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

Secret Project


A long while back I completed a “secret project” I was working on. Nothing big. I learned how to rig up a 2D character in Adobe Character Animator. Anyone that’s followed me a while and seen my twitter or comics should recognize the button.

Nothing else to say about it really. It was heckin’ fun to make and I hope to play with the program some more.

Love Michael

Painting in Elite Dangerous VR

Hi Diary,

I’m way behind in updating some of the neat stuff I’ve been working on. I actually have a PAYING concept art gig! But the deadline for those images is in 7 days so I gotta get back to it. And an NDA stops me from talking about it anyway.

But check this out. My latest obsession is the video game Elite Dangerous. It’s a really great space flight simulator and it works in Virtual Reality! With my joystick/throttle and VR headset it actually feels like I’m in a space ship. Becky says I’m not allowed to quit my job to play this game all day but I totally would if I could. Space, in Elite Dangerous, is stunning. Nebulas and blue stars and colourful planets all surrounded by sparkling stars. I mean, I was space obsessed BEFORE I played this game – now I’m just unbearable to be around.

Unable to leave well-enough alone I had to do something silly and ended up creating my new favourite hobby. Painting in virtual reality from my space ship! Yup! Here’s the video:

I recorded all the paintings. Unfortunately the last one (two stars) didn’t work. I didn’t realize the screen minimized while I painted so all I got was 40 minutes of a still shot of my desktop. Whoops! And I tried to record myself talking here and there but it recorded the mic from across the room. Growing pains. The 2 stars shot is just me putting on the headset again when I realized it was minimized to exit the game. Got like 2 seconds of usable footage which is what you saw.

I used a program called Ovrdrop to bring the photoshop window into the game and I used my wacom tablet to actually draw. It actually wasn’t a big deal that I couldn’t see my hand. After only a few minutes I was just as comfortable drawing in VR as without. The video doesn’t show the resolution the way I saw it but it was actually decently clear (for VR). Everything was slightly brighter in VR but the final images looked cool either way I thought. I had to record the footage from the Windows Mixed Reality Portal to show both the game and photoshop overlay but at a lower resolution than the headset and game client. If I only record the game you don’t see photoshop. Just me staring at my legs for a few hours.

Here are the finished paintings:

I would be in there right now painting some more if I didn’t have that aforementioned job I need to finish. I finally saved up enough money in-game for my first ship (Dolphin!) and I upgraded the heck out of it. I can jump 30ly now. Gonna paint me a nebula! And a neutron star. And a black hole! And one of those space stations with all the trees inside! My to-draw list grows every day.

Also using the same trick I added my phone to the ships HUD. Haha. So dumb and neat and dumb. I recorded a 3 minute video. It has my stupid voice in it but I added subtitles so you can mute it. I mute it.

Ok that’s it.

Love Michael

My First Late Assignment

No Diary! Don’t look at me! I’m a monster!

No really. I’m the worst. See the title of this post? That doesn’t even begin to say how late I am. Today is December 20th (at roughly 1am) and my assignment was due on December 13th. A WEEK AGO! And it’s still not close to finished.

We had an auction last weekend. A very successful one at that. It’s been 10+ hour days for the last 10 days to prepare for, run, and finish the auction. Unfortunately we didn’t anticipate how successful it actually would be. We broke all our records for registered bidders both in-house and online. And 34% of the items sold online! That’s three times our normal (we usually dance around 9%). That’s a lot of money to chase down and a lot of items to ship.

I won’t get into all the gritty details of it (maybe I will on the auction blog though). The point is that I’ve been too busy for drawing. And I didn’t pick an easy creature to draw either. The premise: A giant anthropomorphized rabbit made of trees!

Here are the sketches from when I was creating the pose/form for him (before adding the wood details).
rabbitsketcheswipOriginally I had him being a ‘protector’ of sorts. There was going to be a sick girl inside his stomach that he’s keeping safe. But clearly that’s way to much work for me this week. At the last two stages you can see I scrapped it. But I still kept the hollow chest cavity. I thought maybe I’d put a fire or wisp or something. It’s a magic tree guy. Might as well have magic.

Now came the tricky part of adding wood. I specifically wanted a ‘Strangling tree’ effect. These are trees that fight for light in dense forests and will wrap around other trees or itself or buildings just to gain ground.

banyantreeI seriously picked the hardest tree texture in the world. Why do I hate myself so much?

I started trying to turn that basic rabbit form into a tree but I was very quickly losing the ‘volume’ of the character. Plus you couldn’t tell which parts were his limbs. I decided to go more constructive (Adrian should be proud).

rabbittreewireframeThis is a technique the school made us learn in the first term and honestly since that lesson I don’t think I’ve ever used the skill again. But today I used it and it really helped. It demonstrates where the character gets thicker or thinner and what the limbs center lines are. You can even sort of see how the inside is hollow. I’ll definitely be using this technique again.

rabbittreewipThere he is. Does it look like he’s made of strangling wood? I need to do something with the toes and fingers but I’m not sure what yet.

So why am I showing all this off now if it’s not even close to done? I still need to value, colour and texture this bad boy! The entire image should have been portfolio ready a week ago! But now I don’t know if this is the character I want to do. Adrian did the critique on Wednesday of the version I had finished that day. We explored a lot of neat ideas with him like making him more evil (the eyes suggest he’s bad). He could be a demon even. The cavity in his stomach could be a monster mouth or something. I quickly experimented with giving him mammoth tusks like this is a giant prehistoric rabbit. I just don’t know now.

I think I’ll finish the wood guy (despite not knowing what to put inside him) since I’m this far into it. I still have a whole cityscape to do too and I need SO MUCH PRACTICE WITH CITYSCAPES.

I should get back to work since I just spent 22 minutes typing this out. Finished version coming soon.