the portable city

by definition, not static

status: archives being slowly restored, comics being relocated, new artwork and writing in the queue

Category: Concept Art

Shel Kahn is an art director and concept artist, who has worked on games destined for console, PC, mobile, and print.

Shel is available for art direction and concept design work. Payment is usually negotiated at an hourly or day rate. Please get in touch at with your project details!

Shel also works as a 2d game artist occasionally, including doing game jams with GhostHugs. If you would like to see some of their 2d game assets, click here.

  • oil pastel study

    oil pastel study

    in a Robert Bateman sketchbook, using Neopastels from Caran d’Ache.

  • Ceramics


    I’ve been learning ceramics in a casual ongoing way now, enjoying getting out of my comfort zone, and playing with a new medium. Much like printmaking, kiln fired and glazed ceramics are really a collaboration with chemistry and physics as well as a personal creative act, and I love that aspect so much. Below I’m…

  • Etching and Acid Baths and Surrender

    Etching and Acid Baths and Surrender

    Friends, I just finished teaching the last third of a course on print production, and between that and the whole thing with twitter’s crop changing (somewhere? not for me but somewhere?) I’ve found myself thinking a lot about copper etching and my relationship with the acid bath. So, first up, copper etching is an art…

  • High Intensity Comic Work

    High Intensity Comic Work

    So my first round of art school was a fine art degree. And I didn’t really know a lot about art careers and I wasn’t really sure what I WANTED to be doing, but I did kind of chafe against the “comics aren’t art” vibe some teachers had. And then Shannon Gerard came and talked.…

  • Announcing: Warp Riders!

    Announcing: Warp Riders!

    Thanks to the Orb, they’d been living large outside of time — until it all came crashing down. Stranded on a strange moon, four space pirates and one stowaway find themselves forced to discover what comes next. Warp Riders is a fast paced, pulpy, and sapphic orb-and-planet novella. It grew out of a NaNoWriMo tweetfic, and since…

  • Three Dyads

    Three Dyads

    I’ve been practicing taking pose ref and building a fictional scene around it, and decided to focus in on people having quiet moments together; I’ve also been trying to use more soft gradients in watercolour, which is DEFINITELY one of the trickier parts of the medium, so it’s been a great challenge! It’s also taught…

  • G.L.O.S.S. Band Portrait Painting Commission

    G.L.O.S.S. Band Portrait Painting Commission

    This winter I was approached to work on a commission based on the heavy metal portraits I did as studies last year, which, friends, that’s the dream, hey? Do a personal project, hear from someone who connected with it so much they want a private commission that seamlessly extends that body of work? Incredible!  …

  • Getting to know a new palette!

    Getting to know a new palette!

    I treated myself to a new watercolour set, higher quality than the sets I’ve used in the past, about on par with the one-tube-at-a-time purchases I’ve made in terms of lightfastness and pigmentation and such. It’s a Mijello Mission Gold pure pigment palette! The premise of a pure pigment palette is that each paint is…

  • Procreate Timelapse Videos:

    Procreate Timelapse Videos:

    I’ve been continuing doing studies in Procreate, and have been saving process videos more and more – it’s really neat to see how paintings change over the course of me working on them.

  • Gouache Studies

    Gouache Studies

    I try and break out the gouache regularly for photo studies; it keeps my hand painterly and reminds me to think about values and simplifying the planes and shapes and also it is always a real challenge! I got some new gouache paints this past year, a Himi/Miya jelly gouache set suitable for painting a…

  • Watercolour Maps

    Watercolour Maps

    I’m a huge fan of the strangeness of satellite imagery of earth, and how it intersects with how we draw maps for navigational or other uses. I also love watching pigment flow around on a surface, and I’ve been thinking about how liquid dynamics of watercolour can mimic liquid dynamics of water tables, geologically. Which…

  • Digital Studies

    Digital Studies

    I’ve been using Procreate and a selection of MaxPacks chalk and gouache brushes to do some looser, more painterly digital studies from photo ref. Here’s a selection of recent ones:

  • Metalhead Paintings

    Metalhead Paintings

    A few fun studies from musician promo shots and personal photos, done in watercolour and pen:

  • Ten Years in the Forest

    Ten Years in the Forest

    I am immensely, hugely, unbelievably grateful for getting to spend so much of the past decade making art! And between comics, games, personal artwork and client illustrations, it’s a big pile of work, and honestly, I don’t want to try and put it in any kind of hierarchy, because what the heck do I know?…

  • 13 Albums of the 2010s I Just Keep Listening To

    13 Albums of the 2010s I Just Keep Listening To

    Alrighty folks, time for me to tell you about 13 albums I hecking love! The past decade has seen my ability to access music change, and change, and change again as we navigated a sort of death of peer-to-peer file sharing, the birth of bandcamp, the enormous wealth of music uploaded semi-legally to Youtube, the…

  • Playing Night Forest with the Dames Making Games Community

    Playing Night Forest with the Dames Making Games Community

    We played Heart of the Deernicorn’s Night Forest as a community gaming event at Dames Making Games in Toronto, and loved it! Herein lies a review of our experience, and a list of the ways we customized it.

  • The time of the wolf is upon us! Art, rpgs and albums come together for this awesome project!

    The time of the wolf is upon us! Art, rpgs and albums come together for this awesome project!

    Wolfspell, a project I’m illustrating, is on Kickstarter right now, but only until the evening of February 3rd! I want to share a little of what makes this project feel special to me. Wolfspell is a tabletop roleplaying game by Epidiah Ravachol, whose name you might know from the epic storytelling game Swords Without Master,…