06 January 2021

My work from 2020

As I look back on my posts for the year, I see it has been a bit slim. I don't know that this worldwide plague we've been enduring has given me much extra time. I certainly haven't done as much freelance work this year as usual, but not as much personal work, either. For one thing, I didn't get to teach a Life Drawing class this summer, so I didn't get any nice drawings like that done. Even though classroom teaching was different and there was less face-to-face time in class, that doesn't mean it's easier for instructors. I think I spent more time trying to create online content for distance learning and figure out how to do things differently. But we all just keep going, right? So gathering it all together, here is what I was able to accomplish during the year.

Here's the first freelance illustration from early in the year. Yes, I know, it looks like so many other things I've done, but if you can do something, you just keep with it if the work comes. This is somewhat conceptual, as the drilling rig is shown in a cross section. Why, I don't recall; I just do what's required of me. If you've followed my recent work, you may recognize this design or color scheme on this rig. The view and all the details on this one were a bit complex and took me some time to do. Just to entertain myself, I added the cool sun reflection and lens flare from the window, but the client didn't like it, so I had to take it out. It's the usual story. But here is the version that I prefer.

The next image is actually a still from a 3D animation I worked on. Another artist built some of the models, but I had to do a lot to refine them and make them match the real equipment we were showcasing. As I work on projects like these, I like to try new techniques or learn something each time. This one is part 3D animation and part compositing. In an attempt to take my animations to the next level and try to make them more realistic, I'm adding effects like light wrap, motion blur, depth of field, and more immersive environments. There was a lot to make come together on this one, but I do like the final result.

Now this is something different. This painting has a bit of a backstory, and not a very pleasant one, I'm afraid. This digital painting was based on a photo my daughter took of her cat. He couldn't live in the house and when we moved, he decided to stay most of the time in the storm drain across the street. The neighborhood kids called him 'sewer cat.' Unfortunately, he didn't choose the drain on the corner of our yard. Maybe he liked living here so he could look out and see his house. 

One rainy day, we were informed that a dead cat was in the street in front of our house. I went out to check and at first I didn't think it was him, but when I opened his eyes to look at him, I knew it was Mighty. That was his name. Picking his body up to move him out of the road and telling my daughter was one of the worst days of the entire stinking year. Anyway, when I saw her Facebook post about him, it included some interesting photos she had taken. I like this one and had never seen it before, so I decide to to a painting of it. I did change the eyes to have more open pupils than the little slits from the picture as this reminded me more of him. I also had to come up with a lot of detail that was only barely there of his black fur in the shadows. I made a canvas print of it and gave it to my daughter as a gift to try and cheer her up.

Here's something I had been working on for a long time and intending to do it for even longer. It's from a photo I took during my time in Vancouver for SIGGRAPH. For some reason, I was fascinated by the streetcar wires criss-crossing each other in the intersection, so I stood out in the middle of the street, trying to get a good set of photos to work from. I guess I was putting it off for a while because I had been busy, but also because it looked so complex. 

But I finally started on it and worked on it bit by bit during downtime in my classes. I started with the wires, cables, and all that hardware just to get it out of the way first. After a while, I got into a groove and began enjoying it. But I actually stopped work on it to work on the previous image, which I cruised through in a few days and then I returned to this one. By the time I finished it, I was quite pleased and glad I finally made myself get it done.

For a long time, I wasn't creating any new art. Then this project came along. It's a still from a 3D animation. This one isn't that exciting, but it's what the client needed. the final animation included some motion graphics and titles added in After Effects. I had to do a pretty much final image as a comp for approval. It was done as a Photoshop illustration, but then I had to recreate it as 3D geometry in Cinema 4D. I'm still waiting for approval to get the final rendering done.

Yes, it's another still from an animation. If it looks somewhat similar to the previous image, that's because they are part of a series that I'm in the middle of. This one was a bit challenging, as I had to build some more complex geometry and also render glass and the lit LEDs. It took a lot of test rendering, but I think I finally like the result I got. This project is still in progress and it's moving along at a slow pace. But that happens sometimes. I think when it's all done and fully animated, it will look pretty cool.

And the last one. I was really struggling to get this done so I could add it to this year's group of artwork. It's from something I saw a few years ago when I was working in Utah for the summer. As I was driving along the highway, I saw the sun going down over the mountains in the west. I think there might have been some fires somewhere, adding a lot of particulates in the sky. This building being lit by the setting some appealed to me for some reason, so I found an exit, parked somewhere, and took a bunch of photos, trying to find a good vantage point. I wasn't really satisfied with them, but they worked well enough to serve as reference for a painting. I finally started during the fall semester, but again, it took me a while to really get involved in this one. But I just pushed through it and finally enjoyed working on parts of it. Is the final painting great? Not really, but I guess it's okay. It's actually a Harley-Davidson dealership, I believe.

So that's it for 2020. Not a great year for my artistic output, but like all of us I just pushed through and tried to accomplish something. I actually did more than this. I worked on creating animations based on some of my past work and tried to gain more VFX skills in After Effects. I'm also involved in projects where I'm creating imagery for products and technologies that are currently in development and there's a lot I can't share. I'm also putting up more tutorials on my VFX playlist on YouTube. So there's always something going on. Still, it's nice to be able to have something nice to show when the year's over. Let's all look forward to something better in 2021.

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