Environment Design

The past 8 weeks I've been busy studying Environment Design over at CGMA taught by James Paick.
As I'm focusing a lot on characters, I always feel like my background and environmental elements are not up to par. So I thought that class would be a great chance to catch up on that. Also a lot of fellow artists and students took that class, too, and all recommended it. So my expectations were quite high :D

Week 1

Week 1 was probably the most informative one and included all the basics about compositions that were repeated during the whole class. It was also my favourite week I think. The whole subject was somehow new and I could experiment a lot. 

Assignment 1 was to paint greyscale thumbnails with the taught concepts in mind. Here's my assignment, pretty naive and basic still. So much to learn!

Week 2

The second week got more into detail regarding lighting. Also James has some pretty cool tricks on how to paint in light and shadow without loosing your drawing.
I was so overwhelmed by all the things to keep in mind that it took about 8 different thumbnails, until I got to those three that we had to turn in. I ran completely out of time. Somthing I did a lot during the next weeks. I really underestimated the time it took to come up with ideas, how to start, how to get there...

Week 3

Another painting demo by James where he explained the importance of research, still emphasizing the concepts he taught in week 1.
And the assignment that drove me into desperation, made me cry and go mad.
3 Words: Outer Space, Sci-Fi and Scale where the subject of this assignment. If you've been following my work for a while, you might have noticed that Scifi is not much in my comfort zone. I tried to just scribble along and look how cool shapes might turn into a concept (didn't work at all! Wasted a whole day with it), made up a concept, then painted a composition. Was not satisfied again and - last minute - repainted by finishing the major shapes and silhouettes first. It still didn't turn out well, but considering all the pain it took to get there, I guess it was worth it :)

Week 4

Colour! After staying in greyscales for 3 weeks we finally got to work with some color! I also think that after week 3 I could grasp more of the overall workflow on how to design a thumbnail that could work.
These look still pretty naive, but I guess they improve... slooooowly

Week 5 

After week 5 we got to really work on some concepts for our portfolio and choose our own subjects. We also learned how to use phototexture to use in our paintings to communicate an idea even faster.
Thumbnail 1 was a scene I wanted to really paint since a few years, so I though, as it was more scene/environment based I could use the whole "rider with cloak on horse" subject. Getting there got a lot easier, though still not easy. It takes time. And if you take your time, refine the shapes carefully, it works. I still have to develop that workflow, but looking back I went through a lot of changes that I think will help me now.

Week 6

We should pick one thumbnail and refine it to turn it into a portfolio piece. As every week we also got a revision for our work. Fun thing, my critique was: zoom in on it. Yeah! Characters!! :D Happy me. Though maybe bad, too, considering that I was taking an environment class.
 As I went to the RPC that weekend, I only had a day to work on it. And it shows, as it's not finished...

Week 7

We should pick another thumbnail and refine it, as well as apply the changes from the review to the first one.
I spent some time on my initial illustration and also got to paint out another one of my thumbnails. I also tried to use some more phototextures, and always felt like cheating :D
Though it helps you speed up your process immensly. You still got to know how to paint in texture without the help of photos, though, as without that knowledge the illustration will look wrong.

Week 8

Final week! Already. Where did the time go? I also caught a really nasty flu that week, so again I couldn't get 100% into both paintings. So I decided to only finish one, but put all of it into that one. And I'm really happy I did. I'm quite satisfied with it. And I think I learned a lot. Especially about my whole process and on how to paint leaves, trees and foliage :D See some studies below ;)


Looking back I have to admit that I probably didn't get what I expected. Though I'm not sure what I expected at all. I didn't learn any details on how to paint a decent mountain or leaves or waves. These are probably all things you just have to study on your own. But I can say that I learned quite a bit about composition and on how to create a proper thumbnail. How to design with shapes rather than lines. I learned that I have to learn to push scale. And I learned that I have to take my time for each thumbnail to make it work.
It didn't turn me into an evironment artist though. But honestly - I think no course could have done that.

So what will I do with it? I think I will use the things I learned for my scene/character based illustrations. I didn't want to become an Environment/Conceptartist anyway, so why bother with that? ;)
I will now go more into texture, further train thumbnailing and try to learn how to push drama and scale.

I'm excited where this will lead me :)


Theaitetos te Tharamnos said...

Woah, ich find die Sachen echt toll! Bist du dir sicher, dass du nicht auch eine Landschaftskünstlerin werden willst?

Anja said...

Wow! Ich finde das Portfolio-Bild richtig krass. Wunderschönes Improvement!

Nele Klumpe said...

Vielen Dank ihr beiden.
Ich werde sicherlich auch hier und da mal eine Landschaft mit einstreuen, aber ich denke, irgendwo wird sich da immer ein Charakter drin rumtreiben :)
Man kann ja auch beides verbinden!

Anonymous said...

Ich finde du hättest das heranzoomen sollen.. die version, in der die Reiter weiter hinten sind, sieht finde ich viel besser aus!