Thursday, December 30, 2010

Abstract art: Geometryst

This started as an experimental 3D composition. The base 3D geometry was rendered in 3ds Max with VRay global illumination. I created the semitransparent shapes in Adobe Illustrator CS5 using the new Perspective Grid tool, a very useful addition to the program. Then I brought everything into Photoshop and started playing around with color overlays, textures, and blocks of text arranged in perspective. I love what I ended up with. At least for now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

More concentric circle abstract art

I really like making this style of abstract art. The chaotic arrangement of geometric technical shapes really appeals to me. I've done another one like this in watercolor, but it takes soooooo looooong to dry, especially as I'm waiting to add layers of color. This whole piece took about six hours to finish. I'm very happy with the results.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tiny wall art

This is the smallest piece of wall art I've ever made. My friend Amy Dreyer works at the Frame Shop in Ames and she had this small sample frame with a pre-cut mat sitting around the back room. The art area measures 3" x 3". So she gave it to me, figuring I might be able to make something neat to fit inside it. So that's one of the things I did this weekend. Ink on bristol paper.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I've been paid with weaponry.

So the folks at Cold Steel loved my painting of the Awesome Sword so much that they agreed to send me one of their Two-Handed Great Swords in exchange for a full-size framed print.

They're not kidding. I would not want to be at the business end of this thing. Lance brought in a bunch of pumpkins to work, so we took it out by the pond and had fun slicing them to ribbons.

Fuckin' pumpkins anyway.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BPMI club Figure Drawing

I started once again going to the Tuesday and Thursday night two-hour figure drawing sessions hosted by the Iowa State BPMI Club. Last night I brought my laptop with me and knocked out this piece. I felt like doing more of a portrait.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Awesome Sword is Awesome.

In order to fully appreciate this painting, you need to watch the video that inspired it:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ames Flooding Panoramic images

I took some photos today of the flooding in Ames.
The new Aquatic Center.

University Blvd (formerly Elwood Dr) looking south toward Lincoln Way.

University Blvd looking south toward Jack Trice Stadium.  The ridged-dome building in the distance is the indoor football practice facility.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Digital Abstract

I had some downtime today.  My day job has me temporarily working at a law firm in Washington D.C., producing last-minute graphics.  After working 182 hours in 12 days I finally had a little downtime today.  Unfortunately I couldn't leave the office, so I walked around and took some photos of the building's architecture.  I used some of the shapes I found to make this little abstraction in Photoshop.  Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There is no solution.

This generally sums up my entire experience with Windows Vista.  This is a real error message.  Fortunately we'll be rolling out Windows 7 at work soon.  Maybe.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Catalog sketching again

Another portrait sketch; not much to say about this one.  I liked her hairdo.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Machinimal concepts 2

More silhouette ideas for the Machinimal project. I think we've narrowed it down to body type. We thought about going with a more insect-look, so I came up with variations of a grasshopper-like head. Then we decided we didn't want it to look too much like an insect, because then we would just be modeling an insect. We're happy with the quadriped body type and want to take that further. We also like the big knife-like mandibles. I think I'm ready to start some detail sketching.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Machinimal concepts 1

I started a new collaborative character design project that I hope to complete to finished 3D model with Joel Lueck.  The plan is for me to come up with the character designs and concept art, model sheets, color/material studies and textures.  Joel will do most of the 3D modeling, materials, lighting, and if we decide to take it further, character rigging for animation.  If it gets that far (and I hope it does) I plan on helping with the environment design and extra scene modeling.

The idea is to create a biomechanical organism that may or may not be a weapon; haven't decided yet.  Not just a cyborg or robot shaped like an animal, but a living thing made of composite tissue, muscles, metal, cables, nano-fibers, stuff like that.  I'm taking some inspiration from the works of H.R. Giger, among other places.

This is just a silhouette sheet, to give me an idea of what the general shape of the creature will be.  So far I like the bottom-left two.  I like the idea of a creature that moves like a primate.  I've always found the image of a gorilla charging very intimidating and scary.  I thought of that, only much faster and sleeker.  We may or may not incorporate guns into the creature; perhaps the creature itself needs no firearms.  Blades, however, might be cool.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Catalog sketch

I've found that sketching from clothing catalogs is a great way to practice drawing people. They contain great references for fashion, hair, anatomy and so forth. This sketch was from the Talbot's winter catalog. It keeps getting delivered to my house, addressed to the previous owners if you're wondering what I'm doing with a women's clothing catalog.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Art Nouveau Heather

I finished this portrait of my ex-girlfriend about 5 days before we broke up. I thought I'd post it here anyway. It was inspired by the art of Alphonse Mucha.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

3D Bacteria

One of my tasks this week was to create some realistic-looking bacteria. This is what I came up with. I created a capsule with some mesh optimization and a VRayDisplacementMod modifier using a cellular procedural map. My material has a Diffuse map with a falloff and a Self-illumination map with a falloff and adjusted output levels to get that "overbright" look. The field of view and background effects are done in Photoshop.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

3D Cell Phone Model

This is what I did at work last Tuesday. I built and modeled a cell phone in 3D for a project at work. Using my LG enV3 phone as a loose reference, I started with a box, 10 segments long, 6 wide and 3 deep.

I added an Edit Poly modifier and moved some vertices around.

I then added a TurboSmooth modifier.

I added another Edit Poly modifier on top of that, extending the length of some of the lower vertices and separately beveling the groups of polygons that make up the buttons and the screen.

I created a cylinder for the navigation/OK button.

I added an Edit Poly modifier, insetting and beveling polygon groups as needed.

First render pass, using VRay global illumination.

Second render, with preliminary materials.

Final render, with refined materials and texture map. The entire process, including waiting for test renders, took about 3 hours. Boom. Cell phone. Give me something hard next time (that's what she said).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Final Bullet - Finished!

After a few more days of tweaking and adding detail, I'm calling this one finished. First, I decided I didn't like the direct lighting on the dreadlocked figure in the background. His definition just made him look too much like a foreground figure. So I restricted my background hunters to silhouettes with rim lighting. They look much more sinister that way.

I adjusted the cloth wrappings around his ankles based on some photoreference sources. I added detail to the vertical pipe. I like that smaller pipe that snakes around; it adds interest. I also added a layer of grime to the main character and refined his hair and facial blending.

Then came the ground itself. Man, I need some training and tutelage on how to draw ground junk. I spent most of today working that up, with lots of false starts. Nothing looked right to me. Junk, rubble, clutter, detritus, I've always had a problem with that. Maybe I'm sweating it too much, because it's not the focal point, but I'd like to get better at that area of painting and concept art. I think I just need to practice painting from real scenery or just go to a junkyard and take a whole bunch of photoreference. Overall I'm quite happy with how it turned out, though. I think this is one of my best paintings yet.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Final Bullet work in progress #6

It took me a while to hit my stride today with this, but I made some great progress. Mostly concentrated on the background, blocking in some middle ground textures & shapes. I always have trouble somehow with connecting the background to the foreground, and too often I think I end up just adding a layer of fog or ground smoke. I'd like to avoid doing that with this one, although it is a dirty environment and there's going to be a lot of atmospheric dust.

I refined the man's pistol a little, but that's about it for him today. I really like what I did with that crane thing in the mid/background. And I started adding in my hunters. I like the lighting I added to the hatchet man, but I worry it's a bit much and maybe I want to keep these figures as mostly silhouettes. At any rate, this is really coming together.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Final Bullet part 5

I wasn't quite happy with the shape of his gun, so I altered it a bit and extended it out. I still need to give it the small details bu I'll come back to it later. I resolved some of the lighting in his left pant leg, but it's by no means finished. I also modeled his right forearm further and carved some more realistic cast shadows in front of him.

The boots were problematic because I didn't know what kind of shoes I wanted him to wear. I wanted to give him military-style boots but took care to avoid making them look too much like shoes I usually draw, which are usually of the generic utility boot variety. I'll need to go in and change his ankle wrappings; at this point they look too "neat." I want to make them a bit more tattered and blasted. His shoes too; they need some grime. He needs to look like he's been through hell.

I'm really happy with where this is going. At this point I only have two layers; the background and the man. I love just painting over my mistakes; it makes the art more interesting.

BPMI Figure Drawing

I tried some color with this one; warm shades of flesh tone for the light areas and cool shades of violet for the skin shadows. Mixed it up with some greens, etc in the midtones. Not much else to say about this one, except I wish I had more time to refine both of her feet a bit more.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Final Bullet part 4

More progress on the digital painting this week. I worked out the folds and lighting on his shirt and right pant leg, and refined his face, which is by no means finished. His left hand (your right) is holding the bullet, and I had my co-worker Liz take a look at this to see if it made sense. She informed me that the bullet may be a bit hard to see (she thought it was some kind of detonator, mostly from the way he was holding it), and that I might want to change the pose of the hand so that he's holding the bullet with his fingertips. This would bring the bullet out of the shadow of his hand and give it more focus. I was a bit dismayed by this, as I was very happy with the lighting and pose of the left hand but at the same time I know she's right.

So I may paint a new version of his left hand (on a new layer of course) and see if that works. This is, I have found, where a good artist can really shine. It comes back to having the will to destroy your work and remake it into something better. And it's not like I'm on a deadline for this, so I'll give it a try.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Final Bullet part 3

After finishing up some freelance obligations, I made some more progress on my painting today. I like how the tactical vest is coming out, with all the pouches. I had to consult some photo references of soldiers- Marines, SAS and the like. I added some refinement to his face. This is a tricky painting because he's mostly in shadow, which requires pulling off very subtle changes in value. I'll have to make sure I rough him up a bit and not make him look too clean, because he's been chased and shot at for some time now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Final Bullet part 2

Made some more progress on my illustration today, after a few false starts. I wasn't sure what to do about the background, or the color palette. But I think for now I'll concentrate on value and composition above everything else. The trick is to try to make a cool futuristic dystopian landscape and do it quickly. Again, this is a learning project, so I was trying some new things. Repeating shapes here and there, skewing, transforming, trying to match the perspective, etc. I figured a patrol vehicle would be a nice touch.

I never know how to go about doing the ground plane. I want to avoid just putting in atmospheric mist all the time to obscure the ground surface, and I want lots of junk and clutter in this one. That should be fun. Overall I'm happy with how this is going.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Final Bullet

This week I embarked in earnest on my latest digital sci-fi/fantasy painting endeavor. It's about a man being hunted and chased by a pack of enemies. He has put up quite a fight so far, but now he's tired, trapped and down to one last bullet for his pistol. I wanted the story to suggest that this man wants so badly to avoid being taken alive by these people (or things) that he's contemplating what to do with his final bullet, and seriously considering using it on himself.

I started with a thumbnail composition and value study, trying to set the tone of a dark, post-apocalyptic environment in which savage beings roam the landscape. I blocked in the main character easily enough, hiding in shadows with the enemy searchlights casting upon him a nice outline of rim light. Then I blocked in some distant silhouettes of characters, and that's where my first hurdle appeared.

I wasn't sure how I wanted these fiends to appear. Are they human? Alien? Machine? Animal? I started putting together character studies involving mostly silhouettes to try to see which type of character cuts the most threatening profile. I'm still unsure about which one I like the most, but I do like several of these - particularly the dreadlocked rag-wrapped person carrying a hatchet. I might give him a gas mask as well. He looks like he might be some sort of cannibal. I also like the tentacled alien-thing, who looks as though it might want to experiment our protagonist. But then I've always thought that the most barbaric creature to man is man himself, so perhaps that's how I'll proceed.

So I started painting the actual illustration in high-resolution this afternoon. I am, as one of my art instructors used to say, "on the board". I've got a nice composition, I think. His face is supposed to be the focal point of the painting, and I've got that smack in the center. I've got his body shape and hands fairly well blocked in, and I added a layer of rim light to see some contrast and separate him from the background. I'll be posting some more updates soon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Heather sketch

My girlfriend and I were sitting in the living room last week waiting for the AAA van because my truck wouldn't start. She got out her knitting, so I busted out the Moleskine. This is my first honest effort at drawing her. I hope you enjoy it.