Monday, January 14, 2013

Michael Offutt and the Art of Oculus

Looky, looky! It's Michael Offutt's second book in the Crisis of Two Worlds series. He's got another amazing cover, don't you think?

Now, I've known Michael for a while and one of the things that has always impressed me is his versatility. (And he makes me laugh at stuff I probably shouldn't.) Anyway, he often posts pictures of his artwork on his blog (see link at bottom). As a complete dunce at drawing, I'm completely envious that he's even willing to try to draw. And you know what? I think he's rather good at it.

For his blog tour I wanted to have him talk about his book, but in a slightly different way. About that time he admitted that he had spent an entire weekend drawing Jordan and I knew I had my topic.

How might being able to draw your character help you get to know him better?

And so, I turn the blog over to Michael...

Exploring my characters through art as well as writing.

I’m one of “those people” who name drops artists. If you take me somewhere, I’ll be able to spot a Goya print, a Rembrandt, a Dali, a Whelan, etc. The reason for this is simple, ever since I was a kid, I drew. I used crayons, coloring pencils, water colors, acrylics, oils. I entered contests at schools…I even won $100 once from a contest at Rick’s College in Rexburg, Idaho (it got renamed to BYU Idaho). All that shows is really…how mediocre I am when it comes to art.

However, I know enough and can do enough that I can make myself happy over long weekends by drawing my characters and rendering scenes in charcoal, pencil, coloring pencil, pastel, or whatever I want. People that have no inkling of how to draw might say, “Man you’re awesome!” People who know a thing or two about art though, will agree with me in saying I’m mediocre. I’d love to get better, but going to school is astronomically expensive. And going to school so you can learn how to paint better—well that’s probably worse than spending so much time to write books that will net you less than $25,000 a year (Eep! Poverty here we come!”).

Anyway back to my art. Right now, I do full color with coloring pencil and then touch it up in PhotoShop. I recently invested in a Wacom tablet. I’m not very good with it, but it’s an incredible piece of equipment. I can grab a hold of the canvas with my fingers and rotate it. I can change the width of a brush by spinning a dial, and I can turn the pen over, and it becomes my eraser. It’s so much fun. PhotoShop has a steep learning curve (and I haven’t even begun to understand Illustrator as it seems to have its own kind of format outside of .jpg). I need to figure out Illustrator, because it’s the more powerful of the two programs and designed more toward creating art. Everything I know how to do comes from online tutorials on YouTube that can be a real life saver. And when you want to draw, it’s a real chore to have to sit through a YouTube video just to be able to understand how you load a brush and select a color.

I enjoy exploring my characters through art as well as writing. My art allows me to visualize them in life-like color down to the minutiae of placing individual veins on skin. Having such a strong mental image (I think) makes for stronger writing, and Oculus I believe is my best work yet as far as that goes. I’ve gotten some emails from readers who enjoy perusing my online gallery on my website, and who’ve told me my protag is pretty hot. That’s the best compliment, because I want Jordan to be as attractive to other people as he is to me (and to have fun spending time in his head).

Thanks for joining us today Michael!
You can learn more about the book/series, as well as see more of Michael's art at the link below:



  1. We have a double feature today, as I am hosting him as well.

  2. Michael, you're so talented. I know it's all going to come together for you. This is the beginning of even better to come. Look at that jacket.

    Charity, great to see Michael here. Happy 2013!

  3. Mediocre? Well, it's still better than I could do.

  4. I wish I had more artistic talent. You're lucky to have that Michael.

  5. Not even in the neighborhood of mediocre. My parents spent a bundle on my art school education & except for the degree that says I graduated, it's useless & a waste of money. You learn by doing, by seeing & watching. I've spent my entire adult life in the design field & I think you're very talented.

  6. And I agree, I think Michael far exceeds mediocre. My "art" equates to stick figures and often they look too obscene to share. LOL.

  7. You're so right, Michael, about how having strong images of characters can make for strong writing. Now I can also understand how you've "designed" the futuristic world they live in.