Saturday, April 25, 2015

My time with Sketch Cards

I was intrigued when I first heard of sketch cards. The idea sounded great! You get paid to do fan art on a small scale--usually 50 to 100 or more cards--with traditional media. Quick little illustrations to indulge your inner fanboy, and paid as well! So I did some research, figured out who was publishing these cards, and inquired about who to send my samples to. Once I discovered the submission requirements and the name of the editors/art directors, I was on my way. Samples were submitted and I was fortunate enough to get work on a number of card sets. The amount of cards varied (50 to 100 or more) and the schedule was quite flexible. Not all the cards were superhero sets. Some were classic horror and sci-fi, or classic comics and animation or "The Walking Dead."

There were always restrictions on who you could and could not draw in a particular set. The thing that surprised me though, was the pay rate--anywhere from $5 to $8 a card, for full color cards. I thought that if I could do them quickly enough, the pay rate would be fine. However, speed is not always a friend of quality, and I soon discovered the the cards were called "sketch cards" in name only. More often, than not, the publishers were looking for finished artwork, sometimes multiple figures and backgrounds, for $5 a card.

Now, I also received a special "Artist's Proof" card for every ten regular cards that I competed. The idea was that I could spend extra time on these limited AP cards and sell them to collectors, at a premium, in order to supplement the low rate on the sketchcards. I still have all of my blank AP cards. I haven't had the motivation, or inspiration, to do some special sketch editions and sell them. Every now and again I see some of my original production cards on ebay, selling for 10 times or more my original rate. I suppose that's the collectors/speculators market. The thing that bugs me, is that it's usually the weaker cards on ebay, the ones I was happier with are nowhere to be seen.

These days I usually think of doing larger illustrations and pieces of art, based on my own ideas. However, when I find my energy or enthusiasm flagging, I kick around the idea of sketch cards again. Simple little sketches that make me appreciate the ability to pursue my own creative ideas.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Forest Spirit or Passages 2

Sometimes it takes quite awhile before a sketchbook idea gets worked up to a final piece. Months, maybe years go by before an idea demands more attention. I often wonder if my sketches are finished projects by themselves, but that's usually not the case. I use my sketchbooks to relax, to explore and to meditate--after a fashion. Although many sketches are destined to stay in the books, every so often I surprise myself with an image that captures my imagination and won't let go--even after a number of years.

This is one of those pieces. I did the initial sketch about five or six years ago, during a summer night at the cabin. The figure was based on an even older sketch. Looking at him now, I want to  revisit that older sketch and make some changes to this piece. Last summer I finally revised the sketch. I enlarged it, and created a line drawing with some tone on vellum. I worked on it during breaks from coloring comics. By late summer or early autumn I was ready to add color.

The results were encouraging, although I do need to refine some areas and finish the figure. I found that working on this piece created its own momentum. The more I did the more I wanted to do, and the more time I made for doing it. I keep my sketchbooks handy and review them, like a journal. With the benefit of time, it's easy to see which pieces still capture my attention and demand more of it.

These are the steps, from initial rough, to line art and color.

Thanks for looking!
© Chris Chuckry

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last month I finished a black and white portrait of HP Lovecraft, an American horror writer. Lovecraft is known for creating the Cthulu mythos in the first half of the 20th century, over a series of related stories.

My first small sketch of the piece was to work out ideas and composition. At this point I'm not really trying to nail a likeness, just working on composition and jotting down notes. I had decided early on to do this piece in tones of grey--perhaps I was influenced by the reference photos of HP, none of which were in colour.

Once I was happy with the first rough sketch, I sat down with some reference and worked the idea up to a more finished version. I scanned the pencil sketch into Photoshop, where I inked the figure, added tones and painted "Cthulu," lurking in the background.

I also added a slight texture and tone to the gutters of the image, in an attempt to give it a sense of age similar to that of the reference photographs. I'm satisfied with the result, although part of me would like to do another version with ink and ink wash, instead of digital media. It was a fun piece to do, and came together fairly quickly. I enjoy doing portraits from reference, since it's good practice in developing observation skills and interpreting and conveying likenesses.

Thanks for stopping by. These sketches and illustration are © Chris Chuckry

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I wish Autumn would last longer since it's my favorite season. Warm days and cool nights, explosions of color slowly taking the leaves. The short lived brilliance of Autumn makes it all the more precious ahead of the long, cold winter, which follows too closely at it's heels. Much like spring, Fall is a time for lovers. The cooling temperatures inspire a closeness that suits many people just fine. If you're lucky, this closeness will last for decades. If not, Autumn is still a wonderful season for falling in love.

I finished this piece in order to satisfy an inspiration--not for any particular job.

Thanks for stopping by.

© Chris Chuckry

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

May you be blessed with the warmth and joy of Love this Holiday Season. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

In the nick of time, here is my Christmas card for 2012. Thanks for stopping by.

© Chris Chuckry 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Moebius Tribute

Earlier this year I was approached by a French Publisher and asked if I would like to take part in a Moebius tribute book. Moebius (aka Jean Giraud) was an influential French artist, who unfortunately passed away in March. You can learn more about him here: I was both flattered, and a little intimidated. I wanted to produce a piece of art that did justice to the sense of wonder that Moebius inspired in me with his art.

Many talented artists contributed, and as I saw their pieces of art posted online, my feelings of intimidation grew a little more. From their pieces, I also saw that doing a straight interpretation of a Moebius character, such as Lt. Blueberry was not for me. A similar piece from me would pale in comparison to some of the other tributes.

I finally decided to do more of a conceptual piece--one that would hopefully convey a sense of peace and wonder. It also had to be in a style that I was comfortable with. I went through several ideas in my sketchbook before I created one that I was happy with. Then I refined that idea a little more. Here are some of those sketches.

The first two were early ideas that I soon discarded, as they didn't convey the emotions that I was looking for. The second set of sketchbook pages represent the rough of the final concept and some refinement of the face and costume, along with notes. From this I moved on to final art. I had originally intended to do this illustration with traditional media, but with my schedule at the time, I decided that a combination of digital and traditional would be quickest. Here's the line art, created in Photoshop.

Once I was happy with the line art, I added colour and texture, also in Photoshop. The final piece comes pretty close to expressing what I had hoped to express--feelings of serenity and wonder. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Artwork is © Chris Chuckry 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tim Burton Portrait

This piece came about as a prize for a raffle on Free Comic Book Day. The prize was a sketch of some kind. But, the winner planted the seed of this portrait in my head. The idea took root and grew--eventually taking on a life of it's own.

Settling on the composition early, I wanted to impart a sense of Burton's wild creativity and imagination. I decided to use his wild hair as a proxy for his wild imagination. A jumbled collection of characters from his movies surrounds him. Escaped from his imagination. Perhaps they comfort, or tease him while they remind us of his work.

The characters were done in a sketchy manner, as a nod to Burton's art style (which I quite enjoy). Initially, I was going to paint them up more and have them interacting with him. However, I decided to treat them more graphically--but not as graphically as I approached the hair.

I do feel that the piece is lacking something, and did not reach the heights I aspired too. I can't remember the last time I tackled a portrait in this fashion. Despite my lack of total satisfaction, I do have an appetite for more. I've got another portrait idea percolating--perhaps it's time to get it out on paper.

As usual, I used a combination of traditional and digital media on this illustration.
It is © Chris Chuckry.

Questions? Send me a note. I'll be happy to answer.

Thanks for stopping by.