Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rough Vehicles and Linework I: Focused Practice and Warm Up

     I usually don't post things so early or quickly but just for the change of pace here are some rough sketches that were finished a few minutes ago. The focus for these were more confident line work, design and perspective. I chose vehicles because that is an area I really need to improve in as I rarely work on them. I started by warming up with simple shapes and silhouettes. While doing that I had some Feng Zhu and Scott Robertson tutorials I went through before working on my own designs. I chose them because I have a particular admiration for the way they use line weight and also their vehicle design.
     The next step for these will be to take a step back and review what needs to be improved. Then move on to the process of reworking the quality of lines and their weight, while re-configuring the secondary design details. After that I will then refine perspective, form and finish the values and atmosphere. From there will be the choice of which one to take to final color and detailing. There is also a heavy influence from Simon Stâlenhag, a bit too much, so I will work to make this more of my own as I progress. Should be fun. I will post the progress in different posts over time rather than drop them all in one entry.

(These started with a series of low opacity silhouettes as if I were working with cool markers on paper. I looked for the forms, visualized them, then began laying down the rough line-work.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Future Farming Now 100% Human Free

(This was done with no grid or line work. It was a way to practice quickly putting paint down and pushing it around until the image starts to come together. I got to this point after almost 3 hours of work.)

     This was a quick color study. I used this to focus on defining form and depth without using line work and working with color from the first stroke. I painted and figured out the subject matter as I went along. So the design isn't the most solid, but I think it works in terms of catching the eye. In the time I gave myself I think it was successful. It could be improved with a little more thought into the vehicle design as it pertains to functionality.  Defining the farm land around it and even placing a supervising farmer or some human figure to provide scale reference would greatly strengthen the composition. The windmills would be more interesting if some of the sci-fi elements accented their design.
     The painting was pushed further with soft bloom effects and also pushing the saturation up with an adjustment layer. Those two elements help the piece pop. I also add a very soft white vignette across the top and a dark vignette across the bottom. This is something anime scenes use a lot and helps reinforce the sense of light from the sky while still drawing the eye inward.

(This was the painting after an hour. after blocking the forms out I started to flesh out more mechanical and atmospheric details.)

(This was the painting after 20-30 minutes. Simple and undefined but it still translates the overall feel of the scene. When compared with the final you see most of the painting is established at this stage.)

     The new focus after this is to take more time on personal pieces. In order to push composition and overall quality even further, 2-3 hour pieces aren't going to cut it. I am simply not good enough yet. So it will take some practice in patience and persistence. It's rare that I take 8-10 hours on a single piece but doing so will push past my current limitations and be much more educational. This will also require a shift in work habits. I currently have about 6-7 long term personal pieces in progress outside of professional work. Some artist can work like that, but it would be better for me if I can cut that number in half and narrow my focus.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

That One Show Where Malcom's Dad Cooks Meth in His Underwear

      I wanted to challenge myself and create an image with a retro-movie poster influence. My focus wasn't divided by having to build the characters, world or narrative. I simply focused on design and layouts. Unfortunately, things did not go as well as I hoped on this one. The painted tiles and elements don't quite set into the background and it could use some more narrative references. That said, I felt I got what I wanted from it and it is time to move on.

      The reason I chose the show was because I appreciated the attempts at confronting audiences with some dark realities. At times it was bold enough to toss traditional worries about character likability or being too depressing. American culture is becoming increasingly consumed with comfort, self-censorship and the chase for immediate, thoughtless satisfaction. So it should be appreciated when some one comes along and sticks our face in the ugliness we try so hard to ignore. Especially when it is done with media that is somewhat mainstream.

(The final piece, I had to cut it off. I could have kept working on it, but working on it occasionally in short bursts stunted the development and it was going to go much further under my hand,)

     The show can also provoke thought regarding morality and mortality. It gives the audience time and space to reflect during and after. This is in contrast to the era of memes and viral videos that quickly make a mockery of anything or transform it into a processed digital tablet dictating stale emotion. 

     Anyway! For this the goal was to focus on design. So I constructed many sketches from reference while trying to maintain some personal flair. So I was avoiding doing direct copies. As I worked on it I took moments to make sure I was understanding the planes, form and why the light was working the way it was.

     I did many rapid sketches without erasing and with a brush that mimicked an ink pen. So the line I put down was the line I had to make work. The goal was to build confidence and understanding of the forms. It also was a way to play around with ways I can define style.

(Quick sketches, no erasing, not worrying about them looking good. It was about what is going on in my brain not on the canvas.)

(A quick design sketch, trying to capture a certain energy and composition.)

(Jesse, the character on the bottom left, looked ugly and nothing like Jesse)

(The likeness is still a bit off, but it captures the darker feel I wanted to capture in his depiction.)

 (A value pass that is very rough. Making sure the depth and forms are working with the angular style.)

 (This is a rough color pass. Color's don't need to be dead on at this point. Simply blocking in and refining the pallet.)

 (I began to feel the background design was off so I decided to experiment with changing the negative space and color. Not sure if this was working after looking at it a few seconds.)

 (Checking the value design and making sure there is a nice balance between the dark and light tones. Pushing design further I take an extra step to use value blocks to assist in guiding the and framing. Some adjustment needed to be made to balance the contrast and use it in away that guides the eye.)