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Glasgow, United Kingdom
An illustrator and games artist living and working in Scotland. I have various hobbies: coding, travel, art and games; and I enjoy writing about them.

28 December 2013

Merry Christmas all!

Christmas always puts me in a kinda feral mood. I want to eat, listen to heavy metal music and bitch about consumerist culture I live in.

So here's a suitably brutal Christmas card for y'all!

22 December 2013

Cosmic Egg Project

This is a breakdown of the Cosmic Egg commission I did for Rhakeem Garner on DreamUp.

It was a very interesting project from the very beginning mainly due to the fact that the brief was an abstract idea that the client wanted to turn into reality. There wasn't a starting point, just a collection of images that closely resembled what he had in mind. I started with a page of mindless doodles, thumbnails and sometimes completely unrelated sketches. This page unfortunately got lost somewhere in my room. The gist of it was that I was exploring shapes and trying to figure out a way to fit all 10 layers onto a page in an aesthetically pleasing way. During this time I also snooped around the internet for images that inspire me. By a complete accident I stumbled upon polymer journal covers and got inspired by the abstract way shapes were laid out on the page. Here is an example I showed to the client:

I thought that it looked absolutely perfect for what we wanted to do with the design. It was just abstract enough and just interesting enough. Upon this finding I did 2 sketches.

We went with the one on the right in the end because it resembled that journal cover a bit more. The challenge was to make it AWESOME though.

This is a pretty good effort, but we realised that it looks a bit too much like a handicraft journal cover. The client wanted to go a bit more sci-fi, a bit more sleek and futuristic looking. So I tried that.

With the client's permission I went ahead to create the final black and white version. I realised obviously that the image above is way too boring. After a lot of coffee, cigarettes and internet research I finally had something that I felt I could show the client. I had it all in it, the different layers represented by different minerals, the tree of life in the middle and so on.

The next bit was a pain in the ass. The problem was now adding interesting elements like circuitry and energy vents. I had no idea how to approach the problem, because the egg looked so smooth and finished that adding anything would ruin it. I became too precious about my work and was afraid to do anything to ruin it - a classic mistake. So at one point I decided, fuck it, I'm going to experiment with 3D to add texture and detail to the image, and to make the circuitry follow the curvature of the egg.

I never said it was a good idea. But it got me to think outside the box and not be so precious about my work. In the end I just used a brush and tried to make it as tidy as possible.

I got rid of colour because with the textures there it looked like I blatantly just dropped textures into shapes, which is exactly what I did but you can't let people know that! In any case, what an improvement from the previous couple of sketches!

Introducing colour was surprisingly easy. I expected that I'll have to re-paint everything from scratch but in the end I got away with some overlay layers and textures set to soft light. The client was happy, I got paid and therefore I'm happy.

I will remember this project for a long time. It taught me to get out of my comfort zone and experiment with different approaches when something doesn't work. I'm also making the original PSD available so people can have a look at what's inside this image.

15 December 2013

Super Refined Thumbnails

I am slowly moving forward with the Skillshare class. Sometimes when I get lazy I remind myself that I actually paid money for it. It's a great motivation!

So with the refined thumbnails done I picked out the one I liked most and did a few variations of it. It's amazing how a design can take shape and flow into different directions right before your eyes. I also experimented a little bit with presentation because someone told me that bad presentation can turn a masterpiece into garbage and vice versa. Sorta looks similar to Borderlands style with that heavy outline. I will hopefully finish this project by the end of next week.


10 December 2013

Zbrush Anatomy Study

Guys! Guys! Whoever is reading this! Yes, you! Get out and get this DVD right now! It's awesome!

But seriously, I learned more in the 3 hours of watching this DVD than in all 4 years of studying. Yes, yes, I know, self study and such. Doesn't make this DVD any less awesome though.

So here is my result. I'm kinda proud of it, even though there are huge problems cleverly hidden by lighting and rendering. I will do better next time. It's all about mileage.

So here's the breakdown. Here it is in Zbrush, you can see how weird her elbow is bent and that I didn't really pay much attention to her legs:

Here she is in 3D Coat. Funny how if you paint textures properly they look like an actual painting.

And finally, rendered in Modo. I absolutely fell in love with it. Easy interface, great looking renders. In an hour I know how to do a basic lighting set up and subsurface scattering. Nothing much to show for that though. Just your standard lighting set up. However, check out that subsurface scattering! And bewbs. Obviously.

Looking at it now I see a lot of mistakes. Random bulges that shouldn't be there, and other such things. I'm planning to do another, proper, one over the weekend.

One last thing, no apologies for the lack of NSFW tag. It's an anatomy study. If you're offended, I'm not sure what you were expecting.


Ebran Fyela

Here is the process images for another commission. This one is for Mitch Sanford, he's a writer and generally a cool guy.

First step is always thumbnails. They are not as chaotic and random as I originally thought. It turns out it's not the case of putting random lines on paper and figuring out what the blobs kinda look like. There is that element of randomness obviously, but it's a more conscious effort of thinking, right, this is going here, and now I'm gonna try putting him in this pose. You can also see there I experiment with different approaches to thumbnails. I think I like the last few the best.

Once we decided on 4 of his favourite I went away and came back with them slightly more refined.

He absolutely loved the second one, so we decided to go with it. At this point I realised why people say that brushes don't matter at all if you don't know your fundamentals. It is so true. But! Once you know your fundamentals different cool brushes with different settings can turn a generic sketch into a really, really cool looking one. That's what happened with the second one. I experimented with different brushes trying to achieve this paintery look and suddenly the thumbnail just popped. I know that a few more hours of work and it can become a really cool looking speed paint. Moving on to colour.

Nothing special here. He liked the first two so I went with sort of a mix of both.

The image above is a rough WiP but you can already see how it's taking shape. With this I re-discovered the importance of good reference. I painted his face without reference and his torso with some anatomy images on the other monitor. Can you see the difference? I sure can. Another cool thing I want to mention is the painting technique taught to me by the awesome Darek Zabrocki: If you use small dabs of paint quickly in an area is quickly creates suggested detail. Great for blocking things out!

And here is the final image. I don't remember where I picked it up, a tutorial on Youtube I think, but the idea is that the closer you get to the focal point the more contrasting and sharp things should look. That's why the face in the painting is super sharp and as things get further away they either lose contrast or become blurry. Personally I think it's a great effect, AND a bit of a cheat. Upon finishing this painting I got some great feedback on DeviantArt... aaaaand promptly forgot to save it. The general gist was that tattoos on a separate layer with the opacity turned down is a big no-no. Also more detail is needed on his skin. I see where they are coming from. Can't stand looking at these tattoos now. But on the plus side, I did get paid for it, and the guy was perfectly happy with it.

This concludes my mini-analysis of my painting.

Refined Thumbnails

So the next step is to refine the thumbnails. In the video Charlie starts painting straight away, but I find it a bit more comfortable throwing a lot of random "pencil" lines onto the canvas before adding some highlights/shadows underneath. This is a habit leftover from my very early days where I learned drawing from comics. I just realised now, while typing these words, that perhaps it's a good idea to get out from the comfort zone and experiment with new things. So that is exactly what I'm going to do next!

In the meantime, check out the refined thumbnails.