Friday, 28 November 2014

Project Resurgence: Warden Gorman

I've had a bit of a break from this project as I was completing some freelance work for a studio, but now I'm back and ready to work.  I developed a new character design based on the list of characters provided to us on the brief.

The Warden is described as someone young, inexperienced and in way over his (or her) head.

With my project being based around a dinosaur zoo/them park/science experiment gone wrong, I altered the Warden idea to a head scientist (or even vet) of the park.  Brilliant in his field, and a young genius, he gets hired.  He soon discovers the genetic mutations that are taking place and is forced to work against his will, despite his objections.  He's young and scared and easily manipulated.  He hides and has survived the events of the last year on the island.

I wanted the Warden to be one of the earlier characters Chloe (the player) meets in the game.  He'd be the guy with the 'plan', helps out with information, tells the player what to do, how to attack and avoid the varying species of dinosaurs etc etc.  So, to stop him from wondering around with the player during the game (survival in numbers and all that)...I broke his leg during a recent dinosaur attack, immobilizing him.  That'll slow him down.

I also named him Warden Gorman after the wonderfully inexperienced and in over his head Lt. Gorman from Aliens :)

Here's some of the early design work, leading up to the final piece:

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Project Resurgence: Chloe

Project Resurgence: Thumbnails

This is quite a large brief, so my first task was to come up with a bunch of ideas that I'd like to do, and then reign these designs back in so they fit the overall brief better.


Project Resurgence

Hello!  I'm currently working away on the next design brief on my Master's course, so a lot of the upcoming work I'm going to uploading here over the next couple of months will be related to that.  So, in order to give it all a bit of context, I thought I'd post this entry about the background of the brief.

The brief is to create a prison designed around 'exotic' creatures.  This a pretty open brief, and it has quite a lot of leeway over what we can do.  There's some basic information about the prison we need to keep and there are a set of character profiles that are also provided.

After whittling down a few early ideas (including a space prison) I've found something I like.  This is a module based around visuals and concept art, so story writing isn't exactly an 'important' factor.  However, I find it useful to have a basic narrative to give the project some focus.  So, brace yourself for a cliche ridden, plot-hole filled story...

Title: Project Resurgence.

Action survival, third-person game.

Government owned "STEM Research Facilities" has perfected cloning dinosaurs (exciting!).  On the exotic, but isolated, island of Isla de la Muerte, a dinosaur safari park has been opened with full attractions and resort.  The park is obviously a very popular destination receiving incredible amounts of tourists each year.

Unknown to the public however, the military are conducting experiments in secret facilities around the island.  They are experimenting with gene-splicing and bio-weapons.

One week, during a tropical storm, the island went dark.  All communication was lost.  No one returned from the island and no one was ever heard from again.

A year passes.  The government has declared the island a quarantine zone with no access by sea or air.  Access is strictly prohibited.

After exhausting every option, an aging billionaire is putting together a small team, including Chloe (you, the player).  Chloe is a veteran photo-journalist.  The billionaire has hired you, and the team, to find his daughter and her children (who were at the park when the island blacked out) as well as documenting what happened.

On the flight to the island, a hurricane strikes the plane, forcing a crash landing.  Chloe and the rest of the team are scattered across the island.

Chloe awakens unarmed and alone on the island.  Using only her instincts, she must fight for survival on this dinosaur invested island as well as facing the genetic horrors that have been created.

Like I say, story writing isn't my strong suit.  And you'd be forgiven if this brought back flashbacks of a particular Steven Spielberg film.  But this is workable enough for me to base an entire project around.

Next up, ideas...

Thursday, 16 October 2014


So I'm currently studying a Masters Course in Concept Art and we've began a new module based around Character and Environment design.  Our first brief (kind of a warm-up brief) was to take Captain Hook and place him in a futuristic style.  He doesn't have to a 'pirate', but still a villain.  So this was my design.

I've also included some step-by-step image to show the progress.

Enjoy :)

Final Design

Some initial sketches:

Progress images:

Friday, 12 September 2014

Friday, 5 September 2014


Testing out some new brushes on Photoshop and I got carried away doing this portrait of Rust from True Detective.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

'Beast' Painting Development

Hi all.  Here's a link to my latest video that shows the development of my latest character piece, 'Beast'.


Saturday, 9 August 2014


Beast, troll, ogre, creature...thing...I'm crap at titles.

This little fella is going to be the basis behind a character/creature lecture I'm giving next year. So keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming 'how to' video coming soon.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Demo Painting Video

Hi everyone, welcome to my first video. 

This is a short (well, very short...) video showing how to create a digital painting inspired by 'The Last of Us'.  I haven't set up a 'live capture' through Photoshop yet, so this video is built up from a lot of screenshots I took throughout the painting process.

There's also quite a few frames with writing/expanded menus as these images are also used in a lecture I give to students.  So, sorry if it seems confusing at all.

Hopefully people will find this interesting :)

Available in HD!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Demo Painting

Hi everyone. Here's my new piece "Demo Painting" (catchy title, right?). Take a wild guess which game inspired it...

I'm putting together a couple of lectures for my students next year on how to tackle an environment painting as well as looking through Photoshop and the various tools it has to offer, how I go about doing a painting, what went wrong in the process, what went right etc etc.

I still need to wade through the numerous screenshots and captures I've took as I developed this image, but I might be putting an online "lite" tutorial on here soon. It needs to be "lite" so the students, you know, actually turn up to the full lecture...

So, if you're interested, watch this space!


Friday, 11 July 2014

10 Year Anniversary

So next month is my 25th birthday, and I'm not really looking forward to it at all.  I like 24.  Being 24 suits me just fine.  However, I did have a moment of realisation.  I've been drawing pretty much as far back as I can remember, but when I left school at the age of 15 (bright eyed, eager and full naive optimism), that's when I started taking my art work 'seriously'.  10 years later, I'm a bitter, crusty husk of the person I used to be, however I thought it would be interesting to have a look back over that time and see how my work has progressed.  It was quite an odd exercise to do. 

Obviously not ALL of my art work is on this 'Collection'.  There's too much of it, some has been damaged over time, some lost, some of it I just plain hate.  It also noticed a dip in productivity during my University years (heh heh...).  But here it is.

One of the things I tell my students is to not throw away their work.  Even if they despise it and feel it's the worst thing they've ever created.  And moments like these are the reason why.  You have no idea how to progress as an artist if you can't see where you're going wrong.  You need to hold on to the bad drawings and learn from them.  Sometimes, they're more important than your good drawings.  And, when you put it all together like this, you can see a level of progression in your work.  I like to think there's one in mine.

Anyway, hopefully this will inspire someone, somewhere.  Make a 'penny drop' or something.  Oddly enough, this whole exercise made me feel a little happier about turning 25.  It's made me curious to see what my work will be like in 10 more years.


A slightly higher resolution version can be found at

Monday, 7 July 2014

Gal Gadot Wonder Woman

Hello! Sometime ago, when rumors were spiraling around the internet about a possible Justice League of America movie being made, I did a design of what Wonder Woman could possibly look like.

Well, the other day the first official photo of Superman was released for Dawn of Justice, and it inspired me to redesign my concept of Wonder Woman.

Previously, I 'cast' Gina Carano as Wonder Woman because I thought she'd be a good fit. Warner Bros didn't accept my proposal (their choice I guess...) and cast Gal Gadot instead. However, I think Gadot is an interesting pick, and I'm really excited to see what she does with the role.

Anyway, hope you all like the design.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Zombie Survival Kit

I feel this design merits a little explanation.  Late one night, whilst watching some trashy horror films and having one or two drinks,  I started thinking about what I do/use in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  This should have been an early indication to go to bed, but hey.

I set myself some restrictions.  I live in the UK so gun control is very tight here.  Also I could only use items and clothing that are available to the general public.  So the automatic shotgun strapped with a chainsaw and motion sensor lava grenades can't be used.

I woke up the next day to find I had a very thorough (and very long...) Amazon wish list.  Only by the grace of God, the shopping cart was empty.

However, I found I had a very decent, practical and surprisingly affordable zombie survival kit that could be used in a variety of situations and weather conditions.  I won't bore you with all of the little details, but I put some of the ideas together for this design :)

So if, in the midst of a post-apocalyptic situation, you see this guy wandering around, chances are, it'll be me.  And if playing Day Z has taught me anything, don't come and say 'hello'.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Assassin's Creed V: Reclamation. British Moors

I've started exploring more ideas for my fan-based Assassin's Creed game set in Victorian London.  With this piece, I tried to depict the grandeur of the British country-side.  Enjoy :)

Original sketch...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Khaleesi Portrait

Bank Holiday Weekend boredom strikes resulting in Game of Thrones fan art

Monday, 28 April 2014

Tiberius Character Design Tutorial

For a little while now, people have been asking me how I go about my painting process.  I've done a couple of 'how to/step-by-step' things in the past, but I thought I'd go in to a bit more detail with this one.  Plus it'll give me a good chance to rant and rave and unleash a bit of madness onto the world!

Before we begin, I'd just like to throw out a little reminder:  this is just how I go about my painting process.  This isn't the 'correct' way or the 'right' way of designing a character.  It's just a way that I found works for me.  This process won't necessarily work for everyone as every artist is different from one another; it's just a case of finding out what works for you.  So, hopefully this won't be boring and will inspire someone somewhere :)

Let's get to it...

So, the first thing I do when designing anything is by digging out some references and research.  I was wanting to create a Roman soldier design for this piece, so I tried to find images that are relevant to the visual style I want to achieve as well as looking at some concept art to see what the competition is like.  Sometimes the reference stage can be quite extensive, but with this design I already had an idea of what I wanted, so I didn't spend too much time on it.  I'm wanting something a little gritty, a little dark and something believable.

After finding my references,  I begin my sketching.  The whole point of this stage is to explore ideas, so I like to keep a sense of momentum and get my ideas down very fast and quite rough.

Upbeat rock music and a heavy injection of caffeine is highly recommended.

I don't want to commit to any designs at this point, so I don't spend very long on any one sketch.  As this is a personal piece, I like to get a sense of my character and make changes as I go.  Working professionally for a client however, I generally spend more time on this stage to create more variations, add in more detail and to neaten them up a bit further.  This is so the client has a much clearer idea of what I'm trying to show.

I select the design that I like the most, create a new document and import the sketch.  In the early stages of my design, I generally just work in greyscale so I can focus on the tonal values and the design, without complicating anything with colour.  Again, this is a personal piece, so it's still quite sketchy but I know in my mind where I want to take this image.  As you grow with confidence in your work, you don't need to flesh out every little detail straight away.  You become less reliant on it.  You just know the details will come eventually.  I believe patience truly is a virtue for a concept artist, despite the fact I am, at my core, quite an impatient person!

Next I want to begin implying colour to my design.  I think the leap into colour is the part that scares a lot of new artists as they're unsure what to do next.  Though I do like working in greyscale, there's a danger that, when you begin overlaying colours on top, the dark greys/blacks underneath will 'muddy' or desaturate your colours creating an overall bland palette.  Now, in my mind I know I want my design to be cold, gritty and bleak in colour regardless (it's not meant to be bright and colourful...he's not a Winnie the Pooh for god's-sake), but I want to avoid any potential problems with the colour palette. So this is what I do...

If working on numerous layers, merge the layers down to one.  Name it something sensible like 'Character Base'.  Duplicate this layer so you have a layer named 'Character Base copy'.  Go to to 'Image; Adjustments; Levels' (or CTRL+L for the shortcut).  Playing around with the sliders, lighten up your greyscale image so we've eliminated a lot of the very dark/black areas leaving mainly mid-tone to light greys.  Chances are, this will lose some of the detail you have painted in, but hey, this a sketch, not the final design.  Don't worry about it.
Create a new layer on top of 'Character Base copy', again, name it something sensible like 'Colour Block'.  Adjust the Layer properties;  this is open to experimentation, but the main one's I generally stick with are Hard Light, Overlay, Soft Light, Screen and Multiply.  Using the Soft Air Brushes, begin painting in a rough block of colour.  This is not meant to be highly detailed, it's just a quick pass to give you an idea.  I generally make a couple of these 'Colour Block' layers to experiment with quickly.  It's not by any means perfect, but it's a good way to help visualise the colour palette quickly and eliminate any of the very dark tones.

Using a fairly rough brush, I create new layer (with Normal layer property settings) and start blocking in some rough details.  Using the Lasso Tool, I also select chunks of the anatomy and movie pieces around so it looks more comfortable to the eye.

Because I'm painting over the top of my original sketch, I make a small copy of the sketch and just keep it to one side, just as a reference point.  I'm wanting to create a character who's a little moody and battle seasoned, so I spent some extra time on the face, including a texture from photo ref for the mouth.  If anyone's looking for some good references of faces, here's a handy site:

I wanted to show the construction of the body armour, so, for the moment, I've decide that the big furry coat is getting in the way of my actual design.  So I removed it.  When painting, I don't have a 100 percent perfect final outcome in mind.  It doesn't work that way.  You need to try things, explore your ideas and let them develop naturally.

From there, I continued painting with rough brushes bringing in more refined detail with each layer I add.  As I'm progressing through this design, I know there are areas of detail I really want to add in here and there.  But I need to stop myself from just throwing them in to the wrong place because sorting out those issues later down the line is only going to create more work myself.

At this point, I added in some photo textures from to help enhance the sense of believability in my image.

And from here, it's literally just a case of refining areas that look rough and slowly building up the level of detail.

Eventually, I reach a point where I think the design is complete.  I expend my canvas, duplicate the character and create the helmet design.

I've got into a little habit lately when designing characters; I like to do two versions of the same design.  The first one is quite clean, on a plain background.  Something I'd pass over to a 3D modeller who can clearly see where the design is going (hopefully...).  For the second design, I like to take that character design into another document and create a sense of the environment this character lives in.  Is it hot, cold, snowing, sunny, raining, happy, bright, miserable drab?  This way, I have clear visual of seeing what the character would be like in their world.  This isn't an essential thing to do, it's just something I enjoy doing.

All he needed now was a name, so I settled with Tiberius :)

So yeah, I'm not the worlds greatest writer, but hopefully this will give you some insight into how I developed this character design.  As I said earlier, I hope someone, somewhere finds some inspiration here.  Keep practising!