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Vertex Week day 1: illustration live blog

Join us through the day as we follow along with our artists for Vertex Week 2022.

Vertex Week 2022, all you need to know
(Image: © Future)

It's day one of Vertex Week 2022! We're celebrating illustration today with some great artists who create digitally and with traditional paints

Earlier today we live blogged Cynthia Sheppard's tutorial on how to paint strong shadows. Sat in with Spiridon Giannakis who offers his advice on how to create an art book published, and took a brief journey into the jungle of Hawaii with illustrator Ekundayo for a graffiti portrait speed-paint. 


Want to try this out, get Photoshop for free and start painting.

LOVE watching those big brush strokes and shapes map out the face.

Adding a background wash like this instantly defines the face, love this part. It's great to play with the background shadows and lighting to create those edges around the face.

The eye shadows are tricky, we always get this wrong and go in too heavy.

Just merging those shadows together now, looking good.

Ah! Ears. These can be so hard, and it’s easy to resort to random squiggles. Cynthia makes it look so easy.

Spiridon has so much experience, we're pinning back our ears and listening in. Can't wait to see what he has to say.

We're getting book envy here, look at Spiridon's amazing collection! And his models too, we need that Ecto-1.

Good advice here from Spiridon – crowdfunding campaigns are more work than you'd imagine. Know what you're doing before you make promises to backers you can fulfil!

We're reflecting on Spiridon's words: You should love your work, so keep this in mind before you even start a book project. Is this something you'll want to stick with?

Go big or go home! Everyone loves a large art book, something to sink your teeth into – think about the kind of book you'd want to read and make it.

Get involved! It's your art book, so make sure you're into the choices. Good advice.

We've picked our best art books of 2022, take a look.

Who doesn't love a massive, luxury coffee table book from Taschen?

Time is money in publishing… we've worked in publishing, and trust us this is a big one.

No the risks from self-publishing, that seems good advice. 

And with that, we say goodbye to Spiridon. His video is free to view on the site, so take a look back at your leisure as there's excellent advice here.

Yep, he’s in the jungle. We’re so jealous, imagine being able to spend time in Hawaii and paint too? Amazing life.

He paints with such freedom, if we tried this it’ll be an absolute mess. How easy is it to clean paint from a jungle?

We love Ekundayo’s makeshift easel, he’s just wedged his canvas in the tree and he’s off… guess it saves lugging an easel around. Maybe James Gurney should give a go?

Lovely colours, the yellow and cyan are really jumping off. And he’s done. A quick one but we think you’ll be hitting that replay button.

Erik's style is amazing. How does he make all those squiggles turn into elegant and lively art?

Can you guess what it is? We're going for tiger-dragon. 

We're having just watching, but we like the idea of setting an end goal. 

We're taking notes, Erik.

100K follows! That's a lot. The art is great, and like Erik says he's found himself with a style he never knew he'd need or have. 

Want to try digital art and sketching like Erik, take a look at our guide to the best drawing tablets.

This is looking cool now.

Noodling the background now.

Cool skull flowers there Erik! 

Some wise words here from Erik. Great art and a healthy approach to illustration. 

Fascinating listening to Erik talk through his thought process. 

Leaving the best for last?

Good rambling Erik. 

And we're back! This is Joseph Foley in Argentina, now dropping in on the Painted in Color team for an enlightening discussion on diversity in fantasy art. Host and art director Lauren Brown begins by inviting the stellar panel to introduce themselves. We have fantasy and sci-fi Illustrator Eric Wilkerson, fantasy illustrator and writer Mia Araujo and vis dev artist and concept artist Esther Wu.

Wilkerson mentions how he was afraid to take the risk to develop his calling card of "painting black kids having sci-fi adventures", but that it was a worthwhile endeavour. Take a look at his art in his online profile, and that becomes very clear. He has a great timelapse of his oil painting process there too.

We've had the pleasure of hearing from Lauren Brown on Creative Bloq before in a feature that she did on her work and the importance of diversity in fantasy so we've been looking forward to hearing from her on this special edition of Painted in Color. Last year, she won a Black In Gaming - Excellence in Artistry award, and she started 2022 with a move from Zynga to take up the role of art director at Wildseed Games.

The panel starts off talking about how their personal lives and experiences influence their work. Interesting to learn that Mia Araujo's family hailed from Argentina, where your blogger is writing from. I think many artists will be able to relate to her observation that an identity that doesn't "fit in a box" can inspire a search for different points of view as an artist.

Fascinating to hear these guys talk about their earliest influences that kindled their passion for sci-fi and fantasy, and particularly the diversity that Wilkerson found in Star Trek, and its "positive view of the future." Araujo mentions the Euro-centric fantasy characters of her youth, but it's interesting to consider Star Trek as a positive melting pot that was ahead of its time.

Brown says a defining moment for her was going to Dragon Con for the first time and seeing that all of the characters presented were white. "This is fantasy and you can't even fantasise that there could be a person of colour in your space?" she says.

It's interesting how Araujo mentions the growth in resources and tutorials opening up access for those getting started in the fantasy art sector – something we seek to encourage. Great insights from everyone on the panel, and you can read more from Lauren Brown on Diversity in art right here on Creative Bloq.

We're taking a break for a moment now. Remember that you can go back and watch this special edition of Painted in Color at any time here. Don't go far, because we've still got more to come today from Vertex Week 2022. 

The legend is here. No dinos this time but James Gurney has some retro fun in store.

Lovely plug for ImagineFX there! We love a good magazine and ImagineFX is still the best around for fantasy and sci-fi art techniques. *some of us worked on it

Love hearing how James gets the lowdown on the scene, chatting to the subjects.

James is going full tutor now and he gets into the history of aviation and illustration… with a giant pencil! 

We're back on the canvas and the painting is coming along beautifully.

It's interesting to hear James is using a limited colour palette here, mixing a small number of colours find any purples, blues or greens he needs rather than dip into hose colours themselves. 

James is using Casein, the 'oldest paint known to man'. 

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