Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 27 Paint

Started working on another one tonight. This time I'm doing incremental saves at different progress points. I started with a favorite thumbnail I've had laying around for more than a year:

Open in Painter, lift image to its own layer, set to Multiply, then block in base colors on Canvas layer:

Block in foreground balcony and some rooftops in the midground, create slight gradient on ground (darkens with distance):

Add more rooftops out to shoreline, select rooftops with Magic Wand and repeat gradient to distance:

Add some ground light sources with Glow brush - brightest spot will be the focal point of the image:

Add light to foreground balcony, also some to distant tall buildings:

Final step for tonight, add two figures on the balcony

The brightest light in the image is only about a 25% value - not even close to white. None of the other lights is brighter than 50%. I'm trying to make my #1 read be the character whose head is in front of the bright light, #2 should be the other character near the doorway approaching the main character, and #3 should take the viewer's eye on a little tour of the city lights before coming right back to the #1 read.

I'm thinking that with the #1 read being fairly close to the horizontal center, I'm probably going to want to move the distant tall building right above him over to the left some - getting too much of a vertical line there I think.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

May 22 Speed Paint

Did this last night in about an hour:

After buying and watching Whit Brachna's environment video from Massive Black, I was bummed that he changed the submarine to a boiler by the end of it, so I decided to give the sub its day in the sun. Or in the dark sub maintenance bay. I like submarines, they're pretty cool.

Needs more detail. I'll have to put in another hour or two this weekend.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Tonight's paint

This was a busy weekend, but got some paint time in, which is good:

This is from a thumbnail I've had laying around for at least a year. I wanted to get the values down before going color. Trying to prep myself for an environment class I'll be taking starting in a few weeks. It's some kind of large reception room; there's a procession coming in to meet someone by the windows.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

At the Airport

Speed paint from life, about 1 hour:

I don't get to do this often. Actually, I've never been able to do this before! I had a long wait for my plane in Manchester NH, so I set up in the Sam Adams pub there - where they not only have a whole wall of convenient outlets and seats for computer users, but free WiFi in the whole airport, bravo! - and painted. Very complex lighting situation, multiple daylight and artificial sources, I didn't quite nail it, but for the first time I think it looks okay.

Of course, then I see stuff like this, and like this, and I wanna bang my head against the wall...

Oh, also, my entry did not make the top 50 cut for Dominance War. Oh well. Now I can do some tweaks to it that friends have suggested, and make it better for my portfolio.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Did a little speed paint this weekend, just finished it up. About 2.5 hours or so cuz I stopped to look at it and think a lot:

Those guys are probably in big trouble.

Gotta do more of these. Grind, grind, level up. Trying to do more of them for work even when they don't ask for it.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dominance War: All Together

Here's all three final images in a single post just to make it easy.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Model Sheet Complete!

Aaaand, I'm done! Here's the model sheet:

I'm happy with this entry. Hope the judges like it too... but even if they don't, it's a nice piece for the portfolio.

Ahh. West and wewaxation at wast. :D

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DWIII Concept Sheet

Here's the concept sheet that the contest requires.

I kinda did it backwards, I made this sheet after I finished the painting, though I had most of these sketches done separately. As long as it's done, heh. :)

Now, lunch. Then right after, I gotta do the ortho-view modeling sheet. Almost there!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Painting Complete!

Here's the final image:

Rock. I like being finished. Oh, except that I have to put together a concept art sheet and a modeling turnaround sheet for it. I'm gonna do that tomorrow though.

Finally, I'm actually happy with a painting.

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Gaining Momentum

Today's progress:

You really have to click on the image to see how the cracks and refraction work on the sphere. Took a while to figure out how to do it but once I did it went very fast. Not that much left to do, really... from here, it's all downhill.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Polished my Gnomes

OK, now I feel like I'm getting somewhere:

The gnomes are all done. This is a good thing. I only have a couple more things to do to finish this piece - the girl is pretty much done too. I need to put some things in her hands and then do some crystal effects to the sphere. Last will be a little bit of lighting effect, and that's it. Maybe another 3 hours total work, on top of roughly 8 so far.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Dominance War

Here's where I'm at on the DW piece:

I'm still too damn slow. But it's getting closer. I decided that rather than painting all the gnome faces from scratch, I'd duplicate the one I had and then make changes to the copies. Much faster. I sometimes fail to remember all the sneaky "speed it up" tricks that one can use in digital, and wind up noodling too much.

At this point the gold thing is done, the girl is nearly done, and the gnomes are taking shape. Once I get the gnomes done, the final stuff will go very fast as it's mostly FX.

Update: HOLY CRAP, somehow the news never reached me that I had to do more than just start a thread on CGTalk to actually enter the contest. I was poking around the DW home site and saw that my image was nowhere to be found among the entries... then found some instructions that I had never seen before. I've followed them, uploaded an image and info... hopefully it will get set up properly.

Whew, I'm sure glad I saw that. Woulda really sucked to do all that work and have it not count.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dominance War

Here's where I'm at on my Dominance War piece:

I've only had the chance to put in about 3 hours total but actually I think my progress is good. I'm not going to render this to super-pixel perfection, because it's to be submitted at a pretty small size, 1000px square. I'm working at 3X that size so it will rez down nicely. It's gonna be a lot less work than the Artspace entry... thank goodness.

Here's the first progress shot, after 1.5 hours:

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

NVArtspace Entry

I got my Artspace entry in, just in time:

Here's the full entry thread with some comments and progress images.

Next: Dominance War III!


Monday, January 07, 2008

Lots of Airplanes

Yep, still doing airplanes.

This one's a bigger version of one of the little ones from the older sketches. It's a little off at the front, but practice practice practice...

Also still continuing my quest for the supersonic propeller plane:

These props are much more like what you'd actually need for a supersonic propeller. My research says that it's pretty much impossible to go supersonic with a piston-engine plane, so all these need to be turboprops, powered by jet engines spinning the propellers.

These are drawn much bigger than my usual sketches, I got a pad of 14x17 newsprint so I could sketch big. It seems to make a difference, I can use my whole arm to draw so it feels good and I can do precise lines more smoothly. Can't scan 'em tho, so these are photos with my digital camera. They've got some lens distortion... ah well.

I also played around with Sketchup this weekend. I started drawing an environment sketch, and kinda liked one of the buildings, so I decided to try modeling it. It's kind of a futuristic elevated train station:

Heres a view from one end into the platform:

Sketchup is fun and quick and pretty easy to use, mostly. There are some things that are a bit odd about how it works, sometimes it's not snapping to the points you want it to, but you can't tell until you've created a bunch of geometry and you realize it's just SLIGHTLY off - like you delete something that shouldn't be attached to anything, and something unexpected also disappears because it is actually attached. Seems like it pays to hide any geometry you're not actually working on.

Still, it's powerful and fast and you can make pretty complex stuff with it. And you can't beat the price - FREE!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Master Copy

Over the holidays I had some art time, yay! I did a bunch of sketching. Also, I did a fun thing, a "master copy" of a Syd Mead piece, the one that's featured on his Gnomon DVDs.
Specifically, I followed along with the Step 3: Color Preliminary DVD.

Here's a shot of Mr. Mead's final for comparison:

You can see I didn't nail it exactly, the color of the stone is off and the vehicle proportions are wrong. I wasn't really trying to perfectly duplicate this, I just wanted to try painting with gouache, which is what Mr. Mead has used for his whole career. It's a very different thing, painting with a brush on art board, compared to digital, and completely new to me; I've never used gouache before ever. Rather than try to learn the paint while also struggling to design a nice image, I decided to copy this one.

It's a standard practice among art students to do master copies, and I sure learned a lot from it. It was fun! Gouache is reputed to be really difficult to work with, but I didn't find it too hard once I got going. The key thing is the consistency or thickness of the paint. If it's too dry and gooey, it doesn't spread well and gets lumpy. If it's too wet and thin, it can lift up any color beneath it and cause bleeding. There's a definite sweet spot where the paint is just right, and that's sort of hard to hit unless you mix up a big batch of whatever color you're using, rather than mixing small amounts on your palette.

Here's some details:

Compare to a similar detail from Mr. Mead's piece:

A couple more of my details:

So that was really enjoyable, I have to do some more pieces with gouache. Next time I'll try something I design myself.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

More Sketches

Yep, more sketches. I have a lot more than these but I can't really put them all online. Most of them are pretty boring exercises in construction or light and shade (or both), kinda like this one:

Doing a lot of airplanes, because I've been watching the Scott Robertson DVD on aircraft. Mine are not so fanciful as his. However, airplanes are excellent practice for drawing 3D forms with accurate perspective.

Pulled one of these planes out and cleaned it up on tracing paper:

I traced this plane off a very messy scribbly sheet of sketching, I liked the shape:

So I went ahead and did a more elaborate drawing, which turned out with parts that aren't right:

Somewhere during this drawing, I came up with a sort of story idea where this plane is going to try to be the first prop-driven aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight. Actually I think that may be physically impossible (though it was apparently done a few times in steep crash dives during WWII), but it's a fun sort of romantic extension to the old prop-plane/barnstormer sort of tradition. So this is a plane that's got a really huge powerful engine with two counter-rotating props to partially offset the massive engine torque, and some fancy swept-serrated wings like a jet fighter, with control surfaces that are more like modern supersonic fighters - the older control surface systems don't work well up around and beyond 1.0 Mach because the physical airflow forces are much different from subsonic flight. But I digress...

Anyway, I could see that the drawing was off, so I laid out a more formal perspective grid and got it more accurate:

I guess it's hard to see since this isn't a completed line drawing, but the wing on the right was too long in the first drawing, and some of the details at the front weren't in proper perspective. I tried to correct all that. I spend a lot of time trying to get the prop ellipses right drawing by hand; I don't have ellipse guides that big (this sketch fills a sheet of 9x12 marker paper) so I'm gonna have to check them in Illustrator or something.

Eventually I wound up with this side view, which I rendered quickly with marker:

I'm still gonna go back and work the previous sketch, most likely doing a layout in Illustrator and then ink drawing in Painter. Might go on to do a full photo-real rendering too.

I was also watching my Syd Mead DVDs again, and among other little drawing notes, I made a couple of "master copies" of the "Sport Hypervan in the DuPierre Equine Courtyard" image value comps:

The Hypervan isn't really drawn in the right proportions, but these were still fun, quick and good exercises. Someday I'll have that kind of layout and design sense...

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sketchy Dumpy

As you know I'm working hard on rebooting core skills, so I've been doing a lot of sketching. Basically I'm working from the Gnomon Scott Robertson DVDs, the ones on basic perspective drawing and shading. This week, mostly on the perspective stuff. Here's some of the better pages:

Getting the ellipses right in freehand is really hard, but it's something I have to master. You can see the wheels on the car above aren't quite right, and the prop on the shaded airplane in the next image up is off. I'll take these into my programs and correct them so I know where I messed up.

All circles drawn in perspective become ellipses; so for things like wheels and any other circular item you have to master nailing exactly how the ellipse looks in that view or it's just off. Even people who know nothing about this sort of drawing know that the wheels are off, because we all see wheels every day... so this ain't something you can slack on. Of course I can nail them digitally, but that's too easy. :)

I really like the plane on the right in the next-to-last image, that came out really well. For that one I drew the prop ellipse first, using an ellipse template; see how much more "right" it looks?

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday is Art Night: More City Gates

I decided that tonight was going to be "Art Night," and that I was just gonna come home, eat a quick dinner and then crank on some arting. Here's the results as of 10:30pm:

First, a bit of warmup...

Working on making 3D cubes and then lighting them properly. It's good warmup for my hands. I recently noticed that I hold a pencil or pen differently from how I hold my digital tablet stylus; the stylus is thicker so I wind up with my first and second finger both on the barrel, as opposed to only the first finger. I find that I grip a pen or pencil much, much harder, but if I instead hold it like my stylus, my grip immediately loosens - which smooths out my lines considerably. Too much muscle tension is bad, can even cause carpal tunnel.

Then, I put about 90 minutes into the City Gates color pass, while running the Syd Mead color preliminary DVD in the background...

I think it's starting to look a lot better. Now that I'm putting in these saturated greens in the foreground, the middle ground of the gate structure is looking a bit too sharply defined and saturated. I'm gonna have to knock that back to give some distance, some atmospheric perspective. It needs to look halfway between the far buildings and the foreground. It's actually quite some distance away, the inside of the tunnel roof is something like 30 or 35 meters high so it's gotta be around a kilometer away from our viewpoint. Each of those horizontal bars to either side of the rounded gate is a balcony, so the walls are about 7 or 8 stories tall.

It's nice to get some stuff done. I'm gonna spend a little more time tonight just sketching.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

City Gates, some headway

I was able to get a bit done on the City Gates painting in a couple of sessions, one 2 weeks ago and one last night at the CAPS meeting. Still quite a ways to go but at least there's some progress happening. This is the one that I'm doing in a digital version of the Syd Mead method, previous posts here: sketch & grayscale, detail line art.

It was nice to get some stuff done on this...