Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Send help!

Wow. The past week has just been a maelstrom of tasks. I've been making it my spring semester goal to draw an average of twelve hours a day and with all the projects lately it's been hard to find a way NOT to draw at least 12 hours a day. Usually it's start drawing by 8am, finish drawing before midnight, eat when I remember to. But hey, it's got to be good for skills, right? Right? ....Guys?

Between classes and personal projects the planets have aligned in such a way that all I do is thumbnail lately. Thumbnails forever, thumbnail until YOU LOVE IT. Seriously, getting a little punchy here. What were we talking about?

Ah yes. Thumbs. So earlier this year I mentioned that I and a couple of mates started a club and out project is adapting The Old Man and the Sea for video games. Weird concept, I'm sure Hemingway is doing backflips in his grave over this one. Funny thing is, I think it would actually be a pretty sweet game the way I'm doing it. The specifics are in one of the posts below, but I did some inspiration boards today.

I have mixed feelings on open world exploration type games, because I'm all about the story, but I think that for what I'm doing a Shadow of the Colossus type approach is really spot on for the material. It reminds me of wandering the dune sea in SWTOR, or even in Uncharted 3. The desert can be very powerful and beautiful. With the right backdrop, music and random encounters what fun that sort of world could be. I haven't played Journey, but I wonder if it's a similar concept.

As part of my Visual Development class we were given an exercise. Usually I don't care for exercises too much to be completely honest. They're often "for your own good" sort of things that really ARE beneficial but also time consuming and horrendous. (I recently had to draw 100 cubes from different angles. It gets old quickly, let me tell you.) This one was really fun though, here's how it works:

Write down 6 emotions. Write down 6 place types. Write down 6 occupations. Then, roll a d6 for each list and do a thumbnail of a character that embodies all three words. It can be pretty hilarious, the combinations. Reminds me of dwarf fortress! (Crafty unicorn steaks anyone?) The top two rows are from that exercise and it was really pretty awesome! I would do it again, for kicks. Also good for brainstorming when the creativity isn't flowing naturally, so that was really great.

Then I did some silhouettes of soldier guys because I thought it'd be a good personal exercise. Then I thought about it and remembered how lady soldiers always seem to get ripped off, so I did some of those too. Armor for ladies is harder though, hard to still make them look like ladies while also making them look appropriately soldiery.

I'm also continuing work on my 3 part props for a game puzzle. I'm doing a reactor that powers a futuristic lab facility. The reactor gets sabotaged and the PC has to locate a vile of the reagent (volatile), get it back to the reactor and insert it to restart the power. The hose lines also need to be reconnected in the correct order, so the props are the reactor, the reagent/ transport vile, and a tool to reconnect the lines. It's coming along, hoping to have it finalized and colored by the weekend.

Finally, I decided to do a character speed paint last Monday for a change. I did it from imagination, wanted to make a spacey bounty hunter type character:

I like the red one, but my friend said it looked like Samus Aran. I guess you just can't do a spacey woman in red without someone thinking it looks Metroid. There are issues, but I finished it in just under three hours with no references, so I'm kind of proud. I like to usually use some kind of reference, just for inspiration. I went into this one not really sure what I was going to do and just sort of let it happen and I'm reasonably happy with the results.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More thumbnails/ odds & ends

This semester myself and a couple other students started a concept art club with the goal of making a yearly publication for visual development students to showcase their work on a united project. Our first theme was chosen by one of my co-founders, and the theme is The Old Man and the Sea.

What is fun about our project is that we are each allowed to interpret the story however we like, as long as the key themes are honored. I'm resetting The Old Man and the Sea in a technological fantasy setting - my old man is part of a desert nomadic community. Instead of fishing for marlin, each day he goes out into the desert and hunts for M.A.R.L.I.N class robots, leftover technology from a bygone age which his people scavenge parts from to maintain their life in the harsh desert.

I've been doing a lot of thumbnails thinking about what elements are most inspirational. I've taken things from Kazakh costumes, cowboys, Nepalese herders, and a lot from my own imagination. The sharks that eat the old man's marlin in my story will be portrayed by a predatory class of robot, so when I designed him I thought it would be neat if he'd lost his legs to one of these robots previously and fashioned new ones from robot parts. (Maybe he hunted the machine that took his legs and took its parts as revenge!)

basic thumbs, hair style options
I've been watching Feng Zhu tutorials from time to time as I work. I like having noise in the background, but sometimes I find tv shows to be too distracting. I guess I figure if I'm going to distract myself, it might as well be with drawing tutorials. He has a neat thumbnailing process where he goes back into his silhouette shapes with greys to flesh things out. This seems extremely useful, both as a conceptual process and as help to a modeler so I thought I'd try it out.

I think they came out all right. I want to practice this style more. After that I picked some elements I liked and started messing around with clothing, but I didn't care for the results much:

keeping the silhouette uniform, but changing the costuming

So, I went back to thumbnailing a little more...

When in doubt, more thumbnails?
I'm liking some of these better. I'm not sure if I'm totally committed to any one idea yet, but I figured I'd take the plunge and start a color version of some of the ideas I like best.

I think the legs are coming out a little stiffer in this version than I like, and my friend said they look a little too much like golf clubs, ha! So... still room for improvement. But I think I'm starting to get somewhere with the concept now. I haven really finalized the coloring or the concept at this point. I spend a lot of time on environments, so I feel like I'm weaker when it comes to painting the figure and I should work at that too.

And, a a couple speed paints from the week. Working on improving organic things, plants etc.

Spooky jungle ruins, 2 hours
Is it wrong to admit I did this during a class lecture? The shouldn't hold a lecture class in a cintiq lab. I CAN'T STOP MYSELF.

Horses are hard, 3 hours
I drew horses a lot as a kid, you'd think I'd be better at them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

So I hear you like thumbnails

...Actually I have no idea what you like. Do you like thumbnails? Because the soup d'jour is thumbnails.

I've been working on an interpretation of Old Man and the Sea for a club project. I'm resetting the story in a location where the old man is a member of a desert steppe village and hunts rogue AI machines with a harpoon gun on some kind of sand ship. It's not really a concrete idea yet, but I think it's going to be sort of a technological fantasy. I like the idea of a lone elderly hunter taking down killer robots with a harpoon gun, something about that resonates with me as especially bad ass.

So... I looked at a lot of references of fishermen. I wanted him to be ripped, but in a 65 year old sort of way. I was surprised at the sort of guns for find on older guys who haul nets for a living. I'm not sure we know much about the Old Man's past, but I like the idea that he was attacked by a robot  resulting in the loss of his leg(s) and so he tracked that robot across the dune sea, slew it and used it's legs for a prosthesis. A leg for a leg!

Also I've been doing some robots. I have three separate projects right now involving robots of different types so it's looking to be semester of the robot. Probably good for me. Girls don't usually grow up drawing robots, they grow up drawing horses and stuff. Oh wait, I'm rubbish at horses too. I'll just show myself out now.


So, just a variety. I'll be modeling one in Maya and that needs to be bipedal in a generally humanoid shape. The lower hunter type robots I was thinking of for the above project. Just brainstorming for now.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Props, etc

Well, school started up last week. We recently had an assignment in my hero to take a number of pre-created props and draw them in different angles. The assignment was just line drawings, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice trying some other paint styles and trying to color the props similarly to the originals as well. The only prop I know the artist for is the 4th one down, which is by Dan Ghiordanscu.

 It was actually a pretty challenging task. Line didn't take very long, but the bottom 2 color props took a while to color because I'm not very practiced at the style. It's encouraged me to try to do more of it though, so I can improve.

Other stuff I've been working on... took some of my old thumbnails for a Russian character circa 1812 and did a quick(ish) painting of what I thought were some of the more successful elements. I think it took about 2 hours.

I looked at Justin Sweet a bit earlier and I think that rubbed off.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Speed Paintings

I cooked up some thumbnails the other day. I recently have been looking at Nicholas Bouvier's Structura 2, his work is really inspiring - especially his use of shape and contrast. So with that in mind and a new brush I've been using I did these environment thumbnails.

There are a few of the thumbnails I like particularly, so I've been doing speed paintings based on them. These are faster than my usual speed paintings, more like 1.5-2 hours. The brush I've been using has been a great help, as have Sparth's really informative process tutorials.

1.5 hour painting
2 hour painting