Sunday, 2 October 2016

Observational Sketchbook Vol.2

First of all I want to say, sorry for the radio silence. I've recently moved to a new country and begun a job as a concept artist for a start up mobile gaming company and my time has been absolutely eaten away right now. We'll be releasing our first game in a few weeks though, so hopefully you'll be able to see some of the work I've been working away on. I certainly haven't been lazy these past couple months.

Anyway, onto an art update!

I recently finished an observational sketchbook; one that I use for daily studies, life drawing etc, (when I get the time). I'm sharing a few choice pages that I was quite happy with, but for everyone who's interested I've got a free PDF of all of it I'm happy to share.

There's over 100 pages of sketches for free. So if you'd like to see my roughs and how I try to keep myself sharp, take a look:

Friday, 6 May 2016

Emperor of the Taghali Forest

It had been a long time since I entered a 'Character of the Week' contest on I had just recently finished my internship at SIXMOREVODKA and I wanted to test out what skills and techniques I had picked up to see if there had been a noticeable improvement.

This contests topic was to create an Elvish emperor, one who could be seen as both a beloved ruler, but one that could also have whispers of dictatorship. I had originally started wanting to create a more regal looking emperor, but as I drew more I realized how I actually liked the idea of a power hungry warring elf who was willing to crush his enemies mercilessly. And so I started looking more into barbarians and warriors.

It was quite tough trying to marry these two concepts together. A refined ruler, and a bloodthirsty killer. Especially with elvish motifs being so sleek and beautiful. I began looking at the Sylvari of Guild Wars 2 and the Wood elves of Tolkien. I wanted him to look feral and animalistic, and so things like  the horns became prominent due to their imposing nature and regal look.

Once I had a design I liked I began tweaking it somewhat, in order to determine that I had the right combination of items to have the blend of motifs I was looking for. It was also here where I began having to really consider the details of things. And it was one of the earlier face sketches I really had to focus on. I wanted something odd, but not too far from human to look odd. With some more research into Fae and Satyrs I defined his face as somewhat goat-like with a protruding forehead.

Now it was time to line art the design and really nail the idea I had. During this I'll also explain a process I was taught more of during my time at SIXMOREVODKA. See, in order to keep objects clean initially, it's a good idea to have each material, or group of objects (depending on your preference) separated into their own layers. Below you can see more starting to block out the line art with a bright colour, so as to distinguish the edges easily from the line art.

You then separate the materials. Here I show which metals I'd like to have their own layers and use masks to do this non-destructively.

And here is a look at the version of the elf after I have finished my blocking. As you can see, objects like the hair have no such blocking, mostly due to the translucent nature of such objects. With this done I can now begin my value pass.

I think it's important to say that this stage of the process does not have to be perfect. It's important to have the general idea of what you're trying to achieve. But I've personally found that trying to create a perfect value image can often cause time delays and rendering issues. This is mostly due to the fact that there will be a lot of additional lighting and colouring going into the later processes. You may not know what exact colours you want, and these experimentations will naturally result in different values. And the additional lighting can easily create an over/under-exposed image.

This is something I am still learning today, and if you look back further into my old work you will find striking examples of when lighting and colours have gone wrong. And it's usually at this stage that mistakes were made.

Suffice it to say, it is probably best to have a reasonable idea of what you want before you dive in. Really consider it, but in the end adjustments will be made. So try not to get caught up in making it perfect either.

 Now it's time to splash on the colours. I will admit that I had originally intended this to have a more autumn-y colour scheme, with more oranges and browns. But upon re-reading the brief I found that green was supposed to be this characters primary colour. (Let this be a lesson! Always re-read the brief!)

 With the clean copy of this character down now it's time to start making adjustments, adding dirt etc. You'll notice how the lower half of this character suddenly becomes darker in an attempt to draw the viewers eyes toward the focal area of the head.

This is double-y important for this design in particular, as the metal waist designs create arrows that tell the viewer to look down. Originally this caused a lot of distraction to the eye and I decided to wash it out as much as I could without impacting the design to focus the eye.

And finally I showed this to a few people to get their opinions. You can find yourself either seeing things no one else can see, or blind to issues if you have been looking at a painting of your own for too long. So if you have someone available, always try to get a fresh pair of eyes onto your painting, they will see things you will not. In this case it was the height of his left leg, and the fragility of the antler crown attaching to his head.

With these issues fixed we now just throw in some last lighting and detail effects and call it done. I present the Emperor of the Taghali Forest.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Circuits and Shields

This character was a commission for an indie game currently in development. My brief was to create a cocky cyberpunk girl who had the ability to summon knifes of all sizes. I initially drew several sketches to try and get the essence of her character:

Once we picked a pose that best suited her, it was time to start choosing what kind of expression she would have. She needed to be happy and enjoying herself with her newfound powers.

We cut out one of the blades, and I quickly mocked up a sketch of the kind of clothes she might wear to make sure I was heading down the right direction.

 Next I started creating more detailed versions of each outfit, sometimes just mixing and matching parts to try and get as many effective combinations down. Making sure there wasn't one I'd missed in case it proved to be a useful design idea.

 To create the back version of this image I merely flipped the original over and painted on top. However considering the front pose has some element of perspective in it, I rectified this mistake later and made it look more natural.

It was at this stage I also created a more detailed painting of the face, as this would be the focal point of the image.

The issue we currently had with this version of the character was she appeared to be older than we were hoping. The aim was late teens, early twenties. so I softened up some of her features, made her face rounder, and adjusted her proportions accordingly.


Originally the brief was that Inks would have either a robotic arm or glowing tattoos that she used to summon these knives. All sketches up to this point had included a robotic arm, and I made a quick mock up of the tattooed arm. We eventually decided to go with the tattoos, but with a more circuit-like design.

Now it was time to create a clean turnaround to start colouring and adding details onto.


The tattoo went through several variations, whilst detailed circuits might've worked, they cluttered up the design, and considering this model was designed to go low poly in a game it would render it unreadable.

Another issue we had was one arm was mostly concealed, and we didn't have a real 'face' for the modeller to work off. I quickly mocked up a sketch of both and found it worked well enough to work with.

And just a bit of tidying up and we have 'Inks'.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Final Fantasy's 'Bahamut' Redesign's forums often hold a Creature of the Week contest. Many of my older posts from a few years ago were typically revolved around these contests and I can certainly see how much I've developed from my posts back in 2012... It's been a couple years since I last entered though, and with the latest contest sounding as fun as it did I couldn't resist trying to see what I came up with.

This weeks topic was to redesign the Elder Dragon 'Bahamut' from the Final Fantasy series. Bahamut is typically shown as an almost anthropomorphized dragon, with an upright body and large wings. However, I wanted to try spending this time designing a more feral creature.

I started by trying to draw some very strange dragon shapes, adjusting proportions and wing spans. I had an image of a lumbering creature with huge wings and small arms originally.

Eventually I settled on the more typical draconian design, trying to keep the wings the main focus of this silhouette. However I seem realized that this was more wyrm-like, and not as large and bulky as I would have liked.

This design felt much more in line with what I had wanted. A nice reptiallian design, with a solid silhouette and line of action following through the body. The one issue I was worried about detailing however, was the wings. I had a rough copy but this was far from a nice version I could work details and perspective from.

I ended up building a very quick set of wings in Maya and taking several screen shots to make sure I had the angles right. With that down it was time to decide what the face of the dragon would be.

I tried your usual dragon style heads, as well as the more horror types, with beady eyes, or even not any eyes at all.

Now I had my sketch down, and my head designed I threw down some quick values to assign where the focus would be. From here on out it was simply tidying up and making this beast presentable.

And there we have it. A final finished Bahamut Redesign.

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!