Zach Vance - Art Showcase (C&C Welcomed!)

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Hey everyone! So welcome to my art thread! I've edited and pinned the original post so new comers have something a little prettier to look at instead of my old, washed out texture WIPs. Feel free to look around, and, if you have feedback, I'd love to hear it so I can continue to improve!

Anyway, just to give you a bit of background, I'm an art hobbyist who took around an 8 year hiatus and is now attempting to play catch up on all that lost time. Hopefully, with community critiques, a little luck, and a lot of practice, I can one day land a paying job in the creative field.

Until then, here's a list of goals I'm currently focused on (I guess not that focused, considering the variety):
  • Having something worthy to send to Wizards of the Coast by the end of 2018 (whether it's two pieces or ten).
  • Creating more illustrations that tell a story instead of just being a painting of a subject.
  • Better line work and cleaner sketches (I tend to skip a lot of lines and work in blocks of colour and value in the rough stages. Not so much a bad thing, but I would like to improve my line work so that I have the option, stylistically).
  • Improving my anatomy knowledge, both human and creature.
  • More environment art, with a flair for looking like animation background.
  • Achieving a more traditional look with digital.
  • Texture and material rendering, as always.
  • Pursue some kind of balance between realism and stylized aesthetics.
  • Brush stroke economy.
Styracosaurus says BWAAAARRR! (obvious Luke Mancini influence is obvious):

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  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Here's a revised, WIP version of the previous pattern.  I'm not sure how I should be tackling the 'extrusion' of the tiles/blocks; whether they should be thicker stones or if the texture looks better as flatter tiles. I'm also not sure what to do with the grout, it feels too plain for me at the moment. Any feedback while this one is at it's midpoint would be greatly appreciated!

    I've got a lot more textures planned, and a bunch of stone patterns and tessellations I've made up that are ready to paint as well!

    And yes, I'm aware that this currently has seams when tiled. Will fix. Promise.

    Hand painted stone texture (WIP):

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Another update! I think I'm just about done with this one, and I'm very pleased with how it's come along. Just about ready to start the next texture, as well as make some variations on this one! I would still love feedback if anyone has any to offer. Don't be shy!

    Hand painted stone texture (WIP):


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Here's the near finished product - I'm pretty happy with how it's come along now, I just need to figure out what to do with the mortar, and then I'll be making some variations of the same texture; different cracks, wear, etc. Just about time to start my next one!

    If anyone has any feedback yet, I'd still love to hear it! Don't be shy!

    Hand painted stone texture (WIP):


  • Doodlok
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    Doodlok polycounter lvl 2
    I saw your first photo and was about to say it could use more crisp edges ad value range, but your lastest update looks really nice! I'd say more cracks would look even better, but fantastic work! 
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Thanks, Doodlok! I'd say we're on the same page! Here ya go!

    Hand painted stone texture:


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Here's something from the other morning! Definitely not complete, but I'm taking a break from it for now to work on some other things. I used what I learned doing my previous stone textures on the axe head, although it does need some more rendering. Aside from that, I'm not happy with the look of the strings, and I'd like to play with the wood grain in the handle some more. I'll probably come back to it after working on some wood textures! Any additional CC would be greatly appreciated!

    Stone axe (WIP):


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Some quick practice before bed... obviously incomplete, but I'm starting to get a feel for the wood (ha!). The adventure shall continue tomorrow!

    Hand painted wood texture (WIP):


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Well, there are some things I really like about this one, and other things I'm not so crazy about, but this was a great practice piece! Next time I think I'll take care sharpening some details, softening others, and be more mindful of my placement of unique bits like knots, cracks, gouges, etc. Well, I wish I could hang out at home all day painting, but time for me to go to my day job!

    Hand painted wood texture:


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Not a texture, but here's a dragon head. Attempting to channel my inner LD Austin.



    I'm thinking I should just make this a personal art thread, rather than limit it to textures...

    Anyway, prints available on INPRNT and Society6, if anyone's interested.
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Nothing new, but I made a wee little process gif animation of my dragon. This was my first time animating a gif with Photoshop... so much nicer than side-by-side process images!

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Calling the one done for now. Got to the point where I just wanted to get it done and not have to think about it anymore; I've got a long list of other artwork to be working on, both for my portfolio and to prepare for my next con in 4 months. I'd still love some feedback on the rendering, as I'm not 100% happy with it (although I like the direction). I think it's mostly the highlights on the chipped stone that's throwing me off the most.

    Anyway, this past weekend was my first time in an artist alley at Niagara Falls Comicon! Myself and my other half had a great time and made a few new friends, and I can't wait until my next one! Definitely a fun time, and a great learning experience!

    Hand Painted Level 2 Stone Axe:

  • EVF
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    EVF polycounter lvl 2
    nice textures! for the dragon head, like doodlok said about the first texture, it could use more crisp edges. the design and colors are nice, but it looks flat value wise. like the concave to the right of the eye could be darker and sharper.
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Thank you @EVF

    I agree, the dragon could certainly use some more form. I've got a few sketches I want to paint and a couple of days off work, so I'll keep that in mind while I plug away on those! I appreciate the input!

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Been a while since I posted something; haven't been doing much aside from sketching a little bit, but here's a WIP of a stone texture. Attempting to break down some of the wonderful example found in this thread.

    In any case, here's my hand painted stone texture, thus far:


    Hopefully I can get back on track with my progress in textures and digital painting; sometimes it's tough with a non-art related full time job and one year old at home, but I feel like I'm slowly progressing. It's a marathon, not a sprint, right?
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Well it's been a long time since I updated. Lots of reasons I suppose, but I won't get into it here. I took a break from art for a couple months but I'm back into it and feeling refreshed! Here are a few Rubens studies from the past few days. I'm trying to make a new habit of painting daily, and even considering a 365 day challenege. I've had considerable art block recently, so the studies have been a great way for me to practice and learn without having to worry about the content.

    Oh! I also tabled at Hamilton Comic Con this past weekend. It was an awesome time, and I did so much better than what I was expecting. Definitely part of the reason I'm so motivated right now! Hopefully I can keep it up :)

    Anyway, here they are; studies of The Crying Philosopher, Two Satyrs, and Study of a Head. All originally painted by Peter Paul Rubens. If these are too large I can resize them.

    As always, I love feedback! <3

    The Crying Philosopher by Peter Paul Rubens, study:


    Two Satyrs by Peter Paul Rubens, study:


    Study of a Head by Peter Paul Rubens, study (I love the palette here):

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    And another one! This time a study of a piece by John Singer Sargent.

    I think I might do some landscapes or more body anatomy studies next... does anyone have any recommendations?

    Head of a Capri Girl by John Singer Sargent, study:


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Felt like I wanted a bit of a change of pace from the portraits so I did a Nathan Fowkes study. Moving towards the future I'd really like to do more animation-esque landscape paintings. Particularly fantasy type. We'll see what happens. The original for this piece is actually done by Nathan Fowkes for the movie Spirit. I love the palette!

    Nathan Fowkes study:

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    And a daily spit paint trying to apply some of what I learned from the study. Spit paints are supposed to be 30 minutes, but this version is one I took a little further. The theme was 'mountain lake'.


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Another animation background study. This one is from the Castlevania series on Netflix, originally painted by Sylvain Sarrailh. I felt like I learned a lot from this one, technique-wise. I used more/different brushes, made some custom brushes, and less use of the smudge tool (which I think I've grown to overuse in paintings). Very happy with the result, and looking forward to applying what I've learned in my own original pieces.

    Sylvain Sarrailh study:

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    A couple more from last night; I started looking to film as a resource for learning about composition and colour. Also I'm kinda bummed because I had a Photoshop issue with running out of memory that caused me to loose all of my recent custom brushes, so these were done with just the defaults. Sadface.

    These were stills from the Blade Runner 2049 trailer:


    I think I'd like to take the Officer K portrait further:


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    A Skywalker speed paint from last night, reference taken from The Last Jedi trailer. I spent about an hour on it, which is more time than I would have liked to to get it to this point, but practice is practice. I think I'd like to refine it a little more, same with the above Blade Runner portrait, when I can spare the time.

    Also I don't think I've mentioned yet, but none of these studies involve overpainting or colour picking.





  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Another Last Jedi warm up. I find masks and helmets so boring compared to organic things. Anyone else feel the same? I should work on finding a way to make them more interesting to paint, maybe. In any case, I'm planning on working on some more stylized characters/creatures, and textures again soon. Updates to follow!

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Lately I've been experimenting with virtual plein air painting. Here's an attempt at making something that looks like a classical animation background, something Disney-esque. Would love any feed back for retouching this piece or things to keep in mind moving forward!


  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia polycounter

    I would say that you need to play around with the values and saturation to create more visual depth in the picture. 
    Even in the field there would be more variance in saturation :) 
    did you take a reference pic?
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    @Elithenia - I could definitely throw in some more atmospheric perspective and variance. And I agree the grass could use some more love (grass is just so dang monotonus!). Reference was from a street view from Google maps (there's an entire Facebook group dedicated to virutal plein air that I'd totes reccomend checking out here), along with a couple of background paintings from The Lion King for a style reference. I might go back and play around with the colours a little more too. Even though I I like them now, it's still more yellow than I intended, and would like to lean it more towards the greenery of the street view image.

    And thank you for your sugestions, Elithenia.

    This is the street view I used.

    And here are the two Lion King backgrounds (the grass in the second one is so much nicer than mine):





  • MykulJaxin
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    MykulJaxin polycounter lvl 3
    Hey, Zach! Looking good. I'd be careful with painting individual blades of grass/hair. It can start to feel a little busy! Simplify those shapes. I also like that you're not color picking, that's so much tougher.
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    @MykulJaxin Thank you for the encouragement! Yes I know what you mean. At first I was almost trying to render the entire grassy area like the individual blades in the second reference image I posted; but I think if I spend more time on it I should definitely control it a little better and keep the individually painted blades in a condensed area.

    And yes, colour picking is poison! Eyeballing colour does get easier, at least. Colour picking from reference just makes things muddy.
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Well I've been painting a lot but not posting much; less active on social media overall and mainly just focusing on gettin' gud instead of attempting to build a following. Here's a couple of semi recent things. The komodo drag was about a half hour to 45 minutes, and the Luke portrait is about an hour and a half extra work on top of where I had it after my speed paint.

    Not that it shows, but I feel like my biggest improvement over 2017 was the speed I can work at and my philosophy; Now pieces that I used to work on (seemingly endlessly) for weeks or months I will do in a single sitting in a matter of hours. I've learned to not hold my work precious, which in turn allows me to make a lot more mistakes and be worried less about perfection. Anyway, here's some art...

    Komodo dragon:



    And here's a rework of my Luke Skywalker speed paint that I posted a while back:

  • EVF
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    EVF polycounter lvl 2
    nice stroke work on the komodo dragon! nice focus on the eye too :)
  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Thanks @EVF!

    Here's another plein air from last night, another Norway location. Mostly just testing out a new palette and some brushes I got from a friend.

  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Here's one of my sketches from last night, a WIP of one of my DnD characters. It's rare that I spend more than one session on a piece these days, but I really enjoy where this one is headed so I'll probably continue to refine this guy and maybe do a full body character sheet or something. He still needs some hair and a beard! Oh, and some fierce wizard brows. As always, C&C welcomed!


  • zachvance
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    zachvance triangle
    Rolled a new DnD character for a game this weekend and worked on a portrait of him during my day off. Still another WIP but here's the progress thus far. Any feedback would be appreciated!


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