My Year Long Trek

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polycounter lvl 6
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Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
Hey everyone,

I have just started a sabbatical in order to improve my skills related to game art! I am extremely excited and I would like to share my progress with the community here. Compared to the quality of work I see on here and other Websites, I know I have a lot of improving to do. Improving by way of daily, dedicated work sessions is my goal; I also hope to learn and grow from the feedback I receive from those willing to take the time to offer their advice.

My plans include daily digital painting and digital sculpting studies at a minimum. I'll also be studying current/next gen things such as IBL and PBR, with a focus on ZBrush hard-surface modelling and mimicking the art styles of the studios I would most like to work for (Gearbox, Runic, Trendy, Telltale, etc.).

I'll be posting here and to my blogger. I will be watching both sites for any critiques, suggestions, advice, links to useful resources, or other words of wisdom. I would greatly appreciate any and all of this.

When the time comes, I will be washing out my grossly outdated portfolio with newer and far better content (to include a Website redesign). -- Edit -- Website has been redesigned!

Thank you in advance for those who might follow my progress over the next year! Preliminary critiques are absolutely welcomed.

My portfolio

Project Hub! This lists all my major project blog posts.


Project 6 Complete:

beauty1_full.jpg

beauty7_full.jpg

See the full breakdown here!


Mini Project Complete:

screenshot000.png

See another angle here


Project 5 Complete:

Medals01.png

Materials.png

View the complete breakdown here


Project 4 was a Unity Asset Store bundle. Check it out here.


Project 3 Complete:

Presentation_1080.png

Locker_Open.gif

[sketchfab]d90a1b9a9f194d0f87c52f49f750e0ab[/sketchfab]

View the complete breakdown here


(Project 2 was scrapped :( )


Project 1 Complete:

beauty2.jpg

diorama.jpg

Project Postmortem

View the complete breakdown here

Replies

  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    I wanted to wait a few days until I got some content to show. Here are the last few days of work. I'm slow at pretty much everything, as my primary flaw is that I know more about the tools than I have proficiency with them. This of course is one of the primary issues I wish to rectify.

    December 09 & 10

    I give myself up to 2 hours for paintings.

    Tiling wood texture
    131209+Wood.png

    A paint-over of a popular shield
    Shield.png

    A BadKing ZBrush tutorial
    SpiderBot.PNG
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    At this stage I'm mostly just getting back into the groove of using Photoshop for actual painting rather than my usual photomanip stuff. I don't really have a structured schedule on exactly what to paint just yet. Should I, or is simply doing value studies sufficient for now?

    I'm also having some issues with the front of the mailbox. I'm trying not to "cheat" and use Maya to get a base shape, as the goal here is to become proficient in ZBrush. Later I can focus on combining the two for a faster pipeline. Until then, I'm not certain how I should approach the front lip of the mailbox door. My current shape is Dynameshed; how should I go about getting the proper edge flow for an easy extrude?

    December 11

    ZBrush study, original image
    131209+Ref_Mailbox.jpg

    ZBrush study, my current progress
    Mailbox.PNG
  • Stromberg90
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    Stromberg90 polycounter lvl 7
    I like that you got such a clear path to improve :)

    The handpainted wood texture looks quite nice, you got a good sense of shape and form, however I think it could do with stronger contrast and some more color.

    The same goes for the shield, the shading seems flat.
  • Stinkfoot
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    Stinkfoot polycounter lvl 6
    You're going for a full year? I'm contemplating a similar plan, you working part-time on the side? or going Sahara mode and live of savings?

    As for cheating with maya, I'd say cheat away, to get the best results you should use whatever you need. ( I know exactly what you mean though, i'd love to stay comfy in zbrush and generate everything from there.) But sometimes shaping out something in another program might lead to faster results, but that varies per person ;).
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Thanks Stromberg90, I agree. Workin on it :P

    Stinkfoot, I'm going Sahara mode haha. I guess that means I get tons of time but it's more expensive. Totally worth it.

    I'll certainly use all the shortcuts for portfolio pieces. I think for my studies I'm going to try to stay inside ZBrush as much as possible.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 12

    I took some liberties with the mounts on the mailbox. In the image they are bolted to the post but I wanted to try out welding spots.

    mailbox.PNG

    bricks.jpg
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 13

    I wanted to try making the saw teeth inside ZBrush rather than making an alpha mask in Photoshop and using that. The handle is a bit lumpy and is lacking the grooves. Oh well, moving on.

    Original
    hand-saw1.jpg

    saw.PNG

    Wood.jpg
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 15

    I didn't so much miss a day, as my actual days blend between two calendar days.

    cobblestone.jpg
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Getting a slow start today. I will also be doing a ZBrush sculpt later but I'll just post that with tomorrow's content.

    Rather than paint in Photoshop, I figured I would just polypaint an asset I've already created. I think I like this far better than painting on a boring square canvas. Maybe it's because the form is already provided for me? I have terrible problems getting form down when I have to sketch it.

    It's not done yet, but I'm getting there. As always, critiques are welcomed.

    (Also I'm aware that this wood type is not proper for the object, as it should be much smoother but I'm just practicing general texturing at this point.)

    Polypaint.PNG
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 17

    Vintage ceiling fan

    Fan_1K.png

    Fan_Closeup.png

    The rest of that saw: hand-polypainted

    Saw_Final.PNG
  • Amsterdam Hilton Hotel
    Bartalon wrote: »
    Fan_1K.png
    nice!

    are you planning to take all of these assets to game level? within a game art context it seems a little odd to handpaint all the lighting information directly onto a highpoly model (the saw), and some small details on the fan might get lost at the bake stage.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Thanks! The center parts of the fan blades were a huge pain.

    I will probably revisit some of my ZBrush work to transfer it into a game engine, however I will probably use dDo or something similar to texture it. The smaller, boring objects like the hand saw I probably won't bother with making game-ready.

    Hand painting a realistic high poly ZBrush model does seem a bit disjointed now that you mention it. But I'm simply using the shape as a base on which to paint. I'm quite weak in regards to my illustrative abilities--specifically the ability to sketch out a solid form--so I have just been using the models instead of an outlined sketch. It lets me practice hand painting without the frustrations of working with self-inflicted poor perspective/form/etc.
  • snake85027
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    snake85027 polycounter lvl 11
    nice fan , really like it
  • Snader
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    Snader polycounter lvl 9
    The fan blades shouldn't be much effort? Make a gridded plane. Select all quads, inset inset extrude extrude. Then mirror the geometry and weld.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    snake85027 wrote: »
    nice fan , really like it

    Thanks!
    Snader wrote: »
    The fan blades shouldn't be much effort? Make a gridded plane. Select all quads, inset inset extrude extrude. Then mirror the geometry and weld.

    Yeah, I totally ended up doing that. I wanted to see if I could do it in ZBrush first, which I could not. Once I went to Maya to set up a mesh I was done in like five minutes haha.
  • Bartalon
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 19

    Realistic wood study, and then a stylistic paint-over

    Board+Study.PNG

    Gene Starwind's Caster from the anime series Outlaw Star. I will be turning this into a portfolio piece so I'll be working on this for the next few days. Currently I just have a general blockout of most of the parts, no complex dynameshing or sculpting just yet.

    Caster+Progress.PNG

    Source image (I'm using many others, including a blueprint)

    CasterAndShells.jpg
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 20

    Worked on the Caster for most of the day.

    Caster+Progress2.PNG

    I also squeezed in some hand painting. I used Jessica Dinh's metal texture as a reference. I cherry-picked some details so the study could be challenging yet still enjoyable. I messed with color variation mostly, and while I feel like I was able to incorporate more color variation than my past studies, I still don't think I'm pushing my contrast enough. Not sure why I'm not noticing this WHILE I'm painting. Any tips/comments would be swell.

    Metal.jpg
  • Shad0w_Walker
    You do a great job so far. Love the wood btw. :)

    Cheers
  • Boozebeard
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    Boozebeard polycounter lvl 4
    Nice work and commitment :)

    The laser pistol thing looks a bit thinner and longer than in the concept. (just noticed you're using a blue print though, so it's probably fine)
  • - Livewire -
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    - Livewire - polycounter lvl 6
    Cool stuff, love the details on the fan.
  • BARDLER
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    BARDLER polycounter lvl 6
    Is there any reason why you are using zbrush for hard surface stuff instead of a traditional modeling package?
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    You do a great job so far. Love the wood btw.
    Cool stuff, love the details on the fan.
    Boozebeard wrote:
    Nice work and commitment

    Thanks guys! I will be submitting more diverse stuff in the future.
    Boozebeard wrote:
    The laser pistol thing looks a bit thinner and longer than in the concept.

    Yeah, I noticed that too actually. I'm going to have to tweak some proportions a bit here and there. The blueprints were a nice start considering the scarcity of good angles on this weapon, but there are definitely some inconsistencies.
    BARDLER wrote: »
    Is there any reason why you are using zbrush for hard surface stuff instead of a traditional modeling package?

    I suppose my motivation to do hard surface stuff in ZBrush came from a friend of mine who recently got hired into a AAA studio using similar methods. The bottom line is I simply want to get better at using ZBrush so I can more effectively implement it into my pipeline and continue to be versatile.

    I realize it would probably be easier/faster to do some of the models I've posted so far in Maya but I already know how to work quickly in that software, and would defeat the purpose of studying in ZBrush.

    I have seen quite a few hard surface ZBrush renders/portfolios. Is it not common to use ZBrush for vehicles and such? I was under the impression that it isn't terribly unusual, and a lot of the new features in recent versions actually encourage such kinds of modeling.
  • Bartalon
  • AlexCatMasterSupreme
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    AlexCatMasterSupreme polycounter lvl 5
    You're going to need to be proficient in poly. Modeling. Your results will be better and easier to modify as well.

    Also you mention relying on ddo for future texturing.it sounds like you're using tools to supplement a lot of fundumental skills that you'd use In a game studio. Not to mention most of your edges in your high polys are very tight and when you. smooth them its going to be much slower and less accurate to get right as well as less adjustable.
    Sorry if this is poorly written on I'm my phone.
  • chudork
    awesome work on the handpainted textures :D, cant wait to see the finished gun
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    You're going to need to be proficient in poly. Modeling. Your results will be better and easier to modify as well.

    Also you mention relying on ddo for future texturing.it sounds like you're using tools to supplement a lot of fundumental skills that you'd use In a game studio. Not to mention most of your edges in your high polys are very tight and when you. smooth them its going to be much slower and less accurate to get right as well as less adjustable.
    Sorry if this is poorly written on I'm my phone.

    Hey, thanks for the input. I am already proficient with standard modelling in Maya. I know it's not ideal to have hard surface stuff in ZBrush but as I said before, I'm practicing to be proficient with that as well in order to possibly find a way to combine both packages into a faster work flow.

    I did mention I will be using dDo (and nDo), however not as a crutch. I understand the importance of fundamentals and will certainly be covering those. The Quixel tools are simply bullets in my laundry list of things to study in the future. I do not intend to become reliant on them whatsoever.

    I've also noticed the sharpness of the shapes on my gun as being problematic and just as you said, they are not easily adjusted within ZBrush. Of course, this was a lesson I had to learn through using the program for a serious asset for the first time. For time's sake, I am going to leave it as is so I can move on to better things.
    chudork wrote:
    awesome work on the handpainted textures :D, cant wait to see the finished gun

    Thanks, I've moved on to retopologizing the gun so I'll be starting test bakes soon!


    Below is today's painting. This one's pretty shitty I think. No update on the gun because there isn't a whole lot to show.

    December 22

    Rockface.jpg
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 23

    Retopologizing the Caster. Might be another day or two before I'm done, what with Christmas right around the corner and all.

    Retopo.PNG

    Floorboards.jpg
  • AllyAlbon
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    AllyAlbon polycounter lvl 4
    Great stuff so far - admirable work in zbrush!

    I am doing something similar - hoping to get in a year of serious study but unfortunately have to work full time too. There just aren't enough hours in the day, are there?

    Your hand painted textures are gorgeous.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    AllyAlbon wrote:
    Great stuff so far - admirable work in zbrush!

    I am doing something similar - hoping to get in a year of serious study but unfortunately have to work full time too. There just aren't enough hours in the day, are there?

    Your hand painted textures are gorgeous.

    Thank you! I intend to keep up with at least one painting per day; hopefully more in the future as I get faster.

    Good luck to you whenever you start your own studies. I would stress to make sure you avoid being around any time-sinks like Facebook, Reddit/Imgur, Stumbleupon, too many video games, etc. or the time will fly by and you won't even notice. I took a semester off from school a couple years back with plans to get all these things done, and in 3 months I only managed to get my portfolio Website launched, which shouldn't have taken more than 2 weeks, max. :poly125:

    December 24

    Brickwork.jpg
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 27

    I tried doing some metal. Looks like I know what I suck at most haha

    MetalPlates.jpg

    I'm done retopologizing the Caster. It's rather expensive at 9402 tris. There are a lot of 90 degree edges that I didn't smooth over in ZBrush so I had to compensate by adding topology for a decent normal bake. I'm going to just keep pushing ahead though.

    LP.PNG
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 28

    Moar metal! I forgot to add small dents and spots across the larger surfaces. Maybe next time.

    MetalPlates.jpg

    Caster progress. It's finally ready for texturing. Below is a shot of AO with flat shading. Normal map shows up alright as well, all sharp edges considered.

    AO.PNG
  • Brygelsmack
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    Brygelsmack polycounter lvl 5
    Bartalon wrote: »
    Sale+Back.PNG
    Why are you doing pieces like that in Zbrush? Edges look very wobbly to me.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Why are you doing pieces like that in Zbrush? Edges look very wobbly to me.

    Yeah, I agree. I wasn't too concerned with the perfection involved in those few studies, I was just learning how to use the tools so I can be much more comfortable and proficient with ZBrush.

    My future models will likely be a combination of Maya and ZBrush.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    December 29

    Metal plates

    MetalSquares.jpg

    Caster progress. Using Toolbag2 seriously for the first time so it's a bit tricky for me to get the texture maps perfect.

    Albedo, tangent normals, occlusion, cavity, spec, gloss. Next up is adding wear and tear and adjusting the spec/gloss accordingly. Using nDo2 for additional micro detail.

    IBL+WIP.PNG
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    And I'm calling this one done. Moving on! Any critiques are most welcome, and will be implemented into my future projects.

    caster1.jpg

    caster6.jpg

    View more shots here.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Haven't posted here in a few days. I've been focusing on the Noob Challenge.

    Painted in ZBrush

    Wood.png
  • ZombieWells
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    ZombieWells polycounter lvl 8
    Okay, so your taking a year off for this stuff; I understand that's a enormous commitment... also a colossal waste of time if you don't use it right. So I am going to jump on you for a few things because of that. Get out of zbrush. Learn how to Hard Surface in Maya, Max, Modo, or whatever, before even going into zbrush. I hardly touch Z, unless I am doing organics. Also, there are a million reasons not to model HS in Z.... why am I running out of hard drive space wtf. AD wants better chamfers on that door you just made, and wants me to do it... I'll just go ahead and scale your edges... wait I cant because its in Z, and why is this like 10 billion tris... this is taking forever to import, save, bake, check in, and so on... As a side, you can use that door as a template, and use the Z's HS tools/poly groups to get cleaner edges... or you can make it in Max/Modo much faster, cleaner, lighter.

    Right, now lets move on to your texture work. Most of your models are super mono tone. There is hardly any push or pull in the values... looks like you threw a flat color on them and left it at that. What about material break ups? Edge high lights even. Here are two examples, real quick paint overs; should start to point you in the right direction.
    osad.jpg

    59je.jpg

    Also don't make things too dirty, the model gets all muddy and hard to read. Try to make rubber look like rubber. Try out different metals, and paints, gloss, mat, plastics composites... Fake high lights and shadows in your texture work. Bake in lighting, (use spot lights in max stuff like that), use contact AO. find good texture work and copy it, study color theory, and classical painting... and yes you do have to compose even grime.

    Okay, so there is another thing you should take a look at. Your low ploys are way too high for what they are. There is really no need to have all those chamfers in that ammo that you made... cylinder, and one chamfer on the top if you wanted it. What your going to want to start paying attention to is the silhouette of the model. Get a black material, throw it on your low in Max, and orbit around it. Ask your self, how much does the sihouette change by adding or removing geo. For instance the back of the handle on the brown gun is straight, so you can remove all that geo. Also, when your cutting into your low to bump stuff out, ask, "is it worth the extra geo, can the normal map take care of it, and how much texture space am I saving by doing this... is this warranted?" Once again, that gun is soooo tight because of the lack of edge chamfers, (because you made this in Z) that it needs the help. Now its really heavy and has no business being that way.

    One more thing. You mentioned studios you are gunning for. The hand painted stuff is a good study for what your trying to do... but also build models towards that end. Make board lands guns, make torchlight environments. Start thinking about your portfolio as a whole rather than one model at a time. Sci-fi gun, work bench, fire truck, Sci-fi gun, and wow cottage... this makes no sense.

    Good luck with the year dude, I hope this helps out. Keep posting on polycount... best thing you can do!
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    There is hardly any push or pull in the values... looks like you threw a flat color on them and left it at that.
    Thanks for pointing this out and thanks for taking the time to do a paintover. I noticed my paintings average around the 30-60% saturation range which is pretty midtone. Here's my latest texture; I tried pushing the saturation a bit more.

    Wood.jpg
    Once again, that gun is soooo tight because of the lack of edge chamfers, (because you made this in Z) that it needs the help.
    Yeah, I expected this because of the ZBrushed model so I'm aware the mesh is denser than it should be.
    Start thinking about your portfolio as a whole rather than one model at a time. Sci-fi gun, work bench, fire truck, Sci-fi gun, and wow cottage... this makes no sense.
    I wanted to follow through with the Caster (despite its shortcomings) and make it into a game-ready model because I haven't been able do to that for my portfolio in quite some time. It was a nice warm-up for the coming year. The other models on my site are admittedly pretty old, but I'm working to wash them out with far better content, and have it more tailored to the studios I'm aiming to get into.

    Thanks again for the crits!
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    January 6

    Floor.jpg

    Here's a cross-post of my progress on the Noob Challenge

    Door.PNG
  • Amsterdam Hilton Hotel
    cool to see you following through with this!

    something i was noticing in your metal paintings was that you tend to give metal big gashes for weathering. metal doesn't tend to get damaged that way, and it makes it look more like stone, or a relatively softer material than it is. usually metal wear is more about corrosion and softer scratches that build up over time, as opposed to sudden heavy slashing from something harder than it.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    cool to see you following through with this!

    something i was noticing in your metal paintings was that you tend to give metal big gashes for weathering. metal doesn't tend to get damaged that way, and it makes it look more like stone, or a relatively softer material than it is. usually metal wear is more about corrosion and softer scratches that build up over time, as opposed to sudden heavy slashing from something harder than it.

    Hey, thanks. Yeah, my metal is rubbish. Too bad I didn't see this before today's painting haha. I obviously need to do more metal studies. I think I'm trying to put slashes on the metal rather than dents and dings from hammers or other blunt surfaces.

    Guess we'll see what I come up with tomorrow.

    Chest.PNG
  • Bartalon
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Cast-iron metal is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

    Cauldron.PNG
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Did some Noob Challenge and the new Weekly Hard Surface Challenge today but I won't bother to cross-post.

    Metal.jpg
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    Still waiting for more critiques GUYS AND GALS! I'm open to suggestions, opinions, what you like, what you hate, etc.

    Metal+Plates.png
  • Bartalon
  • MessySketch
  • JoshuaMorrisonInk
    I think my favorite so far is the one from the 9th. Keep it up and don't stop posting! One thing I would watch out for is making the highlights on the metal super strong. The last two you posted almost have to much white in them IMO.
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 6
    I haven't posted in a few days. I finished all the food for my project so now I can move on to the next asset group.

    Pitcher.PNG

    Flagon.PNG

    Food.PNG
    One thing I would watch out for is making the highlights on the metal super strong. The last two you posted almost have to much white in them IMO.
    Yeah, I'm still experimenting with drawing metal. If it comes out poorly I just wait till the next study to try a different approach. Maybe one of these days I'll be satisfied haha.
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