Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  I think it's about time I've started blogging again.  I had to do some self-searching things.  With that aside now, I think it's time I become fully devoted to my work... even more so than before.  I've also made a pledge to myself, which is no fun at all until I get my career going.
  That being said, i have a couple new pieces that I would like to bring to this blog.  Pieces where I really tried to push my understanding of composition.

  This piece is called "Path of Enlightenment", not because of what the piece is depicting, but because it really led me to an "aha" moment.  On most of my past environment pieces I have done, I would just have a general idea of what I wanted, and went ape crazy with it.  I wouldn't toss down any thumbnails, I would just toss down some random foregorund/midground/background strokes and build from there, which isn't entirely a bad way to do things.  It's a great starting place for whenever I don't have one.  This piece was a bit different from all of my previous work.  Rather than starting right in on the piece as an image as a whole, I decided to place some random thumbnails down first.  It was a fun and rewarding experiment.  

  This experiment also started as a value study.  I would use 4 basic values that would get the image across and nothing else.  If your picture reads with only 3 values, then you have a successful image.  Also, just because your picture reads, doesn't mean the composition is there, that comes with time and practice.  Eventually, after spending an hour on the piece, I thought I was at something kinda cool.  As you will see in this next image, I had a starting point where I saw a lot of information and worked it up early on.  My plan was to finish the entire page like that, but I was so caught up in how awesome this smaller area was turning out, that I HAD to stick with it. 
  Then I had a random urge to play with some color.  So the piece took me on another adventurous tangent, which can be seen at the bottom left of the next image.  After the tangent subsided, I went back and added some detail, and tried to give the image more depth.  Essentially, I broke myself out of one of the original frames, and successfully found depth in the piece.
  I really wanted to develop the piece so it extended to the right side of the canvas, but at that point I realized that if I pushed the elements on the right side, I would lose my objective to lead the viewers eye, and the scene would become too cluttered.  I cropped the image and worked with it until I hit my final piece.
  There is also a story I'm working on in my spare time.  Eventually I want to turn it into a full fledged animation after I get a working script together, which is about 28 pages deep thus far, and much more to go.  It already needs to be re-written, but I think I'll just push through the entire first draft, while keeping expected changes in mind.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Seeing the big picture.

    This past month I've been receiving many offers for concept positions.  The only issue with this is that they are looking for characters, and not environments.  Many prospective employers look at my environmental work, complement me on it, then ask me if I can do characters.
    I was never really into designing characters, and I intentionally stayed away from designing characters, because when somebody sees a human figure it doesn't  take much effort to notice when things aren't quite right about them.  This was a fear I had, until recently.  For people that are asking why I don't just fix those simple LOOKING mistakes, my answer is that I personally don't see the mistakes I make, usually.  Recently I've been flipping the canvas to help mitigate the issues, but this doesn't always fix everything.
    The first potential employer was looking for comic book art.  He had an awesome back-story as well as an entire universe set up, but he just needed an artist to make his comic book a reality.  When he asked if I could do characters for him, I told him yes.  Was I lying when I told him that?  Not entirely.  I've recently taken into consideration that once you understand the fundamentals of anything, you can accomplish that particular anything.  How long it takes to really learn and apply those fundamentals, depends on what you are trying to learn.  If it's something physical, like learning to properly throw a baseball , it may take anywhere from a few weeks to months.  For character concepts, I researched the fundamentals of designing a character from scratch.  What are the fundamentals of character designs?  Here is the route I took:
    1.  Learn the proportions of the human figure.  Ex.   How many heads tall and wide are major masses of the body?
    2.  Learn the individual muscle structure, however it also helps to know the bones beneath as well.  An awesome resource for this: http://www.zygotebody.com/
    3.  Come up with a formula for figuring out the human figure so that you can take this formula, use it,  and become quicker every time you apply it.  These tutorials have a formula: http://www.alienthink.com/strM9HD.html
    4.  Gestural drawing is KEY to understanding the physiology of the body.   This is where you define overlapping lines and truly understand how the body works.  Here is an amazing website made just for this: http://www.posemaniacs.com/
    5.  Every body part deserves studies, but the head has taken up most of my time.

After applying these principals, I have noticed that indeed, I can concept out characters that aren't stiff and boring and almost look correct.  After applying a few of these fundamentals for a couple of days I came out with characters along the lines of this:
    You can probably point out flaws of the character concepts right off the bat.  For me, it's a bit harder since I've stared at the damn things for so long that there was a point that I stopped seeing the flaws in them.  I did notice that I was being a lazy designer though.  You can tell that not much thought was put into the actual design of any of the characters except the dude on the left.  Although, I had fun coming up with his wardrobe.  The other characters are bland, I mean, the laziness shouts at me.  They were also a clear indication that I've been watching too much anime.  Instead of turning this in, I decided I needed another couple of days working on the fundamentals, so in the end I came up with this:
    Am I happy with this piece?  At the time I was.  I had already noticed improvements from after just a couple more days of practicing the fundamentals.  The fellow on the right is in more of a dynamic pose, which makes me feel like the character has meaning now.  The lady is also showing a bit more personality herself and not stiff like a board.  The neanderthal in the middle though, he stayed the same.  I spent enough time on him the first time that I felt he was ok.
    This is what I ended up turning in to the employer.  I know I had done my best, and that even though that's the case, I knew it wasn't good enough.  Am I down about it?  The money would have been nice, but I also realized that the piece wasn't a complete failure.  It helped show me that I have the potential to learn the trade, if I keep applying myself to use the fundamental listed above.


    After failing with this employer, another contacted me a week later, and again he wanted character concepts.  Except he wanted pixel art...  I said SURE.  I ended up giving birth to this weird creature:

    This brings me to my next point, and that's that I can apply these fundamentals to any medium I want now.    This particular job would have brought in a good cash flow for me.  I was projected to make around 1500 in a months work, which would have been awesome for me.  In the end I wrote an email to the company asking if they could detail why I didn't make the roster.  Was my art not at the quality they were looking for?  Was my asking price too high?  Their response was actually better than I expected.  My art was up to par with what they were looking for, and even my asking price was good.  In the end it came down to the artist who was able to represent their vision of the games style the best.  They said that I had made it to the final 3, out of 15 they had contacted.  This bit of information gave me more hope, that I can succeed in this industry, I just have to keep working hard at it.
    The last job opportunity I received was only a couple of days ago, and so far I'm in the green.  They came at me wanting something realistic looking, which I haven't exactly attempted yet.  They asked me to recreate  Joel from "The Last Of Us". Although I altered him a bit here and there, I was happy with the results:
    Although I had Joel as a reference photo, I still managed to mess some of the details up such as the hair is actually darker, and his eyes are more brown.  Easy fixes...  After completing this piece, I blew my own mind.  I didn't realize I had the potential to reach such a quality.  Even though it's only the head of Joel, I was able to again realize that I am indeed learning and not spinning my wheels.  Here is my latest, original piece a day later(Although I kept the same lighting sources):  

    I hope there was at least some helpful information to anybody doubting themselves and struggling with similar things that I am.  Just keep pushing and remember to not stop practicing on your fundamentals.  

Helpful links in the article:
Gesture Drawing:  http://www.posemaniacs.com/

Friday, May 10, 2013

The "Underground" Space Scene

After +20 hours of working on this piece I've finally made a few finishing touches to it.  For now, it's a done piece, but I may visit it again in the future once I gain a better understanding of light, composition, and storytelling.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

CGSociety Challenge

CGsociety.org has an awesome challenge I decided to partake in today.  I started out spending about an hour on the last concept below, but was able to start cutting down on time for every consecutive piece.  The contest is just about illustration, how well you can tell a story with an image on a playing card of your choice. The ace of spades was an obvious choice.  It has a pretty cool history in the Vietnam War of being used to instill fear into the hearts of the enemy.  Little did we know, the Vietnamese actually didn't really believe in the superstition that the ace of spades brought death.  In the end, it did raise moral of the soldiers.  I may do some more later, but here are the ones for now.  I kinda feel like switching over to some fantasy pieces on it, or I've had Gambit from X-Men on my mind.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

WIP - A Moon-walking Fool

Here is my next animation piece that I am working on for my portfolio.  I haven't worked on him since coming out of stepped mode.  In the end I will add the music Billie Jean to it.  As always, comments and questions below please!

Monday, May 6, 2013

WIP Update

For this update I'll be going over my thought process of how I evolved this piece to its current stage.

At this point I am around 2 hours into the rendering of the lighting.  The lighting came easy, but the biggest problem I came across was composition.  I wanted the foreground object with thrusters to be the main light source of the arena in the middle.  The angle of the light was a bit off in the picture, but I was planning to adjust that later down the line when I actually had the fighters placed in the arena.

Since people cannot breathe in space I decided to toss a dome around the arena that had a built in atmosphere   After placing the dome I wasn't happy with how it took away from certain elements in the background, so I decided to scrap the idea and place the fighters in a sort of space suit, which I have yet to design.

In the following progression piece I ended up going a little too far by adding the lens flare so soon, but I couldn't wait to see what it looked like.

After another hour of messing with the piece, i felt it was a good idea to start exaggerating the depth, but how do you do that when there is no atmosphere in plane space?  Part of the story of the piece is that it is located on an asteroid floating in the depths of space, where law enforcement has no say.  This particular asteroid was once mined for its resources, but once the corporation was done mining, what use could it serve?  Future politicians that decided to make some more cash saw an opportunity and took it.  They decided to construct an underground fighting ring far away from mainstream society that was only accessible to the wealthy, and anybody willing to sacrifice their entire economic well being for the slight possibility of obtaining wealth beyond dreams.  There is a lot of money to be made here, but at a serious price.

Who would be the contenders in the arena?  The most nasty convicts in the known universe of course, and a few that probably didn't really deserve to be subjected to such inhuman routes of punishment.  It doesn't matter what crime, how big or small, if you looked fit your death was faked to the public and you were fighting for your life in the arena.

The story won't stop flowing, but I need to hold myself back and re-ask the question, how do I add atmosphere to something that doesn't really have any to begin with?

The smog you see within the scene is due to all the machinery operating within the depths of the asteroid.  All the lights and functions of the arena need some sort of power sauce, so why not some dirty, mechanical, possibly even coal operated pile of scraps at the base.  Soon I'll be adding color to give a bit of a slums feel to it.  More to come...

Suggestions, questions, critiques, or anything on your mind is appreciated in the comments below!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The "underground" space scene.

Lately I've been posting my WIP concepts on popular CG websites, scrounging around for advice on every aspect of my art ranging from its lighting to composition and everything in between.  I've even tried emailing a few people who have made it big in the industry, asking them for any tips and advice on how to advance as an artist.  Much to my surprise, I already received a couple of responses that I'll be indulgent in after I get this current concept out of my head.

The concept shown above is a preliminary sketch, something that came to mind after surfing the forums for advice.  As of now, it's not very legible for the public, but this is a part of my workflow.  I have an idea in mind, and I scratched out the rough vision I have of it.  I don't want to spoil the story behind it just yet.  For now, I'll toss out 2 bits of information.  It's in space, and it deals with an "underground" type of society.  Underground, as in don't talk about it or you'll be tossed in space jail for doing so, type underground.

What I hope to achieve out of the final product is that it can be classified as both an illustration, and concept piece.  I not only want to tell a story with a finished and polished piece of art, but I also want every aspect of the piece to be believable.  I'm not shooting for a "today" believable, but a futuristic believable.
Other things I want to achieve are:
  • A ton of depth
  • Increased level of detail compared to my other work
  • A feeling of movement within the scene

What I hope to avoid in the piece is unfamiliarity.  I want people to actually think that one day, this environment could actually exist.  I don't even feel comfortable having the name "Syd Mead" in my nooby blog, but he is a large part of the inspiration.

That's all for now.  I would love to hear anything you have to say in the comments below.  Thanks!