Archive for August, 2011

When I run out of things to sketch, or don’t feel like sketching anything in particular, I resort to Victorian gentlemen in waistcoats.  It’s part of my comfort zone.  Today I thought I’d play with something a little different, and I started with a gentleman in proper attire, and then added a WW1-era gas mask.  You know, the creepy ones that make anyone who wears them look absolutely mad because they cover your whole face and hide all expression.  I did another sketch later today with the same theme, and maybe I’m on to something.  An alternate history, maybe.  Because everything changed, after the War…

What if World War 1 had happened earlier?  I’m thinking just after the Civil War, or maybe even at the very tail end.  Maybe the Civil War didn’t end, and just kept on going.  And eventually, Europe broke out in war as well.  It’s a really fascinating concept, and I may want to explore that further.  I’m not quite sure yet if I will, but the possibilities are there.

Here’s a short teaser:


In today’s post I’m going to share some inspiration with you.  Over the past few days I’ve come across a few art blogs that I really feel like everyone should know about, so I’ll be sharing those as well as a few links to blogs that I’ve been reading for several months now.  I feel sometimes as if I’m opening doors one by one, and keep finding treasure chests behind each separate door.  Each of these blogs contains a lot of art, namely fantasy illustration.

First up is Cory Godbey’s blog, Light Night Rains:     He releases yearly sketchbooks that each follow a theme, and his illustrations and art often focus on fairies and the hidden world.  The image below is one that he did of Hagrid from Harry Potter, carrying an infant Harry to Number 4 Privet Drive on Sirius Black’s flying motorbike.

Next is Justin Gerard’s blog, quick hide here:   Justin’s illustrations and art feature dragons, knights, and the world of Tolkien.  Several years ago he did a series of paintings based on The Hobbit, to preserve the mental images he had in his head of the characters and scenes before the movie is released.  The picture below shows the scene where Bilbo is captured by the three trolls, and they debate the pros and cons of eating hobbit.

Both of the above two artists post not only finished work, but also work in progress shots, thumbnails, and sketches, which makes their blogs invaluable for any starting artist, or anyone who likes to see the process behind an art piece.

I’ve also been reading James Gurney’s blog,   The creator of Dinotopia posts daily with advice, helpful hints, examples of early illustration work, and much more.

The Drawn Today blog is a collection of artists posting their work, and is the website for their podcast, also named Drawn Today.

I’m going to try to continue these types of posts when I can, because I feel that inspiration should be shared freely, and these artists all do incredible work that fires up the imagination.  In my next post I’ll try to have some recent artwork of my own, as well as a few sketches.  Would you be ok with short posts that largely feature sketches or works in progress with little text?  Let me know in the comments section.

I’ve been slacking again on updating this thing – my apologies.  Life has taken us by storm, and my wife and I have been busy with a variety of different things.  My birthday came and went on August 13th, and as a wedding gift we headed to IKEA to get some furnishings for our apartment.  I’m typing this from a new work desk, with plenty of surface space to spread out all my art supplies, paints, knick-knacks, and laptop.  Next to me is a new bookcase; I finally have my reference books within arm’s reach for easy reading in case I need to look something up.  We also have a few items in the living room that look really great.  IKEA is an easy and fairly affordable option for making your apartment look nice on a budget.

I’m working still on illustration, and was lucky enough to receive an Amazon gift card for my birthday.  It promptly went into purchasing some new art reference books – James Gurney’s two books, Color and Light and Imaginary Realism, as well as a few picture books, for inspiration.  I found out that two of the hosts of the WIP Podcast actually live here in Atlanta, which is all the more reason to improve my art skills.

Etsy has revamped its search results to focus on relevancy instead of recent listings, meaning that it’s now possible to find items you’re looking for based on descriptions, tags, and titles, rather than inputting a search term and having the first six pages of listings be the most recently renewed items that fall under that heading.  To that end, I’ve done some reworking of my tags and titles, and am hoping to see an increase in traffic based on relevancy.

I also have a Back to School sale going on currently.  Use code BACK2SCHOOL for 15% off – I figure that school starting up again is a good reason to get a reward once the house is empty of kids.  My shop can be found at  – the sale will most likely run until around September 10th.

Current projects, both personal and work-related, include a leather Moleskine cover, a few monster skull illustrations, and some figure drawings for myself that should help with painting and technique.

The monster skull is based off a hyena, with the proportions and teeth somewhat skewed… I sprayed it with a matte coating earlier, and am planning on doing some light acrylic washes on top for color.  A preview:

Dragons are magic.  There’s no other way to put it.  I’ve been fascinated by the big scaly things for as long as I could remember.  I can’t recall when I first found out about them, but it was at a really young age, because I’ve been enjoying stories about dragons since I was a tiny child.  Whether your dragons are winged with four legs, or winged with only two, or even with no legs or wings at all… they’re incredible.

One of the first books I remember reading about dragons was called The Book of Dragons, by E. Nesbit.  It’s a tiny, slim little volume.  Collected inside are stories of dragons from myth and legend, with enough fire to spark any boy’s imagination.  Then, in fourth grade, at a school book fair, I picked up Bruce Coville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher.  The book is about a young kid who, running from bullies one day, gets lost in a fog and finds a magic shop.  There he buys a dragon’s egg, and hatches it, and gets to watch the young dragon(whom he names Tiamat) grow up.  It’s completely magical and wonderful.  In high school, I read the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman.  That led me to Dungeons and Dragons, and in my time around the gaming table I’ve killed a dragon or two.

The other day, inspired by my long love of the dragon, I sat down to do some inking.  I sketched a few ideas first, and when I was satisfied, I broke out the steel nibs and black ink.  I didn’t want to do this project in Micron pens.  I wanted the old-fashioned method.  A while later, I had a dragon skull sitting on paper in front of me.  I’m not quite sure it’s done yet, but it was fun to do, and I can’t wait to try further projects with the steel nibs and ink.

Here are a few pictures:

I’m not sure I’ll be able to attend Dragon*Con this year – I’ve been wanting to go for a really long time, but have never been able to make it to Atlanta to attend.  This year, when I’m actually living in Atlanta, I can’t afford to go.  Oh, life.

I’m glad that the convention happens here, because from everything I hear it is one of the biggest, best, most incredible conventions for gaming, fantasy, sci-fi, etc that you could imagine.  Thousands of people flock to Atlanta every year just for a chance to attend Dragon*con, and who can blame them?  I have heard from some friends of my wife’s that they attend every year and just walk around in costume to see everything and everyone.  I’m not sure they even buy tickets or passes.  If that’s the case, I may try something similar, and attend without attending anything.

I feel that a lot of the products I make for my Etsy store would work really well for convention attendees – particularly the dice bags.  I make each one with a belt loop, so that you can carry them around without having to hold them or store them in other bags/pouches.  The double drawstring lends itself to a tight closure, which I feel is important – it not only keeps your dice safe, but also your other small change and loose items.  I have a variety of colors, but would be very open to custom choices – just talk to me!  If anyone is interested, email me at greylikestorms(at) or convo me on Etsy to discuss other fabrics.  It’s not too late to get your stuff in time for Dragon*con, and I’m always happy to use a faster service than USPS.

I’ve also got a costume shirt listed that I feel is timeless enough to work for a variety of costumes, ranging from the late Renaissance to the early 20th century.  Steampunk, anyone?

For the curious, my Etsy store can be found at:

I have mentioned both Don Kenn and Edward Gorey on this blog before.  In today’s post, I thought I would share a few images from both artists that show the details that go into their art.  In my attempts to illustrate images inspired by these two artists, I’ve found that the intricately detailed line art is actually harder than it appears at first.  Your lines must have a consistency that fits with each other line on the page, while at the same time creating dimension, shadow, distance.  In short, the entire image is dependent on lines, instead of more conventional means of composition.

Gorey illustrated a number of children’s books that he authored himself; most are incredibly short and have been gathered into several collections, the best-known of which are probably Amphigorey and Amphigorey 2.  He passed away in 2000, and was, among other things, known for his fondness of cats and the New York Ballet; at one point in his life he attended every single performance of the ballet for several years.  He often wore heavy rings and fur coats, and was a bit eccentric.  The following images will hopefully showcase his art well.


Don Kenn is a Scandinavian artist who does most of his work on Post-it notes.  The illustrations largely represent hidden or not-so-hidden terrors near oblivious people.