Reflective Statement – Animation Strategies

Animation strategies has been a great assignment overall and I have really enjoyed the work set.  The personal project was fantastic as having the opportunity to work on something specific rather than something generalised really allowed for more focused work. I choose concept art as it has always been something I wanted to pursue. I love putting environments together and designing characters that could fit in with it.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the assignment I felt it was a shame it ran alongside our animation project. Having both projects at the same time was a little over-whelming due to the amount of work needed to be done. I felt I rushed through all aspects of the projects which resulted in low quality work which also didn’t make much sense. Since my work was poor for both assignments I feel it could be down to my poor time-management skills and hope to address this for future projects. I also tend to over-complicate things so maybe if I had of stuck to one thing and did it really well I would be happier. To sum up, I loved the projects but I was unhappy with the work I produced due to poor time management and lack of planning.



Building the Environment

Clare has started to model the different parts of the castle and together we have assembled it. We might fill it out a little more but since it is going to be in the distance with some clouds partially covering it, not too much would need to be done…if any more at all. As long as we get the sense of there being a castle/kingdom in the distance.




After receiving some feedback on the palace we were advised to re-shape the overall palace so I am going to go back and re-work and model extra parts to make the overall look more aesthetically pleasing. Below shows the progress of the new and hopefully improved model, along with some research into middle eastern palaces which helped with building shapes etc…

Taj Mahal

This palace is a good example for the kind of look we were hoping to go for.


Although our palace won’t be a main feature in the animation, it will be there in the background to help tell the story and also to aid with our visuals.

Abu Dhabi

This building is another which has greatly helped in the design of our palace. The overall placement of shapes and domes helped in creating better shapes overall.


Below is a screenshot of the new top of the palace I am working on, I am still keeping it low-poly.

Updated progress of the palace shown below;

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 13.30.42

Along with working on the palace we have to work on the arrangement of the cloud formations and the mountain top where the dragon will be perched. Getting the environment to look as if it is filled with clouds is turning out to be quite difficult. As the overall look is low poly, the clouds look more like rocks when I put them all together and seem to be quite distracting. (Screenshot below).

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 11.40.19

When thinking about this now I might try to bring other elements into the equation to help with the aesthetics. Maybe we could work on having Pegasus have a bit of solid ground to walk on such as a bridge or path that is supported by really long stilts which disappear into the atmosphere below. Just food for thought. I might start some pen and ink drawings to help with visualisation of the idea.

I came across this amazing piece of art but I can’t find the name of the artist who created it. I love how the palace is sitting on the mountain with it’s structures winding down around it. It looks so nice! I am definitely going to take some inspiration from this. I have exported a beveled cube from Maya and plan on taking it into zbrush to sculpt it to give it a bit of shape/variation. I will post the progress in a slideshow below. Having the palace sit on something solid might work better than having it completely surrounded by clouds.


I have been working on the overall look of the palace for a few hors and here is my progress thus far.

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 22.01.12

Overall I like it so far, it is definitely better than what we had before. The direction is completely different with it having rocks and foliage but I’m sure they can be worked in successfully as long as we keep it looking consistent.

I have added in some background detail. Keeping it simple with some mountain/hills etc…

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 21.02.02


At the moment we are at the stage of adding in clouds using fluid effects. I thought it might be a good idea to give them a go since the low poly clouds just don’t look right. Maybe we could have a few floating in the background. Below are some progress renders for testing the clouds.





Palace image –

Taj Mahal –

Abu Dhabi –


Concept Art – Final Paintings

So overall I have managed to paint two pieces in total which I am not too happy about. I really had hoped to produce work of a higher calibre but it wasn’t to be.

My first painting depicts ‘invaders’ journeying through billowing cliff faces to an unknown world. I’m not too sure if this comes across in the painting but I guess story-telling through art is not my thing at the moment and is something I need to work on. I really tried to get the colour looking right for this one and in general I felt it turned out ok. I used a little texture on the rocks but not too much as I didn’t want to mess it up. I feel the crowd of people/creatures could be worked on more as it I hard to tell what is going on, maybe something to return to in the future. When looking at it now I feel there isn’t much depth in the actual painting itself and I could have developed this more as well. Maybe I didn’t thumbnail enough before I started?


My second piece shows the other side, much like our own world but has elephants with cool stripes. Haha I wanted to keep it simple so that I wouldn’t run away from it. Just a moment in time in the late evening, sun is getting low… some huge elephants are carrying cargo away from the nearby town. You can faintly see a palace in the distance which feeds into my visual development sketches but I kind of went off on a tangent… something I tend to do quite a lot… I find it difficult to focus at times.

Overall this painting is OK, but far from perfect. Again I felt I played it safe just to get something done in time for submission so I am disappointed in myself again. But anywho, best to move on and hope for my next painting to tell a better story.


Visual Development – Digital Sketches

I made a whole bunch of quick sketches in photoshop to get some ideas down for the concept project. Sometimes it is just easy to doodle to get some ideas going. Although nothing stood out to me it was fun in general and actually helped me to re-design a palace in my animation. Since I was hoping to go for a middle eastern vibe in a concept art piece I thought some little drawings of shacks and huts would be fun to draw.

Examples of shacks found in many eastern countries.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of my quick sketches below, I spent about 20-40 mins max on each page.




This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I thought to maybe have a antagonist whose purpose was to rule over this awesome land full of weird and wonderful creatures. I wanted him to look Turkish and have a sense of power. I didn’t have much time over Christmas to put more effort in due to family issues but I drew a few very quick concepts for how he may have looked.




I was also hoping to do a few painting or even model the inside of this guys palace where he displays all his collectables but I didn’t have enough time. Below are more sketches of little items that may have been found.



I had many ideas running through my head of these turks/middle eastern invaders coming across old robotics amongst huge masses of rocks. This idea came from an old game Wildarms I used to play on the PS1… so I drew some sketches but ultimately thought it didn’t really fit in well.



Some environmental sketches





I drew up some really bad creatures.. I blame how bad they are on the lack of time I had to produce anything good 😛


Ok this guy creeps me out…




Designing the Dragon – Research

We are going to base the design of the dragon around one of Clare’s concept designs. (Seen Below) The dragon has some cool looking crystals coming from it’s back to add extra personality and interest. We will be adding wings also and looking into some creatures which are similar in structure to help us when designing the base mesh.


Clare done some research and came across the Komodo dragon which is a large species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands. this dragon might be quite good reference when designing the shape of the dragons face, along with the limbs and tail etc…


As you can see from its face it does look like a typical dragon you would see in a movie although a little smoother in general. Great reference for the design of the head. The images below are also good reference.


Terryl Whitlatch

Terryl Whitlatch is an amazing creature artist who specialises in designing fantastic creature design. She has superb knowledge of animal anatomy and this results in designs which look anatomically correct. I have watched a lot of her videos in the past and read through a few of her articles in various magazines. Whitlatch has produced some dragon-like creatures seen below, some reference can be taken from these designs. It’s amazing the amount of inspiration she gets from studying zoological references.



I love this colour scheme used above, it is quite similar to that of a Monster that is in my favourite old PS1 game called Wildarms..(see below) Maybe Clare and I could use similar colours to these for our dragon design.

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 12.13.15

Wildarms – Play Station one – back in the day 😉





Inc., I. (2017). Creatures of Amalthea Landing Page. [online] Imagination International Inc. Available at: [Accessed 30 Nov. 2017].

Designing the Dragon – Zbrush & Maya

Before starting any modelling, Clare and I have been drawing a lot of quick dragon sketches to get some different shapes and designs down.



Clare and I started to model the basic mesh of the dragon in zbrush. I thought that spheres would be a good option to quickly build him up. Below are a few screenshots of the progress so far. This is about one and a half hours work so far. I think it looks good so far, although we might refine the shapes a bit more once we agree on a style.

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 19.20.46


I decided to add in a simple wing structure so that it will be ready to be brought into Maya for some sculpting and changing about.

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 19.41.50

I had a few problems when using the adaptive skin option in Zbrush but after a while I figured out that there was a problem with my spheres, I had a hidden sphere which was causing a lot of distortion in the model, once I removed this and repositioned some others everything was good to be moved into Maya. I also used the decimate tool to lower the poly count to see how the model would look. I exported three variations and imported them for a test render in Maya.

Wireframe render


Generic render with AiStandard Jade material

dragon_low poly

Ambient Occlusion render


Colour paint over


Above is a quick paint over of the ambient occlusion render to test out some colours. Overall I don’t like the higher poly on the left but I do like the lowest poly mesh on the right….maybe we could use this one for the animation? It’s more of what I had in mind for the style.

The slideshow below shows some quick renders with the wings. After doing these renders I have decided that the wings are just too plain and I might work on them a bit more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rigging the dragons wings… just started to attempt to put a simple rig in the dragons wings. I am going to base the skeletal structure off that of a bat’s wing as I feel this would make the best reference for the style of the dragon’s wing.


References (2017). Eidolon helvum Skeleton « Galileo Ramos – Art with Skeletons. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2017].