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The Cult Den Interview about and quick update.

A couple of weeks ago, Aaron and David did an interview about for the Cult Den, an online central all about comics, art, books, and entertainment in general.

The Cult Den has now ended it’s run, and as the website, nor the interview is available through there, Aaron and David decided to host it here, on Studio Colrouphobia’s blog, for future reference.

The interview was done by Liam Salt, who has moved on to another site (which one, he wouldn’t divulge on just yet) and we are sure he will do just fine there.

Without further ado, here is the



Interview – David Sondered and Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Hey guys! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Now, the first question is a kinda political one that I also asked of Patrick Freivald. I know these things can be a bit fraught, and there’s no hard feelings if you don’t want to answer… Anyway, here goes; Jedi, or Sith?

David Sondered: Sith. I’m too unbalanced for Jedi…

Aaron Dembski-Bowden: Jedi. Not that they were right (because they weren’t) but they were a dead interesting idea for a flawed, nuanced caste of a galactic society. They had tyrannical elements (like the ‘kidnapping’ of children) and their philosophies ran against natural human instinct, but that only made them more interesting. Perfect cultures are bori–

I just realised I was about to launch into a 3,000 word essay over a joke question.

tl;dr — Jedi. I like how well-intentioned but flawed they were.

Plus, green lightsabers are best.

Moving on…

DS: Coincidentally, I like how focused the Sith are/where, but with a mean streak.

While I’m more than happy to enter into a dissertation-length discourse on Jedi-Sith pros and cons, Aaron, we probably shouldn’t… So ice-breakers aside, care to tell us a little bit about yourselves and Road to Jove?

ADB: Um. My name’s Aaron, but various family members smugly introduce me as New York Times best-selling author Aaron Dembski-Bowden, which makes me cringe. I’ve written ten (ish?) novels for Warhammer 40,000, which I’ve loved ever since I was about 8. I’m working on some other stuff; Road to Jove is the first focused attempt to get some of my other ideas out into the world.

I like Marmite on toast. I collect Pez dispensers. I don’t like cats. I’m 50-50 on people who do like cats.

Road to Jove is a gestalt entity of a bajillion things that I love – like ancient world mythology – but on a meta-level (and yes, I feel like a tool even typing that) it’s primarily my love letter to Neil Gaiman, Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower Series’, and the childhood epic ‘The Mysterious Cities of Gold’,

It was also a great excuse to work with David, whose work I’ve seen a bunch online over the years, and usually commented on with breathy, admiring swear words.

DS: So, I’m David Sondered.

Half of Studio Colrouphobia (which I run together with my wife) and the… visual aspect of Road to Jove. I make the illustrations for the comic, and I have been working as an illustrator for about ten years. The admiring swearwords where most likely coming from both ends of the canal at more or less simultaneous times, as I have been a fan of Aaron’s work since the First Heretic, which was the first Warhammer book I ever bought and read.

When Aaron first asked if I would even remotely have any interest in doing something together with him, I immediately said yes, without hesitation.

And I share Aarons dislike of cats, hence my family, of course, own one.. a magnificent beast called Khan… Just so we can call out “Khaaaaan!”. We balance it by calling our dog Balor… he has an evil eye and a mean odour…

Don’t all dogs have a mean odour? Ours smells like the back-end of a cow about 75% of the time…

DS: The cow died, crawled up our dogs backside, zombified and then died again… trust me.. there is a difference!

Ha! Fair enough! So, before I get completely sidetracked – what made you guys decide on a webcomic, as opposed to a more traditional publishing format?

ADB: I went into it specifically thinking “I want a webcomic…” since, well, I’ve kinda always wanted one – just like a million other writers, of course. It seemed like it’d be a simple affair, too.

How wrong we were. That innocent and wide-eyed optimism faded a little when I realised just how much work it was for both of us, considering we wanted it to be as good as we could make it.

DS: At the same time, the hard work has been very rewarding.

I really enjoy working together on this sort of thing. Just the conceptualisation of it all is an extremely rewarding process in terms of finding out what Aaron had as an idea, my spin on it, jumbling things around and coming out at something really worthwhile.

ADB: We’ve already had a few interesting and tempting offers to do it in a more traditional format (and a few of my writer/artist friends are yelling at us for giving it away for free, given the work that’s going into it), but we’re still trying to puzzle out where we stand on the whole deal.

I like the webcomic idea, though. It feels right.

DS: The fact that we also work very well on a personal level is a very rewarding part of it. But the webcomic format feels, to get back to that, very right indeed.

On paper, working on a comic sounds simple enough, but I imagine it can be quite testing? Has it presented many challenges?

DS: For me, personally, the greatest challenge has been the loss of detail.

I am used to more finished illustrations, to fit a larger format. In comic-form, a lot of the art has to be smaller, and consequently a lot of detail has to be dropped simply to be able to see what is going on in the panels…

Plus, I really like the setting we have arrived at. It really is our own thing, something new, and so I automatically have the urge to want to paint it all out. In a comic format this cannot always be done.

ADB: I admit, I cheated a little. I know a lot of comic writers, and Dan Abnett sent me some of his finished scripts, with annotations, to show me the ropes. So a lot of the problems I was expecting to have – like, say, brevity – were alleviated a little by seeing how it’s done professionally.

Truncating dialogue and description sounds like it’d be really hard for a novelist, but you have the huge boost of the visuals to do a lot of the storytelling alongside it.

Like David says, the hardest part is condensing the finished paintings into the panels. The loss of detail at times is pretty heartbreaking. We’re still learning exactly what makes a page work, as well. Sometimes the script has narrative beats at the end of every page, but fitting all of those panels onto a single illustrated update has been tricky. So there are rewrites, but not too many. We’re getting the hang of it. We hope.

We’ve got over a novel’s worth of notes right now, at about 150,000 words. We’ve only ‘argued’ over two things so far. The first was whether to ink it or paint it. The second was the shape of [DELETED NAME] the robot’s shins.

Now we’re friends again.

Friends in high places, eh? *takes notes for “how to succeed” at comics” article*…

Specifically for Aaron, has it been odd working on your own project, as opposed to working from an established IP such as GW’s?

ADB:It’s refreshing. I know that’s the most boring and obvious answer of all time, but it’s true. Working in IPs is a blessing and a curse. You have structure, and in the case of 40K it’s a setting that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I know it inside-out.

Working within the boundaries of an IP can be restrictive, though. That’s its strength as well as its weakness. As thrilling as it is to get to contribute to something you love, it’s also defined by specific boundaries – a lot of the things I like to read or would like to write about just don’t fit neatly into 40K, so I don’t touch them in my licensed work.

It’s an awesome change of pace to have no limits with The Road to Jove. I wouldn’t say either way is better; they’re two sides to the same coin. Sometimes it’s nice to be a hired gun for a cause you love. Sometimes it’s nice to create the cause yourself.

Have you found your love for, and experience of, the 40k universe cross-pollinating Road to Jove (so to speak)?

DS: It’s no secret that I love the background and visual aspect of Warhammer and 40k, but I think a lot of our thoughts with RtJ have gone to the extent of trying to not go towards 40k. People will draw these similarities regardless, because of who we are, but I think that we are moving quite far away from it.

ADB: I try to keep them separate, honestly. I’m aware of the potential for bleed-over, but that’s kind of the thing: 40K hits so many beats and claims so many narrative tropes within the huge sphere of its setting. Some things are just ubiquitous, like corrupted machinery or power armour, etc.

It’s not that any of it is unique to 40K, but a lot of modern sci-fi and fantasy tropes are so prominent in 40K that avoiding all of them would be impossible.

Basically, I just run with the story we want to tell, in the world we’re creating, and try to keep any 40K allusions out of it. Beyond the occasional similarities, I hope it comes across like chalk and cheese.

Aaron, by my reckoning that’s now books, comics, and a movie you’ve covered – any plans for a song as well to complete the set?

ADB: My singing literally tears the wings from the backs of angels. So… no.

Though I do sing ‘Sugar Rush’ with my 3-year-old about 800 times a day. I draw the line at ‘Let It Go’, though.

One for David – how do you go about your illustrations? Do you have a preferred method or style?

DS: When it comes to illustration in general or to the comic?

I tend to alter my method depending on what need be done.

For an illustration I generally do a somewhat tighter sketch, followed by lineart if the job demands it (it depends on which Art Director or who is commissioning it) and then I block in everything.

With Road to Jove I am a lot more loose with my panels.

I make really loose sketches, scribbles really. Things that make Aaron rip his hair from any place there still remains after seeing all my scribbles. After that I paint in the background.

For some of the things I have used a lot more reference. Mechanical things like pipes and so on, I tend to use a lot of reference to get the angles correct.

In terms of style, I am moving towards the style one can see among many of the amazing Chinese or East-Asian artists today. Ruan Jia, Fenghua Zhong, Min Yum. It can also be sen wiht some Western painters, to more or less of a degree: KD Stanton, Arnaud Pheu, The Black Frog.

This sort of painterly style is something I really enjoy, and it is starting to show in my art, specifically when it comes to Road to Jove.

But in essence, I am just trying to make it look good. I find that the grittiness works very well for The Road to Jove.

A related question from my editor – what’s an average day for Studio Colrouphobia?

DS: The average day- it’s different between us, since I do this more on a full-time level and my partner in crime is only doing this part-time right now. But this is the general rundown:

I do research and concepts in the mornings, for about an hour or two. Then, generally, I sleep for two hours. The past months, a lot of conversations have happened early mornings with Aaron as well.

At noon I get up and start with the things that are on my list for the day. This will generally be sketching, rendering or finer details of jobs we have on the table currently.

Later in the afternoon, I will do a bit of paperwork, then more rendering.

In the evening my wife comes home and after dinners and family things, we tend to get to our studio “the Library” and work on on different projects we have. We also have studio meetings, where we set everything up and plan ahead.

I then typically work on up until 2-3am local time, after which I will sleep for about 3-4 hours.

Inbetween all of this, I add in Road to Jove, a bit of going to the gym. Need to keep fit, in mind and body.

Wow! That’s a pretty packed schedule, then!

DS: It varies from day to day, but yeah.

There are also frequent breaks. Without breaks my mind melts and my hands cramp up !

Makes sense. I can just about manage one terrible stick-person before giving up! One for both of you – what’s your creative process like? Are you organised and methodical, chaotic, or do you just have an idea and wing it?

DS:For me, it depends-

Some of the absolute best work I do comes from a very chaotic point of origin, where a random idea, or even a scribble, will turn into the best I have produced up until that point.

However, mostly, it is pretty organised and ordered. If I couldn’t keep things somewhat ordered there would be no way to work for Art Directors all over the world. There need be some structure, otherwise you aren’t reliable.

I do, however, keep scribbling at a very high amount. It is one of the best ways to get and keep ideas for future things.

I am also a very Audiovisual person- I need music or some other sound-distraction/inspiration to perform at my best.

Thinking up things to paint, conceptualising, doesnt crave music per se, but when rendering, I really need it.

ADB: We’ve got into the habit of me sending scripts a few weeks in advance, and discussing the long-term storyline and future way ahead of time. David’s keen on the idea of seeding in references to later events or locations as early as possible, so I’ve had to dial back on my usual chaotic approach to just diving in and hoping it comes out all right by the last page.

Working with someone else has done wonders for my organisational skills. When you’ve got someone depending on you for information, you can’t just crash out early and say “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

A few times a week David sends sketches over and I offer feedback, but my comments are usually pretty brief, and more often in the form of “What about if we do…?” rather than “Change this”.

DS: Oh yeah, the working together part has definately upped my organisational skills.

Since this happen outside of the studio-budget, and thus mean I have to do it on spare-time to be able to keep my working situation bareable, I really had to focus on making sure I have schedules for everything.

It usually doesn’t affect Aaron at all, but only side, it is very neat and tidy in terms of when and how I work on Road to Jove, and when I work on other things.

I think, also, the different backgrounds we have, when it comes to dealing with telling story, mean that we have previously worked in a particular fascion. I like to know everything, or as close as possible to everything, up front. That way, I can leave visual keys or hints in my work. Aaron quite early on had to take on my constant questions on where would the story move next, how does it look there, and so on.

At the same time, the way Aaron has built the story and the pace is very intuitive, and I find that sometimes, not knowing what will happend next actually make me evolve.

Interesting! So co-operating has to some extent tamed your collective chaotic natures? I also find it interesting that David, you need music or something to work to. Personally, if there’s any kind of distraction, I’ll end up not doing what I need. Do you work to background noise/TV as well, Aaron?

ADB: Stephen King calls it “closing the door”. I do the same thing- I spend way too much on nice headphones to close the door to the rest of the world, and hear nothing but music.

It’s even more important now there’s a tiny version of myself walking around the house all day, breaking all my Space Marines and singing about Spider-Man.

DS: In terms of music, there are some characters that will appear that really come straight out of how a certain piece of music made me feel at a certain point.

It is important to know that whilst I do all of the painting, we actually create the characters, visually, together. I throw ideas at Aaron, but we always discuss the ideas and evolve the characters and environments together.

What’s you favourite piece of work – or the piece that you’ve most enjoyed working on/writing – so far?

DS: Without a doubt it’s [NAME REMOVED], an antagonist that will pop up before the end of the Prologue. I am enjoying that immensely. Aron knows what I am talking about, but lets not skip a head too much.

Cryptic. I like it!

DS: It is very cryptic, mainly because I cant even describe what he/she/it is, but the process of getting the concepts out there is just.. magic.

ADB: Briefly, two answers to that.

I love the panels on Page 5, where you see the Soldier from the Robot’s perspective, looking down at her, and the Robot from the Soldier’s perspective, looking up at him. I really love that contrast.

But I also saw a sketch today of a fight scene coming towards the end of the prologue, where decapitations are involved, hot damn that’s a thing of brutal beauty.

Awesome! Finally then, some quick-fire questions. Feel free to answer with as much brevity or verbosity as you please;

Tea, or coffee?

DS: Coffee.

ADB: Coffee, then tea.

Major influences?

DS: Paul Bonner, Wayne England, Rubens.

ADB: Robin Hobb, Bernard Cornwell, and Stephen King. I don’t write like any of them, but they all have elements that I love and learn from.

DS: Hah, cool, I like Robin Hobb as well, I didn’t know she was an influence of yours!

ADB: (She’s my favourite author. Look at how little we talk about anything except work. That’s dedication.)

True, single-minded focus, clearly!

Classic Rock, or Heavy Metal?

ADB: Melodic Death Metal. But not normal Death Metal. Never that.

I didn’t even realise there was a distinction…

ADB: (Don’t start another 3,000-word essay, man…)

DS: Ooh, difficult. I like both really, but if I have to choose, Metal.

Ranging from Sabbath, through Zeppelin, Maiden and onto System of a Down; Slipknot… I like most things, until it get a bit too …screamy. I like to be able to understand the lyrics, that’s about where I draw the line really.

Movie, or Book?

DS: Book. I enjoy movies, I like to get the visuals, but book always win. My own imagination is so much more wondrous and scary than any movie ever can be.

ADB: Circumstantial.

In the case of I am Legend: book.

In the case of Interview with the Vampire: movie.

In the cases of Watchmen and The Shawshank Redemption: both.

In the case of 300: neither.

Eisenhorn or Ravenor?

DS:Eisenhorn, but only because I (shame) haven’t read anything of Ravenor at all yet. I’ve read very little Eisenhorn too, but still..

ADB: Ravenor. By miles. And I’ve had this talk with Dan a bunch of times, too. Eisenhorn gets a lot of the breaks and one-liners, but Ravenor really, honestly struggles, and I dig that. Everyone loves Eisenhorn, and the reader gets to intimately see how “right” he is from his perspective, despite how breathtakingly wrong he really is in terms of the setting. I think, in contrast, that can make Ravenor incorrectly come across as less interesting or less informed.

Ravenor works harder, suffers more, and struggles to keep his warband together. Eisenhorn gets it all on a plate.

When Patience Kys and Kara Swole show up on Ravenor’s side in ‘Pariah’, instead of Eisenhorn’s, I immediately called Dan and hissed “Yesssssssss!” down the phone at him.

David, that’s not too shameful, if only because you’ve got so much awesome to look forward to.

Aaron, I love that answer, even though I disagree, and would like to add that if you’re ever short of monies, I’m always on the lookout for an inside man to help me ambush Dan Abnett and keep him in a “Misery” style situation, churning out new Inquisitor books for me. I promise there’s only a 40% chance I’ll betray you into a similar situation…

ADB: I like those odds…

And finally, Sci-fi, or Fantasy?

ADB: Fantasy on weekdays, sci-fi on weekends. Or vice versa. Either way, I’d like to see more of both on TV. And more daring examples of both genres, rather than the played-safe versions we get now.

DS: I like mixing things up. In fact, a lot of the visuals in Road to Jove are about that. I mix sci-fi with things like stone, cast-iron and wood. I love that.

So yeah. both.

Awesome! Well, that’s all the questions I had, but if you think of anything you’d like to add, it’ll be a few days before it goes up, so feel free to message me with them.

And once again, massive thanks guys! Both for the answers, which were pretty uniformly great, and for all the fantastic work!

ADB: Awesome. Thanks again, dude.

DS: Indeed, looking forward to it!

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is a New York Times bestselling author, and lives in Ireland. His works for The Black Library include The First Heretic, The Talon of Horus, and the Night Lords trilogy.

David Sondered is lead artist at Studio Colrouphobia, and has produced work for Fantasy Flight Games, Catalyst Game Labs, and Prodos Games.

Image from

Originally posted on


We are quite overwhelmed with the response we have gotten so far. We are closing in on the end of the prologue, after which there will be a break before the release of the first Chapter. The first chapter will be released a little faster than the prologue, and we are looking into options to bring it even faster. So bookmark the page is you haven’t already.

In case you hadnt already, go over and read aaron’s latest tidbits about the road to jove right here: RTJ FAQ: Acronyms ahoy!


There are a few exciting NDA’s in he pipeline. and hopefully the items are published soon so we can showcase some goodies.

And for those of you who sponsor us through Patreon: The first Empyrean Champion is bound to be released the coming days: Oberon, king of the forests, is incoming.

(For the non-patreon supporters, Oberon will be available as part of our portfolio in just over a month)


We still have spots open for 100€ commissions. Feeling like you need an interesting piece of digital art? (Single character, simple background) Let us know! These kind of commissions help us evolve, quite often our clients give excellent briefs and have creative ideas regarding things we haven’t thought of. So take the chance :)

For anything outside of those specs, or if you need any information not covered here, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form, or just email us. The address is right up there, to the right of this post!

Please note that Studio Colrouphobia will not do any paid commissions based on any IP’s not allowing any reproduction and/or derivative work.

We’re back!


Friends, artists, country(wo)men!

As predicted, a certain time before Christmas we got swamped with work. On top of this, we also upgraded our company-computer, which in itself was a task that demanded a lot more work and time than we thought.We are looking at starting up the weekly updates again, Wednesdays as mentioned before.

There will be a break for Christmas, so on the 24th there will be no update, but for the rest it’s back to business.

Have we been completely out of the loop? No, we are aware of trailers of the wars in the stars kind, and Korean super-graphics in MMORPGs.

What have we done?

Well, for starters, as many of you know, there are contracts prohibiting too much to be told about illustrations until releases of either product or disclosure. That time has sadly not arrived just yet, but look out for January-February, where atleast one of the projects David has worked on will be rleased. The rest of our projects, whether private or commercial, will see the light during spring and summer next year and a few new ones are coming in right now.

What about ‘style’?

We are writing up the third and last part of this during the last couple of weeks and what is left is making examples and formatting the article into blog-form.

What else is there?

If you have been keen-eyed, you have seen the hints and comments about The Road to Jove by Aaron and David. So let’s just post something about that for this “in-between” post.

Q: Is there a date of release?

A: Yes, but we will tell you more about this the coming weeks. There is a timeschedule, some awesomeness and tidbits that will start popping up. Patience is a virtue. David doesn’t have patience so we’ll see how fast things comes out.

Q: What is this thing anyway?

A: Well, we haven’t said what it is just yet. Not definately, to the public. But if you do the maths… Aaron is anaccomplished writer, David does illustration. Plus the hint that they gave through various updates on Facebook and through the blogs. It equals something…


Q: Can’t you show us more?

A: Sure! Here is something:

When you make something new and exciting, you often need to brainstorm ideas. Creating concepts and agreeing or disagreeing on what should or should not be in there.

In the process that has gone between David and Aaron, there have beenback-and-forth talk about many things. For one thing, the big guy (above, not giving you a name just yet!) has had several looks for his head. Below you will find a couple of examples that Aaron and David went through.


And then there is this, we’re not going to tell you just yet what it is, but it’s just something completely new about the Road to Jove that you haven’t seen just yet:


That’s it for the Road to Jove this time.

Tell us about interesting artists and their art!

Found someone interesting? Let us know! We’d love to showcase some more art on our blog. Let us know through the comments, Facebook page. or Twitter Page  (dont forget to hashtag with #dontfeartheclown on Twitter!).


If you are interested in private commissions we have three slots open this week.

For more info and contact, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form.

Tell us what you think about todays blogpost. Use the form on the about page (link in sentence just above this) or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page (hashtag it with #dontfeartheclown) We’d love to see your input!

Style, to death II

Welcome to this weeks post.

How are you hanging in there? Due to a storm drawing in over Belgium we couldn’t post yesterday so let’s make up for it in style.

Last week we discussed Western style. We took up some contemporary icons of art and two artists who have a very distinct style.

This week we’d like to discuss Eastern style and some of the lesser known (in the west) styles.

When we say “Eastern” we are referring to Asia and East Asia. Please also note that this is in no way a comprehensive, or necessarily correct, discourse over Asian art. Just observations.


Asian artists have largely been unknown to westerners.  To introduce them now would take far more time and space than what this blog can do in a single post. So let’s focus on a smaller part of Asia, East Asia. More specifically, let’s focus on China and Japan for this time.

To understand how style works in China and Japan, we need to understand some of the background of the art movements through time in these two countries.


China has always had a strong cultural drive. Whether in form of theatre, dance, music, pottery, or painting; there has always been a strong development of the arts.

When it comes to painting in particular, the Chinese have always had interesting ideas around it; i.e. ink has been a strong influence on art. In western art, black has on occasion been seen as no colour, or at the very least a colour that should never be used. The Chinese, on the other hand, revered black as the best colour. Black ink was considered to have all colours in it, and thus could portray all colours. To be able to do this the ink had to be “alive” and applied in varying tones to display all the subtetlies of the spectra. Other colours become secondary and the ink takes the centre stage.

As there is a very specific manner to paint with ink on a brush, the form evolved and is something that still nowadays can clearly be seen in many contemporary Chinese artists.

A comprehensive list of Chinese artists throughout history can be found here:


Whereas Chinese art was always bound by traditions and evolved under strict circumstances to evolve into something perfect, Japanese art has had a number of influences from both mainland East Asia and the western world. The Japanese also took things to it’s extreme many times, for instance evolving the sumi-e in much the same fashion as the Chinese evolved their inkbrush techniques, but at the same time it could be influenced by the west, as with ukio-e, landscape paintings that where very common in the Edo-period.

Some basic knowledge about Japanese artschools and artists can be found through here-

Classical examples

A quick rundown of some of the most notable historical painters from East Asia:

Katsushika Hokusai

The Great Wave – Hokusai

Hishikawa Moronobu

Woodblock print, album leaf. Popular culture. Young man and woman in a roundel of maples and cherry blossoms. From an untitled album. Beni-e on paper.

Lee Cheng

Riding Mule in a winter forest – Lee Cheng

Modern examples

So when it comes down to modern art then? Most of you will recognize anime/manga as a style, and possibly have heard about artists such as Ai Weiwei or Aguri Igarashi.

Whereas Ai Weiwei does make interesting art, it hardly comes in mind for what we are looking at: pure painting/illustration. And whilst Anime and Manga are interesting, there are tons of interesting articles online about how to make your art look so.

So here are a couple of interesting artists that you possibly will know and that I would like to add for their distinct style:

Hayao Miyazaki

Nausicaa – Studio Ghibli

Whereas Studio Ghibli undoubtedly is an Anime studio, there is something specific and precise about the style which is lent by Hayao Miyazaki. This is more about design then style, but the daring manner with which he blends traditional and new concepts to create something new make it feel less like manga/anime and more like little perfect stories, filled with anything your imagination can manage, and more.

Fenghua Zhong

Sun Wukong vs Demons – Fenghua Zhong

Look at the textures, and the colours. The amount of natural occuring textures in this piece of art make it almost unfathomable that it is actually a purely digital piece of art. Fenghua works as a conceptartist and freelance illustrator. Specifically the manner with which the almost colourless and monotone colours come out as vibrant and diverse is interesting.

Ruan Jia

Flute player- Ruan Jia

Ruan Jia is a master with colour and tone by mixing colours of contrasting hues, but making them work because the tones are so close. Take a closer look at the eyes of the above illustration. Notice how the predominant colours around the eye, the eyelid, the brows, the lashes, and so on, are cold. Either blue or green. But that the eyes themselves, what little can be seen of them between the eyelashes, are pinkish/orangey-red. These things make the painting come alive with life rare to see outside of a master oilpainting.

So that’s a quick look at some Eastern Styles that are worth investigating. Do you have any other artists with styles you find unique or worth looking at when it comes to exploring your own style? Let us know in the comments!

Next Week

Next week we will take a look at how we can use the Western and Eastern style-examples we have looked at to help further, and find our own unique style.

If you have any suggestions on artists we should look at please let us know through the comments below, or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page  (dont forget to hashtag with #dontfeartheclown on Twitter!).


If you are interested in private commissions we have three slots open this week.

For more info and contact, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form.

Tell us what you think about todays blogpost. Use the form on the about page (link in sentence just above this) or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page (hashtag it with #dontfeartheclown) We’d love to see your input!

Style, to death…

Welcome to a new week.

This week we would like to start to discuss style.

Style has been talked about by numerous artists, art directors and fans of art on so many occasions that it could be considered to be a done-to-death-topic. Nevertheless we’d like to bring it up in a two-part blog to showcase some of the more interesting styles out there that do not fully fall within the mainstream of western culture. At the end of these two articles (or possibly in a third installment) we will discuss what we can take with us from these different styles and see if we can use it to further our own styles.

This week and some other articles on style

This week we will talk about Western artists and some styles of Western origins. Next week we will bring up some Eastern artists and their styles.

For some interesting articles on Style in general, there are some to be found through Muddy Colors.

Here are a few:

Western Styles

When it comes to western styles, these ae the styles that most of the readers of this blog have grown up with. You see it on a daily, or weekly, basis. You have seein it in comicbooks, storybooks, museums, and game-art. These are the ones you all know about, and if we mention just a few well known examples you will immediately have an idea of what they would look like.

Frank Frazetta

Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell

Jeffrey Catherine Jones


Paul Bonner

To mention some of the contemporary ones.

The above artists and their styles have already had a huge impact on western styles in general. In some cases, like with Frazzetta and Jones, their respective styles have influenced whole generations, where as the others are inspiring on a grand scale, even if they might not have influenced entire generations. These artists, of course, stand on the shoulders of their own artheroes, whether early 20th century american popular artists like James Montgomery Flagg or N.C. Wyeth, or earlier masters ranging back in time to El Greco and Fra Angelico.

Point in case unique styles

Let us take a moment to mention two artists with unique styles that are worth taking a closer look at.

Mike Mignola

Rocketeer – Mike Mignola/Dave Stewart

Mike Mignola has a very distinct style, based mainly on solid fields of colour or shades.

Visible in his Hellboy-series, the most prominent part of the style is how black and white is used to create drama, often the “white” areas are filled with a solid colour (mostly aptly added by Dave Stewart) to create different ammounts of shade. Mignola also uses a very bold sense of shapes. His characters could almost be seen as charicatures with their oversimplyfied traits, more so then most comicbooks. But it is a great style because it conveys a lot of feeling. The bad guys look bad already at first glance. The Good guys (and gals) are very evocative in how they look and the style shows how every persona feel very well just through poses and how they are drawn in any given situation. Mignola have also mastered texturing in this style. Often making extraordinary large beasts look like they where made out of concrete or some sort of stone-material. Esotheric or non-physical beings, beams, or energy is often illustrated in a very solid fascion, but the way Mignola adds texture will tell the viewer that this is something special.

Justin Gerard

Justin-gerard-spells-are-hardSpells Are Hard – Justin Gerard

Gerard has a playful style, filled with humour. Where most illustration today is moving towards more realism, Gerard manages to make his illustrations not only have an element of humour but also mintain a very good sense of colour and saturation. Gerard also mixes traditional sketching an painting with digital very effective, often giving his works a very nice textured feeling. To an extent one can see the same playfulness and humour as in the works of Paul Bonner, but where Bonner works exclusively with traditional mediums, Gerard has learnt to take full advantage of both traditional and digital mediums.

When going to see Gerards works, be sure to also take a look at the works of his wife, Annie Stegg Gerard, who is an accomplished artist as well.

So that’s a quick look at some Western Styles that are unique. Do you have any other artists with styles you find unique? Let us know in the comments!

Next Week

Next week we will take a look at some eastern artists, both contemporary and historical, to see if we can use them to help further, and find our own unique style.

If you have any suggestions on artists we should look at please let us know through the comments below, or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page  (dont forget to hashtag with #dontfeartheclown on Twitter!).

Sketch and a WiP

Here is a sketch for the next Primarch and a WiP of the illustration for the Ars Scribendi winner. Next week we hope to be able to show you even further evolutions of these two.



If you are interested in private commissions we have three slots open this week.

For more info and contact, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form.

Tell us what you think about todays blogpost. Use the form on the about page (link in sentence just above this) or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page (hashtag it with #dontfeartheclown) We’d love to see your input!

What you need and what you want….

Hello there,

Welcome to yet another blogpost. It’s been another week and it was a busy one.
Several deadlines converged in short succession and as such there are a lot of finished illustrations, but alas little to show until they have been published.

Because of this, we thought we’d show you some general goodness on, and for, artists.

For the artist (and client)

30092014-artpact is a tool to help Freelance Fantasy, Sci-fi, Comic book, and other illustrators negotiate a better living for themselves.
It is easy to think that life as an illustrator is great.
A lot of people approaching us in regards to our studio and working as artists or illustrators have this belief that we have all the spare time in the world, that all we do all day is exactly what we want, that it is easy, goes faster then a blink of an eye and that we roll in cash.

It really is not like that at all. In fact, it is all hard work. Often working with illustration means you have to paint what others want, not what you want. Deadlines are tight, you can’t display what you painted (sometimes up to years after you painted it). And this belief that it is simple, doesn’t cost much time or effort, and so should be more or less for free, mean that even p-professional clients have rules and contracts that make it even tougher to survive on being an illustrator. is there to help the struggling artist.

But even if you are just interested in commissioning an artist, we suggest you go and read some of the articles there. Our suggestion is these two articles:

The Cost of Being an Illustrator – To give you an insight in why commissions cost as much as they do. There are costs for running a business, and before we even brake even, these costs must be deducted.

Dealing with Difficult Clients – Here you will find things you should try to think about as a client. We’re all humans, but these are some of the things that make artists feel less happy about a commission. And in the end, making sure to avoid these things will make your commission end up much more like what you had in mind.

On art and artists


Muddy Colors is a place that’s all about art, artists, being an artist, being an art director, or just appreciating art.
If you are interesting in anything in regards to popular art, chances are that you will find something about it here.
The blog-posters are all illustrators, sculptors, 3D-artists, art directors, or gallerists. Dan Dos Santos, Arnie Fenner, Terryl Whitlatch, Lauren Panepinto, Greg Manchess, to name a few of them, are all very helpful in showing bits about art in all its forms, whether you want to work as an artist, hire an artist, or just appreciate good art.


Feng Zhu Design School Cinema is a Youtube channel that gives insights in what it’s like to work as a concept artist. With more then 70 episodes, most longer then half an hour, this is a vast source of inspiration, help, and insight in what it means working in the entertainment business as an artist. And if you just want to paint for fun, just watch as Feng Zhu and his guest-instructors paint, talk about things like composition and colourtheory. You should be able to find just about anything on the technical aspects of painting and illustrating, as well as conceptualizing, except for the foundations. This is something Feng Zhu teaches at his school in Singapore. And even some foundation bits can be found here and there.

Whilst you’re at it, go check out Feng’s own art gallery initiative, in the wake of the loss of CGHUB, DrawCrowd. You might find some art you never seen before.


If you are interested in private commissions we have three slots open this week.

For more info and contact, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form.

Tell us what you think about todays blogpost. Use the form on the about page (link in sentence just above this) or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page (hashtag it with #dontfeartheclown) We’d love to see your input!

Gone fishing…

Hello there,

Welcome back to another update. This week we will let you see some process images on how to find concepts through randomness.

Throwing the net

So you’re trying to figure something out. A concept.

It doesn’t have to be concept art that is the ultimate goal. Perhaps you are exploring charachters, creatures or any form of machinery as part of a larger illustration you are doing.

How do you actually get from “I have no idea” to a complete concept?

A long time ago, when we started doing this as a sidejob, Andrew Jones said “You throw out a net and reel in the concept“.

Let’s see if we can show you an example of it.

The small fish

David Started this by using, a free program for getting random shapes. You can use any number of random shape-generating programmes, ranging from fractal programmes to zbrush and even specific randomizing brushes in Photoshopp or Painter.

The beauty of this particular programme is that you do not have to know how to paint or illustrate to get somewhere, you only need to try to get random shapes that resemble something. The artistic part comes when you start putting together more complex pieces. Here are some of the first shapes.


These are just random shapes that came out after playing around with Alchemy for a while. Though there are six on this particular sheet, David came up with closer to fifty different shapes that he collected into one file.

Catching the medium-sized fish

So now we take these shapes into Photoshop (or any photo-editing/illustration programme of your choice) and start putting them together in interesting ways. In Photoshop, David cut and paste the shapes on top of one another. Moving things around, turning and flipping and sometimes even erasing to get more interesting shapes.

The idea is to get a silhouette of that looks robotic, but what exactly is not certain at this stage, so David is going for various things, ranging from quadroped robots, to biped robots. Tall and slender to short and robust. The key is the silhouette. The details inside the silhouette are bonuses for later, when we detail the concept.

The addition of colour can help make parts stand out; This doesn’t neccesarily mean these parts will have that colour in a final illustration. The colours can represent anything from actual coloured panels, to lightsources, beams, special areas of some sort that will look vastly different on the final concept/illustration but that for now just need to be marked out as “special”.


So the sky is really the limit here, these above are the first groups David put together. He then made a couple of more, and started combining them together.

The bigger fish

After putting the first few shapes together, David have some basic robotic shapes. It is very easy to stop at this point and be happy, and some of the best concepts can be done at this stage, but it feels a little stale, so David combine this group of ten simpler silhouettes into some more complex ones. Not all work out, and it is important to be selective about the silhouette at this point. If two look the same, look at which one feels the most interesting as far as details go. Discard the other, or save it in a separate file for usage another day. Eventually, we havet six variations that can be used for illustrations.

Here is one of these simple bases:


And from there we can make an illustrated concept, or go straight to illustration, if it feels like everything needed is there.

The big fish

So here is a sneak-peek of something that will come out of this particular fish-net (not based on the above image, but something else).


This is meant for the project David and Aaron Debski-Bowden is putting together and we are hoping to be able to show you much more before the end of the year.

Hopefully this introduction to concepting gave you guys some ideas and motivation to go out and practice. We would love to see links to your own concepts, practice or otherwise!

As always, you can find things through social medias, so keep an eye out for updates and sketches on Facebook,Twitterand Tumblr.


If you are interested in private commissions we have three slots open this week.

For more info and contact, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form.

Tell us what you think about todays blogpost. Use the form on the about page (link in sentence just above this) or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page (hashtag #dontfeartheclown) We’d love to hear your input!

Jingling the Bells

Hi there, and welcome to this weeks blogpost.

This week we’d like to take the time to discuss something that might seem far away, but that you should start thinking about, should you want to use an artist’s services for it.

We’re talking about Christmas.


Yes, it might seem a bit over the top to talk about Christmas and Christmas presents when we just turned our calendar over to September, but to be able to make it the merriest of hollidays, we really need to bring this up.

So you want to give away art for Christmas?

Let’s say you want to surprise someone with a piece of art for their Christmas. There are many ways you can do this, depending on what you want. There are fantastic galleries out there where you can find the right piece for just about anyone. Usually, a gallery-piece will not be that problematic to acquire in time for Christmas.

There are also multiple shops, artists, and other establishments, that carry posters and prints of artwork. If you acquire something like this, we hope you take the time to make sure the right person(s) get paid. Usually an artist will charge less for a better quality poster/print then a counterfeit. Might be worth noting.


So you want to commission an original piece of art for Christmas?

But what we wanted to discuss was the commissioning of an original artpiece, whether painted with brush on canvas, pencil on paper, digital and printed, or other.

For these sort gifts, you need to be out in time. Know your artist. Learn what sort of deadlines he/she works with. Find out if they are specifically busy for Christmas, if they have any special deals that might come up, for hollidays before Christmas maybe even.

Traditional Artists

Alot of artists that work traditionally will have a lot of orders for artwork coming in before Christmas. You need to consider that artists like Dan Dos Santos take about three to six weeks to complete their traditional oilpaintings, and that they might want to dry their paintings for a certain ammount of time before shipping them. If they have a lot of commissions, they might have waitingtimes until November-December already.

Digital Artists

At the other end, where you find artists like Noah Bradley, the digital artists will probably not need such a long time to paint for you, though it varies. The problem for a digital illustrator is rather going to be at the printing-end. The closer you get to Christmas, the longer in advance you will need to contact printers about printing things. Some printers specialize in art-prints, some are multiprinting businesses and will have a lot to do with Christmas cards, brochures an everything Christmassy.

What about Studio Colrouphobia?

So, you might ask yourself, where do we find Studio Colrouphobia in this? Well, we do both traditional and digital. It all depends on what it is you are looking for. So if you are interested in commissioning us for Christmas, you should first figure out what it is you would like to get, then contact us relatively soon, so we can discuss around making sure that your gift becomes the thing it should be- a joy for the person who will receive it.



For some eyecandy, since we try our best to include something every blogpost, here is a private commission David just finished for a Shadowrun player



And how about another small sneak-peek at something from the secret project Aaron and David are working on?



As always, you can find things through social medias, so keep an eye out for updates and sketches on Facebook,Twitterand Tumblr.



If you are interested in private commissions we have two slots open this week. Last week the two last slots with discounts where taken, but keep an eye out for other drives in the future.

For more info and contact, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form.


Tell us what you think about todays blogpost. Use the form on the about page (link in sentence just above this) or through our Facebook page. We’d love to hear your input.


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