This week in Noah Bradley’s Art Camp we’re studying figures, gestures, and flesh tones, and one of the assignments is a long digitally painted color study of a full figure. I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to level up their digital painting skills, especially for professional illustration or concept art.
I chose to reference Jenni, from Art Models 7: Dynamic Figures for the Visual Arts. This book is full of amazing model reference photos in dynamic poses and comes with a CD in which every gesture is photographed from 360 degree angles. She posed with another model, Misha, as if slain by her, but I concentrated on just Jenni and painted Misha out. I included the reference photo below so that you can see not only how closely I matched it, but also the quality of the photographs on the CD. I highly recommend adding this book to your collection.
Tracing is not allowed in Noah’s class, and we’re only allowed to use photographs later in the program after practicing drawing from life. In this I referenced a photo, while I studied the relationships between the different shapes. It was fun to try drawing Jenni with her face upside-down – and this time I didn’t flip the canvas vertically to check my work – I wanted to practice painting people from different angles.
Sometimes I practice figure drawing and painting when the models are clothed so that I can study how they drape on the model and the different materials and textures people weare. But nude figure studies are also helpful for studying all of the musculature and what’s going on underneath the layers of cloth. So it’s a trade-off. This particular study is also preparation for an personal project I’ll be making later, based on a nightmare I had recently, for which I’ll need a nude reference.
Title: Study of Daenerys Targaryen
Size: 8.5″ x 11″
Notes: This is a study of Daenerys Targaryen I worked on from a still frame of the final scene of HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 1. In this scene rises from the funeral pier cradling three newly hatched dragons. I chose this to study this shot in order to practice my digital painting skills – particularly rendering form and texture – and because I hadn’t yet painted a dragon.
I started with a lineart sketch with the scratchboard pen, then rendered the forms with dull conte, worn oil pastel, and a touch of digital airbursh with generous blending – all in Corel Painter. Working in greyscale first helps me concentrate on getting the lighting and forms right before I introduce color. I took some small liberties with the design and adjusted the lighting slightly in order to make Daenerys and her dragon read better.
Title: Self Portrait
Size: 8.5″ x 14″
Notes: This piece was an exercise applying new techniques I recently learned for digital painting, in particular when applied to portraits. I thought it would be wise to try this out on a portrait of myself before applying it to a family member, friend, or client. In the end it was a wonderful opportunity to experiment with brushes I hadn’t used before and learn to create digital portraits more efficiently. I was also surprised by much of what I’ve learned from traditional oil painting worked for the digital medium – it really goes to show how interconnected the disciplines of art are!
I’ve also included the draft sketch as a before-and-after glimpse at my process. It also served as the first layer of the painting. Big thanks to my friends and fellow classmates, especially Ideation: AAU’s Production Art Community, for their excellent feedback to help kick this up a notch!
Q: So what are you offering today?
- Original Characters and creatures
- Landscapes and cityscapes both real from photo reference and imagined
- Book Covers
- Nudity you wouldn’t mind your mom seeing
- Your relatives and friends (not nude)
I work mainly in digital realistic and painterly styles, but upon request I can work in either comic book or animation styles.
Q: What’s that?
A: Full color head & shoulders of any character OR real life people if you have a good quality reference of front/side/3quarter.
Q: What do I need to provide?
A: Several good images of the character, plus a description of their personality, OR one good image of the real person and descriptions of their personality. If the subject is a real person, you’ll need the rights to the photo too (if you took the photo yourself, or have permission from the photographer).
Q: Then what happens?
A: I scurry away and sketch up an outline. I’ll show it to you and you can make your comments and I’ll tweak it. Once you’re happy with that, I’ll color and detail it in my painted style. I can’t accept revisions after it’s done, since portraits are quick and cheap. Unless, of course, it’s my own fault for getting something wrong that was clearly shown in the reference.
Q: What can I do with the image?
A: Print it, hang it up, stick it on your fridge, anything you like…just don’t make money off it or use it to create new artwork. If you post it online, I would also ask for credit when and where possible.
Q: What will you do with the image?
A: I’ll add it to my portfolio and use it for promoting my work.
Q: What else should I know?
A: I retain ownership of the final artwork and reserve the right to display it on my website, portfolios, and submit it to magazines or artbooks. It will however never be sold, used for profit, or licenced to another without your approval. You may use the image for non-profit purposes only unless agreed otherwise. Full licence agreement is available on request.
Q: I am totally cool with all that. How much?
A: Portraits……$50 US
Waist Up…….$70-$80 (Depending on costume and pose complexity)
Full body……$90-$100 (Depending on costume and pose complexity)
Scenes………$160+ (Depends on background detail, number of characters, size)$40 via Paypal.
If you want two characters in an image, double the price and subtract $10. For scenes, it’s generally $50 per extra character (eg. a three character scene would be $260).
Portraits, full bodies, and waist-ups come with simple backgrounds (ie colour gradients, textures, blurry detail) only. Adding a full background counts as a scene.
Q. Ok great, how do I hire you for a commission?
Contact Me first describing what you would like for your commission. Please provide a detailed description of the character (pose, appearance, costume, personality) and any visual references or inspiration. For commissions of real-life people, provide either one photo (I will reference it directly, guarantees likeness) or many quality photos from multiple angles (I will use them to figure out face shapes, results in unique image but may not be perfect likeness). I can then price your commission and you can return here to purchase it.
Commissions are first come, first served. Most artworks are completed within two weeks
I accept payments through Paypal only. 50% of payment is due upon approval of sketch (except for portraits, full payment is due upon approval of the sketch). Remainder must be paid before full-resolution 300dpi image is provided. Due to the fluctuating exchange rate all values are in US dollars.
To purchase your commission:
A year ago today, I was the lone research coordinator/assistant for a psychiatrist at Stanford University facing impending lay-off. I had feared economic instability my entire adult life and had thought that full-time work in the sciences and research would keep me securely employed; and here I was facing exactly what I had planned to avoid. I’d received formal notice that by the end of March I’d be grouped with the 10% of unemployed Americans.
Today, I am a new MFA candidate at the Academy of Art University School of Illustration with a primary focus on Concept Art for games. I’m happy I was laid off from research coordination!
It turned out that my lay-off was the beginning of a clusterwin, a simultaneous chain of positive events. At around the time I was informed of the life-expectancy of my job, the special edition of Mass Effect 2 arrived in the mail, complete with the art-book for the game’s pre-production. I had seen concept art before, even created some, but the illustration of the Illusive Man that made a profound impression on me:
The original title in the Mass Effect trilogy set a new standard for emotionally engaging digital actors. To push the quality bar even higher, the art team painstakingly developed sophisticated concepts and new technologies for the characters of Mass Effect 2. Personalities and back stories were woven into every detail of the designs, and several characters were born out of production paintings like this one of the Illusive Man. Capturing more than just his appearance, the painting portrays a moment that defines the spirit of the character.
– Mass Effect 2 Collectors’ Edition
This is it! I thought. This is what I want to do.
I realized that Concept Art is the synergy of everything I had done before and everything I wanted to do. It is my calling. I conferred with family in the entertainment business who then referred me to friends at Alligator Planet LLC who in turn gave me an invaluable start. I enlisted in art classes at the local community college and applied myself – earning a 4.0 GPA and building a portfolio over the course of the year. I received feedback and encouragement from my peers and instructors in school to make the leap. Joe Ragey, who taught me about storyboards and using Corel Painter to create digital art, gave me particularly valuable information about which art schools to apply for.
I investigated the schools, compared my options, conferred with admissions representatives at different schools, debated between shooting for a second BA or an MFA, assembled my [download id=”3″], held my breath, and clicked the button. It was December, and I’d submitted my application to join the Illustration School Graduate Program at the Academy of Art University in Spring 2011. A week later I heard from my admissions representative that the Director of the program had not only accepted me as a student, despite how I didn’t come from a formal background in the arts, but he also waived one of my required classes!
I can’t fully express the feeling I had at that moment, let alone the feeling I continue to have. Needless to say, I am beside myself with excitement for this opportunity, to immerse in artwork, and work towards my calling. It’s going to be very difficult and very challenging, and that’s exactly what I need from school. Here’s to a new year, and a new career!
Title: Cattelya Orchid in Digital Oils
Medium: Digital Oils in Corel Painter 11 & Intuos3 4x5Wacom Tablet
Size: 7″ x 7″
Notes: This orchid study was a personal project. I focused on painting from a reference photo with digital oils (RealBristles brush) and a tiny 5 pixel pallet knife. The head of the pink and yellow orchid flower is in focus, drawing the viewers attention, while the leaves curve in and out of focus to blend into the background.