Archive for the ‘process’ Category

Home Time WIP

Posted by campbell July 26th, 2012

Here’s some snap shots from my drawing board. I’ve been hard at work on Home Time, grinding away.
I’ll be taking part in a couple of group shows in the next few months with some great new pieces you’ll be able to pick up. I’ll keep you posted.


Digital Models

Posted by campbell June 7th, 2012

Sometimes you need physical models, sometimes you need digital ones.

I need to compose shots from within that structure, I couldn’t possibly render the space from a variety of angels simply by working it out on the paper, now would a physical maquette allow me the freedom to get my eye around the spaces in there. No, it had to be digital. Thank google for sketchup. I cut my teeth on the program a while ago when Perth City ran an open competition for the redevelopment of Forest Place, you can see my proposal here. Unfortunately it didn’t make it, perhaps a little too ambitious.

The more tools you have in your belt, the more prepared you’ll be to think horizontally when challenges arise.


Model Making

Posted by campbell June 3rd, 2012

I recently put together these two maquettes for sequences I’m illustrating in Home Time.

Although I had visual plans and layouts for the structures, it’s was proving way too hard to illustrate them consistently from different angles. These models took a couple of hours to put together, made from an old wood ruler, some balsa wood, cardboard and hot glue. They’re not pretty, but they get the job done.

I’d thoroughly recommend making little models of structures and characters. It never takes as long as you think, and it gives you a much greater understanding of the dimensionality of what you’re drawing. You’ll also find a great deal of surprises when working from models, where shadows fall, the way shapes intersect, the way things look from unusual angles.

We can imagine a great deal of things. Our minds are like little reality engines. We can run structures through a range of lighting conditions, palette swaps, textural variations. There’s a great deal that we can’t do though, and model making reveals those gaps.

This is especially useful with character heads. I often find myself drawing characters from “comfortable” angles, angles that I know I have clear visual models of in my head. With a physical model, it makes it easy to create lots of new possibilities quickly.


Into the Mountain

Posted by campbell May 27th, 2012

Tonight there is an open night and exhibition at Paper Mountain studio, where I’m currently working away at my graphic novel. All of the studio artists will have work on display and will be in their studios for a meet and greet. PLUS there’s a bake off of delicious treats, and poetry reading and all kinds of other goodnesses.

The work I’ve put in for the exhibition is the Mt. Triforce illustration that I created a little while ago. It was originally created for a completely unrelated, video game themed zine, but fits in nicely with the studio name. I’m going to experiment with a few different printing methods for that illustration, and then start offering it for sale on my etsy store.

I should be there from 5 if anyone wants to see what i’ve been up to and have a chat.
You can find all the details for the event here.


Project Planning

Posted by campbell May 23rd, 2012

Over the last few weeks I’ve gone to a couple of universities to talk to arts students about project planning.

I talked for about an hour about a number of my projects, how they moved from idea, through work, to finished works. How as artists, we need to not only allow ourselves to be swept up in the exhilarating thrill of making, but must also be project managers, and plan and work even when we don’t feel like it.

So much of “being an artist” is doing the work you don’t want to do. Of planning and plotting and scheming and scheduling and sticking to time lines and setting goals. In high school we often get seduced with the idea of the individual genius, of the artist struck by inspiration who works passionately late in to the night and emerges at the break of dawn with his masterpiece. We believe that ideas spring from within, without provenance, and that we will triumph in the end.

There is all the work though, all the grind. There can be no waiting for inspiration, or feeling in the mood. It’s got to be work. And because of the nature of the work, no one gives a shit if you slack off. No one will care if you punch in late and clock off early. If you set your own schedule and you miss it by an hour, a day, a week a month. If you don’t pick up the paint brush for a year, who will really care? We are not doctors skipping surgery, or firemen ignoring infernos. We are ultimately responsible for steering our own course.

Inspiration is a luxury I don’t have the time for.

For the talk, I drafted a list of criteria that I’ve established for myself, of things that I know a project has to have for me to take it on. Things that I know need to be present, or else I won’t see it through. This list will be different for everyone, and will change for me over time as well. I have learned these things about me as much through succeeding in projects as I have through failing in them.

Combine multiple interests.
For me, this means drawing from a range of areas for any given project. It might be certain painters, colour combinations, line work, materials, sounds, music, performances, books. Attempting to make these areas of exploration in to a new whole with new meanings and new readings. It also has the added benefit of offering “escapes” for when you are tired of a project. If you can then shift your focus to a different area of the work, it can keep you going longer.

Make it autobiographical.

This is about placing myself within the work, or rather, identifying where I am within the work and why. Why is this project important to me, to me as a person and an artist. To me as a white male, as a caucasian, as an Australian, as an English speaker. What does it mean for me to be producing the work I do. If a work is autobiographical, or if you are able to identify yourself in it, then you will invest more in the work itself and develop a greater understanding of you and your relationship to the work.

Define your terms of victory.
Goals need to be set for any project. I like to set big goals and mini goals. Big goals are the game winners, they are the big ambitious pay off type goals that will happen when all the grind work is done. It might be an exhibition, or a published book, or a performance. It’s also really important to set mini goals throughout the project. These might be small achievements like sales targets, interviews, number of page views. These mini goals will keep you going when the end seems so far away that you don’t think you can keep going.

Know how you work.
This is tricky, and a knowledge of self can only really come through doing lots of projects. Do you leave everything to the last minute? Do you work to a strict schedule. If you have a deadline looming, and a friend rings you up to go out for a drink, will you stay in the studio and work, or go out and party? If you’re out drinking, there’s going to be ten other artists still in their studios working away, wanting it more than you do.

Set a time line.
Map it all out, map it all out. Schedules are king. Like I said earlier, when you are your own boss, you can be slack as all hell. However, when you are your own boss you can also work as hard as hell. Set a time line. Lay it all out.

I think the easiest way to make a time line is to reverse engineer your project. Start with your end goal. Then pen in when you want to achieve it. Then figure out what the step is immediately before your end goal, and pen that in the calender. Then what do you need to do before that, and before that and before that and keep going until you get where you are now. Assess if it’s feasible, if you know how you work you can figure out if it’s doable. If need be, rejig the plan until it all works spaces out nicely.

Make sure you give yourself room for error, for sickness, for emergencies, because they will poke their heads in to disrupt your master plan.

Push hard
Work work work work work work work.


Workshop Treasures

Posted by campbell April 27th, 2012

I recently did a comics workshop at our local library. It was part of their school holiday programing and was a day long event. The workshop was heaps of fun, with everyone making mini comics and hanging out. It was targeted mainly at primary school age children, some had a lot of experience drawing, others were coming at it for the first time.

As a part of the “getting ideas” section of the workshop, I had everyone select a “non comics” artist to use as an inspiration. For a lot of kids that was a bit hard, so we took a walk over to the art section of the library (it’s handy doing workshops in libraries) and started grabbing books. Now most of the kids went looking for something really specific, and were able to find a book or artist that suited them, but two girls in particular weren’t so fussed.

So yes, the above comic features David Hockney. This pretty much blew my mind. The girl who pulled out his biography liked him because of his thick rimmed glasses and decided to throw him in to the comic. I don’t think she understood that I intended them to be inspired by the artwork, not include the artist. This works so much better though.

The next comic is an anthropological adventure featuring Ansel Adams, this too, blew my mind. She actually explained to me that the comic was a mashup of Ansel Adams, Party Rock Anthem and Where the Wild Things Are. Can we get this girl a contract please?

And of course, someone made a comic featuring Hitler. However, I think it is probably the best comic about Hitler ever.


Almost there

Posted by campbell January 11th, 2011

I am so close to finishing off my illustration portfolio to send off to publishers. These two pieces need scanning and cleaning up in photoshop and then it’s ready to go. This year is going to be the year of making opportunities, chasing goals, working hard.

There are so many inspiring illustrators out there around my age who are hustling and making inroads. Meg Hunt, Emily Carroll, Vera Bee have been three that have really caught my attention recently. They have such enthusiasm, professionalism and energy to their illustrations. Having the opportunity to watch artists professional practices develop online is such a treat.

(As a side note, I don’t know how those three get anything done, they seem to be constantly tweeting and blogging. Or is that getting things done? In fact all my favorite creatives seem to spend a lot of time on twitter. Which is nice for me.)


the secret

Posted by campbell December 3rd, 2010

I use my son as unpaid child labor to produce my paintings.


Influence Map

Posted by campbell November 6th, 2010



illustration process

Posted by campbell November 2nd, 2010

I thought I’d break down the process that I went through to make the illustration from my previous post.

I have been a big fan of James Gurneys blog, Gurney Journey for a long time. It’s relaxed, creative, super positive and full of amazing advice for visual artists of all types. When I read it, I feel I’m getting the art school education I missed out on when I actually went to art school.

James Gurney created (among other things) the hugely popular illustrated book series Dinotopia

University was fantastic for me, but for an artist with my interests, the visual components were severely lacking. We had very theory heavy classes which were more concerned with concepts than aesthetics. This left me pretty much on my own to work a lot of the technique side of things out.

Anyway, James Gurney offers many step by step insights in to his image making process. A wonderful example is this post here although he touches on these ideas in many of his other posts. His style is very naturalistic and based on super accurate observation of light, colour and how they combine to create form. I am pretty loosey goosey with these ideas. I tend to be more concerned with line creating flat shapes and colouring intuitively.

I thought for this illustration, I’d challenge myself to go through the same (well, at least similar) steps that James goes through when making an image.

The first step was to do sketches, to develop the idea as much as I could without any external assistance. I wound up with these.

I wanted to do an interior shot of the tree house, one of the characters bedrooms with him reclining and reading. I had a pretty clear vision of the emotions I wanted to convey, of comfort and warmth and relaxation. I remember sitting in bed, reading, exploring new worlds through pages and illustrations.

From these illustrations, I then developed a cardboard and clay model of the bedroom. This took a few hours and a little bit of trial and error as I’d never done one before. The materials made it easy to create soft organic shapes, and any imperfections in the molding were welcome as they provided some nice error in design.

After I was happy with the model, I spray painted the whole thing white. James Gurney does this in a number of examples so that observation of shadows and light become obvious. When there is tonal variation in the model itself, it makes it harder to pin point the relative tonal values.

I then played around with lighting the model. I knew I wanted to light it through the window, but this took a while to get right. I knew I was going to have a second light source coming from within the room, but I didn’t really have a way to get that one to work out.

After photographing the work, I did a detailed drawing from it, with the character and props in place. Once finished, I drew a grid over the work so that I could then expand it on to another sheet of paper.

Then I redrew the grid and the work very lightly on to a large piece of thick watercolour paper. I then worked in to it, with the model at hand for reference and the lit photographs beside me. I also had a small model that I’d made of the characters head. Although he is very cartoony, it helps greatly with maintaining the shape of him.

After I was happy with the colour I had laid down, I then worked back in to the piece with coloured pencils to define shapes and give surfaces texture. Then it was done. Unfortunately I don’t have any step by step images of the actual painting/drawing process. I might scan my next illustration step by step so you can see how I work on the page itself.

The model making and photographing was done over a day. This was because of various drying times involved. The actual labour time was much less. The illustration took one full day of work.

Overall the process was fantastically fulfilling and I learnt a lot through it. There are many lighting elements that I would never have anticipated if it had been illustrated straight from my mind. Environmental and character models are something that I plan on investing a lot more time on in the future. I am not so much interested in achieving a level of naturalism that James Gurney does, but it all helps to create a sense of “reality” for the viewer. That they can place themselves in the world that little bit more. Which I guess is the aim of all picture makers.