Saturday, 28 November 2015

Portrait Progression

I've recently been doing a self directed course from One of the tasks was to spend 3 hours trying to paint a self portrait so you could observe all the light effectively.

I'm happy with how the portrait came out, but recently a hashtag on Twitter called '#anyonecanimproveatdrawing' has been floating about, and it reminded me of a portrait I had painted of myself a few years back. I thought it might be interesting to show the improvement so here you go:

Friday, 27 November 2015

Sketchbook Vol #1

Since I've moved to London I've made the choice of practicing sketching as often as I can. I've just finished my first book. Here are a few of my favourite sketches, but if you're interested you can download the entire PDF of it for free here:

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Cyberpunk Smuggler

It had been a month or so since I really made a character of my own. I had spent some time travelling around, and during these travels I saw some rather unsavoury characters in a bus station. This made me think about what lead them to this point and sparked an idea for a character.

A smuggler in the not too distant future, someone who's not evil, but not good either. He only defies the law because he can, he's talented, knows it, and doesn't care what's in his way or what his package is.

And so I began sketching.

I wanted to really get this guys character in his pose. I wanted him to feel powerful, and maybe dismissive. After drawing all of these I needed to whittle them down. and make more defined sketches.

These 10 sketches felt like they were going somewhere. Eventually I chose sketch three, as I felt it had the right kind of power and stance that I wanted him to have. So now it's time to detail him.

I may have a thing for robotic arms, I realised as I sketched this. But some of these felt too slim, too 'normal'. I had wanted this guy to be almost parkour like with his attire, form fitting. But it didn't give him the kind of character I was looking for. And so I bulked him up with clothing and items.

Design chosen, now to tidy up and add a back angle for his turnaround.

And at last, colour goes on top. (What my partner had told me at this point however, was how this future tech item he was carrying looked like a pok├ęball... that had to go).

And so we have our final character!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Underwater Ship Station

Another illustration for Numenera.

I was tasked to paint an underwater ship docking station, full of all manner of strange machines, creatures etc. This one certainly had me worrying.

My issue here was that I hadn't done any underwater images before this, the light diffusion was something I was unsure about, and the variety of spaceships, with various angles could very easily resort to unrefined chaos.

As usual though; I did my studies, collected my reference, and pushed on to the thumbnailing.

I personally really liked Number 3. I felt like it had some really nice sweeping motions in it, and the light gave you a prime focus. However it was decided to proceed with Number 1. I felt like I wanted to take some of the factors of the third image into this chosen sketch though, and so I copied the sweeping 'floor' complete with character onto the chosen image.

However, drawing these ships was proving difficult, just as I had feared. Their strange shapes were interfering with my angles. And so to make the process easier, I began quickly sculpting ships in Maya.

I created a more easily readable version of the sketch with the rough linework to show the client. I wanted them to know that the ships were all built and readable as this rough may have proven a bit unreadable otherwise.

The client was pleased with what I had created so far, and I was happy with how the values were coming out. The lights on the ship were really selling the underwater diffusion.

And so I went to tidy up the greyscale:

Next it was time for the colour. Luckily this proved to be quite a simple choice.

It was still a bit messy, but before you knew it, after some tidying up we had a final image:

Friday, 13 November 2015


This was created for another tabletop RPG. The brief was to paint a brilliant white mountainous iceberg with some strange machinery frozen into it. Complete with strange dragon-sized bird monsters around it.

I sent in the following 4 roughs first.

I wanted the design to focus mostly on the iceberg and the machinery. I was afraid that otherwise it would have been too busy a composition. However I was asked to increase the birds size and to go with image 4. And so I created this:

Happy with the current design I proceeded to refine this image, I wanted the machinery to look alien, but not break up the composition too much.

I had flipped the image and worked in the greyscale as a way to make sure the image worked correctly. I've found flipping an image can reset the eyes and really make any issues stand out. With this I proceeded to add the colour, to what I hoped would be a finished product.

However, there was an issue. We now needed to have this machinery literally frozen inside this glacier. Luckily, because I had already designed most of the machinery and it was all digital, this could be rectified very quickly.

What I didn't know however was just how covered up they wanted this object to be. Too little and it might not look frozen at all, too much and it might not be visible at all.

I proposed the following images:

With the selection made I pushed on to the final image:

Thanks for taking a look at my process!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Monster Hunter Design - Oryctomus (Armour)

Following on from the previous post about my recent Monster Hunter design (which can be found here: Oryctomus Design), I'll be focusing this post on the armour made from this creatures hide.

The armours in Monster Hunter take on the characteristics of the monster they're created from. Some are more obvious than others in their designs, but each either feature some design element from the monster itself, or a representation of how that monster attacks. The armours also come in two variations, Blademaster and Gunner.

Blademaster is heavier armour, used for high defense, and almost always looks sturdier than the Gunner variation.

The Gunner variation uses more stylistic aspects and often has weaker armour, used mostly for long range characters who'd rather not get up close and personal with a monster.

I began sketching designs for both gunner and blademaster variations, both male and female.

As you can see, the focal point I had used for these designs was the Oryctomus' signature head flint, as well as more fur armour, to distinguish this armour from the more metalic and reptilian hides I see in many other designs.

Now it was time to further cut down to the final design I was going to use in my armour showcase.

Using the same colour scheme of the monster I selected these 4 designs. However there was one design I felt had the bulk of the monster and had a more interesting silhouette than the others. With my final design selected, it was time to finalize this design. And create a turnaround for it.

And this is the armour created from the Oryctomus. I hope you like it!

Monster Hunter Design - Oryctomus (Creature)

So recently I had spent some time asking for portfolio reviews. One criticism I had was that not much of my designs seemed clean enough for modellers to use. I was guided towards the Monster Hunter artbooks (ones I already owned a loved), and was told they had very good examples of clean work, and excellent design.

With this I decided to kill several birds with one stone. Getting clean work, turnarounds, and also one character and creature design out of it. For this post however I'll be focusing mostly on the creature, as before you can build the armour for Monster Hunter, you must have a monster to carve its hide from. (If you want to skip this and go to the armour however, just click the following link: Oryctomus Armour)

I began by sketching down some general shapes for the monster. My original idea was to have a more mammalian design, as much of the creature in Monster Hunter are typically Reptilian. Perhaps something along the lines of an Aardvark or Anteater.

Once I had a shape I liked I further tweaked it, making sure I had a design I liked, but checking other possibilities as well, in case there was something I missed.

I now needed to begin working this into a turnaround sheet. Detailing the creature and giving me the basis for the rest of the work to come.

The problem I had with these designs were, there wasn't a strong silhouette. I knew I wanted this creature to have a very pronounced head crest of flint, but it all felt a bit choppy, not quite right. And so after playing with his silhouette. Making the head more square I had the following basic design.

Now things were really kicking off. I had my monster, now I just needed to depict it in a way that could fully display how it was built, how it walked, ate, and ultimately, attacked.

Figuring out both what this creature looked like on the inside, as well as the outside were incredibly important. A creature that gets build like this has to be fully functional. Although I had wanted Aardvarks and Anteaters to be it's main inspiration, most of it's anatomy came from rats and birds.

Now I had finalized it's design, both inside and outside I could begin working on turnarounds for potential modellers to work off of.
An incredibly important aspect of Monster Hunter is the damaging of the Monsters. The player has to understand the way a Monster is receiving damage through the use of telegraphing. I wanted my creature to be rewarding tactically too. Having certain areas damaged would reduce its range of attacks for instance. So my idea for this monster to use it's tail much like a matchstick for something flammable, removing said tail would thus make your experience rewarding and safer.

With my monster essentially designed, I now needed to give it a name, and a beauty pose. I chose the name 'Oryctomus'. Based on the Aardvarks latin name being ‘Orycteropus afer‘, combined with ‘mus’ (latin for mouse). Therefore 'Oryctomus'

I had originally wanted this sketch to be a full battle scene. But I was worried this might muddy up the design, and I wanted to represent its actions alongside this image also.

Taking those into consideration I ended up with this final image:

You can find more on the Orytomus' design pages and the armour here: