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.

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Another Client update

Quick memo to self before I begin: make sure the chair is properly positioned in front of the computer if you don’t want another late night crick in the neck. I’m going to be feeling that in the morning.

I was really drawing a blank for other cover variations since the last post, not to mention racking my brains as to what exactly do I send my client. The whole proposal would be a bit overkill, maybe just bullet-pointed sections – a proper write-up will be handed in on the actual deadline.

Anyway, whilst wandering around the Arboretum next to our main University building on Tuesday, we stopped by the large aviaries there. And they had a lot of Cockatiels in there – here’s a picture of one that was very happy to come over and pose for us:

And this trigger a small brainwave. Quetzacoal, the Feathered Serpent (bit of a leap, I know. I do it a lot). So I went on another moodboard making spree:

I knew I wanted someone in a mask, and I was thinking along the lines of shamans – I also admit to being influenced by Princess Mononoke. The simple sketch at the bottom, second from right, is actually one of mine from a few years ago. This brainwave was the push I needed to come back to it.

This one has the most variations, because the first one, as you’ll see, looks silly. The second one is good, but a bit dull. The third has the most life in it I think:

Obviously backgrounds need addressing, but that will come in the main bulk of creating these covers. One thing that you’ll see in my own notes on the second picture, is my indecision over the type of mask (which I copy-and-pasted from the second version to the third because it had taken me ages to decide on the look of it to begin with). Below is a comparison of the draconic and avian masks on version three:

Really not sure which is better.

Now, a software recommendation for you all: if like me you’re not entirely comfortable at drawing people (I’m more successful when drawing in a sketchbook than on a computer) and can’t get to life drawing classes, get hold of DAZ Studio. It basically lets you position a model (already rigged with limits) and light it, like so:

It’s free to download and they’ve made a whole bunch of models free just the other day. Now I just need to figure out how to get my hands on Poser’s Wooden Mannequin model…

Oh, and the thing that inspired my second cover concept? Turns out it was this:

My love for that art style must have made it take root in my subconscious (we still don’t know who that is yet). At least I won’t go mad from trying to figure out the source now.

Client Project Update

Okay, okay, I know I’ve been exceptionally bad with this – breaking out of my usual mindset of working mostly in my head is surprisingly difficult.

So, my client project is to produce two illustrations that would go on the cover of ImagineFX, for which the prompt is “Art is Our Religion” that was in the brief I received. My tutor Andy has requested for that the images are A0-sized – I’m going to have to ask about dpi sizes when I get back in touch with my client (Xmas period mostly equals insane in their office, which is just as well, as I was rather preoccupied with the research essay), because A0 at 300 dpi actually succeeds in practically killing my iMac. It has 4GB of Ram, so you can imagine that this is a feat.

Anyway, images, and first up are the mood-boards I’ve gathered:

There’s this intriguing site called Dreamlines that I stumbled across on one of my meanders around the internet. Pop in a search term, and it uses images pulled from Google Image Search to create these bizarre fractal patterns that alter every few seconds (you have to quick with the screen grabs). These are some of the results I got when I put in “myth”.

One thing I hit upon is the idea of Creation – something that ties in with both art and religion. And what sprang to mind? The Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula (top-right for full nebula and bottom left for the Pillars themselves). Nebulas are works of art in and of themselves, and looking at these beautiful images is like the game of cloud pictures turned up to 11.

Some images of Sumerian, Byzantine, Persian and ancient Chinese art here due to the realisation that mythologies are actually religions, just not relevant ones today. However, I’ve kind of developed an odd fascination with HP Lovecraft, and decided to do one cover based on Cthulu of all things, which is why there are weird things. In the bottom-left however is the image that triggered the idea for referring to nebulas – John Howe’s Dragon of Chaos (based on the Persian myth of the dragon Tiamat being struck down by her son Marduk). Which is unbelievably gorgeous when seen in his Forging Dragons book.

And then we come to the slightly curious part of the inspiration boards. The Golem – a creature from Jewish myth that is essentially an artificial human created from earth. Of course it all wraps round into the creation theme.

There are three concept sketches so far; two of which are variations of the same idea, because I was trying to work out the general look.

The third one is somewhat based on Russian Icons, and the Omega Nebula (have you seen that nebula? I swear it looks like there’s a guy looming over the scene in the background). Now, the figure in the middle, I can clearly picture it in my mind’s eye, but the thing is I know I’ve gotten the design from somewhere and I can’t for the life of me remember where. There’s too much stuff going off up here, I need a bigger head.

Research project… I’ll get back to you with that one. I’ve a good idea about how I’m going to go about doing the artefacts (I have also found blog posts that are relevant to my interests, as it were), I just need to sort out the focus groups.

Anti-Piracy warning = nostalgia?

Whilst still trying to figure out a good idea for the simulated project, we went on a Disney nostalgia trip in our house yesterday and raided our VHS collection (we ended up watching The Lion King and Aladdin, in case you were wondering). Inadvertently, we ended up getting as much of a nostalgia kick out of the pre-feature piracy warnings as we did the actual films.

For those who might not remember them, they usually say that illegal video cassettes means a loss in quality, possible risk to future film production and possible damage to your VCR.

Annoyingly, this is the only one I could find. One of the later films (possibly Hercules, but I’m not sure) had one where it compared an actual copy to an illegal copy. We were all in agreement that the way these warnings were presented was far better than the ones nowadays, by pointing out what impact it has on you, rather than the corporations. Granted, the damage to the VCR is only likely to occur if the cassettes were damaged or tampered with (the tape’s a pain to get out once it’s been eaten), and in this age of digital media, the only problems you’ll encountered are usually down to someone screwing up. But there’s something to be said about the quality issue – I’ve amplified the audio on some mp3’s in the past (the iTunes volume check really is useless) and have accidentally ‘hit the ceiling’ on the waveform and caused distortion during the louder part. And if you’ve ever looked at Youtube videos, the quality is usually terrible, even when on the highest quality setting.

This got me thinking. When you copy something (and right-click save as doesn’t really count), it’s never the same as the original. So, for the 20 second animation (which by the way seems a rather short amount of time for this kind of thing) I figured I’d have a character trying to buy a DVD and, when he finds he can’t afford it, sticks it in a photocopier (for the sake of argument) to get a free one. The copied product is shown to be “flawed” (I’m really tempted to make it look like it was drawn by a six-year old) and something to do with the cops or something at the end. Haven’t figured out what yet.

One Shot Film in the can (so to speak)

Whoops, nearly forgot to do this. I have an excuse though – I spent most of Friday and Saturday trying to fix an error on my part. I’d taken the job of capturing the film and sending the file to everyone, but what no-one seems to let you know until you have to do it is that dv files on a mac will not be read by PCs. In the end I had to capture it to a pc and save it as a DV-AVI (would like to know how to do that on a mac please if anyone knows).

So Thursday afternoon and we lost half an hour because of the dodgy opening times of the equipment store – only open for half hour slots both ends of the day, and David couldn’t get the equipment because no-one was there. And we had to wait for the studio to be opened by the guy. I wish he was a bit less stand-offish, he made it sound like we’d done something heinous when we’d already told when we wanted the studio and equipment – at this rate I’d rather use my own equipment than go to him if he’s going to act like that.

THEN I realised I’d forgotten the tape, so I had to dash off to WHSmith to buy a pack. When I got back everyone was in the middle of setting up the lights and the camera angle and me and Andria promptly started arguing over it (I think we scared the lads a bit) – I couldn’t help but get the impression that she hadn’t looked at the storyboards because she thought we were using the original ending.

Anyway, we’ve got it done, slightly different to how I’d planned it out but it came out all right. So here’s the raw footage on youtube (If you don’t want to know, don’t click).

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One Shot progress update

This afternoon has been rather productive. Well, as productive as possible considering we were one member down. We’ve ended up altering the ending a far bit to cut down on the people needed and to have it make sense, because before the audience would have been forgiven for being a bit confused.

So I’ve redone the storyboards – after cleaning the scanner plate on my printer first, the thing was ditched. Next on the list is getting the dirt marks off my mac’s screen, the amount of times I mistook one for a mark on the file in Photoshop is nearly at triple figures.

Again, if you don’t want to know, don’t click the ‘more’ link.

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Planning Underway.

Now we’re getting somewhere. According to Ashley the delay was due to getting no reply from David. In fact we still haven’t heard from him, so we’ve gone for what we decided on on Friday and he’ll have to like it. I hate being made to wait a few hours, let alone the whole weekend!

OK, now I know I’ve got to post the synopsis and storyboards and the like on my journal for the lecturers, but for anyone looking at this who doesn’t want to know what happens and wishes to wait for when it’s uploaded (it’ll be in a couple of weeks), then DON’T click on the ‘more’ link. You’ve been warned, so don’t complain to me if you feel it was ruined because curiosity got the better of you..

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