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Hi everyone,


Now that ive shared the process of learning the craft through a mentorship i would like to explain how i made various of my portfolio pieces. Today we will talk about my piece the Khan and the Horselord, An interpretation of the tale where the devil promises Jesus the world but he declines, but in this storyline the devil goes to Genghis Khan and promises him the same. The latter accepts thus he becomes the greatest conqueror in history.





''Who am i you ask'' The hooded stranger grinned. ''I am a wanderer, searching lands beyond hidden borders for the most capable souls who have the capability and will to wield great power. Only two worthy men i visited, one in Nazareth, and the other one is you, Temujin, conqueror of Mongolia.''

The Devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.''All this I will give you'' he said,''if you will bow down and worship me'' Feeling presence greater than Temujin knew he was capable to either fight or achieve on his own, he knelt befor the fallen angel, and looked upwards.

The Devils grin broadened. ''Arise, chosen one. Arise as Genghis Khan, and make the world tremble!'' 


Thats a story i have written to backup the piece!  Now we have got that part out, i will explain how i started.


Thumbnailing


A process which i use when i would like to view various compositions from a distance without delving too deep into details yet. It helps me to read the image in an instant. if it doesnt work, here, it will never work, so it is important to be critical with yourself when using this method. You can easily pass the 20+ sketches in this method.


 

As you can see i tried various poses, closeups, interactions and lighting. Some of them work, most of them dont. Its important  to get as much as possible out of your system, since there might be a better option lurking. You dont know if you dont try! 

The way i did this process in quick way is making the thumbnails in a selected layer (so you wont paint outside the box)  and just copy them, and altering them every time.



At this point i found myself an interesting comp, where the story in my opinion is told the best. I wanted the focal point to be at Satans hand, where the interaction between the two characters is 

 taking place.I started to look for a fitting color scheme.

I played around with various color schemes until i found one that emphasised the atmosphere of my story the best. I went with a lowly satured mix of red, blue and green, to create an eerie and foreboding atmosphere.




Reference gathering


 Now its time to understand what i will be painting. I bought colored lightbulbs and used them to light myself, posed. My apologies for the low webcam resolution. The program i used to take snaps at the time was a free version. As i used the colored light, i noticed interesting things starting to happen with the colors. The unlit areas starting to turn more red, as red is the opposite color of green, which is the light source. 


From here i needed to find reference and inspiration for the aesthetics of both characters. Unfortunately i do not have these references anymore. I was stupid enough to throw them away after i was done with them, but i have learned to do better now.


. 

 







Lets begin! 



 

This is literally the untouched thumbnail i decided to use for the project. Everything is there exactly as how i want it to be,


 


Back when i made this piece, i didn't take the time to prepare fully with reference and inspiration gathering, so you will see alot of trial and error in the subject matter. Again, i learned to do different. At this stage i tried to set a the conceptualization. Satan Took inspiration from Siberian shamanism (the mask) and Genghis Khan took inspiration from traditional Mongol clothing. No offense to mongolian fashion (i like it alot) but it looked more comical on someone as brutal as Genghis so i decided to change it for armor.



 I was lucky here, since i pretty much immediately nailed the armor the way i wanted it to be. Note: This is not mongolian armor. I took inspiration from Medieval Chinese plate armor to make Genghis look more royal, as if he scavenged the armor from a Chinese general or so.


 

I worked alot on Genghis' face. I used my face a little too much as a reference and he started to look more like an arabian knight, due to my prominent nose. I had to search for correct mongolian features and flatten the face. Also, i rotated Khan a bit, to make it look as if he is leaning on his sword more; kneeling. When i finished the Khan for the most part, i got overwhelmed by the image. I lost control and i started to play around without a sense of direction on the Satan part. The image flattened, the focalpoints and readability got lost. This was a perfect moment to take a step back.


 

On this stage i started to climb back a bit. I got back to a similar style of the initial horse mask for satan and a background/foreground started to form as well. I defined the silhouette of Satan as well. However, a focal point was still missing!


  

At this point the image is nearing its final form. I made the focal point the hand, bu using the lightest light, and the darkest dark together on the same spot. as well as the harshest contrast. I wanted the image to be about the interaction between the two characters, and the degrading left hand gesture of satan is a key element in that. 


I didn't like the left placeholder face of Satan. It looked to dorky and even a bit comical. An entity as satan could at least be more terryfying! so i looked at various siberian ritual masks. i tried something with it, and i felt it aleniated the image of Satan a bit.



I changed the face of satan to something resembling an asian demon. Since only the lower part of the face was visible, the mouth had to be prominent.  At this point the image is 99% done!The focal point/hand wasnt as detailed yet. you always want to reward the viewer by making the focal point as interesting as possible. I decided to add more flavor to the piece by adding voodoo nails onto Satans hand, as well as some extra textures.


Now the piece is finished. I hoped this blog will help you on your journey as an artist, or if you are just an enthousiast of an artistic process in general. Please share your thoughtprocesses below in the comments, and i will see you next time!


All the best,


JCH


www.joelchaimholtzman.com

Hi All,


This will be the last part of my ''Back from the Monastery'' Series, about my mentorship with Sam Flegal. This blog will be slightly bittersweet, but not too hard to handle hopefully, haha.


Bear with me.



The Cordyceps King


After a succesful year with the mentorship, ehnancing my skills with art, convensions and web presence, it was time for me to set my first step into the world of big people. I was excited for that, but it didnt go without too ups and downs. It started positively. The piece shown above was the final piece i finished under Sam's guidance. It received the best acclaim of any piece i shared so far. It got a Daily Deviation on Deviantart (my first one!) and i got featured in a French Photoshop magazine. I felt i was in the game!


A few months of work ensued, until a few people i was supposed to work with either werent cancelled or dissapeared from the project due to numerous reasons. I didnt have work for a while. And i felt upset, since i expected alot more after being supposedly having a professional level. I felt bad about it, since i am a pragmatic person. If something in my piece is off, and someone points it out, i fix it. It was harder here, since i did not know what to do after getting the quality of my work to a level i wanted.


I talked with various folks, brainstormed and let the time go by. I concluded the following:




 Competition



When you reach a pro level, and you aren't on top of the food chain, you will have to struggle through it. I barely have contacts in the field i would like to work in, which turns out helps alot on the long run; the Netherlands is more of a comic/graphic design country, which is also why i barley have contacts in the field of art i am doing. I Wondered why i didnt get as many job offers as i could have had, and it turns out art directors tend to hire people way more efficiently when they meet you in real life as well. Emails work way less due to the influx they get each day.


This means i will have to go to other countries to hunt tconventions and the jobs i want on a more efficient way.


When i eventually connected the dots, i calmed and looked at further options to garner my income. Various other seeds besides freelancing have been planted. Besides hunting freelance I am planning to go to more conventions, focus more on print sales, kickstarter and even start a mentorship of my own. All these elements are working slowly atm, but hey, they are working!


Hope these series of Blogs helped you so far. In the future i will try to share something weekly, whatever is on my mind at that point.


All the best!,


JCH


www.joelchaimholtzman.com


Hi Everyone,


In the last Blog we talked about my experiences with conventions. Today i will discuss my web presence, and how it currently helped me, and hopefully will even more in the future.


As another part of my mentorship with Samuel Flegal we talked about me getting the most out of my exposure on the internet. It seems there are alot of layers to peel here to maximize your exposure and make potential enthousiasts of your art have an efficient and enjoyable experience browsing it.


Hope this blog helps you!




Getting Followers on social media



Its the first thing people think about when they hear the world exposure, and rightfully so. On this section i will tell you a few ways i think you can improve your overall following on the internet.  Each platform has its own way to handle things but i will tackle the general bulletpoints for now.




1. Post consistently: The more and consistent you post, the more you will remain in people;s retina. It will also get you higher on peoples walls due to algorithm which is present on most platforms.

2. Post quality: Even though your work is okay-ish and better than the average human being, internet is flooded with it. We get bombarded by it all the time on all the platforms. Thats why even though it might sound harsh, mediocre work gets ignored. hard. Only post the work you are most proud of and it will show.

3. Interact: If people see you are interacting with them, commenting on their art, giving advice, share WIPS, sharing knowledge, it will get you liked and indirectly familiarized with people and they will be more eager to follow you.

4. Thinking outside the web: Among my most quality followers, (most engaged followers) are people which i met outside the internet. I am not talking about my family or friends only, but people i met on conventions. Try meeting new potential lovers of your art outside, and due to the personal interaction you can get lifelong supporters out of it (see my former blog post).

5. Shameless promotion, what does that even mean?!: There is no such thing as shameless promotion. Share on every group and platform you can think of for maximized exposure. However, dont cross the line by breaking any group rules.

6. Post in relevant groups: Find your niche and interact with that area. It doesn't make much sense to post your realistic dark fantasy art in a group where most people adore chibi art of their favourite animals.


Getting to know the platforms


Now you know how to get followers, its time to find out where to find them. In this section i will discuss most notable platforms i use. Some of them require more knowledge to handle properly, some are just good to have around without paying too much attention to them.





Facebook:


Post as much relevant content daily as possible, but dont get too spammy. Your followers here have a more personal connection with you here in general so you would like to be more connected with them. Posting to groups which are aligned with your artwork is a must too. Do not post/share from your art page! Facebook algorithm forces you to pay money for more people to see your artwork there. I recommend turning on the ''follow'' function and do everything from your personal account.


 My Account: www.facebook.com/joel.holtzman…


Instagram:


Post every day as much relevant content as possible with the correct hashtags. Also make use of the ''story'' function to share 24HR snaps, if you aren't interested in posting that specific photo permanently.  Instagram is one of the most used social media platforms to date so being active there could garner you a lot of followers


My Account: www.instagram.com/joel_chaim_h…


Twitter: This Platform is tricky due to it being bloated. You can easily get 1k+ followers which results in it being hard for your followers to see your posts, because they might follow that amount of people as well. My advice, follow as many interesting/relevant people as you like, and that will be the moment, when they see you followed them that your account will have theyr fullest attention.


My Account: twitter.com/JoelCHoltzman


Tumblr:


Same as twitter and instagram. Be connected with other people. Reblog /like/follow their stuff to get noticed in the beginning. after that its just a matter of blogging alot to stay updated and get reblogs easily after.


My Account: joelchaim.tumblr.com/


Linkedin:


The most unused platform for art in my experience. I just share my art here through other platforms when they offer me to. Further more i connect myself with all relevant people to garner a mutual following.


My Account: www.linkedin.com/in/joel-chaim…


Pinterest: Besides being a goldmine for inspiration, you can also post your art in various boards for other people to repin. Make sure you have pinned alot of inspiration for people to follow you, and after that repin your art. pretty much a win-win situation; You pin your inspiration, and you get exposure as well!


My Account: nl.pinterest.com/joelchaimholt…


Deviantart:


Seen its glory days, its the most crowded art related site of the world. From amateur to professional, it takes time to stand out. If you start out share your art in various groups to get seen and be consistent with it. After a while you will see your followers number increase and you will get likes/exposure by itself.


My Account: joelchaimholtzman.deviantart.c…


Artstation:


A site where mostly professionals are present, and people are hiring. It is mostly focussed on concept art, but more illustrative artists are here as well. Personal interaction for exposure is crucial in this platform due to the limited amount of users compared to deviantart for example.


My Account: www.artstation.com/artist/joel…


Behance: 


Another design site. As described previously interaction is crucial to gain a following on this platform.


My Account: www.behance.net/joelcholtzman


Blogger/Youtube:


Excelent platforms for exposure. People really like to learn and delve into the personal life of an artist. When you use these plaforms post regularly to build a consistent reader/viewerbase. This really takes time to build.


Reddit/Imgur:


 I heard these platforms are potential exposure goldmines, but  I dont have too much experience on these platforms. If you do please share them in the comments



Making your portfolio website



I see a lot of questions and confusion regarding how a portfolio website should look like. Here are some bulletpoints i would like to share with you on how to make your website as readable as possible for art directors and enthousiasts.


1. Keep it simple: You can add as much gadgets on your website but it most likely just distracts your viewer. Keep separate tabs for each thing you would like to share.


2. Only show your 8-12 best works: Art directors have limited time, they dont want to scroll an unending protfolio. Besides, you get picked for your worst piece. Limiting the chance of having a the worst piece stand out is dont by having the 8-12 piece limit.


3. Dont post student work/studies in your potfolio: It is unusable for 99% of potential clients, and as the title says, it shows a studentlike feel to you an an artist. Avoid this entirely or make a separate tab for it with your best pieces of that specific subjectmatter.


4. Make 1 tab with all your pieces in it: People are not keen to search for your best pieces scattered through 3-5 tabs. Since you only need 8-12 pieces anyway in it you can put your best illustrations, character art and environments in 1 tab.


5. You will get hired for the work you show in your portfolio: As the title says, you will get hired for the work that you show, so only add works that you really like to make. If you would show pieces that you don't like to make it would probably show anyway.


6. Dont use custom websites: Alot of people use Artstation or even worse WIX/Deviantart as their portfolio. While they may serve as artdump platforms, as portfolio sites they look highly unprofessional, with an exception for perhaps Artstation. The problem i have with the Artstation portfolio is that the thumbnails are INCREDIBLY small and cut off your images.


7. How to present your artwork: When making your website, make sure all your images are viewed in full, not too small as explained in point 6., but not too large it covers your entire screen. Make the images clickable so that if someone would like to view the piece in large the posibility is present.


My website for inspiration: www.joelchaimholtzman.com


I hope this blog helped you! Next time i will conclude my series of my hiatus year from blogging. If you have any experiences or tip and tricks regarding web presence to share, please do so in the comment section!


Wish you all the best, until next time,


JCH

Hi Everyone,


In Part 1 i talked about my growth towards being a professional artist through my mentorship with Sam Flegal on a technical level. In this blog post i will talk about my growth with conventions and the ins and outs of getting the most out of your presence behind your booth. I will talk about each convention i went through in chronoligical order. Please enjoy and i hope you learn a thing or two!



Elfia 2017



2015 Gooische Comic Con


My first convention ever. Technically a disaster, since there were almost no people attending the convention itself, and ofcourse since it was my first convention ever. I was over confident, ordered too many prints which turned out too dark and sat (!) besides the table, head down, drawing and painting; Making minimal contact with any potential buyers. This was a disaster for social interaction. However, surprisingly i met alot of people which opened various doors for me regarding other conventions later on.


Things i learned:


1. Artwork looks lighter on the screen than it will be printed, due to it being back lit. Always lighten your artwork a bit before you get it printed.

2. This stuff is harder than it looks! haha.

3. Even though the convention may not be a success, you will meet interesting folks to hang out with or who might even prove a plus for your career later down the line!


2015 Kampen Comic Con


This was an outdoors comic con. It went better than the previous convention i have been to but still not very well.


Things i learned:


1. Not much. Perhaps a bit easier talking with people and got a bit more into the convention vibe


2015 Breda Comic Con


This convention was a disaster by itself. I was struggling with depression at the time and it showed on how people reacted to me. The second day i felt better, and i asked advice from artist Iris Compiet, who helped me out with my booth perfectly. She at that point had the best booth and presence i had ever seen irl. She helped me with various points below:


Things i Learned:


1.  I literally left the prints lying on the wood of the table itself. Next time i had to get a tablecloth, preferably a neutral dark one.

2. The prints were strewn on the table. without any order. Time to get some print holders who would make them stand out, to draw attention.

3. Some prints and a poster were stuck to the wall behind me with duckttape. (without any sleeves ) That had to go!

4. Sitting with my head down wouldn't get me any interaction. I had to stand up, and actually invite people into my booth.

5. If you are happy, people around you will! So make sure you are well rested and enthousiastic!


Since this convention was a tought experience i stopped doing them for a while, until my mentorship with Samuel Flegal. He told me i should do the following things: (besides the above)


1. Don't do comissions. It will make you sit down and avoid contact with people.

2. How to talk to people who are interested in your art ( i might get in depth on this on a separate blog)


2016 Utrecht Artistic Comic Con


For that time this was my best convention so far. While the convention itself wasnt that good due to amount of people, i felt i did pretty well. I dropped comissions and focussed purely on representing my personal art in print form, standing up ofcourse. While standing up i felt i was more alert and i could talk better with people about my art. This convention marked the beginning of my successes in conventions.

 


2016 Breda Comic Con 


This convention was just great. I felt like the roles compared to the year before were reversed completely. I was the guy who gave people advice instead of receiving it regarding their booth presence. My girlfriend helped me out and my mother, mother in law and sister in law with her bf came to visit, which is always good for morale.


Things i learned: 


Having someone to help you out is golden!




 My girlfriend helping me out



2016 Terneuzen Comic Con


This convention was ok. Very little people came. And most of them were comic collectors anyway.


Things i Learned: 


Going to small conventions just isnt worth my time, at this stage in my experience Very little people come so your exposure is limited as well. Time to Take the Plunge into bigger conventions and make a scary investment! However dont do this when you are starting out. learn the ins and outs on smaller cons and grow steadily towards the bigger ones.


2016 Xmas Comic Con


Best Convention until then! I had a friend coming out to help me. Having two people operating a 4M table is just the way to go. This was the biggest convention i had ever been to until then and at first it was a tad intimidating, since i invested so much in it. But at the end it just went great!


Things i Learned:


1. The more you invest in a convention, the more you get out of it on the long and short run.

2. Buy Protective sleeves for your prints 







Friend of mine and me at Xmas Comic Con




2017 Elfia


Again an improvement in the convention scene for me! Not only was it my biggest and most succesful convention to date, it was also one i felt i really levelled up. I went with a friend who had a car. He took various materials with him which facilitated out booth in a positive way. A cardboard covered with cloth which acted as a wall for our prints to lean on, and a rack for his postcards. The funny thing is since i stopped doing comissions, people actually dont realize i am the artist; mostly they think i am a retailer. This has to change! I needed to get a banner.


Things i Learned: 


1. Get a car

2. Get a large holder for my canvas prints

3. Get a postcard rack

4. Get a banner with your name and function on it


Overview of Major things i Learned so far:


1. Its not enough to present quality work. Your booth setup is perhaps as important! It shows a professional attitude towards the viewer and towards your own work. Feel free to get inspiration from my own setup or of artist you have met at your local convention.

2. Be enthoustic and stand up all the time. Standing up makes your blood flow and thus more enthousiastic, and makes people more eager to have a positive interaction with you.

3. Be well groomed and dress nicely. These two things i always tried my best to work on, and might even speak for itself, but people tend to take you more professionaly earlier when you look like you could afford your own work in a heartbeat.

4. When printing prints (for conventions), make sure you lighten them a bit on your computer, since the artwork is back lit, it looks lighter than it actually is when it will be printed

5. Draw your people in your booth an tell them about your work as an artist! Most people dont realise you are the artist anyway in my experience if you are not actively drawing at your booth.

6. Always try to learn new things every convention, be it socially or technically (business modules, gear to buy etc)

7. If possible get a spouse or a friend to help you out. This decreases the workload tremendously.

8. A Simple handshake can do wonders!

9. If possible, get a car to transfer next-level gear to enhance your booth.

10. When starting out you might have a tough convention experience like i did. Dont get discouraged and try to improve each time you do a new ones. You will see that it pays off. No Pain, No Gain.


So this was it, here is a quick overview of my experiences with conventions. Trust me i have way more to tell about this but i suppose i will get to that deeper in other blogposts. Meanwhile i hoped you learned a thing or two from it, and if you have anything to say, please discuss below!


 When your art can make someone happy!



Next Time...


I see alot of artists struggling with their internet presence. Now that i have learned a thing or two from that i really would like to share what i know regarding that subject matter.


So stay tuned for Part 3!


All the best,


JCH


www.joelchaimholtzman.com

Hey everyone,


Now you are wondering, what this specific title means, does it have to do something with my absence from blogging for over a year?


Actually, it does.


I have been training my art skills and business in the metaphorical buddhist monastery with Mentor Samuel Flegal. ( www.fatefulsigns.com ). The mentorship has concluded, and a few months i were set to test my newfound abilities into the world. The results were mixed. In this session i will try to explain what i learned from the mentorship regarding technical skills.


 Mystic Monastery by Florian de Gesincourt

 

So around february 2016 i felt, like many artist at a certain stage, a bit stuck with my art. I didnt have any feedback from professionals and i liked to know at which stage i was in art. I was following the One Fantastic Week show online, and one of the hosts seemed like a cool guy with knowledge that suited my interest so i approached him for a mentorship. We started 2 weeks later. It was mostly concluded my that work was 80% on a being of a professional level. The missing 20% being a lack of a personal voice/creativity, rendering and properly using reference.

 

Creativity


We started working on the creativity part. I had to choose my favourite time of the year (Spring), my Zodiac Sign (Scorpion), and my favourite flower (Lotus). For each of these i had to make sketches of warriors, to train my imagination. From these sketches i picked a final piece, which was from my favourite time of the year which was Spring.

 

Final Sketch for the Knight of Spring

 

 

Reference

 

 

For an artistic purpose you could say this piece has value, but technically it lacks various technical aspects. Now it was time to prepare the final piece and make the thumbnails. I have also written a story to guide me on my way. From there i would shoot the references i need to create the painting.

 

Here is a shot of my girlfriend that i used for the pose of the character


Some Thumbnails i made, none of them which i intented to use. However, it helped me in various ways. Mainly with the narrative.



I also learned that most artists take shooting references to a next level. They even dress up for the occasion and use proper lighting. They make things as easy for themselves as possible. This showed to be a major struggle in this piece since i made a lot of guess work, which kills your time. A few months later, i bought this beauty. A mini suit of armor to guide me with armor, reflections and proper lighting. This saves alot of time guessing and maximizes the realism. 


The more you reference, the faster you paint and the better the realism.

 From here, i started painting. The Process took alot out of me. I made alot of basic mistakes and it really plunged me into the deep. Here are some process shots:



Here are the project shots for the piece. As mentioned earlier it was madness working on this piece, since i kept unlocking new ways to work and to fix. I have around 7 PSD files, all of the filled up with small layers fixing this and that.


Rendering/Final Touch


After i finished the piece at number 6, i posted it online, without asking for a final approval from Sam, and was dissapointed on the response i got on social media. I approached Sam and he told me the piece was not yet ready to post. It was almost done. I didnt get it since in my eyes it was done, but i understood it eventually because of my lack of experience.


 I had around 5% left to go to have my first professional piece done! Sam told me i had to look at artists i admired and see how they polished their work.




               Dryad Arbor by Brad Rigney                                       Artwork By Chris Beatrice



Samuel told me i should compare my work directly to that of artists/art i admired, and i looked for two artpieces i found fitting to the artwork i was working on. I learned that i had more layer of rendering, especially on the focal point. Narrative rendering was crucial as well. Even though the knight was consumed by nature storywise, he still had shining armor. That had to change obviously!


Adding Rust to the knight's armor

 

 

FIN

 

I worked and worked, and soon enough, the piece itself was done. I added a layer of color dodge on it, carefully erased parts to make the focal points pop even more. 

 

 Gawain, Legacy of the Green Knight

 

Funny thing about certain pieces is that you start your head with one narrative and end with another. This piece depicts Gawain, knight of the round table, being possessed by the spirit of the Green Knight, a storyline that only rolled on the table after i was a long way working on this one.


After i posted this piece, it got a nice reaction from the public. And to this day it is one of my most sought after prints at conventions. It is still the top piece in my portfolio. After this piece i made various other works under the guidance of Sam. Each of those still a major struggle, but none of them can take the place of this piece emotionally, since this piece marks the beginning of my professional portfolio.


Next Time...


Besides working on improving my art, i learned a ton about marketing, approaching companies, and being a part of conventions. I will talk about all these things next time i write a blog.


Thanks for reading this far, if you wish to add a comment please share your experience, thoughts and dont hessitate to discuss,


Wish you the best, and until next time!


JCH

 




          


 


 
 Hey there everyone!

In my previous blog post i have talked about how important it is to use references, and in this blog post i will dig deeper into that subject.

When doing realistic art you want to be referred to the ''real world''. You have to translate what you see from reality as believable as possible. There is no direct guideline for this, since everyone has their own goals in realist art (ie, painterly, photoreal etc), but there is a fundamental knowledge that everyone must know, and without observing anything that is related to your interests/goals that is not possible.That means looking a lot to reality is a must, and knowing how to implement your reference is even greater.

When you practice these ''fundamentals'' you mostly come to understanding that you want to make your own stuff, and you make sure it looks cool. How do you do that?

Again, reference usage. Compose your image from various little things, that even might seem uninteresting at first sight. There are alot of interesting fiction, clothing, artifacts, animals, shapes etc to be see found everywhere, not seen at first glance. Collect a few (thousand) of those, and now you can gladly say you have got a Visual Library.

I will show you an example of how  i used my visual library for my artwork ''Zumokuta, Dying Lotus''


Here are a few reference images i used (i do not own any of these. If your image is uncredited please let me know and i will add your name)


I used this image from Game of Thrones as an inspiration for the necklace of the samurai

 This one i used as a reference for the Eagle (I have almost never drawn one before so this came in really handy)


Samurai armor for the corpses littering the ground

Japanese Oni mask used as reference for Zumokuta's. Gave my own twist to the mask by filling the eye holes with makeshift Engineer goggles. Small details like this can create a unique personality.


Image by Fenghua Zhong. Used as inspiration for overall atmosphere of the image

As you can see, i managed to use the essence of the reference images above to implement and morph them into a piece that is entirely unique to me. I was not afraid of letting the real world as well as other artists inspire me and make my work easier and more efficient as an artist, and another great part, is when i am using reference like this, i am naturally studying at the same time, Win-Win! However, don't do this instead of focused studying please, haha.

Also, when using references, you should know how to properly implement them in your artwork. This can only be done by failing a lot and grinding the fundamentals. I will show you an example of where i used reference like this starting out the wrong way.


Here are two images i attempted to combine directly to create a character with a frog-perspective. Left is an old toy of mine, right is a promotional photo from the series Spartacus.

This is what i managed to come up with at that point. (let's not mind all the mistakes for now) The most prominent mistake is that i used the two reference images above without proper fundamental knowledge, thus i didn't see that these images both had a complete different perspective. When translated to a real horse, the toy POV of the toy is MUCH lower than the Spartacus' As if you would have viewed the horse from a ditch. The Spartacus image has a Frog Perspective. Combining the two means disaster, as you can clearly see in the image above. This results in the rider looking unstable; like he is falling from his horse, towards the camera.

After some great advice from the lovely community i tilted the camera on the horse to make it fit more with the reference from Spartacus. This is the result. The image feels more natural and flowing:


So this was this weeks talk about using Reference and the Visual Library. I hope you enjoyed it and/or learned something from it. Please join the conversation below, let me know what you think and share your personal experience with the subject.

I am Joel Chaim Holtzman, you can find my work at www.joelchaimholtzman.com . Until next time!

Cheers,

JCH
Hey there!

As explained in the  introduction I have done art all my life up to this point and witnessed various people doing it as well. Naturally, I witnessed my own art grow and of those around me, but I wondered: ‘’Why can’t our work look like the pro’s or even just a little bit?’’  
The question stuck into my head and I didn’t pay much attention to it until I decided to take my art career more seriously. After graduating from High school I decided I wanted to go to Art school, to become a professional Illustrator. Since I did not have a (varied) portfolio, and almost no knowledge of the art world, I decided to take classes at an art atelier. 
The teacher was incredibly helpful, and what he noticed me doing when attempting to paint realistically, he simply said ‘’You are drawing out of your head, it is visible you have not looked at reference from the real world’’. 
At this point I realized, that most amateur and starting artists, including me at that time who aim to make ‘’good’’ art have the preconceived thought, that when we use reference in any way we are stealing,  we are a fraud and that we don’t have a professional attitude. Let me tell you that this is NOT the case.
While the comments of my art teacher at that time opened my eyes, they also created questions I am still hoping to solve. I did my best at solving some, even though I don’t have a great knowledge in law and copyright i hope most information I share with you will be correct as possible.
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What does ‘’stealing art’’ really mean? 


‘’Stealing’’ art takes on many forms. Some are bad, and you would be surprised some aren’t! 

The most common known way of stealing art is when you take unique elements from one or more creative content and copying it in a direct or very obvious way, just like in this example what happened to Brom (See picture below). Doing this while making money out of it can get you in legal trouble. There is a certain guideline, which says you copy elements from art 100+ years (?) back without creating a fuss or being embarrassed about it, since it is outdated anyways.



Getting inspired by art


A lot of people have the misconceived idea that getting inspired by existing art or reality is stealing, and they try to come up with ideas all by themselves. The result was not what they had in mind initially and the artwork looks pretty bad. I will get in detail about reference using on the next post, but what i can tell you right now, is that artist from all centuries have used their previous colleagues as inspiration to learn from. They studied their predecessors, copied their work in the process, and eventually aimed to create a new, unique voice. 


 (Artist unknown. If this image is yours please let me know and i will credit you)

Get inspired, but watch out!


Learning from other artist is always good, however, one should find the balance between being influenced by a piece of art and copy-pasting a unique element without modifying it enough to make it uniquely yours. If you do this, it mostly looks unique enough for you to not get sued or anything, but would you want to be an artist that is just like that one great artist but just worse? Here is an example from 4 years ago. I took the upper image and used it as a reference for my own painting. It is unique enough, but for those who know the upper image it most probably will remind them INSTANTLY of the original piece. For study purposes this is a good thing to do like i did when i started out working harder, but do not, i repeat, do not do this with portfolio pieces, in this case you WILL be seen as a fraud most likely and it can be a stain to your reputation if you do this frequently, even though your intentions are not bad.





Top: Orrian Undead, Artist Unknown (I think it is Kekai Kotaki)
Bottom: Piece i made a few years back


For this purpose I recommend using reference images from the real world above using reference from current art directly, that way you have a greater chance of reinventing the wheel without becoming a copycat. Don't get me wrong, keep getting inspired by art that you like, just try to not use it as the backbone of your image.


Interpretations/Fan Art  


First i would like to address i am not an expert in this subject matter, and i have noticed it is very hard to find a precise guideline for the possibilities regarding Fan Art. Interpretation/Fan Art is when you copy a piece of an existing (creative) visual element directly in your painting but in a conceptual way. The ‘’theft’’ has become a part of your painting and thus you still managed to create a unique piece. When you do this you still have to mention the original source you interpreted the art piece from. When selling it you need to ask permission first obviously and most likely pay a fee per sold piece. Interpreting artwork from novels/text is different, because the visuals is entirely unique to your creation, and not on someone else' visual elements, thus you own the entire image.

                                                        Degenesis fanart by Dave Rapoza

Photos and Textures


A lot of digital artists, including me use photo textures these days in their artwork. When doing this, you have to ‘’destroy’’ the image enough so that it is not recognizable as the original photo (which can be copyrighted). When you are using a photo as the base of your image (see below), the likelyhood of getting in trouble is greater, since the general composition of the original photo will mostly remain visible through your process. For this purpose I recommend shooting your own photos to use in your artwork.