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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. 





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?!