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04 April 2008, 05:38 AM
Michael Dashow is entered in the "Uplift Universe Challenge" update: View Challenge Page (

Latest Update: Final Image: Adorable Alien (

04 April 2008, 05:46 AM (

Hi, all! Well, here I am. Given that I was the first person to realize that this would be the David Brin Uplift Challenge, you'd think I'd have been on the scene earlier, eh? But they overbooked the Challenges and started this while the Dominance War III contest was going on, and so I had to finish that challenge first. But that's all done, so here I am.

My image is going to be about an alien ceremony. When you're a wolfling clan like the Humans, you'll spring for recognition from any alien clan you can find in hopes of making new allies. So here we find the humans formally invited to take part in a ceremony on the homeworld of some really tall species with four arms. To adequately take part in the event, holding four candles and wearing the proper respectful robes, a bit of improvisation was necessary...

This is still rough. I like the humans - or at least most of them except for the feet! - but haven't thought much about their uniforms yet. The aliens I will undoubtably completely redesign, but no matter what, they'll be tall and have four arms. Anyhow, see what you think.

04 April 2008, 07:30 AM
a prerequisite of these candle ceremonies is having four arms to hold not 2 but 4 candles :? YEAAA!! millions of years of evolution lead to this unatural advantage over humans...HAH.

interesting narrative, already mike, seems like some poor two armed souls are being accousted up the back there..could it be the poor performance of their representatives?.

Well after the incredible effort for DW the third, i can't believe your here so soon..

good on you mike..

(out of interest, how long have you been illustrating for now, mike?)


04 April 2008, 07:35 AM
Very cool concept idea! Judging by your previous work I'm sure this will be grand!

Good luck and all the best!


04 April 2008, 09:07 AM
hi Mike, I was not sure if you were going to enter this one. Awesome concept and glad to see you in :)

04 April 2008, 12:27 PM
haha, there you are already, huh? :) Lucky bastard, I still need to finish my DW3 :P
Nice and lively sketching as always, dude!
You are all resolved about your idea already it seems which is great!

04 April 2008, 02:03 PM
Goodluck with the challenge Michael.

04 April 2008, 02:10 PM
Hey, look who's here! :):bounce:

Really really glad to see you in, Mike. Great idea, I'm definitely suscribed.:thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 02:25 PM
He's in! I can see another superb illustration on its way. Good luck Mike

04 April 2008, 02:32 PM
The idea is simply crazy and funny :) , but are you not afraid of doing all those characters!

Cheers and good luck

04 April 2008, 05:12 PM
Welcome to the challenge. This is for sure a thread I will follow. :thumbsup:

Good luck with your entry.


04 April 2008, 05:19 PM
Very amusing concept :) I loved your 'Strange Behavior' entry so I look forward to how this develops.

04 April 2008, 07:42 PM
i like the cartooned style of your sketch! cant wait to see how this develops

04 April 2008, 10:59 PM
Welcome back Micheal. I like the idea. I am going to enjoy watching your process again. I'll be waiting for the next update. :thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 05:42 AM
Hi Mike The Walrus! Long time no see! You do work very fast! I went to look at your DW3 entry and its really nice.

May i ask what the candlelight ceremony is about? Oh, if those aliens practised the custom, shouldn't they be using a special alien candle, ones that don't look too humanised.

I'll be waiting to see further developments of your concepts! All the best and have fun!

04 April 2008, 06:07 AM (

Hey, all. Thanks for the notes and hellos.

Marley - Being able to hold 4 candles isn't their only racial advantage. They can also reach things off the top shelf a lot easier than we can! Oh, that and the fact that they've had star flight for about 2 and a half million years longer than we have. As for how long I've been Illustrating, guess it depends on what you mean by that. I've been a professional for almost 20 years now, but never a full-time illustrator. I've been drawing a lot longer than that.

Jassar - No. I'll do all the characters I need to do to tell the story I'm trying to tell. It's not right to trim characters just to make things easier or faster for myself, I'll paint what I need to in the time that I have.

Jerome - They're celebrating some holiday or such for the race. Just like a religious even here on Earth, perhaps, only different. As for the candles, I don't want to make them so weird that a viewer doesn't recognize what they are. But I'm still designing everything, and I'm open to suggestions...?

Anyhow, here's another pass at the alien. Is it better, or just different? Any preferences out there? (Oh, and I redrew the bottom human's feet after doing some reference sketches of my own feet int eh mirror. These feel more accurate now.)

04 April 2008, 10:51 AM
Hey Mike, great to see you in the challenge! I love your concept, looking forward to seeing it progress. :D

Matt :)

04 April 2008, 03:38 PM
haha this looks like it's going to be fun. I look forward to seeing this progress.

04 April 2008, 06:22 AM (

Here's a layout further along, with a more finalized alien design and concept for the aliens' ceremonial robes (and how they don't fit on humans.)

04 April 2008, 06:24 AM (

...And here's a detail image from the background. Still needs work, especially the human woman's legs, but it's a start.

04 April 2008, 11:14 AM
Hi Walrus,

I love the way you have to draw characters, your lines are so effectives to describe round and generous shapes. Always the point of humour I very like. Good luck for this edition 2008.

04 April 2008, 06:52 PM
Just stopping by to subscribe - love it so far!

04 April 2008, 08:15 PM (

Thanks, Karyn. Here's a redraw of the human woman. Hope you like it better!

(Nyrak told me seperately from here that the woman's previous pose looked like a dancer because her toes were so pointed. My wife said the same exact thing! So this is a second pass at the human woman. I'm not sure that's the hair-style I want from her, but I'm moving so fast to get this done, it might not be important enough to bother redoing: Save my time for important things!)

04 April 2008, 11:50 PM
This is a genuinely funny image. Really nice idea, Mike.

I've been studying your updates (you've been very helpful to me and I hoped I could return the favour with an observation or two) but can't really offer much at all in the way of crits. The only thought I had is to do with the feet of the aliens. If they are used to walking around on their hind legs like that then I might expect the feet/toes to be broader and flattened out a bit to take their weight - at the moment they look a bit uncomfortable standing on the tips of their toes

04 April 2008, 06:03 AM
lol funny idea mate ....... for me I think the hair is ok keep going waiting for more updates

04 April 2008, 12:44 PM
haha, nice idea man . cultural interaction is what we need !

04 April 2008, 02:40 PM
Hi Mike, Looking at your new sketches of the background characters... the alien couple carrying the human female, I wonder how does that fit into the whole candlelight ceremony. My first impression is that they are trying to adopt a human pet. Are you planning to depict the different lifestyles between human and aliens here?

04 April 2008, 04:14 PM
Jerome - I'd describe it a little like the way some Westerners - particularly blonde ones - get treated in the far East. A blonde college friend who has lived in Japan for a number of years has decribed absolute strangers walking up to her, examining her hair, etcetera. I have experienced it myself when traveling in India: Total strangers want to get their photos taken with me, presumably just because I'm different looking, or novel, or something. In this case, the couple is thoroughly taken by how adorable us little humans are. They just cant resist picking one up to look at the cute widdle human... much in the same way I can't help picking up my own one-year old son 'cause he's so adorable. I get the feeling that the human in this picture gets this a lot and is a bit tired of it.

But you're absolutely right, this doesn't fit into the ceremony at all. I've realized that I've given this p[articular interaction way too much prominence and it takes away from the gist of the picture as a whole. Expect a lot more aliens holding candles and for this little vignette to be much smaller and much further in the background. Thanks for the feedback!

04 April 2008, 04:31 PM
Great idea, I love your style. I'm excited to watch your progress. I do agree that the interaction with the woman should be less prominant. I'm interested to see how you handle that. Loved your DWIII entry.

04 April 2008, 04:31 PM (

After working on this idea for a while, I've come to the conclusion that it's not exactly working. As others have pointed out, there needs to be more ceremony to get the main joke. Which means painting a lot more serious aliens just to make one joke stick. Serious aliens? Where's the fun in that?!? Especially if you only get one mediocre joke out of it.

However, the other vignette that I was working on - the one that didn't fit in the candle-lighting ceremony - is funny all by itself and lends itself to some other funny incidents. So here's the new direction, launching off from that point. I'll need to make some changes: Without the candles, there's no longer any need for four arms. (The aliens on the left still have 4, I'll edit them out later.)

So here it is (and I'll post another variant on the layout in a sec.) What do you think?

04 April 2008, 04:33 PM (

Here's a landscape version. Do you like one more than another?

04 April 2008, 05:09 PM
Love the new direction, Mike. :thumbsup:

In my opinion portrait orientation drives home very well the difference in size between humans and aliens, it is a bit more 'understated' in landscape.

If I may...I love them with four arms, unless the added work drives you crazy, of course, I find two more arms give them a whole lot more body language (ok, I'm Italian, we speak with our hands) ;)

04 April 2008, 05:17 PM
Hey Mike, that is also nice! Before reading your description, I initially thought that the human on the stepladder is a director and they are acting out a scene at the theatre/movie set. Something like an intergalactic audition. :)

04 April 2008, 01:17 AM
Thanks for the input, guys. Sorry to hear I am so completely off the mark with what I thought I was presenting. Have any suggestions how to better convey aliens finding the humans cute rather than making it look like they're in a play?

As for the 4 arms, that's just a lot of work and a lot to cram into an already tight composition. Especially with only one month left. THe last concept needed the 4 arms to work, but here I want them to be a little closer to humans so their poses and expressions read clearly (which obviously they don't yet.)

04 April 2008, 01:30 PM
Hey Michael!
Just stumbled upon your thread. Glad you're in!
Very cool sketches and ideas so far. Though I also thought they'd be in a play where it seems
to be hard to work with aliens cause they can hardly concentrate on their job.
How about reducing the human character to one, surrounded by curious aliens.

Anyways another thing I miss in your sketches so far is the wow effect...I think it could be
awesome if you choose a more dynamic camera angle and composition.

After seeing your sketches I realized what I missed in your strange behavior challenge entry.
Usually you have a real focus on the main on master and servant or journey begins. The master and servant challenge entry was very dynamic and you had a nice close up of the octopus boss. On journey begins you had a powerful story with a wow environment. In both entries you could understand the main action immediately.

In strange behavior you had a lot of elements to look at. Hell a lot of details lots of characters, the story was nice but it didn't make me go wooow! if you know what I mean. The focus gets lost because of the amount of characters and the details I guess...
Seeing you first sketches of uplift made me feel the same thing. You don't really know where to look first and you need some time to understand what's going on.

I'd love to see a dynamic dashowish easy to understand wow painting again! :D

04 April 2008, 09:24 PM
I too thought it was a play with the director on the ladder pointing at the script. I think you might be trying to cram too much stuff into the picture. You have a lot going on which, as Goro said, is making it hard to read the story.

I really liked where you were going with the detail of the two aliens picking up the girl. I don't think you really need all the other stuff around. Maybe you could just focus on those characters. I think that communicated the story you are trying to get across.

I also prefer the 4-arm versions too. If you did less aliens, you'd have time for more arms :D

Just my 2 cents.

04 April 2008, 07:21 AM (

Goro - Thank you for the serious, solid, insightful crit. I don't think that all of the points you raised couldn't have been surmounted in that piece: For example, appropriate coloring and value treatments could easily push the rear characters further into the background and really hilight the foreground characters. And I could work on the main character's pose to make him look less like a director. And I strongly feel that if every single human were in a matching futuristic military outfit - like say if they were all in the dress red-and-blacks from Star Trek: The Next Generation - they would read much less as play actors. But yes, the camera angle is still vanilla. But all in all, you're right, I'm saying in triplicate something that I could possibly say more succinctly with a single human...

So let's try it again: I think I've addressed the points that you made, or at least am starting to. So what do you all think of this? It still needs a lot of work and refinement, but does it read? Does it work?

Hope no one minds that I swapped out the captain for the female cadet. Even if I'm changing poses, it was funniest with him being "the cute one." As for the 4 arms, it just crowds things, sorry! (And I'm losing time to draw the extra arms all the time.)

p.s. I have to apologize that I haven't had much time to reply to otehr peoples' threads like I normally do. Dominance War took a huge chunk of time out of this Challenge and I've got a lot of other things going on. I'm going to be burning the midnight oil all month if I want to finish this (it's 12:30 am now, and I'm an old guy who needs his beauty sleep) and that doesn't leave me as much time to troll the forums this time... sorry!

04 April 2008, 08:02 AM
hey there mike! :p sorry for a really late comment, i went through your thread earlier and as usual .. tops in conceptual art .. but still i wasn't able to give a reasonable comment. but, then i saw your latest update and bing! it just hit me ... i was wondering if you tried using 'Perspective foreshortening' for your latest update, camera angle view from the top focusing on the human being held by the aliens below ... looks kinda fun and dynamic .. just an idea .. hope it helps ..
cheers dude! :beer: good luck to you! :thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 08:07 AM
Hey Mike, nice to see you are in after all. Great work as usual. I think it still needs some work to perform nicely, but being yourself I wouldn't be worried. I don't have a lot of time either, so I cannot spend much on the forums, but I hope to see your entry finished in time.

Good luck my friend.

04 April 2008, 09:08 AM
This time, it does read more clearly! I really like the idea of a person we will not generally find as cute, but the aliens think the otherwise. I feel that you are heading in the right direction here. But I can understand that you have too much things on your plate right now. Please don't force yourself and only do it when you feel up to it. All the best and remember to just have fun here!

04 April 2008, 11:20 AM
You hit almost exactly the image I had in mind.
The story is absolutely clear to me now. The expressions on the aliens and the human
are ace.
Not sure about the camera angle though. But as you said it needs some more work
and I think it's definetly a good starting point. Doing some really quick tiny black and white
thumbnails to figure out the composition and the camera angle might help without spending too much time on the drawing.
I'm also not sure if I can finish mine...
Anyways I'll be watching your thread.

04 April 2008, 08:02 PM
Thanks for the responses, guys! I'm glad I'm moving in the right direction. Thanks for pushing me (especially you, Goro!)

I did try a version where the persepctive was inverted, where we were looking down at the guy instead of up. But it deemphasized the height difference between the species instead of accentuating it the way the lower camera angle does. My intent is to be looking up at everything, as thoguh from a human's-eye view. I do need to work opn a lot more fore-shortening to make that happen effectively. I do have a neat design for an alien city for the background, towers in a decidedly non-terrestrial shape. Anyhow, I'll probably post more tonight...

04 April 2008, 11:30 PM
Maestro! Great to have the opportunity to see your new creation! I agree with jeromoo: it's absolutely funny how the aliens find cute a creature who is quite bold and overweighted. The expressions work well. One question: are you going to work just on the last area or you'll keep the wide look of the first sketches? Anyway, it will be a great piece! Good luck my friend!

04 April 2008, 12:22 AM
Yep, I think it's now very clear that the aliens find the humans cute. I agree with your approach in that there seems no definitive way to make it clear that the aliens find humans cute, so it involves drawing several aliens with different gestures. Which is precisely what you are doing :thumbsup:

I was wondering what else could convey that idea and had some thoughts which might range from potentially useful to downright silly, but I'll write them here anyway:

aliens wanting to be photographed holding a human
humans stuck inside some sort of alien petting zoo
humans being carted around in prams and/or dressed up like what that kid did to E.T in the movie
or just stick with what you have already done

04 April 2008, 05:41 AM
Hey Walrus, I was following your DW3 entry and it ended up as inspiring to say the least, very glad to see you tackle this challenge as well!
I'm far from an illustrator (can barely compose stick figures) but I'd love to offer my opinion to hopefully assist.

Your latest sketch is definitly reading well. As others have said, it's very easy to see the aliens' reaction and fascination. It's perhaps a double edged sword though when I suggest to maybe increase the vertical field of view, stretching perspective. It would definitly help accentuate the scale difference between human and alien (if that's still an angle you're going for) and add an extra dynamic layer, but I can also forsee the problem with it pushing their faces/expressions further from the camera.
Perhaps you could add a single human character trying hopelessly to reach up from between the alien's legs to "rescue" the captain. Again though I can see how it would create problems by completely changing the captain's expression and situation, and the mood of the piece.

Anyway I'm rambling a bit and probably didn't contribute anything :P but good luck and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

04 April 2008, 06:24 AM
Hey, nice to ya in this challenge:). All the best:thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 06:53 AM (

Okay, I've had all night to work on this so here's the latest revision: Roughly the same composition, but with everything redrawn to fit the perspective I am shooting for. Side views of heads turned into three-quarters-facing-aways, and the addition of a background, which has some strong perspective lines to it and should help give the feeling of you looking up from worm's eye, er, I mean human's eye view. The city has a lot of long, winding, thin buildings shaped not unlike scrolls (and the aliens' clothing is a lot of flowy fabric echoing the same shapes.) And speaking of echoed shapes, they have a lot of gigantic mushrooms on this planet... yes, it's the Mushroom Planet: I'm referencing that science fiction great, Eleanor Cameron. I'm only partially joking: I never thought of it before now, but that's probably one of first science fiction books I ever read, that and John Christopher. Oh, so anyhow: Mushroom shapes echoed in the rotor undersides of the ships in the sky.

Oh, and the doll in the girl's harms in the lower right: that's a bit bigger now, more human sized. It's going to be wearing the same uniform as the Captain.

On to notes:

Marco - This is pretty much it. No wide angle shot this time around, I've instead really tightened the focus.

Mark - Oh, thanks a lot. I've finally settled on a theme and now you're recommending a bunch of different ones to try. :rolleyes: I'm sticking with this one, I just don't have that much time to keep hitting fouls. Thanks for the ideas, though!

Silvermyst - Is this perhaps what you had in mind by increasing the vertical space? I'd always planned to, but until I had a background, just didn't post a bunch of empty white space. Now you can see what I'd intended to fill it in with.

madshooter - Thanks!

04 April 2008, 07:53 AM
Mark - Oh, thanks a lot. I've finally settled on a theme and now you're recommending a bunch of different ones to try. :rolleyes: I'm sticking with this one, I just don't have that much time to keep hitting fouls.
LOL! I didn't realise you were so close to locking it in! Well, definitely no suggestions for change this time. I really love that city background, with those flying craft in the sky. That is pure sci fi fun and it brings the whole scene together beautifully. Fantastic work, Mike

04 April 2008, 07:42 PM
I didn't realise you were so close to locking it in!

Yeah, I know, I sometimes throw people off by trying a few ideas before settling on something. But I'd really better get moving on this if I'm going to get the whole piece done by the deadline. I need to work my tail off... just in time to have them extend the deadline at the end like they do every challange! :D But anyhow, yeah, this is it, so if anyone has any crits of suggestions, now would be a great time. Thanks!


04 April 2008, 07:54 PM
Just WOW! Bull's eye for me, Sorry not to be more constructive but I'm too busy drooling on my keyboard...

04 April 2008, 09:25 PM
Thats the one, mike. The perspective is killer, especially with that tall structure up the back there..



04 April 2008, 09:57 PM
oh beautiful view on this one Mike, I just popped in to see how things were coming along and I can't wait to see colors....I guess I need patience :)

04 April 2008, 10:04 PM
Hey Walrus :) Never resting, eh? Always a pleasure following your work, and you already have something nice going on I see :thumbsup: I'm in as well. And this time I won't fail, like I did in that horrible DW3...

04 April 2008, 11:17 PM
Hey Walrus, yeah thats exactly what I was picturing. It's looking fantastic, great perspective and awesome color opportunities with the mushroom-esque landscape. This is gonna be a killer entry!

04 April 2008, 03:20 AM
Cool, thanks everyone! Good to hear I got closer this time. Now to get to work on refining the lines and doing a 3D mock-up of the buildings. Thanks for all your notes.

04 April 2008, 03:49 AM
Lol. "Uplift". Just genius.

04 April 2008, 04:46 AM

I'm very bad at names, I only recognize ppl from their work. I am a HUGE fan of many of your works. I love your latest DWIII piece! speechless!

a month left for this challenge, I know you will not disappoint us!

04 April 2008, 09:08 AM
Hi Mike! With the worm's eye view, I feel that the foremost figures (the children?) should be larger and with correct anatomical perspective as well (this also applies to the other characters).

I 'm liking the design of the architectures.
Will keep my eyes on this!

04 April 2008, 04:06 AM (

Here's the layout a bit further along: 3D mock-ups to get the perspective and the lighting on the building/walls and mushrooms kind of close. some slight costume revisions for the Captain. And I've done the best I can on getting the perspective right on the alien characters. I've enlarged the two lower characters and moved them up some, but am not seeing much else to do with them (meaning that if you do, explicit directions or a paint-over is the only thing that's going to sink in at this point. :) )

But barring that, it's about time to do some line-clean-up!

04 April 2008, 10:28 AM
very nice, michael!

04 April 2008, 05:19 AM (

Polished line art.

04 April 2008, 05:39 AM
What a beautiful and polished sketch! I see you will have no problems finishing this in time!

04 April 2008, 10:42 AM
Simply beautiful work so far. You have to love those sketches...

04 April 2008, 11:46 AM
Amazing. You could win even just with the line art.

Great illustration and great skills. I'm officially envy!

04 April 2008, 12:18 PM
Great lineart! Awesome!!



04 April 2008, 05:34 PM
I really enjoy the line quality of your work. You did a great job with the composition too. Looking forward to see more from you! :)

04 April 2008, 05:48 PM
Well, what can I say... I add my little voice to the chorus: GO FOR IT, Michael ! Focus an composition work perfectly ! :thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 08:36 PM
Aww man! I'd love to be able to do line art like this. It would so much more of a pleasure to colour in than my messy drawing hehehe. Looking good I look forward to seeing how it looks coloured!

04 April 2008, 05:42 AM (

Thank you for the notes, everyone. I've been busy with out-of-town guests and finally have had some more time to work on this. It's rough and still coming along, but just thought I'd post some progress to show I'm still alive. The closest two characters have been worked on the most, everything else hasn't really been touched at all yet.

04 April 2008, 07:22 AM
Hey Mike!
Great work so far, It's been changing a lot but is good to see you go for a closer shoot now. The line work looks really good, the only part that bugs me is the position of the right arm of the alien holding the guy. the hand is folding back to carry the weight, but at times I think it looks like a stump, maybe it's the line where the two wrists meet. Anyway a good shadow between both arms will fix that, and for what I see in your last post there's gonna be a good amount of shadow there.
the first plane (female?) alien holding her hands somewhat reminds me of one of those Muppet cows (at least in the linework) they were so funny :D

Good work. I'ts fun to se a halfway step like this one rather than a pass on the entire picture, tells some more about the process, I think...

04 April 2008, 12:14 PM
Safe!, its looking safe..(it was the only word that came to me.).
I am finding very little to crit..

Though appreciating the shadow of the right mushroom architecture :).


04 April 2008, 02:42 PM
I'm glad to see that you are still working on it! Please keep going, Mike!

04 April 2008, 07:43 PM
Gabriel - Thanks for the comments. Wait 'til it's all shaded and colored and see if it's still looking stumpy or not. I can always make adjustments down the road...

Marley - Thanks, I like those shadows too. When I'm using 3D in a piece, as I am here, I like to work out the basic shapes and then place the lights based on where I get good readibility and interesting shadows. Now I'm just lighting the 2D aspects to match. I did the same thing in 'Farewell Kiss.' (By the way, and completely off topic, I really liked your peice for the PixelBrush 'Massive' contest, and I voted for it. Nice work!)

Jerome - Nope, never gave up on this. I've just had out-of-town guests the past 2 weekends which has slowed me down a bit. And I got a really late start due to the Dominance War contest. But as soon as this topic was announced, my wife insisted, "Hurry up and finish your Dominance War entry so you can do the Challenge. You have to do the Challenge!" Because doing humans and aliens interacting is really my thing, what I love doing most. It'll be a tight squeeze, but I'll make it. :)
(But CGTalk announcing their usual date extension would be most welcome any day now!)

04 April 2008, 07:52 PM
I also hope that you finish this one! I can taste another master piece coming!
cheers ( that fat dude doesn't seem cheered at all lol! )

04 April 2008, 08:34 PM
Since I'd seen your portfolio and your stunning outstanding art and way to sketch'n draw ...I had to trace for this thread.
I will follow this one for sure:applause: ...the right man at the right place time!
love your sketches, it'll be great for sure

04 April 2008, 01:59 PM (

Here's the first lighting pass, almost done. This isn't a value study. My painting's real values are going to be a mix of this pass along with other layers added in for the colors of each section, each of which will have its own values. Trust me, it'll work. If you haven't seen my process before, it'll make sense in a bit...

Before I get to colors - the fun part! - I still need to do some work on the aliens' fur. This first pass I rendered it smooth just to get basic values down, but now I need to detail it more with my trusty fur brushes. I will also be adding a second light source from the left foreground (lighting pass #2) and need to create a separate layer for the distance fog. But at least I'm getting somewhere. Should hit the color stage by this weekend, hopefully.

Thank you for the kind notes, Jassar and Neudecker!

04 April 2008, 06:19 PM
Nice guide to your technique too. Looking forward to more.

04 April 2008, 06:21 PM
great work! your negative space is so beautiful! no comments, just awsome.

04 April 2008, 01:20 AM
You're doing some wonderful work here Mike. I love how this is turning out. There is a great sense of fun about the image

04 April 2008, 05:32 AM
Yea really coming along now, be interesting to see how you tackle the empty space between all the characters (in the middle)..

what program do you use for playing around for the lighting, btw?.

(p.s thanks a million for letting me know about my art..totally appreciated)



04 April 2008, 09:54 AM
Hi Mike, the way you're getting along with your ideas is marvelous and to say with Mark davids ...has a wonderful sense a humourous way.The figures are great I love them ...guess its one one of your "strengthes" in character developing, isn't?
Keep em up...
we're watching (guess the colleagues do as well...)
To Marley: I dont know how Mike is working on the light...but there's aprogram for the overall light control that works quite well with PS called "Tiffen"(DFX 1.0) maybe you know
Greetz to all outside and in there

04 April 2008, 02:06 PM (

Using a custom brush of a bunch of dots (so simple you can make one yourself!) I've been adding some fur texture to the aliens' bodies. I'm not going too crazy, just need to convey the general direction and density of the fur, I'll do more in the painting stage. Once that was done, I added a new layer where I'm painting all of the secondary light source. It's on its own layer so that I can mess around with it later - It may not be blue when all is said and done, but for now it works. As you can see, this morning I've only had time to add the side light on the fur, and haven't touched the cloth yet. (Gabriel, you said you liked seeing the process shots unfinished, so here you go!)

Marley - I use 3DSMax as my weapon of choice for all 3D tasks.

Peter - I've never heard of "Tiffen"(DFX 1.0) before - what is it?

Anyhow, off to work for me...

04 April 2008, 02:52 PM
damn that shading is awesome. you are fast!

04 April 2008, 05:53 PM
Good work I love the concept, great style. I enjoy watching your progress
the lighting is brilliant. Looking forward to the next update.

04 April 2008, 06:06 PM
Design and concepts are always a matter of opinions and taste. But your skills as a painter are flawless :) Don't get me wrong. I still like your concept as well :)

04 April 2008, 06:12 PM
Walrus, you are doing a very fine job here. The composition is great, and your art skills are also. It's enjoyable to watch, and thanx for the insight into your technique.

04 April 2008, 08:48 PM
Such a delicate detail! And funny living poses and expressions. Really great!

04 April 2008, 01:24 AM
Just a question for you Mike (my apologies if this has already been answered) but are those gill slits on the sides of the aliens' necks? I'm guessing they are because they lack nostrils

04 April 2008, 03:49 AM
Coming along strongly now, Mike. It is interesting to see you taking a 3D like approach to shading and lighting. The idea of flying ships propelled by mushroom heads is neat!

04 April 2008, 05:06 AM
I think i have an exact copy of your custom brush, wanna swap :P hahaha..the hatch work looks beautiful, mike :).

good on ya.


04 April 2008, 08:59 AM
Great work, Michael.:applause: I know it's beside the point, but the last closeup reminded me of some old religious painting - just a funny effect when viewed as an isolated image.

Keep up the inspiring work.


04 April 2008, 02:41 PM (

Jack - We've got what, 16 days left? I have no choice but to be fast! :)

Mark - You're right that those are gill slits of some sort, but I'm so disappointed in you in how you asked the question. You missed the golden opportunity that I left out there on a platter: You were supposed to ask "It looks like they have gill slits instead of noses. How do they smell?" And then I was going to answer "Terrible!" <sigh> We'll have to work on that routine more.

Jerome - Yay, I'm glad someone finally noticed the parallel between the mushrooms and the ships. Thanks!

Dimitrij - You know, I hadn't even noticed it until you posted but you're exactly right. It's like the poses were borrowed from centuries of classic Western religious art, The Adoration of the Child, only with aliens! I guess some of that Art History sunk in after all! ;)

And thank you, of course, to everyone else who kindly posted with encouragement.

So as Jeromoo pointed out, I take a 3D render pass approach to lighting my scenes. On the left we have the scene with no diffuse maps, just plain grey materials, and a single light source. On the right is the same scene with the depth pass (blue) and a second light source from the left (gold) added in. (Side lights were blue in the previous post, but the nice thing about using layers is that I can easily change colors.) In reality, these are just 2 more layers added on top of the values. Next I'll break down the values into two separate layers, one for shadows and one for hilights. That's so that I can make them two different colors, because I might want to shoot for warm shadows and cool hilights, or vise versa. Lay them on top of flat colors and presto, things will look really colorful, really soon!

04 April 2008, 03:35 PM
Superb stuff as always Michael. I love the clarity of thought and delivery in your work. This is going to be no exception.

04 April 2008, 03:55 PM
absolutely stunning mike!! :buttrock: now that's what i call warp speed painting! :eek:

04 April 2008, 04:03 PM
steady progress here michael. its starting to sing now.

04 April 2008, 04:26 PM
Cool! I like your style a lot. It's a good composition, I like that the lifting movement is continued in the two mushrooms in the upper left corner (I'm trying to say something smart:))

04 April 2008, 06:07 PM
Wow, it's coming along very nicely. How many hours have you put in to it roughly?

04 April 2008, 06:32 PM
their expressions are awesome! hope you can finish it in time!

04 April 2008, 06:41 PM
wow! amazing rendering. Once again a great illustration.
I very like the way(/how) you work.

04 April 2008, 10:59 PM
Great work your shadow and hilight work is inspiring, can't wait to see your next step with the color.
Keep up the good work :thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 03:48 AM (

Okay, after hours of fooling around with colors and trying different combinations, here's my color rough. Yes, it's a little rainbowy, but I like it! Like it enough to not want to share with you the other 10 color comps I did (like I normally do) for fear that someone will say, "No, you should go with the other one." 'Cause I just don't wanna.

This is still rough, colored in broad strokes. In the final painting, each alien won't have the exact same color fur or cloth. There will be a lot more subtle differences between them, and more accent colors thrown in all over the place. And a lot more details on those giant walls, which are essentially mega sky-scrapers, which will have windows, docking bays, etcetera, all along their surfaces.

Oh, and Aaron, I have no idea how much time so far, I usually don't keep track. A rough guess is 20-30 hours so far, counting all of the sketches and missteps and dead-end paths pursued.

04 April 2008, 05:20 AM ( W ( Slave ( , 2005 ( Troll Crossing ( , 2006 ( Farewell Kiss ( , 2007

Guess this one will be your 2008. I smell it in the air.

04 April 2008, 05:32 AM
Hey Walrus,

Wow you work quick. I love the mushroom architecture.God speed brother. Brad

04 April 2008, 07:11 AM
Different sketches I like the last one and the colors you used Michael

04 April 2008, 07:16 AM
Im still learning by watching, thats fantastic..I love the blue depth shot!!. it totally looks like moon light which is not a common lightsource these days..well i havev't seen too many moonlit pieces..The latest effort is coming along strong.. I think some of that green mushroom architecture, or just that colour would do nice in that little hole in the middle. Just a lil bit of "stem" showing..doesn't need to be dominant, but just a little fleck.

nice work, mike


04 April 2008, 07:57 AM (

I an frequently asked about my "painting" process. So here it is, broken down as granularly as I can manage. That being said, I don't necessarily recommend anyone ever actually use my process: It's convoluted and unintuitive, and you'd probably make your way to being a better painter by doing more speedpaint and just work on splashing pixels around. This is more of an academic exercise in complex channel and layer interactions.

Basically, it boils down to treating the painting like a multipass render of a 3D scene. The greyscale painting isn't a value study, it's the equivalent of rendering a scene with grey materials on everything and a single light source. (In fact, for the background walls and mushrooms, that's exactly what I did and then brought it in to the Photoshop file.) The second light source and depth layer would also be easily achievable in a 3D render.

The advantage to doing it this way is the part I gloss over near the end: Once the layers are all set up, I can just use command-U (Adjust Hue/Saturation) to my heart's content so change not only object colors but lighting colors and the color cast of shadows and hilights. It allows for an incredible number of options in choosing a color palette, and I find it a total blast. I usually show more alternate color versions during the Challenges but I'm short on time and need to barrel ahead. But trust me, this was the best one (or at least my favorite, which is all that really matters.)

Anyhow, after the last step, the painting gets flattened back down to a couple of layers and from there on out, it's just painting on top of it all.

04 April 2008, 09:26 AM
Hey, Mike!

Your process ist totally cool! I agree that it might not feel like "real painting" and that it tends to be a bit dull along the process to work this way (I myself once did some experimetal paintings in that fashion) but in the end, the possibilities make up for all the work. I'm experiencing exactly the same with my ZBrush process at the moment.

I thought a lot about this in the past few month and I think it has something to do with the fact, that art in most cases is a process of choice. I'm thinking about a photographer who has shot 100 photos and reviews them and can easily tell the good ones from the bad ones. In the end, from 100 photos he chooses the single best and that's the artwork he has created in this process.
In painting, we're making these choices all the time BUT with one major difference. When you are painting 30 hours you just can not ensure to be aware of your choices all the time. Additionally, your eye grows tired and biased and you easily become blind for the right choices. The photographer only has to concentrate a few minutes to find his choice and in this process his eye does not become biased at all. He can make a fresh and intuitive choice and that's his big advantage over the painter (not speaking of the disadvantages here, of course).

And to finally make a point:

In breaking down the painting process into a large amount of work that just does NOT need intuitive choices (painting the light sources is a completely technical task) and save the real choices for the very end, in my opinion gives you the ability to achieve much more refinement and overall better choices. Of course, your 2D process does not apply this idea a 100% because you have to make final creative choices in the very beginning in your drawing and modelling or sculpting would fit much better into this process (just compare your current way to introduce a new lightsource to e.g my way, having worked in full 3D). But of course in your case that totally makes sense to use the time advantage 2D has over 3D (although I must say, since sculpting evolved, 3D can be really fast these days).

I'm really looking forward to your final piece and thank you very much for having shared your process in such rich detail!

04 April 2008, 09:43 AM
I like that you and digitaldecoy have plenty to say, when it comes to doing this type of work. It always great hear and you guys always seem to make incredible points when it comes to painting and designing. I never knock the way you work. What matters the most is the final product. You've been consistent with what you do and I hope to see more of it and to see you continue to succeed with it. I'll echo everyone else, I love the idea and the painting you know its great. I am just waiting to see the final product of this entry. Later, Micheal.:thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 10:55 AM
I have no words :) It already looks absolutely awesome even in "rough colour" and the "process" is very inspiring and informative - thank you so much Michael, for sharing your way of working with us :)

Can't wait to see how you'll wrap it all up. :)

Cheers :beer:


04 April 2008, 12:24 PM
this is great Michael. Thanks for letting us know and give the inside view of your prof workflow. Its pretty awesome and makes pretty good sense (...if I'm allowed to say...?) with astonishing Effects on Your artwork style.
Once again the pic is brilliant all in all, I really love it
Btw "TiffenDfx" is a program that puts the "fairy dust" opver ita pic at the end in lighting coulouring and shading in many endlessly range of variations and posibilities.

04 April 2008, 12:34 PM
Guess this one will be your 2008. I smell it in the air.
I guess Jack got the right smell....

04 April 2008, 01:24 PM
Holy smokes! this is my favorit entry so far!!

04 April 2008, 11:41 PM
Thank you so much for sharing your work process! It is truely inspiring and insightful. All my respect! :)

04 April 2008, 11:44 PM
Just fantastic to see your process laid out like that Michael, and very generous of you to provide it. Much appreciated indeed. You're a star.

All the best for the contest itself,

04 April 2008, 12:35 AM
Hi Mike, it is really generous of you to prepare such a thorough step by step process of your work! I certainly find it useful for the right purpose! The colours that you have firmly decided on it great. I believe in making your own final decision, so go for it!

04 April 2008, 02:59 AM
Hi Michael, thank you for process you share with us , very informative,
and I'm sure your work will awesome,
and after I look at your process, i feel you work like an render engine , hehe
very cool ! waiting for more!!:buttrock:

04 April 2008, 05:48 AM (

Thank you everyone for the kind notes. I'm glad my process was enjoyed/appreciated/understood.

Daniel - I especially enjoyed your well thought out response. I liked your photography metaphor, and your points about saving the important choices 'til the end. It will probably not surprise you at all to learn that I first started developing this process when I was doing game industry concept art, where we often had to make major palette changes late in the process: What would there units look like on another team, with different color uniforms? How would that character look with black armor instead of red? How will this level design look with a dozen different kinds of texture maps and effects applied to the same geometry? Working with the same line art and shadows and being able to make radical changes in the palette late in the game was a huge time-saver.

Peter - Thanks for filling me in. I seldom do paintings which require much fairy dust, but maybe I'll check TiffenDfx out, I'm sure there are many other applications!


So the second to last post was a color rough because it's what I arrived at after doing all of the layer layersing I showed int eh previous post. Now I've had a chance to take one character and really give her a lot of polish. I'm possibly not done with her, but I wanted to show some of the additional details that go in: Stripes on the fir, an intricate brocade on the outfit, some color adjustment and shininess added to the shoulder sash, the ears and eyes and moth detailed out more. I'm still using my scanned pencil line art, but later in the process, I'll colorize it to something warmer to fit the character a bit better, and probably drop its opacity more too.

Anyhow, back to work... cheers!

p.s. yes, I know the human's shoes are kind of wonky and the laces go down too far. I'll overpaint them when I get there.

04 April 2008, 08:33 AM
I really enjoyed reading the process you posted as I feel I've picked something up to use another time - thanks for sharing! This pieces is looking fantastic and it's a real pleasure to watch you work and read the support you give to others :)

04 April 2008, 02:03 PM
Hey Mike, you are very very fast and your work absolutely excellent :drool:

04 April 2008, 02:58 PM
Very intesting to see how you work, Michael! The colours you arrived at look really great.

I've been experimenting with a similar way of working lately (at least when rendering). Painting is a complex thing, and I find it helpful too to break the process down into as many little separate bits as possible. It's more reliable, and I don't have to depend as much on intuition (which, in my case, isn't always trustworthy:)) And I actually think it's a good way to learn painting; you analyze different aspects of light behaviour separately: material colour, texture, light intensity, background light colour, direct light colour, shine and so forth. All of this is necessary to consider even if you paint everything in one layer.

Thank you for sharing your process!

04 April 2008, 03:50 PM
Blimey! I don't bow much but I bow now :D

Serieously this is great stuff and that walkthrough up there is excellent.

04 April 2008, 09:36 PM
Mike this is fantastic, thank you so much for posting your step by step process. I am loving this image so far :)

04 April 2008, 05:56 AM (

Thanks for the notes, everyone! Glad that my process & progress is useful and/or enjoyable.

Mats - Yes, I agree. Breaking down things into little pieces always makes everything easier to swallow and digest (as I am reminded every time I feed my 1-year-old! :) ) You still have to make the same decisions - for example, I had to figure out from the very beginning that I wanted the main light in from the upper right and the secondary light source in from the left. But once that's decided, I can just spend a few days worrying about lighting without getting distracted. It's very easy to get distracted by color so it's nice to work on the 2 separately without one confusing you about the other. One interesting side effect is that because all the color comes in one big step at the end, it looks like you're going slowly, slowly, slowly, and then BAM, you've got a nearly finished looking piece! It's rewarding having that step sneak up on you because you get to see it with fresh eyes, not tired, biased eyes as digitaldecoy put it earlier.


More work on the characters in the front. I scanned in a little doll to get the muppet-like texture for the doll's face.

And I've been painting more brocade! It's hard to see but the patterns in the front girl's robes are little 4-finned mushroom ships (like the ones in the sky!) flying through the aether. (Where are the mushroom ships going? Probably to crash-land on some far-off galaxy until Mario comes to rescue them.) The robe in the upper right is all just stripes and mushrooms. I haven't touched the fabric of the male in front of them yet, obviously.

And in this pic, it's painfully obvious that I need to add a logo for the human and doll's shoulder patch. Something with military stripes and a nice shot of planet earth, most likely.

Anyhow, off to design more brocade. Or sleep, whichever comes first.

04 April 2008, 07:10 AM
Wow! Superb colour, composition, detail and design! :bowdown:

This is a masterful example of someone who is intouch with not only their technical skills, but also their imagination.

Looking forward to seeing the final piece!

04 April 2008, 07:15 AM
lovin it.
excellent drawing. cool concept. amazing attention to detail and brush handling. cool pattern on the drapery. could work on.....ummmmmmm.....errrrr......

cant wait to see the final!

best of luck walrus

04 April 2008, 07:21 AM
thanks for creating the progress tutorial. very interesting technique and approach you have! certainly makes for nice cohesive lighting and color.

04 April 2008, 09:01 AM
Wow! Fantastic progress and an excellent workflow guide too. Beautiful stuff, Mike! (I love those striped bits on the fur and the brocade is just amazing)

04 April 2008, 09:24 AM
bless ya dude for the progress tutorial! it's certainly is a wonderful insight as to how you work! and always .. exquisite work update man! :thumbsup: you rock! :buttrock:

04 April 2008, 02:38 PM
Thanks everyone! Glad you like the brocade. I'd never tried that before, but wanted to give the aliens something otehr than just plain solid color fabric for their robes. Once you've got a painting with every color in the rainbow in it, might as well go for it, eh? Plus I really wanted to contast teh aliens' cacophany of color to the Captain's plain grey uniform (although grey with lime-green piping is actaully pretty cool all by itself, just in a more subdued way.) I have a lovely piece of Japanese brocade here on my desk, a gift from my wife, it's got just magnificent interwoven patterns. I've been using it as a reference and influence for the Japanese-esque patterns on the aliens' clothing. I didn't go that crazy with the designs compared to this fabric, but was definitely influenced. And also by the clothing designs in some paintings by Shelly Wan and Hyung Tae Kim.

I finished the right male's brocade this morning too - he's the guy whose shirt is visible in the last post - but it's too small to bother updating now. More later, then! I expect lots of updates over the next less-than-two-weeks as I have a lot of catching up to do!

04 April 2008, 03:24 PM
Amazing work! I love the details in the clothing and fur, and the lighting is fantastic. One of my favorite imges in the challenge!

04 April 2008, 03:41 PM
Wow - this is just amazing! Michael if it's not a secret how did you create this brocade? I mena did you use a texture or did you just paint it?

Anyways - I really can't wait to see the whole thing in it's finished state.

You're a master! :)


04 April 2008, 04:29 PM
if it's not a secret how did you create this brocade?

Oh yes, of course it's a secret, Dimitrij, you know how secretive I am about letting people know my working process.. Just kidding! There's no way I could have easily esed a premade texture for this because it all has to hang on the cloth with the folds the way I painted them. So it's all hand-painted. The key to doing it well is to make sure the pattern matches the cloth drapery. You want it to hug the curves, like a high-end sports car or a latex dress.

First thing I did was fill up a notebook page with ideas for the patterns so that I would have a clear direction once I started painting in Photoshop. I began the texture painting by creating a new layer just to sketch drapery guidelines on: Basically, what would a grid or stripes look like if it were on the cloth? Tey would all have to distort to fit the folds I'd already painted and I wanted the brocade to match that. Then, using that as a guide, I painted in the details on a few different layers.

I haven't actually flattened my painting yet so the shadows are still on a sperate layer. For the matte details I added them on a new layer underneath the hilights and shadows layer so that they would be affected by those layers. For the shiny brocade, I painted it with a round hard-edged brush on a layer above the shadows and hilights, and then painted the lighting details in by hand. (I can even load in the opacity of the Shadow layer and just harken that part of the brocade.) But I also made sure to go in by hand and paint in some sharp hilihgts by keeping the layer's opacity locked so I wouldn't paint out of the lines.



04 April 2008, 04:39 PM
Awesome work as usual walrus, I just love your style:beer:

04 April 2008, 06:40 PM
Oh yes, of course it's a secret, Dimitrij, you know how secretive I am about letting people know my working process.. Just kidding! There's no way I could have easily esed a premade texture for this because it all has to hang on the cloth with the folds the way I painted them. So it's all hand-painted. The key to doing it well is to make sure the pattern matches the cloth drapery. You want it to hug the curves, like a high-end sports car or a latex dress.

First thing I did was fill up a notebook page with ideas for the patterns so that I would have a clear direction once I started painting in Photoshop. I began the texture painting by creating a new layer just to sketch drapery guidelines on: Basically, what would a grid or stripes look like if it were on the cloth? Tey would all have to distort to fit the folds I'd already painted and I wanted the brocade to match that. Then, using that as a guide, I painted in the details on a few different layers.

I haven't actually flattened my painting yet so the shadows are still on a sperate layer. For the matte details I added them on a new layer underneath the hilights and shadows layer so that they would be affected by those layers. For the shiny brocade, I painted it with a round hard-edged brush on a layer above the shadows and hilights, and then painted the lighting details in by hand. (I can even load in the opacity of the Shadow layer and just harken that part of the brocade.) But I also made sure to go in by hand and paint in some sharp hilihgts by keeping the layer's opacity locked so I wouldn't paint out of the lines.



WOW :) Thanks a lot for that detailed description I hope you don't get into trouble with the Walrus-Guild? You know for telling the secret knowledge? ;)

I'm using Painter right now and still learning a lot about how to use it each time I do something new and it is an amazing program. But I would also really like to learn to use Photoshop sometime in the future.

Again - wonderfull work, Michael! I pull my hat :) :bowdown:

And thanks for sharing your know how with us :)



04 April 2008, 07:56 PM
Beautiful! I love the palette and your painting style. The expressions on all the faces are a joy. Keep it going and good luck.
Very interesting thread too!

04 April 2008, 09:17 PM
Hi Walrus
I like a lot your idea. Very funny.
U are working really good the details. Final image is going to be amazing.
Good job.
Keep it up

John Keates
04 April 2008, 09:30 PM
You have a really nice style there. I like the way you keep the livelyness of a drawing whilst getting some solid lighting, colour and texture in there. So often, the drawing gets lost.

04 April 2008, 09:55 PM
hi there, all in there, in "walrus' marvellous' treasure thrus't"...
thanks Michael, for taking us all along into the journey of the developing of your wonderful art, during the contest lasts...while shifting pixels by ourselfs in our afterhour madness..
its really nice in here in this thread. I've showed the pics to my lifetime comp and the kids.... we all hope when the pic is finished to find an appropriate copy to "steam it up" onto the desktops of our machines...
I'll follow by...
Peter :thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 12:53 AM
great fun stuff as usual.
maybe a bit more color variation and you are gold!

04 April 2008, 07:27 AM
Lovely and funny idea. The details are great.
This will be a fantastic piece like your other ones.
It's great to see your progress.
I wish you good luck. :beer:

04 April 2008, 07:58 AM
I am thankful that there are master artists we can look up to.

04 April 2008, 10:39 AM
Hello mike

Wonderfull color choices ... really love the image ...

About the process ( what we can say ... ) just amazing ...


04 April 2008, 11:13 AM
Man! You're rocks! Amazing!


04 April 2008, 12:23 PM
Great work this is my favourite thread to visit at the moment because of the knowledge your sharing, Thanks for that and good luck :thumbsup:

04 April 2008, 01:17 PM
Your insights about drawing in layers blew me away! I really like the aliens in your picture. Good stuff!

04 April 2008, 01:45 PM
very nice details you have there, keep up the good work,reaaly looking forward for your final image.:thumbsup:


04 April 2008, 08:01 PM (

I woke up early this morning and worked on Captain Washington, but didn't have time to post him 'til now. (And even now, I'm at work and don't really have a lot of time to write a ton of notes.) So briefly, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment!

Here is my pretty-close-to-finished main character, Captain Emmett Washington of the United Earth Aeronautics and Space Administration. You can see how finished he is compared to the background, which is all flat and full 'o pencil lines. Background work will be next.

Cheers, and thanks again for tuning in!

04 April 2008, 09:13 PM
Wow mate, wicked detailing! If I may make a suggestion, I think the aliens could have a slightly different base colour, to set them apart from the captain (they are both orangish atm). A greyish tone maybe, or each one with a different fur tone (different ethnicities?).
My two cents...

Cool progress.

05 May 2008, 08:08 AM
never got around to post ,cool work walrus .first time i saw the landscape...i thought of something like stock alien -market:) but its working the coustume/badge touch on the puppet.maybe the captain could use another pose for his right like "not agaiinnn" something like a slouching pose.left arm goes better .

looking goody waiting to see it full GL:)

05 May 2008, 08:27 AM
You know something, I don't blame the aliens.. he is kinda cute :rolleyes:

05 May 2008, 02:01 PM (

I've been posting detail shots because there were lots of spots all over the place that were unfinished. But at this point, I'm mostly finished with the characters so here's how it has all come together so far. This morning I redesigned the Captain's ill-formed and poorly-designed shoes & added a wrist-com to one of his sleeves. (It also functions as an MP3 player.)

I don't necessarily agree with the comment that because the Pilosa are warm-colored like the Captain, anyone's going to have a hard time telling apart which ones are the aliens and which one is the human. I'm quite happy with their color. Granted, the fur shades don't cover the whole spectrum, but I think now you can see that they aren't all the same color or pattern the way they looked in the color rough. (Because touching upon those finer points is what the actual painting stage is all about.)

Anyhow, I'm going to leave the characters alone for a while: Lots of background work to do first!

05 May 2008, 02:19 PM
It's looking good, I love the top left aliens face his expression is great.It's good to see the full scene again. Looking forward to see the background updates.

05 May 2008, 04:07 PM
Beautiful picture Mike. I'm waiting for your background now! I like your colour choices. Their clothes look very Asian. :)

05 May 2008, 04:12 PM
Yes, the clothing designes were specifically influenced by Japanese brocades, except that I used mushrooms and round, finned spaceships as the main motifs. (Not that you can see that well at this size.)

05 May 2008, 07:05 PM
hi Michael! a lot of work you have done! I don't follow from the start , but from the latest post , I think it look great!, topic is "feeling and relation" you can capture all of that, I think you come in the right way , the minor point now is just small part about the color which is upto personal preference , for me , from thumbnail page i feel that the color don't have too much variation , but after I check the full size and your note , I think it look good , so I think I have to wait for background color to complete , sorry for confusing english haha,
good job!

05 May 2008, 12:37 AM
How many hours do you have in your work so far?

05 May 2008, 01:17 AM
The first thing that hit me was the shift of reds and oranges you've got going for the characters there, mike. That aspect is truly impressive because the shift fits in very well wth teh background gradation of colours aswell. Really impressed..

not much of substance i know. but you seem to be on the way home :)


05 May 2008, 04:40 AM
walrus, this is really really cool! I like their expression a lot ^^

05 May 2008, 08:28 AM
I have a question about your style :) You seem to have a very certain way of painting and a very structured workflow. Is that something you have developed on purpose, because you need it at your daily work? Or did it just come to you? When I see this and some of your earlier art, I would guess this is the way a comic book artist would do things.

Nice work (again), by the way :)

05 May 2008, 12:52 PM
Martin - See post #117 for the answer.

silenceimpaired - About 10 more hours since the last time you asked, but I really don't keep track.

Everyone else - Thanks!

Sorry for the terse answers today, but with the deadline approaching, I only have an hour to paint before I head to work this morning and want to use the time on working and less on posting. Wroking on the mushrooms now... Ta!

05 May 2008, 03:47 PM
fantastic progress - read through the whole thread and learned a lot in the process! Thanks for posting your technique info in particular :thumbsup: :arteest:

05 May 2008, 03:56 PM
...I'd like to say something original,'re doing a great job! Great technique and style. I like this entry very much!

05 May 2008, 05:29 AM (

Thank you, Marco and Magdalena.

I've just finished detailing out the gigantic mushroom trees. I've perhaps added too much detail, given that they're off in the distance, but oh, well! Here's a close-up of two of the more readible ones.

05 May 2008, 07:06 AM
... I'd like to say something original, but I'll quote medunecer:

...I'd like to say something original,'re doing a great job! Great technique and style. I like this entry very much!

05 May 2008, 07:31 AM
very nice work Michael!!! awesome technique and color palette no crits just very good stuff!!

05 May 2008, 09:55 AM
awesome details mike! .. very mushroomy :p :D

05 May 2008, 09:40 PM (

Just detailing out the background. The nice thing about having made rough 3D models of the walls, et. al., first is that I can slap some simple square patterns on them, render out just those squares, and them bring them into Photoshop: Voila, instant windows! Erase a bunch, paint more details, add more greeblies, and you end up with the not-altogether-inspiring hunk of architecture we see here. At least it's an improvement over them not having any details like the shorter building on the lower left.

I still haven't touched the spaceships - maybe they'll be moved, rescaled, recolored? - and the sky will get a full treatment last. I'm just working my way from front to back. But I can do that because I worked out all my colors and values first: That's why these buildings look so fogged out.

05 May 2008, 10:52 PM
GREAT DETAILS. the scene is complex but perfect clear!! good job in any way!! splendid work:beer:

05 May 2008, 12:53 PM
hey walrus! Just thougth i'd drop by to say hello and to congratulate you on this great image you got so far, its definitely one of my favorites from the beginning, ive seen your work and i really admire you, great job :D also loved your dw3 enty btw. bye!

05 May 2008, 03:11 PM (

THanks, guys! Glad you like it (and the DW3 entry, too.)

I just finished the detailing on all of the foreground buildings. It should be obvious just from looking at this what I need to work on next: The sky, the ships in the sky, the negative space on the bottom, and the city in the background.

You would think I'd hit the city next, working from foreground to background as I am, but I'm just not sure about the city - I don't know if I like the design of it or not. What do you all think, keep the design as is and add the small details, or redesign the thing all over again? (It may also depend on timing - there's not a lot left, so I need to hit necessary things like the sky first.)

...Hopefully I'll have more time today!

05 May 2008, 03:42 PM
The town design's cool for me. You can work on the others first if you're not sure

05 May 2008, 09:20 PM
The town works very well for me, Mike. :)
Trust an architect, please and go on I want to see this piece finished within the deadline!

I love the feeling that I get from the big mushrooms and the very 'clean' but not aseptic city lines.
The characters are absolutely great... but you know that already.

05 May 2008, 10:53 PM (

Well, the sky went faster than I expected. But it also helped having Zachary take a 2 and a half hour nap today and Talia taking him out afterwards. Lots of time to work! Getting much closer now - looks like I should have time to redesign the city. Sorry, Tiziano, but I'm just not feeling like it hands together as a whole. It just feels like some random shapes jumbled together. don't worry, I won't replace it with anything worse! :)

05 May 2008, 12:02 AM
Mike i'm just gobsmacked at the current city design you have, often what can make or break a design (in an artistic point of view) of any sort is what surrounds it..and what you have is just beautiful. perhaps what would make you happy would be a slight palette shift?..or a break from it :P..hey, trust me mike, what you have is just amazing!..this is the level of awesomeness i want with my work..

have you flipped it horizontally?, that could reveal what ever it is thats bugging you?!..

i'm sorry i just cannot see the disharmony


05 May 2008, 12:42 AM (

Let me be more specific, Marley: It's not the whole backdrop that's bothering me. When I say "city" I mean just the "central city," the "keep" or "castle" in the rear center of the picture, behind Captain Washington's head. The current design feels to me like a bunch of pillars and curves thrown around without any concern to how they might logically connect. I'd like something that feels more legitimately architectural and less hodge-podge.

So this is my sketch-over of what I'm thinking of replacing it with. What do you all think?

05 May 2008, 12:52 AM
Hey walrus,

I'm liking the new design of the city in the background, but something about it seems a little off.
Firstly, it looks alot more like a building structure than before, which looked maybe a bit more like some alien Museum of Modern Art. :P

Maybe it's just me but the perspective looks a little flat, as if it should be protruding upwards a bit more. I never did get the hang of perspective though so I could definitly be wrong.
Also as it is, the castle seems like it very conveniently fits in between the two large buildings on the side. It might add to the sense of scale to have a bit more of it obscured behind the other ones, like a few wings that branch out of the central tower if that makes any sense?

Anyway, it's coming along awesomely. Keep it up!

05 May 2008, 01:15 AM
I see what your on about, mike..thanks for clearing that up!..although as i mentioned, i never noticed it..The keep could be forgiven for being a little more artistic than its surroundings :)..I actually like the relation of the curve that swung upwards around the building with the surrounding architecture.

Its its work of white light surrounding the shadows in it which made the whole thing pop for me..

No worries, look forward to the coming developments.


05 May 2008, 01:59 AM
For me its just a matter of simplifing the former design. The newer one is ok, but the older one seemed to fit better with the rest of the architecture.
Another thing, both designs "fill" the gap left between the two front buildings, but are not superimposed. Maybe that's what's weird. Try to place it in such way that part of it is occluded by one of the two front buildings and leaves a gap on the other side. Just an idea.

Keep it on walrus!

05 May 2008, 02:03 AM
Took me so long to write my reply that Silvermyst got ahead of me. :blush:

05 May 2008, 03:49 AM
Hah. That is the look of a frustrated man contemplating a bitter sweet future with these new creatures. This piece is coming along quite nicely Mike. I get the scale of the city and it's pushed back far enough with the atmospheric haze as to not be a destraction. I think once you have the details flushed out on the central building it should fit in just fine.

05 May 2008, 05:01 AM
The bg and the sky is really shaping up very nicely. As for the middle structure, may I recommend something more in tune with the natural environment. A huge majestic structure at the top that is inspired by the mushroom head design. The same could be applied to the rest of the architecture as well, if you wish.

Love the sky, it looks great! As for the aliens, now I feel that they blend with each other and the human too much. How about having a different tone of fur colour for them? The oldest could be paler in colour, whereas the youngest has a stronger colour tone. Just my thoughts.

All the best!

05 May 2008, 06:28 AM
damn mike :O .... this is a tough one .. especially when it comes to blending with the environment and keep in tune with form and design at the same time. not to mention making it look 'more alien' ... how about combining the two structure designs and see what comes of it .. that way, you have best of both worlds and a great new third one as well ...
i really like jeromoo's comment :
As for the middle structure, may I recommend something more in tune with the natural environment. A huge majestic structure at the top that is inspired by the mushroom head design.
that can be your best bet ... hope you reach your final destination! (you're very much closer!) ;)
good luck dude! :thumbsup:

05 May 2008, 07:19 AM
Neville - That is, in fact, ezactly what I ended up doing: combining the orderly form of the second central city design with some of the more interesting features of the original city. I think you'll be pleased with how it comes out.

Jerome - Thanks for the suggestions. I don't really want something natural, I'm shooting for something that says "impressive futuristic city," and otherwise fades into the backdrop to not distract from the characters too much. I think what I have noew is working well to that extent. At elast, I'm happy with it. As for the characters, I already have the oldest alien a much paler color than the youngest alien. So I think I've got your point covered, unless you think I should push that further. (Which I am not very inclined to do at this point, as I don't think it needs it. :) )

Silvermyst & GaeasHerald - Thanks for the suggestions, I've followed all of them when building the city, I think you'll like it when I next get to post it.

05 May 2008, 08:48 AM
dood your work always stuns me!
looking fantastic:twisted:

05 May 2008, 08:58 AM
Wow, you progress so fast! And the painting is evolving beautifully i must say. I'm curious what you are going to do with the negative space between the characters. But I've got no doubts that it will turn out a masterpiece again!

05 May 2008, 09:41 AM
hmm I had to contemplate this a bit Mike when I looked at the update on the building you are thinking about. I like the original version better, it has a nice curved spiral that makes me think more futuristic. The sketch over reminds me more of an adobe building. I love the characters, the colors on them and lighting being much the same though does not really seperate them from each other when I look at it. I think this is one of the best entries for this challenge and I hope you get time to finish it.

05 May 2008, 01:08 PM
walrus your image is mindblowing

05 May 2008, 03:14 PM
That's just brilliant!
Both character design and especially cityscapes!
Great architecture!

05 May 2008, 03:19 PM
Michael you did a wonderful work as usual , with your humour your wonderful colors and your great characters .

05 May 2008, 04:15 PM
The aliens are so cute and adorable. And the guy doesn't seem to mind the attention!

The details in the background is great, but maybe a little more contrast in the foreground figures to really ensure the eyes don't get too distracted? Just my opinion, but you are such a great artist I'm sure you'll make the better decision.

Overall, the image is awesome! Thanks!

05 May 2008, 08:49 PM
Sorry, Tiziano, but I'm just not feeling like it hands together as a whole.

Nothing to be sorry about, Mike! It was just my opinion of course, the author is and must be the final judge (otherwise I'll never dare to write another comment again...).

Only one thing, though, I definitely want to see it finished. :)

05 May 2008, 11:43 PM
There is something about the perspective which seems to have now been fixed in the new version. (The verticals in the old version seemed somehow very slightly wrong). So I think you've done a good thing in redrawing it.

For me, the main issue to watch now is how the colours will affect the composition. At the moment it is a very uniform palette of browns and yellows - autumn colors - in the lower two thirds and the colours of the upper-third portion (sky and buildings) seems very different and therefore a bit disconnected. That certainly helps lift the foreground action, but the rich golden light that appears to illuminate the foreground does not seem consistent with the blue haze of the distance.

Perhaps some more yellow light hitting the mushrooms and foreground structures can bring it all together a bit more

05 May 2008, 04:36 AM (

Well, here we go, the finished Central City. Hope you like it! I've kept a lot of the curves and wall- and loop-type structures of the earlier design, but added an outer wall which I think helps contain and define the mega-structure really well. (At least, I like it!) And I know the perspective is correct because I built it in 3D using the same carea as I did for the walls.

Not that this is a 3D render. i mean, it started as such - so did the wall-scrapers on the sides - but I've done all the coloring and detailing in Photoshop. So here's the trick: I rendered it with 2 textures, one covered with horizontal stripes and the other with vertical. I bring them both into Photoshop as seperate layers, and superimpose them on the city whenever I need horizontal or vertical guidelines to sketch details. What's more, I can load the selection of one, and then load the other's selection as a subtraction (or intersection) and get an interesting pattern of dots which I just fill in to make lots of windows. Keep loading these selections, scribble over then, and I get lots of orderly dot- and stripe patterns very easily. Other parts are just completely painted by hand, like the tower-tops and docking bays.

Daniel - Ah yes, the negative space at the bottom. I have some ideas, but nothing really solid yet. But if anyone has any good ideas, shout them out!

Linda and Lisa - Yes the characters are all running together a bit. My last pass will be yo accentuate various lights and shadows to help them read a bit better. But I just have a few more important things to hit first.

Mark - Interesting point, I'll see if I can address it like you say. If not, well, I guarantee you your money back 100%. :)

Everyone else - Thank you for all the notes, sorry I don't have time to respond to each one separately. So one big Thank You to you all!

Back to work now: Still need to work on the ships and the negative space at the bottom. (Hmmmm...)

05 May 2008, 04:57 AM
hey mike! really love this version now! sets it apart from the previous ones..
but, damn...have to hand it to you for your patience and creativity!
as mark pointed regarding the colors, i quickly thought about (
and did a little color picking from your latest update, i picked the color of the human, noted down it's RGB values and entered it in their respective slots at the site and got a different color palette scheme which will/might go with the 'warm' look ... (

hope this helps :p .. cheers dude!
good luck with the finished piece! :thumbsup:

05 May 2008, 02:28 PM
Thanks, Neville, but with only a handful of days left, it's pretty late in the game to make drastic alterations to my color palette. As you saw in my process breakdown, I mostly finalize the palette ealier in the process and then paint from there. It would of course be worth making adjustments if I thought the piece really needed it, but honestly, I'm quite happy with my color scheme and don't see any need for change. Shouldn't it be you who needs to worry about what colors to use more at this point? ;)

Anyhow, thanks for the link, though, it could come in handy on future paintings!

05 May 2008, 03:07 PM
i like the colors that you always

looking good man...only a little more to go!!

05 May 2008, 04:28 PM
I just realize I forgot to tell you how much I love the Big big Mushroom .

05 May 2008, 04:46 AM (

Well, I think I may be done. Or just one the verge of finishing. You tell me! I've added in all of the things I was saving for last, like the front wall and the step-ladder, the birds in the sky and the final spaceship adjustments. I acted on Mark's advice about adding more yellow light between the foreground and the background. And I went in and made a whole bunch of subtle character tweaks, lightening a hilight here, darkening a shadow there, nothing major but enough to help the characters stand out from each other more.

So maybe I need to sleep on it, but I've exhausted my list of notes. If anyone sees anything to fix (that does not involve recolorizing characters or choosing a new palette,) now would be a good time to say something.

Also, while you're there, I still don't have a title for this piece yet. Any ideas? I could go for the obvious pun on the challenge theme, i.e. "Human being Uplifted" or something like that. Or it could be something like "adorable alien", playing on who the alien is on this particular world. Or just plain "adorable." Think about it and get back to me. :)

05 May 2008, 04:49 AM
What a fun approach, i love it!

05 May 2008, 05:01 AM
woweee mike! :eek: loving it already! ( in fact .. always did :D ) .. very cool details in the background! its got that high depth :p .. as for the title ... hmm ... how about
'the upliftment!' :D :D :D ( serious pun intended! hyuk hyuk hyuk :D :p )

05 May 2008, 05:14 AM
beautiful color layout(gradation). awesome work!

05 May 2008, 09:06 AM
I'm still trying to believe how fast you got to this result. :) It's really a great painting with a nice gradient from cool to warm and a very pleasing composition.

However, the part beneath the human still does not work out so good, in my opinion. To be a bit more constructive about that I would say that you should leave out the ladder. It gives away the fact that the foreground scene is not really aligned to the perspective of the background. I understand, that you wanted to put at least something there but I would say that you should go with undefined, blurry structures which would hide the fact, that the whole scene is in fact a worm's eye perspective which does not really show in the foreground. That is not to say that the perspective is a big issue in your picture. In fact, you only notice it when you're looking closer at the scene and the ladder is perhaps the first and only point were the beholder would suspect the glitch in the perspective.

I vote for the pun! :)

05 May 2008, 09:58 AM
Wonderful what a lovely Human , Is he clean ? You did a great work and thanks again for the critics , finally I have to create the husband of the Queen .

05 May 2008, 10:27 AM
This is INCREDIBLE.The workflow is fantastic and you have a great sense of light and volume!Nice composition and colors.Is one of the best 2D artwork I v seen.

05 May 2008, 01:23 PM
I agree with digitaldecoy, the ladder seems out of place as well as ruining the overall perspective. As for the negative space below the human, just continue from where the top left off, the mushroom stems and stumps, the architecture entrance, some ground foliage, some distant alien inhabitants wandering around, etc. I feel that the centre architecture doesn't seem to blend with the rest of the buildings very well, especially the centre rings. Perhaps its the perspective that's bugging me there.

You work very fast! Do you have a day job?

05 May 2008, 01:27 PM
Hi Mike, no crits to offer that have not been mentioned already. I just wanted to pop in and see how it was coming along, looks great :)

05 May 2008, 07:37 PM
Scala -

what a lovely Human , Is he clean ?

I'm not sure what you mean by that? Clean? Well, he bathes daily... :surprised

Linda - Thanks for dropping by, glad you like!

Adib and Notec - Thanks to you, too!

Daniel and Jerome - Thank you both so much for your insightful and helpful crits. You guys have been such a great driving force in this challenge with not only helpful comments but really pushing me (hard!) to take my work to a higher level. I appreciate it immensely. So I'll try knocking down that wall and we'll figure out what's behind it! Jerome, you suggested including a ground level landscape, but I think Daniel's point of this being a worm's-eye-view touches on the fact that with this camera angle,you might not see the ground at all. But there's certainly room for something back there... I'll give it a shot!

Too bad about not keeping the step-ladder. I get what you're all saying with the perspective, I just thought it was funny... Well, at least you all got to see it. Once. :shrug:

05 May 2008, 09:00 PM
what a lovely Human , Is he clean ?

Obviously, in France they use the same expression as in Germany. Being 'clean' (translated literally) for a pet means, that it does not pee onto your carpet but only outside the house. :)

Concerning the ladder - we all will hold it's memory in our hearts! ;)

05 May 2008, 10:15 PM
looking great ur almost there. imo u should give it a try and indicate whats behind them in that space behind the aliends and under the human...looks like a wall:D+ the ladder.. its just out of the image. hard to relate the human to the wall and ladder as his now.
i really like the value and form of the buildings right after the mushrooms they work great but not to sure about that middle 1...i guess either those ribbon like levels or that crescent like circle from the front of it.i really like that its sharp still.
GL with it ur almost done

05 May 2008, 10:21 PM
i suppose, "lil cutie" might not work.."emotionaly uplifting"? or "O bother" or howbout "just wonderful"..really is a tough one to name mike..hahaha

incredible effort for the background..bloody fabtastic!

I think i've run outa words sadly..

congratz regardless

05 May 2008, 11:17 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, Marley... 'Though I reckon "oh bother" might be a little too British English for this character. :)

I realized I never answered Jermoe's question about time management: Yes, I do have a day job, quite a busy one ('though I occasionally take a brief break to post, as I am right now.) So how do I get so much work done? Two answers: I forgo sleep and I have an understanding wife! If the theme had been different, I might not have as much of the latter, but when she saw the theme of Alien/Human interaction, she insisted I HAD to do this Challenge: It's really like my dream category. As for the sleep thing, I am REALLY looking forward to the Challenge being over so I can return to a normal sleep and excerscise cycle. (If there were a smiley with dark circles under its eyes, I'd use it right here.)

05 May 2008, 01:48 AM
An idea just popped into my head: how about the human's own ship in the negative space area? He could have just landed there and the planet natives stopped by to adore his 'cute' looks. :)

05 May 2008, 03:24 AM
Michael your entry is really beautiful! very nice sweet energy comin' from this image the paint expressions and colors are superb congrats!!

05 May 2008, 07:19 AM (

I think that's an excellent idea, Jerome (as most of yours have been.) So I spent tonight painting out that wall and adding some new structures down there along with continuations of the old... and a little UEASA Cruiser there on a landing pad in the background. You all were right, this gives the peice a lot more depth.

While I was there, I also added a few more "birds" breaking off from the flock to give them a bit more feeling of life (a suggestion from Henning Ludvigsen) and shifted the far ear of the top left male Pilosa back a bit because it didn't look anatomically correct.

So how am i looking NOW? :)

05 May 2008, 07:21 AM (

Oh, and here's a closeup of the as-yet-unnamed UEASA Cruiser. I wanted to go for something blocky and different from all the curves of the Pilosa architecture.

05 May 2008, 09:16 AM
That really did the trick! It comes together just wonderful in my opinion. I'm not at all feeling sorry for the ladder anymore, now. ;)

05 May 2008, 10:09 AM
blimey! just realised i've not said a word on your thread! how rude of me, been watching your progress but had no crits :)

ace work as always man.
good luck!

05 May 2008, 11:36 AM
It looks wonderful, Mike. I love those birds too - they are perfect for this scene. As for a title, the suggestions already made are cool and the uplift puns already mentioned work just fine for me

05 May 2008, 11:38 AM
just awesome! the ladder boot out really brought the best in this piece! well done mike! :applause: ( me totally with jerome! i.e .. you work really fast! :eek: )

05 May 2008, 01:26 PM
Fantastic image :thumbsup:
Makes me realise that I'm completely out of my league :eek:
So I think I'll quietly withdraw from this comp, maybe another time.

Good luck mate :thumbsup:

05 May 2008, 01:57 PM
Chris - Thanks, but don't be silly! If you're entering these contests just to win the grand prize, you're entering for the wrong reason. The right reasons, imho, are to push yourself to do as good a piece as possible, to to hopefully learn something along the way, to get one more piece you're proud of for your portfolio, to meet new people also taking part in the Challenge, and to give and get feedback from them to help you and them all grow as artists. At least that's why I enter the Challenges and all I hope to get out of them. There are only 2 prizes total and my shot and snagging one of them is slim, but I don't care because I've just done one of my best paintings ever and that's more important. It's only 5 days left, if you've come this far, keep pushing yourself and finish what you started! You'll be glad you finished it at least.

Neville - Of course I work fast, the contest is all over, what choice do I have?!? ;) Anyhow, thanks!

Alwyn - No prob, you skipped all the boring parts and got to see the big finish instead!

Mark and Daniel - Yay, if you guys think it's done then I must really be there. Thanks for your support throughout this whole thing, your constant presence has always been appreciated. :bowdown:

Anyhow, I'll let this sit for a day or two and if no other crits come up (other than a shadow or two that I see that I want to fix that no one but me will notice!) then I'll ship it. After I decide on a title. :rolleyes:

05 May 2008, 02:23 PM
LOL, I never had any illusions about winning, believe me :) I only entered as I thought it might get me past the painting block I was experiencing (it worked)
And I have learned something, I don't like painting sci-fi :D
I think I'll stick to fantasy from now on and leave the sci-fi to the experts (like yourself).

05 May 2008, 02:26 PM
Hey Mike! the image is just amazing man. Even though I'm not in a position of giving you notes or crits but I'll try my best :) :
The background is very very good, but somehow my eyes want to see some more color ( think eye-candy ), you know, like your "Journy Begins" painting.

I have nothing else to crit ^_^

05 May 2008, 03:45 PM
I know I sound a bit like a parrot here - but it's an amazing work, Michael!!! You can be proud!

I'm really amazed at this contest and website so many talended people there are so many great entries in this contest - it's like a feast for the eyes :) it's awesome!

Thank you for this inspiring work!

Good luck and all the best!


05 May 2008, 04:29 PM
Awesome work Mike! I think the new lower city and cruiser work great. It looks like you can get some sleep now. I still have a ways to go.

05 May 2008, 05:02 PM
Now that my work is done, I had the chance to take a look around at what everyone else has been doing.

Your work is sensational! I can see that your are a master illustrator!

Thanks again for all of the support.

Good luck to you as well. (I agree with you - it's the support, and chances to meet new people, that's important - not the prizes!)

05 May 2008, 05:07 PM
Nice! The ship makes everything make sense now (although I wish it was a little nearer, but just a minor nitpick).

How about darkening the background at the ground level that gradually brightens up at the top (depth pass). The architecture looks a little clean, perhaps some alien moss/rust/stains at suitable spots?

You are definitely almost there. If you have the time, Mike, would you like to try adding some more flying vehicles? One more closer, hovering nearer the mushroom heads (could be harvester or something, this might add to the authenticity of alien life)

05 May 2008, 05:24 PM
great detail!

and I agree with your reason for entering the challenge. I'm definitely out of the league here, but what better way to improve than working and learning together with the greatest talents in the industry? ^^

05 May 2008, 03:22 AM
Thanks for the notes, everyone! Glad to see no one has anything major to fix! ;)

Chris - Good, glad you did in the end get something you wanted out of the challenge, and that it wasn't me (just science fiction in general) that scared you off. :)

Jassar - Thanks for the suggestion but I respectfully disagree. If everything in the piece is of an equally high saturation level, there's no guidance for the eye. As it it, the eye is drawn to the more saturated areas (the characters I want you to look at) and away from the background, whcih is less saturated. Adding brighter colors to the environemt would just make it fight for attention with the primary focus of the piece.

Dimitrij - Thanks, yeah, this Challenge is always inspiring!

Mikey - Thanks, and good luck with the rest of your entry.

Blas - Thanks. And glad my notes were useful in your piece - it really came out great!

Jerome - Thank you agains for the suggestions. I feel that spaceships any closer than the ones I have now would be distracting, grabbing attention away from the characters without adding anything. I do have some depth lighting in the background already, as objects furhter into the distance are getting greener, but I don't want to go overboard with it either. I also have dirt and grime on the buildings, but maybe I can add some more - it's obviously not as bisible when the peice is this zoomed out!

Pegahoul - Glad you're getting soemthing out of the Challenge too! :) And thanks!

So I think I'll just fix a few little nitpicks here and there, think up a name, add a noise layer on top of everything and call it done soon. And just in time, too! Thank you, everyone, for all of the notes and posts!

05 May 2008, 10:21 AM
Your WIP post that shows the stages of work is great...It would never occurs to me without the image I'll try that approach... you are right that it's similar to the 3D way...i can say it's you have lovely image and good idea. You don't need luck in the chalenge...i'm sure there will be prize for you.

05 May 2008, 10:34 AM
Of course it was the meaning , if he don't take is Bath is gonna be a bad boy and he won't be able to play with the ball .
Beautiful work Michael :applause:

05 May 2008, 07:15 PM
Really nice, Walrus! You did very well so far. I'm very jealous of your professional workflow.
But i would like to see a bit more difference in the materials. I dont know why you dont variate them, but i guess thats only point where you can (improve) your work.
Anyway good luck to you!

05 May 2008, 03:33 AM
Thanks for the notes, folks!

Yakonusuke, I thought that I had rendered a lot of different materials, flesh and fur, fabric and shiny brocade, hard metal and soft clouds. Was there something in there that you particularly thought didn't work, or did you have any specific advice on what I could do to improve my materials? I still have time, but it would be helpful to have something more to go on. Thanks!

05 May 2008, 09:01 AM
In fact you really did, but on the other hand the mats are all very similar... they have
all a gradient from light to shadow and a small highlight on the the lightside. But there is no
material that is definitly glossy or definitly matt. The scale you use is somewhere inbetween.
But i would say, thats no reason to make everything new in this image, but maybe you keep
that in mind for the next time. :)

05 May 2008, 05:05 PM (

Thanks for the feedback, Yakonusuke. I do my best, but I will, as always, endeavor to improve my abilities. Hopefully I'll do better next time.

In the meantime, here's where the piece is right now. Lots of small little adjustments - more building grime, some lights, a few more birds to keep them from looking like they were all in a straight line, little stuff like that. And then some overall image levels and colors adjustment to punch up the colors all over, especially the foreground. What do you all think?

Unless there's anything major or obvious to change, I'll likely just be submitting this as final tonight or tomorrow. It's getting harder and harder to find things to change that make a big difference overall! :)

05 May 2008, 05:22 PM
Come on Michael The last details and it's ok , cause it's already OK you gonna burn your eyes .Another Walrus Masterpiece . WM . :bounce:

05 May 2008, 02:47 AM (

Captain Emmett Washington had never enjoyed assignments requiring interaction with the Pilosa clan. His superiors back on Earth couldn't understand why: They weren't overtly hostile like the Soro or the Tandu, nor incomprehensible like the Sumubulum or the T'4Lek. In fact, the Pilosa were one of the rare races who were quite friendly towards the wolfling Earthclan. That, groused Washington, was precisely the problem.

My apologies to Mr. Brin for not painting something more directly tied to the Uplift universe. I suppose I missed my golden chance to depict a Gubru, but I just had to go where inspiration took me.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my thread with comments and feedback during the creation of this piece. Special thanks to those especially helpful, incisive, and/or frequent contributors Daniel, Jerome, and Mark, and especially to Goro who, while not around much lately, really pushed me hard in the beginning to focus my idea from something that was okay to something much tighter and honestly better. And extra-special thanks to my wife Talia, who insisted that I put in as much time as possible into this Challenge because she knew it was my "dream category." Thanks, sweetie, you can have me back now!

Cheers, all, and thanks for another fun Challenge!


05 May 2008, 03:14 AM
Oh good, you're done. *Save* ^^
Their expression is definitely the most attractive point of this pic, and I also like the small details like the alien-bird thing on the background. Great city design too.
Awesome work! This is one of my favorite piece in this challenge!

05 May 2008, 09:55 AM
Done ! :beer: Congratulations for a very strong entry, Michael ! Top-notch as always ! :thumbsup:

05 May 2008, 10:55 AM
congratulations mike! :applause: as always .. a fine entry! :p :eek:
good luck mate! :thumbsup:

05 May 2008, 11:35 AM
Congratulations Mike, you've done it again by producing a beautifully crafted and superb illustration. I can't help smiling when I look at this image - apart from the humour in the scene, there's a feeling of optimism and exuberance about it which is infectious. I love that cityscape background and those beautiful birds - it looks alien and also slightly, somehow magical. And your foreground characters are just wonderful. This is definitely one of my favourites in this challenge and one of my favourite examples of your work too. Good luck with the judging, and also, thanks for all your really helpful comments with my thread

05 May 2008, 12:22 PM
good job walrus on finishing it looks great:)

05 May 2008, 12:54 PM
Congrats Mike! this is one of my favorits :)
Good luck.

05 May 2008, 12:58 PM
well done Mike. Really awesome work. Beautiful concept and incredible painting productivity. Congratulations! :thumbsup:

05 May 2008, 01:20 PM
Finaly u get an Amazing image.
Very good idea, drawing, lights and shadows, coloring and texturing. All very good.:bowdown:
Also one of my favorits.

05 May 2008, 01:51 PM (

Captain Emmett Washington had never enjoyed assignments requiring interaction with the Pilosa clan. His superiors back on Earth couldn't understand why: They weren't overtly hostile like the Soro or the Tandu, nor incomprehensible like the Sumubulum or the T'4Lek. In fact, the Pilosa were one of the rare races who were quite friendly towards the wolfling Earthclan. That, groused Washington, was precisely the problem.


My apologies to Mr. Brin for not painting something more directly tied to the Uplift universe. I suppose I missed my golden chance to depict a Gubru, but I just had to go where inspiration took me.

Thank you, again, to everyone who has been kind enough to comment on my work in progress. Sorry to be "double-posting" the final entry here, but I realized last night that some of my last minute color-tweaking made the background values darker than I liked, and the characters read better against the earlier version of the city & sky. I kept all of the other small changes, but removed the adjustment layer that was affecting the backdrop. I know, it's a miniscule change that only I would notice or care about... but I do, so away it goes!

On an even lesser side note, I find it odd that the built-in spell-checker here is giving me a hard time about Soro and Tandu but not T4'Lek. I wonder if it knows something we don't? :) (All of those races are from the Uplift universe, by the way, with the exception of the Pilosa.)

05 May 2008, 02:24 PM
congrats Mike! another master piece from you again !
save image to walrus folder!!!

05 May 2008, 03:42 PM
Good luck in the voting, it really is a great image. :buttrock:

Matt :)

05 May 2008, 05:47 PM
Once again a great final image.:bowdown:

Good luck with the voting.


05 May 2008, 09:28 PM
Hey Michael ! Another excellent image !