Monday, 25 November 2013

The Lost - Zbrush Sculpt

I've been using Zbrush pretty heavily over the last week or so and it has been an astounding trip into the sculptural artistic side of CG. Last Tuesday evening I started a new sculpt, and yesterday I managed to finish the piece within a deadline and to a level of finish that I was happy with.  So, it is with this that I am very proud to present my latest piece, The Lost.

The whole process of moulding digital clay is similar to painting concept art, it becomes very meditative and self involved. I find myself locked away for hours at my desk just adding the smallest details until it all comes together. The turnaround of work within Zbrush is part of what makes the process so enjoyable. Having such instant feedback to an image is both motivating and exciting. It pushes you ahead with the knowledge that you understand how forms read, how textures appear and how detail suggests expression. It's been an extremely positive experience and one that I'll be discussing in detail soon with some breakdown of the process. But for now, these few shots will have to do.

This piece was created for application to Digital Art Masters Volume 9 and in turn pushed me to learn a lot about the software in a very short space of time. It was a great experience and I'll be doing plenty more Zbrush work in the near future. I'll update soon with some details on the making of this project and plenty of other work soon.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Concept Art - The Priest - 3D Paint Over

More concept art this week, this time another class demo which demonstrates the process of painting over 3D block models. This isn't a technique I've used before, but it's a great addition to the toolbox to help speed up work flow or deal with tricky perspective issues. The final image can be seen below and although not fully refined conveys the concept well enough for a client to give feedback.

It all starts in Maya. This example was a very quickly built block model which I roughly assembled according to the wooden Baptist churches of the U.S. It shouldn't be a perfect model or full of detail, just the key forms blocked out with primitive objects. Next, play around with the camera, explore interesting compositions and perspectives. The most revealing aspect of this approach was simply the exploration of composition using the virtual camera within Maya. The great thing about 3D software is that you can explore a space as if a cinematographer or film maker were setting up a shot. Finally, render out a few images that seem most compelling to you. In this case, the render was as follows...

This specific piece was created with the simple theme that it would be within a church. I've been reading Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian so that played a factor in the reference, but if I were to spend more time on development, this would need more research and attention to real world detail. Anyhow, this video demonstrates the overall painting process.

One problem that became apparent was how restricted and set this approach can seem, so I'd actually recommend working on multiple studies at once in order to kick some energy into the process. It will just help you generate ideas with less worry and also provide a great range of shots for you to then develop further. So, that may be a thing I do this weekend if time permits. Either way, I hope this provides a little insight into another approach. More painting thingys coming soon!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Concept Art and the Process of Painting

It's been a while since I updated my blog, largely because some freelance projects have been coming to an end and time has been limited. But now that things are slowing down a little I have a chance to post some concept art work completed for class demonstration purposes. So I thought I'd quickly post a breakdown of my painting process.

The final piece above was a test bed for a few ideas, largely just to experiment with applying colour and detailing a simple comp, but also to see how I could go about a more architectural and commercial image. It suffers from generic sci fi design due to it being a demo piece, but it is an every going journey into refining a process.

So, with this complete piece in mind, I thought I'd briefly demonstrate the basic strategy I follow to create a final image. Almost every project I do, whether 3d or 2d, normally starts with thumbnails. It's a quick form of getting ideas on the page and always helps loosen up the painting muscles. If a final painting is going terribly, it's normally because I didn't spend enough time thumbnailing the idea.

The process normally ends with a few pages similar to that shown above. It's part of the process that is of huge value because it gets all my awful ideas out before I put any real time into the work. It's quick and eye opening. It stops me from being boring and makes me less precious about my ideas. Many of these thumbnails are often messy blobs and smudges, but they read as forms and allow me to make decisions.

After this stage I normally start to develop an idea a little further using "colour comps." These tend to be larger studies with an emphasis on light and colour decisions. The composition should be working in the thumbnail form, but this stage allows you to think about the other key elements that you want to get right early on. The video below is a display of this process, with me blocking in colour and refining details to work out how I envision the final image. The video was a test to record some of my painting process, so it's sped up and without narration, but the more recording I do in the future, the more I shall post.

In this case, the final page of colour comps turns out like so...

I can then take one of these compositions, chuck it onto a new canvas, and push it forward as a final piece of concept art. These comps are all fairly generic purely because they were created for demonstration purposes and without real world reference. However, knowing that on a small level; the colour, composition and rough perspective all work, means I can then spend hours adding detail and finish without worrying about the final result have fundamental floors. The detailing stage of the final painting is fairly straight forward. It's just a case of painting in the details required to fill out the world. The one thing that often gets forgotten is tonal range. By desaturating your image, you can check to see if your tonal range is working correctly. I'll be posting more on this soon, but as you can see, the black and white image of my original painting has a fairly broad range of tones which is a big part of creating depth.

This is the basic breakdown of my painting process. I start with thumbnails, I develop with colour comps and then refine a final image. When time allows I'll be posting about a lot of this with more detail. I'll also be uploading more concept artwork and recorded video of how I create them. Some of my latest freelance projects should be on the blog soon, which have pushed me to do some really exciting and odd things, so keep checking back for a full range of work in the near future.