Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Free Digital Painting Videos

Over the last month or so I've been recording videos of my painting process and throwing them up on youtube to share with the world. The first one is of Domina, the art work I talked about in my previous post. The other two are speed paints I worked on during my class demos. In real time Domina took about 6 hours, while the others took about 3-4. Using a Wacom Intuos 3, and Photoshop.




I intend to post more of these on a semi-regular basis so be sure to check back on my youtube channel every now and then for new updates and content. http://www.youtube.com/user/claytonbarton. They're all free painting tutorials so be sure to jump on it! 

Rackette and Aina
Happy youtubing.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Digital Paintings - Domina and Insidious Curse

Focusing on Digital Painting and Modelling
This year I have put the 3D side of my creativity on the back burner, and focused more on developing my skills in digital painting. It hasn't been easy, there is still so much to learn even after mastering the basics such as perspective and anatomy, values, lighting, composition and design theory, and the big one for me - color theory. But it's all so awesome to learn, just for the fact it provides that constant challenge, knowing that the art work I do tomorrow will always be better then the art work I did today. Again, it's all about really being present in the process and not so much the out come. With any luck there will be no end to how far I am able to push myself.
Now although I've been paying my painting a little more attention lately, this doesn't mean I love my 3D modelling any less. My heart still yearns for Verts and Poly's and I do intend to make some kickass Digital Sculpts in the not too distant future. In fact, without giving away too much, I want to get started on a new games project using UDK (especially after seeing the new trailer for the Unreal 4 engine).
This is a screenshot of a head I sculpted up as a test dummy to try out some of the new features of ZBrush 4r4.

"You are retopologated..."
This is a piece I painted up a week or two back for a class demonstration at Victoria University. The demo took about 6 hours all up, jumping between Photoshop CS4 and the flashy new Photoshop CS6. As with every new painting, this was just another opportunity to refine my work flow. That's why practice is so important and something which I suggest all the time to my fellow, aspiring artisans. Practice allows us to get to know ourselves, to understand how we as artists work, how we think and develop ideas. The more we practice the more automatic the spawning process of these ideas become. You begin to see yourself spending less time staring down at a blank canvas because your brain gets into the habit of developing ideas on the fly, it gets used to the fact that weather or not there is something floating around in that noggin of yours, you are going to start laying down lines regardless - and thus adapt. I also believe that the 'style' or 'look' to ones art work, the thing that makes the output original and unique, is achieved only through those laborious hours of practice. What else could style be other then the way you, as an individual, express yourself?  

Domina - Beauty and the beast in all their glory.

Insidious Curse
This little gem I did a fair while ago now, in fact I'm pretty sure this piece is from 2011. Another typical theme for me, chicks and monsters - gotta love em. I wanted to post up this one because to me, it was a corner stone in solidifying my painting technique, and also the first time I really started to play around with directional lighting and color.  Color is certainly one of my weaknesses. I can get my grey scale value's pretty much spot on, but add multiple colors to the mix with multi colored light sources and I'm in a world of hurt and rainbows. Insidious Curse was a great learning experience, and it helped me to really pay attention to light distance, intensity and how the type of lighting effects the way in which it interacts with an object.

Insidious Curse - Caution! Is Insidious

Getting Faster and Developing Ideas on the Fly
Half my problem used to be placing too much importance on a single work. This holds me back from turning out content on a more consistent time line. It is important to get into the habit of setting a regular time frame in which to create a work, but even more so not to dwell on the finished product, but rather move forward, straight onto the next piece without the procrastination in between. This is an important skill to have, especially when you take into consideration that in the industry (and freelance alike) chances are an artist will be turning out 3-4 concepts a day, maybe hundreds spanning over months, of which only a small selection will see the light of day as a final character or environment design.
So then how does one get better, and faster at the same time, creating more content in a shorter time span? Like with everything, it's all about the energy and the effort that you're willing to put into it. The more time you can set aside to practice 'getting faster' the faster you'll get. You start off by setting yourself an hour to come up with your character or environment concept, and you do that for a week, maybe even a month, spending multiple hours a day putting in that time to practice. Sure at first it'll be a bit of a struggle, but your abilities will adapt to the restrictions you set for yourself. But it does require a good amount of self discipline, something I have to admit even I struggle with. After smashing out a concept per hour (or two if it's really too much to handle), you then try to do it within half an hour. Yeah they will be speed paintings, and yes the quality won't be the greatest at first, but it'll get better. Most importantly it will train your brain to come up with ideas on the fly. 

Here are some speed paintings I did, spending roughly an hour on each, in which I focused on both my speed and lighting value's.

As you can see the paintings aren't the greatest and not entirely refined either, but what mattered to me most in these exercises was the lighting value's, ensuring that the image looked accurate both close up and from a distance. It was really figuring out how intense the highlights should be made in contrast to the shadows and vice-versa, and also how the lighting fell upon the forms under different lighting conditions.


Metamorphoses Complete

1st Post for 2012
Well here is my first post for 2012. A long time waiting, I know. It has been an interesting year. A year of change, a year of rebuilding; rethinking. But most of all evolving.

Sense of Direction Blurred
Certain events had unfolded in the latter part of 2011 which saw me thrown off track for a good chunk of the first half of the year. No matter how focused one is on their goals, how determined or how clearly they see the path laid out before them, the reality is that when one part of your life begins to crack, the rest follows behind as the supports weaken, quickly collapsing in on itself. It's hard to pull one's self out of such decay. The loss of motivation, of that drive which is so important, renders any talent possessed useless. Yes it was still there, but the great energy I used to fuel it had become depleted and my sense of direction blurred.

A Transformation Begins
Other parts of my life began to come into focus. Such as developing my social skills and confidence. For the first time in a long time, I was forced to truly get to know myself through my own loneliness. The way I looked, the way I interacted, the way I thought. Before, my life centered on my work and my relationship. Now that relationship was gone, and my work seemed to loose it's meaning. It was strange because I had it stuck in my head that at least without having to maintain a relationship, I would have more time to focus on developing my skills and evolving as an artist (which does take a lot of time), but it was as if the reason behind trying so hard with my work had disappeared after that point. In the end it was something that needed to happen, a point in my life that was long over due to come, for I had let myself deteriorate to the point where it was those two things, and those two things only that defined me, not just to others but myself.
My painting, and modelling practice began to diminish, to once a week or less. But on the other hand, I was going out more, socializing, putting myself out there, venturing  into places foreign to me. It was hard, because I was shy, introverted, but that was the reason I needed to do this. If I did what I'd always done, I'd get what I'd always gotten, and I knew that if I wanted to become comfortable around people, if I wanted to become confident and out going, then just like with my drawing that is what I'd have to practice.

Metamorphoses Complete
Soon enough, I recreated my life, formed new social circles, close friends, and developed a confidence which took away a lot of the fear that went along with social interaction. My speaking, and sentence structure had improved, the way I expressed my ideas and thoughts had improved. I became more independent then I'd ever been before, became my own person, comfortable in my own skin. I even found a new and greater love which brought along with it a new burst of creative energy and inspiration.
Now where did that leave me and my art? Well. Luckily I was resilient enough not to completely crumble and never really ever completely stopped working. I slept more, went out more, but I still made sure I found the time to paint or draw. There reached a point where this little self transformation I'd undergone completed itself.

One of the personal decisions I made in regards to my art work was to drop the dream of getting into comics. The more I did my research the more I found that the industry and market for comics was beginning to dwindle (despite the super hero movie increase in recent years). Times have changed from when comics were considered a source of entertainment, it was the fan boys now that kept the industry going while the new generations went home to serf the web, play on their smart phone or console. To make things even more discouraging the guys who had made it into companies like Marvel or DC were underpaid for the amount of work and man hours they put in, unless you were an absolute pro who at the same time was in high demand. And if you wanted to go indie you'd be in a world of hurt, losing more money then you were making in all likely hood.
So I decided to turn my attention to my Concept Art and 3d modelling. Rather then practicing line weights and cross hatching techniques I started learning about lighting values and colour theory, design and composition. After all, the games industry was one of the biggest, if not the biggest player in the world of entertainment. It seemed like the smartest decision I could make, the most worthy investment for the energy and effort I would put into my new en devour. Games were always something I had applied my art too, but it seemed that now this direction had come into sharp focus, and there was no more confusion left about the industry I wanted to work in.
This decision also complimented my teaching in the Advanced Diploma Games Development course. After undertaking some extra classes in 3D modelling and Visual Design, I needed to do research to ensure I was teaching the most up-to-date content in the world of game development (technology moves at such a rapid speed that there is no choice but to continue learning and discovering new features and techniques). This in turn helped me to further develop my own skills and develop as an artist in the field I'd chosen to stick with.

I have gone through my ups and downs this year which I am so thankful for, because now, I have never known myself better, nor have I ever been in a better place in life. All the experiences I've gone through, for better or for worse have gotten me to this point. I am in a good place, but I must continue to move forward, putting my foot down on the accelerator and really pushing my self to gain back the work ethic I once had. Because without that, all the talent in the world will not save me. I have learned a lot along the way, personally, technically and philosophically. But there is still much left to conquer and I will, I must continue to evolve. A body of water which moves is the purist, cleanest water you can find, but when it comes to a stand still it will stagnate, become a swamp for breeding insects. This I strongly believe is so true to life. We must continue to move, learn, evolve and develop otherwise we will stagnate. Part of the beauty of life is change, thus we must grow. The journey never ends, so it's important to remember that the walk we take along that path means more then to where it leads.