Monday, December 29, 2014

Consider The Vulture Part I of II

(Sneak peak at the render at 80%. After some touch ups the final render will be posted next week.)

     This is another creature concept from the Gnomon creature design class. This time around I really pushed the linework and pose before moving onto value and color. This creature began with a strong  narrative for one of my upcoming personal projects. It is a minor role, but a role that takes place in a specific action sequence. Without giving away too much, this creature quickly strips vehicles for parts in a tight window of time. He does so using an unconventional method of senses and a few key tools. So before even laying down a line there was a distinct feeling established.

     I have been looking at condor heads for a bit, trying to figure out an interesting way to rework the form. This concept didn't quite land what I was hoping for, but it was a step in the right direction. In getting this iteration done, it forces me to push the next use of the reference. This piece already provides some new ideas for the next one, being able to see missed opportunities is good way to improve on future concepts.

 (The rough color pass was done in a little bit under an hour. I used the extra time to double back and refine the linework as I found myself with some sloppy details. Working up the line detail allowed me some time to think things through a little more.)

      Most of the time, a separate collage of reference material fills my second monitor while working. There are a few sets of reference. There is a general collage, anatomical collage and style/color collage. For this tighter turnaround, I dropped a narrower set of reference on a separate layer in the PSD file. I would keep it hidden, then switch it on when reviewing. This is a good reminder to make sure I'm not forgetting design elements, it also helps build a visual library by drawing without looking at reference too much.

     I wanted the creature to be a bit of a spectacle while moving, similar to when a chimp grabs a branch or object and runs with it. So elements like the bag dragging, ropes dangling, dust being kicked up and feathers flowing all support that. These extra elements also make for a more dynamic stride, as the creature will be somewhat inhibited, making for a more distinct motion. If this were taken to animation and the character's role justified the budget to pull it off, he would be a challenging but fun character to animate. Designing for animation is something I have been trying to keep in mind. If you can get animators excited about working on a concept it can create a valuable energy amongst a team. A strong concept can help re-ignite enthusiasm in long term productions. That said sometimes a creature/character's role doesn't justify the budget and time spent on an elaborate design. It is important to design with constraints in mind. Sometimes those feathers, furs or tentacles just won't be worth the resources.

(The simplicity of the background really pulls the character forward. It looks as if it is standing in a foggy environment. After pushing passed this point I found myself wondering if a simpler approach is better. There may be a last second decision to bring back that fog.)

     The value painting went relatively quick and not too much texture was lost from what was added to the original flat fills. The volume of the forms could use more refinement. There is enough information there, but with improved rendering of the forms it could have popped more. Especially with a pose that creates a lot of overlapping. There is also a bit of a tangent where the tip of the tool in his right, front hand crowds the foot details. The back right arm also crowds the left edge of the image. During the final polish some of this is accounted for; But it is better to establish the fundamentals early so the final rendering more about lighting and material definition.
     The secondary arms were a late addition which lead to them feeling a little disconnected. In part II of this post improvements to this area will highlight ways to bring some unity to these forms. The same goes for the material variation. I feel good about the variety and rhythm but the transitions from one organic material to another need some more nuance.

(The blue color was a surprise. It was inspired by the color found in a turkey vultures feathers that accidentally fell into place when dropping in the growth reference.  The blue pulls him out of his environment and also is a bit of a visual curve ball as blue is not as common of a pallet for creatures.)

     As far as the physical features I wanted to push a simply understood base form with accents of oddities. I imagined the rocky growths weren't necessarily a natural aspect of the creature, but a sign of some growth defect or condition. The natural fleshy build up on his head needed visual function as well as sensory function. This lead to developing the idea that the form is actual a temperature sensitive area, allowing it to compensate for the lack of eyes. There are a few other elements that provide alternatives to vision that will be noted in the next entry. As the concept progresses smaller design elements are refined or added. In this case a lot of scarring, dirt, hue shifts and story details will be added to break up monotony across the forms and continue to push the eye where I want.

     When developing creatures it is helpful to narrow down some idea of an environment of origin. That way you can find what is most comparable on earth and run a Youtube playlist of Nat Geo documentaries exploring those areas. As you pull from your memory, these documentaries work like a sideline coach. In the brief moments you glance over some great ideas or visual elements get tossed your way and fluidly get thrown on the page. 

This is turned out to be the last post of the year and not the last one. So whatever I wrote at the end of the last one should be here.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Phantom Tollbooth part II: It was the Age of Foolishness


(I imagined Phantom Tollbooth as a film packed with literary reference from opening quotes, character details, name and environments. It seemed a right approach considering the message of the story, but also as an alternative to the current trend of pop culture references within pop culture references which is starting to feel cannibalistic and overtly commercial.)

     The major goal for this experiment was to develop an art direction that nudges at the current constraints of children's movies. The imagined film was to look back at some classics and what made them so memorable. Often it was the willingness to not speak down to children, take their personal issues seriously and not feel pressure to constantly jingle the keys in front of them. That said, they were also masterful in their strategic placement of whimsy, nonsense and goofiness to give the audience rest and rhythm. 

     The wonderfully chaotic world of Phantom Tollbooth is perfect for this approach. So far, I fell a bit short in my goal in that I leaned too far on the serious side. I forgot to include some whimsy, some rest. Fortunately, this is an early development and the problem can be addressed in two ways. Iterating on what is there, or balancing it with other characters and environment concepts (which will be reviewed in a delayed part III).

(I wanted to pull specific film inspiration that relied on writing; treating special effects as the bonus opposed to CG fests that rely on cheap emotional notes. There is a type of movie that seems to be missing. A lot of films have a lot of pressure to kick off the next 8 entry series or Dorito Bag campaign. There seems to be some space for thoughtful, more personal stories.)

      Slowing down a pace of a movie while keeping it interesting, particularly with movies aimed at a younger audiences, has to be challenging. So it is always magic when someone pulls it off. The collection of frames above are examples of movies that sometimes stand still, but through incredible set design, cinematography and narrative context, always deliver a high energy level. The team behind Big Fish does it so masterfully and confidently that the movie almost toys with the pacing. When ever working on a project I try to pull benchmarks that may not necessarily influence the look, but are inspiring in the effort put into the details.

(Same as when collecting the warm reference, I gathered cool pallet reference from films that do a lot with less. Not necessarily limiting myself to children's stories. In the middle the frame represents the crossing of the two pallets. It is from the incredibly underrated animated film The Croods. It weaves imaginative world design with meaningful story.)

     This brings us to a problem with the character concepts. As mentioned above, things got a little too serious. The character concepts may be a bit dark or creepy and need some balance. Pav Kovacic once again helped snap me out of my gritty tunnel vision. He suggested to loosen things up by playing with proportions. The proportions, although designed for practical effects, are a bit too conservative. The basic forms could be improved with more energy, movement and rhythm.

(The mustache like appendages and costuming reference the original illustrations. His additional name is reference to Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Seeing how Gregor turns into a bug, it seemed like a natural connection to Humbug being a panicky door to door salesman overwhelmed by the world he lives in.)

      I decided to develop Humbug over Tock as I felt his character is a little more important for a live action film. A giant gentlemanly bug is going to draw a lot of attention. A dog alongside a little boy has a lot of history and does a lot of the work for you, so both visually and with story I wanted to bump up the significance of Humbug's role. He is a potential future of Milo if he continues on a thoughtless path. He is the result of lacking critical thought and letting systems make decision for you as you stumble along. Additional character notes are embedded in the concept sheet.


(Originally he is referred to as The Terrible Trivium. I dropped the "terrible" as I wanted to play up his sneaky, deceiving character and it seemed a bit on the nose for a live action story. The numerical addition was to establish the character's sense of self-importance.)

     Trivium represents the illusion of power working with in a system that looms over a world. He wants Milo to see him as the boss but the reality is he is merely a puppet. This brought about the trim design and butler (conductor or as it has been described) feel of the costume. He represents another possibility of Milo's mentality carrying him away. In this case it is what happens when Milo not only embraces a system and allows it to do his thinking, but let's that system motivate his decisions rather than lead them. In the narrative he has Milo move grains of sand one by one. The leaking sand from his pant legs and sleeves connects him to the mundane work and show he is literally become a construction of the work. The fragile mask ends up falling off and shattering on the ground as he is completely rendered powerless by Milo telling him no and walking away from the mundane work.

     Overall I am satisfied with the general direction of the designs. If this were for a project I could follow through on, a couple more tweaks and it would be in a strong place. The production sheet could use another rendered pose to detail the range of personality and also show some more ideas in regards to how the sand leaks and fabric moves with the body.

     This might be the last post of the year, if it is Happy Holidays, Happy New Year. It will be 2015 and according to Predator 2 Los Angeles is 18 years behind falling into complete chaos. That is a good thing. If this isn't the last post, un-read the message above so I can copy and paste it into the next one.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Phantom Tollbooth part I : Pre-Emptive Apology to Norton Juster


 (The original story by Norton Juster was a favorite when I read it as a kid. The Charles Dickens quote was relevant to the meaning of the story and also to the modern condition this adaptation was examining. The mismatch I found reinforced the unpredictable, off the wall nature of the story while setting the tone for other literary reference.)

     While studying at Gnomon I had an opportunity to build a film pitch for Phantom Tollbooth. A course called Visual Structure, taught by the awesome Andrea Adams, allowed some freedom to establish my own guidelines. I decided to use the course to build out an Art Direction and Pipeline that I could effectively use for the content at hand but also carry over into future projects. The course was a thorough breakdown of narrative structure and meaningful visual design in film.

    The goal was to imagine a film that could fall into the "middle" budget category. The target of an 10-13 year old audience, with the idea of including parents, allows for a fair amount of freedom over simpler films aimed at young children or trope ridden films chasing the full blown teenage, Hunger Games crowd (enough with the love triangles!). It is also an age that a story may have more impact as it is right before the distractions of the average teenage life come into play. I was inspired by great films like Iron Giant, Labyrinth, Where the Wild Things Are and Big Fish.

      Phantom Tollbooth is a story that could be properly adapted and updated for live action without betraying the source material. Having read and loved the book as a child, I felt confident in respectfully interpreting a story that stays true to the source material. That said, this may very well piss off Norton Juster. If this had been a professional project I would do everything I could to get the involvement and support of the original creator.

(Phantom Tollbooth Synopsis for context - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phantom_Tollbooth)

(It was exciting to approach color scripting in a layered manner. Whether or not this would make a difference in the end is uncertain. I would have to see this followed through to determine the value. It could be that this is simply spinning the wheels more than necessary. A simpler color scripting may achieve all that is needed just the same.)

     The Hero's journey is a traditional and widely used structure. I wanted to rethink the idea of that journey and introduce the philosophy behind the journey. This brought about Plato's Journey, a scripting that mashed together the Hero's Journey and a cliff note version of Plato's Cave (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave).

     The early colors are inspired by the pallet of a cave lit by dim lights casting shadows on the wall. So I wrapped Milo and the world in warm but subdued pallet inspired by fire, ember, wood and cave walls. The movement to a more diverse and cooler pallet represents the leaving of the cave and opening up of cloudy skies and vibrant nature.

     The relationship between Milo and the world also needed to be distinct. This was done by establishing a similar but ultimately independent color script for the lead character Milo. One that reacts and moves with the world but follows its own course of transformation. Although the world moves about chaotically, Milo's progress is steadier than expected when he reflects at the end of the journey.
(Expanding on the usual art direction approach, I gathered reference for specific pallets. Embedded in the reference is additional style, tone and visual reference.)

     While collecting warm pallet references I wanted to keep them tight so the latter stages of the color script would pop with a wider range, more contrast and saturation. At the same time I was wary of the direction feeling to bland or static. In order to avoid this, I researched great artist who wield subdued pallets while maintaining a sense of energy. In some cases, pulling frames from films and editing them with saturation shifts in Photoshop helped narrow down pallets.

(Before working on character concepts, gathering visual character reference but also voice reference is essential. So although the look of the people may play a role, their voice and personality serve as another form of influence. This alongside art direction notes serve a a compass..)

      Great character visuals start with great personality story and voice. It helps to see them before you see them. Even if the visual development strays from the original reference it helps set a tone and emotion. The aim was to really establish characters that fill the screen and stir distinct feelings in an audience. Doing so while reaching for some unexpected inspiration helped build enthusiasm.

(When re-reading Phantom Tollbooth I understood Milo to be depressed, something that may have not been recognized or spoken about at the time of the original release. A modern interpretation can develop these ideas without changing the story or character. This was done by referencing both stories I have read or have known personally.)

      The visuals would work well if they could deliver the original message but also reward the application of that message (importance of critical thought) to the design. The notes in the image detail some of the ideas behind the design. Below are additional bullet points.

- Milo's warm pallet wraps around him and connect him to Plato's cave. The stripes represent the feeling of being bound by his original mind-state. The logo that looks like an upside down exclamation point is a hint at a key hole, further pushing the idea of being mentally and emotionally locked up.

- The heavy bag represents traditional education. Something that needed to be left behind for the journey into searching out ones own education. The bag's strap lock is a seat belt buckle in order to visualize the safe and necessary side of structured learning. The damage and roughed up look is also meant to express the risks and dangers of unstructured education if done with out persistent critical thought.

- The rendering was inspired by J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell. The aim was to create a new American nostalgia that properly represents the diversity of American culture; as some of the old paintings represent a specific type of American life.

- Milo slowly looses apparel representative of confinement. The deconstruction of his military school uniform. The creation of his own super hero suit and logo with his painted hand. The colors are reference to a sequence in the story where the orchestra plays the color into the world every morning. I imagined the color would be like wet paint before settling into the world.

- The extension of Milo's name (giving him an initial and last name) was inspired by the civil rights leader A. Phillip Randolph. There is value to creating new images and also referencing real life people who are inspiring without the use of religious undertones. It delivers a more universal message.

     Another pass will help push a detailed, painterly and expressive direction while being assisted with photo call outs to define materials. The last two iterations suffer from some slightly wonky proportions that need to be tweaked. The poses can also be adjusted for more weight and expression. The notes could due with a larger font and more concise wording.


(Scuffs and a mocking sign stuck to his back hint at being bullied at school. The book sized package expands into the tollbooth. The changing package pallet is meant to foreshadow Milo's transformation. With more time, showing the vibrantly colored tollbooth concept along side the different package stages would make for a stronger concept sheet.)

     The call out sheet needs a bit more work. The front view could deliver more information rather than just repeat the view from the first sheet. The package concepts would have a stronger initial read if they were included in the scale line up. Right now with out the text the size in comparison to Milo is a little uncertain. Both sheets in general could do with a bump in contrast and form definition. Going forward I have quite a bit of feedback from some great artists that will help improve the concepts on every level.

     When it comes to developing human and costume concepts, it is important to capture the magic of classic artists. There is a warmth and character in the proportions of Rockwell's work that really sells the personality. A modern artist who nails this is Moby Francke. I admire his ability to produce painterly expressive strokes while balancing the high resolution areas that masterfully define material and form. I have a long way to go before catching up to his work, but thanks to Andrea Adam's insight, the concepts really pushed me into new territory and I feel good about the direction it is headed.

    That is it for this post, trying to make these a bit shorter. There are a lot of better things to be pointing your eyes holes at; like videos of kangaroos fighting or Danny Glover's sweaty forehead.

Below are the artists referenced above:

Moby Francke - http://mobyfrancke.com/
JC Lynedecker (Google Him!)
Norman Rockwell (Google Him!)








Saturday, December 20, 2014

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Blurst Of Times: Chicago to LA

      
      While I chip away on some personal projects, I decided to take some individual course at Gnomon to stay sharp. Gnomon has been a great experience that I would recommend on any level. The classes have been quality and they also have an awesome community of talented and enthusiastic artists that really makes the experience their even more valuable. 

      This entry is the first of a handful that break down some of the work I did while at Gnomon. Below are works done while taking a class by JP Targete who is an insanely talented concept artist and Illustrator. The class was a Creature Design class with a focus on fundamentals of anatomy construction and design grounded in believability. Improvement was notable weekly and with every sketch. The first image is a collection of rough sketches and idea development for a concept focusing on believability and imagined anatomy.

(Toolshed Design - If time permits it is valuable to explore every possibility. These sketches play with a range of creatures covering humanoid, domesticated and wild. This stirs the brain for the piece at hand while creating new design tools for future projects. I won't copy and past but will redraw and redesign with old ideas as additional reference. Things get cut but some are stored in the tool shed. For example, the saddle, the head or the ostrich legs might all find their way into future concepts. Future posts will highlight this as well.)

     The image above is a collection of imagined studies and not the iterative process. Depending on the task I usually switch up my approach to iteration. Sometimes I paint silhouettes with simple value (usually when working on a "hero" character, costume or something that needs an "iconic" feel).

     Tasks with a narrower focus or with tighter turnarounds, I tend do as many rough sketches as I can with in a set time and flesh out a little more detail if I am trying to sell a more subtle design. Then once the sketch is done I go back in a create a fill to highlight the silhouette next to the sketch. This is quick and easy way to deliver more information and also double check your silhouette read. It isn't orthodox and involves a little more work in the earlier phases but I have found that it can really pay off if the presentation is clear and concise.

      That said, some studios or even leads with in a studio may require that you take a certain approach and the ability to adapt to that is important. Other scenarios may require results so quickly you need to effectively work things out on your own and deliver. This concept being for a class with a relatively tight window set for myself, I skipped a lot of steps to focus more on improving my rendering. I did a series of loose sketches until one really popped out.


 (First pass on value and call outs. I pushed along pretty quickly as I wanted to focus on the rendering. This lead to some shortcomings in design. It could have done with a much stronger silhouette and more playful proportions.)

      It has proven valuable to treat every angle and call out as a valuable resource, I can burn it up with static poses which will still deliver important physical information, or I can go all out and deliver additional info within that space. So back, front or side views also tell you how the creature runs, reacts to distant threats or how it balances itself.
     It boosts the value of a concept if it not only gets artists excited but designers, animators, sound engineers, programmers and even the occasional marketing face person that may swing by to see how things are going. I have found you can tell who is who by how much they are smiling. Even if designing something that walks passed the frame in 5 seconds, it helps to be able to explain every last detail, down to why the nails are shaped the way they are. Ultimately concept art is more storytelling than it is illustration. This is something I am really trying to develop in my work.

(Early stages of color, bounce light, temperature shifts and filters. It is a little flat and the canvas lacks unity. That is okay for now as I am still playing around with certain details.)

     One of the most valuable lessons I learned from JP Targete is not only stressing anatomy, but developing some noise/texture to the concept early. This can be done with a dirty custom brush to break up flat or clean fills before you dig into blocking light and pulling out forms. By the time you get to the stage above, a lot of the sense of dirt,texture is engrained into the foundations. It creates a sense of surface without literally painting skin detail or dirt.
     This piece doesn't best represent it as it was the first one I did with this particular technique. The sense of volume and light could have been a lot stronger. Additionally, the striping on the skin could have and should have been a little bolder to create some organic rhythm and eye movement. I also should have really placed more weight on the front left leg. Often times when working in a new technique uncertainty or even the time spent working it into the pipeline can take away from other areas.

(The concept as it stands today. This piece was done with a quick turnaround and a lot of experimenting, so it isn't my ideal presentation. However, I made sure to have most of the building blocks in place: dynamic pose/action, Material changes, alternate views, story notes, function, atmosphere and scale reference. It is missing some photo reference and notes.)

     For color I have two approaches, with a enough confidence and vision I will jump straight into color from line work. I then check my values using a hot key to switch on and off grey scale. The sacrifice is in simple form reads but the plus so far has been bolder color pallets. In time that will eventually balance out but for now it is something I need to be aware of.
     The other technique is to really work in values and not only define volume, but also design local value rhythm. Using the change in value to move the eye around. Then when the value is at about 70% I work in color with blended layers (I used a combination of Color, Overlay and Color Dodge). I find my pallet is not as bold with this technique but it is slowly improving with time. Anthony Jones is a master of stunning light and form and watching more of his tutorials will really help me in that area.
     Moving forward from this concept I needed to deliver a more believable anatomy, define macro forms more precisely and really punch up my pallet. Before this goes on the revamped portfolio site I will run in through another hour or so trying to fix some of these issues. In the following days I will post some newer work that succeeded and failed in various areas. There will be some tie ins and hopefully the posts with work with each other in a helpful way. If not I apologize in advance for the waste of time, poorly written word things and long winded blog posts.

Below are the links for the artists I referenced.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Uncanny Grand Canyon: Meet Will-Mar

      
 (A bit too subtle, the foggy border was supposed to give the piece the feel of peering through a dirty window. It didn't quite work as I'm not sure it would have gone noticed without my mentioning.)

      This is Will-Mar (The piece was inspired by a photo of that mart that has Wal in its name). Another early piece for the Sci-Fi universe currently under casual construction. Below is the story write up for the character, which is going in the right direction. Most of the time these exist somewhere while I paint. I figured I would start including them with the posts. It is one of the few pieces that actually made me laugh out loud while I was painting and building up the story details in my head:

      The tragedy and self-victimization of those lacking self awareness is embodied by Will-Mar. This alien floats around on an often overheating scooter. It spends most of its day poking around shops of all sorts until the inevitable boredom sets in. It does attempt to assimilate by wearing a homemade "human mask", or at least a mask of how it perceives the humans around it (future posts of the humans during this time will explain the mask detail). Despite its earnest effort to soften its appearance to the human race, the mask only further terrifies and disturbs people. That on top of its generally unseemly manners. At the same time it draws a hidden curiosity, as neighborhood children like to peer from at it from behind windows and anything serving as a shield.

     This however goes mostly unnoticed, as its care for others only goes so far. Its sense of its societal role is carried over from a near royal social status on its home planet. So focus lies mainly on its own desires and comfort. This leads to inconsiderate behavior and a tendency to gorge in luxury. It considers itself above other aliens and most humans, floating by others with a quiet dignity and silent disdain. Unfortunately for it's species, it is prone to the abundance of fatty foods on earth. This leads to its astonishing weight gain. This is no bother to it. In fact, it finds the anti-gravity scooter to be a delight, especially finding one in a nice golden color. Their extra set of arms also proved to be more useful than usual when it comes to reaching around it's newly acquired girth.

(I realized I obscured a detail with the steam from the overworked scooter. The can being held between the front of the scooter and the belly was amusing. I decided to call it and just leave it as is. I have been looking at it too long to determine just how readable the can is behind the steam.)


     This piece was a bit difficult because I started it, then put it away for quite some time. Having learned quite a bit since last picking up, there are a lot of early mistakes I needed to salvage in the later stages. That said, sometimes you just have to power through and let it turn out to be what it is. Then move on and improve with the next one.

     I struggled a bit with the color pallete (and spelled it wrong in the image), mostly because I waited too long to even begin considering it. Now when working, even if staying with values, I make sure to have notes and reference for the pallet on hand. It makes a big difference. A stronger color design could have pushed this piece a lot further. From a design stand point the cut and patterning of the clothes could have been way stronger if it were a little more extreme or playful with proportions. That was the case with a lot of the pieces weaknesses, in focusing on technical aspects I tightened up a little bit. The head appendages are another example. They are pretty bland and I missed an opportunity to really play around with some more interesting, crown like forms.

    That is it for this thing and hope to be posting some more things later this week so it's a thing on the blog...things.

      

Friday, October 10, 2014

Icarus Fails Again: Focusing on Design Principles

(The photo touch ups could use some more work to make them fall into place better. On my Cintiq they read better, but on my monitor that is a little blown out the contrast drops and they don't read that great. Which is a reminder to be thorough with the details because you never know what will expose weak areas.)
     
     Another old piece dusted off and polished up a bit. This is the first of many sketches and speeds for a Sci-Fi universe I have been building through sketches and story notes. It is slowly turning into something pretty extensive and exciting. So here is hoping it accumulates to something worthwhile.

      The intention with this was to create a design that had some visual flare while pushing some basic design principles I have been learning (3rds, 70/30 Ratio, Imbalance and Movement). The implementation isn't very subtle, but since this piece I have improved the ability to wield them with out it being to on the nose. The speed was started very loose in technique and concept. After the initial 20-30 minute speed, I wanted to establish the ships function. That way the rendering and decisions moving forward had a story and meaning driving them.

(First 20-30 minutes of the speed. Usually these early stages are where you establish a foundation that can be evaluated with accuracy. If it isn't working for you at this point, its is probably better to do a few more 20 minutes sketches rather than struggle with one for an hour or so before moving on.)

     It is intended to be a luxury transportation ship of sorts, meant for travel through the solar system. A bit like a flashy sports car crossed with limo. This justified pushing the flashy/gloss like body and the bold red decal (the decals were a missed opportunity to push the design language). This also justifies the lack of any apparent windows that could be peered into. The red often symbolizes power on top of being very striking to the human eye. Overall I think I mismanaged the pallet a bit. I could have done a better job at balancing saturation vs de-saturation. More research, experimentation and reference is the solution to this problem for future pieces. 

(A little closer, messing with different decals and scale. Bumping up the saturation as I tend to make the mistake of working way too muted. I make sure to flip the image regularly to avoid any skewing that can sometimes happen.)

     The sleek design and movement of the silhouette is meant to guide the eye in a loop so the attention wraps back to the front. That said I intentionally wanted to make the front of the ship a little ambiguous since it could potentially move in all directions with ease. The side engine pods and tail are supposed to hint at the ability to retract and tuck back in to the body during increased speeds. The idea is there but needed better execution. The form of the back pieces is a little wonky and the function of everything connecting the separate parts could read better. Iterative design would have solved this problem.

(Thanks to a great tutorial by Thomas Scholes I now set my grey scale check to a hot key. So in no time I can switch it on and off and make sure my values are reading. I can also make sure that the design in the values properly encourage the guidance of the eye.)

     The ship's claim to fame is its' ability to withstand a wide range of temperature. Thus the name Icarus was given in a taunting manner. The engineer bragged that his Icarus would fly close to the sun with out any "melting of it's wings". I imagined that this ship is an early build and that when challenged, the Icarus in fact malfunctioned when approaching the sun. Its' defenses weakened and was obliterated in a very public tragedy that made news watchers very sad for a couple weeks. That is of course until Justin Bieber VII got caught drunk driving again.

Still digging through the folders and will be posting more shortly, as well as beginning some new pieces that I hope to post in the next couple months.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Probably Fun Thing I Will Supposedly Do Again



     This is an older sketch I did to play around with stylizing an animal while still maintaining some illusion of accuracy in anatomy. The was a simple painting, but it is the beginning of changing my approach to studies and digital painting in general. Instead of literal studies, I started doing more where I change quite a bit, stylizing, changing context and adding objects. The occasional one to one studies are good, but the challenge of painting the essence of something has been fun. Although this piece is not particularly impressive, it is a bit of a landmark in progress. Things began to shift in a new direction afterward.

(The progress of the painting. I definitely lost some of the energy in the initial sketch which is common when having to slow down the technical aspect and worrying about the execution of rendering. If this were something I was spent more time on, I would maintain the movement and flow in the lines that create the front feet as well as the mouth. As well as push the variation in clor temperature.)


 (I initially did this as a final, but the whole thing had an off/odd feel so the final composition reinforces that. I think the composition of this one works better as a poster feel.)

      This hopefully will be the first of many posts as I have quite a hefty bag log of work I have done and locked away. I am currently in the process of revamping my portfolio so a lot of work will be polished up and hopefully fit for posting. 






Saturday, August 30, 2014

Uncle Art: A Portrait of an Aspiring Comic

 

This is a profile of Art Weis, AKA Uncle Art, a struggling comedian living in a single-occupancy hotel room on Chicago’s North Side. I work on this film with my friends Jonathan Vogel and Martin Meinerz. It was a interesting experience and we are hoping to do more.

You can watch it on vimeo here: http://vimeo.com/104686852

On the concept/sculpting side of things there will be new posts in the near future. Studio work has taken a lot of time but I have a back log of stuff to share once I have more time to organize and post.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Figure Drawing and Painting - More Practice

     It has been awhile since my last post due to numerous things keeping me busy. Here are the results of my latest figure sessions. Hopefully I will have a few imagined pieces posted before the end of the month. I tend to start 10 different things at once which leads to a whack-a-mole sort of scenario, but not nearly as entertaining. Although I never enjoyed whack-a-mole, but that is besides the point.
    At the moment I am a little over my head with barbarians, aliens, spaceships, demons and all types of nonsense. I need to narrow the focus a bit and even cut loose some promising pieces. This will allow me to put more time into a few pieces and getting more out of it. Once I do that there should be a flood of content, including some sketches for the upcoming comic project I have been working in for some time. So here are something to look at in the mean time.

(Painted from reference. Practiced rendering different materials. I added the wires from imagination in order to understand the forms better. They are a bit off but helped my brain think in terms of a 3D space.)

(Many random sketches and renders.)

       These sessions have definitely made a difference, a shift in approach is necessary though. At this point I really need to start pushing my imagination and testing my ability to truly understand the forms. This can be done by getting the pose down then doing multiple layers of imagined clothing to practice how fabric will fold and drape over the body. That or start doing some sessions with figures wearing clothing from different time periods. Also pushing the detail of the rendering and focusing on the muscle groups will give my anatomy understanding a boost. Outside of that, I need to find another source outside of the web tool I use, there isn't enough variety of body types in the gallery. That can be solved by collecting more reference photos and ultimately, finding live sessions.
     Bottom line is the goal for the next few months is to keep pushing at my limits and transition the lessons learned into imagined concepts. This is a bit of a boring post, I promise monsters, aliens and weirdos will return to the blog in full force in due time.

Until next time.