Portraits for Space Trader

I recently finished some graphics work for a Facebook game called Space Trader. Do check it out, if you like.

Part of the job involved painting some space opera style character portraits. I like saving the states of paintings as they progress so I can build a timeline showing development of the work, which is just what I’ve done for these four portraits.

Click the picture to see it at full size.


1. Grizzled space-commander

I figured he’d look good in one of those cold-war era looking command/control centers where everyone’s face gets illuminated from below by instrumentation. His uniform is a somewhat cold gray to feel more at home in a futuristic military organization while possibly on a spaceship . And I swear, my instructions just happened to make him look like Sarge from Quake 3, but then I think the cigar-smoking tough military man is a common enough archetype — the concept was crystal clear from start to finish. I also pulled the old cold vs warm lighting from different sides trick.

2. Gruff feet-on-the-ground sergeant type

I went with some peripheral suggestion that he has powered armor and some weaponry. There’s some destruction in the background to show that he’s just blown something up or he survived getting blown up. Either way, he’s a survivor. I’m not quite happy with the eyes and no doubt the lighting is a little erratic. (And I realize again that I need to practice a lot more drawing people’s faces, because lots of things are just a bit weird feeling. I find myself falling back on generic solutions to the problems of rendering faces when I use no reference.)

3. Helpful repair bot

Robots are easy — they don’t have to look like people, and I’m great at machinery. (All the junk in the background? I love that stuff.) The shape of the head evolved to look a little friendlier, less like a skull, and I figured that yellow is a friendly color that denotes construction and repair. The head still looks a bit flat, and the main lens not especially round, but it’ll do, I think.

4. Creepy bad guy

The first sketch was way too Destro, so he had to have a hood up if he was to remain metal-faced. (Metal-masked bad guys seem pretty common, don’t they: Destro, Dr. Doom, uhm … I’m out of ideas, never mind.) Or is it even a mask? I don’t particularly know. Still, it’s great practice to try to draw facets of reflective metal at weird angles with all kinds of indeterminate light sources — it forces me to wing it and try to make it look as believable as possible rather than anything like “realistic”. Ceci n’est pas une pipe anyway. The face evolved to being sharper and more lizard-like as I went on to look more, well, evil. Do note all the lines of the green pipes converging behind his head, bringing the eye to the center of the image. Yes, artistic trickery again!

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