Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wednesday 2nd July 2014 - My illustrations in the big wide world.

Hey guys!

Long time no post, been getting stuck into my new job and really haven't wanted to sit down after a 10 hour shift and draw, let alone think of things to write about on here.

Anyway, a couple of days ago this post was kind of decided: I was down a local pub, and happened to notice one of the ales on tap happened to have a label which I had illustrated back at the start of the year! This came as quite a shock, and fortunately I was sensible enough to snap a photo.

Not a fancy 3D or enamel pump clip, but it's only a small brewery, so I think getting beer on tap in a new pub for them is as much of an achievement as having my illustration sell it is for me.

The same illustration was adapted (by the brewery themselves) to be used in the most recent issue of The Solihull Drinker, a free local publication. I haven't seen it in print myself, but I'm assured it's there.

The brewery, for those interested is The Shed Brewery.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Friday 6th June 2014 - Performance Sportswear Design Commission

A couple of weeks ago I was commissioned - one of my last commissions for the moment I may add - to produce a fractured design based on the contours of the human body, for use in fashion.

Confused? I bloody well was.

Well, anyway, the finer points of the commission were worked out, and I set about rendering it.

I used reference from human musculature diagrams:

And pattern reference, cracked mud, shattered glass, abstract shapes and a fair bit of poetic licence:

To come up with these: 

Just drafts of course, but it got the idea across. After some minor edits, and about 3 days in Adobe Illustrator, they were finished! The final .tiff renders were on a canvas 200x100cm, which is quite an extreme size, and came out to something insane like nearly 2GB in size. 

But these were successfully (and very nicely I may add) printed and stitched by the client, who was nice enough to e-mail me some .jpeg copies of the work modeled! 

Seriously this is mostly thanks to excellent modeling and photography (not to mention sewing and overall design) but I think this looks totally awesome! I added a glamourless watermark solely to protect the IPs, so yeah. 

And lastly: A link to her website, which is very sleek and very cool:

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tuesday 3rd June 2014 - Short hiatus.

Been quite a while since I've wrote a blog, but thought this was kind of worth the announcement so yeah.

I'm taking a short-mid length break from illustration in general.

Firstly, I've got myself a nice full time job, it's active, physical, gets me out of the house, out of the studio, into an actually exciting work environment with other people. The pay is also incredibly nice (the reason I went for it).

Why did I go for a job which, I'll confess, is in no way related to art, illustration, fantasy, my degree, etc etc?

Because I was fed up. 

I graduated a year ago now, more or less. Since then I have worked 6 days a week, between 12 - 18 hour days, endless, on jobs I wasn't really skilled at, jobs I didn't really think I could do, underpaying jobs, jobs with unfair parameters, and so on. It was heartbreaking to be honest. Illustration is something I'm kind of good at. Something I was kind of eking a living out of, but it was so tedious.

I'd work more than my friends, for less return, less benefits, and still not be able to go out on the weekend because ironically I was both working and had no money.

Before I get old, decrepit, crippled and die I would actually like the opportunity to go out and have fun and do nice things and not be chasing invoices for months, only to have the money immediately taken away thanks to bills. It feels like other people in my situation have a nice comfort zone I don't have, no bills, no deadlines, no whatever. They can just procrastinate and relax or travel or go out with friends and not worry. That's so demoralizing when on the flip side I both cannot afford and don't have the time for such luxuries.

All of this means basically I have - for the moment - had enough of illustration. At the moment it isn't fun, it isn't stimulating, it isn't even moderately interesting. It's something I have to drag myself out of bed to do, do it, go back to bed then do it again.

So I am spending my evenings now catching up and finishing off current commissions, sending them over to the respective clients, then I'm having a break. I don't care. I hope people laugh and call me a lightweight and accuse me of not chasing my dreams hard enough, because I bet the majority of them have never had to experience this level of frustration. I started from the ground up, straight to self employment with no help, no networks, just a tablet and a copy of Photoshop.

On a lighter note: Some recent pieces:

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Thursday 8th May 2014 - Pleasing the Court Workflow

Yes it's another one of these! Only a few left now, but hopefully the repetitive nature of these pics goes someway towards visually showing how even in the creative industries some jobs can feel like quite the slog, especially when the job calls for 10 images all with a similar visual style. 

I started with the Celestial, as painting white cloth is always a trauma, and I wanted her white robe to be a lot more 'pure' than the hero's, as he will have been questing throughout the country and got more than a little dirty.

Painting the skin - Celestial's skin is near pure white, so once again, a right pain to paint.

And the hair, yet again, Celestial's have blonde, near white hair, so not a lot of tonal variation going on - fortunately the red of the robe and the flower gave some contrast.

And painting the hero. I think I left it for the day at this point, and the hero was painted on day #2. Similar process to the celestial, but also referring back to another image I had done (not shown yet) to get the colours and similarities between the hero here and in other illustrations correct.

And then just the process of refining the details and adding all the small parts. At this point I still made shadows too dark and really just "added more black" to a hue to put it into shadow. Something I'm working on countering now to allow more tonal variation.

There's another 5 illustrations like this to go, then the cover, and that was the whole assignment for Little Red Goblin Games!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Wednesday 7th May 2014 - Bravery Workflow

Another workflow! This was actually the first image I painted for the Dragon Tiger Ox brief, after quite a break from digital painting (I was doing a lot of traditional pencil & paper concept art and design) so, I thought it would be good to show how rusty I was - There was a couple of false starts on this image before I got my act together.

This was the pencil sketch. What it really was was the character, who was sketched on A4 bristol board, plonked on a landscape canvas with some rushed mountains sketched in.

False start #1! I put more detail into the mountains, or pulled them up from another sketch, I cannot remember, and started adding the army in...

For naught! I just didn't like the layout, it didn't seem like a vast enough army, they seemed too close to the lone hero. So I erased those, and started again. Started painting in the mountains, working from back to front again, as is custom with my workflow.

Added in the army! Much vaster this time, and added in dust and debris on the field as is a typical look in these kind of scenes.

Starting on the main figure - I got the values right in greyscale, then added colour and overlay layers over this to get some hues in there before working over my pencil drawing.

Starting the detail, this is as simple as sitting for hours, zoomed in at 66.67/100%, with a hard brush, added in all the necessary parts.

Aaand more detail! The detailing phase can take as long as, if not longer, than the rest of the painting combined. It is the most arduous stage, and the one that can easily make or break an image.

Final little touches, and the first image was done! At this stage, there was another 9 to go. Fun.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tuesday 6th May 2014 - The Enlightened Emperor Workflow

Yes! I'm back after an impromptu bank holiday break, and this is the next workflow - The Enlightened Emperor.

I think this image probably gives the best look at how an image advances from the initial stages to the finished product, as I was very sensible with my saving process.

This image is also probably the most authentic one to the pencils, some minor parts were altered, but a lot of it remained as it was sketched. Background first as usual, I really like painting these mysterious mountains with clouds floating amidst them, so this wasn't traumatic in the slightest.

The midground - I wanted to put some form of shrine or temple in this image as well as one of these twisting bonsai tree formations, but thought against it as the environment wasn't the focus.

First pass of the emperor himself, it had started to dawn on me at this point that the longer I worked on an image the less vibrant, and more muted the colours became, so started out very saturated and bright, knowing the colours would change as the painting progressed.

It's also possible to see the very annoying thing of how the figure isn't integrated at all with the environment, this is still something that really frustrates me, but I can't think of how to overcome it, as I like to paint my image in layers, and integrate the subject and its environment later in the painting.

The colours are already changing a lot, I started painting blue into the yellow, as it was meant to be a reflective silky material, so it would reflect a lot of the ambient light. I also focussed on the folds, and made them quite hard and sharp - a quality of sheer materials. I really wanted a difference between the yellow cloth and the red under-robe, which I planned to be a thicker, cotton like material. So as well as different reflections of light there was also a difference in the folds.

Can also see the minor integration of having some of the grass in the foreground peek over the robe.

Details! This is the part that takes like, as long as the rest of the painting, for very minor changes. Just refining refining and refining some more. The embroidery patterns were both fun and infuriating at the same time - I used the bevel and emboss tool in Photoshop to basically cheat into making them look 3D without having to paint all the shadows.

Last little touches, mostly altering the colours slightly, tiny highlights, more flora flying in the wind, and bringing some clouds in from the right to further push the inclusion of subject into environment.

And that was basically it! This took about 1 day's worth of studio hours split over 2 days, day 1 was to lay in all the background and basic colours on the emperor, and day 2, coming back refreshed, was adding all the details and error checking.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Friday 2nd May 2014 - 'Races' Workflow

'Races' was a little different than all the other images. Mostly due to content - there was no background, and each character needed equal levels of detail, as they are all playable races in Dragon Tiger Ox, they all needed their own personality and character. Which takes time. So this image probably took as long as, if not longer, than The Duel.

Going through my .psds, I didn't save a mid way through one of the Celestial, so this is the first one. They are very dignified and quite haughty individuals, so dressed this one in a very fine robe with pale skin and hair.

The human I wanted looking a little fed up - they are the most numerous of the races, and probably have to put up with a fair amount.

Working more into the skin and the expression. Drawing a contrast between him and the Celestial, I have the Human quite a scruffy appearance.

Starting on the Vanara, my fur brush is quite chaotic, so I approached it in layers - skin first, then fur, and clothing last for a natural look.

Working on the skin and face more - Vanara are apparently naturally cheeky and light hearted, so having him look quite laid back was a natural decision.

Beginning work on the Ogrekin. I changed the face drastically, but this was wrong, Ogrekin aren't naturally angry or 'evil', more docile large creatures who live in peace, so this was a midpoint on the facial expression. I gave him darker natural colours also, as Ogre's work mostly on farms and as manual labourers.

Fixing the expression, he seems far happier and peaceful, and less likely to gouge your eyeballs out and use your scrotum as a wallet. I think the hair helped with that also.

Finishing it all off, Ogrekin are naturally strong, so making the veins pop on his arm was a good indication of this, as were the muscle striations.

And this was it! I painted the last part of this on a Thursday evening with a bottle of Whiskey, so was quite worried when opening it up the day after...