"Rooftops" by Sarah MarinoTwo years ago, my friend and Oatley Academy colleague Sarah Marino appeared on what is, to date, the most frequently downloaded episode of The ArtCast: The Rising Stars Of Animation.

Like every other guest on that show, Sarah has, as I predicted, gone on to great success.

After wrapping as a visual development artist on The Book Of Life (the gorgeous new animated feature from Reel FX) she moved to Burbank to join the art department on Nickelodeon’s new preschool series Shimmer and Shine.

In this episode, Sarah shares the story of her happy, creative childhood, her positive experience at Ringling College Of Art and Design and the subsequent, disarming struggle of breaking into the animation industry.

…and in the Q&A segment, we respond to a listener question about developing your concept art portfolio.

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A portrait study in a digital "scribble" technique with which I've been experimenting. [ click here for the high res version ]

Here’s a new portrait study in a digital “scribble” technique with which I’ve been experimenting.

Click here to see a high resolution version.

I used a very limited number of values.

…and if my Photoshop Brush Settings had been any simpler, I could have done it in Mario Paint.

(100% Opacity. 100% Flow. No feathering. No soft edges.)

Obviously, there’s no color.

The expressiveness came only from the “scribbly” Brush Tip and the physical gesture of each brush stroke.

If you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with your paintings, consider setting up some extreme limitations for yourself.

I believe you’ll find the limitations quite freeing.

Try eliminating certain aspects from the process in order to create some mental space for greater focus or creativity.

The Photoshop Brushes I created for this technique will soon be available to my newsletter subscribers.

Find more Digital Painting techniques here and here.



A few weeks ago I did my best to explain a complicated (but pressing) issue known as “Net Neutrality.”

Basically, it’s a real-life version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and it could negatively affect artists and audiences worldwide.

Today, the FCC (the folks who decide whether to give independent creators equal treatment online) is closing itself off to public comment on this issue.

…and we probably won’t get another chance to speak out.

Email the FCC today and demand that they protect our future as independent creators.

If everyone who reads this blog post is willing to send one email, we can make an EPIC amount of noise in defense of our creative economy.


If you want to learn more about the Net Neutrality issue, check out my simple explanation.

If you want details, read this thorough and informative post by Magic Box student, Norman Haldeman.

Make Some Noise:

Let’s flood FCC’s inbox with the voice of artists worldwide!


The Tour Pascal Campion

“I can’t take ten steps without seeing something I want to paint or draw…”

- Pascal Campion

In part one of this interview, we learned about Pascal Campion’s early career and his development into a uniquely versatile professional artist.

In this episode, Pascal manages to communicate to us how his creative mind actually works – which is extremely difficult to do.

He also shares some stirringly thoughtful responses to questions from my color theory and digital painting students. We talk about portfolios, art school, composition,  lighting and, of course, personal style.

Click through to listen…

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Interview With Pascal Campion (Part 1) :: ArtCast #74

What does a successful artist look like? Many of us define success by the size of our fan bases, the popularity of our best clients and the amount of money in our bank accounts. But very few of us would agree that these are the most valuable aspects of life as a professional artist. Nothing […]

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21 Butt-Kicking Questions To Help You Stay Focused On Your Creative Dream

My friend Debbie has a big BUT. …and it has become a serious problem. Debbie is a creatively-unfulfilled (and slightly depressed) graphic designer. For years, I’ve challenged her to start searching for a new path to greater creative fulfillment by: Starting a personal project. Launching a creative side business. Developing new, professional relationships via social media. […]

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Why Your Concept Art Portfolio Is Being Ignored (Part 3) :: ArtCast #73

My friend Matt Kohr is a professional concept artist and the creator of the best digital painting tutorial site on the Internet. So it’s safe to say that he appreciates digital tools and flashy Photoshop tricks as much as anyone. But in the following interview, you’ll hear him say this: “I get a lot of […]

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Our Creative Future Is At Risk: What “Net Neutrality” Means For Visual Storytellers

The Internet is the most accessible, affordable and inclusive media distribution platform in history. The freedom and equality it offers for creative people like you and me has inspired big dreams and new hope for our world, our families and for ourselves as creative people. Right now, that freedom and equality is being threatened by Comcast, […]

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Why Freelance Artists Fail :: ArtCast #72

“You need to be in constant communication with the client to the point that they expect… The worst thing is when someone doesn’t update you. It’s absolutely critical that you communicate with your clients.” - Sean Hodge Even the most successful freelance artists will tell you that bad clients and boring gigs are common roadblocks to a fulfilling […]

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“Story Science” With Louie del Carmen & Jim Zub: Live From Emerald City Comic Con

I was honored to support the Emerald City Comic Con this year by hosting a panel with seasoned storytellers Louie del Carmen and Jim Zub. Louie is a legendary storyboard artist with credits on Rise Of The Guardians, The Croods, Kung Fu Panda, Kim Possible and Invader Zim to name a few. Jim Zub is the creator of the Samurai Jack comic and his popular […]

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Troubleshooting Your Freelance Illustration Career :: ArtCast #71

“Art is  a system. I think  as you mature, it’s natural that if you start to pay attention to business, you’ll start to approach that systematically as well.” - Sean Hodge Conducting creative business on the Internet is a relentless test of endurance. The fight for attention in this crowded, noisy market is exhausting and often discouraging. […]

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‘Chris Oatley’s ArtCast’ Featured In iTunes! (Please Help Us Make The Most Of This Opportunity)

Chris Oatley’s ArtCast has accrued more than $200 in bandwidth overages in the past month. …but for a REALLY good reason. Our podcast is currently being featured in the “What’s Hot In Visual Arts” section in iTunes! It would be a amazing if you could help us ride this wave of success by taking ten […]

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The Fan Base Project: Will Your Personal Project Make Money? (Part 5)

This is part 5 of a 6-part series designed to help you decide which type of personal project you want to pursue and how you might make money from it when you do. We recommend reading the series in order: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 So far, we’ve discussed three types of personal project. […]

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Why Your Concept Art Portfolio Is Being Ignored (Part 2)

Craig Mullins, Iain McCaig and Neville Page got it all wrong… If you want to be a successful concept artist, don’t follow their example. It’s far too risky. If they knew anything about concept art, they would stop producing such ground-breaking/ mind-blowing/ industry-defining work and just stick to slight variations of the familiar… Of course, I’m […]

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Dear, JJ Abrams: How An Animated ‘Star Wars’ Fan Film Renewed Hope For The Franchise :: ArtCast #70

“Find something that’s big. Find a big, cultural phenomenon and say something about it in a beautiful way. I think that’s part of the reason for [our film's] success.” -Prescott Harvey Soon after Disney announced that JJ Abrams would direct the next Star Wars trilogy, the clever creatives at Sincerely Truman responded with a beautifully-directed film called 4 […]

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Why Your Concept Art Portfolio Is Being Ignored (Part 1)

If I see one more green-tinted, over-textured digital painting of a wrecked spaceship I’m going to… …do absolutely nothing. I won’t tell any of my friends about it. I won’t share it online. …and I certainly won’t buy a book full of similar images. Not because I’ll hate it. …because it won’t make me feel […]

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