Sunday, 31 October 2010

Feng Zhu is an Actual Legend...

After seeing John's inspiration from the Gnomon DVD on digital painting I thought I should find out more from Alan about them.  He then recommended me this DVD:

It was SO useful! I've mentioned before about how bad I am at perspective and it's so important to this project that I had to seek out something to help.  This DVD was it! It's teaches you everything you need to know about setting up a scene and how to create depth with values, it's just SO good! I can't wait to try it out, I REALLY recommend it!

Another Influence Map...

As I'm still not too sure about what direction I'll take I got a couple of books on landscape paintings out of the library and collaged my favourite images onto an influence map:

 I still need to look into combining these with some concept artists paintings but I just wanted to show what I've been looking at so far really. I really like all of these images and hope they'll spur on some more ideas!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

More Photoshop Ideas...

More of the same and a couple of new ones from yesterdays Photoshop session:

Gah! Didn't realise my hill had moved itself but anyway, The reason there's no figures in the last two is because Phil showed me an awesome way to make them look much grander but I didn't get round to adding that yet.  I also played around with the lasso tool to make the foresty bits.

I just wanted to try and make it look a little better, I mostly concentrated on the cave below for this session though...

This is me practicing my depth and layers with more lasso tool to highlight edges.

Really good day yesterday for Maya and Photoshop, I can't wait to try out some of the techniques I learnt :D

Thursday, 28 October 2010

My First Influence Map...

...and it's on caves!

The majority are South African caves but some are just examples of other limestone caves.  I'm trying to keep the location as realistic as possible so I thought I'd research the kind of caves that are in South Africa as that's where the mines are based.  Lots of fun stalactites to be seen and some pretty cool cavernous shapes!

I got me some Perspective!

Granted it's only what was on the website but I'm so sucky at this I'll need to repeat just this about 3 more times before putting buildings or such like in there. It's another start though! :D

A Couple of Photoshop Ideas...

These again are very rough, just trying out the way the scene could be set up:

I wanted to try an idea I had with this table as it's one of my favourite scenes I have but I think I'll need to practice my perspective before this works well.  This goes for both images really...

My first bit of Ideas Generation...

Some very simple and rough sketches to get the ideas going...

They're just me trying to work out what sort of shot I want it to be. More on the way!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Life Drawing Part 6...

This week was all about negative space:

The first drawing was about drawing the space and shapes that were around the model but making sure to not draw the model, I think.  My drawing was okay but I got confused, thought the proportions were wrong, changed one thing and muffed the whole thing up trying to fix it. Ah well, it's all improvement...

My second drawing is much better but I got a bit confused as to how much of the figure I should've drawn so there's an outline and a bit of detail but I tried to make the space around her focus on shapes more than details.

Generally it was a good session though but I wasn't really on form which is a bit sad, but like I mentioned previously, it's all improvement even if it is gradual and slight :P

Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis', 1927

I loved this film so much it's ridiculous.  I have no idea where to start with this so I'll try my best to just dive in with some quotes to guide me and hopefully not babble too much.
The first scene is just fantastic. It's been set up to establish the situation and world the film is set in, and it's done beautifully.  The audience is introduced to the two classes of people in Metropolis and their huge contrasts in the way they live.  The workers, the manual labourers, are blood of the city, they control the huge machines for 10 hour shifts each, making sure that everything works perfectly for the upper class people that literally live above them.  The workers, much like the blood in your veins, are rhythmically pumped through the gates to begin their shift, the workers who have just finished walking at a slightly slower rhythm than those about to start. Nonetheless, both sides walk as one to and from the 'heart machine' with the score over the top beating along with them. The upper classes however have a much more fluid existence and live high above the workers,  much like the gods of mount olympus, deciding the fate of those below, while indulging their every whim.  It's their world that is dedicated to excess and one example of this is the 'Eternal Gardens' that the 'sons of the city' can go to to be 'entertained' by scantily dressed women.
The use of two very different classes is particularly interesting contextually because in Germany at the time there were many political and cultural confrontations between the classes as it was during the Weimar Republic period.  Carol Poore believes that "the film's schematized, abstract depiction of social class, of worlds of light and darkness, continues to be central to its impact on audiences." She also believed that the portrayal of the main character, Freder, known as the "mediator" in the film is the resonator for the present cultural climate.  The mediator is known as the 'Heart' while the working class and upper class are called the 'hand' and 'head'.

The use of the mediator is very significant to the plot as the need for 'heart' in this city of metal and ideas is paramount to everyone's survival.  Throughout the film the audience is provided with many different examples of the significance of the 'heart', the city is run by a machine known as 'the heart machine', when this is destroyed by the workers everything crumbles down, including the workers homes.  When the iconic robot woman, Hel, is made, the first thing that she gains is a heart before she even starts to resemble a human.  It's this symbolism that Barry Keith Grant picks up on when he interviewed Fritz Lang: "just as the heart mediates between the brain and the hand, so the tenderer emotions will mediate between a proletariat and a managerial oligarchy of the future."  The need for the 'heart' and all it's connotations is relevant both now and in the future, to help avoid the previous ugliness of the German government of the time.  Goebbels even said that this is the kind of propaganda that was aimed "to win the heart of the people and keep it".

The other example of a physical manifestation of the 'heart' would be the character of Maria, the symbol of hope to all the workers.  She is the only one keeping them in order, preventing them from revolting against those above them.  She's dressed in a long pale dress that's completely laced up, showing only the tiniest area of flesh below her neck.  Not only is she meek and virginal in appearance but when we're first introduced to her she's surrounded by children from the workers, looking after them.  This is symbolising her as their mother and protector.  To have female in a role that's perhaps as important as the leading male's is very forward thinking for the time, and though she is seen as innocent and virginal, her act of selflessness in protecting the children when their parents hadn't was really inspiring.  Her strength of character is supported by Michael S. Kimmel and Amy Aronson's view that "Maria is so untouchable that her gaze is strong enough to resist expulsion from the garden of the sons of the masters"

The film is so beautifully crafted that i don't think I even needed the subtitles and text, you could clearly see the narrative without sound.  However, the muscial score was imperative to the portrayal of the tones the film wanted.  Without realising the audience was being emotionally positioned exactly where the production designers wanted both because of the audio and visuals.  The opening scene alone is so stunning that I cant believe how old it is.  The effects would still look good now for a film with a low budget, which I'm not sure but may be an insult considering it cost so much at the time it was made.  I can't wait to see what footage was found recently and look forward to spending however many hours it takes seeing it in as near to its full glory as possible. Thank you Phil for allowing us to see it on a big screen, it was just awe-inspiring!

Robet Wiene's 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari', 1920

This, along with Metropolis, was one of the films I've wanted to watch for years, literally since sixth form. It's so fundamental to cinema that it's a little sad that I've only just seen it but at least now I have I'm aware of the huge amounts of influences it's had.  One I can think of is the influence he must have had on Tim Burton. Some examples are that all the characters have dark sunken eyes and pale faces, black and white stripes are on the characters and scenery, there's exaggerated and angular sets, to name just a few really. I'm a massive fan of his work and I'm not sure if perhaps he's taken a little more than influence from this film and others like it for his work to be really called his. That said, I have only just seen it so it could just be that I'm a late comer to the party and everyone already knows this...

Anyway, the film was great!  It did feel perhaps a little too long in parts but it was visually fantastic and the way the sets were designed at such claustrophobic angles really made it look like something that had stepped out of an insane persons mind.  Which, considering its twist at the end, makes perfect sense.  From the point on the production design it's completely taken over the way this film is seen.  The sets that are very triangular and the detail is almost cartoon-like due to their block use of black with little minute detail, which is typical of German expressionism.  It isn't only the film that was really controlled by the production design but the marketing campaign too.  On the posters advertising the film were the words "You must become Caligari", a line taken directly from the script but with no mention of the film's actual title. This is an incredibly contemporary method of advertisement and considering the words were combined with a vortical spiral the technique can be seen as hypnotic, convincing the viewer to do something. Noah William Isenberg believes that "the almost coercive imperative "You must" foregrounded and simultaneously enacted the "suggestive" or "hypnotic" power of advertising which was still a fairly new mode of shaping social behaviour".

Not only were the sets useful in portraying the mind set of the characters, but so were the shadows that were used.  In cinema, especially in this film, shadows are used to portray the innermost thoughts or desires of the character it's attached to.  In the image above the shadow is much more exaggerated than the character it's portraying, it's even been painted on with much bigger proportions than that of the character.  The character has his hands clenched to his chest whereas the hand of the shadow is reaching further out, perhaps because his arthritic hands can't do what his mind wants the shadow is portraying it. Victor Ieronim Stoichiţă said that "It is as though the camera was able to plunge into the person's mind 
metaphorical way of portraying the characters isn't only a money saver but it's much more visually engaging
than any dialogue could've been.

After watching the film, despite some of it having aged a little poorly, like the editing for example, it's such a 
visually stunning piece of film that I still found it to be really unsettling.  The make-up, though it was meant to be 
quite contrasting so the camera could pick it up, made everyone look inhuman, not just the villains of the film.  
As David Parkinson from Empire Online said "The eccentric imagery, the creepy acting, the dark deeds and the ambiguous ending all create a lingering sense of unease." I still can't believe that something with so much visual prowess is almost a century old! How crazy is that?! On that note though, on to Metropolis...


For this new and exciting project I picked out:

At first I was a bit worried about it as I'd never read it before and thought it would may be be a bit restrictive, but after reading the two chapters there's a lot to choose from. There's a couple of scenes I'm especially excited about but for now it' time to work! :D

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Finally, My Final Self Portrait :D

It's been a challenging journey but here we are :

It's been a great first project. I'm still not fantastic at drawing but this study of anatomy and our life drawing sessions have been so helpful and I really think I'm improving steadily.
On to my portrait! I'm generally really happy with it. I was a bit worried that it wouldn't really look like me at the end but seeing as that's what I wanted that's not such a bad thing! For this portrait I wanted to try and show a real amalgamation of me and the dragonfly.  I wanted to have a longer body and swollen back combined with deformed hands and feet.  
I tried to keep the face roughly the same shape as mine and the eyes and nose resemble the shape of mine but then try to have elements of the dragonfly too, such as the hairs all over the body and the creased joints.  I also added in some funny little mandibles sprouting from my neck because the dragonfly has two tiny legs by their head.
It's nice for it to finally be done and even though it probably could look better, I'm generally happy with it.
Now to put the dreaded presentation together :S

More Photoshop and More Feedback please! :D

 Some more bits on my final portrait development...

So this is what I'm pretty much finished with... I've added a bit more detail and I think I'll add some more to the torso as I think it looks a little bare.
I kept the background relatively the same because Phil seemed to pick up on what I was going for and hopefully I haven't lost that.  
Almost there though, only tweaking to be done so feel free everyone to let me know if you think I've missed something :D

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Life Drawing Part 5...

My 2 hour long drawing:

I'm pretty happy with it but I still have a ways to go because this doesn't look like I spent 2 hours on it :S However, I am definitely improving steadily so good times!

Some more Photoshop-ing...Feedback please!

Okay so I have my pose and this is what I've got so far for the looks of it:

 I'm gradually getting there I think. I'm a bit stumped as to what the background should be. I was thinking about just making this one a smidge darker but keeping it generally the same.

I've made it look a tiny bit more realistic but now I need to work on the details like sorting our that weird bit where the stomach is, the colouring and make it look a but more sad. I'm trying to go for a "No I've been rumbled" look but I don't know if I have that yet...

Any guidance is more than welcome please!