Monday, August 27, 2012

Reference Study #04

So after a short break from drawing (and a serious clean of my computer), I've gotten back into it again. I had re-installed Photoshop and was having issues finding my brush at first (it's nothing special really, but I like working with it), but once I had gotten that all sorted, I was cooking!
I chose to paint one of my all time favourite musicians this time 'round, the wonderful Enya. I grew up listening to her Watermark album (I specifically remember playing with lego in the living room with it playing on the ol' sound system) and it's one of those great nostalgic moments of my childhood! (dare I say, "subtly defining")

This time 'round I also had the challange of painting a hand which I wasn't too sure about, but I think it came out fairly ok. I think I might have rushed it in some areas, mainly some parts of the hair, and there are still some off proportions, but I feel that I was able to capture some likeness of her still. I feel like the quality of my blending is getting better though, I feel like it's come out more smoother, so I'm getting there. Again, it was an enjoyable process, and I'm eager to start the next one, but it may have to be put on hold for a few days since I'm quite busy through out this week with other commitments.
My attempt at Enya.
The Enya Reference Image.

The sketch I started with.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Animations that are Work in Progress #04

Ooookay, so I have three different incomplete animated projects to show in this post.

The first one is Jimmy & Doiky 2: A Day at the Beach, a follow up to the first Jimmy & Doiky animation I did back in 2006. I wrote the script for this one back in mid 2007 and started animating a version of it that same year. However the style and everything was a little bit lack-luster, so I shelved it for a while and started work on a new version of it sometime in 2008. The original J&D was really just an animated skit, but with J&D2, I wanted to expand the two characters and have a bit more of a narrative to play with this time. I was on and off this project throughout 2008 and tried to get back into it around early 2009, but didn't make a heck of a lot of head way in it.

I still like this project and I reckon it still has some potential, so I very well might get around to finishing this actually. I liked the style in which I was going for, it may need some additional tidying up with what's been done so far as well as some script tweaks, but it could definitely be salvaged.

Jimmy and Doiky making their way through a crowded beach to find a good spot to setup shop.

Jimmy attempting to chat-up a surfer chick.

The second project is an untitled animation that I worked on back in early 2007, and was developed after a "discussion" started up in an animators forum that I used to frequent back in the day. A sort of animation battle where myself and another animator would each animate characters we'd design to face off against each other. So my character against his character.

I made a start and had my character designed and scripted out my animation, but things eventually fizzled out when the other guy never got around to designing his character. So the project ran out of steam in the end. There's only a handful of shots animated, but it was hard to continue on with the fight choreography without knowing the design of the other animator's character. I spose if I really wanted to finish this, I could just design another character, but it's not really something I'm interested in working on anymore.

The opening shot.

A shot of my character Zan approaching the other character in a secluded mountain area.

Alright, the third animation was actually a music video type animation that I started working on back in 2006. I decided to make a music video of the 90s song You Are Not My Friend by Frenzal Rhomb. I always found this song ammusing and catchy. I actually got about 80% of the animation for this done, but there were a few sections in the song that I didn't know how I could fill at the time, so it came to an end.

A shot of the main character sitting on the beach with a drink in his hand.

A shot of a van.

Old Matte-Painting Assignment Breakdown

Here's a little something that I did some years ago, back when I was doing my animation studies (2008). We had to create a matte-painting (well, "painting" isn't what I'd call it, more like "photo-manipulation"). This was actually the first assignment I had to do for the course, to show that I can infact use applications like Photoshop.

Basically what a lot of us did, was take a picture of some kind of landscape then alter it until it looked much different than what it originally was - usually transforming it into a ruin, which pretty much is exactly what I did!

This was my matte entry. The City Ruin.

Ok, so this image (above) was the original picture that I used in creating my matte-painting. The original image is called City Street by DMSpotts10.

This was the initial stage of the experience. I took the original image and placed it into a landscape oriented workspace.

Ok, so the first major thing I needed to do was go through the image and remove things that I didn't want in the image. Cleaning the shot. Removed things like parked cars, pedestrians, banners and lights.

Now I had the idea for a concept of a post earth-quake type catastrophic scene, so at this stage I tore the image apart and did some resizing to show more of the buildings. I also added some things like graffiti, smashed building windows, changed the colour of the tree and desaturated the overall colours in the scene.

In this step, I added the look of earth below the street level as well as some cracks in the road and a car wreck.

Started working on the distant background element of the scene. I brought in some additional buildings and arranged them in a "ruiny" kind of way.
In this stage of the matte, I added some thick cloud for the background and some mist around the foreground area.

The final step was colour-grading the scene, and voila! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Reference Study #03

Here we go again! So, yet another attempt at digital painting. I am really happy how this one turned out, mainly due to the fact that I feel like I did a better job at attaining the likeness of the person I was painting; and yes, the person in question is the awesome Gregory Peck, who will always be the lovable Atticus Finch to me. I felt like I was a lot quicker painting this one too, although there's clearly aspects that I need to keep working on, but hey, that's all part of the process, and all part of the fun!

I've been getting a real rush from painting, it's fantastic - seriously, I didn't realize just how much I enjoy drawing/painting until of late when I started doing it again... it's such a zen thing to do. I guess with all the busyness in my life and creative time usually devoted to computer graphics or cartoony vector drawings, I never gave much thought and attention to just sitting down and drawing or painting like I use to when I was a kid and just working away at something until it looked nice. Good times... good times.

Can't wait to start working on the next one. I'm tossing up between doing another man, or a woman again. I have an idea of who I'll do, either way, so just have to wait and see!

My Attempt at Gregory Peck.

The Gregory Peck Reference Image (from To Kill a Mockingbird).

The Sketch I started with.

3D Scraps #03

So 2008 was the year that I started my 3D animation course at the SAE Institute in East Perth, and as a way to prepare myself for the experience I decided to have a real go at creating a 3D character (or atleast a character bust in this case). This was one of those real great learning experiences which not only fueled my motivation and passion for computer graphics but also really (fine) tuned my skills at the time.
I had always wanted to develop lifelike characters and achieving photo-realism [be it computer graphics or drawing/painting] is always something that facinates me. I'm a huge fan of the work of 3D artist Francisco Cortina, ever since Final Fantasy: Spirits Within and the Animatrix: Final Flight of the Osiris and also 3D Artist Olivier Ponsonnet who is just amazing. Their work was the inspiration and motivation behind me really having a go and aiming for something I've never achieved before with 3D.

I remember getting to this stage of the modelling process and giggling like a little school girl. I was really excited with how the face was turning out, it was better than any previous face I had modelled and was eager to see just how well it would turn out on completion.

I was really psyched at this stage. I had decided that I'd just model to the chest region so I could focus all my effort and attention on the face.

A view of the character's topology.

Here, I was focusing on nailing the look of the eyes and brows. The skin shader was looking very worse for wear at this stage though.

A shot of the profile with skin texture and an updated skin shader.

A front view of the bust with textures. At this stage I believe I was still playing around with lighting and getting a more believable skin look with the shader (using Sub-surface scattering).

After some messing around (mostly with the hair dynamics in 3ds Max), I ended up with this final image. Honestly I quickly started disliking this image, since the pose was basically static, emotionless and the hair turned out terrible, not to mention it all just felt flat and boring.

Now, about mid-way through the year, during my animation studies, I had learnt a lot of really cool things that I could do in Maya (the 3D software that we were learning on), and so I decided to re-visit this character I had done at the beginning of the year. After spending some time transfering everything relevent from 3ds Max over to Maya, I began to make enhancements.

One of the new test renders of the character with a revised skin shader and lighting setup.

I created a rig for the character so that I could pose it, which also gave me the opportunity to animate it if I wanted. This was the same excitment I had before when I initially started modelling her at the beginning!

Another test render, this time with a bit of a pose.

After some further work (hair, designer specs and a baseball cap), this was a portrait I made using the character. I felt a lot more satisfied with the way this one turned out, it had more life to it.
And because I could, I decided to have a bit of a play with her and animate her saying a few things that I could use later for my show reel. And with the help of the wonderful Natalie Van Sistine [who gave the puppet it's voice], she came truely alive!

In all, this was a really interesting journey of learning new things and applying all that stuff to be able to create something [in my opinion] quite cool!

Animations that are Work in Progress #03

Ok, so I thought I should actually show something that I'm actually currently in the process of working on, as opposed to those other ones which are RIP for the most part.
At the moment it's being called Going Nowhere. It's designed to be a serial of sorts, most likely a webseries either on youtube or perhaps hosted somewhere else, who knows...details right :P
It's basically a sit-com, except animated, because that's how I roll, though I have thrown in some elements to this that make it warrent the need to be animated, for instance, a certain key character in the show. I wrote the pilot script for this thing like... I think over a year or so ago, but I had been sitting on it for awhile, just because I hadn't had much time to work on any sizable personal projects at the time. The great thing about doing this though, was that I would forget about it and then find it again and have a read through it, polish it a bit, and then shelve it again; so what I've ended up with was something that I thought was fairly solid and quite amuzing. So if this turns out very un-interesting, then I need to seriously get out more. Hey, what am I saying? I already DO need to get out more!

Now, when I started to initially spend some time taking this project to the next level, I was in a conflict whether to do it as a 2D animation or a 3D animation. As you can see by the first two images that I've posted (below), I initially started this off as a 2D animation, figuring maybe it'd just be worth while belting it out as quick as I could since it has been quite awhile since I've done a full-blown animation, and for a time it was coming along fine.

A frame from the 2D version of Going Nowhere ep. 01 

A frame of two of the main character (Brian and Carter) from the 2D version of Going Nowhere ep. 01

However, then I had a late realization, I believed that there could be genuinely something worthwhile here (and I had already done up some rough outlines for a bunch of episodes which I felt explored some nice story arcs), so the thought of doing it as a 3D animation became appealing again, for a good reason. If I invested the time in creating characters and the key environments in 3D for the pilot episode, then most of the hard, time consuming work will be done for the following episodes, as opposed to having to hand draw frames in 2D all the time, and I'd also be able to maintain the consistancy of the overall style and feel much more easily.

Here's the 3D version of Carter, one of the lead characters from Going Nowhere.

The 3D version of Brian, one of the other lead characters from Going Nowhere.

So at the moment I'm in the process of getting the final look and feel of the environments and setting various things up (props, etc.) to be animatable. The key characters that will appear in the pilot episode are practically all ready, I just need to make some final tweaks to one other character and it'll be almost time to start the animation stage.

A W.I.P. shot of the apartment set. The apartment is a key setting where a lot of the shenanigans take place. Still rather incomplete. Not the final look.

Another W.I.P. shot of the apartment set. You can see part of the living room area and the kitchen/dining space. Again, not the final look.

Here's a W.I.P. shot of Carter's bedroom, one of the sets that will be apart of the first episode. Not the final look.

I'll try and keep everyone posted on the process of this project since I do intend to get this one finished. At the present moment, it's hard for me to put down a date in which I'd probably have this all finished since there's still a fair bit to do, but I'm hoping it'll all be worth it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reference Study #02

Since the last try with digital painting, I went away and decided to crawl some more before I walked. Working just in black and white was a wonderful experience and just allowed me to work much more simply and concentrate more on the form and shading. I chose for this reference study a portrait of the lovely Grace Kelly. It seemed like a clean and simple portrait to work on, and for the most part it was. However, try as I might, I had serious trouble trying to get the likeness of her. I tried to nail the eyes and brows, but just kept seeming to fall short. Again, learnt a lot from this attempt. I seriously thought, starting out with digital painting that I was going to really dred painting hair, but I feel like my confidence is building in that regard; I quite enjoyed painting the hair in this one. I look forward to starting a new painting. I think I'll choose a man too, just to keep it fresh.

My attempt at Grace Kelly.

The Grace Kelly Reference Image.

The sketch I started with.

3D Scraps #02

Here's another little flash back to late 2008 - early 2009. I wanted to have another go at creating a female character from scratch, since earlier in 2008 I had [to some success] developed a female bust which you can see HERE. This time I had decided that I wanted to also explore developement of the body as well as rig her so she could be posed and animated. I also decided that I'd look into hair dynamics since I wanted her to have long flowing hair, and my skills in the area were hardly developed. I spose what I was aiming for was a tad ambitious at the time, but it's a great way to push yourself to do better.

I never properly "finished" this character though, because there are still some aspects of the model that I'd want to tweak as well as the hair which needs a lot more work done to it. I'm definitely holding onto this model though, cause I do believe that I'll get around to fixing it up and making it look better than I left it.

This was a sort of test render I did of the character, which I obviously did some major post-work in Photoshop to make it look good. I think the hair was one of the big issues at the time.

This was another test render that I did, posing and lighting the character a bit. It appears though that I went a little overboard with the post-work in Photoshop. Again. The HAIR! Yuck. :P

On the left was the character pre-rigged and no hair dynamics. The image on the right was post-rigged and I was making a start on the hair (it looks like a wet mop).

Ok, here's a work in progress shot of the character, still in the modelling process. I wasn't aiming for photo-realism, but to have a slightly stylized look to it. At the time I was inspired by the work of artist Artgerm and his Pepper Smiles digital painting. He's one of my favourite artists.

And here's a little look at the topology of the model.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Animations that are Work in Progress #02

Here's another installment of animated projects that are in a state of incompletion. Forever a work in progress.
The first one in this post is entitled I AM Jeff and was an animation that I started around the time I completed my short animation There Once Was a House... (around late 2006); it was an attempt at doing another kind of animation in the same vain as that last project (in the sense of style and creepy atmosphere), however, for whatever reason - it was shelved and I haven't touched it since.
The animation was going to have a documentary styled approach to it, looking into the life of Jeff, an (not so) average bloke and his supposed "normal" life. The animation was filled with irony which formed the foundation of the humour and intrigue that was suppose to be what drove the story. Anyway, this is definitely an animation that will never get finished.

Usually the strong objections behind going back and finishing some of these older works comes down to my disdain for the scripts. A lot of the time I may find myself cringing at these older scripts, be it the dialogue, the plot and story arcs, or just plain bad writing. Ofcourse, I don't regret writing them, for they have been a great help for me to progress and improve in these aspects of story telling and script writing. Nowadays, in order not to waste time in starting and abandoning projects I will only choose to develope something I write if I can walk away from the script after I finish it, forget about it to a degree then come back to it later and still find it interesting and clever.

This is Jeff (picture on the left). This is his "companion" Toodles (picture on the right).

Jeff at work as a telemarketer (picture on the left). Some of the ladies at the work-place. Look out Jeff. (picture on the right).

This second one is entitled Being the Best and was another animation I started around 2006. It was ment to be a send up of myself (a really exaggerated and warped version of me) and some of the people in my life at the time. I actually got a majority of this animation done, but it slowed down to a hault around the time I started needing to source voice actors. From the very small number of people who've seen some of the actual animation or have read the script, they seemed to like it and find it quite funny. Personally I still have a bit of a soft spot for this animation, just because of some sort of sentimentality that's attached to it, I suppose. But I'd be very hesitant to finish it even though it's like 80% complete.

So the story was about this extremely lazy person [Blake] who needs to get some cash to fix his computer in time for a big lan-party that's coming up on the weekend. So he's faced with the dilema of having to get some kind of a job in a short time to scrape some money together. Blah, blah, blah... I should also mention I think I had this in mind to be a series depending on the success of this animation at the time. Oh well, that's not gonna happen now :P

Blake and his friend Marvin arriving at a lan-party and meeting one of the "geeks" (picture on the left). Blake's computer over-loading. Not good (picture on the right).

End of Flashback!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Second Attempt at Digital Painting

Well, this is my next try with digital painting. This time I decided to grab some kind of a reference that I could study so I could work on lighting, colouring and posing. I felt like I learned a lot from this exercise, and my comfort and confidence with the process is definitely increasing; ofcourse there's still a long road before me. You can view the refence I used HERE, created by photographer LittleFlair.

I've decided for at least the next few paintings I'll do them in black and white so I can take "colour" out of the equation and just focus on getting the values and blending down better. Also I'll be aiming to improve my overall drawing skills, especially when it comes to proportions.

So here's what I've done so far. I may continue to work a little bit more on this (work on the background too). I'm fairly happy with the progress that I'm making with digital painting.

Here's the sketch I drew roughly based on the reference image. My plan wasn't to go for a carbon copy of the reference, but keep it as a good guide to follow through out the whole process.

Hopefully onward and upward!