Skull collector — vector artwork

Making Of / 12 January 2018

People who've seen my work often have the preconception that I'm solely creating 3D artwork, but nothing could be further from the truth. I love to create 2D character designs and artwork as well. In fact, when I was a young bloke I started my career as a 2D pixel artist for 16-bit games (Commodore Amiga, MS-DOS and Windows). Hence my fondness of low-resolution pixel artwork, which I regard as a distinctive form of graphic design, simplifying shapes and colors to the pure essence.

When I create vector artwork, I try to translate the iconic characteristics of low-res pixel art to vector shapes. My workflow for this is to start by sketching the image as actual pixel art.

Then I enlarge the pixel art and trace the shapes in Affinity Designer. Affinity Designer doesn't contain an automatic bitmap to vector conversion tool at the time I write this though (I'm using version 1.6), in case you're looking for that. Up to now I haven't found a really effective low-res pixel art to vector conversion tool, and I hope the AI / machine learning revolution will soon change that.

After creating the vector version, I like to add a little soul to the sterile geometric shapes by post-processing the artwork in an image editor, adjusting colors, adding noise, etcetera. Below you can view the final result.

If you really like this demonic skull collector, it's available as a print on all kinds of items in my Society6 store, alongside many of my other images.

You can like my blog posts or leave a comment at Artstation.

Making of De Ruyter 3D print model

Making Of / 06 January 2018

The talented cartoonist and comic strip artist Pieter Hogenbirk is a good old friend of mine. One of his comic strip series is based on a famous Dutch historical figure: admiral Michiel De Ruyter (1607 - 1676).

To practice 3D sculpting with Pixologic ZBrush, I offered Pieter to create a 3D-printed bust of De Ruyter, so he could have a tangible version of his character on his desk. Pieter responded enthusiastically, so I rolled up my sleeves and started.

Usually, the first stage is gathering reference images. I collected some comic panels from De Ruyter for an impression of the characteristics. Then I started to build a very elementary model, consisting of basic 3D shapes.

During the second phase I combined the basic shapes into one 3D model using the Dynamesh tool in ZBrush, and added the head's major elements: eyes, hair and moustache. I also assigned some colors, to get rid of the red clay look, and make the character more lively.

After showing the first result to Pieter, he clarified that the apparent tuft on top of the character's hair is actually his hair parting. So I corrected that.

While refining the head, I decided to choose shades of gray in stead of cartoony colors, going for a classic stone-like look, as the final bust would be printed in a sandstone-ish material, and colors can sometimes distract from forms, especially when the colors are saturated.

Once the head was more or less finished, the chest was sculpted, cutting off angled regions in classic bust tradition.

During the last sculpting stage, clothing accessories and a classic-style pedestal were added.

After uploading the final, hollowed-out 3D model to my Shapeways 3D print store, I created an impression using the Keyshot renderer.

And here are two photographs of the final sandstone 3D print. Some of the definition was lost due to the limited resolution of the 3D printer.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed sculpting the figure. The biggest challenge was successfully translating the very stylized 2D drawings to 3D shapes while trying to keep the characteristics intact from every angle.

You can like my blog posts or leave a comment at Artstation.

Necronaut — low-polygon 3D artwork

Making Of / 03 January 2018

Allow me to introduce you to Necronaut. What better way to start a new year than by creating some gloomy sci-fi horror. 😉 

I love the iconic, graphic nature of low-polygon 3D, and the dramatic lighting contrast you can achieve with it. I restricted myself to polygon angles of 45 degrees for a robust Art Deco style result.

Here's an impression of the untextured scene in the realtime viewport of Blender (2.79), my 3D editor of choice for this work. I love Blender's versatility.

For the final image I tried to achieve a nice blend of stylized shapes and a grungy, textured finish, to avoid a result that is too sterile. Part of the texturing was rendered on the surfaces, and a subtle second layer of textures was added in the post-production phase.

Post-production was performed using Photoscape X, a gem of an image editor. It's available for both MacOS and Windows. The free version already offers a lot of functionality, but I recommend buying the Pro version (an in-app purchase for MacOS). It's worth the affordable investment, and you'll support a dedicated developer. Don't worry, I'm not being paid to mention this. 😉

If you really like this unfortunate space adventurer, it's available as a print on all kinds of items in my Society6 store, alongside many of my other images.

You can like this blog post or leave a comment at Artstation.