The Stranger (wips and done)

the_stranger_doneHis chat handle is The Stranger. For the last three months, he’s been messaging Loca Mocha, Lethal Lemon, and Nimble Melon, helping them find secure data connections and private places to meet. They’ve never met him, but Loca Mocha is about to come close. But is he just a sophisticated Org agent? (Is he even human?)

This piece (which I started Sunday and worked on for most of the day, before finishing it off Monday night after work) began as I looked through some of my older art, namely these two pieces from 10 years ago.

Gigapolis_Cityscape_by_Majoh

Loca_Mocha_Mood_Piece_by_Majoh

I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to paint Loca Mocha with her motorcycle in Gigapolis? I had a bunch of ideas in my head, but this is the one that started to get traction:

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Redrew her upper body, I like this one a lot better:the_stranger_wip02

Rough sense of lighting:the_stranger_wip03

Clearly, I still do not know what to do with the right side of the painting.
the_stranger_wip04

Oh I know, a big line of cars!the_stranger_wip05 the_stranger_wip06

Okay, bigger cars maybe?the_stranger_wip07 the_stranger_wip08

This is where I left it off before going to bed (and to work on Monday), only to come home with a great idea – Twisted Gizmo totally needs to be in this one. I added a new layer on top and just started painting out the cars and painting him in, and that was it!

the_stranger_done

This was a fun piece. What really gets me about it though is that I spent about 7 hours on it total, which is probably half (or a third) of what I spent making this (hot mess of a) painting of Gigapolis in 2005. Back when I made it, I thought tiny details were what mattered, and had virtually no understanding of lighting… or anything, really.

Gigapolis_Cityscape_by_Majoh

Now, of course, I know you can “do more with less” (chunky brush strokes, loose forms) as long as you get the fundamentals (perspective, lighting, etc) correct – but it’s much easier said than done!

Onwards!

Depart at dusk (wips and done)

depart_at_dusk_doneTren: We can’t go with them, but there’s nothing stopping us from following… We’ll depart at dusk.

No big story behind this one, just Airika being her usual optimistic self and Tren making plans. This one was a lot of fun to paint, and the lighting and palette were challenging. The palette was inspired largely by this painting called “Memoria” that I found on DeviantArt, so my thanks goes out to this (and all the other artists) out there sharing their work so that other artists (like me!) can learn from them.

Here are some WIPs, starting with a bunch of chunky blobs. I didn’t really use a sketch for this one, and I kind of flip back and forth between bothering with a sketch vs. just jumping right into blobs of color.
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Got Tren’s face to a happy place on the first attempt. Aw yiss.depart_at_dusk_wip02

At this point I was so happy with it I debated chopping Airika out of it and making it just Tren. But I think I make more compelling scenes when there are at least two characters, so I kept her in.

depart_at_dusk_wip03 depart_at_dusk_wip04 depart_at_dusk_wip05

From here it was just render, render, render.

depart_at_dusk_done

I could keep picking at it, but at this point I think I’ve learned what I was gonna learn from it and I’m ready to start something new.

Photoshop, a few hours.

Where we fought the old witch (wips and done)

mirrors_done

As promised, indulgent fantasy stuff is back! (Slowly – I caught a bad cold this week which is slowing me down these last few days!)

I was eager to start a new scene painting after finishing all those still lifes last weekend. Rolling around my head was this idea that Vince and Airika might go adventuring in some kind of hall of mirrors, so I sketched it out…
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Then I decided this scene needed Tren – after all, it’s always wise to bring a healer. 🙂

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Render, render, render… here I am trying to get a good sense of where the light parts are and where the dark parts are.

Tren tends to wear brighter blues/greys but Vince and Airika both wear black and browns/neutrals at this point in the story when they’re still n00bs. mirrors_wip03

I’ve been trying to give my scenes a stronger sense of depth, so I pulled Tren into the background and made her lighter. So far so good. mirrors_wip04

More rendering – mostly trying to get faces established, because if the faces aren’t right, nothing’s right. 🙂mirrors_wip05

More rendering. At this point I decide I don’t like the boxy hallway scene over Airika’s head on the right, so…mirrors_wip06

…I open it up a bit! (See below)

Much better. I also turn the wall to the left of Tren into a series of windows. At this point, I’m thinking this is probably a palace room belonging to a certain necromancer we met earlier on this blog, which gives me an ideal I’ll reveal further down. 😉
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Below, I changed Tren’s staff position after Jim suggested she was opening a can of whoop ass. Not that she isn’t, it’s just that she’s putting the staff together, not taking it apart, and I think the previous version looked more like the latter than the former.

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From here, we get into smaller details that are harder to pick out. I kept trying out different faces and sword poses for Vince. That blue sword has to go in his right hand, and I didn’t like the way the scene looked when flipped horizontally, so I just changed the way he’s holding his weapons. Plus, Airika is right-handed as well, so this keeps things accurate for her, too. (Now if only I kept their clothes this consistent across paintings :P)mirrors_wip09

More faces and minor details. It’s always hard to get their faces right. mirrors_wip10

Final lighting touchups, more spiderwebs, repainted Airika’s face again, and the mirror reflection.

mirrors_done

I didn’t want to spoil it earlier, but that’s totally not Vince. It’s a trick by Lady Jozlynn, the necromancer and illusionist Airika woke up earlier. 😛

How long has it been her in disguise? Tren is already suspicious and putting her staff together, but Airika’s just now realizing that they are about to have their first battle with a very powerful foe…

Metal cup and rattle still life, white lamp (done)

april_still_life_baby_toys_1_soft_light_done

I’m so happy with how this one turned out! Here’s Jim’s metal baby rattle and cup again, this time in a more traditional lighting setup (one ordinary white bulb off to the left, and a couple of ambient white bulbs elsewhere in the room).

I even saved some WIPs from this ~2.5 hour painting study.

april_still_life_baby_toys_1_soft_light_wip01 april_still_life_baby_toys_1_soft_light_wip02

april_still_life_baby_toys_1_soft_light_done

Previously: 

 

Metal cup and rattle still life, red and blue lamps (done)

april_still_life_baby_toys_2_lights_doneThis tiny metal cup and barbell were apparently Jim’s toys when he was a baby (which was in the 1980s, not the 1930s, so these outdated toys have always been rather fascinating to me – I was also a baby in the 80s and my toys were plastic and made by Fischer Price, lol) . At least now we know how he grew up to be so METAAAAL.

Sorry I didn’t save any WIPs, this one just went kinda quick. There is a blue LED bulb to the left and a red filament bulb to the right. With both bulbs nearby, the white blanket (seriously, that blanket is stark white under normal lights) looks like it was dipped in fluorescent paint.

Also: ARGH, CIRCLES.

 

Chompy still life #2 (blue and red lights)

chompy_still_life_red_blue_lightsChompy #2 is done! This one has a blue spotlight to the left and a red lamp to the right in an otherwise darkened room (well, plus monitor light). Future Chompys will be from new angles, because why not? Having an articulated plastic skull pretty much requires mixing it up. I only wish the teeth were more accurate.

This colored lightbulb version was challenging because of what I believe is a limitation of my monitor. The brightest spots on the skull looked so much bluer in real life, like a much higher saturation blue that I couldn’t achieve in Photoshop / on my monitor. I got as close as I could.

Previously in the Chompy series:

 

Guildless characters (done)

3_11_2015_guildless_groupies_doneIt’s done! I started this one back in January (click for WIPs) but I sort of lost interest, maybe because artwork that tries to tell a story or capture a mood is so much more interesting to me now than plain old character sheets.

Anyway, I felt kind of bad about not finishing it so I dusted it off earlier this week. I knew I could do better rendering (and faces… man, always the faces). Much better now – and more importantly, it’s DONE – so I can move on now, haha.

I think this is the first time these four characters have appeared in one artwork together. The last time I drew them all together – 2006 to be precise – they were just a bunch of poorly rendered disembodied heads.

Airika__s_Adventure_Chars_by_Majoh_2006

Photoshop CS, many hours

War of the gods (wips + done)

war_of_the_gods_done_croppedThis is a gift piece featuring my friend Ben’s characters. This was tons of fun and largely outside my usual subject matter and palettes. Something that was great about working on this particular piece was that I had a clear vision from the start and didn’t rework it a half dozen times on the way to the finish line. I love when a painting goes smoothly from start to finish!

war_of_the_gods_wip01 war_of_the_gods_wip02 war_of_the_gods_wip03 war_of_the_gods_wip04 war_of_the_gods_wip05
war_of_the_gods_done
Photoshop CS, a few hours

Lullaby’s Descent (wips and done)

lullabys_descent_doneI asked Jim what I should paint next. He said, “a spaceship!”

For some reason, I really wanted this spaceship to be over an ocean, so I started with a blocked-in clump of ocean water and some clouds.

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I spent the next hour or so trying different shapes for the ship’s body until I settled on this one. lullabys_descent_wip01

I spent some time on the details…lullabys_descent_wip02

And kept rendering the details until I realized the back wing’s perspective was a total mess.

lullabys_descent_done

Which I tried to correct here in the final version:

lullabys_descent_done(I see why some artists paint over 3D models when they can!)

Anyway, for a first spaceship ever I’m pretty happy with it!