Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Symbolism in Adaptation Design to promote Story.

This character design came form an idea which passed through my head about a month ago. I was recommended a short animation named "The Reward" by some fine people at The Animation Workshop. It's a wonderful piece, and I strongly urge you to go and watch it if you've not yet seen it. 

The animation follows an "Odyssey"-esque tale of two, initially, reluctant companions. The animation follows the two characters across a vast array of locations and situations, which goes to support the underlying message of the animation. (hint in the title). And ultimately it creates this wonderful idea of the world these characters live in, in the viewers imagination. 

When I was mulling over the animation, it occurred to me how well the animation conveys the longevity of the duo's plight through it's locations. 

This started this whole branch of thinking about how the changing of an environment or a character could symbolise the scale of an adventure or story, or even the changing of a character literally. 

And I started to wonder how this could be applied to story adaptation. Could an adaptation benefit from something like this?

In "Tangled" Disney took the original idea of the girl in the tower etc. and manipulated the story so that the wonder of the story derived from the journey and reward of the characters Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. 

If you wanted to take this story in a similar manner, so that the journey is still the focus, but adapt it to be this wonderful visual experience of time passing and the character becoming wiser and conveying the changing of the character through their appearance. 

Basically, I had this idea in my head of a main character travelling for months, and as they travelled from point to point, their appearance echoed the changing of seasons. The seasons could also mirror the mood. (summer - happy, etc).

Seasons as a symbol of mood or emotion are very often used in literature. However, I struggle to find an adaptation which harnesses this through visuals. 

A sort of similar symbolism I believe is used in Tangled. Rapunzel longs to return home (to the stars). Which glow like her hair does (symbolic that she belongs where the stars are: She resonates with the horizon). It sort of reminds me of the symbolic Green Light in "The Great Gatsby" (I enjoyed Higher English). A similar example would be Disney's "Hercules" with the Lighting Bolt medal.  

I'm sure this must have been done before, but anyway, the journey could be something like as follows -

 -with the character unsure of the journey, but full of life and promise anyway. bright colours, a spring and in their step - (Spring)
 - finds their footing, the "pinnacle" of life. more certain of their actions, (Summer) perhaps over-confident - which leads to...
- (Autumn) This would be the climax or result of conflict within the chosen tail. 

...You get the idea. 

Anyway the one I felt drawn to explore first was Autumn. I'm not sure why, but I created the following art. The character is pretty irrelevant; It was more the colour and mood I wanted to investigate. 

I really like the way the hair turned out, it almost reminds me of an acorn or something. Either way, I think the hair is very reminiscent of autumn leaves and the colour of the hair and skin work well that way. 

I feel the face should be more aged, and the expression could be improved. Instead of looking lost or hopeless, the character just looks indifferent. 

I'm still working on the other seasons, But I think I'll continue to use the same character and just manipulate each design for the season. 

Would love to know your thoughts. Thanks. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Critique from Author and Game Designer Chris Solarski.

A few months ago I mentioned a fondness of the book "Drawing Basics and Video Game art" by Chris Solarski.

I like the book because I'm such a huge fan of drawing inspiration from the "Old Masters", as Solarski addresses them, and studying the way symbolism and colour and lighting was used so carefully used by a number of these artists.

I decided this was good enough reason to message Chris in attempt to get his two cents on my Adaptation painting for the Fleet Foxes song "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" (Below) Because I had drawn most of the idea for the paintings' composition from Artists from the Dutch Golden Age.

Pre-Solarski Crit Painting.

Turns out it was a great idea, because not only did Chris give me his two cents, he picked apart the entire painting and provided me with the means to push the image further.

Here is the revised painting, based on feedback from Chris.

First refine.

Second refine. (Open in new tab for full res).

His advice mainly revolved around pushing the idea of symbolism further. He appreciated that I had incorporated the use of light as a symbol, but more importantly felt the use of colour to symbolise death could be harnessed much greater.

Based on this I used warm colours to coat the area where the character sits in the foreground and contrasted this with cold colours in the distance. I feel this does leave an empty nature to the background and enforces the foreground as a much more inviting place.

Solarski also suggested that by incorporating the word wave into the picture through perhaps the clouds or the grass I could also push the symbolic power. He also touched on the idea that I wouldn't even need to have the grave in the picture if I did push it far enough.

I've not managed to incorporate the words into the painting, but I did feel that by making the grave less of a focal point in the painting a viewer would have to study the painting harder to understand the message behind it.

Finally, he pointed out that there could be something actually happening or existing on the horizon which suggests danger/death also. So in the large resolution of the painting you can see a thunderstorm in the distance. I actually quite like how subtle the storm is in the painting. I think it adds a nice sense of scale to the Sea.

So needless to say I'm incredibly thankful for Chris for his input and indeed, for his book.

Hopefully I'll be able to come to the painting again soon and feed through more of his feedback.

Progress Presentation 3.

It's been over a month since my last blog post, which isn't like me. Nevertheless, I have been working hard on my project during this time.

Last week I gave my third progress presentation, in which I covered some of the practice-based research I'd undergone in the weeks prior, and my findings and thought processes which had stemmed from said research.

The reaction to these seemed overall positive, (despite my powerpoint breaking), which was a nice motivation.

I received great constructive feedback, which centered around the fact that I didn't have a critical framework, per se. I had been researching through an implied critical framework, yes, but I didn't actually have a tangible pipeline on paper on in a document. The feedback I received really revived my opinion towards the idea of a critical framework, which, prior to the presentation, had always been negative or muddled. Despite the (imo) slight tediousness of creating a critical framework, it goes without saying that it's invaluable to your research progress. And now that I have my framework finalised, I feel much more confident and extrovert because of the way it vehicles my creative thoughts and studies.

The tutors also scrutinised my "Fundevogel" character designs which was hugely appreciated. Because I so desperately needed some critique on the actual artwork that wasn't just my own opinions.

The Chef: For a young audience, he doesn't strike you as the bad guy. I feel his silhouette succeeds more on that level. Ultimately, the final design didn't live up to the promise of the silhouette.

Also, the skin tone for The Forester is paler than The Chef, which doesn't really add up. The forester spends his days patrolling the woods, and the chef spends all day in the kitchen and pantry. This is just a classic case of me getting carried away and overlooking the basics. Which I'm slowly improving on. These basics obviously cannot be overlooked if your goal is to invent creative design solutions to the characters profile.

I think there is an appropriate variety in the diversity of the character designs. However, it would be interesting to push the designs even further and discover just how far you can push this pixar-esque style of illustration before it becomes to distant from the target audience. (Which is what adaptation is all about).

The leads me nicely onto the topics of discussion in my last meeting with Ryan, in which we went back to basics and reinstated the worth of my project. Such as:

The purpose of adaptation?

What makes it awesome?

Should the adaptation deviate from the prowess of the original story? Why? When has this been well received or done with great artistic merit before?

We got onto the topic of case studies also and how I should consider putting more time into that. So that's task for the next few weeks.