Sunday, December 18, 2011

Are you ready for the ruff-neck bass?

Man it's been a while, eh? I started extrastilllife to force myself to do personal work on the side, and so far the only sketch that didn't have to do with Riot is this.

Not to worry. This is the beginning of a new era. I've got a ton of Riot work backed up and ready to show, some of which I'll be uploading on DA and cghub. Don't have too much written down these days, because most of it is short enough to fit in a tweet!

Anything you want is just a matter of time. Be patient and opportunities will present themselves.

Everyone loves to be sincerely flattered.

You know your own flaws, but you're afraid to admit them.

Stop yourself from ruminating. Recognize when you're having negative thoughts and get rid of them. The more you think the less you do.

Don't introduce new values into your painting unless you know that all the present ones are in the right place.

It should be more about shapes of value than strokes.

There are things that will fall in your lap, and there are things that you're too young for. Doesn't mean you won't get them ever. Be patient.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Massive Black Post-Mortem

I came back from the Massive Black Workshop San Francisco about two weeks ago, and at this point it would be offensive to put off writing about it any longer.

Met a ton of awesome artists, learned a lot, grew as an artist and a human being. Thank you everyone for sharing the experience with me.

 Instructors, first day

These notes are mostly for myself so that I don't forget. If you get something out of them, great!

The goal of a concept artist is to save producers' money. They should explore places and characters and visualize them. They create emotions and please people. Give choices.

Don't invest yourself into your work. It's a service for a client.

Be faster and you won't be attached to anything you draw.

Get proficient first, then express yourself.

We're not robots. If you develop the shape language in your head, create custom brushes for it so that you don't have to repeat the shapes by hand.

HRDI gradients give you mood, value range and establish your environment.

Go away from technical art, focus on your shapes and emotions.

Perspective should be second nature. So should form.

Inversion, symmetry, repetition, similarity: Ingredients of a good image.

Creation is taking two ideas and merging them.

Think about all the things your shape could possibly say ahead of time, so that you won't run into the problems with your art director.

You have to awaken inspiration. Do something you're afraid of. When working in a studio, trust one another. Share.

Hard edges give more weight and detail.

Build up colour one at a time. Remember when you have a grayscale image, and you put that first saturated green on, you know have two hues on your canvas, not one.

Leave definition for later. Get the idea across first. Make it read.

Have as many tools as you can to modify and refine elements in your image without changing the structure of the whole.

Don't keep all your eggs in one work basket (idea)

Be genuinely interested in the subject matter.

Work smarter, not harder.

Start with a framework.

Think about when to move up or move to the side when concepting. Side meaning iteration. Up meaning refinement.

Form harmony, detail distribution, readability and silhouette.

Amass a library of reference material.

Put in spaces, holes. Positive/negative space.

Fuzzy to sharp.

Angles of the drawing suggest character.

Matthias's Awesome Presentation, Final Piece

Cast shadows, reflected light etc. are actually all properties of the materials, not light.

A sphere made of tiny chrome spheres.

Z-depth value pass.

Start with a sky.

As you refine the piece change major colours/values that were in your thumbnail to get a fresh eye.

Paint patterns in a separate file, then paste it in.

Paint simple forms (like cubes) for clouds and foliage.

CBB = could be better. Get there asap.

Spend 40 hours on a piece without using 3D. You learn a lot more.

Use something everyone knows as a jumping off point for your concept. Then extrapolate.

The spectrum of iconic/fun vs. realistic.

Very few artists are nice, fast and good. Usually two of those will land you a job.

Make your design smart.

Don't be prejudiced against anything.

Don't have pre-conceived notions about the industry.

Colour dynamics --> hue jitter. Lock that shit.

Use bevel for a layer with chainmail shapes.

Don't go for a character because your execution was good. He/she needs to fit the story.

Always think ahead. Keep moving forward and don't attach yourself to anything you do.

Ultimately, check your gut feeling.

Keep the hierarchy of light sources at the back of your mind while painting.

Teamwork is biting the bullet.

You will never get every idea out of your head in the short span of life.

The more you do it, the more you are it.

Personal work is masturbation.

Do whatever the fuck you want.

Coro still hurts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Last Vegas Special

I wanna take my blog back to its roots for this one. I recently had the opportunity to join my family in a trip to Last Vegas, so I'm gonna sum up the things I learned and the things I saw the same way I did on my Eurotrip two years ago.

Everyone has something interesting to offer you, whether it's material benefit, insight, or experience so learn how to quickly establish a connection with them.

Breakfast buffet at the Wynn: every kind of your favorite food is here. You don't even want to beat the system by eating more than you paid for. You just want to try everything. A meal is measured in trips instead of courses. Two is the standard, the first being everything you can fit on one plate.

Better genes get you more money, but if you managed to get some without blonde hair and blue eyes, you're in luck. In clubs, money is the the thing most critical to success. Then genes. Doesn't matter how you move or what you say.

Rocks in the sun are all about interesting shadow patterns, and local colour in the lit side.

Nature has similar patterns and detail distribution at all scales. The thing that makes you aware of the scale is most often the curvature of the earth on the horizon.

Rocky environment never just have rocks. In the grand canyon, there's powdery sediment and plants.

Remember transitions. Water = more plants.

Nature always variates, so should you.

When doing environments, always add some sort of wildlife, unless you want it to be completely man-made and dead. Then add dust, wear and tear etc.

The analytical mind cannot be a performer. In order to act, one must turn off analysis.

Thank God some dudes are shy, otherwise women in clubs would always be swarmed.

It's gonna take me a flight or two back to LA to get used to calling it my home.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Damn I Need to Blog

I got a whole bunch of work backed up now, which means I'm going to start posting more frequently. Maybe I'll get some of my street cred back.

Find a process for isolating elements of reality that leaves the prettiest artifacts. As in, the areas that aren't finished should look finished as quickly as possible. Constant time pressure helps you get better faster, because you begin to get rid of inefficiencies and you prioritize visual information so that the important stuff goes in first.

It's all about the bear necessities. Don't ask how many strokes it will take you, but ask how few. How few colours/values will it take to render a human body? What's important for you? Form? Pigment variation? Gesture? There are many ways to portray reality and none of them are "realistic" so choose to focus on a combination of visual elements that fits your brain.

Analyze the structure of  what you're drawing. That way your drawings will instinctively have more power, and you will learn more about your subject.

In entertainment design you can't stray too far from the zeitgeist. Your audience has to know and get what you're drawing right away.

When taking crits, always say "yes, and ..." If you don't understand, ask why.

Always keep in mind what the most important element in your design/painting is. ALWAYS. Before making any stroke, ask what is the important element.  I can't stress this enough.

Gradients give you more information that flat colours, however it's a lot harder to manage them to describe form.

Concept artists are basically prostitutes. You are hired to draw things without getting attached to any of them. I will probably return to this parallel.

The tighter the gradient, the harder edges you can use on your brush.

I repeat myself a lot, but that's only because these things are important. The easiest way to resist temptation is to give yourself no choice.

Life drawings from last night. 10s, 15, and 20s.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Math of Design

Didn't get into the Marquee club because I didn't bring a dress shirt to vegas, so decided to blog instead. Fuck that shit anyway, the wait was getting up to an hour.

Yet another tutorial that I will need to do. For now, just analyze the wikipedia page for the Golden Ratio. If you want to learn the rules of design fast, make your distribution of detail, value, saturation and colour should adhere to the golden ratio. Essentially, if the information in your image were to be measured in bytes, as your eye travels around the picture the flow of information should increase and decrease according to the fibonacci sequence. At least at first.

Do what you love, but be careful. If a bunch of other people love doing it too, you'll need to work harder than them to succeed.

If you're not starving, share your food.

Break down value the same way you break down shape. Put down the big value changes, then take it down to less significant ones.

Use each brush stroke as a piece of clay that you add or chisel away to sculpt your form.

As you increase the values of your sliders, remember that your distance between them needs to increase too, because you have a lot more of a range of saturation.

When working in colour, you need to think 2-3 steps ahead, because it is relative.

Money gives you access to things that are desired by people.

By the time success or acclaim reaches a person or a group of people, they have already changed, for better or for worse. Those zen people had some good ideas, man.

If you think you're ahead on a project, you will almost certainly fall behind.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I wanna get back to the age when I updated my blog so often that I ran out of titles. Unfortunately since then I've both slowed down in work I can show and expanded my title repertoire.

Because the game industry is so competitive, you have to be a genuinely good and nice person to get in. As a result, once you are in, you're surrounded by the brightest, nicest and quirkiest people you'll ever meet. I noticed when I moved to Riot that overall people seemed nicer, friendlier and smarter than most of the people I've met up to that point.

I already mentioned this on twitter, but it's very important so I'll reiterate: If you don't know what's wrong with your picture/design, use the process of elimination. Paint out every element, one by one, and eventually you'll know what doesn't belong. Picked that up from Maokai Xiao. The hard part is trying to figure out something to replace it.

Interrupt yourself frequently when not doing art. Do not interrupt yourself when doing it.

Separate silhouette from content.

The first difficulty with designing is making cool shapes. The next difficult is making them for a reason. You have to find a way to make shapes cool AND relate to the character/environment.

Here's my process for warming up. Hope it helps:
1. Draw randomly, let your pencil fly and don't even think about what it is. Just explore new things and try to make them look good.
2. Try to make cool shapes. Modify your lines, combine things and make a conscious effort to make things look cool.
3. Design. Draw things in perspective, and know what you're drawing.

There's two ways to expand your shape vocabulary: conscious and unconscious. Unconscious means trying to extract shapes you've seen before by letting your pencil go and seeing what comes out. Conscious means going out and drawing new things! Go on the internet, do a still life, etc. You internalize it for later use.

Since design is all about ratios, any design can be fixed. Usually it's pretty easy to do that by slightly adjusting scales of things and their positions.

Compartmentalize your knowledge. Break it down into small chunks that make sense. Then post them on a blog :D.

To get good at interesting shapes, switch between looking at positive and negative space.

Start out with a simple 3-dimensional primitive, then put your designs on it. Or draw perspective lines. But that usually makes my drawings stiff.

Rely on feeling. After a while you just can't measure certain things and you have to rely on the "feeling" of your drawing in order to make it look correct. Focus on relationships between the main shapes, feel the weight of the object.

Just after you've made a breakthrough, forget that you di. You still need to internalize the information before you can apply it reliably.

Exaggerate your shapes when you design. You can't draw a tank with two strokes, but you need to be able to, in order to generate ideas faster. Thumbnailing is stream of consciousness splurging on the page. Don't let the act of drawing slow it down. Concept/ideas is what's important.

Good design is symbolism. Put shapes of things you want to allude to into your design. Example: you're designing an owl monster. What kind of feeling would putting a horseshoe on him evoke?

Take a bunch of things you've seen before that caused you to have an emotional response and them together in an appealing way.

You can use colour for symbolism as well.

Three important things any design:
1. Distribution of detail
2. Flow
3. Emphasis.

We are subconsciously attributing meaning to certain shapes all our lives (any design that looks skeletal, for example, will seem frail, cold, deathly etc.) Our job as concept artists is to take advantage of that and invoke the right combination of feelings for a cohesive character/environment.

Get your point across as quickly as possible. Make it look compelling with the least amount of detail.

Shape language is as much in the details as the big defining shapes.

It's important to define the theme in your thumbnails. Prototypes for designs should have a similar shape language. e.g. Sharp vs. curved. Often times you only need to design the primary focal point, then it informs the rest of your design. Once you go deep enough into one direction, you'll find everything you need to make a compelling character.

Do not confuse motif with interest. Your thumbnails should have both.

Lock on to your gut feeling. Somewhere inside you know what's wrong with your picture, but your brain keeps covering it up because it doesn't want to fix it.

A fresh set of eyes is infinitely useful for an artist, because I've found that the more time you spend solving a problem, more likely your brain is to say "ok that's good enough, there's no problem there anymore, it's not important." Another person will tell you right away that you haven't solved it, and that is important.

There are two ways to approach design. What looks real and what looks good. Your job is to merge the two. Translate a well-executed two-dimentional contour drawing into a 3-dimentional shape and you will win.

Design saturation and hue in addition to shape!

"Each line in your design tells a story" - Eduardo Gonzalez.


Friday, September 9, 2011

You Are My Cinema

Dunno man, twilight is a pretty good movie to watch. It sorta takes you back to those good old high school times, when life was a lot simpler. Instead of your friends, it's really really attractive people having the same problems you had, with a twist. In the end, it just makes you feel good about yourself because you realize how much of a better person you've become since then, albeit you look different. Maybe it's more compelling for me right now because I'm currently coping with being a grown-up.

Never forget the importance of the colour you're mixing on top of, and it's temperature. The key to raising values in colour-harmonious style is establishing proper jumping off points.

When picking colours, max out your RGB slider values. You'll always be safe. You can tone down saturation/value with your brush opacity. It's the only way of mixing in photoshop without losing saturation, plus you make sure that your colour stays in key (I set my brush sensitivity to very low, so it's very hard for me to fully apply any colour I pick. As a consiquence, most colours I apply will have some of the under colour in them, which will them harmonize with it).

The more steps a task involves, the less likely you are to do it right now. Often the number of steps/time commitment of any given task takes priority over its importance, which is why we the young tend to get lost in the internet for hours at a time. Tabs is the worst invention. So, don't rack the disciprine: Have your sketchbook, pencil, eraser and sharpener out and open at all times. Have music playing if you need it to draw. Get rid of as many obstacles as you can, because you're only a split second away from deviantart.

Sorry 'bout the colours. Will try harder to calibrate.

So as you can see, for a long time i've been experimenting with using mostly a soft airbrush to start out my studies and only coming in with the hard round at the end. You don't commit to a drawing right away, you leave soft edges in areas out of focus and it looks very realistic/painterly. Then, after I started doing concepts, I realized that you can establish values and planes much quicker with the hard round, albeit it's harder to give the object polish and take it all the way to realism. The style of our game sort of forced me to commit to hard edges everywhere, because that's how textures work in 3D. (Though imagine if you could have soft edges in the same way your eye works!!!)

TLDR, a combination of the two is what I decided to pursue. You start off with the soft airbrush and lay in your values and colours, then search for the hardest edges that define your image and put them in with a hard round. Rinse, repeat: Establish the general values/colours with airbrush, tighten with hard round or texture brush.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scary Monsters

Focus has become somewhat of a luxury in the internet age.

Retweet: Somewhere inside you, your imagination is conjuring up visions more elaborate, more beautiful than anything you have ever seen in your life. It's up to you to learn to harvest these images and reproduce them as authentically as you can learn to do in a lifetime.

I'm almost done moving to LA. Once I get my chair and my desk, I will have run out of excuses not to focus on my art. So many good things happening, though, it is distracting. Randomly got to meet Anthony Jones. Dude is really chill and super smart. You really should go to his page now. Don't read the rest of this.

When trying to calculate the shift of a coloured surface under a different-coloured light, decrease the saturation of the colour you're putting down (the one in the different light) and make sure that the new colour stays in the correct relative hue. Eg. Red surface under a green light: decrease the saturation of the red, and shift the hue into something cooler. Play until looks right. Also, i believe the value of a red surface under green light will be darker than the one under white light. Correct me if I'm wrong.

So..  when you have an area of high saturation on your canvas, desaturating your brush stroke and shifting the hue slightly goes a long way to introducing new colours into the area. I need to do a tutorial about this. Right now these are just notes for myself from the future. There is a tut on form coming next weekend, though. Watch out.

You can either mix colours by trying to get as close to your desired colour as you can, or by using wildly outrageous saturated combinations of colours. Which one do you think yields in more happy accidents?

The easiest opportunity to introduce wild colours into your pictures is in hard edges and fresnel reflections.

It's harder to get grays to look correct together, because the more desaturated a colour is, the more precise you need to be with your RGB slider ratios to get the right hues.

Design isn't about the shapes as much as the relationships between them.

Painting environments isn't about which brushes you use, but how you choose to blend your shapes and how you make them interesting.

Close your eyes and try to visualize it if you can't get it right.

Make everything in your picture cool to look at, but make the focus more prominent.

Find interesting flows in the outline of your design.

If you aren't absolutely certain that your drawing kicks ass, you should make it better, because it likely won't impress anyone else.

Sometimes you have to let yourself do what you want. Satisfy your curiosity for things other than art before you end up watching ponies for two hours instead of reading about space travel.

These are from two weeks ago. Went to life drawing with f'ing Katie DeSousa! Was probably too self conscious so the drawings are meh. Go to her page now. Last chance.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Shiver Me Twitters

Don't forget!

Man.. No life drawing for way too long. Finally found a place to live. So even better things will begin very soon.

Mixing your strokes in Multiply and Colour Dodge modes give you completely different colour curves, so USE THEM.

If you want to get faster, do the best job you can, and take a long time on each piece. Speed comes from knowledge.

If you can help it, adjust your brush pressure to make the application of value resemble the application of actual light. Usually this involves softening the tip feel, because the value of your surface will be proportional to the cosine of the angle the light is hitting it at. see this. Roughly if the plane being hit by light perpendicularly is at value 10 (and the shadow is at value 0), at light angle of 60º relative to the surface plane the value will be around 8.6, at 45º it will be 7, at 30º it will be 5, at 15º it will be 2.6 and at 0º it will be 0.

Never settle for your first pass at a drawing or a concept, but it will always have some crucial elements that you have to catch and take with you into your next iterations.

Use pure black sparsely. Create atmosphere with almost black instead.

Have a lot of interesting things along the line of sight of your characters. Viewers' eye will always follow it.

Use the Histogram to check your values and make sure your picture is coming out in the key you intended.

When taking feedback, try to interpret what the person is saying and where they're coming from, instead of taking what they say at face value. Try your best to understand why you're getting such a response and what it really means, because words are never enough to communicate visual ideas. More often than not, the critique is hitting some crucial truth, but it's up to you to discover what that is.

Design and visual language mean completely new things to me now. The best designs use symbolic shapes and allude to various objects we see daily in order to elicit an emotional response, much like metaphors in writing. Except design is more like music, since the language of shapes is about as abstract as the language of notes (though much more complex).

You will always have a tougher time making things read in shadow, so make sure that in your compositions important shape-defining edges aren't in shadow. Makes sense, right?

To get unexpected colour schemes, you can't rely on your own knowledge of colour. So experiment with as many tricks as you can. Or do tons of weird colour studies.

Always know which hue you're going towards and max out saturation and value when laying down your painting fundament. You want as many hues and as much contrast as you can manage. You can always tone it all down later by colour picking and mixing edges.

MIX GOD-DAMN COMPLEMENTS, BATMAN! And saturate the shit out of them while you're at it.

Actually, mixing in small bits of complements makes your colours sparkle much more than picking the "right" colours. This is because your eyes are mixing the colour instead of photoshop.

Take colours that aren't working and shift them towards colours that are already on the canvas. As in, take a pink skin tone and put it on a green leather belt that's looking muddy. It will work, trust me.

You can extend your colour range by adding little accents of random saturated hues here and there, but ratios of all the hues in your colour gamut must be preserved.

Every colours fits! Because they all get mixed in the eyes anyway. Try to extract bright saturated tints from your boring paintings so that the eye could mix them and make your picture look more realistic.

Have as many hues on your canvas as you can! Push shit all the way around the colour wheel! You just need to blend them at the right spots.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

League of Vegans

Finally started doing morning warmups. Saw this cool thing on one of the designers' desks. I'm trying to figure out a new way of doing studies without just airbrushing the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, soft edges are good and all, but you can put down way more information with hard-edged brushes. Also, this will actually get me to practice drawing and measure while I study.

A neat little trick for checking values: Put a saturate layer over your image and fill it with black. When you turn it on, your image will become grayscale. Thanks Maokai!

Today I really learned the value of iteration. If you can spare the time, draw the same character/object/environment least 3 times (same pose/angle and everything) before moving to final. You learn so many things about your object as you draw it repeatedly that your final composition and design just become that much better.

For those not in the know, I finally joined twitter.. It's okay, I have some things I have to share with the world, not just what I ate for lunch.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Will Not Disappear

Unlike most other artists who get full time gigs and drop off the face of the earth, I'm gonna keep sharing my thoughts, studies and personal work with you here. The reason I haven't been is because I still don't have a place to live, which puts a hard cap on how much work I can do outside of Riot. It's been emotionally tasking not to be able to pursue your goals for a month, so I'm a little shaken up. Now it's time to review all the things I've written in my journal from a month and a half ago.

You are always right. Any decision you have made in the past was the choice that you needed to make. Even if it seemed like a mistake, it was the best thing that could have happened.

Trying to change your habits as a test of willpower is immature and rarely works. You need to internalize a shift in priorities in order to succeed at that.

Becoming an adult happens in 3 steps:
1. Learn who you are.
2. There will be things you won't like (or you have to re-do step 1), so change them
3. There will be things you can't change, so learn to love them. It is illogical to hate yourself for things you can't change. Your past mistakes count.

Los Angeles is deceptively spacious. There is actually very little space, because people are always moving. You always have to wait your turn to enjoy things. I guess it's the same in New York, but there you just expect everything to be crowded.

Here is how karma works: you put in the time, and you get rewarded. Fair? Yes. Why does it work? Because everyone else gave up before you. Certain kinds of risks often pay off, because very few people take them.

It doesn't matter how you apply brush strokes as long as you put the right value in the right place.

We spend so long hiding our true intentions that all you have to do to make a connection with another human being is to reveal them.

It's infinitely harder to make compelling and precise brush strokes on the computer, so do them in three steps: put the marks down on a separate layer, then adjust them, then merge down.

You can save a lot of time by plotting down your hard edges first, because they're the most important.

By trying too hard you make it harder for yourself to succeed. You start thinking about the effort rather than the thing you're doing. Or maybe that's just me.

Picking the base tone is more important than subsequent colours, because it heavily affects how your colour mixing curves will look. Make sure you have enough saturation!

Oddly enough, growing up is about relaxing more than proving or achieving anything.

Commit to lines right away. Without committing, you can't design.

You can change skintone by changing the colour of the clothes.

You learn how to react to things from the people around you. And other people learn from you what kind of behavior you approve of or not. Pick the right reactions and approve of the right kind of behavior.

The more you think about something, the bigger it becomes. Be careful of this power.

Your subconscious limits you. Negative thoughts limit your subconscious. DON'T HAVE THEM.

I was told I'd have a hard time working after work. But in actuality, I need to work on my own stuff to stay sane.

Don't use straight lines with shift-click. Do them with your own hand - put personality into them.

Successful people are not the ones who take action when something is wrong, but the ones who keep achieving when everything is great.

Doesn't matter what you do, it's all about how you do it.

If you have time or brainpower to think about how well you're doing your task, you're not doing it well enough.

When you are presenting a bunch of your designs, pick the worst one and work on it until it is awesome, (or start it over) then rinse and repeat until you can't tell which one is the worst.

Design is changing the patterns of elements in a picture to draw attention to certain points in it. The cleverness and simplicity of distribution of the viewers' attention is what makes the design appealing.

Anticipation is more interesting than the climax. IMHO.

Figure out what else will be in the illustration besides the focus. You gotta have room for your eye to travel, not just points of interest everywhere.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How I Broke into Concept Art

Sorry I've been away, everyone. Things are getting progressively busier and busier, but it's all good because I'm happily employed at Riot Games as an associate concept artist! I'm living with my friend in fumy downtown Los Angeles trying to find a place to live in sunny Santa Monica, where my beloved studio is.

Consider this a rough step-by-step tutorial of how to break into the industry based on my experience, the mistakes I made and the things I learned along the way - while they are fresh in my mind. Anyone listening to my story should know that since it already happened, by repeating the same process you won't be able to get the same results. You will need to work harder, because I just took your spot.

Now, the big dogs out there will have much more information about the industry, how it works and what they like to see. I'm simply attempting to sum up how I would approach it if I had 5 years to do it over.

Step 1:

Don't go to college. I make less in a year than my tuition was for one semester, which is enough to live decently in Santa Monica, one of the most desirable areas in Los Angeles. While the place I got educated was a lot of fun, a fulfilling life experience, and got me a piece of paper that helped me get the job and stay in the States (I'm Canadian), it didn't do me much good as far as furthering my drawing skills. In fact, it took away time that I could have spent getting better.

Step 2:

Move in with an ambitious art buddy. It is very hard to motivate yourself when you are living on your own, or with your parents. It is even harder when all your roommates want to do is kick back and have fun. If you're serious about drawing for a living, you don't have time for fun right now. Get rid of friends, girlfriends, family, drugs, video games and whatever other distractions may stand in your way. Your ambitious art buddy will satisfy all your social needs and motivate you. Get someone around your skill level, where neither of you may feel superior to the other, so you will both take each others' criticism.
I lived with Neolight  from last September to May. He is now going through an art internship at Insomniac Games.

Step 3:

Use the money you saved from not going to college to sustain yourself. Join a gym. Eat healthy. Sleep well. I can't emphasize this enough. If you don't exercise every day, you raise the risk of getting carpal tunnel or other RSI's. Alternatively, if you don't run into physical problems from drawing, you're not drawing enough. When you run into wrist/back problems, you'll need to carefully analyze your posture and drawing methods. Leading a healthy lifestyle outside of drawing will help you, but you'll also need to take frequent stretch breaks, have an ergonomic set-up for drawing, and do anything you can to adjust the physical act of drawing so that you don't get put out of commission by RSI. When I go to life drawing, I don't do bold strokes that carve the form out of the page anymore, because I only have about 400 of those in me before my thumb begins to hurt. Instead I draw lightly, bringing the form out with gentle strokes that I can do all day.

Step 4:

Communicate with other artists. You're not going to learn enough about the industry or about art from the internet alone. Reach out to as many people as you can and try your best to soak up everything they tell you. E-mailing people and going to conventions has countless benefits. It raises the industry's awareness of you, it gets you super inspired, builds up your social network (which increases opportunities), gets you tons of new information - anecdotes like this one, critiques on your work, etc etc. Face time with other artists is key. It puts you in the right mindset and reminds you that you're not alone on this journey.

Note: The only way you can increase the chances of people responding to your e-mails is by being yourself and being honest. If they still don't respond, then they're either way too busy to read them, or you shouldn't hear their feedback anyway.

Step 5:

Have something that separates you from hundreds of other kids at your skill level or better, trying to get your job . Concept artists are a dime a dozen. Even if you're not at a skill level comparable to the big stars of the industry, being able to do one thing exceptionally well will really increase your chances of getting hired (especially if that thing is in demand). This could be a tangible skill, a style that you have developed, subject matter you specialize in, or just a je-ne-sais-quoi about your work that makes other people remember it. I am good at turnarounds.

Step 6:

Get lucky. I did a turnaround to cover my bases, and 6 months later I happened to show it to Riot at precisely the right time when they needed someone with this skill. At this point, Riot's sky-rocketing reputation has turned the heads of badasses way beyond my level and I highly doubt I'd be able to get in if I were to apply now. Be at the right place at the right time, and seize any opportunity that comes your way. I had no idea how awesome Riot was when I was showing my portfolio to them. They were just across the way from the Blizzard booth at GDC.

Step 7:

Have a loftier goal that getting a job in the industry. It's a good place to start, but once you do achieve it, you'll need a new place to get to. Only recently did I understand that the journey is more fun than the destination, so I have to come up with a new goal fast, because I've trained my mind to focus on the task at hand and give it my all. At the moment, my brain is very confused as to what to focus on, and you don't want that to happen.

I'm attaching some life drawing for good measure. I haven't done it in a while, but I was sitting behind a dude who was just so good, that I had a really easy time simplifying the figure after looking at his drawings. 2-25's.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Developments

Almost there, gotta stay on target. I'm gonna switch to Loomis studies from now on. If I decide to do them digitally, you'll be seeing them.

Every final stroke you leave on the canvas should be hand-mixed, not picked from the canvas.

You have to observe the hierarchy between the most important colours/values when doing a study. Put the most important ones down first.

If you mix the wrong value of a colour and you need to "transpose" it higher or lower, don't forget to adjust the saturation accordingly. It rarely stays the same when you make a colour lighter or darker.

When you can't quite mix the right colour, make a light stroke erring on one side of that colour, then make another light stroke erring on the other side. As in, if the colour you pick first is too blue, move the slider a tiny bit towards yellow, and make another light stroke. Mix on the canvas.

When you're nervous, you try to prevent your brain from analyzing yourself into oblivion. You talk fast, make a lot of random movements, eyes dart around, breathe quickly etc. So the way to not be nervous is to stop the analysis. Somehow. That's hard.

As artists get bigger, more and more people compete for getting in touch with them. How do you win?
- Start early
- Have something to offer
- Never think that you're beneath somebody, but be humble instead.

Always find a positive justification for what you're doing, even if it's not entirely true. Then make it true. If you can't do that, then don't do it.

Let it be. Do your own thing. Be tolerant and respectful of others, even if you can't find anything to respect them for.

Only after you have experienced the horror of the worst case scenario are you able to judge things rationally.

If there is enough information, reasoning will be productive. Otherwise it will be emotional and negative.

Assuming your aim is to get better, every time you give yourself to something and it looks like crap, you have done the right thing. The trouble is, if your work looks like crap all the time, you don't want to do it at all. But you have to keep going.

Everyone is too busy playing their own game to notice how you're playing yours.

When blocking in, don't try to put down exactly the colour you see from the start. Put down the jumping off colour, i.e. what you're gonna mix all the hues and variations from.