Monthly Archives: September 2014

More Visual Research!


Combined my previous visual research into one moodboard. I’m starting to get a sense of the style I will be using now, but I am going to make a few more, expanding my search criteria, to help work out the kinks.

Visual Research and Moodboards

Having chosen the brief Concept Design 2, Characters for Games I have set about assembling a visual database of inspiration to base my work off of.

The brief states that the lead inspirations should be:

  • Bob Rafei (specifically his work on the Jac n Daxter series),
  • Dota 2 (specifically it’s “twisted-but-humorous character designs“),
  • Ashley Wood (focusing more on his general style rather than a specific project of his).

The wording of the brief suggests that Ashley Wood’s work should only be a vague inspiration, and used to shape the structure of the style rather than as a starting point. Indeed they refer to him as a “wildcardIt also suggests that Bob Rafei’s work may be a bit too cartoony and should be toned back a bit. So whilst it should have a large impact on the style, it seems that Dota 2 will be the defining inspiration for the final style and design.

For Bob Rafei’s work I focused mostly on his work on the Jac n Daxter series as the brief suggests, although I did look at his work on other games too to get a full sense of his style. His work in the later games is a large part of this visual research as I feel it is the least cartoony and just generally and improvement from his earlier work.

jac and daxter

Being my main choice of inspiration, I am going to be focusing a lot on Dota 2’s style. However, it seems difficult to find a lot of their work online. For the most part any official work is fully finished concept art, whereas I am more interested in their processes towards these pieces. There’s also a lot of fan art to avoid. What I have found is a good start but I intend to research more into the artists on the team and try and find their work, rather than looking at the game materials themselves.

Ashely Wood’s work is instead a wildcard. His work is unlike that of Bob Rafei or Dota 2 in that it is a lot less cartoony, although it is not realistic either. Looking through his portfolio I decided to focus on his work for the comic books Spawn due to it’s similarity to Dota and Rafei. It is a lot darker and dirtier but there are similarities in shapes and silhouettes, further more there are a lot less open legged women or butts which seem to be a favourite in his other works, and which are not really fitting with what the brief demands.

ashley wood

I think what I will take from Wood’s work most is his brush work, as I believe the roughness of it would work nicely juxtaposed with any cartoon-styled silhouettes inspired by Dota and Rafei.

Deciding on a Brief

Having read over the given briefs I have narrowed my choices down to four.

Interactive Narrative; GUI for Games; Digital Illustration; or Concept Design 2, Characters for Games.

All but the GUI brief play to my preferences of character design/illustration and storytelling. I am interested in GUI design and it is a useful skill to have in the industry. However I have little skill or experience in the area and thus feel I would struggle with this brief. Considering I should be viewing this as an opportunity to create a portfolio piece I think I will set this aside. Perhaps I will pick it up in my spare time later on as a side project.

Thinking along this line of thought, I believe that the Concept Design 2 brief (designing Character for games) is my best bet for producing a strong portfolio piece. Furthermore, character design is one area I am particularly keen to enter in the industry, and I feel the skills I can gain from it are transferable to a large variety of other areas (illustration being the obvious one, but also interactive narrative in a sense). The art inspirations for this brief are also a style I would be interesting in developing for myself.

This I have chosen to work with the brief Concept Design 2, Character Design for Games (one which I imagine will be quite popular).

Week 3- Live Drawing Self Evaluation

people 1

people 2

people 3

I was once again a bit hesitant of this exercise. I’ve never been particularly quick with sketching and often get caught up in details or shapes that prove to be of little importance in the grand scheme of the image. Hence, when drawing live models I tend to fall behind and lose them before the sketch is completed. But despite this I endeavored to meet the task head on.

It took me a while to loosen up and really get going with my sketches, as you can see many of the initial attempts are blocky, overly scratchy, or out of scale. However once I began to loosen up I believe my attempts improved greatly. I also tried to use this blocky style to my advantage and develop it into something I could further use, but it still needs some work I think.

This task has shown me there is a lot of space for improvement in my quick sketching, which indeed translates to my other work. Firstly, I need to work on where I look. Too often I found that I would look at either the subject or the page for too long and waste time in silly details. This meant that I lost time drawing the rest of the subject and would have to rush it.

Secondly, and this kind of goes against the first point of improvement, I need to work on studying and conveying facial expressions. I tend to struggle with some of the shapes faces can pull, especially the mouth, and as such lose a lot of the personality from the figure, making them rather bland.

The final area I can improve upon as well is my 3/4 shots. I’m no very comfortable with this angle and am somewhat put off by it. As such I find myself focusing on the people who gave me portrait of front-on subjects. I think the way I can best improve both this and my issue with expressions is through careful study, rather than more quick live drawings. That way I can take my time and break down the structure and lines of what I’m trying to replicate rather than feeling rushed through it and getting annoyed.

There are areas of this work which I am pleased with too, despite all this negativity. This task allowed me too loosen up and experiment in ways I’m not used to and I liked some of the styles that came out of it. Styles that relied less on the subject and more their personality, or at least the one they emanated (the messy lined baby and the hard edged security guard for example).

I really enjoyed this exercise and look forward to continuing it in my spare time. I especially look forward to discovering and developing the styles it gives birth too.

Week 2- Tonal Studies Self Evaluation

I would be lying if I said I approached this tonal study with confidence. Whilst I consider my shading techniques to be of a good quality, my eye for tonal differences is less than sharp (possibly stemming from my very mild colour blindness). As such my shading style often features either overly strong contrast (which while useful in some cases is more often annoying in most) or not enough contrast. I saw this task as the first step on a road to changing this. I decided that since we were given two objects to study I would use different materials for each.

For the lighter of the two objects, and white paper cone, I used Copics Ciao watercolour pens. A good practice I have been taught is to sketch quick and small thumbnail of the scene first to block in the extreme tones of the scene, and allow for a tonal range to be established. Whilst this often contributes to my tendency for heavy contrast it is useful for seeing the overall layout of the scene in miniature. After this a quick and basic sketch of the full scene (drawing only the basic shapes) was carried out and the tones were put in going from light to dark. I tried to keep my pen strokes as loose as possible at first, only becoming more precise as the shades darkened. This technique worked well for me, despite the pens beginning to dry up half way through the piece, and I am relatively pleased with the overall result. The composition is distracting however, with the dark mass of Lee taking the eye away from the cone itself, something I will be more mindful of in the future.



My second study was much more successful I feel, it was a darker object and thus by its nature had quite strong contrasts. I used a basic HB pencil for this study and took a different approach also. Once my thumbnail and basic sketch were in place I shaded the whole object in one mid-tone shade. I then went back over with and eraser and took out the light areas (such as the edges), going back and forth like this until I was happy. After this I went back and forth over the object gradually layering in darker levels shading (not really caring about the angle of the strokes but more the shape of the area) until I was happy with the tones.



Whilst I may not have looked forward to this task I certainly found it insightful. One ‘technique’ I accidentally picked up was using my terrible eyesight to my advantage. By taking my glasses off, the object blurs and I can more clearly see the gradients and tones. There are also some areas I should definitely improve upon however, especially concerning lighter and subtler tonal variations, which I struggle to both pick up on and apply. The resulting contrast (or lack thereof) can be useful to achieve certain styles or moods, but I should still work to improve it for other works.

Week 1- CV Creation

[Another task for Week 1 was to create a CV for ourselves based around selling ourselves as artists. Whilst I am already working on an artistic CV it contains a lot of details which were irrelevant to the specifications of the task and so I stripped it down and re-wrote parts.

After emailing it to Ryan I decided I was still not happy with it and that some of the areas were too vague. I went back and altered it further, adding more details to my talents. Here is the final product]

Callum Fowlie, 1202211

Online Portfolio:

As an artist I enjoy creating 2D art, and whilst I am skilled at working with traditional media I am stronger at working digitally. I prefer to work as a concept artist but am not opposed to Illustration work.

I draw a lot of inspiration from my love of science fiction and fantasy novels and work at my best with those themes. Moreover I prefer to work with characters and creatures than I do with vehicles and cities. I am currently studying Computer Arts at Abertay University.


I have experience with the following programs and media:

  • Adobe Photoshop (Digital Painting and Photo Manipulation)
  • GIMP (Digital Painting and Photo Manipulation)
  • Paint Tool Sai (Digital Painting)
  • Adobe Flash (Animation and ActionScript Coding)
  • Autodesk Maya (3D Modelling)
  • Oil Paints
  • Pen and Pencil
  • Watercolour Paints


Whilst I have a lot of experience with the above I would consider myself a specialist in more precise areas of work. Specifically, I find that I work best using Photoshop, Oil Paints, and/or Pen and Pencils in fields of work concerning concept art for ideas. Specifically, I work best at Character Design.

I also work better with certain themes to follow. Whilst I can create works fitting with a Modern theme, I prefer to work with Fantasy or Science Fiction settings.


A Glitch in Time (2014): A Second Year University project where teams of students from various courses are tasked with building a prototype game in 15 weeks. There were 4 artists in our 9 person group, and I was tasked with the concept art for our character, enemies, and sprites of other characters which would be placed in the background.

Dare Schools Team Challenge 2011: This is an annual competition aimed at S5 pupils studying art, design or computing and gives them 5 days to build a simple flash based game in groups. I was the lead (only) artist on our team of 4 people. Our team won the 2011 competition.

NHS Tayside Paediatric Ward 2011: I was commissioned to produce a poster clearly demonstrating the correct procedure parents were to follow for ordering, collecting, and retaining medication for their children. This project had a 24 hour turn around and was met with success.

McIntosh Patrick Award 2011: received a Highly Commended Award.

Week 1- Perspective Study and Self-evaluation

Our task for Week 1 was to do a perspective study of somewhere in the university, and then self-evaluate it. Being lazy I chose the work space next to our teaching area.


cap perspective I am also pleased with my approach to this piece. I began my work with pencil, drawing basic rectangles, circles, and triangles to ensure my perspective was correct before adding too much detail. Once these basic details were in places I went over it with a fine pen adding slightly more detail, And after a final check I continued with pen to strengthen the lines and add the finishing touches to the scene. Whilst such a method lengthened the time taken, I feel it works best for myself, as I sometimes don’t notice mistakes until further on in the piece, at which point they are harder to correct. By slowly blocking in the general layout I can spot and correct most of these mistakes before I make a permanent mark.

However, even with this method I believe I have squashed the scene a little bit. I will admit that the desks (especially the nearest) have been shortened slightly and should be much longer in certain areas. The cluttered and busy nature of the area, with so many levels and lines and objects, made it hard for me to properly concentrate on the shape of the desks in the given time. This is an issue I should work on correcting as I have encountered in the past whilst drawing busy spaces. I am however pleased with the perspective shown on the left hand edge of the desks, given their curved nature.

Another point I am pleased with is the representation of detail. Given the time I kept it to a minimum and focused primarily on the foreground, decreasing the amount of detail the further back I went. It is not present much in this piece as I began to run out of time and would have liked to fill in the desks more, but you can see it in the nearest pc and the left wall.

I would say that the hardest part of this task for me was the time limit. It meant that, with my lengthy process, I was unable to include as much detail as I wanted and rushed myself in certain areas (such as the desks). This is obvious in the roof of the room which, given more time, I would seek to improve first. As you can see I only included the piping and lighting, missing out the more detailed panels and tiles to save time.

As a whole I think I approached and completed the task well. My method was time consuming but it ensured a solid representation of perspective and skill with minimal lose of detail. Given more time I would have included the finer details of the desks and roofing, as well as shaded the darker points in a neater fashion, but I believe that given the task that was laid out before me I preformed well.

[I intend to upload a photo of the area this was drawn from on Monday when I have access to it.]