Adrian Birkeland - Concept Art Sketchbook


I like the amount of depth in all of your work, good color palettes as well. Looking forward to seeing more.


Thanks McNerth!!

Here’s some less flashy stuff that I need to finish / tighten up at some point soon.


Cool sketchbook thread Adrian. I like the black and white value study you did, I like how much atmosphere you can get with just black and white :slight_smile:


Cheers buddy, The value sketch didn’t come out half bad. B/W is extremely powerful!


This is a work in progress. Trying to reduce the design elements on the level 1 armor but I can’t use skin as a design element because it’s for Winter.
There is very little point in exposed skin in -20 degrees Celsius so I’d rather not go for that.


Messing around having some fun pushing “paint” around.

Updated version after some feedback about there not being enough contras, from Joakim Hammarslätt, Thanks man! :slight_smile:


Yessss I love this, the improvement from the first page!! I would mess with a different cloak color though, just taking it into photoshop I thought it popped a little more with greenish blue instead of having it similar temperature as the fire.


Hey Adrian! Wicked thread, looking forward to seeing more.

When you do thumbnails do you seperate each foreground/mid/background onto their own layers? It may help with balancing depth and edges in your pieces, because you’d have a tonne of extra control to push and pull those values to enhance the depth!


Hey ConarCross, Thank you! Glad you like it!
I sure do, Most of the time I keep the elements in organized folders in the PSD to make easy changes. Thank you for the feedback,
I will try to separate my foreground, mid ground, background better!
However, With this sketch the goal was to experiment with the light direction and to keep it like an enclosed cave space the very lack of distance was what I was aiming for.

Here is a recent composition sketch process I did.
Mood board & research

Discarded composition

Learning lessons from my 3 previous failed thumbnails I included that into this composition. I decided to frame the composition with the sewer entrance to up the tension and give them a purpose of where they were going.

I will balance the values and edges on this composition based on the great feedback I’ve gotten, thank you!


Looking good so far, make sure you don’t lose track of your light setup. you have a tendency to assign specular highlights and general lights coming from one side but cast shadows coming from another, the face in the first image is the most clear example of this., where you appear to have a light coming from the left and hitting the blonde-red hair very brihgtly with highlights and specs, but the chin cast shadow comes from the right/top, the same goes for the boot but in there you have a shadow from the left and light from the right?
In photography we set up a light to be the strongest, then a fill light (weaker light to control shadow intensity) and a rim light to separate the background better from the character. You don’t need to do it this way, but have a clear set of light intensity in mind!
I recommend Scott Robertson/Thomas Bertling videos on shadow constructions!

Your color and render skill are coming along good. I like the colors you pick.


Solid Crit Miguel and thanks for sharing your feedback.

Adrian, Just to add on to Miguel’s crit, take some to do more form studies - simple spheres, cylinders, and boxes. This may seem basic, but sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that helps us accelerate our growth as an artist. When you do these studies keep in mind how the light hits the object, bounce light, cast shadow, ambient occlusion, material indication, and core shadow.

Check out this video by the Slanted Lens which covers the basic laws of light. The video is geared towards photography, but the core principles are the same within our field.

As Miguel mentioned, Scott Robertson’s vids on shadow construction and form rendering are resources I’ve used earlier in my art development. I think those were from the Gnomon video resources library. Here’s a quick reference to shadow casting from Studio Laforte.

Keep it up Adrian and I’m looking forward to your artistic growth.


miguelnogueira and michaelcabuco wow, thank you two for taking the time to give me feedback. That means a whole lot!
You guys nailed a lot of things I got wrong, I’m very uncomfortable with the quality of this character. This was a rush job because I needed a rendered character for the next day at a convention (Portfolio piece). I painted it up on my laptop on my friend’s dinner table the night before. That event is now over and I’ll take the very first chance I get to apply the feedback you gave me on my fundamentals and then touch her up after I study them sufficiently.

While I’m here. I’ve been checking out Gravity Sketch. I saw Jama Jurabeav give a demo of it and couldn’t resist getting into it!


Love those gravity sketches!!!


Thanks Alksndr! Some more sketches under the little update here.

Sorry for not being active lately. Went to FMX so had to finish my portfolio before and now I’m finishing my thesis. Deadline in less than a week! :o

Shaddy Safadi gave me a paintover feedback video and then asked if he could upload it to Gumroad to help others with problems similar to mine.
After this talk, I’ve had my nose in my Framed Ink book and checked out several tutorials from talented painters that really have their shape language on point.
The journey to improve that mountain pass with gates has just started. No more Glurp!


Love those gravity sketches bro! keep em coming!


Awesome work dude! I didn’t know it was your piece getting reviewed by Shaddy. He seems like very cool and approachable guy.


Cheers Heretic buddy! :smiley: I look very much forward to getting the time to do it again! 
Thank you arturvp, Yeah it was my piece. Shaddy sure is awesome and kind to take time out of his day to help those that ask him! Very cool and approachable indeed :slight_smile:
In the spirit of such things, An exploration piece to detect problems with applying the feedback. I’m still in the middle of the thesis so I hit this one with a lot of trial and error stuff.
This piece was never meant to make it out of this looking good. Learned a lot. It deserved more than it got.

Started a lot safer but I’ve made a personal note to never try to do “quick” large cityscapes.


Get a nice strong light in your darks, super small a glint on her sword maybe of white a d a strong black in the lights somewhere


Looking good Adrian! A tip on colour when tackling environment pieces like the above is to balance your warm and cool based on the lighting scenario. So if it’s sunlit, focus primarily on having unlit areas cool and the lit areas warm. (Then go in and work out bounce light) This will massively help unify your scene and create a more natural colour harmony.

Sunlight - warm light, cool shadows
Overcast - cool light, warm shadows

Hope this helps :slight_smile:


Thanks man, I’ll write it down on a post-it and never do a painting without having it handy. Superbly useful tip! :slight_smile: thank you thank you!