Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rock the Horns this summer (and forever after...)

Hey All,

Cross posted on my Facebook page, here is a new design I've put into my Society 6 products page. Variants include tshirts, skins, hoodies, even canvas bags. Rock these shirts at your summer music fest this year!

Zombie Horns on Black - No Pick Art Print

Zombie Horns TV parody edition - Red Art Print

See more here: http://society6.com/PaulMarquisIllustration

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review of 'Oblivion': More than the sum of its Sci Fi parts...

So, I know many many of you have been asking what I thought of the new Tom Cruise movie 'Oblivion'. Ahem.

There's a large group of critics who really seemed to be disappointed by it, claiming it was nothing more than a sad pastiche of science fiction tropes, with a valiant effort by Cruise to hold them together. And that, with the exception of some neat plot turns, it wasn't worth seeing.

I agree with them.

On the part about Tom Cruise putting in a valiant effort, I agree wholeheartedly. On the other stuff, I have to disagree. Completely.

Many of my friends are well-read science fiction junkies, moreso than I am, probably. But even as I recognized many of the references and familiar science fiction themes in the film, I did enjoy them more than the sum of their parts, which unfortunately was not the case with those in more lofty internet thrones.

What is the sin in using ideas that have been used before? I know for a fact that the same ideas have been 'invented' over and over again at parties, writer's meetings, and late-night bars for decades; to say that it isn't possible for a familiar idea to be used again without it being 'stolen' is disingenuous at best, especially coming from those who would call themselves writers.

In fact, the only thing anyone can accuse 'Oblivion' of being is a little deliberately paced in the second act, which was noticeable but didn't affect the rest of the film for me.

One critic, at first dismissive of this film when walking out afterwards, woke up the next day to realize that while this film had its influences, it raised a lot of ideas that go beyond the film's running time. I'm only about an hour out of the theater myself, and I can already feel my imagination asking 'what if?' moreso now than when I'd walked out of, say, Prometheus (a film I enjoyed as well).

Yes, Oblivion wears its influences, but not on the sleeve. I'm sure this film will grow on people as time goes on, and I'm happy to have caught it today.

(by the way, be careful of reviews that list this film's influences; one film name told me exactly what to expect with regards to one character's origins. This is why I can't name the influences - why ruin it?)

Catch this movie in the theater if you can, and leave your cynicism behind.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Frank Kelly Freas: The Dean of Science Fiction

Today's Featured Artist is known as the Dean of Science Fiction: Frank Kelly Freas (b. 1922 - d. 2004), his last name pronounced 'Freeze', was probably the artist most beloved by SF fans, and indeed his artwork is filled with the strong current of heart and strangeness that envelops Science Fiction.

Raised by two photographers in Canada (he was actually born in Hornell, New York), Freas joined the United States Army Air Forces right out of high school, and flew as camera man for recon in the South Pacific, often taking the time to paint bomber noses during WWII. Afterwards, he went to study at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, beginning his career in advertising.

His most notable work was done for Astounding Science Fiction (later renamed Analog) under the eye of SF editing giant John W. Campbell, and he went on to become a giant himself in the SF publishing field, illustrating for over 50 years. Twice honored as a Guest of Honor at the Worldcon (1982 and 2003), he often played with different subjects and styles, and at one time even painted over 500 saints' portraits for the Franciscans while doing portraits of Alfred E. Neuman for Mad magazine.

He won the Hugo for best artist ten times (nominated 20 times; after that many, he asked to be withdrawn from future nominations to give other artists a chance) and had left an indelible mark on the SF world decades before his passing in 2004.

One of his most iconic images is used twice, first for Tom Godwin's 'The Gulf Between' and again, slightly altered, for Queen's album 'News of the World'. At the top it is seen in its use for the latter.

Read much, much more about Frank Kelly Freas here: http://io9.com/5987723/why-kelly-freas-was-possibly-the-greatest-science-fiction-artist-who-ever-lived

(cross posted on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulMarquisIllustration)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ZILF Lives! (in all of us)

A few years ago a good friend (Michael Calahan, his website is awesome) who is a writer was passing some comedy article ideas past me (because I'm kind of a big deal, dontcha know) and one of them stood out for its potential for comedy stardom.

The idea of course was the ZILF. A Zombie of the MILF variety. Or flavor, if you will.

Too gruesome to pass up, these are some of the ideas we came up with.

Here's the logo we put as the tag less label inside the collar:

Here's the 'children's shirt' design:

Here's a shirt that never materialized:

And finally here's a one-off poster I threw together:

Oh, and did I mention? We made a website: http://www.zilfage.com


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Three new pieces

I've been away for a bit, but I've been productive. It's amazing how much doing a simple blog post every now and then takes out of your day.

Here are the three I've finished since early January:

Singularity (or Ghost):

Wait it Out:

And this one, Furnace:

Each piece is 4500 x 6000px, digital art ala Photoshop. They will be available on Etsy soon, stay tuned.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Busy busy busy!

I've been rawther busy lately, what with the illustration for my story, and the Winter Dragon challenge deadline coming up.

But I thought I'd throw this out to you, a sample of the work in progress:

That's our friend Noel, seen below in the earlier post. Coming along!

Also, for those of you on Facebook, you can see daily posts from my page there, Paul Marquis Illustration. I have posts on master artists both new and old, highlights from my portfolio, and the occasional update on my new pieces.

Talk to you soon!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Was this a good idea?

I've done this before, starting a blog and then abandoning it. The fact is though, I want to be able to keep a good record of the early times, because of course I'm going to be famous!

But I kid. I think it's a good way of keeping me on track. Anyone watching this is gravy, I suppose, but dammit I LIKE gravy. :-)

Here's a screen shot of my latest reference for the new illo:

That is my friend Noel, a local actor (and a very good one, at that). He wore a bow tie to the session and so therefore has turned my project into a potential Dr Who homage! Thanks Noel!

Here's another, just for fun:

Some of you may notice the low resolution of the photos. I don't mind that, there is enough definition for me. These are, in fact, screen grabs from the HD video I shot of Noel doing various poses, faces and general hilarity. Yes, I'm using HD video because in the past my photos lack a quality of motion to them, they looked too tense and rigid. This way I'm able to allow my models to move naturally and I can always go through the video one frame at a time to find the exact moment I was looking for.

But don't you worry! I took some still photos as well, for the details. But now I can do the general pose using a video grab and fill in the details with the still photos. Win-win for me and the image.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wow, I made it.

Still alive after the past couple weeks. The amazing thing is, in logging my hours, I learned that the whole project took about 27-30 hours total. It just felt a lot longer, what with paid work sneaking in now and then.

I'm prepping a post about the how (including the final result) in a bit. But in the meantime, here's a little nugget of fun I put together on my first day off since I started this whole endeavor. See you soon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Building a Cathedral to show a ruin

This past few days I've been relearning how to draw.

Not paint, but draw.

Most digital painting is really just drawing. Sure, you have color, tones, you can 'mix' colors and apply 'wet paint' etc, but in the end you are drawing. There are some guys out there who realize this, like Justin Gerard here, and begin a piece of work by painting the undertones and then digitizing the rest. And you know what, it still looks like a painting!

This past few days... yeah, I told you already. I'm loopy. I'm drawing EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL. for me to later obliterate it for that 'naturalistic painting' effect. Eventually I'll get to that second step without the first step, but it's important to note that even Picasso had to draw photorealistically before he could know which corners to cut. I'm re-learning where the corners are this week.

Oak trees and chrome plating were invented to punish illustrators, I'm almost sure of it. No amount of photoshop brushes and layer effects will effectively fake a realistic oak trunk. Leaves, maybe. But not the trunk and branches. Same goes for chrome; try as you like, there is no function key for effective reflective surfaces. And I have both in my latest painting.

Anyhow, I'm loopy from the radiation coming out of my monitors, and all the staring. There WILL be a resolution, I assure you. The hard part is over, now is time for details, which is the bestest most funnest part of any painting, and I speak for the entirety of painterdom when I say that. Excepting the words that don't exist.

Sigh... Can you imagine all this WITH linseed oil and turpentine?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Crunch week!

This past week has been spent trying to finish an illustration to send to the Spectrum annual call for entries. Thus far I've been wrestling with moss, ferns, slacks, raincoats, rigid poses and brushes brushes brushes. It's amazing what you can learn when your back is against the wall.

At some point I'm going to have to post some progress shots, but honestly I'm too slammed to do it right now. I will have a full accounting of the whole horrid experience! ;-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lady or the Tiger, publication version

Researching online mags for story submissions, the rule seems to be that if you have an epub available for not-free, you can still submit to them for reprint status. As far as original work is concerned, if the story is available, anywhere, for free or pay, then it is published.

Good to know!

The plan now appears to be to send the story to a few online publications (not at the same time, of course) and those stories that fall through the cracks can be made available for free or not-free as an epub on ibookstore or amazon, etc. It's worth the wait to try for publications to buy it, for the exposure (not the money, max for a story seems to be around $350 or thereabouts).

On the art side, today I went to grab some reference shots for the illustration I'm working on (see thumbs below), it was good to see the great outdoors again. More updates soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Find your posse

This morning I'm off to a writing group I've been a part of for a few years now (really? Wow, time flies) and we're all starting to move on from what we're doing to do to HOW we're going to deliver it to the world at large. One of us has a novel, one of us has a graphic novel, and I have my collection. For the latter two of us, we're thinking epublishing is the way to go, at least until a large enough following has been built to warrant a printing. Our novelist is on his way (in the other's eyes) to getting his novel noticed by a large publishing house, just have to see how it works for them.

But the thing is, even though there were stretches of several months in between meetings for a bit there, we always tried to produce for each other, to show progress. Like having a workout buddy, it helps to be held accountable to some type of deadline, and nobody does that better than your peers. Go find a writer's group that matches your genre. If you can't find one, start one up. Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist; go gather your posse.

Friday, January 11, 2013

'Enhanced' thumbnails

Today's post is a look at some of the thumbnails shown previously, all grown up. They aren't pencils, per se, but they are rather thumbnails developed within an inch of their lives.

I wanted to see what my favorite little scribbles would bring once I added lighting and a little more thought into the composition. What I found was that while I enjoyed some more than others, sometimes there are roadblocks that don't come into view until after you've done a little development and exploration. A couple of my favorites in the group just fell apart when the light of day (no pun intended) was brought in. This is going to help me immensely when the time comes to put this baby together.

Also, it is kind of fun to look at as a whole, in a storyboard kind of way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

This week I'm all thumbs

In school at SJSU I was required to produce a couple hundred thumbnails for each new piece. Here is 100 give or take, and it took me at least five hours to do. I'm definitely out of shape.

BUT the piece is shaping up nicely. I already have several from here I'm going to want to elaborate on, and ideas from others that will fold nicely into the best ones.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Switch Hitting for your Vision

One of the most dangerous things for a writer / illustrator who is going to be releasing a product that includes both of their talents is the inevitable comparison of one to the other.

"I liked his artwork, he's a much better artist than a writer; he should just stick with that."

"While I enjoyed his story, the illustrations were amateurish and better left to a professional."

Etc, etc.

If my releases do produce such criticism, I'll be happy. I'd be even happier if it produced conflicting criticism like above, as that would mean I'm doing both right.

But if it is one-sided, what can you do? All I can imagine is that you take the criticism with a grain of salt, like all artists should, and continue on your merry way. There really isn't any way around the opinions of others, you just have to make the choice on whose advice you're going to listen to, if anyone's.

Last night I finished my first story to the point that I'd be ready for the public to view it, but I'm still going to send it to an editor before I finalize it for release. Those oxford commas aren't going to just correct themselves, you know.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Prepping the thumbnails

In putting together a piece for the Spectrum Annual competition (see here), I'm postponing my Drawing a Day for the next couple weeks (and the foreseeable future, if I continue to do new pieces).

This evening I sat down to throw some thumbnail sketches together. Eventually I want to have a couple hundred, but for this first round I didn't even know what I wanted to focus on for the story I'm illustrating (also one of my own), so I noodled a bit. I did know what I didn't want, though, so I had to walk the knife's edge between internally editing my thought process (bad) and putting down ink just for the sake of putting down ink (also bad).

Anyhow, these are prudently shrunken thumbs to prove I've been working, haha. More tomorrow!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

SPECTRUM Call for Entries

Here is a reminder that the great Science Fiction and Fantasy Art Annual SPECTRUM has a Call for Entries due January 25th. I believe I'll be postponing my Drawing-A-Day in exchange for doing a piece for the competition. I'll be posting progress reports on the piece here daily.

Here's the link: http://www.spectrumfantasticart.com/entry_info.php

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cartoons are drawings too!

I've been clogging up the Drawing a Day with more developed pics, but this is just bare bones drawing here. Almost all are from random photos on the web. Sometimes it's easier to do that than to explain to the person at Starbucks why you were making fun of their nose in your sketchbook.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Newest drawing of the day AND SPECIAL BONUS Article that says what I tried to say.

Here's today's drawing (which was actually yesterday's... the real world keeps creeping in), one of Larry Niven's Kzin war cats. Lesson from this excursion: Always have reference available when you need it. In this case, the gun is woefully inadequate and looks like something not-gunnish.

More importantly, a friend of mine pointed me to this great article by illustrator John Hendrix. How to Find Your Voice

1. Learn to solve problems on your terms: 
Illustrators and commercial artists often make the mistake of being too good at solving the problem. Meaning they let the limitations of the project overly influence how they solve the problem. When I give my student's an assignment I always tell them the same thing."At any point in this assignment, if you are unhappy with what you are drawing, it is your fault. Not mine." Illustrators, not art directors, are in charge of designing content that they will love to create. You can start simply: make a list of things you like drawing. My list looks something like this...
Bridges collapsing
Foxes having tea 
Goofy hats and beards 
Ray guns 
Cute robots 
Ugly robots 
Boats sinking 
WW I gear 
Animals with swords 
Magic fish 
Unmanicured trees 
Holy things 
Old presidents and kings  
19th Century misunderstood abolitionists 
on and on... 
Make a list that has 100 things on it- and pin it up in your studio. Make a habit of inserting these subjects into your drawings and, even better, into your illustration solutions. Learning to solve a project in a world that you enjoy is a huge part of finding your voice. The reason why is so simple it almost escapes notice:  When we make things we enjoy, our work gets better.

Read the rest at the link. It is well worth it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

This year is going to be big. Colossal, even.

Inspired by this year's huge film, Pacific Rim, I thought that it'd be nice to see one of those Jaegers a little lost. Where's that ocean, now?

This was a speed drawing, done in about 90 minutes. What I'm learning from this is that I really really need to observe more machinery because I don't know squat about details.

Oh, and don't be afraid to use non-conventional colors for sky and other objects. Local color can sometimes flatten or sap interest from a piece.