Trying the Ambient Occlusion method

A while ago I came across the remarkable work of Jiyu Kaze. Researching how he made these amazingly 3D looking images, I came across a method of painting that was basically like reproducing one of the many passes 3D models go through called ambient occlusion. The end result wasn't something I would want in my work (though I had seen Sam Nielson use it really effectively in a much more painterly style), but I love seeing if new methods can teach me something about the way I like to work. 

I didn't save out too many wip images, but it was a really interesting method to get my head around. I spent most of my time resisting the urge to paint the forms in a lot more pronounced than an ambient occlusion pass would have them. Much of the form often has its values squashed and the transitions are really smooth, making any errant brushwork spoil the effect of the 3D-ness. It has taught me to really think about where light doesn't get into when you have forms meeting though and to really use soft transitions in low or ambient lighting pieces.  It's also a great value check, as if you don't get your values right the colour layer just doesn't work. 

The final piece. I couldn't resist a little bit of over painting on bits where my values hadn't been quite right. 

The final piece. I couldn't resist a little bit of over painting on bits where my values hadn't been quite right. 

My scrappy quick sketch and the ambient painting pass. Much of the painting is actually the same value with really soft transitions. Works nicely with hair though! 

My scrappy quick sketch and the ambient painting pass. Much of the painting is actually the same value with really soft transitions. Works nicely with hair though! 

Sword of Justice creation

During my semester with Smarter Art School  we were lucky enough to be given a choice of artist assignments, all given by working ADs in the entertainment industry. I chose to go for Doug Alexander's Diablo-themed assignment. To create a piece for the comic book Sword of Justice. The brief was fairly open, included a short description of the characters involved and how they related to one another. The rest was up to us.  Looking at some of the existing art for the comic, I decided the only thing I'd be set on from the start was the bold use of the colour red.

If you would like the more in depth version of this post, you can find it on my Blogspot

I started with thumbnails on toned grey paper, focusing mostly on shape and dark vs light.

I started with thumbnails on toned grey paper, focusing mostly on shape and dark vs light.

From there I usually pick one or two and work them up into digital lines.

From there I usually pick one or two and work them up into digital lines.

I then drop in some rough digital values - this is usually where I figure out lighting and where the viewer's focus would be.

I then drop in some rough digital values - this is usually where I figure out lighting and where the viewer's focus would be.

The black and white then gets some colour roughs. The options are mostly limited by the choice to use the very strong red around the boy's head

The black and white then gets some colour roughs. The options are mostly limited by the choice to use the very strong red around the boy's head

At this point I gridded up my original digital sketch and transfer the sketch by grid. I find this allows me to push shapes and correct any errors I might have had, rather than just running with them. 

At this point I gridded up my original digital sketch and transfer the sketch by grid. I find this allows me to push shapes and correct any errors I might have had, rather than just running with them. 

This is the ugly stage of the painting -  the turquoise toned under painting, blocking in values that can then be glazed over and keep a consistent hue similarity

This is the ugly stage of the painting -  the turquoise toned under painting, blocking in values that can then be glazed over and keep a consistent hue similarity

Half way through painting. The boy is done so I have a base to work the other values off but a lot of work is still needed on the skull itself. 

Half way through painting. The boy is done so I have a base to work the other values off but a lot of work is still needed on the skull itself. 

The final piece! 90% paint and 10% digital tweaks to add a bit more oomph

The final piece! 90% paint and 10% digital tweaks to add a bit more oomph