Friday, December 25, 2009

Ramblings and Rough Women

Wait, I have a blog? Time to post so here is a WIP of an old sketch. Never got it to where I wanted to so I shelved it for the time being. This was the second of my female Gladiators.

As the year comes to an end its time to reflect. Now I've been with Ubisoft six months and hopefully I can start showing some of my stuff soon. For example I got to do some quick sketches for the Avatar game cover which was loads of fun - which leads me to the movie itself. Decided to write a little review about it, since I am a movie fanatic.

My problem with most action - sci-fi - fantasy movies nowadays has been that they rely on awesome effects to occupy you for the length of the film so you won't notice what a crappy story it actually was. So I am a little ashamed to admit that.... this time it worked. I guess James Cameron's 500 mio payed off because it had me stunned from the very first opening scene. Here is how I justify my thumbs up: For me there has to be a purpose for the use of cgi in a movie. The reason for that is that nothing can replace real settings, actors or props. As soon as you use cgi you are taking the viewer one step further away from "reality" and people are less emotionally invested. Actors also come less sincere across if working in pure green-screen studios talking to tennis-balls on sticks; or so I feel. This is also the reason why they still build real sets and haven't replaced real actors yet - cgi just feels fake if over-used. Sometimes I have not been aware that something was cgi and not real. For me THAT is special effects! I don't want to be taken out of the moment by going: oh, that was cg...

The dilemma comes when doing sci-fi or fantasy. There you often can't get around it simply because the stories are about fantastic things that don't really exist. Mix-matching real actors with fake surroundings or fake characters is always really hard. This problem was something Cameron avoided pretty well. Apart from some minor scenes the "real" human actors never entered the cgi world and had so much interaction with the creatures or the Na'vi. For the most part the story was split from the moment the main character entered his Avatar. From there on it was pure cgi and somehow I had less problems with that. So for me the entire movie was more of a fairy tale than a sci-fi action movie. It was just that thing about leaving your body behind to go into that new-beautiful and vivid world. And man, they did a hell of a job creating that world.

While watching the movie I never stopped staring, trying to take in all the details, colors and shapes they put in it. It was playful and took your imagination for a ride. The world they created was breath-taking to me and the 3d enhanced the experience by bringing you closer to it (or right in the center of it!) I for one was sucked in by the simple scale of things (the trees, the human digging machine)

But enough of the cgi. Now to the design.
I have to agree with people that have said that the design of many things could have been better. The creatures all had that extra set of limbs (two more legs, two more wings) but then resembled a lot the animal world of earth (the horse, the rhino, the wolf). Somehow I felt they could have taken it further being that you have a new planet and within that a whole lot of room to play with.
The human tech was not really innovative either - resembling so many things that one has seen before. And as simple and sturdy the AMP suit was it reminded me a lot of the suit Ripley used in Aliens to fight the Alien Queen --also a Cameron movie surprise.
And I had the feeling they deliberately kept the suit rather sturdy and less streamlined or sophisticated as to make it not too unrealistic. But when I then saw how it moved, ran(!) and even jumped(!!!) out of an exploding airplane without the guy controlling it looking like he was shaken at all.....!!!! I felt they could have designed it more high end.

The Na'vi were well done in detail and character expressions. But it was still a cat-human hybrid and not so unfamiliar to those kind of fantasy characters.

And that leads me to the story. After 5 min I already knew how the movie would play out and the trailer had also given you a pretty good summary of it. There were absolutely no surprises or plot twists... or even character reveals or developments that didn't meld perfectly with the set direction. This made me wonder - if you have 500 mio budget.... you should be able to hire someone talented to write you a little more sophisticated story, or not?
Personally I really didn't like the native American analogies they put in there. It felt like taking the values of a pretty much extinct people and going - oh its kinda cute, lets put it in the story. They could have for example had similar values - and not EXACTLY the same ones.... the whole praying for the animals as they take their lives...

Again, for me this was thus a very naive, simple story and more of a fairy tale that anything else. I do think that Cameron has set a new standard for the use of cgi and as sad as it makes me saying this - I think simply for the effects its worth watching.

Hey, Johannes....less talking and more drawing...

ok ok!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Yep, it's been too long. Time flies when you're...extremely busy. Got a lot of stuff done at work but will have to wait to show it as the games won't be released yet.
This time it's a mutated accountant. Always have fun distorting the human shape and I draw deep inspiration from the classic movie "the Thing". I will be doing more of these that I have already sketched :P
Also a quick face study I did from a frame capture...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Outer Space IV

Guess what...more ships. This time a space station and a cargo vessel. More to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Outer Space - Mothership

Pushing the scale - yet another ship scribble.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Outer Space III

Size DOES matter - Continuing my space explorations with some gigantic vessels. More to come.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Outer Space II

Newest addition to my ongoing space explorations.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Space Control to Major Tom

Some Space Ship designs that I've been playing around with. It's my first attempt but I'm really having fun with it. More to come.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Putting your Mind to the Pixels

Time to post some of the things I've been playing around with. Finished the Giants adding some details as to how they would be outfitted for battle. Next is the camouflaged defense system. Having fun with putting to pixel whatever comes to my mind these days. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


this is work in progress on some creature designs. Wanted to do some Giants to go with my medieval fantasy fling and have a few more ideas for them that I will be posting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

bike madness

some quick explorations on the same subject - futuristic bike.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

bubble bike

futuristic motorcycle design. more to follow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


My latest lunch break creation. 'An angel answered my prayer' has a whole new meaning with this one...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Magical Forest

the forest saga continues...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gladiators, I salute you.

Character design of a female gladiator. More to follow.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Land of Fantasy

Here finally my first new piece in a while. Decided to do an environment piece that later turned more into a scene. I'm actually quite fond of it and am turning from sci-fi to medieval fantasy. Also I have a sketchbook full of ideas that are just waiting to be painted.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Project A.S.H.

After a long break some news:

A long-term project finally saw the light of day - Alexander Seojin Holm was born on the 30th of June. I am proud to have accomplish
ed in great team work with my beautiful wife Mino such a perfect artwork.

In other news, I was recently contacted by a sculptor from Brazil who wanted to sculpt one of my creature designs - the Sea Rex. He does online tutorials and this project will be featured in a book he will be publishing. For those inte
rested, below is a link to his website where you can see the process of this sculpture.

my design:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

MALFUNCTION - project completed

The final pieces for my visual development project MALFUNCTION. Last pieces include additional environment detail variations, character variations and some cinematic illustrations. - it's a wrap!

Monday, March 30, 2009


The first in a series of promotional artwork for my project. The goal was to create a dynamic action piece as a poster or cover artwork.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's all going under..water!

The latest environment. Some of the machine city is flooded giving our hero the chance to escape the killer machines....or so he thinks (giggle). Trying to bring variety into the world so why not water. Bring out them speedos

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Raging Orc

Waarg ...or something like that is probably what this one is saying. Just a random sketch I felt like doing (40 min). I guess an ORC was overdue.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Machine City

Finally the internal view of the machine city. Here I just wanted it to look crazy, massive and fantastic. Although I still need to work on the machinery making it a bit less organic in look I felt this one turned out quite well.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Structure

My third environment piece. This one shows a wider view of the "lost city". Here we see the scale of this menacing structure that the machines have built. Sketches show development but I ended up with this octopus-like thing. Somebody also described it as a skeleton which I liked. Wanted the atmosphere to be beautiful but creepy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Land of Pipes

Second environment. One of my ideas was that the machines use water to produce energy. So at one point our hero travels through this landscape of huge pipes. As before I have a enlarged part of the image to show the details.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lost City

My first environment. Wanted to show the empty abandoned city and the towering robot structure. It spreads over the city so I decided to have it slightly shaped like an octopus. The lonely hero walking on the street below gives a sense of scale.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Refined Hybrid

worked a little more on the hybrid. voila.

Battle moves

Time for an update! This one was really fun. Decided to explore some of the fight moves of my main character. He has different weapons, but I like him also to just rip those blasted toasters apart with his bare hands. Btw am I the only one who makes sound effects while drawing these kind of things?