I'm not feeling so great about my art and talent lately. I see all this amazing art that other concept artists are cranking out for cool games and film, and my stuff, in my mind, really just does not cut it. I hardly even feel like a real concept artist. The main problem is that I've spent years and years doing work in what is now an obsolete art style - the pen-and-marker "industrial design" look that I first saw in the old Star Wars sketchbooks. There's still a certain amount of this going on, for work that needs to be sketched out too fast to paint it, but the predominant style of work is painterly-realistic to photo-realistic full-color digital paintings.
I don't have much stuff in that style, really, and what I do have is... eh. Probably the closest thing I have to what I consider a "pro-level" concept painting is the Volcano Temple painting down in the previous post.
So. Do I want to feel like a real concept artist or not? Do I want to keep myself employable as a concept artist or not? Do I want to try to join all the great artists whose work I admire, the guys at the top of the concept biz like Iain McCaig, Ryan Church, Craig Mullins, Feng Zhu, Ed Lee, Stephane Martiniere, and dare I mention Syd Mead, in creating really amazing work and working on the best and most interesting projects? Well, yeah. Yeah I do want all of that. Can I do it? I don't know at the moment.
What sets all the best people in my field apart from the rest is one thing: all they do is paint, draw, sketch all the time. Or at least they did when they were students and earlier in their careers. In order to catch up... I have to try to do that too. Which isn't easy, given the realities of life at 41 years old as opposed to 20.
Well. So, just to remind myself that I am actually doing artwork and trying to get better and learn and increase my output, here's a whole pile of paintings that I've started and declared to be "Portfolio Projects," that I need to finish:
1. Asimov's New York City
In one of my favorite books, The Caves of Steel, Asimov sets the story in a future NYC that has been completely enclosed, sealed off from nature, in which all the millions of New Yorkers live their entire lives without seeing the sun or sky. I've always wanted to do a series of scenes based on the book, so here I start the first one, an aerial view looking at the southern end of Manhattan Island. I just started this one today, using a real aerial photo as the basis, so just a rough beginning.
2. Forest Canopy
A quick start on an alien forest looking up, following some of the Star Wars Episode III art book environment paintings. Needs a story and people in it.
3. Green City
This started as kind of a stream-of-consciousness scribble in Painter, using the square chalk and only vertical and horizontal strokes abstractly, but it started looking like a city to me to I want to detail it out. This rough actually looks like some of the pro work that I want to get to, so that's good. Need to figure out a story for this one too.
4. Starshipwright Shipyard
Trying to update my existing portfolio somewhat, this is a color version of this piece. I got to this point and kind of stalled; I've got the bright sunlight coming thru the open bay pretty well, but there would be other artificial light sources outside the bright area and I kinda got overwhelmed trying to think them through. Needs some story and people in it too.
5. Western Building
Another one from my older stuff, this one needs some characters, some life, and the left hallway lit properly with the reddish kerosene lantern light. That's supposed to be the paymaster window to the left, maybe I should put some bandits in there robbing the guy and maybe a hero sneaking up on the bandits. That's a pretty Western story...
6. Lantern Carrier
My boss Miguel threw out the two words "lantern carrier" as a sketch-of-the-day idea, and this is what I came up with. It needs polishing, detailing, and a bit more work on the light. Happily, this one already has a story scenario in it.
7. Phinn Starships
Yet another older work update. Needs lots of details and interesting lights and some cool space stuff in the background, like wreckage or nebulae or smashed up planetoids or something. I probably can't put people in this one unless I pull back a bit and show them inside another ship, so maybe I can get story out of the environment.
7. Island Town
Night view of a Spanish-style architecture island town. Looong way to go on this one. Needs people, a sense of story, life!
Some kind of sci-fi type tech hallway. I did a flat elevation view of the stuff on the walls, which I put into perspective on both sides of the hallway in Photoshop. Now it needs to be made 3-dimensional and lit well. And populated with characters and a scenario.
10. Forest Stairs
Started this one yesterday, doing a grayscale value study/sketch first before trying to go to color. This one will take a long time because I want this image to basically look like a black & white photo before I even think of adding color to it. One of my biggest weaknesses is lighting, and an even bigger one is properly applying color in a way that brings life and emotion to the image.
Okay, so I'm doing some art. Just have to try to finish all of these. Oh, and here's a couple pages of thumbnails I did last night:
OK, I feel a bit better. Still... lots and lots of work to do. It will probably take me 2 or 3 years to get up to the level that I want to be at. I hope I can catch up, I hope things don't change too much in the biz in the next couple of years...