Is My Portfolio Rubbish?

Oi. Diary. Is my portfolio rubbish?

Don’t worry about answering that. It is. Yup. I’ve been all over the forums and the youtubes to get an idea of what my portfolio should have. And every single person has a different answer. But from what I can see a lot of my portfolio falls under the “illustration” category and less “concept art”.

Also there’s a lot of fan-art up there. That’s bad. Bad-ish. But fanart is fun and great for doing rendering practice. You don’t have to spend all that time day dreaming cool characters. Just dive in and start painting. But no one wants to hire me to design characters they’ve already designed, right!?

That’s my latest fanart. It’s Kallo from Mass Effect Andromeda! The pilot of your space ship. I didn’t design him at all. I just painted him. Someone else designed him. See the problem? Was still super fun to draw. I only spent two hours on it from like midnight to 2am so there is obviously some more I could have done but it was just for fun.

However drawing fan art is also a good way to get an audience. People like that stuff. So I’ll probably still do it. I just need to get it off the portfolio.

And even my actual concepts need work. For example:

Robot deer. My design. But there are no explorations. No color changes or different antlers or anything. Nothing that an art director can choose as a favourite.
…also looking at it right now I think the rear far leg is too long. Perspective is wrong there… hmm.

And I guess since most concept art never makes it past the sketch phase I should show a lot of sketches. Just to show I can get ideas down fast. I think I’m a good sketcher. Here’s the process gif for making Kallo up there. You’ll see I started with a pretty strict line drawing and then stuck with it. I wish I could throw down paint without a guide but that’s dang hard.

Anyway. Rambling post is rambling. I have a ton of work to do making nearly an entirely new portfolio. Plus not to mention having landscapes and props and maybe vehicles. <cracks knuckles> Let’s do this.

Luff Michael

Getting Back Into Concept Art

Dearest Diary,

I’m tired! These 50-60 hour work weeks are exhausting and completely get in the way of learning concept art. I’ve really neglected everything. So the last couple of weeks I’ve been relearning everything I forgot. Rendered up a test snake the other day:

2 and a half hours or so in Photoshop. I’ve made worse stuff but I still hate it.

Then I did a Fan-Art for No Man’s Sky. Helios! He’s a tree, if you hadn’t gathered. Barely has a face. Just a few branches and a glowy orange mess in the back. He’s definitely one I’d like to retry after I’ve had more practice.

And that’s all I had to say really. Going to try producing more and probably updating this more often.

Lurve Michael

More Experiments in Perspective

A very short Devblog # 6:

I’ll keep this one short. The last post was 17 days ago but the last while I’ve been playing with perspective more using that plugin for Sketchup. If you follow me on twitter or instagram or facebook you may have seen it. Long story short I created the office from NBC’s The Office. Well a good chunk of it. I needed to see how my chosen perspective of 45 degrees with 50% scaling looked in a full room. After some experimenting I didn’t love it. So I created a 35% room that I like WAY better. Here they both are:

See the difference? Might be hard to tell seeing one on top of the other. Long story short the A (35%) ones make you look like you’re closer to the ground.

I settled on this perspective a few days ago but this weekend is the longest hardest auction we’ve ever done and I’ve been working 10-14 hour days. In fact it’s midnight:30 right now the day of the viewing. I should have been in bed 3 hours ago since my alarm goes off at 6. Hence the short update. But post auctions are brutal so I know I won’t be able to work on the game for another week.

For fun though I created an animated gif of a cube and a robot friend first changing the scale factor on the right side and then changing the fixed angled it’s projected at. (You might need to click it to see the animationy bits).

Ok I’m going to bed.


Shark Car – End of Term 3

2nd and last post today. But I’m going to get serious for a moment before I get into the art. (No one reads this blog anyway)

Term 3 ended this week and I’m so embarrassed about it. I didn’t even realize that my last class was actually my last class. I was late on EVERY.SINGLE.ASSIGNMENT this term. I kept saying I’d catch up but I never did. I still tried hard with my assignments and I really think I’ve grown but I really missed an opportunity to learn from my teacher, Todd Marshall.

Todd is an amazing artist and he loves to draw dinosaurs and science fiction. Wait a second. ‘I’ like to draw dinosaurs and science fiction! My last to webcomics were about dinosaurs and space ships! But by having all my assignments late, I missed so many opportunities for one-on-one critiques on my images before running out of time to make the necessary corrections. I can’t imagine the knowledge I missed out on. He did his best to fill the class times with tutorials, of course, but it’s not the same as literally fixing my mistakes and teaching me how to prevent them.

But on-to the final assignment. The first paintover that worked for me! Finally I did it! Even my apartment from a few posts ago shouldn’t really count as a paintover since I only sketched over top of it and then never used the original image. This time though I started with a car:

sharkoriginalIsn’t that just the dumbest/greatest thing ever? It looks like an aquarium… which is what I thought when I started sketching. The final sketch ended up like:


A fish driving a shark car! Super rad. My assignment was so late that I was practically starting it AFTER my last class with Todd. So when I uploaded the final image, it was the first time he even know what the heck I was drawing. Ugh. Sorry, Todd.

Anyway, the final:
sharkcarThis was a lot of fun to draw. I love cartoony stuff. Can you believe Pixar still hasn’t hired me?

Term 4 starts next week and it’s supposed to have more assignments than the last 3 terms combined. I need to change my habits if I want to pass it.


Matte Painting – Destroyed Paris

10 days ago, or so, I wrote 7 posts. Today I’m just doing 2. Way easier.

The school tasked me with creating a matte painting. What the heck is a matte painting? Well, it’s the ultra-high def cousin of concept art. And it’s actually pretty amazing. (Do yourself a favor and googled ‘digital matte painting’)

Matte painting serves to fill an environment in film or movies. Like if a character is standing in front of a destroyed town, you can assume the prop makers didn’t actually destroy a town. A matte painter just painted one in the background.

I started with a picture of Paris because I really like that place (I eloped there with my wife!)


Then I set about destroying it! I started blending other pictures on top and painting in areas and changing the lighting and junk. I wanted to create a world that was destroyed by a fungus or an insect or something.

These are the images I used to create the scene.

And THIS is the final imageparisdestroyedv5How did I do? The ‘eggs’ (or whatever) are actually just moldy blackberries.

What to compare it to the original? Here yah go!
combinedv2And of course… the animated process.

Clockwork Globe

(Last post tonight)

This post is the one I’ve been most looking forward to writing tonight. This is about the image I’m the most proud of ever. Not just during my time in art school.

The assignment was to create a prop. Any prop at all. Big or small or soft or hard or complex or simple. Anything that wasn’t a character, animal, vehicle or weapon, basically.

And just like the rest of the summer; I was way behind on my assignments. I was going to go simple. I failed spectacularly at that. I tasked myself with creating a Clockwork Globe. A planetary globe of Earth that is controlled by gears that would change the plates to show how the continents changed over millennia.

During the thumbnailing stage I didn’t realize how complex this idea is:

thumbnailsJust a few gears and poles poking about but mostly just flat or round smooth surfaces.

During the line art I started to figure out how dumb I was:

globewipI really struggled with the perspective at first and I started over 10+ times. I know for concept art it doesn’t need to be 100% perfect but I wanted this to be done right. Even though I was so late on my assignments and I was currently working 10-12 hour days I just wanted to make this image.

And this is the finished image.

globe50percentI was so late with this image that I had to simplify so much from the line art. The gears at the bottom aren’t nearly as complex as I imagined. The engraving on the wood isn’t there. But I am so happy with this. There are flaws and missed opportunities but so many times while drawing this I started sketching simpler props. I gave up completely on this picture every single night only to wake up ready to fight it more each morning.

And for fun here it is animated:

globeanimFor my next assignment I WILL go simpler.


Rabbit Turnaround

(6th post tonight- holy moly)

This will actually be a very short post even though it feels like it should be a long one. A Turnaround is when you show what a character, object, etc looks like from different angles. The assignment here was to show a character from the front as well as the back. I could use a character I had already created in the past or completely start over.

Using an existing character sounded like the smartest way to go. Especially since I was so far behind in all my assignments. But I knew that my previous characters were pretty complex and I wanted to do something simple so I could catch up. I did some simple thumbnails and I ended up with:

sketchwipv1A turtle. A bad turtle. I figured it had smooth skin with almost no weird hairs or bones or joints or items that needed to be rendered. Plus since I had to draw him from behind it would be way different from the front image because of the shell.

I played around with it during the line art but for some reason I just decided it would take too long. So I went back and looked at the silhouettes I did in the first term:


Most of these didn’t seem really all that complicated but I wanted really simple. I decided the second guy from the bottom. The rabbit.

Then I did something I had never done before. I sketched, lined, valued, coloured and textured an entire character in one sitting.

rabbitturnaround1I’ll admit that the character is simple but man that felt good. For me I always sit down and think that concept art should take a long time. The professionals are fast and know what they are doing. I’m slow because I’m new.

This time I knew what I needed to do and I did it. The next day I sat down and I did it again.

rabbitturnaroundThe behind side took a little longer (especially getting the legs into proper perspective) but it still wasn’t the struggle that most of my assignments have been.

My school, The Vancouver Animation School, works. It’s that simple.

Oh also I was pretty pleased with the colour of the character.


Space Apartment: Revenge of the Paintover

(4th post tonight)

Remember that time I complained about how hard Paintovers are?? It basically just happened. Two posts ago. (About 20 minutes ago, for me).

I had to make an interior as a paintover. And I was going to do better! I’ve been so disgusted with my last few assignments that I even wondered if Concept Art was really what I wanted to do for a living. BUT OF COURSE IT IS!

So I found a neat photo of a room for a base and I started to draw over top. After a few thumbnails I decided on this:

spaceapartmentYou can see the original image, both the image and sketch, and finally the sketch on it’s own. An apartment on a space station or a space ship. Complete with hologram computer and jellyfish tank in the back corner.

scifilinesThis was the first line art I had done in a very long time that I didn’t hate. The perspective was right and the level of detail was higher. I had wanted to do other details like a butler robot but I decided to do less and do it better. Plus I find the emptier room seemed more ultra-modern.

I wanted to really emphasize the computer in the corner so I zoomed way out and using a soft brush I did just the values. Light parts that I wanted to stand out and dark everywhere else.

apartmentvalueswipThen I used that as a base to do clean values.

apartmentvaluesv2I was pretty happy with it… until I went to colour it.

apartmentcolorswipEek. I knew I wasn’t near done colouring it but that screen was killing me. Every time I tried to fix it things got worse. It didn’t look high tech at all. One of the focal points of the image because it’s worst feature.

I completely redid it and I was so glad I did. For once I didn’t hate the final image as much as I normally do.

apartmentfinishedOf course this image was way late by the time I handed it in. I would have fixed the values on the couch and changed the way the room was reflected on the glass ceiling. I also would have added texture. Right now everything is smooth and made out of plastic instead of all the brushed metals and ceramics that I wanted.

Perhaps this one I can fix up for my portfolio. Hmmm.


Set Breakdown

This is the 3rd post I’m writing tonight and probably not the last. A weight will be lifted after I’m caught up logging all my assignments.

In term 3, week 5 I learned about Set Breakdowns. These are when an artist takes a image and starts to explain some of the details. Like if you drew a house, you may do a simple blueprint of the floor to show off how all the furniture is laid out.

It was a neat assignment because I had to take an existing image that I had created earlier in the program to expand on. I had very few environments which pretty much stuck me with the Post Apocalyptic San Francisco House (longest name ever).

combinedYikes that house exterior is brutal. It’s VERY clear that I need to work on my exteriors more than anything. But I liked the way the interior linework was coming. Bordered up windows and all that.

The more astute of you may have noticed though that I added a whole area on the left side of the building past the bay windows. Obviously that’s no good. I had to go edit the original image:

sanfrandetailsSee that? I still hate that house but it was a neat experiment to move that wall out and make it seem like it was always like that. I also added flat value to the room. It was up to the student to decide how detailed they wanted to get with the set breakdown. I intended to go to full colour but (you guessed it) I ran out of time.