View Full Version : Brain-bots

05 May 2006, 10:46 PM
Hey, all!
Now that I'm all done with the latest CGChallenge, I've been working on a layout for a new illustration. I thought I'd pass it by folks here first to see what needs a-fixin' before I head off to finish the line art. The idea is that there are these bio-organic robots... well, their bodies are robotic but they've got these disembodied brains floating in their heads. And they're standing in front of tanks with more brains. But it's never a good idea to go waving your brains around in people's faces like that, you never know who or what you might attract... like zombies!

Anyhow, how's it looking? What needs to be fixed or reworked? Looking forward to your c&c...


05 May 2006, 04:39 PM
ahhh... saw your new thread and thought, maybe Walrus gonna paint some cute little yellow ducklings? but oh no! :eek:
but I love zombies too. so gonna keep an eye on this one... like the left down corner, the one that chew on the arm... funny expression on that zombie...

05 May 2006, 05:57 PM
Dude, You are a comic genius! I love the zomblie chomping on the robot arm, maybe some teeth pop off? I dont really get the "story" but your expressions and style are always great to look at!

05 May 2006, 06:01 PM
Awesome concept! The hands are so nice! Poor bots.

Waiting for the next stages now ;)

05 May 2006, 07:05 PM
*Settles down on the comfy couch in the corner*

Hey mike!

Glad to see you're keeping these creative juices flowing. I'm afraid you have me tagging along for this one as well. If you get too annoyed, just tell me to go away. :D

I'm really liking the concept for this one. So far the perspective on the right hand robot seems a little off, shouldn't we be seeing him more from above?

Also, I think they'd look funnier with more exaggerated fear on their faces. But I could be wrong. (I usually am!)

I'm also envious that you finished the challenge early, so you're able to start other cool projects. :D

I'll be camping in your front yard for this.

05 May 2006, 03:02 PM
Thanks, folks! You know, you might have a point there, Theresa. It's hard to tell. What I might end up doing is mocking this up in 3D (I wanted to anyhow to get some lighting effects for the metal on the robots) and seeing how the perspective works from there. I'll give it a go!


05 May 2006, 08:26 PM
You've been looking at Jerome's Journey :eek: for too long, Mike... and how are you going to get God Rays into this? :rolleyes:

Just one question, why would flesh eating zombies be attacking metal robots? Are their brains a delicious treat? Change the guy eating the arm to enjoying a brain instead and we might get the story.


05 May 2006, 04:37 PM
lol, great! subscribing. bad stuff if you have a ton of undead fans... looking forward to this, rock on mike :D

05 May 2006, 11:01 AM
You there, mike?

05 May 2006, 12:07 PM
hahahahhaha - this stuff kicks ass!

06 June 2006, 07:36 AM


Smashing concept.

I know you're just scribling at this point, but a great zombie scene demands zombies with character.

Maybe at least one of the Zombies should be wearing a mechanics overalls, or hoisting a toaster over his head, to correlate their plight with yummy brains stuck under the cranial force field of titanium exoskeletors.

Also, it might make the scene more tense if one of the BrainBots was actually being tugged into the Zombie Crowd, while his hapless, pea-brained buddy is tugging him back.

And one of the brain capsules needs to be broken, and preservative goo and brains need to be slopped on the floor. Perhaps about to be slipped on by the hapless buddy.

Your gnarled zombie hands are gorgeous. :applause: I must study more intently. :D

06 June 2006, 08:42 AM
Very awesome concept Wally. May i call you Wally? lol. I really love the one zombie on the bottom left giving the arm a go. Only crit is that the perspective is a little off on the robot on the right, but thats what sketches are for though. I can't wait to see your finished piece. Give em hell Wally! Also, saw the journey picture....really nice work. Just a really good vibe from it. Keep up the awesome work.

07 July 2006, 03:33 AM
Thanks for the comments, folks. Some really good ideas... but I just kept on going with this.. had to, or I was going to lose too much momentum and never get it done at all. Anyhow, here's the line art:

color tests to come...


07 July 2006, 08:26 PM
Glad to see you back in action. Congrats on the journey prize, you deserved it, so you did!

The line art is looking really good....I love their looks of dismay, you captured that excellently. Only thing I can think of so far is that I'd like to see some wires and stuff around the brain tanks.

Looks like another great walrus is in the making! :D

07 July 2006, 06:11 PM


07 July 2006, 10:58 PM
Nice clean lines Michael.

Well done on the award. It's a lovely pic. The winning pic was great, lots of drama and a great concept.

Congrats on the article in ImagineFX magazine. I didn't relise we were among such esteemed company. I'm ony half way through the article at the moment but I'm very impressed. Good on ya.


07 July 2006, 04:18 PM
Uh oh, the irate Irish throngs are amassing, I'd better get back to work. :)
You both know how my process works. I've blocked in colors, although none of them are final colors at this point. And I've added one multiply layer for the shadows, but it too might change colors when I'm done. I still need to add a hilights layer and then another for light from the braintanks.

But truth to tell, I'm not sure how much time I'll have to work on this in the coming months. The Wolrd Science Fiction Convention is coming up in mid/late August and I still have to finish this Medusa painting ( in time to show it there with the rest of my pieces. (It's watercolors and it's huge, so it's taking a while.) Adn then after that, I just got hired for a freelance job by someone who saw my ImagineFX article, so there goes September. I'll try to squeak in more work on Brainbots (because I wanted it in my portfolio for WorldCon too!) but no guarantees. :shrug:
Thanks for keeping an eye open for it, though!


07 July 2006, 10:01 AM
i laugh out loud when i saw this~ the expression of the characters just awsome! nice work!:applause:

07 July 2006, 07:13 AM
Okay, well I've finally got some work done on some rough color tests... and to be perfectly honest, I'm feeling kind of stuck. I don't know whether any of these color tests are working at all, or if I should head off ina different direction altogether. If anyone has any input, I would really love to hear it!


07 July 2006, 08:37 AM
My favorite so far is no. 9, but I would yellow out the background a bit more. Also, the light source seems a little bit confused- the light on the tanks, zombies and bots don't really seem to match. Wait...I think the problem is the ground- if you give it a stronger light gradient from the right, it'll match up with the bots more and will throw the zombies into better relief on the right hand side. Problem solved! :)

I love no. 9 actually....can't wait to see how this turns out!

cheers, :beer:
your friendly neighborhood paperclip.

07 July 2006, 03:33 PM
Good, I was hoping you'd respond to this last post. I was going to message you if you didn't...

The thing with the tanks in the back is they're at this point just a 3D render, I haven't painted them in at all, which is why they don't quite match yet.
It figures you would love #9. My wife likes that one too. I don't like #9 much at all - I always envisioned this picture being in cool tones. (As you can tell by the other 5 comps.) But regrettably, even I can see that #9 is the one that reads the best. I'm somehow going to need to reconcile thos problems - readibility and overall color palette. <sigh.>

I'll try some stronger light from the side. Thanks for the input!
Anyone else?


07 July 2006, 05:18 PM
You know, you might be able to keep the cool color scheme if you made the zombies a bit know, them being closer to the camera and all.

Sorry if it feels like I'm stalking you. :D

07 July 2006, 05:28 PM
Sorry to contrary, but I prefer number 2. I always imagined this scene having a cool palette myself.

I also like having the tanks as a major light source, and source of backlighting.

I guess the lighting in number 9 has a more 'horror movie' feel to it. I don't understand where this reddish light is coming from. I guess it would be the tanks?

Actually I like paperclips suggestion of keeping a cooler color scheme and making the zombies warmer.

07 July 2006, 11:09 PM
Hi Mike

I like no. 9 and I think it is because the 2 Brain Bots stand out from the background.

Just to add a bit more confusion to your already hectic life I've attached a paintover where I've changed the floor colour. In this lot I still like no. 9. If you had the tanks golwing blue, that would be nice.


07 July 2006, 11:48 PM
Hi Walrus :) I think you're honestly one of my favourite artists at CGtalk. You have a sense of humour and a quirkiness about your pictures that always puts a smile on my lips... I hate to say it, but you remind me a bit of Tim Burton – not at all in style or even in subject matter, but in that you seem to have a very unique imagination with a well developed style and sense of character. I can always tell when you're the artist of a painting, and I always love to watch you work.

Having said that, I think this one might end up being one of my favourites so far. The concept is hilarious, and the little details are just killing me – like the tiny wee brain in the left robot's head and the greedy zombie chomping on a robot-arm.

As for the colour scheme... why I think #9 is appealing to us is because there's a lot more drama going on in the colours there. The red, ominous light really reminds me of classic horror movies with monsters shambling through city streets, and it feels as if it's the red light that gets to me. I think, however, that you could cool the colours down if you want them colder, and still keep the sense of 'drama' in there. Instead of an orangey red, you could use a purplish one, and let the main figures slip towards blue instead of violet. The other pictures have nowhere near as much vividness in the colours, which is why this one stands out... but an alternative might be to try to pick another one and just make it 'pop' more. I like how the tubes in the background glow in #1 (whereas they're completely blank in #9, which is a bit boring) and I really like the turquoise touch of light in #10. #2 definitely has great shading on the robots themselves, but the grey floor really doesn't add any kind of emotion to the scene.

Maybe give it another try and see if you can find something that 'pops' as nicely as #9 does, but has colours more along the line of what you're yearning for. I personally think colours are essential for an image to work, and you really want some that YOU feel represent the scene. If all else fails, screw what we're saying and go with your guts, I'm sure it will end up great.

07 July 2006, 04:19 PM
Theresa, Feyd, Ed, and Linda - Thank you for your replies! It's great to get feedback on something I'm working on and having some difficulties with. I sat down for a while last night to come up with some new comps, keeping in mind your notes. The colors, you'll see, are mostly getting more intense - a response, I think, to people's comments about upping the drama level. And I've added a light to the right side like you suggested, Theresa, though its color varies with each comp. I also made the shadow on the floor less intense as it was distracting from the figures. I tried some warmer zombies but then they felt too "alive," not dead enough. I also tried some of your color suggestions, Linda, though nothing quite worked for me.

I agree that things were popping well on #9 before, but what wasn't working for me was the fact that all the colors themsleves were such sickly versions of reds and blues. I tried to rectify it, and tried Linda's suggestions for variations, but the brighter colors just overpowered the entire image. (I felt that they did in your drawovers, too, Ed, though I appreciate your posting them.) So my revision below, # 12, ends up being similarly sickly, I think. :(

#13 and #16 are more along the lines of the turquoises and blues I was shooting for earlier, and there are also a few like #11, #14, and #15, where I pretty much dropped most of the color out of the objects themselves and let most of the color come from the light sources and the brain-tanks.

And of course, these are just color roughs. I will, of course, be adding some kinds of detail to the floor, not leaving it a boring, untextured plane.
Anyhow, more opinions welcome... Thanks!


07 July 2006, 04:26 PM
I like the zombies in 16 combined with the bots/background in 13. You're doing really well now!

07 July 2006, 04:48 PM
Number 12 really jumps out at me now. It maintains the classic B horror movie feel with the red, but the introduction of the strong blue backlight from the tanks gives it nice color contrast. I also really like the cooler zombies with the strong red backlight.

I think 13 and 16 also work well.

07 July 2006, 10:36 AM
I like 12 :)

Great work here! I love your sense of humour and style :D

07 July 2006, 01:34 PM
I love the 12 too :) Excellent work, you've a great style and great sense of humour!

07 July 2006, 08:16 AM
wow~ this is great! i like #12 one too. i also quite like #15, it has more horror feeling then other pictures i think. keep up the good work!!

07 July 2006, 03:48 PM
Thanks for the comments, folks! Sorry I haven't had any time to add an update this weekend. I've got this major watercolor painting (Medusa) that I need to finish a.s.a.p. for an art show, and it takes priority.

I appreciate the input, but I think #12 is not the way to go. Admittedly, it looks okay, but that much red doesn't work for me, or as least is very far away from what I pictured this peice to be in my head. Not to say that can't change some: People voting for the red also pushed me to make #15, which is now one of my favorites. As is #16, or some combination of #13 and #16 as Paperclip suggested. There might even be a way to bring red hilights into a #13.#16 mix, but I'll have to see: Red and Green together can look so festive for the holidays, not me desired goal. ;)

I'll let you know when I have more. Thanks for tuning in!


07 July 2006, 05:59 AM
good Luck mike!!:thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 09:06 PM
I like No. 14, I don't know why but I like it.

It's going to be good anyway Mike.


08 August 2006, 05:36 PM
Hi Mike! Great to see this piece, it looks so good already; You have such a wonderful recognisable style :)

I think #14 and #15 are my favouites by far. I wonder what the final version will look like... I am sure, however, you will do a great job whatever theme you will choose. :)

- Marta

08 August 2006, 08:59 PM
I really like number 12, it's the one that best portrays the sense of danger coming from the zombies, mostly due to the red highlights.

08 August 2006, 05:08 AM
Hey, thanks for the comments, folks! At last it's time to put this particular debate to a rest: I've finally chosen a color scheme. I'm going with the heavy reds. It's zombies, it's dramatic, so what the heck, here we go! (And there was much cheering and booing, depending on which color palette various people liked.)

Just got back from a week's vacation at the World Science Fiction Convention (I sold one painting!) and so I had a little time to work on this today, detailing out the zombies. Here's how it's looking:

No work on the floor in the background nor the metal arm yet, so please, no comments on how they look unfinished! I'm just working on the zombies for now. Comments? I'd really like to get a lot more work on this done this week, hopefully finish it by Monday, so stay tuned, the updates should be coming fast now (I hope!)
Give me all the feedback you can. Seriously.


08 August 2006, 05:37 AM
Comments? I'd really like to get a lot more work on this done this week, hopefully finish it by Monday, so stay tuned, the updates should be coming fast now (I hope!)
Give me all the feedback you can. Seriously.


I like the red light... gives a "gentle" creepy feeling to it... :bounce:
and updates fast now? hurray!

09 September 2006, 01:03 AM
Thanks, Mona!
I've had hours and hours to work on this today. Still not done yet, but I thought I'd show everyone what I've been up to and show some progress. I've finished the Zombies and added some really cool noise layers to really make them grimy. I've added a few layers on the ground - not final yet but at least it's something to keep it from being all flat. I've done a lot of painting on the Robots' metal and wiring. I still haven't added as many metal details as I would like on them, and I haven't touched their brains at all yet. (Ewww! Touching tehir brains!) And I haven't done anything with the back wall and tanks yet... maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, please let me know what you think and where you see places for improvement. Thanks!


09 September 2006, 08:37 AM
I love the way this is going- I rather like the effects on the zombies as they are now, it looks like an anisotropic metal rather than the standard shiny's a good look and maybe you'll be the one to start the 'anisotropic bot' trend. :D

I'm really intrigued by the zombie arms- mind explaining the whole noise layer thing more?

The only crit I have at this stage is that the zombie clothes look rather rubbery- maybe lower the reflection on them a bit? That way the zombies will look like they're all shiny and icky. :)

By the way, I really liked the article on cgsociety!!

09 September 2006, 02:30 PM
Thanks, Theresa! For the bots, I made rough mock-ups of them in 3DSMax and renderred them with a couple of lights and with a simple metal-shaded material, the anisotropic shading you noted. The 3D models are really rough but it gave me a good basis for painting. Glad you like the effect.

The zombies' clothes DO look rubbery now that you mention it, thanks for pointing that out. Not sure offhand what to do about that, but I'll have to give it a shot to fix it.

As for the zombies' skin, the basics are this: I found a grungy texture reference with an uneven surface and a lot of splotches. (It happened to be a metal with rust streaks, but your mileage may vary.) I brought it into a new layer and masked it out so that it was only showing up over the zombies' skin, not their eyes, teeth, or clothing. Then I just fooled around with Blending Mode and opacity and saturation. I think I ended up using Overlay, but then it changed the color of the skin too much so I had to drop down the metal texture's saturation. I ended up duplicating the texture layer and making the second one a different blending mode, both set to very low opacities. I wasn't looking for a radical change, as you can see in the earlier post that I'd already painted in most of the details by hand. But the texture provided some nice noise in places, like the back of the head of the bottom, bald zombie - I love how that passage looks now!

So today I'll either be painting more on this or my Living Room... we'll see what we're up to when Talia awakens. :) Oh and glad you liked the tutorial. It was a big long-winded maybe, but I couldn't figure out how to shorten it at all, and apparently neither could CGSociety! :)


09 September 2006, 03:38 PM
sorry i dont have any good CC but its because i really like this piece on top of that zombies are in my "top 10 of cool things that should be drawn list" soo keep up the great work.

09 September 2006, 07:38 AM
a-gomez - thanks! So what are the other nine?

Anyhow, it's really late and my eyes feel like they're about to fall out fo my skull. But I just couldn't stop 'til I finished this... or at least got to a stopping point. I think it's finished but it's late. Maybe someone will see something obvious for me to fix. What do you think?


09 September 2006, 09:58 AM
Oooh, I think you're darn close! The last thing I would suggest is to tone down the highlights on the bots just a smidgen, they're a bit TOO bright compared to the rest of the means your eye tends to sort of stay with the bright bots and their bright pink brains!

But then again, maybe that's what you wanted. :D

Are you gonna enter the next challenge btw?

09 September 2006, 10:04 PM
Hi Mike

It's really coming together. There is lots of athmosphere and the details are great.

I'd really like to see the blue glow in the brain tanks like you had in your colour options no. 12. At the moment it looks very mono tone or should I say duo tone with the red and black.

You got rid of the rubbery clothing very well and I like what you did with the zombes skin. It's a great effect.

You might be able to do a shorter tutorial with this pic for the CGS, but I did enjoy the 'long' one, thanks for sharing it with us.

Great stuff, keep pushing it.


09 September 2006, 04:07 PM
Theresa - Thanks for the input. I was planning on enterring the new Challenge, if it doesn't start too late in the year.

Ed - Thanks for the post. Feedback on color schemes was in July, I've moved on to final paints now. Sorry I didn't choose your favorite color scheme! :) Glad you liked the tutorial!


09 September 2006, 04:32 AM
Well, it's done. You should see it show up in a finished 2D gallery near you in the near future. Only new changes are some markings on the back wall, liquid in the 'bots' brain-bulbs, and some sweat on the outside of them. And I toned down the hilights an imperceptible smidgeon, but generally, you are supposed to be focussing on the bots. They are the main characters, after all!

Anyhow, thanks, all, for tuning in!


09 September 2006, 11:09 AM
Hi Mike

It's a goody all right. You have a great way of injecting humour into your pieces. Well done.

Is this for a commission or just a personal piece? :applause:

Looking forward to seeing more from you.


09 September 2006, 03:20 PM
Thanks, Ed!
If you thought that was funny, here's a newer version of the painting: see if you can spot the difference. I thought of one more thing to add between finishing it here and posting it in the Finsihed Work forum.

It's not a comission, though, just my realizing that I didn't have any robots in my portfolio and wanted some. And so now I do, in a style that's very "me," so it works out well! :)


09 September 2006, 04:45 PM
Love the can opener. :D

Congrats on finishing it! Now you're all ready for the next challenge... ;)

09 September 2006, 07:30 PM
I Love it Mike, the can opener is a great touch. lol :thumbsup:


CGTalk Moderation
09 September 2006, 07:30 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.