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Sketchbook: David Pacsuta

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ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
Hi everyone. I am starting this digital sketchbook to keep a record of my progress as I am making small steps towards a career in environment concept art for games. Critiques are most welcome in any shape or form, I do not get offended even if you skip the polite lingo. If it helps me improve, let it come!

A little bit about myself: I am 30 years old, employed full time as a 3d artist / Houdini pipeline guy at a German product vis studio. I have been sketching for as long as I can remember and a few years ago I began to take things more seriously after stumbling upon the YouTube channel of Feng Zhu (I think a lot of people will share the story up to this point for sure.) Through his explanations I have understood that fundamentals are key to be a successful visual communicator which led me to pick up the books of his former teacher, Scott Robertson. How to Draw and How to Render have been part of my artistic journey for the past 5 years or so, and they have been a tremendous resource.

Until now I have only drawn and shaded basic props but I would like to take things one step further and consolidate my knowledge in order to build more complex scenes and environments. Updates will be sporadic as I am blessed with a toddler who loves to spend time with daddy so free time is a rare commodity these days.

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  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Currently I am working through Domestika's "Concept Art for Video Games" course by Nacho Yagüe

    Feel free to check out the preview video
    https://www.domestika.org/en/courses/239-concept-art-for-video-games

    I have to say it is a little bit awkward as I do not speak Spanish so I am having to read subtitles which are a bit wonky in a few places because I think they are auto-generated. Unfortunately the brief itself is written in Spanish but I will share what Google Translator managed to provide:

    "Theron and Areiz were exhausted after wandering through what seemed like an endless journey in which they forgot the concept of the passage of time.

    The only thing that kept them standing was the hope of finally being able to find the mythical city of Tolonte. Although on rare occasions they doubted whether there would be anything left of it.

    They walked across an arid plain, the warm breeze heralding a well-deserved reward after so much hardship.

    After climbing a steep incline, they appeared out of nowhere, almost magically.
    Imposing and ancient: the ruins of Tolonte."

    First tasks have been to gather references and create some thumbnails for which using the custom Shape tool in Photoshop was suggested but that did not work out for me quite as good so I took an alternative approach which led me to more interesting accidents.





    Some of these have ended up being quite chaotic which I do not mind. I definitely will not bother taking 1) and 2) any further as they are too out there. 3) with its fallen pillar/tower proposes an interesting level design which would allow for further design exploration as to how the player would get onto and then descend down the fallen pillar/tower. I consider 4), 5), 6) and 7) to be good candidates for further refinement although 5) is a bit too simple perhaps. 8) has some really cool shapes but I think it is really just that, a bunch of cool shapes and 9) is kind of generic - there is a mountain to the side, some pillars and that's it.

    Let me know what you think, do you have a suggestion which one of these I should continue working on?

    From here the course will take me through refining on of the sketches to a finished production painting. Once that is done I aim to do some callouts which I understand is a crucial part of concept art.
  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    I chose nr.6. and developed it further using a mix of 2d, 3d and photos. For now focusing on values only. It may be a bit dark overall - I was trying to balance the levels while looking at it on different screens. I like the overall direction this is going but I would love to hear some feedback / paintovers would be welcome too! Many thanks in advance if you do so


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    To finish off the course, the painting must have colors. It's a tricky subject for me I tend to get a bit too artsy and not very realistic with them. Things feel a lot more under control with values only. Any tips or feedback would be much appreciated

    Here are two directions, the first one is a bit too vivid and the second one a bit too dull perhaps. Something between the two could work well


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    I wasn't happy with the crazy colors and the super bright areas in the image so I flattened it all and thought that I would just start painting over things as boldly as I can. This is what came out of it. I think I am starting to be happier with this. A lot more subtle than before, still needs a lot of refinement, and a character added back in.

    As always feedback is welcome & good night


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Added a more interesting background, and a few visual elements. Playing around with color. Sticking with the overall direction. Image is still 1920x1080, soon I will res it up and refine some areas. Thanks for checking out and any feedback is appreciated, as always. Good night


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Chipping away at it, I will probably give it one or two more evenings and then call it as the next course is soon coming up by Pablo Carpio on cgcup.com which I am super excited about. Good night


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    I think this is probably it. Tomorrow I will take a final look with a fresh head and tweak a few things here and there 


  • carvuliero
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    carvuliero ngon master
    You probably wont like the following :
    If I hire you with this script and you send me this thing I wont pay you .Where is my "Imposing and ancient: the ruins of Tolonte" i see few rocks and a door where is the story and even worse building thing with door opening was looking monumental 2 iteration ago you put some candles and ruin it now is just a normal size door Picture give claustrophobic vibe if its in cave or some sort of depression hidden valley
    I really have no idea why you split your picture in the middle to dark and like side is this the story element ?
    Any reason for splitting verticals and horizontals on one side and diagonals on the other ?


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    @carvuliero

    Thank you for taking to the time to give me feedback! The only reason I don't like what you wrote is because it's 100% true. I didn't stick to the brief = in the real world I failed the job. I get that and this will be nr.1 thing I will pay more attention to on the next project.
    To be honest this is the first ever environment painting I finished and I got a bit lost in the process trying to figure out fundamentals / workflow. I really like a thread that you started "Learn to see : Basic drawing and warm up exercises" and I want to look into it. I often get the feeling that what I draw is claustrophobic and I want to improve on that. For this last update I moved the edge of that big mass from the middle which helps a little bit and added a few more story elements. Lastly, there is no reason for the mixing of verticals/horizontals on one side and diagonals on the other. I am simply inexperienced and figuring out things as I go. Have you got any good recommendation about this topic?

    I call this piece finished for now and take the lessons and create something better next time


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Decided to go back to fundamentals before tackling another themed project
    For this purpose I chose James Paick's Environment Design Course - https://gumroad.com/jamespaick
    First task is to study existing art or photos for value structure and composition and also make one of our own
    For now 4 out of 5 - put a 1 hour limit on each of these so the quality does vary, all on single layer

    #1 Maciej Kuciara


    #2 Ralph McQuarrie


    #3 Wind erosion


    #4 Ice formations

  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    For the final, 5th piece of homework I created a thumbnail for an alien planet. CC welcome

  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Small change I felt I needed to make - the pillar felt more like a foreground element than a mid ground focal point so I adjusted the values a bit. More value thumbnails coming up as the next home work for the Environment Design Course by James Paick

  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Continuing EDC by Jaimes Paick
    1/3 of further grayscale sketches - this one comes in 3 veery slightly different variations

    As always, any comments, remarks, ideas, critiques and feedback are welcome


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Another thumbnail homework
    Abandoned space cannon


  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Homework #3 for lesson 2. Something with a bit more structure. Struggling a lot to stay creative when a perspective grid is laid on top of the canvas, but I will have to get used to it :)

  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Few thoughts I have had: There is not a lot of point doing this production painting type of images because those are not what I would be doing initially as a concept artist anyway. Taking away some of the points Feng Zhu has been emphasizing in his recent videos. I feel it will be a better route to focus on visual communication type of interiors and exteriors of buildable assets. Nevertheless I have felt the need to improve my sketching ability first because I tend to get very stiff when I work from reference. I have started to work my way through Aaron Limonick's Sketching Anything course and so far it seems to be filling the gaps I had expected it would.

    #1 of the first 3 sketches for lesson 1, focusing on simplifying complex scenes to simple shapes

  • carvuliero
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    carvuliero ngon master
    Looks to me that you have lost the feel and idea of the original  .Lets start with most obvious original have 3 holes you have only 2 and their relation is different Feel of the original is round enclosure like 2 domes with round bridge between Also I cant see the hide and seek game of near mountain peeking through the windows like holes
  • ant1fact
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    ant1fact polycounter lvl 7
    Thanks for dropping by and good points. One thing that has to be noted is that the instructor encourages people to not necessarily stick to the ref 100% and change around elements if that helps with - for now - purely shape composition. That being said, I agree I probably strayed too far. The other thing that I just realise now after you mentioned the windows and the lack of elements in the back is that there is not enough layering and overlaps and the whole thing is too flat. I think the next sketch is a much better attempt. Admittedly I suck at sketching from reference and I too often sketched from imagination in the past. I am working on this now and I really think the Sketching Anything course will help with that
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