Support my art on patreon
If you like my work, please consider supporting my art on patreon!

Inktober Waves and Explosions

Two more drawings of Inktober. One of them can now be won in my patreon project.

Inktober is going well. I kept to the schedule of a drawing a day, even if I had to catch up once. This first drawing I’ll put up for a raffle. You can win the artwork by supporting me on patreon. It’ll go out at the end of October.

This one is a first foray into dip-pens and calligraphy. Really wanna do more in that direction – but it’s tough. Here I used a composition where some mistakes or splatters just become part of the image.
Still have to find the perfect ink. This is carbon ink by Platinum, but I ordered Kuretake and Speedball Manga inks, as I need a better flow. I’ll update how that goes.

Inktober Day 4 - Inkplosion

“Inktober Day 4 – Inkplosion” – Carbon Ink on Hot-Pressed Watercolor Paper

Wave Pen Drawing

“Inktober Day 5: Waves” – Pen on Moleskine Sketchbook

One Two Three Inktober

The first artworks of Intober are here.

So I’m thinking: Posting in triplets makes sense. Here are the first three Inktober submissions.

Calligraphy paper drawing

Day 1: Used Clairfontaine Calligraphy paper here.

Ink Figure

Ink on A4 Paper – using a Pilot Parallel Pen

Ink Dragon and castle

Ink on A4 marker paper.

My Enkhuizen Ink Drawing – and Inktober Commitment!

Here is a recent drawing done during an excursion with the Amsterdam Open Draw where we visited the cute Dutch town Enkuizen.

But first, I want to put my commitment down here for participating in the Inktober this year. That means throughout October, I’ll create an ink drawing every day. I hope stating it out here will force me to stick through. The only leeway I’ll give myself is that I might switch to every second day – since I don’t like rushing drawing.

The results have to be posted on facebook and twitter with the #inktober hashtag. And I’ll see how I post them here, maybe in groups.
I will ask people for random animals if I can’t think of any topics – very curious how it’ll go.

Dutch Architecture Ink drawing

Enkuizen City Gate – Ink and watercolor on A5 Moleskine sketchbook.

Portrait Lighting Guides

Came across this studio lighting guide – this should be real handy for painting portraits or rendering too.

When creating 3D scenes this can help a lot also. But even for painting it’s a good practice to imagine all light sources before starting. Not even just the main light. In reality there are always several lights around, i.e. when the main source is reflected back. Some you barely notice, but keeping them in mind helps for things like reflections (e.g. for portraits in eyes or glasses) where the lights show up much stronger. This guides the eye to see the shapes clearly.
So it’s useful for realistic rendering of the shapes, but the placement of the light also affects the mood of the picture – and the expression of the subject. Just think of the “ominous light from below” trick, or having half of the face in a black shadow.

Lighting Setup Reference

The reference for each setup. Created by

Another great helper is this video with a rotating light source – if you have want reference for specific light directions (usually hard to find via google).

Here’s a gif part of it. (Also I downloaded the light rotation video in case the video link should ever go down).

lighting Directions Gif

A gif version of one animated light setup (you can click for a higher quality one).

And I have another little guide that explains how to apply it when painting. It helped me a lot back when I found the image, so I still have it in my reference collection, but don’t know where I have it from.
In short it shows: Simplify the face into planes. Then modify the local color to change according to the angle.

Angles on the face for painting

Lighting guide on how light affects each plane in a face.

One should of course keep other local color changes in mind – in the face the cheeks are often more red, and the jaw (more for men) is more grayish. But now that I think of it, it’s enough to make another page later with some more detailed guides.

Figure Drawing Starting Up Again

To celebrate the start of our figure drawing session after the summer break today, here are four drawings of a pre-break session.

Good news too: we’re fully booked out today. Lot’s of interest as the vacation time is over in the Netherlands. Next week is still room – we’ll try to project shadow patterns on the model.

The subject in these drawings was the model Aga Wi, posing in different dresses.

Pencil figure on rough paper

Pencil figure on rough A3 paper

Pencil Figure on rough paper

Pencil Figure on rough A3 paper

Pencil Figure on printer paper

Pencil Figure on A4 printer paper

Pencil Figure A3

Pencil Figure on A3 Bristol paper

Making an Art Site Useful

I’ve been rethinking my web page: How to make it more useful – for visitors and for myself. And I want to start it as a project: Learn as I go and share what I learn.

It hit me recently that although I add content to my website since over a decade, it never has been really useful. I simply never considered what I’m aiming for – and just added my pictures and thoughts, because that’s what everyone does, hoping somehow people would find it and like it. But there is no clear reason to actually seek the site.

I want to change that. I will make a proper plan for the way forward: What do I want to reach and how do I get there? And as I work through it, I will share my efforts and results – maybe making my statistics public. Would be fantastic if I can get fellow artists to join, and share their opinions and own experiences.

art page mind map

I tried to make a little overview of how my site content connects in the web…. yeah it wasn’t that useful for me either.

It’s not that my site is pointless. When I show it to potential clients, they’re often impressed with the content and presentation – and that helps me to convince them to hire my services. But that’s not really what the world-wide-web is for, right? This should scale globally: I should be able to get much more visitors and get them engaged enough to eventually make some income: Either through the site, or through selling on the site – or though finding more clients.

If my art would just make everyone swoon and fight to buy it, then all this might just go by itself. There are artists like that – but I’m not one of them. People like my art, I get compliments and I sell semi-regularly. But people like a lot of other art as well. To ever live just from selling my personal work will be a tough challenge. I’m working of course to improve my art at all times – but a good website is simply part of the job. Let’s see it as a piece of a puzzle – and let’s start sorting the first pieces:

The Situation

  • Right now I receive on average 1500 unique visitors per month. That’s 50 per day.
  • I tried ads, but with the numbers above it’s not even bringing the hosting costs back.
  • I have the webshop, but it’s actually still a bit of a hurdle. Again: With this number of users and the fact that they’ll actually have to need an artwork – and then go through the hoops to order – it would just not be enough for a steady income.
  • In other words: I didn’t have a clear and working “call to action” – something I could ask of my users, so that I could sustain this site. That’s actually the core of the problem I see – I was aimless, and the visitors didn’t get an aim either.
web stats 2015

Monthly unique visitor statistics for one year until today. Averaging at roughly 1500 per month.

The Goal

At the end it is all about fixing the call to action – if I don’t have that, then even having visitors would be useless. … and I’ve already started working on that recently since I discovered patreon. That’s a website for asking for monthly support by users – and this really lit up the light bulb in my head. Some weeks ago, I’ve added prominent buttons here as my call to action. And that should be the part I’ll lead my users to, if they’re happy with the content.

Of course the more people that visit, the more they can see my “support me” request, and click the red button. So next I need to to drive the visitor amounts up. I’ll have to look into Google and Search Engine Optimization – how can I be found more often by users in my target group…

Call to Action

My current call to action in the sidebar.

… and for that just paintings aren’t enough. First off – google doesn’t work just with images, it needs a context it can understand. And it’s unlikely that art-lovers would just type “ink painting” for example, to find nice art. I myself come across art I like when searching for other topics, or reading articles about the craft, and then fall in love with what I see around it. So I think that’s the way I have to go here: Create something that people look for, and then give them content they’ll appreciate a lot and show my art around it – so that some might feel it’s worth supporting me.

Which brings me to the aspect of conversion rate: How many of my visitors will go through and do the action I call for? Since I added the “support me on patreon” buttons, one or two people click it per day. That’s a 2 percent click-through rate. Though it’s not the actual conversion yet. The users then would have to sign up there and pledge, so it’s an extra hurdle no visitor has taken so far.
Let’s say it like this: To get 2% to click the button you want ain’t a shabby first step. There was some interest there to support me. If I could just ten-fold the visitors, then that should give room for actual conversions.

The Steps

So these three things I want to figure out in the coming time: Have people seek my content, have google list it for them, and then covert some to supporters.

Part 1: Offer something people seek

For the first “offer something people seek” part, I want to create tutorials – especially about the ink and line-art works I do recently. I had to read up a lot anyways.
And in an recursive twist I will use this series to publish my steps of making this site useful. including about my efforts to enhance my patreon project. What I learned about the technology and about user behavior might be interesting for other artists.

Part 2: Make people find the page

That means optimizing for search engines mostly – how to make google see your content, and rank it for good keywords. I’ll have to reshuffle my links and page-layout a little bit. Some aspects of social sharing and such will be part of it as well.
But I’m not starting from zero here, I have 10 years of looking at my web-stats after all (metrics can also be something to talk about).

Part 3: Convert!

Let’s see how my new call to action will fare. A-B testing about different buttons is something I already started, and I can share the results. My patreon art site itself will be part of this. I will have to enhance it to make people that check by there also pledge.

That covers it for now. I’ll go into the exact steps in other feature articles. I hope this all sounds interesting. That I’m writing this from the bottom of the mountain looking up rather than already standing on top of it, means that readers should take my ideas with a grain of salt. But it also means that I can honestly test my theories – and should they not work, it’s a useful lesson as well.

Caromble! into the Wild!

Finally I can proudly announce that after six years of work we’re releasing our brick-breaking indie game Caromble! on Early Access!

I’ve been five years part of our one-day-a-week effort to create this on this for me … and six for the programmers. That’s 312 Fridays! And we’re still not quite done, since this is a version we’ll improve until the final release in a couple of months. If you want to support us, and maybe give us feedback – head over to the Caromble’s Steam page:

Here you can check our new trailer:

We sold a few copies since the morning, and one of the first reactions we got was “That game is fun… ALOT of fun”. We even scored a neat Caromble! review already. And the graphics style and the physics often get compliments. Good start.

Happy Caromble Team

Time to celebrate! …a little.

Early Access means though that it’s not the full version. It’s for us to ask for help with finding bugs, optimizing the engine and content. It contains the first levels… but every buyer will get the rest step by step as we’re finishing it.

Marketing will be one of our next challenges, since we have zero budget. And we notice that it takes a lot of time. But since people really like our explanation videos, it seems we’re learning.
Please check it out – and any feedback and share will help us a lot.

Caromble Early Access

Caromble! Early Access Artwork

Medieval City Map Illustration

This fantasy city view is similar to the medieval towns map I’ve shown before. It didn’t give it the old hand-drawn map look, but since the other post is one of the most popular content here, I thought I put this one out too.

medieval imaginary cityscape with palace, map

This imaginary cityscape is more epic in scale – showing more of a capital with palace and manufacturing areas.

Medieval city palace detail

Here is a detail of the palace/castle area. The map is based of a complex 3d model that I then heavily edited in 2d.