Saturday, December 1, 2012

Space Marines

Made up these new concepts for the Luna marines I’m going to use in my next 3D scene. Someone needs to fruitlessly fight off the hideous Muntkey I posted a few months back. I’m thinking I’ll go the third one; it does after all seem to be the choice of the people.

Space Marines
I noticed my motivation and drive recently slipping away as the all too tempting yet subtle procrastination began to take up more and more precious hours of would be productivity. I just didn’t feel like doing any art work. Ah yes, this battle is known to many creative souls, the battle to keep up the energy and motivation to constantly create, a battle that must be won if one hopes to keep a job in that which he loves most. But it’s always so hard to push yourself when you just aren’t in the mood to do something.

Here’s what I discovered though. Is that, if one does bite the bullet and really sit down and just push themselves to do the work or practice they know they need to do, that drive and motivation slowly starts to regenerate, at least in my experience. It’s odd, and it kinda sucks because in a way you need the right kind of motivation in the first place in order to express your creativity, but I do have a theory. I think, at the end of the day, as people, we want to conserve energy. We want to be lazy in other words, doing only the things that need to be done and not the things that should be done. Ideally, that’s the way we work, at least biologically. But, the brain can be tricked into overcoming this. How? Well by sitting down and literally forcing yourself to do something, after a while your brain will stop resisting and actually want to do it. Your brain will stop resisting because it wants to take the easy way out, it wants to be lazy and just go with the flow, so it’ll do as it’s told after a while. The brain says to itself, “hey, this guy keeps on drawing despite thinking he doesn’t want to… He actually does want to, and he’s being stubborn, so I’ll accommodate that and stop resisting, cause that’s the easier alternative.”

Okay. It’s a bit of a crazy way of looking at it, but it seems to work for me and maybe for you (if you too happen to be going through a dry patch). Once I jump in the deep end and just get into it, sure I’m not gonna suddenly change my mind over half hour or even an hour, give me a night though, or a couple of days and I’ll be right in the zone again. Our brain, basically loves to do what it does most. So if you haven’t drawn or whatever in a while, you’re not gonna feel like it until you do (or that sudden burst of inspiration you’ve been waiting months for eventually rocks up).

Enough ranting. And onto some awesome news! Getting a new PC 4 times more powerful then the PC I have now, meaning 4 times the resolution and 4 times the polygons! A much needed upgrade that has been on the agenda for a while now. This also means more video tutorials aswell, especially over the Summer break. So keep a look out for those.
Until next time.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My New Friend

This is a new piece I finished up last week. I've made some recent iterations to my work flow, thanks to my recent studies on color, lighting and value. Pleased to say I am happy with the result. "Progress equals happiness", as quoted by Tony Robbins, seems more relevant then ever as I continue to see my work evolve and become more refined.

As to what this work is about? I'll let you interpret that for yourself. I like to create art work that is suggestive of something disturbing or sinister, and yet at the same time provide no real explanation as to what it's truly about. Mystery should remain hidden in the dark where it belongs, and the fear kept alive. There is an innocence to my work, broken only by the assumptions brought about in the way others might perceive it. For it is only as dark as one's imagination would dare venture.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Muntkey Design

I've been designing some new characters for Cradle (soon I'll have to change that name due to the discovery of another game holding the same title). I've dubbed this guy the Muntkey. He used to be a monkey before the virus took control and made him nothing more then a base host from which the virus would biologically evolve into an entirely new alien species. The Muntkey however is more intelligent then most of the infected, hunting in packs and strategically organizing tactics to sniff out their prey and fend off other predators out of their territory. A new standard of intelligence among the infected is beginning to peak it's head, and as evolution takes hold on the wretched creatures they will become more smarter, capable and dangerous.

New Muntkey Design
Had to go through some changes with this character before I reached the final concept art design (and there may still possibly be more designs iterations to come). Originally  I found that he looked a little too much like a monkey, there were no real standout features, other then a few blistering boils, basically looked like your average zombie monkey... But I wanted more then that for the Muntkey. I wanted this creature to look as though it had been taken over and modified, not just on the surface, but as if the entire structure of the original creature itself had been distorted into something else. I wanted it to look alien, yet at the same time, still relatable to a primate. I do hope I've achieved that. I am a lot more happier with this new design, it's captured a lot more accurately what I wanted to go for.

The original Muntkey design. Too much monkey not enough infectious alien virus!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Still Practicing Environments

Working on some more environments. Still quite speedy, haven't spent too much time adding in details yet. I guess that's what I need to work on next.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More Environment Concepts

 Did up some more environment concepts last night, just to keep up the practice. For these I spent a little more time adding in detail, but the colors do not seem as vibrant as in the previous speed paintings. This could be because there was not a strong, direct light source in them as such, no vibrant yellows or oranges from the sun, and no harsh cast shadows. This is probably due to being too careful.

Jumping Headfirst into Color and Environment Concepts

Over the last week or so I've made it a point to face my fears and look them dead in the face - Color, Lighting and Environment Art. It can be intimidating, trying to become good at something you've always struggled with and never really understood. Of course I knew the basic gist of these subjects, knew the theory, watched the video tutorials by masters of the subject such as Feng Zhu and Scott Drake, but this alone cannot improve one's practical skills and unfortunately I never really took the time to bite the bullet, and really sit down and put the information I'd gathered into practice. There's no way around it. If you want to be good at something (which I did desperately want) you have to practice it, and make the mistakes you need to make in order to learn and get better.

Well, although my progress has not been astounding, it is still progress and a big leap from where I left off in my eyes. I hope to practice more of these environment speed paints, along with the lighting setups and color - Wish me luck.

This was the first set of exercises I did. Focused mainly on lighting set up here and how different colored lighting might effect the color of the objects themselves. Also this is my first set of environments, not the best, but it was a start.
This was the second exercise which primarily focused on color and quick environment concepts. I used a different method here to the first few environments - This method closely follows the technique concept artist Feng Zhu teaches. Also my first time properly making use of a color palette - Funnily enough I never really understood the concept of a palette or how to use one as dumb as that sounds. My understanding has improved a lot through doing these. I took about 15-20 min on each of these.
 If anyone out there has some feedback or suggestions on areas where I can improve, or just a few tips that might be able to help me out I'm am eager to take on board your pearls of wisdom.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Just finished up with a new painting. Focusing this time on color theory. It's tricky business, but every little bit of practice helps.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Magical Gift of Talent

Talent. That rare, magical little gift a select few individuals are lucky enough to be born with. Well, I'd have to disagree with that. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, it's not necessarily rare at all, that it's very much attainable by anyone who wants it (but still a little magical). And you might think that's easy for me to say, considering how some may or may not view my work, but regardless I do strongly believe that the definition of talent is something else entirely and far from what most assume it to be.
We as people are all created and born into the world the same way. Sure the circumstances and conditions under which we enter life differs from person to person, but at the end of the day we're all made of the same stuff. So then what makes one person more talented then another person in a particular field?
Here's the secret, or at least what I consider to be the definition of talent in my opinion -

Talent is merely the motivation and drive to become better at that which you are most passionate about

No one is born talented. No one is born with some magical power that you yourself do not possess. The cold hard truth is, people who are so called 'talented' need to work their asses off in order to get to the level they themselves aim and expect to reach. It's a personal decision within ones self to master a particular skill, that skill they have such a love for that they simply cannot let it go. They cannot give it up without being left feeling empty and uncontent. And they will continue to strive for refinement and perfection until that longing is put to rest.

I can't tell you how many time's I've heard peers, students, friends, or even family tell me that they're just not good enough at something. People tend to envy others for the skills they themselves lack, either that or they are completely over come by the weighting doubt that they will never reach the kind of level they admire in others, and thus give up before even trying. It all comes down to how much you want it. Whether it's drawing, painting, modelling, writing, directing, acting, ect - It all comes down to what you're willing to sacrifice and how much you're repaired to commit in order to become the very best you possibly can be.

The really cool thing is, is that you can become a pro at anything, you can process the talent in whatever it is you want to get into. As long as you know beyond a doubt what it is you want. Because that's half the battle. A lot of people out there don't know what it is they want to take from life, and that is the difference between someone who reaches the stars and someone who looks up at them. When you know what it is you're passionate about and you just go for it, and you don't let doubt, uncertainty or other people hold you back from perusing it you are going to move forward. Yes, it'll take a while to reach your destination, in fact a lot of the time it seems that it takes a life time to get there as you become better and better, evolving along with your skills and 'talent', but you'll always be moving forward. But if you don't know what you want, or you don't have the kind of clarity needed to decide between what you think you might want to try and what you truly hold a passion for, you will be at a constant stand still. For there is nothing to strive toward, the incredible fuel needed to move forward is simply non existent.

It's important to realise that whatever it is you want in life, it is there for the taking. You just got to know what it is you want. Take control, and move at your own accord rather then settling for the left overs that life hands out to you. Living within circumstance, letting life lead you rather then leading it will simply leave one unfulfilled.

In closing, know that nothing is impossible. Know what it is you want. No one starts out as a pro. They simply put in the time, and practice in to better them selves. You become good at what it is you do most. Use up your time to procrastinate and complain and you're going to become really good at it, and like wise if you are proactive in practicing what you are most passionate about, you will master it. Our ability to evolve and adapt through practice is an amazing gift that should not be taken for granted. But it can either work for you or against you, and sometimes we don't even realise it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Value Study Speed Paints - Featuring Ms Fox and Breaking Bad's Walter White

Some more value studies. Again using references to focus on lighting, shadow, and the construction of the painting itself. These studies help to refine my workflow, so that when I need to pull this stuff from my head I can focus less on those elements and more on the design and composition.

Yep. It's Megan Fox. I know I know... Most of my subjects tend to be celebrity crushes.
Another entire year of waiting for the second half of Breaking Bad season 5. :(
Flippy Floppy Hat.

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. 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.