I know a lot of people stress their job selection and finding just the right job for them when they enlist. I knew I wanted to join the Army, and while I didn’t know exactly what job I was going to go with, I knew it would be combat arms. I had no desire to go in any of the admin/supply/etc. jobs. When it came down to selecting the job I was going to pick, my recruiter and I simply went through a list of high bonus combat jobs. When it came to 13F Fire Support Specialist, it just seemed right. He was an old Mech Infantry guy and so knew FO’s I could talk with. I had a quick chat with another recruiter who gave me a quick run down of the job and I was set. I love what I did as an FO. It was the best mix of small unit and large scale operations. It allowed me to get into the mix with all combat unit types from Infantry to Armor to Scouts. And it allowed me the chance to meet and befriend some of the greatest people I’ve ever known.
This drawing has been in my head for some time, and with all of the commission work I’ve been knocking out, I hadn’t had a chance to get at it. I’m glad I was able to finally get around to working it up. Though it wasn’t without issue. I had a lot of trouble creating a believable sense of scale and background and I think that’s why I’m more partial to the version at the top. It’s cleaner, it speaks more to how you feel when you’re up on the hill calling in fires, and allows the viewer to fill in the rest.
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.
With the new job comes a lot of new art. Some I can share here, others that will be filed away for the future.
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!
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.
One of the biggest reasons I love gaming of all types is the way it brings people together. I’ve met so many amazing people by simply being interested in a certain video game, or a tabletop game, or even a collectible card game. Some of the most lasting friendships I have were forged through those shared passions. You can learn a lot about the kind of person behind the keyboard or on the other side of the table in such a short time. A lot of it is in their play style and how they react to a challenging situation (or an overwhelming victory).
Recently I started playing World of Warcraft again to get a little more online hang out time with some real life friends that are more than a little scattered across the country. In no time I was meeting a ton of new players from the guild and getting to know each of them through chat or over the headset.
When news that our guildie Kimilyn had passed away broke, I felt compelled to make something to honor a fellow gamer whose own passion for the game and specifically the PVP aspects of it drove me to play a little harder when I was lucky enough to step into a battleground with her. She was kind, caring, fun, and utterly ruthless on the field of battle.
Kimilyn’s guild note says it all: “PVP.thats it.PVP.nothing else”
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.
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!
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!
The design was a fun change of pace and gave me a chance to stretch my legs and push this style of illustrating/designing a little more. I drew the original in black and white and then converted the entire thing over to just white for the shirt. It was a fun challenge to get the depth and distinct shapes I needed/wanted out of the drawing while making it work in a single white tone on a color background. In the end I’m extremely happy with how it all came together.
Support this fundraiser and support this group! And if you order one, I definitely want to see some photos of people repping my work!