Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Secret to good lighting- Beyond the Darkness

I have decided to enter the ImagineFX monthly challenge with the theme of "Beyond the Darkness". Along my journey of creating this piece I have pushed myself and have seen the fruits of my labors. You too can learn the secret to good lighting.

Several ideas popped into my head for this great theme and I sketched out several variations of different ideas. However, I realized I was entering the competition very late in the game (with a little over a week to go) and with a newborn in the house it would be better to do something less complex and more closeup. In the end I chose a rather typical image of an angel looking up into the light. The reason why I chose this is simply because I was itching to digitally paint a child and it seemed to fit the magazine's usual imagery well with emphasis on sci-fi and fantasy characters (which you should always think about when entering a competition) and it seemed to fit the theme best though rather straight forwardly.

The theme of "beyond the darkness" was the perfect opportunity to stretched my lighting skills even further. In my studies I have discovered that the secret to great lighting is knowing the difference between cast shadow and form shadow and NOT being afraid to create hard lines in your illustration. Don't be afraid that the shadow is going to look weird, just DO IT! You'll soon find that hard shadows in the right place makes your illustration look far more realistic.

I plan to do a tutorial very soon on lighting as it is one of the most successful tools in my arsenal. It was one of the most important things I learned during my classical art training in college but I didn't know how to properly implement it in an illustration setting until recently.

Next I want to push my illustrations to show more depth like the works of Glen Rane, Patrik Hjelm, and Steven Argyle.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some Yummy Concept Art

A recent speed painting concept of mine:

As I have begun building up an illustration/concept art portfolio, I have wondered, what makes a good concept art piece? Concept art in and of itself is vastly different than illustration. As an artist is it sometimes good to have a solid grasp of both. From my research I have discovered the following:

Concept Art establishes mood, atmosphere, and scale. It should show value, space, and composition. Concept art should read well from a distance. Use value to establish a focal point and a clear idea. Perspective also is of great importance. Concept art is a means to an end. It isn't meant to be shown directly to an audience like illustration but handed to a team of 3D modelers and texture artists. Therefore if your perspective is off, it is harder for someone else to work with what you have. It may be confusing, or be impossible to replicate in a 3D environment.

Concept Art subject matter varies and so should your skill set. Concept art can be anything from character design, creature design, storyboards, machinery design, and environment design. Films usually have the budget to hire artists for each specific category of concept art but game designers usually need fewer artists with a wider range of skills. It's also a good idea to show both organic and inorganic elements.

A great resource for concept art is the site FZD School of Design. They have several video tutorials which go over everything I have just described above. Check them out if you have a chance.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I'm Back!! DAZ Studio and W.I.P. Podcast

Sorry for the long absence. I switched over to deviantart as my main art account for a while but I am back. I'll be posting art and links to great resources on here as I continue to build my art portfolio and find useful links.

Speaking of which, there's a great group of artists who get together and critique artwork the first Wednesday of every month- W.I.P. Podcast I posted my work last week and got some great critique on my latest piece. Here's the before and after pictures:

As you can see, I changed the hair and finished the legs. Much better. I tend to fall into the trap of making my subject matter "pretty" instead of realistic and the most helpful comment was to give the hair as much dynamic movement as the rest of the piece. It's ALWAYS good to have another pair of eyes catch the things you don't even notice.

Check out the forums as well. There's a great little community over there for people to post work. It's a great stepping stone for beginners just getting into things who want to get critique. Also building a network of artistic friends is a great way to get your foot into the industry. Plus, you can't go wrong by offering others some helpful comments. The podcasts are very informational as well.

Another great resource I stumbled upon was a link on The Art Educators Blog about DAZ Studio- a great 3D resource for posing. I've played around with it a little bit and it looks promising for getting reference for poses that are hard to catch (like action poses) and for getting reference of body types that are hard to find. I'll play around with it some more but I'm not sure how useful the program will be when my 30 day trial is over. Plus you really need to buy a couple of packages for it to really be useful and I'm not keene on putting a lot of money into something that is supposedly free (but all the content costs money). The picture to the right is a quick snap shot I took of an action pose. Cool stuff, no?