Guess I should update this with the colored image
@Naugat: Thank you! I do have a blog
but theres less in it than this thread 'cause I delete stuff often.
xk0be: There's pretty much no ref hunting for stuff like this. If I were going to make something more realistic or if it needed to be in a specific theme (like "Warcraft universe") I'd probably farm up ref like crazy but for things like this where it doesn't really need to make sense or fit in anywhere specific other than maybe my own work I usually just wing it with whatever I can think of while painting.
I don't really know what anything is going to look like from the thumbnail. The most important thing about the thumbnail is the silhouette which I always try to keep, everything else can and probably will change. From that thumbnail I only kept the hood, mask, vest, and shoulders. I wouldn't say its pure imagination as if I have a picture in my head or something, about the only thing I know I have nailed when I start is the silhouette, I make up most of the stuff as I go as it's needed and I don't really get clear pictures in my head of how stuff looks.
The whole process is kinda organic, and is mainly trial and error. The thumbnail is a starting point, I usually try to use a lot of the original shapes in it to start with but if they aren't working I throw them out; Like initially the thumbnail had some indicator of thigh plates, but when I painted them they looked like shit so I changed it to just pants, but just having pants looked boring so I gave him some satchels on one side (I see pouches and shit as lazy design a lot of times but hey evrybody needs carrying space, how else do you going to carry around packs of skittles?)
If you compare these two (1
) images on this page you can sort of see the evolution of that. They're both nearly finished but #1 was an earlier version, his belt just didn't seem like it had enough going on so I threw a dagger on there, it also helped make the character a bit more asymmetrical. Also if you look at his shinplates, they got simplified because I felt the pattern was just too busy and didn't flow well at all.
When it comes to the patterns and shapes and stuff I have I guess predictable habits when I make shapes, I tend to put hard straight edges and curves together and they usually always meet at a sharp angular point. I rarely ever us a line transition with a curve. How you use shapes really defines a lot about your characters, if you use really curvy shapes, especially in the silhouette your character will look very organic and pretty neutral/nonthreatening usually. Nobody is intimidated by the pillsbury dough boy. Spiky sharp shapes look more aggressive.
Here's a picture of the chest in progress...
On the left side you can see the old version (I painted half at a time), where I was trying to figure out the pattern and on the right you can see where the top half of the chest plate ended up, while still trying to experiment with the bottom half. Again, this was basically trial and error, I spent a while just experimenting with patterns.
I know it's not really helpful but a lot of this is just me looking at something I painted and thinking "I don't like that" so I change it. Usually because the lines/shapes don't flow well, theres toomuch/not enough detail, or not enough material variety, or things just are plain uninteresting (really subjective obviously...) Balance is the most important
I don't think about colors nearly as much as I should (especially in this piece cause it was painted in grey) which is why the colors are sometimes crap.
Dunno how useful any of that info was, how I make artistic decisions is a pretty deep question and I'm not always sure how to explain :P