Project-X Work in progress

General / 14 January 2021

Here is some of the work in progress for the "Project X" post on my page.  Since this was an art test there was plenty back and forth before choosing the final key frame.  Allot of this work here is pretty sketchy  warts and all.  Not really stuff I would post on my main page.

To start things off I decided to do a series of thumbnails to figure out a story or generate ideas before getting carried away in 3D. I can then show these to the Art director to get an idea of what He or she likes before committing myself to more time consuming work.

The general idea I came up with is  our girl character and her robot companion scavenging the coastlines of some shipwreaked wasteland when they stumble upon a mysterious giant spaceship crashed into the side of a mountain.   Deep down in its depths they find a standing army of droids of a mysterious origin.  I had an image in my head of that Terracotta army they found in China only with droids .  Anyhow it's something to get started with and build on.

Early Key frames

After showing these thumbnails we chose 4 ideas to explore further. I then decided to block theme out in VR using Gravity sketch then import them into Blender then Photoshop. The first one would go on to be used as the basis for the final keyframe with lots of feedback and tweaks along the way.  

Character Concept:

After some feedback I did a few more quick and dirty sketches to revise the first concept that we would move forward with.  


Before moving on to the tighter artwork I did a detour to explore what the characters might look like.

I started with some sketches on the iPad of The big Robot guy first. Some ideas to present to the Art director.

Early on I pictured the Bot as more ape like and very large.  I also had ideas for a smaller robot guy as well who could maybe pilot the big dude.

3D Work:

For the more realistic style of key frames we were aiming for I decided I would model the Bot in 3D and use that in the final concept art.

Here are 2 versions. An earlier block out version that was more cartoony  like the early sketches and the final version that is more normal proportions and addressed some of the feedback given along the way.  

Here is the final Decimated ZBrush model in Blender. For Scale I added the girl in and  to save time I just modified a model of Ellie from last of Us as a temporary solution since this is just an art test and not being used in a production.  Just quick and dirty I think it gets the job done for now.

Here is a final concept for the the Girl and Bot. I decided to do an option where the Bot is covered in Graffiti and stickers and even added a bit of nail polish.  Just a fun way to add more to the idea and hint at a connection between the two characters.  I thought of how as children we Decorated our bedrooms as a way to express ourselves.  Her big robot dude is her canvas or creative outlet perhaps.  

The Girl:

Here are the first sketches I did to see where we could take her design.  Again just sketches nothing fancy.

The Middle one got approved so I made a color version and also proposed a smaller Robot guy who could maybe drive the larger Robot. The little guy got canned so he never made it past lines and Back and white sketch. Just here for scale.  This is as far as we need to go for the sake of Key frame art.  

Final Keyframe:

Time to get going on the final key frame. I jumped into Blender to make a 3D base for the final shot.

Nothing to complicated since It will mostly be replaced with photos and paint over.  I really wanted to go detail crazy on this and add all kinds of rocks and trees.  So easy to spend way to much time at this stage.

I posed the 3D characters in ZBrush then decimated them and brought it all together in Blender and rendered it out with passes in Octane.

Following some feedback the final image came together and we called it a day for this art test.

I also did a few more key frames later base on other ideas which I posted on my Artstation page  so do check those out as well if you haven`t already.

Hope you enjoyed this post and found it interesting.

All the best!

Blender EEVEE Realtime Forest setup

General / 11 June 2020

I decided to build a Blender file using some forest assets I have kicking around on my hard drive.  In the future I can open this file as a quick way to copy paste these assets into a new project.  Some times I completely forget I have assets on my hard drive  that I have never assembled or used so by making some  Blender files to have at the ready with assets ready to go is a great way to save time and work smarter.  So far other Projects I have are Rocks and some procedural landscapes.  Also this way I can weed out bad or error prone assets that might mess things up when I just want to work fast and build a scene.  For example In the past I have used some trees in Blender and they made a mess and bogged down my project but I know these chosen assets are tested and good to go.  I even made an image plane with a bushes alpha texture which casts tree shadows on the ground.  I decided not to use any displacement to keep things lite on computer but the results look decent and I could plug those in later should I need that level of detail.

I had no plans to show this project but once I started messing around with the Blender Physical lighting plugin I was surprised that the results looked good and why not share a video.  If anyone is interested in that plug in there is a link in the description of the Video.  

3D characters practice and Clay shaders

General / 02 June 2020

Recently purchased Jama Jurabaev's Clay shaders pack.  

It's great to have these shaders for adding a bit of magic to your rough 3D ideas quickly.

 I made this character and k9 sidekick in VR using Gravity sketch. Rendered in Keyshot for Zbrush.

Here is a little VR action.  I was using mostly KitBash 3D "Drone pack" for parts to build with.  I find Kitbashing in VR to be a real area of interest. Vert easy to grab and position objects in a VR space.  really great for making quick 3D concepts.  I keep a few packs loaded into the program. They can causes crashes some times since they can be high poly counts so you have to be careful but boy is it ever fun.  VR and kit bashing are a match made in heaven.  More details can always be added later in Zbrush or Blender.

Here is another character work in progress Clay render.

Here is a clip of the live viewport in keyshot for zbrush.  Really impressive what this program can do.


Film studies and Digital Painting practice.

General / 06 May 2020

It goes without saying that these are stressful times so I decided to create a low stress exercises to keep me creating, focused and positive.   Finding inspiring film shots to study has never been easier.  Recently I came across a site called Shot Deck.  I could write on and on about just how amazing this site is but honestly go check it out for yourself.  Although many of these frames were taken from google or a streaming services like netflix I will now being using Shot deck to gather source material.  

This is an easy exercise to get started just pick a shot from a film you love and ask yourself what draws you to this compelling image?  Is it the strained look in the characters eyes? Or the cinematic atmosphere of the scene in general.  I know in Blade Runner the wet skin and the Neon lights were interesting effects to translate into brushwork as well as the heavy use  of rain and fog layers that add depth in the background.   In the Prestige the lighting both natural and stage lighting and the golden tones found in the set details.  It's a great chance to really look deep into these frames that often flash by eyeballs but were some carefully crafted.  Maybe even listen to the sound track of the film you are studying.   most important note of all just have fun and Enjoy!


The Prestige











Youtube Channel posts

General / 10 April 2020

Sharing some of my works in progress learning 3D on Youtube warts and all.

Check it out if your interested.

Skin and Wrinkles in Zbrush

General / 29 January 2020

On Black Friday I purchased the Creatures and the Skin kit on the Flipped Normals Marketplace. They had a great sale on and it looked very useful for speeding up some workflows in Zbrush.  Like allot purchases that sit idle on my Hard Drive I decided to make a quick sculpt and test out the kit while it was fresh in my memory.  I might have gone overboard with the wrinkles but this was my sandbox mess around time.

The skin kit is great for adding those high frequency details that help give the model some more realism and it's made pretty straight forward having these alphas loaded into Zbrush via Spotlight.

 The Creature kit on the other hand consists of meshes and insert brushes for ears and other important landmarks. They are pretty specific and wide ranging but I was able to use the ears and mouth and eye sockets as starters in this session. The kit also includes a bunch of Subtool base meshes in a single Ztool consisting of different animals humanoids and even eyeballs from a few different species.  I was able to use a  generic human bust in this case.  Overall I think if you were in a pinch these kits could do wonders for getting some meshes in front of clients eyes way faster than starting from scratch.  I will have to take some time to comb through these kits a few more times to see what I can use as a jumping off point in the future.  

Keyshot 9 render with Photoshop paint over. Maybe this is what I'd look like if I were born in another part of the universe.

Really like the turn table renders in Blender EEVEE Using Flipped Normals lighting Kit.  Just wish I finished the back side of the head more but this a blog post so its ment to be unfinished works.

Blender EEVEE render same as above.

Keyshot 9 RAW Renders kinda looks scary but reminds me of the Boglin toy I had when I was a kid.  Boglin's were cool back in the good ole days.  

Playing Around with Gravity Sketch VR

General / 05 January 2020

Built this Scene in VR using Gravity Sketch just to play around and see what I could come up with.  Latest SUB D modeling features are a really cool addition.  Exciting to see how these tools are evolving.

Zbrush Character WIP

Work In Progress / 05 January 2020

A work in progress Render of a ZBrush Character I have been working on.  Most parts are just Blocked in placeholders  for now.

I challenged myself to do the whole figure and not just the head and Torso.  I have so far avoided jumping to details which can be hard to resist in Zbrush.

 I used the Extract plug in allot to make some of the body panels in his suit. The plug is well worth the money  Saved me allot of time.  Some parts I had to model in Blender for a quick base while others I could extract from the first pass sculpt using the mentioned plug also  used Zmodeler brush as well.

Color concept I did last year. trying to go for a Judge dread meets Fifth Element Vibe. A combination of scary and goofy. Probably more scary if you saw these guys in a dark corridor with a few of there light parts and eyes glowing.

iPad Pro Plein air sketches 2019

General / 16 July 2019

Here are some more iPad Pro sketches done on a  recent camping trip.  

Painting Plein Air in Watercolor and Gouache

General / 14 July 2019

I Decided to make more of an effort this year on our annual camping trip to bust out the Water colors and Gouache paints and do some sketching out in the open. Killarney Park in Norther Ontario Canada is just the spot for that.  A park made famous by the Canadian group of seven Painters responsible in helping create the park to protect it from being destroyed by logging like much of the surrounding area.  The first sketch is actually done at A.Y Jackson lake. Named after the famous painter and member of the group of seven.  While the first painting is water color the rest are mostly Gouache which is a more opaque form of water based paint made popular by the classic illustrators in the  60`s and 70`s pre acrylics era.  I often shy away from Gouache and used it in the past just to touch up mistakes in my water colors or as a final pass to add details.  This year I decide to go all in and see what Gouache could do and I was delighted to discover that it has many great qualities. It is very easy to travel with and unlike water color It is very forgiving . Much like oils it is Opaque and blends well. Various textures can be built up since It dries almost instantly in the hot weather. I feel like I only scratched the surface so far and look forward to see what More I can learn about this  interesting travel friendly painting medium.

I took a photo of this scene and finished the figure back at the campsite.  I don`t think my partner could sit still through this whole session. 

With gouache you can just reactivate the paint with some water and refine the details a bit more right on the page. Very handy.




This is my Guerrilla painter Thumbox 6x8. My lovely partner bought me this one year for my birthday and she often commented that I never used it much. I think this box is great for what I am doing here and I am happy to be putting it good use at last.

 Check them out they are neat little boxes and this one can hold allot of what I need. I just use some extra palettes and rubber band to hold them In place. I am alway looking for ways to better organize the setup. With painting out doors you need to be prepared and organized. Ready to go at the drop of a hat. When It all clicks into place it's magic and when things go sideways it is really tuff hanging in there to finish the job.  Bad weather, hot sun, gusts of wind and rain you name it.  One day I actually tipped my chair and I fell off the ledge while I was painting. Lucky for me I landed on my feet several meters down with the box in my hand. Phew. It all adds to the character of the painting I guess.   Always fun to have stories to go along with each painting.  Then there was the time when my brand new painting umbrella caught a gust of wind and flow over the electric fence on a farm field full of approaching cows. Im sure I could go on and on.

This is my Painting setup when I am using  Water Color.  Gouache is much the same just minus my little blue Windsor & Newton field box.

 I later added some Gouache to this painting if I can remember correct. 

  This is my Gouache only session notice to the right a huge packable water basin. Gouache tend to dirty the water fast specially with white pigments so it helps to have a allot of water to clean the brush. We had this folding packable basin in our camping kit but for more urban setting maybe a large jar will do the trick or a collapsable watercolor style one.  Not an issue here though with all the water available on the shore.  refills are a plenty.