Monday, March 27, 2017

Theocracy Digital-Stained-Glass Poster

Finally I can share this!  From October to January, I worked on a piece that I had been planning to work on for years ever since I first heard of Theocracy back in 2011.  They have been my favorite band ever since and have greatly influenced not only my art, but more importantly, my faith.
I have worked on a few digital-stained-glass tributes and artworks over the last seven years, but it was only recently that I felt I had the necessary skills to create the poster (as well as Theocracy had just come out with their newest album: Ghost Ship). 
This was by far the most difficult piece of the digital-stained-glass artworks I have worked on, but also the most satisfying.  It went through many revisions before I decided upon the final design.  From there it took months of work as I could only work on it late at night after coming home from my 9-5 job.  Some revisions were due to wanting a more solid and geometric design, but others came when news dropped that Ernie Topran had been officially added to the band which caused me to have to rework parts of my initial designs, but well worth it in the end and exciting that I got to add him to the final poster.
In the poster are all of Theocracy's songs from their albums (not including their incredible and often hilarious, epic Christmas music).  Some are depicted by lyrics on flying pages from the main book, and others by symbols and mini-illustrations.  At the bottom of this post is a "map" of sorts to explain what each represents (some songs duplicated for design-sake).
Theocracy is an incredible Christian-metal band that rises above the rest.  They have greatly impacted my faith and helped me through tough times with their incredible lyrics.  Every song is powerful and epic conveying deep powerful messages for the broken-hearted, marginalized, lost, weary, and hopeful.  They are worth taking the time to check out:

Below is a look at the progress for how I created the final poster.

These were the initial "sketches" I did for the poster early on trying to work out what I wanted to achieve.  Eventually I abandoned this concept, but kept some of the features like the glowing cross beam.

I then started drawing each member through Photoshop in greyscale as that is easier than working in color for me.  Often I skip important steps without working out the values first, so this method helped a lot.
There were few, quality photos of each member in the angles I wanted so I had to use parts of my body for reference for often blurry hands.  I watched the Ghost Ship music video countless times (probably in the 100s of views) pausing often to get close up shots of the drum set, Jared Oldham, and Matt Smith.  In the case of Matt, his final pose is composed of about 4 or 5 different takes from the video.  I gave Val Allen Wood his long hair back as the first reference I was using he had short hair, but recent photos showed he had the long epic metal hair which I drew over my previous drawing.  Jonathan Hinds was the only one I had fairly significant reference for without having to alter much on his pose.  I would often work with the reference on the left screen comparing proportions while having the right screen show reference of some of my favorite artists like Alphonse Mucha.

As I was working on drawing the band, I saw that Ernie Topran was added and had to quickly add him to the artwork.  Here is the final line-up of the band before I moved them to the stained-glass frame.

Next, after drawing the band, I penciled out some rough concepts for frames, but had to change from a 4 panel window to eventually the 3 panel window when Ernie was officially added to the group.  I went through several designs (many not shown here) until I uncovered the secrets of how most stained-glass frames were designed.  On previous artworks I was pretty much just guessing, but now I know how to compose the overall design and frame in a much better and smarter way.

After figuring out the frame I created a color rough and sketched out what I wanted to have illustrated and where.  Some parts were first created in Adobe Illustrator and brought to Photoshop to paint, while other parts were painted directly in Photoshop.  The Paper Tiger was probably the most challenging to draw while the Master Storyteller and flying pages was the most satisfying part of this project beyond drawing the band.

Out of all of the elements I had to draw, the Ghost Ship took the longest.

Pictured left (me with my poster)  /   Pictured right (Matt Smith - lead singer of Theocracy- with his copy of the poster)

Special thanks to Medius for the high-quality prints of the poster.

The greatest part about this project was hearing back from Matt Smith of Theocracy and his excitement about the poster.  Nothing is more rewarding than that and is why I do what I do.
Please check them out and if you can, support them by rocking out to one of their live shows, purchasing an album or merchandise, and praying for them as they help spread the good news of the Gospel through the best metal music I have ever heard.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Larkin Po(e)ster

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!  Here is my latest digital-stained-glass artwork for the amazingly talented and wonderful Lovell sisters of Larkin Poe.  Larkin Poe is my second favorite band of all time and probably will always be one of my favorite musicians to listen to.  I love metal music a lot, but Larkin Poe is what is often called swampadelic.  I normally don't go for this type of music, but their music is incredible!  ...undeniably incredible!!  Whether it is shredding it on the dobro: you must see this video!, or the heart melting vocals and lyrics that express head-over-heels in love or dealing with heart break, Larkin Poe is someone I can listen to over and over again and never, ever tire of listening to.  Not many of the artists I listen to I can say that about.
That is why I created an artwork for them as a way to say thanks.  This digital-stained-glass artwork shows Megan on the dobro on the left and Rebecca playing mandolin on the right.  All five EPs are highlighted through the background elements and fox.  The bottom left green grass is the "Summer" EP, the red tree is the "Fall" EP, the snowy-leafless tree is for the "Winter" EP, the flowers in the grass bottom right are for the "Spring" EP, and the fox is for the "Thick as Thieves" EP from the lyrics of the  song "Fox."  "KIN" is highlighted to represent Larkin Poe's newest album: "Kin."  The moon is from a lyric from my favorite song of theirs: "Trance."  The red bird flying from the cage represents another favorite song of mine: "Free Like a Bird."  The ravens surrounding the title represent their family connection to the one and only, Edgar Allen Poe!  Please check out their music and follow these incredible musicians! Here is the link to their website: Larkin Poe
And here is their youtube channel: Larkin Poe

Detail shots above.

Above is a progression of the artwork.  I always start with a very crude sketch.  I easily can translate what's in my head to the paper/computer and only when I am not working on a personal project will I bother to do a more detailed sketch.  For this I mainly wanted to make sure the window shape and spacing would work.  Next I sketched/painted Megan and Rebecca from photo reference in separate files and brought them into the final photoshop file.  I began to refine the sketch and eventually created a color rough before I began adding final colors and textures.  The entire process took over 400 hours.

My camera can't do it justice, but this is the gift I gave to the Lovell sisters just before I shipped it to them just in time for Christmas!  Merry Christmas, Larkin Poe!  I gave them a custom made lightbox with the help of Blue River Digital to illuminate my work as if it were an actual stained-glass window.  It is layered so it has an appearance of depth and the color is more brilliant and rich than you can see here or even in the first image posted at the top of this post.  I hope that they enjoy this gift.  From one artist to another, thank you to Larkin Poe.  Keep making such wonderful and amazing music!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lindsey Stirling Stained Glass

Recently I created a poster for the amazing dub-step violinist, Lindsey Stirling, and a contest to promote her new tour in London.  Unfortunately I didn't win, but am fairly satisfied with the design I made.  Nevertheless I will continue creating what I enjoy, technical illustration and digital-stained-glass.
If you want a poster of this please contact me and I'd be happy to sell you a signed print of this art.
-Steven W. Howard

Sunday, October 6, 2013

War of the Worlds project Art Blog

I am still working on the art for the Pilgrim project, but come 2014 I will be working back on my War of the Worlds project.  I might post here as well, but I have created a new art blog specifically for the project.  Until then, I will keep you posted on the progress for The Pilgrim art book.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Pilgrim's Progress (Part 5)- A Beautiful House

I won't be posting all the full panels for the upcoming book for the album, The Pilgrim by Nate Currin, but I will post some preview shots.  Here is one from A Beautiful House.