The Avengers: Age Of Ultron – Movie Review

May 27th, 2015

movie reviewHere is the final chapter of Marvel’s Phase 2. And it’s a rather smooth closing I have to admit. Seeing this movie rather late with 4 weeks after its release, it makes me wonder where the hype has gone, comparing it all with the time when the first movie came out. There is nothing left. It feels like one week after the release everything stopped. Are people disappointed? What did they expect? Wasn’t it enough spectacle?

When talking about spectacle we watch the beginning of the film with a quite extensive action sequence. Everyone is there. Ironman, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. We don’t get an explanation of what’s going on and how it all got to this point. From what I gathered they are on their way to raid a fortress like complex because a bad guy somehow managed to obtain Loki’s scepter. Remember? The one that gave him the power he used to destroy half New York in Avengers 1. That action sequence goes on for a little too long and was close to exhausting. Of course our heroes manage to get the scepter. Banner and Stark start to analyze it and discover an artificial intelligence in it. Both decide to tickle it out of the scepter and see what it’s good for. They don’t tell the other Avengers about it. Which is one of many signs that they’re not the best team ever. The alien A.I. doesn’t like to be played with and decides to take matters in its own hands. While being held in the Avengers HQ it has all the best technology around and immediately starts to form a plan. Before doing that, it gains access to the Internet and basically recognizes that mankind has to get a reboot in order to make a step further. Looking at most of the stuff that’s on the Internet nowadays… I can understand that point of view for sure. The Avengers of course do their best to stop Ultron. Before that, they get a serious beating and decide to retreat for a while. They eventually regain their strength and go on to face Ultron in a final battle.

That’s all I want to say about the story. There is more going on and that even includes three new prominent characters with some cool powers. They way the movie starts, with that big action part, I don’t regret having opted for the 2D showing of the film. This film with its 2 1/2h in 3D would have been exhausting like hell. And watching it in 2D I did not notice a single scene that made me say “Wow! That would have been amazing in 3D!” On the contrary. In the fight sequences I was at least able to see what was going on. A lot of CGI objects thrown against walls. It got tiring after a while. It felt wrong, every damn single time. They way they do it just isn’t physically accurate. It takes me out of the movie every single time. Overall the CGI work was good though. At one point Ironman has to stop Hulk from rampaging through a city. That was done pretty well. Even though that action sequence felt too long as well. So overall the action was entertaining while, at least for my taste, it was always very close to being too much.

To counter the action parts, most movies take a timeout and move to character moments. Mostly to give the audience a breather and develop some characters a little more. And that’s where this movie, much like the first film, shines. Joss Whedon is really good with character interaction and dialogue in the quieter moments. Even better when not so prominent characters have a moment to shine. All the main characters, that have their own movie series going on, take a step aside in this Avengers movie. Instead we get more from Hawkeye, Black Widow and Hulk. It still amazes me how balanced the Avengers movies are though. There is not a single instance or sequence where any of the characters falls short. All of them get their deserved time. Which ultimately results in a very organic storytelling where nothing falls short and the audience gets a new perspective on certain things.

Sometimes it feels a little forced though. By that I mean bringing in as many characters as possible. It borders overkill and they managed to avoid it by only a small margin. To me it still felt almost too much. Even in the third act of the film we get introduced to a new character. A character that definitely, one way or another, will play its part in Phase 3. It’s a very long third act. Aside of that there were also a lot of references, which makes me wonder how lost someone would be, who never saw another one of the other movies. At this point though, it would almost be impossible to make an Avengers movie, that would work without referencing stuff. And then there is the Infinity Stone storyline, that will eventually lead up to the Infinity War movies in 2 or 3 years from now. They have to shove a lot of story elements down the audience’s thoats to explain and move forward the Phase 3 storyline.

A friend of mine said the movie was boring While I found the movie rather good for what it wants to be. I can see how it can be boring to someone who’s not at all into the characters. Even though that friend has seen the other Marvel movies and enjoyed some of them. This Avengers movie is quite a sit though. With all those overlong action sequences and repeating brawls between CGI characters it probably wouldn’t have been hard to cut at least 20 minutes out of that thing. The character interaction works great though. Even in the battle sequences there are a lot of parts where they work together and use each other to execute some great moves to take down some bad guys. That’s always fun to watch. Teamwork between the characters. The strongest moments are still the quiet ones. When our heroes reflect on what’s going on and what’s best to do next.

So overall I would recommend this film, if you are familiar with at least the first Avengers movie and you enjoyed it. It’s more of the same stuff and it, for the most part, works really good. Is it as good as the first Avengers movie? No, probably not. But it isn’t worse either. It just the element of ‘something new’ that is missing in this one. Which worked in favour of the first movie. But still, it’s a cool thing to see all these characters work together in one movie.

A solid 7.7/10 for me.

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron on IMDb

Galactic Civilizations 3 Artwork – Pt 2

May 20th, 2015

Here we have the second batch and first of additional three pictures I created for Galactic Civilizations 3. These were made for some sort of a Tech-tree screen where you can choose special skills for your civilization. Said screen is divided into three key aspects (benevolent, malevolent, pragmatic) that represent a certain set of skills to choose from.

Skillscreen – ‘Benevolent’

This first image is used for the ‘Benevolent’ screen. It’s a light and bright setup to represent a more friendly approach with good intentions.

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Skillscreen 1

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

These projects were done with Vue and Photoshop. As usual a combination of multiple renders, manipulations and overpainting.



Dark Star – H.R. Giger’s World

May 20th, 2015

movie reviewIn my early days of playing with Photoshop and trying to be creative and productive with it, there was a very good friend who had this gift for me. It was one of the first artbooks I ever had. It was about HR Giger, his life and his work. I always was a big fan of the movie Alien and fascinated by the creature design. I knew the name behind it but never really checked on background info. Every now and then I stumbled across an image that immediately made me say “that must be a Giger!”. Time moved on and to my surprise (even today) I made something off of my early Photoshop fun days and became more serious and professional. Which resulted in the fact that one of my artworks is featured in a book (Ballistic Publishing’s Expose 8) that also had a big feature about HR Giger in it. That’s a tiny bit mindblowing.

This new documentary is about Giger as a person and how his art influenced him, his friends and his life in general. Since Giger passed away not long ago, this documentary is a nice, quiet and calm sort of goodbye to, what seems like, one of the nicest guys ever. And we can be lucky and thankful to director Belinda Sallin to have this film. For me it wasn’t an easy watch to be honest. While filming, Giger wasn’t in the best condition and you could see that it’s going to end soon. While he himself does not speak too much, it’s his friends, family and colleagues who speak for him. And who else would be able to say better what kind of person he was, right? And from what is said in the film he was a very fantastic person. Not perfect of course… but kind, friendly and helpful. A very good person.

I like the title of this documentary since it’s stressing that it’s not entirely about Giger’s life itself… instead it’s more about what surrounds him and made him the artist he became/was. The film starts in his house. And you immediately feel like in some kind of labyrinth. It’s dark. Full of books and pictures. It’s neither clean or tidy… but it isn’t dirty either. It’s more of a controlled chaos. It feels organic. It’s a world in its own. And that’s what the documentary does very well. It’s no documentary with fancy graphics and design elements… it’s all film and presented in an organic fashion. Well suited for Giger and his work. We learn a lot about the people who followed him over the years. There is not a single person who said anything negative about him. Everyone who is talking about him, spoke with a certain warmth, respect and passion. Giger left a fingerprint on these people and it’s not because of his work. It’s because of what kind of person he was. He was not able to see the final film but I can imagine that he would have been very happy about everything his friends had to say about him.

In the middle of the film we get some more insight into his work life. How he’s inspired and where his ideas come from. Along with some fascinating speculations by his colleagues and friends. Although that’s all very vague. Giger himself doesn’t really know how and why he comes up with these images. Images that are so strange and yet familiar. Images that could be so frightening but are so much more fascinating. We get to see some rare footage from the production of Alien in the late 1970s. Back then he was full of energy and at his creative peak. He moved on winning the Oscar for his design work on Alien. We see that Oscar in his house. A little dusty… but still shining. Then we go on and learn about his parents that were mighty proud of their son. You can see it in their eyes. And isn’t it that what every child wants? To see that glimpse of pride in the eyes of their parents when they talk about their kids? And as the viewer of this documentary you’re constantly wondering how such a great and likeable person could come up with these strange paintings.

But Giger’s work is not limited to paintings alone. He also made a lot of sculptures that look equaly strange and yet familiar like his paintings. We see the Bar he designed and his personal Museum. So much amazing work in there. All these paintings in their original size just look great.

At the end of the film Giger is wandering around in his museum and it really feels like a goodbye. It turned out that it really was the last time he was there. It’s kind of sad. But on the other hand it’s amazing work he created, that definitely made him immortal and something he will be remembered for. Beside that moment there are a lot of touching sequences in this film. He left his mark on a lot of people. Not just friends and relatives. Later in the film we hear him say that he’s happy with his life and how it turned out. Which makes the fact that he’s no longer with us less sad.

Ultimately this is a must see movie for anyone who has a slightest interest in art or even movies. A perfect double feature with Jodorowsky’s Dune. It’s a very quiet and respectful portrait of one of the most fascinating and original artists in recent history.

The guys over at The Projection Booth have a nice talk about this documentary as well: Check it here


Dark Star: HR Gigers Welt on IMDb

Spectrum 21 Feature

May 8th, 2015

Spectrum 21

Here we have a book of extraordinary quality. And by that I don’t mean the presentation and quality paper. It’s more about the diversity and quality of art that is included in this fine publication. It contains all kinds of artistic fields and artists that define the visual media of today. No matter if games, movies or entertainment in general. No wonder that other editions of the book were nominated for a Hugo award. Quite amazing. This book actually would not even be on my radar if it weren’t for Lauren Panepinto at Orbit Books. Quite a while ago they used my ‘Phoenix Rising‘ piece for the cover of a Simon Morden scifi book. Lauren seemed to really like my picture and submitted it (as well as works by other artists) to the Spectrum folks. With a little luck my picture made it into the book. That was a great surprise. So a couple of weeks ago I received my copy of the book and want to show you some bits and pieces.

And my ‘Phoenix Rising‘ on page 52.

Find the book here – Spectrum 21



French Connection – Movie Review

May 7th, 2015

movie reviewI’m a William Friedkin fan. He’s certainly one of the best directors of 1970s and 80s. His ‘The Exorcist’ is timeless and ‘Sorcerer’ is thrilling to no end. I recently watched two of his movies in a row and that was ‘To Live And Die In L.A.’ and ‘French Connection’. Both are cop movies. While ‘French Connection’ is a true classic, ‘To Live…’ oozes 80s all over the place. But here I want to talk ‘French Connection’ from 1971.

It’s about some french sorta kinda business men who want to smuggle some dope into the USA. They have it all planned, ready to carry it out and do so. In the mean time we are introduced to Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider). Both are cops in New York and are really eager to do the job as efficient and best as possible. These guys are fantastic and the Scheider/Hackman duo does work great. I think the film does portray the police work in new york back in the day very accurate. It’s very dirty, sleazy and rough. I really liked that element. And our two cops are willing to put in the extra hours to do the job right. You can see how the fatigue strikes them both almost down while they investigate the leads they got in regards to that coup the french guys are trying to pull off. There are some really great cat and mouse plays between Popeye and the french leading man. While the investigation of it all runs into some empty corners, every now and then we see how Popeye is almost fanatically trying to catch the bad guys. No matter what. Forces and drags his partners with him.

If you want to get a good impression of a 70s New York in Winter then this is the go to movie. You can almost feel the chilling cold when Popeye and friends observate the french guys. Also a big nod to Roy Scheider here. I didn’t even know he’s in this movie but it was a welcome surprise since I really like to see him. While Gene Hackman surely is the main guy, Roy Scheider does a nice job with his character in balancing out the ruthless determination of Hackman’s character. Really good work from both of them.

On a technical note the movie feels very very modern and almost uptodate to styles that are common and used today. The camera is always in motion and very dynamic. It has a handheld feel that reminds very much of the Bourne movie series. And this movie is 30 years before the first Bourne movie! But that’s sort of a trademark in Friedkin’s work. It’s all very visceral in its presentation and feels very realistic. The camera work makes the viewer feel as if he’s right there. Loved that approach. And the good thing… it’s never crossing the line into shaky cam territory that drives me crazy. Nowadays it’s used to cover up shitty vfx or bad skills. Back then it was used to bring the viewer a little closer to what’s going on.

Friedkin also likes to work with subtitles. Which makes it all much more authentic. So the french guys are actually speaking french in the movie. This helps to give the whole story and presentation a very specific international vibe and ups the scope. Also the presentation of New York as this greasy gritty shithole that it probably was around the time, really pushes the atmosphere as a whole. It sometimes feels like a Labyrinth that you can get lost in far too easy.

I should have seen this film earlier but that’s how it is sometimes. Now that I saw it I must say that it’s one of the best cop movies I ever saw. The movie won 5 well deserved oscars (Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Writing and Best Director) and that pretty much says it all. Now I suggest you rush out, go see this film and learn where all the modern cinematography started! Hush!


French Connection on IMDb

Come A Little Closer – Creative Process

April 20th, 2015

For a more detailed insight into the process behind the image, I created a short video, that should be able to visualize the stages it went through. I tried to save all the testrenders but I admit that some slipped through and did not make it into the video. There still was enough material that shows how it went down and the video should be able to show the process in a good and almost complete way. The models used in the scene are bought via DAZ3d and modified through Cinema4D or directly in Vue. There you can also see that I tend to pack my scenes full of stuff that often times isn’t even visible in the final picture. Hope you enjoy the ride and maybe learn something. I surely did when creating this picture. =) Come A Little Closer & Info Here.





Come A Little Closer

April 16th, 2015

Come A Little Closer (if you like)

Here we have a pic that is near and dear to my heart. Sometimes you work on a project and it’s your one and only baby for that time. When the project is done it’s time to move on and you kinda lose a bit of that passion you originally had for it. For this particular one that’s not the case. I still enjoy this one a lot. It’s certainly not perfect and has its flaws. But it has so many elements that I really enjoy when it comes to pictures.

The original idea for it came (like many ideas) in a sleepless night. You know, these nights where your brain can’t turn off and can’t stop think about stuff. The first spark and image I had in mind where simple shapes and these two specific walls on the left and right. Basic but interesting architecture. The rest fell into place as soon as I started the creation process. Some very extensive extra time went into the scifi complex in the background. The hero building in the far back spawned the idea to play with it and ultimately resulted in the creation of my (earlier released) “The Eternals” artwork. Yes, “Come A Little Closer” actually pre-dates “The Eternals“. So now it’s seriously about time to really go public with it.

Technically it’s Vue again. Basic vector modeling to create details for the front room and some specifics in the background. For the two rocks that are implemented in the walls I used a Worldmachine created terrain. Worldmachine added a lot of fantastic detail to make that part look petty awesome and realistic. The lady was done with DAZ Studio and refined in Photoshop. The outside complex contains heavily modified models I previously used and the far mountain background are photos.

Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.

Vue – Worldmachine – Photoshop – 7000×5053

Creative Process Video Breakdown

Print Detail

wallpapers available



Galactic Civilizations 3 Artwork – Pt 1

March 16th, 2015

Late 2014 I began to create a couple of event-screen images for Galactic Civilizations 3. A great game if you’re a fan of scifi exploration and strategy. Every now and then you encounter random events that force you to make a decision that will have a certain impact on your empire. These events needed some background images that sorta set the mood for the event. So I created 4 pictures for four of these events. Some of them were interesting tasks that forced me to go different routes than usual. Beside the usual Vue & Photoshop route I had to try myself a little with 3d modeling (which isn’t something I’m too firm with). It definitely paid off and I’m fairly happy with the results.

Example Event – ‘Worms’

“The location of our colony on this planet is apparently the prime hunting grounds for a species of massive, building sized worms. This is by far the most fertile land on the planet, so we don’t want to move if we don’t have to. But on the other hand, massive building sized worms. What are your orders?”

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Eventscreen 4

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

Example Event – ‘Swamped’

“Upon landing on this world, you quickly realize that it has been inhabited before. Beneath the northern ice, explorers have found an ancient starship. They believe they can free the ship from the ice, but the resulting melt will flood much of the arable land on the planet, and the climate change will kill most of the unique native species.”

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Eventscreen 3

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

Example Event – ‘Powerful Drug’

“The flowers of a specific plant on this planet are a powerful intoxicant when ground up or smoked or inserted various places. The drug provides an intense feeling of contentment to all those who consume it, although in a few cases people have been content to walk directly into powerful machinery.”

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Eventscreen 2

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

Example Event – ‘Beautiful Sunsets’

“The atmosphere of this planet, thick with poisonous particulates, does have the side effect of causing beautiful, even spectacular sunsets, and word had spread through the galaxy of their beauty. A burgeoning tourist industry has developed, resulting in many coughing tourists, ignorant of the dangers of this planet. Your colonists are getting tired of stepping over their bodies.”

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Eventscreen 1

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

These are the 4 projects I did in late 2014. It was a nice, productive and successful experience. I had to work out a couple of things in order to get my ideas done. New techniques and approaches. Luckily it all worked out and I hope the pics will help to build a neat world within the game.



Memories Of Ascalon

March 5th, 2015

Memories Of Ascalon

I don’t exactly remember when I started working on this one but I was big into playing Guild Wars 2 at the time. Hence the title and the inspiration for this one. Great game and exceptionally detailed world.

When I started this a long time ago (almost 2 years ago), I haven’t had done any big Fantasy projects in a while and focussed entirely on Scifi. So it was about time to expand a little and try something different. The outcome looks fine I guess. Played with terrains and a colourful daytime atmosphere. I’m actually very tempted to rework the colours to be a little more reduced but that’s the mood I’m in these days. Back then I found them to be right and therefor I will keep them.

Technically it’s business as usual. Vue to create a plate and Photoshop to refine, composite, overpaint and fix things.

Vue – Worldmachine – Photoshop – 6000×2553

Plate 1

Plate 2

Plate 3

wallpapers available



Gothic Dreams – Dystopia

February 22nd, 2015

Gothic Dreams - Dystopia

Here we go with two pics from my artwork catalogue have been featured in the recent book release “Gothic Dreams – Dystopia” by Flametree Publishing. It’s a really cool book that gives young folks the perfect introduction into the field of dystopian scifi stories. May it be books, tv productions or movies. Everything illustrated by some really good work by fellow artists from around the world. I even recognized a couple of the artworks. The book’s price is really affordable and what you’ll get is a book that’s printed on some nice thick quality paper that perfectly serves the artwork it presents.

Find the book here – Gothic Dreams – Dystopia

The featured pieces are: Epica & The Moebius Passage