Nov 7, 2014

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad Cyborg

       Well, so much for weekly updates.  After a long trip during the Summer, I just sort of stopped keeping up.  Let's see if I can't at least keep updating weekly for the rest of the year.

      During the last couple weeks, I've been working on a character who I've largely neglected in the past, Gray--an antagonistic counterpart to Reina.  I've needed for several years now to figure out the look of Gray's armor (an by extension, the armor worn by the other KAIROS soldiers).  The following sketch was done based on a series of prior sketches which were so rough as to not warrant posting:

      That sketch did a decent job of capturing the feel that I wanted.  I particular, I'm pleased with the forearm and shin armor.  The rest of it makes for a starting point, if nothing else.

      I decided that it would look pretty interesting if the armor had a jaw-component separate from the rest of the helmet.  While I'm not entirely satisfied with the light-shadow rendering of Gray's face here, I think it still manages to capture some aspect of his character.

      This one is a more developed pen and marker sketch (with digital color) expanding off of the earlier pencil sketch.  It's getting closer to what I want.  I also tried to work out what kind of helmet might attach to that jaw section.

      While discussing the previous sketch, a friend suggested that Gray's swords might have super-heated edges, so I went ahead with that in this action pose.  I also tried to better define the shape of the helmet.  I think it might look similar to the head of the Bladewolf from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but I'll have to go back and compare those directly to make certain.

      That charging sketch of Gray inspired me to attempt a corresponding action sketch of Reina in-armor.  I also took the opportunity to start working on Reina's own head-covering.  The basic concept is that the covering is made of flexible/semi-flexible materials similar to the bodysuit.  The fin-like optics system attached to front of the covering can be folded in the middle for more compact stowage.

      Lastly, another study of Reina.  I've been meaning to do a sketch like this for quite a while, showing "where she ends and her prosthetics begin," as one friend described it.

I'm hoping to get back on schedule with the blog, so expect more next Friday!

(Also, I think it's about time I worked up a new background for the blog.)

Jun 27, 2014

Some More Refined Sketches

      My postings lately have been more intermittent that I would like, but then so has been my ability to do personal artwork.  As such, I've only got a couple of sketches this time around, though they are more refined than many of the past works I've posted here.

      The above sketches are largely the result of finding a fluorescent pink highlighter in my desk, and wanting to put it to use.  I'm no stranger to designing feminine mecha, but this is far more "conventionally feminine" then what I'm used to doing.  This got me thinking: wouldn't it be cool if Cartoon Network or a similar channel got someone like Genndy Tartakovsky to create a mecha show aimed at girls?

      This second sketch is the result of having played through Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  Who could've guessed that a game about a gray-armored cyborg ninja would inspire me to get back to work on my own gray-armored cyborg ninja?  At any rate, the game's given me a lot of brain-food to mull over, artistically and conceptually.


Jun 6, 2014

Settling Back Into Productivity

      It seems I keep missing posts here on the blog, in no small part thanks to my continued enjoyment of Digital Extremes' Warframe.  In light of that, I've done a few pieces of work based on the game.

      The first is a response to the "Suspicious Shipments" event, which occurred last weekend.  To give a bit of context for those unfamiliar with Warframe, the items being held (or dropped, as it were) by my Ember frame are rare items which were awarded with remarkable frequency during the event.

      Related to that, I really do love my Ember frame.  I've been playing as the more ornate Ember Prime recently, but I find that I ultimately prefer the less fancy look of the standard Ember.  In my own color scheme, of course.  As a reference artist, I usually don't do action poses, but I'm happy with how this one turned out.  I'm debating whether or not to further refine/ink the original lines and do a somewhat more developed version of this:

      Additionally, I've continued the long tradition among Warframe fans by doing a quick reference for how the "Vasto" revolver sidearm might look as a Prime weapon.  The original Vasto can be seen on the wiki for reference.

      Beyond that, and in completely predictable fashion, I'm still doing work on Novus Imperium.  First up is yet another iteration of Reina:

      Perhaps more interesting is that I've finally started doing work on figuring out the engineering of Reina's prosthetic limbs.  None of the below sketches show the prosthetics with their outer casing; this is all internal stuff.  You might need to click for a larger resolution to get all the little details.

1-  The anchor-points for her prosthetics are synthetically grown bone-like components which have been grafted to her truncated humerus' (in the case of her arms) and femurs (in the case of her legs).  The core frame components of her arms are articulated by ball-and-socket joints.  In addition to standard rotation, this allows the forearms to twist in a manner similar to natural arms.

2-  This simply demonstrates the series of myomer bundles layered over the frame which mimic not only the function, but also the positions, of organic muscles.

3-  The core of Reina's lower legs consists of three interleaved components, and her lower legs have a more pronounced curve compared to natural human legs.  The interleaved frame segments allow for a slight degree of flexibility in the "shin" area.  This combined with the exaggerated curve of the shins allows Reina to both absorb and exert a tremendous amount of force through her legs.

4-  The core of each knee joint contains a compact ultra-high-torque servomotor.  These motors are only employed when prolonged and extreme physical exertion is required.  In all other circumstances, the myomer bundle network is more than sufficient to articulate her legs.

      And lastly, I've finally gotten back to doing a bit of work on other NI characters who I've been neglecting, such as freelancer and mercenary Trent Valimund:

       More on him in the future.


May 16, 2014

Warframe Week

      I haven't really done much artwork this week.  I've decided to kick off my break from school by playing quite a lot of Digital Extremes' Warframe.  I think I mentioned this in last week's post, but I think it warrants repeating: the game has exceptional art direction.

      It's rare for me to do fanart, but here's a quick sketch of my Ember Warframe:

      Besides that, I've done a bit of sketching for a fantasy themed character I've had in the works for some years.  It's been a while since I posted any artwork of her online, and her design has undergone some pretty significant changes.  I'm pretty sure that this: [link] is the most recent posted image of her prior to the one below.

      That's all I've got for this week.  I'll probably be dialing back my Warframe playing in the upcoming week, so expect more artwork in future posts this summer.


May 9, 2014

Where Did April Go?

      As far as online postings go, I pretty much missed the entire month of April.  That's not to say that I haven't been doing artwork.  I've simply been swamped with both wrapping up the school semester, as well as having discovered Digital Extremes' Warframe.  The game has incredibly good art direction, and has been quite inspirational.  It prompted me to try my hand at doing some designs based on Warframe:

      There's a fourth Warframe design that I've done some work with, but it's a collaboration and as such I'm not at liberty to toss that artwork up on the blog.  Not yet, anyway.

      As usual, I've still been working on designs for Novus Imperium.  These sketches are long overdue, though I'd rather not spoil the details regarding what exactly they are / how they fit into the universe.  The general idea, aesthetically speaking, was to attempt to create starship designs that are smooth and flowing, but also oriented along 90-degree angles.

      Beyond that, I've naturally still been working on the design of Reina's character.  I think I'm getting extremely close to nailing down the design of her armor.  Below are a series of small ink sketches testing out some poses (the middle sketch has had color applied digitally):

      This next one is just trying to figure out some of the less visible aspects of her design.  It's been long established that Reina's civilian gear includes a layer of body armor underneath her clothing, but I'd never devoted much effort to figure out what it looks like.  This is a start, at any rate:

      This last one is something that's taken far too long.  I've drawn many, many iterations of Reina's armor over the last couple of months, but this is the first version that I've been really happy with:

      I've really not got more to say about that one.  I'm just glad to finally have a design for the armor that I'm pretty much satisfied with.  I'm hoping that I'll burn out on Reina's design soon, so I can move on to some of the many other characters whose designs need my attention.  School's just about wrapped up, so I'm looking forward to getting back to both my own work and commission work over the summer.


Apr 4, 2014

Back in the Swing of Things

      This week I've revisited a couple of alien species in Novus Imperium that haven't been getting enough attention.  This first sketch is just me trying to get a feel for the Reos.  They've been around since the early days of NI, but they've received by far the least attention in terms of development art.

      The Reos have always been somewhat crustacean in appearance, and I've tried to make that more apparent in this sketch than I had previously.  I'm not quite sold on the arms and legs, but I'm very happy with how the head and torso turned out.  I've drawn inspiration from crabs, lobsters and the wonderful giant isopod.  Previous versions of the Reos have had small sub-limbs folded against their torso.  I seem to have forgotten that in doing this sketch.

      This second one has been mentioned on the blog before.  The Corrupted have received more attention than the Reos, but I've still not quite got their look figured out.  As the overall shaping goes, I'm actually fairly pleased with this design.  I am, however, really iffy regarding the color scheme.  In sci-fi, it seems like the color purple has sort of become shorthand for "alien."  I've been playing around with other color schemes, but as yet I've not found a satisfactory alternative.

      And lastly, still more sketching with Reina.  Here I'm testing out a somewhat simpler / cleaner style than how I usually sketch.  I've also been working to clean up the design of her prosthetic arms, particularly the backs of the arms, and how they connect at the biceps and triceps.  I've also been researching anatomy texts to better understand the human musculoskeletal system, and by extension how prosthetics might integrate with it.

      This week's been far more productive art-wise than the last couple.  It's nice to be getting back into the swing of things.


Mar 28, 2014

The Giant Robot Groove

      Recently, I've been trying to get back into mecha design.  It's been a couple years since I last was working on mecha designs on a regular basis.

      One way I've been getting a feel for mecha is in sketching out some designs for a Gundam alternate universe with the fighting set on Mars.  The mecha I posted last week was a tentative design for the same Mars Gundam idea.

      The head on this fist one is just a placeholder.  I'm still working on the actual head design, but I still haven't gotten it quite where I want it.  With these Mars designs, I'm going for a very geometric aesthetic.  The proportions here are a little wonky.  It needs refinement.

      This one's actually from last year, but I never really posted it anywhere.  Basically, this is a rough idea of what I think a Real Grade model of the Nu Gundam from Char's Counterattack might look like.  It's one of my favorite official Gundam designs.  I've always felt that the white/black/gold color scheme is supremely classy.

      I've also been having fun with some fantasy-themed illustrations.

      This last one is something I've never tried before.  Having finished my "Neptune Astray" custom Gundam model, I've been figuring out what my next custom Gunpla project will be.  This is a pre-visualization of what I think I'll be going for.  It combines parts in roughly equal measure from a GN Archer from Gundam 00, as well as a G-Bouncer and Clanche from Gundam AGE.  The proportions and color blocking are based on Reina's armor.


Mar 21, 2014

Spring Break

      Well, it seems that last week was the first week this year that I've entirely missed a post.  In fairness, I was involved in helping to make a wedding happen, so that pretty effectively ate up the end of last week.

      I do however have a more substantial post this week.  As per the norm, I've still been getting Reina's armor figured out:

      I'm finally getting pretty close to how I want the thigh armor to look.  Of course, as soon as I get that how I want it, I start changing other things, because I just can't leave well enough alone.  I've started playing around with moving the armor on the forearms up to the biceps instead.  Reina's already got a fairly wide hips-to-shoulders ratio, and I'm worried that the bulky forearm armor places her visual center too low.

      Nothing particularly special here, just a couple more sketches getting the details ironed out.  I suppose it's worth pointing out:  The exaggerated curvature or the lower leg isn't a stylistic quirk- Reina's prosthetic legs actually do have a more pronounced curve, allowing for a higher degree of shock absorption.

      This one's unrelated.  Just playing around with mobile suit design.  My aim was to try to blend the "realistic" sensibility of Gundam's UC timeline with basic geometric styling similar to Gundam AGE.


Mar 7, 2014

Gunpla Fight 2014

      This week's post is a little something special.  I've had this project going on the side since last December, and have only just gotten it finished.  The MAHQ group on Facebook is hosting "Gunpla Fight 2014", an informal model-building contest celebrating the currently airing Gundam Build Fighters.

      I haven't yet taken the photos of my model that I'll be submitting, but I've taken a few test-shots just to get an idea of what I'll be going for with the final photos.  Meet the "Neptune Astray"!

      The base model is the HG 1/144 scale Gundam Astray Red Frame, and it incorporates a few bits from the Blue Frame Second L and an old Non-Grade kit of the Red Frame as well as a few other miscellaneous bits from my parts bin.  The kit has been very heavily modified; virtually every piece has been altered in some way.  Additionally, the feet, bicep components and the beam-edge sword and tanto knife are fully scratch-built (I felt the feet and biceps included in the kits were too large/bulky).

I may do a lengthier post over the weekend detailing all of the modifications and alterations that were required to make this custom model happen.


Feb 28, 2014

The Early Crunch

      Well then, I have been just slammed with schoolwork the last couple weeks.  While I am managing to keep up with my classes (something I'm both glad for and proud of) the artwork that I do for myself and for others has been suffering as a result.  But enough of my complaints.  You're here for artwork (what little there is this week).

      Have you ever had one of those ideas that ends up with you saying to yourself "This is so incredibly stupid, that I must make it happen"?  Because I've had one of those ideas, and this is it:

      This is the Balldam, and I am going to make a model of it.  Or rather, I'll be making a model of it when I have the time to.  It is for the most part the legendary RX-78-2 Gundam, except that the space where its chest and head should be is now filled with the chassis of an RB-79 Ball, frequently considered to be the most useless thing in all of Gundam.

      In other news, as should come as no surprise to regular viewers, I'm still having trouble figuring out the thigh plates on Reina's armor.  I like all of the individual components, but I just can't quite seem to make them fit together properly.

I should have some more substantial offerings in next week's post.


Feb 22, 2014

Egads, I Missed a Post!

      Well then, it seems I missed my weekly update yesterday.  In fairness, I've got very little to show for this last week art-wise.  I've been kept quite busy with papers and lab write-ups and and the first of several midterm tests.

      Most of what time I haven't spent on school-related things has been spent revisiting Dragon's Dogma, one of my all-time favorite fantasy RPGs.  Playing it has called to mind the fact that a few months back, my brother was considering organizing a weekly session with friends to play Dungeons and Dragons, and it occurs to me that I'd love to do designs for people's characters and help them to paint their miniatures.  I'll have to see if he'd still be interested in doing something similar over the summer.

      At any rate, it got me thinking about how I'd portray Reina (at this point sort of my default character archetype) in a Western fantasy setting:

      It's a rough sketch, clearly.  I've tried to portray her as a sort of Rogue-Ranger character, someone who spends most of their time out in the wilds.  Stylistically I've drawn inspiration from both Dragon's Dogma and the Monster Hunter series to try to affect a sort of cobbled-together look to her garb and equipment.

      Fair warning- this next week's post may be a bit sparse as well, as I've still got several large assignments ongoing.


Feb 14, 2014

V-Day 2014

Happy Valentine's day, everyone!

In addition to that silliness, I spent the last couple days marathonning all of Attack on Titan season 1.  It really captures the imagination.

I'm inclined to think that Reina would do well with 3D Maneuver Gear:


Feb 7, 2014

Testing, Testing. (Part 2)

      I've had a lot of long days on campus this week, so most of what I've done is doing further work on the image that I'd posted as in-progress lineart last week:

      I'm quite happy with how the base colors came out.  I'm not quite sold on the shading, I'm still getting practice.  It occurs to me now that the musculature of the torso doesn't quite match the lines.  Ah well.  It can be corrected.

      It also occurred to me recently that I didn't do an updated reference sheet for Reina last year, so I'm getting a jump on that earlier in the new year than usual.  A new reference sheet is needed now more than ever, too, as she's undergone some significant changes since the 2012 reference.  This new reference is based on the reworking of her design that first showed up last Summer, when I started working on simplifying my existing designs.
      Her boots in this image lack the clamped shin-guards that they've sported for the last few years.  I'm still working on exactly how I want those to fit in, as where they are relative to the cargo pants has been rather inconsistent in my illustrations.

      I seem to be stuck on Reina at the moment.  I ought to see about giving my other characters some love.


Jan 31, 2014

Testing, Testing.

      I've really got to start getting these posts up earlier in the day.  There's only a couple of things to show this week, one of which I'm rather happy with, and one that isn't yet far enough along for me to make that sort of judgment.  In both cases, I'm just testing out some full-digital techniques.

      I've been doing a lot of works involving Reina this year.  I've gotten her design pretty well cleaned up and worked out, and as such her design lends itself to variation and experimentation.

      This first image is the one that's not yet very far along.  I'm mostly testing out means of doing lineart digitally (without using a vector program, thank you very much.  Vector illustrations have no soul.  Too clean.  None of the little quirks and variations that you get when working by hand).

      This is the finished work.  I was going for a slightly looser feel than my usual works, and I also went very heavy on the shadows.  In terms of colors and composition, I think it turned out pretty well.  Not sure if it's something to continue experimenting with or not, but it was an enjoyable stylistic exercise.


Jan 24, 2014

Ninety-Degree Angles

      It seems that sometime last semester, something clicked in my mind and I started playing around with 90-degree angles in my designs.  The title of the post has a double meaning as well, as in addition to trying to incorporate 90-degree angles into the aesthetic of Novus Imperium, this week's post focuses on orthographic-format images.

      The first couple of images in this post are development art for two characters who I've not given as much attention as I'd have liked to.  First up here is Dee Typho, a Vhodan pilot.  I've made a few alterations to the look of the Vhodan since the last posted reference of her which I did a couple of years back, but for the most part, I've focused on bringing her attire in-line with my more current NI work.

      Second is Kouda, a Tegran.  Fun fact: the Tegrans were the first non-humanoid species I designed for NI, all the way back in the 8th grade.  They've undergone a tremendous amount of reworking since their initial inception, but I believe the original inspiration is still visible.  The shape of the head was based on a photograph of a horse skull, turned upright.  I recall there was a break on the skull resembling a mouth, and that's where the basic shape of the head came from.  As with Dee, most of the changes I've made to Kouda over his previous design are simply to bring his outfit up-to-date.

      This last one is yet again a concept for Reina's armor.  I've sketched out this armor many times over the last few months, and it's been a little different each time.  I've got the bodysuit, the chest armor, the boots and the gauntlets/bucklers pretty much figured out, but the thigh armor is still giving me problems.


Jan 17, 2014

The Man in Charge

      Quick post this week, as I've been having a pretty busy time.  Things should ease up a bit next week.

      It occurred to me recently that for all the thought that I've put into Karic's super-soldier program in Novus Imperium, it's still missing some rather crucial things.  Things such as "someone who's in charge of it" and "an adequate name."

      I've had, I think, a rather interesting idea for the project head.  That's what I've been exploring the last couple days:

      At present I have not given him a name.  Briefly: he was born with a congenital disease which causes general physical frailness and severe muscular atrophy.  Because of this, he is supported by an external mobility frame, and has had various augmetic and prosthetic procedures performed.  He believes that he has a particularly strong grasp of just how fragile humans (and other sapients) really are.  While he has worked dutifully to fulfill his obligations to Karic's Office of Special Weapons and Resources (OSWAR), it's speculated that he offered to head up the super-soldier program for personal reasons.  It is his belief that cybernetic augmentation is the next step in the evolution of the galactic community's sapient species in an increasingly dangerous galaxy, and OSWAR has given him the means to begin bringing his vision to life.

      (Also, I decided to play around with an abbreviated version of my usual signature.  I guess I'll just have to see if it sticks.)

      And on that note, I sincerely need to come up with a name for this super-soldier program.  I've spent the last couple of days doing intensive research (read: "scouring Wikipedia") for terms and names from Western history and mythology that may fit.  Current favorites are as follows:

"Kairos" - In classical rhetoric, a term referring to a crucial moment in time, in which action must be taken.

"Minerva" - Probably the most familiar to readers, a goddess with several properties, two of which are defense and strategic warfare.

"Ananke" - A goddess of necessity or necessary application of force.  Can also represent fate/destiny.

      I'm currently leaning towards "the Kairos Project."

      Also, good gracious.  I was hoping to get this posted some four hours ago, but was interrupted about halfway through composing this, as I was reminded that I'd be attending a Madrigal Dinner at my brother's school.  The food and performance were both quite good.


Jan 10, 2014

Autopilot Engaged

      Between working on character references for a client and getting things squared away for this next semester of school, I've not had too much time for doing other work.  As a result, my personal sketches of the last week were pretty much done on automatic: that is to say, just more sketches of Reina.

      As for that first one, the proportions are significantly more stylized than in my usual works.  The focus was more on getting a good flow in her pose.  I'm not sure I quite succeeded at that.  I think the shift of weight through the torso and legs is alright, but I can never figure out what to do with the arms.

      This second sketch has a bit more of a story to it.  With the help of a friend, I've been doing research and compiling references for figuring out Reina's overall physique.  Trying to create a visual balance in a character who is both short and narrow, and also has a well-developed muscular structure, is extremely difficult.  I'm getting closer to it, though.

      And as for the last one, this is essentially just a page from my sketchbook.  Again, I was pretty much on autopilot while doing these, so it's just further head and face studies.  I sincerely need to improve my ability to draw expressions beyond "neutral."  Perhaps I should very carefully watch some of Disney's 2D animated films.

      That's all for this week.  I'm thinking that next week, I may do a feature on a series of original mecha designs which I began work on late last year.