Sunday, September 29, 2013

Theros Art

Hey folks,

Let's ignore my year long absence and get to some art!

I have to say I'm thrilled about Theros (the new Magic the Gathering set), both as a player, and an artist.  Greco-Roman is a theme I always enjoy... the mythology is so rich that it's an endless source of inspiration for me and many artists long since passed.  And even just the real-world aesthetic of their armor and architecture has always been appealing in it's iconicism.  I think Wizards did a great job of taking those aspects and turning into something clearly 'Magic,' while maintaining, (and even improving) the culture it's based on.

Beyond that, the set looks really fun to play.  The new abilities all look to have great synergy and everything has a sense of a before-and-after version of itself.  I can't wait to get into a draft.


I had the pleasure of working on a LOT of animals in this set.  I imagine most of you see me as an environment guy (and that's true), but truth be told I really love designing animals too.

If you don't recognize it as a typical 'Chimera,' well, it's not :)  I was asked to combine a stag and heron, which right away spoke to me as something elegant, graceful, and cautious.  The stag part became more oryx/gazelle and the heron a bit more swan, but in the end I was happy with the design.  For the background I wanted to go with a much more traditional look in terms of design and colors, something closer to Bouguereau's Nymphs and Satyr.

But the best part of this card, is that it's awesome in terms of the game:  

Blue/Green is one of my favorite color combos anyway, but the skill set here is just a lot of fun.  Particularly Flash.  And its still an uncommon with all those great abilities!  I expect to see these getting a lot of play.

Until next time!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

15 in 17 - part six (Canyonlands)

Canyonlands!!!  I realize it sounds like some lame amusement park, but true to the title there are a LOT of Canyons here.  Now at this point in my life I've been to 33 states and 20 (of the 58) national parks...  I've seen a good deal of this country.  Not as many as some for sure, but probably more than most.  I don't say it to brag, but to give credential to the statement when I say:

"This is THE most fantastic landscape in America I've seen."

I would urge the world to make a trip to western Utah and see it for themselves.

One of the unique things about Canyonlands is it's divided into 3 districts.  The Needles, the Island in the Sky, and the Maze.  Some include a 4th referring to the rivers which themselves divide the districts.  I was only able to visit the first 2, because without serious rock-climbing skills it's impossible to get from one district to any other without leaving and re-entering the park somewhere else (and hundreds of miles away).  Crazy right?  In total, the park only gets 430,000 visitors per year, and most of those are likely spill off from the much more popular (and accessible) Arches NP right next door.  Compare to the Grand Canyon which gets almost exactly ten times the number at 4.3 million each year.

Anyway, onto art.  The Needles.

I don't remember exactly, but it's probably close to 50 miles from leaving the main road to the end of the national park's major road in this district.  And what a spectacular drive it is.  You're actually down at the bottom of the canyon driving past rock formations bigger than I thought possible.  Photos describe it better, but even they fail to capture the magnitude of the place.

Just watch out for flash flooding!

The Island in the Sky.  How could you not visit a place with that name?  This place is special enough to get TWO sketches.

Completely different than The Needles, this time the road takes you up on top of plateaus looking out over huge, deep canyons.  The views are utterly breathtaking.

And just a friendly reminder at the park entrance.  Funny thing is, this is the EASIEST district to reach.

Arches next...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

15 in 17 - part five (Mesa Verde)

A couple tips if any of you decide to visit Mesa Verde in Southwestern Colorado...  Don't bring a dog, and come with a full tank of gas.  Unfortunately I didn't know either of these, so my trip wasn't as good as it could have been.

It takes a lot of driving to get anywhere in the park because it's all canyon, but it really does have some spectacular views.

The park is most famous for the native american cliff dwellings carved into the rock face.  This was about the best view I could get because dogs aren't allowed on the trails, and people aren't allowed without a tour guide - which takes more time than I was willing to leave the dog alone in the car for. 

Here's a quick study I finally got around to doing yesterday:

Next up, Canyonlands!! (my personal favorite)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

15 in 17 - part four (Great Sand Dunes)

For those that have been following (or trying to), I clearly fell off the wagon with this one.  But between spotty internet, no internet (I camped several nights), and keeping up with the hundreds or even thousands of pictures taken each day, I never stood a chance.  Not to mention the pure exhaustion.  Eventually I gave up on trying to catch up and even now, a week after I'm in Washington, I'm still not even half-way through the 15,000 pictures I took.

But allow me to continue where I left off....  After Hot Springs I took a day off to visit some friends, the wonderful Michelle and Vincent Villafranca in northern Texas.  Michelle does some great work with the National Park Service and Vince is a talented SF/F sculptor (who just won a Chesley!!!).

It was here that I got to see my first scorpion (it came in and died and the kitchen) as well as my first Black Widow.  Actually several of them... Vince keeps an eye on their numerous nests scattered around their yard.

After that I was off to Colorado.  The Great Sands were, well, great!!  A very unique place.  The sand is leftover from ancient lakes and stuck in place because of the neighboring mountain range.  Beyond them is a huge plain and a second set of mountains behind that.  I got thunderstorms the whole time, so while it made for great photos and time lapses, I decided it was too dangerous to climb the 700 foot dunes.

The size of the dunes is incredible.  I'd point out the specks resembling people in the photo above except they're too small to see.

It POURED that night, my first in a tent on the trip, but it was worth it for the fantastic sunrise the next morning.

Here's a time lapse:

This was from a separate shoot.  Running the camera, while protecting it from rain isn't easy.  Luckily Fran was able to help by support the umbrella with her a door.

Next up, Mesa Verde!

Monday, August 13, 2012

15 parks in 17 days - part three

Great Smokey Mountains national park - (North Carolina/Tennessee)
Hot Springs national park - (Arkansas)

Yes, I'm still behind, so here's two together since my visit to each was pretty short.

I got up into the mountains pretty early, so they were quite, ahem, smokey.

Exiting of the Tennessee side, there's a weird town at the foot of the mountains called Gatlinburg.  It's one of the most bizarre places I've ever been to.  The highway becomes more or less a 5 mile strip mall, but instead of shops, each side of the road is endless tourist attractions.  Go-karts, roller coasters, water slides, magic shows, mini-golf, and all kinds of things.  And I'm not exaggerating... this goes on for FIVE miles.  The road was largely under construction and Iw as in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't stop to take many pictures, but here's one from the road.

Hot Springs.  This place is a tourist trap, and as a result I didn't care for it much.  It's the smallest national park, and has been essentially swallowed up by the surrounding town.  Not only does the park itself suffer from poor signage, but the baths and hotels in the area trying to advertise their own hotel springs blast you with similar signs, making it difficult to navigate, and frustrating if you're in a hurry.  Which I was.

But, me and the dog took a little time for a break and climbed Hot Springs mountain, which as quite peaceful.  This little water fountain was spitting water continuously.

Stone trenches crawled along the slopes to divert water.

I allowed Rygel to lead me off the path and straight up the trenches a few times.  Bad idea.  We got lost pretty fast because we'd essentially jump from one trail to the next without knowing it.

Eventually we made it to the top.

More soon!  Today on my list, Great Sand Dunes!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

15 parks in 17 days - part two

Shenandoah national park - (Virginia)

This was actually yesterday and mostly just a stop because it's on the way, but I have to say, Shenandoah was really impressive.  Well done, Virginia!  Of course, I got to my hotel about 3 hours later than expected because I stopped so often to take photos.

I also managed to get in a couple short time lapses (I'd recommend watching in HD):

It was really a great day... perfect 80 degree weather with a slight breeze and low humidity in the mountains.  Visibility was great!  And just a well designed road (Skyline Drive) with some well kept and well-placed lookouts.  I highly recommend it!

To top off the day, a trip down 26-E into Tennessee (which is a fun drive too!)  offered a great sunset:

I'll upload Great Smokey Mountains when I can.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

15 parks in 17 days - part one

If it seems like I've been neglecting the blog lately, well, I actually have an excuse this time.  I'm moving to Seattle (from Rhode Island), and there's been a lot of planning to do.  But beyond just moving I'm taking some time to explore the country a bit (again).  After all, what's the point of moving from coast to coast if you can't meander around in the car for a few thousand miles on the way.

To that end, I've got a 6000 mile trip ahead of me spanning 19 days.  Today was the 1st of those and I'm avoiding the VERY humid outdoors of Virginia at the moment by writing this in my hotel room.  But why the 15 parks in 17 days title?

One of my bucket list items is to visit each one of the USA's 58 beautiful National Parks.  I've been to 6 already and this trip will check off 15 new ones.  17 days because it sounds more impressive and there's no parks the first or last day.  Hence the boredom in my hotel ;)

Despite no parks today, I promised to share pictures, so here's what I've got:

Yep, 8 hours of this today.  In my experience, everything east of the Mississippi looks the same.  Hills change size and that's about it.

This is Rygel, my traveling buddy.  He's quite pleased to have the second queen size bed in the room all to himself.

Tomorrow - Shenandoah!