Monday, March 24, 2008

Still Working ...

... on Launch! Eeek! It's taking forever! And I'm not sure when I'll be done. I just wanted to quickly check in and say that - no - this blog is not abandoned. It's jsut taking a while to finish this image. I also do not want to start another painting inbetween, so I finally get this done.
I got the actual carrier pretty much finished, but now the fighter looks kinda old - never looked good anyway. For that reason I got a new render of the fighter cooking. That will hopefully be the last one!
The photo is one I shot over the weekend. See ya soon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I have an idea for a new painting. It's a quite challenging task for me since the main subject is not, as usual, an environment, but a character. Still far from human, being a robot, it's still quite the jump for me. This is first contact - dirty little sketch done in Artrage. I'm not claiming any greatness to this pic. It's really just a very very first step.

just in case you're interested:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back on "Launch"

After my excursion to planet Ulōlō, I returned to finally finish off the flying aircraft carrier. Much easier task on the new machine. Ulōlō wasn't hard to do on my old computer, because it was only 2.5K resolution and I grudingly kept it 8-bit. That was ok, since the subject had so much details and hardly any soft gradients.
With "Launch" it's a bit different. It's 16 bit, 3.5K and has a ton of layers. I already had put a lot of work into it, so I didn't want to compromise.

I still have a lot to do on it. Tonight I designed and modelled some anti-aircraft deck guns. I'm pretty happy with them - they will populate the somewhat empty roof of the hangar part of the ship. I hope to finish the painting this week - but don't hold your breath. ;)

I also wanted to give a little shout-out to my girlfriend Glenda: Thank you for always being there for me and for being so supportive. Thank you for helping getting me back on my artistic feet. Thank you for being so understanding and full of encouragement! You truly rock my world!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A New Arrow in the Quiver

I recently complained that my computer, an outdated PC, was way too slow to do serious paintwork. Today I fixed that problem and got me a 24" iMac. I already have a 24" monitor, so the screen real estate that is available now is plentiful and inviting.
I initially wanted to get a Mac Pro Desktop, but after some consideration, mostly financial, decided against it. It's a true work horse, nicely engineered - I use one at work - but I just took the iMac for a test spin and it is wonderfully quick. A lot of bang for the buck - runs Windows like a charm too.
I can't believe anyone, who is not strapped for cash, would buy a PC instead of Apples. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a blind believer, but Jobs and the guys and gals at Apple have done a lot of things right in recent years.
OSX is a great operating system too. If I didn't have to run Windows for a couple of reasons, I'd abandon it forever. What a backwards POS.
And lastly - come on - we're artists! Apple computers are really easy on the eye and cleverly designed. They're not just looking good, but easy to use. Alright - enough praise out of me!

I just want to add that somehow I feel my creative juices are really returning. It's a great feeling. I'm not going to get ahead of myself though, because I have been disappointed too many times before. I will just take it easy and enjoy whatever creative energy comes my way. Thinking back to how I was feeling a year ago, I can hardly believe I've come that far. It's also nice to see that after sticking my head out again a little bit on forums, a few people still remember me and gave me a "Wondering where you were - welcome back!". Until next time!

Oh and here's a shot I took last saturday: Fireball, fireball!

Friday, March 7, 2008

"Deployed" - Step by Step

I had a request to show some inbetween steps of how the painting in the last post was done. I'm more than happy to do so and will probably go overboard ;) In general I wanted to go for a fairly photoreal style and have it be a little bit funny. As much as I like futuristic cities and huge spaceships and will do paintings like that again (and am working on one right now) I wanted to do something different.

The idea for this painting was flying around in my head for a few years. I made a few very, very rough sketches in the during that time, but nothing really satisfying. I always imagined the statue being some kind of Tiki. So, I jumped into SketchUp Lite - an architectural 3D program you can download from and threw around some geo. You can see the result on top. Basically I just wanted to use it as a perspective guide, but I liked to 8-bit charm the layout had and decided to stick with it. SketchUp (the Lite version) is free, easy and a lot of fun to use. Give it a try! :)

Next I threw in a background plate I shot on the southisland of New Zealand. I wanted a guide for general lighting direction and athmosphere. It had the water on the bottom already, a detail I strayed from while working on the painting, only to return to it in the end.

After putting the background in, I started loosely sketching on the 3d render, trying out different things. Very quickly though, I started dropping photo reference into it. Below is one of the photos I used. Over the course of the painting I must have used around 30-40 photos for sure. Except the soldiers I shot them myself.

Here I'm playing with different things - a waterfall to the right, a photo of my dad studying the statue and some more greenery in the background. The Tiki is fully textured now.

I always wanted to have another statue in the background, so I put in a placeholder before I got to the real one. I lost the waterfall to the right and replaced it with a very steep rockwall. In hindsight the waterfall might have been a nice choice. On the other hand I wanted nothing to distract from the scene in the middle.

If you look carefully, you can see a big planet in the sky. I despereately wanted to improve the feel that we're on a different planet - and used the oldest trick in the book - celestial objects one doesn't see in our sky.

I also droppedin the group of soldiers I stole from the web. They were part of a much bigger group. I rearranegd faces, added helmets and did a lot of other work to make them unrecognizeable. I tried a lot of different people / persons, but that group seemed to fit the best. Maybe I'll make another version where I take a photograph of a friend dressed as an intergalatic tramper. ;)

Here is the finished painting. I returned to the water, which I think is much nicer than the rocky floor I had in there before. Additionally, I realized, that the rock was way too detailled, rough and distracting. So I went ahead and smoothed the whole thing. I put another statue in the back and changed the background to something nicer. I also wanted a darker sky, so the two moons I added would stand out a tad more than in the previous background.

I also let a shadow fall onto the statue to tie it into the background some more.

Before publishing the painting I did some post processing and added some grrrrrrain. Voila - done!
The whole thing took me three (long) evenings. The original is 2450 pixels wide. I did it in 8-bit color space, since my machine is reeeaaaaly slow in 16-bit mode. This image is hopefully the first part of a series, based on an idea I had a while ago.
Well, I hope you liked this 'walkthrough'! Here's an original resolution crop of a detail as a bonus ;) Cheers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Deployed on Planet Ulōlō

It's almost 2am ... but finally finished. A fictional photo of future troops deployed on planet Ulōlō, checking out the local cultural highlights. Taking a snapshot and sending it home. I'll write about the making of another time since it's late and I have to get my behind to bed. I hope you like it ... I had a lot of fun painting it. Cheers.