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  1. #1
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    Sketchbook Adventures

    Introductions! My name is Micah Epstein. I'm an art student and intent on pursuing a career as an illustrator/concept artist.

    There's not too much to say here, really. I've been lurking about CA.org for a while now, but until now I haven't worked up the courage to start posting my work.

    But! I'm committed to improving, and there's a lot I can learn from all the amazing artists on this site. So it's time to get over my trepidation and start posting. Call it a New Year's resolution.

    Marked NSFW for probable nudity later on.

    Without further ado, here's some art.

    Sketchbook thumbnail:

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    Last edited by Meps; April 7th, 2012 at 05:20 PM.
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  2. #2
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    The first one is a WIP of some face drafts for a friend's Pathfinder character. He wanted them to have the general look of the standard Pathfinder goblin, so I'm trying out different faces, colors, and accessories within that framework.

    The second one is a 1-hour warm-up sketch of Minas Tirith. Done from a screenshot.

    Third is a quick creature design I did when I should have been studying for a lit class.

    (Incidentally, does anyone know how I can position text above each image without creating a separate post for each? Thanks!)

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    Last edited by Meps; January 12th, 2012 at 09:28 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Second update! Let's hear it for semi-regularity.

    First, the finished (for now) version of the goblin WIPs from the last post--I'm fairly happy with them on the whole, particularly the yellow and red ones. The teal guy gave me problems, though. Particularly his eye, as well as the rim light--neither of them look quite right. Does anyone have any pointers for fixing those?

    Next one started out as a 1-hour practice sketch based on a photo from portrait-photos.com. It ended up running a little beyond that (probably closer to an hour and 45 minutes or so. And I -hate- it. I don't know why, but it looks stiff and the eyes seem all wrong. But I figured I'd post it anyway to see if anyone can help me figure out what went wrong. (I'm posting the original source photo below it for reference.)

    Next is a 1.5-hour portrait sketch that I'm actually quite proud of--done from a photo of Olivia Wilde.

    Number four is a 1-hour warm up, also done from a photo.

    Finally, was a quick gesture sketch done from life

    Also, once again, does anyone know how to intersperse photos with text while still using the attachment manager? Thanks.

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    Hi Meps - I don't know about the attachment manager question - but it's easy to store your images on a site like photobucket.com and use the [img] code to post your pics. You can put text in there easily then.

    Thanks for checkin out my sketchbook. Your goblin sketches look nice, and you did them fast too! I think that the b/w photo study is nice too. It's a little off with the values (and some anatomy - back of neck, foreshortened arm, head tilt) but rendered well. You do a nice job with painting on the images that you go further with.

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  6. #5
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    Wholewheat keyboard - Thanks for the crit! I'm definitely seeing the lighting and anatomy mistakes. I'll try to do a few more of these and pay closer attention.

    Wow, it's been way too long since the last update. This time is a bunch of pencil stuff and a couple other sketches/finished bits I have lying around. I just started a new piece, so I'll have wips for that up soon. This is gonna be a lengthy post, but since I still don't know how to put words between the images, I'll just describe the images here.

    The first three are random sketchbook pages. Yes, that's the Monkey King. Oddly enough, I hated him as a character in Journey to the West, yet find myself oddly fascinated by him on an artistic level--maybe it's this same fascination that makes him such a popular character in all of the story's various remakes and retellings.

    The next three are studies I did of scarabs for Creature of the Week 243--I first read the prompt over halfway into the week and I didn't finish it on time, but the challenge was still fun and I'd like to go back and finish what I started when I get the chance.

    The next three are actual sketches of my creature. The theme of the week was "ecological staple"--something defenseless that supports an ecosystem through its death. My idea (influenced by scarab beetles in terms of looks, and various snails and slugs otherwise) was of a large, slug-like creature that lives in a wasteland, subsisting on carrion and dead plant matter, the only abundant food sources in its habitat. It builds up stores of these foods in the lobes and swellings on its back. The slugs have a short lifespan--only 1-3 years, and when they die, the leftover food matter in their bodies becomes a rare and important source of fertilizer for their ecosystem--they basically become living compost piles which "activate" upon death, with plants springing up from their dead bodies.

    I was decently happy with the design--the final one has yet to be drawn up, but will essentially feature the creature depicted in the first sketch, but with the "feelers" from he second sketch instead of eyestalks (the idea being that these would pick up on chemical cues and lead the slug to decaying animals and plants). I was concerned that--while reference to nature is the cornerstone of solid creature design--I went a little too far in that direction. Does it look too mundane? Any ideas on how I could spruce it up without making it overly flashy?

    Finally, I'm posting the original image that became the current sketchbook thumbnail, just to have it in a permanent place in the thread. I painted it as a profile picture for Tumblr. Next is a quick, 1-hour self portrait with my smarmiest face on, and finally, a face draft for a friend's goblin Pathfinder character (formerly the sketchbook thumbnail), not to be confused with my self-portrait.

    Whew! That was probably unnecessarily wordy. Anyway, bring on the critiques! Please let me know anything I'm doing wrong and could be doing better. Until next time!

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  7. #6
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    Time for a WIP!

    I'll probably take this over to the critique center as well, because I'm not at all happy with how it's going.

    The basic idea is to have the library shelves in the foreground slowly transition into giant, skyscraper-like structures in the background (although still have them full of books). I'm still in the early stages of the piece and it's when I came to laying down the basic colors (no rendering/detail yet) that I'm hitting a wall. I'm going for a bright and vibrant color scheme, particularly one where the warmer yellows of the background transition into the cooler blues in the foreground, but something just seems off about it.

    Any ideas/criticism/help? I'm going to keep working at it, but I'd love to get some feedback from everyone here. (Also, I know it's kinda rough at this point, but if you spot any perspective errors, please let me know--I might have gotten a little overzealous with the 3-point perspective and screwed some things up)

    Also, I have a bunch of anatomy sketches to scan/photograph--I'll try to upload those tomorrow.

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    To get that towering feel you might have to push the angle of the 3 point to a more dramatic angle, The way to get something to have that towering feel would be to place the angle lower looking up. Then have the structures start to shrink into the distance giving that sense of size. As it is now I don't think it's even 3 point so there won't be any feel of that. It'll just keep going up with no change in size without making it look awkward.

    I like the feel of it though the cool going to warm as you rise higher.

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  10. #8
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    +Subscribed Awesome work! Can't wait to see more from you!

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    hey man, solid start here. Realy like the pathfinder creatures you did for your friend. Keep it up!

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    Hi dude , really like that WIP of yours , maybe put some more stuff in to develop the story? Wanna see how it turns out

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  16. #11
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    Hey Micah, it's Alex. +subscribed. Totally jealous of your work. As it always has it inspires me to get off my lazy butt and draw. I actually brought my art stuff to work tonight to do just that. Once I find a way to upload my art I shall. Keep it up Micah!

    Last edited by PenguinInk; January 26th, 2012 at 05:56 PM.
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  18. #12
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    Wow, you have a really good eye for color.

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    On your most recent image - I agree with Jfierce about the more dramatic perspective would make it better, I think it's a neat idea though. Doing a nice job with the lighting will really sell it too, with a single light source it should be pretty straightforward although many things will be in shadow an all that.

    I like the monkey sketch, and how you used the hatched lines to shade it

    I think overall you should try to pay more attention to your edges when painting. Instead of having some very hard, some very soft edges etc, you have mostly smudgy edges in a lot of your work and putting a little more love there would go a long way. Thanks for giving me more feedback on my sb! (I have the same problem with edges too..)

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  22. #14
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    I bloody love your gremlin creatures, very fun work. Keep posting, would love to see more.

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    The sketches of your characters are very nice!
    On the library: I agree with JFierce - you should use 3 point perspective.

    I will be stopping by to see how it develops...

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  26. #16
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    Thanks for the comment on my sb, Meps!

    Well, two people have already said that 3-point perspective would give that library photo the extra punch it needs. As a huge bookworm I am a big big fan of the subject matter, so I can't wait to see it finished! I'm assuming you're versed in perspective but this link is still nice to have on hand.

    That walrus is just... the best. I laugh every time I see your av.

    Last edited by littlebones; January 31st, 2012 at 04:27 PM.

    We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
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  28. #17
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    Gaaaaah, it's like 1:30 in the morning and I have to get up at 7:00. Thank you all so much for your critiques and feedback! I promise I'll reply to everyone's comments tomorrow!

    (I have even -more- figure drawings to post; I just have to finish running them through photoshop to correct for the horrible lighting I photographed them in. )

    For tonight, though, I'll post the WIP of the library piece again--I'm really kinda struggling with the colors here. As an entire color scheme, I think it's working out alright. But I'm having a lot of trouble with portraying the local color/value of the individual books while still keeping them within the overall color scheme. Any help with that would be fantastic. I've been really inspired lately by the vibrancy and energy of artists like Jen Zee and am really trying to achieve that same kind of awesome color variation in my own work (especially since color is such a weakness for me).

    Oh, and I tried to push the 3-point perspective like everyone said. Should I push it more? I think I've been staring at this thing for too long to be able to tell @_@

    Okay, sleep time. I can finish cleaning up the rest of my figure drawings over lunch tomorrow and post them then. Thanks again for the feedback--you guys are the best.

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  29. #18
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    Time for replies!
    JFierce -- Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I was wondering whether or not I should push it more. I tweaked it a bit and tried to punch up the 3-point perspective in the most recent WIP--thoughts?
    Kino PuA -- Thanks!
    Fetsch -- Thanks, man! The goblins were a ton of fun to paint--I may do more of them at some point.
    rastaray -- Thanks Yeah, I'm planning to clutter it up a bit more once I have more of he colors and values pinned down to a point where they don't make me cringe. Things like strings of flags going from the background through the foreground and little strings of lights and whatnot.
    PenguinInk -- Great to finally see you on CA, man! Thanks for stopping by I can't wait to see your sketchbook.
    SpiralHorn -- Thanks! I actually consider color to be one of my most severe weaknesses (next to rendering foliage. I hate rendering foliage). It's nice to know it might not be as bad as I thought XD
    Wholewheat keyboard -- Thanks for the feedback! I tried to push the 3-point perspective a bit more in the latest WIP. And about the edges--I'll definitely keep an eye on those. I've been trying to keep that in mind while rendering this one, especially when working on the buildings that are farther in the distance.
    CarbonBased -- Thanks! I had a lot of fun painting them
    Justyna -- Thanks for the feedback Yeah, I tried to push the 3-point perspective a lot more this time around, since everyone (myself included) seems to agree that's what it needs.
    littlebones -- Thanks for the link! It always helps to brush up on the fundamentals I tend to have trouble figuring out exactly where to place the vanishing points when I'm constructing a scene. (I had a blast with the walrus XD It's my avatar for basically every site I use now).

    Well, not much to say here. I present to you a metric boatload of gestures, figure drawings, anatomy studies, and a still life. Most of this is from this past week, a bit of it is from earlier this month and a couple of drawings are from last semester. Drawing the figure is so much fun. Critiques welcome, as always!

    On a side note, I think I'm going to take the WIP from last night/this morning's post over to the critique center for some extra feedback. Trying to nail down the colors is driving me nuts.

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  30. #19
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    Good start man! The latest illustration your working on and the goblin like creatures are looking really cool. Be sure to keep it up bro, i look forward to seeing more of your stuff in the future!
    And thanks for the awesome crit you left me in my sketchbook, it was very helplful

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  31. #20
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    That's quite a figure dump! They seem to improve from first to last, so that's a good sign. As for the remake of your library pic, I find that it does better at illustrating the effect you're looking for. The stacks do look taller and much more "towering", haha. If your focus is on the figure, though, I'd find a way to make him stand out a bit more. Right now the big bright sky is sort of taking the primary focus, but it is nice that it sort of leads our eyes to the figure.

    Haha that walrus. It's like, "woooooooooooohhh!" Ok I'm done.


    We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
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  32. #21
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    logistic puppet -- Thanks, man!
    littlebones -- Thanks! I'll work on that as I start to render out the figure a bit more. I'm thinking of really playing up the rim lighting on his head and shoulders to bring some of the brightness from the sky down into the figure.

    Not much to say here, really. I'm still plugging away at this illustration. I really need to work on just making time to paint so I can really up my productivity--if I let a piece take longer than a week, I tend to get bored with it, which is starting to happen with this piece. MUST KEEP GOING.

    Edit: I'm really enjoying the rendering on the kid's face, although I really need to do something about that mouth expression--it looks unbelievably silly as it is right now.

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    Last edited by Meps; February 7th, 2012 at 02:02 AM.
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  33. #22
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    Update looks good. Especially like the shirt.

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  34. #23
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    hey, yeah, I would push the 3-point perspective even more but it's up to you looks great so far!

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  35. #24
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    JFierce - Thanks! Yeah, I'm actually having a lot of fun with the shirt, which is weird, because fabric is usually a huge struggle for me (any tips there would be welcome!).
    Justyna - I might tweak it a bit toward the end, yeah. Not entirely sure yet.

    Wow. Okay, it's been forever since I updated. I've been completely swamped with work for university this month. I haven't had a lot of time for my own personal art (boooooo), but at least I've been drawing. I just haven't gotten around to photographing/scanning things until now << I actually have a -ton- of figure drawings I need to post, not to mention my sketchbook. So there's a lot more to come!

    For now, here's a WIP of the Library piece again. I think I'm nearing the end of this one. It's absolutely shameful that it's taken this long, but like I said, school and blah blah blah.

    The next one is just a fun little piece I did for class. I'm actually pretty happy with it, but holy crap did it photograph horribly. I tried to adjust it a bit in photoshop, but the original wasn't quite so same-y in terms of value.

    Does anyone have any tips for photographing traditional works?

    Anyway, here's hoping I can keep a more consistent update schedule. Just gotta get in the habit of scanning and photographing more often. Massive figure dump coming soon!

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  36. #25
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    Wow, I'm tired. Not much to say here--just trying to update more often. This is mostly a figure dump of assorted long poses and gestures, all done from life. That last figure (the one on toned paper) was a lot of fun to do. I really enjoy being able to work in both highlights and shadow on the toned paper, rather than having to work entirely in shadows on white.

    That last one is a couple thumbnails for a piece I'd love to do (whenever I have a chance to finish that library piece) based on Journey to the West, which continues to fascinate me for some reason, despite my hatred of the main character. I think these read fairly well as far as thumbnails go (often my thumbnails aren't really discernible to anyone but me), so yeah. As always, I beg you for critiques! I'm pretty proud of some of these figures, but I know I have a ton of improving to do.

    On a side note, I tried some plein air painting on Sunday. I've been reading James Gurney's "Color and Light" (which is pure gold, by the way--I highly recommend it) and got the urge to do some landscape painting from observation. And it did not go well. At all << Any tips for that? I was using acrylics, if it helps.

    Anyway, more stuff coming soon.

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  37. #26
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    Whew! A whole month without an update. I'm deeply ashamed of myself. Non-art university work, blah blah blah. That said, I -have- been getting some good art done--I just need to scan it as most of it's in traditional media.

    Anyway, for now, here are a couple pieces, both done for class. The first four (the first one is the preliminary sketch that the next image was based on) were for a self-portrait series (they were really quick paintings--only a couple hours spent on each) inspired by the recent release of Mass Effect 3, which everyone I know has been gleefully enjoying whilst I've been studying.

    Next is more Journey to the West-inspired art! This one features Monkey imprisoned under the mountain of the five elements (as he pretty much deserved, in my opinion). I'm not entirely satisfied with the chest area, but I'm decently happy with the face. This was my first time really experimenting with using textured overlays, and I'm wondering if I overworked them. Thoughts?

    Critiques are so very, very welcome. Until next time!

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  38. #27
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    Update time!

    In this issue, we have:

    A character design for a warrior girl I'm working on for a personal game design project--I decided it would be fun to play around with cel shading, as it's been ages since I did that. And I was right! It was fun.

    Next is a portrait that I've been working on for class, more than a little influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. That, and the fact that I really want a cravat. I'm going to bring back cravats. Just you wait.

    (I took the photo in one of the studios at school which, weirdly enough, has some awful incandescent lighting. I did what I could to correct the color balance.)

    Critiques, anybody?

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  39. #28
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    Hey man, you've got a really great start to your sketchbook here. I'm really liking your character designs and your Journey to the West stuff is excellent. The sketch page of the Monkey King you have towards the top is great! I love the way you did his fur.

    Wish I had some critiques for ya, but you're ahead of me at this whole art thing. Best of luck and keep up the good work!

    "Diligence is the mother of good fortune."
    - Miguel de Cervantes

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    great SB! i really like character design - maybe add some more highlights, like on nose and fabric folds? also your studies look awesome!

    keep up good work!

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  41. #30
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    Art Minded: Thanks! I had a lot of fun with that sketch.

    Betty86: Thank ye kindly Yeah, I wondered about adding some more highlights. I'll definitely try to bring in a few more areas of bright light when I finalize it--that scarf does look kinda flat.

    Just a quick update for now. I have a bunch more traditional media stuff to upload, including the (mostly) finalized version of the alien portrait from the last update. I'll try to photograph that stuff today or tomorrow.

    The first one is a creature design I'm working on for a sort of "hunger spirit" named Mutt. He's from the same story/world as the character from the last update. I'm currently leaning toward the two right-most designs. I'd really appreciate any critiques I can get on this one

    Next is a quick study of a boar. I need to do more animal studies.

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