The original Black Sorceress piece was commissioned by the Japanese company for a mobile card game set in Bahamut series. These mobile games are extremely popular in Asia (and other countries too!) due to addictive gameplay and relatively low production cost. Because they focusing on playing/collecting cards mainly, there is an ever-growing demand for artists to do all those illustrations that players will see in-game. Each company has a certain set of rules on what they can and can't show on their cards. Asian developers are usually more flexible, so sometimes their titles have been toned down for western market release.
For my personal version I didn't want to replicate the existing piece, as it leads only to a technical exercise. Therefore, my first challenge was to find an idea for the new look and feel for the sorceress. Well, sometimes I do have a clear picture in my mind right off the bat, but sometimes it's just a vague feeling. I knew I need a strong, grown-up woman with feminine charm. I feel I need to portray her sexy and seductive appearance in a subtle way. This means no weird, twisted poses you see in today’s game illustrations and fan arts. But besides these thoughts I didn't have any picture(s) in my mind.
To kickstart my imagination I flip through the collection of reference images until something hooks me in. It could be anything from the facial expression of some random character up to the abstract bits and pieces. And by reference images I mean all kind of images: from Kill la Kill anime stills to Renaissance paintings. Comparing to smoking weeds and consuming alcohol (I believe this is how some people came up with their crazy ideas ), this wouldn't ruin your health and affect your productivity in the long run.
Note, if you found something (a photo or a painting) that looks just like you think what you need - use it. Put it right next to your drawing, paint over it or even trace it. Unless you're doing studies, chances are that your work will need further modifications anyway. And by using the existing sources you're saving time, quickly checking if this idea works or not. By the way, this is where photobashing came from - you don't want to spend half a week painting rocks or trees for your concepts. Here people would debate if it's legit or not, but consider this -- If you rely too much on tracing or photobashing, at some point it will limit the way you think, draw and paint. Instead of choosing breathtaking angles or interesting composition, you'll stick to familiar shapes and angles over and over. This may not be an issue if you're happy with your stuff and it helps to pay the bills. But when a creative crisis hits you, you'll need to overcome these habits in order to reach new heights.
Once I’m tuned in I start sketching, trying to express what I saw in the references and what I have in my mind. Usually I don't worry about quality at this stage, because nobody will see these scribbles anyway. This is how my first approach look like:
If you paint all the time, your scribbles would be much better and precise, but if you had a long break or work irregularly don’t expect miracles. It takes a while to brush up your rusted skills.
I sketch over the white canvas with simple round/angular brushes and light blues. You can use whatever colors and brushes you like and feel comfortable with. There are many brush sets available online, so try what works for you. Usually I'm sketching in a separate layer, adding new layers on top of each other for every major step or revision. This is a non-destructive way of working, where you add a new pose or element without erasing your previous steps. Just knock down the opacity for previous layers and work in a new one. Of course, I use eraser if something isn't right. In my previous example you can see two passes done in a similar fashion.
In a few more steps, the sorceress' pose and look starting to take shape. As you can see, it's relatively simple, as I don't want her body to literally scream with sexiness:
I really like her top but her legs were still questionable. If I'm not sure about something, I usually use big brushes with broad strokes to lay out volumes and masses first. I knew the shape and position of her legs would play a major role for her overall look and character appearance. Surprisingly I couldn't find anything usable in my reference library or online. Only old pin-ups (see Gil Elvgren for example) and photos (check Betty Page) were close but not close enough. Fortunately, these days you have many tools available if the reference library fails you.
I didn't have a wooden doll, so I used digital one to set up the pose. There are Poser, DAZ Studio, DesignDoll, XNALara and other software allowing you to experiment with digital characters. Of course you can model your own characters and do your own rigging in Max, Maya etc. if you have enough time and proper skills. Comparing to physical objects, virtual dolls have tricky controls that may drive you nuts, even if you're familiar with character rigging. Therefore, I didn't bother about perfect match and just focus on blocking the basic body parts. All I need is joints and body parts position. Keep in mind that these tools will only give you a foundation instead of accurate reference. So just like in the photo reference's case - use it, but be aware of its limitations.
For the sorceress' hand I quickly snap a reference using bathroom’s mirror and my smartphone (see, these aren’t for naughty selfies only! ). I didn't send photo to my workstation, instead I look at smartphone screen while painting. Very handy actually! Another way is to put a mirror near your workplace and look at it while painting. Animators do it all the time to study facial expressions as well as some illustrators.
Using these methods I created a clean pass of the sorceress, fixing anatomy and refining details. This isn't a lineart you see in comics, just a more refined version done with the same rounded brushes. Simultaneously using soft brushes I put a bit of shading here and there to define the forms:
At this point I've got an idea that it could be a pinup cover for Sorceress swimsuit special (Fairy Tail anyone?) fictional magazine. Her pose and gesture suggests she's sitting on the beach, brushing her wet hair or doing something else. I quickly put some sort of swimsuit and consider my preliminary work complete.
A few days later I realized that her legs aren't good enough in terms of posing. I need more expressive and playful curves, so I repaint her lower body completely. I also fixed additional issues like head size or belly button position and added more hair strands behind her back. At this point the body structure is refined and the next step is to design an outfit and add some environment.
A quick note on nudity. Actually, you don’t need such refined body structure if your character will wear layers of clothing or armor pieces. It just not practical. All you need is correct joints positions and body parts length (unless you’re doing cartoon/deformed character, but that’s another story). In my case, I knew it would be either a swimsuit piece or some equally sensual outfit, so I spent more time on her anatomy.
Well this is the conclusion of part 1 on preliminary drawing. Hope it was fun and maybe you learned a thing or two.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
Edit: 4 hours later...
Duh! I forgot it's summer time and this place is dead quiet.
Nevermind guys, nothing to see here, move along... *waves hand*
PS. Anyway, if you're curious, I'm thinking to paint a similar piece and I thought I could make you guys involved. The simpliest way would be adding your DA profile names onto magic tomes, various props etc., put some gags and cameos here and there just for fun. Dunno how viable this idea is, but you'd never know until you try.
Quite a lot of games have been announced on E3' 2017 and I just stumbled into this lil gem. Pixel art is nothing new and used in many indie and '8-bit' game projects but The Last Night's art direction is truly special. This is how you blend old school with modern technology. Absolutely stunning piece of work!
And then watch this:
What really hooks me there is a combination of hand drawn animation, atmosphere and vision. The guys (a relatively small team) did an amazing job creating this dark fantasy world that you can experience first hand in Ash of Gods game.
Originally I planned a very classy flying car, a mix between 50-60's classic and modern concepts like FFZERO1 or Toyota FT-1. There is something in those classic lines and futuristic carbon panels. Here you can see my attempt prior to detailing pass:
I would like to learn how to draw comics for fun and maybe for sale, but I have a lot of learning to do.
I love the style of this series: agnidevi.deviantart.com/art/As…
Can you direct me to get started? My hope is to use 3D drawings as my base and turn them into an art style that looks like the referenced page. Is that possible?
Absolutely. You can use whatever tools you like to do your stories. Some artists like to work digitally, some prefer traditional approach and some just combine the strength of both worlds.
When drawing comics you should remember that story comes first. Great art helps to attract reader’s attention but it won’t last long if your story is boring. A great deal of modern cinema suffers from it. Lots of money spend on effects and technology while stories are often clichéd or just plain dull resulting in poor box office performance.
However there is a specific genre that doesn’t require any storytelling at all. You know what I’m talking about. If you decide to go that way, well that’s fine just keep in mind that many 2D/3D adult comics are just poorly done. 3D allows you to quickly slam any kind of characters into crazy poses and actions and that’s it. Some creators walk an extra mile and study lighting & composition so their renders doesn’t look generic. But they are still miles away from, let’s say Paolo Serpieri’s Druuna. Another thing to note is that many modern hentai and ecchi manga have a very specific framing, focusing mainly on various body parts. Like 20+ pages of butts and tits. Again, study masterpieces like City Hunter by Hojo Tsukasa. Adult works could be both fun and entertaining if done properly.
If you are into ‘normal’ stories, then pick something that resonates with you and study it. Literally frame by frame. Don’t just drool over the pages, try to understand the story rhytm and beats, the decisions behind each panel. In order to get started you need to feed you visual library first.
Remember, there would be a huge resistance in the beginning. Everything will break, fall apart, looks bad and so forth. In the other words, your resolution will be constantly tested. Are you that serious or just fooling around? How much it will take to knock you out? One punch? Two? Three more? I've seen young artists giving up, falling back or go easy, comfy road instead of fighting back.
On a technical side, 3D could be used ‘as is’ or as a base for further rendering. I usually block out a scene to test camera angles and lighting in some cases. Then I can trace it down, paint over it or use like a reference. mldoxy have a great bunch of tips that will help you with the basics. Software wise there are programs like Poser, DAZ, XNA, DesignDoll, Blender, ClipStudio, Shade etc. either for free or fairly resonable price. The problem with 3D though, and especially with 3D characters is that it looks stiff. It takes a great deal of time and effort to get the expressiveness and emotions out of polygons and subdivs. Take a look at all the work that Pixar and Disney guys are doing on their movies.
In conclusion, learn the storytelling basics first. Study other comics, books, games, movies etc. to fill up your own visual library and spark your imagination. Know what you want. Every little step counts. Keep going and consider obstacles as your friends. Without them you’ll get rusted.
I know that for some of you it doesn't feel any special, just another date in calendar, yet consider it as a new blank page in your life book. Should you continue and project another chapter of cynical, seen-it-all attitude? Or do something different, something 'stupid'? There is a Disney short Inner Workings that perfectly describes these scenarios.
And these who are still waiting, have a blast guys! Join us in 2017!
Happy New Year!
dunno if you guys are still around, but I urge you to take a look at 2016 ILM Art Department Challenge results. In short - massive inspiration! Really. Go take a look. I salute all survivors, you guys rock! And congrats to the winners!
On another note Halo Mythos is out in US. It's super rewarding to see Halo fans enjoying both artwork and the book. Haven't seen it myself but here is a few snapshots with the pieces I did:
The reason I'm not posting here (and anywhere else) is this:
Halo: Mythos is a comprehensive, illustrated guide to the Halo universe, charting humanity's battles against alien forces of the Covenant, Forerunners, and the Flood. Even if you aren't into games, Halo is a very well written sci-fi universe with interesting characters and story arcs.
The job was to depict some of the iconic characters and dramatic events. Each artist worked on his own chapter, illustrating events from the specific time period. All I can say is that I'm extremely happy with the results. I've adopted some new techniques and pushed myself to the limit so expect some surprises. The only catch is that the book is set to release in October 2016 so you won't see anything soon.
But that's not all!
If you're into numbers, here is a comparison of my 2014 and 2015 work folders:
I thought I could retire now and lay down on sunny beach with hot girls around...
BUT as I read your replies on my previous post I've got surprised how many people are still there. And most important, I saw how lucky I am to have such a fantastic readership... even if I'm not posting fanart/pinup/nudes on a daily basis!
I recently read that deviantart is dying (what? again?!) and people are leaving in droves. Really? I have quite the opposite feeling although my perception could be biased as I keep a low profile here.
UPDATE: Speculations aside parallellogic collected some data on deviantart activity over time. As you can see both comments and deviations rates are headed down.
The passing year wasn't an easy one for many of us. And things will be shuffling around in the upcoming one too.
I'd say put your fears aside and follow your dreams anyway. Consider every new year as a chance to change your life for good.
You have a palette with full range of colors from darkest to brightest ones. Now think, what you'd like to paint?
That's how you build your future and chase your dreams.
See you in 2016.
Just look at this:
LittleBronyRu: Hey man tell me... you used to draw concept art for games and when did you switch to drawing porn and pin-ups?So next time you girls take a shower or change your clothes... beware! Because you're literally watching porn.
agnidevi: Well if you count space marines, tyranids, eldars and other Warhammer folks as porn...
LittleBronyRu: What are you talking about, I've seen almost all of your gallery. Besides Warhammer you draw naked women, i.e. explicit porn. Just look at your Astra Black comic... why the hell you're doing this?
How to become a better artist?
First consider this: no one is gonna help you but you. What it means - don't expect someone will guide you or help you to become a better artist. Doesn't matter if you go to an art school or taking classes. The school may help you by whipping your ass and beat some discipline into your lazy self but it won't help you in the long run... think of it as a springboard or rocket booster. It helps you to get off of the ground but then you have to fly it all by yourself.
Remember, you are the key. Not me, not your pals, not those long dead masters... no one will take you up to the top. We may help you by showing you the path but you have to walk it all by yourself. Oh and there's no elevators whatsoever. Make sure you've a tight rope and good ice-pick.
The important thing is: know what you want. Why do you want to get better? Why do you pursue this career? Remember, there is no right or wrong answer. You just need one for yourself. If you want to be a famous illustrator or get some money, that's fine. Simply want to impress that girl you like? Or perhaps just want to express yourself? That's all fine. If you don't know what you want... well don't worry and think what makes you really happy and excited. Naked women? Big spaceships? Alien worlds and landscapes? Or maybe still life pieces? Others may criticize your choices but listen, these people wouldn't lend you a hand when you fall down into deep dark chasm of frustration. There are all those people who criticized my girls? Are they bothering that I'm not posting new artwork? Nope, they are long gone. No one even tried to visit my cave. You see, most of these people just dump their fears and frustration at you, so why listen to them? Would it help you grow and become a better artist? Certainly not.
Don't forget that you're living in the digital age. Decades ago we had no clue how to paint digitally. Lots of those services you take for granted just didn't existed. Every new piece of information was like finding a treasure chest. Now you have an access to huge amount of information from how to's tutorials and step by step videos to live streams and conference chats. You can connect with people living all over the globe. You can seep the knowledge from industry pros... you can learn so much these days. Take the advantage of it.
At some point take a step further and go to live workshops and seminars, meet people IRL, buy gumroads, tutorials etc. support the artists you like. Trust me, most aren't wallow in money and have to pay their bills too. By acknowledging their work you also help them grow too.
And finally, stay hungry. Always. Don't be satisfied with your progresses. Don't think you're the coolest kid in the block. Once you think you're damn good - you're dead. I'm not saying you should reject all of your accomplishments... certainly not, they are your stepping stones and holes you dig up while climbing up. Let them help you but don't let them fool you.
On a second thought, I wonder if there are girls I can talk to about fashion, clothing & design? You know I've a small cast of female characters and while I can design (more or less) lingerie and swimsuits I'm kinda puzzled about casual wear. Sadly all of my female colleagues/friends are no longer active anymore...
Barely dressed women and wet dreams ahead!
I warned you...
I'm writing here as I don't feel like posting artwork anytime soon (unless I'll do something worthy of your time). You know journals are less viewed and doesn't shout in your face like deviations. You don't feel you're pressing with your art. Hey look at me! Support me! Love/hate me! Basically only these who interested will stay and listen.
Althought I never announced it I'll give you a glimpse on the project I'm doing. Consider everything below as mere speculation though.
I reworked the story from scratch and I think new characters and setting works much better for the overall mood and vibe I want to envoke. Actually it's very important to understand WHAT you want to express and WHY. Think of your work as a messenger. What kind of message you want him to deliver? In my case it's pure relaxation. Imagine lying on sunny beach listening to the wave beats... Bossa Nova is a good example of such chill out concept: youtu.be/tJXtqflsR4k?t=1278
From the very beginning I've a solid idea what characters I need. So when I got to a point of creating in-game assets (aka character sprites) I thought I would paint them in a day or two. Wrong. It took me 6 days in a row to do usable linearts. Why so long? Well if you do something new you aren't good with estimates. I did my first sprites in a low resolution (900 px height) as it's much faster BUT at the coloring stage I realised I don't have enough pixels to do details. Tada!
Upscaling your work is usually a pain as you almost always ended up with blurred crap. Fortunately I found this small nitty program called waifu... it was fun to see how it blowed up my war rig while upscaling. Anyway the output was decent and I jumped into painting... which was another quest by itself. In short, take care of the shading. Don't go nuts with shadows and highlights. Most likely you'll use the same set of sprites for different locations and it's fun to see your character in the night with all these hard shadows and shiny hotspots around.
It takes some time and iterations to find yummy shapes that suits your imaginary character. I repainted mine 4 or 5 times until I was satisfied with their look. Unless you're fluent in japanese, I wonder what kind of personality you see in the girls below?
I once did a painting of Louis Armstrong and if you look at it... well it's just Louis Armstrong with his trumpet. Nothing special. But prior to that I accidentally cut my drawing hand and had bandages all over it so I can't properly hold a stylus. But I painted the image anyway. You see, even such tiny insignificant bits add a human touch to your works.
So do you seek for artist's thoughts & insights or just browsing their works?