Work In Progress: Blade Dancer




So I’m participating in this event where we are given a brief to design a character! It’s good, since I get a deadline, a brief (not written by myself) and some other artists to perhaps give me feedback! Basically I pretend I have a project; a goal. This time the brief asks for a “Blade Dancer” that bases his/her dance of a blade or an ax. Each kind of weapon have its own dance. The dancer communicates the thin line between danger and beauty, sometimes moving “seductively”.

I figured that a lot of the other artists might be designing half naked women, since that’s unfortunately usually the character design over at the forum where I’m doing this, as soon as the brief says something about beauty, dance or seductively. The rules even specify that “naked is not a character design, so please don’t submit naked characters”. LOL. So I’m aiming to achieve something different! I’ve been following this awesome character design blog for a while, and got tons of inspiration from them (they focus on making women look badass and not half naked!) (Of course you can be both badass and naked, but that’s another topic).

So here’s my thoughts: the first image is just an exploration thing. I try to just go with the flow, have fun and make some quick sketches of different women (tried some males as well, but decided this time I want to paint a woman). I then dig deeper on my two favorite designs. My inspiration for this are tribal dancers from African countries and bush men. I’m thinking about some kind of a dance that can be performed late at night, around a camp fire, with a lot of wild rhythms, to make people excited. Maybe a war dance, a fierce dance with big movements and dangerous blades, performed by a highly skilled athlete, but with a touch of mystery and dangerous beauty. Something like that. Like raw, and wild.

So the last image is where I modified my two best designs and added some small details, making sure the dancer’s visual design is easily readable from afar. Next step will be to find a correct pose that shows here in movement, but still displays the outfit fully. And then add the right kind of blade to her! And all the small details to her outfit!

LTD 45: Creature Design Part 1

Hey guys n gals!

I’m participating in the “creature of the week” design event over at the artist forum Conceptart.org. CA is a place where a lot of aspiring game artist and other artsy people hang out. I think the forum has some issues (as I wrote about before), but it’s a place to talk to fellow artists, and that’s great!


Inspiration! A beautiful Jesus lizard with the ability to run on the surface of water.

C.O.W. (character of the week) is an weekly event that gives you a brief and asks you to make a creature design based on that. Anyone can participate! You have a deadline and you need to prove that you made the picture by posting some WIP (work in progress) pictures of your finished art. After a community voting there’s one winner and people give each other feedback along the way. I think this is an awesome initiative, and people have been doing this for a very long time. So when I joined my first C.O.W. last week it’s apparently the 300th round! This means the brief is very extensive this time around, and we got a month to craft our creatures, instead of the usual week.


My monarch/queen design, after some hard work this is what she currently looks like.

The theme for this COW is “Biodiverse Colony Creatures“. It asks us to design a species of animals living in a colony, where each type of animal has different functions and appearance based on what kind of task they perform. A bit like ants or bees. It should be the same species, but very diverse. Think about Zerg from StarCraft. All in all we are to design nine different types of this animal; the monarch, taskmaster, warrior, hunter/gatherer, nurser, architect, scout, breeder and miners. Each class has a short description we need to consider. We should also present out work in a nice and compelling way. Woah, that’s a lot of work, right!

I’m gonna share with you my creature concept process. I already learned tons from doing this, and roughly spend 3-4 hours a day on working towards the deadline. Without any further ado, here’s the process so far! Beware of crap.


1. My first brainstorming after reading the brief at CA. I did not want to make something like insects, since that’s the obvious choice for a colony of creatures, like the Zergs from StarCraft. So I was thinking of lizards and dinosaurs. Some kind of animal that can be very diverse but still the same species. Something based on creatures found on Earth.


2. Some color experiments and trying to put everything together. What I didn’t realize at this point was that I was moving too fast, not thinking trough my designs and experimenting. This would prove to be a mistake.


3. My rendering on the monarch/queen and a breeder that takes care of her eggs. I started to render the members of my colony before I even had a solid visual design for the whole pack of lizards. Wrong way to go. The other participants were kind enough to point this out to me, and I realized I needed to start all over. A big assignment like this needs planning. Creating good looking art is very much a question about patience and planning, work process and paying attention to details. 


4. OK, back to the drawing board, start all over. I collected some ref and inspiration for my lizard creatures, and set out to do a lot of small silhouettes. These silhouettes serve the purpose of showing a basic visual icon for the design. A simplified version of the design. It makes it easy to brainstorm, to change or remove things easily and prevents you from early rendering or detail-fixation. Awesome! What I realized after this was that all my creatures still looked all the same, like different kinds of raptors. 


5. Since all my other thumbnail figures looked to alike, I sat down and made concepts for all the nine classes. One by one. I tried to think really hard about what kind of body they should have, according to what kind of work they performed in the colony. A warrior should be able to defend the colony or attack other animals. The miner should have a body specialized for digging. All members for the colony must be visually different from each other. If these concepts were for a movie or a game, the viewer must be able to identify the different classes from far away or when thy move fast across the screen.


6. Finally decided my 9 creatures! I felt like these were able to communicate the purpose of each animal and its special abilities in the colony. I collected them all on the same image to see if they still looked like they were the same species. To see if they fit together. Read the brief one extra time, to make sure I understood it and wasn’t forgetting anything important. 


7. When looking at my creature collection the next day I realized some of the colony members needed some tweaking, so I refined the design even more for the warrior and the hunter. When I got this far I have a solid base for the design. This makes it more likely that the rendering and the coloring will look nice later on! I don’t want to waste time rendering a bad design (lesson learned).


8. Time to decide on what the basic color palette should be for my lizard babies! Since the monarch should be “beautiful and significant” according to the given brief I started with her. Made a lot of different colored monarchs and pasted them next to each other on a neutral, grey background. I divided the body of the monarch into separate sections and gave them all their own layer in my PSD-file. This way I could easily tweak the colors of a certain area of her body. Saves plenty of time. Picked my finalists and then rendered a full monarch. Color palette for the rest of the colony is now set! I’m bad at colors, so I keep a color wheel with me to see what colors match with each other. 


9. Next up is the taskmaster. This pack member is next in command after the monarch. She keeps the other in line. I designed the tail to be her weapon. She gives a poisonous sting to the colony members that doesn’t obey orders. Her colors resembles the monarch to reflect they are partners on crime. Since her tail is an important asset it’s made in bright orange to draw attention.


10. The warrior. My warrior fights with her hands and is covered in spikes. I gave the claws a bright red color to highlight them as her most important visual focal point.


11. Fail! After some feedback I decided my old warrior was too plain looking. So I picked up some concepts I made at the beginning of the design process and re-worked them again. This time my warrior blocks the entrance to the colony with her spiky body, waving her tail. The only thing the invader gets is a face full of pain. I made the warrior sand/dirt colored to reflect the fact my lizards live on the beach. 


12. Working trough each member of my colony, exploring the color. This time I tried to speed up the process by not only giving each part of the body it’s own layer in PS, but to use masks to paint faster. Details are secondary here, I just want to get a grip on the scout’s coloring. I made the scouts eyes big to match the fact it scouts with its vision from up in the air.

This is how far I’ve got in one week. There’s still plenty of work left. I need to nail the coloring and design details of another five lizards, as well as think of a nice way to present them in my final composition. Not sure if I’m gonna render a cool looking version of them next to each other on a blank image, or put them together in a scene where they all perform their duties. The second option requires a lot of job, and I’m not very experienced with creature design. If I have the time I would go for it, since I guess I will learn tons from it. I already learned so much! I’m not expecting to win this event since the other artists are super talented and their rendering blows me out of the water, but it feels really, really good to work with something like this. It feels like I push myself in a totally new way, with deadlines and feedback < 3

My sketchbook at ConceptArt.org

Learning To Draw: #39

Hey guys, what’s up? I’m in Finland right now, staying here for a while. This means I won’t have access to my drawing tablet, nor to fancy stuff like Photoshop or fully computers. Might stay some days or weeks, still haven’t decided. Without telling you too much I’ve kinda applied for a job or two, and so far they seem to like what I told them. Or at least I hope so…The jobs are in the computer game industry, but not in the art department. Wish me luck!

Before leaving Sweden I obtained my first Moleskine sketching book and some colored pencils and crayons. I also brought two awesome art books with me, belonging to my awezum friend Karrey. So now I’m sure I got plenty to do while I’m away from the computer.


Drawing some fun stuff. I found plenty of my old drawings while cleaning out my apartment this week, and I realized I don’t draw the way I used to anymore. My mindset has shifted from “this is fun but I don’t know what I’m doing”, to “Let’s learn, study and improve”. I kinda miss the feeling of chaos and fun :/


Some random girls I made on the train and ferry omw to Finland. I spent like 12 hours on the road to get from Malmö to Finland. Lucky me two of my cool friends wanted to hang out with me while I was waiting for the bus. You rock!


Some gestures from imagination.




And OMG another page of gestures, who could have guessed?!

Before I call this post done I want to take a few minutes and speak my mind about the site Conceptart.org. It’s a site where a lot of super talented, hard working artists gather to show their art, to get advice  or to talk art. That’s great!

However, I must say I don’t really like either DevintArt or ConceptArt that much. DA had some really bad user design not too long ago, and they still try to push the premium version down your throat every time. CA has A LOT downtime, laggy image upload, shaky updates that removes older art etc. I  understand there are a lot of people working for free to ensure the site is up, but I really don’t trust them with my art : / Some days I can’t upload, other days the “retrieve password” function is broken, and during the latest update a lot of my old posts became corrupt. That’s why I don’t rely on them for sharing my stuff with others. I would love to do it however, because then I could hang out with fellow artist and get feedback on my images. I have been sharing my art mainly on this blog and on FB to ensure I control the technical side and can tack the numbers if I want to.

Today I get almost 0 % feedback or critique on my drawings, and that’s bad if I want to develop. What’s even worse is that I start to feel very alone. Like I live in a bubble, and create stuff in a vacuum. Over the 10 months I have been doing this “Learning To Draw”-project, where I constantly try to improve my skills, I have gotten very little feedback, maybe 4-5 times someone has bashed my stuff in a constructive way. I would love to draw together with other people, to have someone to talk to about all this stuff that’s tumbling in my head. Two times during the last 10 months I have found someone to really talk to about values, composition or other art geekery. And that’s not enough. Maybe I’m just not seeking contact in the right way. I don’t know. Maybe people don’t take my attempts seriously and don’t consider me worthy of their time to give critique.

So I decided to bump my old thread over at CA and see if I can get into contact with some fellow artists. I’m not too excited about it, and I don’t expect that much, since constructive critique seems to be supermegaduper rare to get over there as well? But hey,  would love to get proven wrong!

What struck me while I browsed the jungle of old threads and sketchbooks over at CA is that a lot of my old friends from my time at university had sketchbooks. But none of them are updating anymore (or they do, but it’s like once a year). I suddenly felt even more alone, like I just arrived to an empty train station, and the train left in 2007. 2LM8.

I feel like I’m walking trough a desert on my own. Someone told me there is a city of gold out there, somewhere. I guess I just better stop whining and start walking again…

Here’s my sketchbook at ConceptArt.org LINK

Facebook Album Part 1

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Facebook Album Part 3