Cancer – Painting

Phew. Been working on this one for a few months. A put out a smaller version a while back, then realized it had more potential. So I added, a lot. And made it huge. I’m proud of it. There’s a lot of little details that are easy to miss, especially when it’s shrunk down like this. (If you can find the negative space crab, I’ll be impressed.

I still need to clean up a few things (especially the lips and the transition to the waterfall). But I think it’s on track to be one of my most complex pieces.


94×73 inch digital painting


copr Blu-art and Arktic-ink 2018, all rights reserved.

Wallpaper cut:


Sketches from my first sketchbook: Six years of progress #1

I took my first art/design course when I was a sophomore in high school (six years ago). I was interested in making art for video games and I was already learning C# and experimenting with tools like Autodesk maya and engines like UDK to make my own stuff.

That whole dream never really panned out (ended up in hard sciences) but I really went at the art. I was doing fifty hours a week, staying up all night to practice contour and learn to draw new things. It was one of my first real obsessive periods. I periodically get really into things which later eb and flow but most have stuck around (writing and drawing more than anything).

For the class we had to do daily sketches from life or our head based on a prompt. These are some of them. Bare in mind that while I was working hard, I was very much a beginner. It’s awesome to look back and compare this stuff to my current works and compositions. The style is actually pretty similar, still, in a lot of ways. It’s just more refined and cohesive now.

I’ll go in order of the pages and this was taped to the front page.


I started out with bic pens and markers which s what this was in. Pretty sketchy shading but I was really proud of the contour. It took my a while and few tries at the time to nail down the general shape of a face let alone the gesture of a body.

This was probably the first time I tried to depict tattoos on skin, which is something I do on a regular basis now. I’ve gone so far as to design elaborate tattoos just so I could put them in a drawing later on:


In this semi-photo-realistic digital portrait I spent the most time on the tattoos and hair. I’ve found that abstract designs (time here) work much better for accenting skin in the context of a drawing.

This style evolved further into turning the skin into it’s own canvas within a canvas:


Here the skin is less skin and more of a symbolic mosaic kind of story. I don’t like to explain intent explicitly and won’t, but there is a specific reason things are where they are here.

To me it’s really cool to be able to trace stylistic elements I employ in my hyper-realism and composite art back to one of the first decent anime sketches I did a few months after I started drawing.

Challenge: Abstract portrait using stacks of paper as a canvas

This turned out pretty clean all things considered. I used a stock photo of stacked papers as a base then drew the face (mostly splatter style, the nose was hard and took the most time), then accented the areas with other composites (the street is from Iowa City where I study). Tried a meatier style for the eye which is meant to be the focus with all the composites shooting out of it.

Here’s the stock photographers page who provided the canvas for free: Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

17×30 inch at 200dpi


copr Blu-art 2018, Arctic-Ink 2018

It’s pretty similar to the challenge I did here:

Except it’s mostly drawn where the dragon eye was frankensteined together with about twenty images and I really only shaded in the rocks and eye with the sketch in the pupil. That one was easier because it was all blending and less brushwork.

Here’s the original image (sourced above)

brandi-redd-122054-unsplash (1)




Digital Painting/Composite

Canvas: 28.639×42.889 inches


I do apologize for the watermarks, but this is one of those images I prefer to protect, very proud of how it turned out.

Technique: I really enjoy this new style of integrating reality via composites into drawings then blending and drawing over the two layers to combine them. Time consuming but you get some really cool and realistic effects.

The background is largely done in a suggestive and texture based way. The detail is mostly implied. For instance the trees, like the hair, are solid blacks aside from the three rain layers. I just thinned out the rain on the closer trees to imply distance without having to detail or shade anything. Similarly the leaves in the trees were just a large textured brush with variants of red and pink, then just picked out a few spots to erase and imply light poking through.

The meat of the drawing is the porcelain or rocky kind of glimmering detail I did on the face as well as the splatter art and layering. The face itself is fifty layers, three of which are variations of the bare-bones sketch and shading. Essentially, it was a matter of replacing the facial structure and bones with different textures and effects. Everything under the zygomatic process (kinda part of the cheek bone) is meant to appear skeletal, like the skin was shattered, while the parts above remained in tact with some splintering or cracking. Fun fact, all the light ochre tones and complexion of the skin was done with a brush .abr shaped like a fence. It’s only really obvious in the crook of the nose, but that layer has about forty percent of the complexion in it.

Composites (the “real” parts of the piece): There are five notable composites in the image: The forest floor has real leaves and rocks over the red and painted textures. About half the gears in the face are from a licensed image off adobe stock of a mechanical watch face, the others were drawn or altered to blend behind the face and remove the glassy and bright appearance of the watch. The third is the texture on the eye, which was pulled from an actual eye. The little pebbles under the broken away skin near the nose come from a picture of broken concrete I took with my Iphone here on campus. Finally the smoke comes from a superimposed 3d object file (via autodesk’s Maya). It was originally a wallpaper that I beat into almost nothing then added for an emissive lighting effect.

Where to improve: The ends of the hair on the protected parts of the drawing (where the strands are over the face itself) are fine, but the light-source literally blew out half of the detailing on the top of the head and the ends sticking out without me noticing until it was too late. So I need to draw those in a multiply layer, which won’t be too difficult. The reason I use matte black hair, by the way, is the fact you don’t need to shade it like at all. You just need to contour the ends. I’m not good enough at hair to make blonde or brown work, it’d end up looking too drawn so I just stuck to inky black with some of the rain pouring over it.

Digital scene drawing (Surrealism/photo-realism)

One of my first real attempts at an augmented kind of full digital photo-realism. Drawn in illustrator and photo-shop and touched up in light-room. I wanted a more surreal vibe for this book as opposed to Saving Hadley’s cover art (will be posted once I’m content with it) which is also realistic but less grounded in a scene or reality. Butterfly Gate’s art on the other hand is all traditional with multimedia touch ups.

The stories have really helped me direct my art and what I wanted to accomplish with that art. Like I had no idea I’d be able to make something like this until I just tried, and I feel like it went pretty well. This is the cover art, but each act will still have it’s own specific artwork, so plenty of fun stuff to work towards and I think this set the tone rather well.

Stuff that went really well: The cracking texture. I found a good balance between distortion and pulling around the structure of the face without ever destroying too much detail that it’d look wonky or even that off. It was probably the hardest part, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Canvas dimensions: 4k by 12k pixels (almost fifty inches in the resolution I have set, so it’s actually a pretty big drawing)


Challenges: I redrew the body and sweater three times. Clothes that drape are very difficult to draw with a mouse (I have an Intuos five but actually use a mouse and very small brushes when I shade/texture digital art. I’m weird like that. It is a good mouse with very precise sensitivity settings, so it’s not as hard as it may sound). It’s kind of like pixel art with a LOT of pixels and layers (sixty-three layers). Pretty fun!

Copyright notes: All rights reserved. If you’d like an unmarked copy of the file for personal or print use, ie non-commercial, just let me know and I can get that to you 🙂