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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!


A lesson in studio anatomy

Written by Natasja 

It has been ages since our blog had a proper update; our sincere apologies for this. Many things have been happening lately and these updates were more or less put on the backburner.

So yes, my official post, well the first one with my signature, not per se the first post by me…  I wanted to give you all an insight into the belly of the beast, a nice one to start off with no?

First of all, the artists: you all know David, of course. David specialises in more commercial work and is known to dabble around in the oeuvre of Warhammer for inspiration. David is also full-time operational for all things Studio Colrouphobia-related and quite often can post his works online.

I, on the other hand, do still keep a day-job at hand. We shall not mention anything about the corporate world I work in, but I can only contribute part-time to the studio. The difference between David’s work and mine (and so are the commissions and clientele) lies mostly in the mediums we use. I paint oils on canvas, a process which I am quite fond of, however a very painstaking slow one. I hardly use any retarders or accelerant when I paint with oils, hence the drying time for a canvas takes quite a while. I also tend to have way larger deadlines than David so as a result I perhaps produce only 2 to 3 large pieces a year. Given that this is my part-time occupation, I can hardly complain.

I do however once in a while provide sketches that David finishes up and generally deal with most things admin for the studio. On top of that one we can both be lucky to have some form of synergy that enables us to comment on each other’s work, pointing out errors and compositional issues etc…and still maintain a marriage that is amicable.

Our current standing discussion deals with Spacemarines (am an Ork player so automatically have issues with beakies..) and their anatomy. In my humble opinion, a suit of power armor, as depicted on models and most illustrations, does not add up anatomically and this peeves me beyond all, and has done so the past 7 years. Seriously those shoulderpads and …anyways this is the human part of our studio. Add Khan the Cat, Balor our French bulldog, and most of all our two Hellspawn ages 8 and 10 and you can imagine the Studio to be a lively place at times.

This brings me to the second part of this post. Since we have moved last August, we actually had the opportunity to install a proper studio in our new house. Our old apartment just was not that suited all these activities and alas oil-painting with pets and children running around proved to not always be the best of combinations. Since August we have been refurbishing the studio, making sure one space is properly dedicated to all things artsy and booksy. We moved our rather extensive library into the same studio-space. We take quite some inspiration from books and comics, so it made sense to have them close at hand. However one shelf is solely dedicated to all things art.

In this shelf you will find:

1)      Paper, sketchbooks, stamps, and prints

2)      Reference books. Oh yes these we like, ranging from books about sculpture, Da Vinci sketches to books about the rainforest, books with vintage cards, books about WW2, books made by artists we like and respect (Paul Bonner, Alan Lee, you name it…)

3)      RPG books. Yes, we both play RPG, tabletop and miniature (LARP we leave for the experts). These books provide us with insight so our illustrations and paintings actually make sense in the universe they are supposed to take place.

4)      More RPG books and our contributor copies. On this shelf I also keep a model of a 1967 Ford Cobra 427 and we have some bugs in resin as reference. We use almost anything.

5)      Here we keep our signed copies of books that we received from colleagues. It is always nice to swap artwork with fellow artists after a convention is over. We also keep magazines for reference here.  You would be surprised how much help you can get from i.e. a Vogue magazine, or Motorsports Europe.

6)      Models here. From dinosaurs, to sketch-dummies to manta-rays…we keep most of our models on the top shelf. (albeit a bit empty now, since some models are still in one of those elusive “last-box-after-move-which-will-stand-taunting-me-for-months-more-to-come”-mode.)

7)      …and coffee. No proper studio functions without a jolt of caffeine (no number added, I assume a thermos is quite visible and noticeable…and perhaps draws less attention to my caffeine addiction)


This is of course all in a nutshell.  The studio as a workspace is far from complete. We still need to exchange the desk and install the drawing table. We hope to provide an update soon and show you all a nice image of an organised studio. Which will last about 5 minutes before two artists are let loose in it and Chaos will reign supreme again…

Next update by me will provide you with a start to finish painting on canvas, until then I am quite sure my partner-in-art will keep you all in awe with his illustrations.


Unholy Alliances – Speedpaintings

Hello there.
I thought I’d give you something to rest your eyes on whilst we prepare for future posts.
I have been doing these very quick sketches lately, trying to get lighting right and not caring too much about proportions or accuracy as far as design goes.
I decided to take the three speeds I did last and put them together to a little triptych, though at first they did not really fit with each other.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Warhammer 40k universe, the first two from left are normally what’s called “Loyalists” or “the good guys”. The guy on the far right is most definitely one of “the bad guys”.
So I made the three of them lean more towards “bad” then “good”, removing insignia’s of the two first ones, adding more scratches and a hint of…. evil ominous-ness.

These types of speed-paints have proven to be extremely relaxing to me as they take no more then 2-3 hours and I just go with the flow whilst painting them. Very generous as far as breaks, things to paint on now and then between work.

Hope you like,


First tutorial -or- Extra Mayo with that!

-Posted by David

Hello there people, David here with a little update. So last time we posted something, we had a couple of questions added: We wanted to know whether the readers of this blog  where interested in tutorials and workshops, both free and paid.  The response was good, just not in comments on here.

In the numerous forums that I personalty post on, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, there have been quite some answers to the questions, some in posts, most in private messages. You have also asked questions such as: What’s your favourite art galleries online, how do I protect my art and are there any art-tutorials or websites you recommend for me?

In the future I will let you all know what my personal favourite art-galleries online are, as well as giving info on how to protect your artwork and other tutorials or places to find good tutorials. But this time around, I thought I’d give you a bit of a tutorial myself. For free, to show what the future has in store for you.

(1) I wanted to paint Arbaal, a follower of Khorne in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. To get into it fast I opted to use another painting as a base, I don’t always do this, but it helps to find new things fast and it can really help to get the base values down quick and easy. So I decided to use the Angron painting I just finnised before the hollidays. This character is also follower of Khorne, but in the Sci-fi setting of Wh40k, I thought it was fitting.

-Note: if you are doing a painting in this way, make sure the the original plate, i.e. the painting or photo you start with, is YOURS. This is of particular importance if the painting is for commercial purposes. It also helps covering all your bases when it comes to copyrights and protecting your artwork. Remember, if you don’t steal, then others are more likely to not steal from you.-

(2) I then made the painting grayscale, copied the background and flipped it, setting the second layer to divide at a low opacity. To get to this I experimented with various settings on the layer, ranging through every layer setting and testing at opacity of 30%, 50%, 80% and 100%. Once content with what I had, I fine tuned the opacity to get to this mirrored image.

(3) I decided I didn’t want to make a portrait of Arbaal. He is a very real character in the game, as he has been a playable character (Something Angron hasn’t been) and as such I wanted to show some action. Cue copy/paste and shrink the top layer. This way I keep some of the tones I had, making the image keep in the same range all over.

(4) It looks a little dark, I want to keep the most of the painting at a middle range throughout most of the initial stage. With the portraits series it is easy to keep everything dark and just paint up to light values, but for this I need to maintain a certain atmosphere also. So I take another of my paintings; enlarge it to only show a background section, copy it into the document and set the layer to divide. I move the layer around a little to see how things look. Once content I flatten the image, duplicate the layer and save.

-At this point, I’d like to point out that if you can, and want to, keep the layers. I have learnt to just paint over my mistakes and so I flatten constantly. That way I can also paint at very high resolutions on my slow machine.-

(5) I see something in there, lets paint up the bottom background to look like there could be fire there. Fire good! Then add the typical Khornate helmet-guards. Maybe he is swinging his axe and he should sit on a Flesh-hound of Khorne, let’s add a hint of that in there also.

(6) A bit too bright anyway, darken a little and add in a demon-head for the hound. I used reference for Arbaal, the only one there truly is is of a miniatuer from way back. Hence I wanted to do some re-design. For a while I was pondering horns on the Fleshhound instead of a fleshy collar, since Fleshhounds come in various forms.

(7) Darken it down a little more, mainly to get some details out on the demon-body.

(8) Defining the head of the Flesh-hound a little more, adding some bright to the background again, I want that fire there. Did you notice I dropped the arm?

(9) All right, all Chaos Warriors that have a cloak seem to have fur-cloaks when I look through the internet for ref. So why not? It will bring a bit of character. Also, he need to hold the beast in some reigns and I still want an axe for him. So I paint that in. It looks good in the brighter areas, this way I can also keep his outlines a little less detailed since the bright background will make all sit well in space, at the same time as it makes the character seem more three dimensional.







(10) I didn’t like the background at all, too stagnant. So I added outlines of some structures. I make a mental note that this could be Praag at “the siege of Praag”, since Arbaal was present at the time. I also add the collar for the Hound proper, and decide I want to keep the front of the hound in this pose, but make it a little more flowing. A tail is added.

(11) Making some changes to te values to show more detail. The chain he has to “steer” the Hound with is added, twirling around its horns and through the mouth. I add spikes to the right-side shoulderguard, define the helmet more. Spikes on the axe, symbols of Khorne. I make the collar a bit more majestic and add some spikes and details to the body of the hound.

(12) First colourpass. This is something for an upcoming tutorial, but to get the colouration I use a hard-light layer. Watch out for tutorials and workshops on how to fully utilize this technique in the future.





(13) Second colourpass, after having flattened and saved the painting once more, I duplicate the background and paint onto it. I lessen the colours somewhat on the armour and begin to incorporate complementary colours of green and yellow/brown. At this point I am not too worried about the saturation as I am opaque-ly painting over it later.

(14) I had a skull on the left-side shoulderguard but I didnt like it. Que paint something else in. A new skull!

(15) And here is where we start to lessen the saturation somewhat. This is the last image in this tutorial as I am still painting this, but in the future there will be more tutorials coming. The free ones will be more loose and not go so much into details, much like this one was. In the workshops and paid tutorials I will go much more in depth and there will also be room for questions and one-on-one help. But more about that in the future.





For now, here is a final image, the 100% version of Arbaal’s face:

(Click to enlarge)

And that’s it for today. If you enjoyed this little tutorial, please let us know in the comments below. Also, if for some reason you cannot post a comment, or if there is anything else you feel we need to know, you can always mail us at and let us know, so we can look into it.

Now go back, enjoy reading it again, click the images to see them bigger and let us know what you think!  Next Wednesday, some of my favourite Art-Galleries online!


Do you want fries with that?

At the dawn of a new year Studio Colrouphobia is looking to do more for the public then last year.Though our efforts to produce quality illustration for companies remain, we decided that this year is the year to give back to the community. One example of this are workshops on how to paint digitally. Some of these workshops will be free (more like tutorials really) and some will have a small cost attached to them.
 To add to this we are also going to put forward a few more posters for sale, as up to date there have been a couple of posters available for purchase.This will alter as we add the portraits series to our range.This is also where the thoughts of YOU become important. We want YOU to tell us what subjects you would like to see in future posters.
To give you an example of the limit of detail we are putting on these posters, here is a WiP for something new:

So let us know through the comments what you would like to see. Perhaps you’d like to see your favourite manga-character in our distinct style, or perhaps Transformers are your thing. Or something else.

Let us know in the comments below and we will do our best to meet your interest. We are also pondering to make posters in the A3 format. Currently, all our posters are at sizes A4, which is great to kick the prices down a little more. It was also a necessity as our older posters where painted at a lower resolution then currently.

Now our question is: Would you like to see future posters come at sizes A3 also, at a slight price-increase?

Please let us know in the comments below.
In the near future we will make purchase easier by adding a store.Of course if you happen to run across us at a convention, our posters will be even cheaper. keep an eye out for our con-agenda.
These are our initial plans, but we need more info from YOU as to what else we can do to give back to the community. Do you have an idea as to what we could do to make you enjoy our work more? Let us know in the comments.

It’s not easy to please me

Wednesdays are a bit tricky really,

On one hand, they are not Mondays, and as such not really that chaotic and filled with workstress. At the same time they are not the end of the week and relaxation neither.

Currently, David has found himself working on an unusual job. It’s a cover, which is not something unusual, but it is also contemporary. This is both exiting and challenging at the same time since almost all illustrations we have done so far have either been Sci-fi or Fantasy. For some more info on this head over to this place:

The illustration is seing completion this week and then we will see how long it takes before we can display it.

One of the things that has been asked alot is to show progress and/or doing tutorials.

Whilst this is something great and definately something worth doing, there are such a great number of tutorials out there that we first need to sit down and consider what we want to achieve with a tutorial.

The first one will most likely be a walkthrough rather then an actual tutorial.

David has a set idea on how to work, but usually all of this is just tossed out the window once the work begins. In reality what happends is normally what works. Sometimes it works to paint blobs of colour and go from there, sometimes a refined pencilsketch is the best and sometimes it is the usage of photo’s for interesting textures.

So look out for next wednesday when a little walkthrough will be posted of a personal piece in it’s beginning stages.

In the meanwhile, here are some WiP’s of current paintings and a sketch that was made at FACTS but that we didn’t have any photos of ourself. Courtesy of Alexjodo’s blog. Follow the link below.


And the winner is…

First of all, our gratulations to the two winners of the F.A.C.T.S.-raffle.
For those of you who do not know, David held a raffle each day of FACTS this year.
The winners where Charles from France and Jerry from Belgium who will be receiving their tubes with posters soon.

And how about an illustration?
Ahsoka all grown up…for all you Star Wars and Clone Wars fans out there. After DA decided to remove this image from David´s page, due to some obscure illogical rule, several requests were made to put the image up on the studio webpage.  Who were we to deny these requests? So to all: Thank you for the support!