Wylie Beckert


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New Work: Pointless Quest Posted on 26 May 2013

Illustration by artist Wylie Elise Beckert: a girl with a teapot pursuing a snail with a teacup for a shell.
This image is based on one of last month's daily sketches that I'd wanted to revisit as a final image. I was thinking of Magic: the Gathering card illustrations with this layout - a horizontal image that's moderately detailled, but still readable on a tiny (2") scale.
Check out the full view in the gallery.

sketch by artist Wylie Elise Beckert: a snail teacup.

(The pencil & white charcoal sketch.)

It's also an experiment with pushing the rendering further at the pencil stage of a piece (darker darks! lighter lights! and plenty of smudgy blending!) - and, as I suspected, the end result is a bit more polished, and much more in line with the finished look I'm always aiming for. I'll definitely be continuing along this path (and seeing how much further I can take it) for future pieces.


New Work: The Turnip Keeper's Lantern Posted on 20 May 2013

I've always wanted to illustrate the folktale behind the modern tradition of the jack-o-lantern - the story of a drunken sinner who, through trickery, extracts a promise from the devil never to claim his soul and is subsequently forced to wander the earth with a carved turnip containing an ember from the fires of hell to light his lonely way.

Illustration by artist Wylie Elise Beckert: the turnip keeper's lantern.

(The pencil & white charcoal sketch.)

I thought all that accursed wandering might be rendered pleasanter and more efficient with the addition of a bicycle. Unfortunately, bikes are one of those things that are both hard to draw properly from imagination AND suitably large and cumbersome that dragging an actual one up from the basement for reference purposes isn't entirely practical. My solution:

cardboard bike model
Viewing my creation, it may not alarm my readers to learn that my exemplary marks at art school were marred by a few D's in Sculpture; however, this crude model is something of a marvel of hidden engineering. Standing a full 3.5" high, it features sturdy cocktail skewer & hot glue construction and (wonder of wonders) a fully articulated front fork and handlebars for lifelike handling.

The completion of this piece also marks the happy occasion of having enough reasonable examples of my current working style that I feel comfortable starting to knock some of the older, more cartoony stuff out of my portfolio in favor of the new pieces. I always advise illustrators just starting out to chisel their portfolios down to the bare relevant minimum, but for some reason I have a hard time doing it myself until I have something better to replace it with.

On the bright side, it's nice to be able to look at my current work against stuff from 2011/2012 and see a marked improvement - it gives me hope for 2014 and beyond.


New Work: Nest Posted on 12 May 2013

Illustration by artist Wylie Elise Beckert: a mother with dark hair and glasses builds a nest around her daughter, a baby girl with red hair and pale skin.A little illustration for Mother's Day.


Some Daily Sketches Posted on 20 Apr 2013

Illustration by artist Wylie Elise Beckert: a daily sketch
I tend to overwork personal pieces - setting myself up for failure by choosing an enormous canvas ("Oh, this will look fantastic on the wall in case I ever slip through a wormhole in space and time and land in an alternate reality where I'm a gallery artist!"), overthinking reference materials, and spending waaaay too much time rendering things that require very little rendering.

To that end, I've challenged myself to make some daily drawings whenever I get a few minutes free in my work schedule. The only rules:

  • Each piece should be no larger than 5x7(ish), and

  • Each piece must be finished within the space of a single day, or abandoned.

It gives me a chance to work on creating coherent compositions on the fly, as well as reinforcing the idea that "no deadline" doesn't necessarily mean "this should take forever."

Illustration by artist Wylie Elise Beckert: a daily sketch
The first batch of drawings turned into a series of perplexing and pointless quests carried out by a girl in impractical armwarmers. The one with the snail is my favorite.

Illustration by artist Wylie Elise Beckert: a daily sketch
I have, of course, entirely defeated the purpose of this exercise by starting to make a larger, more tediously rendered finished piece out of the second sketch, which I will be posting soon. Oh well.


New Work: The Fold Posted on 09 Apr 2013

Illustration by artist Wylie Elise Beckert - a goth boy in a wolf-ear hoodie lurks on a set of stairs above three unsuspecting schoolgirls in sheep hats.
A new piece is up, featuring sheep hats, a juice box, and lots and lots of stairs. Check out the full view in the gallery; details and some reference photo hilarity below.

As you can see, this is another pencil drawing on toned paper, colored digitally. It's a bit of a shift from my usual process, though, as I took the paper stage a bit further with colored pencils before scanning and finishing it out in Photoshop. Due to the size of the piece (16x20 - a bit larger than I usually work) I confined the colored pencil rendering to the characters, and left the background and lesser elements in graphite.

Since this didn't call for a huge range of colors, I put away most of the set and used dark green, peach, and red (not entirely coincidentally, these are some of the few Prismacolor shades that are actually lightfast).

The end result photographs badly (read: I am a bad photographer) but is actually a nice subtle effect, with the soft stippled tone that colored pencils produce. I'm planning to try a fully-colored pencil drawing on a smaller piece in the near future.

In my last blog post, John asked if I use reference photos in my work. Short answer: yes. A lot of my older work (the pieces with the more cartoony style and the ping-pong ball eyes) were generally done without reference, and suffered for it. I've been taking reference photos for most of my newer work, particularly since I've been using so many potentially disastrous low-angle views. They're a huge help in putting characters in the correct (or at least, closer to correct) perspective to their environment. Since in my neck of the woods the only model I have available is myself, and since I'm working with a rather limited photo studio/laundry room, this involves a lot of jumping on and off of the washing machine to set my camera's timer.

My photography skills and modeling ability are, at least, equally matched.

One major upside I've noticed is that the more practice I get using photo or life reference in my work, the more accurate to life my non-referenced sketches are becoming. The resulting images are the best of both worlds - some of the liveliness and stylization that comes from imagination, along with some semblance of anatomical accuracy. Pieces like this one feel a little heavy handed on the photo reference - I can't quite ignore the fact that all of the characters have the same build (insanely ripped upper arms!) that I do.


<< Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next >>


New Work: Pointless Quest

26 May 2013
New Work: The Turnip Keeper's Lantern

20 May 2013
New Work: Nest

12 May 2013
Some Daily Sketches

20 Apr 2013
New Work: The Fold

09 Apr 2013
Materials & a Work in Progress: Wolf Boy

30 Mar 2013
New Work: February Sky

08 Mar 2013
From the Sketchbook: Whiskey Foot Party

04 Mar 2013
New Work: Summer Wine

05 Dec 2012
From the Sketchbook: Disgruntled Cocktail Rabbit

15 Nov 2012
From the Sketchbook: Kindred

15 Sep 2012
PigPen Theatre/Buffalo Picture House: Bremen

01 Aug 2012
From the Sketchbook: Mohawk Boy

25 Apr 2012
New Work 1/21 - Bad Fish

21 Jan 2012
The Slow, Halting March of Progress

20 Oct 2011
News? Cute.

10 Jul 2011


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