Drawings from here and there

June 23rd, 2014

It’s so easy to toss every finished piece on my Facebook Page and forget to properly upload any of them to my blog. The plus side is that every now and then you get a nice big apologetic post full of forgotten stuff.

Two commissions (more or less). The first is for a bidder in an Earth Defense Force 72-hours charity marathon held in Israel, who wanted a combination of Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore and Marvin from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for his profile picture. The second is a birthday present requested by Leigh Lahav for her husband. She got several of her artist friends to draw him as a character in his favourite TV shows, and picked Firefly for me.

EDF Marathon: Eeyore meets Marvin

Captain Orenolds and Leighnara

Character design and sketch pages inspired by The Dresden Files, an awesome urban-fantasy detective book series by Jim Butcher.

The Dresden Files - Dresden & Murphy character designs

The Dresden Files - character designs

And three pieces for the Sketch Dailies Twitter group, which comes up with a daily topic and has pretty much the entire artistic internet draw their interpretation of it. The topics here are Goldilocks; Rapunzel and Tarzan; Captain America, Lady of the Lack and Unicorn. There aren’t really any rules preventing topic mash-ups, which is good, because otherwise I’d be missing on a whole lot of good ones.

Sketch Dailies: Goldilocks Sketch Dailies: Tarzan & Rapunzel Sketch Dailies: Captain America, Lady of the Lake & Unicorn

 

Aviv

W for Wolverine and William Wallace

June 10th, 2014

Well well well. Starting to near the end of this seemingly eternal project, where the English language dumped all of its least necessary letters. But I have some ideas for them already, and hopefully I can pick up the pace towards the finale.

W for Wolverine and William Wallace

Previous letters

Fishes and Chuckles (recent work for Chucklefish Games)

April 28th, 2014

A few months ago I joined Chucklefish studio, who created Starbound (among other things), and recently opened a London office to gather all of its members in one place.

I joined as part of a team working on a new game, about which not much is known at the moment, except that it’s going to involve pirates (yay!). Here are some preliminary sketches I did for the recruitment notice:

Chucklefish pirates game sketch
Chucklefish pirates game sketch

And here’s a whole album full of concept art created by Adam Riches, Zach Montoya and myself as part of the very early brainstorming process.

Other than working on the pirates game (working title [I hope]), I also drew some stuff for Starbound; not for the game itself – pixel-art is not my area of expertise – but around it.

Starbound is a “sandbox” game, meaning it’s totally open for exploration and interaction in hundreds of planets that are procedurally generated (instead of having a limited number of pre-designed ones). One of the cool things about it is that it’s constantly evolving, both in game mechanics and in story. In recent months, for example, a plot event titled “The Agaran Menace” unwrapped itself, starting with suspicious spores that popped up in various worlds, followed by mean-looking mushroom people. We uncovered the truth behind this worrisome phenomenon in a trailer, written by Starbound writer Ashton Raze and illustrated by me.

The event was accompanied by an old movie style poster:
Starbound: the Agaran Menace poster

And two comics pages you can see in the Chucklefish forums by clicking this first panel:
Starbound comics: McVicar Makes a Friend

Two Starbound wallpapers, the first of which came out together with the Agaran Menace and is kinda relevant:
Starbound wallpaper: Apex lab
All sizes at the bottom of this newsletter

Starbound wallpaper: Glitch knight
All sizes at the bottom of this newsletter

And last but not least (but kind of a bummer): my first task when I started working for Chucklefish was creating a cover illustration for an issue of PC Gamer UK, that had a long article and interview about Starbound. I worked on it for 3-4 days and was really pleased with the result, but the issue ended up having a different cover. I guess it’s hard to beat a Blizzard all-star design, but I still think it’s nice.
Starbound PC Gamer cover (unused)

Of course, all images and characters in this post belong to Chucklefish Games.

May your May be awesome,
Aviv

V for Voldemort, Violet, Vaarsuvius and V

March 16th, 2014

…and also for Victory!

V for Voldemort, Violet, Vaarsuvius and V

Previous letters

Happy New Year!

January 2nd, 2014

My 2014 starts in London, about 3 weeks after moving here with my boyfriend to try our luck in the Isles. I hope for an exciting year, full of British charm, new friends and good beer.

Incidentally, I also hope to find a job here, preferably in the games industry. If you happen to know a studio that’s looking to hire, I would very much appreciate it if you dropped me a line. Even updated my portfolio and everything.

Happy 2014

Have a wonderfully happy new year!
Aviv

Q, R, S, T, U

December 30th, 2013

Haven’t updated the ABCharacters project in a while! Here’s a bunch of ‘em.

ABCharacters: Q for Quetzalcoatl and Qetesh

R for Rush and Rumplestiltskin

S for Snow and Snape

T for Trinity and T'ealc

U for Ursula and Uhura

Previous letters

Scratch That!

November 28th, 2013

I spent a large portion of my time as a freelancer working with the lovely Jelly Button Games studio, and under Playtika‘s wing we worked on a scratch-card game for Facebook called Scratch That.

I can finally show some of the stuff I did for them, so here are some highlights:

The game’s mascot: a character that guides you through the game and appears in loading screens, various UI spots and marketing elements. The idea was to create a cute and slightly crazy animal, the grumpy scratch-card booth owner’s pet. You don’t see much of the owner’s character in the final version of the game, but I still like the idea.

Scratch That: Hamster designs

Scratch That: marketing Hamsters

 

Some of the game’s worlds: the scratch card + background + icons + minigame – all in the same theme.

Scratch That: Safari card

Scratch That: Boxing card

Scratch That: Diner card

Scratch That: Moon card

 

Some more splash screens and icons for other worlds’ minigames:

Scratch That: splash screens

It was really fun being part of the project from the very beginning, and seeing the different artists’ styles in various game world.

Aviv

Foxy Stickers

November 12th, 2013

Viber: Freddie screenshot

For the past couple of months I’ve been working with Viber, the company that created the handsomely colored messaging application of the same name. They’ve just added an online store for “stickers” that you can add to your messages, and there’s some real eye candy there.

Freddie the Fox is the first pack I designed for them and it’s offered free in the store, so if you get the newest version of Viber to your mobile or desktop you too can communicate with friends and loved ones through foxes, which is as god intended it.

Viber sticker pack: Freddie

Aviv

 

Brotherly fun

November 5th, 2013

Playing around with lovely Thor and Loki, trying to remember how they’re brothers and shouldn’t be doing anything inappropriate together. Tryin’ real hard.

I usually wait until there are several pieces for a blog post rather than just a sketch or two, so if you want to see every piece right as it leaves my Wacom, why not Like my Facebook page?

Thor and Loki: Sketches
Thor and Loki: Compensation

Aviv

Geek Road: Poster and Process

October 19th, 2013

A couple of friends wanted me to illustrate a poster for them, and their request was so detailed and rich with cool geek stuff that I had to take the job or the universe would have imploded around me. So, with Idan and Danielle’s permission, here’s the final piece, and right after it a break-down of the work process:

Geek Road - Final

Clarifications and disclaimers: The original CD cover is the design of Apple Records’ creative director based on a sketch by Paul McCartney (apparently); the idea and choice of all elements are the brainchild of Idan and Danielle; all the characters, vehicles, aircrafts, weapons, puppets and police phone boxes that are actually time machines belong to the owners of their respective intellectual properties. If you post an image from this post somewhere else, I’d appreciate it if you linked back here. Thanks!

Work Process

00 – The request

Idan and Danielle’s idea was to illustrate The Beatles’ Abbey Road cover, with the Beatles replaced by characters from their favorite fandoms, and the background filled with elements from TV, movies and video games. I wish every job request I ever got was so meticulous: Idan and Danielle knew exactly what they wanted, thought about all the details in advance and sent me a full list with reference photos they shot themselves and a mockup they put together in Photoshop to convey their ideas. After a few short questions I could get right to work.

Geek Road - mockup

01 – Pencil

Since the composition was already done, I could skip the initial sketching phase and move on to pencilling all the different elements into one scene. I work directly on the computer, so the “pencil” is a fun brush that comes with more recent versions of Photoshop, that responds not only to Wacom pen pressure but also to its angle.

Geek Road - pencils

02 – Ink

I wrote a long post about digital inking in Hebrew if you read it (might translate that bad boy one day). In this piece I used mostly Photoshop’s vector tools. Since the poster would be printed big, I wanted to avoid slightly shaky lines that are more likely to happen in freehand inking: they may be negligible on screen, but they won’t be pretty in print. Working with the vector pen tool allowed me to control the curve of each path, and when I was happy with it, the “Stroke Path” feature easily creates a bitmap “ink” line that follows that curve. It was useful mostly for the all technical vehicles and the flowy fabrics; for faces, hands and other small details I inked freehand.

This is how all the inked layers look together:
Geek Road - ink
But to show Idan and Danielle I added basic flat colors so they could tell what was going on. Almost every element in the illustration is on its own layers, so I could easily move and transform things. Oh, Photoshop – my heart is forever yours.
Geek Road - ink separated

03 – Basic Colors

Also called “flatting” – under the lineart layer I block in flat colors as base for adding lighting and shadows.
Geek Road - flats

There’s not much to say about this phase, except that I recommend doing it with tools with sharp pixel edges: use the pencil instead of the brush, and removing the “anti-alias” check from the fill bucket and selection tools. It’s much easier when you want to select or fill already-colored areas, and this shows why:
Don't color with anti-alias

04 – coloring
There are dozens of color techniques and dozens of way to achieve each of them in Photoshop. This is just one, that I found pretty efficient: it uses Adjustment Layers to get light and shade quickly, and more important – to change things later if necessary. Adjustment Layers are great because they let you play with a layer’s color and tone in a reversible way, and since they always have a mask attached to them, you can show or hide as much of the adjustment as needed. I separated one character to show the process:

Geek Road - coloring process 1: flats

This is more or less the layer structure of every element in the poster (the horrid green is really transparency). #1 is the flat colors layer, the one on the very top is the inking layer, and between them are all the layers that create the shading. The small arrows mean these layers act as clipping masks for the flat colors layer, meaning their content will only be visible within its boundaries (no accidental coloring outside the lines). You create the clipping mask by selecting a layer and pressing ctrl+alt+G.

Geek Road - coloring process: layers

2. The first layer I add is a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer. Click the icon in the red circle and choose Brightness/Contrast. Then make this layer into a clipping mask to it only affects the flat colors layer under it. Adjust your desired brightness and contrast according to the lighting in the scene. Now fill up the mask with black to start with a clear slate, and with a white brush start “painting shadows”. Different brushes will give a different look – softer or harder shadow edges, or a completely different brush shape like in the trees.

Geek Road - coloring process 2: darks

Masks can be confusing at first, but work with them a little and you’ll get the hang of it. You can see the black/white distribution in the mask’s thumbnail: the adjustments are visible in the white areas and invisible in the black.

3. Next layer is similar, except this time I made it brighter and used it for highlights. The process is the same.

Geek Road - coloring process 3: lights

4. This method is quick, but it can make the colors look lifeless, since it’s just one hue getting lighter or darker. After the shading is there, in a new layer I add some more hues where necessary. Hermione here got some reds in her nose, cheeks and hands, with soft touches of color in a layer set to Multiply.

Geek Road - coloring process 4: hues

5. Finally, to connect the character to the scene and give her a 3D feel, I add some environmental light in a layer with low opacity. Here the main lighting on the character comes from in front of them, so I added some back light in sky-blue.

Geek Road - coloring process 5: backlight

You can add more and more Adjustment Layers with different hues for shading, more highlights, reflections etc, but since this illustration has so many details, I felt it was rich enough as it is. As I mentioned, the cool thing with this method is the freedom to change each and every layer without affecting the rest: for example changing Hermione’s robe color with a simple color fill, while the shading above it remains untouched. For your convenience, you can click here to download a PSD of Hermione with all the layers. It’s probably easier to understand when you see it before you.

Here’s the poster after coloring, with a few more Adjustment Layers for separate planes and for the whole scene, to tie it all together (Color Balance is awesome, give it a try).

Geek Road - colored

05 – Fixes

After a test print, we found some color issues (the Batmobile, for instance, was too dark and lost much of its detail). While making corrections we also added a few more small elements that I initially missed (like the writing on the Tardis or the beetle’s headlight) or that Idan and Danielle just came up with (I can list them, but wouldn’t it be fun to spot the differences yourselves?).

Here’s the final again:

Geek Road - Final

And here it is hung majestically in their cool geeky London apartment:

Geek Road - on the wall Geek Road - on the wall 2

Got questions about the process? Curious about an element in the poster? Who’ll win in a fight, Buffy or the Man in Black? Leave your comments below!
Aviv