All artwork and text is copyrighted by Paul Lasaine, unless otherwise attributed to the respective copyright owner. It is illegal to publish, print or reproduce any such artwork or text without written permission by the artist or copyright owners.

Welcome to my blog(s)! I have two. This one is for sketches, tutorials, and other "bloggish" stuff.

Be sure to visit my PORTFOLIO PAGE, where you'll find my real work.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Schoolism Live In Montreal With Paul Lasaine

Hey gang,
Time is running out to sign up for the Schoolism Live Workshop with Yours Truly on March 14th in beautiful Montreal! That's less than two weeks away!!! What are you waiting for?!?!? Get going! Time is running out!! Sign up now!!!

That's right...Schoolism is coming to Montreal on the weekend of March 14th, and I'm going to be teaching a digital painting workshop. If you're going to be in the neighborhood, come and check it out. There will be four workshops over the course of the weekend, and I'll be teaching one of them. It'll be a 4-hour workshop on digital painting. The cost for a single workshop is $60. A bargain! 

But wait...there's more! In addition to myself, workshops will also be given by Production Designer Christophe Lautrette (a very good friend of mine), Storyboard Artist Alex Woo, and Concept Artist Karla Ortiz. It should be a fantastic weekend with more great artsy info and instruction than you can shake a stick at!

And...if you sign up for an ALL ACCESS PASS, you'll get $50 off the regular price of $200. Use promocode: LASAINE

Click the link below for more info and to sign up!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This Year's Holiday Card

To all my friends, old and new, near and far...Happy holidays.
(This one started out simply as painting practice, but it turned into my holiday card.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Puss in Boots Post

Hey gang,
I posted a couple new pieces from Puss in Boots on my Portfolio Page the other day. Check it out!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Toy Story 4?

So my wife and daughter were playing Nintendo Wii today, and they had an interesting idea for an upcoming Toy Story installment:

They suggested that they need to update the toys in Toy Story to include some of the new virtual the "Mii" characters you create on the Wii. Of course those characters would only appear on a TV screen, but they would be able to interact with Woody and the gang.

I took the concept a step further by suggesting it could be a hybrid of Toy Story and Tron, where some of the Toy Story gang end up having an adventure inside the game?

Come on guys...what do you think? Disney owns both properties. It's perfect!

Here's the pitch:
The film opens with Woody and Buzz playing a Wii (or similar) version of Star Command. They create their 'Mii" avatars, which (because this is Toy Story), come to life inside the game!

Cut to: INSIDE THE GAME. Woody and buzz discover that Emperor Zurg is about to hatch his latest diabolical plan: if your Mii die! Can this be true? Can Woody and Buzz somehow manage to get a message out to their their real world counterparts...before it's too late!?!?

Come on on guys, who's with me?

Oh, and just in case any of the good folks at Pixar are interested in this idea, it's for sale! Unless of course they're already doing it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

NY Skyline Backdrop

Last month, my daughter was in the musical at her elementary school. Due to the school's proximity to several TV and film studios, many of the kids have parents in "the biz". Who am I kidding?!? Many of the kids are in "the biz".

Anyway, not to be out done, here's the backdrop I did for this year's show, Broadway Bound...a musical review that follows three groups of kids, competing to win a trip to Broadway.

I painted it in Photoshop. Then we printed it 10' x 16' (that's about 3m x 5m, for you metric people), and hung it on stage. One of the other parents works at an industrial printing facility. They've got one printer that can print 16' across!

Ahh, the interesting things you get to do when you're a parent.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Page o' Abstract Doodles

Here's a bunch of (mostly) abstract thumbnail sketches. I do tons of these...often on napkins. Usually, they're no bigger than 2 inches across. They're not for anything specific...just composition practice. I like to do them when I'm bored. I can crank out a lot of them during production meetings.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Tsunami/Earthquake Relief

It's hard not to hear about the horrific events unfolding in Japan.

If you've been wondering how you can help, my friend Dice Tsutsumi has set up a relief fund that's really easy to contribute to. Just follow THIS LINK, have a credit card ready, and follow the directions.

If you're not familiar with Dice, he's an amazing artist, and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Originally from Japan, he's now an Art Director at Pixar.
Check out his work at:

Friday, November 12, 2010


Hey, I have a couple pieces in this book! It's a collection of personal artwork by DreamWorks Animation visual development artists. It was put together by two of our production designers: Christophe Lautrette, and Pierre Olivier Vincent. I always find it fascinating to see what kind of artwork commercial artists do in their off hours.

Check it out. Better yet, buy it. You can order it here on Amazon for $13.57. Such a deal!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Traditional vs. Digital

This was a fun little exercise: two paintings of the same subject ... one traditional; one digital.

I painted the traditional one last week as a demo for the Art Department at PDI (aka, Pacific Data Images, which is DreamWorks Animation's sister facility in the San Francisco Bay-Area.)

I was asked to demonstrate how I paint traditionally...specifically my matte painting/illustration technique. Something I haven't done in almost 10 years! Needless to say I was a little nervous. Let's face's hard enough to make a good looking painting on a good day. But to do it when you're out of front of an audience... Nerve wracking.

Originally, they asked me do a plien air (outdoor) painting demo. But as my traditional technique is definitely an indoor studio technique, I opted for a compromise: an indoor plein air painting. So I brought up a landscape image on a big plasma screen, and did a plein air painting from that. I figured, if you can't bring the studio to the mountain...bring the mountain to the studio!

I would be lying if I said it went off without a hitch. As I said, it's been almost 10 years since I've painted this way, and it was an uphill slog the entire way. But I'm a professional, so I stuck it out! I actually think it made for a better demo than if it went smoothly.

Anyway, for what it's worth, the paintings below are the result. The top one is the actual acrylic painting I did for the demo. The one below, was a warm-up painting I did digitally on my Cintiq.

Both are based on a beautiful photo I found on the web (I couldn't find the photographer's name, but it came from a flickr page called "Winky in the UK". Thanks Winky...awesome photo!)

Oh...and a big howdy to the PDI Art Dept gang! Thanks for having me up there. I had a great time, and I hope you all enjoyed watching me sweat this one out! (^-^)



Monday, July 5, 2010

New York City

This painting goes back a few years. OK, it goes back over 20 years. Way back, when I was an apprentice Matte Painter, my mentor Mike Lloyd gave me a training assignment to get me ready for all the cityscape paintings we were going to be doing on Dick Tracy. The assignment: find a bunch of photographs of New York and Chicago, and make painting a day (8 hours max.) and white only. Of course, as this was matte painting training, it went without saying that the paintings needed to look like photos.

Up until this point, I'd never really dealt with architectural rendering on this level, and was pretty lost as to how to include so much detail in such a relatively short period of time. As I progressed from painting to painting however, I discovered that the secret wasn't in the detail you included...but in the detail you left out. The trick was to edit and indicate. Keep it loose, but accurate. Big brushes. Big brush strokes. Practice, practice, practice.

This went on for about a month and culminated in the painting below.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta 2/9/28 - 5/10/10

Frank Frazetta died today. Never again will the world look so fantastic.
Rest in peace Frank.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Death Valley Sketch

I finally found a couple of my paintings from the Prince of Egypt Background Department painting trip to Death Valley. Here's the best one...

We were painting in the middle of a large patch of sand dunes, when the wind started blowing. It whipped up the sand into a mini sandstorm. The sand went everywhere and got into everything...including our paint. If you run your hand across it, the painting feels like sandpaper. It finally got so bad that we all ended up wearing out sweatshirts around our faces to keep the sand out of our eyes. We looked like Bedouins.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I painted this portrait of my wife a few years back to be used as a prop in one of my many Halloween setups at our house. I was a projected ghost painting the portrait. Sadly I don't have any pictures of the final effect. But you can see a similar effect I put together of a ghost playing the piano in our front window.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Saturday Morning Sketch #6

I did this one a few weeks back, but never got around to posting it. I was trying out a new Photoshop brush my friend Dominique Louis came up with. Thanks Dominique!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Morning Sketch #5 - DEATH VALLEY

I know, I original plan was to paint one of these a week. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans......

Anyway, way back when I was co-supervising the Background Painting Dept. on The Prince of Egypt with Ron Lukas, we brought the entire department on a sketching trip to Death Valley. Three days of painting in the desert. For some reason I can't seem to find any of my paintings from that trip. Hmm...

We also shot lots of photo reference. This sketch is based on one of my photos.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Drilling Vehicle

I know...I's been a while since my last post. I've been busy. It comes with having a job...and a family. Also, I haven't been able to post my latest stuff because it's all for films that haven't come out yet. But in the meantime...'s a design I just finished for a Victorian-style Drilling Vehicle (a la Journey to the Center of the Earth) for my friend who is going to build this, full size, in his front yard this Halloween. Check out his website He's a director and Visual Effects Supervisor, and he builds these rather elaborate set pieces at his house for Halloween ...usually involving some kind of vehicle that's been hijacked by an animatronic skeleton and a crow. Last year he built a train that looked like it smashed through his house!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saturday Morning Sketch #4

Flowers are really fun to paint. If you've got a good underlying structure, and you make good colors choices, you can be incredibly loose and they'll still read as flowers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Sketch #3

My family and I spent a few weeks in Italy last summer. There's so much art there - it's impossible not to be inspired. Of course I shot tons of pictures! Here's a painting based on one of them.

Once again, I painted this using Corel Painter. Though I do most of my work in Photoshop, for getting the look of oil paint, Painter still can't be beat.

(No, I didn't paint the entire thing this morning. Most of it, I painted the other night...but I finished it today.)

Here's my lay in...after about an hour of work. One of the nice things about digital painting, is you can keep the early versions of paintings. Often, the under painting is just as interesting as the final product.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Morning Sketch #2

Here's another quick Saturday morning painting sketch. This one's based on a photo I took from a helicopter somewhere over New Zealand. Most of you know that I worked as an Art Director on the Lord of the Rings. But I also had the great fortune of being in charge of the Scenic Photography Unit. We did most of our work from a helicopter. Actually, two helicopters (but who's counting?) By far the coolest gig I've ever had! Needless to say, I shot a lot of pictures (sadly, before I got a digital camera.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday Morning Sketch

Here's a quick sketch I did in Painter yesterday morning while I was waiting for my family to wake up. Painter's insanely overcomplicated, but there's a few things about it that I love - like their "Oil" brushes. Not the new ones from version 10, which are clunky...but the original ones. My favorites are the brushes called "Smeary Round" and "Smeary Flat". What's cool about them is that they can apply color and smear color in the same stroke. No changing tools. Something Photoshop can't far as I know.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rare Sketchbook Doodle

I don't tend to post sketchbook drawings...mostly because they're usually just shorthand notes for paintings, and not worth looking at. But this one I like. Durring my Dick Tracy days, I did a lot of these little city composition sketches. In fact, there was a while there, where I was doing them on an Etch A Sketch...just for fun. I actually got pretty good at it. Maybe I'll see if I can still do it, and post the results.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Late Night Sketch

It's been a while. Couldn't sleep this evening, so while surfing the blogs, I came upon a nice painting by Erin Lamoreux where she used a square brush for leaves. I just had to try it. Thanks Erin!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nintendo DS

Last year, my wife bought me a Nintendo DS with the hopes of using it as a digital sketch book. It's been sitting in the box since December, but I finally got all the necessary software and got it running last week.

Here are my first feeble attempts to paint on the thing. I have one thing to ain't a Cintiq! The 2" screen, two brush choices (soft-round & hard-round), no undo function, and no selection tools are a long way from Photoshop CS3. But stripping all the bells and whistles away from the digital painting experience is quite humbling and darn good practice.

I'm going on a trip to Italy with my family soon and I'm taking it with me. Hopefully I'll have a few sketches to post when I get back. (And hopefully they'll be better than these!)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Quick Flower Sketch

I know it's been a while since I've posted. I've been very busy on a new film at Sony, and all my painting time is spent on stuff I can't post...for several years;(

In the meantime, I guess I'll just have to be better about finding time to paint for me. I painted the flowers below for practice. It went pretty more than an hour.

Based on a photo by Francis Fukuyama.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Photoshop "Pencil" Brush

Ever wish there was a decent pencil brush in Photoshop? You can make one.

1. Start with this brush. It's one of the standard Photoshop brushes.

2. In the Shape Dynamics section of the Brushes palette, set the Size Control to Pen Pressure and set the Angle jitter to 100%.

3. Next, in the Brush Tip Shapes section, set the Spacing to something like 20%. Spacing will control what looks like paper-grain.
(Note: as with all brushes, if the spacing is set too low, you run the risk of bogging down the speed performance of the brush...especially with large brushes.)

This is the basic brush, but you can always add other dynamics. I'll often add an opacity control to the brush (found in "Other Dynamics"), so I can get the effect of a light touch.

Remember, these dynamics can be adjusted depending upon your needs. For instance, if you don't want your pencil co come to a sharp point at low pressure, turn down the Size Control (from step 1). Or turn it off entirely.

OK, that's pretty much it. Now go draw!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lily Pond Floor Mat

OK, this is one of the stranger projects I've worked on. It's a hand painted floor mat. Yes, a floor mat. The idea came from my mother-in -law (also an artist) who did something similar in her kitchen. My wife wanted one too.

It's acrylic on very thick canvas...varnished heavily. Yes you can walk on it:)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Photoshop Brush Tutorial

(New-and-Improved Version)

As promised, here's a tutorial (hopefully the first of many) on some of the ways I use Photoshop's brushes. (For those of you who are already Photoshop experts, this will probably be a bit of a repeat. Oh, and for this tutorial, I'm using Photoshop 7. Anyone working with an earlier version won't be able to play along. If you have a later version, you'll have a few more bells and whistles, but the basics are the same.)

For the longest time, I had trouble painting from scratch in Photoshop. I just couldn't do the kind of things with the PS brushes that I could with traditional brushes. All that changed with the brush controls Adobe introduced in Photoshop 7 (which actually owes a big debt of gratitude to the Painter brush controls, from which PS "borrowed" liberally. But then they borrow from each other. Right? ;)

You'll find the brush controls on the "Brush" palette.

In a practical application using the old brushes, if I wanted to paint grass, I'd have to paint each blade individually. With the new brushes, I can paint an entire field of grass with just a few brush strokes.

Using the PS brush controls you can create brushes that have all kinds of variations and textures. There are controls for Shape, scattering, color, texture etc. Try experimenting a little, and you'll start to see the possibilities.

Here's one of the stock Photoshop brushes with a whole bunch of brush control variations turned on. (This a single stroke, by the way.)

In the following tutorial, I'll explain how I used Photoshop's brushes to paint the feathers on Cody from "Surf's Up - post #12".

The first thing I do when painting anything, whether traditionally or digitally, is choose an appropriate brush. I'm a big fan of letting the brush do the work. If I'm painting hair, I want to choose a brush that makes marks that look like hair. One of my favorite things about digital painting is you can make brushes that work like rubber stamps on steroids.

For painting Cody's feathers, I figured rather than trying to make brush strokes that look like feathers, why not paint a feather, and use it as a brush. And that's exactly what I did.

If you've never made a Photoshop's how you do it:

Any image can be turned into a brush. Photoshop uses gray scale info to make brushes. Simply put a selection marquee around an image you want to turn into a brush, and pull down the "Edit" menu to "Define Brush". In this case, a painting of a single penguin feather. Keep in mind that dark pixels will become your brush. (Black pixels will be solid, gray pixels will be semi-transparent, and white pixels will be empty space.)

Once you've got your brush defined, you can do all sorts of fancy things with it by using the brush controls in the Brush Palette.

To add brush controls, click on the button that corresponds to the aspect you want to adjust (Shape Dynamic, Scatter, Texture etc.) Clicking the square turns the dynamic on or off. Clicking the word itself brings up an adjustment menu.

Here are the dynamics I used on one of my favorite feather brush:

Shape Dynamics

The only shape dynamic I use with this particular brush, is "Direction" which allows me to control the orientation of the "rubber stamped" brush strokes with the direction of my pen stroke. This makes "combing" the feathers (or hair) really easy. By rotating the compass looking thing on the brush palette, you can orient your brush to make marks that go with the direction of stroke...

against the direction of stroke...

or anything in between.

Other shape dynamics that I use quit a bit (though not for this particular brush,) are:
Size Jitter (variation)...

Angle Jitter, which controls the rotation of the brush...

and Roundness Jitter, which controls the squeeze of the brush (This has nothing to do with the round shape in this example. I used a round brush because the feather brush didn't show off the squeeze effect very well.)

All of these dynamics, as well as most of the other brush dynamics can either be simply on or off, or they can be controlled by your stylus.


Scattering does exactly what it sounds scatters your brush strokes. There are a few options for the amount and density of scatter. Try experimenting. I tend to change this dynamic often while I'm working, depending on my immediate need.

Color Dynamics

There are a number of ways to use the color dynamics. I tend to use it simply as a way of quickly getting subtle color variation into a scattered brush stroke. I do this by adjusting the Hue Jitter, Saturation Jitter, and Brightness jitter. Usually I set them all somewhere between 2% and 5% (higher if I want more color contrast).

Once you've got your custom brush the way you like it, it's a good idea to save it so you can get back to it later. You can do that in the "Brush Presets" section of the brush palette. Click on the arrow at the top right (the list icon, for later versions of Photoshop), and pull down to New Brush.

So if you're still with me, it's time to start painting!

***Warning! Rule alert!***
This is an example of one method I used to paint feathers. It's by no means the only method. Please don't take this as the definitive way to work. I'm constantly breaking my own rules and trying to come up with different ways of doing things. It keeps things fresh, and forces me to not get too "technique-y".

I'll start with a basic flat lay-in with all my brush dynamics turned on. Of course, when I say flat, I simply mean I'm not doing any rendering beyond what the color, shape and scattering dynamics do automatically. I usually start with a mid value color...

...and work my way outward, by building up my lights and shadows. Like with traditional media, I try to keep my lights opaque, and my shadows transparent, which makes the light areas pop out and the shadows recede.

For the black feathers I do the same thing as I did for the light, just with a dark color. Normally, I'd do this on a second layer so I can work on the black areas and the white areas separately, as well as the transition areas. Again, I start flat (ish)...

...and build up lighting as I go.

To control the transition area, I pull way back on the level of scatter, and adjust the spacing in order to give me a brush that's only a few feathers wide.

Here's another example of a finished feather painting.