Year In Review: VFX Vis-Dev and Storyboarding

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in 2014, Blog | No Comments

As the start of a new year is here. I wanted to go through some of the stuff that was released this past year.

Some of this stuff was actually done back in 2012, but was released in 2013, so i feel it’s still appropriate to share for this year in review.

Before I moved to Dublin, one of my top clients was Animal vfx based in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I mainly came in to do Concept and Visual Development for advertising when they needed it. I loved coming into the studio and sitting down with a fantastic director and now friend, Samm Hodges, to brianstorm ideas. I’d then throw together some concepts on screen and quickly pass them off to the wonderfully talented team at Animal who brought the vision to life.

Although it’s a little bit of a departure from the fantasy illustrations and concept art I mainly advertised myself with, figured it’d be fun to share. Plus it’s good to know that sometimes diversification is good, especially for a freelancer. If it weren’t for animal, I might not be where I am today.

Here are some of the projects that I worked on with them that have been released.

Spyder Boards v1 COMP Spyder Boards v2 COMP

SPYDER Brand ID from Animal on Vimeo.

Highmark Future Tech

Highmark Balance from Animal on Vimeo.

Oticon Rooms COMP

Oticon Alta Anywhere Anytime from Animal on Vimeo.

Happy New Year!

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in 2014, Blog | One Comment

Wow it’s been a crazy year… and it flew by like nothing.
I’ve moved countries and jobs this year… and it’s hard to realize it was about 10 months ago.

During my nice almost two week European holiday, I stopped over in London to visit relatives for a few days, while the rest was spent at home watching Netflix and playing videogames guilt-free. Haven’t done that in a long, long time.

During the holiday though, I did manage to do a little bit of sketching, though not much. And since it was the festive season figured I’d do an interpretation of Santa Clause. And to mix it up, why not make him an Ice Troll of sorts. So here it is… the Jólnir (Yule Figure). Have a very Happy New Year!

Jólnir (Yule Figure)

Jólnir (Yule Figure)

52 Shades of Greed: A Political Illustration Collaboration

Posted by on Sep 4, 2012 in 2012, Blog | No Comments

Cthulhu-esque monsters & politics? I think it works.

Well, that title is a mouthful.

It was a few weeks ago that my friend & fellow illustrator, Marc Scheff, asked me to join in on this project he was putting together called 52 Shades Of Greed. I immediately said yes. Not only do I feel strongly about financial reform policies, but I truly felt honored to have the opportunity to participate with other great illustrators.

“52 Shades of Greed is a fully illustrated deck of playing cards brought to you by 2 art directors, 28 artists, and the 99%.”

52 Shades Of Greed was put together as an illustrated education on our financial system and what caused the banking crisis of ’08. No matter what your political leaning, go research what happened. Find resources from all avenues of media. Read the opinions of people with the exact opposite viewpoints as yourself. But Most importantly find the facts.

Bank CEOs in charge of bank regulation? why not?


Alright, enough politics. Now the art.

So, I’ve been really into H.P. Lovecraft stories lately. And as you can tell I’ve incorporated a Cthulhu-esque monster with a political illustration. That’s fun, right? Well, I thought so. I don’t create political illustrations that often, so I can’t help if my fantasy & horror story tendencies leak in.

Well, with all that said. Go pick up a deck of cards for yourself. The project is being funded right now on 56 pieces of art with many other special reward tiers.

Life Painting: Nude with a Red Rose

Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 in 2012, Blog | No Comments

Figure No. 10

Another full figure. This one was supposed to be a 6 hour study as well (and it still was), but I couldn’t make the 2nd session. So a quick 3 hour loose painting for this one. Loved the model’s choice of the red rose.


Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in 2012, Blog | 6 Comments

the Keeper

Well, this week I started into a new world of making pictures move. With much help and tips from excellent animator friends Scott Benson and Charles Huettner. Who in turn led me to a brilliant photoshop animation tutorial by a Mr. Alex Grigg.

Animation has been something I’ve wanted to play around with for quite some time, but my busy schedule prevented me from doing so, until recently. So, I put together a little character sketch of an old lighthouse keeper of sorts. (a character I seem to throw around in various illustrations a lot)

Even though it was more work, I really wanted to have a handful of things going on with this character. And consequently, I had to struggle with it a bit. But I really enjoy how it turned out. The animation’s a bit sloppy, but smoothness will come with practice. On the plus side, I feel I was able to gather a handful of different motions happening at once. Getting the walk cycle down in itself was a new challenge, but ultimately I enjoyed the small things like the beard bounce, lamp swing, and smoke puffs.

I knew going in that the most important thing I had to keep in mind was to not focus on a single image, as I’m used to in illustration, but the movement as a whole. I had to work loose, at first, and then refine as much as needed, but not too much. So over the course of two days I experimented with the illusion of motion and here’s what I ended up with.




Life Painting: Reclining Nude

Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in 2012, Blog | No Comments

Figure No. 09

This figure was done a few weeks ago. We actually changed it up a bit and did a 6 hour nude figure pose over the course of 2 weeks. I haven’t painted a full figure from life in quite a while, so it was definitely a nice change. We’ll be doing more of these for sure.

Life Painting Pt. 5

Posted by on Jun 7, 2012 in 2012, Blog | No Comments

Figure No. 08

Some more painting from Panza gallery. I had a blast with this one. I think all the advice I picked up from talking to great artists and watching fantastic demos at Spectrum Art Live is really paying off. Onward!

Physical Health in a Digital World

Posted by on May 24, 2012 in 2012, Blog, Editorial | One Comment

We all know physical health is important. But as we get older, it gets harder and harder to accomplish, especially in our increasingly digital world. In High School it was a lot easier to be on the cross-country team and then skateboard the night away. Life was simpler then. Now, we have bills to pay, jobs to do, and art to create. Many of us find ourselves slumped for at least 8 hours a day. (Not counting the hours we spend at home in front of the computer.) And this is not specific to the cubicle corporate world either. It strangles us creative types as well, if not more so.

When I took an in-house art job a little over 2 years ago, I noticed a drastic change in my physical health. It wasn’t even that it forced me to sit for 8 hours in front of a computer, because I did plenty of that prior while doing full-time freelance. But it definitely restricted my freedom to go for a walk or run whenever I wanted, or to just take a 20 minute break and so on. This also depends on your particular employer. And since I had a day job, I had to use as much time when I was home to work on freelance projects (and hangout with the wife). I gained 15 to 20 lbs. So I started running during my 30 minute lunch break. It didn’t really help that much.

So to counter this forced posture we have to be inventive with how we work. Change the rules where we can.

This past year I was introduced to a couple articles on reinventing the office. Mainly this article on

Go ahead, give it a read.

Most everything I’ve done over the past few months in regard to work & health can be tracked to that article or at least elements of it. And since I had been looking for a new desk, the idea of a standing desk sounded fantastic. Though, someone else’s opinion or hype isn’t enough to sell me on something. I need some research. I want to see some studies. I want to see some well-informed articles. And if you’re like me, you do as well. Lucky for us the post above provided some links to some excellent studies and more articles. Here they are again just in case you skipped the earlier article or planned on reading it in full later.

New York Times article

Huffington Post study

British Journal of Sports Medicine article

A quick summary of benefits would be: Improved circulation, increased concentration, less back pain, and weight loss.

So after reading through those articles, I decided on giving the standing desk a try. I wanted to work standing, but I also wanted to have the option of comfortable ergonomic seating as well. Moreover, I wanted to invest in my prolonged health.

Let me back up real quick. When I first started freelancing in 2007, I bought myself a cheap computer desk. It was a piece of crap, but it worked. Plus I didn’t have much of a budget to work with. Regardless, due to bad posture and a desk that was probably too small (I’m 6’4″). I would regularly get back and shoulder pain. By getting a standing desk I wanted to force myself into a proper posture and give my body the advantages of good circulation and improved health. However, we all know that sometimes we’re just going to want to sit. This is fine. No one will blame you. We’re here to create good work, not to be an Ironman of Illustration. (The triathlon, not the superhero. ha, that might be a first on a fantasy illustration blog.) Ever since I ran in cross-country I’ve had slight knee problems after continuous strain. I don’t want the standing desk to be a deterrent for work, and I don’t want it to be a hassle to change between sitting and standing. Additionally, I didn’t think a high stool option would be that comfortable or be great ergonomically. The work flow is the most important. But it doesn’t have to be an “either or” situation. That’s why I opted for the motorized height adjustable desk.

So I researched the options out there, read some reviews, compared prices, and the one I thought was the best option for me was the GeekDesk with a Genuine Joe Anti-Fatigue Mat.

GeekDesk v2 with Genuine Joe Anti-Fatigue Mat

I’ve been using the desk for a few weeks now, and so far so good. I really enjoy standing while I work. (Especially after sitting for 8 hours at the day job.) I’m not really in a controled test environment, but I do know that after reorganizing my schedule to include running 5k after work a few days a week, paired with standing when I work at home, I’ve lost just under 10 lbs in a month. Obviously a healthy diet, regular meals (to keep that metabolism going) and a plethora of other factors help as well. But It’s got to be a lifestyle choice. And like most, I want to live a healthy life and create for as long as I can.

So go for it! If you have the funds, invest in your health with a height adjustable standing desk. But keep in mind, it does take some determination. You’ll have to train your body to work in the new improved environment you’ve set up for it.

And as always, it’s never the tools that make a difference, but the attitude and lifestyle choices that change how you react to the environment around you. Getting a fancy desk won’t make you lose weight and feel better, just as much as buying a fancy brush won’t make you paint like Greg Manchess or James Gurney. (Two of my favorite contemporaries.) Try taking smaller steps to improve your health, then move onto the big ones as they become available. Take a break here and there from the computer. Stretch a little. Go for a walk. Go for a run. And remember it’s not about losing 10 lbs next month, but about the journey of living a healthy life.

Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

-cheers, Denman

Video: The Making of Roamer

Posted by on May 13, 2012 in 2012, Blog | 2 Comments

Roamer © Denman Rooke

Fourth in the series of Irish townsfolk character concepts.

Music by Cilmeri, Aberjaber, and Calennig.

Life Painting Pt. 4

Posted by on May 11, 2012 in 2012, Blog | No Comments

Figure No. 7

The latest from the Panza Gallery sessions. Sasha Mirzoyan hooked us up with an excellent model. And surprisingly she had never modeled for a painting session before. You wouldn’t have known though, because she did a fantastic job.