Harpy Queen - collaboration between Tyler Jacobsen and Jesper Ejsing

There's a really cool piece of art up on Muddy Colors that is a collab between two amazing concept artists, Tyler Jacobsen and Jesper Ejsing. What I really like on the post is the shot of the back and forth stages that lead to the final piece.

Neither artist was afraid to completely re-work the design and the composition, subjects, and colours change dramatically. It's a good reminder not to be afraid to scrap something that's not speaking to you and that sometimes it's better to rebuild from the groud up.

California Map

Managed to finish off another US state map - this time California. California is a really awkward shape for creating a design of; I feel like there's a lot of empty space eithe rside of it. But my only options to fix that would have been to crop it or to squish it, which didn't appeal.

Next up will be Colorado, the final stop on my upcoming USA trip. I think that might be the last one of these maps I do for awhile.

Oregon Map

My Oregon state map is available on Redbubble in an amazingly wide variety of products. I'm also in the middle of the second map I'm making in anticipation of my USA trip - California. The rest of June is quite busy though, so it may be a little while before that one is finished.


Schoolism Kickstarter

If you're interested in online art courses, I highly recommend having a look at the Schoolism Kickstarter.

There are a variety of courses, run by some of the best artists in the industry, covering drawing, oil painting, digital painting, lighting, character design, and so on. I wasn't sure myself about signing on as I'm already enrolled in a different online course, however I've seen great things from other artists who are using Schoolism and the value of the Kickstarter subscriptions is hard to pass up; their  campaign offers subscriptions that work out at about £6.50 per month and the ability to switch between courses an unlimited number of times (for a $1 fee each time).

There's only 24 hours left to back the project (which has already reached all of it's stretch goals) and take advantage of the great value subscriptions.


New Maps - Part 5


I ended up shifting the text all the way into the middle of the state, as opposed to the far left side. 

Additionally I did some final colour tweaks and then brought everything into photoshop where I applied a soft bit of texture.


You can see a few detailed images here and if you're interested, you can buy prints or various other items featuring the map here.

New Maps - Part 4

Getting a bit closer to being to finishing this map of Oregon. 

In my last post about this, I'd just laid down the coloured segments on the landscape, the rivers, and the mountain ranges.

At this stage, I'd added in some stripes and dots on a few of the squares and adjust the colours of the mountains to blend into the squares they are sitting on. I've also started to bring in some of the assets I created to work out how they will fill the state. 

Here I've added in the trees and bushes. This can be quite a tedious task, as I'm having to adjust the colours of these assets to make sure they're readable against the square they're on and I try and get a nice balance regarding which type of tree or shrub is used. 

I heartily recommend getting anal about your layer stack. When there's this many objects in an image, it makes finding a specific tree or hill much easier.


So now I just need to figure out how I want to title the map, maybe tweak the colours a little more, and then add a little texture in Photoshop!

Bank Holiday and Magic Box

Had a lovely long weekend camping in Wales for the bank holiday. The goal was to hike up the Brecon Beacons and do the Beacons Circuit, but the weather was spectacularly harsh. My partner and I were well equipped, but by the time we got to Pen-y-Fan it was clear our pooch was having a horrible time in the strong winds and sideways rain. So we're getting her a nice rain coat and returning soon to try again.


And here's a bit of WIP art. I joined Chris Oatley's Magic Box a couple of months ago and am almost finished with the second assignment (take a classic portrait and change the subject into an animal - I'm basing mine off Jean Francois Kaufmann's The Toast ).

Landscape Study

Another landscape study I did recently. It took a lot of work to get the rock looking halfway decent, and I'm still not 100% happy with it.  I'll just have to keep whacking away at it.


New Maps - Part 3

So I've been a bit busy the last week and a bit, which has slowed progress on my Oregon map. But I have managed to get a bit more done.

Here I've laid out the rivers and mountain ranges as well as the patchwork of land.

For the first couple of maps I made, when it came to the patchwork I just used a clipping mask to cut the edges, however at the end stage I like to drag the map into Photoshop to apply texture and do some overall colour tweaking and that creates a small problem.
 If you select everything in your Illustrator file and drag it onto a document in Photoshop, it automatically converts it into a smart object. This allows you to change the size without losing quality, but Photoshop ignores clipping masks, which resulted in patches crossing over lines and such. So now I use pathfinder to actually clip the patches at the edges of the state and avoid clipping masks where I can (Oddly not all clipping paths are ignored. For example, I use clipping paths on the waves under the boats in my previous maps and those come through fine. *shrug*)

I've also been working on creating some unique assets. The bottom row are the ones that have been made for Oregon so far.It's kinda nice to see this AI file grow every time I create some more objects. I sorta hope to one day have a massive A1 size artboard filled with these little things.


The results of my time tracking have been a bit surprising. I spend a lot more time on each little asset than I expected, being able to get about 4 done in an hour. Overall, I've put in just over 14 hours on the map so far. Is that fast or slow? I haven't got a clue. Feels slow though.


Anyway, the next steps are adjusting the gradients on the mountains so they blend in with the ground colour they sit on, checking the edges of the rectangles to make sure they line up properly, and adding a bit more detail to the rivers.

Inspiration - Benjamin Hayte

 Benjamin Hayte is an amazing concept artist and illustrator currently working for Nickelodeon.  He has serious talent when it comes to creating engaging, beautiful landscapes, but what inspires me the most from his art is his ability to make some truly unique characters.

Check out Benjamin's website and follow him on Instagram (@ben.hayte)

Benjamin Hayte - Mongolian Dragons 

Benjamin Hayte - Mongolian Dragons 

New Maps - Part 2

Going to try and update throughout the process of creating this next map. Here's where I'm at so far...

Initial planning - some R&D about the states including major cities, industry, flora and fauna, mountain ranges, attractions, and so on.

Initial planning - some R&D about the states including major cities, industry, flora and fauna, mountain ranges, attractions, and so on.

A rough layout of the state with borders. 

A rough layout of the state with borders. 

Sometimes gradients just don't work very nicely in Illustrator and you end up with the banding you can see in this image. I'll have to play with the colours and layering to get rid of this for the final version.

Like my previous maps, I've kept the lines very straight, using 45 degree angles for bends. I would normally have simplified the edges more, but as Oregon has a mostly rectangular shape doing so would leave it looking pretty bland.

Portland building sketches

Portland building sketches

Cities of Oregon: Portland, Eugene, and Salem

Cities of Oregon: Portland, Eugene, and Salem

When selecting the buildings I like to use Google Maps street view (where I can. It's a bit harder in Europe). It allows me to wander around the town and act a bit like a tourist. This method also helps force me to break the building shapes down, as street view often has you looking from an angle, not straight on.

Once I've found a good selection, I will start sketching simplified versions of them, usually making them more square, dropping some details and exaggerating others. I don't consider the colours or layouts final until I put them on the map along with all the other objects and see how they interact.



My next step is to lay out the mountain ranges and start making the other assets that will be dotted around the map - animals, unique plants, attractions, etc.