A Place to Call Home

Life surely is some sort of journey.
Many steps taken in one or different directions – over a lifetime – will take you somewhere. But is it the place you want to be?

I’ve found myself deliberately (and accidentally) in places, doing things that if I’d asked my younger self, I would have surely laughed at the question.

Regardless, here I am.
Luckily I’m still me, haven’t lost myself or my love of art.

-Jesse

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
– Erol Ozan

Just Like Looking at Clouds

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I can tell when I feel like I’m not successfully moving forward in my art goals.  I tend to begin slacking off on the amount of work, waking up later in the day, and generally just end up bummed out.  Strangely, instead of taking action towards moving back on track, I do everything that moves me away from where I need to be… Strange indeed. [/introspection]

Regardless, I’m thankful that I decided to break my art funk and do something new and fresh, because afterwards I felt like I really leveled up, learned some new tricks/techniques, developed a new-cool process, and moved further in developing my new world for my story.

Moving forward.

I watched this cool tutorial for creating environment concept sketches many many moons ago and I’ve always intended to go back and follow along with it.  If you’ve seen some of my previous school work in photo-manipulation you’ll understand why this tutorial really appealed to me.  It basically paralleled perfectly with my own process, because it uses almost all of the tools I use on a consistent bases with photo-manipulation.

TL;DW

Using a variety of images, layers, blending modes, opacity settings, masks, filters and other tools.  You create a multitude of different shapes, colors, lines, spaces, etc that give an impression of a landscape, interior, cityscape…  These thumbnails are then used as a base to paint/sketch on, and eventually creating unique environments.

In the video, he uses this process to create these fantasy landscapes only, but the process is the same for other genres too.

It is worth noting that the video suggest using low res images and after my 30th save (ended up with around 80) or so I can tell you my computer started chugging because I save mostly larger reference images when I do my google searches.  Most of the images I used were actually images from my Blue Moon reference boards off of Pinterest, with a couple odd balls thrown in.

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There is a ginormous amount of experimentation that the gif doesn’t come close to showing.  Sometimes it was a matter of choosing a single filter or blend mode and it seemed like I knew just where to put the image.  Other times it was me going through all of the possible options before decided on something or just trashing it and starting over or with another image entirely.  It was more trial and error than anything… sometimes I just immediately saw something and I just built that idea up.

Screen

Really fun and interesting process and because I was “Working Small” (I worked at 16.7% of the actual canvas size), I was able to focus on the shapes and colors and composition and not all the little details and “Learn Big.”  This is a screen shot of my work area in Photoshop and my canvas to screen (21.5″) ratio.

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Again, this is just the beginning phase of the tutorial.  At about 10 mins in he begins to start painting over his thumbnails.  A really fascinating watch if this type of stuff interests you.

I am curious what people see in these thumbnails and which people like the most.  Pick a couple and let me know which you guys like the most or which stand out, or which aren’t really working.

Thanks
-Jesse

“Imagination rules the world.”  – Napoleon Bonaparte

Page Layout (Work in Progress)

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Where I’m at now.

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Last week I had an idea to complete a character sheet for Red.  I’ve been wanting to do one for her in a while and haven’t been able to get around to it.  Last week I also had an assignment to add text to an image in my Computer Art class, so I thought I’d knock two birds with one stone.  🙂

This is my starting point.  I created some placeholder text and added some head shots/head turn-around I had of her to add a little interest and fill some page space.  Not really thinking design at this point, just looking to get started and adding the elements I want to incorporate.

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I started to think a little larger and decided that I’d like to create a full two page spread, one page just seemed to random and to fragmented.  So, I extended my canvas in Photoshop (Note: usually if I was creating a page layout I’d be using InDesign, it’s specifically made for such projects and has features that make the whole process, but because I initially wanted to make this for my Computer Art class I used Photoshop because that’s the program we’re required to use) and added one of my larger images of Red.

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This is where I really started thinking about design, I broke out my Magazines and started looking for inspiration on how they broke up the page elements like page numbers, headers, etc.

I saw this half-tone background in one of the tutorials and thought it’d be a good fit, so I threw that in there and then started working with the character introduction text to try to get some depth by separating all the elements some how.

At this point I also decided that the splash image I was using for the first page wasn’t working.  Conceptually, it felt too emo and seemed to be too emotionally different in tone than the full body image on the second page.  Looking at it from a design aspect her looking off to the left brought the attention away from the second page instead of towards it.  After looking at it for a while I knew it wasn’t working and decided to place a temporary filler image until I figured out what to do.

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After arranging and re-arranging elements for quite some time I ended up with this layout.  I ended up axing the multiple head shots, it just didn’t feel appropriate for this introduction spread.  This is more like the, “hey check out this character, her name is… here’s a little information about her…” and then they would turn the page and then probably see a front, back, and three quarters shot, and then maybe a head turn-around or some facial expressions.

So, I stuck with something a little simpler.  It was also at this stage that my teacher told me that this wasn’t going to work for my assignment and I started working on Science Blows Me Away…  🙁

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So, the image I’ve been working on has been for this splash page and this is where I’m at with it right now.  Still some work to do on both the character and the design.  I also have to change the hairstyle on the full body image to the current style of the splash image.

-Jesse

“Your dreams won’t work unless you do.”  -Unknown

Portrait in Progress

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I’m working on a character sheet for Arissa Redding using the last image I made with her wearing her uniform.  I was going to use the portrait image of her pouting as part of it, but it seemed a bit too emo and clashed with the smiling persona of the uniform image.  So, I set off to start a portrait style image, but this time with Red being a little more bright and silly… and border line cute.  So, I asked my friend Google to search in a place I knew was crawling with cute Asian poses, K-Pop.

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After finding the image I wanted for reference, I began searching for some solid hair style reference.  I think I’ve had five or six different hair style variations since I started really attacking this Blue Moon storyline and now I am convinced I’ve found a winner.

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This “bob” hair style was suggested by one of my friends on facebook and I’m glad I had asked for feedback when I posted that image.  It actually goes back to one of my first concept images of Red (back when her body type was still based off of a top super model lol).  That seems like ages ago, but it’s only been a couple months.  Time flies…

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Where I’m at now.  You’ll recognize the uniform from my previous Arissa concept, I’m really digging it, I might make some small adjustments, but it’s pretty much how I want it at the moment.

Hopefully will have the finished product and then the character sheet by Monday.

-Jesse

“Hate is not the first enemy of love. Fear is. It destroys your ability to trust.”  -Unknown

El Finito

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Every time I complete one of these Character of the Week challenges (or even when I just attempt them), I end up learning a great deal of things that will aid me in the next time I decided to draw.  Whether it’s how to render a shiny surface, or if I just re-learn a process to ensure it takes less time the next time I do it.  It’s a learning process, as long as I’m still learning I’m fine.

-Jesse

“The first and great commandment is: don’t let them scare you.”  -Elmer Davis

Moving to Color

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The Fairy Racer
Moving to Color

Through a series of random events, decisions, and just having the general fortune of having great friends I wound up acquiring a smart phone yesterday.  Having not ever having a smart phone and basically being forced to live within a technological stone-age for so long, it is no surprise that the thing completely engulfed my focus and attention for several hours while I set things up, downloaded apps, and checked my Facebook a couple hundred times.

While this might seem to have nothing to do with today’s work, that just isn’t the case.  Seeing as my mp3 player has some faulty battery issues and will shut down whenever it sees fit (even after just being taken off the charger 30mins prior) I’ve been listening to music out of my computer (whose headphone jack doesn’t work) and I tell you it’s not the same as pumping up your tunes in your ear and zoning out.

But then arrives my new shiny smart phone and suddenly I’m rocking my sound canceling Koss headphones (that look like they belong a helicopter pilot and whose use comes most in handy when sharing a computer lab with other students who do more talking, squeaking, eating, and coughing than actual work) and I’m transported into a world of pure music and hyper focus.  Hours go by and then before I know it, it’s time to start adding color to my completed grey scale image.

P.S. – I <3 Spotify

-Jesse

 

“We learn from failure, not from success!”  –Bram Stoker

Not Yet, Not Yet

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The Fairy Racer
Finishing Grey scale

On my list of things to finish in grey scale are her helmet, visor, left leg, wings, and tummy.  Then I’ll add any minor details/textures.  After that, I’ll be converting her to color… and maybe a background If I have time.

-Jesse

 

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”  -Unknown

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

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The Fairy Racer
Simplification of Volume Through Value

Man has this character gotten out of control, had to take a step back and super-simplify everything down.  I guess seeing as it’s the couple days from the turn in deadline, it’s no wonder I’m having so many issues and changing a bunch of things…  Seems to be a reoccurring theme.

Something to think on next week

-Jesse

 

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.”  -Vincent Van Gogh

Rendered

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The Fairy Racer
Rendered

Alright, fixed both the arms, simplifying the shape and pulling them in a bit more, which I felt made it look like she was flying faster.  Then I spent some time filling in her facial features and laying down some values (not too much, just enough that when I’m drawing her racing gear I can get a sense of the shapes, curves, and volume of the body.

I forgot to fix her right set of wings, they were slightly out of line with my perspective guides (love those things, actually downloaded a couple perspective brushes *happy face*), right leg too… maybe.

So, next comes the racing gear/armor.  🙂

-Jesse

 

“Greatness is more than potential. It is the execution of that potential. Beyond the raw talent. You need the appropriate training. You need the discipline. You need the inspiration. You need the drive.”  -Eric A. Burns

 

Fixing the Foundation

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The Fairy Racer
Pose + Shading

I wanted to show our Fairy Racer in mid flight and really give the sense that she’s flying fast.  I might add some leaves being blown away on her sides or some grass stalks being blown to the side in her wake.  Something to give an indication of her size and how fast she’s going (two birds, one stone). 

I hit a small bump, while working on the armor design, so I put that aside while I work on the pose.  There’s still some work to be done too., shoulders and arms don’t feel as natural as the rest of her anatomy and of course the face is still barely past the mannequin stage (although I shouldn’t need too much as it will mostly be covered by her helmet).  Once all that’s done I’ll be pushing on to adding her clothing and armor.

-Jesse

 

 “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”  -Unknown

Moving Towards Nature

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The Fairy Racer

Nature Variation

I liked the Futuristic/Motorcycle Racer vibe I was getting from the first couple of sketches, but I wanted to take it a little back to nature and really tie it back to what most people think about when they think of fairies.  I wanted that same armor structure, but incorporate elements out of nature, like leaves, flowers pedals, or even a ladybug shell.  I drew some great inspiration from Epic (2013) by Blue Sky Studios that did similar things with some of their characters costumes.

-Jesse

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”  -Epictetus

Character of the Week: The Fairy Racer

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The Fairy Racer
Initial Sketches

In the world of the fairies, the Grand Herald Fairy Tournament is held each year, to test the skills of its participants. The most popular and rewarding of all the events are the races! Speed, among the fairies, represents high status. To win, a participant must carry a small, red baton which grants passage through each checkpoint, and reach the finish line in the fastest time. If a fairy is the FASTEST in the tournament, they not only get the respect, but they earn a special token which can be used for anything the fairy desires, but with limitations. If they wanted to become king or queen of the fairies, they could, but only for one year or if they wanted to become a human, they could, but only for one year. Evil does not exist among them, but desires do. So there are many who train in order to gain their one desire.

Design a Fairy Racer! You can show them as the winner of the race, in the middle of a race, before a race begins or how they train, etc… Think about speed! Also note, they fly with wings, so NO vehicles.

The Guidelines:

  • Must be a fairy
  • Can be male or female
  • Must be carrying a RED baton
  • Must be wearing their racing gear
  • Background’s Permitted, but don’t forget what the focus is!
 
-Jesse

  • “Over-thinking ruins you. Ruins the situation, twists things around, makes you worry and just makes everything much worse than it actually is.”  -Unknown