Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Break

I'm spending about a week at home in Connecticut for the Christmas Holiday. Unfortunately it's not a total vacation, as there are still projects due. So I set up a miniature studio next to the Christmas stockings in my parent's downstairs family room.

In terms of Christmas gifts, I got a lot of useful items for my business. My collection of historical costumes and props keeps growing with the addition of a breastplate, shoulder pauldrons, a cowboy pistol, holster and ammunition belt. I will probably try to take some shine off the armor, but I want to do some research on the process before starting.

And I also got some fake tattoos. It's a fake cigarette, too. Don't smoke, kids.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homer the cat

This is my Christmas gift to my girlfriend Shelly. Don't worry, we already exchanged gifts so I'm not spoiling anything.

I hate doing pet portraits. I really do. That's why, when asked, I usually charge an EXORBITANT amount. But Shelly loves Homer so it was worth taking some time to draw this for her. Homer is surrounded by a few pieces of his dry food, or "crunchies," which is not very accurate as he usually doesn't take a break while eating. He would never leave food behind.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Current sketchbook excerpts

After a long hiatus, I started a new sketchbook a few weeks ago. Most of the pages are junk, but that's fine with me. I tend to sketch in the morning as I'm drinking my coffee. I find that the morning haze allows me to be more free with my ideas and I'm less concerned with how things are presented on the page. Much like dreams, I usually forget what I drew later in the day and sometimes it turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

Friday, December 17, 2010

IlluXcon leftovers

As requested, some of the Artist Proof sketches leftover from IlluXcon. It's a shame I don't have a portable scanner because I really enjoy some of these sketches. But the good ones usually sell on the spot and I never see them again. All that's left are the ones that I do toward the end of these events. I really like the green goblin on the top row. I'm glad I got a chance to make a record of him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog issues

I still can't recover the images from my posts prior to November 2010. Everything disappeared when I clumsily tried to update my website and lost access to my old server. You can still read my clever and intelligent writing, however.

Apologies to anyone trying to access old images.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kingdom of Summer

Browsing on Amazon yielded this little surprise:

It's Kingdom of Summer, by Gillian Bradshaw, the sequel to Hawk of May. KOS is scheduled to be released in the Spring, and the final book in the trilogy (hopefully) will be published in the fall of 2011.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The censors

I'm sure many of you have heard about the recent controversy over the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. An article (one of many articles written recently) on the subject can be found here. I don't want to get too political on this blog, but it seems to me that this is only the most recent battle between controversial art (when in the last century was art not controversial?) and congressional leaders feigning outrage to garner support among a specific demographic. Personally, I think it's indefensible that the National Portrait Gallery removed the art in question.
What do you think?

And to illustrate this blog post, I'll represent a book cover I did a few years ago. Since it's illustration and not art, no one should be offended.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Victor

I debuted this painting at IlluXcon, and have finally gotten around to photographing it. I'll eventually have this painting professionally scanned, as this reproduction doesn't quite capture the contrast and color.

I'm proud of this one (the original painting, not so much the photo). It's certainly not perfect, but I feel it's going in the right direction. A higher resolution image is available on ryanpancoast.com.

Recently, I've been trying to limit my palette. This was a test of the "Zorn" palette: Ivory Black, Titanium White, Cadmium Red (Medium) and Yellow Ochre. Those four colors seem to fit my needs, and I can always add ultramarine or viridian if I need to. The project I'm currently working on calls for a strong blue light. So I started with some Scheveningen Blue, used a Venetian Red (instead of Cadmium), Yellow Ochre, Black and White. It's a Zorn-derived palette to suit the specific job.

You can read more about the Zorn palette on this great blog.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I made it into the Society of Illustrators Annual!

At the Queen's Command will appear in SI53, book category. A dream that I have had since high school is finally realized!


The new Ryan Pancoast Illustration site is now up and running. I'm still ironing out the kinks on both the main site and the blog. In the meantime, let me recount some highlights from IIuXcon.

For the past 3 years, Pat and Jeannie Wilshire get together the best artists in the fantasy field for one weekend in November. The annual convention in Altoona, PA draws collectors, students and fans from all over the country. This year, after Matt Stewart and Lars Grant-West put in a good word, I was granted a spot in the show! My table was right next to Bob Eggleton. Across from me was Steve Belledin, who up until Thursday was just my facebook friend. I was in good company in my cozy corner of the hall.

I could go on and on about how great the experience was. The other artists were incredibly welcoming and kind. The students were appreciative. The collectors were passionate and knowledgeable. But I think the weekend can be summed up by all my firsts:

  • I did my first portfolio reviews. Strange to finally be on the other end of a review, but I did my best. (below photo by Cynthia Sheppard)

  • It was the first time I saw one of my covers in the book store.

  • I sold my first painting: At the Queen's Command. It found a good home in Ohio, and it was one less painting to pack up at the end of the weekend.

But the best part of the event was the opportunity to talk shop and hang out with my colleagues. Working in my studio can sometimes feel like a vacuum. Going to Chili's or the Ramada bar with Steve Belledin, Doug Cowan, Scott Brundage, Randy Gallegos, Lars Grant-West, Steve Prescott , Jeremy Jarvis and others was a lot of fun.

Now, it's back to work. I have sketches to do and a website to clean up. Of course, I'm also brainstorming about next year if I get another opportunity to show my stuff!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Technical difficulties ...

As you can see, things are a little off. I tried to be fancy and launch a new website in conjunction with IlluXcon, but I screwed up. Good timing, huh?

In any case, GoDaddy is working on the problem and I should be up and running within 48 hours. In the meantime please visit my Directory of Illustration Page for all images and contact info.

Monday, November 1, 2010

IlluXcon prep

My parents are great. I'm 27, and I spent most of my mid-twenties living with them. They didn't kick me out and they never complained. They believed in my ability to make it as an illustrator and gave me the rent-free opportunity to do nothing but try to make that happen. And now, living in Boston, I'm making this illustration thing work.

But they are still helping me out. My dad, for instance, has been making frames for IlluXcon. He bought a Morso chopper and set up a joiner in the garage. He's been buying leftover or cheap moulding from local dealers and making frames in his spare time.

Buying unwanted moulding can be a gamble. Occasionally they are pretty ugly. When paired with the right painting, however, they usually work. I'm excited to show off an ugly green frame that is absolutely perfect for Plague Stinger.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

My hair doesn't slick back like I wanted it to. So my pirate looked pretty weird.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Book Cover: At the Queen's Command

I found this online today: At the Queen's Command, by Michael A. Stackpole was recently released by Night Shade Books. The cover illustration is mine, done early in the summer.

The idea was to replicate a John Trumbull painting depicting the French and Indian wars. The horses of the English were to be replaced by wingless dragons, and the French were using both Native Americans and zombies. Art Director (and fantastic illustrator ) Dave Palumbo gave me a couple paintings as reference, including this one:

It was daunting to say the least. I knew I would have to tackle as many figures as I could but still do something within the deadline. Plus, there were a certain number of characters I had to include. I did a quick sketch to show Dave my idea and where I was planning to put the characters. The rest of the figures were to be filled in if I had time.

Admittedly, it was a quick sketch. I decided to replace the dead horse with a stone wall and eliminate a few of the riders behind the main character. I tried to imagine myself as an 18th century painter in designing the dragon. I thought that since the horses in the Trumbull painting looked a little thin and unimpressive, I would tone down the dragon a little. I figured an 18th century painter would be working from stories and maybe quick sketches, drawing dragons that looked more like medieval depictions of the creatures. To my surprise, the sketch was approved to go to final on the first round.

I got to work, and two weeks later, I sent the final to Dave.

But he had some concerns. To a certain extent, I had misunderstood the concept and look they were going for. They wanted a more fierce looking dragon, since it was to be the focal point of the cover. Also, I gave them a color intensity that might have existed in a new John Trumbull painting and they wanted a more "aged" appearance. This was Friday evening. I was leaving for a trip to Utah early the following week.

I raced back to the studio and got some paints and a piece of illustration board. I took the original sketch and transferred the dragon sketch to the new surface. I drew a more, in Dave's words, "bad-ass" dragon over the previous design and started painting, using the same color palette as the painting.

The following morning, I went back to the studio and photographed the new dragon head. In Photoshop, I took the new dragon and pasted it into the original painting. I had to use a few color matching techniques, but it worked pretty well. Finally, I used a few color layers and adjusted the levels to get it more yellowed and darkened. The result is what you see on the final product:

I hate using the computer. I really do. But in this case, it definitely made the piece better. More exciting, more moody. So kudos to Dave Palumbo. I just need to make sure I understand the goals of the project a little better right from the start, so I don't need to scramble at the end.

Click any of the images above for a better view. Here's a detail:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One of the gang, sorta ...

Dan Dos Santos called me a couple weeks ago to invite me to "visitor day" at an artist's retreat in Western Massachusetts (almost the farthest you can get from Boston in the state). In addition to Dan, many more industry greats spent a week in an old barn working side-by-side. Thursday night was when guys like me could come by and intrude.

Turns out it was also their group photo night. As they were taking the picture, Lars Grant-West invited me to stand with them. I felt a little weird, seeing as I had only been there a few hours.

But there I am, top row on the right, in the midst of some of the greats.

Top row: Winona Nelson, Anthony Palumbo, Scott Brundage, Justin Gerard, Jordu Schell, Randy Gallegos, Chris Moeller, me, Dave Seeley
Bottom Row: Lars Grant-West, Michael Whelan, Dan Dos Santos, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo

Many thanks to the artists who were there, and thanks to Randy Gallegos who posted the photo to his blog. Randy Gallegos' blog

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

College sketchbook

By the end of my senior year in college, I started being pretty diligent about keeping a sketchbook. Since then I haven't really done a good job at that task because I started doing, you know, real work. Less time to lounge around and do little sketches during the non-art classes.

But here are some interesting excerpts from my '05 sketchbook.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dragons and Dinosaurs

What can I say? I knew what I liked from an early age ...

To see some of those dinosaurs and other monsters, here's my portfolio from 1989.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Alternative Art

Every piece requires a series of sketches. I usually provide 2 or 3 options to a client, and they can choose their favorite. Sometimes when I'm really stumped, I'll just do one sketch and hope for either approval or some constructive criticism.

For Affa Guardhound, I provided two ideas. The first would have been easier to do, but the one that was chosen made for a more exciting piece. It illustrates the function of the card better as well.

Plague Stinger was a similar story. I provided three options. The first is a downward shot and would show the setting from above. The second is an extreme upward view, with the insect horror attacking the viewer. The final idea (my favorite) was the one chosen to move to final.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scars of Mirrodin Pre-Release Boston

The Scars of Mirrodin Pre-Release was held yesterday in Charlestown. It was a good turnout. I sold a few prints here and there. But mostly, people wanted the tokens I was drawing on the back of the artist proof cards:

About the cheapest original art you'll find anywhere!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Glimmerpoint Stag

Last card of the Scars of Mirrodin set. Glimmerpoint Stag, the second elk I have illustrated for Magic the Gathering. But this one shines in the sun ... glimmers, I guess. Trying to figure out how all that light was bouncing off the multiple surfaces was a nightmare. Of course the job also called for two different color suns. But I feel it's fairly successful.

I also did half the piece with a sliced-open thumb and got stitches in the middle of completing the face. You can see I blurred out the art back in the February post.

Click the image for a better view.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Myr Propagator

Another new card!

I wasn't sure how I would go about composing this scene: A basic Myr standing beside a copy of himself that it made by tearing up the landscape around it ... in this case, the landscape is the Glimmervoid, which is made up of hexagonal tiles of metal. The Myr also had to be staring blankly at the viewer, emotionless.

I'm pleased with the image that resulted. Click through for a better view.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Myr Art

The full art. Click through for a better view. I was lucky with this one. The day I mailed it to Wizards, I put a coat of varnish on it. Turns out, some red oxide in the lower right hadn't dried, and the varnish washed it away, spreading it all over the canvas. It didn't affect the look of the piece and I was quite happy with the texture it created. A rare happy accident.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Myr

There are bunch of interpretations of the Myr in the upcoming set of cards, but here's what I came up with for the My Token:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Plague Stinger

Here it is. The full art of Plague Stinger. Click through for a larger view. I'm proud of this one ...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Myr Token

I found the following image on the Magic: The Gathering site. It's a diagram illustrating a certain card mechanic:

With a little rotation and a crop ...

It appears to be one of the new token cards for Scars of Mirrodin! When a Houston GP attendee back in February asked if I knew what a Myr looked like and if I could draw one, I smiled to myself. Little did he know that I had recently painted this image.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Time for a new set already?

Well, look what I found today ... One of the first cards spoiled from the Scars of Mirrodin set of Magic: The Gathering:

This was a really fun one to paint. If I can't paint a humanlike creature, an Insect Horror is pretty good. For those interested players, I will be attending the Boston Scars of Mirrodin Regional Pre-Release at the end of the month. Details to come ...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Zuran Orb

As promised, the full art of Zuran Orb. Click the image for a bigger view ...

Also, I'm selling a signed copy of the box set of FTV: Relics, complete with an extra signed Zuran Orb. Check out ebay ...