View Full Version : Machineflesh 2D Challenge Entry: Nathaniel West

05 May 2004, 10:56 PM
Nathaniel West has entered the Machineflesh 2D Challenge.

05 May 2004, 08:53 PM (

Hello everyone! I've joined a little late, because I just stumbled upon the contest a few days ago. Looks like alot of fun, which is the most important thing.

So I've decided to depict the coolest organism of all time--a pirate!!!!

I'm not sure yet if he's going to be a typical pirate, or more of a captain, but I know that his arm was blown off by a cannonball, which was one of the more common hazards of the job. And because his arm is gone, he had to replace it with a mechanical one. This was also a common practice. It is little known, but pirates invented lots of cool stuff besides the mechanical limb....such as chopsticks, the telephone and velcro. Most people just don't know this though. It's also rumored that pirates were the first to utilize democracy. Pretty cool huh? So enough with historical accounts, here's the first image. Keep up all of the good work everyone!!!!


05 May 2004, 09:01 PM (

This is the arm at the moment. I've roughly sketched in what I'm thinking about here. I don't want it to be too flashy, but more hand beaten metal and gears. Basically, this isn't a totally futuristic arm, but uses pumps and pushrods and such. The pirate's hand is connected to the mechanism, as it was salvaged during the cannonball incident. Let me know what you think and what else you think would be fun to do. I would really appreciate any feedback.

05 May 2004, 09:20 PM (

Here's another version of the arm. I apologize for those first images being so big. I will post a little smaller from know on.

The elbow has a ball joint instead of gears, and they would mimic the motion of actual forearm bones. The rods would also connect to the pirates' bones. Up top the shoulder is comprised of little pistons things that mimic the muscles of the deltoid. They would connect to the strands of the pectoral muscle, and the whole armature would be bolted to the clavicle. Let me know what you think.

06 June 2004, 05:02 AM (

Here's some value on this one. I'd love some input on this please.

06 June 2004, 05:04 AM

06 June 2004, 05:07 AM (

Here's somemore value.

06 June 2004, 07:33 AM
The mechanical arm is always a fun thing to base an idea on. I like where you are taking it. Don't get much beter than machines and pirates, unless you threw in some ninjas too. But, anyway...looks good. I like how you are working out all the mechanics to be based on actual anatomy. I'd like to see some sort of part that represents the brachio-radialis also. It makes the forearm look a little too flat.
I think that in the final design it would be cool to make the arm either brass and gold like pirate telescopes and maybe some jewels to show off how much booty he has....or, maybe go the other way and make it really dingy and iron like a cannon.
I don't think this is a big issue, but you have seen treasure planet, right...and realize that they have a concept very similar to this. There is a good "art of" book for that. I actually like the book better than the movie.

06 June 2004, 08:23 AM
I like the idea, exspecially I'm working on a 3D version in the other side of this contest! Keep up!

06 June 2004, 04:00 PM
Illustr8r--thanks for your thoughts on this one. I appreciate it, and I agree with you about the choice of style. I hesistated to do the pirate arm because of Treasure Planet, but it's all about the fun, and pirates are exactly that. I definitely don't want to do a high tech arm though, and would like it to have a Jules Verne feel to it--kind of worn and handmade technology. But maybe this won't work, and it's just too much like Treasure Planet.

I also had an idea of adding a robotic parrot attached to his shoulder which acts as a replacement voice box for a damaged neck. I think it would be different and fun, but might look a little clumsy in the end. Plus, he wouldn't sound very menacing if he sounded like a parrot.

Thanks for the feedback, and I'll proceed with those excellent points in mind. Take care!!

06 June 2004, 04:17 PM
Really interesting!More technical.

I'm waiting for next step .:bounce:

06 June 2004, 04:20 PM
Good for you, this is going to be quite interesting. Personally I would love to see the mechanical parrot, I'm qurious to see how you would draw it, good stuff

06 June 2004, 08:09 AM (

Okay, here's some ideas for the parrot, which I've decided to include. Basically, it would rest on the pirate's shoulder, and it would be hooked up to his voicebox to emit sound when he speaks. And of course the mouth could move and all that, and he'd sound like one of those people that has smoked way too much and has to hold that thing up to there necks to know what I mean? Very menacing and kind of disturbing whenever I see that.

Anyways, the parrot would be made out of carved wood with brass ornamentation...nothing too sci-fi, but more fitting to the period. I like the idea that the head has the feel of a skull with deep eye sockets and all. The mechanism that connects to the pirate wouldn't be anything fancy, just some sort of tubing. I'll get into the pirate's design in the next day or so, and I'll figure out what his neck will look like.

Notice the old paper? I'll keep the rest of the drawings on this, because it gives it that old pirate feel which I think is cool. Also, because I'm so dedicated to getting into the character of the project, I will be drinking only quality rum while I work on this project. That's love right there, no?

Let me know what you think please!

06 June 2004, 02:50 PM
Very interesting idea. And i love the technical explanation. :thumbsup:
I'm curious to see your final image.

06 June 2004, 03:58 PM
This is a great idea! I can't wait to see it.

06 June 2004, 08:39 AM
A new legend signed up the contest!

The whole idea with the parrot gives this piece a deeper meaning, not just another half man half robot thing. Stick to that and yea, the parrot should be a wood like :D
Did u think about wood and rope mechanism of a pirates arm as well? just a thought....

Cant wait to see more (after i looked ur webpage :drool: )!

06 June 2004, 11:58 AM
Yay, you drew the parrot! I can already see it perched on the pirates shoulder. How about attaching a tellescope to the pirate or something, just a thought. I can't wait to see more, keep it up:applause:

06 June 2004, 12:42 PM
Arrrrr !
thats what the parrot is going to say most of the time anyways ;)

If his mechanical arm is holding his sword how will you do the connection ? a mechanical hand or some plug type thing or hooks or something ? :)

I love the concept !
*Lifts a boddle'o Rum and cheers* :beer:

06 June 2004, 09:29 AM (

Here's the pirate ideation. I'm not going to go into too much depth with the mechanics, as I don't have an engineering degree. Basically the pirate has a resonating chamber that is attached to the remains of his windpipe, thus reproducing the necessary vibrations to emit sounds. Those vibrations are sent to the parrot, and BAM! instant ventriloquism. The muscles of the neck are replaced by springs and pulleys, much like the pulley rigging one would see on an old sailing ship.

The arm is made of mahogany, which is a commonly used wood for seacraft due to its tight grain structure, which allows it to resist water penetration very well.

Oh yeah, and the hand can hold a sword or be used for general slapping and surprise backhands when necessary.

Let me know what you think please. I'd appreciate some feedback.

06 June 2004, 09:42 AM (

This is my first comp of the finished painting. ignore posturing please, as this is just an idea of placement of elements. Obviously I'm the only one that can understand what is going on at this stage, so I will explain the elements for you all.

The pirate is standing above an island girl, who is on the ground in great distress. Behind him are the vague heads of other pirates approaching. There will be some lush plants and palm trees around the edges of the painting.

I'm thinking about silhouetting the pirate's face to make him more menacing and mysterious. Besides, I don't think this piece is about how he looks really. It's more about the mechanics, and the distress of the girl in front of him.

Please let me know if any of you have opinions on this!

06 June 2004, 11:35 AM
:) Great concept....

I always have liked the idea that the machine parts could be historical or mechanical in appearance. The parrot looks great and I can really imagine just how good this will look in colour.

I like the composition. I suppose you could empasise the fact that the pirate is towering above the girl by looking up at him more from floor level - make him more menacing - or alternatively be looking down at her from shoulder height so you can see mechanical arm and parrot in more detail.

Great stuff...keep the WIP coming:applause:

06 June 2004, 06:00 PM
MrFreeman: Thanks for the kind words. I agree completely about making the arm the and parrot the focus. I really plan on using a light source from the upper left side that would pick up the details of the mechanics without turning into a rendering job. I really want the viewer's eye to make some of it up, especially when it comes to the pirate's face, which will only have hints of details. I might adjust the pirate's pose so that the arm is closer to the woman, and give the arm and her head the most light, making it the hotspot.

06 June 2004, 06:05 PM (

Here's a quick value study just so you all can see an idea of the lighting that I'm thinking about.

Feedback is always welcome. I'd really like to hear your ideas.

06 June 2004, 06:33 PM
I absolutely love the arm (looks sort of like an electric eggbeater)

I can see why you want to hide his face in shadows, but it somehow distances me from the picture.

I think you might need to make something of his personality shine through. Could be body language, could be a moonlit nose (or whatever, you get my drift)

2 cents from E.T

06 June 2004, 07:19 PM
E.T. thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate your opinion, and I agree that the true character of the pirate will need to come from his body language. I can see how you might feel distanced without seeing the pirate's face, and I'm hoping to solve this by making the focus more on the girl.

Does anyone disagree with the fact that I'm taking my Machineflesh character, and NOT making him the focus of the painting? I really want to only suggest him, whereas the woman would have more details.

Should I show his face? Please reply with yes or no and why...I'd appreciate your everyone's input on this. Thanks!

06 June 2004, 09:01 PM
I think you know exactly what you want to do with this illustration, and whatever you decide on doing will undoubtedly turn out well. I enjoy seeing your progress and can't wait to see the final, keep it up:applause:

06 June 2004, 09:21 PM
hmm... it could be just me, but i would like to see the face of the pirate. Pirates r always scarred, their skin is rough and full of wrinkles (i hope u know what am i talking about... my english vocabulary isnt as great as it should be :shrug: )... so u could give this pic a deeper story just with the pirates face and his expression... god I hope u know what im talking about :rolleyes:
But i know that u could make a great atmosphere, so im not scared that the final piece wouldnt be awesome.

PS: but i think that the main element of the pic must be the character (machineflesh) and not the ambient... i think

06 June 2004, 08:29 AM (

Hey all,

I've disappeared for a week or so. Kind of got busy with work and I'm in the process of moving as well, but I'm back and determined to finish. This is my composition, and it will probably change here and there as I start painting. I just wanted to get the overall positioning and poses for each character, and this is usually how I work when doing a painting. Frankly, I don't like drawing really tight, and things change during the painting process anyways, so here's my progress. This is nothing fancy, it's just what works best for me. I'm also not conerned with details just yet, as that will come out during painting. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

06 June 2004, 08:35 AM
Oh yeah, the story for this is basically that the pirates are looking for a treasure chest, which this island girl was trying to cover up until they came upon her. She's in trouble. That's it. Just the usual pirate lifestyle depicted in this one. :beer:

06 June 2004, 06:17 PM (

This is my color comp thus far. I'm mostly conerned with overall color harmony and value balance. I work pretty small on the screen so that I don't get bogged down to much in the little details at the moment. I find it easy to start noodling around with little things, and it's helpful to work very small to force yourself to focus on the picture as a whole. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions please! I'd really really appreciate some input. Good times!!

06 June 2004, 06:30 PM
thatīs what I call a great paint concept, very very good colors and mood, my advice would be only to keep painting until the deadline :D


06 June 2004, 07:21 PM
I love your sketches. They are great. And your whole concept is really faszinating me.

the color sketch blows me away.

Canīt wait for the final image.

Good luck!!

06 June 2004, 07:34 PM
Its super! I can already see the great final piece :D
Colors r just great, but for better focusing on the pirate and for better dramatical effect u could use some sunrays in front plan and leave the rest of the pirates back in shadow... u know, something like sunrays r coming down between trees.
just a suggestion :bounce:

06 June 2004, 08:38 PM
Thanks for the comments!

Ninja, I'll play around with that lighting a bit and see what turns out. I'll definitely keep the pirates in the background vague. I just want hints of form and color. As for the pirate in the front, I think I'm going to leave him with just a hint of light on the side of his face. I want to leave a little to the imagination on him. I'll detail out the arm and parrot voicebox thingie somewhat though. I think the rays of light are really a good idea and I'll see how I can work those in to direct the eye to key elements of the painting. I'll update soon. Any other ideas from anyone else would be much appreciated!

06 June 2004, 08:49 PM
Keep up, Nathaniel!
Your pirate version will be great. and yes... your pirate has a parrot:beer:

06 June 2004, 12:10 AM
The contrasts in the colours really grabbed my attention. You've set up the lighting very well.

06 June 2004, 09:28 AM (

I've taken my initial color comp and refined the colors a bit more. I've also begun to indicate the forms just a little more, using solid colors to represent plane changes in the figures. I'm still not concerning myself with details, as they really aren't as important to me as the overall feel of the colors and their relation to one another. I feel as though the pirates jacket is a little too red at this point, but I'd love some input as to where you guys think I should proceed. Proportions are still off in the figures, so please ignore that. I'll work on that next.

06 June 2004, 10:06 AM
Itīs amazing how you work with lights and tones. Reminds me a bit of Arnold Böklin.

Really great how the light on the upper right side directs the eye of the viewer to the girl.

06 June 2004, 10:17 AM
Wow ! :eek:
You're just beginning the colors and it's stunning !!!
Amazing, i'm speechless...

06 June 2004, 11:52 AM
In reply to your red jacket question and taking into consideration that your composition details dense jungle on the left and right side of the composition maybe you could tone down the bright left side of the jacket and put in pin point spots of light instead of the large area of light that's shining on it at the moment.....just an opinion....very nice painting lay in. love'n it!:bounce:

06 June 2004, 02:04 PM
lighting is perfect, what more can i say before seeing the details?!

06 June 2004, 02:16 PM
Veryy nice !!
I like your stile!
Which program do you use?
:beer: :bowdown:

06 June 2004, 05:16 PM

06 June 2004, 05:16 PM

06 June 2004, 05:17 PM
my post got put up a million times for some reason so i have to type things in place of it as i can't delete it. sorry everyone!

06 June 2004, 05:17 PM
I think cgnetworks should do a ninja challenge next time around. A Ninja Pirate showdown. Is anyone with me on this? Reply if you are. Honestly, ninjas and pirates are probably the coolest things ever.

06 June 2004, 05:17 PM
Okay, this is the last edit that I have to do. I just want to say that I'm really glad that everyone on the website has pulled together and worked on some great artwork collectively, and that everyone has been so very helpful with each other.

06 June 2004, 05:37 PM
Thanks for the comments everyone!

Snotblow--I agree that maybe changing the lighting on the jacket just might work a bit better than what I have. I'll give it a go and see what turns out.

ModelFarm--Thanks for the kind words. Right now I'm just using Photoshop 7. I'm basically using a hard round brush for the layin, and some textures here and there for fun.

So the next step will be to tighten up the rest of the piece, and change some of the colors. There are a couple of things that are still bothering me--mostly the browns on the pirates in the background. Somehow its getting a little too muddy for my taste, and I'll rework that area a bit. My process usually tends to be a push and pull, where I am constantly changing colors to create a balance of some sort. This piece will not be rendered out either everyone. I hope I don't disappoint you guys, but I really don't like rendering, but instead like to leave things more impressionistic and painterly. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions please, as I will happily consider them as I move forward on the painting. Thanks again!

06 June 2004, 09:36 AM (

Here's my final coloring. Hope you guys like it.

06 June 2004, 09:38 AM (

And here's the final image.

06 June 2004, 10:45 AM
I like your pirate! I'm just voting :thumbsup: Good work, congratulation and good luck!

06 June 2004, 05:15 PM
newone-thanks for the kind words. good luck to you as well!

06 June 2004, 09:49 PM

Great scene captain!

and force!

Londero. (

06 June 2004, 10:28 PM
:thumbsup: Great work...well worth the wait...always thought this was one of the best concepts

Good luck....and bring on the Ninja Pirate challenge....I need something new to work on.. :applause: :thumbsup:

06 June 2004, 08:26 AM
Beautiful concept, color of jungle background and light and shadow :thumbsup:

good luck!!!!

06 June 2004, 09:49 AM
I like your work, too :thumbsup:

Good luck!!

06 June 2004, 11:17 AM
something likes a concept image from a movie ,
great work ~

07 July 2004, 04:57 PM
Does anyone know how to vote for your favorite artwork? I've been looking for something to tell me where to go, but can't find anything. Thanks!

07 July 2004, 07:03 PM
The voting is up and you get a vote from me. Awesome painting. RRRRR!

07 July 2004, 11:22 PM
thanks gthompson!! you're too kind!


07 July 2004, 02:05 PM
this is a really nice image although i think it lacks some difinition the execution of it is awsome. forests is not something that i would of chose to do due to time constraints however i think you have done a wonderful job. good luck.

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