Friday, December 19, 2008

Random Sketch of the... Quarter

Wow.  Time flies but I don't need to tell you that.  Here's a sketch I did for a friend in Germany (Hi, Guenter).  This is his son, Meik, all decked out in firefighting gear.  Meik is in training to be a firefighter/hero.  You can do it, Meik!

Hope everyone has a very, Merry Christmas!!  Christ's birthday = the greatest time of the year!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Strange Twist of Providence

I painted the above image a long, long time ago in a studio not so far away...

This is an OLD, OLD image. Actually, it's an image I painted about 15 years ago in 1993. This image was for a card set for Topps called Star Wars Galaxy 2. The idea behind the set was to let artists depict events from the Star Wars saga that didn't necessarily happen onscreen. This led to many imaginative ideas from many different artists.

My concept was to depict a younger, pre-Vader Anakin Skywalker brooding over the shoulder of his wife and the mother of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Presumably, only Leia had been hidden from Anakin and that is why this image is sans baby Leia. This was to be my first nationally published illustration and I waited on pins and needles for the card set to be released. It was like being 5 years old and waiting for Christmas to arrive. When the cards were released, I got a big, kick-in-the-teeth image was not part of the set. I called my editor at Topps immediately. He explained that George Lucas, himself, had pulled some images from the set because they depicted events from the, yet unknown, prequel trilogy. Happy day.

There are a couple things that I find interesting about the image. First, my depiction of Padme (I had no idea of her name at the time...this was 6 years before Episode 1) looks a bit like Natalie Portman. Second, Anakin's shadow on the wall is in the shape of Darth Vader. I've always wondered if this image might have influenced Lucas even just a little tiny bit in his casting of Natalie Portman or even the decision to have little Anakin's shadow be in the shape of Darth Vader in an early Episode 1 promo poster. Probably not, but I can dream. Can't I?

Fast forward to this morning. I got an e-mail from Topps this morning letting me know that they were dusting off this old image and including it in the new, soon to be released, set of Star Wars Galaxy cards (with beautiful box art from my buddy and artist extraordinaire, Russell Walks). Apparently, Lucasfilm approved it for inclusion and they are printing it after 15 or so years. I don't know the context of the use, however. I sure hope they include info letting folks know how old this image is. I don't necessarily want people to assume this is a new image from me. I hope my work has progressed and changed a bit since painting this (notice all the grainy colored pencil?). I would approach this image so differently today in terms of painting technique, lighting, camera angle, body positioning, and composition. I find this image to be pretty ugly, these days.

At any rate, this is fun news and it's kind of cool to see something come full-circle like this.

Point to ponder: Does the printing of this image make it the first official depiction of Padme?

image copyright Lucasfilm, Ltd. and Topps, Inc.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Painting Small

Here's a small 5" X 7" painting that is one of a series of small paintings I'm working on.  The series may end up for sale in a gallery exhibit of small paintings from many different artists.  I've included the original sketch that was completed prior to producing the small painting.  I'm going to try and "loosen up" a bit more for the subsequent paintings in the set.  It's tough to paint loose and least it is for me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Anatomy of an Illustration

The above images show the progression from initial sketch to finished illustration (or series of illustrations) for a piece I painted for National Geographic Magazine.  The two-page spread told the true story of Bruce Means, a scientist that was bitten by a rattlesnake while alone in the wild.  He was far away from help and had to fight to stay alive while making the long trek back to civilization and medical help.

  1. The first sketch served as a thumbnail sketch for the project.  It's a little more finished than my thumbnails tend to be but there was a lot of information to convey in a fairly small space.  At this point I'm mainly setting up composition and figure placement.
  2. The second sketch is a more finished sketch that was produced a little larger and is beginning to show more detail.  It also begins to use Bruce Mean's likeness that was pulled from video screenshots and combined with posing a model in the studio for drawing reference.  The foreground panels are also beginning to take shape and show the process of cell degradation that is happening within Mean's body.  The panel composition also needed to change at this stage to allow for the spine of the magazine.  Otherwise, an important piece of the illustration could get lost in the binding.
  3. The third image is a color rough.  If time and budget allow, a color rough can help a client better envision the finished piece and show the color palette the illustrator is planning to incorporate into the piece.  Both this stage and the final illustration were produced in watercolor.
  4. The fourth image is the finished illustration.  Notice how a panel has been dropped to open space for a block of text on the right.  Also, notice how the foreground panels' content changes throughout the process.  Working through the sketch and rough process with a client can help them to "nail down" exactly what they want the final illustration to depict.  

all images copyright National Geographic magazine

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'm very happy to announce that my new website is now "live!"  So, feel free to head on over and poke around a bit.  There's lots of info and even a few "easter eggs" if you can find them.  Over time, there will be new content added and new images in the Gallery section.

I'm very, very grateful to my buddy, Mark Johnson, for taking my designs for the site and making them actually work.  Mark constantly took my ideas and added his own twist and expertise, making them so much better than I could have dreamed.  Mark is an amazing artist and web designer and I'm so glad he agreed to help me by putting this monster together.  Thank you, Mark!!!

Mark has also been the model for many of my characters over the years.  If you go to the Projects: Batman section of the site, you can see Mark and his lovely wife, Cammie, in reference photos from Batman: Absolution several years ago.

Click the link below to check out the new site:


Friday, September 5, 2008

Random Sketch

Here's fairly quick watercolor sketch that was done as a commission a few years ago.  It's a portrait of the writer, Aldous Huxley.  Huxley wrote the classic novel Brave New World among other works.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Illustration Exhibit Reminder

Just a reminder that my Batman Illustration Art Exhibit will be closing in the next two or three days.  So, if you were planning on checking it out, now is the time.  I'm sad to see it end. 

However, there is a fantastic exhibit taking its place.  This one will feature the illustration art of identical twins, Jim and Joe Heins... two fantastic illustrators and designers from my region that produce amazing work on the national level.  I'll definitely be checking it out once it's up.

For now, though:

Batman: The Art of Brian Ashmore
August 1 - August 29, 2008

Toucan Gallery
2505 Montana Ave.
Billings, MT 59101


Monday, August 25, 2008

Random Sketch of the Week

Here's an old Hulk sketch that I did before beginning work on the Hulk series I painted quite awhile ago.  This was a quick ballpoint pen sketch.  Is he laughing?  Is he angry?  Who knows?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Moving on...

This past week was my last week as an employee.  Of the last ten years,  I've spent the majority of them making my living as a freelance illustrator.  However, two years ago (almost to the day), I accepted a full-time position as an in-house illustrator and designer for a company that produces silk-screened and embroidered t-shirts and jackets and what-not, Sutton's Sportswear.  This was necessary, at the time, as my family needed a bit of normalcy (and a more consistent income) after I had spent so many years working around the clock on painted comics and other illustrations.  I left Suttons last week in a mutually amicable move back into full-time freelance illustration. While the work at Suttons was often quite fun, I really missed the kind of work that I was doing before taking the full-time position and was anxious to have the opportunity to get back to doing what I love... painted illustration!  I worked with some very good friends at Suttons and I will miss the day-to-day interaction with them very much.

So, now I'm on my own again.  I'm moving on.  I'm very excited about embarking on this new stage of my career and I pray that I will be successful in this endeavor.  I have some big plans in place and only time will tell if they come to fruition or not.

And so, in honor of Suttons and my time there, I've posted a few of the more "illustrative" designs that I produced for them.  Most of the work I created at Suttons was done in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.


Batman and Joker Sketch Cards

I set the Wayback Machine to 1989 for these two cards.  They depict Batman and the Joker as they appeared in the Keaton/Nicholson Batman film.  They are kind of meant to go with the Dark Knight Batman and Joker from a week or go or so (Just for you, Bathunter!).

Anyone else remember how great it was to actually be seeing a "serious" take on Batman when this film came out in '89?  Sure, this first film can seem a bit dated here and there when watched today.  However, it was such a thrill to see these characters "living and breathing" up on the screen in such a way that was dark and not campy.   I can hardly believe that the 20th anniversary of this film is already next year in 2009!  I'm definitely getting old.   It couldn't possibly be nineteen years ago that I was sitting in the theater with my buddy Russell Walks feeling like a kid in a candy store waiting for the movie to begin.  I remember driving home after the film with a Keaton scowl on my face pretending I was driving the batmobile.  What a geek!!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Random Sketch(es) of the Week

This is a page of sketched panels for one of the pages in DC Comics' Batman: Absolution. When my new website goes "live" later this month, there will be a section on the site about the process of working on a large, sequential project like Absolution. It will outline the process of producing art from the initial thumbnail sketches all the way through to the finished pages. There will be many preliminary sketches and drawings like this one to show the process of creating the finished work.

So, consider this a "teaser" of what's coming on the main site.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Topps Heroes Sketch Cards

Okay, last batch of Topps sketch cards that I'll post for awhile (did I just hear a collective sigh of relief from the 3 or 4 of you that might be checking this blog from time to time?).  These are from the Topps Heroes card set from the first season.  I had a lot of fun watching the first season of Heroes on DVD while sketching all my cards for this set.  I hadn't seen the show during it's run on TV.  So, I got to have a "Heroes-fest" while doing these.  I think I did about 75 cards total for this set.

I haven't seen the second season.  How does it compare to the first?


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Star Wars Clone Wars Sketch Cards

Here are a few of the sketch cards that I did for the Topps Star Wars Clone Wars card set.  These are in a simpler style than I'm used to.  I was trying to approximate the characters' look from the forthcoming film which is completely CGI animated.  You may have to turn your monitor sideways to see Yoda.  It may not be worth it to you, tho.  If it is, seek professional help. 


Monday, August 4, 2008

Random Sketch of the Week

Thought I'd throw this up as the random sketch of the week. It's a quick sketch for a small watercolor portrait. I guess I like something about the simplicity of this one.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Batman: Absolution in Gotham Knight DVD!!

Okay, you'll have to pardon my pathetic excitement over such a minor thing. Let me explain. Being the huge Batman fan that I am, I always make sure to watch the "Behind the Scenes" stuff on any and all of the Batman DVDs that happen to be released. Many of them use quite a bit of comic book art intertwined with industry experts talking about the character. They use A LOT of Batman art in these documentaries. So, naturally, having illustrated a Batman book, I'm always hoping for even the slightest snippet of Absolution to show up somewhere in one of these docs. It never happens. Oh, well. Life goes on.

However, today was different! Thanks to a tip from my pal Guenter in Germany, I finally got to see a tiny bit of Absolution on the new Gotham Knight DVD. It's a quick pan over the image above during the documentary called A Mirror for the Bat: The Evil Denizens of Gotham City.

Christmas came early to the Ashmore studio this year.

Also, as luck would have it, this is one of the pages currently on display at the Toucan Gallery during the month of August. Cool.


Art Exhibit Opening

The opening night of my art exhibit at the Toucan was an exciting night. Hundreds of people passed through the Toucan Art Gallery during the Billings Artwalk. It was great fun to get to chat with comic book and art fans, alike. You wouldn't know it from the pics but we were pretty swamped with people checking out the Absolution watercolors and all the other fantastic art that was on display at the Toucan. My many "thanks" to all who stopped in to see the work!

The show will be hanging through the end of August. So, if you live in Billings or are in the area be sure to stop by the Toucan.

Batman: The Art of Brian Ashmore
August 1 - August 29, 2008

Toucan Gallery
2505 Montana Ave.
Billings, MT 59101



Friday, August 1, 2008

Absolution in the News

The Billings Gazette ran an article today on my art exhibit at the Toucan Art Gallery. The article talks about the show and the book I illustrated, Batman: Absolution. Must be a slow news week...Heh, heh. The story includes an image of an oafish, potato-headed old fart that they claim is me (Yikes! Aging is not for the faint-of-heart. Seek the help of a professional before trying it at home, kids).

Check it out (if you dare):

Billings Gazette Article

They also recorded a short audio interview (listen, if you are man/woman enough):

Audio Interview

AND, last but not least, an old interview when Absolution was first released (read it if you...oh, never mind):

Older Absolution Article


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Monster

Here's a random sketch for the week from a few years back. This is a fun little, quick sketch of Frankenstein's monster. Urrgh!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dark Knight Sketches

Here a couple of sketch cards that I drew for a friend.  They are sketches of Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as the Joker.  These are drawn on my own personal sketch cards and are the types of sketches that I produce for commissions.

On a side note, I loved the new film.  However, I'm still unsure what to think about the new "Batsuit."  I think that the film series' visual designers should be moving the look of Batman more towards the look of the character in the comics instead of further away.  A fabric based suit could look cool (like Spidey's duds in the new films... he doesn't look silly) and still have the implication that the suit is armored underneath.  I found myself constantly checking my mental images of Batman while Bale was onscreen in the new suit and asking myself, "Does this check?  Do I feel like I'm watching the character I've known for so many years?"  I'm not sure.  I think the new suit is too "faceted," for lack of a better term.  There's too much going on, visually, in areas of the suit that should be streamlined and simple.  I have to admit, though, it has grown on me a bit since seeing the first images of the suit many months ago.  

I think when you are watching a film character that has such an established past, you shouldn't have to keep forcing yourself to accept that character design as the character you expect.  Think about Spiderman, for instance, his design is updated but doesn't completely conflict with what you expect to see as the image of Spiderman.  I think that the "powers that be" behind the look of Batman on film would be well served to keep this in mind.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Star Wars Sketch Cards

Here are a few more Star Wars sketch cards that I drew for Topps last year.

For those unfamiliar with sketch cards... Sketch cards are fun little "one off" originals that card companies include in the card packs with regular cards. So, every once in awhile, a collector will find an original little drawing when they open a pack of cards. Artists working on sketch cards usually sketch anywhere from 100 to 500 cards, depending on how many they have time to produce. It's a fun way for collectors to own a small piece of original art.

Some artists have even had professional personal card blanks printed for themselves to do sketches for commissions or even to give away or trade with other artists and friends. I have some personal sketch cards that I use for these purposes. I'll post a few in the next day or so.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Illustration Art Exhibit

I'm proud to announce that Toucan Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of my work. More specifically, some original watercolor works from Batman: Absolution, a graphic novel I illustrated a few years back. It should be a fun show and I invite everyone to come by the Toucan and check it out, as well as all the other fantastic work from other artists that Toucan has displayed. I'll be at the Toucan on August 1st from 5 to 9 pm for the opening during the Billings Artwalk. Come by and say, "Hello."

Here are the particulars:

Batman: The Art of Brian Ashmore
August 1 - August 29, 2008

Art Walk opening August 1st (from 5 to 9 PM)

Toucan Gallery
2505 Montana Ave.
Billings, MT 59101


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Star Wars Sketch Cards

Here are a few of the Star Wars sketch cards I produced for Topps last year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lord of the Rings Sketch Cards

One of the things that I thought this blog might be useful for is showing sketches and things that I might not necessarily put in a gallery on the main site (when it's active). Here's a sampling of some sketch cards that I produced for Topps several months ago. I've had fun sketching cards for various licenses for them and thought I'd post a few of the Rings sketches.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baby Steps.

I thought I'd check and see how posting an image works. Here goes...

This is a watercolor sketch of our ol' pal Obi-Wan that I painted recently. Hey, Obi-Wan, why so blue? Heh.

It's a blog!

Hi, and welcome to my new blog.

This is where I intend to keep everyone updated on what I'm doing.  I may post news about upcoming events and projects, random sketches, or even thoughts on books I'm reading or movies I've watched.  I'll try to keep it illustration and art related but I'm sure to deviate from time to time.  

I'm looking forward to it!