Thursday, 10 March 2016

Dreadnought Tutorial Has ARRIVED!!

This is my new Gumroad tutorial that takes you through the process of creating sci-fi concept art. I outline the process I use when creating concept art for movies and games. This tutorial picks up right after my last tutorial; Rapid Symmetry Design! Head over to my Gumroad page now:

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Gumroad Video Tutorials and eBook Now Available!

I'm really excited to present my new series of tutorials available through Gumroad! The first tutorial collection will be based on Rapid Symmetry Design. This is a technique I use all the time to generate 3d concepts extremely fast! I've created both a 7 hour HD video series demonstration and a 38 page eBook to accompany the video. I'm also throwing in the final 3d files so you can see the final result for yourself!

I've also been working hard to create various assets such as Photo collections, Brushes, Concept elements and others. Head over to Gumroad to check them out!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Fifth Wave Movie Posters Background

When creating images for stock libraries such as istockphoto, you never quite know where those images will end up, you hope they will be used in fun and interesting ways that get seen by many people, but you never quite know. A few weeks ago I was standing in the lobby of a local movie theater when I happened to look up at the coming soon posters, to my surprise one of the movie posters stood out as having a very familiar background:

While creating these dystopia stock backgrounds this was always the ultimate hope for how these images would be used, so it's great to see that someone out there decided to use these images in such a way.

My thanks to the person who decided to use these images!

While on the subject of stock images, I've recently added a bunch of new images to istockphoto. These images cover two themes, military and space!

You can view these images and all my other stock art over at istockphoto, click here:

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Photoshop - it's a love hate relationship!

Photoshop - 10 Photoshop tools I love and 10 things I despise! 

As far as photo editing and digital painting goes Photoshop is the digital Swiss army knife, the work horse of pixel pushing, the digital ninja of the creative world! Without Photoshop, I dare say my life would definitely have taken a very different path! As a matte painter and concept artist, I use Photoshop every day in my work to bring my ideas to life. Needless to say though, when you spend so much time with one thing, you develop quite a relationship!

A quick disclaimer; some of the points outlined below may not reflect current features at the time of reading this given Photoshop is changing every year. And in some cases, I just might not be aware of existing features; if you see something below that you feel isn't correct, feel free to let me know!! and I would love to hear your own Photoshop favorites, wishlists and villains! Comment below!

 10 awesome Photoshop tools and features! 

  1. Blend if

    This one is hidden away and not one that everyone is immediately familiar with. However since discovering this myself I now find myself using this tool at least once every 15 minutes while using Photoshop, especially to  create nice textural effects. The effect allows you to reveal or hide areas of a layer based on the light or dark areas using a slider that controls the threshold. You can fine tune this by holding down ALT and splitting the markers, allowing you to create a range. All sounds pretty complex, but is simple in practice. This can be found by right clicking on a layer in the layer panel and selecting Blending Options. Inside the blending options locate Blend if at the bottom, center. Next experiment with the sliders, noting the results in the document. As noted above, hold down ALT to break the slider handles.
  2. Match color

    If this little bad boy had a ninja name, it would be The Chameleon! For the longest time I never used the Match color tool (image > adjustment), in part due to many failed attempts at using it in the past and feeling it was a cheat that could never really provide acceptable results. However that changed when a friend and mentor alerted me to a very simple, and obvious point that until then never occurred to me; with the target layer selected, control click the thumbnail inside the layer to select the active pixels, then switch to the reference layer that you wish to color match too and right-click, and Cut this to a new layer; rename it to something like; "reference color layer" open up the Match color tool and select the referencing document and the referencing layer, which in the example above was, "reference color layer", then click ok to confirm. 95% of the times the target layer will match the reference layer quite accurately. The point that I quite realised previously was to ensure both the target layer and the referencing layer shared the same pixel area in the document. Previously I was taking small crops and trying to match them to another layer that was completely different shape and in different position, and subsequently achieving very undesired results.
  3. Auto backup

    Winner of my sweetest new feature badge! imagine my delight one day at work when after a few hours of painting, and forgetting to save (bad me) Photoshop decides to nuke itself! You know the feeling right? like your soul just leaked all over the floor into a depressing puddle of pitty! but wait, wait! behold, Photoshop reveals a new special power, unknown to me at the time; CS6 came with auto backup! Yay! So this is always a good tool to ensure it turned on in preferences.
  4. Reset settings

    A handy little feature that often slips by people. If, when you have a box open with various settings, you can hold down alt to reveal a secret reset button, that temporerilly replaces the cancel button! Great for those times when you make a bunch of adjustments and you need to reset the settings, but don't want to close and reopen the box. For example; open the image size box, change a few settings, then hold down Alt and see the little guy reveal himself where the cancel button is located! Nice touch Adobe!
  5. New Window (document instancing!)

    This is a great little feature that creates an instance of the document you're currently working on. As you paint in one, it updates in the other. This is useful for many different reasons by where you need to view your document from a different perspective. For example, if you're using two monitors, one might not accurately reproduce the colors of the final output, where you might have a second monitor that does. In this example you can have the images visible on both devices. Another example might be that you wish to view your document at a different scale, for example when painting a landscape, its a good idea to be able to see the image at a thumbnail scale to ensure the composition and values are working correctly.

    To access this feature, go to; Window - Arrange - New Window for *document name*
  6. Copy and Paste from Web

    Another simple trick that often goes unnoticed is the ability to right-click, and copy an image from a web browser, and paste directly into a Photoshop document. Or once, you've copied the image, simply open a new document in Photoshop, and you will notice the image size is set to the size of the image you're copying.

  7. Using Channels to make a selection when all else fails.

    Channels are extremely useful in many different ways, especially when it comes to isolating a an object that is otherwise not so easy with the Lasso and Marquee tools. I find this method very useful for selecting clouds and trees. Using such an image, go into the channels and find the channel that presents the most contrast, usually the blue channel. Right click on the channel and Duplicate. Then select the new duplicated channel below. Using the curves or levels tool you can increase the contrast to create a black and white representation of the object you're trying to select. Once you're duplicate channel is looking good, simply Ctrl click the channel to make the selection, then click the RGB at the top of the channel stack, then go to the layers panel and make a mask from the layer you're trying to select from. The mask is the third icon from the left at the bottom of the layer panel. This will produce a mask based on the selection you made. You may need to invert the mask. If so, simply select the new mask in the layer panel, ensuring you single click the mask itself, then go to Image - Adjustments - Invert.
  8. Tab and Screen modes

    The tab key is great for hiding all the panels when you need to see more of the document area. Just hit tab to hide, and tab again to reveal. In combination with that you can also hit the F key. Hitting F will cycle through the different screen modes. One of them will make the document fill the screen area. Hitting F will continue to cycle through the different screen modes. Three in total.
  9. Right click on the document border option

    If you right click on the title area of the document border (top of the document) you will reveal a few handy options. I always go here for the Image size and Duplicate document options. I do wish there was an option to customize this menu. Its a nice location for a custom menu.
  10. Automate!

    Save the best until last! Automate, which can be found in File - Automate, has some really great time saving options. I find myself using Photo Merge and Contact Sheet all the time. There's also the Batch Automate tool that can play through a series of repetitive tasks; for example try color correcting and resizing 100 photos by hand, with Batch, you record it once with actions, and then just go into the Batch options, select a folder, select the action you recorded, hit play and sit back and let Photoshop do all the work! Awesome!
10 things I despise about Photoshop

Sorry Photoshop, I love you dearly, but you are not without flaws! Though truth be told, I could only come up with six flaws!

  1. Curve box limitation!

    I can't resize the curves box! I really like to get in there and tweak those curves!
  2. Thou shall not sample colors from beneath!

    I can't take color samples from layers beneath the top most layer. Ok, this is a BIG one!! I frequently have a need to A) have a bunch of adjustment layers at the top of the layer stack and B) have a need to frequently color pick and paint beneath those adjustment layers. The clone brush tool has an option to clone current and below the layer, I wish there was an option to do this with the color picker too! To be able to select from the current and below layer only.
  3. Value picker doesn't appear with curve adjustment layer

    When using the curves found in Image - Adjustments, you can hover your cursor over the document and a picker will appear that lets you select a value, this in turn is reflected in the curve box, by showing a small circle on the curve line itself. Now try and do this with an layer adjustment curve! This option isn't available.
  4. No shortcut for rotating the brush. 

    When painting, i frequently have a need to rotate the angle of the brush to a specific angle. A number of painting programs have the ability to rotate by holding down a key such as R, allowing the brush to be rotated to the desired angle. Photoshop however, requires you to go to the Brush editor panel and rotate the brush there.
  5. Color Mixing palette

    I know some people out there will point out Painter as an option, but it would be nice if Photoshop had a panel where you could mix colors, in the same way you can with traditional painting. Painter has one! Come on Photoshop!
  6. Tool options bar goes beneath documents.

    There's many times when you have multiple documents open, that they conceal the Tool options bar, at the top of the Photoshop interface. It would be nice if the documents went underneath this.

10 features I wish Photoshop had!

  1. Pin to top of stack

    The ability to draw on one document, and pin another document over the top without it switching beneath in z order. The clear example here, would be to allow you to have reference images above the active working document.

  2. Mesh sub divisions

    The ability to sub divide the Warp Transform tool. Mari has a great mesh tool that serves as an excellent example of how this should work. Basically I want the options to increase and decrease the mesh subdivisions. It would also be sweet if you could preserve the changes made at different divisions, in a similar way to how zbrush works with mesh subdivisons.

  3. More rebust cell animation tools

    It would be great to expand upon the existing tineline features in Photoshop to create a workspace for traditional style animation. There's a few plugins available for Photoshop that do just this, but would be nice to have this as a native feature in Photoshop. For example more advance onion skinning features and easier manageability of frames etc

  4. Node based

    I feel there's definitely many workflows that involve Photoshop that could benefit from having a node based editing system. Especially with Illustrator, Indesign and After Effects.

  5. Custom Menu

    I would love to be able to craft my own little menu of most commonly used tools and features. I believe there may be a way to do this; if so, then perhaps a more clear and simple way to construct such a menu please Adobe?

  6. The palette dock at the top right of the interface.

    Many Photoshops ago, there was a Photoshop feature that allowed you to dock the tool panels into the top right. I preferred this option over the existing option where they're all docked to the right side. I also feel The panels should always pin over the documents. Its very frustrating moving all my documents around to find a panel, which on average amounts to 20-30 documents open. Perhaps a shortcut that brings them all to the top, like Tab and P. There may already be a preference that allows you to do this, I should take a look!

  7. PSD thumbnail previews

    This might be a Windows issue, more so than Photoshop. In all the time I've used Photoshop, I've never been able to preview a PSD thumbnail when in the open file box. It simply shows a blue document graphic with the  .PSD letters. I understand Bridge is a solution to this, but sometimes, it would be nice to be able to see them in the File - Open box.

  8. Layer management enhancements

    It would be nice if there were more options related to layer panel management. A few examples; I wish there were more color tag options (right click left side of layer in layer panel) Such as the ability to be able to define any color. It would be useful to have a divider layer; a layer that perhaps has no thumbnail, just an area for a title. Adding to this, it would be nice to also have a note layer; a layer that again has no thumbnail, but allows you to add a text box / notes into the layer/layer panel.

  9. Fit to Frame

    With the hand tool selected, you can right click and present a menu that allows you to fit to screen. I wish there was an option in the same location that would fit the document to the document frame; ie, shows 100% of the image, but doesn't resize the document frame.

  10. 3d Warehouse integration

    Would be nice to have 3d Warehouse integrated into Photoshop in the same way that it is integrated into Sketchup. Adding to this, I hope Adobe continue to develop the 3d tools in Photoshop, and improve the viewport speed. I would also like to see the ability to have NPR options to allow for quick generation of line art renders, toon renders, cell shaded renders etc. I think having an option that just creates an outline render would be great in itself, similar to Toon / Outline render found in Vray / 3dS Max.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ruin Kit Elements has ARRIVED!


Over the centuries and eons past I've been crafting away at my grand creation! The Ruin Kit Elements Pack! Ok, perhaps weeks, but days can often seem like years right! :) And now they are ready for all yee 3d artists to devour for the small sum of $19! OR all 3 packs for $45! come on; that's a bargain right?! Take a wonder over to Turbosquid and see them in all their glory! There's a LOT more to come! All elements were created in Zbrush and layout/rendered through 3ds Max 2013 with Vray 2.5. The elements are provided in Max format with OBJs to support.
  cap_004And the keyword part: ruins,ruin,demolished,demolition,destroyed,kit,pack,set,destruction,ruined,bricks,blocks,concrete,wasteland,warzone,cg,3d,environment

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Stonehenge matte paintings and more stock ruins!

I recently completely work on a high number of digital matte paintings for a British documentary about Stonehenge.

Stonehenge digital matte paintings

Stonehenge DMP

I added another ruined cityscape to my collection of stock images over at istockphoto:

ruined cityscape matte painting

You can view an animated breakdown of this video here:

And a few thoughts on Maze Runner, specifically the maze itself! Now anyone familiar with the story will know the maze, like every good maze, is ever changing, however the amount of times I see the maze change from one marketing image to the next is making my head spin! Take a look below; the book cover and the lower image account for around 90% of my work, which reflects a true representation of the maze itself. Now look at the movie poster! Now don't get me wrong, I understand they just want to make it look cool, but I am a little confused by the center of the Maze structure in this image. I won't give any spoilers, but when you see the movie finale, you'll see what I mean! Not to mention the lead actor who seems to have undergone one too many photoshop tweaks! hehe!


And finally, I've added a section for zbrush sketches. You can see the link above, or click the image below:

zbrush sculpts

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Halo Master Chief Collection Artwork

Over the last several months I've been creating various artwork for cinematics in the Halo Master Chief Collection at Sequence Vancouver. This was a whole lot of fun! creating everything from destroyed cities to space station! I really look forward to showing this work in the coming months.

The Master Chief Collection

(above image not created by me)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Coffee Painting | Stock image

Today I added another digital painting to my istockphoto library of images. I decided to take a break from destroying cities and have a cuppa coffee!

Coffee cup

Friday, 13 June 2014

Honda Jet commercial 3d environment & Stock image of ruined cityscape.

Two images I created recently. The first is a 3d environment I created for a Honda Jet TV commercial. You can view the commercial here:

The second image is a ruined landscape I created as stock for istockphoto; click the image to jump over to the stock page.


3d Environment for Honda Jet commercial

City ruin

Sunday, 20 April 2014

3ds Max hair, fur and Phoenix FD tests!

I've been playing around with the hair and fur in 3ds Max, also the Phoenix FD plugin. Doing lots of shorts test. I found one such test pointlessly entertaining. If you watch it on loop, it becomes slightly hypnotic!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Enders Game Matte Paintings

Enders Game

I recently came across this Enders Game movie companion at the book store; after seeing two of my matte paintings, I had to buy it! You can see the respective shots further below:


A few of the shots containing matte paintings I worked on can be seen below:


Wednesday, 19 March 2014



Maze Runner finally has a trailer! and more importantly a poster! This came as a complete surprise to me this morning when I dropped by for my morning dose of CG news and while browsing through suddenly recognised a very familiar matte painting I created some months ago:


You can see the same painting again in the above trailer around the 00.47 point. I also worked on a few other shots in the trailer, however the amount of dust and debris in one, pretty much makes the DMP unnoticeable, and another has a row of blades in front of it! sheesh :) I worked on the movie for around 12 months and was fortunate to be one of the few matte painters involved. I worked on some very cool shots that I can't wait for the world to see! Hopefully they release another trailer soon! and for any fans out there, the grievers will blow your mind away! it was inspiring to see the Method team bring theses creatures to life! Very excited to see the movie!

Drop by the official movie page:
And you can find the book by James Dashner, which the movie is based on here:

Saturday, 8 March 2014

3d Character TV commercial

My first TV commercial back in the day! 

I have fond memories of working on this little 3d character. There's something about our early work that tends to shine above our latest work, maybe it's created with a thirst to prove ourselves, or the fear of failing, maybe it's neither. Perhaps we choose to see our memories of the past in a better light, given we survived and continued through until today which in contrast is where our challenges exist.

Character sheet for Carling C2 robot

One day this guy contacts me out of the blue and asks me if I'd be interested in building and texturing this robot character. I instantly set about doing just that before I was even given the green light to go! I went one step further and animated the character just to try and flash my skills a little, which in turn probably explains why I ended up not only modelling and painting him, but also animating and rigging him, and later animating a few other background characters.

This little character was a big challenge for me some several years ago when I was given the task to create him. Which in itself was a bold task to give to someone who up until that point had never demonstrated any 3D skills in the public arena. Even though I was definitely equip for the challenge, I had being somewhat shy about my skills in 3D; which often left me wondering why he decided to get in touch with me in the first place, but glad he did! The job came together piece by piece and I was happy to add such a cool project to my very empty reel! That experience was definitely a big step up that propelled me further into the world of moving pictures. Incidentally, the guy who reached out to me was a a fellow VFX artist and sci-fi visionary; Gavin Rothery, who later went on to develop the visuals for one of my favourite movies in recent times; Moon. I could definitely see his style in that movie!

Like any first big project, and when I think about it, most VFX projects, this one was full of challenges and required a lot of duck taping the thing together! A few glitches even went into the final commercial that were not intended. For example, the white ring around his second eye was never intended to be there, I think I accidentally scaled down the texture map! But in the end I think it looks quirky and interesting! Another glitch was the vibrating green thing behind his claw, this was intended to be attached to the claw, however somehow this ended up detached and springing back and forth! which was very funny to see. I think these all added to the humour of the little robot character, so worked out in the end! And finally the small, impossible to see text on his label has the names of my family written on it.

3d character break down