Ranger Up

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So, it’s been some time since I last posted here.  In January, I started working full time at Ranger Up!  Since getting the job I’ve been setting up my new life in a new city and getting myself through a probationary status with the company to a full designer status.  It’s been hectic and a little stressful at times but it’s been some of the most rewarding work I’ve done since I was in the military.  Converting my ambition to work as an artist full time was daunting, even terrifying at times.  I felt like it might never happen and I’d just end up having to abandon it all together in exchange for a little stability.

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With the new job comes a lot of new art.  Some I can share here, others that will be filed away for the future.

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I’ve been lucky enough to see my work go from a design meeting concept to final design to printed shirts and products.  Seeing stacks upon stacks of shirts with my design on them go out the door to people.  Even seeing fans getting them as tattoos!

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Last year, I wouldn’t have thought it possible that I would be here, in a place like this, working in the field I’ve loved so much. Back then it was just a dream to be considered as I struggled to make heads or tails of what it was I was trying to accomplish with my life again. I’ve sacrificed so much to get to this point, that some days I need to remind myself what it was all for. Every day I sit behind my desk, I can’t help but feel pride in what I’ve accomplished in the face of so many obstacles. There is still so much more to achieve. More goals I want to meet. The bigger picture is finally clearer than it’s ever been.

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Battle Dawgs Racing Shirt

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Shirts Available Through BattleDawgsRacing.com

The glacier.  The dogs.  The trees.  The river.  The camaraderie.  So much of what went into this piece was an instinctual reaction to the trip I took to Alaska this summer thanks to Alaska’s Healing Hearts and Battle Dawgs Racing.  There was some time spent in my sketchbook, and on my computer just doodling trying to capture the right feel.  To bring something of my experience into the work and not have it feel disjointed and without focus.  The base shape for this was hashed out digitally, but it wasn’t until the ink started going down on the page, it finally felt as though it was coming together.

There are so many things in here that seem to just happen, and felt correct the second I saw them.  Deciding to build the image around drawings I did while I was up at the glacier camp with the dogs, the two you see here are from the Battle Dawgs team, Hugo in front and Duster at his back.  The team was a major focus for me.  Seeing them all together on the line stuck with me, and I knew that having a solitary dog on the shirt would never feel correct for what Battle Dawgs is about.  It’s about having each others back.  Being there regardless of how hard things get.  And getting through it.

If there’s one thing you don’t ever get used to in Alaska it’s just how majestic the natural world around you feels.  When the shapes around the dogs started going in it was just a reaction to this.  A primitive and visceral representation.  The shapes around the dogs began to form a mountain range and tree line with the gaps between giving rise to a river.  Things that in all honesty I didn’t see or even comprehend having done until they were already there.  It’s something all to important to the mission that Battle Dawgs and Alaska’s Healing Hearts is on.  To share the beauty of Alaska with veterans and to show them that ‘the world is bigger than the four walls of your room.’

I knew I wanted to weather the final image, to give it the grit and rugged look that would help it feel more stenciled and military.  And when the texture was laid over I knew it spoke to more than just military, but also to the dog sled team as well.  Running a team is tough, gritty, exhausting work.  Just getting the dogs from their kennel to the line, trudging through the snow, was an endeavor.

‘Helping our warriors one step at a time’ was a line pitched by Rick some time ago.  And something that I believe fits the Battle Dawgs mission perfectly.  They race, they inspire, they help, they heal and they keep giving back to those who have sacrificed so much of themselves and well being:  our service men and women.  To add the Battle Dawgs paw print at the end is to give their word, their signature, that they’ll continue to do so.  One race, one outing, one warrior at a time.

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Shirts Available Through BattleDawgsRacing.com

Darcheart

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Diving a little deeper into the WoW art this past week with another commissioned portrait piece for a friend.  This time a Blood Elf Deathknight!  Learned a little about metal coloring work with this piece, and fought myself with the color tones the whole way but I actually like the final quite a lot.  It’s fun to challenge myself with textures and materials I’m not used to rendering/coloring.  And with every portrait I get a little more comfortable with where this style is heading, making my ambition grow more and more to create full scenes.  Stay tuned.

Rothgarrin

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Rothgarrin – Ink and Digital Color

I love working on fan art.  I don’t do it often but I have a blast when I do.  There’s just something fun about creating imagery based on characters, places and things you spend so much time with.  Be it video games, movies, tv shows or comics.  It’s also great practice.  So much so that this piece helped me solidify the direction I’ve been wanting to go with my digital color work.

I have tried in the past to do a full digital style like this, but I’ve never been happy with the lines that come from it.  This piece used ink line work, from the Pentel Brush Pen, that I just did on a whim in my sketchbook while I sat around waiting for an appointment.  This was the lead up to the Triumphy piece I shared earlier, and set how I wanted to work on them.  The colors and technique is more refined in the other piece as well, but without spending the time here, I wouldn’t have even had that commission pop up!

Triumphy

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Triumphy – Ink and Digital Color

I’ve started doing a little bit of nerdy portraiture based on characters from World of Warcraft.  This piece was commissioned by a friend recently and it was actually a fun exercise working in a this style that I’ve not touched on for a little while.  Digital color and art making has been a struggle but I’ve started feeling more and more at home with my style in the computer.  But with these sort of portraits I feel like it’s a lot lower stress and just allows me to play with technique and handling rather than getting bogged down with concept or even too much with composition.

I’m looking forward to doing more of these and seeing how the style develops from there!

For the Horde!

Inner Workings

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“Inner Workings”
Prints Available

I’ve been mulling over ideas for a more editorial styled piece for a while now and over the last few days, the idea and this drawing really came together. There were a lot of in the moment decisions made along the way for this one and I’m really happy with how they played in the drawing.

I didn’t do a sketch for this piece, just jumped in with what I had in my head and got to work. I don’t usually do that for even the simplest of drawings. Thankfully the drawing seemed to just work with me this time out!

Goliath – Gargoyles

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Goliath – 11×17 Digital

In a fun effort to keep myself working on new techniques and experimenting with styling, I’ve been working on helping a small fan art group get off the ground.  The idea is simple:  create fun and interesting fan art pieces as a group.  It’s slow going so far, but I’m having a good time just getting a chance at some neat character designs and image making ideas!

I haven’t quite finished my first entry yet (Metalhead from TMNT that still needs a background), but this drawing of Goliath from Gargoyles came together nicely.  Gargoyles wasn’t the biggest cartoon on my radar as a kid, but it was there, and I remember watching it a lot.  Plus the characters from it are so varied and different that it was hard to say no to making it an option for my choice of subject matter!

For those interested, here’s a process gif of the image!

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