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Character Design: Shushnyan Shock Trooper

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Howdy, me again. I have been dying to start working on characters. Where to start? Well, this guy just so happens to be it. I was scribbling on a scrap of paper and lo and behold, I came up with this.

The Shushnyan Shock Trooper

Standing roughly twice the height of an average man, they strike fear in the heart of every Shushnyan. Watching from the shadows, still as statues, they loom ominously over all of Shushnya. Surprisingly swift, they will exact a terrible price from those who do not obey and submit. Needless to say, everyone has become quite good at obeying and that whole submitting thing.

Inspiration for this guy was kinda a cross an owl with a giant dwarf, LOTR meets the Muppets. So, with that in mind, here's the process I went to through. I scanned the sketch into Adobe Photoshop and work almost entirely there (see above).

I turned Figure #9 into a Smart Object and popped over to Adobe Illustrator to create just a few strokes for detail (see above). And then popped back to Photoshop to add some color and texture (See below). Thanks for dropping by, your feedback and thoughts are always welcome and appreciated.



Shushnya Concept Art Exploration

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Updated image - I received some really great feedback after posting this to Facebook's Draw or Die group. This is the result. 

Before I dive into some character design, I wanted to development one of those previous thumbnails for a couple posts ago. I chose the bridge shot and went to work. But... alas, not matter what I did, it wasn't working. I felt like I was beating a dead horse and had to step away.

I started playing around with the bridge, trying to find a good angle. Push myself out of my comfort zone. After awhile some frustration, I got something I liked.

Believe or not, my favorite thing has always been figurative work. Creating a fully rendered scene is a relatively new thing for me. I had to get a figure into the scene.

Ta-daaa!! One elf guy or something like that. Not sure yet, as Shushnya is still just an outline to date. Hmmm... not sure what he's doing up there. Looks like he's waving around a bunch of giant feathers.

First attempt at a sky, night time felt right but the initial sky didn't. But I did learn those might be magic giant feathers.

Okay, now we are talking. Feeling good about the sky and yup, definitely giant magic feathers. But what do they do? I dunno but I noticed a stick floating on the right side of the image. Forgot to erase that sucker but it gives me an idea.

"You shall NOT pass!" Great line... Gandalf, I think. That's my thinking as I wrap up today's work. Love to hear what you think. It definitely went in an unexpected direction. But that is not exactly an unusual thing.

Well... It's halftime with the Eagles leading the Steelers. I am stoked and hope they can hold it for the win! Yup, diehard Eagles fan... E-A-G-L-E-S! Eagles!!! Can't watch it but mercifully I can listen on my iPad. Phew!



Shushnya Concept Art - Environment and Logo Treatment - Updated

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I was watching a John J. Park Gumroad video last night and got inspired. Still in "environment" mode and coming up with landscape ideas. I wish I had kept the initial stages of the sketch but flattened them without thinking but I did keep the final last few tweaks presented here.  I started playing with ideas for a logo treatment. Still needs work I think but it's a start.

C&Cs most welcome and appreciated.

Getting close to a finish at this point.

Added a few more details to the rocks

Almost done. Added some needed warm tones to overall image and then worked up a working logo treatment. Needs work still. But happy for now.

Okay, this was the final but something was missing...

Shushnya Concept Art: Thumbnail Sketches and Notes

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shushnya is a story I did an outline for a few years back. I loved the idea and now, finally, I have begun production. What you see here are the very first ideas on what Shushnya could look like.


I know what you are thinking.... "What the heck is it all about, Jon!?!" 

Well, guys, it's the adventure of a misfit band of young troubadours (bards, musicians, singers, that sort of thing). One problem. They are terrible, awful... just plain bad. Yet determined, yes, very determined. Unfortunately, we must touch upon the part in which they are awful. So awful, their village banishes them, never to return until they learn how to carry a tune or at least learn to whistle properly. With out revealing everything. They learn of a magical place devoted to music. The wondrous kingdom of Shyshnya. Unfortunately for our little band of merry men, they read the wrong sign and head the wrong way. Trials and tribulations follow. Danger and darkness, for they stumble quite innocently, mind you, to the darkest, most dreadful, and horribly boring place in the world. Shushnya.... ruled with an iron fist, by a not so very nice man. Mean even.... so there you go. You will just have to come back to find out more later.

So. On with the show. 

I had no idea where to start. I watched the amazing Frank Hong talk about thumbnails and his thoughts on idea generation (see Resources below). It did the trick. If you happen to visit the links below, I also recommend watching the One Pixel Brush video on "The Law of Increasing Awesomeness." I mean, how can you not watch that? 

So. Again... I just started noodling and what followed is what you see.

The Bridge That's Mysteriously Broken. Don't know where this fits in yet. Sorry.

Tumbletwerp Mountain. This is where the boys in the band grew up and are eventually banished from. It's really serene and pretty there. You should go and visit, it's pretty nice.

Somewhere along the adventure, it's starts looking a little more spooky. Yup, someone really should have noticed this by now but... hey, what kind of adventure doesn't get a little spooky. No spooky, no adventure, right?

Magical starry night. Something good happens at this point but it's a secret.

The Canyon of Lost Echoes. Yeah, that sounds pretty cool. I just made that up.

Okay, it's getting spooky again. Just run, boys, go home, forget singing, forget playing music. It ain't worth it. Trust me.

We'll just skip this one. It doesn't seem to fit in.

The Dragon Horn Pass. Sounds kinda dangerous, looks kinda scary. I don't have a very good feeling about this.

Okay, this looks too pretty and majestic.
We are in the middle of the scary part, so we will save this for another point in the story.

The Fearsome Gates of Shushnya.
And with that, my dear friends, is where we leave off for now. Please comeback for more of the somewhat thrilling, maybe even, but, at least, slightly entertaining next development in the wonderfully wicked world of Shushnya. 

Goodnight and sweet dreams!



I spent about 10 to 15 minutes (maybe 20 minutes on some) on each thumbnail. The brushes I used on these thumbnails were a combination of Frank Hong's, Jaime Jones' and Shaddy Sadafi's. You can download Frank Hong's thumbnail template (PSD), brushes and videos on his Gumroad page. I used them myself, they're handy.

Frank Hong Goodies 

Get those other brushes here 

Character Study: Witch Hazel and the style of Chuck Jones

Monday, September 5, 2016

Since I've launched my Patreon page, it's been a welcome boost of productivity. I am working hard to improve my skills before beginning work on some original ideas.

Welcome to Phase I of my evil plan. What is that you may ask, well, it's to research and you guessed it, practice, practice practice. Chuck Jones turned out to be one of many heroes I had as a kid. His work was my favorite of all the Warner Brothers artists. One of the characters from that era was Witch Hazel. I loved her. What a kook. Such great characterization. 
Before I start work on my own stories in full force, Phase I is all about finding my finding and improving my own style.  I'll be producing as many studies as I can and clean them up to a "final sketch" in Adobe Illustrator (my favorite software ever...) to share with you. 

My original sketch I used as a foundation to create the final
Here's what I did here:
1. Spent 20 minutes sketching various poses from a warner Bros. Model sheet.
2. Without overthinking, I sketched my own original pose of Witch Hazel.
3. After scanning it, I placed into Adobe Illustrator and cleaned it up as line art.
4. I googled a still from the original cartoon to pull out the color palette.
5. I adjusted a few brushes to give the line art some varied weight. 
6. After getting the line work the way I wanted, just added color and voila! 
I hope you will  enjoy these.  More to follow soon!

Owls | Sleeping Beauty | Marc Davis study

It's funny, I've never, ever really tried to draw disney characters before. I've always loved the stye of Sleeping Beauty from the character design of Marc Davis (Nine Old Men fame) to the scenic paintings of Eyvind Earle. Just beautiful, compelling stuff!
Last night on Pinterest, this model sheet of owls caught my eye and decided to give them a try. The Owl on the left took me ages (well, an hour or two until finish) but once I got him down, the other on the right took about 10 minutes. 
Yup, practice, practice practice.

So the steps seem to be developing like so:
  • Sketches - 10 to 20 minutes
  • Cleanup in Adobe Illustrator. I used a standard (I believe) grunge brush for the line work to keep the feel of a slightly rough sketch and the films of that particular era started to have that "sketchy" feel, like the Aristocats.
  • Post it for hopefully your viewing pleasure.
  • Repeat process as often as possible.
Side Note: Something kinda cool happened today. After tweeting my earlier post, "Witch Hazel," Chuck Jones' actual grandson started following me. I know, I am a dork. 



What is Patreon?

Friday, September 2, 2016
Hi! Welcome to Jonathan Wilson Art. 

I am an American living overseas in Poland and it's been a wonderful adventure so far. The one goal I had before leaving my family and friends back in New Jersey was to get inspired and work like crazy to be the best artist I can be. A new county, a new language, Poland's natural beauty, castles and people have definitely done the trick in the inspiration department. After traveling across the cities and countryside, I am now settling down to work. Work, work, work. 

Besides my normal freelance graphic design work (mostly direct mail campaigns in the political arena), I've discovered how much fun textile design is. It is so cool to see something I made applied to things like sneakers, dresses, and other fun stuff. So I've opened a few shops as a way to help keep this dream alive. But more on that another day. Another other way is, I've discovered this site called Patreon. 

It's awesome. 

It's exciting. But what is it? It's kind of like Kickstarter but not. Artists, musicians, writers, bloggers, podcasters, film makers, you name it, they're on there. Sharing their hopes, dreams and hard work to their friends, fans and supporters which allows them to work at their craft through people's patronage. People can support their favorites by becoming a Patron. It's not hard to do or expensive at all. The Artists give thier Patrons an all access pass to their creative process, special rewards and all kinds of cool stuff.  It's pretty amazing. It really works to help people reach their goals and dreams. You really could help make a difference for someone out there.

I just launched my own Patreon page. I hope you check it out and enjoy it. There's a link in the main menu above if you'd like to take a peek! Thanks a million!


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