Saturday, 30 March 2013

Fundevogel's Lagoon.

Yesterday I spent a few hours working on some more visual development work for Fundevogel. Namely, an environment piece.

Now, the environment is not mentioned in the folk tale, but rather something that came about through my visual development silhouettes, when I was generating scenario ideas.

This idea was originally just based around him at the edge of a pond in the tale's location - the forest. But then I thought: Wouldn't it be cool if Fundevogel was really in touch with nature, (he's found in a tree after all), and had an area where he sort of went to escape, and be alone, and all jolly, and dance around? etc, etc. Think - Ariel's cave in "The Little Mermaid".


So I decided I was going to design Fundevogel a mysterious, secret grotto/lagoon getaway.

Still a W.I.P
I went into the painting with a strong shape and composition theory layout to enforce the design. I wanted the painting to promote that idea of seclusion or detachment from the rest of the world, that I had read so much about in the Art of Tangled.

Yesterday morning I also just happened to stumble across this blog post on CB. It's all about "The Golden Ratio". Great website in general.

Now obviously I had heard of this before, but I'd never actually applied it to a painting or to anything. So I used the golden spiral as an overlay for the painting on low opacity, and just hid it and unhid it as I needed.

I should also mention, I actually made a mood board before I painted this. Something I hadn't done before, (at least too seriously, I normally just have reference images open). But it actually was really helpful. I put together 4 pieces that I felt, combined, gave off the vibe that I wanted to grasp with this painting. 

Various artists.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Dynamic Poses.

Another point noted during my last Progress Presentation was the fact that I haven't really experimented with costume design.

The reason for this being that I'm not very good at it. But seeing as that's not how progress works...

I've started practicing heavily with costume design and fabric. The reason I've started to practice is not simply to improve my skills, but if I can apply these new skills to my Fundevogel designs then that will benefit the project greatly.

What spurred me on, I guess, to begin this practice was some art that a student on the GDPM course commissioned me to create for his Honours showcase. Yay, money and exposure!

Anyway, it's a set of three characters I've to create, and I've almost finished two.

This is my current progress on one of the designs.

Hopefully it's obvious what sort of characters I'm trying to create here. I know it's not directly related to my research, but it's part of my personal development for costume design, so I reckon that justifies me putting it up here.

And then today, I was messing around with different poses for characters, when I started to think about how fabric would sort of fall or bend around the character in these extreme poses.

I realised that some of the lighting here is not realistic, but I didn't use any reference material and everything was from imagination. I guess you could say this is like a base knowledge of costume/fabric rendering, (Design can come later), so the next update for this will see me use reference and perhaps consider design in relation to a basic character profile or something. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Drawing Dancers.

Tonight me and a few other people were lucky enough to be part of a "Drawing Dance" workshop. It was one of the most enjoyable classes I've ever been to, and I really hope I get the chance to do something similar again, soon. 

Here's a couple of snapshots of my sketches. (Sorry about the image quality).

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Fundevogel (Lina) & Lineup 1.

I managed to finish my character development sheet for Lina today.

Now that Lina has been completed I now have the four main characters of Fundevogel in this layout.

(Silhouettes - Refine - Final face/bust render)

One of the things suggested in my Concept Development and Pre-Production feedback was to create line-ups of the characters to establish the visual connections and use this to compare the designs in relation to each other. I have to dash off to a dance drawing session..thing, so I didn't have time to make a nice clean line-up. So I just sort of made a quick collage of the character development sheets thus far into one image. I'll create a neater one later on.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Framework, and Tangled: A Case Study

My critical framework is very simple.

It came about during and after a meeting with Ryan a few weeks ago. I know I've touched on this before, so again, sorry if I'm being tedious. We basically went back to the roots of my project and strengthened the foundations. This helped me clear my head of all the miscellaneous thoughts flying around inside my head.

I realise my critical framework here doesn't have much flair. But it does the job well.

But it has proven hugely beneficial to my work, and has allowed me to carry out an effective case study, and be much more critical and reflective in my practice-based research.

Disney's "Tangled", (2010), is an adaptation that I've always been drawn to. I've owned "The Art of Tangled" for quite a while now, and it's one of the few "Art of" books that I find myself re-reading over and over again. Each area of the design process has been so carefully and intricately considered - from the incredible appeal of Glen Keane's character sketches, to the quaint, dream-like scenario concept paintings of Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder. the book just overflows with inspiration and charm.

The conceptual art and design process is so illustrative and well thought out that the final movie itself seems almost like a motion graphics version of its "Art of" counterpart. (Does that make sense?)

Anyway, as I mentioned before, my critical framework is extremely simple. The reason for this is because my project is focused on the entire recognition of a story's visual interpretation. Therefore, my framework needs to be able to digest characters, environments, scenarios, creatures - everything.

In the case study I looked into the staging, lighting, and colour of the environment compositions. I also scrutinise the scale of the Tangled world. As I mentioned in my last post, this interpretation of Rapunzel sees the story revolve around the footloose desires of the young protagonist. She dreams of the great unknown, and fantasises about leaving her tower. (Only after dressing up her trusty companion, Pascal, the chameleon, amongst other things.)

Not your day, huh, Pascal?
But I digress, 

Because the plight revolves around getting from point (A) to point (B), the scale of the world, and the importance of each location became an important design challenge. 

The "Tangled" Set.
This is something which struck me as hugely beneficial to the design process. This story only has a handful of basic locations (Pub, Valley, Castle, Dam, etc.) I feel this painting worked so well at demonstrating the context of the story and frames the journey in such a charismatic way (it's so PRETTY!!), that I really wanted to adopt something similar within my project to determine the scale of the world I was realising. 

Another thing brought up within The Art of Tangled was the inspiration behind the visual style. 

It goes into a fair amount of detail concerning the design roots of Disney's adaptations and the staging and composition of its films. Mainly it touches on shape theory and the idea of repetition in shape within the composition and stills of the films.

This is something I decided would be an excellent template for the Tangled case study and indeed my practice-based research for my Fundevogel adaptation.

I'm going to stop rambling about case studies now and post some art.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Progress Presentation 4.

Before I go into detail about my Presentation, I should first talk about my Concept Development and Pre-Production Portfolio feedback, as this was the focus of my presentation.

The main points made in my feedback were:
    • Lack of focused attention to related media. 
    • Likewise, practice-based research didn’t underpin sources well enough. Clearer influence.
    • Deeper relation of theory and practice. 
    • Structure of Project. Study Pipe Lines... Critical Framework?
At a time where I felt like I was just meandering from place to place in my project, this feedback helped me regain an understanding of, and appreciation for, my project, while also giving me a kick up the butt.

So I'll try to address each point, individually.

Lack of focused attention to related media. 

This was a big one. Robin had brought up this same problem in my Project Proposal feedback. Basically, I was getting so caught up in sporadic ideas during my studies, that I sort of waltzed past the basics. Most of my practice based research up to about two weeks ago all stemmed from studies of games ("Journey" & "Fable 3"), or original animated stories ("Ratatouille"); Not to mention, in my Proposal, I suggested a case study on James Cameron's "Avatar".

None of these works are adaptations.

I did of course have my reasons for each of these studies, and the work surrounding Journey and Fable have indeed proven to be very inspiring and fruit-bearing to my practical works.

But this doesn't take away the fact that there has been a serious lack of focus towards books which deliver and argue the art behind adaptation.

The Art of Tangled, 2010.
Based on this problem, I began a case study on Disney's "Tangled".

Tangled is an adaptation of the classic Grimm tale "Rapunzel". I liked the way in which Tangled found its visual style and the way the artists realised the world in which the tale unfolds. (Case study to follow shortly).

The study on Tangled initiated a clump of practice-based research focused on visual development aimed at a young audience.

Practice-based research didn’t underpin sources well enough. Clearer influence.

I feel my afore-mentioned clump of practical work was a much more focused routine of iterative creativity. (again, see follow up post.)

Deeper relation of theory and practice.

I tried to be far more critical in the development of my designs following this point. As a mentioned in a previous post, this project so heavily relies on this critical attitude towards my creations. By enforcing shape, colour, symbolism and composition/staging, my work began to take on more interesting and appropriate forms, which seems to go down well at my presentation.

Structure of Project. Study Pipe Lines... Critical Framework?

Eventually, people began to notice that I didn't have a solid critical framework in place. I touched on this in my last post, and finally, I now have a critical framework formed to funnel my work, and existing works, through, in order to fuel my reflective research. *THUMBS UP*

The Actual Presentation.

Throughout the presentation, I covered everything that I just mentioned, and also unveiled some of the practice-based research I had in turn, created.

I also set aside some time to cover my exposition/final outcome, which is, understandably I think, the part I'm most excited about.

I originally stated that I liked the idea of beginning a whole new adaptation process. However, the X-factor judges turned me onto the idea of just focusing solely on this story. I've already created a somewhat large array of visuals for it. So why don't I just keep iterating on them, and end up with one, fully realised, adaptation. This would also mean I could convey this entire adaptation process from start to finish almost like the "Art of" books which have so heavily transported this project. Which leads me onto my next topic:

A Book. 

Ryan informed me of a website:, which allows you to upload files, text, etc, and ultimately just create your own high-quality bound book.

I strongly feel that this would be an excellent way to express the journey of this project. Ultimately, the visuals of this project are that of a design process. If I can literally lay this work out as an odyssey, clearly conveying the decisions and thoughts made and encountered along the way, and a reader can fully understand and appreciate the final aesthetic qualities of the project, it would surely harness a far greater appreciation.

Also, the concept of having a book of my art printed has me excited to no end.

Ps. I feel like I may have horribly repeated myself in this post. If so - apologies!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Shape Theory is good for you.

After reading about the comforting shapes in Tangled's visual development I decided to experiment with some shapes in my designs.

One of the processes used in the Tangled design process was this idea of taking a basic, lovely, safe shape, and realising it as a prop.

So here I wanted to find some comforting shapes for my Fundevogel adaptation, and made a sort of marshmallow-esque shape to begin with, and rendered it as a tree. ta-da.

I really like the look of the first tree and similar to some of the designs from Tangled, it's very short and safe. This shape would look out of place in a threatening forest. Basically this makes it look like a nice part of the woods to be in.

Anyway, in accordance with the visual resonance theme I'm interested in, I decided to take this shape over to the character design of Lina - the only character I was yet to render in detail. The perfect candidate.

A sepia Lina, because I'm not happy with the colours yet. Also, I got carried away with the eyes.

Like Fundevogel, Lina has always lived in the forest, and so, I figured I'd use a tree to harmonise her with the world. Also...

In Arabic "Lina" (لينة) refers to a small, young palm tree. It means "tender" or "tenderness". (Wikipedia)

So that also helped influence her design.

This use of shape I feel is starting to create a nice separation between good and evil characters. It would be interesting to find out just how much of a distinction this could create between locations.

In Chris Solarski's book "Drawing Basics and Video Game Art", Solarsi discusses the use of harmonising shapes to convey a safe or dangerous environment within compositions.

The black shape is the character. The green is the environment. 
I think this is going to be a huge influence on my upcoming scenario concept pieces. Harnessing this theory/technique to demonstrate the mood of locations within the story of Fundevogel, and in tandem with resonating characters could work well to illustrate a "good" character in a "bad" environment, and use this contrast to highlight the tention or atmosphere therein. 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Fundevogel: The Chef (Iteration)

Hello again,

as I mentioned a couple of weeks back, during my third progress presentation, my "Chef" design was criticised for not being very carefully designed.

(Reminder of points made): 
  • Skin tone darker than "Forester", who works outdoors all day. 
  • Design is too friendly. For a children's animation this wouldn't cut it as a villain design. 
At the time, and upon reflection I completely agree with these statements. But, his only goes to highlight the fact that I should have a critical framework document. These sort of mistakes would less likely greet me should I run each design through a critical, appropriate set of rules and interrogations. 

Also, today myself and two others were asked to present a sort of summary of our Honours projects to a third year class to inspire them. Hopefully I didn't fail too miserably at that. To return to the point, during this class a student identified the "Chef" design as not being as effective as my original line-up sketch; These sketches were done before I began doing the character model sheets. 

Initial line-up sketch designs. Designs rooted in basic shapes. 
I felt as thought I needed to redo this chef design straight away, and have spent about 4 hours starting from scratch on the "Chef's" design. 

Refined design. Return to "triangle-based" character.

Ultimately, I feel this design is far more effective as a villainous character for a children's animation. Although the initial, almost Jack Skellington-like design works on certain levels, like Skellington, he just doesn't seem like an evil character, despite the design suggesting he should be. 

The Silhouette for The Chef (minus the toque) and Jack Skellington are very similar. 

I finally managed to incorporate some woodland symbolism in this design also. Subtle, though it may be, I think it does add to the resonance with the story setting itself. The eyebrows of the chef are inspired by the antlers of Red Dear Stags. I feel this symbol adds a certain harmony to the character within the story. I also incorporated the shape of an eagle into the beard of the character. In the story, it's an eagle which steals Fundevogel from his Mother, and places him in her nest. This symbol is a nod to the fact that this character also plans to do wrong against Fundevogel.  

I haven't really discussed the basic plot to Fundevogel throughout this blog. But there is a reason for this. The main focus of this project is the design aspect. So the illustrative side of things is not paramount. In the original short story, the Chef is an old, witch, spinster-type character - the kind you find in almost every fairy tale.  She also has 3 servants, which come into the story later and attempt to carry out her evil demands. When I was brain-storming the first character sketches however, it just seemed more interesting to have the character be this sort of deceitful, rodent-like person. 

Hopefully, for this project, I shall have the time to design the 3 servants, as they are indeed a large part of the story, and use these in the final illustration pieces for the exposition.