Sunday, June 8, 2014

Showcase Sunday #2 - Logo Work - Chelan HD

For this project I was asked to create a logo for a video production company out in Chelan Lake. The client wanted something clean, modern, and stylish. After a few rounds of revisions, we had something that he loved.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Showcase Sunday #1 - Infantry Unit

I've realized I'm not updating my blog as much as I should. The problem is, I'm always busy, but I need to make some time to showcase so of my work. With that being said, I'm starting a new thing that I'm calling Showcase Sunday. The posts will be short, but it'll show some work I've done for clients.

In this first instalment, I'd like to show miniature character I did for my client Plus1Hammer Gaming. The company is launching a tabletop game, called Fortress Moon, which they plan on taking to Kickstarter. I'm stoked about the project. If you want to follow their progress and get your hands on a copy when it comes out, follow them on facebook for all the updates.

I've done about ten models for them now, and it's been a blast. This infantry unit was one of the first. When it prints, it' only 25 mm tall! (TINY!)

They have been providing me with the concept sketch art, and I turn it into one awesome little figurine.

That laser gun would totally go pew pew pew!

Anyways, thanks for checking on the first Showcase Sunday.

I'll post again next week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Miniatures - From concept to creation overview

This latest video showcases a miniature sculpture that I made for a client using Zbrush.

In this video, you can see the concept sketch art that was handed to me, and what I did to bring it to life.

The thing I love about miniatures is that the emphasis lies in the overall form of the piece. It has to translate at any size. When this this guy is printed, he'll be no bigger than a grape, but it'll still look interesting.

To find out more about the client I did this for, Plus1Hammer Gaming, check out their facebook page here:

They have a kickstarter campaign in the works, if you like games like this, def check it out!

Apologies for the lack of fresh blog post. Been super busy as of late.

(Note to self: more blog posts!)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Character Prep

It' been awhile since I've updated. (by my account, almost a year and a half!) I've been working on a lot of projects that require a NDA's, so I can't update with those, and seems my free time is kinda limited, but I like to watch the progress of characters and projects that I work on.... do over the next couple weeks I'm going to be updating with a progress of a character I'm working on for a childrens book. I don't want to give away too many details, but I can include images, and what I'm doing. This is the start of that.

Quick character concept.
Prepping the file for 3D, including side view.

Ref cube set up, ready to model.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vikky Miller - Polishing Concept.

The past few months have been extremely busy. I love the work, but it leaves me little time for my personal projects Most of my clients projects have NDA's attached to them, so I can't update with any progress on here. Last week while unwinding, I took a little bit of time to work on the look for Vikky. Attached bellow is what I came up with. I feel that the conceptual stages for her development are done, now onto production.

Friday, February 17, 2012

First Time Lapse

The past few weeks have been extremely busy for me so I haven't had the time to update this as much as I would like. I did however have the time to do a quick drawing in the morning one day this week. (Although I didn't have time to finish it.) Bellow is the said drawing.

This is the first time lapse drawing I've done. It's actually kind of educational for for me to be able to watch the process and see what I'm doing right and wrong. I think I spent about a couple hours on this one, not sure, wasn't keeping track.

From the video, you can see my process is to do a rough sketch, block it out, sketch, block, sketch, block, and so on, until I have something I like. This way probably takes longer than it should, but as of right now, as I'm still developing my drawing skills, it's the only way I know. Maybe with my next drawing I'll try a different way. Hopefully over the weekend, I'll have the time to come back and finish this.

We'll see...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Concept Work - Hit or Miss.

Last night I did a quick concept comp for Duke vs. the Dead. I was trying to figure out what kinda vehicle would be in it.  Bellow is what I came up with. I'm not entirely happy with the way this came out, I'd consider it a miss, but I do like the car. It's a plymouth barracuda, which kinda embodies the whole muscle car look.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let's write some songs.

This year I think I'm going to produce an album. It's something I've always wanted to do, but for some reason or another, I've just never found the time. I'm not thinking of making a switch into a full career of music, but it could be fun. I picked up some new D'Addario silk wound folk strings. I still have to try them out. This past week has been busy with several different projects for clients and I'm also in the process of updating my site. It should be done the end of this week or next.

Anyways, here's a song I wrote and performed a couple years back called "Lucky Tonight."
It's one of those fun smokey bar songs. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Two headed woman in ivory.

I’ve been using zbrush for about a year and a half now, I know the basic functions, and how to do what I need to do, but I’m still not comfortable with its interface. Compared to other programs the UI still feels really strange to me, mainly because the menus are so small and out of the way.

 At first I hated it. It’s really frustrating to find your way around if you don’t know where to look, but I guess once you know where to look, it’s not that bad, and to be honest it’s kinda growing on me now. To get more comfortable with program I’ve been doing some sculpts for fun. My goal is to feel as comfortable in zbrush as I do in Photoshop. Below are some recent quick sculpts I’ve done.

My goal is to be able to sculpt anything, and sculpt it well. I’ve been studying more anatomy, especially the face, trying and improve.

Ancient/futurist deathbot illustration.

Two headed woman in ivory. (front)

Mayan crux in cast metal. 

Alien with a PSA illustration. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


When you create something, it’s personal. For some people it’s hard to hear what’s wrong with it or what could be done differently to improve it. After all, art and style are subjective and it’s understandable to want to defend your style, because in a sense it’s a part of you.  However, if you want to improve, its best to open your ears and listen to what the world saying.

There is no getting around the fact that we each see the world differently, embrace the value of the wide spectrum and you’ll have a better understanding of yourself, your work, and the world around you.  
I submitted my drawing of Vikky to the sycra art forms for critique, here’s what Sycra himself had to say:
"Hey Adam. Awesome work. There is a LOT of things that are awesome about this image. I like the layout, the strong graphic sense, the color palette of the background... Just some really top notch stuff. There are some areas that need some work however. Storyben covered the collarbone, which I agree with, but there are some other small areas, the cleavage in the breasts for example, that could be improved. I think if you just spent a bit more time refining things and studying some more reference it'd help. Also, I notice that there is a change in color between the chest and face and the abs and arms and legs... Even though you do get color shifts in pictures like this, I think for the clean style you're going for, it may be better to stay to a similar color for all these areas. The eyes are popping a bit too much. The value of white in them might be a bit too strong and the color too... But it's not so garish to me that you can't get away with it. I think it's your choice in this area. I would personally make it a bit more subtle, but it's your call. Overall, really nice work!"                   

Another user went ahead and did some edits to my drawing and I have to say, I’m really glad he did.
It helped me to see a different version of what I am aiming for. I’ll probably use his suggestions in the development of the character, as I sculpt it in zbrush. 

Edits in tone and slight facial changes.
My original image.


I’ve been working on updating my website. Here’s a sneak peek:

I’m ditching all the flash animation, I’ve gotten complaints about not being able to view it on a tablet or phone. I realize there’s code to determine what kind of browser/device the visitor is using and then direct them to the proper page, but I figured I just keep it simple and but more focus on the design rather than the technical stuff.

To help my potential clients determine if I’m the guy for their job, I’m also going to post my rate and and an interactive availability calendar. 

Friday, January 6, 2012


It’s been about a year since I’ve started taking drawing more seriously, and I figured that it was about time to put all the knowledge I’ve been trying to cram into my head to the test. Below are the results I’ve come up with, along with the different styles I’ve explored. When I set out, my goal was to make a 3D model in Maya that I could use to make an animation.

Andrea Boehlke
First concept drawing of Vikky Miller
As I started developing Vikky in my mind, there was one face that really struck me as a match; Andrea Boehlke from last year’s Survivor. The thing is, Andrea’s face is so strange that it’s beautiful. She kinda looks a mix between a super model and a rabbit. (Andrea, if you’re reading this, I don’t mean offense, you just have a really unique face, it’s awesome.) It’s fierce but soft, strong but delicate. It’s a perfect match for Vikky.

Anyways, this is the first concept drawing I did of Vikky Miller, back in the spring of last year. I really like this drawing; it’s simple, but I think it has appeal. (Although, my opinion on it could be somewhat slanted, because it was the first drawing I ever did that I was somewhat proud of.) I hate to admit this, but despite the fact that it’s so simple, it took me about a week and a half to finish it, just because I really had no idea what I was doing. Here’s a short time-lapse video of my progress on youtube.

After I established her face, I wanted to work on her body. I spent a couple days in the summer working on the shape. Here are a few images, but I wasn’t too happy with the way this one turned out. (I think I was bummed about stuff going on in my life, and I couldn’t focus.) Here I started playing with perspective more, but as you can see, I'm still struggling with it.

Body and perspective study for Vikky Miller
Once her body was established, I went into zbrush and began trying to sculpt her so that I could turn her into a 3D model. The problem I ran into was that she started looking like a character a video game character. I didn’t want, that, so I abandoned my initial look, and went with  a stylized manga look. 

Vikky Miller in a manga-ish style
I spent a lot of time trying to perfect this manga look, but most of the work done was inside Maya, and most of it was technical rather than artistic. (rigging, blendshapes, uv mapping, etc.) I think inside my workflow, I started losing focus on the end look, and I started sacrificing style for simplicity. I realize now, that as cool as the manga look is, it just doesn’t fit with the vision I have for this story. It’s just not gritty enough.  So here we are, back to the start, the design has come full circle, and I’m leaning toward my initial concept.

I highly recommend COMIC BOOK ILLUSTRATION WITH PHIL NOTO, it’s a short Gnomon workshop, and it really helped me. In it, he goes through his process for digital art creation. It’s pretty cool to watch someone work. He’s at the point where he can crack out a design in a few hours.
Phil Noto's work from the Gnomon workshop.

For this recent drawing I did of Vikky, it took me about three days. I started with a rough sketch, did it over more than a few times, and then started building it up. There is more I’d like to say,  like what I'd like to do next, but I feel like this post is getting rather long. I’ll write more in the next post. 

For some reason, I always start with the eyes and work my way out.
One of many very quick sketches.

My final result. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011


So after spending countless hours on developing a manga look for Duke vs. The Dead, I realize now, it’s not really the style I want. I like manga, but I don’t think it fits who I am.

Looking at the Vikky manga model, I feel like it’s a little generic, and not as interesting as I’d like. I think I’m going to go back to the original look I came up with, but I’m just not sure how I’m going to do it.

Last night I did a quick sketch of Vikky in the original style, but this drawing is more orthographic. Hopefully it will help me model her out. I guess we’ll see.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Parcel from France – Handcrafted Compassion.

I had just stepped out of the shower when I heard a knock on the door. I was wearing my bath robe and drying my hair as I peeked around the corner. It was the FedEx guy standing on my front porch with a box in his hands. He was looking for a signature. I opened the door, signed his digital tablet, and he handed me the box. 

It was a present from my friend Alexandria, shipped all the way from Lyon, France. She had told me that she was sending something, but it wasn't supposed to arrive for another few days. I was excited to see that it had gotten here early. 

I hung him over my bed. He watches over me as I sleep.
To my surprise, inside was a handcrafted piece of art she had made. It was a beautiful thought to think that someone had taken so much time to make something for me, I couldn’t help but smile. Even now, I’m at a loss for words to explain just how precious I think it is to do something like this for another person.

Handcrafted presents are always so much better than anything a person could ever buy at a store. The true gift comes in consideration the person puts forth. You can look at the details and see a part of that person in them. It’s unique, and nothing beats that. 

If you truly care for someone, make them something. When you give it to them, you are giving them a piece of yourself. 

Alexandria (left) and her sister Lilie (right)

I've known Alex for several years now. She found me when I was promoting my book, Richard Longtails. Her and I just kinda clicked right from the start. She’s one of the sweetest and kindest people I know, she’s always there for me and I’m thankful for that.

I'm really looking forward to making something for her.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Phonemes, Morph Targets, and the Study of Expression

A few years back, I was writing dialog for a cat with a Scottish accent. He was from the Richard Longtails series. His name was Finlay McFinn. At the time I was having trouble bringing out his unique accent without it being too distracting. It seemed that I was either overdoing it, or not doing it enough. 
(It’s a delicate line to walk.)

Anyways, because I was having so much trouble, I decided to do a study of pronunciation through TTC.  It was a short course, but at the time it didn’t really help much with my writing.  I remember how the instructor emphasized his words. He would explain how all these different shapes and muscles in our faces could produce the sounds that we use to make speech.

I found it kind of fascinating, but it also felt rather pointless. After the course was done, I walked away thinking: “Speech is a natural thing, why am I studying this?”

I guess you could make the argument that any knowledge is good knowledge, if applied in the right situation. But at the time, I couldn't fathom an application to where I’d be using this information; I hadn’t a clue that I would be pursuing animation, so the thought never occurred to me.

Now as I’m faced with the task of rigging morph targets for characters, I’m pleased to have taken that course, because now I have an underlying concept of what’s going on (physically) when someone say’s something. 

For me, morph targets are new ground. It will be interesting to see them in action. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rigging and mel scripting.

The past week I’ve been immersing myself in mel scripting, and rigging Vikky inside of Maya. I’ve done basic rigs for characters before inside of Max, but this is my first time, doing full-production rigging in Maya. The concepts and principles are similar to Max, but there are probably some tools inside of Maya that I have yet to discover. From what I’ve read Maya 2011/2012 has a lot of rigging improvements for character production.  
With Max, I would typically use a biped, or the CAT system, and it worked, but I never really got into the fine tuning of things.

However, being that Duke vs. the Dead is an animation, I figure it’s best to take the extra steps and really make the rig as robust as possible.  This includes all fun stuff like reverse foot locks, inverse kinematic and forward kinematic switching, spline averaging, deformation controls, etc.

Here is the start of Vikky's custom rig,
sided by a scripting window and the outliner.
Without a doubt it’s a long and tedious process, but hopefully it’ll be worth it. Right now, I’d consider myself about half way through, and already I’ve spent 40 hours on it. One of the reason’s I think it’s taking so long is because I’m also learning mel script, which is awesome; it’s powerful and can do a lot of stuff quickly, but it takes a while to learn.

I was toying with the idea of committing all the commands and flags to memory, but as I thought about it, I figured I’ll just pick up the ones I need as I go. I don’t really consider myself a programmer, and don’t ever care to. I’m excited to see what my custom production rig will do for my character.

As an alternative to the hours spend on setting up all these controls, I also happened to stumble onto a site called The site is pretty awesome, basically you upload your character and Mixamo will auto-rig it for you, for a small cost. They also sell different movement cycles like walking, running, shooting, tons of stuff, you name it, they have it.

To be honest I was skeptical when I saw it, I didn’t think they’d be able rig something properly, with an auto-rigger but I was wrong. I uploaded Vikky, and 5 minutes later I had a rigged model. I was kinda blown away. My only complaint, (and it’s not really a complaint at all) is that the animation looks kinda stockish. It’s like something you would find in a videogame; which is fine, but just not applicable to my situation. However if I’m ever working on a video game for a client, then I’ll definitely be back to use their services. Their customer support was fantastic; I was emailed by a real person, asking how I liked the site/services. So, if you are into rigging, you should definitely check them out.

Here's a video of Vikky with the autorig from Mixamo:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vikky Miller - from 2D to 3D

I'm almost done modeling out Vikky. I've really enjoyed the process, it's been both challenging and rewarding. It's really fun to watch a character develop and to have a direct say in what looks right.

When I first started with her, it was taking a lot of time to accomplish simple tasks, (just because I'm still somewhat new to Maya,) but now I feel pretty comfortable with the interface.

I think the challenge with a character like this, is to make it as simple as possible, but still convey a certain look. In addition to modeling, you have to make sure your UV's are laid out in a way that makes sense. I used to hate laying out UV's, but now I don't mind it so much. It's still kinda boring, but I'm starting to realize a good set of UV's go a long way.

The cool thing is, you have to be able to see your model in 2D, before you want to make it 3D. You have to figure out what's the best way to spread out the surfaces, so that you can preserve detail where you need it. It's a lot of problem solving, but it's fun.

To the left is the texture map I made for her shorts.
I tried to keep the UV seams where the actual fabric seams would be in real life. I painted this texture inside of Photoshop. There's always the option of pulling the model into Zbrush and painting it in there, but I feel that Photoshop allows a lot more control. When I use Zbrush to paint, my results always look video-gamish. It could be that I just don't know Zbrush as well as I know Photoshop, but this seems to work for now.
(get it? SEEMS to work - I know, I'm hilarious.)

My next step it to rig her. I've rigged inside of Max, but I've never rigged anything inside of Maya, so this will be something new to me. I'm thinking of taking a very aggressive approach and using a method called Motion Flow rigging. Supposedly, it mimics our natural movements more so than standard rig would. We'll have have to see.

I'm also contemplating rigging her face with a more advanced curve based system instead of morph targets, but I'm not sure if it's entirely necessary, just because I plan on setting the animation tangents in her face to more of a step-like setup, rather than curves. I guess we'll see.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New territory for me - manga of the dead.

This is a gesture sketch I did a couple days ago.
As you can see my style is still developing,
and far from anything manga-like. 
 So after evaluating the work from my previous sculpt/model, I realized I’d like to take Duke vs. the Dead in a new direction for its look. The previous model was just too video game-ish for the story I want to tell. I need something more stylized.

My first attempt at a manga style.
I’m exploring more of a manga look for the series, and I’m really liking my results, but what worries me is that I can’t draw in a manga style at all. In fact I’d say that my style of drawing is the exact opposite of manga. Manga is smooth my flowing, but my style is more jagged and dirty.

I picked up a few books to help me learn, but I don’t think they will do much. I think with this style, you either have it, or you don’t, but I guess we’ll see. 

Vikky Miller's new look - done inside of Maya/Photoshop.

I hardly know anything about manga; it’s never really appealed to me before, but I’m starting to appreciate it.  If you were to ask me to list off the manga/anime that I’ve seen, I could probably do so on one hand; Ninja Scroll, Claymore, and High School of the Dead. The good news is, even though I can’t draw a manga style, I can sculpt/model it. Below are some results I’m coming up with inside of Maya. I started with a base model that I purchased that had the correct proportions, and then slowly began making it me my own. 

Here I'm trying to develop the right outfit to bring out her character.
I’m excited to see where I can take this. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vikky face sculpt.

Initially I very felt defeated and discouraged when I couldn’t sculpt Vikky’s face the way I wanted. So I set a few days aside and gave it another shot. Below are my results. The center image is my sculpt. To the left is Andrea Boehlke from Survivor Redemption Island, as I mentioned in a previous post, her face was the inspiration for Vikky’s look. On the right is the original concept drawing that I did for Vikky.

So here’s my assessment. I think this sculpt is the closest to a likeness I’ve yet achieved, but that’s not saying much. There’s still a lot wrong with it, it’s just that as of right now my eye can’t pick up on it. I don’t understand what I’m looking for, not yet at least. I’ll have to do some more reading on facial anatomy. The face can have up to 43 muscles, so it’s t

Also, these results took a long time and a lot of tweaking, (about 8 hours) which is frustrating because when I watch a master inside of zbrush, they can bang out a head in like 30 minutes. I guess practice makes perfect and I should keep trying, but it’s still frustrating nonetheless.

The overall look of the sculpt isn’t really what I have in mind for production. To me, this sculpt looks like it belongs more in a video game than it does in an animation. Realizing this, it kind of bummed me out, but then I took at my work from 6 months ago and compared it to today. It’s nice to feel like I’m making progress.

(Feel free to laugh at the troll face on the left.)

In my next post I’ll talk about a new direction that I might take for the overall look for Vikky and Duke vs. The Dead.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Old GPU: FirePro V3750
Yesterday I upgraded my video card. Previously I was running, an ATI FirePro 3750, which was a great entry level card for 3D design, but it was getting a little dated and I needed something new. Specifically, the 3750 had a few hang ups in Maya2012 where the viewport was not refreshing properly.  I’m pretty sure it had something to do with viewport 2.0, but I can’t say for certain.

I ended up purchasing a GeForce GTX 465, and so far I’m pretty happy. It runs on Nvidia’s Fermi architecture. This card is a beast size wise.  I had to remove my ram, hard drive, power cables, and cpu cooler just to get it in. All said and done, it took about an hour or so to install it and get everything back in place.

I have yet to run any serious tests on the card, but I feel fairly confident in it from its documented performance. Windows benchmarked it a 7.6, interestingly enough, the same rating as my i7 cpu. Currently it’s ranked among the top of its class. It takes two six-pin power inputs and runs HOT as anticipated.

If you put your hand in front the exhaust port, it feels like a small space heater.  No Joke.
I ended up going with Nvidia over ATi this time because I’m interesting in Cuda processing. I’ve seen some pretty interesting things done with it, but at this point I don’t know enough to say if it’s worth it. I guess I’ll find out. 

New GPU: GTX 465

GTX 465 Specs:

CUDA Cores352
Graphics Clock (MHz)607 MHz
Processor Clock (MHz)1215 MHz
Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec)26.7 
Memory Clock (MHz)1603 
Standard Memory Config1024 MB GDDR5
Memory Interface Width256-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec)102.6
NVIDIA SLI®-ready*2-way/3-Way
NVIDIA 3D Vision Readyyes
NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround Ready***yes
NVIDIA PureVideo® Technology**HD
NVIDIA PhysX™-readyyes
NVIDIA CUDA™ Technologyyes
Microsoft DirectX11
Bus SupportPCI-E 2.0 x 16 
Certified for Windows 7yes
Maximum Digital Resolution2560x1600 
Maximum VGA Resolution2048x1536 
Standard Display ConnectorsTwo Dual Link DVI
Mini HDMI 
Multi Monitoryes
Audio Input for HDMIInternal
Height4.376 inches (111 mm) 
Length9.5 inches (241 mm) 
Maximum GPU Temperature (in C)105  C
Maximum Graphics Card Power (W)200  W
Minimum Recommended System Power (W)550  W
Supplementary Power Connectors6-pin x2