Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some things to work on (Monster of the Week)

I was watching a video about fundamentals by Feng Zhu tonight and was inspired to "brush up" lol.  It's amazing how no matter how long you draw, how long you paint, or how many miles your pencil odometer reads, the basics can always improve.  Lighting, perspective, gesture, color— as much as they seem like elementary principles, they are infinitely deep.

This was a quick sketch from last night that ended up looking not unlike a "Venusaur" from Pokemon lol, though that was not the conscious intent.  I learned a couple of things while working on it, simple concepts, but to me that's what makes them important.  The first thought (echoing advice given me by Justin Kunz recently) was that I need to focus on stroke control.  The second thought had to do with light.  I didn't use a spheretest on this one, and as a result wrangled for a while with my values.  They still have issues.  The thought occurred to me though, that the value patterns on a given isolated object are the sum of their lambert shading (spheretest-based lighting) and occlusion. Basically, in most situations everything lights as simply as a sphere, plus extra dark spots for the crevices.

And that was boring.  Here's an awesome:

Electric Eel Powers Christmas Tree

Monday, December 10, 2012

Life-Hack for Starving Artists

A great life-hack for starving artists! Make a sketchbook 12 times cheaper than some you might buy! After which I spend entirely too much time introducing my sketchbook stack . . . lol the next one will be shorter :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Foray into CG Hair

This is my first attempt at CG hair, after watching a brief tutorial about fibermesh (ZBrush Hair) on the Pixologic website.  Hopefully President Eyring won't take offense . . . alright, time to go to bed; I'm teaching tomorrow.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Paris: City of Love and Mutant Catfish"* aka "The South Beached Diet"?

AKA also Monster of the Week :}

      So I was driving on Friday listening to NPR and heard a story that caught my curiosity.  Apparently, a species catfish translpanted to France from Eastern Europe in the 1980s has recently developed some rather radical feeding behaviors.  In their native environment, catfish are quiet, nocturnal, bottom feeders.  In the last 30 years, hower, their behavior has changed— they've started beaching themselves to attack pigeons in broad daylight.  Check out the video:

Wow, be careful where you walk your dog! The idea that these fish are changing so quickly intrigued me.  If their behavior could change so completely in 30 years, what will they look like in 30 million?  So I decided to do some doodles.  One of my favorite sketch games is "Projected Evolution"– basically, you take a creature and guess what it will turn into in umpteen million years.  A great example of this is the gorilla bats in the BBC's Primeval.  They project that some time in the distant future, bats will evolve into a ground-based superpredator that still operates by echo-location.  

Here's one way to play this sketch-game yourself–  you can take 2 very different animals and say "in 30 million years, elephants and rhino beetles will switch ecological niches."  Read up on what they eat, any particular behaviors they have, and look at pictures to learn what is unique about their anatomy and how it helps them survive. Then, as you draw, you start with the elephant's current design and ask yourself questions about what anatomical changes would need to be made for it to function as a matchbox-sized organism.  For one thing, elephants have evolved to have sparser hair than most mammals, as they easily maintain heat by virtue of their enormous bodies (partial mass homeothermy for you nerds).  If an elephant were to shrink, it would need more hair, as it would have much less mass to maintain heat.  Rhinoceros beetles are insects, which means the materials and structures in their bodies will only carry so much weight,  Even in prehistoric times, land based arthropods would max out at 2.5 feet (and those were scorpions, not insects).  What needs to be changed in the Rhinoceros beetle's body if it's going to be 13 feet tall and support 7 tons of weight?  What changes in the shapes of its legs will the elephant need to burrow and scurry? These are the kinds of questions that will lead you to new, creative solutions and fun creature designs.

Projected Evolution Doodles
The image above started as a 4AM flashlight doodle, which I played with more the next day.  I projected that the Catfishes' beaching behavior and desire for land-based food would lead it further and further on to land, paralleling the way amphibians developed in the Devonian period.  Its ray fins would become sturdier and stubbier to pull it along like a crocodile for excursions of increasing duration.  In the doodle at top left I evolved the catfish into an entirely land-based predator, but kept his fin because I thought it looked cool (which is allowed lol).  Obviously these aren't to be taken as serious scientific projections, but it's a fun exercise in creature design.

Listen to the aforementioned radio segment at

See the never-mentioned cool spikily catfish picture:

Watch as catfish tries to beat the unmentionable Dennis Rodman's NBA rebound record:

*Technically not paris, but the Tarn River in Southwestern France.  It made a better title Q:{)   (a frenchman with a berret.  Or a coonskin cap).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Proof of Concept

Huzzah for my first ever full body full color zsculpt!  He's a Camptosaurus dispar, one of the major land herbivores of the late Jurassic period.  We're looking at incorparating some 3d into some of the exhibits at the BYU Museum of Paleontology, and this is kind of a proof of concept :)  Below is the Camptosaurus I used for reference, which is on display near the main entrance.

PS— Time lapse video!

A time-lapse video of the sculpt.  My apologies, I forgot to press record at the last part, so it kind of jumps from 3/4-done to all-done.  With regards to the music— Oh. yeah.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

First Round of Designs for PWN

     The first round of brainstorm sketches for our new senior film, which stars geeks, kung fu masters, and babies.  I am so psyched to work on this :)  These sketches are primarily face design ideas for the prideful video-game geek character, who gets his come-uppance from a controller-chewing toddler.

(Posted with Wes' permission)

Marshmallow Matey

As much as I love pirates, I've never understood what possesses advertising agencies to use them to promote their products.  Particularly those relating to food and hygiene.  One time in Wal-Mart I saw hanging on display  Pirates of the Carribean chapstick.  Nothing says "kiss me" like a yellowed pirate skull.  I mean, the thing didn't even have lips!    I can't imagine anything a skeleton pirate would be less qualified to sell.  Except maybe Citizenship in the Community merit badge booklets.  Also,  "Marshmallow Mateys".  I can get why the kids like it, the sugar+pirates= uncontainable hyperactive bliss. However, one would think that when trying to sell a parent on a sugar cereal it would be wiser to choose a mascot with more teeth . . . or a dentist maybe.  A fallen dentist, willing to sell his visage to promote the spread of oral decay.

This sketch was inpired by Allen Ostergar's pitch last night for the new BYU Animation department film.  Ultimately it was't chosen, but it had some fantastic ideas and lots of beautiful, beautiful, ugly pirates.  Awesome pitch Allen!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A learning experience

       This is a cover for a recipe book my writing class is putting together, with the "pencil-fork" sculpted in Zbrush/Blender and then photographic elements incorporated in photoshop.  There are lots of easier ways to accomplish what I did than the path that I chose, but I've been dying to learn more Blender and ZBrush and it was a good opportunity to do just that :)  You can't tell in the picture, but the noodles are alphabet pasta, which I thought could be a fun way to emphasize the theme.
     Before this point I had reached a certain level of modeling competency in Maya, so it was a humbling experience to start from square one (polygon one?) in Blender. The result wasn't the prettiest, but I got some basics under my belt.  Then, bringing the pencil into Zbrush, it was a fun opportunity to learn about materials and radial symmetry, which I hadn't worked much with in that program before.  It was neat to be able to sculpt identical designs on the six sides of the pencil at once :)  The tines of the fork got irreparably mushed when I up-resed the mesh ("splinched" for you Harry Potter fans), so the final image includes more of my photo-reference fork than originally intended. The final product definitely shows that it was a learning experience, but that's what counts!  I'm psyched to take the new skills I learned and apply them to future creations :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Devotional Speedsculpt


Wacom Intuos 3 Tablet and Zbrush 4r4

Happy December everyone, it's officially Christmas! er, season!

The Christmas Devotional/ Mormon Tabernacle Choir was tonight and I thought it would be fun to sculpt one of the speakers :)  This speedsculpt is of President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor to the Prophet Thomas S. Monson.  Mayhaps I'll put his glasses on at some point :)

A full version of the Christmas devotional and concert can be found free and legal at: