CGI Illustration Showcase

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  • pior
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    pior hero character
    It's a matter of balance and only you can decide.

    On one hand I definitely agree that there is value in not showing everything. Learning is a personal journey, and not everything needs to be shared since as you pointed out it can even be detrimental to one's motivation and enthusiasm.

    Yet on the other hand, once you do show your stuff to the world (especially outside the echo chamber of a close group of like-minded online friends) you simply have to get ready to receive criticism in all its forms : constructive or not ; harsh ; mean ; dishonest ; needlessly positive. It comes with the territory, and the fact that no one on the internet cares about someone's decades of experience is a fantastic thing. For instance I do agree with your feedback on the Chivalry designs, and I am glad that this specific constructive criticism was brought up early during the contest (especially on the official Chivalry forums) as it allowed me and the modelers to correct things for at least some of the final items.

    Contrary to popular belief I actually don't think that one should develop a "thick skin". I think it is more about learning to appreciate this very kind of genuine raw criticism (most of the time not prefaced by any compliments) because even if it is harsh, it always comes from people who care and it is often 100% on point.

    Polycount is unique in the sense that users here will give you straight constructive criticism without sugar-coating it, while never crossing the line of hyperbole and pointless harshness. That's a good thing !
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    That pretty much sums it all up, all about having a balance.
    I have a saying, 'An artist should have enough ego to create art, but not enough to become complacent in their art."

    I literally cannot count the artists I have met who plateaue, marginally improve, or even regress in their art. All because of too much ego.

    I post on these forms to have myself broken down, it can suck bad sometimes, but at the same time I always come back stronger.

    I've been looking through my reference folders of other art, both 2d and 3d, and the stuff I thought was amazing a few years ago, is just OK to me. Same thing with looking at my own art. I see so many errors in everything from constructions, anatomy, design elements and balance, lighting, you name it. I used to have this mentality that, 'one day I'll make it with my art'. Like one day I'll reach that level I want to reach. This is never the case if you constantly quest for knowledge, as once that level you have in your head is reached, you've already set a new one as you were reaching it, thus creating a never ending journey.

    I heard recently Craig Mullins say he isn't very good at certain things, he genuinely sees every area he can improve on. He said his anatomy, for example, but his anatomy is amazing to an outside party. Even heard him say how he cannot draw cars the way he used to, he recognizes that if you don't use it, you lose it. You hear a grandmaster of art talk this way, and wonder to yourself how any artist can have an ego for very long.

    But technical skills are not the only value an artist has, not the only thing which makes them viable and marketable.

    It's not just being able to recreate what you see, or have strong designs, or use lighting properly, there is an X factor I'm noticing. I call it that because I'm not sure how to explain it. Imagination. But what is that. We create things based on things we've seen, yet I do not think that is the only place ideas come. There is an ethereal place, not quantifiable, a world hidden from our 5 senses, beyond what our level of understand is currently able to perceive.

    I love talking about art, I love creating, I love telling stories, I love self expression and the internet has always been my home for this.

    The forum, or user group as we once called them, are still the best place to hold a discussion online. FB groups are a random pool of unorganized content. The grandfathers of the internet came up with the forum as a way to bring people of like minds and interests together. I see a return to this. And a distancing from social media, where the thirsty reign, where intelligent discussion is second to the popularity contest. This return makes me happy.

    I appreciate the civility I've experienced here and believe there is untold value to be had by being part of this community.
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Less talk, more draw.

    Here's 3 new finished pieces. Trying to find the balance of polish, speed, detail.






    This last one is raw 12k pixels across. Unnecessary probably, but I think of it as future proofing my work.



  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Guys I'm updating this thread. I've been trying hard to change my attitude as I see it as the root cause for a lack of progress and learning in an artist. Specifically myself. I've been going back to the basics and studying anatomy with a fresh outlook, telling myself I know nothing.

    I'm learning from other artists who are better than me.

    I think if I were to write out all my thoughts on art, my own art, my own growth, I would craft a very long essay. I just might.

    For now I'm going to share some sketches from April, some anatomy studies; I'm reading a book Figure Drawing-Design and Invention.


    Did daily warm ups for all of April, started off strong but by the end I was hacking them out, and results weren't good. Happy with these.





    Drawing every page from that book, sometimes 3-5 times, to burn into my head the memory and understanding. Some from last week.





    And a recent finished piece from a week ago I entered into the weekly art challenge on Cube Brush.



    Look I've always believed actions speak volumes over any words. So my goal is to prove I've learned. Trying to establish a style for myself, as I look at my body of original illustrations from the past year and there isn't a cohesive style. The Elf Girl is the  embodiment of my efforts towards that goal, and I would love to hear what you all think and am open to suggestion.

    @pior and @Eric Chadwick you guys have legitimately tried to help me and I've just pushed back, I'm sorry for that.

    Also have been working on my 3D work, A LOT, but I'll make a thread in the 3D section for that.
  • [Deleted User]
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    [Deleted User] insane polycounter
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  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    @TeriyakiStyleI definitely see what you're saying in you're critique. Looked up the book you recommended, I'll order it and read it.

    The over lapping volumes of the hair are very tricky for me, something I really want to improve on. I like what you said about overlaying the basic shapes over the final drawing to check the overall construction of things in perspective space. When something looks off I'll do this.

    I got way too emotionally attached to my work which clouded my vision of it and ability to see mistakes and fix them. I don't care anymore.

    What I do today, should get destroyed by what I do next month, and carry over into the future in an exponential curve of improvement.

    Should, hopefully, I hope, I know too many artist who don't improve, stagnate, I'm terrified of this happening to me.
  • Eric Chadwick
    It's helped me not to get too precious about my own work. Realize I am not defined by my artistic skill, neither the strength nor the lack thereof. It's just another thing I can improve upon, like bad habits or procrastination or exercise or posture or whatever. I'm good at some of those things, but always could use improvement.

    I really like the sketches you've been doing. Would love to see more of these. Take those skulls and improve them.

    Also it helps me to draw from life, to see forms in front of me and work to scribe them onto paper. I work to understand how 3d form can be described on 2d paper. I often use my own hands as subjects, since they're interesting forms but also very compliant (they don't move unless I tell them to!).

    Keep going, you're doing great.
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Thank you for the kind words Eric. It means a lot.

    It's a good point you made about not being defined by your artistic skill, you're correct, I do define myself by mine. It's not me though.

    Looking forward to sharing more here with you guys.
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Here's some practice I did this morning.




    And I wanted to share this from a few months ago as well as my break down of how I achieved it.



    Basically started with the reference photo image. I knew I wanted to create some Chinese style non combatant armor pieces, and have it in a scifi setting and on an elf girl. I gather my reference for the armor. Decided to do a ring space station in the background. I made the ring in Maya and Zbrush, then composited it in DAZ 3D. I did a few renders to test, and set up my lighting to use as a visual reference for my 2D rendering. I drew the lineart first as I find doing the lineart on something technical and detailed is easier for me than straight painting it. Then I flatted my base colors and blended in the lineart with them, still having them also on another layer so I can lasso to cleaner rendering.



    Hopefully I explained it OK. Love to get thoughts on this one. I'm not 100% happy with how it turned out and would love feedback.
  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia polycounter
    Nice progress @splicer ! Keep it up! :)

    The only feedback I can think of would be to push the contrast in the picture, really define the highlights and shadows, as I feel that she's a bit evenly lit? Maybe have some areas you want to draw the eye to being a little bit more saturated than the others? To make it really pop?

    a little bit like these? 

    and this is something I myself try to follow in my painting 

  • pior
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    pior hero character
    Assuming that this panel ( https://cdnb.artstation.com/p/assets/images/images/005/300/311/large/milen-parvanov-ringgirlprocess.jpg?1490039226 ) shows your whole process, there are numerous things you can adress.

    • Where are the dozen of thumbnail sketches used to actually define the idea of the image ? If you start directly from a single picture reference without "hunting for the image" in thumbnail form first, the resulting image is bound to feel wooden/traced/photo inspired (even it isn't literally traced). The construction issues (anatomy, perspective) very likely come from that, or at least partly.

    • You are repeatedly ignoring the lighting references you gathered (BW picture, Poser render) and end up softly airbrushing made-up lighting/shading. Some anime or comic-style artists may be able to create decent pictures that way, but the master painters of then and now (from Rockwell all the way to Adam Hugues) show a huge amount of humility in regards to the complexity of the human form and lighting. They of course reinterpret their sources and references (mostly by simplifying the information for the sake of creating pictures more striking than real life) but they stick to the overall key points. This issue in your work is especially apparent in the way you render lips, eyes and noses : you seem to follow a set of strict formulas you probably established earlier on. I think it's fair to say that you need to unlearn that and be more truthful to the realities of light and shade, unique to each painting.
  • pior
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    pior hero character
    Also, one more thing that might help. It's a little bit out there, but take some time to think a lot about this picture : 




    The sharp lineart sure is Einstein, but the shading is Marilyn. What I mean by that is that even the most accurate lineart can be spoiled by inaccurate light and shade. That's why in my opinion your step 9 (flats) is waaaaay better than your final rendered image. You have a lot of technical know-how ; your next step is to unlearn most of your "automatic habits" about form, light and shade.

  • quockhanhlk
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    quockhanhlk polycounter lvl 5
    It has been quite a journey reading this thread from the start to this point, and i think its safe to say that you have improved a lot as an artist, and the clearest improvement is the line work, if you doubt yourself just compare the recent sketches to some of the old ones, the differences should be pretty clear.

    And as @Elithenia and @pior mentioned above, you could really benefit a lot from doing sketches/thumbnails before hand, also paying attention to the contrast between values and the distribution of it can make the painting a lot more interesting.

    One trick i've been using a lot is to have a 'value check' layer on top of all my illustrations so far-since im pretty much still a low level artist myself. Its basically a pure-black filled layer set to either color or saturation blending mode (both works the same), and when i activate the layer it sats everything back to greyscale so i can check on the values of the painting as a whole and correct stuff if i mess something up.



    I've taken the liberty and painted over your original image, using the trick above to try and match the value of your painting to the your reference image, keep in mind that this is just a quick and dirty paintover and by no mean is the correct/only way to do this, just my suggestion based solely on my taste:



    Have fun painting and keep up the good works !
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Some more studies.



    @Elithenia Thank you, I appreciate that. I agree with what you're saying, it's very apparent between my planes, value range is the same on the girl as it is in the background. I like that tutorial you posted, going to try that painting with AO technique, I like the results.

    @pior For this one I did no thumbnails, just started off the photo reference and designed my armor around it. What you say is true and now it looks very stiff. You're totally right that I'll default to what I'm comfortable with the rendering, as a result the forms are not properly defined. Also another huge issue with this one was I had no finished lineart. This is as far as I took it.

    Reason being is I wanted to have no lineart visible in the final image. After this step, I did the flats. This work flow I tried threw me off big time.

    My automatic habits you say are deep rooted from 1,000s of colored comic book pages. Basically have to do things wrong on those to make things pop, match a style. When I worked at a coloring studio I had to color things wrong to match the established color style. I know I have to unlearn things. I've been doing it with my anatomy, and will be doing it with my rendering too. What do you suggest?

    @quockhanhlk Thanks for taking the time to do that paint over for me. I actually do the same thing with the grey scale layer. And I recently noticed it's slightly off, especially in the reds, compared to flattening the image then desaturating it, not sure why.

    I'm going to make adjustments based on the feedback you guys gave and also tried to better match my lighting reference.
  • pior
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    pior hero character
    Hi there - nice attitude !

    Regarding unlearning habits : while I do agree that deeply set comic book coloring habits can definitely have unfortunate consequences, I would disagree about coloring techniques being necessarily "wrong". Now of course an art director may ask to make things pop to garish levels, no doubt about that - but the tools themselves are not to blame.

    For instance, the following Wolverine coloring shows that the colorist took a very formulaic approach, basically enhancing/bulging each and every line. This is a very cookie-cutter way of going at it, and the picture only holds together thanks the quality of the original pencilling which clearly defined blacks and strong lines.

    http://orig10.deviantart.net/55b8/f/2015/061/a/e/wolverine___simon_gough_color_by_spiderguile-d8k5s9v.jpg

    I am not saying that this rendering is wrong or that the picture is bad (it does fit the character, and works well with the art style) - it's just very formulaic.

    The following picture is completely different - mechanically speaking it uses the same lasso-ing techniques, but it does not rely on heavy lineart to pop against.

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/J_uNnawaBmE/maxresdefault.jpg

    The colorist had to completely construct the lighting like a painter would, and it works perfectly well. I am confident that this colorist would have no problem rendering drawings of his own convincingly, because the structural knowledge is there.

    What I am trying to get at is that the techniques themselves (lassoing, airbrushing) are not to blame ; the issue to be worked on really is the understand of light and shade, and its interactions with form. But of course, letting go of techniques can definitely be a good, indirect way to unlearn the habits attached to them. Gotta rewire the brain meat ! :D

    Good luck !
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Thanks, and I know exactly what you mean. I guess it varies, I've done both the Wolverine buldging rendering and building up forms.

    Here's a page I colored for Knight Rider.

    And an old cover I colored for Star Craft.

    I'm going to redo that Ring Girl picture completely. Not thumbnailing it out lead to a lot of problems like you pointed out.

    I like how I did her face and the armor design itself, but the overall construction and rendering is ruining it.

    And I'm not sure why, but I feel like I have trouble rendering my own lineart compared to other's lineart.
  • RN
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    RN greentooth
    Its basically a pure-black filled layer set to either color or saturation blending mode (both works the same), and when i activate the layer it sats everything back to greyscale so i can check on the values of the painting as a whole and correct stuff if i mess something up.
    @quockhanhlk in Photoshop there's a quicker way to value-check and it also has more accurate results: set your Color Proof settings to "Working gray - Dot Gain 20%" or "Gray Gamma 2.2", and use the color proof toggle shortcut (default is CTRL + Y) to toggle it on and off.

    Explained in here: http://www.artofscholes.com/checkingvalues/
  • Greg Westphal
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    Greg Westphal polycounter lvl 5
    The best thing about this thread is seeing how far your line work has come.  I remember seeing this when you first dropped it years ago thinking "man, this guy has a long way to go" because the form on all of the colored renderings was all over the place.  In the more recent stuff its far less heavy handed and the transitions are more subtle.  I think you'd get huge gains from studying Sargent paintings and breaking down how he blocks in shapes and to abstract forms because you still have that "legend's of the cryptids" thing going on where every detail has to be in focus and have its own unique studio lighting.  Maybe thats what you're going for though but to me it looks a bit too "romance novel cover"y.
  • EricElwell
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    EricElwell ngon master
    If your goal is to illustrate rendered/color images, (based on your current work) I would recommend that you take some time studying with these limitations:
    1. Do not use a soft brush.
    2. Block in cast shadows from a hard light.

     Color relationships can come later, but your work will improve noticeably if you really nail the cast shadows, both how they relate to your light source AND how they fall across the form. LATER you can start softening across rounded forms, but I would recommend avoiding that for now. Don't think about "shading." Think about "shadows."
  • quockhanhlk
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    quockhanhlk polycounter lvl 5
    @RN thanks for the link man thats actually a really smart way to do it 
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    @RN Thank you for that tip, going to start doing it that way now.

    @Greg Westphal Thank you, it's very good to hear that you've noticed some progress in my work. Honestly, I can look back at my work from a few years ago and see the progress, however, it doesn't actually feel like. I feel like I'm not getting better, I feel that way all the time. I know it usually means that a person is getting better, and how they view their work is critical so they see the errors and areas of improvement. On your point of the rendering, yes I am going for a more stylized rendering style. Still I think I have much room to improve, especially to reach the Legend's of Cryptids level. I have some ideas of how I can study lighting of forms by setting up references for myself in 3D. Start with 1 light source with hard shadows. I always go for a safe 3 point lighting set up where I render everything in the same manner to make it pop. Just looked up Sargent, I was not familiar with his work. Thank you for that, going to gather reference and study his work.

    @EricElwell Thanks for that practice tip. I've done the fist one before, not using a soft brush for the entire piece, but I've never tried to block in just the cast shadows. I will try this and post my results. I understand what can be gained from that method, simplify the forms and how they react to direct light casting over them.

    @pior Here is another recent piece. This one I did some thumbnails first and tried to plan it out as best I could before moving to final.

    First thumbnail I was planning lighting, but did not on the proceeding ones, as this was for a friend. Didn't know which would turn into the final so I didn't want to waste time planning lighting for something that wouldn't get used. In case you were wondering why.

    Thumbnail for the final with just general rendering, not thinking of lighting, just more the forms.

    The finished lineart.


    The finished piece.


    Looking at it now, I think of a few things I could have done differently in how I executed it. When I got to the final I should have planned out my lighting better in the thumbnail stage. Then, when I moved onto the final rendering pass. I should have worked in grey scale, then added the color later. I've done that method before on a few finished pieces. I'm going to perform the tips you guys gave me for my rendering.
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Trying to take a different approach to how I do complete pieces.

    Here's 4 thumbnails for a new idea I have. I think I'll go with #3 with the pose from #2, set higher, with a more interesting arch like in #1.

    I'll post my progress on the final one here.


  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3



    A few Sargent studies. Doing these is helping my understanding of using stroke and texture to simulate forms and structures.

    Trying to get a formula down for steady yet rapid improvement. Something like a work out routine for the body, you know.

    Figuring out where my to spend my time and what to focus on. Lack of motivation is not a problem, nor is my energy to complete it.
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Two more studies.

    All 6 studies next to the originals. Mine are on the left.

    And a work in progress of the final drawing form the thumbnails.


  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Removed the speed paint on the account of it sucking.

    Not going to do those again for a while I think.

  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Just wanted to pop in and say a quick thank you to everyone on here. Upon much reflections I see how much aid I've gained here.

    Cheers everyone, hope you are all doing well in your art and careers. Here's a personal piece I did after the Falcon Heavy launch.


  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 4
    This one is looking great man! Hope you can keep tossing updates in here, they're great to see <3
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Thanks Bagel, really good to hear you say that! I am back at doing 3D but am making sure to practice drawing and not do it 100%.
    So not too many 100% finished pieces.
    And sure, I will post some more, I have been doing a lot of studies. Working from this book, Figure Drawing Design and Invention.

    Here's a few more recent ones, been over a month since I drew from it, so will be starting up again.





  • Eric Chadwick
  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Thank you Eric! And I'd like to share, a massive project I did. I knew I'd be doing almost all 3D for the near future, so I wanted to do a large 2D piece. I chose those 10 models, well there are 9, but anyway. 10 figures total allowed me to push a style I've been seeking to find.

    Here is a crop of the first part. Worked on a lot of areas I needed to, hair is a big area of improvement I know I've needed to practice.


    More images, wip, the full version can be found on my Artsation. There is also the reference photo I used.
    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/303KD

  • splicer
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    splicer polycounter lvl 3
    Here's a piece I started a bit ago, and would like to finish it. Want to expand the scale of my illustrations, and would LOVE feedback on it!


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