Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Speed Painting: Marin Sunrise II

It was a really foggy morning over the bay last Wednesday, managed to snap a quick inspiring pic. Then got more inspiration from a beautiful painting I saw by Thomas Kegler earlier this week. So decided to do a quick study based on the photo I took.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tech Floor 10

Here's my latest Tech Floor Image, painted horizontal and then rotated into place before adding the last elements (painting at 55 degrees would have been no fun).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Traditional Texture Painting: 3A Ghost Hunter Bertie MK3: Part 1

Artist Ashley Wood has a toy company (3A), and as I'm sure you all know, I love his World War Robot series. As well as just buying the premade toys, there's a whole culture of artists who take these toys and customize them by giving them custom paint schemes, adding or removing parts, etc. I've dabbled in this, changing colors, adding weathering, etc, but decided it's finally time to paint one from scratch. The robots sold by 3A come in different color schemes (called colorways), there's Iron Panda, Gravedigger, EMGY, a whole ton of them. So I decided to take a WWRp Daywatch MK3 Bertie and repainting him in the Ghost Hunter colorway, a colorway that doesn't exist on this particular robot.

There are so many different ways to go about painting these robots, the steps I present below are the method I decided to use, it is by no way the only or best way to do this sort of thing. But I figured sharing my experiences would be helpful to sort out in my own mind the process, and maybe there's some tips here other people can use. I missed the whole era of traditional model making in visual effects films, it was already digital by the time I entered the job market, so maybe this is my way to hearken back a bit to the way things used to be made.


Step 1: Get Robot: Bought a WWRp (1/12th scale) Daywatch MK3 Bertie Mode A on ebay.

Step 2: Photos: Took photos of robot to make concept art.

Step 3: Concept Art: Digitally painted on top of photos in Photoshop. It's good to do this so you're not experimenting on your actual toy, it's so much faster and so easy to make changes digitally. Even if you're a novice at digital painting. even something simple showing the basic color scheme can really help you when it comes time to paint the figure in real life.

Here's my first stab, not sure which of the two designs to go for...

Here's my final design, I picked Version 2 with the single eye and made some more modifications...

Step 4: Disassemble: removed any part that can be removed for easier painting. Sadly, the backpack and ammo can on the back of the Bertie can't be removed. Used a hairdryer to heat the vinyl parts to make it easier to take him apart.

Stay tuned for part 2: Base Paint!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Warning: The Tool May Try And Dictate The Design

I'm always excited when I discover strong connections between music and visual art, it just proves that it's all the same challenge.

Check out this great video if you have 15min, it's a guitar masterclass with Devin Townsend: Now even if you're not a guitar player, and even if you don't like Devin's music, I can recommend the video because he touches on some really great things about being a musician that resonant equally with visual artists. One of them is his tuning. He tunes his guitar in a rather unique way. And that means that there are certain sequences of notes (scales) that are far easier to play with his special tuning, sequences that are much harder to play on a standard tuning guitar. After watching the video, it's now obvious to me that at least some of the uniqueness that his music has is specifically because his choice of tuning suggests certain note sequences and chord progressions, sequences that standard tuning does not suggest. And so, he sounds very different and unique from a lot of other musicians.

The same thing happens in the visual arts. When I first started, there were no computers, and so you drew with a pencil. When 3d started to happen, I started designing my creatures and robots on the computer. But that had a major disadvantage. Since certain shapes are easy to make in 3d software, like spheres and cubes, etc, all of my designs started looking like spheres and cubes. It was my inherent laziness that let my tool dictate the design (and lets not kid ourselves, we ALL have a little laziness to us). Once I realized that, I went back to drawing a design first, then using the computer to execute it, and flush out the details. Even if my drawing skills weren't as good as my 3d skills, just the act of drawing lent itself to more interesting designs, because a pencil is so basic, it does not suggest certain shapes and forms as readily as something like a 3d package. It's a bit like that old saying, "when all you have is a hammer, all problems start looking like nails".

With each new popular piece of software, I see the same problem again and again. A great example is the program SketchUp. I've seen an explosion of SketchUp designs these past few years, and so many of them just look identical to each other. And its partly because SketchUp's tools are good at producing certain shapes, and so those shapes tend to get used more often, and bam, everything looks the same.

That's not to say of course you shouldn't design in 3d, but if you do, you need to be mindful that the tool will try and pull you in a specific direction, and if you're using the same tool configured the same way as everyone else, you risk producing work that looks like everyone else. Knowing this will not only help you avoid this pitfall, but you can also use this knowledge to your advantage.

If the tool is going to suggest certain forms, then accept that reality, but spend the time customizing the tool in an interesting way, so at least the designs it suggests are more unique. Of course it's only one piece of the puzzle, and two people using the same tools can certainly produce very different work due to zillions of other factors, but why not make it a little easier on yourself and find a way to re-tune your software with a non standard tuning, it may help you produce something that is uniquely you.