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Gone fishing…

Hello there,

Welcome back to another update. This week we will let you see some process images on how to find concepts through randomness.

Throwing the net

So you’re trying to figure something out. A concept.

It doesn’t have to be concept art that is the ultimate goal. Perhaps you are exploring charachters, creatures or any form of machinery as part of a larger illustration you are doing.

How do you actually get from “I have no idea” to a complete concept?

A long time ago, when we started doing this as a sidejob, Andrew Jones said “You throw out a net and reel in the concept“.

Let’s see if we can show you an example of it.

The small fish

David Started this by using Alchemy.org, a free program for getting random shapes. You can use any number of random shape-generating programmes, ranging from fractal programmes to zbrush and even specific randomizing brushes in Photoshopp or Painter.

The beauty of this particular programme is that you do not have to know how to paint or illustrate to get somewhere, you only need to try to get random shapes that resemble something. The artistic part comes when you start putting together more complex pieces. Here are some of the first shapes.

000006

These are just random shapes that came out after playing around with Alchemy for a while. Though there are six on this particular sheet, David came up with closer to fifty different shapes that he collected into one file.

Catching the medium-sized fish

So now we take these shapes into Photoshop (or any photo-editing/illustration programme of your choice) and start putting them together in interesting ways. In Photoshop, David cut and paste the shapes on top of one another. Moving things around, turning and flipping and sometimes even erasing to get more interesting shapes.

The idea is to get a silhouette of that looks robotic, but what exactly is not certain at this stage, so David is going for various things, ranging from quadroped robots, to biped robots. Tall and slender to short and robust. The key is the silhouette. The details inside the silhouette are bonuses for later, when we detail the concept.

The addition of colour can help make parts stand out; This doesn’t neccesarily mean these parts will have that colour in a final illustration. The colours can represent anything from actual coloured panels, to lightsources, beams, special areas of some sort that will look vastly different on the final concept/illustration but that for now just need to be marked out as “special”.

variations00001

So the sky is really the limit here, these above are the first groups David put together. He then made a couple of more, and started combining them together.

The bigger fish

After putting the first few shapes together, David have some basic robotic shapes. It is very easy to stop at this point and be happy, and some of the best concepts can be done at this stage, but it feels a little stale, so David combine this group of ten simpler silhouettes into some more complex ones. Not all work out, and it is important to be selective about the silhouette at this point. If two look the same, look at which one feels the most interesting as far as details go. Discard the other, or save it in a separate file for usage another day. Eventually, we havet six variations that can be used for illustrations.

Here is one of these simple bases:

RoughConcepts00003

And from there we can make an illustrated concept, or go straight to illustration, if it feels like everything needed is there.

The big fish

So here is a sneak-peek of something that will come out of this particular fish-net (not based on the above image, but something else).

300001

This is meant for the project David and Aaron Debski-Bowden is putting together and we are hoping to be able to show you much more before the end of the year.

Hopefully this introduction to concepting gave you guys some ideas and motivation to go out and practice. We would love to see links to your own concepts, practice or otherwise!

As always, you can find things through social medias, so keep an eye out for updates and sketches on Facebook,Twitterand Tumblr.

Commissions

If you are interested in private commissions we have three slots open this week.

For more info and contact, go to the bottom of the About page and send us a message through the contact form.

Tell us what you think about todays blogpost. Use the form on the about page (link in sentence just above this) or through our Facebook page. or Twitter Page (hashtag #dontfeartheclown) We’d love to hear your input!

The end is nigh…

Friends and followers of Studio Colrouphobia: This week we see the deadline of the Ars Scribendi competition approaching. By Friday, at midnight GMT August 1st 2014, final entries need to be in. We have some really good entries already, so if you want to get a chance to have your narrative turned into an illustrated piece, printed and signed, to hang on your wall; this is the final week to enter!

Since this competition was such a success, we are looking into doing this next year as well, possibly with more prices, famous (or infamous) judges and more. We hope you liked writing the entries this year, and if you didn’t write, we hope you enjoyed reading the entries as much as we do.

We would also like to post a little something for you who wish to know more about painting and sketching. Below are two videos that illustrate the possibilities of the digital media and using photographs. It is quite commonly thought that all any illustrators do with photographs are to use them for paint-overs, cut and paste or using layerstyles to make patterns appear. But this is not all that is done. Mostly, photographs are just used as plain reference, so here David has used a photograph of a model dinosaur to first sketch the same dinosaur, and then to take it further by painting over the sketch and turning it into a dragon.

Note how not a single colourpick, nor paintover from/of the photo was done.  

And here is the final image, taken about ten minutes more towards completion (total time spent 60 minutes): dragon

So what do you think? Have you got your own experiences in regards to using photos as reference?

 

This week we have two slots open for private commissions. You can make any inquiries at the bottom of the “about” page.

 

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

tropical colds and evolutions

or how to function in 30°C heat with a cold and runny nose…yay

First of all: One week left on our contest Ars Scribendi! We have some smashing entries already, so if you think you have what it takes to win: One week left! Final entries need to be in at midnight GMT August 1st 2014. May the muses kick-start the overdrive of your imagination and provide you with ample flow in your pen.

And fevers or not, the show that contains no clowns needs to continue. We have some goodies to show you.

The first is a work in progress and a source of both frustration and inspiration. It gives an idea on how concepts can evolve over time.

During a dull moment the challenge was uttered: Why not paint a Centaur fighting a Minotaur, it’ll be fun and different she said :)

Androgeus2010-2014

These three versions give an indication on how much a concept changes, and in it’s current form it is still being tweaked. The first one is the version from 2008/2009, the last ones are a new edition from 2013-2014. It is in an in between project, when commissions are leaving you with a space.

And those following David on Facebook, will have seen mentions about a super secret project pass by. The following bit is NOT it (a rotten thing to do, but keep checking out this blog and all shall be revealed :) )

Sanguinius2009-2014

Currently we have a remake of the known Sanguinius painting in the pipeline. The first piece, known and epic, took about 55 hours to complete. The pose is epic, but not really dynamic so the sketch is slowly being transformed into a painting. The rough colourcomp is done here, but still loads of tweaking to do.

The video shows you how the details on the shoulderpad were created, Händel our good friend will keep you company.

Enjoy!

The makings of… a Primarch part 2.

Written By David.

In the second installment of this series, let’s talk about decisions and computercrashes.

So last time, we left with a fairly decent pose, as well as good set-up for the painting of Mortarion around the time of the Horus heresy.

A few decisions had been made in regards to how he would look:

-Similar to Curze (“siblings”)
-Scythe positioning
-Gaunt/ Deathly posture and features
– Details to keep in mind are: censers, no greenor white colours of armour, smoke coming out of the high collar, smoking pipes coming out of his back.

This is the image we had/

Mortarion4

At this point, I do “the google rounds”.
Essentially, I look through google for images that I can use as reference for various items.

Items like hoods (monk-robes), roman shoulder-guards, freaky scythes, censers, smoke, fumes from burning oil-fields etc.

These things are ten stored for references. I will not se them straight off, but more as guides to how something is shaped.

If I need to create something unique for a character, I might “kit-bash” some of the images together to create interesting shapes (using various layerstyles in a similar fascion to how I started this illustration, see part 1 , but for this illustration that was not needed. (An example of an item that could have been made thusly, is the scythe, but I made a decision to paint that from scratch, based on pre-existing art.)

Examples of art that fell under references vary from Scythes from Darksiders 2, to conceptart for the Angels in Diablo to exhaust-pipes from Trucks and Holocaust-victims.

During this time, I also refine the previous image a little to get to the point where I like it a bit more. Not much is done beyond adding some backlighting, a few placeholder-censers and painting in the face a little.

Mortarion5

Mortarion6

So let’s stop here for a while and talk about catastrophical crashes.

I have made it a habit to constantly save iterations of my illustrations.
This way I can go back and copy-paste something that might have been better from a previous version, but I also make sure I do not loose hours of work if Photoshop crashes.

I have, to date, never had a version of Photoshop that did not crash on me at the worst possible opportunities.
Lately, I have also made it a habit to use a cloud-saving source to save my most recent works/files, simply because in case the computer crashes and files are lost, atleast some of my work is saved.
Better be safe then sorry.

So I worked on Mortarion for a long while. Each iteration of the illustration moving towards a goal.
The face was altered to focus more on his skeletal look, whilst maintaining a somewhat proxiation to my illustrations of Curze and Angron. I also used references of men from the Carpatian region as reference, to hint at the origins of the Legionaires (who are supposed to mainly have been recruited from this region on Terra, before recruitment from Mortarions homeplanet began).

Some alterations to the colours happened. The reds/oranges moved towards gray/blue/greenish to reflect this sensation of the sick and poisonous.
A shhoulderpad was begun on and the robes and scythe was worked out.

I had 8 preview-images to show on the blog. And they all vanished in a severe computercrash, loosing several folders worth of illustrations and references.

Luckily I had saved the ast two iterations of the image on my dropbox-account.

So here is where we come back to the image. It is not done yet, and there will be a part three, but you need to know why there was a jump in the look.
And a caution- save often. USe external harddrives or cloud-saving if needed, but make sure your work is safe.
Luckily, everything for my proffessional work was saved on an external harddrive except a new sketch, which means nothing suffered for commissions and proffessional works, but it could have been much worse, so keep this in mind!

Anyways. Mortarion was evolved
Mortarion7

Now the astute viewer will notice a few things:
1) The pose is slightly altered.
This mainly comes down to the fact that the lower body is in shadow and the shoulderpad has to face a certain direction for him to be able to hold the scythe.

2) the collar looks completely different.
I went away from the crude stove-collar and moved towards a more knightly one.

3) Alot of the ornaments vanished from the previous image, including the censers.
During research, I found that Mortarion didnt fancy ornamentation, so I stripped it down. The censers where only really placeholders. They will return once I paint them in proper.

4) He is kind of stout/heavy set.
This, is fixed. Namely in the next preview image-

Mortarion8

Following this I will be painting in the lower body, the scythe will be completed and the censers will appear After this I will start adding the gasses in an around the collar and finally there will be some colourcorrections and post-process work to make the illustration complete.

Let me know what you guys think.

Oh, and here is something Orky to end the day. Wprk in Progress:

preview

/David

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The makings of… a Primarch

So Halloween passed, thank you all for making it special by participating in ourcompetition.

Starting this week, there will be a new series of posts.
These posts are about following the creation of an illustration from concept to finish.

For the beginning illustration, I chose to use one of my personal Primarch illustrations.
I will go through wwhat ideas I have, how to flesh out the image, what thoughts and knowledge must be sought. Sketching, colour composition, painting roughs, using reference, when to use texturess and not and any number of other topics that come up along the way.

So let’s begin with the start, shall we?

For this particular illustration, I knew I wanted to tackle another Primarch.
But which one?
I have a list of Primarchs I am completing, where I have saved some general ideas and cool stuff to inspire.
Her’s what the folder look like:
Capture

You will notice that some are missing, which does not meant that they are completed, but rather that I haven’t ound anything yet to make me feel it is suitable to save as reference or inspiration for that particular Primarch.

So let’s choose one-

Let’s choose/
Mortarion.

It is, after-all, the season to be dreary.

So I look at what Mortarion has.
Capture1

Not that much, but we can work with it.

So I do a quick sketch, without looking at my ref/inspiration images, but after I have looked at them/

This is the result:
sketch

So, its loose, crappy and not much to see. But it gives an indication, a hint at where I wan to take this piece.

Let me explain it to you.
Mortarion, for me, was always a riddle.
He grew up as a son of an alien (or a mutant, it seem to have shifted over the years). Taking control over the planet of Barbarus, a lethal place for humans to live and so poisons and poisonous gases are a part of his culture.
Likewise, the figure of Mortarion has this “Angel of Death” over it. A hooded figure, slender and agile, with hints of wings and a scythe.

The above is the way I think about Mortarion in passing, without investing any real tought to the character.

So the next step, is to look at the sheer physical aspects of Mortarion.

I did a Google-search, and ended up with a few images. I show them here to give you an idea, but I am in no means taking any credit fore these:

Mortarion-print – John Blanche
Mortarion – Alex Boyd
Mortarion1 (2) – Adrian Smith
Mortarion work in progress1 -Ibrahim Swaid ( http://holypixels.blogspot.be/2011/08/mortarion-work-in-progress-1.html )

So that’s the four first ones I got..

Now comes the choosing.
What do I like, what don’t I like.

I like the general features, the hood, the gaunt look of Alex Boyd’s version. The plain-ness of the armour. In fact, even though I usually really like Adrian Smith’s work, in this case, I find it completely out of tune with what I want to portray.

So I make a list of things to add in the illustrration-

Scythe (obviously, I even drew that in the sketch, before thinkking about it).
Hood (again).
Slender – like in the Alex Boyd image. – usually PlagueMarines are bloated, which is fine, but I want him to look like death/ This is not neccesarily going to be after he joined chaos.
Exhausts.
High Collar.
Censer- holding poisonous gasses.

Things to concider-

Colours, not sure about wite, or even green. I need to do some research.
Shoulderpads. I sketched something like the Angron or Curze shoulderpads, not sure if I will keep that or go with something else.
Smoke- I want poisonous gases to come out at the collar and from the Censers. Need to make them visible without looking lame.

Things to not take-
No Green, no White. Not on Armour in any case. I want him to be dull in armour/clothing. He will be pale, so he need to stand out a bit.
Chest from Hulk- I really need him to look like death, he cannot have the most powerful look, not bodywise in any case.
No face-mask.
Perhaps the fumes will cover some of his face, but I want his face to show mostly.

After writing these things down, I do a new sketch. And i failed (I lost the file). So I decide to do a tested methood when I need ideas.
I use an older image and duplicate layers, moving, reshaping, twisting and turning them around, using layer-effects to get “happy accidents”.
In this case, I used my Angron Painting.

This is the “sketch”:
Mortarion1
So I add some brushstrokes to give a hint at my figure (using the same pose as before)
Mortarion2
It still doesnt do it, so I do a little altering and adding a coloursplash, followed by a proper silouhete (next two images)
Mortarion3

Mortarion4

And after moving the arm and scythe, I am getting happy about the pose.
I know I said no facemask, but at this time, I am unsure how to make him look, so I have left the lower part of the face.
I will most likely make him look similar to curze, as I use roughly the same features for all the Primarchs, just changing them ever so slightly, to show they are siblings, rather then the same characer (or, indeed, completely different from one another).

That thing above his head?
Yeah, I dont know, perhaps I will keep it, perhaps not.
I thought I saw something like that in the back of Ibrahim Swaids Mortarion… it has potential. Maybe some sort of machinery, part of his exhausts…

We’ll see.

Till next time.

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On reference – part I

Hello there Studio Colrouphobia-followers!

Today I thought I’d take a little time to talk about how I use reference. There are many things to consider about references and many rules people
mention in regards to reference, so I thought we should discuss a little about it and I will also let you know how I use reference when I paint.

Lets start with the only rule you really should think about at all times. It’s divided into three parts.

Firstly:
If you are uncertain about copyrights and other rights- Shoot the reference yourself! Take a camera, locate a suitable view and take a
photograph of it!

The second part of the rule is:
If you bought a book with the reference in, and unless it say anything specifically about it on the image itself or on the publication-page (Where the information about edition and publisher  and where it was printed etc. can be found) about using as reference , you can use it as reference!

And the third part of the rule:
When in doubt-  Do not use as reference!

Now, before moving on to discussing other things, please do remember that the moment you use a piece of reference by cutting and pasting it into your work it’s not a reference any more- it’s a manipulation, manipulation wont bring you further towards being an accomplished painter or illustrator, it wont bring you anything but sorrow down the road (mainly because eventually people will find out and, rightfully, call you a fraud).

How I use reference and why

A lot of artists will say they do not use reference, or use it sparingly. I am not yet such an accomplished artist that I could do without reference though, and many of my illustrations defy life in such a way that using life as a base for painting them would only get me so far.

So I use photos to help me get certain things correct. It could be understanding a certain type of lighting, texture or shape of something. I used to copy photographs and drawings when I was young, it is an excellent way of learning how to sketch and/or paint, to copy something that already is well done.
But that was for practice. Nowadays I still do copies on occasion, though I would rather call them “studies”. Using a photo of an apple to try to paint a similar apple
(note “similar”, not “the same”). It needs to be believable, not a copy. I also do the occasional actual copy, trying to copy a work of a master such as RubensCaravaggio or Rembrandt to get the idea behind their work with colour and light, or to do a copy of a Pyle or one of the Orientalists to understand composition and how to use colours to strengthen it. But these are meant as practice, for me. They are not shown outside my family (and barely even that) and are not used for anything else but to further my own skill. A boxer need to shadowbox, an athlete need to run laps, painters and illustrators need to paint.

When it comes to actual illustration of something I use images, whether photos or other illustrations, as guides towards what I want to paint.

Consider Babar. If you have never heard of Babar: he is an elefant that grow up around humans, learn to walk on two feet and dress in clothes. Eventually he becomes king in his own land. A very nice set of children’s stories that teach basic ethics at the same time as being entertaining and sweet.

I have, for a longer time, been pondering to paint a classical portrait of Babar. He is a cartoony-like elephant, but only because the illustrated book was supposed to be for children, not education on the looks of  elephants.

Since I illustrate with a certain amount of realism, and try to get to the part where seeing an illustration of mine is believing the illustration, I wanted to paint Babar a little more realistic. So I went about doing a little sketch of him:

This is my sketch: Babar, now an old king, sitting infront of a fireplace in a victorian styled chair sipping a Cognac. Behind him sits the head of Rataxes a friend and enemy (it’s a complicated relationship) of Babar’s. The size of the paper, and the fact that I had not truly planned this image  much, mean that the head of Rataxes sit more behind the head of Babar then being visible.
After completing the sketch, knowing that I need to alter some things once I start painting it, I go about getting me some reference:


I find an image of a Rhinoceros, amazingly enough I find exactly the type of chair I wanted to seat Babar in, though not at the perfect angle, but still. I find three different elephant-heads, african ones, and I find a set of crown jewels (the Danish ones, but I like the Kings crown and it looks somewhat like the one I drew on Babars’ head).

I decide against using the elephants as final refferences, because I am uncertain where the images are from and whether there is a copyright on them. Normally, this would spur me to scour the internet for a massive amount of hours but my dear wife remind me that we have a zoo in the city, and that I have free admittance to it whenever I want to (one-year-subscription) and that, indeed, there are elephants there. Even though I will use the above elephants for my reference mash-up, I will still shoot new references to use once I begin the actual painting. (and on the plus-side, they also have a Rhinoceros or two at the zoo, which mean I might get some very nice photos of Rhinos as well, to use for this painting).

Now it’s time for a quick recomposition/colour-test:

In the above image, I have copy-pasted some of the references from above. I painted the clothes of Babar and the Head I had to paint because of the lighting but I did a lot of colour-picking. This stage is not really part of the painting itself, merely there to see if I “got it” or not. As such, it isn’t supposed to take that long. I believe I spent a glorious 30 minutes on getting the image above done. Obviously, the tone is very dark, but that is also partly because eventually I will look just as much on this image as the reference to get the final painting done correctly. The mash-up is meant to give a better understanding on the general look of the painting. The references are what will make the final painting come alive.

It is important for you to realize a couple of things here:

  1. This is meant to serves as a reference. I copy-pasted images in, to give me a better Idea on shapes. In the end, I might use the general tone of this, as well as using the photos copied into this document as reference, but I will paint the entire painting from scratch!
  2. I do not suggest painting over anything unless you really are starting out, and then only as practice! Don’t do paint-overs to get you “cool art that get me jobz”, because it wont. It will only tell people you aren’t good enough when they start putting pressure on you for deadlines and start seeing you painted over other peoples work, which in the end can cost them a lot of cash in the form of lawsuits and whatnot.
  3. I use reference as a visual guide, that does not men I have to stick to it rigorously all he time. There is still room for change along the way, but the reference is there to help me see things like light, shape, tone and texture.

Next time I come back to talk about reference, I will show you how I paint Babar from begin to end. With reusing the sketch as a base for the painting, painting under-layers and dead-layers, looking at the reference to get a good idea on what I need to think about with colour, lights and shapes/form etc. etc..

If you have any ideas on what to take up on this blog, or if you have any questions on this topic, other topics or such, please leave a comment and I will answer as promptly as I can.

I also wanted to know what you guys thought about Noah‘s guest-blog? Are you looking forward to the next art-hero to post one? Who are YOUR art-heroes?

Until next time,

David

Macho, macho man – a little art-update

So before I start this blog with some more regular things, let me first congratulate George Takei on his 75th birthday.
Beyond being openly gay, one of the first asians I saw in any form of higher position on a tv-show and playing uber-cool Japanese business-owner in Heroes, Mr.Takei also has a wicked sense of humor that he shares with us through his Facebook page. Go give the man some love:
George Takei

So it’s been a while since there was an update from this blog.
You might wonder what’s been going on? The truth been told, I have been pretty busy.
A few things will be shown later in this entry, but first, something for all of you that are interested in illustration.
I saw this yesterday, and I found it brilliant.
For some of you, this might not be the most obvious, or even clear, thing, but trust me, once you start thinking in these terms, your illustrational work will be better of it.

ideation-video-from-sterling-hundley-faculty

Now I know some of you will look at this and go “huh?” but just look, listen and consider.

Text-> Simplify-> word association-> simple icons-> bridge-> drawings from bridges-> Box your composition-> Explain shape through value-> Define your execution.

I am working on a couple of things that still are a little hush-hush. One of the things I am doing is a test-run for something. These things happen sometimes in this business and can be tacked together with payment or without payment.
Something I wanted to touch base with with the people reading these, and who are interested in working as illustrators or designers, is how to take rejection or failure.

I am a sore looser.

No really,I am a terrible looser. I hate loosing, because I pride myself to not get into situations where I cannot win (famous exception being anything that has to do with my wife..just cannot beat the woman in anything!).

Now just because I am a sore looser doesn’t mean I have to take failure or rejection poorly.

Like said, I am doing a testrun. I am not going to tell you what it is for, but there is a chance that I might get told “Hey, you have a nice style, it’s just not the one that we’re looking for”.

That has happened to me just as to most people.

In essence, it means that either you wont get the gig because of style or because you have not achieved exactly the skill that they are looking for.

So what can we do about this?

Well first of all- realize that you can always improve your skill and your artistic ability.
Secondly- realize that some things you wont be able to do. Please note that I didn’t write “cannot ever do”, but rather “wont be able to do”. If you aim your skills at painting realistically, then stylized cartoony might not be what you excel in. Or Cubistic, or maybe you aim at a very saturated palette. Unless you focus your aim at all of hese things, chances are that you wont be able to keep the standard that some of the companies out there want to see.

What you need to do is to work, practice, challenge yourself and evolve in the direction you wish to see your art. If you do that, then eventually you will find that you have work cut out for you.

Now then, for what you have been waiting for.
The images.

Here is the cover for Skrapyard.

To find out more about this game, head over to Precinct Omega Publishing

I got contacted by a very nice guy over at Heresy Online with a question if I wanted to do a few commissions to bring a Space Marine Chapter alive.
Here are two images of the Lantern Marines:

Tactical Lantern Marine


Veteran Lantern Marine

Until next time.

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