Designing weapons and shields

General / 30 January 2024

Working on a series of similar projects is a good way to keep focussed and practice specific skills - in this case, I spent a little time working on my weapon design skills.

For personal/portfolio work, I spent a little time on three concepts - The Meteor Sword, The Stag Axe, and Shields of the Sun and Moon. Each of these needed slightly different approaches and skills, and I'm pleased with the results that came out of it.

I seem to get a lot of joy out of rendering materials and diving into the details of painting, which hopefully comes across in each of these images. They were also a good exercise at creating interesting shapes and designs along a theme - bringing forest materials into the Stag Axe, for example, and exploring intricate jewellery-like details for the Meteor Sword.

If you're looking for a lesson on weapon design, I'd recommend taking a look at this class by Jenny Brozek. Jenny's work is a bit more stylised than mine shown here, but the videos go through her process and thoughts while she works, and was an interesting watch while I worked on a process of my own.

Thanks for reading!


Making Nyreen - The Mirage City

General / 29 January 2024

I've mentioned in a previous blog post that I find the best way to work on personal work to be focussing on projects rather than individual, one-off pieces. 

There are a few reasons for that:

  1. I find it easier to become immersed in the style and world of the work I'm doing rather than starting from scratch with every new piece of work.
  2. I've heard from others before that working on projects is a good look for employers - it shows that you can stick with a theme and work consistently in one style/tone - and that's got to be a good thing.
  3. Your work can become more developed and detailed as you work through a project, with each new piece informing others.
  4. I just genuinely enjoy thinking up new worlds or scenarios and exploring them through concept or illustration work.

With that in mind, I took on a small personal project called Nyreen - The Mirage City. The plan was for a multicultural desert city-state. The nickname 'Mirage City' comes from its place atop a desert mesa, so from a distance in the heat haze the city looks to be floating in the sky.

After a lot of reference gathering, I worked on mostly prop and architecture details for this project. My hope in the future is to fully explore this world.

Here's some of the work done for it:

You can see my Nyreen so far work here on ArtStation:

Thanks for reading!


Relics - Fantasy prop designs

General / 28 January 2024

After taking a class on Material Rendering, which I wrote about in my first blog post here, I decided to work on a short series of prop illustrations to show off my new-found skills.

The goal was fairly simple and narrow - fantasy props, the kind you might see in a TTRPG setting, that make use of as many different materials as possible.

Here's my first one, Champion's Helmet - 

The Dragonfire Candlestick is a favourite of mine -

And the Crystal Magnifier -

Overall, I really enjoyed working on this short project for two reasons:

  1. I find it very helpful to view personal work as projects rather than individual pieces. This helps me to focus on the themes and the world of a concept rather than starting from scratch with every new artwork or concept.
  2. Putting new skills to use as soon as you learn them is a great way to make sure they stick. This 'Relics' project came very soon after finishing up taking a Material Rendering class, and putting those lessons to use as soon as I could has helped me to lock-in those skills.

Thanks for reading!


Studying material rendering

General / 27 January 2024

First ArtStation blog post - let's give this a go!

Late last year (2023) I decided that I needed to brush up on my material rendering skills to improve both my illustration work and concept sheets.

Sometimes it's easy, and tempting, to just fudge a material in a painting or concept and rely on what you think something should look like. "Metal is all shiny, right, so I'll just add a highlight and it's done!" - turns out that when you take the time to really analyse a material and work out how to replicate those special properties, it can make all the difference.

I've found in the past that taking lessons, online or in-person, with feedback and homework is a much better way for me to learn than following along with a YouTube video. So I enrolled with Clint Cearley at Swatches Academy for their Material Rendering course. Over 8 weeks we studied a range of materials and then worked on a final project bringing them all together. No, this isn't an ad - I just loved the class!

Here's a selection of my work throughout the class:

The process of analysing a material, breaking it down into its core properties, and then replicating this on a different subject really helped with my rendering skills.

Here's the final project too:

Learning a process really worked for me - and I came out of it with some good work to show for it.

All of this can be found in my portfolio too:

Thanks for looking!