Livestream: When and what I do when I work on one

Fish like creature I created in a livestream.

Recently I have got back into my livestream. My current platforms are Youtube and Twitch and I stream digital art. I wanted to show off some of the projects I am working on, whilst talking a bit about when and why I do it. The details of the livestream at the bottom of this post. This is more to talk about what I do and why I choose to do it.

Livestream benefits for creative work:

When I draw I find that having a livestream helps to keep me on track and engaged on the project. When working to an audience with a specific timeframe in mind it helps to keep myself. Or if you are reading this to help yourself our then you. The creator in a position where you are engaging with the target audience for your work. I find that active flow of feedback from people watching, helps a lot when working. In all will help you produce better work with the audience in mind.

Working like this is really beneficial for lots of reasons. I work to two hour blocks, in this time I can create simple designs that I can later build on. At the same time there is the idea that by doing so you are giving yourself that time. When you work on projects by yourself and without a designated time it is easier to give up or get distracted (especially if you are like me and you have three children). If I didn’t livestream they would naturally take that time. This is not a bad thing. However at the same time it is important that you can work on your craft in order to get better. Blocking in this time becomes a nice way to save that time for your own development. which in turn’ will put you in a much better mood for thiers.

So why do I do it?

This is simple, it’s fun. Well not just fun but also a great way to get valuable feedback from peers. Look, I get for some people it’s about making a livelihood, getting viewers and having lots of followers. For me it’s all about having fun and enjoying the process of designing characters, creatures and environments. I do this whilst sharing that with whoever will listen .

In my livestream at the moment. This still being early days I get a maximum of maybe 10 concurrent viewers. Maybe 30 views in my two hour schedule. Really I don’t think this is bad. In fact it’s enough people to provide me with feedback. If a design is bad then I find out about it fairly quick. I see it as a collaborative approach to concept art as I get live feedback whilst I work.

My current projects:

Currently I have completed two livestreams. Below are the wonderful creatures I created in this time.

This character is a basic idea for a game and in all would be quite interesting to see in a classic adventure game for livestream.
This character is a basic idea for a game and in all would be quite interesting to see in a classic adventure game.

The character above was inspired by an insect. The idea in the livestream was to create characters that might belong in a video game. How would these work and how to differentiate these from one another.

Fish like creature I created in a livestream.
Fish like creature I created in a livestream.

This creature above is a creature I designed after looking at pictures of a sturgeon, the idea of a prehistoric looking armored fish came across as pretty cool and it was well received throughout the livestream.

Each of these designs were completed within around one hour and forty minutes. My personal plan is to start getting these to a level where I am able to produce two or even three of these sorts of designs within the two hour space. I would love feedback and for more people to join so this is where I share the details.

I stream every Thursday evening from 21:00 – 23:00 UTC+1

Youtube

Abura Akago

I wanted to write about this piece as I felt it’s one of my more original ideas when looking at mythology creatures. This creature is from Japanese folklore and it’s referred too as the Abura-Akago.

How the legend goes:

In Japanese folklore a greedy merchant was caught stealing oil from villagers lamps. He would make his prophet by selling this oil back to the villagers at a higher price and it eventually led to many of these people being considerably worse off in the long run. So disgusted with this act the ancestors cursed the merchant to wonder the world as a spirit. A little fat creature that drank the oil from peoples lamps to survive. My rendition of the story is probably not very accurate and my drawing is maybe not what you would expect from the story I just told.

When I created this however I wanted to see what I could make different. Adaptations in the animal kingdom  allow creatures to drink their food (instead of consuming it via eating). I decided to cross between a spider monkey in body but with the head of a humming bird. This allowed the project to meet the set criteria.

This creature would be nocturnal. It has developed feline style eyes as this is often used to see effectively in the dark and will allow it to focus at night. This creature prowls in the shadows on dark nights. It waits to drain the oil from a perch at a distance when no one is present.

Technical aspects:

To build the base the best way to do this was to work using shapes. Using shapes allows for blocking and the creation of an overall anatomically sound creature.

The colour scheme I picked of reds and oranges was purely coincidental at the time. I liked the warm colours and felt these would work best with a creature found around oil lamps. The colours allow the creature to seem warm. I added green in the bamboo to work as part of a Colour wheel’s complimentary colours.

 

 

 

The Coralmancer

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image above is one I have done of the Coralmancers. These were an idea I had, the thought process behind these characters were that they lived under the ocean to flee from a faction occupying the mainland called the  geomantic order. This rebel faction were outcast for experimenting with both water and earth magics. They fled to the ocean using water magic to extract air from the water. They are still hunted by the geomantic order and therefore summoned coral golems, these golems although work with the Coralmancers gained sentience from their masters due to their two entity system of animal and plant.

This was a really fun one to draw and you can see a live stream of it on my Youtube channel. I haven’t linked this as I have decided that I will create a separate page for the channel. The  exciting fact for me was it was the first time in a which I have tackled a character in a complicated pose with full colour, I have had to really think about how to give the image depth through use of values and anatomical proportion for this character which I feel I did fairly well.

I would love to turn this into a comic so if you thought this was interesting then feel free to drop me a message and maybe I can give it a go.

My obsession with drawings ideas and thier origins

So where do I get my drawings ideas? why am I always drawing animals? What’s the obsession and why am I always trying to convert these animals into some kind of crazy creature? These are some of the questions I get when I started to teach concept art to teenagers. They don’t often ask questions but when they do I always seem to get these three big ones.

Why I do it and how it started:

I grew up watching a lot of nature documentaries and I loved to draw using my own drawings ideas as a way to relax. What I always struggled with when I first started out was combining the two.

When I started my art GCSE I found myself being asked to draw “natural forms and structures” although I now see the relevance in this to practice line-work and using various media. I didn’t when I was starting out and so I neglected my artwork becoming frustrated with the fact I had to draw yet another stick but this one was in ink where the one I drew before was in pencil. This focus on objects I didn’t find interesting prevented me from doing an A level in art and I actually didn’t pick up a pencil (or in this case a graphics tablet) again until I started university.

University:

I remember the first project we did we were encouraged drawing ideas to be unique and different in university, this was for games design. Designing my own creations for a game! I was ecstatic. I had no idea what I wanted to draw and I remember discussing it with lecturers at the time. They asked me what I was interested in and I said nature, wildlife and documentaries. So I was told to research and design and just enjoy drawing with a focus on this area. I came up with a flat, awful drawing but what I found was that everyone loved it. Not for the artistic skill (At this point there was none) but instead for its design!

I have been taking this on more and more, not just in my freelance work but when I teach, because I slowly realised at university and now in my career that fantasy, not just in video games but legends, folklore and myths far back in history comes from the natural world and its a great place to design what I call a mental gallery.

The idea behind it:

I can explain this theory best with my favourite example I use for my students. We all know the legend of the Cyclops. The cyclops were big, one eyed men with tusks. They were giant with a huge lidless eye in the centre of their skulls. Its hard to understand where the idea came from. I can’t imagine it being conjured from thin air virtually nothing is!

However if we consider the fact that the ancient Greeks probably didn’t know what the anatomy of an elephant was as an example and that travellers and merchants coming across an elephant corpse would see a large pile of huge bones and a skull with a huge circle area in the centre (The area where the trunk protrudes). The travelling merchants could invent wonderful stories about giant one eyed human without ever having to see one. The world was therefore gifted with the legend of the Cyclops. This is the same process artists use to come up with drawings ideas.

So with this wonderful story I began to investigate in my own work Myths, Legends and Folklore. After reading about them I tried to come up with a series of designs based on what we see in the areas they originate. This is why I draw animals, by knowing how they work anatomically, how they hunt, stand, sleep and move. We can better design fantasy creatures when we work on commissions. This blog post on my drawings ideas has been more of a story than a lesson. I felt it was important to explain why I draw, what I draw and when I produce work what do I aim to achieve. Everyone starts somewhere and It’s important to know that, whatever the level you begin at is.

A study a day keeps artsic block away.

assorted animals

Recently I watched an interesting video around the concept of “Just draw” this is from Feng Zhu’s design cinema, for those of you that haven’t watched any FZD I advise watching some of his tutorials on Youtube, it’s well worth your time and honestly the man knows what he is talking about. He has will always be a huge driving factor in what made me take my artwork seriously. The reason why I am mentioning him is simple, he has perfected a way to tackle artist block.

So back to my original point about “Just Draw”, I had completely forgotten that when I loved drawing as a kid it was me drawing various exciting objects and animals that I found in my wildlife books, in the garden or walking about town.

Having an idea:

Now when I design something I have a rough idea of what I want and I draw. For a while now I have felt my designs end up feeling lifeless and flat. This is probably due to all these experiences I did have are so long in my memory it has stagnated and now I am left with a minimal library of mental resources to attempt to construct massive and grand ideas .

Yet more proof of anti artist block.
More bird studies, focus being on the shoebill and cormorant.

So how am I addressing that? I am growing my visual library! I recently started an account on Pinterest and it is probably the best thing I have done in a while as it is allowing me to collect hundreds of reference images and it even recommends similar images.

Now when I want to “Just Draw” I go to my reference images. Click a section (Recently it’s been birds) and I pick an image and I draw. The results have been fantastic. From Tuesday this week to Friday today I have drawn 22 new images! 22! I haven’t even struggled picking ideas as they are all there in front of me and I don’t worry for hours about investing my time as the studies are quick and excellent practice.

What to draw:

So how does that relate to keeping artistic block away? Well I like drawing similar things, creatures from myth and legend. The hardest aspect of this is how can I create something original? I created a Cerberus with two heads based on a Hyena, that was original to me. But I realised it is quite common to see hyena, I could go even further by studying and drawing more different mammals.

I can look at bones from extinct mammals, birds and reptiles and bring these together to create something that no one would even expect. So far I need to put this part of keeping artistic block away into practice. But I will say this I have noticed that ideas don’t come by looking at reference images alone, the practical element of line work, drawing new architecture, flora and fauna release a torrent of ideas that your brain would have loved to do but in the end decided it didn’t have the resources.

I suppose the point of this blog post for me is, “Just Draw” feed your creativity with images you have never seen. Help your brain to help you.

How to tackle artist block, just draw
Various bird studies, birds of prey, toucans, ducks and small birds. Proof of artist block not holding back anyone.

Eagle rock on a red planet

Red planet with jutting rocks.
Environmental artwork

This post will be talking a bit about how I work through my environmental design process and how I designed the image above. This was created in around two hours, that is including the thumb nail process and adding values before the final splash of colour. This monochromatic scene I would usually use to demonstrate concepts of an environment I wanted to make 3D and import into a game.

Six quick line sketches depicting various environments.

The images above here are the initial Thumbnails, I used no more than ten minutes to quickly sketch these. The initial design is really just a guideline to ensure that your perspective and compositional rules are good. A golden rule I have found is that if a Thumbnail looks wrong correct it there. It is easier to sort the foundations that the finished product. I ended up using two to take further. I found the slanted horizon an interesting concept.

This shows the process of how the enviornment was created.

This image shows the overall process, you can see how the thumbnail of to was enlarged, this was then given values. The values are important as its important no two grounds share the same values, this flattens the image. By this I mean the foreground will have a darker base value, a highlight and a shadow. The midground with have two base colours and a highlight and shadow. Finally the background will have its own set of three values. I find working in values gives you the right feel overall.

Finally as this was a quick concept I used an overlay layer, reds, yellows, purple and orange to finalise this dusty, hazy red planet. In all a really enjoyable two hour piece to create!

Costal work

This piece was really fun to create, it’s the first time I tried creating an image with any vibrancies in regards to colour whilst also thinking about the values. In the past when using colour I would often add too much value in the background and that flattened the image, now I work in values before working in colour.

The main challenge for this composition was balancing the different blues in the scene, I found that if I didn’t vary these enough I would bring the ocean and the sky onto the same level which would have flattened the image, this in turn would have completely ruined the depth of the image that I was attempting to create.I loved creating the small waves and thinking about everything that was going on in the scene, all the tiny details such as the archway, the seagulls flying overhead were all a fantastic challenge. How did I add these details without drawing too much focus from the overall scene.

Thinking about light in this scene is what really gives it depth and thinking about the ways the brush strokes should be to suggest texture was a real challenge. This being said I still think this is one of my favorite landscapes and I would defiantly work in this way again.

The Alicanto

Large gold bird

 

This image was one I did of a giant golden bird called the Alicanto for a myth and legend series. The myth comes from old American folklore from the time of the gold rush. It’s said to live in mines, eat gold and chase away miners who got too close to it’s food source.

My inspiration for the Alicanto was a collection of different birds of prey, I tried to replicate the sharp and angled face of these birds and I feel this was achieved with some degree of success, As I designed the creatures body I tried to create a powerful land based bird similar to an Ostridge or an Emu, I achieved this by using a larger jutting chest plate for the bird, this combined with its leg stance gave it a grounded and powerful look. The idea was an animal that if caught in a fight wouldn’t need to fly but instead could charge forwards at speed.

The Alicanto colour pallet was majority reds, yellows and oranges. However I did start to think about incorporating blues and purples into the shadows in order to better emphasize the glossiness of what are supposed to be metallic feathers. This being said it isn’t as prominent but this was also due to me attempting to design sharp feathers made of metals rather than the softer feathers you would find on actual birds.

Overall this is one of my favorite pieces of work and is one I would look at doing in future with more emphasis on location and story.