Hello. I am incredibly excited to be here on Muddy Colors and share a little of what I do. As a freelance illustrator and concept artist, I spend most of my time creating game art as well as character concept art for video games.
Since much of this blog is dedicated to traditional painters, I thought I would talk about my process as a digital artist. As I began to look through my artwork trying to find examples that best portray my method, I found myself eliminating a good deal of potential examples. I judged them not good instances of what I felt was indicative of my process. I hadn’t realized how much it varied from painting to painting, especially at the start. That is where most of my experimenting occurs. I approach each problem differently based on the assignment and also by mood. These are some various approaches I have used in recent projects.
One comfortable starting point for me is using large positive and negative shapes. I use chunky opaque brushes to carve out silhouettes. This works especially well for complex commissions because I concentrate on the overall concept and composition, and avoid getting lost in details. I usually begin with three values: one dark, one light and the mid-toned “canvas.” Once I am happy with a thumbnail, I hone in on the details.
Another starting point is the line drawing. Usually it is a simpler composition where I already have a solid idea in mind. After a few loose thumbnails I dive into a tight line drawing (at least tight for me). I paint my basic values underneath the line drawing, flatten it and paint the finish on top. This approach feels most traditional to me.
Recently, I experimented by using a photo of myself in what I thought might be a good pose and then heavily manipulated it and painted over it. Once I found what I was looking for, nothing of the original pose remained. It kind of felt like building with clay. Now that I had a solid direction, I went and took a new photo reference to help inform the new pose and lighting scheme. The end result was quite a bit different from what I imagined when I first got in front of the camera. This process was an instance where I had only a vague vision of want I wanted for the piece at the start and used photo-manipulation as inspiration.
Lastly, another approach was for a series of five ‘Magic: the Gathering’ artificers. I decided to thumbnail, sketch and paint all five on the same page, going back and forth between them tag team style. It was a lot of fun seeing them evolve next to each other. I just don’t think I could have logistically done this had I not been working digitally. I kept it going as long as possible until the file size just got too unruly and I had to separate them out to put the final touches on.