I'm a freelance illustrator/designer/art director and if you think I can help with your project, want to offer words of encouragement or simply say hi, feel free to get in touch.

I'm also on Twitter and Facebook. Follow me to find out every time I haul bits of imagination kicking and screaming into reality.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The F in farm

Funny Farm was a great project to work on. Produced by Dubit, for Food Zoo Limited, the virtual reality (VR) aspect provided some challenges that we were forced to solve creatively. For the product to perform well in VR we had to produce a distinct art style with minimal information, yet still deliver a strong brand identity.

Farm animals are always a fun set of characters to produce in any style, as they seem to fit into a natural lineup. From the outset we knew the bull had to be the largest and heaviest of our bestiary, so we wanted him to have a powerful, 'macho' look that left you in no doubt he felt he was in charge of the farm.

Once we had a shape we were happy with, we used him as a model to produce a selection of characters that were on brand, yet faithful to their real life counterparts.

Despite having a fun bunch of personalities, this group didn't knit together as tightly as they should so we did another pass, trying to push the stylisation even further. We focused on a 'hump' as a template and played with scale and colour, arriving as a collective of simple characters that felt fun and unique.

Once we'd found this form, we then discovered some fun routes for animation to fully embrace this simplicity.

The bee proved far harder to break than it had any right to, but once we realised the bee would primarily be viewed from behind we knew that this was the angle that needed to display our 'hump' shape. Once we made this decision it game us some freedom with the head and thorax which allowed the creative process to flow more easily.

When looking at inspiration for farms it became apparent very quickly that the red and white barns, yellow cornfields, and blues skies of the American mid-west provided a far more pleasant aesthetic, than the grey sky, grey stone, brown mud and rusty corrugated iron of British farms.

Performance was our primary goal here so from the outset we went in confident that we needed to focus on a low poly art style. Rather than trying to disguise this decision we embraced it and crafted all elements of the farm yard to suit this approach.

With a final pass to hone the pastel colours and layout of the hub, I produced this piece of art. This, along with the characters, was then modeled in 3D.

The finished product is a lovely looking pair of VR games set on a picture perfect American farm-stead. It's available now at the App Store, and Google Play. If you don't believe me, just watch the trailer.
I hope this wont be our last visit to Funny Farm as there was a whole bunch of ideas left unexplored.

I cant believe I managed this whole post without a farm pun! I deserve a pat on the back.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Artstation ILM Challenge Round 2b

Round 1

For the Second vehicle I wanted to add to the roster of Imperial ships. Their hulking grey, angular forms are descended from the mass produced military vehicles of WWII.

American trains throw up some great shapes. They also frequently adhere to that 'Star Wars aesthetic' of being well used and feel like they've lived for generations. 

I liked the idea of developing a troop carrier, or at least an engine that would transport several 'carriages' with troops in. There are some great images of the optimistic WWII soldiers leaving for war, hanging out of windows and waving goodbye to loved ones.

With young people like Luke desperate to join the Imperial Academy, I imagine there must have been a similar romanticised moment as they embarked on their career as Imperial Storm Troopers.

As I mentioned before, perspective and lighting are something that's always scared me away from this hard surface stuff in the past so to help, I turned my hand to some rudimentary 3D in order to help.

I wanted to capture the hope, enthusiasm and excitement of people leaving home for the first time on the promise of adventure and a vast new world to be explored... before they are butchered in a brutal war, duped by Imperial Propaganda and the lies of their superiors.

And that was that.

The quality of the work on Art station is genuinely phenomenal, so I didn't expect to make it even this far... and these aren't tears... and I'm not gnashing my teeth in frustrated disappointment... I just need a mug of strong tea. NOW.

Regardless, you can see the results of the competition here.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Artstation ILM Challenge Round 2a

See Round 1 here

With my botched second image in round 1, I was genuinely amazed, but delighted, to make it through to round two, (roughly the top 10%!), but with round two titled 'The Ride', I knew I wasn't going any further. Vehicle design is something I've kept away from.

Round 2 - Vehicle Challenge: Brief
Design two new Star Wars vehicles within the aesthetic of Episodes IV - VI. They can be Rebel, Imperial, or utilitarian — your choice; anything from a giant starship to a land speeder. Be sure to finish your images by placing the vehicles within the context of an environment. We want to see the story — not the blueprints.

After initially focusing on Imperial hardware, I started to think about vehicles from the other end of the spectrum. To me, Star Wars was at its strongest, delivering alien cultures, specifically the criminal underworld. We know the Hutts have Sail Barges on Tattooine, so I figured they must have other places to visit than the Sarlacc.

Taking inspiration from Cloud city I came up with the concept of a floating Atoll with enough room to dock several Sail Barges, allowing the esteemed guests of the Hutts to disembark and spend a night gambling in this luxurious, and most importantly, safe, casino above the cooling sands of Tatooine.

To compliment the Atoll designed I added a few more sail ships inspired by the colours and decor of other Tatooine institutions. I also looked at the sails of middle eastern and North African boats to deliver a Sail Yacht, and a Skiff with a daring pilot 'hiking' over the side of his craft.

I loved the idea of designing an up market version of Jabba's Palace hanging above the desert. Safe from Tusken raiders and only accessible via flight. this ensures a certain level of gambler and with a tight security force you'd have to be a fool to risk being thrown overboard... Unless you have a skiff drifting nearby to make a fast getaway.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Artstation ILM Challenge Round 1

Artstation recently hosted a 3 part challenge to produce art for Star Wars, to be judged by a selection of the finest artists from Industrial Light and Magic.

Round 1 - The Moment—Creating Keyframes Challenge: Brief
Create two keyframes  – an emotive still image that tells a cinematic story – within the world of Star Wars Episodes IV – VI. Use only existing Star Wars worlds, vehicles, creatures and characters to create a new story moment.

One place that was mentioned but barely shown (only in some deleted scenes) was the Tosche Station where Luke wanted to acquire some power converters.

Lucas famously took inspiration from American diners, Rock and Roll, and drag racing. I wanted to create a sort of youth-club version of Jabbas palace, somewhere the 'kids' would go to hang out, mod their rides and race them across the scorching deserts of Tatooine.

On reflection, I spent too long focusing on delivering a McQuarrie-esque style and building up the location rather than focusing on the narrative that was outlined in the brief... cursed by my flustering excitement at the job in hand.

In order to test me further, my graphics card decided to go 'on a break' half way through the first challenge. As a result, the second image was crafted last minute from elements of the final image, and my kids learned some exciting new words that week.

Round 2a