Friday, June 29, 2012

Bear attack and book covers

I finished the bear attack piece. I feel like I made some progress with this one. It was a particularly efficient piece. I think I did a much better job of identifying the 20% of the image where I wanted viewers to focus and playing down the rest. It's ofcourse a lot easier to do with fewer characters and the last 2 pieces had a lot of characters in them and were a bit difficult to group in any meaningful way.

I haven't read a science fiction/fantasy book in a long time but yesterday I found myself shopping for one for probably the first time in a couple years. Maybe even a decade. I found myself FAR more drawn to the young adult books from their covers rather than the adult ones that I felt I should be looking at. All of the adult ones use a super realistic style and for some reason I just didn't find them exciting. Then it occurred to me that that's obviously what art directors are looking to purchase for this audience so I'm kind of screwed. I don't think I'll ever go that realistic or will even want to but the content of my images are often aimed at that age group I think. Gaming covers are aimed at an older age group I believe but they have less realistic images so I hadn't realized how screwed I am on the literature side of getting clients. So I think if I want to start getting more book covers, that I need to tweek my content/storytelling to target that 15-18yr old crowd more unless I think I can and want to go down the ultra realistic path.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stained Glass

I found a use for a filter!

So I saw somewhere where people sometimes take a photo or piece of art with a palette they like and then use filter>texture>stained glass to create a palette from the file. I thought that would be excellent for helping out with compositions. I know a lot of people use Navigator to get an idea of how their composition is coming along but I still have trouble. I found this technique a little better. Here's a comp and where I went with it. The other illustrations are set in a very green forest/jungle so I ended up pushing everything greener. Ended up changing the pose of the characters to create more of a foreground/middle ground/ background set up. Also here's the palette for another image I'm working on. I may even push the lighted area even more towards white. I've decided my images tend to be too dark so I really want to try to have the lighted area stick to 1-3 value range rather than the 3-5 range that I think I'm prone to. Here's a sketch for another image as well. These three images will complete the RPG project that all of these illustrations have been for.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Zbrush sculpt WIP

work-in-progress. Still rough at this point.
So I'm doing a zbrush sculpt for DSS that will be manufactured as a 45mm figurine. That's nearly 2 inches tall or about the same size of miniatures that people use for board games,etc. So I can't sculpt much detail and it has to be under so many polygons. These screenshots go right up to that number of polygons. So I might have to reduce the number of polygons in the sword and shoulder stuff and get rid of the flames on the ground. There's also probably a simpler way to do the flaming shield.
Either way, after this is used for printing, I think I'll go ahead and raise the polygon count and make an attempt at making it into a full detail sculpt. Maybe I'll even end up doing a polypaint.

Anyways, this is fun. I feel a bit like a kid in the candy store. All of the training and stuff has been worth it. I could live with being hired to do 3D work full-time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cover post-mortem

So I've decided the cover image I posted yesterday was unsuccessful.  I've been banging my head on the wall overnight thinking about what the problems and causes are. The reason being that I think I tried to make the brief something it wasn't instead of going with the flow.
I love monsters. I love developing monster concepts and I haven't gotten to do that in a while. I get this brief and it's a combat scene with a villain and I really wanted to make something of a kind of vanilla villain concept. I felt like the villain was a bit underpowered so I felt a need to scale the fighters down in impressiveness so that the image didn't feel like it was a cow at the slaughterhouse. My interest lied with the villain but the brief wanted the image to be about the heroes and their heroics. Thinking of that aspect of the illustration caused me to want to separate each of them with a heroic act and give each a fair amount of screen time. The original brief asked for 5 heroes if I remember correctly and I talked the client down to 3. So based on the original brief I really wanted make each hero really visible so my grouping choices perhaps could have been better if I didn't feel a need to giver everybody a spotlight.

The result is an image that feels....spotty?

What I Should Have Done

I should have put the camera looking over the villain's shoulder at the heroes flipping and charging in,etc. Or I could have put the camera on the ground looking past the villain's legs at the heroes. Or I could have taken the villain out entirely and have the heroes in profile charging across picture or even running right at camera. I probably made two dozen sketches for this and I think my love for monsters perhaps blinded me from making the right choice.

I think I'm going to try to do more of these write-ups as I really need to get better and I want to do it quickly. Some of these may just be, "render better" or "more attractive rendering and color unity"and then I'll hunt down where somebody did it better.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Still working

I'm still working on this cover. Decided to turn around the female since it makes more sense for wher she's casting. I ended up putting more detail into the giant/barbarian/villain things accessories than I had told myself I was going to. The result is everything probably has a harder edge than it should. I'll be going back and trying to remedy that some.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Next piece WIP

Working on the next piece up in line. I've been fiddling with the colors/composition a ton so I haven't really gotten into the details much besides for the big guy's face and some of his exposed skin. This was the piece I was least excited about out of the bunch but after today I'm looking forward to finishing it up. I think it's to a point where I can follow the 80/20 rule and really render the head areas and some bits on the giant and the rest should get very little attention.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sketch night

Hopefully I'll be posting the progress on the pic with a giant fighting soon. The face turned out nice.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Some quick doodles trying to figure out what kind of head I want on a character in my next image. It's a monster that's kind of just a tall guy. Trying to distort the anatomy to make him more freakish than normal.Whichever one is chosen is going to get a lot of rendering attention. Most of them are just liquify tweeks on one head. One is a pretty normal head. I actually think if the client picks the beard guy that I'm going to have the beard go way more extreme where the beard has parts hanging down to the knees.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


So I think this one is done or at least I'm ready to move on. I came up with this composition and questioned whether I was a mad man. "A tree cutting the image in half? That sounds like an absolutely disastrously bad idea! It's so crazy that I'd have to have big giant harry ones to even attempt it." "Now you're just daring me to do it." "No I assume you're smarter than that." "You don't know me.Me." "I bet you won't make the center of the image into an asterisk." "Damn you I'll do whatever the hell I want."
Then while I'm working on it, it's like that family guy episode. Audio.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Here's a cropped off version of a piece that I'm working on. So this is a little less than half the image. I was hoping to finish it today but it wouldn't cooperate. It should be done tomorrow. This was actually commissioned in greyscale but from now on I'm trying to do everything in color for myself in case it's useful in a portfolio. The rest of the comp has three more characters in it and little critters are going to be added lurking in the environment. It's a complex piece. Starting to feel the financial pinch of putting more time into this stuff and therefor making less money. I have to remember that I expected this. I had forgotten that making little money creates a real sense of anxiety/feeling of lesser worth. Just have to keep my eye on the prize so to speak though and hope these couple of months lead to something great.