ArchaicSmiles

Scanners Matter: Scanner Services vs Dedicated Equipment

techHolly Morningstar

When moving, I lost my previous large format scanner. Since scanning artworks is a fudamental part of running my business, this was a disaster. It became evident just how important high quality scans are, which is obvious in hindsight.

I attempted to use Staples for scanning last month, but that didn't pan out. Last week I ordered a new large format scanner, and the difference is night and day.

Left side is the before, and the right hand side is the after.

Left side is the before, and the right hand side is the after.

The new scanner presented some difficulty with the default software. It kept crashing and enforcing an ugly autocorrection, even when unselected.

Using Adobe Photoshop made this a seamless process. The colors came through cleanly, and using auto-align layers and auto-blend layers quickly put together the four scans.

For anyone who does not have Photoshop, I previously used GIMP for image manipulation and Microsoft ICE for stitching the individual scans together easily.

DragonCon Art Show Submission and Jury Process Information

Holly Morningstar

A lot of people discuss the DragonCon art show and artist alley on the internet. Unfortunately, a lot of the information about the submission/jury process isn’t accurate. So, I’m going to do my best with this post to answer the most common questions I’ve found, and also discuss my experience of submitting for the past 3 years.

1. There are two art areas at DragonCon!! There’s the art show with the art bazaar, and then there’s the comics/pop art area. Both are juried. The art show is for “fine” fantasy art, and is packed with wonderful artists. There is 2d and 3d art (including jewelry) in this area. The art bazaar is compiled of many artists who also have panels or tables (if 3d) in the art show.

The comics/pop art area is for artists who have their own published comics and/or create pop art. Quite a few plushies have been in this area in addition to other kinds of 3d pop art.

These areas each have their own submission pages. Make sure you’re submitting to the correct one! Submissions open up in late February/early March. Start stalking the page in January. Submissions are open for a month.


2. Both are juried. 3 different jury members are selected each year. The members of the jury are wonderful, professional artists who have been in the business for a long time and have had a successful career. Each artist applying can submit up to 7 images for review by the jury. The jury gives each artist and overall score on a 1-10 scale. The scores are averaged together to give the applicant their final score.  Applicants in the bottom half of the score pool will receive comments from the jury pointing out areas that need improvement.

Think of your jury images as a portfolio. You want to demonstrate artistic competency, style, and consistency. Make sure the works you’re showing are your very best, and make sure you’re showing your work well! If you’re a 2d artist, scan your works or have them photographed professionally. If you’re a 3d artist, composite images that show your object from multiple angles work well. Photographing against either a white or black drop cloth is a good idea. Show off what you make and let it shine! Signatures, watermarks, etc are not allowed on images to prevent as much jury bias as possible.


3. Art Bazaar tables go to the best of the best. The artists with the highest scores, guests of honor, and award winners from the previous year are the ones who get the bazaar tables.


I’ve submitted an application to the DragonCon Art Show for the past three years. While I did pass jury every time, I received comments from the jury in 2013, and 2014. I now know that means my score wasn’t really that great. Even still, those comments I received encouraged me and pointed out areas in my work that need improvement. This year, I passed jury again, and didn’t receive any comments, which means my score got higher (yay!!!). I had a large bay in the art show and prints in their print shop. I sold three original paintings, a limited edition canvas print, and a good number of prints in the print shop. More importantly, I used the opportunity to attend the convention as a regular con-goer and went to several panels in the art show track, and a few that will help me with the creation of a graphic novel I’ve had in the works for a few years.

I’ve been showing my art at conventions since 2012, and DragonCon was well worth the wait. Additionally, John Parise is a fantastic director. He is great at answering questions in a clear, timely fashion. He’s also super nice, which is always a plus, especially since he must get a ton of questions as well as emails from frustrated applicants. The DragonCon Art Show was really well organized, the staff was kind and helpful, etc. Just a crazy positive experience, and I’ll be working hard on making more improvements to my portfolio for next year!

If anyone has additional questions regarding DragonCon, feel free to ask me and I’ll be happy to respond!


Holly Morningstar
tumblr_nozn0rd3yU1rb8gz6o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_nozn0rd3yU1rb8gz6o2_1280.jpg
tumblr_nozn0rd3yU1rb8gz6o3_1280.jpg
tumblr_nozn0rd3yU1rb8gz6o5_1280.jpg
tumblr_nozn0rd3yU1rb8gz6o6_1280.jpg
tumblr_nozn0rd3yU1rb8gz6o4_1280.jpg

The finished version of my latest watercolor painting, “Fire One”, and the progress shots I took while creating it. 

Leaving for Megacon Tonight!

Holly Morningstar

Leaving for Megacon tonight! Super excited for a weekend of art and cosplay-watching. While I’m at my table, I’m going to be doing a Dr Who-related watercolor fanart piece. If I finish it by Sunday, it will be for sale if anyone would like to purchase it. Check back here and on Twitter for updates regarding the painting. :)

Remember, I’ll be at table Pink #14. If you have trouble finding me, just look for my new banner (pictured below), which will be hanging from my table. 


Allons-y!!!







Nauticon in Provincetown, MA Added to the Convention Schedule!

Holly Morningstar

I received the acceptance email yesterday, so while I’m still working out the specifics (like best method of transportation, what to bring, how to set up my “shop”, etc), I might as well add Nauticon to the list!

March: Megacon in Orlando, FL 
April: Frolicon in Atlanta, GA 
May: Nauticon in Provincetown, MA, Animazement in Raleigh, NC and Indy Pop Con in Indianapolis, IN
August: FandomFest in Louisville, KY and Matsuricon in Columbus, OH

Holly Morningstar
More progress on my painting. It’s tentatively titled, “Starsong”, but the title will likely change. It’s one of the most peaceful paintings I’ve ever worked on.

More progress on my painting. It’s tentatively titled, “Starsong”, but the title will likely change. It’s one of the most peaceful paintings I’ve ever worked on.

Holly Morningstar
tumblr_n22rvpzHph1rb8gz6o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_n22rvpzHph1rb8gz6o2_1280.jpg

Latest painting progress so far. I also figured out how to change the date on my camera, so the next one won’t look like it was taken in February :P 

I don’t know what I’m going to title it yet, but it was inspired by Ellie Goulding’s song Explosion, and this quote from Dr Who:

“….All the elements in your body were forged, many millions of years ago, in the heart of a far away star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went– the elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing-wax and cabbages and kings. Until eventually– they came together to make you.

You are unique in the universe. There is only one You and there will never be another….”

The ocean is one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen. It allows me to experience a different level of peace, and I hope this painting will be a sufficient homage to it, and our planet in general.

This piece is another that will premier as a print at Megacon in *drumroll* 14 days! Two weeks, you guys! *squeeeeee*

Holly Morningstar
tumblr_n19wjgcQUf1rb8gz6o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_n19wjgcQUf1rb8gz6o2_1280.jpg
tumblr_n19wjgcQUf1rb8gz6o3_1280.jpg

Today’s painting progress. Still aiming to have it completed by Friday.  My next piece is going to feature a Phoenix :) I’m really excited about working on that one, too.

Holly Morningstar
Megacon Floor Plan!  Here’s the floor plan for Megacon.  I’m really close to the same spot I had last year in the Pink section. This year, I’m Pink 14. Remember, if you stop by my table and mention following me on any kind of social media, you’ll receive a gift from me :) Only 30 days left! See you there :)

Megacon Floor Plan! 

Here’s the floor plan for Megacon.  I’m really close to the same spot I had last year in the Pink section. This year, I’m Pink 14. Remember, if you stop by my table and mention following me on any kind of social media, you’ll receive a gift from me :)

Only 30 days left! See you there :)

Holly Morningstar
tumblr_n1453cG5cS1rb8gz6o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_n1453cG5cS1rb8gz6o2_1280.jpg

Spent the afternoon painting. Going to spend time in the sketchbook now and start watching season 2 of “House of Cards”.

“I took one lamb, and I ran away as fast as I could…I thought, I thought if I could save just one, but… he was so heavy…”  

from “The Silence of the Lambs" 

Holly Morningstar
tumblr_n12f1m405K1rb8gz6o1_1280.jpg
tumblr_n12f1m405K1rb8gz6o2_1280.jpg

Newest painting progress. Dedicated to my furbabies. Inspired by Clarice from “Silence of the Lambs”. Not sure what the title is going to be yet, but I’m so glad I finally figured out how to express what’s been on my heart since I rescued Dremy from the dumpster and Castiel from the shelter. We have an obligation to each other that surpasses our understanding. <3 Prints will be available at the Megacon artist alley!