Friday, November 23, 2012

Walking, running, bumping

Gotta watch where you're going!

 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another character design - Fat Plat

Pete Emslie requires us to deliver assignments hand-drawn on paper-- this is a beating for someone like me who's well used to finishing linework digitally.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More beat boards

We're focusing on developing stories for pitching in Story class. These are my beat boards for another simple poem.

Estevane_munir_hector01_post

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Primer to Commission Work - Timeline for Delivery and Finish

It sure has been a while. Life gets interesting when you move to a different country. You leave behind friends, relatives, and a sense of security only to start over in many ways. I've been a permanent resident of Canada since late 2010, but I still don't feel like I am fully settled, in no small part thanks to the amount of times I've had to move since then. Packing and unpacking your life every 3-6 months has made me reconsider what is truly necessary in my life, at least when it comes to material possessions. I trust that eventually I'll manage to find friends and family as well.

This, of course, means that it's been almost two months since the last post I made regarding commissions in this here site. It is also ironic that I'm late discussing the topic I had remaining: timeliness and finish.

As a professional artist, one of the key skills expected of you is time management. You must know how long it will take you to finish a piece of average complexity, or at the very least you should be able to come up with a reasonable estimate. Yes, sometimes life gets in the way, but your customers don't care. When you ask for another professional's services (say, a doctor, mechanic or plumber) and they give you an estimate of completion (and cost), you don't care whether they had a sleepless night, if their kid has the flu, if their car broke down or if they are having an emo day when you expect the work completed. It is no different with creating art for money. Being accurate in estimations and punctual in delivery will improve your reputation and bring you business in the form of repeat customers or word of mouth. I cannot stress this enough: It is NOT acceptable to take somebody's money without giving them an estimate for completion and then taking six months without even communicating with them. 

Let's say you're actually goot at estimating your delivery times, and you finish the work ahead of time. Are you done?

There is something to be said about excellent people: They usually do MORE than is expected of them, and this applies to the art-for-hire world much more than to others. Perhaps you were paid an extra $10 for a background: It would be a good idea to take some extra time and research a room style, or a landscape to use and necessary props, as opposed to simply slapping something together and calling it done. Maybe you're not being paid for the research time, but this will also improve your skills and you can be sure that the customer will more than appreciate a little freebie. I do this on occasion when I'm having fun with a piece. The same applies with the level of detail you want to put on a drawing. The definition of 'sketch', 'inks' and 'coloured' vary wildly depending on the artist and their mood. Is a sketch just construction lines? Is a sketch a pencil drawing that is shaded and ready to be inked? Is a coloured drawingjust flat colour? Just cel-shading or gradient shading? Shading and highlights? How many passes of shading? Just black and one colour?

In the end it will defnintely pay off to go the extra mile with your customers when they're reasonable and they fulfill their end of the deal: They pay promptly, communicate well and make reasonable requests

These are thoughts I've come up with while taking commissioned work. I will continue, since it is good money and practice, naturally.

In other news, I'm back in school! Check out this little something from Story class.

Estevane_munir_bath01_post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to school

But it was a good summer.

Rocketmelon

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Primer to Commission work - The Question of Content

In 2005, great controversy was stirred through the publishing of a series of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed by a danish newspaper. This was during the aftermath of the US interventions in the Middle East, at a time when anti-muslim propaganda in the Western world was still scathing. The caricatures were not shocking in the least, especially considering that parodies of other major religious movements in popular media have been much more crass (think of the character of Jesus or God in Family Guy, or the depictions of jews in Drawn Together).

The reaction from muslim organizations was unprecedentedly violent. Death threats, boycotts, protests. One is left wondering the shock experienced by the artists who created those images, simple drawings made for hire. Their intent was certainly to cause controversy and provoke conversation-- they may have gotten more than they bargained for.

Earlier, in 2003, the videogame webcomic Penny Arcade ran a fake ad that portrayed Strawberry Shortcake in a BDSM context, parodying the trend of certain videogames of that time of taking well known characters from literature and making them 'edgy'. The company that owns the rights to Ms. shortcake immediately threatened legal action against the artists if the image was not taken down at once, even if said image was well within the parameters of parody and therefore completely legal.

The fact remains that images are powerful. Art appeals to our emotions first and foremost, where instinct hijacks rationality. Add to that the fact that most of the content we enjoy is owned by large corporations who are quite willing to throw their lawyering muscle around in order to maximize their profits whether they're in the right or not, and you're left wondering if you should have a tighter grip on the kind of content you should create as a work-for-hire artist.

Without going down the path of 'being true to your artistic ideals no matter what' (that is a discussion for another time), we have to agree that the kinds of content you create as a public, commercial artist matter, especially in this Internet age where once an image is published, it exists forever. So what can one do? When taking commissions, you WILL be asked to draw things that may be of questionable taste, artistic or moral. So it pays off to have thought of this ahead of time and decide what you are comfortable drawing, and the possible consequences of you doing it. If a customer asks you, maybe offering a lot of money, would you be willing to draw...

  • Violence - Fighting, shooting
  • Gore (horror, or  extreme violence) - Possibly involving blood, viscera, dismemberment
  • Political statements on controversial issues, like abortion, gay marriage or elections
  • Religious imagery - Of your own faith or others', in a traditional context
  • Parodies or critique of Religious imagery
  • Parodies or critique of Celebrities
  • Racist imagery and other types of discrimination and hate
  • Drug use and abuse
  • Toilet humour
  • Sex humour
  • Fan art - Your own renditions of characters you don't hold the copyright to
  • Rule 34 - Explicitly pornographic depictions of copyrighted characters
  • Wish-fulfillment - Drawing the customer or one of his characters
  • Sexual fetishes/kinks - Your own, or others'
  • All possible combinations of of the above

Everybody has a different threshold of what they are willing to draw, for money or otherwise. Some people don't bat an eyelash at drawing realistic renditions of bone and muscles being torn due to violence, but won't touch religious imagery. Some others will gladly draw any fetish under the sun, but would not feel comfortable drawing a caricature of pro-life activists as a political statement.

And speaking of content that was banned for no reason, Song of the South has been off the shelves for the longest time due to containing a portrayal of rural America when slavery was the norm. No DVD release is planned for this movie by Disney, although there are some bootlegs around. I personally don't care much for the live action sequences, but the animated ones are a delight. This doodle of Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox is from that.

 

20120707

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Life.

Been busy with a few house projects and trying to settle my living situation for the upcoming schoolyear.

More on the topic of commissions soon.

 

 

 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Primer to Commission work - Revisions (and more Disney doodles)

Revisions. The word sends a chill down any creator's spine.

Maybe it is because of my background in Engineering, but I'm used to customers requesting changes, and the stress they put on a project. In the art for hire world, it can be very similar. Art-work can be purchased as part of a larger project or as a one-time request, but regardless of whether deadlines are firm or loose, it is very hard to estimate the impact a requested change can have on your timeline.

Working on commissions one is usually facing a loose deadline (but it is in your benefit to make it a hard one. More on that later), but changes can mean a lot of work for an artist. It is up to the artist to ask for as much reference and details regarding the work in question-- vague descriptions and a lack of commitment on the commissioner's side can quickly turn into a revisions nightmare.

It is fair to assume there can be a number of changes when you're developing an image for someone else. But how many of those changes are reasonable, and how drastic can they be?

For example: A commissioner (let's call him Bob) gives you a couple badly drawn references of a D&D character he created. In the references, the character is an anime-style knight girl named Lucrezia with plain armour-bikini and a sword. Bob asks you to draw 'just any action pose' with her.

You sketch an action pose and show it to Bob. "Hmm, I don't know", Bob says. "Could you make it more 'action-y'?". This usually means the customer has no idea what he wants, but what you showed him is not it, and so you go back to the drawing board and sketch another different pose. "Oh that's better!", Bob chirps, "But could you turn Lucrezia's face to the viewer looking sexy?", despite the fact that in that pose it would be anatomically impossible for the character to turn her head toward the viewer, and so that means sketching another complete pose that makes sense. And this is assuming, for the sake of this thought experiment, that you and the customer have the same idea of what "sexy" means. In custom art made for fans, anatomical impossibilities are often overlooked for the sake of T&A.

You finally hit a pose that satisfies Bob and continue working on the image, giving Lucrezia the same kind of plain armour and sword as in the references. "Oh wait", Bob interrupts alarmed, "the armour should be golden and with wings" or "I want her to have triple nunchucks instead of the sword". You can see where this is going.

This can go on for any number of revisions. Depending on your skill and proficiency, this can quickly spiral into many extra hours of what amounts to design and development time for which you're not being paid for, if you agreed upon a price when your services were requested. Depending on your skills and rep, you may be able to get away with telling a customer that the price will be calculated at the end, but even most professional artists usually can not do that.

Therefore, it is critical for you to have what amounts to a "Terms of Service" type agreement that the customer needs to be aware of, at the very least. In my personal case, when the customer doesn't ask for a specific pose, I allow for two different pose ideas at most without charging extra, I specify that if there are no references there is a design fee, and I try to leave any detail work until the very end when the commissioner has seen the final pose and given the go-ahead to continue working on it. This may sound a little harsh, and naturally as an artist it is your duty to ask for all the information you need to work on something before you start. There is a balance to be stricken between charging by the line and letting a customer walk all over you asking for infinity changes.

Ultimately, it is not possible to 'quantify' how much work goes in a piece of art. Maybe you're doing it for a friend and you want to put in a little extra effort at no charge, and accommodate unreasonable revisions. Maybe you're drawing something you utterly despise and want to get it out of the way as soon as possible. More in this in a future post-- since I mentioned you may be drawing things you may not enjoy, I have to talk about what types of content you're willing to draw and how this is relevant to you as an artist.

Here are a few warmup doodles from Bongo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Primer to Commission work - Rights Ownership (and a mad scientist of cups)

Once upon a time, making commissions had few implications in terms of illegal usage or distribution of artwork. But like with the previous two aspects of commissions I wrote about (Pricing and Design Work), the question of who owns the artwork you produce has been brought to the forefront thanks to reproduction and distribution technologies becoming easy to use and ubiquitous. When photocopied fanzines or manual desktop publishing were the most you had to worry about, amateur artists really had no incentive to worry or know about the question of rights ownership, especially when it came to making custom art for a few dollars. Nowadays, digital photography combined with a means of distribution exists in hand-held devices even children aged in the single digits are experts at using.

Technology will just keep making it easier for art to be copied, deconstructed, remixed, shared and consumed. At a time when anything can be the 'next Internet sensation' and large monetary interests have invaded the channels for digital distribution, the question of who owns the art you make has got to be part of your strategy as an artist, amateur or professional.

Whether you subscribe to the Lawrence-Lessig-proposed view of Remix Culture and think all content should be freely shared, assimilated and re-processed making society richer, or the pre-Internet one of strict rights ownership and control, there are a few things to have in mind:

1) Content posted on the Internet is de-facto shared with everybody. You can ask, plead, beg or threaten your audience not to share, copy, alter or pretend they own your work, but while technology makes this a no-cost proposition, it will be done. Ask the Music Industry how they're doing in their futile attempt to thwart unauthorized distribution of non-free music.

2) Creation of a work of art grants the creator all rights to that work, unless he explicitly trades, sells or gives them away. Doing commission work where the rights are not explicitly mentioned in a working contract keeps the rights with the creator, BUT an uninformed customer may think that once you sell them a piece of board with your doodles on it it is his own to do as he pleases.

Managing rights ownership with commissioned art is tricky because how much of a concept you own is usually not well defined. If a person asks you to draw a character from a vague description and you end up designing it, you own that design and all associated rights, and the commissioner can argue he is a co-creator. It used to be that most designs commissioned by individuals wouldn't see the light of day, but technology is bringing us to a world in which every piece of content will be publicly accessible from the moment of creation. And if it is good, someone may like it enough to want to profit from it. Making it clear from the moment of creation that you own such rights is the only sane and easy proposition to make sure your work is not lost to someone whose lawyering pockets are deeper than yours.

I suggest you make up your mind about who will own the rights of what you create. You can share your art on Facebook only to your friends, or make everything you post publicly at DeviantArt Creative Commons, or make a 'fine print' Terms of Service contract where you state who owns what for every commissioner to read when they hire you. How freely owned you want your content to be is a decision you don't want others to make.

Here's another doodle from another commission I got in the making. Tarot-inspired.

Gt-scientistofcups

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Primer to Commission work - Design

Design work is billable work.

Often, when a commissioner asks you for a drawing they simply throw ideas around and expect you to come up with something cool, either for an environment/background, a costume, a vehicle or a creature, wihtout giving you any details about it. This, of course, requires you to design it.

Which is fine, until they refuse to pay extra for the time you will invest in this design work.

Designing anything takes considerable mental effort. It is, truly, where the 'creative' part of any skilled profession comes into play, and artwork is no different. Some would say it's even harder becuase there are no rules: In a drawing literally anything goes, and there are no bothersome laws of physics or budget constraints to keep your lofty ideas tethered. Given this, it is astounding that a commissioner who doesn't give you reference for what you are creating would be shocked and even upset when you present them a bill that includes design time.

Maybe my background in Engineering has gotten me used to being very careful with how I bill my time, and that's why when I open for commissions I explicitly state that either commissioners have to give me reference for what they're asking me to draw (visual reference of previously designed characters, vehicles or environments), or they will have to pay for the hours it takes me to design it. Your work as an artist is valuable, the time you spend designing something often being the most valuable of all.

Mind you, this only relates to the design work. Ownership of the rights of what I design for pay is a different topic I'll talk about in a future post.

 

 

A Primer to Commission work - Design

Design work is billable work.

Often, when a commissioner asks you for a drawing they simply throw ideas around and expect you to come up with something cool, either for an environment/background, a costume, a vehicle or a creature, wihtout giving you any details about it. This, of course, requires you to design it.

Which is fine, until they refuse to pay extra for the time you will invest in this design work.

Designing anything takes considerable mental effort. It is, truly, where the 'creative' part of any skilled profession comes into play, and artwork is no different. Some would say it's even harder becuase there are no rules: In a drawing literally anything goes, and there are no bothersome laws of physics or budget constraints to keep your lofty ideas tethered. Given this, it is astounding that a commissioner who doesn't give you reference for what you are creating would be shocked and even upset when you present them a bill that includes design time.

Maybe my background in Engineering has gotten me used to being very careful with how I bill my time, and that's why when I open for commissions I explicitly state that either commissioners have to give me reference for what they're asking me to draw (visual reference of previously designed characters, vehicles or environments), or they will have to pay for the hours it takes me to design it. Your work as an artist is valuable, the time you spend designing something often being the most valuable of all.

Mind you, this only relates to the design work. Ownership of the rights of what I design for pay is a different topic I'll talk about in a future post.

 

 

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Primer to Commission work - Pricing (and more warmup doodles)

The number one question other artists ask of me when I tell them I do commissions is: How do I know how much to charge? The Internet has leveled the playing field for many skilled professionals, including artists, making it possible for anyone with a scanner or tablet to upload their works and easily contact an audience who might be interested in getting custom art made for them. However, skills in art don't translate to business savvy or knowing how much your work is worth.

It is sadly a common occurence that art commissioners often get great bargains commissioning art from skilled, yet uninformed, young or amateur artists who are just getting the hang of things. I would advice anyone who is just getting started with posting their artwork online to not take commissions until they have a better understanding on how to properly sell his or her work. It's too easy to get burned when you are not aware of all that a commission entails, and pricing is just the tip of the iceberg. (I will be talking about other aspects in future posts). 

Let's say you have been around for a while. You know that the rights to anything that you create have value, that design time is billable time, that the commissioner knows revisions are not infinite and so forth. So, how do you price your work?

The truth is the price of art is completely arbitrary. A great many factors are involved in determined how much someone's work is worth, and most of them have nothing to do with artistic skill. Where you offer your work, how big of a name you are, whether your style is in fashion, the types of content you're willing to create and even whether the Economy is tanking are all big factors that determine what you can reasonably charge. And even if you're used to seeing artists charge a certain amount on the online forum where they post Pokemon fan art, that doesn't mean they will be able to get the same business at a different place, like an anime convention where Pokemon is but a fraction of what people who attend are looking for.

There are no rules set in stone when it comes to pricing, but I would recommend to aim reasonably high. For example: At conventions you want to scout your neighbour artists of similar caliber (both technical and reputation) and check their prices: If everyone is charging $50 for an ink sketch and you set your price for similar work at $20, you may get some business from people on a budget, but in general people will regard your art as cheap (and rightly so), and unless you're incredibly good, they will assume you're not worth it. Art is a luxury: In this kind of environment, you're not taking people's food or rent money and you're not forcing them to commission you. Purchasing art is the subjective experience of owning a unique item and the cheaper it is, the less the owner will value it. Setting your prices at $45 would be advisable here unless you feel you're better than everyone else in the room (and let's be honest, you are not).

Another thing to consider when pricing is what you're getting out of the experience beyond the cash. It's my experience that the commissions that I enjoy producing often feel like no work at all and are a pleasure to work on, making the payment seem almost superfluous (but welcome, regardless!). The same applies for getting practice and developing your skillset in working on pieces you normally wouldn't in order to improve-- this is the reason why often people will take a job that pays less, but makes them feel fulfilled, or is a stepping stone toward landing a better paying job once your skills are up to par.

In summary, I can't tell you how much you should be charging. I vary my prices depending on commissioner response. If I'm always sold out, or people prefer a certain type of technique, I adjust the prices on the next batch to reflect this. As long as you're producing work to the best of your ability, deliver it in a reasonable time and you're easy to deal with, people will come back and recommend you to their friends, and that's what being a professional artist is all about.

Here are a couple more warmup doodles copied from Disney screencaps. Come to think of it, I probably should add captions in order to make them a proper parody and not worry about the looming spectre of Cease and Desist ; ).

A Primer to Commission work - Introduction (and an enraged golfer)

I'm no stranger to creating artwork for hire. Even as early as third grade I was hanging my little shingle to make doodles for money or snacks, finding myself able to doodle popular cartoon characters with a modicum of skill. Naturally, school authorities were quick to chastise and forbid me from doing it. At home the environment was no friendlier to my artistic dabblings, often being laughed at or informed that art is a starving fool's errand.

It took a long time, almost at the end of junior high that my interest for drawing cartoons was rekindled thanks to a new exposure to the American comics industry through comic book shops that opened in Mexico, specifically the vast amounts of independent, self-published comics, as I mentioned before. And only a couple years later, the Internet happened to me, making it possible to measure my skills and concepts with those of other amateurish content creators. I sucked at art (yes, even more), but the positive feedback I got gave me the drive to continue. And one of those incentives was being asked to make art for others, for a fee.

In the art world, a 'Commission' is artwork produced for some form of payment at the request of someone. It is a type of work-for-hire, and thus it is imperative for the artist and commissioner to be clear as to what is being paid for, like with any contract work. Sadly, due to their often informal nature, commissions can be an ordeal for an artist who doesn't think ahead a little. Some salient areas that require attention are:

  • Pricing of your work-time
  • Design work
  • Ownership and distribution rights of designs, concepts and ideas
  • Amount of reasonable revisions and changes to proposed concepts
  • Timeline for delivery
  • Technique, finish and intricacy of detail

I'll write a little about each of these areas in future posts. In the meantime, here's one of my recent commissions. I hear from golfers that having your ball land right next to a tree is quite infuriating...

 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Daily Disney Doodles

I've been reading Rad Sechrist's How-To blog (http://radhowto.blogspot.com/), since I've been working to get better at drawing quickly and clearly for storyboarding. One of the exercises that he mentions is making copies from screencaps of classic Disney movies, since the quality of their draftsmanship is unquestionable. Copying from the masters is an exercise suggested for any medium.

I'd never understood the point of doing this, but Rad explains in a way that I finally understood-- while you copy from what's good while paying attention to the foundations, you learn a right way to do things that you may not have come up with on your own, like ways to draw hands, folds, eyes and noses, while paying attention to underlying structure, flow and overall design.

Perhaps now, after a year of figure drawing and other art foundations at Sheridan, I am able to see these better than before and that's why it makes sense to me now.

Here are a few I've been doing. Of course I had to start with a couple with one of my favorite Disney movies of all time, Great Mouse Detective.

Basil, Ratigan and Mr. Flaversham are (c) Disney. All these are copying (not tracing) from screencaps at http://disneyscreencaps.com

Monday, June 18, 2012

Faces

Characters2011-2012-checkerboard
The faces behind the silhouettes.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Silhouetting

Over the past year I created a ton of characters. These are the 22 that I find the most interesting.

Silhouetting your characters is a good way to find out if you're doing 'too much of the same thing'-- palette swaps and hairstyle variations don't make for much character diversity if they all have the same body type or attitude.

Can you tell what these characters are about just from these poses?

Characters2011-2012-checkerboard-silh

Thursday, June 7, 2012

And updated Demo Reel - Spring 2012

I also made a couple new things and updated my Demo Reel for spring 2012. It's a good habit to keep it updated--- you never know who may be watching!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Updated Portfolio!

Priceless: Updating your portfolio and realizing anything you can do today is 100x better than what was in it before.

Check it: http://munir.carbonmade.com

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kody, reluctant necromancer

Charpack
Just because you can raise the dead it doesn't mean you /WANT/ to.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The High Hall of the Arryns

Tonal study. I liked the way this came out better than the final painting.

Finaltonalp

 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bombs away

A Workbook exercise, developed from the Storyboard from a 3rd year film from 2007, Babushki. The film itself should be around somwhere online

Munirestevane-workbook
...

 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kelai, the Dragonlady

A character's timeline can be challenging-- for most people, childhood and teenagehood aren't all that interesting, and you want to stay clear from just doing a 'chibi' version of the character's adult self. 

One is left to wonder what happened to Kelai between her 30s and her 70s, since life is bound to throw more interesting things at you in those years.

Kelai

Monday, March 5, 2012

Background copy

Guess which movie this is copied from.

Final-sm

 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Texture Dragon is Watching You

HANDS OFF THE COOKIE JAR

 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Goma Raccoon's Leisurely Stroll

Walk cycle exercise starring that fine procyonid.

 

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

a bald wolfman

Or something of the sort. From character design warmup.

 

Img_2188

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Angry Dragon!

Gt-tabraicon