Destined for Death (Metal)

I can finally reveal the cover I illustrated for Dauthuz‘ first full-length album — in all its original black-and-white glory and goriness.
Dauthuz, skull, tshirt, album cover, death metal, old school

Mind you, this version — the one I prefer and give you here — differs signifcantly from the definitive cover art, as can be seen on their website.

I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. The band couldn’t get behind the design as originally intended by me, and so they had some changes made (by someone else than me). I don’t like it — but there’s no pleasing everyone, and that’s just the way is. So I’m not going to complain or throw a fit. But I do feel a need to explain what I feel has gotten lost in the final design.

For starters, gone now is the simple triangular composition, and with it the tight negative space surrounding the skull and corpses; gone now the eye in the right socket, and with it a centrifugal focal point. On that last note, the focal potential of the center skull is even further undermined by the bright candy red color scheme of the background — an area that due to its radiance, now “pops” to the foreground.

And it’s not just the layout that took a hit. Subtle references to some of my favorite artists and bands are no longer there anymore. Take the eye, for instance. It was meant to be a design nod to Mark Riddick, one of the industry’s greats, whose work has been of great influence to me. Now it’s just a gaping hole, void of any reference.

Oh well, it is as it is. But it does make me think about how I want to go about things in the future. And, well, I still got a solid portfolio piece out of it, which also counts for something.

The album titled by the way, Destined by Death will be out in November.

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Livin’ Hard and Ridin’ Fast

Earlier today someone asked me, “Do you have a site or a blog I could check to see some of your work?” Which reminded me that I do actually. And with that realization came the one that I’ve been sitting on some news for quite a while now.

My last post was about the new Cardinal logo which I ended by noting that I was working on several more. And well some of them, they are about done and with others, progress is being made.

While on the subject of band art, I also want to mention — if I haven’t done so in a previous blog entry — that I completed designing my first fully-illustrated album cover. The band members were so pleased with the design that they also had it printed as an on-stage backdrop of about ten by six feet. And it’s already seen some live use at a gig last weekend. Even so, the band have requested me not to show it in full just yet because they want to do a big reveal for the label and their fans in an official kind of way sometime soon.

I can show you, however, something entirely else — a cartoon I recently finished drawing. There’s a bit a of a story behind it, the details of which I’ll recount at a later date, probably sometime later this week. So for now, just enjoy what you see here.

old school biker (finished).jpg

Digital Inking: Clip Studio Paint vs. Artrage

Alright, let’s talk digital inking software — but first, a little introduction.

I am especially fond of Belgian-Franco comics, also Dutch ones — party because of the way they are drawn and inked. Among the comics artists I admire particularly are Franquín (Gaston), Albert Underzo (Astérix), and Martin Lodewijk (Agent 327). You know what these guys have in common? Their linework linework has a playful smoothness  — one I, at least, find hard to emulate.

Me, I don’t have steady hands. So getting crisp lines on a canvas has been a pain and a grief since the first day I tried my hand at it. This all goes to say that I most welcomed auto-smoothing tools — especially the one of ArtRage, which is why ArtRage became my “go-to” software for cartoon inking. After some misfires, I came close to getting it right (see the cartoon below). tumblr_ogbml8bn8a1tlpjb5o1_1280

Yeah. I would say the inking looks okay enough, though perhaps a bit too cold and clinical. And I say to you now, that is the very problem with auto-smoothing, and that leads me to the irony of it all: Oh sure, you finally got your crisp lines, but all the playfulness is smoothed out.

I had already figured out that if you want to ink something gnarly organic, you’re probably better off using Clip Studio Paint (a.k.a. Manga Studio) (see the detail close-ups below of a work-in-progress) —
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— instead of ArtRage (see the close-up below of a piece done last year).
skull-side

Why, you may ask? Why not just use ArtRage, but with a different pen or different settings? Can’t you, then, just make the same gnarly drawing? Well, I found that I couldn’t. For example, once I turned off the smoothing in ArtRage, I ended up with jaggy lines that scream “digital.” Also, Clip Paint Studio, even by default, has a bigger number of available ink brushes for selection — not surprisingly of course, because ArtRage is first and foremost a painting software while Clip Studio Paint is geared toward artists making black-and-white comic strips.

Last night, I tried, for the first time, to do some cartooning in Clip Paint Studio, without any smoothing to aid me — and I’m loving it! I thought I, with my shakey hands, wouldn’t be able to get smooth lines and curves, but to my surprise — it’s actually really easy to ink smoothly and crisply while, even more importantly, even retaining that organic “feel” (see the cartoon head below)! Truly mind-blowing stuff! Now, I’m finally close to making the sort of the comics I so love.

headshot.JPGOh, before I take off, I also want to stress that Clip Studio Paint never seems to lag on my work rig, no matter the amount of layers or the resolution. ArtRage, on the other hand, seems capable only of coping with a limited layer limit. But then, ArtRage emulates analog painting, which in real life constitutes putting down layer on layer on layer, all in the same layer if you will. If high-resolution layer management is what you’re after, look elsewhere. (Did anyone say Clip Studio Paint?)

Let me know about your inking experiences. Please share your stories, insights, and ideas by writing to me.

Dauthuz

If you follow my work, you know I’ve been working on some album art and another tee design for Dauthuz. There’s not really that much to say except that things have been progressing well but slowly because I was caught up in “exam hell” with little time for drawing. To clarify, I’ve been taking a course in Norwegian at the Bergen University, and it’s something I take very seriously. So, yeah, now you know it all.

dauthuz y.jpg

Well, perhaps there is more to be said there.

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As much as I like my previous and first tee design for Dauthuz — something always felt off about those damned skulls. Specifically, the texture of the skulls wasn’t — isn’t boney enough, so this time around I’m trying to, at least, get that right.

I mean, sure, the nasal bone looks okay enough, but the maxilla and the upper dental arches are pure amateur hour.

6 Months Later …

It’s become somewhat of a joke — every new blog entry opening with the following words: “It has been six months since I posted my last,”  but what can I say? I’m not much of a blogger. At best, I’m a seasonal one, but probably not even that. But hey, at least this way, when I blog, you can bet I’ve got something to say. And boy, do I have some news to tell you! I’m talking N-E-W-S News here! Plural! That’s right. So keep reading.

Let’s start with the big news. About four months ago, I migrated to Norway because my better half was made a job offer she couldn’t refuse even though it meant — well, moving to Norway. As you can imagine, it has been a bit of a busy and hectic time. Funnily enough, me emigrating was, paradoxically, also a bit of a non-event, not least because, for the first two months, I had to do without my computer and drawing gear and, of course, I also had to settle in from scratch. So, in a way, my social and creative life came to a halt.

Well, I’m all settled in now — my computer is at my place in the picturesque city of Bergen, I got my music, and my new friends. I got everything I need to get shit done … and, nope, there’s no “buts.” I’ve been churning out cartoons and other illustrative work at a steady pace. Let me show you some stuff.

  • Sint is Dead

I drew this cartoon in reaction to the ongoing “Black Pete” debate in the Netherlands in which one gets labeled a racist no matter what one says or thinks about the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration.

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  • The Teddy Project

I’ve been doing some character designs and model sheets for some guys at the Bergen University who are working on their first indie game.

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  • The Grand Gnome

I don’t know why, but for some reason, I have a fondness for gnomes. Perhaps it is because, as a child and youth, I spent many enjoyable hours drooling over the gnome illustrations of Rien Poortvliet and watching the televised adventures of David the Gnome.

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  • Dauthuz

Currently I’m working on some album and T-shirt designs for everyone’s favorite Death Metal band, Dauthuz.

death-metal-manga


There, now you’re all to speed on what I’ve been doing lately.

Dauthuz: T-Shirt Design

Some of you may have seen the final t-shirt design* already. Some of you who have not seen it should see it, especially if you play in a band. Maybe some who have seen it should see it again.

Dauthuz T-Shirt

It’s been a long time dream come true. Over the years I’ve scratched off a few things of my “bucket list” — I’ve designed logos for some cool bands and I’ve even done some album art… but until now I had never designed a t-shirt. So yeah, it’s been great to work on this one, since it also features in a logo designed by me.

As to the design itself, there’s not much to add. Dauthuz is an old-school Death Metal band. And nothing says “old-school Death Metal” more than a pair of — not really anatomically correct — skulls.

Now, if you’re in a Death Metal band and need some artwork for your album or whatever, feel free to contact me and we will work something out.

*) Soon you can order my t-shirt through their webstore for measly ten euros!

Dauthuz: Sneak Peek

As I noted in one of my previous blog entries, I’m currently working on a T-shirt design for Dauthuz. It’s shaping up nicely, if I say so myself. And, so far, the feedback on social media has been very positive, even more so than usual. So heh… I might’ve just finally found the right niche for myself. No, to be honest, I don’t think there’s a future in Death Metal T-shirt design because the return simply isn’t there. Most of the time you only get paid in “exposure,” if even that. But it’s fun, for a change, to toy around with new, more gritty ideas and (at least to me) unfamiliar styles of drawing and rendering, so that’s just fine with me. But don’t go expecting I’ll be doing freebies and cheapies for all you bands out there!

Dauthuz, tshirt design, deathmetal, gore, horror, zombie, illustration, skull, blackwhite

 

“What’s cooking, bro?”

I was just reading this article on negative reviews, on how only (aspiring) writers who see negative criticism as something positive, encouraging, end up as successful writers. I like to think this applies to artists as well. If someone says something bad about your illustrative work, it means you’re probably onto something. Either that, or you really need a new hobby or career.

As for news, I can tell you little at this time: I just finished a food mascot for a start-up hamburger restaurant, and I’m about to get started on a T-shirt design for Dauthuz — and (spoiler alert) it involves skulls.