Client Project – Final Covers

I’ve now handed in the final versions of my covers for ImagineFX.

Deus Est Machina

Thanks to the addition of some blurring, textures overlays and image adjustments the final image looks really awesome. My brother was especially impressed, and asked if the machine depicted was a Necron C’tan (a being from Warhammer 40,000). I’m rather glad that my Kodak printer is really good with colour handling, because the CYMK preview in Photoshop wasn’t looking good if I’m honest.

Draconic Shaman

This one errs more towards my usual art style. The initial version didn’t have such stark lighting in it as this one, and there are extra details added to the outfit. I was very pleased to be commended by my client on how good my rendering and design of the head dress though, because if there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s attention to detail.

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Client Project Update 2

First off: following last week’s PRP lecture, where the research project being discussed was practically the same as mine with a different title, I’ve done a rethink of my current and upcoming artefacts and come up with a game plan – however, this did leave me with not as much time as I’d like to get responses for my current artefact, so I’m planning on proposing my presentation till next week. Also, I’ve caught a chest cold which has rendered it a bit difficult to talk for prolonged periods without getting wheezy and start coughing. I really want to get this right, and if that means pushing things back a week then so be it.

Onto Client, and I will admit it’s been a little neglected due to the PRP (my brain goes into a certain mode and doesn’t come out of it for a few days; it gets a little tiresome at times). But I am entering the final stages before sending them off to my client for a final once-over, so you’re getting a backlog update.

My client thought the second cover design was the strongest of the two, but was a little concerned about the religious imagery being a little too overt. So I went for the idea of it being a huge machine of some sort in a nebula billowing gas and creating new stars. I also added in a spacecraft to give a better sense of scale (i.e.: this thing is huge).

I always seem to lean towards to the surreal when it comes to things like this, and as I was sketching a design for the machine I decided to make its face resemble The Scream, with the open mouth having gas pouring from sort of like the “breath of life.”

I started blocking the shape in for the robot which is coming out really well. But at some point, I’m not sure when exactly, I looked at it and thought the composition was off, so I shrank everything so that it wasn’t taking up most of the frame. The colour of the robot is bothering me a lot though, and I think I need to make it blend into the colour of the nebula more since the idea is to have it mostly shrouded in gas.

For the other cover, my client was concerned that the two were too similar in theme (he was right; as previously mentioned my brain goes into a certain mode and refuses to come out of it), and gave a few suggestions to explore. One of them was “if dragons developed a society what would a member of a religious order look like?” There are no prizes for guessing what happened next – especially after I realised that I had already been playing with the same idea for the past few years in my spare time. I’ve been actively avoiding dragons in my work these past three years (not counting my Norse myth board game which had a couple), but by this point I’ve really begun to miss having the opportunity to paint huge “badass” dragons so I leapt at the chance and immediately sat down to work through the idea in my sketchbook:

It ought to be noted that when it comes to dragons I tend to avoid giving them armour and such – I’m rather logical with these kinds of things and the question keeps popping up as to how they would craft them in the first place seeing as they haven’t the hands for it. Also, much like a stag or gorilla, it makes sense that they would more likely grow any signs of status as part of their biology rather than use adornments.

I tend to have problems with foreshortening in my art (I’ve never been able to judge distance very well), so I make use of DAZ Studio to act as a reference model (no pun intended). The tie into the religion theme is that it’s pulling itself out of a temple (maybe it’s been stuck there, maybe it’s its cave with a fancy entrance; it could be either), hence the doorway visible at the back.

Also: DAZ Studio is the only program I have ever encountered that saves backwards. I’m not joking, the progress bar actually goes the wrong way at one point.

I was a bit annoyed with the pose I originally decided on, seeing as I’ve actually seen it a number of times in artwork. So I altered the angle (note: it is very hard to get any sort of sense of motion in these models). I did like the idea that it’s also using its wings to pull itself out of its hole, so that stayed in. Originally the mouth was closed because dragons with their mouths open are, to put it mildly, a bit overdone. But it just looked too passive, and passive isn’t a word I’d associate with a dragon of this design. So I did a reference with the mouth open as well.

The next 4 shots are various stages of the blocking (Wings 3D was used to create a rough horn as it was a pain to judge the perspective on it). The statues are very obviously a copy-and-paste job, but the head on the far one either needs reworking, or it gets hidden by the far wing (the latter is looking increasingly likely). The open mouth is still only half done as it’s rather tricky to sort out the angle of the bottom jaw. The neck needs reworking to add more tension into it, as does the far paw – I need to change it so it’s digging its claws into the step. I think I’ll also add in the remains of the head of the near statue as well to add something to the bottom of the image as it’s looking rather bare.

For the doorway, I’m currently looking these for reference:

The idea is to make the detail on the door look like it was carved with claws – meaning the detail isn’t as fine as the images here.

Work Outside of Uni

Aside from the unsurprising amount of time I spent absorbing ridiculous amounts into my brain (damn you Wikipedia), I did do something constructive other than Uni work, if a bit sporadically.

Sorta surprised myself with just how much I pulled from my sketchbook and hard drive (memo to self – make list of stuff that needs revisiting).

Scattered amongst the dragons (hey give me a break, I hadn’t drawn any for ages) are some attempts at human figures – mainly Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, since there’s a popular concept from that series that won’t leave my brain alone (it’s from the fandom itself actually, but still annoyingly persistent) – and some sketches from an afternoon in the Arboretum next door to our Uni building; which reminded me that drawing animals is incredibly tricky since they won’t keep still. I may need to bribe the squirrels in future. With the dragon sketches, you can actually see one particular idea evolving – there are 3 sketches of the same subject; two are very similar (the computer doodle came first), one has a reworked composition.

There’s also the black and white beginnings of a map, which might be recognisable from my Showcase last year (I might post that again, I quite liked that map), and a very strange mash-up of Lemmings and Doctor Who – I drew a Lemming version of the 4th Doctor for a laugh, and now I’m working on the set.  I hope they won’t be too long with Matt Smith’s costume shots, because I need to work out how to make him a Lemming.

3D work was much of the same – the 3D minfig, of which there are two versions, one for full bones animation, the other being a virtual equivalent of a real one (I’ve inadvertently discovered WordPress’ weird way of handling galleries it seems, the images I wanted to post separately have been added to it. Oh well, you’ll just have to guess which is which from the thumbnails [good luck on that]), and a 3D Lemming. That last one was, honestly, purely for fun and done (mostly) in one afternoon. I amazed myself with how accurately I’d modelled it, because I was working purely from memory – I might rig it and see what I can do. A friend asked if I was going to make a 3D Lemming Doctor – one thing at a time mate.

Mid-Week again (is it me or has time sped up?)

Well, yesterday Deb told us that some people’s documentation of our one-shot film left a lot to be desired, so I went to check the directed study parts of the worksheets to see if I could do anything else. Either someone forgot to edit this week’s or they’ve had to give a week’s leeway due to most people not being able to book out the studios.

Speaking of which – we’ve got one booked for Thursday! Living an hour away by bus makes for very small windows of time I can get into Nottingham outside of Uni hours (three hours doesn’t sound much when you consider what we have to do in that time). Thankfully I can get a lift that day, so I have more leeway time-wise.

Now, if I remember rightly, Ashley is on organization/coordinating the whole operation and has a small acting role, I’m on storyboarding and probably on lighting assistance duty, Andria (who I hope has got the message) is in charge of filming – setting up the shot, lighting etc (somehow I think we might end up arguing over that) and David is acting and in charge of booking the location and equipment. We were told to provide photos of the location – well, it’s a room and there’s not much to it, but I’ll take a digital camera with me tomorrow to get some photos of the set up and some behind the scenes shots (flash off of course, there’ll be enough light as it is with out that adding to proceedings).

Tuesday saw the return of Jools as lecturer. No offence to the guy who did the lecture for the previous two weeks, but most of us either mentally checked out, or were far more interested in the red dot moving around the projector screen.

We were talking about design and the design process, and were asked to think of a new way to “new” “fresh” and “cutting edge”, which no idea what the product was. Then we had to get into increasingly bigger groups to come up with a new better one, with the prize being cream cakes (I don’t really eat those, but had it been iced fingers I may have put more effort in the thought department). My group’s was a games console with a built in George Foreman grill and a drinks mixer so you can play games, make a drink and cook a full English in high definition at the same time! I still think a games console with built-in Chuck Norris was a winner.

The afternoon was us mucking around in Premiere (does that have an ‘e’ or not?) – been a while since I’ve used any Premiere. How to capture film, cut it up, move it about, mix sound etc. Now, if anyone knows where I can find an editor for Mac that works on Panther I’d appreciate it.

Completely going off topic now – I’ve been doing a drawing lately, and someone recognised it was Spyro the Dragon yesterday. I’ve recently started on a personal project redesigning the first Spyro game and I was aiming to show that Spyro didn’t have to look like he ran into a wall nose first when upgrading to next gen graphics (God I hate his redesign).

Knowing how doesn’t mean you can.

Now that I discovered .mov files give Youtube a serious case of indigestion and used .mp4 files, uploading my FMP film was a lot easier this time round.

I could say that this is stupendous, the greatest piece of cinematography ever made, but not only would it make me sound big-headed, it would be stretching the truth beyond physical possibility. The funniest thing is the two very different sets of reactions I got – my college lecturers, family, and most of my fellow students thought it to be fantastic. But when it was shown to the guys over at the Brickfilms community they pointed out a list of things that needed fixing. And I wasn’t about to argue with them over it. I know a lot about animation and the technical stuff behind it, but that didn’t mean I was going to brilliant at it from the word go. That comes with effort and practice.

Some of the problems included:-

  • Very jerky animation on Jeff (my custom dragon model)
  • Really bad syncing of the sound effects with the animation (my hearing played a part in that, along with my classmates being unable to keep the noise below a dull roar)
  • Bizarre ending (that on reflection might have been my sense of humour taking over)

I was going to post Frankenstein and write a quick summary of it, but that’s best left till when I can get time to watch it all the way through again.

For now, and this became much more awkward than it needed to be because WordPress’s file uploader is screwing up, I’ll leave the product of boredom from waiting for my sister to finish her seminar and during the relatively quiet times that happened during the family visit.