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Uncertain Times

General / 02 April 2020

Hello folks,

I guess at the core of it this is a heads up that I may be unsubscribing from Artstation Pro for a little while and my portfolio may look a bit different after this month. I wanted to ensure you that I'm not turning my back on the website or giving up on art or anything. I will likely just need some time to get my finances in order.

This is because a week ago today my mother passed away suddenly from an aneurysm that caused a massive stroke. It was completely out of the blue and totally unexpected. Having been present at the time, seeing her go like that has taken its toll on me but she was a wonderful woman and she gave me and siblings a great life and great memories to hold on to. So I know in time that we will heal.

It has, however, come at a very unfortunate time. Especially with the pandemic wreaking havoc across the world. Having been her carer for few years now a fair amount of my income was also tied up in the government aid I received for being unable to work full time while also caring for her. While I was still able to make a small amount of money from commissions and freelance work I could never commit to larger projects and keep looking after her, nor was I offered enough work to go full time anyway. Now with that aid going away and any replacement I might get weeks, if not months, away and a funeral to pay for it's going to be stretching my savings to the limit.

It goes without saying that any support you can drop my way by purchasing something from my store would obviously be greatly appreciated during this time. HOWEVER.

I'm not asking for charity or hand outs. Nor do I want that. 

I expect most of us face a very uncertain future with our finances right now and I would much rather people save their money if they need to. Buying art prints or hiring an artist to work on something no doubt seems completely frivolous at the moment. If my pro sub drops though my visibility on the site does go down in some respects so just the act of passing my name and portfolio on to anyone you think might have an interest in my work (now or in the future) would be a massive help. Perhaps more so than anything else.

Naturally, I'm not feeling particularly up to working on anything right this second but I will of course still be posting work and prints/products on here in the future. I lose access to the blog without pro though so I may not be able to give any longer form updates to talk about what's going on with me and my availability. It's a shame so much is being tied to the sub now but it is what is. You can always reach me by email and through twitter if needed. There are always links to that on the basic Artstation portfolio page everyone gets for free.

For now though, here's some stuff I've been working on behind the scenes. I was hoping to get some of this out sooner but no doubt you can likely expect to see it finished off in the future now. I'm still working on my personal project and I was even starting to learn Blender (which I got very invested in) before life decided it was being a bit too kind I guess. So plenty to look forward to.

See you soon everyone, stay safe!












A Difficult Year

General / 27 December 2019

Hey folks!

It's been awhile.

I just wanted to put a quick end of year post out to thank everyone that has stopped by, left messages/comments and maybe purchased something of mine from the store. I hope it has been useful if you did! There's now around 450 more of you since the beginning of the year as well so welcome to the fandom I guess? I'm not sure if such a term really applies. Either way, it's nice to know people are looking. It's tough to really get eyes on your work these days with so much talent out there. 

It has been a tough year for me. I was fighting some pretty hard burn out at the start of the year and then a family member was taken ill and sadly passed away in the late summer which caused, and continues to cause (for reasons I won't go in to), a lot of disruption at home. Some work I had on at the time also didn't pan out which came as a blow, as I had rejected other offers to try and focus on it. This only served to bring everything together in such a way that I felt I needed to simply step away. The eagle eyed among you might have noticed I changed my status from freelance to something a bit more ambiguous around this time to ward away further job offers. Which, thankfully, did work and I'm finally feeling a bit more recharged now.

So it does mean a lot to me to still see the follower count growing despite having posted so little. It was also great to see such nice comments on the recent King Arthur Challenge. It was all happening at a time where I was probably the least focused I've ever been and found myself hovering over that 'retiring from the challenge' button several times. In the end though, it proved to be a lifeline to a tiny bit of normality that I needed more than I realised. So, again, a big, big thank you to everyone and the handful that took it into the 3D phase. It was great to see the different approaches to it unfolding.

As for next year, I've not been completely idle. I've mostly been working on a personal project in the background, if only to keep busy. And, naturally, it has grown into something stupidly ambitious as these things do when you've too much time to think. Hopefully I'll be reigning it in a little and showing that off a bit more. I'm also using it to be a bit more experimental with some techniques though so it might take awhile before finals to start appearing.

I might look at trying to stream or at least record my workflow in the new year too. I'm not a very confident person though and I'm not sure there would really be much interest in it so I'm on the fence. Like this blog, it's likely a commitment I couldn't realistically keep up any real schedule with. However, I've noticed a lot of the people that follow me are beginners, so you guys would have to let me know if something like that would be of any use to you. I don't know when or if I'll return to being available full time freelance yet. I'm not completely ready. I will, as always, continue to consider any opportunities sent my way and do my best to answer any queries you might have though.

Anyway, that's quite enough. I'll leave you with something a little different of mine from that personal project, making good on the idea to share some of my music here by the end of the year too! (Just about xD)

Hope you all have a brilliant New Year and I'll see you...soon!?


Motivation Perils & More Experimenting With 3D

General / 15 February 2019

It has been a difficult few weeks. Despite continuing to draw and paint and experiment just for myself I've found I'm back, at least mentally, to where I was at the start of the year. Instead of recapturing the fun I think it might just be leaving me more directionless than ever. I really don't know what to make of it. Reading about the layoffs at Blizzard and the tweets that followed from those affected was quite the capstone to it all as well.

I wouldn't go so far as to say Blizzard was the dream for me, like it was for a lot of those unfortunate folks, as I've never had a set endgame in mind. I was hardly a super fan but I enjoyed a few of their games and, to a younger me, they definitely felt like something to aim for or to aspire to. Nevertheless I find myself sat here now having what I had begun to feel towards the end of last year reinforced in a way; The industry has changed from what I grew up with. I know layoffs are commonplace, that's nothing new. But if it just becomes another workplace where you have to worry about whether you'll have a job if profits aren't all they could be then that feels like it really shits on what it meant to me to work in it. And I have to wonder if anyone left in it will be honestly having fun making games at that point.

I don't know. I'm not sure it's really something I can fully form an opinion on with so little experience but it is deeply concerning and certainly has not helped my overall motivation lately. 

Anyway! Let's hop off of that before I wade too deep into something I don't fully understand and make a fool of myself.

Despite all the muddled up indecision going on in my noggin' I did experiment a bit further with Unreal. Before you wonder how I went from a bunch of crap grey blocks to this be aware I didn't make any of these assets or materials, they were free on the store. It's a mix of two packs.


I based it on this WIP from last time as the assets seemed to fit it pretty well overall.


It was an interesting endeavour but one that felt like it was taking its toll on my PC towards the end, no doubt because of something I did or did not do. So this is probably as far as I'll take it for now. I'd like to learn how to create my own assets and materials before looking to do it again. There was a few times where the assets weren't really there to create what I wanted (couldn't really find a great match for a sand material for instance) so I just had to make do or try and combine them in odd ways I don't think they were intended for. Plus I think it would be more gratifying to have at least one thing in there that you made yourself. The texture scaling is way off in some places and there's a lot to learn about lighting I feel too. Despite following some youtube guides I couldn't really seem to make much of a difference to how harsh the shadows looked. It works well enough for a hot, dry area as it is but I think if the area was anything else it would look quite right or set the wrong mood. 

Still for a first delve in to it I'm pretty pleased with what I'm taking away. 

Huge respect to anyone who's entered the 3D parts of the artstation challenges. Especially to the few of you who used my concepts. I'll definitely be more mindful of what you're working with if I enter any in the future. 

That's about it for now. Thanks for stopping by this week if you've stuck around.

And I'll see you soon?

Experimenting with 3D

Work In Progress / 01 February 2019

Hey folks!

It's been a quiet few weeks since my last update. I've really just been tinkering with a few things. First I've been trying to put the finishing touches on the Worgen Mage picture I talked about at the start of January. Incidentally, damn that month just disappeared for me! Everyone else I know has been complaining it felt like a year all by itself but I couldn't disagree more! I honestly don't know where it went! D=

Anyway he had to respec Arcane because I couldn't really get the snow working the way I wanted. I'm going to let it rest for a few weeks before coming back to have another look at it (Something I really like to advocate when you have the luxury of being able to do it). You really do just stop seeing mistakes and areas of improvement when you've been looking at something too long. 


Otherwise I've just been tinkering with incorporating a bit of 3D into my workflow. It's something I noticed several artists doing in the art challenges here on artstation and I have to say I'm really quite warming to it. At the moment I've only experimented with plopping down basic shapes to create a scene in Unreal 4, taking a screenshot and then painting over the top of it. I think the results have been a little mixed so far but it's very freeing to have all the perspective worked out, be able to move the camera around freely and be able to adjust the lighting on the fly. Excuse the crudeness of some of these, I'm still very much a novice at Unreal 4 and need to watch some more tutorials on certain things. 


-1-


-2-


-3-


-4-


Number four really ended up ignoring the base the most. It was also the first one I tried though. Number one is the most recent attempt. 

So far, finding the right balance between trying not to be over influenced by the 3D base, photobashing and painting has been the tricky part. Or, to look at it another way, actually feeling like I'm designing something/telling a story and not just painted a pretty picture. One and two were done with my personal project in mind so perhaps that's also played into to why I've warmed to them more.

Well that's about it for now. 

Thanks for stopping by and, as ever, I'll see you soon!?

Personal Project

Work In Progress / 18 January 2019

So this week I found myself wandering back to try and finish up some stuff for a personal project that I started last year. Fear not, I’ve not abandoned the Worgen Mage from last time. The plan is to go back to him, make it as good as it can be and put him alongside the Tauren Sunwalker from some time ago as a small series of paintings.

Varying what I work on seems to be working for me for the moment though and this attempt at a recovery is supposed to be about just focusing on what I want to do so that’s how it’s going to be. It is extremely rare to be allowed to actually post about actual work anyway.  Expect a work in progress folder full of stuff that I may or may not return to.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about and reiterating on my personal project since around 2015. I’m not particularly in any rush with it and I don’t mind if it never comes to anything. I guess it’s just really another hobby but one with a touch of catharsis to it. So I guess a natural starting point considering where I’m at. And already I’m going off on a tangent!

I’ve recently merged it with another idea I had as I was struggling with giving the protagonists any real depth and it felt like there was room to sub them in. This, in turn, changed a few characters and also added some new ones. Not massively but enough to make me want to revisit the work. I can’t really get into everything here as the lore surrounding the world is pretty extensive at this point and completely open to changes.

 


After finishing up General Morris, the focus was mainly around updating these guys. They were really the catalyst for the whole idea and came from a concept I did locally for a small demo right back in 2014. Originally they were called the Warg and were pretty much techno werewolves.


The more I developed the lore though the more they actually fell by the wayside. I updated their look a bit in 2016 as they had changed to soldier pawns by that point.


Then the idea changed again and the werewolf influence really didn’t fit anymore, it felt too juvenile given the context and didn’t match the tone I wanted. I experimented with this guy in the same year and got an ok concept out of it...


...but I was never really happy with it. It still felt like it was clinging to origins that didn’t apply anymore. So I took another look at the idea again last year. Recently, with merging the two ideas, they’ve taken on a new identity while still having some recognisable parts from those early days.


At the moment they’re back to being a race, this time called the Rhax. They’re a touch Borg in that their consciousness is linked. They’re a touch Venom in so much as that the sentient tech forms a symbiosis with a biological host. They’re not interested in creating a giant collective and assimilation of all species however and there is no switching between forms.


I’m still working on them and while I’m happier at the moment than I’ve ever been with them, I’m not sure if the concepts go far enough just yet. I think they could probably stand to be even more experimental in their design. But I think the lore is finally settled or at least settling. Anyway, they’re always really interesting to come back to, and painting that black, ‘Vader-esque’ armour is always pretty satisfying.

Well that’s about it for the past week or so. I think I’ll aim to get new blog posts up on a Friday from here on out. They might not be weekly. I hadn’t planned any kind of schedule for this as it’ll depend how things go, but it feels like a good way to round out a week all the same.

See you soon?!



My Organic Chaos

Work In Progress / 08 January 2019

So it has been an interesting first week already. I tried tinkering around with some stuff for a personal project but couldn't really find a groove with it. I do plan on finishing it so I'll post about it in the future, but for some reason it still felt a bit too close to actual work and I wasn't having as much fun with it as I thought I might.

The following night I'm listening to some music while playing Hearthstone. I'm up against the third hunter in a row and I'm two spell stones and two call of the wilds in by turn 8. I was never going to win that one and I'm a little bored of just queuing into hunters so I'm out, and out for the night as well. Warcraft is in my head now though and the random music stream I've tuned into is really pretty good. I'm not tired and I didn't really want to turn it off so I open up photoshop and start putting something down on the page. 

The Chaos begins. 

I often refer to my process as chaotic because from start to finish it's very loose. By the time I'm done I'm not even sure there was a process, I literally just bumble around the canvas until I'm happy to call it done. I don't even like to start with nice line art or sketching. I tell myself it's because I find I just get too stiff but I think I might just be a bit lazy. This isn't far off from initial sketches I've sent to clients. It's really quite bad I know, but I like to work with a lot wiggle room and experiment as I go. 

I guess something like this might be a bit closer to what I'd send off. It's loose but not too loose. I've no idea what I'm doing with the background nor do I have any plans for it. Flipping the work is essential though.

It's somewhere around this point I try and break away from a black and white image and throw in some colour (usually nothing more that ticking the colourise box in the Hue/Sat options if you're curious). It's different every time though, sometimes I'll start in colour but I typically find myself back adjusting values in black and white at some point before redoing the colour entirely. This is actually a big flaw I see in my work that I've tried and failed to correct. I don't establish a set colour palette, pretty much ever (as you'll see). It's a really bad habit that just feeds into the chaos. 

This is where I end the first night after looking up and seeing it's 2:30 am. The music stream has long since looped and it's been around six hours. Which, honestly, doesn't feel all that great to only be this far along. I accost myself for faffing around too much and almost don't hit save. It wasn't an unpleasant six hours, but it is just fan art. What to do? I eventually decided it's not terrible for something unplanned and that maybe I'll continue with it. So I flatten it (I try to work with as few layers as possible), save it and go watch TV for a bit. 


I don't touch it again for a few days still being unsure what I want to do with it. The world felt pretty quiet over the holidays though and no one was online to do much with so I put on some music again and see what happens.

I separated out the character and messed around with the background for a good hour or so. I don't know what I'm doing and still don't have a proper vision for it. I'm pretty frustrated with myself at this point despite the fact this is pretty typical for me. My mind has become a wrestling match now between "this is not efficient, you'd couldn't do this on a job. Get better!" and "This isn't job, it's supposed to fun, keep it experimental, keep it loose."

So I leave off the background for awhile and just try and go into auto pilot with colouring and detailing the character. Around another six hours later I've had enough for the night and I'm not sure if I'm having fun or not. I'm twelve hours in though, if I wasn't getting some enjoyment out of it I can't imagine I'd still be here. Colour palette is still in flux.


Another two days pass before I look at it again.

This session is shorter. I'm changing up the background colour and just adding more detail. The chaos is starting to subside and I think I see where I want to go with it.


The next day I'm back and immediately just start experimenting with the background. I'm also continuing to add some detail to the character.


You know what we need though? A big ass spell! Oh and another colour adjustment, obviously.

So this is where it's sitting currently. I want to refine the spell more as it's pretty messy and distracting. I think I might have introduced too much purple to the palette too so that will likely change. It's just refining the render from here really but you can guarantee I'll continue to faff with this one.

Was it fun in the end? I guess parts of it have been. I still don't really know how I feel.

If you made it this far, thanks for sticking it out to the end. Feedback about anything (the work, the blog in general etc.) always welcome if you have any.

And I'll see you soon?!

Happy New Year!

General / 02 January 2019

I wasn’t sure about starting this blog at first. I’ve tried numerous times in the past to keep one and they’ve always run out of steam before too long. Even with this attempt something seems to already be working against me as this is actually the second time I’ve wrote this post. The first draft showed as saved on the website but then promptly disappeared off into the ether. I can’t really remember most of what I wrote so I can only assume it was long and rambling (not that this will be any different as, let’s face it, I do like to go on a bit!).

I won’t lie, this could just be another one of those ideas we all tend to have at the start of a new year that thrums along great for a few weeks of January before the realisation that we’ve gone in too enthusiastically (yet again) sets in. You know how it goes. You blow through all that energy you stored up over the holidays in no time and somewhere around the 23rd it dawns on you that, actually, you’re not as up for it as you thought.

Hopefully that won’t be the case as I could use a place to put more long form posts about updates and WIPs, and this seems as good a place as any to do that. I’ve tried putting that kind of content on Facebook and Twitter for a while now but both platforms feel pretty ill suited to it; Character limitations, image limits, posts being suppressed and not being shared out to all followers for whatever reason, consistently asking for money to show it to more people. It’s just not really good enough. So it seems kind of pointless to continue using those sites for this when I can just consolidate it all here, go into much more depth about what I’m doing and probably receive better feedback.


I do have another reason for wanted to start this blog too however.

Over the past year or so I’ve been finding myself losing an enormous amount of passion for drawing and painting. Something I can attribute, in part, to working on several projects in quick succession that have either got cancelled or simply stopped communicating with me. I think a greater contributor though is that I’ve also realised that the industry I grew up with and that inspired me so much has changed in ways that no longer really appeal to me. I think, after all these years, I may be chasing a dream I no longer really want.

I’ve changed as well and, ultimately, I think the reason I’m doing this now needs to change or I really will end up a jaded mess; too mentally exhausted to make good decisions and blind to see good opportunities.

I’d imagine this all sounds a bit strange coming from someone who recently had a commission from an industry giant. Which was wonderful by the way and I can’t understate how much the opportunity meant to me. I feel I need to make that clear as I know quite a number of people that follow me are beginners and I don’t want to put you off. My experience won’t be and shouldn’t be your experience and if anything that opportunity is proof that good things do come from persistence. At the end of it all though, and without getting too flowery, it wasn’t quite enough to reignite a dying flame. Behind the scenes I’ve really been burning out.

There was a point last year where I’d honestly never been closer to setting down my Wacom pen for good and just walking away from it all. But even at the lowest ebb there was a part of me that kept coming back to the tablet, sticking on some music and just seeing what happened. And that’s really what I’d like the other part of this blog to be. I want to take a step back and try, for the most part, to just do this for myself for awhile. There is stuff from my other creative pursuits that I’d like to ideally share too as they really do feed into one another and are great change of pace when inspiration for one or the other is really running dry.

So hopefully this blog will end up documenting that journey as well, wherever it may lead. Perhaps that purpose alone will keep it alive.

Anyway, that really is enough for an introduction. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and Happy New year to you all!

See you soon!