Matt Lichtenwalner

Mobile mapper for TomTom - roaming the US and Canada constantly. Maybe a bit of art and/or writing here and there to spice things up.

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I did a little experimental thread over on my Twitter stream. I wanted to encourage a couple of things - namely audience interaction and I wanted to provide them an actual reason to share the thread.

Simply put: I provided a series of polls for folks to vote on to determine how I constructed a monster.

Here's a link to the thread in case you're curious.

The results to the first poll (bipedal or quadrapedal) was:

The second poll was what kind of terrain the creature spends its time in. The audience chose subterranean so I added digging claws and narrowed the torso to make the creature more wedge shaped.

The third poll was how many heads the creature has. Crowd said 2.

And the fourth and final poll was what kind of tail to give it (or to give it none). The crowd picked a long straight tail with a club end.

After the final poll, I finished the tail and posted it and then felt like I should go ahead and paint it. Since I was already in an experimental mode, I took the sketch, blurred it a bit, and then mixed the sketch lines in with the digital paint layers. The final results are at the top of the post.

Here's the process video if you enjoy that.

I really need to get back to the work for my Patreon page, but this was an excellent little experiment and I plan to do it again in the near future.

This is the character I'm currently working on for Patreon:

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That was clever twittering.
Thank you sir! I rather thought so.

The key, to my way of thinking, is to actually give people a reason to be invested rather than mindlessly echoing "Please like and subscribe and share with your friends BECAUSE REASONS."
And what are you calling the crowd-sourced beastie?
Rob 8/14
I like it!

Though here's a question - should it get two names given the two heads?

Also, do they read as different personalities?
Currently open for discussion, and taking suggestions!
 

Still doing the heads thing. Here we have 36-40 and they be gerblins!

In case you're curious about the pseudo random geometric shapes I started this batch with, you're in luck - here they are:

If you would like to see the rest, they're in a thread over on the Twitterz.

Not So Traditional Media

So I won't be in town, but my family is having a get together this Sunday. There's going to be some festivities for the youngins' thanks to my folks. Slip 'n Slide, water balloon toss, etc.

And speaking of tossing water balloons, my folks asked if I would create a target to put down in the yard so they can launch balloons at it from the deck.

My Dad got the idea that it would be good to use Tyvek since it's all white so the image would stand out. Tyvek isn't exactly the best surface to work on, but I couldn't argue with the contrast idea and he has a bunch extra so it was free, and it's durable, so... Sharpies worked to lay in lines:

Then, because this is clearly a "use what you've got handy" kind of project, we used a pair of random latex based house paints (watered down to various levels) that they had on hand and some overly large brushes to paint it. This was a little extra trying BECAUSE TYVEK.

But also, I was having fun doing something stupid and calling it art. So:

Certainly not the greatest work I've ever done, but it was fun, and hopefully the kids will get a kick out of chucking stuff at it. :)

Also, it kinda looks like a goblin head. I think I've got goblins on the brain lately.

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And just like that, I notice the horns coming in at odd angles into the eyebrows. Apparently the sun was getting to me as I worked on this outdoors.

I'll never be able to NOT see how b0rked this is ever again.
I wouldn't argue with dragon horns. I might throw water balloons at them.
Thanks. That IS what it's for, after all. :)
Clearly, it’s due to swelling of his occipital ridge from that time he tried to eat a day care center outside of Jackson, Mississippi, and seven four-year-olds rolled a refrigerator directly into his head.
Can’t fool me.
That is a terrific water balloon target.
Thanks, chica. Hoping the kids feel the same way!
 
 

Okay, I just need to squee for a minute.

Yup. Me. Squee.

Not familiar with Richard Whitters' work? Allow me to illucidate:

And on top of all that? I've been following his Twitter account for some time now and he just seems like a genuinely nice guy.

So now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go draw until my brain leaks out of my fingertips.

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12/13 '21 4 Comments
This makes me so happy.
I’m grinning ear to ear for you!!
Anne Mollo 12/14 '21
<3
 

Did some sketching in a physical sketchbook for the first time in a bajillion years. This one is of a fairly traditional halfling, hairfoot, or 'hobbit' (if you're not concerned with copyright). I did this one for comparison and as the 'default' for people to reference. 

Then, next, I did a rough concept sketch of a sub race that my buddy Brad and I are working on that we are tentatively calling 'dustlings'.

It took me wayyy too long to realize that I'd recreated a jacked version of Smeagol / Golum from the Hobbit / LOTR.

Back to the (literal) drawing board. 

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6/2 '21 8 Comments
I dunno, it's okay? Gollum's a scrawny, craven little thief. Your guys look like they work for a living. Less agrarian, more hunter/gatherer kinda thing.
Thanks! I did some more putzing around and come up with something I'm at least a _little_ more satisfied with.

Still, glad to know this very was functional. :)
Swole-um
rone 6/2 '21
Yeah. Didn't mean to take it that far, but sometimes I get carried away. That's what I get for learning to draw by looking at superhero comics for decades. :P
YAY FOR PHYSICAL MEDIA!!!
Yeah. I imagine it really IS a little like if I was to get on a bicycle right about now...
"Art is theft."
Anne Mollo 6/2 '21
#truestory
 

Some of you may be familiar with Inktober - where there's a list of art prompts for the month of October and the challenge is to create art every day from those prompts in ink. I've done it a few times and 'won' (succeeded) once.

Now I'm doing Smaugust. It appears to be far less popular, but given that I'm the owner of dragonbones.net, I figured I would give it a go. Of course, I have a bunch of other stuff on my plate, and shouldn't really be spending my limited time on a meme, but what the hell. I have an idea that might make it worthwhile (beyond the pleasure of doing it / the experience of 'stretching' a bit).

Anyway, I may a post thread over on Twitter where I'll be posting them every day. I'll probably do actual posts with info on how I made the different illustrations etc on my Patreon page and/or dragonbones.net. That said, I figured I would put the first few up here for you to get a feel for the challenge and what I'm currently doing with it.

Day 1 - the Aquatic Dragon

Day 2 - the Tribal Dragon

I may re-do this one later. I'm thinking about creating an ebook after the month is completed with a write up for each of the dragons to be used in TTRPGs, but this wouldn't make for a good creature as is. Of course, maybe it will be a magic tattoo or something... I guess time will tell.

Day 3 - the Subterranean Dragon

Day 4 - the Wolf Dragon

I went a little 'on the nose' with this one, but I just kinda wanted to.

I used the guy all the way on the right for reference from this pic. Obviously, I stretched him out and didn't stick with it very much. Perhaps it's better to say I used him as a starting point.

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8/4 '20 5 Comments
OMG OMG OMG!!! Eeeee!!!! I want to see the tribal dragon colored, or more of the tribal markings in black. I love the Wolf dragon.
Beeble will like this meme a LOT!
I'm already super behind (of course). More soon!
I love the aquatic dragon!
Awww - thanks! I'm already looking at each of these and seeing nothing but the flaws.

It really doesn't take long, dammit.
Don't think like that. Move on to the next day's drawing, and then go back and revise.
 

Been a while since I did any Patch images, and I got the proverbial itch tonight, so...

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6/24 '20 5 Comments
That came out well!
I love his facial expression.
The shadows on #3 are a little stripy, not sure where the light source is, but the image itself is ... alive and predatory and amused. Reminds me of the t-shirt Houser has that says something about being excited for the zombie apocalypse.
The real take-away for the lighting is that it isn't clear, but just so you have the info, my INTENT was for two light sources: Moonlight or electric (blue) light that is subtle / gentle from behind (to our right) and above and a white light almost directly above (I was thinking 'streetlight').

I'm trying to play around with multiple light sources to add to realism. Honestly, this may be a bit of a mistake since I don't have a really 'realism' style. I'm far too cartoony, generally speaking.

I'm glad his facial expression seems a bit nuanced. Something that... irks me about a lot of wolf / werewolf artwork is that there is zero nuance. Perhaps that makes sense given the subject matter, but I'm a fan of subtle. More than binary seems a good thing. Real wolves aren't either A: I love you or B: I'm eating your face, so I figure werewolves could have additional complexity too.

And thanks!
Sometimes that's A and B. :)
Any time spent drawing is a good time. :)
Karen Kuhl 6/25 '20
It's really true. And I have to admit - there's additional comfort with this guy. Like comfort food, or reality tv or... whatever. A little bit of 'coming home'.
 

Today, while driving, I was listening to The Creative Penn podcast. She was talking at one point about how it's better as an entreprenuer to have an online business right now because people can still purchase your books, and that will help you stay afloat in the hard(er financially, at least) to come.

My mind wandered as it pretty much always does. That brought me to the simple idea that art, in all its various forms, are luxuries. They're not absolutely necessary for us to exist. Yes, I know. I, too, feel like it's pretty much life's blood, but logically, it's not.

That, in turn, made me think about the fact that many (most?) folks will have to cut back dramatically on their purchasing of any form of art in the near future. I myself was thinking about how I need to go on a 'financial diet', and get rid of a bunch of recurring payment stuff that I simply don't need.

But here's the thing - if we assume that TomTom isn't going to be forced to take us off the road, AND that I'll continue to be employed there for the forseeable future and of course that I don't get sick, I'm going to be okay. I still have a job. Art doesn't pay my bills. This is probably the first time in my life I'm thankful for that, even if only marginally.

All of which brought me around to "But what about those who aren't in my situation?"

I got really upset at that thought.

There are just so many people who are going to be struggling. And the artists out there who have been scraping by with the income from their art? Forgoing the 'niceties' of things like health coverage because they would rather be creating than healthy? Or maybe a step up from that - those who were able to get by, but certainly couldn't put even a penny away for a rainy day?

Ouch.

I know that there's talk of governmental help. I know that creatives aren't the only folks who will be hurting. But I just felt like... I dunno. I guess I just want to do something to help.

I have no idea what that is / should be.

Any thoughts?

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3/26 '20 2 Comments
I have similar thoughts, and then I want to read up on the Federal Art Project, and why it worked or didn't. https://www.theartstory.org/definition/federal-art-project-of-the-works-progress-administration/
Bookmarking for later consumption. Thanks for the heads up.
 
 

The folks at gmbinder.com are kinda brilliant. They've built a website that makes it easy for any old schmo like me build a PDF with all the formatting of a Wizards of the Coast Official 5e Dungeons & Dragons manual.

You enter simple markdown into one window, the website interperets the markdown, and uses CSS to spit the content back out in a second window with all the formatting done for you. No need to learn about different fonts or spacing or... whatever.

I've seen a couple different incarnations of this kind of thing, but GMBinder seems to be the best of them - at least that I've been able to find. And it's 100% free - at least currently.

So when I first came across one of their competitors, the idea occured to me: "This would be a great way to promote dragonbones.net and my illustration services. I'll make a short "D&D Book" that is filled with my art and talks about how to hire me to create the art for your D&D book!" It's kinda meta, and I think folks would like that. I've never heard of it being done before, and the name of the game when selling anything is 'stand out from the crowd'. So if I do this right, I can stand out from the crowd while demonstrating just how perfectly I fit in with the crowd.

Oh shut it, Westley - it makes sense to me, and that's what matters.

Anyway - if any of you would like to have a look, you can find it here.

The cover is just a rough sketch, but all the art in it is my work, and I'm already working on a revision which will expand the book, provide more samples, etc. But with that said, I would love any and all criticisms / feedback / reviews / etc. Please - beat it up. :)

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1/20 '20 6 Comments
Very nice! As a remarkably minor quibble, would it look nicer or read easier if each tier was on its own page? More room for extra art, unless there's some reason to limit the page count.
Brian Rapp 1/21 '20
I'm struggling with that a little myself. I definitely feel like there needs to be more in the way of samples, but I don't want to load it so full that it loses its "This is a real WoC document!" feel. I've been working on a revision that includes more sections (what to expect from me, how I work, etc) and those will all have more art and then if I'm not satisfied there's enough, I would probably just create several pages at the end of the document that would be exclusively a gallery of sorts.

But to your question - I can't think of any real reason to limit page count aside from my desire to keep the file size reasonable so I can email it to folks.

I'll post future versions so you can see what I've done. I DO like the idea of keeping each tier on their own page if I can do it... properly. :)

Also - a heartfelt thank you for the feedback!
Matt Lichtenwalner 1/21 '20edited
Do you need one document that explains all of this minutia? Part of me is like TL;DR. I'd love to see a "short and sweet" one page slick, and then if they want more, give them something like this that explains the whole process and the benefits and what-kind-of-client-are-you.

Run this past Jerm-- he makes this stuff for a living.

(With that, I know DnD people are a different breed, a breed who still actually *reads.* But sometimes a one-pager with a stripped-down image for cheap, a more detailed one for less-cheap, and a fully-realized beautiful image for spendy hits you harder. Their eye will be drawn to the fully-realized one right away because it's the purtiest. But in the thing you have here, people don't see your best work until they're a few pages deep... and who's to say they'll get that far?

Also, I love you dearly, but that front-page image isn't pulling me in. I see what you're trying to do, but I think you put your most gorgeous work on the front cover... and maybe put thumbnails of the same image at different pricepoints/detail levels around it so they can see the options you offer.

Just a scream of consciousness reply here... sorry if I'm not totally clear.
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 1/21 '20edited
As usual, I feel like you're spot on. This is... call it an alpha version of the final document. I was thinking that I need a "tl;dr" page as Page 1. then people can proceed if the want to.

That said, I DO want to explain the minutia. For a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that people ALL perceive themselves to be on the Hobbyist level when it comes to what they're willing to pay for, but they want to use it for the Professional level of product. And here's the important part: They may still feel this way when they're done looking at my PDF, but _I_ will know that I gave them the relevant information and will therefor feel okay charging them in a way that I feel is appropriate. I know that you understand how difficult that can be for me.

As to the cover - you're right. As I mentioned in the OP, this is a rough sketch, and I'm working on refining it even tonight. It will eventually be a MUCH more refined and finished image.

I will absolutely run this by Jerm.

Lastly - the advantage to old friends is, I'm certain, that their perspective is very clear regardless as to whether or not they feel like they are being so. I read you loud and clear. :)

And, as usual, I'm being... overly verbose. I _may_ have had a bit of rum, so please forgive that. ;)
Matt Lichtenwalner 1/21 '20edited
Update to the cover image for those who are curious: I'm working on refining the sketch. That hand under the tablet is giving me some trouble.

I've got an idea for the finished image that I'm unsure if I can pull off, but I'm going to try. There will be magical effects coming up / off of the tablet to the glowing eyes in the shadows behind me. Along with these effects, I want to give hints of a sword in the hand with the stylus (pen mightier than the... yadda yadda) and a shield on the tablet arm. These should be subtle though - something you have to be paying attention in order to see.

The idea is to present myself as a guardian between the viewer and the monsters in the dark. I keep them at bay until the viewer gives the go ahead to release them.

That seems like a worthwhile symbolism to start the document.