What does this piece mean to you?
For me, Cyberpunk has always been laced with some form of oppression, whether that’s from a dictatorship or technology. As a huge film buff, I enjoy taking inspiration from a plethora of big movies. While Bladerunner is iconic for a cyberpunk theme, Terminator 2 depicts an alternative playing with the idea of computers taking over and putting humans at the bottom of the food chain. Having three children, my partner and I are often heard debating about how the world has this sense of connection, but lacks connection in a deeply meaningful way; we are nurtured to have beliefs in things that really don’t matter, but we feel the need to do these things or have these things regardless.
So, for this piece, in particular, I wanted to evoke a relatability by keeping it sort of ‘old skool’; buildings that we can relate to, and then huge structure-type beacons that have the word ‘Life’ with the flying vehicles all seemingly heading there – but for what exactly? I wanted to ask the viewer what this story could be, without applying too much distraction.
The roads are predominantly empty; is this a poor district? Is there taxation on vehicles? Are they even allowed? The taxis seem to be the only means of quick transportation. I wanted to capture the generic cyberpunk ‘hustle and bustle’, but with a dark and somewhat self-sufficient layering– with a quiet driving force behind how the city/citizens might work.
Take us through your process.
I knew I wanted a vast landscape, not only to test myself technically, but to create the idea of a large population affected by what was going on in the scene. I then dropped the Cyberpunk Mini Kit into Maya and started to mess around for an hour or so, and during this time, mentally noting and developing ideas.
Feeling that the story would be driven better from a poorer district, I used the slum type buildings predominately. Then I found a composition I was happy with and sent it to Keyshot. A few low-quality renders were done to see what suited the narrative/looked cool. From there I dropped my Keyshot render into Photoshop and began my paint-over, adding in detail with textures to keep the realism showing through.
Base render before bringing it into photoshop.
Adding more depth by increasing the fog in the background buildings.
Adding more detail in the background by focusing on the values of the buildings closest to the horizon.
Introducing color with a sky background, and beginning to bring life into the scene by lighting up the buildings.
Dropped in additional buildings, adding in some buildings for a better composition.
Can you tell us about your career path?
As a child, I was always the best ‘drawer’. The teachers often showcased my work to children in higher school years. Being from a working-class background, specifically growing up in social housing where a lot of poverty was around me, there were a lot of distractions. Due to this my art sort of left me from childhood until I was 23-years-old.
I went into carpentry but still had a thirst to undertake something where I could express my eye for detail/creativity. Being within the carpentry trade, this offered some, but a limited creative expression. As time went on, I felt a void and I wasn’t happy with not only the people in my life but life in general...fortunately I was one of the lucky ones that had a supportive family behind me and encouraged me to do what makes me happy. I applied for both the armed forces and as a mature student for university, which meant going to life drawing classes on my lunch breaks.
All the tradesmen on site would start gesturing drawing/painting to me, while laughing, but as the taunts and ridicule increased, so did my inner desire to succeed and find that artist within me again. Long story short, I got into both the army and university courses but decided to take the university route instead.
Despite deciding to study illustration, I warped every brief so I could do concept art, the art that I found most fascinating. Completing my degree with a first-class with honors, I was lucky enough to land a job in a studio umbrellaed under Warner Brothers just the week after finishing university! Fast forward 6 years and still working within the games industry, for TT Games Studio who produce the Lego video games. I’m just happy I now have the lifestyle to paint every day and learn new techniques/processes, for example using KitBash3d kits as an example!
And finally, what does art mean to you in both a personal and societal context?
Art is obviously very subjective and personal, and I work for other people so usually, there are limitations on self-expression. Art to me on a personal level is something that reflects the good or bad of our surroundings. I tend to think on a more obscure frequency for some reason. I see the words and legislation of politicians, societal movements-- the pollution that you can’t see-- and I view these aspects of our world as the artists. What happens there creates the pictures we’re all apart of.
Nathan Haines placed 2nd in our recent Cyberpunk #Kb3dcontest and is a concept artist working in the video games industry, currently full time at TT Games Studio.