29 September 2010

Exile wip

More progress. Taking my dear time I know :p
I thought the limited colour made it a little boring especially since I love colours (you'll rarely see me do a dull atmosphere) so I tried to think of ways to add variety there. I hanged parts of his clothing's colours as well as tinting the fog behind him and on his skin too. The values were tricky to workout, this is a dark valued character on a dark background but the haze and backlighting could punch him out and some light valued skin and shirt can help bring in the contrast around the focal areas.

Drill drill drill

Some recent sketchbook pages. Life drawings at the top and the rest are anatomy studies. Going through Michael Hampton's Figure Drawing: Design and Invention book so far its looking ace! Also watched Peter Han's CGMW class recently. Brilliant lecture methinks. Its also been a while since I did some proper life drawing (not since my university days... sorry Parr shifu). My first session was absolute crap, surves me right for neglecting it. My confidence was gone and each mark has full of hesitation and assumption (inaccurate marks were made cause I was eager but did not observe clear enough). But I did better this week and enjoyed the class. More to come...

26 September 2010


A wip of something Im working on and some stages to my last painting. Though it needs to be repainted hehe, I feel I can take it a step higher.

25 September 2010


This is something thats been spreading around DeviantArt and I thought I'd make my attempt at listing my influences. In no particular order:
Bobby Chiu - For his influential positive mentality and desire to teach others. Has made a huge impact on the way I work mentally.
Craig Mullins - The grand daddy of digital painting! His work never fails to amaze me what you can do with digital paints. A master of the medium.
John Singer Sargent - Legendary traditional painter. His use of strong colours and ability to punch out forms makes his figures particularly stand out to me.
Mythology - Grew up loving these and has ever since kept my imagination running wild.
Studio Ghibli - Poetry in motion! Visually beautiful and great story telling and strong likeable, unconventional characters. Also highlights some of the beauty of nature and little things.
Studio 4C - A studio making high quality and very stylish films. Refreshing to see how they experiment with style and still maintain their high standards.
Jana Schirmer - Fantastic artist who's knowledge of lighting and colour really shows out in superb rendered paintings.
Jason Chan - One of the first digital painters I encountered when I first picked up a Wacom. Since then Ive been admiring his work and imagined if I can ever reach his level.
Marko Djurdjevic - Another awesome artist whom I followed when I set off on my journey. His intense rendered drawings, dynamic poses and lighting stands out to me most.
Asia - Ive been surrounded by Asia all my life but it still feels slightly alien to me being raised in the Western world. The culture, folklore, landscape, architecture, tradition, everything about Asia inspires me. I cant even begin to discuss it for fears of flooding the place :P
Martial Arts - Something Ive been interested in a long time not just for the physical aspects but also the philosophy and folklore. Maybe you can tell in some of my work!
Evangelion - My favorite anime series for its concept, intensity and for the characters who are all humans with their own problems and weakness. Underneath the cool action packed robot fights is a honest story about character.
Zelda - The game that made me obsessed about games! Many fan art followed and my own expanded universe.
Final Fantasy - Not an avid fan of the games but one for their crazy designs, worlds and epic scale.
Lord of the Rings - The film that moved my career path! The cinema experience left me stunned, the DVDs made me realize there are artists creating the assets, the artbooks inspired me to rediscover my love for drawing monsters, the books itself kept me imagining.
Pixar - The perfect company not only in the animation industry but in everything I believe. An environment where art rules art and art is what drives the productions I hear is something extremely rare and something to desire.
William Bouguereau - Masterful MASTERFUL painter. His treatment of flesh amazes me especially when they are subtly ambient lit. If ever you feel like you are great at art, this guy will smack you down :P
John Howe - Childhood art hero of mine. His illustration of Smaug the dragon made me pick up the Hobbit book and thus plunged me deeper into my fascination in folklore and legend.
Paper Blue - Unfortunately I dont know this guy's real name but you can still admire his art!
His Dark Materials - An epic story that left me staying up pass 3am in mornings reading slowly, savoring each page. Whilst reading the books years ago I hoped for a movie adaption that I would be able to work on :D And No! I didnt cry after finishing the books! Not at all!
Claire Wendling - Great drawings!
Animation - After studying animation I have a soft spot for the medium and a greater respect for it. Seeing the animation process gives me nostalgia.
Min Yum - Another artist I followed when I started out in digital painting.
Jon Foster - Makes me want to do book covers hehe.
Stephen Chow - Grew up watching his films. His influence can probably be found in my grad film.
Jean Gerome - The painter I kept coming back to near the beginning of my studies.
Jaime Jones - Ludicrously skilled artist! And so young too hehe!
Football - Hehe a fun entry! Id like to carry over the energy and adrenaline of the sport to my art.
The Hungry Caterpillar - As my tutor said to class before... This guy should be our role model! The hunger for knowledge and hunger to grow should never be satisfied!
Life - The best artist! All the answers lies here and practicing art can make you more aware and grateful for the little things that makes life beautiful :D

22 September 2010


Woot! I'll be featuring in Ballistic Publishing Exotique 6 in the future. Here is a preview of the spread, Im on the far right. Many thanks to the kind people at Ballistic Publishing for selecting my work again :D! It is very nice of them to support me and to take the time to go through my recent work as well as dig through some of my old ones that were originally submitted to the Expose book.
Like I said before, a few years back (4 years or so ago) I was new to the whole digital painting scene and I picked up books featuring selections of them I couldn't imagine how I could paint something like the paintings I saw gracing those pages. Those memories are still fresh in my mind so to be here seeing my own work in these books is a strange feeling. I don't think it sank in quite yet but what it has given me is belief that you can reach your goals. Having checked your first goals, its time to set yourself new ones!
The Ballistic books are like the Salon gallery shows of today's digital art and I am honored to be a part of their next two anthologies and hope to go on to greater heights producing higher quality artwork for them to assess next time round :)

Death Lolita

Heres the finished painting. My spin on the topic (gothic) is depicting characters dressed in the Japanese 'gothic lolita' fashion in a dark atmosphere. maybe the characters are vampires?!? I dont know if the light floor works but my idea behind it was a slight symbolism to the afterlife where the lil dead girl will be spending her future and it contrasts the dark values above which is there to add the grim foreboding feel. Some areas here are loose so I might even repaint them as Ive sometimes been doing.

EDIT: OK so I did try repainting it straight away! Bah! Something is bugging me so I'll leave it for now and return later with fresh eyes. I'll get working on something new to cleanse my mind.

EDIT: Oh yeah, just found out I'll be featured in Ballistic Publishing's Exotique 6 :D

18 September 2010

Gothic Update 3 + CGMW lecture notes

A little progress. Its just entered into the slow rendering phase so this will take a while :P Made a few tiny tweaks like shortening the girl's arms to normal proportions, changing the perspective on the guy's legs to push for something more dynamic, lightening her coat some more and general rendering.
Some links: Babe Lab is a very useful blog full of tutorials on drawing stylized girls. Always a good thing!
Ive also been watching the CG Masters Workshop. They are pretty good but I think you reach a point where after you've seen a good few you've seen most of them. Its pretty cool to see how these guys work though the techniques I've seen so far are things Im aware of already. But here are some notes someone asked for:
Flip your image horizontally on a regular basis to keep a fresh eye on things, using the smudge tool to push paint around makes for a nice change from the paintbrush, using radial gradients on overlay to add pockets of colour and values, work in big shapes to small ones (still got to remember to do this more), warp transform can be used to slightly alter the composition, lasso tools to make shapes to paint in and keep a sharp edge, Kekai Kotaki likes to paint in greyscale and then add colours via colour balance and then add extra colours with soft light layers before flattening it down and painting over it normally, copy and paste an old painting you have over the top of your current one and fiddle with the blend option to get some textures or happy accidents, keep in mind the overall temperature of your piece and how it balances (applies to composition shapes and values), maybe make ready made fogs and clouds paintings you can drop into any painting to use as a basis.

OK thats some of my notes from Kekai's workshop. I've also made notes that just apply to myself. Watching someone else paint I tried to image how I would work on his image and try to paint the next steps ahead of him in my head. So I noticed little things like how he lays in rough marks to suggest an element (like a helmet) and then move on and come back to it later, I probably would have stayed on the helmet to keep working on it too early and thus get too tunnel visioned. More to come!

16 September 2010

Gothic Update 2

Thought Id track the process of this more. A bit more work from tonight though Im carrying a slight injury in my drawing hand. No its not RSI from too much drawing Im afraid, its a silly one that somehow came from football. Anyway back to business... Went to render the girl's face some more, I always feel a bit more confident having parts of the face rendered, its usually the focal point and the fun part to paint. I dropped her flowing hair into a dead drop so to take the movement away and leave her feeling even more lifeless and also the hair helps suggest the depth of the downward perspective. Introduced some colours into the lines to take away the cartoony outline look. Recently I have been enjoying adding warm temperatures just at the edges of the figures to give it a hot backlight feel, it is something I have observed first from some of the Toy Story 3 artwork and then I looked for it in life and here is an attempt at applying it. I decided to give her dark hair and the guy white which switches over their colour palette around the head and adds contrast. Its a bit ying and yang dont you think?

15 September 2010

Gothic Sketch

A wip for the AIB Jumble blog. Still needs painting. Started off with some stickmen thumbnails before deciding on a composition. I wanted to try break away from the usual straight-on flat shot because I am a bit limited to it at the moment and the more dynamic angles I tackle the more I can sharpen up on my anatomy skills as Im used to seeing things from eye level but not low or high angles. Had loads of trouble with the girl's face and I had to get my friend Martin to help work it out for me :P Finished one to follow.
Janaschi has posted a psd for one of her amazing painting here. Its worth downloading to see the wips and how the painting is built.

EDIT: Might be going to bed soon so just gonna drop where Ive got to before I shoot off. Taking a more deliberate and planned approach to this painting, taking inspiration form that psd file Janaschi put up. Initial direction was to have a red background but then I decided green would be better to get that sickly death atmosphere. But having a bit of the red show through was a happy accident, I happen to choose the complimentary colour to paint over the background which gave a nice temperature variation. I know this is a proper technique in traditional painting so perhaps I will use it more. Originally both characters were going to be dressed in black, I wanted the girl's pale skin to be the lightest value there is bu contrasting it with black but then Id imagine it was overkill because the background might be pushing towards darks too. So instead she is going to be all white and he is going to be in black. Stay tuned for more progress.

12 September 2010

Ganondorf - Reworked

Well, always not completely satisfied with a painting :P Decided to rework some of the things that bugged me about the Ganondorf painting. I thought a lot of the values were lost in the background and lacked a bit of 'punch.' I used the concept art trick of throwing in more light sources and add in some rim lights to help define the forms more. In future I think I can have a bit more economy of details involved with these type of paintings, not everything needs to be detailed and defined but can be suggestive especially if they are just off in your peripheral vision.

Some tutorials I found: here and here

8 September 2010


One of my many personal projects. Maybe I will actually do some concepts for my own stuff! This is an idea I came up with last December and have been at the back of my mind for a long time. Usually walks to and from work when I am not trying to draw with my eyes are spent thinking about this idea I have. So here is an early stage concept for the project.
According to this blog's stats a portion of the visitors were directed from the AVA interview with Peter Parr. After searching the page for where it might have linked to me I found that my blog here was used as one of the example of his student! Wow! I feel pretty honored! Its a bit funny though that I was also linking to that site too :P

LOL - 6 years ago

Because I love you guys Im going to share with you my deep dark secrets: Some of my artwork back in 2004 when I was in my final year of high school.
If not for comedic affect I hope this can encourage other artists by showing where you can come from (in my case: absolute shit!) and go to where you want to be (Im now a concept artist in computer games which was what I dreamed of doing).
I sometimes imagine this scenario... If I travel through time and talked to myself back in 2004 and told him that I would be an artist designing for computer games and show him the work in my portfolio I wonder how that 2004 version of me would react! Im very sure I would not have believed it! I doubt I could have imagined painting the way I do now and be blown away and all but right now when I look at my work I think 'meh! Its no big deal.' What Im trying to say is that through hard work, setting yourself goals and pushing your art you can go beyond your imagination! 2004 Ben couldn't believe he could eventually paint like 2010 Ben but that he did! If your drawings sucks at this point in time, all it takes is practice. For every hundred of bad drawings you do you get a good drawing! And then for every 50 bad drawings you do you get 2 good drawings etc. Its almost like you have a set number of crap drawings to get through before you break the barrier to 'good' art. And when you reach that goal, it becomes standard to you and you set higher goals and aim for them. Along the way you might meet that younger version of you who tells you "OMG your art is amazing!" and you'd think "meh!"
Happy drawing :)

EDIT: Hehe you know what, I took a look at my portfolio and even some of the stuff I had in there from last year I find a little shocking :P This is a good sign I believe if you can look at your work with a critical eye and make decisions on how they can be better. Maybe in future I will write a big crit for the artwork I did last year and post it up here so you can see how I view things now. At the time I thought the painting was great but now I see sooooooo many things I would do differently. Stay tuned!

7 September 2010


Well I talked about how Ive been doing more drawings and anatomy studies. Here are a few pages Ive recently done. Not very pretty which is why I dont post them much and often they are studies from photographic and artwork reference so I dont want to take credit for their work, these are often studies meant to be seen only by me but I wanted to show these so you can get an idea of how I train my drawings. A wise artist I kinda knew once made a comment about how drawings isn't about making pretty pictures and more about learning and ideas. This was from someone who's work I have a lot of respect for and I have just fairly recently understood what he meant by that comment. I tried not to concern myself with making something visually appealing when I do my studies, after all it is studying and learning comes first and foremost above everything else there. I have been making messy drawings that look shit but they helped me observe and think about the thing I was studying. When I go into illustrating things that is when I should be paying attention to making things pretty.

This art thing is a funny passion. It can feel overwhelming how much you still have to learn and puts you in that soul-searching state a few times :P And sometimes get to a state where you are used to being overwhelmed by how far you still have to go that its not daunting anymore in a strange way. And as you blindly march on chipping away at that mountain with a toothpick eventually you will reach a turning point!
And I might have another announcement in a few months ;) (EDIT: This was revealing that I got into Ballistic Publishing's Exotique 6 digital art anthology)

6 September 2010

Valley of Awakening!

Another speedpaint. Bleh! Not fond of this one but dont want to waste more time on it. I promise some decent stuff soon! Ive been too concerned with speed speed speed that Im not even thinking carefully enough about what Im doing. Sometimes Photoshop can be a hinderance because there is all these fancy tricks and 'shortcuts' but feck it! They've been distracting me for quite a while and I want to get back to painting things properly rather than think "speedpaint... OK just put a load of random tricks on the page and something will happen." That works too but for me at this moment, its luring me into a trap that that makes me skip steps I am not yet comfortable to do so. So Ive had a bit of an awakening! I'll try deliver some quality next time round.
I have also been doing a few anatomy studies in my new sketchbook. Anatomy is something I really cant avoid anymore :P Got to drill this into my brain haha.
I keep thinking back to this 4 year plan I have set myself. There are a few top top artists from conceptart.org and I feel a lot of encouragement looking through their sketchbook threads where you can see their drawings from the beginning of their art journey to what mastery they can produce now. Some took 3 years to go from zero to hero, some 2 and some 4 years. Come to think I have been painting digitally for 4 years myself. So my plan is to make the similar advancements to those inspiring artists in 4 years. But its not just a matter of sitting and waiting for 4 years, its what you do in that time (some people have told me before that they will be great with Photoshop in 10 years time and then never touch digital painting). My thought on improving art is similar to the Rosseta Stone way of learning language, you surround yourself with art and think about it a lot as well as practice. Being on forums, reading critiques, observing other artwork and observing life all feeds your art brains with ideas that directly goes into your practice. Anyway, I just thought Id post my plan out there so I cant hide away and be lazy because you all know this goal now! :D

4 September 2010

Tips n Tricks #8: Cloned Motion

Here is something Ive just discovered accidentally during work. I was using the clone brush in Photoshop to expand an existing environment and I accidentally made some elements in the scene get this motion blur look. Then I thought to myself "I can use this to create motion blurs!" So here is a little demo how I did it. Its very easy, just use a clone brush and hold alt and click an area of your painting to select the origin from which you clone from. You can select it to clone from just your current layer or from the entire painting by clicking the box just under the top-bar. So now, alt click the edge you want to add motion to and move your cursor just slightly away from the edge and begin laying your mark down. (Bonus: you can clone with textured brush for effects, Ive been trying it with clouds to try get a fluffy look). The trick here is to keep changing the origin you clone from, otherwise it looks like the motion is really linear and mechanical because its going in one direction all the time. And control where the motion is, you will get less motion say in the shoulders than in the elbow as the shoulders is more like a pivot point, so erase the excess motions around there. Also I like to transform the motion blurs and rotate them so that they move in an arc.
Give it a try!

1 September 2010

Above the Sky

Speedpaint?!? I dunno what to call speedpaints nowadays, this is kinda matte painting I guess. Used some old paintings to stitch together and couple that with some photographs for the sky and mountains plus paintovers and this is the result. Been feeling a tad bit burned out doing this one but kept pushing until its finished. Since Bobby Chiu always encourages people on his streams to block out that mental voice that tries to talk us out of painting, I tried to apply it here. Maybe I'll move onto a different style or subject to freshen myself up.
News.... My tutor Peter Parr from university did an interview for AVA who publish educational art books. Its a pretty good read and gives a lil glimpse into the professional and curious mentality my professor had that helped inspire the way I approach art mentally (and in life). Interview link!