The concept illustration 'Speed Runners' was a personal project, mainly geared towards helping me get quicker results with my concept work. At the time, I was involved in creating a series of illustrations based on science-fiction themes using a ZBrush to Photoshop pipeline. 'Speed Runners' was a direct result of that multi-platform experiment.
A little over a year ago I had the opportunity to attend the Gnomon Workshop, where artists Barontieri and David Levy had shown the process for creating their incredibly dynamic concept art. Part of that process involved the use of 3D software to model abstract shapes which could be rendered and later composited in Photoshop. Although I had already dabbled with a little 3D illustration, I remember being very intrigued by the use of 3D as reference for creating concept illustrations. Having the chance to see these professionals at work really created the initial spark I needed to test the waters on my own. At that time I was not nearly as flexible with the use of 3D applications as I would have liked, so I set out to learn what I could and settled on ZBrush as my 3D application of choice, based solely on its small learning curve and flexibility.
When I initially began the illustration, I had been experimenting with different ways to design generic ship models in ZBrush using a technique created by a user named "SaltaPiedras", of the ZBrush Central forums. This technique involved the use of texture masks which could be used to create deformations based on hue (Fig.01 - 04).
Essentially, I would begin by creating a rough model using ZSpheres, and increase the geometry to very high levels. A generic texture mask would be applied to the model and deformations could then be created using the deformations properties panel in ZBrush. I took this process one step further by exporting a high resolution render of my results and then importing it into Photoshop where the illustration process would take place (Fig.05).