40k style portraits and illustrations

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polycounter lvl 12
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wake polycounter lvl 12
I've always been fascinated by the high-contrast visual style of 40k's illustrations, so I've decided to try and emulate the style. For starters, here a few examples of what I'm talking about:

marine.jpg

baddies.jpg

portrait.jpg
(sorry for the low quality on some of these; they were the best I could find)

My favorites are always the portraits-- the dark eye sockets, neutral expressions and heavy use of black convey so much gravity, as well as a richness of character. It's something I would like to use for a game when I get the chance... Anyway, here are the first two. They didn't take as long to do as I thought they would, so I hope to update this with new pieces on a regular basis. I don't have a specific plan about what to do with these-- right now it's more of a technical exercise-- though I can see turning it into a more cohesive project. Who knows.

officerLOW.jpg

captainLOW.jpg

For now I'm going to stick to portraits (what I know best), though when I get a better hang of working in high contrast I might try out some figures as well, we'll see.

Crits and comments are welcome as always. You guys think I'm hitting the mark with these?

Replies

  • SyaPed
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    SyaPed polycounter lvl 14
    Nice stuff! I especially like the second one. I too love the b&w warhammer art. Be sure to check out http://www.karlkopinski.com/ their best artist imo
  • Unleashed
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    Unleashed polycounter lvl 13
    very nice work, although i think the references have a more gritty, non digital feel to them compared to yours.
  • Squiggers
    Main reason why I like the 40K universe - the artwork that goes with it is outstanding.

    I'd say that you may need to tone down the use of the gaussian effect? I think thats what you've used, but i'm most likely wrong. :P
  • doeseph
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    doeseph polycounter lvl 7
    Use harder brushes and start adding in more detail, right now everything is soft and muddy (digital like). And your portraits could be of anyone, there isn't anything that tells me these fellas' are from the 40K universe.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    @SyaPed-- thanks a bunch for the link. I've always liked his work, I just never knew his name.

    @Unleashed-- yeah, I'm trying to figure out how to exactly hit that 'rough' style. The interesting thing about a lot of 40k art is that it tends to have loose backgrounds but extremely high fidelity characters. I'm still working on getting better edge control, and I think I can still push the contrast a little more.

    @Squiggers-- I just used 'add noise' after I put on an unsharp mask. I've toned the noise down a bit on this one, but the reason why I add it is to give the piece some of the grit it would have were it done on paper.

    @doeseph-- I'm always fighting the softy digital look; I'm experimenting with some new brushes in Painter to see if any will work better, though I'm reticent to use the actual digital watercolor brushes because of how much they make my computer chug. It may come to that though. As for the characters not looking 40k, I'm intentionally keeping them vague right now so that's not a big deal. The aesthetic is what I'm more concerned with, though I may start doing 40k specific stuff, in which case I'll have to do a little extra research.


    Here's the next one. I've spent some more time on it than the last two to try and get something a little crisper. That and because old dudes are harder to paint, what with their craggly faces and all that. A final remark though-- do these guys look interesting? I'm trying to add some richness to their faces, but I don't always want to resort to crazy scars to make them look hard.

    colonelLOW.jpg
  • Squiggers
    Yeah, i thought i might have been wrong, its been a while since i've used Photoshop due to studying unfortunately.

    I'd definately say it looks a lot better now - particularly as you've added more defination to the character's face, along with the lighting effects that you've put in, which really adds to it.

    Nice job. :)
  • doeseph
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    doeseph polycounter lvl 7
    I like the new one, it's an improvement over your other two illustrations. I do think having a more defined shoulder/neck/chest would help the character some, right now it's just cloudy black (something like the previous two is fine). That's not really too important though.

    I think on the whole they are solid illustrations, so keep at it. Study faces (I'm sure you do) and look for the subtle details that can define a face. Scars can help, but I honestly feel the most interesting character you've made so far is the second illustration in your first post, and he has no scars. He has a look of anger or frustration, staring off in thought trying to control his emotions.

    Keep at it.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    Got back on Monday from a trip to see some family for the extended weekend, and it took a bit to get back up to speed. That and this next one was a bit of a struggle-- I needed to take an extra day on it, and I think I've been painting too many caucasians as of late, so this next batch will be of a more multicultural variety. I want to get one more at least started tonight, and hopefully I'll be a little more productive this next couple of days.

    Also, I used some different brushes on this one, some with a little more tooth, and I didn't blend as much either, so I've got more definition but some of the transitions aren't quite as buttery soft. It lends it a different quality, so I'll have to sit on it a bit before hitting that point on the next piece.

    What do you guys think?

    heavyLOW.jpg
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    Once I noticed the error it became odd/messy and distracting to me. Awesome work on these so far, very dramatic and cool lighting.
  • Unleashed
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    Unleashed polycounter lvl 13
    i think one thing to note is that the games workshop illustrations have alot more midtone value to them, more like your first two images, the latest two are pushing the extreme ends of light and dark mostly. I really like the brush strokes of the latest but comparing to gamesworkshop it still feels 'different', but very cool regardless!
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    @ZacD-- what error are you referring to? Or are you talking about the different rendering technique on this one? Please clarify.

    @Unleashed-- Both good points. Either on this one or the next one i think I'll try with a set of digital watercolors to mimic the effect more accurately. Failing that though I'll just divert into a new style :)
  • ZacD
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    ZacD interpolator
    ear not error, they kinda sound the same, I dunno why I typed that :P
  • e_x
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    e_x polycounter lvl 13
  • cholden
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    cholden polycounter lvl 13
    e_x wrote: »
    Is that Brett Rogers?

    what that guy asked
  • BradMyers82
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    BradMyers82 greentooth
    The painting on these is simply awesome! Nice job. I have to say though, the things going around the neck on the second two seam out of place. It looks like you made a real portrait then added that in last minute to say "see now its a space guy". In other words, I don't like the sci-fi bit being an after thought. I feel like in the first two you were more subtle with the sci-fi clothing, and it made them much cooler because of it.

    I think on the next one you should show much more of the body (or suit) and really get creative with it. Nice Work!
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    It is indeed Brett Rogers. Personally I'm not a big MMA fan, but the fighters make for fantastic reference, and for some reason there's a ton of MMA related photography floating around out there. All Elbows is one of my favorite sites to use, as they post a lot of hi-res stuff [url=]http://allelbows.com/[/url]

    @BradMyers82-- thanks, and you're right about the 'space guy' bit. I had spent 95% of the time on the face, and when it was finished I just had a black silhouette for the shoulders, so I threw on the 'sci-fi collar'.

    I'm about to start the next one-- have to run some errands, but I'm going to try for a larger portrait.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    So, here's a sneak peak of the next piece. Normally I don't post WIPs for shorter projects like this, but I'd like to share something I just caught in the drawing.

    The combination of crude, childlike expression with a handlebar mustache really did it for me. Or maybe I've just been staring at a computer screen for far too long. Either way, I haven't been able to stop laughing since.

    soldiers1.jpg

    soldiers1b.jpg
  • r_fletch_r
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    r_fletch_r polycounter lvl 7
    that needs to be a lego head!
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    So, this one's still a long way off. I'm not sure if I want to stick with these facial expressions, but they'll do for now. In the mean time I need to give some love to the rest of the shot. Trouble is, I'm pretty good with faces, and I'm ok with clothes/armor when I have direct reference, but inventing clothing or armor is like pulling teeth for me. Which of course is why I need to work on it, but knowing that doesn't make the task any easier.

    Anyway, I'd like to hear what you guys think, and am glad for any tips/advice you might have.

    soldiers3b.jpg
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    New update. I'm getting the overall forms more resolved-- hands aren't white blobs anymore, or at least are better defined white blobs :) -- but I'm still not sure where I want to take this, particularly whether I should 'futurize' the portrait to differentiate it a little more.

    soldiers4.jpg

    In the mean time though, I've been hunting through reference of ruins to pick the right backdrop. Here's some of the images that have piqued my interest.

    backdrop12.jpg

    backdrop3.jpg
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    ...and back to this thread. There were other projects and things that took higher priority, but now I'm back to this one. For some reason doing these portraits has an almost therapeutic quality for me, so I think I'll be doing these off and on for a while.

    Anyway, here's my start on a new one. It's by no means done, I just figured it'd be fun to show what one of the portraits looks like 30 minutes in. I'm definitely going to finish the pair of soldiers, probably after this portrait or the next, so stay tuned!

    gunner2.jpg
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    aaaaaaaand mostly done. Or done. Depends on whether I want to go back and screw around with the shirt and cigarette again. This one was a joy to work on though, so I'll definitely do a couple more like this in the near future.

    Lotsa fun.

    gunner6%20copy.jpg
  • Rojo
    The bearded guy and the black guy are seriously badass. I'm no illustrator, so I can't offer critique, but I'm an admirer.

    What's up with this latest one? It doesn't come close to matching the caliber of your others.
  • Will Faucher
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    Will Faucher polycounter lvl 9
    Dude. That is amazing! Great work! What I love most is that your illustrations truly tell a story. I feel like I am looking at old WWII photographs! Now, I know this is 40k, but you get what I mean. I really get the feeling that those are photos taken during great wars. Phenomenal!
    Keep up the great work!
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    @Tim-- thanks for the comment and the honesty :D

    Ironically the latest one took about twice as long to do as any of the other pieces-- I've been giving the SAI painting program an extended test run and don't seem to quite have the hang of it (all the others were done with Painter IX). That and the other pieces are all very close to their original reference-- this latest one as an amalgam of different ref's and is essentially a unique face. Though apparently that comes at a price, at least for me right now :poly116:

    I'll try again tomorrow or the day after... that's the reason why this is a series and not just one or two portraits.


    @Prophecies-- thanks for the love man. The two things I'm trying to do here are improve my illustration skills and try to capture a unique identity/personality for each portrait, so you hit the nail on the head.
  • Steve Schulze
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    Steve Schulze polycounter lvl 14
    It does look kind of overworked. I think the freer, unrefined version has quite a bit more appeal.

    You're doing some good work here though. I'm digging the earlier images.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks Jackablade. I'm going to give it another go today after some warmups, hopefully this time keeping in mind what people have said.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Progress on the next one up, and I think this go-round is working a lot better. Part of that I think is due to a switch in programs; I'd been working with SAI for so long that I'd forgotten about how awesome Painter IX is. I'll still use SAI on occasion-- among its strengths are how well it can handle high resolution files-- but Painter is my baby and we take care of each other.

    This one is a little over an hour in, and I'm shooting to have it done after about 3. We'll see.

    assassin2.jpg
  • System
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    System admin
    Very nice, looks like you are producing quite a body of work :)
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks GCMP, that's the idea :)

    So now this one is done as well. I'm also happy with how the lighting turned out-- I went for the reverse setup of mustache astronaut man and I think they pair well together.

    This took more like 4 hours, but I'm happy with the result, and I think I might go back over the last one I did to give it a similar treatment. Right now there's a little too much disparity between how all the portraits have been painted.

    And I swear, I will get back to that 2 figure piece. Eventually..


    assassin4.jpg
  • disanski
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    disanski polycounter lvl 9
    Awesome work here Wake. When you are working on them do you have a reference with the correct lighting or you are just making it up? It looks like it would be very hard to do this without a good reference may be even for you :)
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks disanski, and you're right-- it would be difficult indeed for me :D

    I almost always have reference to work from, even if sometimes it's only a rough approximation of what I want (case in point, for this one I just had a picture of a really fat guy-- there's no actual resemblance between the piece and the ref). In fact I use a dual monitor setup almost exclusively for that purpose.

    In this particular case I used the singer Robyn as reference. The front profile is pretty close, but the lighting is my own. More and more I'm trying to divert from the reference so that the pieces can feel a little more original and so that you can't necessarily tell who it's from.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Helloo helloo. I'm still alive, apparently the bears weren't hungry when I was backpacking in Wyoming.

    Anyway, first order of the day was to fix the mohawk chick-- she had some serious issues with the rendering and you all called me on it, so I gave it another go.

    I'm very happy that I did.

    I may still tweak things a bit after I don't look at it for a few days-- also debating whether to stick with the clean shave on the scalp or add some stubble.

    Either way I'm just happy with how much mileage I've gotten with this thread; counting the redo and the soldier pair that I'm still working on (it's next in line for some love) there are 8 of these total, and I don't plan on stopping.

    I'm interested to hear what you guys think.

    gunner6B5.jpg
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Also, for my own benefit I made a GIF of the progress on this one-- may as well share:

    gunner6GIF.gif

    [edit] just realized this set is backwards... funny how that turns out.
  • Ack Master
    i have an inspiration folder :) this defiantly will go in it :)
  • shotgun
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    shotgun polycounter lvl 14
    I was hoping to see this thread getting a re-fill. Loved the earlier stuff.
    Ur refined work is suffering from unnecessary refinement, which is - I believe - due to a lack of coherent light-source. U dabble around aimlessly overworking existing shapes without revealing the form more, its just empty detail - and inconsistent at that. Make sure to only put what u need - where u need it. Don't add detail and stuff just for the sake of adding it 'cuz its cool'... try and keep those out and focus on what's relevant, keeping it fresh and real (yea that sounds very gangsta but srsly). The first couple of posts on this thread were totally it.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    @Ack Master-- cool man, thanks!

    @shotgun-- thanks for the crit, and you're right about the light source. Whenever I'm not working closely from reference, as was the case here, my lighting isn't nearly as strong. The very first piece I posted on this thread is still my favorite, so after all of the different approaches I've taken in this thread I'll probably be taking what I learned and going back to where I started.

    This has been a very fruitful thread regardless, and is one I'm going to keep posting on for a while to come.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    I can't believe it's been 4 months since i last posted on this one... Probably a good thing though, as I was working on other projects, and waiting has given a chance for stuff to sink in.

    Not a whole lot to put down for the first return post, just progress on a new mugshot. This one's about an hourish in; the mouth and chin are still a hot mess, but that'll have to wait for tomorrow. I realized that i mostly avoid drawing lantern-jawed fellas, and with good reason (don't want to get pigeonholed into only drawing superman stand-ins), but it's still fun to give it a go every once in a while.

    john2.jpg
  • shotgun
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    shotgun polycounter lvl 14
    sexah
    leave his eyeballs black with just a touch of spec... the devil superman!
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    it's been a long time since i've been back to this thread-- while I'm still going to do b&w high contrast portraits in the future, it'll be easier to keep this thread up to date with some more range. Right now I'm playing around with styles for massive armor sets, trying something more organic or animal. I love the concept of animal totems, so i'll keep incorporating that idea into these large armor pieces. I shouldn't been cleaner with this piece but was more focused on trying out the concept. Just have to do better the next time around.

    Anyway, here it is-- crits welcome as always

    doodle2clr.jpg
  • Jeremy Tabor
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    Jeremy Tabor polycounter lvl 9
    Yay! that last one just makes me smile

    For whatever reason, the first thing I thought when I saw detailing along the head-peice is that this guy let Shepard Fairey plaster a mural on his suit. which could be 8 levels of awesome :D

    I'm glad this thread is back up and running :thumbup:
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    Robat wrote: »
    Yay! that last one just makes me smile

    For whatever reason, the first thing I thought when I saw detailing along the head-peice is that this guy let Shepard Fairey plaster a mural on his suit. which could be 8 levels of awesome :D

    I'm glad this thread is back up and running :thumbup:


    holy shit dood, love that style, it's like an elegant Banksy!


    anyway,
    love the paintings man!
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    thanks guys-- this was always a fun thread to work on so I'm happy to be up and running on it again. This next one is on the same theme but I wanted to try a full body shot. Not done obviously so it'll have to wait until tomorrow to finish up, but I'm happy with it so far.

    rhino3.jpg
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    I think the idea with these animal pieces is to combine organic styling with heavy mechanical bits, and then overlay that tattooing and other specifically ornamental elements, like the masks in the back on the shark suit (though i didn't really render those ones out). My thoughts on these suits is that like medieval plate armor there's always going to be a certain bespoke quality; multiple people might possess rhino suits, but each suit would be unique just as each animal would be, and on top of that the wearer would adorn the 'skin' of the suit in various tattoos, sigils, and wards. I'm going to try and render these ideas out more thoroughly in this next piece.

    Speaking of which:

    rhino6.jpg
  • Vailias
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    Vailias polycounter lvl 14
    I missed your initial round at the 40k style, but I think I know what you're missing in the 40k flavor.
    All these portraits you've posted look bored or posed, or otherwise rather neutral.

    No one is wh40k is at peace. Even the armor scowls. :)
    Try adding gaunter features, or furrowed brows, or more squinty eyes and the tightness of the cheeks and face that goes with it.. Or heck, google "Scarface" and use Pacino for reference.
  • Massbot
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    Massbot polycounter lvl 10
    Ive missed your updates, I'm definitely a fan. Loving the rhino, he'd be fun to make :D

    Keep'em coming
  • BadgerBaiter
    Very nice work :D
    Just found my old copy of the Games Workshop book 'The Gothic and Eldritch'.

    [ame]http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gothic-Eldritch-Collected-Sketches-Goodwin/dp/1841541486[/ame]

    Have always loved their black and white imagery - their colour work is fantastic is well, however I feel that the black and white lets your mind wander a bit more and fill in the details :)
    Love the second reference pic you posted, I have to say.

    Also, I really like the second portrait you posted.

    Not really sure what style intrigues you the most, some of their work is a lot looser (second reference) however, some of their work is a lot more refined and polished. Personally I go for the looser work everytime ;)

    P.S. Love the dude in the Rhino suit ! :D
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks for all the comments guys
    @Vailias-- yeah 40k is chalk full of that grim dark grim darkness, though what i had in mind was using the same high contrast style to capture civil war style portraits. I've always found those almost painfully neutral expressions to be really interesting.
    @Massbot-- you're more than welcome to give it a go when I finish, it just might be a while before that happens :D
    @BadgerBaiter-- the looser stuff definitely seemed to jive more with everyone, so I may go back to that later. And thanks, I think I'll definitely do at least a few more suits.

    So after a long hiatus (traveling) I'm finally back to working on this piece. I've reworked it in a few places and have now started to just steadily clean up until I can start with the tattoos and coloring. We'll see how long it actually takes to finish...

    rhino7.jpg
  • Cooljay
    Wake, your artwork is coming along nicely. I like the great contrast to achieve realism.
  • wake
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    wake polycounter lvl 12
    cheers Cooljay.

    Here's the finished b&w render (finally)-- now I can finally get around to coloring the damn thing.

    rhinoBW.jpg
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