Saturday, November 9, 2013

14 Illustrations

So I picked up three more illustrations. But hey, two of 14 are done, so. You know...

In a month, I'll read this status and laugh. I'll be laughing because of the insanity that I got. From working full time and producing fourteen illustrations. But no matter. I have better news:

I'm going to be interning for Sidebolt Studios! They are a cell phone gaming app company. For the first time in my life, I'll be doing art as a full time occupation. I couldn't be more excited! Every once in a while I break into song and dance. I can't wait to show them what I can do. In the mean time, I have to get back to it. See you soon!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

So far

Since I've posted last, many things have changed. I live in Columbus, Ohio, now. I work full time at a custom frame shop, and I am hard at work on over ten illustrations for two different companies. Things are good so far, and they're getting better (as long as I hit these next few strenuous deadlines). Here's a piece of art to tide you over until my longer explanation and more paintings. This is work for Run and Gun that the publisher decided to tease, so, yay! Enjoy.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


 My sister, Casey and I. She was kind enough to travel along with me to Indianapolis, Indiana to visit GenCon. As my artist star rises, so must my physical presence in the art and fantasy gaming world.
The convention was almost overwhelming. Thousands of people, booths, games, costumes and more filled the convention center, itself a hulking conglomeration of football field sized rooms. It was pretty awesome, regardless.
 The main reason for my trip was to meet Brent Evans in the flesh. He's my art director at Catalyst for Shadowrun, and someone who's wisdom has already helped me grow levels beyond where I was. Up until now, I've only ever shared email exchanges with the man, our most emotive moments being colons and parentheses. It was a happy surprise to find Brent was just as gracious and well spoken in person.
 Here is one of the most recent projects I got to work on. This is the demo box for Shadowrun: Crossfire, a card game. And is that... could it be?
 My artwork on the back cover? Boom. Well, since this cat got let out of the bag, let's see him in full resolution, yes?
Since this painting was meant to be on a small card (see the size of my fingers in comparison?), my main challenge was stripping away needless detail and building an immediately discernible image.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Recycle Project

I'll be visiting GenCon in Indianapolis tomorrow. So, that should be fun. In preparation for the event, I ran out and picked up a little portfolio book and printed my current portfolio. I still had my old portfolio prints, so it was great fun being able to physically compare the two. I realized there are themes I like to revisit.

Sometimes I revisit a subject because I don't feel like the first time through did it justice. Way back when, Jon Schindehette had an Art Order contest called D&D Pin-up. He wanted to see D&D characters (preferably tieflings) in a sort of classic pin-up pose. So I gave him this half-assed Gil Elvgren style piece.

At the time I didn't think it was half-assed, but I knew that if I could revisit the subject, I'd give it my whole ass. So I did:

Sometimes I revisit a subject from a different angle. In Fahrenheit 451, there's a moment in the books when a woman sets herself on fire in front of Montag. I thought that'd make a cool cover, so:

A few years later, I wanted to be more conceptual with the cover. The real catalyst for Montag was the girl Clarisse, so I tried playing around with the idea a bit. This piece is already on its way out of my portfolio, so maybe I'll give it another go soon...

Sometimes I like many aspects of a project even though I change everything else about it. Here, I've kept only the perspective.

Originally, I was going to just replace the guy with Link, and say hey, Water Temple. But I hate the Water Temple. Also, so much of my art fades to black that it gives a very claustrophobic feeling to my work, so I wanted to open it up and give the piece room to breath. This was one of my first digital projects, and I'm still happy with it.

Last but not least, sometimes I revisit a project because it's just fun to paint. One of the great joys of being an artist is producing work year after year and seeing how much you've grown and changed. This project is one of my most stark comparisons.

When I finish a painting I'm particularly proud of, it is inconceivable to me that I could do any better.

But what do I know?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Published in color!

I don't have much to say except I'm published in color now, so... booyah. I just recently finished some stuff I can't show, and I'm really close to finishing some stuff I can, so you'll get to see that all in due time. Until then, feel free to entertain yourself with these pretty pictures from Shadowrun: 5th edition.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shadowrun 5th addition: Flaws

Let's set the stage: I've been working for three weeks on this commission. I have already finished two other paintings. My assignment was to paint a girl who had recently been turned into a ghoul and was currently hiding out on the outskirts of the city. I sent him this thumbnail.

At his point, my AD Brent Evans (who is a spectacular guy and I have to thank him on every project for his clarity of direction and patience) gave me the most important advice for Shadowrun artwork I've yet to receive: The first rule of Shadowrun is: everyone's a badass.

Everyone. Did you just have a baby? It's a badass newborn baby. Your grandma lives in the Shadowrun universe? She's a badass granny. Even the rats are badasses (this should come as no surprise to anyone who's played an RPG).

Quiz time: You've been bitten by a ghoul and you're slowly turning into a rancid human-zombie hybrid. What are you?

That's right, you're a badass. So I redesigned and sent Brent this:

Now I'm running behind, really behind. Two days from now is the extended deadline, behind.

I don't have my reference yet.

I don't have the model I was going to use anymore.

My sister Ruby, who at the last second heroically volunteered to model for the face, can't model for the body.

I'm out of options. But I am an artist, and no artist is ever out of ingenuity.

So this happened:

This is the physical manifestation of last minute artistic ingenuity. Who's that bearded hooker I found to shoot reference? I don't know. She sure was friendly, though.

She might have been me.

Alright, it was me. I'm that bearded hooker.

I took these pictures at ten at night, and painted until dawn. Then I took a three hour nap, and painted until four the next morning, at which point I finished this:

She just finished eating a guy.

Also, she just finished shaving her beard.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


So, here's what happened:

I was sitting at home, playing video games with my bro, Josh Cosmos. I got a call from some friends who I was going to spend time with in Columbus, but it didn't work out. They informed me that I was being kidnapped.

So Columbus happened.

While in Columbus, my friends and I were sitting around wondering what to do with our lives as kidnapper and kidnappee when we called up Chavilah Bennett. Spoiler alert: one day she will rule the world. Anyhow, she suggested that we walk around downtown, because we heard whispers of a "My Little Pony" conference going on.

So the convention center happened.

Once inside, instead of seeing tons of pony enthusiasts, we were treated to various ork, elf, and mage variants. There were giant posters of magical beasts and mean something-or-others surrounding tables of very serious looking people rolling dice and dealing cards.

So Origins happened.

And, upon searching the various booths and rooms, I found Catalyst, makers of Shadowrun, the RPG I make artwork for. There in the picture, I'm holding the actual books that I'm actually published in. Chavilah was super awesome and forced me to mug for this picture, and I even got to meet some of the developers of the game, who were super friendly and awesome.

We eventually got to Trot con, and there were ponies everywhere. My kidnappers were pleased. Anyhow, when I get more pictures, I'll be sure to show them with the requisite explanations, but until then, I actually have new artwork to show you, so onward and upward!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


So I did most of the work I was supposed to do, and decided to work on that tielfling sketch and mess around with photoshop brushes. Let's just say it got out of hand. Anyhow, I'll leave it for now, and maybe I'll come back to do color or corrections if she goes anywhere further than this sketch here. Anyhow, hope you like it! :)

Friday, May 31, 2013


Long ago, I did an illustration for a contest. I was supposed to design a Tiefling (a horned half-demon race) as a pin up. It was not super successful.

On the same front, I had some reference that I really liked but didn't get to use for other projects. So last night, as I rolled around in bed, this image came to me. Nothing special, just a fun vignette to help me hone my digital painting skills.

I am continuing work on the futuristic bike chase, but this bolt of inspiration was just too good to pass up, so here it is. It may be a few weeks before you hear from me again, things are about to get busy. But good busy. Enjoy!

EDIT: I will turn this into a painting, but other projects are pressing, so she'll have to wait.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When to quit

I kind of mentioned this in an earlier post. Remember Mother's Syndrome? A part of that is quitting too early. You're afraid to mess it up by overworking it, so you underwork it. A prime example is my Ranger painting. He's all well and good, but I didn't do the necessary research on how to hold, fire, or string a bow and arrow, and worse, I didn't pop any highlights into my piece. I stopped with a nice underpainting. In fact, I may still have an underpainting here, but I'm moving on to other projects for now, so here are the changes I've made thanks to a few helpful critiques.
Which is better?

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Fun fact: I've never painted a hover-bike chase. WHY?

Little genre trope tidbits: the good guy is on the right because #1. he just served a plate full of foot to the dude on the left #2. his bike is scrappy and worn (sci fi fans have been taught to be suspicious of anything too smooth and perfect) #3. he's got a cape, which gives him a little personality other than 'random helmet man.' I'd fit a dog in there if I could, just to make sure you knew he was endearing. But a kick to the face will have to do.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Just like every illustration I ever do, I'll probably make changes to this the moment I post it. That moment being now. So, crap. Oh, well. This piece was a lot of fun to do. It went smoothly, and when it isn't smooshed into 100 ppi, you get to see some of the brush work I tried to put into it. It came out more Frazetta-y than I intended, but I suppose Esjing is an evolution of Frazetta in many respects, anyhow. Either way, I hope you like it!

You will note, I imagine, that he is holding his bow in the overhand position (who knows if that's really the terminology), from which he can only fire sideways. Much like gangster movies in which they fire their guns pointed to the side, this is only for style, and generally frowned upon. I'll probably adjust one of his hands, because even though I meant for this to be the pose, it still bothers me just a little bit. We'll see.

EDIT: I've been told by two very helpful souls of the dangers of arm chafe. Here's the fix:


Cuz I kno you like that sort of thing....
I'm pretty happy with how this is coming out, but I'll be honest, this is looking way more Frazetta than it is Esjing. Oh well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I thought that last painting turned out nicely, yes? So I'll use some of that energy to transition into another portfolio piece. This time I'll hit more of the traditional fantasy vein. I'm trying to really loosen up on my paintings and give them some flow. I love paintings that look like they're still in movement. Here's a Ranger, for a piece entitled Overwatch. While I looked more at Shawn Barber and Dan Dos Santos for the last piece, I'm actually drawing much more heavily from Jesper Esjing this time around (I imagine that's evident). Hope you like it!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Now I'll sit on her, see if I want to make changes before I send her into the wide, cruel world.

In the mean time, let's talk about her tattoos.

Since I wanted much of her character to be in the tattoos themselves, I tried working with one or two telling motifs. Her right arm starts off with a smoking knife and a banner. The banner says, 'hack' since she's an adept hacker. The skull, snake tail, and bone design moving into the grim reaper all follow the same idea: death. But the Reaper's coat is drawn away, and flowers burst from his ribcage. The verse below that is I Corinthians 15:26 "The last enemy to be destroyed is death."

Her right arm moves from death to life, while her left arm represents resurrection itself, what with spirit birds bursting from the dead sparrow's heart.

I originally wanted a much more cyborg-ish rogue, but I did my research, and adepts, though they have increased physical abilities, don't usually opt for cyborg parts since their abilities don't affect (and in many cases are hampered by) technology. So I had to go all-naturale.

UPDATE: Changes! :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013


So far...
More WIP-ing:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Operation: Look at Me

Welcome to the ground floor. I've been light on projects lately, so I'm starting to get proactive on the situation. I really liked working for Shadowrun. As I've covered in my previous posts, they liked me working for them, too. But like any child who knows that their parents love them, sometimes all they want is some attention.

'Look at me!' They scream, while doing anything on a spectrum from touching their nose with their tongue to climbing a tree while trying to juggle cats. The amount of attention they get is in direct correlation to the danger/impressiveness of their feat.

So I'm going to try and juggle some cats for Shadowrun.

My greatest strength is also my greatest weakness: I am a character artist. The faces/figures are crisp, clear, and individual, but the outfits are poorly thought out, lacking the required baubles and doodads that every post-magical-awakening badass should be fitted with. I struggle with the storytelling, not sure if I should go full leather chaps or 80's glam, and end up dropping a t-shirt and jeans on a bamf elven warrior. Even if they were Express Jeans, I should be doing better.

So I thought about it: I enjoy simple design. I like clarity of expression. But how do I get my cake and eat it? How do I tell a runner's story without chains and netting crisscrossing the frame like an S&M surplus store?

I looked through older (read: already published) Shadowrun illustrations, and I noticed another common theme: tattoos. Most of the tattoos are black tribals, which probably has more to do with their simplicity than a future cultural preference for frat boy tramp stamps. Don't get me wrong, they look cool and all, but for such a personal accouterment, you'd think there'd be more personality.

Which is why I did this sketch:

Meet Sparrow, the elven adept hacker. Adepts are runners that use magic to augment their abilities, rather than cast spells. Sparrow has augmented eyes, reflexes, speed, and stealth.

She also has one more important ingredient, badass-ness. After working on more than six illustrations with Shadowrun, it's the most important ingredient in every piece, and something I have to constantly remind myself of (lest my AD do it for me).

I was influenced by artists like Shawn Barber and Dan Dos Santos, who often let the skin of their subjects carry the narrative.

Now begins the hard part: painting an illustrated woman. I'll invariably have my share of stories on the process, but until then, make sure to introduce yourself. Just... don't make any sudden movements.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

No one ever thanks glue. Especially on things that need it, rely on it. Glue just does its job, keeping everything together. You don't get nearly the credit you deserve, Mom. You are the glue that binds the Hoveys, and the only reason many of us (read:me) passed certain classes or turned in certain projects. Art critic, burden bearer, advice giver, no matter the day or the problem, you set down what you are doing to help your family when they call for it. It is no surprise that you are on the speed dial of four phones, and you will stay there, because you are super glue. You're a super mom. You're the bomb and I love you. Happy Mother's day, Tonnie Hovey.

Sadly, I don't have a painting to show along with mother's day. Maybe soon...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Another portrait, another day.

I'm having fun producing these little ditties, and they teach me a little something every time. I really need to loosen up and inject some painterly qualities into my digital work, but at least the likeness isn't bad. Maybe I'll get more adventurous with them soon, but the main goal is to be painting. Goal accomplished.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Anna and Mother's Syndrome

This is the original image I posted. I was so proud of it not three hours ago:

In science, there is a theory called the happiness theorem. It postulates that if a). woman is x). unhappy, then y). everyone is unhappy. It looks like this:

 x(a)     :(      =      x(y)      D:

I posted the art, I liked the art, I texted Anna proudly, and I received a text back saying only, 'Oh Lord.' And not the 'Oh Lord, thank you for this cornucopia that just fell from the sky,' more the 'Oh Lord, why hast thou seen fit to smite us?'

So I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "Is my nose really that giant and hooked?" And that's when I knew: I had Mother's Syndrome.

Mother's Syndrome is when you love a piece of art, you think it's the most wonderful piece ever, and you show it proudly to all the other parents. 'Look how beautiful she is, listen to how sweetly she sings,' you cry. And all the other parents smile tightly, avert their eyes, and plug their ears.

Some artists never get this. Some artists hate everything they do, which makes me wonder why they do art. I'm the opposite. Every newfangled piece I drool onto the canvas is my baby, and my baby is the BEST BABY IN THE WORLD.

It isn't always a lost cause, though. Most times, I've just stopped a few hours short, or failed put things together in enough places to throw it off. So I gave Anna the usual artist lingo for 'Yeah I effed up,' which is 'I meant to do that.' And, as per usual, I got over my motherly pride and fixed the darn thing.

So here's the update. Is it better? See for yourself. Is it done? Well, we all know what happened last time I said that. Rock-a-by baaaby in the tree top.....

P.S. Anna was very gracious, never once criticizing my work. The conversation above is edited for humorous purposes, and does not represent her humble and sensitive nature.

P.P.S If you scroll from one picture to the next and back again in rapid succession, it looks like she's bobbing her head and laughing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Who you are.

Who am I?

A question every artist has to ask whenever they produce work. Who am I as an artist? What story do I want to tell? What are the images I want to produce?

Maybe that's why artists can seem so full of themselves. Also, artists are full of themselves.

This question follows every artist from the outset of their design until the final brushstrokes on their signature. Who do I want to be known as? Some artists have pen names, some use initials: C.F. Payne, N.C. Wyeth, Bansky, Android Jones, the list goes on.

I love artists like John Singer Sargent and John William Waterhouse, but I've always thought that the three name handle was a little... snooty. Which works fine for them because, beyond their general awesomeness, they're... you know... snooty. Or English, which is basically the same thing.

My name is David Hovey, and my full name is David Robert Hovey. I didn't want to be known as David Robert Hovey. I'm not English, and I try my best not to be snooty (unless the crumpets are absolutely dah-ling). So why do I sign my work DRH and all of my everything online is David Robert Hovey?

It's all just a misunderstanding. See, there's already an architect out there named David Hovey, and he has splattered his name unceremoniously across the inter-webs. So, when it came time for me to pick a url that wasn't taken, I simply typed in my full name.

My signature is a 'D' followed by a scribble, and an 'H' followed by a scribble. I have all the flitting, orchestrated penmanship of a doctor filling out prescriptions. So, in lieu of finishing my masterworks with a children's crayon scribble, I opted for the initials.

By that time, I just gave up on being known professionally as just 'David Hovey' and made all of my other sites and emails match. I've come to terms with it.

Who am I, then? If I'm knighted, or become the Earl of Crumpet Manor or something, you can call me your Lordship David Robert Hovey. For now, just your Lordship will do.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I've been mentioned!

The book I helped illustrate was reviewed, and I'll be damned, my art was specifically mentioned! No, really, I'm damned. Because he pointed it out for being terrible. Sigh.

I suppose he didn't say terrible, he said 'suspicious.' You can read the review here.

EDIT: Since the website doesn't work for everyone, here's the quote:

"One picture bothered me quite a bit, it was a picture of a man and a woman at a shooting range firing at overly large insects. If you follow Shadowrun, you know bugs are a big problem. What was so bothersome about this picture was that I swear I’ve seen this shot as a photo and it looks like the man and woman have been transposed and the bugs inserted into line art. The fact that both people are wielding current day firearms rather than really cool Shadowrun era firearms makes me even more suspicious."

Basically, he's saying that I cut and pasted some photos. Honestly, I'm a little hurt. But this isn't the first time something like this has happened. When I was in highschool, I made this:
See that hand coming out of the drawing? I sculpted it out of clay and fired it. I was really proud of it. I would lug it everywhere to show at college portfolio reviews. One teacher looked at the drawing, hefted the sculpted hand, and said, "This is great. I love the imagination, but what if you sculpted the hand, instead of casting it? Show us some other talents?"

I was dumbfounded. "I did sculpt that," I said. The man shrugged it off with an "Oh, okay."

Fast forward to sophomore year of college. The teacher is trying to get a feel on our particular talents, and assigns a drawing. One figure, beyond that, the drawing could be whatever you liked. So I made this:

When the projects were passed back, mine came with a sticky note attached. "See me, bring your photo reference." I showed my teacher the drawing and the photo side by side, and he shrugged, "Okay, sometimes kids will trace their photos to try and impress me. I can see you didn't. Nice." 

I got a B+.

Maybe I'm too sensitive, maybe my artist brain gets haughty and dramatic, but I'm proud of the work I do. Especially when I burn through hours of painting. Saying 'this is too good' is something of an underhanded compliment, and one I don't take lightly. Of course, the reviewer mentions other tidbits that I honestly dropped the ball on: the weapons aren't Shadowrun weapons. I should have looked into the arsenal instead of filling in what I knew. Whatever, let's get to it.

I was going to wait until later to make a post about how much trouble I go through to get reference. But, teacher, you wanted to know if I traced.

It starts with the thumbnail.

Then I try to line up some photos as nearly as I can to the thumbnail.

Sexy, right?

Yeah, that's an Aperture Science jacket. Be jealous.

My sister Ruby is lovely and the best and is super helpful. These are three out of more than twenty that I took making sure everything was right.

Once this is done, I gather other elements to paint off of. I was given some 'spirit bug' reference that I used, I looked up crabs to see the shape of their shells, and I grabbed some shooting range photos. I have a lot of sandy/grassy fields on my computer now.

Now you get to compare:

Obviously, I'm not going to post every time I get a negative review, but I go through great pains to achieve some semblance of realism in my work, and I pride myself in the fact that I don't take shortcuts. In that area, I'm always more than happy to defend my practices.

Those guns, though? Yeah, my bad.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shadowrun: Stormfront, Lesson 4

And now it is crunch time. I've produced three illustrations, I've learned plenty of lessons, but now I have little time for the last illustration. It was supposed to be about five magic users in a basement who delve into dark magic with deadly results. There's a bang! A nearby shadowrunner rushes to see what is wrong, his hands up to defend. A few weeks earlier, I had sent my AD this sketch:

I thought it was kind of cool, but I was unprepared for how not cool it was: I'm showing only people's backs, the perspective is truncated, and the illustration should be about the aftermath not the explosion. I had to start over. But instead of redrawing way back then, I started on the other projects. Fast forward three weeks: now I had two days, no thumbnail, and no direction. I hastily scribbled this and sent it away: How does this look?

I get nothing back.

One of the reoccurring issues I have is the definition of thumbnail. My AD wants to see basically the finished piece minus the detail and extra busy work. On my end, I'm throwing out mind pictures. They're like dreams. The space is undefined, the characters are vague, but the feel is there.

Since I work realistically, I try to get a thumbnail approved, then I take reference of models (me, most times) in the various poses, and then I fill in the thumbnail. Sometimes I find that what looked good in my head simply doesn't work physically in real life, and so the composition has to change to accomodate. Many times I've sent in a thumbnail and get critiques on proportions, etc, things that would be ironed out in the final. So it is my responsibility to put in enough effort to get 'most' everything right, so that my AD doesn't have to trust me not to send him a guy with a tiny hand or a scribble face. But this time, I didn't have that luxury.

I wanted to get this piece to him with a full day to spare, so that he could mull it over and send me the final revisions. That meant, since it was due on Thursday, that at 10 in the morning on Tuesday I had 24 hours to shoot reference and finish an illustration. I knew there was probably just a little bit of panic on his end, seeing the scribbles I sent him, but I drove forward anyways.

I sent a goodbye to my friends on Facebook, taped my living will to the door, and dove in, shooting reference, cobbling it together, changing the composition as I needed on the fly. I drank coffee, guzzled water, and took breaks every two or three hours to stretch and pretend that everything was okay. Sure enough, 20 hours later, I sent him this:

He loved it. I really liked it, too. It showed me that I could take what was a weak illustration and turn it into a strong one. It also showed me what I was capable of come crunch time. It also told me that I didn't want to repeat this performance. But it took less than two months before I not only repeated this performance, I trumped it with double the time. That's a story for another day.

Until then, thanks for reading, and join me next time on David's Journey's in Professional Illustration: How to find the ladder to succes, and what to do with the rungs when you're on it.