Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Brothers In Arms" - Destiny Fanart Walkthrough

I've been working with Claude Errera (Louis Wu of Halo.Bungie.Org) and a great team on Destiny.Bungie.Org, a fansite dedicated to Bungie's new IP, "Destiny".

I pitched the background and basic design of the site. They'll be more to it in the future as we learn more about Destiny.

Lately I was tasked with creating a background for the DBO Twitter feeds the staff was readying. My first step: procrastinate and work on other things.

... After that, though, I sat down and got my butt into gear. I was going to be out of town in a few days and I wanted the piece done by then so that the Twitter-addicted Mr. Errera could have his account as soon as everything else was prepared.


I started sketching, obviously inspired by the amazing concept art Bungie has posted, especially this piece and this piece. I was also trying to think in terms of a Twitter background; since the center would be obscured, I would need the best parts of the picture on the left and right.


Originally, I was just going to do this piece in black and white and match the news sketches I've been doing for the front page. "Fast and easy" and then I could get onto other things. But then, logically, I made it a hundred times harder and started playing around with colors.

I got rid of the good-guy in the middle and replaced him with more incoming Vex robots. I also moved away from the ship graveyard I was imagining in the original sketch's background and towards a Martian volcano (not sure if it really ended up in Mars...).

One thing I stressed upon myself was to work more (and more unexpected) colors into my landscape that would still look natural - and thus make the piece more interesting to look at in the end. You'll notice blues and purples in the dark side of the mountains as evidence of this attempt.


I continued solely on the background for a while. I find it relaxing to paint happy mountains, rivers and waterfalls and it's one thing I consider myself decent enough to the point where I'm not constantly criticizing every move I make.

I smudged the clouds with my custom brush, added cracks and highlights to the nearby rocks, and enjoyed playing around with where the lava-falls would carve into the mountainside.


I switched back to the characters and had a lot of fun fleshing out the Vex on the right. The action and posture from the initial sketch yelled 'drama' so I tried hard to not kill that as I laid the digital paint atop it (I also don't always capture that kind of action in my non-comic art so I'm trying to get more of that dynamic movement in my concept pieces these days).

Some laser blasts were added on the left for more diagonals to draw your eye in. I started experimenting with colors and new designs for our left hero. He started to look a little like a Carter/Jun hybrid! :)


Continued to design-as-I-painted this attacking (or fleeing?) soldier as well as carve out the background Vex. The soldier's gun started to pick up some of Halo's assault rifle but I thought the bayonet and extended barrel would pull it away from that.


More work on the left soldier. Hard to see in this format, but I also shrunk him down a bit.


Here I made the middle Vex bigger, trying to create a better rhythm for your eyes (I went back and forth a lot on this - I eventually made him smaller in the latest version).

The left soldier also received a nice heap of texture and scratches on his armor at this point. His weapon grew a number of crooked wires which at first seemed strange in my mind's eye but as they were implemented I fell in love with them. I'm going to be using them on more of my artwork, I can guarantee you!

I also tried to bring his cape to life at this point and got distracted for a while by trying to melt the rocks directly behind him on the left. I think it might have worked...

A moon was dropped in above and I added a few spaceship/missile trails to help it feel like more of a battle.


By this stage, it was late into the night before my trip and in a few short hours I needed to drive to St. Louis. After a few more refinements, I spent an hour or more tweaking the levels and colors of the entire image (I can get stuck in this stage for way too long). The main thing I settled on was an orange filter to 'heat' up the piece. I uploaded the piece to DBO_tweets and fell asleep.


The artwork had been posted for a week, but I was looking at it again the other day and found myself dissatisfied. It felt too washed out in some areas and too dominated by the orange filter in others (although I did like the 'heat' of it).

Hesitantly, I worked more purple into the background and covered our closest soldier with a rough coat of blue paint. I also shortened his gun's barrel and elongated the bayonet to make it more practical.

I also refined a number of little things here and there across the piece that I probably didn't need it and were completely impossible to see by the viewer... I have a problem with doing that!:)

Then, today I looked at the piece again. I was happy with the changes...

But it needed more damnit!


Here's the final piece (At least, that's what I'm saying right now).

I kept the heat of the orange but tempered it with lighter and cooler colors at the top (I especially liked how the blue drifted in on the top-right). I also redrew some of the cliffs in the middle as well as our hero on the right (almost completely).

I pushed the middle Vex further back and changed the posture of his arm a bit to make him seem like he was reacting to the scene instead of motionless. I also motion-blurred the right Vex's flying, dismembered arm as well as the rocks he was knocking off the sinking boulder.

The hero on the left received more contrast to make sure he was the first thing you see and to make sure he appeared closest to you. I blurred the entirety of the background just a hint as well.

Happy for a few brief moments, I quickly saved and ran away to something else!

Thanks for reading all the way down. :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Future: "Mayflower"

Originally titled "Over 70,000 profile views... And Beyond" on my DeviantArt Journal. Going to try and keep that and the blog unified from now on.

I thought I'd update everyone on my projects and prospects.

2012 was a terrible year. Besides two deaths in the family, and dealing with extended-family drug problems, I had a lot of promising career outlooks fall through. Every month things got crappier, to the point where it affected my outlook on my art-making ability. And this meant a lot of staring at paper or the screen, trying to start something and then deleting it, etc. Eventually it meant I wasn't even doing that, and just staying away from the pen and pencil altogether.

But I've now gotten another 'day' job and finally moved out of the parent's house after college. While this means I have less time to do art, it also means I now have a little room dedicated to art-making (I'm looking forward to hanging up some whiteboards and corkboards on the wall soon to cultivate more creativity). It's helped things.

I've been able to do art a bit more consistently now - especially the main project that was intimidating me for so long: Mayflower. I want it to be exactly what I've been envisioning, but it never felt like I could get there last year. In the last month, I feel like I'm getting a little closer, at least. Enough time has passed since the the worst of last year that my brain now throws a few encouraging thoughts at me from time to time.

Mayflower: The Seeker did not win that contest that I posted about last time in my journal. We got REALLY close. In fact, we actually DID get in the top 5 who would win grant money. But then oddly enough, a few of our votes were disqualified after the contest ended and we fell from 4th to 6th place, leaving space for a team who paid for their votes, and a team who magically got votes after the contest ended, and even more oddly, had team members who were involved in the running of the contest itself. As one might imagine, me and my friend, Mike, who's doing all the programming, were not happy campers.

The positive note though? Since we didn't pay for out votes - we saw that we had managed to scrounge together a huge heap of earnest, kickass support from people, like the person reading this right now. That's really encouraging! So The Seeker is still quietly being toiled on at the moment, despite our loss and lack of resources. Expect more on that front in the future!

Until then you'll have to deal with Mayflower the comic! I've been planning this universe for 3 and a half years now, and now the first story within it is finally becoming a reality. I'll be posting preview pages in the coming weeks on my DeviantArt and this blog, and I hope to have a printed and digital copy for sale in April, when I'll begin setting up shop at a few nearby comic conventions. I hope I'll have your support in this new venture, or better yet, I hope Mayflower will earn your support.

More to come...