Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Tuesday 27th March 2012 - C is for Critique

This here is 'C'. I love C. It was responsible for many a first for my digital painting escapades. I thought the background worked well, I loved the fins and tail of the mermaid, the hapless pirate is fairly hapless, and I was happy with how the hair turned out. There are minor things though; the right clavicle and shoulder should not have that much shadow, the tail should have it's scales going in a congruous direction, and a few other minor parts.

Then it was pointed out today it was lacking depth and atmosphere.

My internal rage-o-meter hit 100 and I almost fell off my chair.

But, after I'd finished spitting venom and came out of a hole of self deprication, I done the rather more constructive thing of making it *better*

After about 30 minutes of editing: Some multiply layers, some rays of light, and some more interraction between the mermaid and the sea in terms of colour and reflections. I'm not ashamed to say that I do think it looks far better.

And here's both side by side; a before and after.

Moral: I must take critique better.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunday 25th March - C is for Contradictions

A slight change! The original sketch on Bristol Board I decided, when I saw the scan, to alter in Photoshop - I didn't like the 100% profile shot of the mermaid. The fact you cannot see her face in the second one does distance the viewer somewhat, but it's a worthy price to pay in my opinion.

I needed a light colour palette! I knew this from the start. So, with a big ass texture brush, I layered in what I considered to be a decent fantasy sea colour.

So much time went in to this stage! I'm not sure what I wanted when I sketched the image... A plain background, or some loose detail... But when painting, I made a split decision to paint in some coral reefs backing the image. This helped give such a big implication of distance, and some contrasting colours. I was unnecessarily happy with the background...

And so begins the blocking in of the foreground characters! The tail needed to be complimentary to the sea, so as to create a focal point and offer some distinction.

And the unfortunate pirate! While I wanted his waistcoat a red colour, to offer another focal point, blue just seemed to work a lot better.

Tidying up the image, painting over the pencil lines finally to neaten it all up a little.

Mmm... Skin... Yeah. First actual topless paint study of a female (which is always enjoyable!) And as, for one reason or another, I think this could be a focal point (for 50% of the audience at least), I went ahead and used a soft chalk brush to really help create some nice gradients and tones on her skin.

Sorting out that hair! It had been annoying me since I sketched it long, and as I knew from the offset that this image had a lot of potential, I went the extra mile and changed her hairstyle completely. Short Hair is probably more sensible for a mermaid anyway - long hair would get in the way. Plus I like short hair on women a lot more... Oh yeah, and added in that second fin thing under her left arm.

Splash effects! These really help to add dynamism.

Final polish up pass over with adjustment layers... Made the contrast pop a little, sharpened some edges, and fixed some colours.

The finished version which can be viewed on my DeviantArt and CGHub.

And the image on the card, with the quote.

http://narcotic-nightmares.deviantart.com/   -   http://narcotic-nightmares.deviantart.com/#/d4tzrhh
http://narcoticnights.cghub.com/   -   http://cghub.com/images/view/220940/

Sunday 25th March - B is for Brutality

As with them all, B started with a pencil sketch on Bristol Board!

Well... Not technically, technically B started with a coffee induced spasm which looked something similar to this in my sketchbook, but who wants to see the innards of a sketchbook?

Next: An undercoat. As 'A' was so successful without a Black and White value painting initially, I decided to go with the flow and do the same again, this time using a Burnt Umber undercoat. So dark any of my old art tutors would have hit me with a rolled up newspaper.

Building up the warehouse surroundings, and adding in the necessary figures, I realized very soon that this piece will be one hell of a dark one, so went forward with the intention of doing some pretty crazy lighting - trying to get as much out of these paintings as possible.

Still dark, but not *as* dark - texture passes and complimentary colours were slapped around, hoping at this point to rectify my blunders.

Really getting the light sources finalized - adding bounce lights, rim lights, reflected lights and dull lights on anything that isn't lit!

At this point all the actual painting I considered done, and went about balancing the colours, levels, curves, and final polish ups to really help tie the piece together...

As I recentley invested in a rather sexy 28 inch monitor, (which has a contrast ratio which seriously puts most mac monitors to shame, and signed the death certificate of my old 19 inch monitor) I have yet to get to grips with how to make my paintings look good universally, and not just on my monitor... For printing I've found out that if I ram the brightness up to +125, and the contrast down to -90, I can get a reasonably acceptable result, but also - using adjustment layers I can really make colours pop - especially light sources.

The version which can be seen on my DeviantArt, CGHub, and now my Blog!

And the image mounted up on the Trading Card template, ready for printing!

Phew... 24 more to go...

http://narcotic-nightmares.deviantart.com/   -   http://narcotic-nightmares.deviantart.com/#/d4tnis1
http://narcoticnights.cghub.com/   -   http://cghub.com/images/view/220007/

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

13th March 2012 - A dry way to enjoy the rain.

Very simple little exercise, which I personally love, and find rather consoling and calming after a mental bus journey home.

Step 1: Go to this site: http://www.rainymood.com/

Oh my, isn't that some delicious white noise there? I love the sound of rain on my window as I work in the comfort of a dry studio. Don't really know why...

Step 2: For some added class, play this on youtube at the same time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMnrl0tmd3k

(Step 2.5: Another great song to play parallel; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlu2z2gkhhI )

Step 3: Grab a sketchbook, coffee, glass of wine (all of the above?), sit back, and thank whatever higher power you believe in that there's no people around to ruin the mood.

Repeat as necessary.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Monday 12th March - A is for Audience

Our university assignment is to illustrate a set of 26 images (a - z) which in some way visually describes what we want to achieve with our work. I like fantasy art. I want to work in fantasy art. I chose fantasy art!

Surprise surprise.

First things first; pencils on Bristol Board. I love this stage, I still think having a nice detailed initial drawing can help much further down the line in terms of painting. With this, I have a good understanding of the direction i'm heading in, and don't sit drooling over my Wacom like a zombie.

As i'm still fairly nooby when it comes to the whole digital thing, I have - to this point, started my drawings in pure black and white, creating a 100% perfect (to my eyes) value map, which then could have colour added over it. However, I have noted as of late that a lot of the black and white is lost when I add colour, as the saturation levels just block out the work of the value layer, meaning I basically waste my time and end up with an image that can look crappy.

Okay,  Blogger died on me for an hour... Starting on a green base layer, I build up textures loosely, to try and maintain a sense of fluidity in the image, keeping the colour scheme muted and harmonious.

Building up more textures, and adding in some LENS FLARE!!!!! to the stranded pirates lantern. The ship is now more than just outlines as well.


integrating the lens flare into the lantern, and finding the forms on the character. 

 Final stages, picking out some more detail, adding in some reflected light on the pirates sleeves, and darkened some areas. 

The A-Z of these images I planned on mounting onto custom trading card teplates, to give them all a sense of unification and congriguity.

These, I feared, would look rushed and unprofessional, as I'd spend all my time on painting, and none on the design aspects. For that reason, I devoted all my time between lectures on coming up with a decent design. I think I went through about 7 or 8 different iterations before this one cropped up?

So... Crits tomorrow, to see what others think...

Oh yeah, I have a new avatar as well!


Also; Site is undergoing a major reform, with new graphics, backgrounds, typography, headers and what not all being uploaded, hopefully before easter.

As part of our professional practise module, I'm updating my web presence to; 'professional' rather than; 'someone who spends too much time with his crayons'... Hopefully.