Monday, December 12, 2011

Mexican Sugar Skull

This is a design I made for my friend Stephanie who skates on the the Mid-Iowa Rollers derby team. Her number is 311 and her derby name, celebrating her Mexican heritage, is Mex-Rated. I've always liked Mexican Sugar Skull designs and I thought this would be a fun side project.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shards #3

Another abstract piece finished today! I'm really digging this style. I like the repeating patterns, texture, depth, and the fact that I'm not trying to tightly render a particular form. It's a very cathartic exercise for me to help me loosen up a bit.

Shards #2

I knocked this one out on Sunday evening right after finishing Shards #1. It's inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian, but I tried to make it a style of my own. Photoshop CS5.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shards #1 Finished

I "finished" my latest abstract piece. I love the angled brushes I created to help give this one some life and energy! I'm very happy with it. I'll try printing it out tonight.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Abstract: Shards #1, WIP 1

This is a new digital abstract piece I just started in Photoshop. I was fooling around with a base of warm colors and created a new textured triangular shaped brush. I've spent about 15 minutes on it so far. I think it's a good base from which to start.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fight the Giant - Finished!

After spending way too long on this one, I'm finally done. I moved the giant up and shrunk the warrior down a little bit to add some space between the two. It looked like the two figures were standing way too close to each other.

I added some grime and wounds to the warrior, and a broken sword on the ground. I also opened up the sky a bit more so that the scene lighting made more sense. A few more background tweaks and I called it finished!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fight the Giant, WIP #6

I'm almost finished. I decided I didn't like the giant's mouth. It was just... weird. So, painting on a new layer, I gave him a huge gaping monkey-mouth spewing a loud battle cry. I think it works much better. There was also this weird thing going on with his torso muscles (see previous post); they were all wonky so I fixed that as well.

That background was giving me trouble, but I think I finally nailed it. Now I just need to paint a broken sword on the ground, give the soldier more grime and I think I got it.

The only thing I'm not sure of is the lighting. I think the lighting on the warrior might be all wrong. It seems like he should be much darker, being in the foreground. Especially since he's backlit, which wasn't originally planned, but I went with it because love how it works with the rim light on the giant. I just don't feel like re-painting the warrior, but maybe I need to if for no other reason than to not let my renderings get too "precious" to me. Plus it's not like I'm on a deadline or anything.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fight the Giant, WIP #5

I suck at backgrounds, or at least doing them quickly. I seriously think I need to just sit outside for multiple sessions and draw landscapes. It's the middle ground I have problems with. I just sometimes have trouble connecting it to the fore/background. On some occasions I just fog it in with atmospherics or smoke, but I can't always do that.

The composition felt cramped so I opened it up a bit by increasing the width. This also allowed me to shuffle the characters around somewhat. After playing with the horizon line (something that should be established from the beginning, duh) I introduced a more believable perspective. Now I need to fix the giant's left shin and foot because earlier it was obscured by the warrior and thus ignored.

I'm closing in on it! I think if I have sufficient downtime tomorrow I can finish this thing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fight the Giant, WIP #4

I've added color and reduced everything to three layers: background, giant and warrior. I reworked the warrior's leg and arm muscles and shifted the position of the giant's right leg. I'm still not sure what to do with the giant's eyes. Still, I like how it's progressing.

Snowboarder Vector Art

At work this week I was tasked to create a series of video-game type images of a snowboarder at a 45-degree overhead view in three positions: going straight, steering left, and steering right.
I started out with a pencil drawing in my moleskine sketchbook and threw it on the scanner. I placed the image in Adobe Illustrator and created vector "ink" line art by tracing over my sketch with the pen tool. I love the Stroke Width tool in Illustrator CS5! It lets you have total control over the line thickness at any position along the path.

I could have simply rotated the snowboarder left and right to get the other two poses, but that's bush league and I'm better than that. I made two copies of the line art and scaled, rotated and otherwise modified my paths to create the other two poses. The limb positions and perspective are more realistic this way.

I copied the line art and converted it all to Live Paint groups. Then it was just a matter of dropping in color fills with the Live Paint Bucket tool. After expanding the LP groups I was able to tweak the individual gradients on the helmet and goggles. The snowboards are all on a separate layer beneath everything; I just skewed it a couple times. Done!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fight the Giant, WIP #3

Goddamn arm muscles. I always seem to have trouble drawing them. And leg muscles. And anatomy in general. Since I'm not working from a live model or photoreference I have to invent the pose, and that can require a lot of imagination and reliance on knowledge of anatomy and muscle structure.

So here's the latest work in progress. I completely reworked the warrior's pose, and now I think it's much better. Now that I have everything generally where I want it I'll start adding some details here and there and working smaller. Pretty soon I'll start adding color.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bearshear Hall, Iowa State University

A drawing of Bearshear Hall at Iowa State University. I've wanted to do a series of drawings of some of the old buildings on campus and I thought I'd start with this one. I like the composition and the ink/marker combination worked well. I hate adding watermarks to images, but I don't trust Google not to distribute this one as per their terms of use (refer to section 11).

Ink and Copic marker on bristol.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fight the Giant, part 1

Started on a new fantasy illustration piece this week. I don't plan on spending as long on this one as I did for the Artifact. I wanted to start out as a 10-hour speedpainting, but as usual I've gotten caught up in some details. I think I need to start forcing myself to meet a certain deadline and once it's there, the project is finished and I'm not allowed to continue it. Does that make sense?

Monday, August 8, 2011

New (sort of) abstract piece

I just updated a digital 3D abstract composition that I had worked on a few years ago. I really liked this one and wanted to print it in large format, but my original render was only like 4000 pixels wide. So I rendered a new image at over 12,000 px and I plan on printing it on Epson canvas. If I can get that to work. The last attempt was a disaster and I had to RMA my Epson R1900 after wasting an entire roll. It's a long story.

At any rate I figured as long as I was rendering this one again I might try a different approach to some shape and texture overlays.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chainring Tree

I finished another design project this week. I don't have any tattoos, but if I did this design might be a likely candidate. I also think it would make a cool T-shirt design. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

UPDATE: I submitted the design to Threadless. help me get it printed by scoring it!
Bicycle Tree - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Artifact - Finished!

This one took more than a few hours. After much work, learning from trial and error, and probably too much nitpicking I'm ready to call it finished. All I can say is that I'm very happy with it. Here are some details:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Artifact - Stage 4

It's been a while since I posted an update, but I've been busy with paying freelance projects lately. Here's the latest update on the Artifact painting.

So... first thing is that I took a lot of time figuring out how I wanted to render the cave entrance. I tried several different forms and iterations, none of them satisfying. Painting rocks and boulders is harder than it seems. I need a LOT more practice on those forms. The cave is still not even close to being finished, though.

Next, someone told me that the artifact that the thief was holding reminded them of the Shake Weight. That pretty much ruined that for me; I couldn't not think of that every time I looked at the painting. So I decided to change it to an orb-shaped artifact. Then I got the idea of the artifact "activating" somehow, and merging with the thief's arm, changing him in some fashion. Voila! The story changes, and suddenly all hope is not lost for our characters. What his transformation involves, I'll leave up to you.

Now, the monster's arms. I decided I wanted the fleshy part to be smooth and shiny, much like the skin of an amphibian. Rendering glossy surfaces against a cloudy, backlit sky is super tough. You have to pay attention to where the light is coming from, where it's bouncing, and what is reflected on the surface of the material, which more than likely generates a Fresnel effect, making it more reflective at glancing angles. That shit is difficult.

I've also decided that I don't like the intermediate spiky-looking shell joints of the monsters arms, so I'm working on a way to eliminate them and connect the fleshy forearms directly to the patterned shell, which I like very much.

I'm still happy with where this is going, and I'm learning more with every brushstroke. This painting is taking forever, though, and I'm looking forward to its conclusion.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Artifact - 3D Anaglyph?!

Alright, now this is just crazy.

Since I'm painting my characters and background elements on separate layers, I had an idea that it would be fun to process this painting as a 3D anaglyph image. This test image is very crude; the characters are all in their own flat two-dimensional plane so they look like cardboard cutouts. I think to make this possible and realistic I would have to use the Puppet Warp Tool in Photoshop. This way I could adjust the perspective angle of, say, the barbarian's sword and the archer's bow.

The basic technique is to have two sets of layers, one for each "eye." Each set will contain a Levels adjustment layer. The red set, viewable only to the left eye, will be positioned slightly to the right. The blue set, viewable only to the right eye, will be shifted to the left. The amount of distance between the two is proportional to how far the object is from the camera.

I already managed to make the ground plane appear as though it's receding into the distance. This was accomplished by applying a skew transformation to the ground layer. Again, it's very crude and will be more difficult to achieve as I add detail, but so far not a bad start with 30 minutes of layer adjustment.

Oh, and you'll need a set of red-blue 3D glasses to see it properly.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Artifact, Stage 3

I worked mostly on the center character, refining his torso anatomy and trying to match it to the environment lighting. I also tried a rougher approach to shading, using textured, sharper brushes to not make it so "blendy." I don't want it to have an airbrushed look. I prefer more energy and texture in paintings and I'm trying to develop that approach.

I also changed the sword. I feel like this character, being a "barbarian" type, should have a more organic overall design. The previous sword, although a nice inside joke, just didn't fit. Plus I really like this sword much better. It seems to have real weight to it. It's a nice combination of an Arabian scimitar and Japanese katana. A scimitana.

I also started in on the archer's shading. She needs a lot of work. The whole painting does. I'm enjoying it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Artifact, Stage 2

After a lot of screwing around with the line art, it was time to lay in some color. I started with some broad patches of diffuse color and refined it with shading. It took a while to figure out the different skin tones on a cloudy day, but so far it seems to be working well. I still need to rough in the cave entrance. I'll probably bring it closer to the thief character (left) to make his situation look even more hopeless. I plan on constructing it as the roots of a large tree.

I used compound brushes for the background and horizon. My cloud brushes are working well. The tree line needs a lot of work.

I added the two-handed great sword more or less as a joke (see previous postings), but on second thought it doesn't seem to match the character wielding it. I think he might carry more of a curved, organic-shaped blade, or even sword/axe hybrid. Perhaps I'll address that.

Overall I like how the lighting is coming together. These characters are starting to feel more "real" to me. Although now that I look at it again the big guy's head seems too big. I'll fix that for next time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What I did at work today.

Actually, the last couple of days. We need icons for a new project. This afternoon I worked on a generic menu interface, but it's not really interesting enough to post here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Artifact, Stage 1

The characters and composition are set for my latest digital fantasy painting. Hopefully by just the pencil drawing you can tell what's going on. Each figure has been drawn with pencil separately and scanned into Photoshop. I realize the big guy in the center needs some clothing; I'll draw that in digitally because I haven't decided how to dress him. I'll figure something out.
Here's a closeup of the female archer.
And here's the thief.
Check back for more updates! It feels good to be "on the board" as my instructor used to say.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Water Glasses Vector Art

Here is some vector art I made this morning at work. The client needed it for a visual aid. Adobe Illustrator.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Concept art: Female outfits & hair

I'm working on another digital fantasy painting and wanted to figure out the design for a female archer. I wanted to avoid the standard elvish-style outfit but still suggest that this is a fantasy world. I have a female template drawing on file to which I can add clothing and hair if I want to simply work up an outfit. This eliminates the need to constantly redraw a female body every time. Of course, if I'm trying to nail down characteristics like race/species, attitude and so forth, then I have to start from scratch, but the dress-up doll approach is a handy tool for stuff like this.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Holding Hands #1

It's good to be drawing regularly again after a stretch of just "being too busy," which I'm aware is no excuse. I think as an artist you ignore your basic drawing skills at your peril. This is Prismacolor pencil on toned paper. I used white for the highlights, burnt sienna for the shading and Tuscan red for the darkest values. I love how this one came out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Amy at Border's

Graphite on moleskine sketchbook paper.

Jimi Hendrix Poster Updated

I was finally getting around to updating my website with the Jimi Hendrix concert poster and decided that his face looked too ashen and gray compared to the rest of the image. This should be a bright, vibrant celebration of music and art. I rendered his face again, this time taking a more loose, colorful approach. However, I found that this came dangerously close to making him look like he slopped a bunch of face paint on, so I added some colorful texture to the shirt, guitar and hair. I think this works much better than the previous draft (see below). I'm calling it done.
Previous version.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jimi Hendrix Concert Poster

This started out as a sketch in a coffee shop; I was looking for something to draw, so I grabbed the Dec. 2010 cover of Vintage Guitar Magazine and started sketching Jimi on the cover. From there I decided I wanted to do a stylish version in Art Nouveau style but with a modern CG twist.

Then I thought it would be fun to redesign an old Hendrix concert poster. This was an actual concert. The dates, location and participating bands are all real. I might do a post that shows the entire process later.