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!

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