New Blog

I no longer use this blog, please go to my new website to follow my new work

http://www.ameliahirst.co.uk/wordpressblog

[hey how much would you charge for your octopus in a jar? <3]
Anonymous

Hey that’s really nice of you to ask but it’s not for sale since it was a university project so I’m really attached to it. I do still have the fibre glass mould so can cast more but I have to warn you the platinum silicone it’s made from is very expensive so it wouldn’t be cheap to buy one. Amelia xxx

Works in Progress

Somehow I’ve found myself really busy over the last few weeks with sorting out my 2D portfolio and CV and haven’t had as much time as I’d like to keep up with my studies and projects.

I’m slowly going over the tutorials on Escapes website and have modelled a red tailed cat fish to practice UVing and texture mapping on.  

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It looks a bit lifeless at the moment and needs some eyes. I’m going to go over taking models into ZBrush and exporting the maps back into Maya with this project, hopefully get some nice scales on him :)

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I love environment concepts and have been wanting to give it a go for a while. This is the line art for my first attempt, a swap shack in a swamp. I haven’t finalised the colours yet I was thinking of dusky sunset colours and I’m definitely going to paint this in Corel Painter with oils.

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closer look.

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Reboot

Wow 5 months since I’ve posted any work! It’s been a very busy 5 months and my life has changed a lot. I’ve done my 3 months at Escape Studios which was probably the most intense 3 months of my life! I learnt so much in such a short amount of time there and met some very talented and nice people too. It would have taken me years to self-teach myself everything we covered there so I’m really happy I did it and I’ve got some awesome new skills to work on.

One thing in particular I found really interesting was learning how to use Maya and ZBrush together by using the GoZ feature.

This stag skull was one of my final projects, I modelled it using polygons in Maya then sent it over to ZBrush for texturing.

I still get to use the facilities at Escape and have been back a few times in the evening to practice camera tracking and am using the online videos to go back over parts that I didn’t quite get while I was on the course. There are some freebies up there too for anyone who’s interested :D

http://www.escapestudios.co.uk/

After I finished at Escape it was Christmas and I got a copy of Corel Painter 12 so I sat down and spent a month teaching myself how to use it. I really love this program, the brushes are amazing especially the watercolour brushes that run, dry and soak up on the digital canvas. I’m really looking forward to putting up work that I’ve created in Painter.

My plans now are to look for work in 2D whilst building up my 3D skills/show reel and keep enjoying life in London :D

In my next post I’ll share some of the projects I’ve been working on, any questions? Click ask me anything.

Hey. The image at the top of this page is amazing, and I notice your getting into ZBrush and Maya, so hows it coming along. I work in ZBrush and have done for years and have started a little in Maya in will get stuck in properly in the summer. Oh I came across your page here whilst looking for reference on Elephant skeletons, found your sketch. Arran Lewis
Anonymous

Hey Arran thanks for the message. Things are going great I understand ZBrush and Maya a lot more now after training at Escape Studios for 3 months, it really helped having tutors and class mates to work out problems with.  We also learnt how to use Maya and ZBrush together to produce really nice results. I will be putting up some recent work soon. You asked as anonymous does this mean you don’t have a blog? If you do I’d love to see your work Amelia xxx   

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.
Steve Jobs (via blinkanditsover)
Summer

My blog may go quiet for a while now since I’m moving to London tomorrow and starting Escape on Monday (excited) and I don’t know when I’ll next be able to get on the internet so I thought I should do an update. The last few weeks of summer have been a blur of parties with me visiting Stockholm to see friends and going to Bestival but I have managed to squeeze in a little sketching.

I’ve started a painting based on the lyrics from a song I like by Bat For Lashes “Moon and Moon” listen here. The lines that have inspired me in particular are “where’s my bear to lick me clean? Feed my soul milk and honey”

Rough sketch Photshop CS5

Maya Week Two and Escape Studios

This week has been all about getting to grips with polygon modelling in Maya. I’m working my way through my book at the moment and I’m on a tutorial making a steam engine. I have to say that I find the GUI and controls a lot easier in Maya than when I first started learning ZBrush. Whenever I start learning a piece of software I immediately worry I will forget everything I know in other programs and get rusty so in the evenings I’m also working on a little ZBrush project of a seahorse.

CHOOOO CHOOOOOOOO!

PolyFrame turned on for fun colours :D

Its official I will be at Escape Studios for 3 months training in VFX Production at the end of September. I’m so excited! The programs they teach on the course are Photoshop, ZBrush, Maya, Nuke and HDR shop and I already love Photoshop and ZBrush and have a newly found affection for Maya. They offer a recruitment service at the end of the 3 months and a full year of access to tutors and online learning (its gunna be an awesome year for me) For anyone who’s interested I found some videos of the work that previous escapees produced on the VFX production course and a video of interviews with ex students.  

Escapees Work

Back to work then …

First Week of Maya, Advice from Ubisoft and Back to the Books

Right back to the books for me I have two books I want to get through in the next 6 weeks Introducing Autodesk Maya and Advanced ZBrush

I’ve spent a week with Maya and already like it a lot. I’ve made a simple animation of the solar system with primitive NURBS and learnt a little about parent and child nodes.

One of my friends has also given me access to his digital tutor’s videos which will be a big help. I love my friends they’re so supportive of me.       

I’m going on a very short very intense 3 month training program in VFX and although I’ve been advised not to learn Maya before the start of the training I’m impatient and want to get my teeth into it. My mind is blown to bits everyday looking at the creations on Pixologic, ZBrush Central and CGHUB and I really want to get as good as those guys.

A little while ago I sent my work to an art director at Ubisoft Montreal who had some very nice words for me about the level of skill I’m already at in Photoshop and is encouraging me to continue into 3D modelling and just to keep going since he says I have a lot of passion.

I’m still trying to piece together how to fit into the industry since I love everything especially concept art. Talking to the head of the training course gave me a bit of perspective about how fiercely competitive concept and previs art is and how I could build up to that later in my career once I get a foot in the door.

Mariana Trench Little Mermaid Completed and Maya

So here’s my finished piece :D Due to holidays and sickness I had to finish my painting last minute so I didn’t get a chance to paint the scene I wanted but I’m still happy with the result. Very much inspired by the bioluminescence of the creatures found at the bottom of the ocean and films like The Abyss and Avatar I tried to design my mermaid as if it was going to appear in a James Cameron film, I hope I succeeded.

This is entered into Bobby Chius and Imagine FX’s competition over on CGHUB and there’s a series of WIPS up there if anyone is interested. CGHUB link 

You can see the picture in full on my deviant art page as well. My Deviant Art

Close up

comb jellyfish

Here’s the original Idea in its early stages of development. You can see I’m filling in for the pilot since I haven’t drawn him yet and the mermaid has no hands :s I also need to add in some marine life aswell like an angler fish or two. I really want to finish this piece since I think it’s a good example of an establishing shot and tells more of a story.

In other News I managed to get a free copy of Maya since my dad’s a teacher and his school was on their education list woooo! I can get any of Autodesk’s software for free which is awesome! I’m really happy about my dad’s career choice!

Now I just have to learn Maya which is the most daunting thing I’ve ever set myself!

Any questions? click the ask me anything button.

Mariana Trench Mermaid Research and Development Continued

So here’s my model. It’s pretty rough but since I’m not creating a finished model for the competition it’s ok.

One of the main reasons I’ve made my mermaid in ZBrush along with playing around with the design is to use the figure as a lighting reference. Lighting is hard at the best of times but trying to paint lighting on a made up creature that lives 7 miles underwater, lit from a submersible is a bit of a stretch for my imagination. Hopefully this sketch model will give me all the information I need.

This is my second attempt at modelling in ZBrush without the help of a book and I’m pleased with my progress. I’m getting faster and remembering how to do things without looking them up: woooo!  

I made a bit of a rookie mistake when attaching the head I sculpted previously to the body. I forgot to move the hair tentacles before merging them together: oops! I don’t think it’s a good idea to make heads and bodies separately and try to stick them together.  Next time I create a creature I’ll sculpt the head and body together but hey, I’m still learning.   

Neutral Pose

Quick example of lighting I could use depending on the direction of the submersible lights.

Biology of the Mermaid

I’ve tried my best to stay away from the classic mermaid, the only primate-like features should be the arms, hands and parts of the head and face. The rest has been inspired by shapes found on fish and squids. I knew right from the begining I didn’t want breasts on the mermaid since that’s an extremely mammalian feature too, so for the chest I’ve decided to have it as a large set of gills which attach at the clavicle.

I’ve collected lots of images as reference for the colourings, markings and transparency of the mermaid. The colourings on this jellyfish are my favourite.

Story

Now that the design stage is over and I have a model to use as a reference its time to think about the final image and getting as much of the story into it as possible. I’ve had a few ideas varying from a pilot’s eye view, the mermaid interacting with the sub, peering through the porthole to an establishing shot. I’ll play around with some thumbnail sketches to see which works best.

Any questions? Click the Ask me anything button.

Update

Has it really been three weeks since I last posted some work?! I’ve been working honest I have! It seems I have a few more followers too which is nice :D Thank you for following my art blog even though I don’t post regularly.

A sneak peek of what I’ve been up to in Photoshop recently.

Mariana Trench Little Mermaid Research and Development

I’ve decided to enter Bobby Chiu’s CGHUB competition to redesign a fairy-tale and since I love all things underwater I’ve chosen Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid to reimagine. The only rule for this competition is it has to be recognizable as the character from the story other than that we have full artistic license.

I’ve decided to set my reimagining of the story in the challenger deep with the little mermaid being a mixture of alien and beauty inspired by the abyssal creatures and bioluminescence found in the water column. The “prince” will come across the mermaid in a deep sea submersible.  

Since I’ve always been interested in the deep sea last, year I went to The Deep exhibition at the Natural History Museum show casing specimens from HMS Challenger. I bought the book The Deep by Claire Nouvian which has been incredibly inspiring for me since it’s packed with beautiful images of abyssal creatures. I’ve also been watching documentaries and finding lectures on bioluminescence to give me ideas on how to incorporate these features into my character.

I know that I don’t want my mermaid to be traditional with a shell bra and long flowing hair but I also don’t want to make the character so alien that there’s no chance of the love story. I think I’ve found a way around the love story part with a bit of a strange twist. Since my mermaid will be a creature the communicates through light I though how about having the mermaid fall in love with the submersival since it will be covered in lights? Maybe not fall in love with but at least be incredibly curious.

In my research I’ve also been looking into Chromatophores which are “pigment-containing and light-reflecting cells found in amphibians, fish, reptiles, crustaceans, and cephalopods” I love the idea that the mermaid could change the texture, colour, markings and the amount of light produced on the skin. If the character was to be animated I imagine I would want there to be electrical flashes of light and constant changing of colour throughout the body like warshak’s mask from the watchmen!    

For the markings I made ink blot paintings which I then scanned in to my computer to add as a texture overlay in Photoshop.

I started out my designs in quick thumbnail sketches in biro, then rough sketches in Photoshop, then took the rough sketches into an image plane in Zbrush to get a 3D model going. The final piece is going to be a digital painting but I’m going to be using Zbrush as a useful tool to help develop the character since it is so quick to make changes in Zbrush.

I went through several designs before I chose this one for the body. I will be furthering the design in ZBrush.

 Any Questions? Click the ask me anything button.

Spotlight Polypainting

I decided to finish my model by painting it with spotlight and a little polypainting. Spotlight is an awesome part of ZBrush where you can project texture and colour from any 2D image on to your 3D model. Here’s the photo I used and the results.

Best Preview Render

Close up, I had to paint every single sucker separately 0_o

To get an Idea of how powerful spotlight is I found this video (above) to give you an idea of the process I went through.

Although not everything went to plan with this model it’s put into practice just some of the techniques I’ve learnt in the last few months which are 

Zspheres

Adaptive Skinning

Moving Vertices

Appending Subtools

Basic Sculpting Tools

Making a custom Alpha

Polypainting

Spotlight Projecting

I’ve really enjoyed making this model but I think I’ll need to practice more before I start sharing my work on ZBrush Central.

In other news I may be getting a copy of Maya soon which I’m really excited about. It’s been suggested to me to get more into 3D modelling and also to create models which are useable in animation. It would be awesome to give one of ZBrush’s plugins ago and put a sculpted ZBrush model into Maya :D Here’s hoping I get a copy.

Any questions click the ask me anything button.

Share One Planet, Gamut Mapping, Mass Extinction

I was so excited the day I found out about Share One Planet’s competition, which combined two of my biggest interests: digital art and conservation. I knew I had to be a part of it. I wasn’t initially invited because I’m not a famous industry artist or well known on the internet but I wrote to them asking them to invite me anyway. They wrote back asking to see my blog and examples of my digital art, after which I was allowed to enter. We had 100 focus species to choose from which are on the brink of extinction or recently extinct and we could create the art with paint programs such as Photoshop, Corel painter or (my new favourite) ZBrush.

We had a choice of different categories such as herd, mother’s love or harmony. When coming up with my idea my first thoughts were quite abstract. I had the idea under the herd category of a human chest under x-ray, with the animals inside making up the organs; I would have also put the slogan ‘Life Support System’ somewhere on the painting. I liked this idea but worried it would be too abstract and not easily read by an audience.

I decided to go with a similar theme that I have used in two previous paintings: Jungle Spirit and Riding the Giant Swamp Cat, both of which have a human and animal characters. I chose the Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin, which was declared functionally extinct in 2006 due to the industrialisation of the Yangtze. After a little research I discovered that there was a fisherman’s tale about the Baiji, which was affectionately referred to as the Goddess of the River. In this tale a young girl who refused to marry a man she didn’t love was drowned in the Yangtze and transformed into the river dolphin becoming the Goddess of the River. I wanted to incorporate this myth into my image so chose the underwater setting with the character fully clothed as if drowned with a river dolphin come to take her away.

To see the painting in full please visit the Share One Planet website and my deviant art

 

Over Christmas I got a copy of James Gurney’s ‘Colour and Light for Realist Painters’ and I thought this painting was a good opportunity to put what I had learnt into practice. One of the most interesting things I learnt in Gurney’s book was gamut mapping, which is a way of controlling your pallet whilst painting.

Here you can see the gamut map I used for this painting using a lot of oranges and pinks and only a tiny amount of blue and green. You can read more about gamut mapping and other amazing tips that James Gurney has to offer on his blog

My feelings on the loss of the Baiji

It’s shocking that the Baiji has gone extinct, a species that has been on the planet for 20 million years, cut from the tree of life for ever. Unfortunately the Baiji is just one of hundreds of animals expected to go extinct. Experts are now warning that all life is in decline due to human activity and if action isn’t taken we may see the loss of half of all amphibians, 90% of large fish from the oceans, an 8th of all bird life and a third of all mammal life. This is being referred to as the 6th mass extinction on planet earth and a total collapse, words that I never thought I’d hear describing the natural world. I really hope extreme measures are going to be put in place to conserve these precious animals, which are part of a system that supports all life on earth, including human life.   

My sources

New Scientist

The United Nations

The BBC