Thursday, 16 October 2014


So I'm currently studying a Masters Course in Concept Art and we've began a new module based around Character and Environment design.  Our first brief (kind of a warm-up brief) was to take Captain Hook and place him in a futuristic style.  He doesn't have to a 'pirate', but still a villain.  So this was my design.

I've also included some step-by-step image to show the progress.

Enjoy :)

Final Design

Some initial sketches:

Progress images:

Friday, 12 September 2014

Friday, 5 September 2014


Testing out some new brushes on Photoshop and I got carried away doing this portrait of Rust from True Detective.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

'Beast' Painting Development

Hi all.  Here's a link to my latest video that shows the development of my latest character piece, 'Beast'.


Saturday, 9 August 2014


Beast, troll, ogre, creature...thing...I'm crap at titles.

This little fella is going to be the basis behind a character/creature lecture I'm giving next year. So keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming 'how to' video coming soon.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Demo Painting Video

Hi everyone, welcome to my first video. 

This is a short (well, very short...) video showing how to create a digital painting inspired by 'The Last of Us'.  I haven't set up a 'live capture' through Photoshop yet, so this video is built up from a lot of screenshots I took throughout the painting process.

There's also quite a few frames with writing/expanded menus as these images are also used in a lecture I give to students.  So, sorry if it seems confusing at all.

Hopefully people will find this interesting :)

Available in HD!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Demo Painting

Hi everyone. Here's my new piece "Demo Painting" (catchy title, right?). Take a wild guess which game inspired it...

I'm putting together a couple of lectures for my students next year on how to tackle an environment painting as well as looking through Photoshop and the various tools it has to offer, how I go about doing a painting, what went wrong in the process, what went right etc etc.

I still need to wade through the numerous screenshots and captures I've took as I developed this image, but I might be putting an online "lite" tutorial on here soon. It needs to be "lite" so the students, you know, actually turn up to the full lecture...

So, if you're interested, watch this space!


Friday, 11 July 2014

10 Year Anniversary

So next month is my 25th birthday, and I'm not really looking forward to it at all.  I like 24.  Being 24 suits me just fine.  However, I did have a moment of realisation.  I've been drawing pretty much as far back as I can remember, but when I left school at the age of 15 (bright eyed, eager and full naive optimism), that's when I started taking my art work 'seriously'.  10 years later, I'm a bitter, crusty husk of the person I used to be, however I thought it would be interesting to have a look back over that time and see how my work has progressed.  It was quite an odd exercise to do. 

Obviously not ALL of my art work is on this 'Collection'.  There's too much of it, some has been damaged over time, some lost, some of it I just plain hate.  It also noticed a dip in productivity during my University years (heh heh...).  But here it is.

One of the things I tell my students is to not throw away their work.  Even if they despise it and feel it's the worst thing they've ever created.  And moments like these are the reason why.  You have no idea how to progress as an artist if you can't see where you're going wrong.  You need to hold on to the bad drawings and learn from them.  Sometimes, they're more important than your good drawings.  And, when you put it all together like this, you can see a level of progression in your work.  I like to think there's one in mine.

Anyway, hopefully this will inspire someone, somewhere.  Make a 'penny drop' or something.  Oddly enough, this whole exercise made me feel a little happier about turning 25.  It's made me curious to see what my work will be like in 10 more years.


A slightly higher resolution version can be found at

Monday, 7 July 2014

Gal Gadot Wonder Woman

Hello! Sometime ago, when rumors were spiraling around the internet about a possible Justice League of America movie being made, I did a design of what Wonder Woman could possibly look like.

Well, the other day the first official photo of Superman was released for Dawn of Justice, and it inspired me to redesign my concept of Wonder Woman.

Previously, I 'cast' Gina Carano as Wonder Woman because I thought she'd be a good fit. Warner Bros didn't accept my proposal (their choice I guess...) and cast Gal Gadot instead. However, I think Gadot is an interesting pick, and I'm really excited to see what she does with the role.

Anyway, hope you all like the design.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Zombie Survival Kit

I feel this design merits a little explanation.  Late one night, whilst watching some trashy horror films and having one or two drinks,  I started thinking about what I do/use in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  This should have been an early indication to go to bed, but hey.

I set myself some restrictions.  I live in the UK so gun control is very tight here.  Also I could only use items and clothing that are available to the general public.  So the automatic shotgun strapped with a chainsaw and motion sensor lava grenades can't be used.

I woke up the next day to find I had a very thorough (and very long...) Amazon wish list.  Only by the grace of God, the shopping cart was empty.

However, I found I had a very decent, practical and surprisingly affordable zombie survival kit that could be used in a variety of situations and weather conditions.  I won't bore you with all of the little details, but I put some of the ideas together for this design :)

So if, in the midst of a post-apocalyptic situation, you see this guy wandering around, chances are, it'll be me.  And if playing Day Z has taught me anything, don't come and say 'hello'.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Assassin's Creed V: Reclamation. British Moors

I've started exploring more ideas for my fan-based Assassin's Creed game set in Victorian London.  With this piece, I tried to depict the grandeur of the British country-side.  Enjoy :)

Original sketch...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Khaleesi Portrait

Bank Holiday Weekend boredom strikes resulting in Game of Thrones fan art

Monday, 28 April 2014

Tiberius Character Design Tutorial

For a little while now, people have been asking me how I go about my painting process.  I've done a couple of 'how to/step-by-step' things in the past, but I thought I'd go in to a bit more detail with this one.  Plus it'll give me a good chance to rant and rave and unleash a bit of madness onto the world!

Before we begin, I'd just like to throw out a little reminder:  this is just how I go about my painting process.  This isn't the 'correct' way or the 'right' way of designing a character.  It's just a way that I found works for me.  This process won't necessarily work for everyone as every artist is different from one another; it's just a case of finding out what works for you.  So, hopefully this won't be boring and will inspire someone somewhere :)

Let's get to it...

So, the first thing I do when designing anything is by digging out some references and research.  I was wanting to create a Roman soldier design for this piece, so I tried to find images that are relevant to the visual style I want to achieve as well as looking at some concept art to see what the competition is like.  Sometimes the reference stage can be quite extensive, but with this design I already had an idea of what I wanted, so I didn't spend too much time on it.  I'm wanting something a little gritty, a little dark and something believable.

After finding my references,  I begin my sketching.  The whole point of this stage is to explore ideas, so I like to keep a sense of momentum and get my ideas down very fast and quite rough.

Upbeat rock music and a heavy injection of caffeine is highly recommended.

I don't want to commit to any designs at this point, so I don't spend very long on any one sketch.  As this is a personal piece, I like to get a sense of my character and make changes as I go.  Working professionally for a client however, I generally spend more time on this stage to create more variations, add in more detail and to neaten them up a bit further.  This is so the client has a much clearer idea of what I'm trying to show.

I select the design that I like the most, create a new document and import the sketch.  In the early stages of my design, I generally just work in greyscale so I can focus on the tonal values and the design, without complicating anything with colour.  Again, this is a personal piece, so it's still quite sketchy but I know in my mind where I want to take this image.  As you grow with confidence in your work, you don't need to flesh out every little detail straight away.  You become less reliant on it.  You just know the details will come eventually.  I believe patience truly is a virtue for a concept artist, despite the fact I am, at my core, quite an impatient person!

Next I want to begin implying colour to my design.  I think the leap into colour is the part that scares a lot of new artists as they're unsure what to do next.  Though I do like working in greyscale, there's a danger that, when you begin overlaying colours on top, the dark greys/blacks underneath will 'muddy' or desaturate your colours creating an overall bland palette.  Now, in my mind I know I want my design to be cold, gritty and bleak in colour regardless (it's not meant to be bright and colourful...he's not a Winnie the Pooh for god's-sake), but I want to avoid any potential problems with the colour palette. So this is what I do...

If working on numerous layers, merge the layers down to one.  Name it something sensible like 'Character Base'.  Duplicate this layer so you have a layer named 'Character Base copy'.  Go to to 'Image; Adjustments; Levels' (or CTRL+L for the shortcut).  Playing around with the sliders, lighten up your greyscale image so we've eliminated a lot of the very dark/black areas leaving mainly mid-tone to light greys.  Chances are, this will lose some of the detail you have painted in, but hey, this a sketch, not the final design.  Don't worry about it.
Create a new layer on top of 'Character Base copy', again, name it something sensible like 'Colour Block'.  Adjust the Layer properties;  this is open to experimentation, but the main one's I generally stick with are Hard Light, Overlay, Soft Light, Screen and Multiply.  Using the Soft Air Brushes, begin painting in a rough block of colour.  This is not meant to be highly detailed, it's just a quick pass to give you an idea.  I generally make a couple of these 'Colour Block' layers to experiment with quickly.  It's not by any means perfect, but it's a good way to help visualise the colour palette quickly and eliminate any of the very dark tones.

Using a fairly rough brush, I create new layer (with Normal layer property settings) and start blocking in some rough details.  Using the Lasso Tool, I also select chunks of the anatomy and movie pieces around so it looks more comfortable to the eye.

Because I'm painting over the top of my original sketch, I make a small copy of the sketch and just keep it to one side, just as a reference point.  I'm wanting to create a character who's a little moody and battle seasoned, so I spent some extra time on the face, including a texture from photo ref for the mouth.  If anyone's looking for some good references of faces, here's a handy site:

I wanted to show the construction of the body armour, so, for the moment, I've decide that the big furry coat is getting in the way of my actual design.  So I removed it.  When painting, I don't have a 100 percent perfect final outcome in mind.  It doesn't work that way.  You need to try things, explore your ideas and let them develop naturally.

From there, I continued painting with rough brushes bringing in more refined detail with each layer I add.  As I'm progressing through this design, I know there are areas of detail I really want to add in here and there.  But I need to stop myself from just throwing them in to the wrong place because sorting out those issues later down the line is only going to create more work myself.

At this point, I added in some photo textures from to help enhance the sense of believability in my image.

And from here, it's literally just a case of refining areas that look rough and slowly building up the level of detail.

Eventually, I reach a point where I think the design is complete.  I expend my canvas, duplicate the character and create the helmet design.

I've got into a little habit lately when designing characters; I like to do two versions of the same design.  The first one is quite clean, on a plain background.  Something I'd pass over to a 3D modeller who can clearly see where the design is going (hopefully...).  For the second design, I like to take that character design into another document and create a sense of the environment this character lives in.  Is it hot, cold, snowing, sunny, raining, happy, bright, miserable drab?  This way, I have clear visual of seeing what the character would be like in their world.  This isn't an essential thing to do, it's just something I enjoy doing.

All he needed now was a name, so I settled with Tiberius :)

So yeah, I'm not the worlds greatest writer, but hopefully this will give you some insight into how I developed this character design.  As I said earlier, I hope someone, somewhere finds some inspiration here.  Keep practising!


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Assassin's Creed V Character Design: Dante

Assassin's Creed Character Design Development

Thought I'd share some development work I did for my latest character design.

I'm a big fan of the 'Assassin's Creed' games and I wanted to create my own character design to fit into that universe.  So this should be fun....hopefully... 

For a couple of years now, I've been wishing they'd focus a game based in Victorian London.  I think the design of the city, the narrow streets and tall buildings will be ideal for the main character to scramble around.  The games are also synonymous with history, visiting landmarks, tweaking bits here and there for story purposes (which I love) and London is obviously embedded with a deep, rich history. What if our Assassin was framed for the Jack the Ripper murders?  What if he has to break into Buckingham Palace or Parliament?  Or scale to the top of Big Ben?  To me, it's ideal.

So, I decided to focus on the character first.  I wanted to create a great sense of believability with my character's costume.  You have to be able to look at him and instinctively know what time period he's from.  So, pulling in from lots of sources, I had a wealthy amount of reference material handy...

 ...a pretty intense amount of research if I'm honest.

One thing I was concerned about though was the fact that Victorian London people wore a lot of dark clothing.  And the famous white hood of Assassin's Creed would stand out.  HOWEVER, I remembered that the character Ezio wore a black costumer (in Revelations, I think??)  and it just looks...cooler.  So, I'm going to maintain a similar style in my character.

Next up was some character sketches...

 I tried to think about my character's costume in a practical manner.  I wanted a lot of his armour and weapons to be concealed for the most part, so I designed a step by of how his costume layers up (more for my own sake, than anything else)  Firstly, just normal clothing.  Second, protective armour plus weapons.  Third, how the coat conceals this.  And finally, fourth, how he looks in 'Assassin' mode.

Similar to how Edward moves in AC: Black Flag, I wanted my character to have his hood down when the player is just walking around, exploring etc.  But he put's the hood on when moving in restricted areas, or during main missions.

 And here's a step by step development of the character painting...

So, yeah, this is a brief insight into the process I took.  But hopefully it will be useful to anyone looking :)

Check the above post to see the completed images!


Saturday, 8 March 2014


Boudica Development

I thought it might be useful (if people are interested) to show a little bit of the development work that went behind Boudica.  Boudica was a personal piece, so I skipped one or two steps that I normally do for professional work, but I thought it might be a handy little insight to anyone who's new to digital painting.

Just a small disclaimer first though; this is just to show you how I went through MY process of painting Boudica.  Please don't assume my way of painting is the 'correct' way (as you'll see below, I actually wound up with a couple of problems with this image from stupid decisions early on).  Every artist works differently.  My methods may not suit your methods and you may not even like my work flow at all.  It's just useful to show new artists (and non-artists...if that's a word?) some of the work that goes behind an image.  This shit doesn't just 'happen'.  So, yeah, just please keep an open mind with this. 

Anyway, let's get to it...

So, the first step I take, with any image, is to do the research.  My idea is to bring Boudica forward and place her in an 'adult fantasy' genre like Game of Thrones, of which I think is an ideal setting,  So I started doing some research and gathering reference materials (see below).  I want to her have a tribal feel but, since she started an uprising, I thought it would make sense she picks up pieces of armour/equipment here and there from slain enemies.  Therefore making here better equipped and a stronger warrior.  So there would be a mish-mash of armour...

One thing that's been bugging me for a while now is how female warriors are depicted in games and concept art.  Not ALL of it, but a good proportion.  You can see in some of the references I have above, that a lot of these females don't wear very much clothing............why?
According to my research, Boudica was part of a Celtic tribe in who died roughly in 60-61 AD.  A Celtic Tribe in Britain.  It would have been bloody freezing!!  Also, what good is a warrior/fighter if over half of their body is exposed flesh with zero armour??

No no no.  My version of Boudica is going to practical.  She's going to be warm and protected.  This is something I feel I HAVE to have in my design.

So, I began my process with doing some fast grey-scale sketches.  I had a good idea of what I was wanting to achieve, so this went very quickly.  When working professionally, this stage generally lasts a lot longer and there are a lot more iterations of the design (with more details) to give the client choice.  However, this is a personal piece and I'm the client who already know what he wants.  So let's move one :)

After selecting my design, I moved quickly into a painting pass.  I like to keep up a sense of pace and momentum with the early stages of an image.  Plus lots of coffee helps...

As I was wanting to keep this quite a 'real' image, I used a heavy use of photo reference and textures early in the painting process.  In hindsight, it was too much and became a huge mistake.  It was bogging down my design and making adjustments difficult, plus it didn't feel like the character was my design any more.

So, fueled by another gallon of coffee, I broke away from this bad habit...

 ...and with the use of textured brushes, began creating a character that I felt belonged to ME rather than relying on the photo reference.  At this point, the lethal dose of caffeine began to wear off, which was good as I needed to calm down and focus on the smaller intricate details that make the image look more believable.

So, kind of a crash-course in painting development, but this was the creation of Boudica.

I hope somebody finds this useful :)