Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Boxy Chessmen - Pawn

Back in February I posted some designs for a chess set inspired by The Lewis Chessmen and Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories which I was reading at the time. I had always intended to squeeze this project in between work using ZBrush to sculpt the pieces in 3D, but recently Pixologic released the brilliant Sculptris Alpha 6 with support for Mac OS X. Sculptris started as a hobby app by Tomas Pettersson and dynamically adds or subtracts triangles as you sculpt which is amazingly liberating for 3D artists who are always so tethered by issues of polygon topology and other such uncreative issues. Consequently, everything starts as a sphere which you mould like clay, adding extra detail where needed and removing superfluous triangles to keep the poly count down.
I imagine the protruding sword might be an issue for a figurine. I'll probably have to bring that further in so it is up against the torso, or perhaps even replace it with a couple of smaller daggers. I'm pretty happy with the first attempt at using Sculptris though!
You can see a looping turntable movie here
Click on image to enlarge.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Creative Little Monsters

Green Dragon - ArtRage
As mentioned a couple of posts back my iPad 2 is a big hit and I have since discovered an embarrassment of creative riches. Some of my favourite painting apps are the 'all singing all dancing,' ArtStudio, SketchBook Pro which sports a fantastic interface, Procreate - simple but brilliant and more responsive than any iPad painting app, Inspire Pro which has a really nice dry/wet brush toggle, Brushes - perhaps the first painting app to bring mobile painting attention, Eazel - an innovative 'liquid' painting app from Adobe and last but not least, my favourite, ArtRage Pro.

CregleBook
I mention AR last because there is more to say here. Sam Jang, CEO of Cregle  very generously sent me a test unit of the upcoming CregleBook which runs Windows 7. This means I can use the full version of ArtRage Pro on a mobile device, which makes transferring custom brushes, swatches, stencils and stickers a no brainer. Like the iPad, the CregleBook works with fingers, but it also has a digitizer pen with a fine nib which continues to be tracked while hovering about an inch over the screen, so you are never guessing where brush strokes will go because the position of your cursor is always visible before the strokes are made. The pen is also pressure sensitive. I like both approaches but painting with a fine nibbed pen is a very natural progression from the traditional tools we've grown up with.

Badger - ArtRage Scripting
Another huge advantage of using the full version of ArtRage is the new scripting function, which records every stroke you make while painting. The script can then be played back or even edited if you take a little time to learn the scripting language. You can choose to play the script back at its original size or a custom size. This is big. Effectively, it means I could take the CregleBook out and create paintings at a low resolution to keep large brush strokes responsive, but play the script back in the office at bigger sizes to obtain a print version without much extra effort. The results will be slightly different because the look of oil brush strokes depend in some part on the paint load and brush size etc. In this example, Badger, I played the script back at double size and though a few parts of the canvas were blank where strokes should have been, I spent maybe two minutes re-applying those areas. AR scripting will also be a huge boon for tutorial makers out there.

Green Dragon Detail - ArtRage
Green Dragon was created with ArtRage's tube paint and palette knife tools for blocking in and a fine airbrush for detailing. The paint texture of initial blocking turned out well so I elected to keep those fresh and only refine the focal points. You might think this is a simple piece of fantasy art but I think it is a testament to the preposterous volumes of self confidence humanity possesses. The tiny little human is clearly out gunned, yet he is still there with sword in hand ready for battle. Why that is almost as crazy as sending men to the moon in a rocket running computers less powerful than a pocket calculator (you couldn't make it up.) Preposterous! But then again, we now know that giant leaps are achievable. :)

A Walk in the Park
A Walk in the Park started as a doodle on the iPad 2 using SketchBook Pro. I really like SBP's interface as you can do almost everything with finger gestures. As with many of my personal 2D doodles I tend to avoid references, because the point of the exercise is to see what comes out, rather than achieving technical correctness. I decided to work the sketch up to print resolution, so I transferred the image to Photoshop and increased its size to 5000 pixels high (A3) before finishing off.


And Relax
This was the first sketch I did in Procreate as a learning excercise. It is a brilliantly constructed iPad app, more responsive than any other and features a really good brush designer. I'm already hoping a desktop version gets built because I'd love to paint really big images with it.



Click on images to enlarge.