Randal Thibodeau's index page.

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A bit about myself and what I do-

I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I'm an airbrush and caricature artist. I make my living painting shirts, portraits, helmets, cars and whatever else I can find to do. I used to work Spring, Summer, Fall at the Canada's Wonderland amusement park, North of Toronto. My employer did not come to an agreement with the Park, so we don't work there any more. Maybe again in the future? Who can say?

Besides that, I also work in my home and at bar and bat mitzvahs in the Toronto area. Parties don't pay a lot, don't happen often enough, but I enjoy doing them.
I also do computer graphics, but no one pays me for that yet... It's amateur work for my amusement. Maybe yours, too!

I'm certainly not the best at airbrushing, but I'm better than average. I started doing this back in '91 (I haven't been painting for nineteen years straight). It's on and off, on and off, depending on what work I have. There was a three-year stretch when I had a desk job and concentrated on that. But I always kept buying Airbrush Action magazine... a great resource for airbrushers.
I've run demos at some of the local SF conventions so people can see what I'm talking about.

Kurt C. on leather In Spring or Fall I wear a leather jacket with a B&W portrait of Kurt Cobain (we miss you, Kurt!).

Here's a denim jacket with a portrait of the character Belldandy from the anime Ah! Megami-Sama! (Oh! My Goddess), Createx acrylics, airbrushed freehand & with shields.

That series has always been a sentimental favourite. The manga (printed comic) dates from 1988. A friend of mine had the laserdiscs of the Original Video Animated series (OVA) created from the manga and showed them at local anime club viewings. It's the story of the college student Keiichi Morisato, who phones the wrong number and gets the Goddess Technical Help Line. The goddess Belldandy offers to grant him a wish. Keiichi thinks it's a prank: "I wish A Goddess like you could be with me forever!" And so it is done, and hilarity ensues over many manga chapters, a video series, a movie and a new TV series now in its 2nd season.
I keep reading the manga as new chapters are released. Keiichi & Belldandy's relationship creeps along, helped and hindered by her 2 sisters and all the others in their lives. A lot of motorcycle racing & 10-dimensional physics, which melds together at times.

I debated whether I should depict her with an anime character's big eyes, small mouth look, or go for a more realistic style. Elements are still somewhat stylized, as with the birds & strong outlining of her form as Alphonse Mucha would do. I added the angel wings & background. The pose is based on Mucha's artwork for the 1897 book Chanson d'aïeules (Song of Grandmothers). I've been trying to find an online copy of that artwork to link to but no luck so far.
Needs more birds, so I'll keep working on it. Click here to see a larger version.

I've always had an interest in SF/fantasy art. If you could take a look at my bookshelves you'd see art books on Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Michael Whelan, Jim Burns, Kenichi Sonoda, AlbertoVargas, Alphonse Mucha, Burne Hogarth, Wayne Barlow, Hajime Sorayama, and many more. Only some of those use an airbrush in their art, but all are excellent in their field.
If you're going to learn and improve, you need good inspiration. It's as true for art as anything else.

I'll paint your or anyone's portrait from a photo onto canvas, a t-shirt/jersey or illustration board with acrylics. I can combine individual photos for family portraits, do wedding portraits, pictures of your dog or cat, whatever. I'll add more samples to these pages as time goes on.
Send me an e-mail for more info. Note that SFF Net's spam filter is very efficient, so not everything you might send me gets delivered to my In box, and I have to check the spam section every so often, and so must apologize in advance if I don't immediately respond to your message.


It's always time to ...

Did some practice caricatures you can see here. Always need to practice.

I'm now painting & selling to the public direct from my house. As this SffNet page is for personal and not commercial use I won't be too specific about that here. Check out my Maple Airbrush business site!

Now into my 8th year of web pagery here at SFF Net. They're extremely professional, helpful and quick with account difficulties, of which there have been very few. As part of my account, I get a Newsgroup on their server. I really don't have much to say beyond what's on these webpages, but you readers might, so go ahead and type something (bottom of this page)...

Links to graphics (more coming soon):

The four pieces I submitted to the Ad Astra 2006 art show. I planned to do 5, but the fifth just wasn't ready. I did not have that one done for the Toronto Trek 20 (2006) convention, being busy at work. I sold two of those four, which makes me happy. Maybe I should have charged more.

A link to a couple of signs I painted recently. Apparently people liked them at the bike show they were commissioned for.

A link to some hats I painted at the Wonderland park. Another link to a page with some portraits I've painted.

And A link to a page with a motorcycle helmet I airbrushed.

Another link for a celebrity shirt portrait.

A motorcycle fender I painted.

A Honda Z50 bike I painted (nudity warning).

A rifle stock I airbrushed with a maple leaf pattern.

I did a client picture based on the famous Frank Frazetta painting Cat Girl. This version of the original 1969 Creepy magazine cover was painted in 1975, oils on academy board, 18" x 24". It's a sultry looking jungle girl in twisted trees, with her cats. So, my client wanted his own version with his model friend, Natalia, no cats, and a huge reticulated python. Hey, no sweat; I can do that. We settled on a new size of 20" x 30" on illustration board and I got to work.
I applied a few coats of white acrylic gesso to the board, which was cold press and not as smooth as I usually like. After sanding it was smooth. However, the board started to warp with the water-based paint, and I decided to switch over to masonite, which would remain stiff at such a large size. In retrospect I could have done what watercolour artists do and taped it to the board on the easel, but the easel board I use isn't that big. This wouldn't be a problem with a smaller working surface but any warping is more noticeable with a large surface.
So anyway, a gessoed masonite board is what I used. I liked using it and will try it again, though it's a lot harder to cut to size than illustration board. After showing the client four different sketches, we settled on what elements would work. Red Sonja-type armour, a certain snakeskin pattern, less darkness overall. I love painting beautiful women, but this ones face was an inch tall. Break out the 000 paintbrush for details!
I used Createx Auto-Air acrylics, with really good results. I am not a photographer, so you'll have to believe me when I say the art looks better than these photos. Next time, matte clear instead of glossy.
Python Girl!
Here's a closeup of the girl and her snake. Could be better but I'm mostly satisfied with it. Though you have to question what a beautiful woman in a scale armour bikini is doing in the jungle with a huge python... on vacation, probably!

I don't have a good place to meet clients. Usually we agree on a coffee shop that's easy to get to for us both.

Older news:

Here's a picture of me & actor Malcolm Xerxes at Toronto Trek 18 in 2004:

That's me on the right Malcolm always looked good. I have to work at it.

There's really no easy way to word this: Malcolm committed suicide on September 13, 2005. It was stunning news to all who knew him, especially so to his family & closest friends. Sadly, he was not an especially close friend to me, but that's no reflection on him. I will leave this picture up as some sort of memorial to the man who was an active participant in local conventions as well as an actor, stuntman and musician. We all miss him, and struggle to understand why he did it.

I choose to remember him as the man as I described above, promoting the SF TV series Finnegan's Squad in which he would have been the star, with a pilot episode filmed and others ready to go into production. He was always ready to promote the show wherever he went and was an inspiration for me.

I try to promote my airbrushing business wherever I go, case in point, the Darth Maul shirt. Black shirts have a reputation for being difficult to work with, and it's true, light-colour fabric is easier to paint. Colours disappear in black fabric unless you apply a light basecoat first. Some say to spray a black basecoat and then press it, but I've not tried that yet. However, black fabric has the advantage of easy mistake correction (just spray black over the offending area). And it looks so cool! I find that Createx white paint has a yellowish cast to it, and stands out on white fabric like some stain if you try to mask an error.

I was laid off from VertiBelle, Inc. Business was just too slow for a large staff, and as the junior man I was the first to go. Too bad really, my painting skills improved quite a bit since I started working there. There's nothing like enforced deadlines for sharpening skills!
I mostly worked on landscapes with palm trees, rivers, mountains, beaches, flowers, birds, bowls of fruit. The occasional portrait of Elvis or a cartoon character.

Here is an example of a portrait I did a few years ago. Taking your orders for portraits on canvas or illustration board. Colour or black & white. Tell your friends!
The thing about that one, I only used a paintbrush for some incidental details, 99% of it was airbrush with shields and x-Acto knife scraping for highlights. The Iwata HP-C is very good for doing strands of hair if used correctly. I used a screen door mesh for the fabric texture on buddy's shirt.
I couldn't tell what the necklace was the lady was wearing from the picture she e-mailed, so it's indistinct. A co-worker of mine at the time said it was a dolphin ("Chicks love dolphins!") but she told me after delivery it was a butterfly. This is why I now examine a photo very carefully upon receiving it, looking for the details a client might want emphasized or eliminated. If they see something that's to be obviously (to them) altered, I sometimes have to guess what it is.


I make recordings of con panels at some of the conventions I've been at. I still have to transcribe the Brian Froud panel from Ad Astra, which is buried in a pile of stuff somewhere if I haven't recorded over it. Slacker monkey!
Here's a few transcripts, with pictures:

With updates to follow periodically (I got a bunch of 'em).

A page o' links.

Send your thoughts, vague threats, whatever to randalt@sff.net . Or not.

The Guestbook. Write something if you wish! I look at it every once in a while, clean out some of the spammery. I hate spammers.


Polaris 25 (formerly Toronto Trek) Polaris 25! I will be there, hope to meet you too!

Ad Astra- April 8th to 10th, 2011

Girl Genius Webcomics! Great Ghu, I love this webcomic! The Foglios rock!


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Last modification: August 24, 2010, 11:30 EST