Digital Horror Art by Martin McKenna

Digital Horror Art by Martin McKenna
Once you have mastered the basic tools of digital art software such as AdobeR PhotoshopR, CorelR PainterR, AutodeskR MayaR or NewTekTM LightWave 3DR, you might become curious about going beyond the basics when creating your own digital art. I discovered this book by Martin McKenna while I was searching for new books to review for BellaOnline. I was especially looking for books that did go beyond the usual drop shadow, bevel and other special effects and filters. I found what I was looking for in this book. As the title suggests, this book is about digital horror art and showcases the original artwork of several 2D and 3D digital artists. Each artist takes you step-by-step through their artistic process, from inspiration and conception to rendering or print, discussing the techniques they used to achieve their particular artistic style. But, don’t let the macabre subjects dissuade you from considering this book. The techniques discussed here can be applied to any subject.

For those interested in expanding their skills in 2D digital art and photo manipulation software such as Photoshop and Painter, there are several examples in this book which will introduce new digital art techniques that you may not have considered before. For example, in his digital painting entitled Party Ghoul, Mark Gibbson used underlying gradient layers and blending modes to create subtle lighting. In a second example, Felipe Machado Franco discussed how he added texture to his painting using layers and photographs of textures from the world around him. On the other hand, in his work called The Forgotten Spell, the author of the book showed his traditional approach to digital painting in Photoshop which began with a rough sketch, then flat color was blocked in and finally texture and detail were added.

For 3D artists, there are many techniques showcased in this book. For example, in Medieval ResurrectionTM by Sony Computer Entertainment’s Cambridge Studio, the final image was made up of several 2D background layers and 3D foreground layers which were complied in Photoshop. Richard Force had a technique that I have never encountered before. In his work entitled Vampire Wretch, Force first modeled his subject in traditional clay and then photographed the sculpture. Once in digital form, he continued to work on his piece in Photoshop by adding texture layers with blending modes. In a third example, Howard Swindell worked totally in the 3D environment using several 3D software including Maya, LightWave 3D and PixologicR ZbrushR to create his final work called The Creature.

Martin McKenna is a 15 year veteran illustrator and has been working in the game industry for some time. He is the author of Digital Fantasy Painting Workshop.

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