Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vector Art - Old Style Brick Building

Here's what I did at work today. I made a new building for a current project that we can also to add to our isometric vector art library. A turn-of-the-century 3 story brick building with a business at ground level and apartments above.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Diablo III Wizard - WIP #4

Getting closer still. I just need to paint in the detail for the background and populate the scene with a couple more beasts and it'll be done. I might adjust the levels on the carrion bat (one-eyed winged monster) to bring it out more, but it might be fine. I'll look at it later.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Diablo III Wizard - WIPs #2 & #3

I'm happy with the progress I've made on the wizard so far this week, with what little free time I've had. I decided that I didn't like her floor lamp staff; it looked too inadequate and unimpressive. Not "Blizzard" enough. So I made it into a dragon (or wyvern, depending on how much of a geek you are). I like how the staff gets cropped out of frame. Early critiques of this one commented that she was too close to the wall, and I think that's a fair point at this stage, but I think the following WIP fixes that quite a bit.

 Here I've just about finished the shading and texturing on the wizard and started to fill in tone and lighting detail in the background. It's still a long way off, but I think it's a lot closer. I added a foreground creature to balance the composition, and I'll add shading details and rim lighting to it, which will help draw the viewer's eye back to the bottom half of the composition. I also brought her left foot back, which makes the pose more energetic and dynamic.

My Flats channel.

I'm still ambivalent about the process of flatting. It's a common technique with coloring comic books. The idea is to separate areas of color using the lasso tool (anti-alias turned off) and paint bucket. It's a time consuming process but when it's done you have a channel or layer with which you can use the magic wand tool to make selections. This way, if you don't like the color of the pants or something, you can repaint it quickly using broad strokes that won't disturb adjacent areas. However, it does take time and I think it's probably better to not be so careful and just paint over stuff. if you have to repaint areas it makes it more interesting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Diablo III Wizard - WIP #1

I went away from this one for a while but now it's back. I've worked out the full composition and background. I'll figure out what sort of beasts with which to populate it later. I've worked out a basic color palette and am ready to start painting for real, although I'm still not satisfied with her staff. It reminds me too much of a floor lamp. I'll probably change it to a dragon or something more impressive.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What I Did Today: Micron Scale

We needed an illustration to show how small a micron (1/1000 mm) is. I made this using 3ds max and Photoshop. I painted the hair scale texture in Photoshop and rendered a bent cylinder and rounded box in 3ds max with VRay global illumination. I used a variation of the scale texture as a displacement map, and for the salt crystal I used a bitmap texture as a bump map. The box has a slight refraction. After the render I brought it back into Photoshop and did some paint-over to enhance the highlights, occlusion, and the outer cross-section.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Landscape Speedpainting 1

A one-hour speedpainting, using a freeze frame from the movie Brotherhood of the Wolf as a reference.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Computer Cable Icons

Holy crap, was August 28 my last update?! Jesus Christ, I need to get better at this. I've been drawing and making stuff, but I've been horrible at updating this. Anyway, here are some more isometric vector icons I made today, for a project.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Diablo III Demon Hunter - Finished!

A second Diablo piece is in the can. I added a couple creatures from the actual game to the background, filled in the middle ground with branches and terrain, and there you go. I feel like I want to move on to another story-driven illustration for the next project, although I'm still planning on making a piece for each of the 5 classes. I think Wizard is next.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Diablo III Demon Hunter - Color WIP #1

So here's some work in progress for the Demon Hunter. I'm really trying to use a limited palette this time. More or less. I'm really happy with how it's turning out, although I might crop that flowing scarf out of the picture frame a little bit. I also reworked the hood somewhat; the way it folded into her chin scarf wasn't right.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


This is a collection of a bunch of icons I've done for work over the years. We gradually moved to an isometric (no vanishing-point perspective) style because it looks better with two objects next to each other, and they can be positioned anywhere on the stage for animation. This represents a tiny fraction of the art assets I've made over the last five years for Demonstratives, Inc.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Diablo III Demon Hunter - Line art finished

I really like this one so far. I think it's a solid composition; the flow of the action circulates the eye around the piece. I might add a weapon being dropped by the demon, hovering in midair and sort of pointing toward the Demon Hunter's face. Time to start adding color.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Diablo III Demon Hunter - pencil art 1

I'm starting a new Diablo III piece for the Demon Hunter. Here's the first pencil artwork. I'm really happy with it so far. And no, it's not upside-down; she's in mid-backflip.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Concept Sketch - Dark Conjurer

This was a fun little character concept drawing I made on Friday. You could say I was a bit inspired by Brom. Ink & marker on moleskine.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Diablo III Barbarian - Okay, NOW it's finished.

I forgot to add the blood splatter! You can’t have a berserker rage attack without some blood and gore splattered all over the guy. I also added some dirt particles getting flung up into the air, and I think this more successfully connects the barbarian to the rest of the composition. Okay, for real, I’m done this time.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Flashback: Get Well Card for a Friend

I ran across this little gem I made 5 years ago when my friend Matt was hit by an SUV while riding his moped in Iowa City. He broke his hip, if I remember correctly, and it was really awful, so I wanted to cheer him up. I found some cheesy “thinking of you” card at the store, ripped out the insert, and made my own ink/watercolor illustration. He told me that when he opened it and looked inside he couldn’t remember the last time he laughed so hard. Mission accomplished.


I made this logo for a fake company today. Fun.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Diablo III Barbarian - Finished!

Alright, it was time to put this one to bed so I can concentrate and finish my IMC painting. I plan on coming back to this IP, however, and making a series of 5 pieces of fan art, one for each class. I already have the Demon Hunter thumbnailed out. I put the finishing touches on the background, refined the hellspawn, rendered the hand and re-drew the leather cloth. Pro artist tip: Crumpled pieces of copier paper make great reference for flowing fabric. Many thanks to Doug Alexander and Boris Vallejo for their useful critiques at IMC! I plan on writing another post about that, but I'm still sick and I need to lay down. Goodnight.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Squaw Creek ink & marker sketch

Here’s a 60-minute sketch sitting on the banks of Squaw Creek at Stuart Smith Park in Ames. One of the things I learned (or rather, was reminded of) at IMC is that if I’m having trouble with landscapes and “inventing” terrain (one of my weak points), then sit outside and practice drawing from nature. Pay attention to the perspective of ground planes, how water transitions to shore, rock patterns, all that stuff. So here’s the first of many.

Side note: Prismacolor and Copic have very different ideas about what “warm grey” looks like.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Diablo III Barbarian - WIP 6

Okay, so I think I’m satisfied with where the Barbarian is at this point, so it’s time to move on to really resolving and adding to the peripheral elements. I re-drew the imp and adjusted his lighting & values. I think this one is a lot more successful. I also added lava and a stream of hellspawn or whatever coming out of Mount Arreat. I may keep one and ditch the other. At any rate, it needs just a few more denizens populating the foreground to make it look like he’s really leaping into a horde.

My art materials that I shipped back home from the IMC just arrived today, so that means I can get back to work on my oil painting! Yeah, I think I should just go ahead and sell my TV, XBox, PS3…

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Some post-IMC artwork

Here's a couple quick things I did after I got back from the Illustration Master Class last weekend. This is a sketch of my good friend Galen, based on a photograph. 

This is a quick thank you card for taking care of my cats while I was away at the IMC last week. I like personalized cards. Whenever I buy a card in the store I always feel like I’m paying someone else to think for me. Not a very good likeness of my cats, but it was more of a sketch.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Diablo III Barbarian - WIP 5

First of all, I just got back from the Illustration Master Class and to say I had the time of my life would be a huge understatement. I met so many wonderful people and got such good instruction and advice it's hard to describe it right now. Plus it's late and I need to go to bed. But here's some more progress on the barbarian while I wait for my art supplies to ship back to me.

I received some informative feedback from none other than the great Boris Vallejo. I could barely contain myself as he looked over my shoulder, offering advice! Doug Alexander (an art director from Blizzard!) also gave me a great critique. It was his idea to smooth out the left side of the barbarian's figure (his right) into one smooth motion line. This gives him so much more energy compared to the previous version. I wanted to move the axe over to the other side, but the hand position just doesn't make sense that way. I'll probably drop its opacity or something to push it back and keep that smooth action curve.

I still need to do a lot to the foreground; populate the area with more hellspawn, etc. Mount Arreat is looking quite good, I think. I'd like to finish this up in the next couple of days so I can jump back into completing my IMC painting.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Diablo III Barbarian - WIP 4

I think the barbarian is starting to look pretty good! This is making me want to do a whole series of all 5 Diablo III classes. I can't wait to press on with the crowd of demons.

Friday, June 1, 2012

IMC 2012 - Consu Alien Model

Here's some more pre-viz work for the Illustration Master Class coming up in a week. I thought it would be a good idea to make a 3D poseable model of the Consu alien based on the description in the book. It has 3 sets of limbs: the two main legs used for locomotion, the small articulated limbs used for delicate manipulation, and the oversized razor appendages that can be used for attacking foes and counterbalancing. It could even drive them into the ground and rear up, kicking with its back legs. I think this is a pretty damn good design.

The model here is going to be used strictly for posing. I plan on adding hair, texture, ornamentation, and perhaps some more spikes around the edges of the carapace.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Diablo III Barbarian - WIPs 2 & 3

I made some great progress on this one today. I finished the pencils for the barbarian and foreground hand, scanned them in to Photoshop and started laying in rough color and background.

I wanted to do this  from a low perspective looking up, but I wanted to add a whole crowd of demons/hellspawn in the background. The unlucky foreground demon needs buddies. I'm really excited for this piece; I don't want to stop working! This is where the momentum really kicks in.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Diablo III Barbarian - WIP 1

I've been kind of obsessed with the art and style of Diablo III lately. And yeah, the game is kind of addictive. I thought it would be fun to do some fan art. I think each of the classes have their own appeal, but I'll start with the Barbarian. This is just the preliminary pencil "figure pose" drawing. I'll start adding clothing and hair next.

Monday, May 21, 2012

IMC 2012 - preliminary sketching 1

The Illustration Master Class 2012 is finally just around the corner! We've all received a selection of assignments from which to choose, and my pick was an illustration for the book "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi. Here's the project brief:

Old Man's War
Military SF book cover.

This is  series of books in which older people (men and women) can exchange their old bodies for enhanced young bodies. The catch, they are then obligated to two years fighting an incredible dangerous war on far off planets. And while they are now strong and young, they are also green. Show a male lead fighting an alien creature. You can show other troops as well, remember there are both male ad female infantrymen.

They wear thin self-healing battle armor. It is described as a leotard but feel free to cheat that a bit to make it look more interesting. They also have belts and packs with hightech versions of what you would expect a soldier t have — knifes, tents, etc.

They are fighting the Consu, a bug-like alien. They walk on two legs, have arms, but they also have large slicing, curved, razors coming our from above their arms.

This will give you a lot of background.

If anyone wants to read the book, feel free to sketch other scenes.

I chose this one because it sounds like an interesting story and I like the concept of a bug-like alien, and I've always been fascinated with the organic machine-like body forms of insects and their various functions.

So I started on some sketches this week:

This is my first attempt at what the Consu alien might look like. I probably spent too much time on this one, because I don't think it's really the body shape I want. But it's not a bad start, I think. I thought it would be a good idea to try some rough silhouettes.

Some of the heads were recycled from a "Machinimal" concept I was working on some time ago. I thought they might be useful for this illustration as a general "bug" type head. I don't really want to take the concept much further without letting the client (i.e. instructors) review it, so I got to work on the main character...

I know the character's armor is described as a leotard, but I'm not crazy about going that way. I've also never been a fan of the "superhero spandex" look. I like my costumes to have some weight. After getting a few of these down I started on some composition thumbnails...

Note: these are VERY loose and rough marker sketches. At this point I'm really just trying to define the fore, mid and back ground planes using a warm 30%, 50%, and 70% gray to see what makes an interesting composition. My 70% gray was running out of ink so I tried some digital thumbnails...

These all start as a grayscale sketch. I like being able to transform and copy stuff independently in Photoshop. Once I had each composition where I wanted it I added some color layers with the blending mode set to Overlay. This is to help establish the mood. It's a battle scene, so I'm thinking lots of reds and yellows. I figure I can mix and match color schemes, but hopefully this will be enough to get me started at IMC. I don't want to get too detailed right from the start; I know that my sketches are going to get heavily critiqued and the less I have to re-draw the better.

I can't wait for this workshop! This is going to be fun. I hope my oil painting skills are up to the task.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

7 DEX Fighter Faceplant

Last weekend was the annual April Fool's D&D Game at my friends house. We all rolled for stats, and here's how my human fighter character came out:

13 STR (+2 human bonus)
10 CON
13 INT
11 WIS
11 CHA

Him being a bit of a klutz, I thought showing him flaceplanting after tripping over a log was appropriate. I just hope the sword doesn't land point-down.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Circular Stone Glyphs

This started out as a Moleskine doodle. It's just a series of 139 random glyphs. No significance in that number fo me, just ended up that way. Could make a neat game puzzle.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dead Unit Zombie study

I made one more zombie sketch to try to nail down the look and pathology of deadfly-infested zombies in our story. Note the black lesions about ready to burst. Yummy! Adobe Photoshop art.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dead Unit concept sketches

I'm collaborating on a new graphic novel series called Dead Unit. It's about the aftermath of a zombie plague that was spread by a new species of fly. Here is some concept art.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chuck Norris Drama Club

Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,
Yeah, not much else to say about this drawing. Pencil and ink, scanned and colored digitally.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Anatomy Studies

I've been making some new anatomy drawings in my Moleskine. A fantastic tool for creating a figure pose is DAZ 3D. I use the Michael character model with the muscle textures and morphs. It's a brilliant way to get a good photo reference. The body morphs are excellent as well. You can make your figure super muscular, skinny, obese, whatever you need. Then just set up your lights and render an image.

I made two versions of each; an ink and copic marker drawing, and a colored pencil muscle map drawing. Then I scanned the images into Photoshop, aligned them together, and set the muscle map as the top layer at Multiply with 50% opacity.