Friday, 11 November 2016

Steampunk Playing Cards part 3.

Ready for the third (and yet the last) post about "Steampunk Plaing Cards" made for a Polish playing card company "TREFL"? It took me about two months to prepare the whole deck, so regardless your answer let me present clubs and spades!

Just in case you missed the previous two parts of presentation, here they are: part1 and part2.

Clubs were meant to refer to technological and scientific aspects of Steampunk. Strange, exaggerated glasses and lences are such a typical feature of Steampunk styliscs, that I couldn't resist choosing observatory for a building representing the ace of clubs.

According to my own guidelines jacks should be robots, which are technological achievements itself. But the jack of clubs should express the scientific atmosphere even harder. That's why I designed him as a mix of a microscope, oscilloscope and... some other parts.

From the 'Did you know' series: in Poland clubs are colloquially called "żołędzie" which means "acorns". That's why the jack of clubs is examining an acorn.

And now, last but not least: spades. Spades are related with exploring secrets of the sea (a distant echo of Jules Verne's 20000 Leagues Under the Sea). These pirates obviously know many sea mysteries:

What about the rest of the cards? Let them remain a mystery... unless someone has a deck in his/her hands :)

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

“One is expected to show a bit of eccentricity to be interesting. Otherwise one is simply a sad old crone, and no one wants that, you know.” 
"The Ice Princess", Camilla Läckberg

Today I'm celebrating 50.000 views of my blog! I thought that it might be an occasion for you- dear readers and watchers- to "get to know" me a little better. So! Somewhere in the top left corner of your screens you can see me working hard. And below you can read Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions  (questions I've been asked by wonderfully inquiring people who stumbled upon my works or under interviews) along with my answers. Maybe you'll find them interesting or useful:

1. When did you start to be interested in illustrating?

Since childhood I've been surrounded by books about art (very classic, traditional art to be precise).  I really loved to browse through them. However it was a "passive" interest.

My "active" interest in making illustrations began when I came into contact with fantasy games and books in a high school.

2. Where and when did you learn drawing?

I began to learn drawing at the age of 18 (some of you may think that it's quite late). I was attending drawing classes to pass entrance exams for Warsaw Faculty of Architecture. Then, during studies I had a broad spectrum of art classes (drawing, painting, sculpting, study of colors, digital graphics etc). It was a valuable base for practicing at home. Even more important were classes from architectural design and history of architecture. These enabled me to draw detailed buildings and landscapes from imagination.

3. For how long have you been working as a freelance illustrator?

I'm a freelance illustrator since graduating from Faculty of Architecture (2011).

4. Which artists inspire you most?

Old masters:  L. da Vinci, A. Dürer and G. B. Piranesi. Their sketches brilliantly presented the whole process of "constructing" their works (the visible guide lines). On the other hand my favorite painter is Zdzisław Beksiński. He was able to create a mood which can be easily felt, even though it can be hardly described with words.

5. What are your other inspirations:

On the first place I'd say long walks. My thoughts flow the most freely when I'm walking. Moreover: dark and melodic music, fantasy books, historical buildings.

6. What techniques/tools do you use in creating your work?

-watercolor paper: yellowish Canson Colorline and white Daler-Rowney (300g)
- watercolors (in tubes and bars)

-a waterproof Faber-Castell's "PITT artist pen", size S

- Rotring's Artpens, various sizes. They're quite handy and allow to draw fine, stylish lines

- mechanical pencil, size 0.5

- After scanning I use Photoshop, mostly to set the colors/contrasts and add a text

7. What does your creative process look like? 

1. Usually the first step is "brainstorming". In a relatively short period of time I browse through plenty of photos and illustrations related somehow to my task. The purpose is being in the right creative mood, not searching particular references.

2. Then I make about dozen of thumbnail sketches just for myself. If it's a commission I often send about 3 more detailed sketches to the customer to get a better idea of his/her expectations.

 3. And then the whole fun begins. A delicate pencil sketch helps me to set the right composition. Then it's time for a more precise pen drawing and finally watercolors can be used.

4. Sometimes it happens that I'm not really satisfied with the color scheme and I need to redraw the whole work.

 5. If the original looks fine, it is scanned and edited digitally to prepare it for example for printing.

What can be said in few sentences may actually take me several days.

8. What are the biggest advantages of being a freelance illustrator?

1. The most important for me: continuous development of skills.

2. A very positive feedback from foreign people from various parts of the world. It's really motivating and uplifting.

3. Quite low level of stress.

4. Freedom in managing time.

9. What are the biggest disadvantages of being a freelance illustrator?

1. Uncertainty in economic matters. Very low earnings at the beginning (at least in case of the vast majority of cases).

2. Sporadic direct contact with other people. My contact with customers is usually limited to e-mails, less often to Skype talks.

Not so many after all :)

10. Did you always wanted to be an artist? What would you be doing if you weren't an illustrator?

For a short period of time I  wanted to be a garbage collector (big cars + working in the open air). Then I wanted to be an archeologist or paleontologist as I'm fascinated by the past.

If I weren't an illustrator, I'd be an architect as that's my learned profession.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Steampunk Playing Cards part 2.

Time for the second portion of Steampunk cards created in an old school, traditional way (ink and watercolors). Today I'll focus on the red suits - hearts and diamonds.

"Hearts" were meant to represent the cultural and elegant side of Steampunk. Top hats, victorian fans and lace should be a good fit here. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the Queen and the King of Hearts:


Now we are leaving salons to meet the darker side of Victorian era - decadence and pests especially decimating industrial areas. My favorite card - Jack of Diamonds as known as a "Pest Doctor" (in a steampunk style):

And which vehicle could represent this group better than a hearse? A steampunk hearse of course :D

I hope that these few illustrations managed to arouse your curiosity and that you'll be willing to see steampunk pirates and inventors in the next blog post!

The deck was created for a Polish playing card company "Trefl".

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Steampunk Playing Cards part 1.

 “Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.”
George R. R. Martin, "A Game of Thrones"

For some strange and unexplained reason I'm working mostly on graphic designs and environment/architectural designs, which means that I'm using only pens/pencils and graphic tablet on daily basis.
As the time went by I began to suspect, that I'm going to forget how to make watercolor illustrations until one day...
a proposal from one of the leading Polish card manufacturer ("Trefl") came.
The offer concerned making set of cards in a Steampunk style. Handmade, watercolor technique, victorian aesthetics, steampunk subjects - PERFECT!
Some of my previously done artworks were also welcome to be part of the deck (ie "Train", "Steampunk Landscape").

Working process started with thinking (what a surprise!).

CONCLUSION 1 - Jokers could be presented as goblins, Aces as buildings, Kings could be portrayed as bearded guys, Queens as cute ladies (congrats Evi, how unusual) and Jacks could be robots. After discussion with the client  we decided to put vehicles on cards with numbers.

CONCLUSION 2 - each color could be designed as a to put it right... subculture?
hearts would be members of the "upper classes" , clubs should be inventors/researchers fascinated with steampunk technical achievements, spades could be pirates or sea travelers and diamonds could be a charming mix of goths and dandies with a touch of decadence.

That's just a little sample of what you can expect to see in the deck. Next posts will reveal more :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Miniature Buildings - p.III

Here is the third part from the serie about architectural designs for tabletop games (see also partI and partII). Now it's time for ruins and steamunk buildings.

The little pile of paper below doesn't look impressive, I know... But these are 125 pages of plans, cross sections, elevations and perspective sketches making up designs of 27 objects, which can be parts of a miniature world. 

If you're curious about how "Winterdale" looks like in reality (ie. after 3D printing), you can visit Printable Scenery website

In the next post (about something completely different) I'll try to be more wordy, I promise :)

Monday, 22 August 2016

Winterdale - miniature buildings p.II

Time for continuation of one of my previous posts and presenting new designs of tabletop miniature buildings. A fantasy land "Winterdale" is expanding more and more!
It's really nice to know, that my buildings are "real" somehow. Well, they can be touched, they form an environment... for a group of miniature figures. Sounds awesome to me :) 

Here are few sketches of miniature buildings in medieval style (a merchant's house, a cemetery chapel and some parts of a castle):

If you're curious about how "Winterdale" looks like in reality (ie. after 3D printing), you can visit Printable Scenery website .

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

"History Lesson in Pictures"

"There are no innocent. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility."
Stieg Larsson, "The Girl Who Played With Fire"

At the end of the last year I got a quite noble task, namely preparing a series of illustrations related with the Baptism of Poland (2016 is the 1050th anniversary of this event). The National Centre for Culture (NCK) gave me a great deal of freedom regarding technique and subjects, with only one stipulation: "no controversial themes". When the condition "no controversial themes" was repeated for the third time during the preliminary talks, I began to ponder about what so controversial could appear there... but haven't come up with anything brilliant.

Anyway, here are some of these works. Ready for a short history lesson? Here we go!

"Unification of Tribes" - one of the main consequences of Christening of Poland was unifying few tribes and creating one land with one sovereign.

"Old Beliefs" - that's the sad one actually. Statues of ancient gods were being destroyed on a massive scale and most Slavic beliefs gone irrecoverably, as they weren't written down.

"Writing" -  Writing came to Poland along with Christian monks. Finally!

"Architecture and Art" - here on the example of St. Mary's Basilica in Kraków.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Miniature Houses

Studying architecture certainly has its advantages: weight loss, adaptation to a small amount of sleep, acquiring some skills in designing architectural objects etc. Today I'll focus on the third aspect: designing architectural objects.

Recently I'm designing Winterdale - a fantasy, medieval land (which means in practice that I'm preparing concepts of various miniature buildings for Printable Scenery ). 

Designs you can see below are a base for 3D modeling guys. They, in turn, are making models ready for printing on 3D printers. Honestly, I sympathize with them. I felt a little bit guilty when I was adding all the tiny, fancy details on paper. But the ultimate goal  is to give maximum fun while painting the models and to please the eye after that, right?

They are created for tabletop RPG games...or for decorating shelves. Personally I really like to watch tabletop miniatures, even if I don't have too many opportunities to play. 

That's all for now, but expect more :)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


As I promissed a few days ago (or maybe as I planned a few days ago ), here's the next part of the article about making plans and executing them. Acoording to my assumptions there are three factors for succeding  in realizing a plan: 
-a logical, specific and feasible plan
-luck (or at least lack of bad luck)

Here I'll focus on the second factor - motivation. My main motivation is fear (I know, most psychologists would conclude that it's a bad motivator). It's fear of not taking full advantage of my opportunities, fear of  mediocrity, misery and wasting of the only life I have. Believe me, it's a very strong inner motivator (however I'm still quite far away from achieving my all goals). And there are also many external motivators. Here are some of them!  


1. Writing down plans in a notebook. It should make you feel obliged to fulfill them, right? From that point they are not elusive, unspoken thoughts, but clear and real plans.

2. Telling your friends and family about your plans (in brief, it's a hardcore version of point 1.). It may seem to be a  very effective motivator, but it's also risky, if you won't choose the right listener. Honestly, I never do that. I've got a  very personal attitude to my plans and I don't need any additional incentives in the form of a possible shame in front of  acquaintances. Furthermore many people (including my relatives and mates) tend to have an ambivalent attitude to everything exceeding mediocrity and everyday life. Thus, their reaction can be more demotivating than uplifting.

3. Writing about your not personal plans online. This is a wonderful motivator! It would be kind of unprofessional not to fulfill what has been announced in front of at least hundreds of people.  Usually I get tremendous support from people , I haven't met in person, which really fills me with energy to work.

4. Developing a personal system of rewards and punishments for respectively efficient performance of a task and failure in performing a task (I limit myself to reward system :) ). My prizes are very small, like: "you can watch an episode of your favorite TV program", "have a coffee break",  "eat a muffin", or "you can watch an episode of your favorite TV program  while drinking coffee and eating a muffin" (excellent!).

In the next few entries I'll focus on presenting my latest illustrations, so there won't be so much to read. And that's a plan! 

Monday, 25 January 2016

How to Make Plans and Stick to Them?

Are freelance jobs a good fit for scatterbrained, unorganized people, who have problems with motivating themselves to get out of bed before noon? For some strange reason I was thinking so...  and I was wrong. I'm afraid, that for those people the perfect  "occupation" is being a proud heir of a fortune. Whereas those, who want to be masters of their time but still have to earn a living, need to be able to plan and organize.

Presumably there are  very few people with a natural talent for being well-organized. Mere mortals have to prepare an action plan to evaluate, segregate and arrange individual steps for achieving their goals. 


Planning system doesn't have to be very sophisticated. I've never been good at making multi-color notes, drawing schedules on a paper bigger than me  or hanging a whole bunch of notes on a corkboard.  My method is quite simple and not very visionary. But it has one strong point - it works!*

*(at least for me)

It's based on a system of long term goals and short term goals and it can be created in a standard planner (even if my long-term goals refer to the much more distant future). At the end of such planner there is usually a place for some notes, which I use for setting long-term goals. And that's THE FIRST STEPLong term goals can be very general, like: "a stable source of income as a freelance illustrator" or "a healthier lifestyle". At first it may look like a wish list, letters to Santa Claus or a storytelling, but that's fine at this stage.

THE SECOND STEP is a closer defining of long-term goals and an attempt to transfer them into a sequence of short-term goals. It should help you to understand what your long term goals actually mean to you, for example does "a healthier lifestyle" means a better diet, more exercises, less stress or moving to a quieter place? Short-term goals should follow long-term goals and lead to achieving them. Let's say that to have "a stable source of income" you plan to establish cooperation with a few book publishers. Simplifying for the blog's purposes, the plan could look like this:

1 Creating a relevant portfolio.

2 Making a contact list of various publishers.

3 Preparing your own branding.

These actions can be loosely written on a separate page dedicated to a specific  month.

THE THIRD STEP involves dividing issues from the previous step into specific actions, estimating the time required to perform them and assigning them to specific days (and even hours) in a planner.

Regarding 1: Six children illustrations - one every two weeks. Estimated time - three months.

Regarding 2: Estimated time-a week (assuming, that you have other daily responsibilities).

Regarding 3: Building a website, sorting sample illustrations, preparing CV, resume and cover letters in a consistent style. Estimated time - two weeks.

That's how a vague idea of "having a stable income source" starts to take a clearer shape in a realistic time frame.


1. It's easier to forget about writing an email than about drawing something, so I mark  all the tasks related with contacting people with "!".

2. After completing a task I mark it with "+" . If the task hasn't been completed, then... well, it shall be crossed out and moved to another day. It may seem that I have quite long delays, but I don't because:

3. I make plans for only 5 days/week. However, if some of my tasks haven't been completed on initially planned time, I tend to work also on weekends. It could lead to workaholism, unless:

4. I reserve some time for relaxing activities, like "10.00pm.-Midnight - reading a book" or Saturday 10.00am.-1.00pm.-a long walk + lunch in the park.

5. It's a good practice to have your planner/notebook with you. All the ideas for drawings can be written down in it as soon as they appear. From time to time (once every 3-4 months) I browse through these ideas to check, if they still seem so splendid as when I was writing them down.

Formulating a plan is one thing. The other thing is motivation to execute it. It would be an extremely long article, so MOTIVATORS HELIPING IN EXECUTING YOUR PLANS will be described later on this week.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

New Year's Resolutions

It's never too late for New Year's resolutions... or maybe, rather, it's never too late for resolutions in general.  

Honestly, I've never made them before. I'm always feeling  downcast and burnt out at the end of the year and even more depressed at the beginning of the year.  At that time my future appears as a  sequence of disasters and failures, with no possibility of improving, but with many opportunities for deterioration. The advantage of this situation is that the worse my mood is, the better my works are (Hipp Hipp Hurray!) - strange but true.

After this short, personal digression, we can go straight to the point - my resolutions for this year:

1. to make a few  illustrations with people* (no problem,  this should be feasible)
*amendment: to make a few good illustrations with people (ok,  I'll do my best)

2. to make some character designs* (easy part)
*side note: these designs should be outstanding... or at least interesting (aha, here's the catch)

3. to write regular  blog entries* (yes ma'am)
*side note: "regular" means at least twice a month (hmmm, what's next?)

4. to develop abilities in digital speed paintings (absolutely!)

5. to start a video blog about drawing/painting (great, I was afraid that I would have to sing or dance)

6. to find a mysterious way to work more effectively and keep the right work-life balance (tough challenge)

7. to stop talking to myself (that was cruel...)

What a short blog entry! In the next article I'll describe how I make long-term and short-term plans and how I actually keep them :)