Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Not Bad, Not Bad At All

Well here it is, my final gift to 'Specialist Study 1'. I've had a great time this module and i'm so happy with my choices. I'm way more confident then when I started this thing and hopefully it shows. Can't wait to get stuck into 'SS2' and push myself even further. Heres the big finish.

Well I assure you she looks pretty sweet printed out on A3 and mounted. Im really pleased with how this turned out. I think the poses capture her personality which is what this whole thing was about but also she has a very striking, memorable look. I'm happy with how the whole page is put together as well, i need to work on my complimentary colours but i love the variety in rendering.    

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Here we go...

The end is nigh end i've started work on my final piece, I'm sticking to the plan i've had all along of one page with a main pose fully rendered with an alternate pose, probably shaded, and one or two head shots just sketched. I'm really starting to feel like i wen't in completely the right direction with this project and i'm so glad that I spent time practicing stuff that will hopefully make this piece come out swingin. First things first i needed the main pose so once again prepare for me to look incredible.

 As you can see I'm not getting much information about the female from these but these are just for general stance ideas and hopefully my previous training would fill in the gaps. Heres the initial sketch then the fully rendered one.

I'm a pretty big fan of this, I think it fits in with all the feedback i got about her looking to "American", i've taken back some of the colours but with some variation in there. I also think the hoodie works really well to create a more defined silhouette. I painted this all by freehand this time and i think the work really shows through. My god i'm gunna have to get faster though. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Procrastination Station

With all this figure work i wanted to make sure my head stuff wasn't lagging, probably not the best idea about a week before deadline but hey, it's all art right? I thought the best way to get people to look at my stuff was to do pictures of the people I wanted to look at my stuff, you know, really appeal to everyones egotistical side. I think it was a good idea, definitely the way to moneys in future i think. Anyway heres the three pages of caricatures i did, If you're not in my class you most likely won't know anyone, i suggest you get over it.

I was very happy with these, obviously they ain't perfect but i've always had a problem with creating radically different faces and this really helped, especially with general head shapes and noses. I feel like i've got a whole library of noses stored away in my noggin now. So helpful. 
I wanted to colour some but I didn't want to spend to much time veering off course with these so I thought back to the research I did and the two-tone shading technique and decided there's no way it could take that long.

Now these i like, it only took a few minutes to do each one and it makes such a difference. I will probably use this method for one of the alternate poses on my final piece.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Let's copy me some styles!

One of the main things I really wanted to get at least slightly, kinda, sort of, a little bit competent at was rendering. I've done a bit in the past but it's always come out quite bright and very cartoon like. I wanted to have a look around and see how the big boys are doing it. And no, I won't be saying "big boys" again.
I found a couple of pieces, well pretty much several websites full, of work I loved and because i'm a sharer let you in one it.

A very different take on 'Robocop' here, at a glance this looks so detailed but if you look closer it's very sketchy and probably took around half an hour. He's using large brushstrokes but with shading in all the right places. And again. there's only a handful of colours here, It's almost just shaded with blue but it looks perfect. Gunna have to get a bit rougher with my colouring for more effect perhaps.

Here we've got some semi-detailed sketches but looks how much depth is added just by using a couple of tones to separate the different areas. Sean Galloway often uses a similar technique and i think I may give it a bash myself.

 I'm not that drawn in by the subject matter of this, little but too "destroy the ring" for me but that speaks for the rendering. Again as soon as you focus on the robe you can pick out almost every simple stroke but the colours are so complementary that it takes a while to hit you. Oh yeah and the background is ace, the sketched figures in the background would probably take me around 3 days.
So basically i'm gunna try and loosen up a bit for my final piece and hopefully avoid that 'happy american' feel.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Less Is More, I Think.

Since showing my first attempt at rendering my emo i've been kinda sidetracked from colouring in by actually still trying to get my drawing right. However I can't use that excuse forever and it is something I would really love to get better at.
Trying to take on board "The Galloway Method" I discussed in my last blog I re-did the girl a little so she has a lot of the same attributes but they don't interupt the flow of the lines as much. I did kinda fell back on a standard pose again but I knew I was gunna use it to test out colours so I needed one that kept everything visable. Heres the first pencil and my inking with the graphics tablet.

As you can see most of her clothes and accessories stay with the line of her body shape, this does look good but I'm not it would be appropriate for a video game, thinks its more on the animation side. Good technique though, I will definitely be doing this again. Gotta keep practicing the inking though, it is tough. It may look identical to you but that's another hours work between these two.
And this is my Render, I tried to take on board everything everyone said about my last one, mainly the colours and the feet.

I do like this a lot but there's still work to be done. I need to stop bein' such a little bitch when it comes to shading and highlighting, gotta have more contrast. I'll run it by the class tomorrow and see what they say and because I've still got the file on separate layers I can tweak any suggestions they have. Bring it on. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

It's Okay Joe, He Has A Kid, Must Be Older Than You...

So last thursday for this amazing module "professional practice" module we had to do a presentation on an artist that inspires us, I wasn't intending to put this on my blog but as i was doing the presentation it starting hitting me how appropriate it was to my current project.
I did mine on Sean Galloway a freelance artist that I don't think many people have heard of of but he's probably most well known for being the lead character designer on 'The Spectacular Spider-Man' TV series, (you can see the connections already right). Anyway the reasons I love him so much, apart from the obvious Spider-Man link,  are first of all, his passion for his work, not a day goes by without a new piece of work on his web page. But second of all and probably mainly, is his use of simplicity in his designs, he can achieve a fully formed character in just a few strokes with masses of personality and a beautifully sleek look. His awesomeness can be witnessed below.

 His ability to subtly capture a whole person in just a quite understated caricature is incredible, every feature is different in every face. This is professional observational drawing at work here people.

All for one project and every character has their own look and personality from just a glimpse.

 Not sure what Spidey is doing in the top left in this one but whatever it is, it's drawn beautifully.
So this started to get me thinking about my designs and whether less is more some times, worth a shot anyway.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Check Me Out

Today I became a man in the eyes of my tutors, not that they know it yet. I just did one of those things that every art student is asked to do but i'm guessing around 3% actually do it, I was in that 3%, but not anymore my friend, not anymore.
Okay enough suspense, I was in town with Chris today doin' some christmas browsing when we decided to go into a gallery, we had a look around an I saw some paintings that I genuinely thought were awesome. I then wrote down the artists name, came home and researched him, and now I'm blogging about it. Boom, gold medals.
They were by a guy called Craig Davison and it was a collection showing children acting out they're fantasy scenarios. He uses a stylised technique which would probably be called "catoony" but then renders them beautifully. Here are a couple.


I love that we can see that the kids are probably playing just by their poses but for me having the shadow in the background reminded me of how vivid things used to seem when I used to pretend, it instantly took me right back by about 15 years (maybe just 10 years)  and I think that's impressive for such a simple image.

I think I love this one the most because instead of reflecting what we imagine when we know we're pretending it's reflecting how the boys think of their gang in reality. Also the angles in the design just really appeal to me, they make the picture way more lively and interesting.
What I've taken away from this in terms of style is how important rendering is. I doubt it would be in that gallery if it was painted like a graphic novel, It's reached a new audience by having the colouring reminiscent of old story book illustrations. 
Right, time to work on some painting techniques.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Who Knew You Could Find Naked Women On The Internet?

I was getting pretty frustrated at myself recently for simply sucking at drawing females, drawing from reference is good but because I'm spending so long on one pose I'm not getting much practice. Time to bring in the life drawing. Obviously I can't afford a model myself and perhaps more seriously I cant afford life drawing classes either, also they are an enormous pain in the arse. So I used a website that I've used before to get reference pictures, it's basically just slides of people in different poses. You can program it to swap to a new one every minute so thats what I did.
I started off pretty shaky but got into it after a while, it's a pretty good confidence booster if you stick with it. Heres a few of the pages I did, you can definitely see a change.

And yes I know I've spelt practice incorrectly, I'm an animation student, what do ya want from me?

As you can see especially on the bottom right, a fairly poor grip on the female anatomy and not very confident strokes either.

By the end I think I had some pretty good strokes coming in and they all seem to flow a lot better than the previous ones. I think I need to use more construction lines to make sure the weighting and the proportions are right though. I think this has made a big difference to how I'll approach designing poses and I'm slightly more confident. I should probably keep coming back to do some more every few days though.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Need to stop posting these poses...

So i wanted to try my hand at rendering with photoshop but still wasn't happy with my last emo design as it was pointed out several times to me that she just looked like a bondage slut. Damn these influential testicles of mine! Did another few poses myself, this time with a bit more character than just some fighting stances. Take a peek.

Jesus, why so serious Blakeston? I wanted to get a fair bit of body tilting going on and having looked at a few Emo blogs they all seem to love miming blowing their brains out. I decided not to post the nude ones. So once again I tried to transform myself into a teenage girl taking on board some of the suggestions I had.

I'm pretty happy with the actual technique I used to colour this but I always like to open my work up for a battering from the public so I posted it on the BCU Animation Facebook page to get myself a little constructive criticism. Best idea of the project so far I must say.


As you can see this was helpful as mother lover. As a result I've picked up changes that need to be made like the feet, glasses, make-up and hair colour. Some that deep down I already knew and some that I didn't, but now it's on the internet I can't possibly ignore it. It may annoy the crap outta people but this is definitely the best way to get helpful feedback quickly.  

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

It's Guy Love - Guybrush Threepwood Case Study

This is a study on how to make a character as relatable as possible using story, personality but mainly design, also how the design successfully portrays the character as soon as you see them. 
I will be looking at the character 'Guybrush Threepwood' from the long running 'Monkey Island' point and click adventure games from Lucas Arts.
Firstly to establish if the design does justice to the character we must first look at aspects of their personality such as their aspirations, background, likes, dislikes, anything that is used to create a well rounded three-dimensional character.

Guybrush is a young man, regularly referred to as a boy by the rest of the cast. He has dreams of becoming a “mighty pirate” which is stated in the first conversation of the first game and is often thought as ridiculous by other characters he meets. Even throughout the series when Guybrush has been on several adventures we still get the impression he is trying to prove himself. This makes him immediately relatable by anyone that’s ever had an ambition and by those who have felt that others haven’t believed in them or taken them seriously. Guybrush has a lot to learn but is always optimistic which we know to be a loveable trait. He also has a pretty sharp wit and has plenty of opportunity to use it due to the fact that he’s often surrounded by strange people or idiots, a feeling most of us get from time to time. This could possibly come across as arrogant but because he is also quite naive and he is humbled by his love interest Elaine, who is much more intelligent than he is, he remains endearing. 

As we can see here they even have him breaking the fourth wall, which could be seen as cheating but I believe at this moment he shifts from being just a video game character to momentarily filling the role of a friend who you are working with instead of controlling.

In terms of design I believe he’s a few notches away from perfection. You can pretty much surmise everything I’ve just said about him just by looking at him. Firstly his body type is a million miles away from most protagonists in games purely due to the fact that is looks like he would be useless in any form of physical confrontation. Even though most males would like to disagree, deep down we know this is probably the case for ourselves, this makes us less likely to aspire to be him as most games seem to aim for but so much more likely to relate to him.
Everything about him is designed to suggest that he is non-threatening. A big part of this is his large boyish hairstyle that is bright blonde. Male characters rarely have light hair in games because it is often related to weakness but here it is one of his main features and makes his silhouette unmistakable. Also when you look at any designs, advertising or box-art, anything that’s created to give a quick, accurate impression of him he’s always in a ‘happy-go-lucky’ or vulnerable/nervous pose. Good use of poses is essential to design as they can get across the emotion of a stick man if they need to and the fact that Guybrush can be seen above giving us the ‘thumbs up’ tells us immediately that he’s got good intentions.
Even his name is used to solidify our impression of his character, I don’t know exactly what images the name “Guybrush Threepwood” conjures up but I think it’s safe to say they aren’t aggressive.

In conclusion, to create a successful, relatable character I must start by giving them common, human characteristics whether they are positive or negative. Even if no one ever see’s them, I believe this will inspire strong design. I must then think of every aspect of my characters design and make sure that it reflects the traits I have decided on. I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with exaggerating or glorifying the human form but they must remain true to what makes that character unique. I must then consider how my character is posed and make sure it gives the viewer no doubt about the characters past, present and future.     

Thursday, 20 October 2011

And This Is Considered Work..... Awesome

I had one of those moments yesterday when you look at all your past work and decide it's all unbelievably sh*te, spit on it then fall to the floor crying. As most of you know this happens to any artist at least twice a year. I decided to give drawing from reference a real crack, obviously I've done this before in life drawing but it's always quick work and you can't elaborate on what's there, also it's boooorrrring. Of course like most boring things it's totally useful. So I decided to go outside with my lovely assistant Chrissi and we took pictures of each other in a totally non-weird way, here's one of me looking so good.

...So threatening. So yeah I pulled some standard fighting game poses, it's mainly legs and feet that I've always sucked at drawing so I was looking at the weight distribution and the foot placement. I took this picture then drew a basic body outline using the pose and stylised it slightly. Here it is.

   I was pretty happy how this turned out, this reference stuff really works. The feet are still a little off but I love the legs and i think it looks like the character is actually standing. This was kind of an a-sexual outline but I decided I wanted to make myself, mainly to fill a life long fantasy but also I keep reading that one you can draw girls guys are easy. Why are they always more complicated??
Next I did a rough sketch over the top.

So as you can see I basically just made some areas, *ahem*, stick out a bit further and there you have it, one emo babe. i really think that I'm getting close to the design i want for my whole project. This is a cleaned up version. 

This was the most fun ever and I.m totally happy with how she came out. I actually think this is a pretty rad costume, will have to refine a bit though. Next I'm gunna try to ink and hopefully colour her, I think she deserves it. 

I'll keep ya posted.  

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Strokes Of Genius...

Part of this project was to learn some tasty rendering techniques (that's colouring in) and to get used to my graphics tablet so that I can get to a professional level by christmas...... easy. So I got started this week by watching a few tutorials online about various ways to use photoshop to ink pencil sketches to get ready for colouring. There are two main ones that I attempted to see which I prefer but first i needed a drawing to ink.

I quite like this sketch and think I might look pretty cool rendered so I shall experiment on this handsome chap. 
First I tried free hand tracing just by drawing directly on top of the sketch, it's pretty hard but it's quite quick and the lines have a sense of movement to them.

It does look quite nice but some of the lines are quite wobbly and because of my lack of experience I had to re-draw most of it until I got lines I could put up with, also I would like a lot more line thickness variation. This is all stuff that can be worked on though and it was quite fun, heres without the sketch in the background. 
For a first go this is pretty good, I think out of the two techniques this is my favourite but heres the other.

This is the pen tool method which uses vectors instead of bitmaps and the quality is immediately noticeable but as you can see in the layers section in the bottom right each line is a separate shape. This means that each line takes a while to construct and even this small amount of inking took nearly an hour. Also to be honest even though the lines look clean and have nice thickness variation there's not much character in them, plus i kinda feel like I'm cheating.

Mind you those lines are tasty............ no Joe, takes way too long. And I definitely want to get used to drawing lines free hand with my graphics tablet, It'll improve my work in other areas as well. This technique would be good for a simple character but mine would take hours.
I'll keep you updated with my progress.  

Where The Wild Things Are...

So no one can ever say that I don't put enough effort into my projects, this particular piece of research should be worth a first on its own. The other day I once again ventured into pigeon park in search of Emos, this time with full battery on Chrissi's camera and a killer thirst for knowledge. Here's a few choice selections from my grand day out...

One thing I quickly noticed was how freaking happy they all were, Im guessing this is because they seemed to be surrounded by around 300 hundred of their own kind. I don't know whether i should stick to the stereotype of being suicidal but I guess my characters always gunna be on his own which would probably bring out the real Emo in him. The next thing I learned from them was that one stereotype was bang on the money... They are fuc**ng obsessed with their hair. Seriously, I was being lead by two particularly friendly ones and whenever we went up to someone they hadn't met before we were discussing hair within seconds. There were enough of them to form an army if only they were capable of talking about something else. 
I did get one idea from them though, they said it would be cool if they had like a 'powered up' mode with, wait for it, bigger hair. Which I think might be cool, if the characters each have a different form that reflects their personalities.   

Next up.................. CHAVS!!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Cheer Up Guys

So after collecting a few pictures of the dark ones, of course I mean Emos, this isn't a racist blog, I messed around with a few designs, just experimenting with style and character traits.

This is a great way of working, seeing things i would normally of missed also it's helping with my drawing in general. Still not sure about a style but the reference helped no end. will keep collecting and sketching.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Aaaghhh! It's Horrible...

So yeah I'll be designing a handful of characters based on the teenage groups of Birmingham. This allows me to work heavily from first hand research which I pretty much suck balls at. This does also mean however that i'm gunna have to get my 'Attenborough' on and bravely walk into their respective territories and photograph them in they're natural habitats, and when it comes to Chavs and Emos this is a very scary prospect.
Heres a bit of preliminary research I did for the Emos.

The top left image was from 'Pigeon Park' in Birmingham which is where a lot of the Emos hang out and look miserable much like this gentleman hear. I want to carry on like this and collect images for all the groups, the more I take the more ideas i'll get for characters and not just rely on stereotypes.