Thursday, December 18, 2008

Steampunk Challenge - The Hare

Here's the next bit of concept work for the Steampunk Challenge. We have our Tortoise, so here's the Hare:

I actually did another version of this first, a more "iron" mechanical clanking monstrosity:

...but TGF pointed out that it didn't really look much like a hare. I realized at that point that I'd gotten a bit lost in the mechanical details and thoughts of "how would it work" rather than "what will look right for my image," so I stopped and did the second version, which I like much better.

I'm sure I went a bit overboard on the details of the second one, but these drawings are just to get the visualization of what the thing might look like in my head. I'll keep the large shapes, but I'll cherry-pick the details in the final image to make it look balanced and consistent.

Next up, layout for the final painting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Steampunk Challenge

CGTalk has started another art challenge, "Steampunk Myths & Legends." I'm starting late, all the best legends are taken, so I'm going to do a more humble yet enduring fable instead: "The Tortoise and The Hare."

I'm telling the tale as a gentlemanly race between the champion Commodore Harding Rasmussen (and crew), with his celebrated racing conveyance "The Hare," and office clerk/backyard inventor Mr. Arlo Crabthwaite (and son) and his ingenious competitive land transport, "The Tortoise," which you see above.

This is a concept drawing just to bake the Tortoise (and Mr. Crabthwaite) into my mind. Tomorrow I'll do one of the Hare, and then I have to get working on the final image, which is due January 12, so I'll have to hustle.

If you want to follow my entry on CGTalk, here's my thread.

Just for fun, here's the drawing in ye olde blueprint style:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

No Job = More Comics

Yep, I got laid off. I'm officially unemployed. But it's gonna be okay! I've got some cash to tide me over for a while and I'll be getting unemployment.

What this means for you, my lucky readers, is that there will be more Just A Bit Off comics until I get a new day job! I plan on adding Wednesday and Friday to the usual Thursday this week, and next week there will be at least 3 comics, possibly as many as 5. We'll see! I have a lot to do.

Best thing to do is to subscribe to my RSS feed, which will update you immediately when new strips go up. If you haven't used RSS before, I recommend Google Reader!

If by any chance you'd like to help out financially, you could order a caricature or pick up something else from the Jeff Zugale Store. If you don't see anything you like in the store but have an idea for something you do like, please email me directly and I'll do my best!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One from Way Back

Mom is moving to a new apartment, so she's been going through stuff. I guess she's found a few of my old drawings, she just emailed me this one from 1979:

I guess you can kinda see where I was at back then, huh. :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Side Project

Here's some art I did for a personal side project recently, sorry I didn't put it up sooner:

It's some kind of alien energy amplifier installation that's piggybacked on a hydroelectric dam in the American Southwest. They're stealing our power to build a hyperspace bypass! At right is our human stealth soldier who's trying to infiltrate the plant and destroy it.

Here's the initial set of value thumbnails:

Then I did a larger value pass:

And then a fairly tight line drawing over that:

From there I combined the line art and value pass and painted it. It's kind of a rough paint, about halfway between a speed paint and a polished image.

Also, I did a some more detailed drawings of one of the big weird machines, first a couple of orthographic views:

Then a 3/4 view lineart and color:

This wasn't an assignment for the environment class, but it was kind of related to it. I don't think it counts as homework, because it's not in the theme of the class... oh well. :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Comic Con Cintiq

At the Bloodfire booth, Wacom lent Lee a Cintiq 20 tablet monitor, which I got to spend some quality time playing with, resulting in this Star Trek type ship painting:

The Cintiq is really cool but it took some getting used to for me. Lee had it plugged into his laptop which didn't quite have enough video card power to run the Cintiq properly, so the image didn't fill the entire screen and there was some lag in the pen response, which slowed me down a bit but not too badly. The other problem I had is that I am constantly using keyboard shortcuts and custom-programmed Actions on the keyboard function keys, and the way Lee had his laptop set up it was difficult to reach the keyboard to do some common things. The Cintiq's programmable buttons and touch strips help somewhat but there really aren't enough of them to put everything I need to get at fast on there. I'm sure there's a way to adjust to it with better keyboard placement and probably keeping the Actions palette open with my common tasks all programmed, so I can run them by double-clicking on them

Even with those limitations I think a Cintiq would be a good thing to have, so I'll have to budget for one next year. Can't afford it this year, sigh.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Latest homework

I didn't wind up doing any more homework for week 3, but I had some good time to do my assignment for week 4, which was to do 10 value studies of scenes from favorite movies - stopping the DVD on a particular shot and doing a grayscale paint trying to match it.

I was able to take the time to do some of them from The Incredibles in gouache, which was really relaxing:

And I did a few more digitally in Painter from Star Wars:

These were fun and I learned a lot of things from them about lighting and value arrangement, and there's a lot of really interesting details of how the shots are staged and lit that were fun to discover. You may not like George Lucas's scripts much (and they have some appalling moments), but the guy really does (or at least did) know how to compose a shot. And of course Brad Bird's work on Incredibles is absolutely flawless, so it doesn't hurt to learn from the master.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Environment Class Week 2, and then some

Here's a couple drawings I did for class, line art design sketches of a couple of the ideas from last weeks thumbnails. First is a flying city cobbled together out of large aircraft and various parts; it would be assembled "on the fly" in midair and could never land:

The second is a hovering city that's built around huge turbofans that hold it up in the air:

And here's some of the homework for next week, just doing silhouettes and shapes to come up with more interesting designs:

Updated: here's another page of silhouettes:

And a speed paint trying some techniques from classmate Jason:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Environment Class, Week 1

I'm taking an Environment Design course at the Concept Design Academy in Pasadena, taught by Brian Yam from Insomniac Games and John Wu from SCEA. Just trying to sharpen up my work a bit, do some different things, learn some new techniques and approaches, and maybe put together a few more portfolio pieces.

Over the course of the class we'll be developing pieces for a pretend game development project, which involves enormous mobile cities that travel around the world via land, air or sea looking for resources and fighting with each other.

First week's assignment was to thumbnail out some very rough ideas:

it was supposed to be just line art sketches, so I sorta did it wrong by doing these little value paint sketches, heh. I do line art stuff all the time, I wanted to do it a little differently.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

May 27 continued

A little more progress today, some lighting tweaks and architecture development:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 27 Paint

Started working on another one tonight. This time I'm doing incremental saves at different progress points. I started with a favorite thumbnail I've had laying around for more than a year:

Open in Painter, lift image to its own layer, set to Multiply, then block in base colors on Canvas layer:

Block in foreground balcony and some rooftops in the midground, create slight gradient on ground (darkens with distance):

Add more rooftops out to shoreline, select rooftops with Magic Wand and repeat gradient to distance:

Add some ground light sources with Glow brush - brightest spot will be the focal point of the image:

Add light to foreground balcony, also some to distant tall buildings:

Final step for tonight, add two figures on the balcony

The brightest light in the image is only about a 25% value - not even close to white. None of the other lights is brighter than 50%. I'm trying to make my #1 read be the character whose head is in front of the bright light, #2 should be the other character near the doorway approaching the main character, and #3 should take the viewer's eye on a little tour of the city lights before coming right back to the #1 read.

I'm thinking that with the #1 read being fairly close to the horizontal center, I'm probably going to want to move the distant tall building right above him over to the left some - getting too much of a vertical line there I think.

Friday, May 23, 2008

May 22 Speed Paint

Did this last night in about an hour:

After buying and watching Whit Brachna's environment video from Massive Black, I was bummed that he changed the submarine to a boiler by the end of it, so I decided to give the sub its day in the sun. Or in the dark sub maintenance bay. I like submarines, they're pretty cool.

Needs more detail. I'll have to put in another hour or two this weekend.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tonight's paint

This was a busy weekend, but got some paint time in, which is good:

This is from a thumbnail I've had laying around for at least a year. I wanted to get the values down before going color. Trying to prep myself for an environment class I'll be taking starting in a few weeks. It's some kind of large reception room; there's a procession coming in to meet someone by the windows.

Monday, May 12, 2008

At the Airport

Speed paint from life, about 1 hour:

I don't get to do this often. Actually, I've never been able to do this before! I had a long wait for my plane in Manchester NH, so I set up in the Sam Adams pub there - where they not only have a whole wall of convenient outlets and seats for computer users, but free WiFi in the whole airport, bravo! - and painted. Very complex lighting situation, multiple daylight and artificial sources, I didn't quite nail it, but for the first time I think it looks okay.

Of course, then I see stuff like this, and like this, and I wanna bang my head against the wall...

Oh, also, my entry did not make the top 50 cut for Dominance War. Oh well. Now I can do some tweaks to it that friends have suggested, and make it better for my portfolio.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Teenage Me vs. Now

There's a meme flying around the webz today, people comparing themselves as they are now to when they were 16. Here's mine:

A webfriend thought (tweeted, actually) about these things, "These all straddle the fence of uplifting and depressing." My reply was:

Life presents both upgrades and downgrades over time. :)"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Did a little speed paint this weekend, just finished it up. About 2.5 hours or so cuz I stopped to look at it and think a lot:

Those guys are probably in big trouble.

Gotta do more of these. Grind, grind, level up. Trying to do more of them for work even when they don't ask for it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Model Sheet Complete!

Aaaand, I'm done! Here's the model sheet:

I'm happy with this entry. Hope the judges like it too... but even if they don't, it's a nice piece for the portfolio.

Ahh. West and wewaxation at wast. :D

DWIII Concept Sheet

Here's the concept sheet that the contest requires.

I kinda did it backwards, I made this sheet after I finished the painting, though I had most of these sketches done separately. As long as it's done, heh. :)

Now, lunch. Then right after, I gotta do the ortho-view modeling sheet. Almost there!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Painting Complete!

Here's the final image:

Rock. I like being finished. Oh, except that I have to put together a concept art sheet and a modeling turnaround sheet for it. I'm gonna do that tomorrow though.

Finally, I'm actually happy with a painting.

Gaining Momentum

Today's progress:

You really have to click on the image to see how the cracks and refraction work on the sphere. Took a while to figure out how to do it but once I did it went very fast. Not that much left to do, really... from here, it's all downhill.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Polished my Gnomes

OK, now I feel like I'm getting somewhere:

The gnomes are all done. This is a good thing. I only have a couple more things to do to finish this piece - the girl is pretty much done too. I need to put some things in her hands and then do some crystal effects to the sphere. Last will be a little bit of lighting effect, and that's it. Maybe another 3 hours total work, on top of roughly 8 so far.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Dominance War

Here's where I'm at on the DW piece:

I'm still too damn slow. But it's getting closer. I decided that rather than painting all the gnome faces from scratch, I'd duplicate the one I had and then make changes to the copies. Much faster. I sometimes fail to remember all the sneaky "speed it up" tricks that one can use in digital, and wind up noodling too much.

At this point the gold thing is done, the girl is nearly done, and the gnomes are taking shape. Once I get the gnomes done, the final stuff will go very fast as it's mostly FX.

Update: HOLY CRAP, somehow the news never reached me that I had to do more than just start a thread on CGTalk to actually enter the contest. I was poking around the DW home site and saw that my image was nowhere to be found among the entries... then found some instructions that I had never seen before. I've followed them, uploaded an image and info... hopefully it will get set up properly.

Whew, I'm sure glad I saw that. Woulda really sucked to do all that work and have it not count.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dominance War

Here's where I'm at on my Dominance War piece:

I've only had the chance to put in about 3 hours total but actually I think my progress is good. I'm not going to render this to super-pixel perfection, because it's to be submitted at a pretty small size, 1000px square. I'm working at 3X that size so it will rez down nicely. It's gonna be a lot less work than the Artspace entry... thank goodness.

Here's the first progress shot, after 1.5 hours:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sketch Cards Sold!

All my sketch cards that I did for the cancer benefit auction sold, for between $15 and $34 each, hooray! Total raised by my cards, about $138. It may not seem like much, but every little bit helps when you're fighting something like cancer. There were well over 100 artists who donated, and many of them were much better known than I am, so I'm pretty confident that the whole auction generated several thousand dollars.

Thanks to everyone who bought them. I hope you enjoy them!

If you're one of the winners and you've found me here, please join my email list by sending an email to listlackey(at)jeffzugale(dot)com, and I'll send you updates on all my doings. :)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sketch Card Auction for Cancer Benefit

The six sketch cards that I did for the Cancer Society benefit are now up on eBay. There are already bids on a few, but the starting price is only $1 each (!!) and the current bids are still very low. With many of my cards going for $20 or more on eBay, this is a great chance, if you're interested in owning some of my original art, to get a piece at a very, very reasonable price while also helping the most worthy cause of fighting cancer.

I hope you'll all consider bidding on one of my cards, or on one of the several hundred other cards by all sorts of great artists that also donated to the auction. Good Luck! :)

NVArtspace Entry

I got my Artspace entry in, just in time:

Here's the full entry thread with some comments and progress images.

Next: Dominance War III!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Help Fight Cancer!

I've done a set of sketch cards (see below) for a charity auction benefiting the American Cancer Society. The auction will be held online on eBay on March 8th, 2008. Here's a great opportunity to have a piece of my original art (or art from any of over 100 other excellent artists) and help out in the fight against cancer at the same time.

This past year my mom, a good friend, and that friend's mom have all been diagnosed and treated for cancer. All of them are just fine, thanks to the cancer research that the ACS supports, so it's certainly a worthy cause! I hope you'll give it a shot.

I'll send out a reminder to everyone on my email list just before the auction. If you're not already on my list, send me an email at and I'll add you. You can also sign up for an email notification on the event page that I linked to above.

I'm really happy with how the cards came out, they're very different from any I've done before:

Maybe you can win one of them! :)