While I need to redraw the new studio floor plan and take a few more pictures of the various work stations, the following will give you an idea of my space and what happens here. Check back later as I add to this section of the site. WM

While I do all my color work in the studio, either with acrylics or digitally, I do a ton of drawing while out and about, either while traveling, while camping,  at coffee shops.

Besides drawing from my imagination without reference, I also maintain a huge print and digital library for art examples, anatomy,  techniques and other source materials. However, nothing beats having costumes or actual objects to use as reference.

Besides collecting, building and painting scale models and a wide range of historical, fantasy and scifi miniatures, I also collect natural history, artifacts,  strange rocks fossils and trinkets and use them for inspiration.

I recently bought this glass display cabinet and I think it is one of the best studio purchases I've made in a decade. Keeps the dust off those models and my collection of Reaper, Grenadier, Ral Partha, Heritage USA, and other miniatures!




It all begins with drawing, sometimes even before the idea is consciously known -- that is, sometimes I need to just start putting down lines and let the pencil reveal a scene. At other times, when a specific location, person, item or client supplied detail is provided, I have more to work with, but still, every image I produce, even a sculpted map or 28mm scale dungeon tile, starts with a drawing.

I use a variety of pencils, but my favorite these days is a 'F' lead wooden pencil. Its the perfect balance of darkness that the scanner can see, without the smudge of an HB or the paper gouging cut of an H or bloody 2H pencil.

To the right is a picture showing my complete arsenal of drawing tools, except for my fingers of course, which I use to smudge images when they are going to be scanned and turned into  digital paintings or else finished grayscale graphite renderings.

 I do not draw in the computer, even though I have a tablet. For some reason, I can paint just fine over a scanned drawing, but unlike my eldest daughter and other artists I know, I am entirely hopeless at drawing on a screen. 

I don't always drink red wine when I am drawing, but when socializing with family and friends, I love to crack open my sketchbook and just draw objects, people or  concepts for my latest client job or personal project. Here we see an image from an upcoming novel series for The Mutant Epoch milieu.

I'll draw on anything, including napkins and my kid's homework, but prefer acid free, semi-smooth paper like these Strathmore 400 series sketchbooks. While I have some perfect bound sketchbooks, which I love because the pages don't rub together when you are travelling about with them in your pack, they are however hard to hold open and get a good flatbed scan from. These wire bound sketchbooks can be opened up fully to make a hard drawing surface, and scanned with ease.

And  older shot of  my flat drawing table.  What is not shown here is sheets of reference material on frogs, which I appear to be drawing in this shot from 2011. Lately, I draw at a 45 degree angle on my main light table, although almost never use the light table except to trace client rough maps or render on larger inks from print outs.

 Here is a shot of me doing some actual work. I ink right over my pencils these days, and start with a brush pen and rarely use paint brushes and ink pots anymore (except for large black areas because the refills for this pen ain't cheap.

 The pen I'm using here is  called a Pentel Pocket Brush, and when you buy it ( and if you want to do ink art, you absolutely must), it comes with two ink cartridges. This brush is the best one I ever used, and I think I've bought them all including the Micron pigma one's... which are fine for one or two images then get fuzzy. Just don't use it on really rough paper as it may fray the tip.


Here are my pens.

After the brush phase, I go in with a 01 micron pen, perhaps  a 005 if I need to go crazy with the crosshatching or detail.

The three older pens taped together are for when I need to put down a ton of dots in the terrain or if I am doing a pointillism rendering.

I mainly go through the 01 and 05 pens, simply wearing the tip down to nothing well before I run out  o fink, and can expert to buy a new pen for every two or three full pages of art I do.

Like all my art materials, I used archival quality products so that these images will be around centuries after I am gone.

What is my secret weapon besides the Pentel Brush Pen? Well, its one of these 7 power Opti-visors, available on Amazon.com. I've had this thing since my early twenties when I did a three year stint as a gem carver's assistant on Bowen Island, British Columbia. I use it for fixing electronics, painting miniatures, sculpting and most importantly, for doing the tiny ink work that I am somewhat known for.

 I don't do the initial drawing wearing any optical aide, but for inking, as my aging eyes, I need either a 1x magnification pair of reading glasses or these beauties.  Because of my opti-visor, I can work 1:1 scale, that is, 100% the size that a finished work is printed at. For books like The Mutant Epoch hub rules, which has over 500 illustrations, most of them tiny, these visual aides are essential.



Digital painting in progress. This is for Mutant Bestiary One for the Mutant Epoch RPG I use Photoshop and basically color each layer, duplicating the graphite drawing, then erase sections of layers and use the smudge tool to simulate an oil-paint style. The end result is that the art looks a lot like my acrylic hand painted work.


My Paint box

A collection of acrylic painting tools and colors

I have recently returned to hand painting as I love having originals and getting away from the computer, too. I have been looking into oils again after a decade, but, with the winter here being 6 months long and the window have to be closed tight, ventilation is an issue and so, I'll most likely stick to the the  jar colors while I can still them.

 The longevity of my art is starting to concern me, and so my efforts to go back to hand painting book covers. I get a kick out of thinking that some collector, fan or descendant of mine will have one of my images up on their wall 500 years form now. The same can not be said for digital art, and with so many artists out there doing digital work, with no absolute original, and the risk to the grid from an EMP pulse or solar flare, simple hard drive crash, loss of back up files, etc. it makes me think that all this wonderful stuff we see is going to vanish overnight... except for the physical art.

The early stages of a Handcrafted Dungeons tile. I use Crayola Model Magic and apply it to textured masonite boards, with texture and shaping applied by a dozen different tools. Finally, the tiles are primed and painted with same paints I use to illustrate artwork, then staged and photographed before being turned into a downloadable PDF product.

Although not a service I provide, I also sculpt for fun and profit. The appeal of sculpting miniatures or the HandCrafted Dungeons line of print and play tiles is that I get to stand up to work, and there is something about sculpting and making real, 3d shapes and textures that recharges all my other creative outlets.
      As of writing this on April 16th 2018, I have only two sets of dungeon tiles out abut two sets of caves and caverns plus a third basic Dungeon set and a couple of pay what you want samplers coming out. I only work at these things a couple hours a week right now as I have other demands on my studio hours these days. Still, they are something I keep set up and can pick at for an hour or two on weekends or in the evening when I need a quick creative fix.



Copyright 2018 William McAusland. All rights reserved.