EXPOSE 6 Master digital painter Michael Kutsche
takes us through the creation of one tough Boxer.
elected for Digital Painting 2 by Don Seegmiller and as a Master Award winner in EXPOSE 6 for Storytelling, Michael Kutsche’s ‘Boxer’ on page 184 has shown skills with no boundaries. His game character creations also have the most tremendous presence. CGSociey takes a look at how he created the ‘Boxer’ and then shows some of his other works.
The ‘Boxer’ project was a personal exercise for Michael. One of those artworks where he stretches his knowledge of character and atmosphere, a chance for him to carve out more of an unbound, artistic approach. “I don’t like to create imagery that is 100 percent within one specific genre,” he says. “I’m more inspired by art that is a mix of all kinds of genres and above all, has a good portion of zeitgeist.”
“It’s much more exciting for me to walk between these landmarks,” he says, “experimenting with subtle nuances to hopefully achieve this certain effect where one can’t say if the character is scared, amused, entertained, delighted or disturbed. My work is mainly imaginary, but I seek to bring in a certain degree of reality. I actually think our world is beautiful and disgusting at the same time as well, while I don’t want to take refuge in a world of fairies and hobbits.”
It is a feeling Kutsche discovers every time he looks at the work of Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville, Ron Mueck, Stanley Kubrick and Chris Cunningham, some of his greatest influences.
“This ‘human-esque’ pig character had several appearances in the deep past, I think the first was in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. I wanted to create a version that looked less toony and more like a living, breathing being. Something like a bare knuckle boxer after the fight. I like the idea of genetically manipulated prize-fighters, it actually isn’t really out-of-this-world, doping has a certain tradition in sports, same goes for pig breeding,” explains Kutsche.
Like for most of the other artworks in Michael’s raft of characters, he started with a bunch of pencil sketches and line drawings of the character.
“I tried to stay away from too exaggerated, unnatural poses and deranged anatomy,” he says. “When looking at boxers, you will see that they have a different anatomy compared to bodybuilders, they don’t need to LOOK strong; instead they have to BE strong. That’s why I chose the rather round and massive forms and not too defined muscles."
Kutsche chose a kind of snapshot pose after the fight. He felt the viewer deserved some space to imagine what had happened just before. “That’s part of what gets me excited when looking at other artists’ works,” he says. “The goal is to tell kind of a story through the characters features and face expression, other than to show the whole scenery with the fight. It’s like looking through a keyhole and seeing only a detail of the whole scene, remaining curious about what had happened or will happen next. Maybe he’s no boxer but more like a puncher who collects protection money, or just a sadistic pig who slaughters humans,… Who knows?"
“When it comes to the painting of human skin, it’s always a great challenge and a lot of fun,” says Michael. “I could dive into a Lucian Freud painting with all this different skin tones that perfectly match like pieces of a puzzle.” The Berlin based illustrator tried not to use one skin tone with variations in brightness, but to use a lot of greenish and reddish nuances of the skin tone. “When working for clients, they often want that polished look that looks like 3D, he says, uncomplaining, “but for my personal work I prefer visible brush strokes that look more like oil paint than airbrush or digital art. The eye has more to explore and I can use the form and composition of the strokes to carve out anatomy and perspective and to create an interesting pattern.”
Michael Kutsche has other works in the market and Ballistic was very happy when he submitted some commissioned images for EXPOSE 6. ‘Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms (Indian),’ on ‘Battle for Asgard: Viking’ and ‘Battle for Asgard: pack front images came in with Excellence awards. An earlier work ‘Room’, was selected for the original ‘d’artiste: Digital Painting’ book by Linda Bergkvist in 2004.
Battle for Asgard: Viking
Photoshop, Painter, Softimage|XSI
Client: SEGA/The Creative Assembly
Michael Kutsche, GERMANY
After the finishing of the line drawings Michael Kutsche cuts out the character and adds a background color with some texture of his custom brushes in Painter. On a new layer (set to Multiply), he adds some rough brush strokes to define lighting and big forms of the character. He often uses the Chunky Oil Pastel in Corel Painter, as it has a real oil paint behavior and because it blends the colors perfectly.
“After that, I erased some of the outlines, merged all the layers and used the smudge tool to integrate the remaining lines a bit more. I also added some light spots to the background at that point to add some atmosphere and a cigarette to indicate that he is in chill mode. The work from there is in my opinion what makes the difference between a speed painting and a final piece: It’s defining the forms, keeping aware of the lighting, adding details, correcting flaws.
I had to do lots of tiny tweaks on the face and body anatomy. I also played a lot with the different skin tones and brush strokes while preventing from making the painting look stiff. Even if I try to achieve perfection, I don’t want to lose the natural and dynamic flow. The last steps were to add the tiny hairs and some color correction and adding grain and some glow in Photoshop."
Battle for Asgard: pack front
Client: SEGA/The Creative Assembly
Michael Kutsche, GERMANY
Michael Kutsche is an award-winning Conceptual Artist/ Illustrator/ 3d Artist and Fine Artist located in Berlin, Germany who has worked for the film and games industry since 1998. His experiences reach from art directing and animating commercials and music videos to concept and cover art for games and character design as well as production design for feature film projects, which are still under production. Between the paid jobs he keeps track of his own ambitious projects as a fine artist, always remaining true to his path as an autodidact. Clients include SEGA, The Creative Assembly, Sony Ericsson, BMW, Universal Music, Saatchi&Saatchi, Publicis, Fiftyeight 3d, 3Deluxe, ImagineFX.
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