The Art of James Teeple

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Leicester, United Kingdom
I'm 21 / DMU Art Student / British-American.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Baby steps in Zbrush

Ive always wanted to give Zbrush a go ever since seeing some of those crazy high poly characters and creatures posted on art forums. It looked like the perfect outlet for me to practice my passion traditional sculpture, minus the mess and plus the bonus of its application uses.

So I've managed to get a copy and give it a swing... Let me just say, It only took 5 agonizing minutes of confusion and ineptness for me to realize this wasn't so simple as pick up and play. Be it that everything in the interface was alien to me, even the shortcuts; I decided to ask for some help. The next time I took a swing at Zbrush I was mildly prepared. I could at least load a Dyna-mesh sphere into the scene and start manipulating it with the brushes, but that know-how was pretty much sitting on the edge of the shelf when it comes to my Zbrush knowledge.

This is what I managed to produce before and after I made it crash... It took roughly 1 hour to shape from a Sphere. Done from imagination.

The Founder! my first Zbrush creation.WIP 1 hour
So as you may imagine, I have been slightly buzzing after managing to get that far, and I'm not  too displeased with my monkey alien man thing either...

My second attempt wasn't so lucky. It just crashed and was lost to the forgotten Zbrush pages of history. Unfortunately I didn't manage to recover a back up save like my first attempt. But I did grab a screenshot of it before the window closed though. This was done in roughly 35 minutes and just head doodles.

Weird Alien head lost at WIP stage.
Here is another I'm currently debating working on farther or not. Its a simple Shape that took about 5 minutes to make so either way; no biggie.

5 minute WIP- Base for sculpt
What have I learned about Zbrush then? Well... It is a lot of fun. Once you push past the initial road block of " omg ok.. what do i do?" its easy peasy to allow my thinking brain to switch off and my sculpting creative mind take over. I imagine once I become more confident with the program, sculpting something that puts these to shame will become almost thoughtless. I cant wait!

Why do I want to do I want to learn Zbrush?  Because I want it as another tool under my belt to use as an artistic outlet, or for creating and retopologizing in game models or high poly renders. All the cool stuff that's done these days.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Artist Study - Yang Qi

This is just a guy I stumbled across while trawling CG hub and wow, I am blown away...
So Yang Qi is a concept artist working in the video game industry in China, naturally. The he's most recently worked on is Asura Online, a Chinese game but it looks pretty cool. If only I could read the language then I could navigate their site. >.< Born in 1985, he's only 27 and producing what I'd say is, some of the highest quality illustrations/ concepts I've ever seen.

I'm just gonna link some of what I found were the most interesting pieces he worked on. I particularly love his characters... they are freaking awesome no?

I absolutely love how dark and gnarly his pallet is. The Detail he uses in phenomenal. Most of these probably too many many hours to produce and as a concept artist that's unusual that he'd be given so much time. but i can see why, it appears his designs translate almost identically to the in game models and too right. I doubt anyone farther down the production pipeline could come up with improvements on these.

All above work (c) Yang Qi
This is the caliber of artwork that originally inspired me to do artwork at more that an amateur level and chase a job as a professional artist.

If you are interested, here is a link to more of his work - Click meh

One day...

Planning and Concepting

Concept art! probably the most aspired too and most competitive position in the commercial media industry for any new and budding artist like myself and gristly veterans alike.
"Why" I hear you say? well like my friend Mike said his friend Mitch said his buddy said,

But seriously I think its partly because good concept artists are highly sought after, but the positions available are sparse. Due to their role in the production pipeline and their base skills, you don't really need more than a few in a big company. And everyone is chasing the big bucks salary of course. :P

One thing all artists like is freedom to explore their own idea's or visual style.  I think that's sort of what concept artists get to play with, they get presented the brief and have the responsibility but also freedom make it their own and create something visual that other people like the 3d modelers then have to base their work on.

There are some very important guiding principles that any artist aspiring to the job position of concept artist needs to live by; they are as follows:
First and foremost it almost goes without saying that you've  gotta have a firm grasp of the fundamentals that underpin any artwork. Such as, Anatomy, perspective, colour, tone, lighting. That is what I'm constantly working towards mastering.

Without those you really cant stand a hope in hell of producing any kind of artwork someone today would pay you a salary to do.

Planning - Now I'm not great at planning and that's something I'm working on changing. I'm too used to skipping ahead and following my initial idea till Ive either completed it or given up mid way cause it wasn't before good. Where as if I planned my idea and intelligently managed my time developing it before committing all my resources to it, then I'd likely end up with a better result.
I need to experiment more and stop thinking I can nail it on the head with my first shot. So planning is essential to concept art and not just that. It helps you to keep to a schedule, know your time realistically so you can maintain a healthy work ethic, whilst not neglecting other aspects of your like. e.g. healthy lifestyle.

Design -  Basically, if its lame you no get moneys or job. So be smart about it, creative and concise with what your aiming to get across. Their job is is to translate an idea into something that is unique, that is visually pleasing and makes sense to the next guy to the line. Sooo now I need a good example and a bad example of Design.
These in my opinion are good examples of conceptual design,

All above artwork by John Liberto / Concept artist
The artist has clearly mastered the fundamentals and can then harness creative design in a professional manner. The images give the viewer a lot of information without flooding you with it. there are real world references that anyone can instantly pick up on in the designs and it gives them a solid foundation, and a world to exist in. Like Car racing stripes, sky scrapers and space shuttles. etc.
Technical ability and skill - Now you cant achieve the above without this. It is something that is earned from thousands of hours of hard grafting and constant pushing forward of idea's and techniques. Its not something you are born with... Although to some extent I would say it can be. because there are some people who naturally find their in tune with this kind of creative process and more often then not, those people end up focusing on art over traditional academics because its identified early on. With hard work anyone can become technically good though, and gain the skills needed to create this kind of imagery. 

George Hull / Concept Artist

However, being creatively brilliant is another matter. That usually is something you either click with or you don't. Some people were born to imagine amazingly quirky creative things and others just arn't...
I like to hope I am not one of the latter, I just need to graft and get the fundamentals nailed before i can unlock that hidden potential. :D

Functionality - Your design has to look like it could work/exist ! No point designing a space ship that's totally smooth and has no visible windows or obvious entry location. Unless its a UAV or has some kind of future tech that teleports the pilot into the craft, in which case that needs to be explained visually some how. Best avoid needing to talk too much and just let the pictures speak for themselves.

I don't want to be harsh to the artist, but here is an example of a slightly confusing concept. In which its functionality is stylized so much its almost not based in reality.

DA / ST-Pete
Time/ Speed- Time is constant, speed is variable. A good designer will utilize their time by maximizing their speed and work efficiency. Time to crank up the gass! Once you realize that the time you have in a day always stays the same and the only way to maximize learning is to increase the speed at which you work, that's moving forward. I must seriously work on this, because my problem is simply taking too much time doing too little, and its not worked too well towards what I aim to achieve.

Adaptability- This is hugely key and is a major factor in a company when deciding to hire a new concept artist. Basically you have to be able to adapt to different styles and subject media equally as efficiently as your other maybe more favored work. So if your needed to do some designs for a game based on the great barrier reef, and you are also great at doing vehicle designs etc.. your more likely to get the job than Mr "one trick pony", even if he/her is technically better at their preferred subject.

It also means being able to work in both 2D and 3D mediums. This is something I am training to better myself at, because I'm aware I have favored subjects I draw, but the more versatile I can be, the better ill be. John Liberto is a good example of an adaptable concept artist. Jaime Jones is another. There is a reason they have both worked with the big fish on the games industry scene.

Jaime Jones / Concept Artist
Contextual knowledge - Its a good idea to have some knowledge of the industry your heading into, you know... never hurt. And while brushing on your computer games history, you'll likely come across resources stock full of artists who could prove interesting to study, or even influential. That's what happened with me, Ive come across many different artists who have inspired me along the way, through simply researching a particular game I liked just to see who work on it, etc.

Vision library - This is something i need to work on, because apart from a vast desktop wallpaper folder, I have very little images of my own gathered through collection. I want to aim to have gigs and gigs of imagery to reference from by the time I get my first job as a professional artist. The wider the themes encompassed in it the better!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

War of the worlds

 Its 1938 and Aliens from mars have invaded American soil vaporizing human resistance and spelling inescapable doom for man kind world wide! ... or at least that's what some hundred odd new yorkers thought was ACTUALLY happening when Orson Welles performed his radio dramatization of H.G. Wells' novel The War of the worlds live on the radio on Halloween.
It caused quite a big stir...

Now some 74 years later, I'm re-imagining the story and telling the story of the Alien invaders from my own artistic viewpoint. Fun fun!
So for some reason I found it quite tasking coming up with a tripod design that interested me.
I resorted to just doodling some organic and non organic shapes and applying them to a 'tripod' format. These are some examples...

By the time I reached this last sketch, above, I decided I quite liked the curves and flow of lines. It ended up serving as the main design for my 'quadruped' because you see the original alien craft weren't actually tripods, the hovered. So I took that artistic license and decided on four limbs. This is a render of my alien craft in a scene.

With this drawing I wanted to 'loosen up' my lives and marks a little bit. I decided to go quite rough and angular with my mark making techniques with a mix of soft and subtle to break up the image. So far I've only done a grey-scale version of this but I may add colour to it when I have the time.
I'm not all too majorly pleased with it but its fine for now.
Gets my design across well enough I feel, and I wanted to do a rural wilder scene to host my quadruped craft as opposed to stereotypical cities.

Ok, start over. Year 2

Ill start off by reflecting on last year which was a mixed bag of treats some good some bad. My main problem last year with work came down to me having very poor grasp on time management skills and working to a strict deadline. So there was many long nights spent crunching work that should have been done evenly spaced out over the specified time for each module and task. I guess it's not really anything new becomes the first year it's usually a bit of a struggle to get hold of some organization skills but by the end of the year I kind of pulled out of the bag and got what I needed to get done for assessments.
So did I learn much?
Hmm lets compare some of my visual design work before I joined the course, with work i did near the end of the year

work from previous year: Digital painting and life drawing.

And towards the end of the 1st year: Same again.

Well to me I dont feel at least in a traditional sense, that i've improved much artistically from where i was at leaving my foundation course. That's my own fault though, I knew I just haven't been drawing enough, what with the other two modules needing equal attention and taking time away from visual design, and me having very poor time management. However I have learned a bunch of new skills working with 3ds Max and Photoshop which is important and will be very useful this year.

So  anyway we all know the result as I'm still here, so what about now, what do I need to do to make it through this second year and bag nothing less than the best possible grade I can? Not what I've done so far anyhow... Ive been lacking passion, and that's made the difference of me not progressing in skill much beyond knowledge of how to use 3ds max.

To sum up this first term, I would have to say that I have been trapped in the worst head space that I've ever been in during any educational period. My mental attitude and passion for art took many small blows during the first few weeks since I moved into my new house in October. I wanted to start this New Year with a fresh attitude and build on the things that I have learned from last year like anyone else . 

However, it seems I set myself up for a bad start. One reason was because I am doing my best to juggle a long distance, long-term relationship alongside meeting the demands of the course. However, this wasn't the main reason I've struggled with my attention to work.
 I haven't been maintaining a healthy diet and exercise plan. Each day that I ate poorly and did no exercise weakened me, and on top of that I let my sleeping pattern fall into disarray. So far these three things are the same things I struggled with last year only just a little bit worse.

 The last and probably most significant reason I've been so distracted, is probably an odd one. It's my new pet. I was given a young pet rabbit by my family for my birthday in September; she was to be a companion for my new home and something to break the boredom I knew I might face in my room. In retrospect this was a bad idea.

I knew very little about rabbits and as it turned out, she was sick from the moment we bought her and has developed new and more complex health issues as time went on spanning this entire first term. This meant I spent a lot of time caring for a sick animal in my room where I work and a lot of money paying visits to the vet. Of which both things really badly affected my mood and served as a distraction. I think it's because I did this alone and had no choice about it that allowed it and everything else to crush my enthusiasm and motivation towards coursework.

So I fell behind and not just a little bit... each week seemed to pile on more pressure and more from me to fall further and further behind on. Slowly but surely the mountain of work rose in front of me and it began to look too steep for me to climb. And yet I still couldn't feel motivated and couldn't be excited about any of the projects.

My desire to draw when completely out the window and I found that in order to keep up with at least one module I had to virtually ignore the other two which is what happened with Game production. I often wanted to draw and catch up but my brain said:

Now it seems at last I'm at a turning point. Pressure has finally driven me to push past that barrier stopping me from working and at the same time I've finally got some good luck with the rabbit and can relax my concerns so I can focus on work.

 It feels like it's been one long drawn-out battle the I've been losing up until now . Because right now I'm feeling much more positive and by no means do I want to return after Christmas with anything near the same attitude as prior. In fact I mean to return with a completely radicalized strategy to succeed, whereby I will plan out my days intelligently and devote nearly all my interests and time to art. I miss losing myself in a sketchbook and drawing with a uncluttered mind. I've also realized that my body can’t cope with the workload if I don't also exercise and eat regularly so that I can maintain a healthy body and mind. What I find with this kind of work is without those things it becomes very draining very quickly.

So to conclude this term has been a bit of a train wreck but now I'm thinking straight again, and I plan to return after Christmas with a new realistic game plan to pick up momentum and hold it. I want to really see what I'm capable of and I believe that so far I haven’t pushed myself hard enough or challenged myself to really see what I can do. No more feeling like I’m actually going backwards in terms of my artistic ability. I need to go forwards and not stop, and that’s what I plan to start doing.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Abbey Park

What a beautiful, quiet, tranquil serene park Abbey park is. Shame the 35min walk to it wasn't!
Yay more environments, which means more tree's! just what I like, not.

On a serious reflectional note, I do like trees its just I'm not pro at rendering them yet so they tend to be a bit of a pain to draw. Just time consuming really but hey its all good fun, Im sure ive learned something new from this project.

So I took a fair few pictures during my stay, not as many as I'd have liked however. And I meant to return, hopefully on a day with cheerier weather : /  but sadly never managed to fit it in. SO here is a few i had to work from, ill add scans of my thumbnails as soon as I've scanned them...

I ended up chosing this one for my digital final because I have never tried painting a reflection, or this many leaves for that matter, so i thought if i can pull it off then ill have learned something valuable in the process -

After about 10 hours... *ouch* here is my final result and where I decided to stop picking at it.

I based it as accurately as i could on the reference image but for sake of shaving some time off the total, I left some out. I didn't like how grey the original was so I painted in more saturated colours.