Wylie Beckert

Illustration


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Every Day Original Posted on 15 Dec 2014


I was recently invited to participate in Every Day Original - a site that offers small, affordable original works of art, with one new piece posted daily.

Each artist is assigned a specific day of the month to launch their work; mine is the 16th, so my first piece will be available tomorrow! Here's a preview of the small oil painting I'll be offering this month:

tiny oil painting

A pet!

Be sure to check back in at Every Day Original tomorrow morning at 10am Eastern for a full view of the piece and a chance to possess it (along with the correlating Tiny Piece of My Soul it contains). While you're at it, check out the backlog of awesome originals from the rest of the EDO artists - there are some gorgeous pieces available that we, the internet-going public, are fools for not having purchased already.


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New Work: Sword of Purpose Posted on 10 Dec 2014


digital painting by illustrator Wylie Beckert: an old lady gives a magical sword to a young girl.


"You must never be deflected by unpleasantness. I want you to remember that. Although it may not be apparent to others, your duty will become as clear to you as if it were a white line painted down the middle of the road. You must follow it, Flavia."

"Even when it leads to murder?" I asked, suddenly bold.

With her brush extended to arm's length, she painted in the shadow of a tree.
"Even when it leads to murder."

We sat for a few moments in silence, Aunt Felicity dabbing away at her canvas with no particularly exciting results, and then she spoke again: "If you remember nothing else, remember this: Inspiration from outside one's self is like the heat in an oven. It makes passable Bath buns. But inspiration from within is like a volcano: It changes the face of the world."

- Alan Bradley, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

Look, more art! This piece was inspired by another contest prompt, this time on the theme of gifts. I decided to create a scene of an old woman bestowing upon her past self the magical Sword of Purpose (a gift that might have come in handy for my own past self over the years - THANKS FOR NOTHING, FUTURE SELF.)

I knew I wanted to draw two characters huddled over a box containing a magical sword - but since I found myself a bit short on compositional inspiration, I ditched my usual thumbnailing process for something a little more organic.

digital art thumbnail process.
I overlaid scans of two recent pencil drawings (Tam Lin and Banshee), scaled and rotated them at random until I had an interesting mishmash of shapes, then inverted the composite image (for no reason other than instantly making it look 75% cooler). From there, it was a game of find-the-pictures-in-the-clouds; essentially choosing which blobs could, with a little bit of tweaking, become faces or bodies, cropping and adjusting accordingly, and copy/pasting in additional snippets of line art as needed. I sketched on a separate layer as I went along to help nail down my ideas, since it was easy to suddenly spot a shape that suggested the perfect gesture or face, and then completely lose sight of it the next moment.

What I ended up with wasn't the prettiest thumbnail I'd ever drawn, but it had the advantage of being an exciting abstract composition, supplied to me more or less at random without a lot of painstaking generation of new content - like a ouija board for art! The process also gave me some new ideas for the piece - like the looming monster suggested by the flowing hair & wolf paw from Tam Lin.

I re-inverted my thumbnail (making it 75% less cool to look at, but much easier to trace) and brought out my trusty lightbox and Col-Erase pencil (to work out the remaining details NOT dictated to me from the spirit world.) From there, the piece followed the usual progression - from tight pencil art to digital color - without incident.

pencil art by Wylie Beckert.

Pencil on Bristol, 11x17"

If the purple-and-gold color scheme looks familiar, it's because it's a throwback to one of last year's SmArt School assignments, wherein art director Lauren Panepinto took my drab color rough and cranked the saturation up to 11! The resulting color scheme was so eye-catching that my freelance clients requested nothing but purple and yellow from me for six months. Understandably, I got pretty burned out on those hues for a while, but I think I'm ready to love them again.

digital painting process by Wylie Beckert.

The digital painting process, in living color...

The bright colors are one reason I decided to tackle this piece digitally - my traditional work tends to veer unavoidably towards shades of brown (hmmm, perhaps because I'm painting with brown paint on brown paper?) and I knew I wanted something more vivid for this piece. I might have to take a hard look at the materials and see if I can't recreate this in traditional media, though - it could be a fun (or at least instructive) challenge. Plus, I have one very good reason to add to my stack of traditional paintings, as I am officially...

IX8 artist list
...in the Weekend Salon at Illuxcon next year (woot!) and of course no pixels will be allowed on premises.


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New Work: The Nutcracker Posted on 18 Nov 2014


poster art by illustrator Wylie Beckert for Kansas Ballet's production of The Nutcracker

Ye gods, is it that time of year again??


Here's one of my latest commissioned pieces: a poster illustration for Kansas Ballet Company's 2014 production of The Nutcracker. This assignment has been percolating since May, when the company's art director (and reigning Mouse King) stumbled across my booth at Spectrum Live.

poster art by illustrator Wylie Beckert for Kansas Ballet's production of The Nutcracker

Thumbnail concepts.


The client originally envisioned a poster featuring Clara and a shadowy Mouse King; this was eventually discarded as too menacing for the target audience (composed primarily of little ballerinas) and so we settled on a composition centered around a portrait of the nutcracker doll.

poster art by illustrator Wylie Beckert for Kansas Ballet's production of The Nutcracker
Like most of my recent digital work, the piece started out as a 16x20-ish pencil drawing on bristol. While the larger pencil drawings can be a little unwieldy to work on (and store), I like how working larger allows for an additional level of intricate detail and, when reduced, a more polished final image.

poster art by illustrator Wylie Beckert for Kansas Ballet's production of The Nutcracker

The final illustration, prior to the type treatment.


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New Work: The Journey Posted on 05 Nov 2014


illustration by Wylie Beckert: a girl on a dragon flies above a fantasy map populated by books and mythical creatures

The journey is marked by false turns, road outages, and distractions of all kinds waiting to lure the unwary traveller into peril. Which way to go? Fortunately, those who go before us occasionally leave signposts, bridges, and messages of warning. One foot in front of the other...


It's been a busy couple of months and, as usual, I can't yet share any of the exciting work things I've been up to (but they exist, honest!) Rather than allowing myself to fade into complete obscurity while I hammer away at my latest round of ever-looming deadlines, I've been spending my scanty downtime prepping surfaces for some new traditional media work, idly planning a few personal projects for next year, and of course jumping on the occasional art contest.

illustration by Wylie Beckert: a girl on a dragon flies above a fantasy map populated by books and mythical creatures

Distractions everywhere!


This piece was prompted by the Artistic Journey contest over at DeviantArt - who could resist the lure of those deceptively bland, coloring-book-style templates?

It was a bit of a challenge to force a sense of three-dimensionality onto an incredibly flat and squiggly road, but I did manage to create enough depth to fit a troll underneath; sadly, all laws of perspective and reason were cast by the wayside in the process.

illustration by Wylie Beckert: a girl on a dragon flies above a fantasy map populated by books and mythical creatures

I fell back on toned paper for the underdrawing - it was a nice break from the more painstaking pencil drawings I've been doing for commissioned & traditional work lately; while it isn't ideal for my current coloring process, toned paper (used with a combo of pencil and white charcoal) seems to make for more polished stand-alone drawings.

sketch by Wylie Beckert: a girl on a dragon flies above a fantasy map populated by books and mythical creatures

The underdrawing, 11x17" on toned paper


The final image is colored digitally (process tutorial to come soon, time and energy permitting); my color choices on this one (Brown! Yellow-brown! Greenish yellow-brown!) will, presumably, surprise no one.

illustration by Wylie Beckert: a girl on a dragon flies above a fantasy map populated by books and mythical creatures


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The ArtOrder Artists Series launch Posted on 20 Oct 2014


artorder shop banner
Huge, awesome news - today marks the launch of the ArtOrder Artists Series! If you haven't heard of this project already, it's an ongoing series of limited-edition prints, curated by art director Jon Schindehette and featuring the artwork of a whole roster of awesome artists.

I'm honored to be the featured artist for the launch - limited edition prints of my painting Colder Wind are now available in the ArtOrder store, and are being offered for pre-sale at 20% off this week only.

If you were at Illuxcon this year, you may have already seen a few of the early-stage poster proofs that Jon was toting around. These are some really nice large-scale limited editions - signed, numbered, nice paper, the whole deal. The image is one of my current favorites - painted straight out of an intensely inspiring week at Illustration Master Class, it's the first piece in which I finally got the hang of my traditional media process (documented in more depth HERE).

Wylie Beckert: Colder Wind limited edition art print.

I can't say enough good things about this project; Jon's really gone out of his way to secure some great artists and wring amazing work out of them - and with good reason. The ArtOrder Artists Series is different from any other opportunity for fantasy artists out there today - it's based around, in Jon's words, "support of the arts...and the artists." Artwork is commissioned for AOAS on the basis of a profit sharing program - where the artist gets to reap the majority of the profits, and retain all rights to their work.

In an industry that is often the subject of finger-wagging for its draconian treatment of artists, a project like this one - designed with the artists in mind - is a breath if fresh air, and I'm hoping that its commercial success will be a step towards redefining the terms and hiring practices our market considers "standard."

If you've been admiring Colder Wind from afar, please consider checking out this print series! You can find the product page over at the ArtOrder store, and more background information on the Artists Series here.

And, if you're an artist and love the idea behind this program as much as I do, please consider helping to spread the word.


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RECENT POSTS

Every Day Original

15 Dec 2014
New Work: Sword of Purpose

10 Dec 2014
New Work: The Nutcracker

18 Nov 2014
New Work: The Journey

05 Nov 2014
The ArtOrder Artists Series launch

20 Oct 2014
Month of Fear - Demons Within

16 Oct 2014
Month of Fear - Banshee

02 Oct 2014
New Work: Tam Lin (traditional media)

23 Sep 2014
New Work: Colder Wind

16 Sep 2014
New Work: Bottle Quest

12 Sep 2014
Tiny Art Compilation

06 Aug 2014
Illustration Master Class 2014: Cold Wind

07 Jul 2014
New Work: Y&R Beijing/Penguin Audiobooks

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From the Sketchbook: Literary Octopus

26 May 2014
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3 (was awesome).

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Spectrum 21!

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New Work: Time Enough

03 Mar 2014
Month of Love - Fetish

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New Work: Tam Lin

18 Feb 2014
New Work: Easley's Gryphon

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Month of Love - #nofilter valentine

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New Work: ImagineFX

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Month of Love

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A Fashionably Late Wrap-Up of 2013

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