Slowly getting back up on the horse. Moving takes some energy and effort yo!
Slow and lazy. I blame Canada.
shapes here, didn't do my friend justice. Sorry! Need to not
be lazy with my shapes, and I have to use selections a bit more, the
edges are lost in the painterly strokes. Too loose and sloppy. Fuck.
Also want to use selections and smooth airbrush and gradients.The colors
suck. Not even close to Dice Tsutsumi. UuuuuuUuuuuggghhhh.
Lot's of traveling the past week... Finally arrived in Quebec to start my new job with Activision/Beenox. So excited! XD
I've been meaning to get better at composition, color and light. Also, I want to be more honest in my illustrations, and speak of that which I know. In that vein, I've been doing little sketches in my sketchbook, which I then turn into sort of color-key-level-paintings which take about a couple of hours. They're real fun! :D
The last friends I met in Sweden before leaving. It's a delight and a privilege to hang out with two such skilled, beautiful, fun and kind people! I don't do them justice.
THU (Trojan Horse was a Unicorn) was an amazing workshop I attended in Troia, outside of Lissabon in Portugal. Had a chance to re-unite with people I love and care about as well as make new friends! Big shout out to the organizers, and be sure to check it out next year.
I was encouraged by some really awesome Pixar/Ex-Pixar dudes to further explore color-keys. So I'm trying to do a few quicker paintings inspired by the people I met and feelings I had, focusing on more cinematic composition, shapes and light.
Inspired by a really sweet street-musician in Lissabon whose performance on this cheap toy-like instrument was very endearing, and someone else.
Me after 2 hours of sleep at the airport. So long!
Awesome Street-dancer. Always a delight to see masterful performances by poppers ;) And there were cats.
Oh, before doing these in color, I tried applying what I learned from the 3-value studies from last time.
Back in June I attended a workshop with the great Nathan Fowkes. One of the exercises he advised if one wants to improve at composition and light, was to take screengrabs from movies and try to break them down into three values. Also checked out Eytan Zana's lovely gumroad-tutorial on graphic composition. It's great. Well, I want to not suck at composition, so here are some attempts at improving. Also aiming to reduce the shape-complexity and introduce subtle shape-stylization. Hmm, it's interesting to blend together the strong shapes of light and shadow, with the local values I'm assigning to the compositional elements themselves. Never thought of it like that before, I usually keep local values and light separated. If you know the movies you get a cookie ;)
Frolic and play :)
Hip-Hop, it really is the best music-genre ;P Word, lot's of love ya'll ;)
District 9 is one of the best movies I've seen. In addition to having a great story, driving home an important message, it's a visual milestone, raising and setting the bar for a lot of contemporary sci-fi design. Here's a feeble attempt at internalizing some of those shapes. I think I should use other, less bristled & painterly, brushes and more selections and gradients when doing hard-surface-stuff.
A lovely lady, as per usual. Attaching some notes on the light and colors which I'm observing.
Here's a study of a sculpt from Skylanders Swap Force. Actually, seeing this post @ Z-Brush-central is mainly what attracted me to Beenox/Activision. Knowing that they were in possession of such skill and taste, and the lure of somehow being part of that, was extremely seductive.
Finally, it might be a lil' while (about a month) before I have a new update. I'm leaving for the Trojan Horse Workshop in Portugal next week, and straight after that I'm taking the flight to Canada. I know from experience that moving takes time, energy and effort, and I might be pre-occupied with finding an apartment and making new friends etc. So, I'll be back ;P
I've been deeply immersed in the post-apocalyptic world of Wasteland. So much fun to design cartoony characters in a relatively dark and gritty setting.
Wrote a story for these dudes, but I can't write, so I deleted it. There. Cole Westwood is my favorite :)
I guess you'll just have to figure out the story with your imagination ;)
Repost, but with the visual template...
Silhouette-check! Are they varied and easily distinguishable from each other? Is the overall shape-language consistent?
I figured I'd attach some of the really rough sketches I do before making the actual drawing. Don't usually show this :) I like to have a clear vision in my head of where I'm going before I invest in a proper lineart, and doing rough sketches is one of the tools.
Photostudies! Shape, shape, shape and shape. I don't know if this is the right way to think, but I'm testing it out.
Mooooaaarrr studies!!! I just lost interest once I reached the face, so meh.
OOooohoho, have I got some treats for you today! :)
Meditative and challenging sketching, focusing on shape-design and line-of-action etc. I can definitely improve with varying my lineweight and including shadowshapes! Feel as if I'm making some slight progress with allowing myself to simplify forms into shapes. Finally got a hold of my favorite pencil, Burnt Carmine Derwent Artist. Kinda pricey though. I like keeping the pencil-tip real sharp, starting the drawing loose and then pressing down very hard on the paper when I'm happy with the initial shapes/gestures and rhythms.
Fairly soon InXile (one of the coolest game-dev studios in the world) will be releasing Wasteland 2 (scheduled September 19th)! As you all know (duuuh ;)) my favorite game of all time is Fallout 2, and Wasteland was the spiritual predecessor to that franchise. From what I can tell from online, it's looking very promising! I felt like drawing (and maybe later painting) my squad of Desert Rangers. Obviously they're not in the style of the game, but who cares. Love for InXile and Brian Fargo! :D
Abe Bronson is the leader of the group. He's charismatic, intelligent, pragmatic and has strong wilderness survival skills. Tank Hollywood is the brute force, she's the most capable melee combatant. I imagine she challenges Abe for the leadership of the group with some frequency, and I envision some sort of sexual tension between the two. Murray Daniels is an engineer and tech-expert who's kinda cowardly. He's around 50 years old, has a "been there, done that" kind of attitude and likes the simple pleasures in life. Finally, Yuki Machida is the firearms expert. She's cocky, enthusiastic and positive. She's motivated by challenges and want to improve her skills at any cost.
Those of you who come here know that I love music, Jazz in particular. With that in mind, I started out with a simple premise; What if the great personalities of jazz existed in a Pixar-world? Trying to capture their likeness, while keeping them cartoon was tough challenge for me. A most frustrating endeavor, I assure you, but the love I have for the characters and their stories made it worth it. I don't know if I managed to get close to capturing their likeness or convey their personality, but I gave it my best shot :).
Jean-Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt, 1910-1953.
A french jazz-guitarist of Romani heritage. He is credited with inventing a new distinctly European style of jazz, known as "Hot" jazz guitar, or "Gypsy Jazz". Oh, and on one of his hands he could only use three of his fingers, because the others had been paralyzed in a fire. He managed to be successful, and avoid being sent off to concentration-camp (because even the nazi-officers loved his music so much), during the Nazi-occupation of Paris.
Chet Baker, 1929-1988.
One of the best trumpet-players I've heard, with a marvelous singing-voice to boot! His style is very melodic, romantic and lyrical. He was a broken human being, with a heavy drug-habit. He would con, manipulate, lie and deceive to get what he wanted, and at one point he got his teeth smashed out by hired thugs, because he owed the wrong person money. He died falling out of a window of a hotel in Holland with a mix of cocaine and heroin in his body.
Sarah Vaughan, 1924-1990.
Also referred to as "The Divine One", her voice makes me shiver with joy. She's got such depth and character. She grew up in a religious family and started practicing music at a very early age and eventually dropped out of high-school to pursue singing. She suffered from stage-fright and was shy in public.
I'm using the very same formula I outlines a couple of posts back, but I spent a bit more time on the Key-light-phase, added a rim-light, and spent more time with the actual painting-phase. One thing I discovered, is that I try to avoid working with brighter values until later, I try to stick with sculpting with mid-tones and shadows. If I go in immediately with highlights, I lose control of the values.
Each character, not counting the failed drawings, took around 10 hours each. With research and failures (which you can't see :) ) I'd say they're around 13-16 hours average.
Another movie I enjoy is The Cooler from 2003, with William H. Macy, Maria Bello and Alec Baldwin. It's a warm and heart-felt story about the relationship of a "cooler", a person who is hired (by the casino) solely to spread bad luck for casino-patrons, and a struggling waitress. I don't think it's for everyone, but for me it really hit a sweetspot. I feel the story armature is something like "you make your own luck", and that sentiment appeals to me real strongly. I'm truly charmed by the characters as well. With these studies, I'm continually reminded how much subtlety is involved with painting faces.
So I've got about one more month before I start working in a studio again (Beenox/Activision). I'm really excited and thrilled, and I also feel that having taken a break from work and freelance since May has been really beneficial for me. I love doing studies, and working away at my weaknesses. Although my self-imposed art exile has taken a toll on my social-life, it's felt thoroughly meaningful and enjoyable nonetheless. Just sayin' :)
More practice of environments. Picture had some really nice shapes, and obvious atmospheric perspective.
Painty-strokey, trying to indicate and imply rather than spell it all out. Love the light, mood, and the story.
Today, chilled out hip-hop beats. This is mainly the kind of music I listen to while drawing and painting. Boom-Bap dope ya'll!!! ;)
I'm occasionally asked how I paint from imagination, and I've sometimes given demos to friends. I figure I'd indulge and try to explain for everyone. Beware, text and pictures ahead!
This process is designed for a reasonably fast and predictable result. It's aimed at beginners who are familiar with photoshop primarily, but might be beneficial for more advanced users as well. It's meant for painting from one's own imagination, and I've reached this process through years of experiments and advice from more senior artists (Adam Ford and Sam Nielson have outlined similar approaches in the past). If I had a reference or model in front, my approach would be different, and I'd focus on getting the right shape, color and value of each stroke from the get-go. Here we're using photoshop as a tool to figure out colors and values. I would like to point out that my process is continually changing as I'm learning new stuff, and what I'm doing here might be obsolete in the near future. Please apply your critical thinking when approaching this, and know that I have merely attained a journeyman level of expertise. If you're serious about learning, check out masters such as Zorn, Sargent, J.C. Leyendecker, Rockwell, Velázquez and Sorolla.
I'm taking the liberty of giving you the PSD-file (reduced in size to 50%). When I fail to express myself in words, perhaps you can find clarity in the file.
I just drew some chicks doing stuff. Talking about drawing is a whole different chapter, and this tutorial is about painting. In short, I try to have some fairly clean lineart which I can use as a foundation. For more about drawing, look at Stan Prokopenko's Youtube Tutorials, check out RadHowto, read Glenn Vilppu's Drawing Manual and Walt Stanchfield's Drawn to Life Vol 1 & 2.
2. Masks and Shadow-Shapes.
I mask out the lineart using the polygonal lasso tool (hold down the command-key (mac) or ctrl (PC, I think) to activate it with the normal lasso-tool)). This creates really hard and crisp edges, and is very fast. I don't know of any faster more accurate way to do this. In marketing-art in particular, the client will often want the characters clearly separated from the background, to be used in different contexts, so we're being preemptive. I do this per default by now.
For the shadows I fill a layer with a solid black, which I then lock into the positive shapes. Now, painting in a layer mask, I use a 100% hard-edged opaque brush to separate between light and shadow. Mentally, I'm trying to imagine doing it roughly like in a Mignola-Painting. Depending on how much of the positve shape I want to be in shadow, I will either paint the shadows or the light, whichever requires the least amount of work. Finally, when I'm done, I change the color of the layer to a midtone purple. I think this looks good, and the purple hue, to the best of my knowledge, is a combination of the ambient color of the scene (which in this case is blue-ish), plus some warm light (from the key-light, the sun (which is actually white but I'm stylizing it warm orange/yellow)) mixing in from bouncing all over the environment. Am I wrong? However, let's say our subject is on Mars, or in Space, the color of the shadow would be different. In this case, Red and Black respectively.
3. Sculpt Shadowshapes
There's a difference between Form-Shadows and Cast-Shadows. Form-Shadows occur when the form is turning away from the light-source, creating a smooth transition from light to shadow. A Cast-Shadow on the other hand happens when and object is blocking the light, creating a hard-edged shadow. In this step I try to distinguish between the two, plus going into a little bit more detail that I was in the previous block-in step. A mistake I did in the past was to treat this step too casually and sloppy. Take your time, be patient here, it's going to be really helpful later on. It can be beneficial to look at some reference too, to make sure you're being consistent with the light. Wes Burt kicked my ass at the Made Workshop in Berlin around 2009-2010 (can't remember exactly) regarding my shadow-inconsitency.
4, Ambient Occlusion
Using the lasso-tool (not a single stroke without a selection, otherwise all the edges get too soft) and a big smooth airbrush I apply a dark shade to areas which receive little or no light. This is pretty good for separating forms of similar value and hue. I'm not Uber-detailed with this. I'm using a really dark dark reddish color for this. The reason for that is that I'm simulating a lil' bit of Sub-Surface-Scattering (more on that later) and because our eyes are very sensitive to warm hues (shorter wavelength light) and picks them up easier. Also, because the subjects I'm painting exist in a largely cool-colored scene (which I'm imagining), by contrast, the areas which don't receive blue cool light will appear warmer to our eyes. So the red is faking what our eyes are doing in real life.
5. Local Colors, Temperatures and Color Variety
I first fill in a reasonable fleshtone all over. Then I'm using a color-randomizer brush, and some textured brushes to add variety and to activate the fields of color. Then I start adding temperature variations, like the more reddish knees and elbows and cheeks, and the more cool breasts and pelvis. I'm essentially thinking about where the blood is closer to the skin and therefore more evident. Also natural tanning, from being outdoors plays a part in this, like a woman who wears a bikini at the beach will get a certain complexion and various local temperatures of hue. A mistake I did in the past was to make this layer completely flat, and with ONLY local colors. That looks dull, and sucks.
6. Ambient Light
I imagine these girls outdoors on a fairly clear and sunny day. Therefore the big blue dome (the sky) that surrounds us tints everything in shadow blue/cool. I add a subtle cool blue/purple to upwards-facing planes in shadow on a screen-layer. To the best of my knowledge, a screen-layer works as light works in real life, additively. It's important to not go overboard here, and make the value of the blue light too bright, because then you can mess up the contrast between what's essentially in shadow and what's in light. I consider them as two families, which I want to keep fairly separate. (See image below, in step 7, where I combined this step and the next) 7. Bounce-Light
Downwards-facing planes in shadow receive a warm bounce-light. I imagine the ground-plane reflecting a warm main light (the sun). Also when that same light hits the skin, and is reflected upwards into the downwards-facing planes, we get a warmer and lighter hue. I'm tinting the planes warmer. A mental way to think about it is to imagine the girls standing on a floor of golden coins. I want to emphasize how important it is to think about everything in PLANES, and the angle of those planes to the lightsource. The more perpendicular a certain plane is to the lightsource affecting it, the more that lightsource will influence it. Also, the further away from the lightsource the plane receiving the light is, the less influenced it will become. So a downward-facing plane around the eyes will be less tinted by the reflected light from the groundplane than a planes around the knee, for instance.
Real simple, selecting the shadowshape-layer from before, I create a new layer with the shadows as a mask. Now, painting only in the light-areas, I go in with a big airbrush with a warm hue. I just want to capture the general direction of the light with a few simple and big strokes.
9. SSS - Sub Surface Scattering
In a new Overlay layer I'm painting with a really saturated red. I'm mainly focusing on painting in the core-shadow/terminator, and places such as fingers and ears. SSS happens when light enters the skin, picks up the red hue of the blood and then scatters out again, creating a more red-hue. It adds a lot of life to the colors, just remember not all materials act in the same way, and skin is particularly susceptible to SSS.
Flatten all, and adjust colors with adjustment-layers according to taste. I'm also letting the original lineart remain in some places, totally intuitively.
10. Paint! The Grand Unpredictable Adventure to Shangri La!
All the previous steps have been preparation for the grand adventure of painting. Consider everything up to this point, packing our bags, reading the maps and familiarizing ourselves with the language of some foreign, exotic and wondrous land. Now we're ready to set out on our journey :)
When I paint I have a few key goals. I aim to detail and render the focal-points. I want to define forms which aren't 3D enough. I want to reinforce the gestural and compositional flow of the subject using the direction of the brush-strokes (Claire Wendling does this beautifully in the direction of her pencil-strokes in the shadowshapes of her drawings). I want to explain materials by controlling the hardness of the edges (mainly painting with the smudge-tool). I want to add specular highlights and add a subtle atmospheric perspective. Finally I wish to enforce focal-points with Hue-intensity and Lens-focus. I also don't want it to look formulaic, although we've stuck to a formula to this point. I wish to highlight that I think it's very important that you allow yourself to deviate from the lineart at any point in the painting process. If you see something off or wrong, fix it. My painting from here on is chaotic, I jump all over the painting simultaneously, seemingly without a goal. But I have a clear vision in the aforementioned intentions. I can't and won't make this step mechanical, I need to be able to be intuitive and follow my feelings here. I need the uncertainty to find pleasure and joy in this craft.
I would like to point out that I feel having the right tools is essential. While you should be able to create a good-looking piece with rudimentary tools, it cannot be denied that the right brushes will have a massive impact on the end result. There are limitations to painting with charcoal on a cave-wall. I recommend finding the brushes that work for you on your own, but you'll get a very good start if you try out the brushes of Alexandre "Zedig" Diboine, and Shaddy Safadi. Use your google-skills to find them.
That's the best I've got for now, I've given you everything. The End. Lots of love ;)
Oh, here's a study of a piece by Auguste Rodin (kinda raunchy, no?).