Strike An (Art)Pose …

Awhile back I started using the app Art Pose. It allows the user to pose a digital figure model in a wide variety of ways, as well as adjust the lighting, and perspective. There is also the ability to make the model thinner or bulkier.

The User Interface allows you to manipulate every part of the model’s body, with the exception of individual fingers or toes, to your heart’s content. At first this can be a bit overwhelming and a bit frustrating since the controls can be a little awkward at first to use.

Fortunately, there’s a ton of preset poses within the app that can either be used as is, or further manipulated to get just the way you want them. The app also allows you to take screen shots of the figure pose you’ve created and save them to your device, which is a great feature.

However, the thumbnail icons for the preset poses are incredibly small, and nearly impossible to tell one from the other. This requires a lot of cycling through them one by one to find the one I want. The buttons on the screen are also rather small for changing options.

I’ve been using Artpose on my Android phone which makes it convient since I can either find or make poses during my breaks at work and then sketch them out at home.

There is a PC version, (Its also available for Apple too) that I’ve considered but it requires a three button mouse. I use a laptop at home, and don’t really see the point of buying a mouse since I’d only use it for this app that I occasionally use.

Regardless, I’ve gotten use to the interface and it’s usually not a hindrance, but I’d still like to see them improve it.

Another feature of Art Pose that I find lacking is that you can only pose one figure, and you are limited to one gender. There’s a male edition and a separate female edition. This may be a limitation of the technology rather than the developer trying to nickle and dime their customers. Still, considering that a lot of the preset poses are action poses, ie someone standing in fighting stance, it would be greatly convenient if you could have two models on screen.

While getting ready to write this post, I discovered that late last year Art Pose has come out with Art Pose Pro which allows you to do exactly that, pose two figures. And not only that you can have a male and female model on the same screen. I’ve not checked it out yet, but it sounds like it could be quite excellent.

I tend to use Art Pose for doing rough sketches of figures in my sketch book for practice. In the future I can see myself using it as a reference tool for finished drawings.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

There are plenty of other options for the artist looking for figure models. I’ve found plenty of photographers/artists who post their own poses online for free, wanting only credit/link, as well as numerous books out there full of figure models in everything from classic figure drawing poses to comic book action scenes. Not to mention the classic doll-like figure models you can pose yourself in your studio.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

However I think that Art Pose is a good tool to have because its convenient to take with you anywhere, the multitude of options in not only poses but lighting, etc. As well as being able to save the pose you’ve created to your device. Art Pose, with a little bit of a learning curve, will allow you to get exactly the type of pose you want rather than settling for something that’s ‘close enough’.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

I would recommend Art Pose to any artist out there looking for a figure model app. Despite the minor flaws, it’s well worth checking into.

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H.P. Lovecraft, A Titan of Terror.

I stumbled upon this on YouTube the other day. It does a good job covering the good and bad of Lovecraft. Worth checking out.

The Weird and Whatnot #1

I was lucky enough to have my drawing Eldritch Woods included in the debut issue of the fantasy/horror/sci-fi magazine The Weird and Whatnot. The debut issue is now available digitally on Amazon, and I believe a print edition will be coming out shortly as well. I believe if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read the issue for free.

Check out their website for more info: http://theweirdandwhatnot.com/

A Dreamer’s Passport (And Other Projects)

I recently finished up my contribution to the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project. I spent about every weekend for the past month working on it, and I’m pleased with the final results.

Rather than doing random sketches, I decided to create a fictional journal that tells the narrative a man searching for his friend Bill, who’s apparently vanished. The tale begins with the narrator taking on the search for his best friend, after the local authorities have given up due to a lack of clues. The narrator ends up finding the sketch book in Bill’s trailer and discovers that it holds some secrets about Bill’s fate. While unraveling the mystery around Bill, the narrator begins to suffer from a lack of sleep and begins to question his own sanity the further he delves into the sketch book. In the end he finds the truth about Bill, and the sketch book. But the truth can be a horrible thing, and the toll it takes on the narrator is a heavy one.

The story was influenced by H.P. Lovecraft, and Phillip K. Dick. In a lot of ways it was pretty heavily influenced by Dick’s novel V.A.L.I.S. If you’ve ever read that one in particular, you’ll know what kind of head trip it is. That’s the kind of style I had in mind as I wrote it. Although it is a narrative, it leaves loose ends on purpose to spark the reader’s imagination and the narrative style slides into frantic madness.

I purposefully smudged and stained the pages with ink and sponge as well as dog-eared pages and wrinkled them in order to create the look and feel of a raggedy/weathered sketch book, since the narrator states that he found it amongst a pile of trash in Bill’s trailer.

The images I posted are only a sample of the actual sketch book which is about 24 pages. I intend on making higher resolution scans for myself and then mailing it back to the Brooklyn Art Library. Once it’s received it’ll be added to their collection, and available to the public. It’ll also be digitized on their website.

Meanwhile at the Drawing Table…

A few weeks ago I was approached by my good friend Tom Adams to do the cover art for his latest novella Going Down. I’m a long time fan of Tom’s writing, so I was glad to have a chance to work with him. What I like best about Tom’s fiction is that regardless to the genre (horror, fantasy, sci-fi) Tom excels at creating believable characters that either love or hate, and dialogue that is realistic and distinct that propels the plot. He also adept at giving backstory without bogging down the plot with cumbersome exposition.

Going Down is a horror story set on a college campus and features a group of friends who become trapped on an elevator in their residence hall. Adding to the terror of being in such a precarious situation is the fact that their fate is the design of a mad man. If that were not bad enough, something else is lurking on top of the elevator, and is hell bent on getting inside.

Going Down is scheduled to be out later this Spring.

It has been a lot of fun to collaborate with Tom during the early stages of the cover art. He had some great ideas, but allowed me some creative license and we ended up with a killer idea for the final art. I’m currently working on the final version now, and look forward to sharing it with you.

If you like horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, then I encourage you to check out Tom’s website where you can find out more about his fiction. He’s also a great book reviewer as well : Writing In Starlight

Sketch Ya Later

Back in December my wife told me about the Brooklyn Art Library’s annual Sketch Book Project. In a nutshell you send in your money and get back a small paperback sketch book which you fill up and send back. It’s put on the shelves of their library and made available to the public. They can also digitize it and put it online. Plus, they have a ‘book mobile’ in which they take a certain number of books on the road to various festivals and etc.

It sounded like a fun project, so I decided to partake in it. Instead of doing random sketches, I decided to do something that has a narrative to it. The premise of my sketch book is that it was found by the narrator of the story who is searching for his missing friend. The sketch book provides hidden clues that lead the narrator down the proverbial rabbit hole in hopes of finding his friend. You see the the sketch book is filled with bizarre and macabre drawings that seem to portray an unknown land, along with a map and coordinates that supposedly lead to it. I want it to look like something that’s been well used and weathered rather than a pristine sketch journal. This ties into the narration, since the narrator of the story found it in his friend’s trashy/cluttered trailer.

It’s due by the end of March, and I’m about 1/2 way done with it so far. It has been a lot of fun to do, and I’ve been experimenting with some new techniques along the way. Once it is complete and in the Brooklyn Art Library both phsyically and digitally, I’ll follow up with some info so you can view it.

Sounds of the Nightmare Machine

I came across this video on YouTube this morning and as a horror fan and creator I was thrilled. I would love to have one. I would never leave my studio.

AnteduluvianShowdownHurtack

I finished this one up awhile ago, but finally got around to scanning it tonight. Originally, my intent wasn’t to do this in full color. I was going to keep it black and white like the other two pieces in the series with a small amount of red ink in key areas to direct the viewer’s eye. But I ended up using color ink washes since it felt like it needed something more to distinguish the figures from the background.

The creatures, and the title of the drawing, is loosely inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.

Hexed (The Saga Of Rufus La Rue #3)

 

Hexed
Hexed is the third installment in my Rufus La Rue series. The idea germinated from an old sketch I had done in a sketch book a while back. The woman represents my idea of a witch summoning elder things from which she receives her power.

I finally finished up this latest drawing over the weekend, and I’m pretty damn happy with it. It was a challenging piece to do for a number of reason, mainly I wasn’t happy with the creature’s head early on and then toward the end of the drawing his arm reaching for Rufus’ gun went through several trials and errors in regard to line/tone.

What I like about this one the most is the circular nature of the composition and the variety of lines as well as the balance of black areas to hatch/stippling.

As the title indiciates this is the second piece in what’ll probably be a four piece series featuring Rufus’ adventures.  I’ve already started the preliminary rough sketches for the third piece in the series.

 

 

 

Review: Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald

A Study in Emerald was first written by Neil Gaiman in 2003 as a short story. Last month, Dark Horse released the graphic novel adaptation of it. My review will be on that adaption.

Synopsis: A Study In Emerald is an original story by Gaiman that is set in a fictional world that is a mash-up of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. When a member of the royal family is murdered, the London police enlist the skills of a renowned detective to help catch the killer. The sordid streets of Victorian Londan lead the sleuth and his ex-soldier side-kick down a twisted path.

Storyline:  The plot of A Study In Emerald moves at a brisk pace, but spends enough time on back story to give the setting and characters a fleshed out feel to it without bogging down the plot with too much exposition. A lot of the back story is given through two characters having a conversation and/or brief flash backs. I found this method far more interesting than your typical ‘As you know, Bob…’ type of exposition or a drawn out narration.  In particular I liked the scenes where the investigator and his side-kick went to a theater  as part of their search for the killer(s). Part of the play being presented there  explains how/why the Old Ones from Lovecraft’s mythos hold dominion over humanity.

Overall, the plot of the story unfolds like most mysteries,  a la a typical investigation, clues and suspects, along with a gradual introduction of Lovecraftian weirdness. It all fits together well enough, and makes for an entertaining read, for the most part.

Toward the end of the book the detective and his sidekick think they have the perfect trap set for the killer(s) but are surprised by a sudden turn of events that spoil their victory. I won’t go into too much detail, but lets just say that it’s a bit of ‘bait and switch’ on the Gaiman’s part on the reader. I also felt it was simply too much ‘talking heads’ to explain everything rather than putting some action behind those words.  You know the old cliche of the villain telling the hero his grand scheme? It’s pretty much on par with that, expect in the form of a letter.

Artwork:

Rafael Albuquerque is the main artist on the book, and is renowned for his contributions to horror comics such as American Vampire, Locke & Key, etc. His work here does not disappoint me, either. What continues to strike me is his knack for conveying emotion in his characters as well as the sometimes gestural quality of his drawing style. He also seems to know exactly when it is best have minimal imagery in a panel and when to unleash the details. In particular his imagery of the Queen is quite spectacular. The book contains some samples of his characters designs along with a few jotted notes. These make for a particularly interesting insight into his creative process. Rafael is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists working the comic book genre to date.

 

Dave Stewart handles the colors, and uses a warm range of sepia and muted tones that work wonderfully to capture the essence of the time period. That being said he proves to know how to masterfully use the eerie greens and gruesome reds in the right amount and the right panel to emphasis the horror of the scenes that unfold on the page. His colors helped capture the moods of the story line and never detracted from it or overpowered Rafael’s line work.

Todd Klein’s lettering was your typical comic book/graphic novel fare, but what stood out to me was the way in which he conveyed the narrated scenes. Each panel had a New Courier font when coupled with a panel that appeared to be a torn piece of typing paper, gave the narration the look and feel of an excerpt from a memoir. It was easy to read and stood out from the typical fonts used in the rest of the comic. I felt it worked well too given the literary influences on Gaiman’s story.

Conclusion: Overall, this is an enjoyable read, something worth going through at least twice – once for the story and again for the art/lettering/layout, despite the lack luster ending. I would recommend it to Gaiman fans, even if you’ve read the original short story, as well as fans of Sherlock Holmes. For Lovecraft fans it would offer an interesting twist on the mythos of the Old Ones, but be prepared for a heavier dose of Sherlock than Cthulhu.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.