Hey Muddy Colorers! Been a crazy month out here on the farm! I was able to sink some time here and there into that big family portrait and I am now almost finished with it. I painted in a first pass on the background, the grass, and adjusted lots of little things.

I repainted Melvin and Elle’s faces quite a bit, subtly shifting features around and further refining volumes. I find with faces I rarely get it right first pass and likeness is usually achieved through repeated sittings. I got lucky with Milton. since his hand is over his face I really didn’t have to do much with him. I also Detailed out the dogs more, dry brushing into the fur, softening edges, and just generally working toward closer likenesses.

I painted a LOT of grass. I wanted to add enough detail to where it felt tangible but still tried to keep it loose and abstract with the brush work. The same with the trees in the background. I didn’t want to get too in depth but still wanted things to feel fairly complete. Carefully placed little cast shadows helped a lot. If I do anything more with it it’ll likely be going back in and adding more cast shadows here and there.

It’s at that point where I can spend 4-5 hours on it and it barely looks different, but theres a cumulative effect where all of those little adjustments help it gel together as a whole.

I’ve got a few more things I want to tackle on it and then I can call it. Think I’m coming up on 3 months on it so it’ll be nice to put it aside and maybe start some new stuff.

I rarely get to show stuff I do commercially, but recently I got to paint some stuff for KFC, and it came out, so I wanted to share it! They were doing this virtual reality ‘Chicken Experience’, and the agency they were working with needed an oil painting of the Colonel. They had a comp that another artist had worked up, but they wanted to get an oil painter to create an actual physical painting based off of it that they could scan at a high resolution. By the end I made two different ones they could choose from. One was created from the artist’s comp in oils, while the other was a large digital one executed in a more realistic style.

It was kind of a rush job and I’d kind of forgotten about it until I was in a meeting last week where someone mentioned “that crazy KFC VR app” and I was like “OH, I THINK I WORKED ON THAT!”

Aside the thrill of being able to paint Col. Sanders, it was also an interesting gig to work on conceptually since with virtual reality you can get super close to everything, objects need to be as high res as possible. Its just one way that emerging technologies are impacting how we will create and consume content. Here’s a close up of the digital one I painted.

With the commercialization of VR we’ve seen a lot of cool new art tools and techniques emerging over the past couple of years. Stuff like VR painting in tiltbrush or what Goro Fujita has been doing in quill and all the cool 3d modeling stuff Jama Jurabaev’s been doing lately are great examples of folks who I think have really been pushing the boundaries of picture making in super creative ways.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHNhqXPSUgA]

The more people develop for it, the more we’re going to see innovative new ways to create stuff using this technology. It’s a really fun time to be working as a digital artist or designer right now, as we are on the front lines of discovering best practices of how to create, navigate around and manipulate virtual objects in this new space.

I also think Augmented Reality is also going to be a very fertile medium for new forms of content creation. From a practical standpoint, it’s more than VR because with recent releases of Apple’s ARkit and Google’s ARcore, most modern smartphones are now AR capable. Given its insanely broad range of potential uses, it stands to impact many aspects of our lives from here on out. But similar to Virtual Reality, new technology creates this need for a new interface language so that people can navigate easily. Here’s an interesting article I happened across written by some smart guy over at google about some research they’ve been doing on AR navigation and manipulation.

It’ll be contact lenses and implants with hand tracking eventually, but its kind of cool to see these first baby steps and how folks are aiming to solve this stuff with current technology, and I wonder how much this type of research will transfer over as the hardware changes.