Here’s some recently completed work that I did for Author Jim Hodgson and his latest YA (young adult) series dubbed “Ozel the wizard.” Here’s the blurb from the back of book one- Apprentice Quest.
A hopeful orphan. An incredible wizard. One boy must do the impossible to change his life forever…
Ozel wonders if he’ll ever escape his angry, fat caretaker. As the orphan hopes for a better future, a mysterious wizard gives him the gift of an apprenticeship and some unbelievable magic. But when Ozel discovers he’s the lone heir to a massive fortune, he’ll need more than a few spells to claim it.
After learning his portly caretaker plans to steal the money first, Ozel races through a forest of blacksmiths, witches, and even the undead to protect his birthright. If he survives the treacherous Tangul forest, the orphan and his wizard may just have to stop a twisted mage to go from zero to wealthy hero.
Apprentice Quest is a young adult fantasy novel full of action and humor. If you like powerful wizards, twists and turns, and coming-of-age tales, then you’ll love Jim Hodgson’s worthy successor to the magical genre.
The last book in the series- Wizard’s Resolve– launched just before Christmas. If you’re looking for something that has wizards in it and doesn’t include all that tedious Quidditch nonsense then check it out over on Amazon.
It was a great pleasure to work with Jim, and hopefully the future will see many more opportunities to do so!
Something a little different for me- I heard this song:
An image immediately popped into my head. It’s rare that that happens! It was a fun little distraction from my “proper” work, and a nice excuse to experiment with style and some new brushes in Paintstorm.
I’m about half way through the final artwork at the moment, but I thought I’d share some of the process so far:
I started with a load of rough thumbnail drawings in my sketchbook- just really quick visual notes to capture the barest form of the idea in my head.
Then I scanned them in and proceeded to paint over the ones I liked best, experimenting with colour and tone, and solidifying the choice of camera angle. After a while of doing this it became obvious which my favourites were, and I crossed the others off one by one until I had four contenders left.
Rough ideas stage one
My four contenders got a little bit more development. After that, I sought a little bit of outside input. After all, you can become blind to first impressions after you’ve been working on a piece for so long. The image really needs to sell the idea of someone or something going “into the void”. It was decided that two of the four were superior in their narrative impact and sense of suspense…
So now it’s on to the painting stage, rather- finishing the painting stage, since I’ve already been painting for a couple of days now. All proceeding as planned- the chosen final image will pop up in my gallery when the deadline passes in just over a week.
Here’s a couple of posters I designed for a client some time back, both of them are vintage, Victorian-inspired steampunk styled efforts.
The first is a poster for a fictional airship race over the streets of Paris. “La Grande Course d’air de Paris!” I spent a long time trying to match up google Earth data with old photos of the city to get as realistic impression of the city in 1986. The design even features an old version of the Eiffel tower with it’s original top and it’s briefly-featured yellow ochre paint job.
Below are the thumbnails I presented to the client with the possible options for the finished illustration. I often think that some do a much better job of selling the idea than others and I’m often surprised by what gets chosen.
The second poster is a handbill advertisement for a lecture by the Great Detective himself- Mr Sherlock Holmes. This one features a purely typographical approach, with hand-drawn decoration similar to some period examples.
There’s a whole world of Victorian typography and hand-drawn lettering out there that’s really incredible. Despite it’s imperfections, hand-drawn lettering has a lot more charm than a digital font. It’s definitely something I’d like to explore further in future.
Barbel- my Overwatch style character design- is finally complete. Two and a half months of focused work has left me with something I’m relatively pleased with. There’s always room to improve though, and one of my favourite ways of doing that is to review the latest project and think of how to get better results next time.
The idea for Barbel was born sometime in early 2017- I knew I wanted to make a 3d character in the style of Overwatch, but I din’t have any specifics beyond that. Then one day, the idea came to me- almost fully formed- which never happens usually and is not be relied upon. I wanted a giant catfish armed with a trident like one of those Roman gladiators. I could see him hunched there in my mind’s eye doing some kind of daft “play of the game” pose and making weird fish noises. He had a space helmet full of water though. I ditched that early on.
What I learned:
In concept art 3d is superior to 2d.
Sketching is obviously a very fast way of presenting ideas, but the fact is that some ideas just don’t occur to you simply because you’re thinking in a 2d way.
When you have a lump of 3d clay and you can quickly manipulate it without preconceptions- you begin to think in a more 3d way and consider how forms twist and turn as they travel through space- how the silhouettes look from all angles rather just one or two key profiles, or how things overlap. All this stuff is obviously possible in 2d- it’s just harder.
It’s also pretty tedious to redraw a character from the back or the side, just so you can see a few areas to decide how they’ll look. In 3d you have one model- and you can see any angle you desire and what’s going to go there. Playing around in Gravity Sketch and Oculus Medium led to a few happy accidents that helped me overcome design challenges I was having at certain points. Which leads me on to my second point…
VR is the best way to concept design in 3d.
Wherever I thought that the 2D concept was underdeveloped or not clear enough I would play around in Medum or Gravity Sketch and quickly come up with a solution. Arguably you could use Zbrush or Maya or something traditional, but the immediacy of reaching out and drawing a line in the air, of genuinely working with three dimensions of input rather than the two offered by the monitor screen, of being completely immersed in a world where only you and your work exist- is pretty damn special! VR may be a little clunky at the moment, but it more than compensates for it by allowing for a state of flow that surpasses traditional modelling.
It’s also really fast. The aforementioned three dimensions of input mean you don’t have to move the camera every time you want to do a simple operation such as moving an object along an axis that isn’t perpendicular to the viewport. True stereoscopic vision means you don’t have to move the camera to get an understanding of form either. On top of all this- you can move, rotate and scale objects all at the same time, even as you move your view around.
Colour and form should be designed together
Good colour design requires you to balance different key colours, secondary colours and accents. If you have a model ready to texture and you haven’t decided how to balance these colours, you may find some areas of colour or material are bigger or smaller than you’d like, and it’s too late to change it easily.
By contrast- if you deal with colour and form at the same time you’ll get a much more immediate impression of how your design is going to look when it’s finished and textured. If you deal with this at the concept stage you have a lot more freedom to play with the design so that the hierarchy of shape and colour works as you’d like.
I can only imagine how touched my uncle would have been to see so many dear and familiar faces here today, to celebrate his life and mourn his tragic passing. No doubt many of you had your reservations about coming- I understand that Uncle’s singular personality rubbed some of you up the wrong way.
In his defence I can only say that Uncle Vince was a character- a unique individual. I myself still have strong feelings about some of his habits, exploits, and ventures- the otter-cheese farm, the mandatory zipline to the downstairs toilet, bear boxing- I never supported any of these. Now that dear Uncle is gone, I shan’t worry about having to wear pink stockings after nine pm, eating only with spoons, or only turning anti-clockwise in the presence of women.
We may never truly know how Uncle Vince passed away. We may never know how he wandered into the locked greenhouse in the middle of the night, without his protective bee “disguise”, stark naked and with two lamb chops and a pork loin taped to his forehead. We may never know how he came to be so riotously drunk as to do that, despite being teetotal. All we can say is that he will be missed, and as the sole inheritor of his massive estate I feel it is my responsibility to thank you all for coming. Cheers.