Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 Wrap Up

Welcome to my 2023 wrap up, and what a year it's been! First, the opportunity for people to make a living doing commercial art for the entertainment industry took a real hit this year. From 10% of videogames jobs being eliminated to the strikes that caused VFX and animation artists to be laid off, it's been a sucky year. While it would be nice to define a single silver bullet that's causing all this turmoil, it's likely a half dozen factors, from high interest rates to company consolidation to genAI to good old greed. I suspect it will be years for a new normal to emerge.

All that being said, I've had to remind myself that no matter what happens to my industry, I can't let it affect my love of making artwork. It would be horrible for my creative spirit to be crushed by a world in chaos. So in 2024, it's going to be all about making projects that matter to me, and finding more ways to get it out to my audience.

2023 included 2 conventions, a bunch of speaking engagements (Lightbox being particularly awesome), teaching a college class, & a major focus on my ink sketches, culminating in the release of my third book: "Neil Blevins Sketchbook: Vol 1: Spaceships". I think a lot of this analog drawing was a reaction to the worry about genAI, it was nice to return to my traditional roots and create some tangible art. I will continue to sketch, but other projects are going to take priority in 2024. Finally 2023 saw my first job in the Tech Industry, working at Duality Robotics, where I've been helping create virtual environments in unreal engine to train real life robot brains. It's been a fascinating challenge, and I'm working with a great group of people.

So what's coming in 2024? First, my most popular project by far has been the book "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia", sold out for almost a year. I've received 100s of emails asking when it might be reprinted. So in early 2024 I'll be doing a brand new Kickstarter to see if I can get enough presales (you can't print just a few, they need to be printed in bulk) for a 2nd printing.

My second focus is figuring out how best to engage with my audience. Social Media has eroded over the past several years, the days of organic reach and even paid reach for art are now pretty much over. It is so frustrating knowing there are people who have asked to follow my art, but they don't see my posts because the algorithm isn't interested. 2024 will include some experiments in how best to get my work out there, along with of course a bunch of new art to show.

Thanks again for all of you following along in 2023, thanks to everyone who bought my sketchbook, thanks for all your comments, every positive interaction is a gift I cherish. And to all those of you out there who are professional artists and have been laid off & are looking for work, may you be swiftly re-employed, and may we all find that spark that let's us make 2024 a comeback year! Love you all!

My top 9 most liked images from 2023:

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Favorite Spaceship Sketches of 2023

Continuing my favorites of 2023, here's my personal favorite spaceship doodles. Which are yours? Check out my spaceship sketchbook for more:

Friday, December 29, 2023

Favorite Robot Head Sketches of 2023

As another year comes to a close, have some "favorites of 2023" to post over the next few days. Up first are my favorite robot head sketches of 2023.

Monday, December 18, 2023

December Doodle Roundup

My December doodling. Next week will be a best of the year roundup.

Friday, December 8, 2023

CCA Class

Yesterday was the last class of the semester at CCA where I've been teaching adjunct, the students presented their capstone projects which were virtual experiences made in Unreal. All the projects were fantastic, the students did a great job. Congrats to all, you learned so much in such a short period of time! A few pics!

Saturday, December 2, 2023

French Megastructure book is here!

Growing up in Montreal, I was surrounded by French media, so I'm pleased the first translation of my Megastructure book is into French. Got my copy today, they did a fantastic job. Some art here from myself, Col Price, Andy Proctor, and Ken Fairclough

Thursday, November 30, 2023

November Spaceship Doodle Roundup

Here's a bunch of new spaceship doodles for the month of November. Check out my new sketchbook to see over 100 spaceship doodles:

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Lith Painting

A color sketch for a more detailed painting I would like to do in the near future. From my Lith IP. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Rick Guidice Podcast

The The World's Fair Co did a podcast with former NASA artist Rick Guidice, I grew up inspired by a lot of his work, and on the video he mentions my Megastructures book. Talk about full circle! Check out the whole talk, it's pretty cool.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Alderson Disk

Brand new Megastructure painting, a new view of an old favorite, the Alderson Disk. A giant platter (like a Compact Disc) with an outer radius equivalent to the orbit of Jupiter. The sun is located in the hole at the center of the disk.

Monday, November 13, 2023

New Video: Drawing A Spaceship Using Traditional Ink

Here's a demo of drawing one of my spaceship doodles with traditional ink and paper, similar to the doodles in my new sketchbook. Let's all take a digital break and get back to some old-school penmanship!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Megastructures Polyhedral Habitat 4

To celebrate the release of the french edition of my Megastructures book, I'll be releasing some brand new net-exclusive megastructure paintings.

A Polyhedral Habitat would be a space colony consisting of several O’Neill Cylinders attached together to form a larger structure, much like struts forming a children’s jungle gym. The colony as a whole would not rotate to create spin gravity, but each cylinder would rotate along its axis like a standalone cylinder. The tips of the individual cylinders would be attached to adjoining cylinders by joints called knuckles. The knuckles would not rotate and, because of that, would have no gravity inside.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Megastructures in French

To my french speaking followers: Les Editions Mnemos in France will be releasing a French language edition of my book "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" on Nov 8th. A big thanks to the team for the translation, you can preorder here:

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

October Spaceship Doodle Roundup

Here's a bunch of new spaceship doodles for the month of October. See these and over a hundred more in my new sketchbook:

Monday, October 30, 2023

Lightbox Expo 2023 Done For The Year

Had a great time at Lightbox Expo 2023 First thanks to the students who came by for a portfolio review. And big thanks to everyone who came to my talk on creating art bibles. It was a full house, I am truly overwhelmed with your support. And from your questions I have some good ideas on how I can focus the talk even further in the future. And plenty of great chats in the hallways with old Pixar friends and other industry vets. Thanks everyone, hope to see you next year. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Lightbox Expo 2023

At Lightbox Expo 2023 this Fri-Sun. Please note the room and time change for my talk, they've moved me to a larger room (thanks everyone for all the interest!) Hope to see you soon! 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Heart Of The Giant

A rough painting from my "Heart Of The Giant" IP. Focusing mostly on mood, the designs of the ships and amount of details will likely change before the final.

Monday, October 9, 2023


A little alien idea I've been playing around with, very much a WIP, may explore it further in the future.

Monday, October 2, 2023

The Towers Of Therion

From my Lith Universe, Therion is a small planet in a distant part of the galaxy, a vast desert covered in perpetual mist. But it is the home to one of the artifacts, dubbed "The Towers Of Therion", builders unknown, purpose unknown.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Lightbox Expo 2023

As well as attending Lightbox Expo 2023, I'll also be doing portfolio reviews and giving a talk on "Creating An Art Bible for a Fictional Universe." Come by and say hi, and go here for the complete schedule of talks and panels!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Books In The Wild

People who bought "Neil Blevins Sketchbook Vol 1: Spaceships" on Monday are receiving their books. Love seeing them in the wild, thanks so much for the support! Grab a copy today:

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Closer Look

A closer look at some of the pages from my new book "Neil Blevins Sketchbook Vol 1: Spaceships", print edition available here: Thanks so much to the people who've already bought a copy! 

Monday, September 18, 2023

"Neil Blevins Sketchbook Vol 1: Spaceships" has been released

"Neil Blevins Sketchbook Vol 1: Spaceships" has been released! 

Physical copy here: 

Digital copy here: 

And to my international friends, the physical copy should also be available on many local amazon marketplaces, so feel free to visit your country's amazon marketplace online and search for Neil Blevins, it'll save you shipping time and money.

To everyone who buys a copy, thank you so much for the support, hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Robot Head

Sadly, looks like Amazon needs another week to process before people can order the spaceship sketchbook. Will post the moment it's available, in the meantime, here's another new Photobashed droid head.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Neil Blevins Sketchbook Vol 1: Spaceships

Announcing my third book, "Neil Blevins Sketchbook Vol 1: Spaceships", a softcover sketchbook of my pen & ink spaceship drawings. 64 pages, 8.25" x 8.25", 119 spaceship doodles from the past 6 years!

As many of you know, I started getting back into traditional pen & ink drawings in 2017 during Inktober, and have basically been hooked ever since. I love digital work, but there's something so satisfying about the low tech of paper and a pen, a simple stroke of ink can carry so much information and personality.

As with many of you, the advances of Generative AI have been an existential crisis for me. Putting aside questions of career for a moment, if a computer can make nice polished digital paintings, what point is there in me making them? Is there any personal joy left in producing this sort of work? Any satisfaction? Will there be an audience, or will we all choke in a deluge of generated imagery, making it impossible to find what truly connects with us? I feel doing these pen and ink drawings is a part of my process for answering these questions. It is a way to reconnect with my roots, with my early joy of creating. Yes, Generative AI will eventually be good at making lifelike drawings that will certainly flood social media, but there's something about going to a convention, and someone right there in front of you is making you a commission, you see their mind and soul going onto that paper, you know they have touched that surface and are giving you a little piece of themselves. Every mistake is a reminder that we're all human, every successful line a symphony. While I doubt I can make a career of fostering that connection with the audience, the attempt at making those types of human connections is why we're all doing this in the first place, right?

As a second more practical reason for doing this book, I'm trying a little experiment. My second book "Megastructures, the Visual Encyclopedia" was printed using Offset Printing. The reason to use this process is because it makes paintings look gorgeous. The downside is you have to pre-print your books, which is a big upfront expense, and shipping the books myself world wide is even more prohibitively expensive. So this book is printed on demand by KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). So no pre-printing 1000 copies, shipping is cheap due to Amazon's shipping system, and for pen and ink drawings, the quality is excellent, I doubt Offset printing could make it look any better. I won't do all future books this way, for anything painting heavy Offset is the only option, but I'm testing the waters on how easy it is to print some of my future books using the print on demand method if the particular artwork is compatible with the process.

So if you've been following me on social media for the past 6 years and seeing my spaceship doodles, here's a chance to own a collection of the ones I feel are my most successful. As 2 bonuses, the book also includes a discussion of my tools and process, and has a few drawing vs final paintings in the rear of the book. Neil Blevins Sketchbook, Vol 1: Spaceships is scheduled to be released Sept 12th 2023, and I hope you pick up a copy. If the little experiment is successful, I suspect a vol 2 won't be too far behind.

Monday, September 4, 2023

New Project

Hmm, what could this be? A new project of some kind? Anyone want to hazard a guess?

Thursday, August 31, 2023

August Ink Drawings

My monthly collection of pen and ink doodles, this month was robot heads