Friday, December 16, 2011

Abe Sapien Concept (Hell Boy) - Free Sculpt and Polypaint

This is another free sculpt that morphed into something worth while. I took a couple hours to play around with the sculpt, another couple hours to poly paint. It turned into a concept for Abe Sapien from the Hellboy comic series. I merged ideas from both the comic and film versions of the character. My twist to the concept is making him a little more alien looking and mixing in some ape like features (A cheesy play on his name).

I rendered it in ZBrush using a couple different materials to give the skin, eyes and lips some dynamic reflectivity. I will be posting the renders of the sculpt with no paint shortly.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Beast of England: 3D Renders

For the sake of my own improvement and reflection I decided to do a brief write up. I spare a lot of details but this is a shortened version of my review and explanation of the process of creation:

These are the final renders for my portfolio game character. There were a lot of successes while working on it but also a lot of failures. Although the concepts weren't as thorough as they could have been, I feel like I didn't completely capture the gritty, detailed and unique feel of the design. While I focused in on detail like skin pores and fabric, I could have spend more time on larger details.

As mentioned some of the shortcomings are due to me putting a cut off on production. I was dragging too much due to my professional work consuming a lot of my time. So I had to stop at some point and make the best of the sculpt in the texturing process which went well. It is missing some of the large details that would make the character feel more iconic. Particularly I could have spent more time in the tattoo patterns which could have informed the design of the clothing and accessories. It would have been cool to put more time into a distinct design that could have been worked into carvings into the handle, patterns in clothes and a logo on the belt. That way the clothing would have a better balance of positive and negative space, making that area of the character pop a little more. Currently as I see it, nothing is very striking about the characters attire.

I was happy with the effect of the butchered pig mask. While under pressure of a self inflicted deadline I was able to churn out a decent sculpt. The meaty parts underneath the sculpt could have benefited from more attention and time. The eyes, ears and skin came out decent. The mask as a whole does stand out and does an acceptable job at getting the idea of the characters strangeness across. It is a bit eerie and a bit intimidating which was the point. As always, some more time and also better planning on my part could have really put the character over the top in quality. Live and learn.

This sheet is a overview of the characters production stages. How it looks leaving Maya, how it looked sculpted and painted in ZBrush and how it looks when put back together in Maya. While I'm still learning a lot and figuring out my personal  production pipeline, I feel good about my texturing process. I am getting better at really getting the most out of it. I am now able to make up for shortcomings in sculpting and also making additions that help bring the materials to life. Still need work on nailing down the unique look and feel of different materials (smooth skin versus rough skin, denim versus clothe versus leather etc). However I definitely feel I'm getting closer. My work flow in this area is smoother which is a step in the right direction.

Currently, I bring my character into ZBrush and get the sculpt as close to final as I can. Recently I have been saving things like seams, some buttons and minor details for a script called Ndo in Photoshop that generates a normal map. I can bring in a photo of a button, place it and generate the sculpt detail that way. After I finish the sculpt I polypaint it in ZBrush and try and get it as close to my desire look as possible. I even paint in hints of Ambient Occlusion. 

After that I bounce the altered mesh back into Maya to lay out the UV's (My next progression is taking time to retopo the mesh to maximize the efficiency of the baking process). Once that is done it goes back to ZBrush and X Normal so I can bake out maps. I bring in the maps into Photoshop and start filtering in some photo textures, painting in details and fixing any weird hiccups. For this I actually bounce it back and forth between Photoshop and ZBrush to make sure there are no seams in the texture.

Finally I set up my lights for mental ray rendering. This go around I got a lot of help from fellow Columbia College Alumn Ryan Blake. We work together on a lot of things and he is a great artist as well as a great eye to have for an outside perspective (check out is work here

That was a longer write up than I expected. kudos if you made it through the boring details. I recently completed a wave of work so stay tuned for plenty of updates.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Beast of England: Rough concepts

Below are composites of older concept sheets for a game character I decided to develop for my portfolio. They were done over the summer. It is based on a comic idea I have filed away and may work on in the future after my current projects our wrapped up. I think the character has a lot of potential in her back story and I could easily see yet another revisiting of the concept. The images cover everything from early sketches and silhouettes all the way to some what final concepts. Usually a proper concept sheet would have  the character from multiple angles, but through out the process of making the character I was very busy with my contract work. Thus some corners were cut.

Looking back on the concepts I see so many issues that I could have handled better. However the last 6 months have been a great time of learning and can't wait to start my new concept and do it right. I will have more time to work on it which should render even better results which has me excited.

I will be posting the Maya and Z Brush renders in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Free Sculpt and Poly Paint

These are renders of a sculpt that started with me playing around with a blob in Z Brush for fun. It went from a demon, to soldier, to alien and ended up being this old pioneer looking guy. I cut and slapped layers on until I started to find a silhouette I liked and pushed that until it developed into a stylized bust.  

The sculpt took a little over an hour and a little over an hour for the poly paint. I then went back after showing some people and put a couple more hours into it. I was happy with the result so I had no issue going back and refining it.

As I got a clear vision of what he was going to look like I started thinking of it as a rough concept for a nemesis to my game character I'm currently working on (almost finished with it. I will post it here). It didn't get to far into the territory but the branding on his neck and streak of grayish hairs is a hint of me working that out a bit.

I'm currently rigging and posing my current game character. So once I finalize that I will post up some renders of the new portfolio piece.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 15: Memory

Wish I could have out in more time but work was picking up. This one I had fun and when with more of Tex Avery (Droopy/Looney Tunes) and Kohn Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy) influence. The slapstick cartoons and animators had a huge influence in why I do what I am doing. This is no longer an actual memory for it has slipped out of my conscious mind. However there is still photo evidence of me at 4 years old or so, being forced to dress as a devil and hating it so much I began to bawl like a baby. Maybe this is why I hated dressing up for Halloween, outside of Ninja costumes of course.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 14: Something That Scares Me

When I was younger there were these beetle larva around my house, my brother and I rarely saw them but they made our skin crawl. I didn't mind bugs, but for whatever reason they creeped the hell out of me as a kid. They were these little brown, shelled worms with a spot of hair near their heads. At one point we decided to put an end to the madness and we searched out every corner to do away with the harmless larvae.

For this concept I tapped into this memory of a fear I once had. I didn't want to just draw the larva so I turned it into an idea for a deformed human/larva hybrid. As I was working I started to draw inspiration from artists like Alex Alvarez as well as some influence from some creatures featured in the game Dead Space.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 13: Vampire

I started by researching some of the origins of the fictional character of Dracula. This lead me to Nasfaratu which I intended. This then lead me to  Shadow of the Vampire. The tense, hunched posture and long sharp nails of the vampire were something I wanted in this concept. I interpreted the posture as a pose and kept the nails, but made them sharper and more claw like.

The dark, dirty and strange mood of the character in these films is something else I tried to maintain. I decided to change the vampire from male to female. I wanted a more flowing silhouette and smoother figure to contrast with the gritty style of art and awkward demeanor of the character. I thought that would create a nice balance. I also found a great pose in my figure drawing library that was exactly what I was looking for. It could be interpreted as creepy but was also not clearly aggressive or passive. It had a nice balance. This fed the inspiration and the decision to stay with the female piece, as well as not cover the body, encompasses everything mentioned.

The composition was partly inspired by Andrew Jones who is a phenomenal artist and an artist aspire to rival with the quality of my work in the future. His work  has a feel of chaotic harmony, an organized mess. So this approach pushed me into a fine art mindset.The result is a piece that became part concept that had fun injecting some deeper meaning into. I'll spare explanations of meaning. I don't want to take the focus away from the concept. If it were a final piece maybe I would find the proper arena and talk about it more.

If I were to go forward with the concept I would explore the idea of branding tattoos on the character and explore some cool designs there. I also would show the face more and rework the features of Nasfaratu. I also would revisit the style of the hair and do something that looks like a natural flow but still creates a nice pattern/design.

Here is an abridged look at the stages of the concept as I was working it out. thought people my find it cool to see. It starts as the point I figured out my pose and composition, there are a few rough sketches that I started with that aren't included.

Halloween Challenge Day 12: ZOMBIE (Micheal Myers)

I am all Zombie'd out from my current job, so I interpreted this days challenge a bit. Today concept was a mix between the influence of French animators known as Brother's Quay, specifically their film Street of Crocodiles, and more obviously Frank Miller. I decided to go with Miller's more recent aesthetic employed in the Sin City series for the composition.

The Brother's Quay influence is in the gritty, worn down design. Micheal Myers is an unstoppable force of evil. So I wanted him to carry a history of conflict with the nails shot in his arm, cracks on the mask, knife stabbed into his had, dust, torn rags and blood stains. I also wanted to give him, a puppet feel which is why he has a prosthetic hand. I felt it added to the mystery of who he is or what it is. He is meant to feel like a very old, yet trusty tool buried in a tool shed. It may be rusty and scratched up but it still gets the job done.

I emphasized the eeriness of his nature by going with a baby doll type mask over the traditional. This is inspired again by Street of Crocodiles. I wanted to give him a hint of emotion, sometimes children in their lack of understanding of the world can be unstoppable forces of destruction. At times they have one track minds and charge full steam ahead, much like Micheal Myers. I wanted to concept him as a child, trapped in a killer's body. I wanted to explore the idea of dealing with mentally disabled killers, who either kill on accident or as a result of their own mental imbalance. I find that is a great uncomfortable conflict to explore.

Last not is the exclusion of his trademark knife for a broke shard of glass. I thought it felt more organic and fit his worn down nature. He doesn't seem like a planner, so he pushes forward being as resourceful as possible. Along with the nails, torn rags and such, the broken glass becomes a part of him rather than an external weapon.

(Here is the Zombie stuff I worked on recently)
Box O Zombies Web Comic

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 11: WEREWOLF

This concept went well in that I had a plan and as I worked it evolved into something I was satisfied with. This time I took the time do research some reference and inspiration. As I worked I started to develop a brief story around the image which gave it a context that makes it a little more than just a static image.

Originally my version of wolf man was not so much an uncontrollable beast that was inflicted with a curse. Basically he is trapped inside of his own body conscious of everything that is happening while he transforms and the spirit of a vengeful wolf is in the driver seat. I thought that would make for a more interesting conflict. So the spirit uses him as a vehicle to seek revenge on hunters and other unfortunate victims while he watches through his own eyes helplessly. Since wolves most often travel in packs, I decided to include the idea of the werewolf being aided by a pack of spirits that protect him and give the werewolf a new level of power.

Originally I had a much more prevalent spirit included but I changed it to a more subtle hint with the eyes in the back. The style was inspired by Samurai Jack and Bruce Timm's action cartoon style. It evolved and merge in with my flavor a little. However, it is driven by the great sense of movement and defining, almost cut out shape design employed by some of my favorite action cartoons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 10: WITCH

Again, kind of a dud in my opinion. Started out strong but fizzled out in terms of the rhythm in putting together a balanced composition. I like the concept a lot, but the overall composition and coloring is darn right ugly. If I were to fix it I would reinterpret the hair and also push the pose into a more exaggerated and stylized presentation.

The concept was a take on the witch from the classic animated film Spirited Away. Rather than create the big headed cartoon like concept, I made a more realistic concept. Rather than having the witch face and big hair, the witch wears a mask and hair piece. The mask is based on the face of the witch from Spirited Away. The hair was inspired by the old Japanese ink painting that depicted a witch with big and wild hair.

I also included ideas of fire sorcery and myths of witches dancing in the forest at night. I illustrated it so it is unclear where the clothes start and stop, so it appears if the body flows right into the fabric. I thought that would add a level of mystery. It also plays on witches, in some cases, being a concept that seemingly spawns from misunderstanding and fear of woman. I didn't delve to deep into it with this concept but it is a starting point. I would probably continue down that path if I moved this forward.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 9: THE DEVIL

Not too happy with the way this won turned out. I had some general ideas of what I wanted to do with it but as I worked nothing really hit me and it shows in the concept. I liked the broken up silhouette caused by the theme of asymmetry in the horns and dual tails. The strange eye like pattern on the face was something I wanted to do to make the creature feel other worldly and eerie.

I went with my general knowledge of the many different versions of the devil but would have benefited if I narrowed it down and played on just a couple back stories. Eventually while working on it I had to call it quits because I was going over my self imposed 1 to 2 hour limit. So things didn't flow as they usually do.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 8: GHOST

A friend of mine requested I do the ghost from the film The Grudge. I was hesitant but after researching I got some cool ideas. Coming off the last sketch my mind started thinking more about Tim Sale's work, as well as the old UPA animation studio. I always admired both styles in the ability to use minimal line and detail to create such rich imagery. I have always leaned heavily on line work but I wanted to to something different. So I followed the stream of influence again and while there

While there I figured since it was originally a Japanese film, I would see if I could draw inspiration from old Japanese ink paintings. It seemed like two obvious of a direction, but after looking at some it worked really well with the Tim Sale inspired approach. So I went with it. I ended up mocking up two slightly different versions of the concept because I wasn't sure which one I liked best. I imagined the white hair one is what it looks like as it goes in for the kill, after the kill it goes back to its black hair.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 7: MONSTER

I decided to go with Frankenstein's monster. I read up a little on the original story, drew from memory and also tapped into another character who is very much inspired by the old tale, the Hulk. For the sake of changing pace I didn't go for creepy or scary so much. I decided to go with a simpler more cartoon art style. Inspired by the Mummy piece I again pushed to use as little colors as possible and still create a dynamic sketch.

As far as the monster himself, I also found my brain reminiscing on The Iron Giant. Yet another Frankenstein inspired story. So I wanted to give the beast a hulking, powerful and almost mechanical feel. Meanwhile, I wanted to give him a level of innocence and curiosity in the world that he is seeing for the first time. The Iron Giant did a great job of this in there film. Although he would wreak havoc when pissed off, like the Iron Giant I would imagine most of his time the monster would wonder the wilderness amazed by the life around him.

Originally I had his hand reaching for the lightening bug soaked in blood. I thought it would be a cool and unsettling detail that would be jarring in an otherwise peaceful scene. I took it out because I didn't like the way the color of the blood worked in the scene as it is now. I also figured I would take a break from the gore for this one. Although I probably would revisit the idea if I took the concept further.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 6: MUMMY

While thinking over what I wanted to do for today I had been given the suggestion of doing the Crypt Keeper. Technically he is a mummy, but after doing some research and playing around with the idea, he is pretty uninteresting visually in terms of unique details. So I couldn't redesign him without him just looking like a generic mummy since he has no real distinct features.

So for inspiration I decided to reach back and get some inspiration from the original 1932 mummy poster. Specifically the heavy shadowed, almost monochromatic design of the illustration posters. So rather than focus on rebuilding a character I had more fun with the visual style on this concept. I'm a huge fan of comic artist Tim Sale and while working through the early stages I started to see utilizing a digital ink wash technique, reminiscent of his work. It's not exactly the same but it is definitely what inspired me during the piece.

It's hard to see but the two mummies have a little different approach than the old films. I figured of some powerful force is going to resurrect them, why not go all the way and have the burst with a powerful energy that brings that back to there prime form. This is what they did in the newer films. However I figure they still wouldn't be so conscious of their actions, just uncontrollable rampages of anger and energy. So in a way it is kind of a cross between the new and old films. I figured have a frightening level of power that is completely off the leash was a bit scarier.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 5: JACK O LATERN

Today's challenge was open for interpretation so I continued tackling the redesigning of film characters. I decided to sketch up my take of the Pumpkin King (also known as Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas). The concept is based off of the Pumpkin King outfit he wears in the film. I figured the King of Pumpkins should be some kind of Pumpkin creature. So grabbing influence from Tim Burton's character I created my concept, mixed in was a bit of influence from Todd McFarland's style, specifically in his character called Violator. Likewise I pushed it into a darker more creepy territory instead of going with a kid friendly design. I imagine this thing is chained to a tree in some remote pumpkin patch. As people pass unexpectedly it snatches them up. Not so much a force of evil but a creature that is starving and imprisoned.

I decided to reference old wood etching illustrations in the presentation to build up the mythical feel of the character. It seemed to fit in the old creepier tales of witches and ghosts that at one point were seen as carrying a kernel of truth. While working in this creative space it started to connect with The Peanut's Great Pumpkin cartoon and the myth the kids were chasing. So as I have been doing with these sketches I embraced the creative link and had some fun with that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 4: CLOWN

Since this day's challenge is a clown, I decided to sketch up  Bob Gray aka Penny wise from Stephen King's IT. In the book and films the clown is the favorite manifestation of a force of evil that has been around the universe for millions of years. It truest form that human can handle is that of a female spider. So I thought it would be interesting to stack on yet another common phobia and have spiders that take a liking to him even in his Clown form.

There are many types of creepy clowns, but I went with the route of just some creepy, burnt out guy who chains smokes and hates his life. I thought the hint of reality would help bring the concept together in terms of the creepiness factor. I also looked at some Alvin Schwartz pieces for inspiration. I didn't quite capture it to the degree I would like but I think I was able to achieve it in the background and some of the wispy line work in the hair and eye ball veins.

 I didn't make it a prominent feature, but rather than have his characteristic claws I gave him really long, sharp fingernails. People seem to be grossed out by freakishly long nails so I guess I continued to pile it on. I thought it would be more effective to just some huge monster claw that wouldn't get under people's skin the same way.

Oh and yes, the eyeball has teeth marks as if he started to bite into hit. He eats eyeballs, because I thought it would be awful knowing he is out for your eyeballs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 3: FREDDY

I am continuing the stream of consciousness in terms of artistic influences. The homage to Mignola naturally flowed into Guillermo Del Toro. His ability to create unique and fresh feelings of eeriness is incredible. His creatures in Pan's Labyrinth are frightening in such a way that it is hard to nail down.There is a disconnect in communication between there design and what we commonly use to identify with characters. He removes all of our safe guards for understanding them right away. The result is an uncomfortable fear, the fear of confronting the unknown.

I figured what better away to approach a figure that hunts us in our nightmares. We struggle with understanding what dreams our so it seems natural that a figure that uses them as his hunting ground is designed in away to reinforce that mysterious fear.

I didn't get as far as I wanted with the concept in terms of really making his skin crispy and burning his clothes into his wounds. The current design is also heavily modeled after the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. I like it as a start but I would definitely want to push it into more unique territory if I were to move forward. A note on what I didn't show in this concept (another flaw), is that his "claws" are actually long needles jammed under his finger nails (I was inspired by a gruesome scene from the film Ichi the Killer).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 2: JASON

I did this illustration right after finishing Pinhead so I could catch up. Pinhead's red eyes reminding me of Mr Freeze from the Batman animated series of the 90's. This in turn made me think of one of my great artistic influences, Mike Mignola. So i decided to have some fun. I simply had one image of Jason and one of a Hellboy cover and went to town.

I decided to mock up Jason in an homage to Mignola and his Hellboy covers. It was fun to do and thought it was interesting to think about Jason as more of a mysterious character rather than
mindless killer while drafting this one up. Maybe there could be more to this character than just a popcorn horror flick villain.

Halloween Challenge Day 1: PINHEAD

I almost missed Day 1! I was just about to call it a day and the fact that it was the first day of the challenge popped in my head so I got to work.

First thing I did was pull up reference images of Pinhead. I started to sketch then realized I wanted to to do something different and use this challenge as an opportunity to play around with design and art styles. I went to Wikipedia and looked up the original concepts and ideas behind Pinhead. Turns out Clive Barker was heavily inspired by African fetish dolls. So back to Google I went and looked at some of these relics.

For this rough concept I decided to go to his roots and reestablish the African sculpture influence. I pushed the silhouette further by going with a mismatched arrangement of pins/ nails in his head as well as giving him neck rings. I also mixed his piercings up to have some look intentional and others look as if they were part of a torture. The face paint and red eyes were to try and up the creepiness factor. At some point I pulled up Darth Maul because I always liked his teeth, so I used his design for a bit of inspiration as well.

Not really satisfied with the sketch up, but I do like the direction it is going in in terms of the concept. May have to revisit this for a future sculpt.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Warden of Raal 3D Assets (game)

The following images are a collection of art assets from my senior year studio project. I worked as a Concept Artists, Character Artist and the Art Director. I even got a chance to do some environment work. As the art director I helped shape every visual aspect of the game which was fun and exhausting.