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Thread: Art Test Underway! Need some unbiased eyes!

  1. #1
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    Art Test Underway! Need some unbiased eyes!

    UPDATE:
    Finished the piece, and submitted the test! Thanks for your comments everyone and wish me luck! The final image is on the last page.


    Hey everyone!

    Thanks for coming!

    I'm smack dab in the middle of an art test for a big video game studio, and am requesting some backup! If you have any advice or critiques please lay it on me!

    Here's the gist of the brief:

    Paint over the Pre-vis.

    High Fantasy RPG
    Dark, Mysterious, beautiful. Nothing evil or corrupted, but dark with little sunlight. Temperate forest. old abandoned road, with stonehenge-like relics that have glowing elements. Illustrated treatment, without being too cartoonish. colorful, yet wild. a lighted atmosphere. serious, yet attractive.

    Things to watch out for:
    perspective
    layout
    line quality, interesting color palette, creativity, mood, cool characters a plus


    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Pat Thompson; February 23rd, 2012 at 01:35 PM.

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    It's good that you are calculating the perspective and planning the lighting.

    However, you seem to have missed a step here. You've went and colored it before you solved the value composition, and all four of your color sketches ended up as unreadable muddle.

    Make a grayscale sketch of it, just to track the lights and shadows. Make sure all your lights are brighter than the middle value, and all shadows are darker than the middle. Make sure that everything works in grayscale and that the composition is clear and readable. Then you can paint the color in confidence.

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    Well, I do find it kinda weird that when the brief put emphasis on road, forest and stonehenge-like relics, you draw a huge gate into a dark cave that's the main point of your image and leave the road and forest to about as minimum as possible.

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    After reading your brief and looking at the concepts, I'm wondering how you came up with the gateway concept. Since the brief first mentions a moody forest and unused road, I would think that's what they most want to see, are you sure your current composition is the best for communicating that? It seems rathers straight forward, actually I wouldn't even think "road" from that picture, since only such a small strip is shown. Are you afraid you're not actually good at drawing the organic things, so you latch on to the inorganic part? Since the stonehenge part of the brief makes me think of something ancient, added to the unused road, your gateway seems pretty new and untouched by time. Some collapsed and eroded parts, mosses growing over, partly buried would seem more logical.

    I like the first gate best, it seems to communicate the beautiful and mysterious, others seem more plain scary in nature.

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    Just me - if that were my brief, I'd be looking for different roads and plant life, not just a different front of the same gate posted onto the same background six times. To me, that screams that the creator's concepting is lacking.

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    What Suncut and MiniGoth said.

    Plus, free advice: when the brief says "Nothing evil or corrupted," and five of the six concepts you hand in feature evil-looking monsters (four of them with glowing eyes), that's basically hanging a sign around your own neck saying, "I Can't Take Direction."

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    And so now onto the content! Keep in mind, this first ones are quickies, and done before my 3 point perspective grid was up and running.

    6 Initial Gateway Concepts/Sketches

    The main area (forest + road) is temporary, right now focusing on main element. Main area will most likely feature a stonehendge type of layout, which I'll have up in the next post of wips.

    Name:  final 6 gates comparer_1400px2.jpg
Views: 549
Size:  509.1 KB

    3 Point Perspective & Composition Grid

    This is what I'm using to build my composition. The 3 point perspective is being garnered from what I can ascertain from the pre-vis image. For the composition, I'm using a combination of fibonacci spirals, fitted into a Rule of Thirds grid, with a central fibonacci golden mean spiral being placed in the main focus area, locked into the upper-right 2/3rds. I'm also going to try to have it fit a bit into a horizontal A/V pattern (groups of shapes, colors, and values into these areas).


    Name:  3pp_grids_together_chart2.jpg
Views: 412
Size:  414.5 KB


    So what do you guys think? Which sketch is your favorite? Any critiques are welcome! I'll be posting a wip daily for the next week, so come by and watch it progress and grow!

    {Pasted the above in here so clean up the top and get a better thumbnail}


    Thanks for the great advice guys! I'm really grateful for it! I honestly was expecting a reply or two, but got quite a few! You all rock!

    @Arenhaus: Yes, I totally agree that I need to go back into a grey-scale and work with the values. That'll be where I head with it today. The current environment was a quick sketch to accompany the gates, so it was a more like a place-holder with my basic idea sketched in.

    @Tiny Bird: The road will definitely receive more attention today. I have yet to really concentrate my firepower on it as of yet, but later tonight I'll have up some wips of the road. I spent most of my time on generating some gate sketches and handling the soon-to-be-drawn Stonehenge perspective, which will be a key feature of the road area.

    @SunCut: On the issue of me currently focusing on the gate, I think you're right about that I should make sure that main focus remains the forest/road aspect, meaning that I should chose a gate style that is kind of chilled. It's not that I'm afraid of organics at all, actually, I was just tackling the thing that I don't like first - inorganic objects

    @Minigoth: thanks for the advice. I'm still in the midst of concepting, and the road/forest concepts are coming today. As was said, yesterday's focus was on the inorganics, and preparing for their perspectives.

    @Giacomo: On the evil/corrupted issue, I didn't think that most of them felt evil, but if that's what you're reading then I might have to rethink the issue of glowing eyes. The dude in 5 and 6 is Cernunnos, the Celtic God of the Forest and the Wilds. I'll try to make him less scary-looking, maybe give him some more goofy Green Man aspects. The trolls were going to have a more goofy feel, like those of Jon Bauer (image link)

    Thanks again for those critiques guys! The main thing I'm taking away from this round of comments is: focus on the dang road, hit up the greyscale, and make the gate less scary and prominent (which means I'm eyeing #1 & #6).

    Check back in tonight for wip 2!

    Last edited by Pat Thompson; February 18th, 2012 at 07:35 PM.

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    I might note that the colours and dark, black shadows also contribute to the overall feel of the image, which may render the trolls and other things much more meaner and evil looking than you mean them to be, or what they would look like in more lit/less shadowy or lighter colour scheme. Remember that "dark" doesn't need to mean "lots of dramatic black shadows".
    If you don't have already, I'd scourge Google Images for lots of mood images from forests that fit the theme.

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    Wip 2a & 2b!

    Somehow ended up running out of time, didn't get a chance to quite finished the wip2b, but the basic idea is there. will do 2 more greyscale versions tomorrow, then will need to choose one. 5 days remain!

    Name:  pk_wip2a.jpg
Views: 520
Size:  258.7 KB

    Name:  pk_wip2b.jpg
Views: 509
Size:  219.8 KB


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    I prefer the first image much more. It hits the "forest" and "abandoned" looks much more. The second looks too clean and modern in all ways (no forest, no grown bushes, modern looking tiles in the wall, pretty modern [and fairly non-referenced] looking house, etc which all makes it look like someone's back yard) and it's bit weird to have something that look like a "holy place" in the middle of the road where someone walks over it.

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    I wouldnt worry about all this Golden mean Fibonacci stuff, it sounds kooky and hasnt resulted in a dynamic composition so isnt working very well anyway.

    You could do worse than looking at as much excellent work as you possibly can to benchmark your stuff, thats often a lot more helpful than me saying that tree is a funny shape or that rock could be better.

    Ive gathered a load of stuff I think is top notch for my own convenience here which might be useful..

    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=226778

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    What Velocity said about abandoning all that Fibonacci bullsh*t.

    Also, both your new sketches still--to me--feel pretty "evil" and "corrupted" and not at all "mysterious" or "beautiful". The main reason for this, in my opinion, is that you're banging in big shapes (those giant stone penises in the top one made me snicker) with a really heavy hand rather than taking the time to work out any details that might give the scene some mystery or beauty...you might do well to slow waay down and think through the designs a bit more.

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    hehehe, I know that test.

    Have you ask if you could request out-side assistance prior to posting this here? Seems to me they'll also want to test your good judgement and your ability to understand direction and briefs quickly as well as your own ability to be self critical.

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    Thanks for knocking some sense of reality back into me! That wip2b wasn't quite done yet, as was said, and it is intended (when complete) to have lots more foliage, and those road stones will be nestled within a regular system of cobblestones, roots, and grass.

    yeah, I think I'm overthinking this one. Too many composition grids spoils the broth, and when it confuses me, the whole composition will reflect that. Tends to happen when I care too much about a piece. I think that if I just go with my guts, let my mind flow free, and stop trying to produce so many choices for myself, I'll come out with something better overall.

    @freiheit: I did actually mention to the recruiter that I had sought outside advice on the work - after which they said they really liked my enthusiasm. You don't work for them, do you? haha
    I'm trying not to really advertise out there who it's for, that way it's still just my test/piece, instead of a future reference for all other guys taking their test. Even though I'm fishing for feedback, It's still testing my abilities at pulling that brief into life. I think one's community/friends are a valuable asset or tool that can/should be brought to bear. When working at a studio, you have a network of artists and bosses to get feedback from, so the way I figure it, getting some good & harsh critiques here helps keep me grounded and reflects a working environment. Plus, when something's this important to me, of course I'm going to bring every weapon I have into the battle!

    Actually, I tested for them back in Sept/October as well, same test, and failed it (didn't seek any advice on it back then). They've given me a second chance, with the advice from lead artist being: this time around, watch out on your perspective and general layout. On my older piece, I ended up getting some post-mortem advice from producers and artists at Zynga, Neversoft, Sony, etc., which I'm using to kind of steer me in this reworking of it.

    Here's my old one:
    Name:  druids_gate_Pat_thompson_800px.jpg
Views: 515
Size:  358.7 KB

    Time for me to stop fiddling around and really hammer something out today.


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    "Tends to happen when I care too much about a piece."

    Happens to everyone dude. The only bullet-proof way I know to combat those nerves is spend a good few hours doing research, finding the best work you can, putting it all on a big sheet and scaring the crap out of yourself... thats part 1, study your quarry, and learn its habits..

    Part 2 is spend at least a day doing nothing but loads and loads of thumbnails. The first 3 are hard, then by number 7 youre getting into it, and soon your smashing them out at a rate and the creative juices are really starting to flow. It usually takes me at least an hour or two to get into the groove..

    And its never too late to do this stuff; think of it this way, the work youve already done is in the bank. Now spend some time letting your imagination loose, with no limits except the hard points in the brief, which are pretty wide.

    I bet you dollars to donuts that free of all the expectations and limitations you put on yourself, you come up with some cool ideas, and then make them a lot more cool with further development. It never fails!

    oh and have 1 or 2 beers (and no more), that helps a lot to loosen you up!

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    @Velocity Kendall:
    Thanks dude. I think I'll do just that, actually. I've been spending a lot of time making semi-detailed choices for myself, that take hours a piece, whereas if I knock out 6 thumbnails an hour, I think that might really help the composition, which right now I think is frankly my weakness.

    what do you guys find to be the keys to nailing a cool composition? just lots of thumbnail generation? simplicity/clarity (like a simple diagonal form, with darks in corner, lights in the other)? sticking with one design philosophy/pattern and sticking strictly to its forms (A/V, rule of thirds, fibonacci spirals, etc)?

    I'm thinking thumbnails, cause it's a lot easier to spot good composition than to calculate it, so if you throw enough mud on the wheel, some of it will stick. am i right? you think I would have learned all of this college.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Thompson View Post
    what do you guys find to be the keys to nailing a cool composition? just lots of thumbnail generation?
    The "best" composition is always going to be the one that tells the story most clearly (or, in the case of an environment sketch, provides the most descriptive view of the scene.) It is helpful to keep general rubrics like the "rule of thirds" in mind while you're working, but trying to create a "dramatic" composition through formulas and rules is always going to produce boring and clichéd results.

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    hehehe no, I don't work for them, but an old colleague and friend did their test and since they seem to have used the same layout for a little while, it's easy to recognize.

    You shouldn't make your woods recede in black, it mutes the colors and makes them lean towards dark/evil. You also loose the opportunity to create a more feeric ambiance. Did you gather ref for your colour pallet and lighting yet?

    http://lifewiththefamilyo.com/wp-con...w-bg-woods.jpg
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_yZjGC-d5hV.../the_woods.jpg
    http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs70/f/20...ll-d319cfj.jpg
    http://freiheit.deviantart.com/favou...t=120#/d2kyn19

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    @freiheit:
    yes, i did gather some refs, but yours are very good! that snow in the pines one is really sweet. And the fall one gave me a great idea. Thanks bro!

    @velocity kendall:
    doing thumbnails now - great advice, it's generating some great comps and ideas, will post a bit later - and p.s. your idea on loosening up was good too had some Sauvignon blanc with my lunch, and now we're having a good time, hehe. very loose!


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    These are more..questions than anything else, since what you're doing isn't my field. Was the original pre-vis provided to you?

    Do you have to maintain the same camera angle? I guess I'm asking how much freedom you have

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    yeah, was provided a 3D previs shot with the basic shapes, and a series of on-canvas notes that along with the brief layout the playable areas, and where things go (wall, forest, road etc).

    So my task is to do a paintover of this previs, and as far as I know, I must stay locked within the previs's parameters (as in I can't expand the canvas area, nor change too much). I wish I could change the angle of the shot, that would make me feel so much more comfortable, ha! But as this is supposed to guide the other designers and programmers for a RPG game, I think they want me to lock onto the camera's view, as if you're playing the game.


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    Update! Did 15 thumbnails today. Might do a handful more tomorrow, but I think I know which one (or rather a combo of a few) that I'm going with, and will begin moving to the final version soon.

    Any thoughts or preferences?
    Name:  15thumbnails.jpg
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    Does it have to be an isometric viewpoint?

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    "So my task is to do a paintover of this previs, and as far as I know, I must stay locked within the previs's parameters (as in I can't expand the canvas area, nor change too much)."

    ah i didnt realise that, fair enough. great work on the thumbs tho.
    one thing i would say is the distribution of dark and light is farly uniform, maybe try making more distinct areas of dark and light and shading between them

    these are by ASA

    Art Test Underway! Need some unbiased eyes!
    Art Test Underway! Need some unbiased eyes!
    Art Test Underway! Need some unbiased eyes!

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    @venger:
    yes, it must remain isometric - it's a paintover of a previs, which dictates the main light source, where the wall is, and the boundaries of the road/playable area.

    My freedom lies mostly in how i depict the forest, which needs to include the rune stones, traces of abandoned human things, and needs to be 'dark'. I'm also free to depict the wall in interesting ways, and also, the scale of the scene isn't dictated. So if I wanted, I could make that wall a 100 foot high fortress, and show the tree tops

    That's why it's a test - harder to create a dynamic composition when one is locked onto this isometric scene with these major elements already dictated.

    @Velocity Kendall:
    thanks. yes, i totally agree. sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. I noticed that my values ended up being a tad uniform after I put them all together like that. I'll dash through them again, and multiply/soft light the snickers out of it!


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    quick update:
    went through the thumbs, manually heightened the contrast.

    Name:  15thumbnails2.jpg
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    These are the three I'm currently considering. the one in the center has a cliff edge, so the road is raised - not sure if that's allowed though :/
    in the end I'll add those dusty sunbeams to the final, but i'm thinking the ones in number 3 are too bright. the chicks on the way would end up being the dryads, so they'd have roots for hair, branches for arms, etc.

    i'm leaning towards number 1. any suggestions? I'll be doing color studies for the next hour or two, seeing what palette fits it

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  44. #27
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    update:

    finalized the BW Thumbnail, and then did 16 color studies, and what you see below is the final result!

    I'll be moving on with these towards the final now.

    Any suggestions?

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    Name:  wip1_color.jpg
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    ~ Pat Thompson 白龙 ~
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  45. #28
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    you need to work it some more. whats with the little man in the red shirt with no arm?
    i swear i keep seeing penises too but that might just be me!

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  47. #29
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    Dude, in my opinion you seriously need to slow down and work out the details. To make my point clearer, I spent fifteen minutes sketching out plan and elevation details based on your existing design, scanned them in, and used the Skew and Distort tools in Photoshop to match your existing screen cap--JPEGs attached below. The point here is not my architectural ability (or lack thereof)--it's that you take the time to resolve the forms.

    I'd strongly advise you to spend some time thinking out the design of everything here--not only the architecture but also the trees, the textures and the identity of the figure standing in the doorway. Right now you are just gobbing down color, and I don't think it's going to get you where you want to go.

    As always, just my two cents.

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  49. #30
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    your values are very muddy and black, to avoid this effect, remember that lighten areas should not contain the same values as those in shaded areas, remember that same planes should not have different values, and keep black for your very deepest shadows.

    Art Test Underway! Need some unbiased eyes!

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