Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Anthem Christmas

Here's a Christmas card I made for Anthem Creative Groups. The cards themselves have Anthem's logo on the bottom right.

When asked to sketch ideas for the card, I speculated as to what kind of character would be the most fun to draw.  A snowman was the first thing that came to mind since, they don't really have a "standard look".  Their facial features, limbs, and adornments can be made out of anything. Eyes can be coal, buttons (as shown above), simple indentations in the snow, or just anything remotely round.

Like scarecrows, you can pretty much just dress them anyway you want. Since most people would use old, worn out clothes for that sort of thing, snowmen and scarecrows tend to look a bit like hoboes. I think what I was going for was a "charming English tramp" sort of thing. Dickens-esque, if you will.

As for the concept, I just sketched out the first humorous situation involving a snowman that came to mind.

"A Snowman roasting a marshmallow with a really long stick."

If figured that it'd be something people would find cute and amusing. Something they'd look at and go....

"Hey, well alright. Looks like the snowman's roasting himself up a marshmallow there. Ha haaa, but he's got that long stick cause he doesn't wanna melt. Ha ha ha! How 'bout that? "

It's funny, A lot of my coworkers the interpreted the situation as being very grim. The more I thought about what I drew, the more I started to see it myself.

"A Snowman with wooden arms, sitting on a dry log, in front of a dry tree, holding a branch amidst a roaring fire."

One begs the question. Is he greeting hello, or bidding farewell?

In any case, he can't even eat that marshmallow. What's going to do with it? Even if he had to bodily means to swallow it, it would melt his insides.

Maybe it's like the elephant man. He knows that sleeping on his back with his head flat will kill him, but he just wants to sleep like a normal person. Perhaps the snowman wants to experience his first and last moment of normalcy (normalcy in terms of what "real" people can do). He has the long stick not to avoid the fire, but to savor the experience longer before the fire reaches him.

I often wonder if I'm incapable of creating something without morose undertones.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Aztecs Revised: Part 2

This round, I focused on making the lead lizard-man stand out a bit more.  At the very least, I wanted to continue experimenting with the coloring throughout the page.

In the first panel, I added some of the ground color to his back and added some reflected light to his arm. In the second and third panels, I covered him with some of the sky color. Even then, I feel like the lizard-man with the "hook/sickle"-like weapon wound up taking over the third panel.  It's mostly because I made the cave area darker. That's the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. All the lizard-men kinda pop better now, but I think I like the bright red dirt in the old version better.

As if I wasn't indecisive enough, THIS happened when I was messing around with layering effects.

I really like the contrast going on there, but I can't figure out how to replicate it without the green (which helps give it that glow). It has such a soft painterly look to it. Maybe I can keep some green around their bodies and blacken out the cast shadows. If I brought back the redness in the soil, that would compliment the green.

Hmmm. I don't know what I'll do.

Now, here I pretty much did what I said I was in the previous Aztec post. I brought a  little yellow back to the lizard-men in the second panel, added some value to the third panel, a gradient to the fourth. I decided to throw in that same gradient color to the first panel to tie the whole thing together. A big change I made was brightening up the glow in the second panel. I'm still iffy about that decision. I don't want the values to get too overbearing.  I'll keep playing around with everything and see where it goes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Checking Over

Ugh. So many type-o's.

Dr. Sketchy Sketches

These were done at "Dr. Sketchy's" held and Atlanta's Cleremont Lounge. I live model session is probably my only reason to ever go to a strip joint.

In the pic above, the challenge was to do something creative with her hat. I just plopped a snake up there.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Aztecs Revised

It's been a while since the last time I worked on these, so I decided pick 'em back up. I was originally just going to work on page 2 today, but as I was playing around with the color, I thought of some edits for page 1.

First off, I noticed that the orange and teal where waaay too dark in both pieces, so I lightened them up. Then I gave the lead lizardman some abstract reflected light. For more "pop", I varied up the colors in the 2nd panel and spread around the sky color in the 3rd. I'm only just now discovering how much some sutble gradiants can add.

And now page 2.....

I'm actually not done with this yet, but you can see that I'm trying to be more effective with the lighting. I can't believe it never accured to me to make the lizardmen in the back lighter. It looks a lot better. I haven't quite decided if I'm going to colorize their contour lines, or keep them black.

Speaking of contour lines, I touched those up here and there (mostly just in panel 1).

I want to keep the last two panels pretty monotone. In panel 3, I'll just add some flat value to enhance the forground and background. In panel 4, I might just drop in some slight gradiants.

Though I'm going against the cardinal rule of "powering through with no backtracking", I'm glad I re-thought my approach with pages 1&2. I'll have a better idea of how to handle the coloring of 3 & 4. It'll be good to have these pages completed. Not only to I want to finish the story, but I'm itching to do some new pages and gauge my artistic growth. These pages were drawn 2 years ago.

Friday, November 6, 2009

To Kill A Bluebird...

As was mentioned in an earlier post, this is a piece called " No Toys For Men" done for "Break" the Anthology. It's due to be released some time before Christmas, but there's currently no definitive date. Since it actually IS coming out, I supposed I shouldn't be posting this. Ehhh, oh well.

The theme of the anthology is, of course, centered around the concept of "breaking." For quite some time, I was at a lost as to what I should do. The obvious thing to do would have been to draw some character breaking through something, or to conceptualize a broken heart. I wanted to be a bit more clever than that, so I made a list of every concept, scenario, and phrase related to breaking as possible. The list ranged from the abstract (broken spirit), to the physical (broken neck). It soon dawned on me that a combination of both tangible and intangible forms of breaking would yield the most interesting result.

The intangible aspect of it would be the most important, so I began my exploration there. Emotional, psychological, or spiritual anguish were always favorite subjects of mine. Whatever I did would most likely represent one of those three states. I eventually found myself wanting to deal with the establishment and subsequent destruction of happiness.

That process potentially covers many forms of breaking: A breaking of ones dreams, perceptions, and concepts of reality. It is disillusionment, pure and absolute. To fully embody it, I needed a powerful symbol of happiness.

The most iconic and profound symbol of happiness is, of course, the bluebird.

The bluebird of happiness is an enduring symbol of joyous, childlike, innocence. Inversely, the death of a bluebird represents disenchantment and a transition into adulthood. It was then that it became evident to me that my primary visual cue should be not just a bluebird, but a bluebird ravaged and in ruin.

In my research of bluebirds, I ran across a species of bluebird known as the Fairy-Bluebird.

As brilliant as its blue plumage is, I didn't want to use the male of the species as a source of imagery. Luckily, the female of the species was pretty colorful as well (as opposed to most bird species).

This was actually a turn for the better. It's appropriate that the blue coloration of the females is more turquoise in hue, because the name "Fairy-Bluebird" reminded me of "The Fairy with the Turquoise Hair." from "The Adventures of Pinocchio."
She's more commonly known as the "Blue Fairy."

Finding examples of her with "turquoise hair" was pretty difficult.

In Disney's "Pinocchio", she's a blond with blue wings and a blue gown.

In the feature "Un burattino di nome Pinocchio" , her hair is blue, but not really turquoise.

Ah, but I digress. The Fairy with Turquoise Hair, in her original book incarnation, is a motherly figure that helps Pinocchio mature and earn his humanity through good will. Her role in Pinocchio's transformation is a bit more direct outside of the book. The Disney "Blue Fairy" not only granted Pinocchio's wish to be a real boy, but was also the one who brought him to life in the first place. That was a granting of Gepetto's wish upon a star. Through and through, she was a benevolent being of wish fulfillment. Wish fulfillment is the divine-like realization of a dream and the promise of happiness.

Pinocchio also lead to the idea of including a boy in the illustration. Through the destruction of the bluebird, the boy would be changed, or transformed in some manner. I then asked myself, "What should his relationship with the bird be?". Was it a pet? Was it some sort of gift, or did he capture it himself?

Or,........perhaps he made it. Yes, the meticulous building of a dream. Forging one's own reality, piece by piece. Creating a vessel to take one far into the heavens where dreams reign supreme and each star is a covenant that righteous aspirations are rewarded. The sun, being the greatest of which.

To best illustrate to idea of constructing happiness, I thought it'd be appropriate that the bird be artificial, a toy even. A boy who built his own toy bird. However, the bird would have to be more than a toy. An embodiment of childish idealism would have to be a guardian of sorts. Something massive. Hence, a giant mechanical bird.

I wanted the design of the bird-mech to be primarily reminiscent of those little wind-up tin toys. If possible, also I wanted to harken back to classic imagery of clockwork birds like the one in "The Nightingale."

For that reason, I made most of it very rounded and smooth with some "clockwork" accents here and there. You'll also notice the placement of the boy near the opening between the birds legs. Obviously it's to symbolize rebirth, but it also makes a nice focal point.

Here I altered the design of the bird-mech to match actual bird anatomy (namely the wings and legs). At the same time, I tried to retain the "tin toy" look. I also changed the boy's expression to that of shame rather then distress. I wanted to get across the idea that he was responsible for the bird's demise. To really drive it home, as well as to sell the whole "vessel/vehicle" aspect of it, I added a cockpit to the bird's head.

The boy has inadvertently crashed it and in doing so jolted himeslf out of his idealistic bubble.

The bird's wing blocks out the sun he cherished so much. Only the light of his new found perspective shall guide him.

I left an opening in the bird's neck for aesthetic and lighting purposes, but also to subtlety play around with the nature of the light source. It's obviously meant to be coming from within the bird, but you may also interpret it as sunlight passing through the bird. In that case, the artificial light of his bird-mech is really the light of his beloved sun.

In Native American culture, bluebirds are messengers of the sun who herald the dawn of a new day. The bluebird in this context could be not just a representative, but a messenger of the boy's own happiness. The bird-mech may have actually destroyed itself. It knew that its prolonged existence would hinder the boy's development. The boy had to be brought down to earth and be reborn as a man. This is represented by the tall shadow he's casting.

I thought nothing of it at first, but after closer examination, I thought to myself about the importance of his adulthood being represented a shadow. Who he is on the inside has been changed forever, but he's still a child. His transformation into adulthood may just be a superficial facade. A person caught between two states of being. More than a child, but less than a man. He's left to wander the grey wilderness, searching for meaning. Searching for something to believe in again.

I that doubt much of that will be very apparent to anyone who sees this in publication. At the very least, it was a cathartic experience for me. It commemorates a milestone in my life that I will touch upon in full on Monday Nov. 30th. The 1 year anniversary of my bluebird's death.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shattered Wings of Blue

Here again we have a piece that was finished quite some time ago, but has only now shown itself on this blog. There are actually a lot more like it. For example, I have a whole slew of concept art I did for a company project that fell through. Look for that soon.

What we have here is an illustration done for anthology known as "Break." It was put together by some college colleagues, but it hasn't come yet. I'm not sure if it ever will, so I decided to go ahead and post my entry here. I may do another step by step walkthrough for this in another post. I'll also elaborate on the story behind the piece's abstract concept.

Also, I'll post bigger versions of these pix.

The piece is called "No Toys for Men."

Black and White (interior art) version

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Paperdoll Music Video

Given that this was finished over a week ago, this is kind of old news. Well, old to me, but new to anyone who follows this blog.

The NY band, Paperdoll has recently had a song of theirs ("If Nothing Happened") featured in a Dayquil commercial. To capitalize on the exposure, it was decided at the office to new an official music video for it. The last video was, of course, for the song "Anything At All."

We wanted to get the video done as soon as possible, so animating it was out of the question. After knocking around some concepts, we settled upon a video comprised exclusively of public domain footage.

It took three of us (including myself) roughly two days to rip enough clips from various dvd's. They all came from one of those cheap "50-pack"-type deals. After the footage was compiled and organized, I took the directorial duties and edited all the clips together myself. That took about another two days, but the total amount of hours added up to less than 24 hrs.

A high def version of the video can be seen here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Doodle

Did a little sketch of Piccolo a couple of days ago. Just thought I"d post it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bayonetta Redesign: Progression

I've been meaning to put these concepts up since Ignition's contest wrapped back in August, but just never made time for it. Each of these concepts were pretty large and had to be sized down for the web. Since the development of this concept had so many more steps, that also meant that I'd have to upload a lot of pix for this post. Well, I had a little time to spare, so I decided to get this thing together.

For those unfamiliar with "Bayonetta", she's the title character for an upcoming Playstation 3 game. My laziness would like to direct you to the wiki page for the full description.

Since this is a post regarding a re-envisioning of the character, then I suppose I should post pix of her in her original garb.

Alrighty, lets get right into it shall we?

The picture above was my first round of concepts. This is more or less a "warming up" peroid. The focus here is just to generate ideas. Before I start using reference for a character desgin, I like to see what I can come up with straight out of my head, get a feel for whatever directions I'm unconsciously going in already, and continue from there.

I was probably going for Victorian kind of look, but I decided not to go that route. However, it did remind me of some good reference. The anime incarnation of Witchbalde had a lot of good armor designs. The aspect that I wanted to utilize the most was that of the hair swooping down around the breasts.

I think what also reminded of it was the fact that Bayonetta's been described as some sort of witch. (Incidentally, Witchblade has supernatural elements, but actually has nothing to do with witches.)

The curvature of the designs seemed applicable since Bayonetta's "costume" is all just her hair. Whatever I did would have to convey the sense that her outfit is truly wrapped around her.

When Bayonetta uses her hair to attack, that means there's less of it to cover her body. In which case, she's nearly nude.

Soooo, near-nudity is another commonality between Bayonetta and Withcblade. :)

With all that in mind, I did the 2nd round of concepts. However, I wound up giving her more cover than I expected.

In a few of these, I started channeling one of Angel's outfits from "The Big O."

I was also considering using Erakah Badu's headwraps and reference.

At some point, in the midst of coming up with hair styles, I thought of "I Dream of Genie."

This was a big turning point in my conceptual process. The "look" had finally been established. She's just similar enough to Bayonetta, yet still feels like someone new. The djinn(genie) influences really sell the exotic feel I wanted to achieve. She even has the best face out of all the other drawings. I actually think that this concept embodied my aesthetic intentions more than the final product. You can be the judge of that shortly.

First, I decided to work out the positive/negative balance of the space. I didn't exactly know what pose I was going to do, but I had a general idea of how dynamic it was going to be.

Here, I drew some "lines of action" that turned into a loose gesture drawing.

Once I was fairly certain of how the body was going to be positioned, I began building the forms.

I didn't notice it at the time, but her left leg (on the right side of the image) came out kinda weird. I think my unconscious intention was to have that foot completely off the ground (As evident in the orange stick figure). I must have forgotten about this and put the foot partially on the ground. This resulted in and odd angle.

I like to start with flat values whenever I do digital painting. I also like to keep them in black and white, and overlay color later. This picture obviously has the values colored.

You'll also notice that my costume design started leaning more towards those small concepts in the far left and far right of that 2nd page of ideas.

Here I tried to add a little more "witchiness" by incorporating some funeral veil-esque fabric.

I finally fixed that leg, but I never changed the knee. Maybe I was just focused on meeting the contest deadline.

I also made a big change to the hair. I was having a hard time selling an exaggerated version of the "I Dream of Genie" hairstyle. Then I discovered another variation of it that worked better, or was easier to draw rather.

I kept the gesture lines to jazz up the background a bit.

The previous one had some minor issues. Not only was it too dark, but people also mistook those rings on her guns for handcuffs. The ribbons I drew in somewhat fix that. I don't think I had a function in mind when I drew those rings in the first place. They're mainly just there to fill out space and add some motion to the pic. They'd probably be less ambiguous if I actually came up with a purpose for them.

Overall, I think the final product is just OK. It's fine just as a finished illustration, but it's not a finished illustration imbued with any sort of spark. It's too boring. I feel as though I could've cranked up the sexiness and exoticism a bit.

I'll probably do another iteration of this concept in an attempt to satisfy myself better.