Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Back to Basics with Digital Drawing

  I've been going back to basics lately with my drawing skills. I've had a nagging feeling for honestly quite a while that my colour depth palette has been rather muddy. I've noticed I get lost in getting the shade just right at the expense of how clear the composition is. So, back to basics; getting familiar with the essentials of blocking colour first before moving on to tackling light and shadow.

  After all, many projects are 20% crunch, 80% cruft. You want to get that 20% foundation right or the whole thing just doesn't work.

  This new approach I feel has also given me a chance to back away from relying on dark lines to delineate shape. The pictures I have been drawing lately have been moderately popular on Reddit which is good for exposure. I'm getting plenty of feedback and starting plenty of conversations about what I've been working on. It could be some time before I'm back to full-shade digital painting like I've been doing before: I'm taking this one step at a time, so when I am ready to start adding shade again I am definitely ready.

  Moving away from the same old character subject, I've experimented with map design using Adobe Illustrator. I've found it and PDFs amazing for condensing enormous images into something I can easily send to clients. When I tried buildign something like this on Photoshop, it would slow my computer down as the images, plus layers, might be over a gigabyte in size. Which my computer did not like.

  But it was mostly fun to try map-making, which I have found to be an amazing way to build a setting as they say you can tell a lot about a place by reading into how the local inhabitants drew their maps.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Finalist nomination: Red and the Kingdom of Sound

   Word on the grapevine is that Red and the Kingdom of Sound, the animation project I contributed to back in the second half of 2017, has been named a finalist of the 2018 Le Petit Cannes film festival. I wasn't in attendance, as I was but a humble animator on the project and it was the district and project leads who got to tour Europe with the film. But it is wonderful news to hear that the final outcome did so well at Cannes and is being so well received across the continent and beyond.

  Win those accolades Red! It was an amazing experience and a beautiful project to lend a hand with and I couldn't be prouder of being a part of making this massive accomplishment happen.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

First Week with Zbrush

  The past week or so I've been experimenting with Zbrush. It's quite advanced compared to Mudbox and I can see why a lot of studios are asking for experience with it. It's versatile, complex, and I've found I can get an outline of something after about half a day of working.

  So for now I've mostly been trying to see what I can make out of a single ball. As I had hoped, my experience with Mudbox translated well. I've yet to try texturing, that's going to be something of a later stage experiment.

  Considering how long it has been since I last touched sculpting software I was slightly surprised at how well I was able to create a face I've had people describe as handsome and good-looking, That's likely a very good thing when this is my first attempt at human features and started out with a generic template head. The drawing classes  msut have contributed considerably to that.

  Overall, I've enjoyed the product so far. Really glad I invested in it. I've already been asked by friends if I could sculpt their own characters with this, which means I'm either appealing to eager friends or I might have a creative skillset I can really sell.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Megacity Skyline and Structures

  Getting back into design I had the incentive to look at a few building ideas. Although for experimentation I might try something more...familiar. Artstation has a new challenge going on so I might try that, get some practice looking to the days of the Old West.

  It'll be far less monolithic than this weekend's drawing, far less colossal but as a period before the kind of construction we know today it's also an avenue for more characterful architecture.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Personal: Monsters Misfits and Serpents

  I promised myself I'd try something a little more alien and out there and for the most part I think I'm on the right track.some of these still have that dinosaur DNA but others (my particular favourites of this being 3, 5 and 9) are more bizarre, more something unknown.

  I believe there is enough character in each of these to tell a story for each one. What they are like to speak with, what their tastes are, maybe even what they consider to be artful or in good taste. I've grown to like turning rough shapes into creatures, a few of these I had a clear picture in mind but others started off quite vague and abstract. 9 I believe was quite random to begin with and some unexpected things came out of 5's outline.

At a pinch, it is possible that all or most of these could exist within the same universe, perhaps under the same banner.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Personal: Signing off an Old Design

  Circumstances on my end has calmed down a little, as March was a very busy and unexpected month. So as way of an unwinding I went back to an old favourite of mine. The way I keep drawing something similar suggests one of two things: Either I have run out of ideas for modifications, or I have hit upon a final design, long time coming this is true. But that means one part is out of the way for something potentially more fun and creative to explore:


  The other good sign is I've shown this pose to a few friends and they said it looked "noble," "majestic" and "regal" which is what I'm largely going for. With the icons out of the way, I can approach something more out-there or alien with a clear head and a confident approach now that one of the more major designs in my head feels settled. I need ot get my head out of this one design and into the more weird and wonderful world of other aliens and monsters .

It should be a more wild endeavour from here on out.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Personal: Heart of an Empire

  I've wanted to get back into creating with Maya now that I am in a more confident place at home. It was a surprising lesson these past couple of months how your environment can influence your motivation. Bygones are bygones now, and I want to get back into my A-game. 

  I've been tweaking and polishing this planet today, making the city lights appear more convincing and giving substance to the ring around it (a discussion session online suggested to me their old distance might risk exposing visitors and occupants to highly lethal levels of radiation. I suppose high-tech science fiction shielding could protect them, and there was even a suggestion the ring-builders could have found a way to clear the radiation belts, but that distance was also impractical for ferrying freight and commerce, which benefits from a low-hanging belt. Shorter transit distances and all that.

  I thought about adding more than one ring because the engineers would not be limited to one orbital structure, and could hang more off the first (maybe even, fur, five, or ten!) And even this massive ring might have its limits for a civilisation connected to millions of other planets. So like any ground project, the infrastructure could have been expanded in times past to meet increasing demand.

 If I ever get this animated, it could be fun to surround the planet with dancing particles that represent hundreds to thousands of incoming and outgoing starships. Watching The Expanse lately I've been enamored with the introduction sequence, particularly the streaks of light that represent 100 years of interplanetary shipping and the timelapses showing urban growth and the great projects undergone in the series' backstory.

   I believe the Expanse has been one of my major influences regarding this project. Studying satellite photographs of the Earth at night helped a lot in building a convincing night-time illumination.A place can be as much a character as a person or an object, it's all about knowing how to convey that story without words.