Self Portrait Experiment

I love getting feedback while I’m working. Like, a lot.

So I thought I would try another experiment on my Twitter feed. The first one went pretty well, and people seem engaged by the fact that I was changing the work based on their feedback.

I also figured this would make for a great process post to show folks who are curious how I go about my work.

I’ve had a number of different ideas for representative self portraits over the years, so I thought why not use my most recent idea as a basis for this experiment?

The Self Portrait Idea

For this self portrait, I wanted to surround myself with alien / demonic / fantastic creatures, and make it clear that I’m doing battle with them. My only weapon? My Apple Pencil.

The surrounding creatures would be laid out in such a way as to create visual draws to me and (more specifically) to my Pencil.

The Pencil will be giving off a magical glow, illuminating myself and the creatures around me. A bit like this recent self portrait:

A self portrait of 'mrlich'. Taken a bit literally.
mrlich – literally


The first tweet in this process was something I don’t always do – thumbnails. I do these whenever I’m doing work for a client in order to make sure we’re both on the same page. Sometimes, when doing an image for myself, that’s not really necessary.

I posted this page of thumbnails and asked folks for their feedback:

A collection of thumbnails for folks to choose from.
A collection of thumbnails for folks to choose from.

So far, 10 & 15 are tied for first place, and 11 and 16 are tied for second place. I’m going to give it a little more time before I take the final tally and refine these thumbs a bit more for folks to pick from.

If I was working with a client, I would likely also do one or more combination of elements if they liked multiple thumbnails in order to continue to refine what they’re looking for into one (or two at most) thumbnails before proceeding. Changes at this stage are significantly easier than they are down the road.

Stay tuned to this post, as I’ll update it throughout the process!

Let’s Make A Monster (Twitter Experiment)

I did a little experimental thread over on my Twitter stream. I wanted to encourage a couple of things – namely audience interaction and I wanted to provide them an actual reason to share the thread.

Simply put: I provided a series of polls for folks to vote on to determine how I constructed a monster.

Here’s a link to the thread in case you’re curious.

The results to the first poll (bipedal or quadrapedal) was:

Quadruped, it is!

The second poll was what kind of terrain the creature spends its time in. The audience chose subterranean so I added digging claws and narrowed the torso to make the creature more wedge shaped.

Subterranean Features

The third poll was how many heads the creature has. Crowd said 2.

Two Heads Are Better Than One?

And the fourth and final poll was what kind of tail to give it (or to give it none). The crowd picked a long straight tail with a club end.

Final Sketch!

After the final poll, I finished the tail and posted it and then felt like I should go ahead and paint it. Since I was already in an experimental mode, I took the sketch, blurred it a bit, and then mixed the sketch lines in with the digital paint layers. Here are the final results.

The Finished Beastie!

Here’s the process video if you enjoy that.

Process Video for the first Let’s Make A Monster

I really need to get back to the work for my Patreon page, but this was an excellent little experiment and I plan to do it again in the near future.

This is the character I’m currently working on for Patreon:

(This post was also put up over on my One Post Wonder blog. Cross posted here for availability to everyone.)