Saturday, November 22, 2008


(much better)


Here is my cat, Odin. I have another cat, named Daisy, but Odin is the only one who likes to climb on to my lap while I'm trying to do something. He invariably falls off and scratches my leg in an attempt to stay put. Always fun. Especially if I am drawing. Oh, and the Wacom is my arch nemesis. I don't use it much but for touching things up. I'm a hands on kinda guy and the Wacom is a little too sterile for me. A buddy of mine said that you can put a piece of paper over the pad and draw on top of that and it's supposed to feel like a pencil. Haven't tried it yet, so we'll see...

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Sad Serpent of the Swamp

I did this when I was inspired by a new project I am a part of. It is I think a little too friendly for the project, but it makes for a nice piece and I can put it here for you all to enjoy. So... enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons

For all of you who enjoy(ed) this series, check it out on You Tube! I have attached the first part of the first episode. Each one is in three parts of about seven (7) minutes each. You might have to search for them a little, but it's easy cause they usually show up in the related movies section to the right of the viewer. Plus, I have attached a very well scripted and acted short film featuring Hank and Sheila, and an episode guide:

The guide can be found at:

There is another episode called, "The Last Illusion."

Undead Barbarian King

I can't show the one I like cause I gave it to Triple Ace, but here is another that is similar to it. Enjoy!

Bearing Fruit

Oh, and any of you who are interested, check out my new digs at the Celtic Myth Podshow!

And while you're there, catch a magical podcast from Ruth and Gary! The mists of magic flow from their mouths and from it step the strange and sudden heroes of yore.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Storm King, Stomrkingr

This was fun. This is the brush cleaning sheet from my latest illustrations. Compare. Cool? You betcha. Couldn't do that again if I tried. Now I'm going to be all self-conscious when I clean my brushes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Triple Ace Games

Well, we'll see how this goes. So far they are pleased. I was hired to work on a few pdf publications by the awesome gaming company Triple Ace Games. Check them out at:

Look forward to some great writing and gameplay from them. They're a UK based company and are responsible for a series of pulp adventures and several other amazing products. To name a few: Necropolis, Sundered Skies, Daring Tales of Adventure and the brand new Hellfrost. Also, keep an eye out for my artwork. I would post it here, but I can't :( Guess you'll just have to buy the books.

Check out this podcast from The Game's the Thing, a great resource for gamers:

It features a detailed rundown of the awesomeness that is Hellfrost. Plus, they plug my best friend and fellow illustratour, Chris Kuhlmann, who is responsible for all of the cover and interior art for the first book. So whatever you see there for Hellfrost thus far is Chris. Check him out at:, or link to him on the right under "Inspirations." It's worth it, he's awesome.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Epic Werkes Logo Sketches

Here are some sketches for the Epic Werkes Logo for the blog. It's also a tribute to the late Keith Parkinson. There is an image that I will post here, without permission, that I loved as a kid. I love dwarves. They're my favorite race. If I could be anything, it would be one of them. I tend to play them in roleplaying games. Anyway, I wanted to do something to honour him, after seeing a wonderful youtube videothat someone had posted as a tribute to him and to some of his werke. It only seems right. Keith Parkinson's werke has touched my life in so many ways and helped define fantasy for me over the years.

A wondeful Parkinson tribute:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cyrtene's Watch

Here is an image I have laboured over for days. It's a good study, but that is about all. It's an exploration of a concept I have been toying with for a story. A woman, Cyrtene, watching the Ghosts of the Sea, the Narwahls. Not sure why, just that I had this image of her perched on the lip of a tower. I had begun it a few days ago and I was much happier with it then. I almost don't want to put this up here. But it's an idea and it might inspire someone else. So, without any more ado...

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 5 Value Study

Here is the value study for the 5th image. I tweeked the image as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 5 Sketch 4

Here it is, the final image. finally, sheez. I might tweek it a little, like figure out the perspective a little but more on the castle. Maybe remove some... SHRUBBERY! But that might be difficult. The only way to do it is with a herring. I never could grasp that...

I've been playing with landscape a lot. I have this thing about putting Characters in landscape. Letting the natural world reflect the mood and atmosphere. The wizard brings a great deal of change to the castle. Thus the landscape is very active and compositionally points to the castle in an almost aggressive manner. The wizard is very active, as if he is hurrying to do his evil will upon the denizens of the castle.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 5 Sketch 2

Yet again. I can't leave it alone, but I think I am going to opt for something less obvious. I keep adding to this image. However, I think it needs something more emotive.

Here are another couple of concepts. I like these, but I know me and I am not happy with it. Something needs to gel here that is not gelling. The pieces are not quite fitting. The bottom one is the original. I changed it, loosening up a bit, getting closer to what I want for this piece. It's amazing how control ruins a piece of artwork. It's good to have control, restraint. It's just better if you have a little of both. If you can let the ideas come, freely flow out of you, then temper them with the knowledge you have, then the piece will be better than if you had simply insisted on one idea without letting your intuition have a say.

In the end, I will probably re-draw it. I think I get into the trap of laziness. Wanting the process to be faster. I remember a great quote from "Art and Fear." "It's not that the art making process is slow, it's that the artist imagines it to be fast." It went something like that.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 5 Sketch

Here is one concept I liked from a thumbnail. I blew it up and realized it from a more rough sketch. I realized later that it is not copasetic. It did not match the story. So I am going to abandon it for other shores. I wanted to focus on the Wizard anyway. I wanted to some more work on the guy in the middle ground. He's too small and I don't want him to be wearing that armour. He's the king, and I wanted him to look like a warrior, but more stately, not so much grizzled. It makes me sad because I really wanted to show the dworf in agony, betrayed, led away to captivity. I might still, but that would mean editing the story to fit the image. Which, in this case, would only be the rearranging of a few small words, nothing too drastic. Sheesh!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On Inspiration

I think that it would be faire to include here something that goes into the "Of Gold and Morning Light" series. The inspiration for the story is a woman, Irish folklore and the works of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, specifically). A muse is a powerful thing. Whatever speaks to you is your muse. It is a product of the sublime. Websters states that sublime is:

adj. 1. awakening feelings of awe and reverence. 2. exalted; grand; majestic. 3. supreme; unexcelled: v.t. -limed, -liming, 1. to render sublime or noble. 2. in Chemistry, to cause (a solid) to change directly into a vapour by heat and then condense directly back to a solid state: v.t. to undergo this change of states.

I think I have spoken on the feelings of reverence and awe and I think these are pretty self explanatory. I want to focus on the verbs. The Romantics made art to elevate their experiences of the sublime to canvas or paper to inspire the sublime in others. They were rendering their work sublime or noble. They were attempting to bring their art to the level of Godhead, that experience of extreme, unequalled awe. I think it can be said that we all do the same thing with our own art. why even put it on paper unless there is something inspiring to relate, something sublime? We translate it through our lenses to render our ideas more noble that others might see them as noble and share in the experience of awe that inspired it.

I like the verb tense of this word that suggests a state change from a solid to a vapour (by heat) to a soild. I think that is what we are doing. We are starting with a solid, ourselves. Then, through the heat of the experience, the feelings of awe, and the formation of idea - the vapour - we are able to transliterate those experiences into another solid object (the finished piece).

I must give all credit for this exploration to the latest blog post at Archetypal Theatre's blog site. Check this site out. Her words will inspire you and her work will do the same. Oh, and buy some of her dolls! She is an amazing doll artist. You can link to her website and Etsy store via this blog by links to the right.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 4 Final

At long last the image is finished! I have 7 more to do, including a two page spread, which is next. So, keep your eyes peeled! 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Celtic Myth Podshow

Hello, everyone. Please visit the Celtic Myth Podshow. They are wonderful people and harbour a wealth of traditional celtic folk material that you may listen to, for free! So click the link to the right or bottom of the page and give them a listen. I guarantee you'll fall in love with the magic of the Celtic landscape and imagination through the bardic mediums Gary and Ruth.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Faerie Con - The Journey and Our Adventures There

Well, I have returned from my sojourn into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Faerie Con was great! We stayed in The Castle bed and breakfast. It was a large house built to herald the arrival of a successful personage. Go to to see it. I highly recommend staying there. We stayed in the Library Room. If you go, tell Ellie that Justin and Sarah recommended you to them.

Once we got to Faerie Con we talked to many inspirational people. Some of them I hope will remain friends for years to come. Here is a list of those we met, along with their websites (if available).

-Michael Hague - (one whose illustrations will be remembered as other classical illustrators are today. A true visionary)
-Kinuko Craft - (she and Mahlon were wonderful)
-Mahlon Craft -
-Larry McDougal and P.A. Lewis - (both are lovely people; illustratours sure to be remembered for their beautiful visions. Thanks guys)
-Virginia Lee - (another wonderful illustratour and a beuatiful person. Best of luck to you!)
-Charles Vess -
-John and Caitlin Matthews - (another awesome creative duo!)
-Ari Berk -
-Toby and Wendy Froud - (Wendy and Toby were there, not Brian)
-Fairy Woodland - (a wonderful, whimsical craftsman)
-Fantasiation - (congrats on your commission with Ms. Zimmerman!)
-The Mushroom Lady - (lovely work! Sweet music choice on your site, too ;p)
-Basement Books - Donna Rankin (very nice lady... if you see this, keep that Wensel dwarf book for me ;p)
-Tate and Company -
-Claudia D. Newcorn - (author of "Crossover." Buy this book!)
-Optivion - (up and comers. Check 'em out!)
-Meghan - (a wonderful person and artist!)
-Alexa Galtman - (another up and comer. Check her out!)
-Dave Windham - (an awesome guy and a great concept! This is going to be a comic. I recommend checking this guy out post-haste)

These are the people I can remember from the many conversations I had. There were many. I hope all of you were duly represented here and may this help bring you some exposure. Thanks for an awesome weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

To Faerie Con!

Well, headed to Faerie Con to try my fortunes. If anyone is following this blog, wish me luck. I, too, wish all of you trying to make it the best of luck in all your artistic endeavours always.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Excerpt from "Of Gold and Morning Light"

This is an excerpt from the story "Of Gold and Morning Light." Please, enjoy:

The raven watched the silver haired, child-sized creatures dance, dressed in naught but fur cloths about their loins, and felt the weariness in his bones from his long flight. How nice it would indeed be to rest a while in laughter and song amongst the ancient and beautiful Inir. But the pain in his chest from the iron ring about his heart reminded him of his task. He flew off, leaving the Children of the Dawn to their games and merrymaking.

Next he happened upon a giant woman washing clothes in a large pond. She was old and bent with age and she looked up and smiled when she saw him.

“O’ red bird! Won’t you perch upon my shoulder for awhile and entertain me with tales of thy wanderings whilst I wash my garments?”

“I cannot waste any time whilst my dying friend is suffering. Canst thou not tell me whence I might find the lady of these woods, the Witch of Wings?” replied the raven.

“I shall surely tell thee if thou wilt sit with me and entertain me for awhile with tales of thy wanderings whilst I wash my garments.”

The raven considered this seriously. For he was weary and his wandering in Telnirund had been two days. But the iron band about his heart again reminded him of his charge and he left the giant maid and flew off to look for the Witch of Wings.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 4

Here is an in-progress image. Many of you may cringe, but for these particular images I am using a butcher paper substrate. Not archival at all but it is a fascinating surface. It gives me a soft effect and the tooth is interesting. It lends the images a sense of faerie that I really enjoy. A mistiness that conveys, for me, the idea of another world. Just like the compositional choices I have made convey a looking from one world to another. Sometimes a world of light into dark or vice versa.

Here's the colour study.

Here is the line drawing for the next illustration in the series.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Images Revisited

Here are the touched up versions of older works from this series.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 3 Concepting

There are a few colour studies that coincide with this partial final. I started the "final" very uninspired. I was not pleased with the way the image fit in with the other compositions. It just wasn't working. And as I worked, the more frustrated I became until I finally just stopped and chalked it up to grindwork.

I sat down again and worked until I came up with the finished piece further down in the blog. I was in such a stride with the other images. This one really stumped me and took the wind right out of my sails for awhile.

I do like the above image as a whole and I will probably revisit it as a larger work, maybe 18"x24", and let it be its own entity. I won't say that I gave up on it. I hate giving up. I merely decided to use it as a stepping stone to success.

This is an image that I felt gave me the effect I wanted while departing from using a main character from the story dominantly in the foreground or background. However, something wasn't coalescing. I went ahead with the next steps anyway, hoping to get a final out of it, since I did like it.

This is one concept that I felt really captured the attitude of the Witch, but failed to evoke the sense of mystery and voyeurism I was looking for.

These are some thumbs exploring the basic value and compositional structure I was looking for.


The actual size of all of the images for "Of Gold and Morning Light" is 5.5"x8.5". The book cover with Iduna is 18"x24".

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 3 Final

Here's the final image.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 3 Colour Study

Here's the colour study.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 3 Value Study

Here is the value study.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 3 Line Drawing

This particular image gave me a great deal of trouble. I will upload all of my concepting for this image at a later date. For now, here is the final process and image. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I am curently in the process of updating some images. I returned to the "Iduna and the Golden Apples" image, pumping up the saturation and contrast, changing the costuming to fit the story more and applying some newly acquired skills. I did the same with the last three images for the "Of Gold and Morning Light" Project. I will be posting these images shortly, along with the newest illustration for the "Of Gold and Morning Light" Project.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 2 Process

The in-progress second plate.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 2 Final

The final image for the second plate.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 2 Colour Study

The colour study for the second plate.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 2 Value Study

The value study and line drawing for the second plate.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 1 Final

The final illustration for the first plate.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 1 Colour Study

The colour study for the first interior plate.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Inside Image 1 Value Study

The first interior plate final drawing.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Cover Process 2

Cover in progress.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Cover Process 1

Cover in progress.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Cover Final

Here is the final image for the cover.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Cover Colour Study

Here is the colour study for the cover.

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Cover Value Study

Here is the value study for the cover of the book.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Of Gold and Morning Light" Project - Cover Drawing

"Of Gold and Morning Light" is an original story that I am currently illustrating in order to shop it around and get it published. Here is the finished drawing for the final piece.

Welcome to Raven Werkes!


My name is Justin Russell. I am a working illustrator and this is my first blog. I am going to post drawings and paintings that I am working on currently and would like constructive feedback. Please feel free to share your own work and conversations with me as well.

Thanks and good luck with your art werke!