Images From Around this Blog!

14 March 2017

New Work on Society6

I've kind of been going nuts lately with postings on Society6, uploading both original work and designs made from public domain art.  I'm mainly doing it for the fun of it, but if sells a few T-shirts, who am I to complain?

Check out some cool shirts, prints, mugs and more here:

Art Prints by PaladinFreelance | Society6

10 March 2017

Boing Boing on Fiverr

I've got a problem with this article on Fiverr, and with the reaction to the service in general:

Fiverr's new recruiting ad promises to literally work you to death / Boing Boing

I am, clearly, an illustrator.  By far not the best, but by the same margin not the worst.  I get some work, but I can't yet make a living at it.  Good for you, those of you who can.

I do work on Fiverr as a character designer.  For a few bucks, you can buy a black and white drawing of any character you care to describe to me.  For a few bucks more, I will color it, and for a few bucks more again, I will give you revisions on the drawing and allow for multiple characters.

It doesn't make me a ton of money, but it makes me enough money to make it worthwhile.

So, it bothers me when I see people like Nick Mamatas, whose work I respect,  slamming the service.  Nobody's forcing me to work there, and I do the work on my own schedule, so I don't need people attempting to shame me for making some money doing the thing I love.

Here's the thing:


I've had work published by several publishers, both in print and in ezines.  Some of them have paid me fairly for the work, but a lot of it has been done for free, or for "the exposure".  Even markets that were paying the authors at the time were not paying the artists who illustrated the work.  Even though I've largely stopped doing that kind of comp work, some of those markets still use my work prominently on their product and in their advertising.

Just for example, and without naming anyone specific, there's one publisher, who currently seems to be doing quite well, who has had multiple illustrations from me created specifically for them.  My work has been used to illustrate stories, as book covers, for a podcast, and in their advertising.  Never have I been offered any form of payment from them.  To be fair, I never asked for any - I was aware that I was doing the work for the exposure, and hoped that it would pay less tangible, long-term dividends.  Fool. 

The only time I was offered anything (aside from a few comp ebooks, which I do appreciate) was when I inquired about purchasing advertising on their site.  The publisher offered me a space for free to promote a book published through AIM Comics, which I thought was very generous.  I formatted an ad that I thought was suitable and sent it off.  To never be heard from again.  The publisher didn't respond and didn't run the ad.

The one time I had a shot at doing paid work for this publisher was when there was a call for submissions for illustrations to go in an anthology of work.  I submitted a piece that I was assured was accepted and would be used either in the final book or to promote the final book.  The illustrators were given a choice of cash payment or a comp copy of the printed book.  The art that was accepted was never used, nor was compensation ever offered.  That is the last time I have done work for that publisher.

Now, compare that with my experience through Fiverr:  I have over 300 positive reviews on over 400 jobs, each of which I have been paid for, and many of them at well above the $5 basic rate.  Many of those jobs have also received "tips" from satisfied customers.  Each finished job and each positive review not only means more income earned, but also helps build promotion of my work for the next person to discover my profile.

Most importantly, while the majority of the jobs I have done on Fiverr have been one-offs, some of them have led to recurring work from the same buyers, and turned some of those buyers into regular customers.  Thanks to Fiverr, I now have several people outside that service who see me as the "goto" person for their art needs.  I've done book covers, album covers, posters, band logos, character designs and other work at professional or near-professional rates for people who started out buying from me on Fiverr. 

So with that kind of experience, what's my choice?  Continue to work for free, in the hopes that maybe one day I will get paid for my work?  Or go to a market where I know I will be paid for work that I can do much faster and can turn a portion of that work into a more long-term profitable income stream?

Any artist will tell you that a lot of people - and this includes publishers, unfortunately - don't consider art "work" in the same way that they consider writing, or editing or publishing.  As a result they don't have any qualms about asking artists to do work for free or "for exposure", whereas they would never ask the same thing of a writer.  In a market that thinks like that, an artist has three choice:  do the work for free, hold out for "professional" rates and starve while waiting for work, or go to where the money is and attempt to turn a small income stream into a larger flow. 

I've clearly chosen the latter, so frankly it burns my biscuits when I see people taking potshots at my industry.  That time and energy would be better spent insisting that publishers offer fair compensation to their artists.

OK; done airing my dirty laundry.  It's just my opinion, which I hold to be as valid as anyone's, so take it for what it's worth...or not at all if you choose.  Feel free to fire at will, but don't expect much of a response...I'm going to have a coffee for lunch and get back to work. 

15 December 2016

Disaster Ahead is Best Thrash Metal Cover in November 2016 According to BDP Metal!

Heavy Metal blog has named my cover for Brain Dead's new release "Disaster Ahead",Best Thrash Metal Cover in November 2016! Thanks guys!

You can (and should!) get the album in physical or digital forms at the official Brain Dead Bandcamp page! Go there now!

16 September 2016

A Slight Course Correction....

It used to be that going to would lead you to this blog.  However, I've become so scattered around the net that I needed a way to organize it all, or myself and for people trying to find me and my work.  To that end, I've created a Weebly page with links to most of my various online and social media presences (at least those that I'm interested in owning up to publicly!).  It's a minor change, but now going to will direct you to that page instead, where you'll see a link that will take you to this blog, or to any of a number of other sites. 
The Weebly page is still a work in progress, so pardon me if it's not too pretty yet.

 Here's to getting organized!

17 August 2016

Painting Process - Brain Dead's Disaster Ahead

Hot off the drawing board is the latest album cover for L.A. thrash band Brain Dead.  Once again, I get the pleasure of illustrating the adventures of Billy Brains for these guys.  This one marks my fourth outing for their music, having done the label for their EP and the covers for Indoctrinator and their team-up with Six Pack of Doom.
Having rediscovered a taste for working in physical media lately, I wanted to do this one as a full-on painting, with as little computer work as possible.  I thought it might be interesting to post some of my process for this piece, so I tried to remember to photograph the piece at each stage of progress.  Click any of the images to see them at a larger size.

Seen below are the major inspirations for the painting, Alex Ross and Robert Williams.  I turned to Ross for technique, as he's one of the few artists I know who's not afraid to work with straight black, and because I wanted to experiment with his style of underpainting.  William, meanwhile, informed my sense of design and color choice.  Although they may seem like an odd pairing, when I got into it, I discovered they were more alike than you'd at first realize.  This is probably due to both having their roots firmly in the comic industry and bringing that perspective to their work.

The band sent me a fairly detailed description of what they wanted to see in this piece.  It was just up to me to tweak the design a bit, then execute it with detailed touches of my own.  My first step was actually to gather some photo reference for the piece and paste together a sort of digital collage, tweaking the elements until I got the composition I was looking for.

Working in Sketchbook Pro on my tablet PC, I turned that collage into a "pencil" drawing where I laid in some of the details I wanted to see in the finished piece.  This was roughed in color in Photoshop and sent to the band for approval and/or corrections.  There was only one critique to come from this; I had originally placed logos of other bands as stickers on the dashboard, intending them as a tribute to some of Brain Dead's musical influences.  They decided they didn't want them there, which makes sense in retrospect, as that might cause legal issues.  So even though I thought it would be a cool tribute, I removed them and later replaced them with parodied versions of L.A. area radio station logos.

Once the composition was nailed down, I chose my work surface for the finished painting.  A nice big (20 x 30") piece of cold press illustration board did the job.  It had a bit more tooth than I like on my boards, so I applied about half a dozen coats of gesso, with sanding in between.  When that was done, I had a nice bright, white, smooth surface on which to paint.  I blew up the color rough to size and had it printed in 11 x 17 sections that were taped together to make a full-sized print.  With this and a 6B pencil, the drawing was transferred to the board.

After each session at the drawing board, I will stand back for a few minutes and just study the piece to make sure I like the way it's working out.  After transferring the drawing, I decided that the composition seemed a little too stiff for my liking.  The solution was to change Billy's pose to something more dynamic.  I think this gave more energy and interest to the piece, while still maintaining the balance of the composition.

Once I was satisfied with the drawing once again, I started in on the underpainting.  This was done in two passes, one to just pick out the forms in black, with no concerns for shading at this point.

The second pass added grey tones that I hoped would show through in the final painting.  Alex Ross uses gouache for his color work, which is naturally more transparent, but I find that if I thin my acrylics enough and work quickly enough, I can achieve a satisfactory level of transparency as well.

Now I'm ready to start blocking in the color, starting with the background.  I'm pretty sloppy at this stage, as I'm not concerned about colors overlapping too much until I get into the detail work.  I've learned from studying the work of artists like Boris Vallejo that it can be a benefit to have some mingling of color to create subtlety in the finished work.

From that point, it's just a matter of laying down the color in several layers, working from "back to front" for the details.  The big challenge for me was to render the borealis behind Billy on the right, as this was something I had never attempted before.  I had actually rendered this in a completely different way before deciding I didn't like the results and painting over the whole area and starting again.

More detail work.  You can see that the thing is finally starting to come together.  Note the bands of black at both sides of the painting.  As this is for a CD cover, the painting had to be square, which meant that I had leftover space at each side of my board.  I coated these areas in black and tested out my borealis technique on them.  This leads to an interesting result later on.

Nearly there.  All the major colors are in place and most of the details picked out.  Here, I'm trying to work out things like light and shadow, plus tiny details like the photo CD's in the visors, and the faux radio station logos on the dashboard.

And done.  There's a few tweaks left to do once I have this thing scanned, but otherwise, it's complete.  There's still a few things I'm not entirely happy with, but I learned long ago that I'll never be completely happy with any piece of work, and there comes a time when you just have to put down the paintbrush and call it a day.  If I give in to the temptation to continue tweaking a piece, it will end up overworked and possibly just a big brown/grey mess.

You can also see now what I ended up doing with the empty space off to the sides.  I thought it would be fun to do quick, impressionist portraits of the band members (plus Billy!) from photos on their Facebook profiles.  These were executed in about 5 minutes each, using a square brush loaded with titanium white, with a bit of black to pull out some details.  I'm not much of a portraitist, but this was a quick bit of fun.

A closer look at the band portraits.

And, finally, the finished piece with all the digital work done and the band logo dropped in.  This is, more or less, how it will appear on the CD cover.  The sharp-eyed fans on Facebook seem to have been having fun picking out all the details and metal music references worked into the painting.  I won't spoil the fun by listing them all here, but there are quite a few in there.

This is one of the most fun pieces I've done in years, partly because of the subject matter, and partly because I really enjoyed getting back into acrylics to this depth.  It helps too that I actually enjoy Brain Dead's music (Indoctrinator was my soundtrack more than once while painting this) and the guys are great to work with.
While you're here (you are still here, right?) let me suggest you check out Brain Dead's music over at Bandcamp and on Facebook.  If you like your music on the heavy side, this will definitely please you.  These guys really bring the goods.  Watch for the new album, "Disaster Ahead" to drop there soon.

22 June 2016

New Work Published: The Disremembered Word by Dr. David Brzezinski

Actually, I think this one's been out for a while, and it's been complete for even longer than that, but this is the first time I've actually seen the Amazon Listing for it.


I've done several projects for David Brzezinski (in fact I'm just starting out on another one), and he always presents me with a challenge. 
This book is a dystopian YA novel with a clearly Christian theme.  While I don't specifically do religious themed work, the description of the cover was interesting to me, and the idea of trying a different method to create the image allowed me to approach the project with a certain measure of objectivity.
For this one, I was inspired particularly by the work of John Picacio, and I wanted to experiment with creating the subtle tones he gets for some of his work.  A close up look at this cover would have you think it was done in pencil.  It was...sort of.  I drew the whole thing using the pencil tools in Sketchbook Pro, then colored it with a limited palette and minimal shading in Photoshop.  It was a surprisingly laborious process to get the pencil tones just right, but the control it gave me was fantastic, and I think the end result was worth it.
If you are, or know, a younger reader who would enjoy a Hunger Games-esque story, I recommend you give this one a try.  While you're at it, check out David's other work; you'll find a few more covers and such I did as well.

25 May 2016

Now Available: The Journals of Simon Pariah #3!

Available now in print and download options is "The Journals of Simon Pariah" #3.  The story this time around is "Dust and Bones", in which Simon travels to the mountains of Tibet to attempt to rescue the inhabitants of a Buddhist monastery from the onrushing tide of Chinese Communism.  What will he find there, and will he be in time?  You will have to read it to find out.

Warning:  This issue is not for the squeamish.  Not for violence as such but for...well, you'll see.

Issue 3 is available at all the usual outlets.  Choose your option below to order your copy.  As always, comments and criticisms are tremendously welcome, either here or by email at

Get Simon Pariah in print at

Get Simon Pariah in print at

Get Simon Pariah in digital download at DriveThruComics.

Click below to get buy issue 3 in pdf format right now!

Buy Issue 3 on Gumroad!