Street Fighter - Loving what you do and the importance of fanart

General / 17 June 2019

I recently finished up presentation renders for Street Fighter and pushed them out there on several places.  I've written about it here a few times by now.  I've posted WIPs, made preview posts on my portfolio and posted a whole bunch about it during and after the fact... I should probably shut up about it already, but this is hopefully some of the last of it at last.  Part of me wants to throw the whole thing away and part of me is very proud and wants to keep talking about it to anyone who'll listen.  It's been long enough to where I see many of the flaws and things I could still fix, but these things had to be sent to the factory at some point and Capcom gave their approval.  I have a probably unhealthy amount of respect and admiration for Capcom and their OG Street Fighter designers.  In fact, one of the highlights from last year was getting one of my tweets about the project noticed by Akiman and retweeted.  

“If you’re trying to figure out what others love, but you don’t love it, it’s very hard to make that great. So when you work on something, if you fall in love with it, that’s a good sign. Don’t worry about if others do. If you do, others will.” That's apparently something Elon Musk said recently or at some point.  Street Fighter is one of those properties that pulled me into doing art.  Back in the 90s I had a couple of games magazines in English, back when I didn't really understand English.  The crazy colorful adds, the interviews full of sketches, the promotional art for SF2 Turbo, and then the reveal of the new fighters for Super Street Fighter 2 with Cammy, Fei Long, T. Hawk, and Dee Jay.  I was never as good at fighting games as I'd like to be, but I've always loved and enjoyed the art that comes out of them, from concept, to pixels, to final in-game or cinematic models.

Many people here in Artstation are big time professionals that get to work on movies, AAA games, and more, in many cases they're living their dream.  For some it's a job and in some cases it even becomes boring or a chore.  Some people get pretty jaded or even cynical about it.  It's a rough industry or industries... and lots of things about conditions like crunch and compensation needs massive improvement.  However, this is still quite something for me at least, to be doing this and enjoying it.  Back in the day I was some 12 year old kid in Mexico copying drawings by Akiman and trying to come up with new drawings that matched his style.  In fact I copied this drawing down here with color pencils a couple times:

I wish I had a scan of that drawing, it's probably somewhere in my parents' house and it probably looks way off in relation to the original, but it was what I could do back then and I was proud. Those crappy doodles were part of my road to get to where I am and I'm actually pretty happy with where I am and where I'm heading.  Things are lookin' up in my little corner of the world.

On Fanart and other Myths

"Don't do fanart!" or "Do less fanart."  Somewhere down the line I've heard it from art teachers, other artists, students, colleagues, and not even sure who else, but many people make fun of or look down on fanart.  I never understood it and I still don't, because I grew up loving comics, video games, movies, and from the moment I figured out these things were made by people, I tried to figure out who these people were and how they got there.  I grew up reading Wizard Magazine, an American magazine about comics, the IPs, and the people that wrote and drew them.  I learned to read English with comics and Wizard mag.  I learned names like Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, and of couse Stan, The Man, Lee...  way before even your average bear knew his name and his MCU cameos.  From interviews with people like Joe Mad I learned the names or at least code names for the Japanese designers like Akiman, Bengus, Ikeno.  I was always curious about these people and tried to learn more.  I became half decent at this whole thing by admiring and studying the work of people who got there before me.  I still admire and collect the work of  these artists.  Their work keeps me inspired and motivated.  The properties they created or worked on through the years spoke to me so much that I had to respond, and fanart was the outlet.  In comics it's sort of a given and pretty normal that your portfolio will be full of fanart, but I guess because concept art is a big part of games and movies, more originality is of course needed, but for character and environment 3D artists, the gig is usually matching a given style and making something that fits into an existing IP.

I've been what you might call a professional for more than a decade and I never stopped doing fanart, and many of the jobs I've landed in the past seven years as a freelancer, have been a side effect of doing fanart.  I'm a fan of tons of mediums, creative industries, IPs, and individual artists, so even if I wanted to I would not be able to stop.  The funny thing about the past couple years is that I've been doing very little personal art or fanart because the projects I'm doing for work are stuff I'd be doing as fanart.  I'm overbooked with work that I enjoy and I finish my day exhausted but satisfied... and at times I go to bed anxious to wake up and get back to it and start the next piece.  There's lots of road ahead, God willing, but I'm really enjoying the ride now.

It's not all roses of course.  I've been close to burnout also.  I should probably look up more official definitions, but the two ways that I understand burnout is when creatives just exhaust themselves by overworking and losing all the joy in the work, or by becoming kind of depressed and creatively blocked.  In my case I had more of the overworking myself kind, but I managed, by taking trips and holidays to see family and get away from the routine.  As for the other burnout where you get depressed or bored and apathetic, blocked, etc... I mostly have the opposite problem, I wish I had more time and energy for all the stuff I want to do, but when friends going through it have asked me about advice, I always recommend going back to origin.  What I mean by that is to just take some time off enjoying the things that got you into this troublesome path in the first place.  Read that comic that you loved back in the day, re-watch that anime, go play that video game, etc. 

At some point I do plan to do more of my own projects.  I have done work for that on and off for decades and I eventually want to turn to that fully, but for now, the projects I'm getting are pretty exiting, hard to turn down, and I still got time to dig more into my own stuff.

The other subject I'd like to touch on is reference... who did this?  who was it that started telling artists that drawing without reference and from your head only or mostly was the way to go???  How is this still a thing?  This Street Fighter project required so much reference and research, I learned so much about my inadequacies with anatomy and how much I still need to learn.  I've been pursuing improvement, like most artists out there, in this area, and it's a long quest.  I thought I had a handle on this thing, way more than I actually did, and I still have plenty to do.  I grabbed again all my old books, gathered up even more ref folders, pinboards, and bought scans from Anatomy 360.  Even then I still goofed a bunch of stuff that I only caught it by the time these figures had been approved.  I'll keep improving then.  At the end of last year I bit the bullet and went for one of Scott Eaton's courses.  So the anatomy quest shall continue.

This project was a big deal for me and the people that backed it in Kickstarter seem to love the work.  Both Jasco and Angry Joe were super happy with my results and more projects have come from this.  I can't wait to reveal some of the next projects and see what else comes after, but in the mean time I'm thankful for that 12 year old little nerd version of me that didn't stop drawing Ryu, Chun Li, Cammy and the others... even when people couldn't understand it or downright mocked it...  those people can suck it!

I live in Graz, Austria these days.  I freelance from here for clients half the world away and that's pretty comfortable.  My parents back home in Mexico are English teachers in a public school... the stories they tell me about the children there, it's rough.  It's rough out there in many countries and in many parts of even the nicest countries.  Selling people too much stories of "follow your bliss" and "do what you love" can be dangerous because not everyone is in a position to do that, and many people misunderstand that and think that it will be easy.  It usually isn't, everyone makes the sacrifices that they can or that they're willing to make.  I made my offerings and I'm still paying some dues, some have paid off better than others, but I'm doing my thing and it's going well enough for me.  I'll keep doing what I can so that it keeps getting better.

So I guess my point is just, do your thing.  Do it well, and love it, love it long time, hahah.  Do it as good as you can do it, and finish it by the deadline or at least close to it, and then do the next one better.  If you can't love it and you don't live in a really tough situation where the risk might be too much, then go do another thing, love that one.  Don't let yourself become that jaded cynic who takes the jelly out of everyone's donuts.  Bide your time and take the risks when you're able, just don't be reckless.  Make the mistakes and learn from them and keep going.  Make that fanart, or don't, but make that call yourself, don't just follow advice from people that are too afraid or narrow minded, and for fuck's sake, do use that reference, and learn that damb anatomy... don't try to be the next Kim Jung Gi when you can't even be the next Rob Liefeld.  That's all I got on this for now.  I leave you with the SF turntables and if you wish to see the individual posts of the figures, you'll find those in my portfolio.  Happy Z-brushing and stuff!


Cheers,

Hec


  

Ghostbusters/Men In Black - WIP minis

General / 26 March 2019

Last year (2018) I backed a kickstarter for one of Derek Laufman's art books, eventually I got my copy and really loved it... around end of the year I got an email asking if I'd like to be part of a board game involving both Ghostbusters and Men In Black.  Like many people, especially 80s and 90s kids, I'm a fan of both movies and the IPs in general.  I was pretty much ready to say yes, but then on top of that they showed me the character designs for the project and I immediately recognized they were Derek's designs.  I was pretty happy to see that, so double yes!

I'm doing all the player figures for this game.  These are some of the core figures, and there's even more surprises coming later when the kickstarter is unveiled.  Derek's interpretations of the heroes and his designs for the enemies are great.  I'm having a blast with this project. :)

The Ghostbusters gang:


  



The MIB gang:




A few of the bad guys:



Not only am I having a blast sculpting these, I'm actually really looking forward to playing this with friends.  Really looking forward to that.



Street Fighter: The Miniatures Game WIPs - Wave 4

General / 31 May 2018

And still at it!

This is the most ambitious thing I've ever done in terms of accepting and taking on a gig.  I don't know for sure, but I've never seen one single sculptor take on a 30some set of miniatures for one single board game.  Maybe someone's done that many or more figures for one project, but for sure this is the first time pre-painted minis of this scale are being attempted.  It's exiting and nerve wracking.

How do you eat an elephant?  one bite at a time, right?  I'm eating the elephant of this whole cast of characters one bite at a time.  I'm still having a blast and I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, only a few more left to start from base mesh, and after that it's a period of polishing, Capcom approvals, and final prep for print.  

Rashid was a bit tricky, he has one of the more complex outfits, and for the longest time his pose was looking very boring.  I think it's working now, but once I added his wind tornado it became a surfer pose that began to click.  His airplane stage from SF 5 was really fun to incorporate into his base.

Makoto was nice and easy... I converted her base body starting from Sakura.  I repurposed Ken's Gi and added long sleeves to it, the rest was about getting the pose from one of her sprites and I took the idea of her wind effect from one of Rashid's attacks.  The zen garden for her base was also fairly easy to incorporate, pretty happy with her overall.

Karin was also relatively easy.  I took Sakura's base body for her too.  Adjusted some of her school uniform parts and I only needed to make a few new pieces.  The base was easy enough too and I incorporated what I think is her family crest to her base, Capcom will let us know if that's wrong I guess.  

Necalli is one of my favs, one because he's Messican like me, but also because he's just cool looking and fun to play in the game.  I incorporated a variant of the Aztec sun to his base, partly based on his stone form from the game.  It's also a risk that Capcom might not like that for the base, but worth a shot.

Viper still needs work, but she's about 60% f the way to where she needs to go, the pose still needs to get pushed further.

Ryu is coming along, but his pose also needs to look a bit more intense.  He'll crouch down a bit more and flex a bit harder.

Violent Ken is coming along, hope they let us use that Shadaloo logo on his back.

Gouken is coming along, needs more work on the pose and there's almost no sculpting done on his clothing, but he's on track.

Only about 4-5 left for the whole set to start and then it's all polishing, final touches, approvals and print prep...  wish us luck!
 

Street Fighter: The Miniatures Game WIPs - Wave 3

General / 04 May 2018

Today is the last day of the campaign.  It's been quite the roller coaster ride.

Still working like a dawg and lovin' it.  So much more to do still and look forward to.  Some of these are really challenging my composition, anatomy and working speed.

Ibuki has been tons of fun.  Still got a bit of final detailing and cleanup on her.

Q is based on an awesome drawing by Artgerm.

Fei Long, based on his ultra finisher, and a few pics of the famous Bruce Lee.

T. Hawk.  Dude is massive and he's gonna be a massive figure too.  Some detailing and cleanup left on him.

Dee Jay, based on a drawing by Genzoman.  Lots of cleanup left on this one still.


Juri.  Still bugging me how she looks awkward from some angles so I'll keep tweaking her.

Mika is so fun.  Some cleanup left on her too, but she's on track. 

And there's still more to come... the roster is at around 34 characters and might grow by a few depending on how the rest of the day goes. :)


 Here's a quick collage of all the figures we got so far, and that's not even all of them.  So this isn't even our final form! :D


Street Fighter: The Miniatures Game WIPs - Wave 2

General / 20 April 2018

Hi again,

I've been working pretty hard on more of these while the Kickstarter campaign is going.
Some of these are wide open for feedback and crits since I'm trying to make these as good as possible, so feel free to tear me a new one when it comes to the ones that look more iffy at the moment.
Sakura I'm actually fairly happy with, I'll just do minor polishing on her and her backpack, nothing major.

Cammy, my favorite character and main when playing the game.  Still tweaking things on her like the anatomy, her leotartd, and the blue paint swirl needs some work.  Will also mess some more with the impact effect.

  Balrog is still unpolished, he still needs his Vegas floor base and lots of refinement on the clothes.  I'll try to punch up the pose some more too.

Blanka has given me a bit of trouble, I'm currently trying to re-pose his arms and I'm re-doing the lightning bolts based on feedback from my friend Heri Irawan. :)

Same with Dhalsim, pose is ok, but it needs cleanup and polish, along with some symmetry breakage and I'm re-doing the energy bits on him.

Guile gave me some trouble, but I think both my client and I are pretty ok with him now.

Happy with Honda, but might bulk him up some more if I get a chance.

Dan I'm also happy with, he was very fun to work on.

I'm still working on a bunch of these and having the time of my life.  Best project I've ever worked on and I'm doing all I can to make these good.  Hope you like them too. :)

Street Fighter: The Miniatures Game WIPs

General / 12 March 2018

I've been working since last year on this project and recently finished the semi-final drafts of the first 8 characters.  I'm a long time fan of Street Fighter and Capcom, so it's been very enjoyable to work on this project.  It's also pushed and challenged me on improving my composition and anatomy skills.

Akuma was one of the first I worked on and by the time I finished the other figures I ended up having to come back to him to improve him some more in order to match the level of detail and style that the others ended up with.

Ryu was one of the first I completed with the intention of figuring out the quality bar.  I tried to make his fireball differ from Akuma's while still looking like a similar effect.  I also tried the ink effect based on Street Fighter 4's effect and on a similar effect used on a couple of statues out there.

Ken was requested in a classic Shoryuken pose.  This is a pretty common and obvious pose for him, but I tried to bring something extra to it by making rising fire spirals based on his super move from games like Marvel vs Capcom where the effects are very amped up.

The pose for Chun Li is based directly on the box art for the game.  I added some smoke and wind effects to hold her in the air, these are similar to the effects in an existing statue.  It's tricky to create something new or too new with the licensor and briefing constraints.  Hopefully I made something classic yet unique enough with her.

Zangief has been kinda tricky, but also very fun.  There are lots of interpretations of him out there with varying degrees of cartoony exaggerations and extreme stylization of his muscles and face.

Sagat took a bit of trial and error too, we tried a Tiger Knee pose, but ended up sticking with the Tiger projectile pose.

Vega went relatively smoothly.  We might end up removing the impact effect from his hand so that the claws are more emphasized and not hidden behind the effect.

Bison was started along with Akuma a while back.  He was much easier to finish once Ryu was completed as the style and quality bar.

These miniatures will be around similar size to Amiibos and will be pre-painted.  The kickstarter is coming in April 4th and I'll be working on the expansion characters too.  Looking forward to making more of these and to seeing how the campaign goes.  Wish us luck! :)

-Hec



Dragon Ball WIP Figures

General / 04 March 2018

Started working last year on and off on the DBZ miniatures game that Jasco Games and Angry Joe are making.  These are some of the minis that are in progress for that project.

I've been having a lot of fun with this project, it's been both fun and challenging since this is an art style that took a bit of getting used to and I'm still not as comfortable with it as I'd like.  The works of Japanese sculptors that have been doing toys and statues of these characters have been very helpful for this.

The figures will be similar to Amiibo size and will come pre-painted.  Some of these characters are getting two figures, one in a more friendly or non-combat pose and one will be an FX version with engergy blasts that will be done with transparent plastics.

Goku is pretty much done.  He's sort of the quality bar for where I'm trying to get everyone up to:

This is his FX version, almost done but not fully complete yet:

Piccolo has taken a bit of back and forth, but this is where he's at now, this version will still get some energy bolts coming out of his forehead:

His non FX version with the cape:

Krillin:

Krillin FX:

Gohan:

Goten FX:

Trunks FX:

Future Trunks:

Vegeta:

Vegeta FX, partly based on a statue of him at client request:

Yamcha:

Tien:


Raditz FX:

Nappa:

Goku, Nappa, and Raditz are the more finished ones, everyone else is still in need of a polishing pass and some fixes.  What do you think so far?  got any feedback or suggestions on getting these to the finish line?