01 September 2016

Recent work

Things have been busy these days, so my blog has suffered a bit. As usual, I'm doing digital illustration work, looking for new projects, and seeing what my next big move should be. I'm looking at trying to get some visual effects work on upcoming movies and I actually had an interview at ILM yesterday! Onsite at the Presidio in San Francisco, so that was pretty exciting. We'll see what happens.

Here are some sections from a project I finished recently. If the format or subject matter look familiar, it's for a calendar header like many I've done before. This one was fun, but really took me a long time, painting all those darn buildings. And then all the bridges. And then that inset image of the top of the bridge...

30 June 2016

Back to business as usual

I've recently noticed that it's been a long time since I've posted anything. As you can guess, I've been working on various freelance projects and looking for more work. I've also been checking on full-time employment, especially teaching positions. Recently, I was contacted by Tulsa Community College about a digital media instructor position. I went out there and interviewed. It was a nice facility and I did the best I could, but they ended up going with other candidates. I was disappointed, but the job starts this fall and it would be hard to make a big move like that so quickly. 

So, it's back to business as usual and I'll keep looking. I have been thinking about getting my Masters degree, since that's almost a requirement for a tenured teaching position.

21 January 2016

My illustration work from 2015

As I was working on current projects, I was thinking about the illustrations I did last year. I did a good bit of other work like animation, design, and page layout, but as this is an illustration blog, that's what I will concentrate on. As usual, some of the images here are favorites of mine, and some I'm not so happy with. That's just how it goes in the world of commercial art.

This was a pretty major illustration, painted quite large for an exhibit background. It took a lot of work and is actually one of my favorite pieces now. I'm especially pleased with the pipe threader (that's the thing on the left side). It was almost my best piece of the year, completed quite early on.

Here's one that's not quite an illustration. It's more of a logo that I had to design, but with Photoshop I was able to make it look a bit more dimensional and give it some texture.
This one was kind of interesting: realistic but a bit conceptual as well. I've been working on mimicking photographic techniques, so I tried a bit of depth of field here by making the background out of focus. I also got to paint some figures, so that's always fun. After completing the illustration, I also did the final ad layout and design.

If you've been following my work, you may recognize this one. I did an illustration of a nice, completed shower installation. For this image, the client wanted the same layout, but a before image, showing old, ugly, and broken tile as a contrast. Sadly, I used my own shower as an inspiration for this illustration.

Here's one that never really worked, but I just had to get through it. The background elements were taken from older illustrations and incorporated into this image to save me some time. I was not able to fit all the elements in to my liking, but it fit the requirements for this job.

Another one based on a previous illustration. For this one, I had to extend the bottom and add the bridge damage and work scene around it, so the bottom quarter is new. It started out as a 3D scene, but for the addition, I just extended the canvas in Photoshop and painted in 2D elements.

Because of the complexity of something like this, I built it as a 3D model first. I also textured, lit, and rendered it, so there wasn't much more to do in Photoshop, except paint the background.

This isn't much, but it's just a small image I had to whip out quickly. With Photoshop's layer effects and vector shapes, it's pretty easy to do something like this without putting too much time into it.

Back to my usual painting of construction scenes. New client and equipment to render. It's okay, I suppose. The main thing is that the client liked it.

More construction stuff. This image went back and forth until I finally figured out what the client wanted. Again 3D made this relatively easy. The water was built from photos, based on techniques I've shared previously in this blog. A bit of final Photoshop painting, and it was done.

Now this one took some time, but I really like how it turned out. It was quite challenging and I tried some new techniques to represent artificial illumination at night, which ended up pretty successful. My initial inclination is to get by with as little work as I can and my client kept wanting more elements added. But as much as I hate to admit it, they helped the final image. I liked the final result so much that I kept on working after it was complete and approved, adding details on the far left span of the bridge, like the truck and streetlights. Anyway, this also ended up being one of my favorites.

Another quick project. Intended for a large exhibit background, it was really just a simple 3D scene textured and rendered. I also did the text and layout and it ended up doing what it needed to.

Another calendar header image. This one worked out okay, but I had hoped it would have been a bit better. Still, it's pretty good I guess.

This is a series I got through my rep. It was a pretty cool job, but the images were very large and required a lot of work. Much of the detail gets lost in these small images, but they should give you an idea of what went into the final images. The first two are panoramic images from a coal plant and the third was a cutaway view of one of the interior turbines in the plant.

This last one is really a photo editing project instead of an illustration. The background was quite complex and required a lot of hand painting to mask it out. There is some concept going on here, but it might be hard to make out.

14 October 2015

3D construction images

Back to bridge illustrations for me. These may look nice, but there's not that much to them, at least in the way of digital painting. For images like these with critical relationships of structures to each other, it's easiest to build them as 3D models. As usual, I worked in Cinema 4D. Making something like a bridge can be a bit tricky, as I had no definite schematics to work from, just low quality photos and conceptual artwork done by someone else. But I made it work. The final result may not be perfectly accurate from an architectural point of view, but it works for my purposes.
I did do a bit of texturing for the geometry and rendered with Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination to get realistic highlights and shadows. the renders were done as multi-pass so that I could take them into Photoshop and separate out the parts I needed. There was some background painting and touch up here and there to band things up and add a bit more realism and get away from that sterile look so common in many 3D renders. Overall, I think they look okay. On the bottom cofferdam image, the water isn't a photo, but I started with water photos to pull selections out of to make the final layers. For detailed waves and ripples, I've found that this technique is much more efficient than painting water from scratch. I used the same steps for the water in a previous illustration. You can check out my tutorial on how to do it here.

19 June 2015

Latest work and other details

Well, after a long time of waiting, I have finally found out that I won't be teaching in Arkansas after all. It took a while, but they apparently chose someone else for the instructor position. I'm disappointed, but in a way, relieved. However, I have been looking at other similar positions. Most require a Masters degree, so that leaves me out for the moment.

In other big news, I finally upgraded my computer. I'm now on a fairly new Macbook Pro with retina display. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of the new display, since it means that things like RAM and the battery are a permanent part of the hardware and not replaceable. Being so new, it's also missing a Superdrive, so I needed an external one. Generic models can be quite economical, but beware the kinds that read but do not write DVDs, as I have found out, much to my dismay. 

To save some money, I bought a refurbished model directly from Apple. It had 8 Gb of RAM. But when it arrived, I saw that they had a version with 16 Gb available that wasn't there before, and I was immediately hit with buyer's remorse. Remembering a Jewish proverb that says something like, "Spend more the first time and cry only once," I returned it and ordered the one with more RAM. I hope it was worth it.

In work news, I have finally finished the 3-painting project that I've been off and on for a few months. It's moved along a bit slowly, but getting approvals on various stages of the work has not been too fast. I've also been doing matte painting projects for ESPN promos, featuring trailers from current movies. The latest one I just finished was done without a finished trailer to work from, so I had to create the entire painting on my own. You can see it below.

21 April 2015

Current freelance project

I've got a lot on my plate these days, and one is a 3-part project for a coal plant. It's a pretty big one; each image will be printed at 4x3 feet. I was trying to do it quickly, but there was so much there in the source material, that it soon got very detailed. I finally tried to tone it down a bit, but if you know anything about my work, you know that I just can't keep away from this kind of approach for too long. I'm still on it, but here is a small section of one of the images, showing just how much is going into this illustration. I eventually had to leave out a lot of the smaller doo-dads, just to get it finished.

15 April 2015

Doing something unusual this week...

Just a quick little post from Arkansas. That's right; I'm in Arkansas. I'm visiting Southern Arkansas University to interview, teach a class, and give a lecture. They are considering me for a position as Assistant Professor of Art and Design. I've been trying for something like this since last year, so we will see what happens. If it does, I have to consider whether I want to make a major move to the South. More to come.