time projects... I just need to get off my butt and actually illustrate and design the stuff. Well, I'm going to do it AND publish it. Yep, you heard it here first folks. Time to get serious.

That said, I need to start drawing again. I was doing so great a couple of months ago then schedules, freelance, and other things came up. Well, it's going to settle down a bit, and now I really want to go forward with MY OWN projects. More to come!

Happy 2013!!