Let's get Cinematic!

Maybe you are a character artist looking to understand backgrounds.  Maybe you're trying to break into comics.  Maybe you want to figure out how to tell dynamic and dramatic stories visually.  Maybe you want to learn how to storyboard.

Let me recommend an amazing resource for you:

https://movie-screencaps.com

This site automatically grabs HD screencaps from bluray movies every 2 seconds (I think).  Every movie has literally hundreds or thousands of screen captures.

Study them.  Use them as lighting references.  Examine where characters are standing in relationship to each other, or background elements.  Hell, if you are a student, replicate them using your own characters!

While I'm working on my "Beyond Human" challenge on artstation, I'm deep diving into the work of Roger Deakins, because I want to try and capture some of the essence of his cinematography in my keyframe paintings.  I am *blown* away.  Stuff like this:

Folks, this is great visual storytelling.  You know instantly this is NOT a friendly chat.  They are divided.  You know he's the one with the upper hand - his pose is relaxed, hers is not, and he has the phone on his side of the frame.  She blends into the shot because she matches the warms, he is a shock to the system with the blue.  So many people just look at shots of shit blowing up, but *this* is where real story telling happens.

Or this:

Bond may think he has it covered, but this frame is telling us his back is exposed.  He is vulnerable.  This kind of story telling is what great movies do incredibly well, and this site gives you hundreds of movies to look at.  You don't need to watch the films, and in fact, looking at them this way helps me to step outside of the story and really study them.  I tend to get sucked in by motion, music and dialog, which is great for enjoyment, but less good for learning.

Anyway, back to studying for me, I hope this is helpful for you!

The Last of Us - Aaron Limonick Analysis

So, Naughty Dog announced "Last of Us 2", and I'm working on a project set in the mountains of Georgia.  Seems like a good time to look at some forest concept art from the first Last of Us game.

 Painting by Aaron Limonick

Painting by Aaron Limonick

This is an interesting piece of concept art for me.  For one thing, it's entirely a natural scene...and for another, it is quite understated.  There's no flashy lighting, no zombies, no ruined civilization...just some grass, some rocks, and some trees.

It does have a sense of mood though!  You can feel the space, and it seems like there could be something *just beyond* that wall of rocks.  The shapes are "natural", but very well-designed.  There is a clear hierarchy of shape sizes, and things have been simplified when they are not key to the image.

 2 value read.

2 value read.

Not a lot of data here, but it definitely lets us know we are looking at a low-key lighting scenario!

 3 value read

3 value read

The third value gives us a set of stairs leading into the background.  I definitely read this image from bottom to top, which is different from how I see most paintings.  The rocks spiral up into that bright section.

 4 value read

4 value read

This is basically the entire painting.  It adds a sense of depth, but there is starting to be too much detail to judge the composition.  I would say the "stepping stones" into the background still applies though.

Let's take a look at the foreground first:

 Dat grass

Dat grass

I would say there is some photo texturing here, but also painting.  Probably used a smart blur on the photo to "nuke" the variance, and then painted back on top.

 That's a big rock.

That's a big rock.

As much as this painting has a subject, I'd say it was this rock.  There is almost certainly some photo textures here as well, but look how much of the "form" of the boulder is painted, particularly the top and the left sides.  I'd guess the dark bottom shadow is 99% painted as well.  He's using photo to support his idea, he's not letting it dictate design.

 Bush-master

Bush-master

Again, there was a photo under here somewhere, but the majority of the foliage has been painted over it.  It is surprisingly loose, but the underlying photo data and values gives it a really good read.

 The left corner.

The left corner.

This is the loosest and most painterly area of the image.  The strokes were made with care and precision, but they aren't clean.  Pay attention to both the colour variations and the clear sense of form.  Just because it's loose doesn't mean it wasn't done with thought.

 The background forest

The background forest

In many ways, this is the payoff point for the image.  It feels very photo-based to me, but the atmospheric perspective and lack of contrast makes it sit into the image.  It was also probably given a smart blur treatment.  Even though it is photo, you can see brush strokes if you look for them, particularly in the bigger pine trees to the edges of the section.

Ok, so there you go - a forest, "Last of Us" style.  Designed to look undesigned and "natural", and it works very well.

 

Learnings:

1.  Even natural shapes in your paintings should be well thought out and designed.

2.  Pay attention to form, make sure your use of textures doesn't dictate your choices

3.  Every concept art painting doesn't have to be amped to '11'.

 

I hope you enjoyed going through this one with me!  if you want to see more of Aaron's work, here is his website! http://limonick.com/

 

 

 

George Hull - Cloud Atlas Design Analysis

Ok, I'm going to try something a little different today - rather than a "simple" illustration technique breakdown, let's look at this painting and try to see the design problems and solutions that went into it.  

 Environment concept from "Cloud Atlas."

Environment concept from "Cloud Atlas."

First off, I think this is beautiful.  He's hitting my favorite colours, my favorite subjects, and my favorite genre.  I could spend this entire post breaking down how he did it, and that would be a lot of fun - but as a friend reminded me lately, your "visual development" needs some "development" as well as visual.  We're here to solve problems, not paint pretty pictures.

Clearly, I had nothing to do with this movie.  I don't know what the AD was thinking, and I don't know when in the process this was painted....but I have seen the movie, so I can make some guesses.

One of the key locations in the movie is Neo Seoul.  The oceans have risen, and a new high tech city rises above the old one.  This is a city of contrasts between rich and poor, and one where a dirty secret lies below the surface.  

With that in mind, some of the design problems George needed to solve:

  • Where is this?
  • When is it?
  • What kind of world is it?
  • What happened between now and the setting of the movie?

 

Where is this?  We have shining neon Korean signs in the background, and foreground boats that harken to ancient Asian fishing boats.

When is it?  There are ruined modern skyscrapers in the foreground, dwarfed by high tech buildings in the background.  Clearly, this is the future, not some alien planet, but one we used to recognize.

What kind of world is it?  One of contrasts.  The most obvious is the blue background and the dirty warm yellow/brown foreground.  From the distance, it is a high tech wonderland, but up close?  A dirty, ruined place with a rotten foundation.  The closer you get to the foreground, the more ruined and low-tech it becomes.  The leftovers of the old world burn in the midground, while people scramble over rocks furtively in the foreground.

What happened?  First off, the water rose.  We can see the harbor, as well as what look like dams on either side, trying to hold back the ocean.  There's been violence.  There has been a disregard for the past.  There has been an arrogance to push up into neon fantasy towers.

Do you see how he has solved the problems of quickly showing an audience what is going on?  You don't need to know anything about this movie at all to know what is happening in about 2 seconds, which is the time you get for most establishing shots.

 Let's look closer!

Let's look closer!

Look at the "fantasy shapes" of the buildings in the background.  They were designed to read as futuristic,but also as unreal and lacking foundations.  We can't see how any of them touch the ground, they are obscured.  Compare that to the designs for the modern buildings, and how we see their foundations literally being swallowed up by the water, even as the dams try to hold it back.

If George had of given the Neo-Seoul buildings the same attention to detail as the foreground, he would have lost some of the sense of "otherness" about them.  

The foreground elements are significantly more "spikey" and ramshackle looking than the rounded and graceful curves of the background.  The dark parts are a lot scarier and more dangerous, and this is how he's show it.  The fires indicate chaos, and a lack of care.

 the other side

the other side

Over here, the people are literally crawling underneath the crushing weight of the world above them.  Imagine how different it would feel if they were standing on a concrete pier instead of rocks.  Choices were made in the design to communicate as rapidly and clearly as possible.  It's not about a good composition (although this is a good composition), but how to pack in as many clues as possible without ruining the stew.  This is what it means to design an environment for a film.

George's techniques are well executed, but there's nothing here we haven't talked about in weeks past.  A bit of photo, a lot of painting smaller shapes to unify, and then a lighting/atmospheric perspective pass to bring it together.

If you'd like to see more of his work (and you should, it's awesome), here is his site.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you found this less-technique analysis helpful.  Remember:  Just as important as "how to paint" is "what should you be painting" - We are designers.

A second look at Stalenhag

I saw this painting and I figured, "Hey!  Let's see if we see anything different this time!"

 The painting - By Warmachines 3

The painting - By Warmachines 3

Man, I love this guy's stuff.  It just feels soooo good.  Another of his trademark "dusk" images, in the rain.  Like always, an environment that feels like you could walk into it, but with something just a little 'off' about it.  I love the car - It feels like a photo until you get close to it.

The whole image is low-key in lighting, and there's not a lot of contrast. He's separated the foreground, midground and background with the colours of the lights - red, yellow and green.  The blue light above the car is interesting because it leads your eye up to the green "Buckhorn Hill" sign.

Another very common Stalenhag choice, the character has his back to us, so we identify with him instead of examining him as an 'other'.

 2 values

2 values

Yeah, low-key for sure :)  It's neat, when you look at it this way, it is pretty obviously a 'triangle' style composition, similar to many of Frazetta's paintings.  Look how the lit sign is framed by darkness - that's the subject of the painting, not the guy at the car.

 3 values

3 values

...and then you look at this - Now the guy is popping a lot more!  I still think the sign is the subject, but the man is definitely a close second.  If he were facing us, he'd come to dominate the painting.  Look at how the grey areas point upwards and inward towards the top of the hill.  The light in the family market literally has an arrow pointing you in the direction you are supposed to look ;)

 4 values

4 values

Now the man and the car are *really* popping.  I dunno, what do you think is the subject?  Might be the interaction of the two, and your eye is supposed to bounce back and forth between the two.  

 The guy

The guy

He looks so realistic zoomed out, and so abstract up-close!  As is normal from Simon's work, the brushes all seem hard edged and opaque.  You can some some transparency as he blends areas together, but it is very subtle.

Look how he simulates the rain by big, 'dry-brush' style swatches of grey, and by extending the lights and light catches in straight lines angled the same as the rain.  He's not using gradients at all for this, which is the typical go-to for digital artists.  I love how this looks on his treatment for the car. - Speaking of the car, check out the "blob dude" in the front seat!

 The "Hill"

The "Hill"

Lots of buildup of strokes on this section to give texture.  Look how 'sloppy' those rim lights are...*swoon*  Also, check out the light bulbs in the sign.  Once again, the rain is shown with vertical strokes away from the light sources.  Areas where there is less light, the rain is much less visible.

 Lone Star Family Market

Lone Star Family Market

Just amazing control of values and shapes.  The reflections in the water on the ground totally sell the idea with no actual detail at all.  Same goes for the rocks.  He hasn't given into the temptation to use a lot of texture brushes on the rocks at all, they are actually very solid blocks of colour.

Learnings:

  • This is a great way to show rain.  Remember you see things like rain and snow (and all particles) more near light sources.  Don't paint them in with an even hand.
  • You don't need texture in places you might think you do, and it looks pretty good in places you wouldn't think you'd need it.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it :)

James Paick Analysis

Since Tuesdays are my "Look at paintings" day, I'm going to do a recap of my #inktober on Thursday.

James was my environment painting teacher at Concept Design Academy, and I owe a lot to him.  I thought I'd go through one of his "cold environment" paintings since I'm working on my holiday card at the moment :)

 The Crystal Ice Cave - Tomb Raider

The Crystal Ice Cave - Tomb Raider

Well this feels cold!  Right off the bat, a couple of things to notice:

  1. Monochromatic.  Except for the torch, this image is pretty much all shades of blue.  Even the "red" building in the background is actually a desaturated blue.
  2. The torch - It is the only warm colour in the image, and as such, your eye is instantly drawn there.
  3. This is concept art for a video game environment.  Notice the way he's made sure to put a path that a player could explore all the way into the background.  Not only is there depth, but there is *traversable* depth.
 2 value read

2 value read

Not a lot to be seen here.  The sky takes on a huge dominance based simply on tone, the torch needs that chroma to punch.

 3 values

3 values

This gives us the heart of the image.  The character is framed, the major shapes are there, and things actually read pretty well.  The sky fades in importance as we get the mid-tones to neutralize the contrast.

 4 values

4 values

Four values gives us depth, which is often the case.  Now the foreground ruins are standing out, as is the character, who is probably darker than she should be "realistically" given her proximity to the light and location in the painting.  

 The character

The character

The image isn't high-enough res to really know for sure (sorry about that), but I'd say she is mostly a dark silhouette with a couple of lighter areas painted in with the lasso tool, and then rim-lit around the arm holding the torch and the face.  The fire itself looks like a photo that has had glow added after with a colour-dodge brush.

 The approach.

The approach.

This is the meat of this painting.  So many overlapping forms to give a sense of depth!  There is some photo in here, but mostly it seems like lasso tool and fill.  I really, really love how you can imagine progressing into this painting by coming down the cliff, over all wall and then across the ruined bridge under the ice covered scoop and then down to the "ground."  Notice that he tends to keep his edges fairly sharp, and then blends with value and colour rather than softness.

 The structure

The structure

The first "mini-quest" in the level, if you will.  The path in dumps you out right at the front of this building.  It's warmer than the rest of the image, although still blue, so it stands out as important.  A fair amount of photo in this section, but only in the high-midtones, which is where James likes to put his textures.  Look at the repeating texture on the wall - he hasn't wasted time at this stage making tiny things different from each other when there is no real need.

 The Foreground

The Foreground

Finally, the foreground.  This is the darkest and most saturated part of the painting, and has the crispest lines as well - but because the space behind it is also pretty dark, it doesn't stand out too much.

Now look back at the whole painting again - see the alternating light-dark-light-dark patterns to give that depth and spacial sense.  See the repeating forms, smaller and with less detail as you go back into the environment.  See how subtle the lighting is, and how even muted as they are, the reflections of the torch on the ice give a sense of "punch."

Learnings:

  1. Even though value is the most important thing, colour can definitely be what punches your subject.
  2. Don't be afraid to make something darker or lighter than it would be in "real life" if it makes your image work.
  3. Create paths for character movement as well as for the eye
  4. (Cause I know from his class)  First design, then tone, then texture, then colour, then light.

I hope you have enjoyed going through this one with me.  You can find more of James' work on artstation here or on his website.

Wayne Haag - Scorch Trials concept art analysis

Wayne is a great guy; I met him a couple of years ago at IlluxCon, and I love his work.  I'm still working on my "subway" piece for my personal project, so I wanted to see how other artists handle pushing the background back when there isn't a lot of atmospheric perspective or depth.  I saw this piece and thought it would be worth a closer look.

 The painting.

The painting.

Ok, this is *definitely* a low-key lighting scenario!  We've got our two characters in a pool of light, and a couple of other spots to lead our eyes around a bit and to sell why everything isn't just pitch dark...and that's about it.

Composition-wise, he's gone with a very centered piece...the characters are *just* off the middle.  It helps give the piece a sense of stillness - peace in a world gone mad.  The fact that the entire ruins are laid out diagonally further emphasizes that chaos.

Like a LOT of the concept art I've been looking at lately, it's basically monochromatic.  His shirt stands out as being saturated and green, while her paler clothes punch out from value.  The background has a very slight gradient from warm to cool as things come forward into the composition.

In terms of technique - Wayne is a matte painter, and you see that skillset here.  Lots of photo textures, and maybe some 3D?  It does get quite loose as you move into the darker corners, particularly to the left side of the image.

 2 values

2 values

Wow!  Yeah, low-key lighting!  The girl is OBVIOUSLY the subject of this painting - everything else fades away to nothing.

 3 values

3 values

Not a lot of difference from the 2-value read.

 4 values

4 values

It isn't until we reach 4 values that the guy shows up at all.  We're getting a couple of nice grey spots to break up the composition, but this image was designed with a 2 value read in mind.

 The people.

The people.

The two characters actually look a lot like 3D models (which is fine with me)  I would say they were lit in a 3D package and left pretty much alone, at least in terms of opaque paint.  There may be some overlay/softlight blending modes to punch up the lighting a bit, but I think this core part of the image was done with 3D and then not changed that much.  Nice to see, there is enough pushback from people who don't know better that sometimes I feel guilty not doing more photoshop work on top, but this is concept art, and it works.  Wayne can paint like a sonofabitch, so 3D is a choice for him, not a crutch.

 The midground path to our characters.

The midground path to our characters.

I like this section, because it gives the viewer a way into the painting.  Wayne has simplified the chaos in this area to give us a space of rest and a place to understand the geometry of the world.  Lots of photo texturing, and I'd call this fairly tight, although the further back you go, the looser it becomes.

 The left side.

The left side.

I know this is dark, but take a look at it, because it has the most obvious photoshop brush strokes.  Wayne has used them to simplify the noise, and to subconsciously make us *NOT* look at this part of the image carefully.

 

Learnings:

  • FRAME YOUR SUBJECT.  Your story/image has one point, make sure it is the important part.
  • Don't let your photos/textures take control.  Even when you want chaos, make sure it is organized where it needs to be for you.
  • 3D is fine in concept art.  You don't have to waste time hiding it *if* it works.

Thanks for examining the painting with me!  If you want to see more of Wayne's work, check out his artstation or his website.

 

Charlie Wen - Guardians of the Galaxy Analysis

Charlie Wen is one of my favorite film concept artists, and Guardians of the Galaxy one of my favorite Marvel films.  I'm also trying to nail down a crowd scene keyframe painting in an urban environment.  Time to do some research!

 The painting

The painting

The first thing that strikes me with this image is how he has simultaneously posed his main characters like bad-asses, and made it feel like there is life and movement in the image.  It's cool how he's put Starlord and Rocket basically on a flat stage, and yet there is tremendous depth!

Look at the shape design as well.  Lots of verticals, but also diagonals leading into the center of the image.  Rocket's gun, Starlords right leg, the curves of the awnings and that circular portal - they all add a rhythm to the horizontal stage and the vertical buildings.

The guy in the upper left is super daring for me.  He's pointed off camera and he's framed by himself, and yet he doesn't distract from the subject.  I think the fact that his darks key into the shadows on the wall help integrate him as an element...also, the contrast of that section is very low.

Oh - speaking of those wall shadows - look how they are design elements that don't make ANY sense based on the lighting on the foreground characters. - I buy that they are coming from something offscreen left, but why does it point right to Quinn's foot and then stop?  He's not casting it, but that's what it looks like!

 2 value read.

2 value read.

Although the brights are super-bright and make this feel high key, the 2-value read tells a different story - this is actually a dark painting.  The "frame within a frame" is clearly visible, as is the fact he's used bands of light to add depth.

 3 values

3 values

Here we get a strong sense that Starlord is more important than Rocket....as is that sphere he's carrying.  Almost no brights in the background at all, it's all on that stage, bringing our heroes forward.

 4 value read

4 value read

As is often the case, 4 values pretty much gives us the complete painting.  Notice that even here, the dude in the upper left is still almost completely unnoticeable.  Rocket is also standing out more from the background, but still doesn't pop like Quinn.

 Starlord!

Starlord!

Quinn is definitely the highest rendered thing in this painting, and even he is pretty blocky.  Highlights have been used to carve out the shapes of his form  Different areas are separated by either rimlights or extreme shadows, making him almost a drawing.  I love the use of colour and texture splatters on his coat to add interest.  Check out the warm bounce light on his boots, and the VERY warm shadow edges on the ground.

 Rocket.

Rocket.

Same kind of thing going on for Rocket, but he's a lot more in shadow, and there is a lot less detail on his costume.  Still some cool bounce light, and his gun is basically just defined by black and then rimlights.  There's some interesting reds in his fur, but very little real "fur" rendering.

This is a pretty cool micro-composition, and goes a long way to adding to that sense of "place" and activity in the painting.  It's just shapes, silhouettes and colour, with some unifying texture on top.

 Midground characters

Midground characters

The midground characters on the other side are almost as loose.  Notice they can be reduced to dark-light-dark-light-dark shapes, and the final 'dark' one makes Starlord's jacket pop out.  I love the guy on the steps....yes, I like loose stuff :)

 Background peeps.

Background peeps.

Speaking of loose, check out these folks!  Again, dark-light-dark-light, and just there purely as suggestive forms....way more effective than using a blur to simulate camera focal length in this particular style of painting.

Learnings:

  • You can have a flat stage with a lot of depth, as long as you are conscious of using colour, tone and form to overlay each other and recede into the background.
  • Bounce light is killer
  • Your shadows don't have to make sense, as long as they make your composition work.
  • In the far background, less is almost always more.
  • Don't be afraid to put your brightest bright on the ground to make your characters pop.  Highest contrast should be around your subject, but doesn't have to be contained within it.

 

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!  I hope this was interesting and/or helpful :)

What the Heck is the Difference?!?

Ok folks, grab your coffee and settle back...I'm going to enter almost entirely into the realm of opinion, and personal interpretation.

What is the difference between illustration and entertainment design?

Yeah, I'm feeling sassy this morning, so let's do it :)  I see a LOT of confusion on this topic, and a fair number of different opinions even among people who work professionally.  In most art schools they are taught together, and often they look very similar to each other.

This is a beautiful illustration done by my friend Tommy Arnold.

This is concept art for Captain America: Civil War done by Andy Park. 

I can see how you could be confused.  It's not always easy to see the difference!

Illustration:

Made for the consumer

This is a big one.  The consumer of a book cover is the book reader.

Artistic decisions don't affect the final product

How an artist paints a book cover doesn't impact the book at all.  In some senses, as long as it is appealing, it doesn't really matter what choices are made.

Created for enjoyment

An illustration is made to be looked at for the pleasure of looking at it.  It's "good" if people like it.  This applies to book covers, interior art, comics...if you enjoyed seeing it, it's a success!

Concept Art:

Made for the team

The consumer of your concept art is another artist, be it a modeler, storyboard artist, animator or the director of the film.

Artistic decisions affect the final product

Huge one.  Your choices inform the rest of the process down-stream, in fact, that is the entire purpose of your work.

Created to inform

Concept art doesn't have to be pretty, or finished looking, or appealing.  It has to solve a visual problem.  As time has gone by and tools have improved, in general artists have found that the more appealing their work, the more likely it is to be approved, but that's not the point.  If it solved the problem, and told the next girl in the pipeline what she had to do, it was "good."

Subsets of Entertainment Design/Concept Art

Props

 Halo prop design by Sparth

Halo prop design by Sparth

This is the area that people have the least trouble separating from illustration.  You're creating the stuff that characters interact with. 

Characters

You are making the inhabitants of the world.  The only reason to put them in poses and give them expressions is to test that their designs "work" in the story....otherwise, they could all be in T-poses with a turnaround.

Character designers don't just draw "cool people", they are problem solvers.  They are working out how each element of the character will interact with the others, the environments, other characters and the story.  If you think of all the different animation styles, video game styles, and even live action film styles, you begin to understand the range of character design.

 This is also character design.

This is also character design.

 

Environments

The locations!  My video game friends call them "environments", in animation they are often called "backgrounds", and in film "sets", but it's the same thing.  You are creating something to tell the actual builders what to make.  The only reasons to put characters in these is to show scale, or to make sure that the colours/shapes won't clash badly with the character designs.  Same with lighting - they don't have to be dynamic except to prove that making them dynamic doesn't break the composition of the story.

Just like characters, it's not enough to draw a cool place, you have to make sure it solves the needs of the project.

 Beautiful background from Steven Universe, wouldn't work in a Marvel film.

Beautiful background from Steven Universe, wouldn't work in a Marvel film.

 

Keyframes

Which brings us to the most confusing type of design painting - the keyframe.  A keyframe painting is part of the "big picture" design - to give the whole team, particularly the management, an idea of what the final product could look like.  It is *almost* an illustration, because it focuses more on mood and storytelling than actual buildable features.  It is essentially "mood design" and is given to the rest of the team so they know the broad strokes of the design language behind their characters and environments.

Sometimes, keyframes are almost "nicely painted" versions of storyboard panels made midway through the film, and sometimes they are done long before there is even a script (This was how Star Wars Ep1-3 was made.)  I say 'film', but they exist for video games and animations as well.

Because of the rise of art books, keyframes have gotten a much greater spotlight than they typically get in an actual production.  They are usually pretty to look at and enjoyable, so they go well in "Art of" publications...and those books have skewed the general public's sense of what concept art means.

I hope this has been helpful (or at least interesting) to understanding how this work is thought about in the industry.  Thanks for reading!

Jakub Rozalski Analysis

I love this guy's work - it totally reminds me of the style of the great Russian painters like Ivan Shishkin, but digital and sci-fi.

 The painting.

The painting.

Oh yeah!  I believe this is a book cover, but the framing and composition would totally work as a keyframe painting.  There's a LOT going on here.  Overall, his foreground is quite saturated, moreso than many sci-fi painters these days, but it quickly fades back into atmospheric perspective, with the strokes getting looser and softer rapidly.  To me, there are two main human points of interest, the guy in white and the woman in the red skirt.  After that, the background robot, which is pretty ballsy given how loose and impressionist it is.  I love that he hasn't used any rim lighting tricks to amp up the energy!  In fact, the lighting scenario is very flat overall.

 2 value read

2 value read

The two value analysis supports my triad of subject matter theory.  Everything else pretty much disappears into one blob, but the guy, the mech and the woman all stand out.

 3 values

3 values

Here we see that the man and the woman are almost "flipped" in in tonal range, but both are about the same level of contrast to the mid grey.  The mech has less, but is starkly silhouetted by the sky.  The other characters are starting to appear.

 4 values

4 values

Unsurprisingly given how painterly this is, 4 values is almost exactly the same as the full greyscale.  

 The foreground ladies

The foreground ladies

The foreground as I said is quite bright and saturated in comparison to the rest of the image.  When you zoom in, you see that it is still quite loose and fresh.  Strokes are obvious, and while there was some opacity used in the brushes, most are quite opaque.  The lighting is very flat, with very subtle highlights.  I love that he didn't render out the faces at all.

 The man in white

The man in white

He is looser than the women, and has less saturation, but more tonal range.  There is basically no rendering of materials, just shadow forms.  Like the women, the strokes are very textured.  Lost edges are created via texture, not tonal change.

 mid-ground mech

mid-ground mech

Mostly just silhouette, the mid-ground mecha was painted with less textural brushes to push it back into the painting.  The tonal range is also small, and the chroma is basically just cool greys except for a hit of red on the insignia.

 The background mech

The background mech

Soft strokes and a fog layer push this back and remove all sense of detail.  Even the silhouette is pretty messy.  What makes it pop is the design choice of its size and location against the sky backdrop.

 

Learnings:

  • Intelligent use of saturation is fine.  Don't be afraid of it in an attempt to match Hollywood colour-grading.
  • Texture is used in the foreground, and then simple brushes as things recede.
  • Don't spend time rendering things that aren't important.
  • Good design can bring something into "importance" even if it is not sharp or high in contrast.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!  You can find more of Jakub's work here

 

Andree Wallin analysis

I watched a webcast Andree did last week, and it was like we were soul mates.  Like me, he got into art watching Dylan Cole Gnomon DVDs, and like me, he's an environment guy who started out wanting to be a matte painter.  Now, he paints keyframes for Star Wars...can't argue with that!

I've been trying to "amp up" the action in my paintings more lately, so I picked this image to analyze.

 The painting

The painting

This is so...cinematic!  Exactly as a keyframe should be.  It doesn't tell a story, it expresses a moment, and makes you want to know what the story is!  The first thing I notice is how bloody simple the idea is.  Simple and clear, with a strong point of view, and no extraneous information to confuse the viewer or dilute the impact.  All the background shapes point down at an angle that is dynamic and easy to read.  They intersect the axe shaft and then follow up the guy's arm and straight to his victim.  Everything that matters is there, anything else - Nope!

 2-values

2-values

Really nice 2-value read.  Low-key, the darks cover about 70% of the image, and the light halos the action and the important silhouette parts.  The victim's hood gives a reverse halo around his face and makes that a super-clear read as well.

 3 values

3 values

The mid-tone value gives us the story.  Now we see the arm and the weapon shaft.  Note that we only get direct "white on black" in 3 places - the arm, the horns of the attacker's helmet, and a tiny bit around the victim's face.  The 3 important story locations!

 4 values

4 values

Pretty much, the 4th value just introduces atmospheric perspective.  It pushes back the pillars and gives a bit more sense of depth.  The grey areas combined seem to form an arrow that points right at the victim.  Nice!

 The victim

The victim

One of the tighter rendered areas of the painting, as you would expect.  The gold adds visual interest, but he's been careful to keep the values muted except where they point at the face and reinforce the action.  Pay attention to the blood - It's actually not rendered super-tightly, and almost looks like an overlay.  It doesn't need to be more than that, and he's kept the value range low enough that it doesn't pop out anyway.  Highlight strokes are rendered cross-contour, and in the larger areas look like they were reinforced with a radial gradient on top of brushstrokes.

 The attacker

The attacker

Like his opponent, the attacker has been painted with a very narrow range of values.  His silhouette is very clear, but little inside of it "sticks out" visually.  The armor, the fur, the straps - they all point your eye in the direction of the action, and none of them draw your eye in any way.  The fur gets a rimlight to separate it from the red bg element, and the helmet gets a very hot rim for the same reason.  I love the sub-surface light on the ear, subtle, but really adds to the realism!

 The victim's body

The victim's body

Let's just geek about painting for minute - Check out how loose this is!  The gold holds everything together, but the other strokes are just blobs pointing up at the face.  The snapped sword is given a little bit of a highlight as a nice tertiary read "found moment" for the eye, and is great for the storytelling.

Chroma-wise, the whole image is desaturated warms, with "pings" of saturated red and gold.  Nothing is cooler on the hue scale than a brown-yellow.

Learnings:

  • Keep it simple!
  • You don't even need complimentary colours....Monochrome can be highly effective
  • Again, silhouettes are more important than rendering.  Have your details support your forms, not the other way around.
  • Never, ever forget where you want the eye to wind up.  Make sure your painting supports that decision.

Hope you enjoyed this one!  If you want to see more of Andree's work, his website is here!

Cynthia Sheppard Analysis

What I find really interesting to look at in Cynthia's paintings is that she's got a very Renaissance sensibility done in a digital medium. 

 The painting

The painting

I love the sense of movement and rhythm in this painting....everything is made up of arcs flowing into each other...like, well...water :)  On the whole, the painting is quite loose, which draws attention to the face and hands of the fairy very nicely.  She has also made an interesting choice to limit her color palette to warm blues and desaturated browns.  The atmospheric perspective is really well done, with all the contrast coming in the foreground.  Finally, the sense of story is tremendous, and this really feels like it is merely a part of a larger image or narrative.  Having the hair and wings go off the canvas was an excellent choice for that.

 2 values

2 values

Arcs!  Arcs everywhere!  Such a clear read, and well designed complexity!  The arcs in the bottom all point up, and the ones on the top all point down, creating a tension just below the fairy in the water.  Sweet!

 3 values

3 values

The 3 & 4 value reads aren't really necessary to this one, it says what it needs in 2.  

 4 values

4 values

The arcs continue all the way to the 4 value read.  Notice the dark spot where everything points to.  It's all about that fairy hovering right above *that* rock.

 The face

The face

This is by far the tightest area of the painting, rendering-wise.  Compared to the pale skin, those red lips really pop!  They are also the only thing that "purely" red in the entire painting.  I love her hand treatment, they feel very real and kinda "chunky" but with very few obvious strokes.

 The water

The water

This is quite loose, and looks like it was painted with a hard brush and then "ghosted" over with an airbrush to give it that sense of mist and spray.  Check out how many different shades are in there, and pay special attention to the purples and the warm tones....water isn't just "blue", "green" and "white."  As you would expect, the strokes are very directional, and help give contour to the liquid.

 Where she rests her hand

Where she rests her hand

This is a really neat spot to look at for me.  The hand, like the rest of the fairy, is quite tightly rendered, but the rock is pretty much just a blob.  Looks like quite a bit of either soft brush, blending or a combination of both has been applied to give it that dreamy, wet quality, but you aren't supposed to spend a lot of time looking at it.  When the values are right and the highlights in the right place, you just "buy" it and move on.

 The other rock

The other rock

Wow!  Take a look at just how impressionistic this one is in comparison to the first!  Well placed strokes of similar values give the idea of texture and form, but nothing is rendered here!  This rock is in the painting to balance things graphically, but the story isn't about the geology of the area, and it has been treated so that you KNOW that.

 

Learnings:

  • Despite what some may say, soft brushes aren't the enemy when you use them correctly in the correct places.
  • Again, as we see over and over again - Limit your tight painting to the areas you care about.
  • Keep saturation down when making a moody image.  Punch it where it matters.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy both the painting and my analysis of it!  You can find more of Cynthia's work on her website.

Ian McQue's dirty tech

Ok, when I think of blocky, dirty, lived-in tech that has a fantastic sense of design....I think of Ian.  His pen drawings are a thing of beauty too, but today we're going to take a look at one of his so-called "speed paintings."

 The painting.

The painting.

Although there is an environment and characters, I would say that this painting exists to highlight the vehicle and to give it a sense of placement.  There's not really a deep narrative element, so on the "technique/design/narrative" triangle, this one certainly favors the first two.

Without story, the elements of the piece exist to show off the design and to draw attention to parts of the image.  Look at the dark triangle shape in the snow pointed directly at the rear treads, and the light triangle on the left side.  The vehicle itself is basically a dark "L" shape with treads.  Notice how it has been placed slightly to the left of center, to make it feel like it is going somewhere, and not static, even though it is sitting still in the painting!

 2 value read

2 value read

The two-value read is very straightfoward, and clearly shows those shapes I was talking about above.  The guys on top add visual interest to the silhouette, and keep it from being boring.  The dude in front also helps bring your eye up into the vehicle.

 3-values

3-values

I love this.  The background is the lighter 2 shades, the vehicle is the dark.  Super clear read, and the full story is expressed.  You could practically show this and convey everything you *needed* to.

 4 values

4 values

Yeah, this is just overkill.  It's almost the greyscale version of the image.  It does show the depth into the image better.

Let's move through the details front to back:

 "What, I had to pee!"

"What, I had to pee!"

The guy in the front is actually surprisingly tightly rendered.  There is a clear sense of the materiality of his outfit and the way the light hits him.  The edges of his silhouette are very clean, and it feels like he was painted using opaque, relatively simple brushes.  There are a couple of gradient-style changes in value, but they are very subtle.  It's hard to tell how the shadows were painted, but the highlights mostly seem to be cross-contour in nature.

 The front treads.

The front treads.

In comparison to the guy, the treads are quite loose.  They are basically blobs of colour and silhouette. I love the snow at their base, it's literally just a couple of dabs with a square brush!  He's left some of his "scribbling" in, and it really adds to the sense of dynamism.

 The cockpit.

The cockpit.

Almost like he's deliberately alternating detail, the cockpit is rendered significantly tighter.  It's still impressionistic, but there is a real sense of form, shape and design to the components you see.  I can feel the form changes from the shadows and the highlights.  I especially enjoy the micro-details he's put in here to make it feel both "lived in" and interesting to the eyes.  Ian is a master of both "rest areas" and high detail areas in a design.  Check out how much energy the textures have - you can feel that he's just laying in confident strokes and moving on to the next, not fixating on what "rust" looks like.

 

 Riding dirty.

Riding dirty.

...and another loose spot.  The silhouettes are VERY clear, but if it weren't for that, these soldiers would be very hard to read as people.  He's used the lasso tool to block off areas and paint with them.  Unlike artists like Jaime Jones, Ian doesn't seem to use a lot of texture brushes and strokes to add interest.  Ian's stuff is a lot more graphic, relying on silhouette and clear reads to give visual punch.

 Can you see the forest for the trees?

Can you see the forest for the trees?

Man, that background.  It's sole purpose is to contextualize the vehicle, and he's made something incredibly beautiful in it's simplicity and mark making.  Those ground twigs are made with so much confidence and bravery....I know I don't have the balls to paint things like that and leave them!  So good!

[EDIT]  Ian let me know that there is a tutorial for this image and several others HERE.

Learnings:

  • Good design first, then technique to support that.  Narrative isn't always required to be #1, but it still supports the design.
  • Strong shape reads
  • Balance your areas of detail with areas of simple space.
  • Balance your areas of texture with flatness or low-contrast.
  • Don't be afraid to make a mark and then just LEAVE IT ALONE.

Thanks for reading!  Please share if you found it interesting.  See you next time :)

Bare Bones Analysis of Eytan Zana

Ok, I live for stupid puns.

This image is actually part of Eytan's gumroad tutorial, but as I have yet to watch it, I'm going to be approaching it with fresh eyes.

 The full image

The full image

Eytan is definitely playing with scale in this image, flipping the "use the human shape for scale" on its head and making the skeleton giant.  The birds are a great way to express this without beating people over the head, or having another human element.

His process involves painting over 3D elements, and I really like how he's made it feel somewhat "painterly" while still using the strengths of the 3D forms.

Colour-wise, this is a pretty standard "warm yellow & orange" contrasting with a cool blue.  I do like how he has sandwiched the warm between two layers of cool, which helps give depth to a fairly flat scene.   The sky looks like a simple photograph that has been painted over just a bit...very little point in concept art to painting natural skies, as there is no design in that part of the process that is valuable to the final project.

 2 values

2 values

Very clear read of this in 2 values.  The helmet does a GREAT job of creating a silhouette to surround the white skull and keep everything readable.  Pretty standard radiating forms around the painting to draw your eye into the subject area.

 3 value

3 value

Look how for the most part he's limited the "pure" black and white touching to just around the skull and the left eye socket, and to the two birds on top.  First and second reads get the contrast, the rest starts to fall away.

 4 values

4 values

Almost no difference between the 3 and 4 value reads.  In a very painterly way, Zana has limited the value ranges.

 The skull

The skull

Although this feels really tight when you look at the painting, closer examination shows that it's quite loose.  For the most part, he's following the form with his brush strokes, and using hard, opaque brushes.  It looks like he may have used a little chromatic distortion, but not "Mr. Concept Art" levels.  I think the tight detail around the eyes probably comes from the 3D render.

 The Foreground rock

The Foreground rock

In contrast, the foreground is VERY loose.  For the rock, he's staying almost entirely "locked off" with the rock silhouette, but the sames are very painterly.  He's using the lasso tool to break up the form and give himself space for some of that grass...which is beautiful by the way.  Look how he's used a purple for the darker, cooler, shadowed grass variation.  No rendering in the grass, just a nice use of value.

 The background

The background

Just a quick look to show how simple it is.  He has definitely blurred his strokes to push things back.  See how he uses brush spacing to create texture as he makes a stroke.

 

Learnings:

  • Think carefully about how you want to show scale in such a way as to be interesting to the viewer, and to give them something to discover.
  • When using 3D, don't be afraid to both paint out detail, and to leave detail, depending on when it is necessary.  
  • Things like helmets and trees are great for creating framing elements around brighter objects.
  • Layering cool,warm,cool is a good way to add depth to an otherwise flat image.

Thanks for taking a look at this one with me, I hope you found something useful that you can apply to your own paintings!

You should totally check out his gumroad site, here.

 

Man that's good! Jeremy Mann Analysis

I discovered Jeremy's work through his paintings of city streets, but his figure work is also insanely good.

 The painting.

The painting.

Lords.  I love his brushwork so much.  It is oil and not digital, but the lessons apply across techniques.  First off, check out how opaque every stroke is.  Jeremy's strokes look like PAINT.  There is almost no blending of edges in any sort of soft manner.  The only place you really see that is in the face.

This is a very muted palette, with just enough variance and saturation to draw your eye to the couch and to separate the woman.

Jeremy also wants you to know this is a painting.  There is a deliberate "flaw" in the rendering on the left side straight down the painting....it almost looks like a paper "fold" crease.  Really interesting, and it adds a level of interest I find very appealing.

 2 Values

2 Values

Nothing shocking here - But look how the diagonal lines move your eye around a very flat image and direct you to the face.

 3 values

3 values

The 3-value read pretty much gives us the entire image.  Note that the value shapes still all point at the face.

 4 values

4 values

This is the entire painting....it's almost the same as the full greyscale version.  I think a lot of this comes from the fact that he's not blending his strokes, and he's working traditionally...there just aren't a lot of different values.  He's changing the values to show change in form, but not arbitrarily.

 The Lady in black

The Lady in black

Look at the contrast in brushstrokes between the skirt and her face and arm.  The face and arm have been given quite a bit of subtle "love", and are quite smooth and well defined.  The skirt is just chunks of paint.  It works so well to draw your eye to where Jeremy wants you to look.

The dress strokes are almost entirely "with" the form, there are only a few cross-contour highlights on the ruffles directly below her gloves.  The only relatively warm areas of the painting are in the sofa, and they help bring the woman forward, even though they are almost the same value range as she is.   Note too that in the background, the strokes are almost all cross-contour....so the treatment of the woman further separates her from the rest of the image.

 The wall.

The wall.

The background is painted very roughly, as we've talked about, and most of the strokes are done vertically, although there are some cross-contour ones on the drapes.  The mirror has more definite hard edges, which helps draw the eye down in an arc towards the woman.  The energy in his strokes is so fantastic, he makes a flat wall feel dynamic and full of motion!

 Finally, the floor

Finally, the floor

This area is almost 100% abstract.  Strokes are a mix of horizontal and vertical, and he's varying chroma for interest, but keeping the values almost the same...it makes the colours "vibrate" a little on the painting and gives it life!

Learnings:

  • Different rendering on the subject from the background to draw attention.
  • Colour temperature to separate areas of the painting
  • Stroke direction is very important.
  • Strokes are opaque, the texture of the stroke is how blending is achieved

Thanks for reading!  I hope it was helpful :)

Rembrandt Drawing Analysis

This one is going out to the drawers out there.  I've gone through a fair number of paintings, and I thought it might be cool to check out some linework...and I love me some Rembrandt!

Even though he probably did this as an on-location sketch to go back and paint later, we're going to treat it as a finished piece of work.

 Rembrandt - The Omval

Rembrandt - The Omval

Ok, this is my kind of drawing...tight and high contrast in the focal point, and then fading to literally scribbles on the corners.  I believe it is a "pure" line drawing without ink washes, although he may have smudged in some of the darker areas.  Contrast is built up with cross hashing.

Notice that he's drawn a frame around the image.  He's not just "dashing off" a sketch, he's building a composition.  The contrast point and focal area is definitely the lower left corner, right around the "Rule of thirds" point.  There's no point in doing a "value" study version of this image, but if you squint your eyes, it's pretty clear where the large massings of shadow are.

 The Tree & Foreground

The Tree & Foreground

Man!  Look at the way he's built up the form!  So many cross-contour lines in the shadow areas!  He's built texture by cross-hatching with the contour in the darker areas.  When the form changes at a highlight point, there's just a simple outline.  He is using outline lines instead of separating the forms with value.  Look at the ground cover - Almost no shading inside the forms, instead he's added cast shadows under them.  Every line feels incredibly loose and expressive - He was not worried about capturing every clover, but in getting the feeling of the clover and grass on the ground.

In places that are darkest, his cross hatching has basically filled in the entire form, but even so, you can "feel" the stroke of the lines, so the directions he laid them down with were very important.

 The Dude

The Dude

*heart*  So loose, so expressive, so DAMN GOOD.  The whole figure looks like it was drawn with almost one line, like he didn't lift his pen off the paper.  The only hatching and shading is around the hair and the hat, the rest of the guy just falls off into simple outline.  Look how he's used a minimum, but NECESSARY number of cross-contour lines to show the form and the costume.

 Buildings in the Background

Buildings in the Background

Again, the bare minimum number of strokes to show form, without drawing attention from the trees.  Lines are mostly outlines and following the contour...and almost entire vertical.  Look how graphic and iconic those trees are!  Look at how he's not afraid to have the lines "break" the form on the windmill, and how that adds a sense of motion and energy!

 

Learnings:

  • Draw the feeling of things, not the things themselves.
  • Scribbling is FINE
  • He never, ever goes back over a line.  There is no furriness, each line is laid down and then he moves on.
  • Direction of stroke is very important.
  • Seeing is more important than mark making.

 

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!  Next week I'll try to go back to someone more current and flashy, you guys seem to respond better to that stuff, but I think it is really important to hit up our roots every now and then!

100 things you can do to improve your work.

Last Saturday, Tommy Arnold gave a talk here in Vancouver about how he approaches his work doing book covers.  One of the things he talked about a lot was how to use and look at inspiration.

Tommy and I both have a HUGE folder of inspiration work, divided in sub-folders by artist name.  I literally have 30,000+ images on my iPad of work that I have found inspiring.  It was fun to collect, but I have a confession to make - except when I'm showing a friend an artist they haven't heard of, it is too unwieldy to really get a lot of value from.  At least for me, it is impossible to synthesize 30,000 paintings into an actionable direction.

Tommy's suggestion was to make a folder with 100 images.  No more - any time you find something new that inspires you, you have to delete one of the old ones.  Just 100 images that show elements of who you want to be as you improve.

Being me, I added a few more rules :)

  1. As much as possible, published/used work.  Personal sketches are great, and should not be discounted, but this should be the kind of work you want to get *paid* for.
  2. No more than 5 images per artist.  You don't want to be a cheap copy of Frazetta, or Glenn Keane, or Feng Zhu.  One of the best ways to make sure that doesn't happen is to vary up your influences.
  3. My criteria were:
    1. Narrative
    2. Design
    3. Technique
    4. Emotional Resonance
  4. For every image in the 100, I should be able to say 'why' it was included.  No "Because I liked it!" images, but actual reasons.

I'm in the process of creating my folder of 100 images now.  I pretty quickly found 100 things, but some of them are still quite weak - I expect it to shake down into a stronger, more coherent list shortly.

I set my computer's desktop background to cycle through these paintings every 5 minutes, so I will constantly be shown *something* from the list that I know I want to work on.  I'm really hoping that it stays a "breathing" thing, constantly changing and growing as I am exposed to more artwork, and as I solve problems and find new things I need to focus on.

What do you think?  Would this help you focus on where you want to go, and maybe to gauge where you are in relation to where you want to be?  Thanks for reading and sharing!

Stephan Martiniere Makes Magic

Stephan's first art book was one of the very first books I got when I started wanting to doillustration.  I had the privilege of hanging out with him a bit last weekend at SDCC, so he was fresh in my mind for today's post.  This image is one of his magic cards.

 Phrexian Vatmother

Phrexian Vatmother

 

Obviously, this is a creature card.  Because the illustrations on M:tG cards are small, the subject needs to read very clearly immediately.  Stephan choose a fairly standard lighting scenario, backlit warm against cool to pop out the subject and make it read.  The spider-esque nature of the creature really comes through with the silhouette, even in the final version.

 2 values

2 values

Yeah, that's a creepy 2-value abstract.  Reads quite well, both with circles to frame the creature and the legs and shadows to draw you in to the center.

 3 values

3 values

Note the relatively unbalanced 3-value distribution.  The brights are reserved for the eyes, and the background directly behind the creature.  The "spokes" of the composition to lead in your eye are even more visible and obvious now.

 4 values

4 values

By the time we get to 4 values, we have mapped in the atmospheric perspective and the sense that this creature is coming towards us.  In all of these simplifications, it remains a "low key" lighting situation, which is totally appropriate for the subject matter.

 The wee beastie's head.

The wee beastie's head.

The head of the creature could be more of the 2nd read than the subject - The subject would then be those red "sacks" that identify it as a "mother." - but if so, this is a strong second read, and we like to look at heads :)

The silhouette is strong, but the details are quite loose.  You can see some photo texturing, but it has been heavily painted on top of with what looks like a chalky texture brush.  I'd say he's also used some custom brush shapes to create the mandibles.  There is a secondary light source from the front, off screen right that is warm and slightly below the creature.  The bio-mechanical nature is being conveyed with flesh-like tones and a metallic treatment to the edges and where the form curves.  I really like that one bright highlight just to the right of the top eyes.  I would guess that the banding around the neck was created with the lasso tool and gradients, and then "dirtied up" with textures and some subtle brushwork.

Look how abstract and blobby the shapes on the shadow side are.  He's spent ZERO effort where he didn't need to.  Not sure he could get away with that if this was a book cover, but for a Magic card (or piece of concept art), this is great.

 The foreground leg.

The foreground leg.

I pulled this out to point out how loose it is, and how he's used another light to bring out the form and show the metal rendering.  Lots of lasso+soft brush here, and then the entire thing has been gone over with a soft, textured brush to add atmospheric perspective.  The looseness gives it energy and a sense of motion.

 The body

The body

The main body of the creature is mostly just silhouette and core shadow.  The details he is showing have sharp edges and are rendered to show the metal nature.  Like around the head, the background legs are just silhouette forms.  They are there to draw your eye in composition-ally, but not to hold your attention.

 The background

The background

Here's where the blue and cold-colours come in.  Notice that this is not a simple gradient of 'yellow to blue' across the top.  The purples closer to the subject unify the image and give it cohesion.  It reminds me a lot of the old poster for "Something Wicked This Way Comes."  There are literally NO details at all to show what this place is.  It feels metal, or at least constructed, but that's all you get.  Lots of textured brush shapes.  The areas behind the legs are just brighter than the silhouette, and then vignette in the corners.

The very bright sliver of light behind the creature is an interesting choice.  I would have been afraid that it would draw your eye off the page, but it completely works.

Lessons from this one:

  • Know your final illustration size when you can.  He can be looser and work faster on this one because it is going to be a M:tG card.
  • Lasso+gradient works well for metal plates.
  • Cool foreground, warm background, but warm foreground light.  
  • As before with other things we've looked at, don't be afraid to have unmotivated light sources to add drama and help show form.
  • Atmospheric perspective doesn't need to be simple soft airbrushes - textures can help the space feel more dense and add interest.
  • Even when all you are showing is a creature, try to work out a foreground midground and background, and vary the level of detail between them.

 

Thanks as always for reading, I hope this was helpful and interesting :)

My Artist Inspirations

Two years ago, I created a tumblr where I posted an artist that inspired me every single day for the entire year.  I highly recommend this to increase your knowledge of both what is out there, and what inspires you.  I find too many students only know a handful of currently working artists, and those are the only sources they have for ideas.  You should have HUNDREDS of artists you admire, because it will help you be a better, more well rounded creator in your craft!

 

If you're interested in seeing my list,it can be found here:

 

http://myartistinspiration.tumblr.com/