Saturday, 8 October 2011

Loch Tay

We recently went up the road to Perthshire for a few days, one of which was spent exploring the area around Loch Tay. It started as a miserable drizzly day but by lunch we were able to sit at the Kenmore end and enjoy some gorgeous views up the length of the water.
This picture was painted in a 30 x 40cm canvas sketchbook using a combination of Sennelier and Caran D'Ache oil pastels. It was finished once we got home where the pebble shore gave me an opportunity to figure out how to get fine detail with such chunky media. I don't like sharpening pastels because the shavings are wasted and they are expensive, but using a craft knife for sgraffito techniques minimised waste and enabled me to scrape highlights back to the canvas with some precision. Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Creative Giant

I was saddened to hear of the death of Steve Jobs this morning. Of course most eulogies speak of him as the most influential business man of his generation, which is true, but Steve Jobs was one of my creative heroes. I did not really take much notice of computing before enrolling on a year long creative computing course in 1995 where we used Apple's PPC 7500 and 8500s, but even before then I somehow knew computers were being used creatively and if I ever got one it would be an Apple. I eventually bought a PPC 7600 when securing 3D work for an instore marketing company in 1997 and to be honest, have not needed many upgrades since! That is because Apple's products have always been solid, reliable and extremely easy to use, like an extension of our creative brain, like an extension of Steve Job's creative brain. I watched with horror as Apple nearly went down but never believed they would (and wished at that point I'd had a few thousand quid to invest in Apple shares because they went down to pennies!) I whooped with joy when Gil Amelio bought NeXT in order to accelerate the modernisation of Apple's operating system. As part of the deal Steve also came back as advisor and I knew from then that Apple would be OK again. But they were more than OK, because Steve Jobs had the vision of changing the way computers looked and felt forever. That is bold and rare artistry, not sober business sense. From the first day I switched on a Mac I have always loved using computers to paint with because Steve Jobs, Johnathan Ive and Apple made sure my Mac was a pleasure to use while never getting in the way. It just works. Thank you Steve.
The image comes from Apple's website.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Odds and Sods

Just a quick post really, very busy at the moment! Here's an update showing the re-worked snow scene from the top of Calton Hill looking down to the centre of Edinburgh. I must say after years of not really getting on with Acrylics, these Atelier Interactives seem to be the best of all worlds - I love them for their flexibility. An airtight container makes a good mixing palette which can be lightly sprayed at the end of each session to keep paint wet for the next day. The palette proved useable for a week, which was handy as I could only spend short stints on this before the the start of each working day. Chroma's claims of unlocking paint already on the canvas also hold true, so I can choose whether to let areas dry immediately, or whether to keep it workable. Marvellous mechanical mouse machines!


I did this painting some time back. Remember when we had some half decent picnic weather? Well we did you know, though it was a long time ago now! This image is an oil pastel sketch of a place we ate al fresco. Unremarkable as far as landscape subjects go, but I really love the way branches intermingle to create abstract webbed patterns. If I ever get away from my computer long enough there will be more of these!


This was a quick iPad 2 Study looking up at the sheer cliff to a portion of Edinburgh castle (I have started idly writing a story which will require such a scene.) The sketch was done during beta testing for ArtRage iPad's latest great thing - script recording, bringing it in line with the full desktop version of ArtRage. It is wonderful to bring a recorded script back to the mother mac and marvel as it re-creates paintings at print resolutions. This also marks the first time I've tried AR's watercolour brush along with pencil, crayon and palette knife for blends. Happy.
Click on images to enlarge.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

White Noise

A few days ago I did a quick acrylic sketch based on a picture I took stood on Calton Hill in a snowstorm. It was not very good, but I liked the idea enough to explore it in more detail. As a consequence I spent a few hours over the weekend painting this, a view down my street in a snowstorm (oil on canvas.) It is quite unnerving to work something up only to cover it in 'white noise,' but I love the way the falling snow breaks edges so that your brain needs to work that little bit more to resolve the verticle and horizontal lines. I also like that you need to look a little harder to find the solitary figure. The canvas was prepared with a Raw Sienna wash and the whole image is based around a neutral mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna. I have already started on the next in the series. Click on image to enlarge.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Bah! I Hate Summer

I think it is safe to say I'm in the minority here, but I never did understand our obsession with Summer. It makes me instantly lethargic often to a debilitating degree. It makes me instantly sweaty and if you can believe it, even a little grumpy! :D Lying for hours on a beach with a thousand other over-baked sardines is particularly mystifying. Weird.Winter on the other hand gives me energy. It is a time when our dull grey cities are transformed into magical half worlds bathed in half light. A time to wrap up warm and wear silly hats. Standing on Calton hill in a snowstorm looking down on Edinburgh is an immensely gratifying experience. I used this image to fulfill three goals. 1) To get away from the computer for a few hours! I currently have a large in-tray spanning months, so sitting at the screen 24/7 occasionally becomes too much. 2) I got some freebie
A Time for Silly Hats!
Atelier Interactive acrylics with a mag subscription and had been meaning to try them out. They're great! 3) I also saw this as an opportunity to try a painting with an extremely limited palette - just three colours; French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Titanium White. Summer is nearly dead. Long live Winter!
Click on images to enlarge.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Boxy Chessmen - Pawn

Back in February I posted some designs for a chess set inspired by The Lewis Chessmen and Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories which I was reading at the time. I had always intended to squeeze this project in between work using ZBrush to sculpt the pieces in 3D, but recently Pixologic released the brilliant Sculptris Alpha 6 with support for Mac OS X. Sculptris started as a hobby app by Tomas Pettersson and dynamically adds or subtracts triangles as you sculpt which is amazingly liberating for 3D artists who are always so tethered by issues of polygon topology and other such uncreative issues. Consequently, everything starts as a sphere which you mould like clay, adding extra detail where needed and removing superfluous triangles to keep the poly count down.
I imagine the protruding sword might be an issue for a figurine. I'll probably have to bring that further in so it is up against the torso, or perhaps even replace it with a couple of smaller daggers. I'm pretty happy with the first attempt at using Sculptris though!
You can see a looping turntable movie here
Click on image to enlarge.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Creative Little Monsters

Green Dragon - ArtRage
As mentioned a couple of posts back my iPad 2 is a big hit and I have since discovered an embarrassment of creative riches. Some of my favourite painting apps are the 'all singing all dancing,' ArtStudio, SketchBook Pro which sports a fantastic interface, Procreate - simple but brilliant and more responsive than any iPad painting app, Inspire Pro which has a really nice dry/wet brush toggle, Brushes - perhaps the first painting app to bring mobile painting attention, Eazel - an innovative 'liquid' painting app from Adobe and last but not least, my favourite, ArtRage Pro.

CregleBook
I mention AR last because there is more to say here. Sam Jang, CEO of Cregle  very generously sent me a test unit of the upcoming CregleBook which runs Windows 7. This means I can use the full version of ArtRage Pro on a mobile device, which makes transferring custom brushes, swatches, stencils and stickers a no brainer. Like the iPad, the CregleBook works with fingers, but it also has a digitizer pen with a fine nib which continues to be tracked while hovering about an inch over the screen, so you are never guessing where brush strokes will go because the position of your cursor is always visible before the strokes are made. The pen is also pressure sensitive. I like both approaches but painting with a fine nibbed pen is a very natural progression from the traditional tools we've grown up with.

Badger - ArtRage Scripting
Another huge advantage of using the full version of ArtRage is the new scripting function, which records every stroke you make while painting. The script can then be played back or even edited if you take a little time to learn the scripting language. You can choose to play the script back at its original size or a custom size. This is big. Effectively, it means I could take the CregleBook out and create paintings at a low resolution to keep large brush strokes responsive, but play the script back in the office at bigger sizes to obtain a print version without much extra effort. The results will be slightly different because the look of oil brush strokes depend in some part on the paint load and brush size etc. In this example, Badger, I played the script back at double size and though a few parts of the canvas were blank where strokes should have been, I spent maybe two minutes re-applying those areas. AR scripting will also be a huge boon for tutorial makers out there.

Green Dragon Detail - ArtRage
Green Dragon was created with ArtRage's tube paint and palette knife tools for blocking in and a fine airbrush for detailing. The paint texture of initial blocking turned out well so I elected to keep those fresh and only refine the focal points. You might think this is a simple piece of fantasy art but I think it is a testament to the preposterous volumes of self confidence humanity possesses. The tiny little human is clearly out gunned, yet he is still there with sword in hand ready for battle. Why that is almost as crazy as sending men to the moon in a rocket running computers less powerful than a pocket calculator (you couldn't make it up.) Preposterous! But then again, we now know that giant leaps are achievable. :)

A Walk in the Park
A Walk in the Park started as a doodle on the iPad 2 using SketchBook Pro. I really like SBP's interface as you can do almost everything with finger gestures. As with many of my personal 2D doodles I tend to avoid references, because the point of the exercise is to see what comes out, rather than achieving technical correctness. I decided to work the sketch up to print resolution, so I transferred the image to Photoshop and increased its size to 5000 pixels high (A3) before finishing off.


And Relax
This was the first sketch I did in Procreate as a learning excercise. It is a brilliantly constructed iPad app, more responsive than any other and features a really good brush designer. I'm already hoping a desktop version gets built because I'd love to paint really big images with it.



Click on images to enlarge.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Alla Prima in the 21st Century

Holyrood Palace Cafe. iPad 2, ArtRage
If the young Leonardo Da Vinci were alive today he'd be painting on an iPad. 'Bah!' you might think, 'what a ridiculous thing to say.' We mock the idea because we have a huge (and admittedly justifiable) reverence for the ancient techniques of old masters, but back then oil painting techniques were not ancient, they were the unknown, they were cutting edge technology. No doubt many tempera purists dismissed these new fangled oil paintings as showy fly by nights whose adoption was typical of the day's wayward youth. 'Why on earth would you need more time to paint?' they might have grumbled. 'Why the sudden need for such indecently intense colour?' Leonardo was reputedly one of the first men in Italy to use oils while apprenticed to Andrea Del Verrocchio. I'm sure you already know all this, but the point I am making is that no matter what age we live in or our relative abilities as artists,
Russian Dolls. iPad 2, ArtRage
creatives are always looking for new ways to make art. That's why we display piles of bricks and dirty beds in art galleries. We certainly know of Leonardo's restless pursuit of new techniques because the silly sausage famously painted 'The Last Supper' with untested combinations and look what happened to that.


Teal Armchair. iPad 2, ArtRage
Why am I talking about Leonardo in a post about the alla prima technique? For me his notebooks truly reveal a genius' talent for quickly capturing the essence of a moment at the first attempt. The opening statement is conveyed with conviction because I honestly don't think any past master with even the smallest sense of adventure could have resisted the idea of having millions of colours quite literally at their fingertips in such a neat package. Ever since we started grinding ochres into paint the evidence for artists adopting new technology is there to see and it is overwhelming; Rules of perspective, drawing grids, canvas, lenses, the camera obscura, paint tubes, shaped
Fife in a Haze. iPad 2, ArtRage
brushes, the camera, the projector, screen printing, photocopying and finally rather brilliantly, David Hockney's recent exhibition involving a room full of hung iPads whose content continually changed as the artist created and uploaded paintings. Hockney still manages to surprise and delight in equal measure.


Breakfast at Dunbrodies. iPad 2, ArtRage
The preamble has gone on far too long, I'll come to the point. I finally succumbed to the idea of having millions of colours at my fingertips and spent the last of my emergency kit money on an iPad 2, YIPPEE! My reasons were threefold: First and most sensibly, I want to learn how to make interactive apps for mobile devices, because the potential seems huge. Second, having tried and liked painting on the iPod Touch it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure  out a bigger screen and more power would make for a better painting experience. Third and most insensibly, whenever possible, which is not very often, I can't resist buying myself new toys! Apparently its a boy thing. My first impressions of the iPad? Amazing. I can't believe the things it can do or indeed the length of time it does things for. A few months ago I tried taking my 1st generation unibody MacBook Pro out painting and although it was an enjoyable experience, the battery lasted no time at all, so I'm very happy to see this issue addressed with the new generation of Apple mobile products. Hats off to you Cupertino fruit heads.

Winter Chestnut. ArtStudio, iPod Touch
Of course the iPad is only half the story, you also need a painting app. On the iPod Touch my favourite was ArtStudio and that is even better on the iPad. I also like SketchBook Pro but my tool of choice for wet in wet painting is now ArtRage. The combination of ArtRage's oil brush with the iPad is in my opinion almost the ultimate sketchbook. I say almost because the one slight caveat is that age old issue still affecting an otherwise perfect setup - using today's screen technologies in daylight can sometimes be challenging. ArtRage performs well in the field and I think it is yet to take full advantage of the dual core A5 chip in the iPad 2, so we can expect an even better performance with future updates. I like to give the brush a thick load of oil paint right from the start for pretty convincing wet in wet effects. There's no room for carefully planned fat over lean techniques here, especially when I am trying to capture an effect of the
Dalry at Dusk. ArtStudio, iPod Touch
sunlight which might only last a few moments. Slap the paint down and be confident with decisions. I can decide later whether or not my choices were successful. Screen issues aside, I've only had the iPad 2 a couple of weeks but we are already inseparable.

Paintings
Holyrood Palace Cafe is a view from the cafe garden with the Crags of Holyrood Park in the background. ArtRage oils on iPad 2
Russian Dolls is a corner of my living room. This was the first painting I made on the iPad in ArtRage.
Tree, Roof, Clouds, ArtStudio, iPod Touch
Teal Armchair is another corner of my living room. ArtRage oils on iPad 2.
Fife in a Haze is painted from John Lewis' top floor cafe in Edinburgh, which has great views of the surrounding area. The hint of foreground architecture is the roof of St Mary's Cathedral. ArtRage, iPad 2.
Breakfast at Dunbrodies We have no outdoor space at home so when we were very kindly offered the loan of a lovely cottage in Lauder over Easter, breakfast in the garden quickly became a habit.
Winter Chestnut I loved being out in last year's snow but I didn't spent long painting on this day! ArtStudio, iPod Touch.
Dalry at Dusk Speedpaint of a sunset on Dalry Road while picking Anna up from work in Autumn. ArtStudio, iPod Touch.
Tree, Roof, Clouds A 5 minute painting while waiting in the car! ArtStudio, iPod Touch.

My tablet painting adventures are only just beginning and in an extraordinary twist of good fortune the iPad is not the only piece of hardware involved. Stay tuned for more. Meanwhile, take a look at the amazing mobile art of Susan Murtaugh and a great mobile painting blog at http://www.fingerpainted.it/ Click on images to enlarge.

Friday, 15 April 2011

A Year of Drivel

Ha! I have been writing drivel on my front page for a year now. Happy anniversary. I don't consider this a blog. It came about simply because I was looking for a way to update a small news section which previously involved dipping into Rapidweaver and uploading updates via ftp. Since ease of use was the priority I went with the idea of starting up an account at blogger.com and embedding it into my front page. Once that was all in place updating the news section became a pleasure, not just because it was easy, but also because it has re-awakened a long dormant joy in writing (with acknowledgement of bad grammar and many spelling errors.) 'What's the point,' say blogger critics, 'who reads this stuff anyway?' Well actually many creative journals are amazingly well populated. It is heartening to see how well art is supported online. Indeed before I embedded the blogger I got maybe a handful of visitors a year, but now that figure has risen to hundreds a month. Hundreds of people every month. Astonishing, and I thank every single visitor for it!
The image above called 'Ticking Head, Beating Heart,' is not particularly associated with this post, it just seems odd to publish without an image. It is a simple contemporary doodle using ArtRage's oil brush featuring an often used warm/cool scheme to explore the fundamental creative assets we humans posses. How's that for drivel? :) Click on image to enlarge.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Rotring Resurrection



Sweet Chestnut
After a week of intensive hydro massage and mouth to nib resuscitation, I am thrilled to get my old Rotring Rapidograph pens back in working order. Although these days you can get disposable tech pens and many other much lower maintenance drawing tools, I've yet to find anything which bites paper like a Rotring. One of life's small pleasures is to be standing in the Royal Botanic Garden on a sunny March day sketching strangely shaped sweet chestnuts with a 0.25mm nib!


Stride (below left) started as a mark making test with a 0.5mm pen. I really like the way the big hair turned out and the background texture gives a nice sense of movement. Still life with chickens (below centre) started as a pencil study for a light hearted painting showing my kitchen featuring those brilliant Easter chickens made by Anna, but the pencil was being smudged away so I lined the piece with a Rotring to fix it. Alder (below right) was sketched on the same day as sweet chestnut but with a 0.5mm pen. I like the sparse areas where the barest minimum of lines are enough to describe the bark detail.

Stride
Still Life with Chickens
Alder

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Painting in ZBrush

These days Pixologic's ZBrush is legendary across many creative fields for its high resolution digital sculpting capabilities and as this image (left) by Tsvetomir Georgiev shows, many artists are doing incredible things with it. However, ZBrush, started out as a painting app with a twist. Instead of using pixels, the basic unit of digital graphics whose parameters are in 2 dimensional x and y (width and height,) ZBrush used pixols, which also record the depth of each unit (z.) What this basically meant was that you could paint with 2d colour using xy coordinates, but you could also record depth like relief sculpting. Natural media apps do give us impasto effects but ZBrush's pixols are like impasto on steroids.
Now, I made myself many promises this year, some of which I realise won't be kept due to time constraints, but I am determined to spend more time in ZBrush as part of an overall skills brush-up, so I thought I'd start right at the beginning, painting with pixols.

Eyrie
This image began with a plain sky background and gradually got built up in layers using a combination of tools including impasto brushes and full 3D cubes/spheres which were added to the canvas then smudged into shape. I often start doodles with trees and eventually this turned into a dead tree in a high location, which in turn spawned the idea of putting an eagle's nest in among the branches. What I love about painting in ZBrush is the responsiveness. This image is 5000 pixels wide which equates to A3, 420mm wide. Many apps struggle with depth effects at print sizes but ZBrush was designed from day one to utilise every drop of processing power for its real time 3rd dimension, so it skips along barely missing a beat.

The Accidental Tourist
The high location in Eyrie reminded me of a recent excursion to the Nevis Range which in turn reminded me I kept wanting to start a series of paintings called 'Accidental Tourist,' because I have a million shots of the back of my wife walking into some stunning scenery. Here I happened to catch her being a tourist which seemed appropriate. We were standing on Aonach Mor, looking over to Ben Nevis in the background.
ZBrush allows us to alter both the colour intensity and depth intensity independent of each other which, without getting technical, basically means you can create some lovely underpainting effects by reducing the colour opacity while still applying the impasto stroke. The grass sort of reminds me of the square brush technique utilised so spectacularly by The Glasgow Boys, who in turn were much influenced by french painters like Jules Bastien - Lepage.
It is quite interesting to note the difference in style between the two images where Eyrie obviously does not use reference, but Accidental Tourist does. I like and dislike things about both of them, but in general I get more from trying to make illustrations without much reference. This, however, does tend to brutally expose one's shortcomings! But then again, that is the point of the exercise along with having the courage to show work in all its imperfection so that posterity can judge how we progress.
I also wanted to learn about making sequential movies of an image being created so with any luck a youtube video will get embedded below.




Marvellous. You can also see an animated gif here. Actually ZBrush can automatically record this creation process but I don't know how to use that yet! Click on images to enlarge.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Facing North

I found two images this morning which have been sat on my hard drive so long I'd completely forgotten about them. I guess that ultimately means they were a maybe, maybe not, but I read somewhere you should also post failures so here goes!
The premise is simple. A centurion leads his cohorts out from Hadrian's wall to engage in combat with the fearsome Picts, a race Rome never conquered.
I imagine the Picts also had a reputation for devilry, depicted here as serpent cloud trails summoned up to match the Roman draco. The serpent is a Pictish taunt because Romans believed snakes falling from above spelled disaster. These snakes would of course symbolically fall as rain. In the second image the horse is also unsettled by a large skull carved with a Pictish crescent symbol thought by some to represent death (bottom left.)

As a child I was obsessed by the Roman empire, a fascination lived out through my favourite toy of the time, tiny little grey Airfix  soldiers whose even tinier shields were removable - the very pinnacle of technical sophistication in toy design! The fascination went dormant for years but then came that amazing TV series, Rome, which I eventually bought on DVD last year. I imagine these pictures were created around the same time.
The first image was painted in Photoshop. I liked some things about it but when one thinks of Hadrian's Wall, it is always snaking across the landscape, so I tried another composition, this time in ArtRage, which depicts the wall following a curve.
By the way if any important HBO bods are reading this (yeah right,) please please please make a third series of Rome! Click on images to enlarge.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

FanArt Magazine

A couple of posts ago I published a piece on a small selection of inspirational artists and at the time I half thought there should be a magazine which does this. Well I have since discovered there is, FanArt. Even better, it is being put together by a friend and fellow ArtRage user, Stefano Fiore aka Misterpaint, along with Azzurra Ponti (Azure) and Alessandro Canale (Alexen.) Even better, it is free! Now there may be one slight caveat for some of you - the magazine is currently only in Italian, but for me this is a great thing as I get to practice my more than rusty other mother tongue. Besides, you know what they say about words and pictures and ratios of 1:1000.
The mag is beautifully designed, informative and packed full of great imagery. I urge you to support this excellent enterprise.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Boxy Chessmen

One of my favourite presents last Christmas was a beserker replica from The Lewis Chessmen. There are 11 pieces in the National Museum, Edinburgh and 82 pieces at The British Museum in London. Exquisitely carved from walrus ivory or whale teeth, thought to have been made in 12th Century Norway and discovered on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 amid mysterious circumstances.


Doesn't all that inspire you to design a chess set? It does me, so over the last couple of weeks I've been sketching some first draft line drawings of The Boxy Chessmen. Coincidentally I am also just about to finish Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, which are all about the amalgamation/clash of Saxon Christianity and Danish Paganism, so the design of my first piece, the pawn, came about as a result of these influences. The helmet shape alludes to the corvid beaks of Odin's messenger ravens Huginn and Muninn which in turn connect with the name we now use for the war fortification, rook. I liked the beak shape so much it became central to my design. Some pieces will inevitably get changed as progress continues but I'm pretty happy with them for a first draft.
















Next I'll create high resolution sculptures in ZBrush and eventually they will become the pieces in a realtime 3D chess game. I am also tempted to send the high res sculpts to a 3D printer so that I have an actual physical set. This has been a very fulfilling project so far.
Click on images to enlarge.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

New Virtual Gallery!

Virtual Gallery
This is brilliant. I have always been fascinated by the process of 3D game creation so when version 1 of Unity came along I jumped at the chance to own it. Due to work commitments though, I have only just started easing myself back into learning the beast and thought a walkthrough gallery seemed a simple but effective opportunity to beta test some of Unity 3's new features such as lightmapping and occlusion culling. Next up will be standalone versions for Mac and PC, then an iphone version for the millions of you desperate for mobile versions of my work. I'd best insert a smiley here in case anyone thinks I was genuinely being inappropriately arrogant :). I'm hoping to grow this idea as I learn more about programming in Unity. For example, you might notice a couple of virtual 'sculptures,' which are actually  characters taken from the paintings of genius Hieronymus Bosch. Once I figure out how to give them artificial intelligence they'll be crawling all over the gallery. And what if someone liked an image so much they wanted a print? No problem press this button to order sir... possibly getting ahead of myself a smidge.

New Tab, 'Motion'
So once it was done the question then became where to store my new virtual gallery? Eventually I decided to add a new tab to the website called 'Motion,' a home for interactive, animation and motion graphics experiments. I have also added an old tester scene which explores the possibility of turning my picture book, 'Piggotty Wood' into an interactive app. I'd love to know what you think of either project so please do use my contact page to  - er - contact me. Click on images to enlarge.

Piggotty Wood Tester

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Inspiration

I suspect every creative has a bookmarks folder containing links to artists who inspire awe. I have just such a folder and thought it would be good to start the year by highlighting some of my favourites. It would be easy to get lost in the genius of past masters, but in this post I specifically want to focus on the effect those masters have had on 21st century artists and illustrators. There are so many amazing people out there this is inevitably a tiny selection listed in no particular order. Except the first one which was very deliberately placed.


VLADYSLAV YERKO
If you do not find Yerko's work astonishing then you are probably dead from the forehead down, in which case a visit to your doctor is highly recommended.
Vladyslav Yerko (also spelled 'Erko' by some) is a Ukranian illustrator who perfectly captures the crucial ingredients of folk tales which have amazed, enthralled and downright frightened us through the ages. His art speaks for itself, which is perhaps why he does not appear to have an official online presence, but here are a few links to his work.
orpheusandlyra.tripod.com
estetica-design-forum.com
trendland.net


RON MUECK
I am a friend of the National Galleries of Scotland because I happen to believe it is important to support creativity in society and also because I get to see every exhibition as many times as I like for no extra cost! One of the perks of being a friend is the receipt of invites to opening nights, and it was just such an occasion which first introduced me to Ron Mueck's work. Photographs really don't do his sculptures justice but they at least give you an idea of the impact his work has in real life, particularly the ones where people give a reference for scale.
Ron Mueck on Wikipedia







MICHAEL KUTSCHE
From the first time I saw Michael's work I thought there was only one way his career could go and I hope he does not suffer from vertigo, because there is no height restriction for such talent. Michael recently did some concept work for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and the results are dazzling. He manages to make an image look both painterly and 3d rendered at the same time, which is down to pure artistic ability and a complete mastery of theory.
Michael Kutsche Deviant Art Gallery


NICK HARRIS
It takes a lot to make us smile in such times but Nick Harris' work can guarantee joy at every viewing. He really should think about canning and selling that gift because it is like gold dust!
What I initially loved about Nick's work was that it reminded me of the luscious illustrations in those classic ladybird books like The Elves and the Shoemaker, Jack and the Beanstalk and yes, even The Enourmous Turnip!












Nick is also a dab hand at making very moving imagery, demonstrated by this one shown above depicting the aftermath of some carnage at daybreak.
Nick Harris' Website


SIMON DOMINIC
Brilliant and imaginative are two good words to describe Simon's art. Awe and jealousy are two good words to describe my feelings for his talent! His website is called painterly which is spot on, you can almost smell the virtual oil paint. The image Big Blue (left) is a particular favourite of mine, as are Kelpie, bottom left and Dreams of Pan, bottom right. I guess the bleak moor theme hums a tune I like to hear.















Like Nick Harris, myself and many others, Simon is a big fan of natural media software,  ArtRage Pro. 
Simon's Website


MARK BANNERMAN
Mark is a Scottish artist who took up digital painting through his discovery of ZBrush, an amazing piece of software which allows us to virtually sculpt polygons as though they were clay. I really like the quirkiness of Mark's work. There is a rawness to it which prods us at a primeval level. His paintings fly in the face of the highly technical beast which is 3d imagery and the light, mood and texture he achieves are second to none. If anyone asked me to describe how dream sequences should feel I would send them to Mark's website.
Mark Bannerman's Website


More to come soon! Click on all images to enlarge.