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Storn's Art & Characters thread.

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>>>>>>Storn, I have some questions about your work, if you don't mind. From your website (URL from your signature), I see that a "basic" work (one figure, no background) is $70. About how many hours does this usually take you? I'm just wondering what your per-hour rate would calculate as (again, if this isn't too personal). I read the blogs of a few other artists, and try to get a "feel" for their respective price ranges.) 


I've always liked your work, and I certainly hope you're able to support yourself by doing what you enjoy. Do you get enough work or commissions to go full-time? And, do you ever work at conventions? (If so, which ones?)  


Thanks!  ;-)  



One figure, no background tends to be 2 to 4 hours.  Fantasy characters tend to take the longest, superheroes tend to be the quickest.  Fantasy characters and some sci fi characters have lots of pouchs, details, reference to draw and paint and can be time consuming.  Superheroes tend to be simpler, although poses with foreshortening might take a bit longer to get right.


The pencil part is pretty quick, I usually have a figure ready for inks and/or paint in about 45 mins of sketching.  Interestingly, the above Star Wars Sniper was drawn totally digitally and the sketch part of it took longer, probably about a full hour.  With her, the color part, there was a lot of dithering on my end over colors of various things, I repainted sections several times.... usually I don't run into that.  She definitely took 4 hours (and probably a scootch longer, at 4 hours, 30 mins) because I kept changing my mind.  


I would love to make $20.00 a hour when I do art.  Sometimes, rarely, it comes to about $40.00 an hour, sometimes it is more around $15.00.  Occasionally, because the project demands it  waaaay more than I expected, I've  really lost money at something like $5.00 an hour.  


I supported myself off and on for 2 decades with freelance.  I am no longer freelancing full time.  I work in marketing now, 9-5 and freelance on the side.  


I do local conventions around the Finger Lakes, I've got two coming up:  


Ithaca Comic Convention:  http://www.comicbookclub.org/IthaconSchedule.html  March 25-26 ( I love this con, I've been going for several years, very small and intimate)

Cortland's Heroes and Villains comic con:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1711827132387299/  April 9th  (First year I've gone)

I did ScareCon near Syracuse last year, but didn't break even.  Might not do that one again.

I do sketches on the spot and sell my originals and a few prints at conventions.  


Thanks for asking!

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Storn, a follow-up question (or two), if I may.  ;-)  


Per your website, you state that one of your personal commissions (as opposed to a more formal "for publication"/business commission) does not include any rights for printing, (etc.). However, what is your stance on using commissioned art on a personal webpage (for ex.: on the PC write-up page for the character illustrated)? I'd presume you'd be OK with that, especially if the buyer includes the appropriate attribution with a link back to your art webpage, but I wondered what your take on this would be. Also, do you have any standard attribution verbiage you'd prefer to be used by your customers, when they post such? 


Thanks, again!  ;-)


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Storn, a follow-up question (or two), if I may.  ;-)  


Per your website, you state that one of your personal commissions (as opposed to a more formal "for publication"/business commission) does not include any rights for printing, (etc.). However, what is your stance on using commissioned art on a personal webpage (for ex.: on the PC write-up page for the character illustrated)? I'd presume you'd be OK with that, especially if the buyer includes the appropriate attribution with a link back to your art webpage, but I wondered what your take on this would be. Also, do you have any standard attribution verbiage you'd prefer to be used by your customers, when they post such? 


Thanks, again!  ;-)


I thought I answered this, but it did not show up.


Absolutely use the artwork on your own site(s).  AFter all , it is more advertising for me.   Also, I've let folks publish the commissions as long as I can still use them in my own clip art portfolios, so I can continue to make a little bit of lunch money on them down the pike.  

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A fun private commission that I got to do. A Star Wars character, ex-imperial scout/sniper. I don't have a ton to say about it, although it was a totally digital creation. Usually I do a pencil sketch, but this time I wanted to work a bit more with my cintiq. The initial scribbles where done on separate layers, along with some reference that patron gave me. I did this at work during lunch over a few days. The camo texture was provided by the patron.



As long she has the safety of the gun on, she won't shoot her foot off while running especially on stairs.

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Here is a doodle, I was experimenting with a very loosed pencil sketch.  I wanted to see if I could work with that when I went to the paint.   I tend, especially with fantasy, to be a "bit" tighter with the pencil work.  


But I was quite happy that it came out the way that it did.  The face changed a bit, now looking at it, I like the angle of the pencil a little better than the finished.  Although I like the paint application in the face.  Ah, I'm picky.  


This piece, plus 4 others, are my latest Fantasy Clip Art portfolio from LPJ Design, available here: http://lpjdesign.rpgnow.com/product/207458/Image-Portfolio-Platinum-Edition-39-Storn-Cook


The preview of the Portfolio wasn't working for a bit, but it is working now. 





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Thursday night is my game night.  One of the other players is the amazing artist, Steve Ellis, http://steveellisart.com/.  We often talk art, share tips, what we are working on and the like.  This last Thursday, I came with a 1/2 sheaf of this thin yellow toned paper I had found at Hobby Lobby, because we both like working on toned paper.  To give to Steve so he could play with it too.  He, totally coincidentally, brought me a 1/2 sheaf of gray toned paper which had some tooth to it and some real thickness, like 80 lb or something.  


The yellow that i gave him  is really thin, only good for sketching, although the piece below that I doodled, was not inked, it did seem to hold up to some inking I did in the corner. I really like that yellow paper is not so dark that my prelim pencil lines are tough to see, which happens in anything nearing midtone paper.  But it is still dark enough that white pencil or white ink still is a viable way to work in the lights.   



I did two sketches (see below) Thursday night, one was of our actual player character, Xian Xiang, our diplomat turned spy turned ship captain in our Uncharted Worlds game.  And the hatchet guy.  I gave Xian to our player Mike and so the snap is with my iphone, the color of the background with this paper is much more french gray than the tan that the iphone picked up.  The hatchet guy was scanned this weekend and so it shows a bit closer what Steve's gray paper is like... but still came out a bit lighter and warmer than in real life, but it is off by only 5%.  


But Steve's paper has quite a bit of texture.  Which I don't love when I go with toned sketches to some kind of digital finish, because I tend to work with multiply and that texture can sometimes look crappy.  But because the paper was fairly thick, how would it stand up to acrylic paint?  Quite well, I think.  The paper did buckle just a small amount due to me using thin washes at time.  Steve Prescott (another fabulous artist: http://prescottartblog.blogspot.com/ who I happened to go to school with) turned me onto some heavy body acrylics of late and I'm enjoying them.  Can't wait to use them as an underpainting for an actual oil painting sometime soon.  




I love when art is play, because that is when some cool learning happens.  

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Across 110th Street


Ten Ton Studios has their new weekly challenge up.  http://www.tentonstudios.com/forum/index.php?topic=10784.0


This week it is Misty Knight.  Now, I'm not a huge Iron Fist/Power Man comic book aficionado, but the very first thing I thought of when I read the challenge was Bobby Womack's amazing soul tune, "Across 110th street" (I've yet to see the movie, although I payed homage to the movie poster too.  Tunage here:  https://youtu.be/UOg_8hCC4u4).  I met my wife and lived in Spanish Harlem at the ages of 19-21.  I lived on E119th street, Harlem was close by.    


Watching Luke Cage on Netflix was like going home for me.  Luke Cage is my favorite Netflix Marvel show so far and I LOVED Jessica Jones and Daredevil.  I was a bike messenger and would often cut through Harlem from Spanish Harlem to pick up packages at Columbia University (and then bike downtown).  One time, I even delivered to the Apollo Theater!  That was a thrill.  


So I am paying homage to stomping grounds of my youth.   Now, I wish I could get some of those empanadas from 116th street.


pencil and inked on marker paper, scanned, digital colors 


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My entry in the latest Ten Ton Studios weekly challenge;  The Riddler.
Remember, you can swing by Ten Ton Studios and see all the art and even vote on your favorite (hint: vote on mine, that would be nice), later this week (after 9 am Thursday till 9 am Friday).


Easily my favorite Riddler pic

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This was a welcome "bump."


I've always wondered how many characters you had drawn ended up being used in my campaign, and how many characters I had drawn, ended up being used in yours. Having gamed with Storn for a quarter century, his art was the primary visual cue for my campaign, that 's for sure.



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Holy Thread resurrection!

Yah... I'm back.  

Last night, RDU Neil and other sundry gamers such as I, started our Session Zero for Champions Now playtest.  Despite being hundreds of miles from Neil, the miracle of the intrawebs, discord, web camera and a head phone with a mike, allowed me to join my former gaming group.  Of course, I was doodling as we hashed out stuff, as is my wont.  Really, it is a compulsion.  I can't help myself.  Luckily I am pretty good at paying attention while doodling so Neil doesn't want to drown me in a tub of jello while holding 2 Hero 6 system books.  

Today, I colorized "Flanker", my new PC in the Champs Zero game.  We had a really great session and I'm looking forward to the game.  Flanker is a *slow* speedster (his top is around 175 mph, which is pretty slow for comics speedsters... but still ungodly fast) and a mini brick.  We are the U of M's very first super team, sponsored by the University to keep us from being kidnapped in the middle of the night by Federal shadow agencies that want supers.  My character was on the MIchigan football team as a wide receiver, (set up in the flank hint, hint), but can't play football anymore.  His running sometimes goes out of control and he would be in Ohio by accident.  I hint at maize and blue in the uniform, without aping the look completely.  

Maybe RDU Neil will post the 6 sentences that was contributed by all of us that is the foundation of the campaign.  So looking forward to this.  


Have I mentioned that I'm looking forward to this game?

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I was thinking of posting about this game in the Champions Now thread under Kickstarter heading, but I can add a bit here in response.


Ron's rules in Champs Now asks the GM to do nothing more in terms of world building than create 2 sentences of a particular kind. From there, the players were to make their characters, disads, story hooks, etc. Then the world would evolve during play.

(This both worked and did not work at all for our group.)


My two sentences were...


  1. Superhumans are a relatively new phenomena, and the first ones did very, very bad things.
  2. Weird Science and Conspiracies at the University of Michigan
Now... for our group, who have played many years together, this immediately kicked off certain people expounding on this, "Cool... that means X or Y and..." which is really cool, but I didn't want all the player's character concepts colored by the a few players. So I asked each player to come up with "one additional sentence" that built on/added to my original sentences.  (These could have been general statements on theme or whatever, but they actually were more detailed and specific to world building and creating a history.)
  1. Storn - We four are on campus and gain our powers when villains try to rob a research facility, accidentally unleashing weird energies.   (Actually Storn started with "We all have a shared origin event" but then he got more specific.) 
  2. Rick - Decades ago in the vast salt mines beneath Detroit, space had to be cleared out for a new research facility--and an embassy.
  3. Joe - After Martial Law was declared, college attendance sky rocketed as a way to stay out of the military.
  4. Eric - The Singularity offers a path to surviving the coming darkness.  
My Commentary: While Ron specifically states that none of this world building should be done until you play, and it should evolve from what players put on their sheets (Hunteds, DNPCs, etc.) these guys refused to be so loose. As a GM, I usually have a very strong idea about the world I'm creating, but wanted to let the players really shape this... and they stepped up... not in the way Ron envisioned, but with a demand for group world building during/prior to characters being built.
The world we came up with immediately veered from the expected idea Ron had of "Don't world build, just use the world outside your window and add supers!" It was clear none of the players were satisfied with that and so a rough but fascinating timeline and setting was hashed out.
  • Relatively new superhumans became "over the past 20 years, after an unexplained event in the late 90's"
  • A focus on 'weird science' was agreed upon, so this tossed the typical super-worlds where anything goes, magic, gods, technology, aliens, etc. We agreed that ALL super powers come from 'weird science' and accidents, with the scientific community having dozens of theories on what is going on to allow this breaking of the laws of physics by certain individuals, but there is nothing proven or even a consensus on one theory over another.
  • The martial law statement then really shaped the world. We decided that immediately following the original 'event' the world was on the brink of war as thoughts of sneak attacks and nuclear detonations were considered... and when months later, people with powers started showing up in very destructive ways. In most places Martial Law ended after a few years as no military attacks happened, but it continued a streak of secrecy and security paranoia as more and more powered people began to appear.
  • At some point, it was decided that a few super-powered people actually showed up and helped stop/defeat the destructive ones, and the first "heroes" were christened. The past 20 years basically happened as they have, but with the military deploying rare but useful metahumans in combat, corporations funding a few "super teams" as much as marketing ploys as real, active teams. The costumes and code names came out as a way to use tropes long established in comic books to make a terrified public more accepting of superhumans... but the paranoia and fear still runs deep.
  • The Singularity is an even more popular and well known meme, as eschatological belief has grown... will technology bring about the end of days, or save us from it? Are superhumans the harbingers of doom or those will save us? The "coming darkness" could be many things, but it is a current that runs through society.  (Think of all the political and social fracturing and upheaval of the current real world, and turn it up to 11 by adding superhumans and "weird science conspiracies" that might actually be true.
  • Players wanted a clear villain in terms of a certain, secret gov't agency that was hunting supers, there is a draft that on the surface is simply about maintaining the military, requiring military training for everyone of a certain age, but there is a huge social division of this as some claim that people drafted on disappear, "die mysteriously" and that the gov't is using it to search out superhumans or experiment on people, etc. (The gov't is not a monolithic entity of course... it has as many divisions and agendas as the real world.)
  • The salt mines of Detroit will factor hugely into the initial adventures, as the player didn't want this defined before the game, and he dropped the "embassy" part (mole men?) because he felt it no longer fit the concept.
  • The shared origin "accident" was established, establishing the "Hunted" on Flanker's sheet... a villain team called The Hack. The players then wanted an event later that brought them together as a public super-team... and this was really cool. It was established that after they had individually begun displaying powers, the secret gov't agency showed up and tried to "sweep" them, but they fell back on their connections and the resources of some influential faculty at U-M and decided to "come out as supers" in the public eye (secret IDs, but public super personas) as a defense against being "disappeared."  They've been an active super team for 8 months or so.

Now we have four PCs who have a shared origin story and an established reason for working together... three have very overt and noticeable power-sets. The fourth is the shadowy, controversial member... the politics of universities, state and federal gov'ts, research funding and crazy experiments... along with shadowy crazy super-stuff... we'll be getting down to it in a week or so.


It is an interesting experiment in using Ron's scaled down Champions Now rules... so we'll see what happens after a few playtest sessions, whether it works and we want to continue... or it peters out. We'll see!

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