Creature Design Planning

Dear Diary,

Finally got a good chunk of my assignment done. This week I have to do some thumbnails and explorations of different creatures. Isn’t that just the broadest assignment ever? It’s awesome. Adrian taught me a really cool way to go about it too. For my design board instead of just pictures of creatures I should just do pictures of neat stuff. Anything that inspires me.

characterdesignboard1And then I just grab an image and use it to guide my creature. And it’s not tracing, either.

creatureslugSee? That’s like a flower or something. A creepy awful flower that probably kills you but still just a flower. And I made a doofy slug AND a monster guy. It’s not supposed to be a finished artwork. Just lots of drawings to decide what I want the finished piece to look like.

creaturefoxArg I love that fox. Did you know that you can own Fennec Foxes in Alberta (my province) legally? And a baby one is only like $700?! And that’s as big as it gets? I would name it Fuzzers.

This is a good example of not just tracing the fox. The fox is already a creature. So I tried making the ears a hat. It was fun for like a second but then I decided big ears are more fun than big hats so I tried again. The goblin shows how I drew one thumbnail and then copied it to change the hands and feet. Never assume your first drawing is as good as it can be because it almost never is.

Here’s all the thumbnails I did for these images:

characterthumbs1smallThe eyeball fish I drew a long time ago when the baby wouldn’t sleep but tonight I tried turning the optic nerves into squid tentacles. I only spent a second on it but now I think I might want to do a finished version of it because it’s creepy. Needs longer tentacles.

What’s that? You think I’m done? HA! I decided to do this assignment twice! And this time I’m using Christmas images!

characterdesignboard2These creatures were WAY TOO MUCH FUN! Seriously. First the Santa Hat.
creaturehatThe middle one on the bottom with the wrecking ball tail is my favorite of the hat drawings. But the Christmas tree has been my favorite over all.

creaturetreeHaha oh man. So stupid. So fun to draw. My wife likes the fuzzy guy best out of everything I drew (She HATES the eyeball fish).

Anyway this is the whole page.

characterthumbs2smallMy wife has pointed out that the tiny creatures wrapped around the berries make them look like testicles.

I agree. And I don’t mind either. Testicle monsters are creatures too.

I have to do cityscape thumbnails too but that page is only half finished. I’ll get it done tomorrow. Night!

Loves Michael

Space Detective & City Critique


I got the critique from last weeks assignment. 80% for my Space Detective and a future-ish type city. I actually didn’t post the finished city here because honestly I was embarrassed by how bad it came out. But no. I must acknowledge my failings if I want to get better. This is what I handed in.

colorcity1*dry heaves*

I have no subtly. Just look at the values in this thing. I go from pure black to pure white. And the colours. It looks like I coloured it in with a box of sniffy markers I stole from the preschool near by.


(I actually did steal them but it’s unrelated to this assignment).

I figured it was a COLOURING assignment. So I should colour the hell out of it! But really the buildings should all be similar in colour and way less saturated. The light should also show a little on the buildings. And the reflections on the glass are completely wrong.

I took some of the teachers advice and quickly put together this:

colorcity2*dry heaves slightly less than last time*

Really I should have a street light on another corner too. So many issues.

The space detective I did pretty well on.


Nothing too major to fix except for an eye brow and some lighting issues from the hologram. The biggest thing was the feet. She was turned so heavily to the right but her one leg was still stiffly pointing left.

detectivefootNormally about now I’d be posting the WIP’s of this current weeks assignment. But this week got away from me. I actually took two evenings to play video games. I never play games anymore. Basically my life is work, baby, homework. It was nice to goof off a little. Unfortunately my son is going through some growing pains which is keeping him awake most nights. So I lost my chance to draw the other evenings.

Today I stubbornly assured my wife that I would still get a completely new character and new city done before my next class. That class, I should add, is in 41 hours. And I work full time. I just spent the last two hours racing to create a character and it’s just not working. I’m making a million mistakes because I’m rushing. So instead of starting from scratch I’ll do what the school asked. I will texture the previous assignment.

All day I felt bad about that inevitability but thinking about it now I’m glad I goofed off a couple of nights. I spent some real quality time with my wife too. I missed her face.

I should get to bed since I’m just rambling. But here’s a cool thing I drew using Lazy Nezumi Pro. It’s a plugin for photoshop that I’ll likely write a review on soon.

5 Point Perspective! I drew a fisheye city in just a few minutes. Cool, right?


Character Design Colour – City WIP

Really short post today Diary,

Remember in my last post I mentioned that I have to colour a cityscape for this weeks assignment as well? I don’t think I’m going to have it done. Truthfully the entire assignment was due last wednesday but that class had to be postponed until this upcoming tuesday. I decided that with the extra few days I would start over and do this assignment right!

But it’s not going right! Nope. Not at all. Well ok it’s not bad. Here’s the Work-In-Progress.

crimecitysketchAs you can see it’s way more detail than my previous Medieval Suburbs had. It’s kind of a jumble of lines right now but when I add the value it’ll all start to be much more clear. I hope.

The assignment is due in about 23 hours so I’m going to get to bed and start painting in the morning. Wish me luck!

Love Michael


Character Design Colour – Space Detective

9 days since I’ve written in you, Diary. Seems like forever.

So I’m well into week 3 of term 2 now. It’s basically the 3rd step in the character production lessons. Colour. And, once again, I’m making the assignment excessively harder than is required of me because, again, I’m starting from scratch.

Remember how the first week I drew the crazy book guy?
bookguyAnd instead of rendering that character in week 2 (Like I Was Supposed Too!) I drew a new violin guy?
violinfinished2Welp, in keeping with (the stupidest) tradition I’ve started over again! YAY! Ok, here’s my thinking. If I work on the same character every week then I’m not practicing the previous lessons. Right?! So I’m smart to keep starting over…


Anyway here it is so far.
detectivepost1Futuristic Detective! Aww yeah. And does that gorgeous face look familiar? Probably not if you’ve never seen my wife before but IT’S TOTALLY MY WIFE! Actually don’t look at the face in the last iteration. I screwed it up. The eyes and lips are completely wrong now. And the more I adjust it the worse it’s getting. So I’m going to start them both over right away. Also I haven’t added eyelashes or any of the back-lit ambient lighting so it’s not exactly ready for the next step anyway.

COLOUR! Yup. When I’m done this badass detective will be coloured. You don’t know my wife but she’s got super awesome red hair that would be perfect for a space detective. Actually here’s a picture.

11038728_10153203882027143_4359366871140843170_nSee that? Yowza. And people wonder why I’m so happy all the time.

Ok back to arts.

I finished the picture! More or less. I’m sure I’ll do some fiddly edits to it before I hand it in but for now: Blammo


Mmm. Now that I’m looking at it on this monitor (not my tablet) I see some of the colours aren’t right. The eyebrows for instance. Oh well. I’ll keep poking at it. I still have a city scape to do for this week as well.

For fun though I animated the process again.


Love Mike-ael

Character Design 1 – Part 2

I’m done this assignment, Diary! I worked way too hard on it. And next week I’ll work way too hard on a new assignment.

…so tired…

Actually I’m super awake because I’ve had 5 coffees today. Thank goodness for spell check because so far I’ve spelled almost every word wrong in this post! YAY!

Oh right. Here’s homework guy.

violinfinishedAre you in awe of the sexy? I can tell that you are. So this week I learned that I’m totally awful at rendering. This guy. This one little guy with his little violin and his puffy pants. I drew him for days. DAYZ! But that’s the point of this nonsense, right? To be slow at first and get faster with mileage? Did I mention how tired I am?

Oh! And I created an animation of the process because I wasn’t already too busy what’s wrong with me. It’s a gif so it should be doing stuff. If it’s not changing then… I don’t know. Fix it.

violinprocessI think I mentioned in the last post too that I had to do a city scape. I spent WAY less time on this. I’m sorry Adrian. But I’m pretty pleased with the concept. I may develop this further in later assignments.

castlefinishedGet it?! It’s a suburban street if Medieval architecture was still current. Haha. Oh man. What nonsense. What a crazy kooky world that would be.

…so tired.

Ok so class actually starts in about 12 minutes. I literally just uploaded it all. I’m the worst student.


Character Design 1: Part 1 – I’m An Idiot

I’m an idiot, Diary.

It’s 2am Sunday morning and I’m still working on my assignment. I worked on it the last 3 days. Here’s why I’m an idiot:


All I have to do is render a character. Just a black and white image that shows where shadows are and where highlights are. I could easily have done my paranoid book guy from the last assignment but nooooo. I had a new idea for a new character. And I wanted to do it official like, too. Really use what I’m learning.

The premise? A guy cursed to forever play the Violin! Aww yeah. That’s new…ish, right? It’s basically my take on the Faustian myth. Think Robert Johnson but with a violin instead of a guitar.

First the design draft (on super sexy template):

violindesignboardsmallAll the real important stuff is there. Clothes. Violin. Look of tortured anguish. Another violin. Truthfully while doing the drawing I used even more reference images but just with google images on my other monitor.

The silhouettes and choosing a pose.

violinmansketchesI have a bad habit of erasing stuff that doesn’t work right away. I’m trying to stop that. Anyway here you can see where I tried different poses with stick drawings and different anguished faces. The silhouettes are straight forward. I knew he was dressed like a conductor and he had a violin. I just needed enough drama to look like he’s miserable. I decided on the last one because it’s the most open.

And now the three steps towards a finished drawing:

violinstepsI actually don’t hate the naked guy! It’s my first ‘anatomical’ drawing that wasn’t garbage. Granted I didn’t draw many of the muscles but you know they are there. Next I dressed him. I’m not sure there are vests with coat tails truly but I thought it looked cool.

The final step, of course, was cursing him up real nice. He’s chained to both the violin and the bow. Clothes are wearing out because he cannot stop playing. He wished to be able to play the violin. Now it’s all he can do. I guess moths or something are eating the clothes off him too. I originally wanted a contract nailed to the violin but it covered up too many details so I scrapped it. Did you see those chains?! They actually didn’t take long to draw. I could have drawn more, even. It’s fun.

SOOOOO I guess I’ll get back to work. Rendering time! Wish me luck. I hope I don’t ruin it.

Lurf Michael

P.S. Did I mention I have to render a cityscape this week too? And my plan for that is just as convoluted? I’m the worst.

Term 2 first assignment! Character Design Planning

It’s a new term, Diary!

At first I was all “Oh noes. I don’t want a new teacher. I liked Tom Jung. He’s mellow and nice and good at the art stuff.”

But then I was all “Hey! It’s Adrian Enciso! I missed his crazy energetic voice!” Adrian was the teacher I had during the Intro Concept Art class at at the start of this year. (I blogged that 4 week class at And clearly he was a good teacher because as soon as the intro class ended I was already signing up for the diploma program. But truth is that even if he wasn’t a good teacher, I probably still would have enjoyed the class. He has so much energy in his voice that it really makes you want to draw just to have as much excitement as he seems to be having.

…either I’m really easy to please or VANAS hires good teachers. ‘Though I’ve only had 2 so it’s hardly a good statistic.

Holy cow I haven’t even talked about the assignment yet. It’s Design Planning! WOOO! (Super not exciting!)

One week in and term 2 already feels very different. Adrian is really pushing me to understand what working in the industry is like and what is expected of me. Term 1 was pretty much just teaching me how to draw better but not specifically for concept art.

So assignment one (why is it taking me so long to get to it?!) I had to create a design board for a character and a cityscape. ANY character. And ANY cityscape. So I created these.

designboardsI made a list of traits I wanted the character to have and then found images through google to use as fast references while drawing. The design board almost has to show you the character before you’ve even made it.

Overall he said I did pretty good on this part which is pretty neat since it was my first try. BUT the presentation was awful. Images just thrown about on a flat blue background. Blegh. I could never show that in my portfolio or while pitching a project to someone.

And that’s just it. It never even occurred to me to show another person this. Nevermind having it in my portfolio. But that is apparently part of being a concept artist. And every image I show (especially in a portfolio or pitch) has to be as impressive as I can make it. So tonight (after writing this) I’m going to work on a template. A flashy background/setup to show stuff I’ve drawn on.

After that I drew the character.

characterI’m actually pretty pleased with him. Sort of a homeless/runaway guy. He’s got a book full of “who-knows” and he’s running from “whoever”. I was supposed to show as much about the character as possible with only one image using clothing and facial expressions and even the pose.

One major issue though is that his chest is covered. If I was creating this image to show the rest of the production team then everyone would have to guess what his mid-section looks like. BUT by folding his arms over the book it also shows that the book is important and that he’s paranoid. So I picked a tricky character for this. My bad.

I also should have created a mannequin of the character 3 or more times and drawn different clothing or hair or all of that on him. One version is never enough in a working environment. I know now for next time.

cityNow that cityscape critique didn’t go so bad. Some things I need to work on of course but I major thing is my scale. I chose reference images of very detailed and huge cities. And then I tried to draw large cities in my thumbnails. (They are supposed to be drawn fast and rough like that). Really a focus on one or two buildings was all I needed to do to create the design of the city. Again, I know for next time.

Overall I got 76% on the assignment. I’m starting to think I’m not the prodigy that I thought I was. I better stop writing and practice drawing.

Lurve Michael

Term 1 Recap and Teacher Profile

Dear Diary,

3rd post of the night. I’m all caught up. Go read the previous two for my last two assignments first. Go ahead. I’ll wait. (I won’t wait. The internet doesn’t work that way. Grow up). I haven’t proofread anything I wrote today. Spelling errors? Grammar issues? You betcha!

Term 1 was super fun and super hard. Seemed like I was late on every second assignment from babies and auctions but Tom, my stupendious teacher, was really nice about it. I always made sure to have the assignments done before the critique class so I don’t think it inconvenienced him anyway.

Stupendious was an intentional spelling error this time. Stupe-en-dee-us. Sounds more stupendous. Grow up.

Let me tell you about said teacher:

Tom Jung:

The dude is brutal. For serious. I’m all “Hey Tom, I totally spent 100 hours drawing this foot special for you” and he was all “This is a foot?”

I’m kidding. He was brutally honest but in a constructive way. He wouldn’t tell me what I did wrong without drawing all over my assignment and showing me what it should have looked like. And he drew fast! Like seriously fast. I asked him how the muscles on the back overlap with the side and he drew an entire freaking muscle guy in 3 minutes to show me all the anatomical details.

Look at this from his online portfolio. (I hope he doesn’t mind I stole it. GO LOOK AT HIS WEBSITE!)
tomjungexampleLook at that. I asked him how long it took to draw. He said 8 hours. I said “Ok, I quit” and we laughed and laughed. He probably thought I was kidding about quitting. 8 hours! 8 months maybe. I take back calling him stupendious. Now I hate him.

Nah, he’s still great. I’mma miss learning from him. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to be my teacher again over the next 18 months. He should be so lucky, right? I’m probably his favorite student.

I was going to post some of my assignments on here again but really you can just scroll down the website to see them all. It would take 5 seconds.

These posts are probably all really ramble-y and disjointed-y. It’s 2 am. I’m going to draw something. Something stupid probably. Grow up.


Lesson 11: Faces

Another post, Diary.

I just wrote the last post like 2 seconds ago. Trying to catch up because TERM 2 STARTS TOMORROW! YAY! I’m going to write a post about my first term recap and my teacher tonight also. Holy moly. But first:

Lesson 11. Faces!

This was a haaaaard assignment. This term we learned about skulls and basic human anatomies and the like. I know where eyes go (mostly) and ears and noses and junk. I can map a face like a pirate maps his treasure. BUT I haven’t been taught how to draw the dang nose. Or eyes. Or anything.

So I winged it. Wung it? What’s the past tense of Wing? I Wanged it (nailed it).


Obviously flawed. Ugh. Look at those gargoyles. A big part of the issue was the eyes. Remember I said I mostly know how to map them? Well turns out eyes don’t sit ON the face. They sit IN the face. Obviously everyone in the world knows that except me when it comes time to draw it. If I actually traced the entire eye balls on those faces they’d be sticking out of their cheeks. Bad work this week, Michael. Bad.

The other issues were pretty much everything else. But they are more forgivable. I’m only drawing eye patches from now on. On an unrelated note if someone did lose both eyes would they wear two eye patches? On a somewhat related note if someone missing an eye cries, does the socket fill with tears? I have some googling to do later.

I also drew hands. Reference ones and imagination ones.

hands1 hands2 hands3 hands4

I draw fat fingers. I’m mostly happy though with what I did. The first reference photo was such a stupid choice. It looked funny from the start and even worse when I started drawing it. My teacher pointed out that it was photoshopped and the thumb was moved out of joint. Ugh. Sabotaged.

And finally I had to do more architecture stuff. Blam:

oldarchitectureeditMy teacher, Tom, said the perspective was dead on so I was totes happy. BUT the rendering was pointless. The shadows were too light to really matter. It took me hours to draw this silly building and in 15 minutes he coloured it up with shadows and reflections and just made it look amazing.

Anyway this was my very last assignment of the term. Term 2 class starts in 15 hours!


Lesson 10: Silhouettes

Diary! I missed you so much!

It’s been a bleeding month since I updated you. I can explain. My babies been sick for a month straight and I worked two auctions. Did I mention on here that I work auctions? I do that. They take a lot of my time.

But I still did my homework so here is the lesson 10 assignment and how I sucked at it.

Silhouettes! I had to make them. There were almost no rules really. They had to be readable and had to be characters. Real or cartoony it didn’t matter. Naturally I went for cartoony.

silhouettes2To answer your question: No, I don’t know how I got so amazing.

All right. False cockiness aside I did pretty good on the assignment. My teacher suggested a few tweaks here and there but ultimately understood what I was doing for all of them.

I also had to revisit feet with this assignment. First drawing from reference and then imagination. The ones with photos beside are the reference ones because obviously.

feet1 feet2

And I have to say the practice is paying off. They aren’t perfect but it only took me 15ish minutes to draw each one. 6 months ago that would have been my whole evening.

feet3 feet4

And from imagination. That was obviously much trickier. What I wouldn’t give to have a photographic memory.

Lurve Michael