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.


Jan 3, 2014

The Concrete Schedule of 2014

      Well then, long time no post.  It occurred to me this last year that I've not made use of this blog as well as I'd hoped I would.  I believe part of the reason for this is that I was not operating with any sort of definite schedule.
      That's why this year, as part of an ongoing effort to add a bit more structure to my life, I'll be making an effort to update this blog every Friday afternoon with that week's sketches and rough works.

      So in this, 2014's inaugural post, I'll be covering a bit of ground from last semester.  This last Fall semester was a very busy, hectic time for me, and as such I produced very few finished pieces of artwork, but rather produced quite a few sketches and smaller works.

      First up is a rough version of one of several sketch cards I'd been working on back in early November.  Just playing around with the pose, really; trying to convey Reina's physicality and affinity for bladed weapons.

      I've also been playing around with how I want firearms to look in Novus Imperium.  Here I was going for very geometric styling, with a simplified profile.  Simplification of designs has been an emphasis for me in the last few months.  By forcing myself to use less detail, I must put greater thought into how that detail is used.

      Here's two lunatics I hadn't drawn in quite a while.  On the left is Gray, and on the right is Phoebe, two of Reina's former squadmates.  These two and Reina all received the same augmentations and alterations.  Phoebe has adjusted well, and is a masterful tactician.  Gray on the other hand is extremely volatile, but is far too valuable of an asset to dismiss.

      Speaking of augmentations, here's an orthographic that I'd done, trying to both iron out Reina's proportions as well as the attachment points for her prosthetics and the positioning of the various dataports throughout her body.

      While considering the possibility of a Novus Imperium comic/graphic novel, I sketched out a couple ideas for splash-page type images.  This one is compositionally very much inspired by Shirow Masamune's artwork in The Ghost in the Shell.

      This is the first of two more-finished works that I'd never previously posted.  I'm quite happy with how the pose and the flow of the image turned out.  Of course, as soon as I'd worked this up I went and began making significant changes to the look of Reina's armor (the topic of a future post, perhaps?).

      And the second more-finished work.  While it's not "abstract" in the traditional sense, it was a very enjoyable stylistic study.

So that's what I've got at the moment.  As I'd mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can expect to see more next Friday.  Here's hoping for a much more productive year than the last.