Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pictures are borked

Anyone know how to fix this?

Monday, July 11, 2011


I am not dead! I've just been real busy. I'm going to be revamping the blog/site/art/everything this summer.

Anyway, here's a sketch of a unicorn until I get back up to steam!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hold this...

Because really, who would ever want a princess?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mighty Steed

The blog ain't dead, I just took the summer off! I've got a bunch of sketches to scan yet. But here's something I whipped up the other night after I heard a bunch of nerds bragging to each other about their "mounts" in whatever game they were playing and I thought "you know what would be the best mount?"

Friday, April 16, 2010

Drawings of Mike

These are some sketches and studies of the day-to-day life of my friend Mike, done for a class project. He's the senior pastor at a young church in Calgary called Abundant Life Church.

Studying for a sermon on Colossians

Visiting with Lenora at the hospital

Typing up his sermon

Mike preaching on Sunday morning

Dungeons and Dragons

Some designs for a few classic fantasy creatures for class: a dragon, an owlbear and a dwarf

The race of dragons are particularly malleable in terms of their anatomy, appearance, lifestyle and role.  For mine I just decided to make it a (still fantastical-style) regular animal. I'd imagine this one as being somewhat sentient, but I just wanted something that looks like the sort of reptile that could possibly evolve over time. So I just based it on real animals (Komodo dragon body, crocodile scales and scutes and a ceratopsian crest (alternate angles of the dragons head exist in sketch-form, I'll have to upload those too)
Update: Here's the sketch of the dragon with the alternate views of his crest

For the owlbear, after looking at what other artists had done using my handy dandy Google Images search, I decided I just wanted to approach it with the idea that an owlbear is simply the largest and strongest member of the griffin family. So it's essentially just a griffin made out of owl and bear parts instead of lion and eagle parts. 

Weta said all that needed to be said when it comes to dwarves (and pretty much everything else in fantasy), and their approach will never be topped. So I went a different way, starting with the question "what would a humanoid race look like if they've been living in darkness underground for millions of years?" Dwarves shouldn't ever just be little Vikings with geometric armor and houses ever again. 

I'm not very familiar with doing non-linear, painterly stuff, so this was a great exercise for that and I feel like I'm getting the hang of it pretty quick. To help get started I followed Sam Nielsen's technique that he illustrates in this post from The Art Center http://theartcenter.blogspot.com/2010/03/sam-nielson-painting-process.html 

It's a very simple, straight-forward, very well articulated technique and I was surprised by how FAST it made things go by. I was able to color and render the owlbear and dwarf pieces in around 5 hours

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Anthology Project

My friends Joy Ang and Nick Thornborrow decided to put together a comics anthology and they titled it The Anthology Project. Also, it's now finished!

It's currently available for preorders and it becomes available for sale on April 3rd!

Also if you're in Calgary in specific or Alberta in general or have an unlimited travel budget you are invited to join us for the release party! It's on April 3rd at Fashion Central in downtown Calgary, from 7pm to 11pm! At least 5 of the artists involved (including me) will be there and I'm pretty sure there will also be booze. 

More info at theanthologyproject.com! It's great!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Out of the Silent Planet alien designs

Earlier in the semester I read the first book in C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy titled Out of the Silent Planet. It's an awesome book and I can't wait to read the other two. I wanted to come up with designs for the 3 alien races featured in the book and this is what I came up with. 

You can read the basic descriptions on wikipedia here




I just wanted to establish the primary forms and anatomy of what these creatures might look like. The descriptions are really cool, but in some cases I was a little bit intimidated because there are a few things that just don't sound cool. For example, the seroni (plural of sorn) are described as having droopy noses, and that is really uncool, so I tried to come up with a nose that could reasonably be described as, at the very least, LOOKING droopy, but still had a neat and not-dorky look.

These are just sketches of me trying to get my initial concepts out of my head and on paper. I'm planning on setting some time aside to go in and dig a lot deeper and develop them a lot more. 

Canadian History Project: Superman

Here's something I finished yesterday for a class project about Canadian history. I chose Superman because he's great and was also co-created by Canadian-born illustrator Joe Shuster!

I was inspired by 2 things:

1. This commercial they used to play all the time when I was a kid
2. I didn't want to draw something boring

It's a play on this early ultra-American Superman cover

Saturday, March 13, 2010


With the help of my code-wizard friend Dave I've finally gotten my new website up and finished! Check it out at tomrhodesart.com 

I don't think there's anything on there that hasn't been uploaded here first. It's really just a simple, official portfolio where I'll upload finished works and whatever sketches embarrass me the least. Sometime I'll be able to send to potential employers. The blog is gonna stay active, though. I'm going to upload sketches and updates and other less-finished works here (as well as the finished stuff)

Oh yeah, and more work and sketches coming soon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The blog isn't dead, I'll be uploading a bunch of stuff in the next couple weeks

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


This is a picture for the art magazine Vehicle, which my friends Tyler, Hillary and Sander started. This is the third in a series of 4 of children riding mythical beasts. If you scroll down (and haven't seen them already) the other two are the merman and the boy riding the pegasus. This one is fall, the other two are summer and winter respectively.

I'm going to see if I can find a way to upload pictures so that blogger doesn't dull the colors

Friday, November 20, 2009

Space Marine

Here's some concept art for a new approach to the ol' stand-by, the Space Marine. I really hate what people have done with the concept. It's a genre with so much freedom and possibility and potential, but everyone has been doing the exact same (shitty) thing for a decade or more. I'm so tired of it.

I went with the approach of basing it in a realistic world, set in our future about 150 years or so. There are a lot of facets to the Marine Corp, so I had to choose one possible category and flesh it out. After brain storming with a friend of mine, we narrowed it down to 4 primary active military branches that would require their own special getups. 1. Ship to ship, 2. Ship to ground, 3. Ground to ship, and 4. Ground to Ground. In this future, all these approaches to warfare will need their own special gear and training, and it would be highly unlikely, and boring, if there was just a one-suit-fits-all solution to every mission. I chose to do the ship to ship suit, but I'd like to do the others in the future. I just need time. That's also why these aren't rendered or textured. I'd also love to take a shot at doing some of the formal dress uniforms of the Marine Corp. Those guys have an awesome sense of style.

So anyway, the ship to ship Marine would have to be able to perform certain tasks. My friend and I concluded that space battles, most realistically, would be most similar to Naval battles in many ways. Ships would be run very similarly, same with the way you'd deal with the enemy ships. Practically, this facet of the Marine Corp. would most closely resemble modern day Navy SEALs in their appearance, methods and gear. The main function of this Marine is to approach an enemy ship undetected, wether alone or with a small squad, blast or cut their way into the enemy ship, and neutralize the enemy crew, as well as hijack control of the vessel. So that was my self-prescribed design brief.

Layer one: Skivvies. I wanted to take my time with the design and build each layer of it around the one under it. I felt that would help practically, and also help add a level of realism that I think would help make the concept more interesting. So this is the standard issue underwear. You got your boxer briefs, undershirt, socks and gloves. The socks and gloves would help with comfort, and also aid with sliding on the flight suit and keeping everything snug and cozy. I'd imagine that at this point in the future the undergarments would include some sort of wiring and devices which would track vital signs and other various life signs and statistics or something. All being monitored and kept organized by home base. Anyway, it's undies.

Layer two: Flight suit. This is the basic flight suit. It's padded and insulated and pressurized and mildly armored. I'd imagine that textiles would advance along side every other technological material on Earth, so this would be loaded with cool little features. The suit needs to be durable, and also would be required to be able to supply the wearer the ability to survive brief periods of time in the vacuum of space in case things go wrong. Enough time to survive until rescue anyway. (The suit alone wouldn't provide these safety benefits without the helmet and gauntlets, though.)

Layer three: Active gear. So this is basically what the Space Marine would be wearing after blasting/cutting into the enemy ship. It's air-tight and sealed, and he'd be able to maneuver around a ship, even if it's air had been cut (by himself) and any other life sustaining systems. As well as providing effective armor for his purposes (infiltration and stealth), it also doesn't constrict mobility and agility. I'm not imagining he'd be flipping and flying around like a cliche sci-fi ninja, but he'd need to be able to slip around in an almost submarine-like interior with as little interference to his movement as possible.

The helmet is designed to resemble a mix between the Marine Corp. standard issue 8-point cover (their cool hat), but it's also based on their germ-warfare head gear, with the shape of the goggles, as well as a bag-like neck sheath. I think having a highly detailed tech-neck would be a bad, not to mention cliche, design. This is practical from a functional view, as well as from a manufacturing and financial perspective. There's also a subtle reference to the Marine standard of having rolled up sleeves (which my Marine friend told me is because of their big biceps), which serves as a foundation for those weird flared out shoulder guards. The front of the face is also designed to resemble a fighter jet flight mask. It's meant to be able to clip into the inside of the next layer, which includes a much larger air supply.

Layer four: Approach suit. This is what the Marine would be wearing outside in space. He'd glide towards the enemy ship head first, allowing his body to trail behind him. This is because the suit is designed to mimic the stealth fighter, in that it provides a deflective shield towards radar/sonar and whatever sci-fi sensors they might have. It's only on the upper part (and back) of his body because the idea is that it'd be so heavy and constricting that once he boards the enemy ship he'd have to take it off and keep it near his make-shift entrance. It'd have to be fast and easy to put on and take off. And the body-bag (same idea as the neck piece on layer three) provides an extra layer of insulation and space-survival goodness. It is also easy to put on and take off.

The main outward facing surfaces are also covered in an array of white LEDs, which would serve as space camouflage, incase anyone was lookin' out the window.

It's form is a slave to it's function. It's a mix of the stealth fighter, the standard NASA suit, as well as underwater demolition gear.

This was for the first activity at an art blog my friends run that I was invited to participate in. There's some talented dudes over there. You can check out their entries there, too http://nostars.org/

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Moon Men

Here's a poster for a project in class. I based mine on The Moon Men, a book by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It's my favorite book of all time. It's a story about an uprising, set in the future amongst the ruins of Chicago.

I made the elements (except for the type) with actual spray paint, which was really fun

To help inspire me, I listened to the Rammstein song title 'Sonne'. I wanted the piece to suit the mood of the chorus, so hopefully if you can listen to that at the same time as you look at the piece, you'll get a better understanding of what I was going for

Sunday, October 18, 2009


This summer my brother asked me: What if they did to other monster archetypes what Twilight did to vampires? And I said to him quite plainly, "horrible things."

This is the cover for a process book of any subject/story we wanted (for school). I chose to redo Creature From The Black Lagoon in a satirically Twilight way, after talking about it with my brother this summer. It was a tough choice between The Creature From The Black Lagoon and The Wolfman, but it's  sometimes a lot more fun to draw scales instead of fur.  I'll post some of the other pages from the book soon  (more of a pamphlet, really)

Monday, October 05, 2009

The British Raj of India

Here's the antagonist to Nemo (2 posts down)

Cheers! To a hard days work


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

This is for a class project where we had to do an illustration for an article of our choosing. I chose a recent one from The Washington Times about the discovery of the fact that fetuses as young as at least 30 weeks have been discovered to be able to develop memories.

I've been meaning to try a few things with my art lately, and I finally found the perfect opportunity with this piece. That would be stuff like using a fine line, taking my time, rendering more carefully than normal, and trying to make something beautiful. It was very fun making this one.

The article can be found here, for those who are interested:

Monday, September 21, 2009


Here's a picture of Captain Nemo I made today. It's for a project in class where we have to choose a fictional character and their antagonist. I chose Captain Nemo for the protagonist, and I'll be drawing the British Raj of India as the antagonist. I think it's due either next week or the week after.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My inspiration

This post isn't about art, but it's about the stuff that inspires me to make it the most: music. Below I'm posting my top 5 favorite songs of all time. I love sharing music with people, especially if they like it. I've had a few people on the street and at red lights ask me the name of what I'm listening to, so I've started keeping post-it notes and a pen in my car so I can jot them down quickly. You could say showing people music they might like is a hobby of mine. Maybe you'll hear something you've never heard before and like it, or maybe we just have something in common. Either way, cool!

For me to consider these songs as my top 5 they've had to reach a few criteria:
-They have to give me goosebumps
-I have to be able to listen to it for 9 hours on loop and not get boring
-It has to inspire me and put images in my head for me to draw which suit the songs

The first one is "Private Road" by Bent. It was my favorite song for 8 years. I still can't believe humans can make something so beautiful

This music is good for walking through a misty green pasture in a light rain wearing a comfy, just-out-the-dryer set of clothes

The second here is "Goodbye", by Ulrich Schnauss. It was hard to just pick one by him, because his music is consistently amazing.

This is the music that would play when after you die you see your old dog in Heaven and catch up for lost time

The third song is "True To Form" by Hybrid. This song has a really satisfying, chaotic "I don't give a shit" vibe

If you're ever driving exceedingly fast, all alone, through a looong tunnel on a hot summer night, this song should be blasting in your car stereo

Fourth is "Stay Crunchy" by Ronald Jenkees. I can't put into words how much I admire this guy. His attitude and personality are top-notch, and I want to be the illustrator version of him one day. He's passionate, incredibly, mind-blowingly gifted, but he's the most down-to-eart, kind person on the internet

This song is how Jesus makes my soul feel

The fifth one here is my all-time favorite song ever made. It's called "Happy Up Here" by Royksopp. Every song ever made wishes it sounded this good. The music video is phenomenal too. I recommend you listen to this one on high quality. It makes a huge difference.

If my mind and worldview had a physical feeling it would feel like how this song sounds.

Hopefully you like the music. If not then, well, I just feel sorry for you

A couple other tracks that almost made the list were:
-Hawksley Workman: Striptease
-Manual: Neon Reverie (it would've been in the top 5 but I couldn't find a YouTube video of it)
-Boards of Canada: The Beach At Redpoint
-Crisopa: North Left
-Juno Reactor: God Is God
-Royskopp feat. Robyn: The Girl And The Robot
-Sneaker Pimps: Low Five
-Nathan Fake: You Are Here

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hang 'em high (BUNGIE APPROVED)

This is a piece I made for my friend's nephew for his 13th birthday. I told him I would draw him whatever he wanted and this is what he requested, and I thought it was awesome. He's the raddest kid ever

Also here's a bigger version

I normally wouldn't be so arrogant as to offer up a wallpaper version of one of my pieces, but a lot of my friends are big Halo fans, and we all know what Halo fans are like. Also if you're also on Xbox Live my gamer tag is "Thomas Q Murphy". Add me as a friend and we'll "roll some noobs", as they say

Friday, July 03, 2009


Just finished this piece for a friend

The idea for this piece was to make a "summer" to the "winter" that is the Pegasus piece a few posts below. I just took the theme of a kid riding a mythical creature and this time I went with mermaid, and a girl riding on his back. It's just sort of a contrast to the pegasus picture in a few ways. Male/female, up/down, under water/high in the sky, you get the picture.

I also wanted to do a little twist on the mermaid/merman idea and instead of making it a fish-man I went the mammal direction. At first my sketches were of a more cetacean-like creature, but that seemed a bit cliche, so I went a bit more after the seal direction. I was somewhat inspired by the Aquatic Ape Theory. His body is more of a human body that's in the process of adapting towards permanent life in the sea than just some tossed-together hullaballoo. Some liberties here and there. Anyway, I had fun making it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Further down the page there are a couple process illustrations of this piece. I was working with a retired Navy SEAL in the States who claims to have had an encounter with the creature known as sasquatch, or big foot, for you Americans some years ago. It took about 20 back-and-forths or so to get it up to the final piece posted here.

Since I was a kid I've always loved the subject, and I still find it extremely fascinating. Though one of my biggest pet peeves with this was how every time you'd see an artist's rendition or a witness's sketch, it always looked like shit and was so vague and scribbly and sloppy that it wasn't even worth looking at. I wanted to create an illustration of this creature that, if you looked at it, your mind wouldn't have to fill in the blanks, and you could feel satisfied that you were seeing what the witness claims to have seen. I wanted those who believe in this creature to be able to look at a large, clear, detailed and realistic image and could be left feeling confident that they now have an 'accurate' picture of what they haven't yet seen for themselves.

I got in contact with this particular witness because he had a relatively long, face-t0-face look at the creature and claimed to have a crystal clear mental picture of it. His story is that he was about 15 feet away, and the encounter lasted about 20 seconds. The average is 3 seconds.

After I finally laid down the final touches and sent it to him, he told me the hair on his arms stood on end, his eyes watered up and his heart started beating quickly because it was so accurate. So according to the man that worked with me on this image, this is as accurate as it's going to get. I feel confident that, wether you believe or not, that this is the face of whatever species people have been seeing in North America for centuries.

I don't know if there really is such a creature out there, and I can't put faith in it's existence like I can when it comes to the existence of China or my dog Ben, but the man wasn't lying to me. Anyway, here it is, the face of sasquatch:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Evolution of Man and Woman + process

This is a project I did for my figure illustration class in which we had to fill a 16x40 inch composition with human figures in a procession across the page. The subject matter was left up to the students, and my mind immediately fell on an evolution of man poster. I've always found the subject fascinating, and love to draw hominids and other ancient creatures. I've also often thought about doing reconstructions and scientific illustrations as part of my future career, and instantly saw the potential for learning with this project.

I started with my own research online and in books from our school library, but that was only to get my initial sketch done. I went to the University of Calgary's Archaeology department to get critiques and further information from an expert. I didn't see any point in making this piece unless I tried to make it as accurate as I could get it.

I ended up meeting 4 or 5 experts while I was there, and was even allowed to take photos of, and handle samples of fossilized hominid bones for helping with reference, along with the wealth of information I was given by the professors. It was an incredibly stimulating process, and I learned a lot about this most-interesting of subjects. I left with a lot more information than I thought I would, and was really excited to move forward on the project. After discussing the piece with Dr. Anne Katzenberg and listening to her critiques and insight I was inspired to start over from scratch, only using my previous sketches (which had been critiqued) as reference, and all the books and information I was given for a whole new drawing. Two of the main ideas Dr. Katzenberg left me with was her desire to see the Neanderthal stereotype broken. They weren't hunched-over half-beasts, but were just as able and intelligent and cultured as "we" were (at that time). They had language and would even burry their dead (and decorated the grave sites with flowers!). She also wanted to see a friendly Neanderthal, and really, so did I. She also mentioned how she thought the idea of making an "evolution of woman" poster would be a real breath of fresh air, and I felt I could really sympathize with her point of view. I thought it was a very stimulating idea, and that along with all the other amazing information I gathered, I resolved to start my piece from scratch.

I was welcomed warmly and patiently, and was thrilled with my experiences at the University of Calgary

(There's a larger version down below, with more accurate colors. Blogger always seems to dull my colors)

I regret not being able to meet with them again to go over the progress of the illustration above, but I tried to take their input and information and apply as faithfully as I could, and hopefully I didn't horribly misrepresent these wonderful hominids.

I'd like to formally thank Dr. Katzenberg for her incredible insight and input, Dr. Russel for escorting me and helping me with finding samples, as well as the books she lent me, Dr. Mercader for his welcoming attitude and generosity with his information, Dr. David for his input and also for the books he lent me, and to Nicki Engel for helping guide me and help me find valuable and fascinating information, and to all for taking time out of their hectic schedules to help me with this long-time-coming project! I couldn't have done it without you!

****here's a way-huge version for anyone who wants a closer look:
Large version!

(I hope I didn't do a horrible job with these figures, and that if I did, you could someday find it in your hearts to forgive me.)

Here's a record of my process on the piece, including development sketches of the old version:

This is my first preliminary sketch, trying to get my first idea on paper. I had a lot more different "sub-genres" of homo, all very innacurate, all male
First sketch

These are refined, individual sketches of the figures above, minus a few that I chose not to include pretty early on
H. Habilis
H. Rudolfensis
H. Georgicus
H. Ergaster
H. Erectus
H. Cepranensis
H. Hiedelbergensis
H. Rhodesiensis
H. Neanderthalensis
H. Sapiens
H. Floresiensis

These are some pictures of my trip to the University of Calgary
Some samples
Me with a gigantopithecus skull reconstruction

Here's the process/development of the final piece in it's main steps
Line work
Base colors
Rendering and type (finished)

The Magician's Nephew

We were assigned to do illustrations for a storybook for out last project in our illustration class and I chose to do The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis. Here is the cover illustration I did for it

Large version

It's of Digory riding Fledge, the newly-winged horse. A lot of people have been confused by the mane on the horse, but I put it thre for 4 reasons:

1. To help keep it warm in the cold, high air
2. To give the rider something to hold on to
3. To give it a visual tie back to Aslan, who gave the horse it's wings
4. To distinguish it from other pegasusi. It needed that little twist to make it my own, and to hopefully make it worth looking at

Sunday, April 12, 2009


This are some spot illustrations I did for Black Sheep Studios for their new magazine Vehicle, debuting at the Calgary Comic Expo. If you're in town you should swing by the Stampede grounds and meet us!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oh, That Monday

This is a quick comic I did for my contemporary narrative class. The project was we had to write a 4 sentence story a few weeks ago, and then for this project we had to take our short story and then combine with a short story from the anthology we use for the class. I combined my story with a short story called "Dog Monday's Vigil". I originally chose it for no better reason than it was the shortest story I could find in the book (it's an anthology of canadian short stories, alright? Can you blame me?), but it ended up being a really touching, heart-warming story about a dog named Dog Monday who waited for his master for 4 years at a train station while he was away fighting in World War One. It has a happy ending, and it made me cry (happy tears), so if you get the chance, you should check it out. It'll lift your spirits. So anyway, I did this yesterday. I tried to do it as fast as I can, so the art is really... Bunk. But I added color to it to hopefully compensate. Anyway, I just wanted to have fun doing it. I loved drawing Dog Monday looking out the window. I have a friendly yellow lab at home, so I tried to model Dog Monday after him.

PS: My 4-sentence short story was: Dwayne was lonely. One day a woman named Candace moved in next door. Dwayne asked her out on a date and she accepted. Dwayne wasn't lonely anymore.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mark's Work Wearhouse

This is done for a project where we do an annual report for a company. I chose Mark's Work Wearhouse (a canadian store), and I went with an Egyptian theme. The idea is to sort of express the idea of timeless styles, durable clothes, for hard working men. This is just a little spot illustration which would go inside

Here's another one

And a close-up

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Unnatural History Museum

Here's one I did last night. I'm not happy with the perspective on the ribcage or the pelvis. One day I'd like to buy a replica human skeleton just for things like this. 3 hours total, drawn in pen, 'colored' in Photoshop.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

John Carter of Mars

Did this this morning. It's John Carter from "a Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Definitely one of my favorite stories. Burroughs is amazing.

There is so much wrong with it, but I just wanted to get it done and out of the way. I also wanted to work on doing painterly things in Photoshop, which is really fun, but it's tricky. Especially when you're just used to coloring line art.

Here are some character designs of John Carter and Dejah Thoris

Here is a speedpaint of the surface of Mars

This is a speedpaint of the desert that John Carter wakes up in during the last scene of the book, where he's transported back to Earth, not knowing if he's saved Mars. Burroughs was able to make that part feel so lonely and still

Here's a quick sketch of John Carter in some battle gear. In the book, practically everyone is naked all the time. But it isn't sexual nudity, it's National Geographic nudity. In books later in the series the martians actually tease humans for wearing clothes. You would think it's ridiculous, too!

That anatomy is messed up.

Here is a quick sketch of Woola. I was just trying to figure out a way to organize his proportions. Jigga's got TEN legs! That makes NO sense. I'd like to later take this to a finished level. I love Woola.