Wednesday, 30 March 2011


this one started out as a simple enough excercise in 'freeing the mind' - whereby i sporadically create abstract shapes and then allow my eyes to identify what they want from that. i then go about building it all up into a piece.

this time around, i started so see some kind of figure in there - initially i was taken with the idea of spiderman. i was a huge fan of him in my early teens.

soon enough though, i figured i liked the shadowy figure as he was - i could have done spidey in his black suit, but any real fan knows how that saga ended up.

so, he became some kind of ninja on a chain.

the tv in the background was running an ad for a  steven seagal  movie... thats when i decided it was a cheesy film poster.
job done.

check the steps and the piece beneath - larger version on my DA account LINK

Monday, 28 March 2011

Samurai Doodles

i spent much of my youngest years watching anime, kung fu movies and samurai epics. whilst my thirst for the first two has withered somewhat - partially due to the massive saturation of poor releases out there these days, im still a huge samurai epic fan. ive been wanting to do something along that theme for a while, so heres a few doodles in progress to give you a taste.

Weekend Workshop #3; Next Genesis

heres the results of the 3rd weekend workshop.
i think psynexus definately did better than me this time - this piece needs at least another hours work on it to truly work. still, i did waste an hour looking for a decent reference image of parliament, and in the end ref'd from a bottle of HP SAUCE of all things as it was the only one i could find on the correct angle.

see the story that inspired this at LINK 

features brushes by Shifty J LINK

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Weekend Workshop Challenge #2

When I was younger, I never did any form of prep work for anything - I even managed to pass all my exams with only one or two short revision sessions for a single subject - but artwork was something in particular that I wouldn’t make effort to make preliminary sketches etc towards a final piece.

Recently (and partially due to me working almost purely in digital media these days), I have found that I no longer have such a thing as a ‘final piece’. So many unfinished works will later be cut up and reused as a part of another - or returned to with  different eyes following a long hiatus in the belief I had run out of steam.

The recent ‘Weekend Workshop’ challenges I have begun in conjunction with a talented young writer (Psynexus) have confirmed this.  Each week in turn, one of us will suggest a theme and some pinpoint details (enough to allow the other a relatively free reign over the outcome of their work) and then the recipient must produce a piece in around 90 minutes using that as a start point. Next, the other one of us must produce a companion piece based upon the outcome of that. Last week I asked him for something with a medieval setting, and I produced a piece of artwork inspired by his words. This week, it was up to him to suggest to me a theme for artwork, and he would produce some creative writing based upon my artwork.

The original challenge he laid out for me this week, was far too detailed to allow the sporadic nature of the challenges to flow (although I did like his idea a great deal! - an epic scene of alien invasion!), so he gave me another (a more claustrophobic scene of a firefight upon an alien vessel).

It started out great - but I soon realised that this too was to be too complicated  as well, not because of any perimeters he had given me, but because my own lust to create a grand  piece had taken over! I actually began to combine portions of his original suggestion with the second and created a monster! I am still preparing elements towards the beginning of this artwork and hope to complete it in the near future.

So, yet again we were at the beginning… I asked for a fresh start - something of a more scenic based suggestion (rather than action or character driven) and he gave me this:

Earth, 3000 AD. Humanity is dead or dying and all that's left of civilization are the skeletons of major cities that died out hundreds of years ago. Skies are overcast and nature has reclaimed the planet. The moon is fragmented and cracked and the dying sun is a sickly orange as it sets on the dying planet.

...So I quickly got to work. From last weeks challenge, I still had plenty of unused bits and pieces of landscape left over from my sessions on Al:Chemy from last weeks challenge. This really reduced the time I had to use getting a base together for my end of the challenge -90 minutes is not a great deal of time to produce something specific in! In the image below, I grabbed figure #1 from a session last week. I quickly did figure #2 in Al:Chemy in about five minutes, and meshed it together with #1 to produce several variations until I got # 3 and #4. Due to the flow of the lines, I rolled with #4 and managed to piece together  two quick variations of an idea using a couple of simple colour washes, and a photographic texture overlay.

I went for a final upon the second one. I spent ages wasting time trying to figure out where to go with it as I genuinely preferred the black and white crispness of the originals. It didn’t occur to me to just go with a black and white piece!


Anyways, I eventually pieced together the broken moon and all that (the moon alone took twenty minutes) leaving me with nearly no time left. AHAH! - this is where yet again the validity of old prep work comes to hand. I dug out an old alchemy session and grabbed some random shapes to create some blowing leaves, and an old space piece for the starry sky. Within minutes it was done - or as near as could be . Basically, this time around, a good amount of old prep work saved me!

Have a look, post a comment, and go see what Psynexus came up with in response at his blog: LINK

I may soon also upload the brushes for the moon etc if anyone is interested - if so, please drop a comment!

Broken Moon by ~cyrus-crashtest on deviantART

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Workshop Weekend Challenge #1

Okay, so here's the deal...

I was thinking of a way to improve my various techniques, including speedpainting. Nobody ever seems to want a game of 'photoshop tennis' with me, so instead I hit upon the idea of giving Psynexus a challenge to expand and exercise his writing skills.

I asked him for 300 words depicting a medieval scene (with a few perimeters to ensure I didn't end up having to stray too much from what I wanted to do) and to use descriptive language without dialogue. To open up things for him, I also maintained that 'medieval' could even be some post-apocalytpic world or other planet - as long as the tech was real low-end.

Heres what he gave me:

The Shifting Sea. 

The main character, a Persian-looking man in white cloth and a turban stands at the edge of a cliff over-looking a shining city surrounded by a sea of sand as the sun sets before him. A scimitar hangs at his hip and his pockets and garb are lined with trinkets from his adventures. A few rogue strands of black hair escape beneath the bottom of his turban, the exposed area on his neck glisten with sweat from the long journey he has just endured.

The city sits in a valley with mountains behind it and endless dunes around it. In the distance, and closer to the foreground, rocky hills hint at ancient ruins carved out of sandstone, waiting to be explored by any who would dare risk their undoubtedly treacherous halls. Conical yellow towers reflect the light of the setting sun, the most prominent belonging to the large palace at the center of the city – which is encircled by a sandstone wall which protects the exposed thee sides of the city and connects to the mountain behind.

The atmosphere is warm and calm, though the shadow cast by the setting sun warns of the onset of a cold, restless night ahead, filled with the cries of hungry beasts who call the desert home. Subtle traces of pink and other exotic colors line the sky like a maiden waving her knight’s colors as he nears his goal. Though there is still much treacherous land to cross before the sun sets, the shining city stands as a beacon of hope for our hero as his adventure for the day comes to a fruitful end.

My part of the challenge from here was to illustrate it as completely as I could in 90 minutes - including preparatory work. I'm used to working quickly, but this would be different.

I can't say I'm massively happy with my end results, there are many flaws, but this is the first of what may be many challenges to come. Next time itshis trun to choose the theme... and I guess I'll be doing a freeform illustration, that he will then have to write about.

You can see more on this from his point of view on his blog! LINK

The Shifting Sea by ~cyrus-crashtest on deviantART
I actually preffered stage 3 of my progress saves, so here it is for you to check!