Friday, 15 January 2016

Self Portrait

My first attempt at a self portrait. Drawn and painted in photoshop.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Murder Suicide

A darker painting compared to what I usually do. Drawn and painted in photoshop.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Animating to the beat of a song in AfterFX

In my Last post I showed off this cover image I made in photoshop for a musician. Now one of the cool things about the photoshop psd files is how compatible they are with After Effects. Using the layers of paint in photoshop within afterfx, I am able to manipulate their properties and animate them. For this piece, I thought it would be really neat if we could animate some of the lights to go with the beat of the song it was made for, here was the final product.

Now first I will say that the animated waveform and presentation was created by Glory vs Failure, but in the original picture you see, the police lights and glare from the tv are synced to the beat of the song. If you look hard enough you can see a bit of animation on the white noise of the tv as well.

As complicated all of this may seem, it is actually rather simple to achieve, and the outcome is something more unique than having a static image for the video.

You can go ahead and import your psd file right into the program, choosing weather to flatten the layers, or import a specific layer. For this project I simply created a new psd in photoshop without the lights and flattened that, then individually imported the layers with the light paint.

When you have an audio file in after effects and its is in the composition, you can right click and go to keyframe assistant > convert audio to keyframes. This will do exactly what it says, essentially turn your waveform into keyframes. You will also notice that this will create an audio amplitude layer in your composition and this is what we are going to work with. If you drop down the options for this layer, you will see right, left and both channels. You can actually delete the right and left channel as we wont be needing them here.

You can now use this data to create an expression for any of the values on your photoshop layers that you have imported. To do this, we are going to look at the properties for our layer. For this project I decided to animate the opacity, to get it the "shut on shut off" look. You will see the stopwatch next to the property that you wish to animate, but opposed to clicking the watch like you may normally do, we are going to alt+click the stopwatch. This will set us up with an expression.

Now for the magic, when we alt clicked that watch, it created our expression (line of text in the composition it self) but it also gave us a few more options.To sync this value with the keyframes we created for our audio track, we are going to click and hold the pick whip option (the spiral you see in the photo below) then we are going to drag the line you see it create right over to the "both channel" option right under the audio amplitude layer we recently created and bam, you have animated your opacity to go along with the beat.

As you can see it is rather simple to set up, but there is a lot of you can do with this trick and some polish may be needed to achieve the effect you have in mind. Use your creativity to see how far you can push the tool. The animated sound wave you see in the video can be made through similar methods as well.

I will give one extra tip as this was a problem I ran into. When I synced my opacity to the beat of the track, it was not pushing up the values as far as I needed, as a result the flashing lights were just not noticeable enough. We can manipulate this by adding a multiplier to our expression. If we go back to the opacity on the layer we animated and look at our expression, we will see something like this (note some parts may differ depending on the layer name and what you are choosing to animate);

thisComp.layer("Audio Amplitude").effect("Both Channels")("Slider")

To increase how much our opacity is adjusted we are going to add *x (where x is the amount you will be multiplying the adjustments by, for this case I used 5)

thisComp.layer("Audio Amplitude").effect("Both Channels")("Slider")*5

With that, you will see that the amount the opacity is effected is much larger.

Once again check out the track here;

Also be sure to check out other work from Glory vs Failure

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

GvF Single Artwork

Here is a piece I did up in photoshop for my buddies over in GvF. This is a cover for a song titled "that sucks" by JKenny. Check out the groups bandcamp  and I will update with a link to the track once it has been released. (find that track here

This song talks about a breakup, and I took inspiration from a few lines. He talks about about how his items were taken, broke a tv, ordered a pizza and the cops showed up. Now there is much more to the song it self, (its actually fantastic, I recommend you check it out once I update this post) but when creating a cover image you want to keep the message simple and uncluttered. Then to make good use of the information you decide to include to properly tell the story the artist is writing about.

This was made in photoshop, with a bunch of stock photos thrown into a scene, bent the perspective on the photos and ran them through a ton of layers. I also touched it up with some classic painting techniques to make it look like all of the objects are lit the same. When using stock photos, manually lighting the objects is how the piece will become cohesive.

For those of you looking to do something like this, get used to the skew tool. This can be used to alter a perspective of a static image making this possible. Keep your psd files as well, with these you can throw this into a composting program like afterFX to animate the police lights, and the flickering from the broken tv to create a dynamic video. Take a look at my next blog post to see the results!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Player Profile Posters

So I have been rather busy this last week with these photoshop commissions. For these I had a group of photos for each player to choose from, cut them out and throw them in a scene for some posters. Most of the editing is actually just done through manual painting techniques and barley any photoshop filters. I completed about 10 of these, but these are my favorites.

Next week I hope to have my next game dev blog out, touching on creating high quality game assets and how to bake. It will be a long write up so look forward to that soon.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Game Dev - Defining your look

Working in a small independent team offers more than enough creative freedom. While this can open up many possibilities, it can also be overwhelming if this is the first time you have had this much creative control over such a large project. Especially if you are a one man art team. So I will be making a series of blog posts during our development to share what I have learned and some of the mistakes so you can hopefully avoid them in the future.

One of the first major challenges I came across was solidifying our look. My team has been great with constantly providing input and feedback, but it is up to the artist to define how all of these ideas translate to the game environment. Being a one man art team makes this a rather large task and possibly the most important contribution you will make. I am still working on defining exactly what our game will look like, but I will leave some tips and mistakes I have made in the process so far.

The first and most obvious of course is reference. Make sure you gather hundreds of images that possess elements of the style you wish to achieve. You can never really have too much reference, so spend a day just grabbing images. Even hunting for the images will help you think more about defining that actual look in the mind. One of the mistakes I made when gathering reference was not being specific enough with what I was gathering. I would take tons of images from games that I was inspired by and photos that followed a certain color palette. Now these are useful but when it came time to blocking out some models, I hit a creative block when designing the style of the architecture and various other props that will populate the environment. I had an idea of what I wanted, but nothing to help guide my mind on how to apply that to a real object and keep it cohesive with the rest of the scene. So fill the reference folder with everything you think you may need...and then some.

Now you have some models in their low poly stage and you are working on a few textures and maps to get the first prototype done. Normally for my personal projects I would start texturing and see what works. However when everything needs to look like it comes from the same world (you wouldn't see a bunch of glowing tron colors in a angry birds universe) a bit of pre planning can go a long way. One thing that may help is getting the color palette down as soon as possible and spending extra time refining it. For our game we have two factions going against each other so it is very important that these can be distinguished instantly from a distance. The reference images helped design repeating elements across the meshes and now the color palette will help tie this together to solidify the fact that these buildings and ships could co exist in the same environment and with their proper faction.

These tips may sounds obvious, but they are often missed in games. Not spending enough time on designing a personal look could make the game look like every other "default unity asset" look you see in early access these days. Even designing a "realistic" looking game like GTA takes heavy art direction to keep it from looking bland.


Take these above photos as an example and yes I know comparing GTA to big rigs is not fair but I wanted to show the two extremes to get my point across. Dont pay attention to the model quality or even texture resolution but do take a close look at the colors that pop out to you. Both games are trying to mimic the look we see in every day life. However when looking at the color palette in GTA you can see a bit more artistic direction. Once again, not talking about reflections, the pretty water or any effects, but just the color used. You can tell that GTA is slightly more saturated than real life along with emphasis put on the contrast, where big rigs is more of a "look out the window and copy that" color palette. This does not just happen or come along with a stronger engine. It is a creative decision made by the team. Probably a bad example but the point stands, even if you plan to mimic real life, still spend time defining the artistic direction and the results will show. Lets face it, real life often looks bland in the colors that we see, why do you think so many photographers run their photos through Photoshop.

So thats it for today, keep an eye out for the next post in our game development journey. Once we work some things out, I will be following up with some details on this game I speak of.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Game Dev - Ship Mesh Preview

So finally, I am posting a quick teaser for some assets we are creating for our game. Here we just have some simple models that do require more work, but the silhouette has been decided and we wanted to share a quick screen.

The ship you see on the right will be a player controlled ship. Most of my inspiration when creating the basic design was taken from the R-Wing, Gradius and surprisingly the Nissan Skyline Gtr. My intention was creating a design that would convey speed, something that will support the mechanics of the game. The left ship will be AI controlled, but more on that later.

Look out for the high poly bake soon, and hopefully some in engine screens.