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  • Wow, looks like someone shared this drawing to Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Eldenring/comments/ui9m5d/tarnisheds_respite_by_jon_amdall/

    That’s pretty cool, I wonder how they came across the drawing? I’m honestly a bit honored someone thought it was good enough to share (haha that’s probably a bit dramatic, but still). Though it is probably my favorite of the multiple Elden Ring sketches I did.

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  • That was interesting! I must admit, I mostly look at your pictures, but skim the written material, too. I write and paint, and I can tell by feedback that sometimes my readers like the writing and other times the paintings. Like you, I keep on because I enjoy it (weekly, since 1998)

    • Wow, you’ve kept your blogging streak up since 1998?! That is indeed impressive, definitely something to be proud of. I hope to stay on that track over time as well, although I do have a ways to go to match that writing level!

      And honestly, I’m right there with you about blog-reading habits. There’s just so much great artwork out there, even just within the WordPress blogging realm. It’s sometimes a challenge to keep up with everything, so I also find myself skimming text and focusing on the images. I try to read more closely when something seems instructional, because it’s always my hope to learn something from the more experienced artists out there.

      But I certainly agree with you – the best thing is to go with what you enjoy, and this has been a great outlet for channeling some creative energies, both in terms of writing and drawing.

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  • It’s hilarious to look back at this now. So many of these cryptocurrencies are either gone or close to zero. Interestingly enough, my overall portfolio is pretty much right where it was when I started four years ago – I’m actually up $15 from my initial cash outlay. The big coins that are still around that I have are Bitcoin, ADA, XRP, BAT, XLM, WAVES, and Ethereum. And apparently Dogecoin, which is pretty funny.

    I’ve considered doing another post about this, but I’m not sure that I have enough to even talk about for a full write-up. I guess NFTs are a new thing I haven’t discussed, which could be relevant in some ways since I’m an artist. But I don’t think much of them, so it probably wouldn’t be a very positive take. Essentially, I think it’s a grift that is chocked full of people blatantly stealing intellectual property with (so far) no repercussions. I made an account on one of the big platforms so I could explore it firsthand…for the most part, I saw a bunch of repetitive, uninteresting clip art.

    Anyhow, maybe I’ll write more about that at some point. Particularly if companies like Nintendo and Disney start going after their IPs on these platforms.

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  • Nice painting from the wedding, you really captured the couple well. I really like how you got the texture on their skin!!

    • That’s much appreciated Shawn! Although sometimes I can’t muster the patience to layer the colors as much as I should, I think this time it worked out!

  • The thing I like most about this post is that you are taking a critical look at your work, identifying areas of improvement, acting on it, etc.

    This is a master class in how the process should be in my opinion. Well done.

    As for the blogging, I can related. A few months ago I realised that there were 2-3 pieces I’d done that I hadn’t even mentioned on WP.

    As much as I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram there’s no doubt that it gets faaaaaaaaaaaar more visibility than any WP post so it tends to get forgotten about for me.

    • Thanks Steve! I really do try to dive into the good and bad with every writeup. I’m honestly not trying to roast myself or anything like that, although I admit sometimes it may seem that way. I feel like every single piece is another learning experience, so it helps me to try to take a lesson from each one wherever possible. Even if it seems like the lessons are pretty repetitive! For example, my noted weaknesses with scenery, clothing, and objects comes up a lot in these.

      That’s so funny you mention that about Instagram vs WP visibility – I was just pondering that the other day. I wonder what the next “thing” is going to be? Blogging had its revenue generation hay day, then social media took all clicks. I’m sure it’s something we can’t even fathom (or if you do, go ahead and invest, right?). Maybe the video-centered platforms (Tik Tok, YouTube) will bury the others? Or will virtual reality (Meta) finally become a thing? I doubt that last one, but I’ve been wrong many many times when it comes to tech.

      I’m glad you stopped by though Steve, it reminds me I need to swing by your Instagram and catch up on your work! Haha

      • Yeah, swing on by to Insta – if you’ve been exceptionally observant you may see that my follower count has dropped from over 1,500 to about 700. They didn’t abandon me, I’ve been deliberately deleting them. Apparently I had a lot of “ghost” followers… that’s not something I thought about on wordpress though I fear if I did the same on WP then I’d be left with you and two others. For real !!

        Every painting is a learning experience, fine words !!

      • Wow that is wild! I figured there were always some bots floating around, but that’s surprising there were so many once you weeded them out. 700 is still quite a lot though from my perspective, especially if you feel better about them being actual people interested in artwork.

        I would guess I have a similar number of ghost followers. I know for sure there have been some on WordPress, although I’m not sure quite how many. Whenever someone subscribes, I try to look at their stuff too (particularly if they’re an artist). But there have been times where I click the user and it just says something like “this site no longer exists.” It’s not frequent, but it’s definitely been more than once.

        By the way, speaking of your Instagram – so @moospeed is also yours? But just dedicated to car paintings right? I’ve got both followed now, but I just wanted to make sure I’m on the right track there.

  • Love how you have done the progression. Very skilled and beautiful.

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  • Love these character sketches! I used to enjoy RPG… never see to have enough time these days to fully get into it.

    • Thanks very much Judith! They really are time consuming, I am with you there – it’s been a long time since I really dove into one like I did with Elden Ring. I’m glad I did, but I definitely need a break from such an all-consuming thing like open world RPGs now

      • Have you done Live action? I enjoyed LARP-ing back in the day… not sure how much of a “thing” it is now.

      • I haven’t tried that, but I used to have a neighbor who seemed to have a great time with his friends. This was probably 20 years ago though, so I’m not sure if they’re still about it. I always wondered if they sort of ad-lib the events, or if it was more like a Dungeons and Dragons session, with a carefully planned scenario?

  • Very interesting character designs!!

    • Agreed Shawn, I think From Software and all the people behind Elden Ring did an absolutely amazing job! Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R. R. Martin in my opinion really made a fascinating world full of compelling characters

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  • So much life in this drawing, Jon. What a lovely tribute and something tangible you and your wife can hold on to when remembering her father. He looks like such a happy friendly person. You’ve done him proud.

    • Thanks so much Claire for the kind words. He really was a such friendly person, you could see him just light up when he interacted with people

  • beautiful memorial, in drawing and in writing.

  • A little note on one of the characters I’ve tried to depict; Black Knife Tiche is actually a bit more involved in an important plotline than I realized. You can read more about some events she helped kick off in this post (Warning: Heavy spoilers are behind this URL): https://jonamdall.com/2022/04/11/elden-ring-malenia-radahn-artwork/

    She was still sort of a minor character, but was involved in something pretty big.

  • Also, a small side note that I found interesting. One of the Spirit Ash summons I drew in another sketch, Black Knife Tiche, is actually one of the assassins who took down Godwyn the Golden. So, she’s actually one of the people responsible for kicking off all this chaos! I’m not sure if the game delves into this at all, since I haven’t reached the end, but I wonder who was pulling the strings? What’s the motivation and who really wanted to shatter the Elden Ring? Hmmm…

    More on Tiche’s background here: https://eldenring.wiki.fextralife.com/Black+Knife+Tiche+Ashes

  • I just realized I made a small mistake – looking at those Reddit family trees, I think Radahn and Malenia might actually be half-siblings rather than cousins. Since they share the same father and all. I guess my first hint should have been that distinctive red hair!

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  • Interesting drawing, it must have taken a lot of research to get the armor and costumes so good in your painting. I know there are a lot of extra challenges to creating period specific artwork pieces.

    • Much appreciated Shawn! In all honesty, it wasn’t too bad figuring out the armor and so forth. For the most part, I leaned heavily on styles within the game. I took detours regarding some of the details, partially because I couldn’t figure out exactly how to replicate clothing details that aren’t really in color within Elden Ring.

      Overall though, it was fun to try to adapt to what I had in my head!

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  • Well, looks like I had another Elden Ring drawing in me after all. A full blog post coming soon, but for now I’ll link the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u4UxJGrehs

  • Nice drawings, you really have a distinctive style to your portraits.

    • Much appreciated Shawn! As do you, I really like your pointillism nature scenes especially. Appreciate you commenting – it gave me a chance to see your artwork as well.

  • Interesting drawing of your subject reflected in the mirror!!

    • Thanks Shawn, it’s something I’m glad I attempted! Sometimes I have to talk myself into trying something new, so it’s good branching out worked out in this case

  • I particularly like the image of Finger Reader and Tarnished. There’s such an energy coming through from the directional line work.

    • Thanks Claire! While I was working on that one I wasn’t sure about it, but it really grew on me. I was surprised to find I liked the final result much more than I thought I would. Isn’t it a nice surprise when that happens?

      It’s a nice lesson that perhaps I should see things through even when I’m not sure. It’s interesting timing because just before this, I tried doing a portrait of Donnie Yen from the Ip Man movies, but I abandoned it because I just couldn’t capture his likeness. Maybe it’s time to loop back around to that again?

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  • You’d think it would be a double challenge as you’ve effectively got to draw two people, without a photo reference I think you’d have to be exceptionally skilled to imagine the side and back of someone’s head in perspective.

    My daughter is doing a media course at the moment and it’s surprising the lengths they go to when filming mirror scenes, to the extent of filming it twice and ignoring the fact there’s a cameraman in the reflection.

    Then you get tricks like this one I drew last year. Obviously I used two reference images for it but even with that in mind it was harder than I expected it to be. The hand for instance is reflected normally.

    https://stevekiddart.wordpress.com/2021/05/19/peace-and-mischief/

    • Oh man, yes I can’t even imagine trying to do it without a reference. I would have no clue! It might be interesting to try, but I have a feeling my version may look like an insane dream or something.

      That’s a cool one you linked, very well done there indeed. The techniques you used almost makes it feel like there’s motion in the piece to some extent.

      Also, that’s quite interesting about filming mirror scenes – I figured they used some cool trickery, but I just filed it away in my brain as “movie magic” and left it there. Of course, that’s assuming it’s not a low budget flick set for MST3K or Rifftrax, then they are very likely not to even care

      • It amazes me just how much time and effort goes into film making, it’s no wonder the list of credits is more like a phone directory these days rather than a readable list.

      • So true – not to mention money! I truly don’t understand the economics of the whole enterprise. It seems impossible to recover how much money they spend on some of these movies

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  • Excellent work, good luck 🤞

    • Much appreciated Steve, hope things are good with you!

      • Thank you. Yes, I took a break from social media and WordPress during February to fully concentrate on skilling up further with the art so I’m only just back and catching up.

        Your kitchen drawing captures the moment so well.

      • You were already on point with the realism – definitely looking forward to the results from your February activity!

  • I’ve my fingers crossed for you Jon, hope you get to see your work displayed. This is a great piece and your elder daughter is super-concentrated on what she’s doing. After following you for so long I’d recognise your family if I met them in the street!
    Somewhat spurred on by your lead and needing to make a firm commitment to myself re my printmaking I’ve just joined an exhibiting group. I submitted my portfolio for review and was accepted into their ranks. I find there’s something about collectives, groups and associations of like-minded people that generates energy and enthusiasm to explore, create and work to a deadline instead of my normal practice of doing too much thinking and not enough doing. I can’t wait to meet them all soon.
    I’m thrilled to see my on-line profile is already live at https://southernprintmakersassociation.com/artist-profiles-2/

    • Thank you Claire! Haha yes that’s true, I certainly have drawn them quite a few times. One thing I wonder sometimes is what the kids will think of all this when they’re older. I’m planning on giving them all these drawings someday – will they think it’s crazy that there are so many? Will they have favorites?

      That is very cool about the printmaking group! I did some browsing around the site you linked, it sounds like a really great opportunity to collaborate and interact with other experts. I like the profile write up and connected site too, quite nice. Well done and congrats – looking forward to seeing/reading more on the group exhibitions if you post about them on your blog!

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  • Good luck, man! Also, a great way to make connections in the art community is to look for life drawing sessions in your area, or portrait sessions. Both usually have groups of regulars that attend.

    • Much appreciated! This is a really great idea – I’ll have to keep an eye out on some of the art centers I followed when I was looking for art shows to enter. I don’t have much experience in this realm though, where else would you look for sessions like that? Perhaps colleges or libraries host them? I’ll have to do a bit of googling

      Anyhow, hope you’re doing well! Great to see your most recent post, and l look forward to seeing more from the print exhibit you’re featured in

    • Just visited your site SiverBlack. Loving your printing especially the screen-printing experimentation.

  • Best of luck to you, Jon, you’re on the right track !

  • Wishing you all the best with this, Jon!

  • If this exhibition interests anyone out there, and you happen to live in Texas, the deadline for entry is two days (Saturday, February 5th) at 6pm. There is no entry fee, and you can submit your artwork online! So it’s nice and easy.

  • Oh, actually I guess the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture did say exactly when they’ll notify of the results. I didn’t see it initially, but the list of artists will be posted on March 12th here: https://art214.dallasculture.org/notifications/

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  • Nice Jon! I can see YOU have been busy in the months that I have been absent from blogland!!! Please send me a small cupful of YOUR energy and enthusiasm to help me get my own blog restarted!!!! Happy New Year! I really hope 2022 is going to be a GOOD one!!!!

    • Hello there Hilda, great to see you in the blog world again! I just saw the new post on your site, which I will also comment on – but thank you for stopping by here to say hello.

      There are a couple of artists I follow that have taken a bit of a pandemic-era break who I’ve been wondering about and hoping they’re doing well. Yours has indeed been a noteworthy absence! I hope everything is good, and definitely looking forward to seeing more of your great portraits and landscapes at some point in the future.

      Cheers to a great 2022!

  • nice collection! I like this as a GROUP. And the use of color is a bonus — I realize now that is your “older” style, but I like it and maybe somewhere in between is where it will all eventually land..

    • Thank you for that great observation and the kind words! I really didn’t have a good appreciation for that fact until looking back after reading your comment, but the use of color is quite different. I have certainly fallen into a “how about some more gray” mode, haven’t I? I like the idea you’ve mentioned though, trying to find an in-between zone to land.

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  • The advantage here as an observer is that I don’t know any of the shows or characters you are referring to – so I can admire these for what they are to me… portraits.

    And jolly decent ones at that, I particularly admire that side profile and the expression on the forward facing chap. Nicely done.

    • This is a great point Steve, I don’t often consider these things from that perspective. Sometimes I do try to imagine from an overall usability standpoint how visitors to this blog might experience the homepage, navigating, and all that. But I should try to view individual posts that way too sometimes.

      I did some browsing of some random posts just now, trying to imagine them completely at face value as a neutral person. It made me appreciate how I need to work on eyes and eyelids more. Haha some of my portraits have straight up crazy eyes, like that Nicholas Cage “you don’t say” meme.

      Thanks for the kind words about the drawing!

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  • I’ve been fighting with my style of printmaking versus other printmakers of a similar standard to myself for quite a while. Their work seems more interesting, some aspects more refined and subject matter that can’t help to attract. I discussed my lack of confidence with my husband as he’s a good sounding board for me to analyse my achievements.
    Several thoughts came from this but one thing stood out: when we work on a piece it becomes familiar to us, like a piece of our old furniture – comfortable, safe, known and reliable. But when we initially see another person’s art if seems fresh, spontaneous, different, alluring and that’s because we haven’t had the experience of living with it over time while it develops, as we have with our own pieces. So is it realistic to compare our (familiar) work with others and find ourselves wanting?
    I think my prints are quite good, relatively speaking, and I’m trying to stop looking at other work and thinking “what a great idea, I wish I worked like that” because I’ve realised that my way IS my way and the prints that appear from my hands are going to be exactly that – what my hands can produce and from the place my mind is at at the time.
    I’ve had printmakers compliment me on finished prints and ask my process. WHAT? Really? As I speak with them, Jon, I can see they have exactly the same insecurities as I do. They enjoy my work because it’s new and fresh to them, the same reason I like theirs.
    I think you’re doing brilliantly and if you’re working on subject matters that you like and you’re realistic enough to see where you can improve, or change something next time, then that’s a winner.
    Oh, super-cute squirrel by the way and I love the bike.

    • Wow, thank you Claire for this thoughtful comment – this is the type of insight into other artists’ thoughts on the matter I was hoping to hear! My work life is all about analysis and data, so sadly that creative side of my brain doesn’t get to play as much as it wants to. Most of my connectivity to other people also interested in art comes from reading blogs, so sometimes I can’t tell for sure if I’ve got “normal” art thoughts/insecurities churning. Haha I really should get out more…er, as pandemics allow anyway.

      It is reassuring to hear you’ve had some similar thoughts, but also kind of surprising. I don’t know a ton about printmaking, but I’ve followed your blog for quite a while now, and you seem to be at the advanced levels of the craft. For example, I had to browse a bit to find them again, but the Trees Book Project and “In Isolation” – being able to make something like these, it is no surprise at all to me that other printmakers would be complimentary

      You know, it’s funny you mention your husband as a sounding board. My wife has also been great in the same way – and she thinks I’m out of my mind the way I pick apart these drawings. But I think you are really onto something about familiarity. You spend a good amount of time making something, it does become common to you in a way that fresh creations from someone else aren’t.

      I appreciate your insight on this! Happy new year to you!

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  • good to see you drawing!!!

    • Thank you, I do wish there was more time for it! Life always seems to have a line it wants me to go wait in. It’s always good to get back into the swing of things though.

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  • I should mention, I ended up shutting this Discussion Forum down. It was a fun idea and the plugin worked really well. But ultimately, it was mostly just me posting random nonsense. And I figured I should focus my writing energy on normal posts.

    Maybe I’ll bring it back some day just for fun, but for now the plug is pulled!

  • I like the timeline images. The latest drawing looks a little softer in line work than the others and, as I’ve mentioned in the past, you’ve a great eye for hair. Great image.
    I also like the size and angle of the cup which appears to be white porcelain to me. Cute cats!

    • Hello Claire! Much appreciated, agreed it definitely looks softer than the others. It seems to me like there is even a gradual change of hard lines to much softer throughout all of them. It wasn’t an intentional change, but just sort of happened. Perhaps more aggressive color layering is factor?

      I love those cat coffee mugs, I think they’re some of my favorites. Perfect slightly larger size, hilarious cat faces. My mom has two of them and I have yet to find them in stores – but I won’t give up!

  • Are looking in a mirror or is this drawn from a photo reference ? All in all great work, I dig all of them. Video would’ve been a hoot had the actual artist turned to face the camera with cat mug in hand.

    • Greetings Matt, appreciate that! It’s from looking at a photo – I am really not very good at drawing from life, even if it’s myself in a mirror. I think that’s probably a good future avenue for practice though!

      Haha yes that would have been really funny to have a clip at the end of me actually holding that mug – have the video flip based on the mug moving toward or away from the camera. Then maybe even have a cat jump onto the table or something – next time, cat mania!

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  • If I won, I wouldn’t have a problem with you saying it’s a drawing of me Jon 😁

    • You know Matt, if you are good with it, I would include your name and link your site as well! Sad to admit, I never even thought to ask previous winners if they had a website, youtube, or some other project they wanted me to promote. I really like that idea

      Good luck to you on the raffle!

      • That would be perfect bro 🙂 hell maybe you and I should cross promote each other, I could draw something for you you for me in general, if ya want

      • Man, you’ve got the good ideas flowing!

        Another thing that just came to mind, what if I selected multiple winners? I have the ability to select multiple randomized winners…I wonder if that would be biting off more than I could chew? Hmmm

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  • Good stuff, used to have a Persian which looked not dissimilar 😸

  • nice work! and your children will benefit from having a pet…its always nice to have someone to talk to lower down on the totem pole!

    • Thank you! Haha actually I’m already starting to wonder if the little guy understands what the pecking order is supposed to be…sometimes his meows seem to be a list of issues he has with our customer service!

  • Congratulations on the newest family member!

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  • Wow, I can’t believe those links still work and aren’t broken. It’s been 10 years!

  • Whew…boy did we ever not “flatten the curve.” It’s weird to look at this post a year and half later. Weird, and honestly pretty dang sad.

  • I should probably also link the more recent drawing I did of Mike Patton: https://jonamdall.com/2020/04/26/musical-virtuoso-mike-patton/

    Definitely interesting to see how much my artwork has changed!

  • An excellent idea, the perfect accompaniment to the drawing video!

    • Thanks man, I’m really excited I got to match up his music to the drawing! That was really fun.

      And basically any time I sat down to write, I ended up getting distracted through various musical rabbit holes. But it was a good time indeed!

  • Still pretty decent brother

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  • I think I’m seeing a tone of “dejected” as well, it sounds a very hard project to capture.

    I do remember a fellow artist commenting on one of my dog portraits. She said “wow, how did you manage to really capture the soul of the dog like that?”. I had to answer, “I just tried to copy the shapes and colours”. I think it was more her interpretation than anything on my side, I didn’t even like the picture much.

    Overthinking… choose that for the next expression 😀

    • Hey there Steve! Although it’s not quite what I was going for, “dejected” is at least somewhat in the ballpark. I’ll take it as a partial win! Ha – at least I wasn’t going for a downbeat type emotion and ended up with her looking happy or something.

      I’m going to have to hunt down this dog portrait, was this a somewhat recent one? I’m very certain I’m not at a place where I can capture a soul, but that’s certainly something to shoot for!

  • I’ve just watched the video from Kirsty Partridge. Wow, I had no idea but I guess if you want the realism you have to take the time. The part using the craft knife was fascinating, and what a difference to the result.

    • I actually tried that craft knife thing! I just wasn’t able to get anywhere close to that effect though. It does appear that she’s vastly more patient with her layering…not that I’m saying I’m lazy. But yeah, maybe in comparison I am! Haha

  • Hi Jon, I read her expression as either apprehension or dejected. The hunched over position (which I love) leads me to dejected. The mouth is really good, but I’m not quite comfortable with the focus of the eyes. Even though they are on the same level as the guys it doesn’t seem like she is focusing quite highly enough to be looking into his eyes, which might give a more assessing or appraising expression.
    I like the gifs although this format allows us to enjoy your little ‘helpers’!

    • Hello Claire! That is so true, I do have some helpers that like to make cameos. I do enjoy when the kids pop in, but I’m not so sure the cat is helping too much. I think the next one, which is a portrait of the kids, has quite an extensive helper section!

      I definitely have to agree with you on the eyes – the line of site isn’t quite where it should be. That’s actually a third aspect that I find very challenging. First, making sure the eyes actually align in the same direction, and also that they’re looking at what they are supposed to. It’s interesting, there are some areas that I can refine and rework, like the nose or mouth. But I feel like with the eyes, if there’s too much pencil traffic, sometimes it’s hard to save it.

      Anyhow, I appreciate the thoughts on this one!

      • I forgot to mention the hair and your challenge with it. Honestly I don’t see it, because I’ve always thought the hair to be really well rendered.

      • Thanks Claire, that is really good to hear! It definitely feels like a struggle when I’m working on it, more so than so many other aspects. I think it’s some combination of me needing to be more patient, plus probably needing some more practice. I was watching this video by Kirsty Partridge, who I mentioned in the write-up, realizing how much I can still learn about hair techniques: https://youtu.be/GMjdCIYnqjQ?t=286

  • Always astounded when he has a beautiful landscape on the canvas and he takes a knife full of almost black paint and obliterates a whole section, only for 5 minutes later that dark patch is now a path leading into the scene with ripples on a lake and seemingly endless detail. I don’t do landscapes but I am tempted to follow along with one of those demonstrations one day. 😁

    • For real man! I have the similar thoughts watching him…like here he goes with that knife, and I’m thinking there’s no way this is going to work out. And of course, it looks fantastic at the end. If I ever get more adventurous and try paint, it sure would be fun to try to “Bob Ross” (a verb) something like that

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  • Love your creative style.

  • Love it! I like Bob with his ‘doers’ and happy little accidents. Lovely portrait x

  • Terrific post! I too love Bob Ross. Years ago I discovered the added bonus of observing my feisty toddler suddenly calm and drift into a nap while watching an episode. Great news about Roku as well! Enjoyed this!

    • Thanks Liza! Really glad you enjoyed it. That’s so funny, I wish I’d thought to try watching Bob Ross when my kiddos were younger! Might have really helped with naps time.

      The Roku thing is so great – I really can’t figure out how they’re able to give so many channels for free. I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts though, because surely they’ll monetize it more heavily at some point right?

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  • I wanted to click like but the button didn’t load x

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  • Interesting post Jon.

    I’ve never bothered with adding advertising on my site but last year I switched back from paying for a hosted WordPress.Org to a free WP site as it didn’t make any sense to keep paying out. It was eating into any of the money I’d sold any artwork for.

    I realised that I’d effectively given away several artworks just to keep my website alive for (realistically) not many followers. It was at that point I decided to move to a free site and let WordPress get revenue from their advertising if they want it.

    I’ve also changed my main URL to point straight to my Etsy shop in the hope that I can make some sales to get into the green 😀

    • Hey there Steve! I do remember reading about your journey moving to and from .org, it was a learning experience for you I’m sure, but also for people who follow your site. At one point, I thought about trying to port this site over to .org, but I remember reading about what happened to your followers and other issues and it scared me away from doing it. I ended up making a completely new/unrelated site via .org just to try it out without messing with my current setup.

      That balancing act is really tricky, man. My goal has always been to approach “revenue neutral” with the art hobby if possible, but I’m still not there. Even considering the affiliate links, book sales, or anything else. I really don’t think I could do it with paid web hosting! So I totally get the move you made connecting to Etsy.

      It’s quite a balancing act, isn’t it?

      • Yes, the heyday for me on WordPress seems to be the first 18 months after setting it up.

        After that, despite the art being better, the format being more professional and the posts being more informative – the fact is that the stats took a nosedive.

        Now I think of it just being as much a reference for myself as much as anyone else. I’m not a stats driven person at all so it doesn’t bother me if I’m writing to myself.

        I wanted to keep the stevekiddart.com domain name so it made sense to point it to Etsy for now and then change it back to a ‘proper site’ when I’m rich and famous 😜

      • That’s very interesting, I always wonder the “whys” of site traffic. Sometimes, things just take hold and people check stuff out. But then some topics or posts that I think are quite interesting don’t go anywhere at all. I’ve never been able to figure it out, to be honest. Like, my all-time most popular post on WordPress is a basic thing that just lists Excel functions that I use the most. It was never featured anywhere in particular that I’m aware of – it’s just consistently stumbled upon via Google apparently.

        That’s very true about your art though. I can see a real difference between the pieces from when I first started following your old site way back when. I had to do a doubletake on one of the recent cars you had on Instagram – I thought it was a photo at first, but then I realized it wasn’t! By the way, what is the current best path to your latest stuff? Is it Instagram or via that Etsy/stevekiddart.com portal?

      • Thanks for compliment and interest. Instagram and WordPress will have the latest stuff posted.

        Etsy is just the shop so only features a small subsection of what I create, ie. no sketches, or other rubbish that isn’t worth selling 😉

        Though as with the stats there’s no apparent logic as to what people want to buy. Instagram stats are odd as well, my most popular post was neatly deleted at one point when I was doing a tidy up 🤷‍♂️

      • Ahh I gotcha, yes that makes sense. Although, in keeping with what we’ve been talking about with traffic/online interest being unpredictable, I wonder if some of your informal stuff would sell too? Like the casual sketches and whatnot? Haha, you never know eh?

  • Love to follow your work and your progress. Your portraits are beautiful

  • Thanks for this, I’ve been meaning to set something up on my page that makes transactions more easy and you’ve give me some really helpful pointers here!

    • Excellent! Quite glad this is useful!

      I hope your ecommerce experiments go well. As I said in a previous comment, I’m definitely no expert, but please feel free to post again if you want some feedback or brainstorming. It’s always interesting to see how others approach things as well

  • Your topic is exactly what has been on my mind for the past two days! Thank you very much for giving so much useful information!

    • That’s awesome, I’m glad to hear you found it useful!

      I’m by no means an expert at this, but if you want to bounce anything off of another person who has experimented with this stuff, feel free to pop in. I’m always glad to brainstorm with another art blogger!

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  • In terms of design, I had in mind a sort of exhausted Santa taking a break from his delivery job to eat some cookies.

    • I do appreciate you checking out the site…but I don’t typically allow links in comments unless it’s a blogger I’ve interacted with a bit. I’ve removed your link but left the comment text as is.

  • Of those major traffic sources, online-sweepstakes com, contestgirl com, and various Facebook raffle groups are easily the heaviest hitters.

    • Okay, I see what you’ve done here. You’re copying and pasting text from my posts as comments, trying to imbed a link. I guess this is for search engine optimization or something?

      As I said in the other post, I don’t usually allow links in comments unless I know them from prior interactions. I’m removing the hyperlink, but I’ll let the comment text stay as is. I do appreciate you checking out the site.

  • Of course, the most significant thing was simply the fact that these aren’t people.

    • As I said in your other comments, I don’t usually allow links unless I know the person from previous interactions. I’m removing the hyperlink, but I’ll let the comment text stay as is. I do appreciate you checking out the site.

  • In a couple of ways, I consider this post to be somewhat of a do-over.

    • As I said in your other comments, I don’t usually allow links unless I know the person from previous interactions. I’m removing the hyperlink, but I’ll let the comment text stay as is. I do appreciate you checking out the site.

  • I’ve noticed that you self criticize a lot. I actually like the drawing posted, it’s got a nice flow to it. I don’t much care for realism ya know…This drawing has a real manga feel to it.

    • Hey Matt, I appreciate it! Yes, that’s true I am sometimes a bit critical of myself. I try not to overdo it, but I find it helpful to write about what I was trying to do versus how it actually ends up. It sort of lets me know what I need to practice. Haha hopefully that’s actually a productive thing. Can’t forget about the positives though, keep it a balanced look right?

      I hope you’re doing well!

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  • I couldn’t fit all of my supplies in the links at the bottom of the post, so I’ll paste the full list here. Also, happy new year!

    Materials used:
    Prismacolor colored pencils: https://amzn.to/2Xcv7xd
    Graphite pencils: https://amzn.to/2XEuZpa
    Strathmore 9 x 12 paper: https://amzn.to/2MgI9Dn
    Pencil extenders: https://amzn.to/2Aj0GML
    Eraser: https://amzn.to/2MbG3Vr
    Sharpener: https://amzn.to/2ZQG5ds
    Camera: https://amzn.to/3eAGk0b
    Tripod: https://amzn.to/3etYYHc
    Adjustable arm: https://amzn.to/3lCrN8u

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  • Nice one !!

    As far as I know every master artist I’ve read about creates from some form of reference. To pluck images out of your head without any reference at all is a whole other skillset 🙂

    Happy Christmas to you and yours Jon, keep safe.

    • Hey Steve! Thank you man, I appreciate that. I definitely don’t have that skillset! It’s so weird, because I’ve always thought of myself as having a decent imagination, but apparently not when it comes to this hobby.

      Hope you have a great holiday season/Christmas/New years, etc as well!

      • I think you can still have a decent imagination but not be able to get it down on paper in art form.

        That’s where written works are easier (or would be for me) to pluck out of that imagination.

        Not sure if you’ve seen The Mandalorian series, or the Dinotopia artwork? Both are examples of where the writing and artwork have developed at the same time, one bouncing ideas off another and most importantly, going through many iterations before settling on the one we actually get to see. And also in both, life references were used.

        Have a good one Jon, see you next year 🙂

      • That’s a good point, it’s certainly not a given that the pencil will cooperate with what goes on in someone’s head. I should make practicing that my New Year’s resolution maybe – it’s certainly something I’ve wanted to work on for a couple of years now.

        I haven’t, but I keep hearing good things about the Mandalorian. I’ll have to check out Dinotopia as well! I’ve always been a big fan of dinosaurs.

        You too man, see you in 2021!

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  • If you didn’t already read it at the top, since writing this review, I was inspired to create a separate website for product reviews. They really don’t make sense to have on Amdall Gallery, since this is more about artwork. The new site is here: https://armdogreviews.com/

    I also reviewed the Fossil Hybrid Collider there. https://armdogreviews.com/fossil-hybrid-smartwatch-hr-collider/

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  • I made an updated outline/planning/measuring video that I think is a bit better than this one. The new video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCIS6o6grKs

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  • This is fun! I think re-using music tracks is fine. Other U-tube artists do it.

    • Thank you Laura! That is good to know, I really wasn’t sure if that was common. I was imagining people clicking through and thinking, “this dude is either crazy or lazy”

  • Its lovely to watch the sketch come alive🤩

  • This is one of your best, I think. Really well done!

    • I appreciate that!

      Also, I have to say I love your artwork. The chicken illustrations are so expressive, they’re very well done.

      • Thank you so much! They have improved over time. The first sketches were just on sticky notes at work!

      • How did i miss your reply? Sorry about that! Yes, I have to agree with you – I can see the progression from the posts on your site. It’s so fun to see how artists change over time, one of my favorite thing about WP and following other peoples’ sites.

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  • This is excellent! you have made such an improvement in that short space of time! Dark Tower is also my favourite series. I’ve just received delivery this morning of Dark Tower: Beginnings graphic novel. My own art is improving, but not as fast as yours. Nice one!

    • I appreciate it, Steve! How is that graphic novel? I could always go for some more Dark Tower content. In fact, maybe it’s time for another series read through for me – maybe Roland finally figured out the right path this time!

      Do you ever share any artwork to your site? It would be cool to check it out – I love seeing people’s varied interpretations of the Dark Tower characters. It’s always interesting to see how different they can be

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  • I agree that if the person you did it for is happy then that’s the most important thing. However, I enjoy your analysis as it brings more knowledge to the outcome than just the visual image, and it teaches me something.
    The eyes are very good; clear, distinctive and alert. These people are looking right out at us. I also really like the grey jeans on the other image, the guy second from the right, as they are definitely ‘worn-in’ and comfy looking. Great movement in the clothing and the focus is definitely on the people not the land/seascape.

    • Thank you Claire – I’m sure I’ve type this somewhere in comments before, so apologies if I’m repeating myself. But, small impacts mean a lot to me. Sometimes I wonder if I write too much/go overkill on some of these artwork posts, but then occasionally someone will say they actually got something from it. It probably sounds silly, but knowing there was that little ripple for someone validates it! It makes me feel like I’m part of a little art knowledge swap or something, because I’ve gained the same from other artist sites like yours.

  • Jon your illustrative style isn’t completely realist to begin with, being too hard on yourself. Beautiful drawings, the fact that you made someone happy with them should be what’s most important. I get it though we as artists will always only see the flaws, but sometimes you really got to relish is that other persons happiness 🙂

    • Thank you Matt, you’re probably right about that – I am such an easy target for myself though! Haha, only sort of kidding there. I try not to dwell and beat myself up too much, but at the same time I like to be honest about my thoughts on these things. A tricky balancing act I think.

      But it’s true, by far the most important thing is that the person it was for liked the result. That’s definitely the biggest win and I’m thankful for it for sure.

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  • Still use the grid method often, can’t see a need to ever drop that having seen extremely professional artists continuing to use it. Funny to think that something I’d tried as a four-year old would be picked up again at ten times that age 😀

    • That’s pretty encouraging, man! I’ve continued to wonder about other people using grids and little proportion strategies. I really have to lean on measuring tricks when it’s something important, like a request or gift. Granted, most of my stuff is nonsense that just goes in a portfolio. But you want to get those requests/gifts right, you know? A drawing of The Witcher doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I want to give a portrait for my mom for example the best effort possible.

      • Absolutely, if it’s anything other than a quick sketch then I usually do something to check the proportions and stuff.

        One thing I have learnt is that you don’t need to grid the whole paper, just the bits of detail and maybe some larger blocks for general spacing.

      • That’s smart, definitely no need to waste time marking grids for areas that are empty! I like to think of myself as a fan of “lazy grids” – not perfectly measured or even complete, but at least good enough to not have wildly terrible proportions. Even just measuring and marking distances, I think the ruler is my friend. Now, why don’t I ever use it to help with straight lines?!

  • Wishing you success with this Jon.

    I’ve posted up a few videos for years under my alter-ego for car related stuff.

    For the art stuff I’ve only done a couple, as you say it’s awkward enough creating the art without the added challenge of doing it around and out the way of a lense.

    What I have intended to do though is keep the video really quite short because I’m aware that most of the viewing public have the attention span of a goldfish and will move on within seconds. However there’s definitely a good few that will sit through something longer, and quite often be better off for it.

    • Is your channel something you’d be okay publicly divulging as a Steve Kidd project? I’d love to check it out and see how you’ve done things. Recording video is still super awkward for me…have you found a workable position? I’m using a pretty basic tripod, but the best position so far is unfortunately right in front of me while drawing. And I still haven’t figured out the lighting situation – I already have difficulty with lighting just trying to photograph things, video is even more noticeable.

      Honestly, I’m a bit worried this YouTube project is becoming an abandoned project…I started off like a tornado with the videos, but I haven’t done one in a few weeks. I need to get back on it next time I draw!

      • I don’t really have a workable position as the only videos I’ve done were completely ad-hoc and unplanned. I don’t have any intention of creating a channel as such, got enough on my plate already 😁

        I think this is the art one, it says No Content but then there’s a few videos under Videos section. I always thought that YouTube was for videos so not sure what content it’s referring to 😕
        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFxq8roSa5xyPPvhdtG2W8Q

  • Nice work… could you see my works

  • Love the soundtrack you’ve included. Adding that to my playlist. I think Triss’s hair is particularly good.

    • It really is a well-done soundtrack, Toss a Coin to Your Witcher is super catchy. We often find ourselves saying to the kids, “Hey why don’t you toss a coin to your dad/mom?”

      Also, thanks for saying so about the hair – I’m satisfied with it too I think. At first, I was a bit worried about diverging so far from the video game version’s hair color. I am definitely not the best at the creative side of drawing, but I do think the more natural red worked here. Being able to diverge from source material is something I’ve tried to work on, but I never know how it’s going to go!

  • Regarding armour looking like cloth? I think I noticed you had drawn lots of parallel lines.? If you look at reflections in metal they tend to be more block shaped, with maybe one or two fringes of lines around them? Does this make sense?

    • Ahhh, that’s a good idea – definitely worth a shot next time! That does make sense; it sort of shapes itself by how the light hits it I guess? I feel like this is something I need a fair amount of practice on if I want to really get it down. Have you done any metal-heavy drawings on your site I could take a peak at?

      • No not really, but when I ain’t scenery I have to do things like metal lamps or other things (sorry that’s a bit vague), metal is similar to glass, the reflections in it follow its curves, so partly it depends what’s being reflected. Look at any shiny surface and you will see what I mean. Your armour looks scratched and scored, maybe following many fights. You can also add dents and broken edges. X

      • I’m definitely going to need to study some reflective surfaces a bit more. Do you ever use pencil to depict metal or glass? If so, how do you blend it? Like sort of in that square pattern you mentioned? Just curious if there were some tricks to it

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  • Awesome to watch you work! My two cents on the video format is that both were great (digging the music too, lol), and I think both have a place on YouTube, if you specify the purpose in the title (and/or video description)—so someone seeking out a longer, tutorial-style video to watch would find that one, and others could enjoy the sped-up “look how cool this is, watching a drawing come together” version. I personally would love to see your initial outline-sketching phase, perhaps even in its own video, sort of a different type of tutorial. Hope this helps, good luck with your channel!!

    • This is fantastic feedback, I really appreciate it! Coming up with a good title and description was harder than I thought it would be. I just changed the title and description a bit, hopefully it’s a little more descriptive now.

      Next time, I’ll add the graphite sketch portion too – I wasn’t sure if that was useful, so that’s good to hear it would be interesting to see. Thanks for checking it out, Anna!

  • Nice portrait!

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  • Thank you . Super helpful !!

  • these are great sketches

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  • Thanks for creative works!!!!!! Hopefully for a posssible sweeps win!!!!!! Happy Mother’s Day

  • I like the minimalist background. It keeps the eye on the main subjects. Terrific portrait and, as I’m such a dog lover, especially love the dog.

    • Thanks Claire – I’m really starting to enjoy drawing pets, I might try to do it a bit more. Fur is an interesting challenge that I’m still trying to get the hang of, but I think I see an improvement

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  • I always love seeing how you start your sketches—it looks so different from how I do it so that’s really cool to me. I’m not sure exactly what it is that distinguishes our styles of sketching, but you seem to have a good way of capturing the “necessary” elements to the drawing before you flesh the whole thing out (pun sort of intended).

    • Well played on the pun! Thanks Anna, that’s one of the things I’ve most loved about WordPress – getting a peak into other peoples’ processes and approaches. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I don’t think I would have seen the same improvement over the last few years without that learning element. For example, I first learned of thick colored pencil layering/heavy burnishing from your Drawing Through site and Luisina Juliete’s YouTube videos. And I’ve picked up so much from artist bloggers like Steve Kidd, Hilda Rogers, and others.

      I believe we do both start with outlines typically, right? After that, I tend to fall into the same flow: 1) base layers, 2) shadows, 3) blending, 4) detail, 5) more blending. Do you tend to follow consistent patterns or does it just depend on the subject? I was looking through some of your Drawing Through pieces, and it looks like on “The Eye” you went with details first and skin color towards the end. But the portriat of Bodo The Dog actually seemed really similar to how I approached the few pets I’ve drawn.

      • It’s funny, I am generally a super neat and organized perfectionist, but often when it comes to drawing, especially using color, I seem to approach things at random! I noticed that when I do a fully monochrome pencil sketch, I will jump around even more, adding shadows before the general outline is done, whereas the nature of colored pencil leads me to be more precise—erasing is not really an option, so there is more planning and intentionality involved, and the initial sketch must leave out details I would otherwise include, in order to avoid the pencil marks showing through in the final piece. Thanks for listening to my TED talk. 😉 I’m curious about how you see your approach to colored pencil drawing differ from your previous pencil-sketching style—maybe a post idea if you run out at some point? I don’t recall your book going into that specific comparison (if I even worded that in a way that makes sense…) Do my overly lengthy replies hint at the current quarantine? Haha

      • Hey I guess that’s the spirit of art though right? Going where the pencil takes you, not fighting that creative part of your brain. That’s a fair point about erasing though, I feel like I’ve definitely gotten into trouble in the past with un-fixable mistakes.

        Also, fantastic idea on writing about the differences between colored pencil and the graphite approach! Although I’ve certain explored colored pencil changes over time, I really don’t think I’ve touched on that at all. In hindsight, it’s kind of a “why didn’t I think of that” moment – it would have been a great thing to talk about in in some detail in the book! Because it is definitely a different approach. I’d have to ponder it a bit more, but I think my graphite approach was more similar to yours with a lot of jumping around.

        (100% there too on quarantine stuff by the way)

  • Great gift

  • very cool jon

  • Just for my own future reference, I’m going to use this comment to track some of the other places I shared this giveaway:

  • Your wife’s expression is perfect! Well done 👍

    • Thank you, man!

      Eventually I guess this will need a sequel, since the kiddos are all about that Goofy Faced Life too. It’s near impossible to get a photo of all four of us without someone doing something ridiculous

  • Nice! I always find it hard to retry drawings—the reason why I don’t think I could be an illustrator; the character would vastly differ on each page. You’ve managed to make improvements while maintaining the features of the original drawing. Have you heard of the colored pencil trick of layering Dark Umber and Indigo Blue to create a more natural-looking black? At least I think there were the shades 🙂 I’ve had some success with trying it (regarding your comment about the sides of the guy’s mouth)

    • Oh me too, I totally get that. I put together a little kid’s book a few weeks ago, that’s what I kept running into. It’s about a family of robots, and I kept making the dad robot’s body change drastically from page to page. Like in one page he’d be super wide, in another his head would be bigger, etc. Illustrators who can maintain consistency have a really underrated skill! I hadn’t even really consider it much before.

      Also, thank you for that tip. I had never heard it before, but I just tried some experiments with blended indigo and dark umber. It looks really good! Like you said, a natural shade of black. It’s almost like just regular Prismacolor black is slightly shiny or has a “brightness” to it (maybe that’s not the right word). But this blend seems more muted, like it wouldn’t distract next to other colors. Thanks!

  • What a difference! Much more drama and life in these now – the benefit of 2 more years of practice and experience. The dress in particular has so much movement in it.

    • Thanks Claire! It’s so wild to think about how much artwork can change over the course of a year or two.

      After posting this update, I was thinking about how I could show progression on a larger scale – comparing two pieces isn’t too hard, but I wonder if there’s some tool I could use to visualize like 10+ drawings and how they change. Maybe there’s a plugin or widget out there?

  • Just came across your art blog (thank you for the mention!) and it’s awesome to see how you developed your style with the pencils! Love the ones from March 19th and April 17th this year. Amazing style !

    • That really means a lot, Luisina! Your YouTube videos were such a tremendous help when I was trying to learn how to use colored pencils. I must have watched that Emma Watson portrait dozens of times (this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQrMDFFcX0Q). Before seeing your tutorial, I had no idea the white pencil could be used to blend! That was a game-changer for sure, particularly trying to move from that scratchy light coloring to a more paint-like blending.

      It’s really cool to have an artist whose work I’ve admired compliment my progress. Thank you for that, definitely made my day

  • “if I were a perfectionist it would probably be an issue” 😂

    • Haha, isn’t another way to say that “yes, I am kind of lazy”

      Seriously though, I do have a bad habit of kind of messing up drawings I spend too much time changing. I’m trying to protect these portraits from myself!

  • Hi Jon. Thanks for stopping by my site recently and it’s great to explore your site. This post in particular resonates with my own ongoing experiences and I hope, as I do, that you can take some comfort from knowing that you’re not alone with these feelings! I don’t have any answers beyond what others have already said I’m afraid but it looks to me as if you know how to ‘manage’ this! All the best

    • Hello there John, and thank you as well for checking this one out! As an art-viewer, watercolor is one of my favorite mediums, so I’m quite glad to have stumbled across your artwork via the WP Reader. The scenes you paint are quite excellent, particularly the city paintings with people out and about (that’s not just because of COVID-19)

      It is actually pretty reassuring to hear that is something other people experience too. This probably sounds illogical, but it’s hits home even more when it comes from talented artists like yourself and others I’ve come across in this blogging ecosystem. This made me of one of your posts I just read today “Am I an Artist?” I’ve definitely asked myself the same question. I guess it’s hard to really judge your own work sometimes. (for what it’s worth, l vote yes – you are an artist for sure)

      • Hi Jon and many thanks for such kind and generous comments – I really appreciate them. I suppose we’re all in our own way riddled with doubt (and I daresay I’d distrust anyone that said they weren’t!). It’s often really helpful in so many ways to hear how others view or perceive your work and abilities – especially at times when you may find yourself at a low ebb! Anyway – I’m really grateful for your comments and for you spending the time on looking and commenting! Look forward to seeing more of your work now I’m also following you.

      • I hear that, it can be a bit difficult to put your artwork out there at times. Especially since I’m probably the worst judge of my own stuff. It’s easy for me to forget that the viewer doesn’t always experience things the same way the creator does. Like some little detail might drive me crazy, but 99% of people who see the portrait may not notice or care.

        Anyhow, definitely looking forward to seeing more of your fantastic paintings!

  • Like you, Jon, I’ve looked back at much of what I’ve photographed in the past and reviewed my seemingly ongoing struggle to get even light across a whole composition. To add to it, I’m also often photographing 3 dimensional objects and books.
    At the beginning of this year I finally purchased a large (80cm square) portable photo booth with adjustable lighting, various ‘portholes’ to aim through and 3 different colour backgrounds. It’s been a Godsend. I can’t say that I’ve wrinkled out all my issues as I’m still coming to grips with it but my pictures are much improved. I use a small easel to stand items upright and have just started experimenting with vignettes laid flat.
    An online course I’ve just started recommends using an iphone and certain apps which manipulate and improve photos but the struggles I see people experiencing keeps me with my wonderful Canon camera firmly in hand. I download and manipulate as little as possible (if at all if I’ve used the photo booth) in Photoshop, mainly resizing for web use.
    I’ve also found a huge difference in the 2 computer screens I toggle between. Both the same brand and size, settings the same but oriented at different angles on my corner desk. I really have to ensure I’m looking at the right angle for each because imagery can seem very different if you’re not fully head on in front of the screen.
    It’s no longer just about the art, is it? We’ve moved into the complexity of displaying the art, and I find that can take just about as long as producing the piece in the first place sometimes.

    • This is quite a timely comment – I’ve been trying to figure out the “ins and outs” of just such a thing. I’m not a photographer by any means, so all of this stuff takes some effort to wrap my brain around.

      If you don’t mind sharing, what brand/model of photo booth/light box did you buy? It sounds like it’s been great, so you would recommend the one you’re using? Honestly, looking over options is a bit daunting because 1) I don’t actually know how to judge them and 2) the price seems to vary wildly. By way of example, here are two I was looking at:
      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GIL6EU4
      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0798DMM35

      Is the $141 so much better than the $65 one? I have no clue! There are reviews of course, but when they’re both a mixed back, I’m back to square one.

      You are sure right about the complexity of displaying art though. Since most of the audience are viewing what we create digitally, it’s pretty much vital to present it well. Definitely not something I expected to be such a core component of the process!

  • Definitely recognisable!!

    “does look less cartoony than the originals” – the originals of these characters and of those in Tangled have crazy proportions. Yours are more lifelike probably due to the proportions I reckon…

    • Hey there Steve, happy Friday to you! Yes they do indeed, their eyes seem especially bizarre. When I was looking over the Frozen characters, I couldn’t help but notice how hilariously large they are.

      Also, it’s funny you mentioned Tangled…that is suddenly becoming very popular with the kids. Not quite at the level of replacing Frozen (as long as my kids call themselves Anna and Elsa, its status as champ is safe), but they are consuming all available Tangled content on Disney+. Ha – might be a matter of time before I get recruited to sketch draw those folks too

      • Ah yes Tangled. Something topical about that at the moment.

        Rapunzel locked away from the world and her Kingdom. Isolated you could say… The name of the kingdom? Corona!!

      • Man that is absolutely hilarious, that’s exactly what my wife kept talking about when we were watching it the other day. At the beginning, when she’s cooking a ton and bored out of her mind…”hmmm does this look familiar at all?!”

  • Wishing you all the best with the book Jon 👍

  • Thanks for the info, Jon. I shall try some better blending when I get to Day 18 of my ‘Jack’ drawing challenge which needs to be soon. I see you’ve been following my progress – all critiquing accepted!
    Glad to know that self-isolation hasn’t cramped your creative spirit.

    • You bet! I’m not sure if this helps or not, but I got a lot out of watching videos by an artist named Luisina Juliete. I watched this video a few times specifically: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQrMDFFcX0Q. She’s really quite good at blending and pulling together different colors using white. It’s taken some time for me to figure out, but pushing harder than I was accustomed to with the white pencil was sort of a game-changer.

      I’ll keep an eye out on the continued Jack portrait adventures!

  • Jon, I’m very interested in Elsa’s blue bodice. From the gif I see you made the small rectangular shapes first then overlaid more colour so ‘blurring’ and unifying the first layers into the whole. Is it all done with pencil or do you use water-colour or similar? Some of the areas are beautifully smooth, more painterly than I ever get using coloured pencils.

    • Hey there, Claire – I hope you are doing well!

      It is actually all done using colored pencils. I started with a bunch of squares in turquoise and blue, most were outlines with some solid. Then, I layered some dark blue and grey into the areas I wanted to shade, and some lightly colored turquoise over the lighter non-shaded areas. The last touch was to go in with a white pencil and blend everything together.

      I was a bit worried about that last blending step because I didn’t want to push the colors into an unnatural looking direction. I actually lost more of the dark blue in the blending than I thought I would, but I think it worked out in the end. So, short version – layers and heavy blending. These are Prismacolor pencils, by the way (if that helps)

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  • If you’re a video game fan there are a ton of games on sale right now.

    First, GOG has a ton of free games available for download: https://www.gog.com/partner/stay_at_home.

    Also, if you haven’t played Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yet and want to check it out, it’s on sale both on Steam and GOG for 70% off. So you can pick your favorite game distributor and go for it!

    Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/292030/The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt/
    GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/the_witcher_3_wild_hunt

  • The drawing has action in it, which is in itself a success.

    • Thanks man – that’s true, at least I did convey action! Although it’s not quite what I hoped it’d become, there are some positives here. And it does sort of align with the art style of the game itself.

      I hope you’re doing well during the current pandemic insanity, Steve. Weird times for sure.

      • Doing as well as can be expected I think. Various disasters occurring buy could be massively worse of course!!

      • Glad to hear you’re doing well, and that’s true – global pandemic aside, so far no alien invasion or anything like that. And I haven’t had to fight anyone in a post-apocalyptic Thunderdome yet, which is nice!

  • Free access to ABC Mouse for the kiddos: https://slickdeals.net/f/13919663-online-education-programs-for-kids-pre-k-8th-grade-free

    ABC Mouse: Early Learning Academy (for Kids Preschool Through 2nd Grade) Free
    Apply promo code AOFLUNICEF

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    Apply promo code SCHOOL7771

  • I’m going to also use the comments section of this post to share some free stuff to do during downtime at home. First up, a list from NPR of stuff that’s free now that wasn’t before: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/20/818670715/getting-bored-heres-a-list-of-free-things-that-werent-free-before-coronavirus

    • Education
      Want to feed your brain with something other than constant coronavirus updates? The eight Ivy League schools are offering hundreds of online courses to the public for free.

      Dhawal Shah, founder of the online course aggregator Class Central, compiled a list of more than 400 classes that are available in subjects as varied as Machine Learning for Data Science and Analytics from Columbia University; HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism from Princeton University; The Science of Well-Being from Yale; and Gamification from the University of Pennsylvania.

      The educational publishing company Scholastic announced it has a digital learning hub for free that’s intended to “support virtual learning plans.” It says the curriculum covers English language arts, STEM, social studies and social-emotional learning.

    • Fitness

      Not interested in stimulating your brain? How about your body? Many gym chains across the country have shuttered but are offering online classes for free.

      Peloton is offering new users a 90-day trial on its app. This news comes as the company announced the closing of its showrooms until at least March 29. It added that this week it began producing content from its new studios in New York, “but it will be entirely closed to the public until further notice.”

      Golds Gym is offering free access to its app, Goldsamp, until the end of May, where more than 600 audio and video workouts along with DJ mixes get you ready to work up a sweat. Planet Fitness is offering “Home Work-Ins” streamed live at 7 p.m. ET daily on its Facebook page.

      If you are looking for something to offer strength and maybe a little stress relief, there are some paid yoga sites that are now providing some online classes for free, including Core Power Yoga and Down Dog.

    • Classic sports streaming

      With all the major sports leagues shut down, some of the leagues are dropping their subscription fees to their paid streaming services. While sports fans may not be able to get their live-action fix, at least they can relive (or perhaps experience for the first time) some classic games and rivalries.

      Starting Friday, the National Hockey League is making all games played during the suspended 2019-2020 regular season available to stream on demand. Additionally the league launched “NHL Pause Binge” on its website and YouTube channel, allowing fans to view documentaries and “full-length classic NHL games dating from the 1950s to present day.”

      The NBA and NFL are providing similar offerings through NBA League Pass and NFL Game Pass.

      If it’s sports history you crave, PBS announced that it is making the 1994 Ken Burns documentary Baseball available to be streamed for free.

  • The piece really comes together between the last two gif shots! Thanks for explaining the curve thing/ graph, too—I think that will help explain it to someone reading that didn’t quite get it before

    • I think so too, I definitely felt like her face was a bit smudgy and didn’t really have much definition until the end. Also, I’m glad you found the graphs useful – there’s an overload of information out right now about this, so I tried to stick to the high points. Anyhow, I hope you are doing well!

  • Informative commentary on your process. I like that. It’s needed. You inspire me and no doubt many others.

    Stay safe.

    Jason

  • Solid likenesses. Recognized them right away! I’ll have to go check out the new trailer now…

    • Thanks Anna! That’s exactly what I hoped, that people might at least be able to recognize the actors/characters. And yes, if you are a Stranger Things fan (especially of one particular character), I think you’ll really get a kick out of it. I know it made me happy – I celebrated like I just won the Super Bowl or something

  • One of the clearest articles on this topic. Thank you!

    • Absolutely, I’m glad you found it useful!

      It’s been a while now since I went through this process, but seeing your comment reminded me of some things I’ve found since writing the post. First, I didn’t even think about libraries, but they also have access to the Ingram catalog – my local parish (county) library actually bought a couple copies! Also, although it wasn’t a big seller in the grand scheme of things, it did somehow end up on a couple “popular new book” lists I found online. And it was surprisingly sold online in the U.K. and Australia.

      Another interesting thing is that I found out my book was being pirated. Occasionally, I google the book to see if it’s discussed anywhere. One of these searches showed a forum where someone was sharing a free hosted download link. I didn’t do anything about it, but it seems to be gone now. This is kind of a weird thought, but I was actually kind of honored that someone thought it was worth stealing. I mean, if they wanted it badly enough to risk viruses on some sketchy download, that’s on them.

      I also wanted to mention how effective having an eBook through Amazon’s KDP Select is for getting attention for your book. KDP Select is controversial because it grants exclusivity to Amazon for your eBook, effectively give them even more market power. But it does generate a ton of attention, and even helps your paperback/hardcover sales.

      Anyhow, that was an unnecessarily long answer, but thanks for reading and stopping by the site

      • I was just thinking about this again the other day. First, I do have my doubts that the book was actually being pirated. I wonder if it was just a bait link chocked full of viruses with no actual book content. I can’t figure out how they would have gotten a pirated version, since I’ve only ever had it available on Kindle, and a Kindle hack/exploit would probably have gotten a lot of attention right? Anyhow, it seems unlikely in hindsight that it was the actual book.

  • Nice presents, well done on doing the horses.

    I’ve seen very experienced artists fall apart doing horses, especially face on.

    • Hey Steve, happy holidays to you! Man, you aren’t lying about horses. Trying to draw a horse face feels a lot like trying to sketch a weird brown alien.

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  • Have you tried any of the Amazfit smartwatches? I ask because you talk about the battery life being a “game changer” on this, while the Amazfit smartwatches offer better battery life along with more features (AMOLED, touchscreen, GPS, more sensors, etc.) and at a lower price.

    • Actually, the Amazfit Bip was one I almost pulled the trigger on multiple times. The price and feature set (and the incredible battery life, as you said) is really appealing. The thing that always held me back was the unknown integration with Google Fit. I know Amazfit has their own app, but I could never figure out if they operated like FitBit in their own ecosystem, or if there was some sort of data push to Google Fit. Without knowing for sure, I never could quite convince myself to hit the buy button.

      Once the rumors of this Fossil Collider started, and I saw how watch-like they looked, I was hooked. The e-ink/e-paper thing, combined with the overall aesthetic, was enough to get me to bite. I still may try an Amazfit someday though, because the brand’s offerings remain appealing.

      If you’ve used the Bip (or even one of their other watches), what’s your experience with their app? Does it connect to other things, like Google Fit? If so, is it pretty seamless?

  • I really idolized all your works Jon! 🙂

  • Update: I’ve run into something that sort of seems minor, but from a practicality standpoint, it’s been a somewhat significant negative. I’ve been running at dusk lately, and had trouble trying to see my mileage and stats. It’s that point in the evening when it’s too dark to see without the backlight. The problem is either that the backlight is too weak to see at dusk, or that it’s just really hard to activate while I’m running. Once it’s actually dark towards the end, when I’m walking, I can see it.

    I still love the watch, but this is certainly an inconvenience…and probably will be until it starts getting dark later again.

    • I’ve run into another issue that’s sort of a big deal. I lost one entire day of tracking (HR, steps, exercise, sleep). I opened a ticket with Fossil, they can’t seem to figure out why. It only happened once – the data just disappeared as I was syncing the watch to the app in the evening. If it happens again, this issue may actually be a deal-breaker for me. I just can’t be losing tracking data. I used FitBits for years and never had something like that happen.

      I keep the watch connected via bluetooth pretty much all the time, and it disconnects from the app about once a week. Don’t know if that’s related to the above issue or not. To fix, I have to turn off bluetooth, close the app, turn on bluetooth, reopen the app, tap connect. Fossil support, which I had always heard was pretty good, appears to have given up on my issue. I can’t reproduce it, and they closed my ticket with a “if it happens again” message.

  • Also, just circle back on the supported notifications thing. Android Police (a tech site, not robot cops) did a review on this smartwatch. It’s an interesting review to me, because it seemed like the had positive overall impressions, but really gave it a bad score (6/10). Apparently, they care A LOT about app notifications, because that was the main point they hammered. Anyhow, Android Police contacted Fossil and got a list of additional apps supported with their next update:

    Airbnb
    American Airlines
    Badoo
    Bank of America
    Calendar
    Capital One
    Citibank
    Delta
    ESPN
    Facetime
    Flickr
    Foursquare
    Google Inbox
    Google+
    Grubhub
    Hipchat
    Kik
    Line
    LinkedIn
    Lyft
    Mint
    Outlook
    Pandora
    Paypal
    Pinterest
    Postmates
    Seamless
    Shazam
    Sina Weibo
    Skype
    Skype for Business
    Slack
    Spotify
    Square Cash
    Swarm
    Telegram
    Tinder
    Tom Skype
    Tumblr
    Uber
    United Airlines
    Venmo
    Viadeo
    Viber

    Still quite a few that I’d like to see, like WordPress and perhaps Reddit. And it’s sort of odd that they’re included some apps that don’t exist anymore like Google+. But it’s good that they’re working on that aspect.

  • Battery life update: I’m at the 10.5 day mark now, and it’s got 20% battery left. Unless I’m totally failing at math (which definitely happens), I could probably squeeze another 3 days out of it. That would land me just short of the 14 day mark. I’ve got device charge anxiety though, so I went ahead and plugged in tonight.

  • Thank you! I’m keeping this ost so I can try and create a gif. It will take me a while but it’s very useful. Thanks again!

  • Well there you go, I’ve been using Google photos since they invented it and I’ve never tried the animation feature. Learnt something new.

    Makes me feel a bit so sloppy on my posts. I don’t put any thought into the majority of them. “Here’s my picture” and then if I’ve got the time, and the inclination, then I’ll add “and here’s how I did it”. 😳

    It’s definitely Gif G G G all the way. Jif is a brand of floor cleaner.

    • Isn’t that cool? I do wish Google Photos allowed you to create .gifs out of videos, but right now it’s just still frames. Despite the fact that the app will randomly automatically make looped .gifs from videos for you.

      Dude, there is nothing wrong with that! Sometimes I wonder if I’m going waaaaaay overkill on these posts. Like people open them and say, “settled down guy, I’m just scrolling to the picture anyway.”

  • I do like your progression gifs. Helps see how you tackle shading.

  • Nice review. Definitely pushing me toward getting this one despite the limited notifications that are mirrored on the watch.

    Just one thing about the review though: in your battery life analysis, you mention that extrapolating 6.6% per day equates to 100% battery drain in 27 days. My calculations show 100% battery drain will happen in 15 days.

    • Wow, where was my brain on that one? Thank you Jason, I appreciate you catching that. I updated the post with that correction, plus some more recent feedback on the battery drain now that I’m over the 4 day mark. For me so far, I seem to average losing between 6-7% per day.

      I’m glad you found the review useful! The notification app list is pretty limited unfortunately, but I guess I lucked out because most of the big ones I use are there. Android/Google messages, Gmail, and phone notifications are the most frequent for me apparently. I also get some use out of Twitter and Instagram. I hope they expand it a bit over time.

      I realize now I didn’t list all the apps I see available in the notifications section. If you’re curious, here’s what I see in app list:
      – Calendar
      – Fit
      – Gmail
      – Instagram
      – Snapchat
      – Twitter
      – Hangouts
      – Facebook Messenger
      – WhatsApp
      – WeChat
      – Weibo
      – Line

      You can also set it to allow calls/texts from all contacts, only favorites, or no one. And Google Fit and Under Armour Record are listed as “connected apps” in a totally separate section, which I guess implies those are more in-depth links?

  • Sounds a great place to visit.

    I recently bought a book “The Art of Atari” which is a real trip down memory lane, even though we never actually owned one as we couldn’t afford it. My friend had one which I got to play on, in one way I wonder if that lack of availability made it an even more special experience.

    I don’t treasure many physical items gained over the years, but they will have to prise my ZX Spectrum from my cold dead hands. That’ll never be sold or scrapped 😉

    • I do think there’s something to that – only getting to play something occasionally making it more special. I had a similar experience with the original NES. Our family did get one eventually, which really set me on a video game heavy path. Ha, when I was a kid, I even subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine – if I wasn’t playing it, I wanted to be reading about it!

      I have to admit, I had to google the ZX Spectrum. That is awesome! No wonder you treasure that one. Does it still work?

      • No, unfortunately it’s been a long time dead and unfixable. There are good emulators on a lot of platforms though and they’ve even re-released a modern version.

        Likewise on reading about it. There were a few magazines at the time with program code in the back pages which I’d religiously type in.

        The artwork on the front of the tapes of games was quite noteworthy.

      • Oh man, that’s a real bummer! I mean, emulators are cool and all, but there’s just something about dusting off an old cartridge and popping it into a dinosaur of a machine. That’s pretty awesome that they re-released a modern version – have you been able to check the new one out?

        Interestingly enough, I actually just this year go my hands on all of our old NES, SNES, and GameBoy stuff. My mom had it sitting in a barn in plastic bins, and somehow the games and system survived a couple decades of Texas summers! I’m not sure how that’s possible, but it’s pretty sweet.

        Man, I do miss the days of video game magazines. I just remember being so excited when the end of the month came and I knew I had a new edition of Nintendo Power waiting for me. I used to try to mimic some of the artwork in there, particularly for the RPGs. I threw them all away at some point, and I’m honestly not sure why.

  • This is really well written Article on the pros and cons. Jon clearly went through the ups and downs to get his book published and did plenty of research. Well done.

    • Much appreciated, Michael! I’m glad to hear you got something out of it. To me, it’s hard to really get a handle on the self-publishing world without just rolling up my sleeves and trying it. But I figured maybe a write-up like this could be somewhat useful as someone tries to navigate the ins-and-outs.

  • Thanks so much for sharing. This gave me a lot of ideas

    • Absolutely – thank you for checking out the post! One of the things I love most about this WordPress ecosystem is seeing ideas and inspiration flow around. I’ve learned so much from other blogs, it makes me quite glad to hear if something I shared might be useful to someone.

  • I really like what you’ve done here, I’ve never seen the results of these really being used other than the ‘ideal world’ promotional promises.

    Good stuff 😀

    • Thanks Steve! Have you experimented with using figures/models as a learning tool at all? Just curious if you’ve found some good ones that you could recommend. I mean, I do like these but clearly they have their weaknesses. It’s just so convenient to have an immediate reference at hand.

      • No, I’ve looked at the basic cheap ones that are in every art shop and wondered if that was more of a novelty thing. I did see adverts for fully poseable ones but the price of those decided I didn’t need them.

        Your eBay ones sound reasonable though…

      • Yeah I hear that, man. The full retail price is pretty steep I think. But the eBay may-be-a-knockoff listing isn’t really bad for $10 each!

        Passing this link is by no means an endorsement, but here’s the one I bought that actually showed up in my mailbox:
        https://www.ebay.com/itm/Figma-Archetype-Next-He-She-Action-Figure-Collection-Anime-Model-Body-Toys-Doll/152996838139

        Like I said, I definitely suspect it’s not a genuine Figma brand model. But it shipped from China to Louisiana surprisingly fast (for free) and was pretty inexpensive overall.

        On the other hand…I would avoid any listings by eBay seller yalonl_0. That order never even shipped, and I couldn’t get the seller to respond to me at all. I had to submit a ticket with eBay to get a refund. It wasn’t a cumbersome process, but it did waste a couple of weeks of waiting.

  • Interesting. I have always been tempted to get a model. These seem a little “tense”, over-musculated, but I’ll bet they are mostly used in cartooning, where superheroes are always ready to strike. I think you did well with them.

    • I’m with you about how exaggerated their musculature is – I was actually trying to find something that was closer to an average person, but surprisingly this was one of the least extreme I found. This type of model is apparently very popular, but they do trend more towards animated or comic book style builds. From what I gather, people do use them for art, but collectors also take these basic gray or peach models and paint them into action figures. Like there are YouTube videos of people creating movie characters and so forth from them.

      Have you come across any similar figures that are a bit more realistic or at least less superhero-ish? I might even consider not being a total cheap skate if I could find something great that other artists vouch for. If you do ever opt to try one, I’d be curious to see what you pick and how you like it!

      • Did they do the larger donut eating couch potato model?

        Mr Potato Head represents the real world figure.

      • Dude I would 100% buy poseable figures of different body types if I could find them. For a guy with my skillset (i.e. poor artistic imagination) I need some reference to help me along. The Jon “Body by Pizza” Amdall edition wouldnt be a best seller, but I’d use it!

      • Will just have to get yourself standing in that superhero pose and have someone take your picture for reference. Maybe holding aloft a pizza slice in triumph.

        I’d go for a ‘asleep in front of the telly, mouth agape, perhaps starting to drool’ 😂

      • This is an idea whose time has come! I wonder if I would be able to get my wife to stop laughing long enough to snap this photo?

  • I like these figures. I think the female looks cheesed-off and the guy seems expectant, as if he’s about to get up or lean further forward.

    • Thank Claire, I like the figures too – I really was on the fence about them at first, but I think they’ll be pretty useful. While I was sketching I had a moment where I thought, “Oh wow did I mean to make them so surly?” And then, “Yes. Yes I did, let’s make them highly displeased with this situation.”

      It all makes sense because my oldest daughter was helping me pose them and one of their legs kept falling off. That would sure make me irritated as well, so I empathize!

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  • Also, really liked the last clip as well. It’s of similar theme to the first one. Can you please help me ID the show?

  • Nice drawing! Do you know from which show you grabbed the first audio track? I’d really like to identify the show. There’s a female guest that pops in briefly starting around 0:42. If you can id the guest, I can probably find it.

    • Hello there Martin, thanks for commenting and for checking out the artwork. Man, I really wish I could be of assistance there. It was so very long ago, I can’t recall who that guess was. Listening to the clip again, I get the impression this was an actress promoting some movie that came out during early 2000s, but I just can’t nail down who it is. Sorry about that!

  • This is really beautiful. You nailed the perspective.

  • That’s a tricky perspective to work with, I’d definitely count that as a victory – well done.

    Oh, and you really must do that “dude with phone”, that’s the most interesting to my eyes 🤓

    • Thanks man! I think the “dude with the phone” could be interesting as well – honestly I’m not even sure why I didn’t finish it. It may have been one that I started, had to leave town, then it probably sort of passed out of my mind. Sadly that happens sometimes

  • Heroes in a half shell – great job!

    • Turtle Power! Ha ha, thank you I appreciate that!

      A nice side effect of doing this post on the ninja turtles is that I got to listen to the soundtrack from the original movie again. I had forgotten about it, but what a great thing to listen to while writing about those radical dudes. This was a fun one!

  • I like this new idea! and although small, don’t discount the idea of drawing old “tin” soldiers — some of those are quite elaborate and historically accurate

    • Oh I like that idea too! Any thoughts on good places to get something like that? I imagine eBay might have some, but I wonder about any brick and mortar stores – maybe something like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s in the U.S.? I’ve been so focused on sources like family photos, I never even gave much thought to tools artists have probably been using forever. Rookie mistake!

  • Another important element to art/expression. Good job

    • Thank you! That slight smile/smirk was definitely interesting to try…I did a fair amount of tweaking it, and feel fortunate that it worked out. I worry about wrecking the integrity of the paper with too much of that sort of thing

  • great art works… keep it up

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  • A good comparison, I still like the old style as well – there’s something lively about the visible line work.

    Re-doing an old picture without referencing the original sounds a good exercise. I feel that it’s something I’ve done but I can’t remember what one it is now. Will have to look at my own gallery haha 😂

    Good stuff, keep it up 🙂👍

    • Thank you Steve, it’s so interesting to hear someone else’s opinion on something like that. From my perspective, seeing those older drawings with more prominent outlines just reminds me of the hesitation and uncertainty I sometimes felt trying to capture the right look. I tend to associate lighter lines with feeling more confident from all this practice. But trying to look at it through a different lens, that older stuff definitely had it’s own look.

      I’d certainly love to see if you have done something similar! Since I feel pretty familiar with your artwork at this point, it would be fascinating to see how your approaches might change. This all makes me want to go browse older posts for some of these sites I’ve been looking at often over the past 2-3 years

      • I remembered what it was now, I’d drawn a Christmas ornament three times over three Christmases but made a point of not looking at the previous drawing for reference, or even to see what pen or pencil I’d used.

        Whilst there were small noticeable differences the main thing that caught my eye was that I’d picked a piece of paper twice as large for the later one. This would’ve been as I was trying to force myself to get away from the smaller drawings that beginners do. However the actual figure on the paper ended up exactly the same size, almost to the millimetre!!

      • Oh man, that sounds cool! Do you happen to have a link (if it’s been posted to your website)? That would be very interesting to see how your technique and view of it had changed.

        That’s a good note about paper size too – it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Specifically, if it’s time for me to move up to larger paper. I’ve been using mostly 9 X 12, but find myself feeling cramped pretty often lately. What size do you usually use for the most part?

  • Nice job! Great books.

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  • Oh yes, envy does show its ugly face from time to time. The discipline that I finally embraced was to stop comparing my work to theirs, to stop worrying if people would think I was copying my influences, and stop concerning myself with the opinions of others. I have no idea if I’m a great artist or not, but after almost 40 years of creation, I finally understood what so many artists have said before me: authentically make art you like and make it for yourself. That will be the only way to attract people who hear your true voice.
    Finally, and you have already said this before and in this article, you need only compete with yourself. Let me make this simpler that your approach of aiming high and accepting only partial success; you only need to do better that you did the day before.
    Ask yourself which feels better: “I didn’t achieve my goal, but I learned along the way”, or “That’s an improvement over the last sketch, now I’m one step closer to my goal.”
    By the way, this works best if you eliminate the big hairy goal and focus on the learning journey.
    In my opinion, art can have no real goal, because of its completely subjective nature. Art is about play, exploration, and expression much more than technique.
    I always remind myself of something Picasso said in one of his last interviews. The interviewer witnessed a retrospectively his work spanning from the technical genius of his early years to the abstracts and simple lines drawing on pottery and with light at the end of his life. The interviewer related a comment on his later work from another spectator “a child could do that”, and asked Picasso how he felt about that.
    The answer Picasso gave was something like, “When we are children we are not concerned about anything other than the joy we get from making art, because of this, we create pure art and pure expression. Society quickly erases that bliss with judgements they call needed learning.” Then he said the part of the quote that has guided me all my artistic life. “By the age of 12, I was recognized as a master of my art, able to copy El Greco, Velasquez and all the Masters perfectly. I’ve spent the next 70 years learning how to paint like a child again.”
    I’ve come to understand this in my own way, and I believe one of the important points he was espousing was to focus on fun over form.
    What do you get from it?

    • What an excellent, thought-provoking comment! I think what you’ve said here about authentically making art you like, and using your true voice, is spot on. I do believe people are interested in experiences that resonate in that way. I’m always more drawn to exploring a project someone is passionate about; it seems like you can often tell just from the way they write about it, or even the imagry itself.

      Also, I really like that Picasso quote. It’s interesting to consider his perspective though, as someone having mastered multiple genres and styles (Picasso of course, not me). I’m by no means an expert on art theory and history, but it seems like by becoming technically proficient at so many core skills (like realistic portraits), he probably learned things he couldn’t help but have bolstered his future modern art with. It’s like his artwork was a journey that relied on everything he learned, even if you couldn’t see it explicitly. It would feel like cheating for someone like me to paint some shapes and say “see I can do that too.” Maybe not cheating exactly – actually, more inauthentic. Almost like I haven’t learned enough, haven’t crested that hill, to start making it simpler/purer for myself. I don’t have that same body of work and knowledge for that perspective to fit my mindset – it wouldn’t seem like an organically generated thing at this point in my learning process.

      I may be totally wrong there though, because what you said about focusing on fun is a really important take away. And that may have been instead what he meant – if you aren’t enjoying creating, why are you even doing it, right? From that perspective, it sort of squashes what I just said above to some extent I think.

  • I can relate to that envy, when I first discovered Instagram I was doing the “wow that’s so good, follow them” and before you know it you’ve got so many inbound images that it’d take you most of the day to get through it – and certainly that time would be better utilised creating rather than looking at other art.

    I’ve naturally fallen into the balance now of rarely changing the accounts I’m following. I’ve got a few arty friends of course, and I’d say several which are above and below (in my opinion) in terms of skill level but broadly similar. There’s a few which are mind-blowing but I’m realistic about the fact that they are full time artists, with studios and often having done it for a chunk of time. I don’t have any envy these days as there’s only one person you should really compare yourself with, and that’s the “you” from a year ago 😁👍

    • That is so true, Steve. There is definitely such a thing as social media follow overload, and I think I’m past that saturation point! It’s especially true for exactly the beast you mentioned; Instagram. I mean, it is really neat to see so many great artists. But I got to the point where I don’t even see friends or family’s stuff on there sometimes, because it gets drowned by everything else.

      It’s sort of true for WordPress Reader too. As part of typing this comment, I went to the Reader to see exactly how many I follow now…I have 593 followed sites! I had no idea it was that many. I probably need to go back and filter out some impulse follows, because there can’t be more than 30-40 that I remember and specifically seek out (like Steve Kidd Art for example). I feel like I’m missing a lot of WP Reader content in the moment that I have to later hunt down for individual sites.

      That’s good advice about comparing too – it’s sort of fun to gauge how you’ve changed over time. A bit surprising even!

      • Yes, I started off following everyone that followed me but soon discovered a bombardent of posts including pictures of people’s dinners, cats, posing at the beach – so all that had to go. Besides my IG has something like 1,500 follows now, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day just to look at that lot 😆

        I’ve had to make some tough decisions to stop following decent folk but decided that “Steve Kidd Art” as an online entity is purely for my art and nothing else. Harsh maybe, but essential.

        By the way, thanks for the follow but more importantly, for posting up your artwork and thoughts – it’s *exactly* what I’m here for 👍

      • Haha, yes you would have to dedicate your life to intake and processing of Instagram posts! Although some people might enjoy that, it sounds like a good recipe for insanity for me. I think filtering social media down to art is a good call – it seems like a lot of content now is just clutter (spammed articles, politics disguised as news, mid-level marketing schemes, etc). It’s nice to make that feed into something more enjoyable wherever you can

        And I remain flattered that people like you, talented and skillful folks, have some interest in these posts! It sounds cheesy, but I’m absolutely serious – having an interested audience, even if it’s just a handful of people, really makes writing about this worth it.

  • Glad to hear you are enjoying Unsplash so much, Jon! You got a great result from this one 🙂

    • Thanks Hilda! I am indeed enjoying it, I’m even thinking about turning over a few photographs I’ve taken for use there. Nothing special, just a few scenery pics (like the beach in Oregon, the Red River in Louisiana, etc.). Might be a way to pay it forward!

    • Sorry Hilda, I meant to respond again to your last comment! I actually did upload a few photos to Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/@amdallgallery

      Just so I can in some way contribute to a resource that I’ve so much enjoyed using. The photos aren’t anything special, and aren’t even really something portrait artists could use – just some scenery. But maybe someone out in the world will use them.

      • Well Done, Jon! – I really like your attitude! Is it easy to load up photos to unsplash? Maybe I should be having a go at doing it myself! 🙂

      • Much appreciated Hilda – it’s really not bad at all. When you log in, there’s a button that says “submit a photo” pretty close to where you user profile picture is (top right corner). Load up the photos you want to share, then they’re out there for the world to use!

        They give you some guidelines (5 MP size, clear image, you own the rights, etc), but I also took the step to tag the properties and file name. Basically, I went into Window Explorer/My Computer, right clicked on the image files, and clicked “Properties”. Then, I clicked on the “Details” tab and added my name/info to Title, Subject, Copyright, Author, and so on. Maybe not strictly necessary, but I thought it was good to be thorough!

  • How was it received? Hope they liked it – glad you went analogue for this one ☝️

    • It was well received! Honestly I was a bit nervous about it. Self-doubt in the corners of my brain kept peeking out, trying to feed me imagined scenarios where the recipient was like, “Oh, yeah. Ok. That’s…well, alright then.” In hindsight, that would have been unrealistic, and the guy never would have reacted like that anyway. But I was relieved that it made a positive impact.

      I’m also glad to be back to analogue – digital is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there

  • From what you’ve posted here (but they never look the same onscreen as in real life) the lightbox looks perfect. My eye starts at the hair, travels down the face towards the right, meets the lightbox cord/bulb, travels down the light bulb towards the left and back up the arm to the face. So both compositionally and colourwise it works for me. Looking forward to seeing other comments and views.

    • Excellent, I’m glad it came across well! It’s always interesting when you try something new to see how others react. It’s tough for me sometimes to try viewing what I’ve done objectively. I guess that’s probably true for a lot of people though eh?

  • Really like this one Jon. She has a slight look of Cher about her; the same long narrow face and strong nose. Reminds me of Cher in Moonstruck, around 1990 I think. Love the addition of the lightbox.

    • Thank you Claire – I didn’t notice that when I was drawing, but you’re right on about the facial shape/nose combo

      I’m glad the light box worked out, because I thought at first that might have been way out in left field with the yellow. I mean, this is supposed to be a light blub not the sun! It still may be too yellow, but at least it’s not completely out of control

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  • I know this post is like two years old, but I feel like it’s worth pointing out that it’s probably incorrect. Based on my googling, it seems like it’s actually okay to wear a navy shirt/coat with black pants now.

  • Nice artwork, also love the progression gif idea, will certainly be copying that!

    • Thank you Andy! I’ve always liked to share the earlier progression images of sketches, but found that just including all the images sometimes made posts too cluttered. Sharing a .gif of all of them seemed like a cleaner solution.

      There are tons of sites/methods for making them, but if you need a recommendation, I’ve been using https://ezgif.com/maker. It’s easy to use and has lots of options (like changing the speed of each frame, autocropping, etc.).

  • This has been very interesting to read, though I must admit I’ve worked backwards through your posts on it.

    You may have noticed my recent foray into digital drawing. I’m also an Android guy really but a deal came up on an iPad with iPencil so I ended up with that – and the same application though I’ve more recently been playing with Procreate which seems to be ‘The Tool For The Job’ when it comes to Apple.

    It’s not overly easy is it? I must admit that whilst I bought it for drawing I’ve spent probably twenty times the hours on Netflix rather than drawing.

    I find it so much more rewarding on real paper, and not just because I’m lousy digitally. I think it’s the feeling of drawing on glass with a biro possibly, no tactility to it 🙄

    Anyways, this is a great portrait above. It’s better for the ‘unfinished’ bits, delete that bit of the write up and make out it’s artistic license. I think in terms of style, your self portrait was instantly recognisable as being one of yours.

    This is good stuff, I feel more inspired to shut down the Netflix distraction and get busy with the pen again.

    • Hey Steve! So, it looks like I’ve missed a ton of new posts on your site. I’m not sure if I lost my subscription or something during your transition to a new host, but it looks like I’m good to go now. A silver lining to missing those is I have lots of good material to catch up on now.

      Definitely have to agree with you about digital art. It’s a major learning experience, with all new rules to figure out. And that’s something I didn’t really consider either – with the tablet, it’s so easy to waste time browsing or watching Netflix instead of opening that drawing app! Distractions seem to multiply when they’re easy to access, don’t they?

      I don’t think digital art could ever replace paper for me. As you said, there’s just a special tactile feeling to paper that can’t be beat!

  • Hi Jon, you’ve amassed a great amount of work, which is great to see. You’re not afraid to try new things.
    I recently posted a ‘tutorial’ on how I went about doing a self portrait sketch in in pencil, which might interest you. It’s good to be in touch.

    • Haha, see I’ve got you fooled there! I feel like I have a hard time trying new things. I think it took me like 6 months to get the courage to even try color! But I do try to push myself out of my comfort zone sometimes, because getting back into the art hobby after being away from it for like a decade has been all about learning.

  • Hi Jon, I see that you’ve ‘liked’ my latest blog, thanks for that. I have had a quick look through some of your posts, and you have created an impressive list. As an artist (in many drawing mediums), and lover of people to draw, I’ve enjoyed looking at your approach to the portrait. I recently did a self portrait, and have noted my approach to this sketch on the post. Nice to be in touch, Vivienne (New Zealand).

    • Hello there Vivienne – I always love coming across new art blogs (well, new to me anyway). I’ve learned a ton just from following other artists who run WordPress sites, so it’s great to find more people to follow. I’ll have to check out the self portrait and some of your other works as well.

      Thanks for checking out this site!

  • I like the “unfinished” bits, as well, because it leaves some space for the viewer.

  • Gosh, these make me think about getting a digital set up… really pretty good, but I miss a bit the “pencil-ness” some of your other work has (could that be line weight? maybe) I am clearing out my store of paintings and cataloging them — we’ve over 500 at this house, and again as much in storage…. digital,digital

    • Wow, you have over 1000 paintings? That is some prolific art creation! I guess they do add up over time eh? I’m only a couple years into this hobby really, but already I can see how storage could be an issue with my small amount of art.

      So, have you done any experimenting with digital painting/artwork in the past? For me it’s been really hit-or-miss; that first time I completely lost interest in it, but strangely now it’s working out better. I wonder if picking a tablet/operating system/program is as specific to an artist’s taste as his/her favorite medium is?

  • Wow! this is awesome 🙂

  • I had a go at 100 portraits 100 days last year and it was H.A.R.D

    I think I got to 68-69 by the 100th day but nevertheless I’d have to say it was educational.

    • Wow, well I’d have to say almost 70 is still quite a great accomplishment! I mean, that’s really a huge amount of artwork. How did you approach generating ideas for what to draw for that project?

  • Aw Jon! Thanks for the mention! I really appreciate support from artists such as yourself while I am doing this crazy challenge! Happy to spread the inspiration in your direction also! I have noticed on Unsplash that there are a couple of large and wonderful collections’ under the subject of “humanity” that you might enjoy…it is a great resource and I am really having fun with it!

    • I’m happy to, Hilda! As I mentioned before, it’s such a fun idea and you’re getting some great results. Definitely something worth checking out, in my opinion.

      Also, I’ll have to search “humanity” and some other specific terms on Unsplash. Although I’ve found some cool ideas, I know I’m not using it to its full potential. My Unsplash searches have been totally haphazard and random, mostly guided by whatever their algorithms tell me I’d like. I know I’m looking for people, so why not actually target that in searches!

      • I’m looking forward to seeing the results of what YOU find, Jon! 🙂

      • Haha where to even start though! I guess the thing to do is just point at one and dive in

      • I hear you, Jon! That’s why I spent a couple of weeks picking my references before I started THIS challenge – to try and stop my head spinning from trying to decide which one to choose each time!

  • Nice one Jon, and a good point with regards to the model release part of these ‘free’ sites. For something commercial I’d probably be inclined to use either my own photos or create something drastically altered from someone else’s photo. Or possibly even… (scary thought) use my imagination.

    Well done on the phrase “perpetual mediocrity” and the gif build up.

    • Haha, thanks Steve – if only my imagination was more functional going from brain to paper. It’s funny, I’ve always thought of myself as a creative type of dude, but honestly that is a real struggle for me most of the time. It’s frustrating, because when I really want to practice art, the limiting factor is usually that I can’t figure out anything interesting to draw!

      That makes sites like Unsplash such a remarkable gift. And WordPress too, because reading about how/where other folks come up with things is like a gold mine. Ha – also thanks for the kudos on my Dallas Cowboys diss. I can never pass up a chance to bad-mouth the team that I both love and hate.

      • Going from brain to paper is what you and I are both doing anyway, it’s just that we’re taking in that optical input as the source. Using the imagination to generate that initial image must be like a holy grail. I use visual references 100% of the time, well maybe 99.65%.

        I’d say that since I started drawing 6 years ago I’ve just been copying for the most part, learning how to use the tools. Only in the past year have I started to ‘create’ something new but even so it’s started with an image reference.

      • Dude, you are sure right about that – definitely the holy grail of drawing. I am being totally literal when I say I’m in awe of the creative talent some artists have. Some people really have a gift!

  • Lovely job, Jon! Good to see some fresh work from YOU btw! I think the jewelry works just fine, especially as it is the second thing that draws the eye, the first being her EYES! In case you did not notice, I am using Unsplash almost exclusively for my Face A Day May challenge,this year, so I was very interested to hear your thoughts on it in regards to copywrite. I always credit the photographers because I think they should have credit for their work and exposure, even though they are posting their work up with no strings attached – to me it’s the right thing to do and I, as a portrait and figurative artist am truly grateful that these websites exist to give me such a broad segment of humanity to reference!

    • Much appreciated Hilda – it always feels good to get back into some familiar territory! Although I’ve really only been blogging for about two years, it’s comfortable to be in the draw-and-write-about-it flow.

      I’ve been meaning to check into your Face A Day May challenge and see how it’s going. I’ve only read a couple of the posts so far, but already I’m seeing great things. I only just found out about Unsplash; what a wealth of ideas! I read your reference to Pixabay too, which I will definitely check out. You’re so right about the “broad segment of humanity” to reference, it’s so valuable to artists who are thirsty for practice.

      I love the prompt to your readers to participate in the Face A Day challenge by submitting ideas or photos, by the way. It sounds fun – I’m going to ponder a bit, see if I can come up with something good before the challenge gets too far along.

      • Looks like you came back and read a whole lot more of my Face A Day posts, Jon! Hope you are finding them entertaining! The thing I like about Unsplash is that you can make a ‘collection’ and then it’s just a case of opening your collection each time and picking from what you already pre-selected – so it really cuts down on decision making. The other thing I noticed is that Unsplash will then suggest other people’s collections that you might like (and I am getting ones on the subject of “humanity”, which then gives me further interesting face-fuel!!)
        Glad you like my idea to get my readers involved (so far it has inspired two people to submit …which is wonderful, fun and really inspires me to put forth my best effort for their benefit) I hope YOU do come up with ‘something good’ that would be awesome….tick tock, clocks ticking and the $’s just creep up…….(THAT aspect was also inspired by something I heard another artist did to inspire audience participation!)

      • Oh yes, I really enjoyed what I’ve seen so far! This is such a cool idea, I love unique challenges like this one. I can’t remember if I was around and blogging for your first two Face A Day Mays (you’ve had three now right?), but it’s very fun. I’m excited to see what the rest of May brings.

        Unsplash really is a cool site. I hadn’t even made a profile yet, but I went ahead and did that tonight so I could take advantage of some of their features. The photo suggestions so far have been surprisingly solid too, and keep leading to more ideas. At this rate, I’m going to need some more paper for all these planned sketches!

  • This is a great outcome and the jewellery adds another dimension, drawing the eye in. I think you’ve captured the light in the gemstones very well and, yes, capturing gold settings must be very hard. My favourite parts of this sketch are definitely the hair and the gem stones.

    • Thank you Claire – in hindsight I’m actually a little surprised about the necklace. As I was working on it, I thought the entire piece of jewelry was a bust. But the stones actually look decent! Gold is apparently tricky for me because it seemed in this case to have both bright/shiny and dark qualities. That part was a bit confounding. I’m glad the hair and necklace left an impression! That’s great to hear.

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  • Wow, I’m really impressed Jon!

    • I appreciate that OutsideAuthority!

      I’m always glad to hear from you actually, because it reminds me I need to go catch up on your posts. You are such a prolific artist, it’s easy to miss fascinating new creations if I’m away even a couple weeks!

  • Wow!! So that’s three actual real authors I know now… I wish you every success with the book. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out, books must surely outlive blog posts by a factor of thousands !!

    And I see you mentioned me in the “artist thanks”, I don’t even consider myself an artist yet so I’m well chuffed to be mentioned. Thank you 😀

    • Thanks Steve! It’s weird to think of myself as a “real author” but I guess I have to admit that’s true now.

      But along those same “am-I-really” lines, you are indeed an artist! Quite a skilled one in fact. But the biggest impact to me has been your knowledge base and the feedback you share. People like you and the others I referred to are what makes WP so valuable for artists (especially people just starting out). Slightly cheesy, but very true.

  • Many-months-later update to this…I removed all the ads from Amdall Gallery. I received a pop-up advertisement, which wasn’t something I wanted or set up…it was extremely annoying. Basically, the straw that broke the camel’s back. So, they’re gone! Not worth the $2 per month to damage the user experience like that.

  • I love this one. You did an amazing job.

    • Thanks Dana! Dogs are definitely outside of my comfort zone, but it’s probably good to practice new things. I was actually a bit excited when the giveaway winner chose her dog because I knew it’d be something fresh

  • Congrats! Cover looks great. I look forward to reading 🙂

    • Much appreciated Anna! I’m glad the cover looks okay, that was something I wasn’t sure about. I liked it, but I can never tell if my aesthetic choices actually translate well for other people. I kept comparing it to other art-related books on Amazon and waffling back and forth between “yeah it fits in” versus “not professional enough.” I’m obviously not a professional graphic artist, but hopefully it’s not too out of place

      • So, I read the book and it was really fun to see your art progress over time and learn about the process you use now. I think it’s great to have a book like this out there, and I hope others get the same enjoyment from reading it that I did!

      • That really means a lot, thank you! I’m anxious to hear/read feedback, and very glad to hear it was overall a positive from your perspective.

        I’ve only seen one review on Amazon so far, so outside of my family, I wasn’t sure what people were thinking. Honestly, much like when I started this blog, I really couldn’t figure out how the content would be received. But, I decided if even a few people read it and think “hmmm okay interesting” then I’ll call that a success!

      • I’ll be sure to leave a review on Amazon for you 🙂

      • That would be very cool! And really, the idea that I now know at least two people liked it just makes my day

  • Congratulations well done!

  • Wow! That’s great. Congratulations!

    • Thank you! I’m still pumped up about it, but now what? I guess I need to Google “what to do after publishing” to see if there’s anything else I’m supposed to be doing. Since I’m totally new to it, I have no clue if I’m supposed to request/submit/work on anything else for this thing

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  • Congratulations – hope it sells well!

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  • That’s quite instructive!

  • I am glad you’re back! our work is different, but I learn a lot from your blog.

    • Thank you! That is really flattering to hear, that a skilled artist takes something away from my ramblings. It’s always my hope that writing about what/how I learned might be useful to someone, but it’s hard to tell if that is actually true.

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  • That difference is quite remarkable Jon.

    I’ve recently revisited some of my older pen sketches to add colour as I only started with paint last year. The difference there made for a decent ‘upgrade’ but not as much as what you’ve achieved here. As you say, that portrait practice must’ve skilled you up, keep it up and good luck with the book – that sounds challenging in itself.

    • Thank you Steve – and I have to say, I like what I see on your “revisited old sketches” post. I have always had bad luck trying to add color to the old originals. It seems like I pretty much have to start fresh (like the Dark Tower piece from this post). But what you’ve done with the cathedral sketch and the girl by the tree actually works very well. The color adds quite a bit to the original. I wonder if pen lends itself to later additions better than pencil?

      • Thank you Jon.

        I’m not sure, I’ll pick one of the pencil sketches to paint over and see how it turns out. I’ll post it up even if it goes wrong 😊

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  • Nice drawings – great that you can draw so well from imagination – something I have never been able to do. Good luck with the book! I like the Dark Tower series too – but never got past the first few books as I wasn’t able to buy the next one along! One day I plan to buy the whole lot and start again.

    • Thank you! I should say though, I didn’t just pop the images out of my head and onto paper. I also struggle mightily with drawing from imagination. Like with the billybumbler Oy, I had to look at tons of images of raccoons to try to get the right look. I also looked at some smaller dogs like dachshunds. And I browsed through quite a few images of actors I thought might fit my imagined look for Jake and Susannah. So I definitely needed some crutches to make it happen.

      Well, obviously I am a fan, so I’d say it’s worth checking out again. Unfortunately, it seems like Stephen King’s books are rarely on sale on Amazon, so that makes it tough to get a good deal on the entire series. Do you have any larger used book stores where you live? Half Priced Books in Texas comes to mind as a place you might be able to round up all of the Dark Tower books at a good price.

      • Unfortunately the used book stores here are pretty hopeless – I live in the Philippines and though I’ve hunted around I’ve never been able to find any of the Dark Tower series

      • Oh dang, that’s too bad. I guess a lot of the books in the series are getting up there in age too – the finale was in the early 2000s I think. That probably makes getting a used paperback even harder

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  • Another great descriptive and interesting post.

    It’s definitely tricky knowing not only when to quit on a painting but also when to be bold and risk it all. Sorts the men from the boys. I’ll be off to play with my crayons now…

    • Thank you Steve, I appreciate it! Really, I feel like I always guess wrong about when to stop. Usually, I seem to err on the side of not being bold enough. I think I should try flipping the script more often.

      How often do you feel like you get the “when to stop” part right? I’m curious how other artists feel about that aspect.

      • When to stop, probably a third of the time I think I’ve got it right – so that’s two thirds of everything I wish I’d stopped just before making it worse.

        Might sound bad but it’s an improvement!!

      • That actually sounds like a pretty good rate to me! Are there any particular recent ones on your site that made you feel that way?

  • Nice work, Jon! You did well and I think what you are feeling about wanting to take it up a notch would be served if you darkened the background, except for the lamp light – there’s some really interesting things going on with the dark and light in this one! congrats too about the giveaway, that’s a HUGE result! Can’t wait to see what they request you to do!

    • Thanks Hilda! That would have been good…I mean honestly it’s not too late. But I know how I am, and I’m unlikely to go back now. Next time I need to just do it though! Be a little bolder, you know?

      I’m excited about the giveaway portrait! The winner already got in touch with me, and it’s a cool idea that would be something sort of new for me. I can’t wait to get started on it

      • That’s the spirit, you can do it! I know what you mean though, we all get scared about ruining something we spent a lot of time on, especially something like a background that can’t be taken away again. Can’t wait to see the result of whatever the winner is asking you to do, you sound inspired by it!

      • Is it weird that it’s sort of fun when someone else picks what I draw? I felt nervous about it with the first couple of giveaways, but now it’s almost like a game.

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  • You know, the more I look at this sketch, the more I think I messed up on the proportions. Ernie Hudson is a pretty big dude, and I think Brandon Lee was fairly average in size. Hudson looks smaller in my drawing, and it seems off. I think maybe my outline wasn’t very accurate this time.a

    Edit: Actually, in watching the .gif again, maybe I’m wrong. Brandon Lee does seem to be taller. I don’t know what I’m talking about

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  • Six hours left…and we’re at 987 entries! That’s by far the most I’ve ever had for one of these giveaways. Will it break 1000? I know it’s an arbitrary number, but that would be cool

  • This is such an awesome prize. If I win, I am going to choose a portrait of my daughter dressed in her girl scout uniform.

  • Just another note on these ads. If anyone happens to come across an ad on this site that you really don’t like, there is some small text on the bottom right that says “report this ad.” Just click on it, and you shouldn’t have to see that text again. One example is that I kept seeing this ad with a big foot on my site…I wasn’t a fan, so I reported it and haven’t seen it again.

  • Looking good Jon… I think you’re doing a great job here.

    Regarding the teeth, just a suggestion but in comparison to a reference photo are their teeth in the photo really whiter than everything else?

    I found an improvement in doing teeth when I compared the colour again. It’s a shame to say but teeth are more often yellow/brown/grey, quite shaded. Muting them and making less defined seemed to work well as well.

    I see lots of portraits on Instagram where each tooth is drawn out individually, pure white and well… looking very “toothy” and a bit scary.

    Your portraits are way better in that respect but if you feel the teeth are letting you down then maybe something to think about?

    • Hey there Steve – thanks man! I appreciate these suggestions and I agree with you. When I really try to impartially assess teeth color, it shouldn’t be bright white like that. While it’s true my sister’s teeth are quite bright, mouths do have some shadowy areas. But it’s a big area in which, honestly, I’m a little afraid to be bold. Once I get to the teeth and mouth, I’m usually pretty far into the drawing, I don’t want to mess it up. At some point, I’m going to need to just get my courage up and experiment.

      I really do think a “mouth study” would be good practice in that case – just trying a bunch of different mouths. That way I don’t have to worry about botching a larger portrait. Man, teeth are rough!

      • They are indeed.

        I used to struggle with the eyes so I started every portrait with the eyes and then if that didn’t work out I wasn’t so invested in it and thus less pressure.

        Nowadays I think it’s more the nose shadows that trouble me so I make sure I do that early on. Probably more through habit now I do tend to start with the eyes still. I think it’s going to be an ever moving target though.

        After 115 sittings for a portrait of Ambroise Vollard…
        “I am not altogether displeased with the shirt-front.” – (Paul Cezanne)

      • Ha! I like that quote, it really sounds familiar. “Well I’m done…I guess the left eyebrow is adequate…”

        I’ve really never mastered eyes; they’re in a “good enough” stage for me right now though, and I’ve got areas that need much more improvement (mouths and any non-human subject/object). I hear you on nose shadows too, they are so subtle. Just a couple slipped up spots and there might be real trouble!

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  • This turned out great! The mouth actually looks quite believable to me, but I think it would still be fun (and informative) to see a “mouth study” post from you one of these days

    • Thank you Anna! I should give that a shot, it might really help to get that practice. I’ve thought about doing the same thing with eyes too – I don’t struggle with them quite as much, but it would be fun. I do think eyelashes are as tricky as the teeth-to-gum line area.

      That would be a pretty scary collection of sketches though – eyes and teeth everywhere!

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  • Fantastic post! Indeed, Pillars of Eternity II is another one of Obsidian’s masterpiece. The fact that Obsidian Entertainment has been working hard to make phenomenal RPG titles since Black Isle Studios, it doesn’t surprise me that they would pull it off with Pillars of Eternity II. And not to mention, some of the people working for this absolutely brilliant video game developer are experienced traditional Pen and Paper RPG and D&D players.

    • Much appreciated! I’m with you there, I would also call Pillars of Eternity II a masterpiece. With most games, I can’t really muster enough interest to return if I feel I’ve seen what it has to offer. But this one (and the first POE) is one of those rare games that I can come back to after a long break and getting totally immersed again.

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  • Interesting read. Sunk a lot of time into the 1st game with a lot of inspiration from the original Baldurs Gate games. PoE felt like the game Dragon Age should have been. Have yet to delve into number 2 but seems a good sequel in its own right.

    • Pillars of Eternity II really is a good sequel and worth checking out in my opinion. It seems like Obsidian learned quite a bit from the first one; I especially love the character AI settings. It’s a shame they cut the party down from six to five members, but that’s probably my biggest complaint and it’s not too significant in the grand scheme of things.

      Although I enjoyed all the Dragon Age games to varying extents, I have to agree with you. I wish Bioware/EA had moved Dragon Age II and Dragon Age Inquisition more towards POE-style combat rather than the action RPG direction they went in. It’s like they got stuck between two very different styles, and ended up with an inferior hybrid of both. Don’t get me wrong – I do love a few action RPGs (Dragon’s Dogma, Dark Souls). But considering the huge budgets they’ve had, that Dragon Age team left a lot of potential unfulfilled.