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Craft dramatic and colourful scenes





Cover art by Derek Stenning Visit Turn to page 5 for more

Send your art supernova! Make your artwork reach for the stars with our expert advice Issue 83 | Jun 2012 | Printed in the UK


Your art will liv g and prosper witheDelonrek Stenning’s help on page 70!


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Contents FXPosé

8 Reader FXPosé 64 Traditional FXPosé




20 25 30 32 36

News Competition Forum winners Letters Artist Q&A


44 Plein air thinking Artists are increasingly working outdoors, as new technology enables them to find inspiration away from their desks.

54 Sketchbook Imaginative New Zealander Jeffrey Lai shows us his notepad full of demons, zombies and ‘real-life’ fairies.

See page 8 for the best new art


58 Development sheet See how Emerson Tung created a spiny, water-loving creature, for a short fantasy film. 60 Artist portfolio When Dave Rapoza spent six months doing unpaid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ‘fan art’ people thought he was nuts…

“Once you’ve stopped to look around you realise it’s a badass way for nerds to escape the desk”

Shaddy Safadi, Digital Plein Air Society



Q&A: Holographics


112 Studio profile Tyler West went from jobbing artist to running his own Los Angeles concept art studio.


102 106 107 108 110

Hardware & software Books Training Films Video games

Dave Rapoza




Q&A: Burning objects


Regulars 3 33 34 53 94 114


Editor’s letter Digital editions Subscribe today Back issues Next month DVD contents

June 2012

Development sheet

Mainstream fantasy?

Q&A: Retro space suit

Issue 83 June 2012 84


Workshops Advice and techniques from pro artists…

70 How to illustrate a close encounter Derek Stenning puts together a striking cover.

An epic sci-fi scene

75 Starting out in pastels Different types and how to get the best from them. 76 Paint sci-fi art on an epic scale David Demaret creates a spaceship in deep space. 82 How to design a cinematic creature Mark Molnar gives his alien an emotional quality. 84 Draw and paint a starship trooper Marc Brunet paints a sci-fi female in an environment. 88 Use maquettes to enhance your art James Gurney is happy to share his paleo techniques. 96 Create stronger vehicle concepts Joon Ahn on perspective and lighting skills.

Artist Q&A

36 This month’s Q&A topics… Learn how to paint realistic-looking leather, smoke, clothing, trees, hands, crumpled shiny material and a burning object – as well as airbrush techniques.

Video workshops on your free DVD… Where you see this badge you’ll find an accompanying video workshop in the corresponding folder on your DVD.

Turn to page 114 for more…

ON YOUR DVD This month’s essential art resources… 20 im images from NASA Use these photos h s iin your space art. Sci-fi models from DAZ 3D Paint troop carriers and flying cars!

June 2012


DDeve Development evelopment eve velopm lopmeent lopm lopmen e tsheet shee h t heet




Emerson Tung

Country: US A concept artist and illustrator living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Emerson is currently working for a mobile gaming company. His work has been published in Spectrum 18, and during his spare time he produces freelance illustrations and gallery paintings.

When he was asked by a 3D animation student working on a short fantasy film to help create a creature that the main character could ride, Emerson Tung came up with this spiny, water-loving monster

The brief

I was asked to design a creature that the main character could ride. The client didn’t really know what he wanted, but after some discussion we decided to go with a giant amphibian creature.

Thumbnail sketches

I started out doing some thumbnails in Photoshop. Here I try to include visual clues that this animal could live on land and water by adding fins to it. I’m also experimenting with different types of anatomy the creature could have. While doing these I’m keeping in mind the environment the creature lives in, how it moves and so on.

Second pass

I started looking at photos of lionfish and they inspired the sketch at the top. The final sketch at the bottom is a result of combining the top two. Instead of having spiny fins run across the creature’s back I decided it would make a more interesting silhouette if they started at the base of the tail. I got this idea from studying tadpoles.


June 2012

DevelopmentsheetEmersonTung Orthographic views

These orthographic and anatomical views are to help the 3D modeller. In the pipeline on a 3D animation it’s always helpful to provide as much information as possible to the person you’re passing your work on to.

Finished concept

For this piece in particular I used quite a bit of Overlay and Multiply layers to create the patterns on the creature. The colours I chose are inspired by poison arrow frogs, lionfish and various sea snakes. I rendered it with slippery, slimy skin to reinforce the idea that this creature is amphibious.


Are you working on a project, or doodling your own development sketches that you’d like to share with us? LET US KNOW! Email your WIPs and final images to:

June 2012



DRAW AND PAINT A STARSHIP TROOPER Marc Brunet takes you through the process of painting a sci-fi female character in an environment, using a single Photoshop layer

Marc Brunet COUNTRY: US

Marc is a 3D character artist working in California, for Blizzard Entertainment. He is always trying to improve as an artist and feels the best way is to watch other artists do what they do best.

DVD Assets

The files you need are on the disc, in the Marc Brunet folder in the Workshops section.

his workshop focuses on advanced painting techniques so I won’t be going into the structure and anatomy of the character. Instead, I’ll focus on creating a balanced illustration using a strong composition, complemented with a good colour palette and a well-defined focal point. Over the years I’ve started to gravitate towards a technique where all the



components of the painting progressively come together at the same time and this is what I’ll be trying to explain here. I know a lot of artists prefer going about a painting in a more methodical way, but for those like me who are a little less disciplined, I think this is a great technique to try out. The idea is to build a good composition using colours, lighting, shapes and level of detail as you go. Since each of these

components plays a huge role in the composition of a painting, I find it easier to slowly refine them as the painting progresses, rather than having to limit myself when one of those doesn’t quite match the others at the end. We could compare this to a modeller, who slowly refines his model as he goes, rather than going ahead and sculpting crazy details in only one area. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Telling a story

Every illustration should start with this question: what story am I trying to tell? In this case I’m trying to paint a whole scene, a scene that includes a character and its environment. The only way to incorporate the two, to make the viewer “travel”, is by coming up with a story for your scene. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but a little background tale will go a long way. So my idea is that after her spaceship crashes, our female trooper bravely ventures out to explore this uncharted planet.


Composition block out

Rather than doing a line drawing at the start, I prefer to block out the shapes with rough brush strokes. It gives a faster feel to the composition, quickly placing all the major components in the image early on. This step should only look decent when you squint – it’s supposed to be very rough. After the shapes are blocked out, I add some outlines to help me define things a little more, such as her armour.


Choosing the horizon

Because I’m painting a character in an environment, it’s crucial to have both elements feel believable. If the perspective of the character doesn’t match the background then it’ll look wrong. I always define the horizon early on because of that reason; it has such a big impact on the painting. As a rule of thumb, everything over the horizon line will always be shown as if you were looking up, and everything under the line will be as if you were looking down. Of course, the horizon itself is the point where your eyes are looking perfectly straightforward, neither up nor down.


June 2012

In depth Paint a trooper

June 2012


Workshops 4



Colour palette

Flip horizontally

The background is always the first element of the scene I want to work on, because it dictates the horizon line and as a result how the character will look. Here, to go with the story, I want the horizon to be low in the frame so viewers will look at her from a lower position, making her feel more powerful and impressive.

Alt+E+A+H (P C & Mac) Sometimes a simple flip can reveal fla ws you’ve become used to seeing!

Colours tell a story of their own. I want the scene to be sunny, which means warm colours. Yellow will be the dominant colour, with blue as the complement. The dominant colour is always slightly more saturated, and the complement is desaturated for balance. For the outdoors, the complementing colour is easy to place: you’ll have it as a subtle ambient colour coming from the sky and in both the background (blue atmospheric perspective) and foreground (in the shadows, therefore only lit by the ambient light coming from the sky). To further define my focal point, I pick a random saturated colour and use it on one of its components (I’ll do more towards the end). This could be as simple as colouring the eyes a bright green.


Colour choice is crucial

I try to use the Color Balance window a lot throughout a painting, to help me find the perfect colour palette. I know that I’ll never get it right the first time and it’s always worth tweaking it along the way, to try and get it closer to perfection. Different monitors display colours differently, so make sure you see your painting on as many displays as possible and fix the colours if needed.


June 2012



Armour design

When the stage is set it just seems easier to make the character work with it rather than doing the opposite. I would also consider the spaceship part of the foreground (blue in the image); to me it acts as another character that I can pose and position to best fit the composition. This explains why I’m choosing to change it completely. It’s the supporting role in a way and it works to make the main character more important by not being higher than her. It’s similar for the rocks in the foreground, too. Their purpose is to wrap the canvas to make it seem like everything – even the environment – is making room for her.

Evolving concept

Practising speed-painting forced me to approach my paintings this way. Because there’s a deadline to meet, it means the whole thing has to come together at once: composition, colours and concept. What it means is simple: I have to always be ready to drop an idea as I go, even though it might have been a good one initially. For this painting, I’ll start by changing the ship in the background, then the entire environment, then the armour concept. Not much of the original idea is left – just its core – but as a result of not being too sensitive about painting over things, I’ve ended up with a better composition. This is also why I force myself to use a single layer; there’s no going back, only forwards!


Just as everything else comes together along the way, so too does the design of her armour. I adjust the details and shapes of her armour to complement everything else, while still making it a little more interesting than the rest because, after all, she is the star of this show! The idea for her chestplate goes from all opened up, to closed, in the early stages and then, when the background is completed, it just feels cooler to reduce the horizontal lines on her and make her chestpiece bigger, and then give it a weirder shape. Her legs are supposed to be all robotic but again, to make her stand out a little more, I choose to model them on real legs in the end.

In depth Paint a trooper 9

Surface quality

At this point most of the painting is locked down, but there are still opportunities to enhance (or ruin?) the composition. Surface quality plays a small yet important role now. What kind of material I use for her armour, the spaceship in the background, how shiny things are – all these choices affect the image. I give the spaceship a matt finish to help push it back in the distance a little more while giving her armour a shinier appearance. After this, it’s just a matter of depicting different materials to keep the viewer interested. Visual variety is key, which is why I add metals, leathers, plastics, flaws, flat surfaces and so on. Each red dot in the image represents a different material.


This default Photoshop brush is amazing to get a quick idea of the final lighting or to add some quick highlights. Most of the time I use it in the Overlay brush mode.

Final composition 12 The composition is almost there. I want to add a horizontal hole on the ship to break the vertical lines. There are only a few problems left and it’s just faster at this point to fix things rather than go back and repaint it. I’m moving her hand further from her body, with the help of her helmet, to break the verticality in that area, too.

pass 13 Polish At this point the image is basically

Create your own brushes

A new world opened to me when I started to create my own brushes in Photoshop. I know a lot of people like to ask for other people’s brushes but they work a thousand times better when you create them to fit your exact needs. For each new painting, I always end up creating at least a new one to help with a particular situation. Once you get the hang of it, it’s very quick to do.

finished. If this were a speed paint it would be more than enough, but the remaining 50 per cent will add such a huge amount of clarity and readability that’s always worth doing. I simply go through everything and clean up the remaining black outlines.

more depth 14 AtAdding this point the painting looks pretty final, but it’s lacking depth. The last big step is to push the ship and the rest of the environment back, to further isolate the character and put her centre stage. This can easily be done by adding atmospheric perspective, or more obviously by adding particles in the air, such as sand or dust, to act as a thicker form of atmospheric perspective.

tones 10 ASkin character’s skin is always tricky

Color Balanc e

because the wrong choice of colours can make them look sick or take away from the believability. I always start with an orange-brown base, and then build up with lighter tones of desaturated oranges and pinks. Just like with every other component in the image, the skin also receives the ambient blue light coming from the sky directly above.


Light sources

The way to approach lighting in a scene is straightforward, yet tricky to put into practice. In most cases, as in this piece, the scene will have three light sources. The usual setup is one main light coming slightly from the top, its bounce light coming from the opposite direction, and the light coming from the sky always from the top.

Ctrl+B (PC) Cmd+B (Mac ) Quickly acce ss the Color Balance wind ow to tweak the co lours of your painting .

tweaks 15 Final The last few tweaks that I always add at the end of every painting are a simple contrast/brightness balance and some overall Color Balance tweaks. The focal point can still need some refining here, so I’ll add saturation to her hair colour to help define it better. I then flip the image a few times horizontally to make sure there’s nothing left that’s bugging me, and I call it done!

June 2012


Quick technique Pastels


There is a knack to using pastels, and nd Terese Nielsen introduces the different types and how to get the e best be t from f m them t astels produce vibrant colours with the ease and control of a pencil. They’re an especially portable medium with no need for water, brushes or palettes. Soft pastel sticks do become dusty or dirty when transporting, so carry a cloth to wipe them off before drawing. It’s generally easier to work on a toned surface rather than pure white. You can



buy toned paper, or tone it yourself using an acrylic or watercolour wash. To prevent over blending and smudging when using pastels you can use a mist of fixative on that area. Beware: if the fixative is sprayed too heavily, it dramatically dulls and darkens the vibrancy. Practise with some quick trial runs spraying the fixative to experiment with the light mist approach.

Choosing your pastels els ls

There are several types of pastels. T Hard and soft are the most common. Soft pastels have a rich, buttery feel and are easy to blend. Hard pastels, including the pastel pencils, are great for adding detail. Oil pastels have an oil binder, are less opaque than soft pastels and don’t smudge as easily. The newest watersoluble pastels create semi-transparent washes when water is brushed over them.



S Selecting the s surface for pastels

Thee k key to selecting paper for pastels is to choose something that has texture or tooth. If it’s too smooth, the pastels won’t adhere to it. Check that the paper is pH-neutral. If it’s not acid free, it can shift the colour of the pastels and cause eventual brittleness in the paper. Good choices are canvas, watercolour paper, pastel paper and sand board.

Terese Nielsen COUNTRY: US

Terese graduated with great distinction from Art Center College of Design and has freelanced 20 years illustrating for comic books, Lucas Entertainment, book covers and gaming art.

Soft pastels

These are rich and luminous in colour, provide a loose grainy texture and are easy to blend with varied surface effect, but are a little fragile.

Hard pastels

A little less vibrant in colour, but more stable than soft pastels. They’re great for detail.

Blending and painting B g w with pastels

Pastels are blended on the painting surface, rather than on a palette. Without buying dozens of individual sticks, a variety of colours can be achieved through layering and smudging. Start with darker colours, working up to light. Blending is done by layering the pastels with various strokes such as crosshatching, dots/ pointillism or smudging with different tools. Try blending with cotton swabs, #9 brushes, fingers, sponges, kneaded erasers or tissues.



Soft smudging with finger

Rough blending with finger




Blending with Q-tip

Pastel pencils

These come in a pencil ‘lead’ form and are easy to control. Pastel pencils are ideal for fine detail and rendering, and are a harder lead than soft pastels.

Watercolour paper

Oil pastels

These pastels contain an oil binder. They have a thick intense colour, but don’t smudge and blend like soft/hard pastels. They can also be blended with an oil medium or turpentine.

Pastel paper

Sand board

Water-soluble pastels

These can be used just like a regular soft pastel, except that you can also create watercolour-like washes with a brush and water, providing great variety in effects.

June 2012


Reviews Creating stunning animations is now even easier thanks to Anime Studio’s integration of multi-touch gestures from Wacom tablets.

Anime Studio Debut 8.2

GENTLE TOUCH Use Wacom’s multi-touch gestures to improve your cartoon creation skills with the latest version of the animation favourite Price £33 Company Smith Micro Software Web Contact Via website his update to Anime Studio Debut and its specialist Pro edition (priced at £132) incorporates multi-touch gestures from the new Wacom tablets (see page 102). These multi-touch options work primarily with the Navigation tools to help you pan and zoom across your canvas with ease. They also work specifically with the Layer, Camera and Draw tools, but only offer basic tweaks to existing tools rather than bringing anything new to the table. When using multi-touch gestures the active points of contact with the tablet are shown on screen as red dots. They can then either be used as a cursor for activating tools as if using a mouse or stylus, or for editing selected elements – such as bone coverage – via twofinger pinch or zoom gestures. Studio only offers options for one, two and ‘more than two’ finger gestures, but these can be improved if used with the Intuos’s customisable gestures options. This is where gestures in Studio are especially useful. We have often bemoaned the program’s ugly interface; by using multi-touch it



June 2012

reduces your reliance on finding your tools. For example, navigation options can be combined so that you can pan across the page and zoom and rotate your canvas simultaneously without deselecting your in-use tool. This combination of features works well in Debut, but it’s not suited for Pro, where precision and accuracy are key. The vector drawing tools are fiddly – using them with your fingers only makes this more so. Anime Studio Debut and Pro already offer great value for money and are still packed with features. Both versions (free to existing users) now include a new Character Wizard that enables you to create fully realised characters with walk cycles and expressions. You can also import, edit and update layered PSDs, while the Automatic Image Tracing tool, which makes it possible to input and convert sketches to line art. Although the added bonus of multitouch doesn’t solve any of Anime Studio’s minor niggles, it gives an increased flexibility to your workflow that helps improve the experience of using an already excellent program, whichever version you purchase.


n Supports gestures on Wacom tablets n Gestures combine tool functionality for ease of use n Use Intuos custom gestures to simplify workflow n New character wizard n Import and edit layered PSDs n Export highdefinition video files n Convert sketches into vectors with Automatic Image Tracing tool

System Requirements

PC: Windows 7/Vista/ XP, 500MHz CPU, 480MB hard drive space, 256MB RAM, Flash Player 9, Internet Explorer 7, optical drive, internet connection Mac: OS X 10.5, G4/G5 CPU (500MHz or above, Intel CPU recommended, 540MB free hard drive space, 256MB RAM, Flash Player 9, optical drive, internet connection

Because Anime Studio doesn’t use Bézier curves, vector drawing can be tricky, especially on a tablet.

Rating Multi-touch gestures are shown as red dots, so you can see which part you’re interacting with.

Software Graphic tools FiberMesh settings enable you to create everything from human hair to shaggy coats.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 PICK ‘N’ MIX Digital painting, photo-editing, vector design and page layout – all in one value package

ZBrush 4R3 GETTING HAIRY Try your hand sculpting with hair, fur or grass Price $699 Company Pixologic Web RATING The rate of development of features in Pixologic’s popular 3D sculpting and painting tool is hard to keep up with. The latest toy for artists to play with is FiberMesh, enhanced in 4R3 after its introduction in 4R2b a month previously. (Both releases are free to existing ZBrush 4 owners.) FiberMesh enables you to paint clumps of long strands onto another surface. Tinker with the settings, and you can create hair, fur or grass – indeed, any material that relies on intense repetition for its effect. Enhanced in 4R3 with additional curling options, the effect is brilliant and adds all sorts of textural possibilities to your sculpting. Crucially, this update enables you to save settings to load later, so you can create a library of fibre effects. Other tweaks in 4R3, such as improved shadows in preview renders, are technical rather than game-changing, although the ability to call up your lightbox preset library from within major palettes is a nice time-saver. And, at long last, an auto-update tool helps you keep track of Pixologic’s dizzying upgrade schedule.

Price £479 Company Corel Web Contact 0800 376 9272 orelDRAW has been around a long time now, but has never escaped the shadow of Adobe’s collection of design programs. However, when judged on its own merits the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 acquits itself well. It includes a range of applications including CorelDRAW itself, Photo-Paint, PowerTRACE, Website Creator and many more supporting utilities, such as a barcode generator and font manager. CorelDRAW is a vector drawing application and page layout tool, and with this upgrade it’s received a lot of new features. Vector shaping tools enable you to pull, twist and shape vector objects without having to laboriously edit paths, while a Colour Harmonies tool gives you options to try out new colour schemes across your work. There’s also advanced OpenType support and a range of document styles available.


Photo-Paint, the image-editing tool, does offer some neat painting options with the major new one being the Smart Carver. This is essentially a clone of Photoshop’s Content-Aware tools. There’s also a new web design tool included: the capable Corel Website Creator X6. Even though the CorelDRAW suite is great value for money, it’s always going to be playing catch-up with Adobe’s industry-standard tools. This isn’t a bad thing, mind – and CorelDRAW fans will love the new additions. Whether or not this is the right suite of tools for a digital artist is another thing. We think that it’s more suited to businesses which need an all-in-one design solution for print and online (creating logos, for example.) As it stands, CorelDRAW is a nicely put-together suite that has some great drawing and painting options – but it won’t be the first choice for a digital artist who’s looking for a tool for creating fantasy imagery.


n CorelDRAW – vector drawing n Photo-Paint – image editing and digital painting n Website Creator n Document styles n Page layout tools n OpenType support n Custom colour harmonies n Vector shaping tools n Content-aware editing tools n Native 64-bit support

System Requirements

PC: Windows 7 (32- or 64-bit editions), Vista (32- or 64-bit), or XP (32-bit), all with latest Service Packs installed, 1.5GB hard disk space, 1GB RAM, resolution, DVD drive, Internet Explorer 7 or higher


CorelDRAW is a great all-round performer for those looking for an out-of-the-box solution for vectors, photo editing and website design.

ZBrush uses fibre-based shapes to make the software far more than a virtual clay studio.

June 2012


ImagineFX June 2012  
ImagineFX June 2012  

A collection of sample articles from our June 2012 issue of ImagineFX. Enjoy!