Captured Realism: The Art of Sean Pence

 

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Daenerys Targaryen PSC by Sean Pence

 

Some of the most realistic artistic depictions I’ve ever seen come from Sean Pence. His work for various card sets (usually pop culture and/or fantastical in subject) is always highly sought after and admired. Sean has such a talent for capturing his subjects that some of his cards could legitimately be mistaken for photographs. His subtle shading and eye for little details further help to bring his creations to life. The wonderful rendition of Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen above is spot on perfect.

 

 

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Air Elemental sketch card by Sean Pence

 

I first discovered Sean’s art through collecting the excellent card sets available from Perna Studios, and several of his works for Perna are among my absolute favorites he’s done. Certainly included is his stunning Air Elemental I was lucky enough to pick up (pictured above). There’s a delicate, etherial feel to it I adore.

 

 

 

I’ve also been lucky enough to get ahold of a couple of Sean’s witches from Perna’s Hallowe’en sets. Haunting and beautiful in very different ways, the contrast between these two interpretations of a common subject spotlights Sean’s imagination and versatility in presentation. The Witchcraft sketch card also demonstrates Sean’s deft use of color in limited fashion, in this case with wonderful contrast between the background purples and the stark highlighted silhouette in orange.

 

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Kylo Ren PSC by Sean Pence

 

Sean has an excellent feel for composition and how to draw the viewer’s eyes to his subject for maximum impact, leadin to powerful, striking portraits. He captures the essence of his subjects down to the most delicate features and subtle details making anything from superheroes to Sith lords to fairies feel genuine and real.

 

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Spellcasters II Fairy Metal AP by Sean Pence

 

Hope everyone’s enjoyed this brief glimpse at Sean’s creations. They’re just a small sample of the wide array of wonderful pieces he’s created.

Wickedly Beautiful: Perna Studios’ Witchcraft

I’ve previously written in general about the excellent card sets available from Perna Studios. Here I’d like to spotlight their set that was released in Fall of 2016, Witchcraft. This was a targeted subset of their Hallowe’en series (of which there have been two previous sets) and as its title suggests exclusively featured witches (both of classic witch hat and coven styles).

 

 

Witches are always a great artistic subject. Some of my favorite sketch cards from Perna’s previous Hallowe’en sets featured them (I’ve shared pictures of a few above). The prospect of an entire set devoted to them was quite exciting, and as always the Pernas delivered in a big way.

 

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Base card art by Yuriko Shirou, Eric McConnell, Stacey Kardash, Ingrid Hardy, Andre Toma, Jeena Pepersack, Molly Brewer, Helga Wojik, Collette Turner, and Melike Acar.

 

The base set is a great showcase of the theme, already reflecting numerous styles. Also featured were four spot foil cards, as well as metal and lenticular chase inserts.

 

 

Beyond that of course are the wonderful sketch cards. I continue to be in awe of the the detail the artists achieve on such a small workspace. There’s an incredible amount of room for variety and different approaches even within the seemingly narrow field of a singular subject.

 

 

With choice of background, color, attitude, and of course physical characteristics a wide range of interpretations are possible even within a given type of subject. Add in the diverse personal styles of the excellent artists the Pernas include in their sets and a dazzling array of imaginative depictions are represented.

 

 

As I talked about in a previous entry, Artist’s Proofs (APs) are another great part of these card sets. Directly commissioned from the artists, APs are an opportunity to request something specific (within the guidelines and theme of the set).

I once again went with a common base idea for most of my APs, and this time it was coven witches wearing blue. Depending on discussions with the individual artists (and what I was feeling like getting at any given time) some extra details, like a pet raven or a particular background, were included, but for the most part I like to leave the requested subject open to interpretation.

 

 

I was extremely happy with the variety and creativity that resulted in the beautiful cards I received from everyone. Achilleas Kokkinakis’ witch showcases his trademark vivid colors and a striking composition that has her edging right out of the frame toward the viewer. Stacey Kardash drew me a wonderfully serene and evocative scene depicting a witch under moonlight.

 

 

The pair of witches I got from Alexis Hill have a wonderful elegance to them, from their poses and features to the delicate designs in the trim of their robes. I find Alexis’ style a natural fit for the themes of the Halowe’en series, and have several great cards from her from all three sets.

The intricate patterns on the witch Craig Yeung drew for me are amazing, and add to her striking appearance. The soft color palette is perfect, and lets her stand out just enough against the ominous background.

 

 

This set marks the first time I’ve gotten any type of sketch card from Yuriko Shirou, and I adore the incredible atmosphere her AP has to it, from the composition to the little details of the witch’s appearance to the wonderful deep blue hue of her robes.

Norvien Basio’s cards always have impressive texture and detail to them, and the design of the great witch he drew is complimented by those elements in her clothing, the skull and raven that adorn her, and the stark metallic background.

 

 

I wrote about being a longtime fan of Juri Chinchilla’s art in Beautiful Dreams, and I discovered Perna’s sets through her. The various witches she’s done for their Hallowe’en series are all gorgeous. The AP I got from her this time was a little different from the others, as I particularly adored one of the sketch cards she did for Witchcraft and asked for something in the same vein. The result was fantastic. As I mentioned before I love the soft yet vibrant colors she achieves in her work, and the little details, from the texture of the ravens feathers and the witch’s hair to the little touches of sparkles glued on as highlights, all come together in a marvelous way.

 

So that’s a quick look at the wonderful witches of Perna’s latest set. Of course there are MANY more phenomenal artists featured in it to check out than those I’ve featured here. Perna’s next set, Elementals, is also imminent (within the next several days in fact) and will no doubt bring with it the impeccable level of quality and variety they always provide in their sets. As always I’m very much looking forward to it. 🙂

A Personal Piece of Magic: Perna Studios APs

Last Fall I wrote about the wonderful card sets available from Perna Studios,  and now I’d like to focus on/share an associated part of the sets: Artist’s Proofs (APs). Sketch cards are a often used form of “chase card” for art related collectible card sets, where the various artists involved in a set get blank cards with the card set’s printed back and create one of a kind art directly on the cards, which are then inserted randomly in card packs. The skills shown in painting and drawing on such a small workspace and the amount of detail achieved is incredible.

AP sketch cards are a similar creation. Artists sometimes get a few of these blank cards designated as Artist Proofs to sell themselves and create specifically for the purchaser (with subject matter appropriate to the related set and subject to publisher approval). As directly commissioned art the prices are generally higher than buying packs/sets in trade off for getting to choose the artist and having input into the subject/design.

The wonderful painted pieces Ingrid Hardy does on these relatively tiny trading cards always amazes me, and the first AP I got was from her for the Classic Fairy Tales set and features Red Riding Hood. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I can’t imagine a better design. I tend to be rather unspecific when commissioning these cards, usually just asking for a particular subject and letting the artist go from there. I’ve always been extremely pleased with the results.

It can be fun to get APs from different artists reflecting the same general subject. I collect grim reaper art when it comes to the Hallowe’en sets, so had both Ingrid Hardy and Kokkinakis Achilleas do APs featuring him for Hallowe’en 2. Both are fantastic representations capturing a sense of foreboding, with Ingrid’s reaper having an atmospheric, looming edge to it and Kokkinakis’ an active feel showcasing the dynamic style and coloring his work is know for.

I’d already gotten some excellent grim reaper sketch cards from Hallowe’en 2 by Alexis Hill and Peejay Catacutan, so went in different directions with their APs. I find Alexis’s style absolutely perfect for the halloween theme and the witch AP I got from her is a wonderful addition to all the gorgeous sketch cards I have of hers from the set.

With Peejay I floated the general idea of either a succubus or a witch, and he sent me a few pencil rough ideas. I loved the above succubus design as well as his imaginative idea to do a Japanese folklore inspired witch so much I commissioned both, and the final cards brought those rough ideas to life gloriously.

Depending on the set, the permitted subjects can be rather wide or extremely specific. For example, Classic Fairy Tales and Hallowe’en 2 allowed anything related to the titular theme (within normal Perna guidelines), while Spellcasters 2 had a subtheme of specific magical creatures, so all cards (base, sketch, inserts, and APs) from that set had to feature mermaids, unicorns, elves, fairies, or dragons. In either case, there is plenty of room for individual style and visions and both the variety and quality of work Pernas’ chosen artists produce is incredible.

I wrote about being a longtime fan of Juri Chinchilla in Beautiful Dreams, and I was lucky enough to get one of her APs from Spellcasters II. She did a great piece of art for a metal insert for the set that she referred to as “evil mermaid.” Inspired by that work, I requested an “evil fairy” for my AP, and received the gorgeous card above titled Red Moon. Juri’s soft yet vibrant colors are breathtaking, and I adore the fact that even leaning against a skull and clearly planning something sinister, her fairy still has a touch of cuteness to it.

The entire concept of evil fairies amuses me greatly, and so has become my theme for other APs for Spellcasters II, including the dark, regal looking fairy Peejay drew above that has a wonderful layered effect with the skull providing a visual second set of wings. I have two more coming, from the previously mentioned Ingrid Hardy and Alexis Hill. Can’t wait. 🙂

The coloring and detail on Norvien Basio’s cards in general is incredible, and my jaw literally dropped when I saw the vibrant mermaid AP he did for me.

Sometimes artists will choose their own subject for an AP and sell the completed pieces rather than commission the card. Such was the case with the butterfly fairy I got from Sean Pence. This couldn’t have been a more perfect card for me if I had requested the subject, showing a delicate, serene subject with Sean’s trademark ability to draw exquisite, realistic feeling faces even within a fantasy setting.

 

Of course there are MANY more phenomenal artists featured in Perna Studios’ sets and anyone with an interest in high quality fantastical art collectibles should definitely check out their offerings and/or check in with the artists about commissioning an AP.

 

 

Realms of the Fantastic Brought to Life

For years I’ve been a big fan of the art of Juri Chinchilla, as I wrote about in Beautiful Dreams. Last year I noticed she was doing art for an upcoming card set called Hallowe’en, and was introduced to the wonderful products of Perna Studios.

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Hallowe’en base set.

Perna Studios puts out high quality themed card sets in limited quantities. Base sets usually contain 20 cards and are from a variety of artists. Direct purchases always include complete base sets.

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Amazing hand drawn sketch cards from the Hallowe’en set by Francois Chartier, Kokkinakis Achilleas, and Liz Chesterman.

What sets Perna apart is the quality and quantity of their hand drawn sketch cards (and other inserts). EVERY set comes with a sketch card, a unique work of art drawn directly on a Perna blank prepared for that particular set.

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A few of the gorgeous sketch cards from Perna’s Classic Fairy Tales set. By Jessica Hickman, Richard Cox, Juri Chinchilla, John Monserrat, and Danielle Gransaull.

Besides the unique and collectible nature of such cards, the Pernas have numerous fantastic artists (many more than those involved in the base cards) do art for their sketch cards (including the Pernas themselves). The results are stunning. Many artists will also have a few artist proofs available – blank sketch cards they sell directly as commissioned art (requested subject has to match the set’s theme).

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Incredible Red Riding Hood AP by Ingrid K. V. Hardy.

Recent sets have also included a metallic variant of base cards with every set. In addition to the sketch cards, there are usually several limited “chase cards” randomly distributed. These have included more metal variants, exclusive art, lenticular cards, redemption cards, etc.

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Metal variants of some promo cards for the Classic Mythology set.

The production quality is top notch as well, with good thickness to the cards and excellent printing on the base sets. The selected themes are wonderful. They celebrate the supernatural and mythological, allowing lots of room for interpretation and imagination in each artist’s renderings. Past sets have included Classic Mythology (I and II), Spellcasters, Hallowe’en, and Classic Fairy Tales. Hallowe’en 2 just went on sale (and sold out) and will be shipping soon. Future sets include Spellcasters 2 and Elementals.

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A variety of Juri Chinchilla’s cards from Perna Studios’ sets. Rapunzel and Snow White are sketch cards, hand drawn directly onto the card.

Beyond the fun and quality of the base sets, Perna Studios provides a wonderful way to get original, unique art from a variety of phenomenal artists. I love their products and anxiously await each new release. 🙂

Beautiful Dreams

A highlight of the conventions I’ve attended over the years has been exploring artists alley. Row after row of tables filled with imaginative tributes to known characters and original works, by artists eager to meet fans and share the results of their efforts.

 

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An incredible digitally painted scene (top).

 

Otakon in 2009 (I think) was the first time I saw the art of Juri the Dreamer (Juri H. Chinchilla) and it immediately wowed me. She had a variety of both digital and traditional art on display, all dripping in atmosphere and conveying a ton of emotion. I picked up a couple of prints and she’s been my favorite artist ever since.

 

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Dizzy, Millia Rage, and  Jam Kuradoberi from Guilty Gear

 

 

I saw her at various conventions the following couple of years and got some great pieces, including an incredible set of colored pencil commissions at Anime Boston 2010 featuring Guilty Gear characters.

I adore her use of color, particularly in her hand drawn work. Masterful use of colored pencil gives the finished art a soft feel while keeping colors bright and vivid with a lot of depth.

 

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“The Mistress of the Night”

 

Juri has a wonderful imagination and her original creations are always unique and striking.

Now living on the West Coast and working on a variety of projects, Juri isn’t currently attending cons or doing commissions. But there are still opportunities to get her wonderful art. She has print store at http://jurithedreamer.deviantart.com/prints/ and participates in card sets for companies like Perna Studios.  Perna puts out high quality themed card sets in limited quantity. Juri’s contributions have been fantastic.

 

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Some of Juri’s cards from Perna Studios’ sets.

 

Looking forward to seeing what the future brings for Juri and her art. 🙂

 

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