Thursday, December 2, 2010

More Sketchbook Scans

Here's a few more recent sketches.
Based off a still of Anthony Purefoy in Rome.

Some concepts for Barbarella.

Other dudes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gobbolicious Process

When I work, I'm frequently plagued by a lot of backtracking and second-guessing, and my process can be quite sloppy as a result. But with this recent piece, everything came together quickly and efficiently, so I thought it'd be a good idea to record my steps for posterity.

The piece was for a challenge title "Classic Fantasy Pinup", the idea being to depict  a classic D&D fantasy female in a pinup pose. While my entry wasn't the best out there and didn't really push the envelope, I had a blast painting it.

I knew I wanted to do a cute goblin chick, since that in itself would be a bit outside the box. So I began by jotting down some thumbnail sketches.

The upper right one was starting to come together for me, but I began to feel that it wasn't sweet enough of a pose -- the "come-hither" look with a straight-on pose seemed more aggressive than I wanted. I also realized that my initial concept of having a very goblinoid face just doesn't fit the pinup bill. The rough pose on the bottom right started to remind me of some classic pinups, so I decided to roll with that, and cuting up the face.

Next step was to do some research. I came across this great Gil Elvgren piece and used that as reference for my next sketch. I was reminded also of the famous Coppertone ads with the girl getting her bikini bitten by a dog, and so added the weird little larva-puppy.

From there I took the sketch into Photoshop and set it on a Multiply layer at reduced opacity, and started doing some more decisive lines.

Once the basic lines were in place, I laid in some of the main shadow masses. I like to build up my shadows and my lights throughout the process, so at this stage they are still very faint.

My next step was to add a bit of texture to paint on. A blank white surface is really intimidating, so I like to add a texture to the background, something subtle without too much contrast. Once that's in, I can start to visualize the picture as a whole much better, and it also gives me more ability to push the shadows deeper and pull the highlights forward more. I also hit the background with a radial gradient to emphasize the light source, and began building up some highlights on the figure.

At this point, I decided her head was too small, which was making her look taller than a goblin should. I always picture goblins having big heads and big feet, so I scaled up both using Photoshop's Transform tool. I also decided to do the same for her ba-donka-donk so she'd have a bit more junk in the trunk: it's the focal point of the piece after all.

Time to add some more visual interest. On a separate layer I added some jewelry: I wasn't sure if I'd like it or if it'd come out right, so using a different layer for it really helped. For me, goblin jewelry is all about bones and rivets and leather and wood, so I start on a fingerbone armband and a tooth necklace.

I find that when I'm painting details like this, I can lose sight of the roundness of the overall structure of the jewelry because I'm so focused on the little parts and pieces that make it up. Having the different pieces of jewelry on separate layers enabled me to accentuate the way the various pieces wrapped around her wrists and arms by making use of the Warp tool (Edit > Transform > Warp).

I also put some basic colors down on a separate layer set to Hue. Hue and Color layers are a great way to put down preliminary colors. Because they are on a separate layer, you can tweak them and experiment with color schemes before committing yourself. I often add several layers of color on top of each other, mimicking the real-world qualities of oil paint.

Once I got a general idea about the colors, I flattened my layers and began to blend and lay in more colors and highlights. This stage is the most painterly, since I'm working the entire image and looking at how it works as a whole. From here, it was pretty much adding some rimlights to sell the volumes, and calling it a day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Koschei the Deathless - Process

Koschei the Deathless
I've more or less finished the Koschei painting, and submitted it. So here it is.

It was a great deal of fun to work on, and actually didn't take very long -- maybe 10-12 hours total? I think I'm finally settling into some sort of process.

I started out with a very loose sketch (first frame, below). I did that in my sketchbook with a dark, blunt pencil and a very light touch, just letting things happen. Next I took it into Photoshop, set it up as a Multiply layer, and dropped a gradient behind it. I wasn't feeling the pose of the arms, so I redid them completely. I gave him more of a menacing hunch, like he's ready to spring, while creating a nice triangle pointing up to the right with his upper arms, lower arms, and leg.

Then I worked up some tones in the figure, pushing the shadows back and pushing the highlights up. I threw down a rough layer of blue to separate his skin tones from the background, and further enhanced that separation by building up the light behind him and reinforcing his silhouette.
 Next I gave his face and beard some detailing so as to draw attention to that area, and added the cloak streaming out behind him. Oh yeah, and the duck. I had to use reference for that!

Koschei Process Shots
Speaking of reference, at this stage I started collecting reference images from the web: pictures of old faces, Slavic patterns & designs, Russian hats, photos of Ian Anderson ("Cross-Eyed Mary" was going through my head for most of this painting...)

Koschei ref sheet
The final stage consisted of making choices about his headgear and working out details on his clothing & jewelry, then enhancing the color saturation a bit.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Koschei the Deathless - WiP

I'm working on a piece for the ChoW over at called Koschei the Immortal. He's an old Russian/Slavic folk-character who has hidden his soul away and thus is immortal. But he looks ancient and bony (Koschei is similar to the word for "bones") and pretty horrible. If one could find and destroy the receptacle into which he's placed his soul, they could destroy him. (The receptacle is usually a pin inside an egg inside a hare inside a duck inside a chest on an island in the middle of the sea.)
So here's what I've got so far. I'm still rendering out details and polishing, but don't want to go too far with it, because I like the immediacy and energy of the strokes. The hat, boots and kilt are recent additions to make him feel less like a generic undead or crazed prospector, and to give him a touch of Russian flavor.

So I'm pretty settled on the latest hat he's wearing: I went through several different ones, from a fairly standard Russian nasal helm, to a Russian Orthodox headdress, to a traditional Russian fur hat with flaps. Playing with the various layers I stumbled across the fur-hat-with-flaps combined with the top of the nasal helm. It's my favorite, and I feel like it evokes a bit of that Russian/Turkish thing. It carries the directional energy of the figure more than the others, too. I liked the priestly thing, but I feel like it was breaking the directional energy of the figure too much. The fur hat seemed a little anachronistic, and the original helmet was a little boring and didn't feel "Russian" enough.

P.S. When I say "Russian", "Turkish" and "Slavic", I mean these things in only the most broad and sophomoric way. I didn't do a lot of cultural research for this!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Summer Sketchbook Scans

Here are a few pages from my sketchbook. Mostly just doodles and stuff from this summer.
I like satyrs who wear doublets. So classy.

I was feeling some Star Warsy stuff up top there.
Some silhouettes for character designs. Plus a chick.
Stuff. And a stormtrooper helmet.

Some heads, including a really crappy Ahsoka Tahno, Aayla Secura, and Asajj Ventress.