Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Urban Sketching : La Luz Resort Batangas

 My family and I spent 3 days in La Luz Resort in Batangas last week enjoying a vacation with my sister, who hasn't been in the country for 7 years.  It was fun to hang out with my nephew and niece, although quite exhausting as well.  I had to get up early in the morning to get away from them and find some time to sketch my surroundings.  the sketch above is my favorite, one of many bancas, or fishing boats, that were sitting on the beach.  I was experimenting with my Koi watercolor set, which comes with 24 colors and a waterbrush. I'm still very much a novice with watercolors, though with the right brushes I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

I sketched the fishermen going out fishing in the early morning, around 6:00

One of the cabanas that front the beach

Rock formations on the beach

I'm really digging the Koi Watercolor Pocket set.  It may not be very "professional" looking, but it's great for on-the-go sketches. If you do decide to get one, I'd appreciate it you do via this link so I get a small commission from Amazon. KOI WATERCOLOR POCKET SET/24 Drafting, Engineering, Art (General Catalog)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Princess of Mars Art Order Challenge (Final)

I said I wouldn't work on this anymore, but I didn't want to put all of that effort to waste so I finished it up as best as I could within the timeframe I had.  This piece was especially tough for me.  I don't know if it's just the scope of the piece, or if it's because I haven't done enough vehicle or environment designs yet, but I struggled with this piece throughout the process.  There were days that I was putting off working on it by doing anything else I could think of, which is obviously not healthy.  If I ever do figure it out I'll let you guys know.

In any case, I added colors using two "soft light" layers on top of each other and also used Jason Chan's cheat of copying the final art as a layer, blurring it, then erasing (in the blurred layer) all the parts that you want to stay in focus.  In this case I wanted to blur out the city in the background and really focus on the lead ship and the characters in the foreground.  I think the effect works and it's a good cheat to use every now and again to salvage a weak piece.

Check out WIPnation to see the other contest entrants (click on teh "ao princess" tag to bring them up)!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Princess of Mars Art Order Challenge (Update)

It's been a rough couple of weeks.  I know I've been slow to update this week, and a lot of that is because I've been busy with my current project (which I'm itching to announce) and also because my sister has just arrived with her family after a decade away from the Philippines so I'm hanging out with her and my niece and nephew, whom I've never met in real life before.

But I've also been battling a strange emotional roller coaster with my art career.  It's too long and involved for me to go into detail right now but I know it's been affecting my motivation to create new artwork, which really sucks.  One casualty may be my "A Princess of Mars" Art Order challenge entry.  The image above is what I've gotten so far, and is likely about as far as I'll go with it.  I'm going to be in Batangas for the next few days relaxing on the beach with my family, so that cuts heavily into any more time that I could spend on this.  Even if I weren't going, I haven't exactly been jumping at the opportunity to work on this like my previous artworks, often I'll make a few desultory brush strokes and then walk of or surf the net for a bit.  It's a very unsettling feeling, and I'm hopeful my beach trip will help recharge me a bit.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Urban Sketching : Tagaytay and THouse

Last weekend Aissa and I stayed at the T-House boutique hotel in Tagaytay. The T-house has a special place in our hearts because it was the first place we ever spent a weekend together, and it was also the place that I proposed to her.  It's still a terrific hotel, though it's showing it's age.  The above is one of the little reading areas they've set up around the hotel for you to just sit down and relax in their beautiful gardens.  I was actually rained out and had to finish this sketch indoors.

This sketch was taken while in the Picnic Grove in Tagaytay.  It's not the most conducive place for sketching, what with the hordes of local tourists and hawkers selling you treats, ut we did manage to find a spot where I could sketch and Aissa could read.

These are really rough sketches, and I'm launching into this not really knowing a lot about watercolors and just basically going on instinct.  At the very least I know I'm going to need a much bigger brush to lay down the basic colors, since my #2 brush is just way too small, even for these tiny sketches.  We're going to be at a beach resort next week for 3 days, so I'm looking to purchase or borrow some watercolor books so I can study them while I'm there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watercolor Salamander

I was commissioned to draw a D&D salamander for a client recently.  He requested it be done in black and white but since I'd been wanting to experiment with watercolor I played around with the image after submitting the B&W piece.  This is me just attampting to do mixed medi on my own, so I made a lot of mistakes that can't be fixed with ctrl+z.  For one thing, I'd forgotten to keep the areas I wanted to highlight free of color.  I didn't have any white watercolor on me at the time but maybe when I find some I can experiment with putting in some highlights.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Animahenasyon 2011

Animahenasyon is the biggest local animation conference in the Philippines, and has been going strong for the past 5 years.  This year's event brings quite a few interesting talks for anyone interested in entering the animation industry.  I must admit I don't know all of the people who will be speaking at this year's conference, but there will be speakers from countries like Japan (Jun Awazu) and companies like Cartoon Network ( Silas Hickey ).  The talk I'm most interested in attending is the one by Caravan Studio, since they create concept art and CCG art, which are the things that I'd like to eventually be doing in the future.  Unfortunately it turns out they'll be speaking at about the same time that my sister's family and I will be at the beach (She's visiting fro the US and I'm seeing my niece and nephew for the first time).  It's a shame, but I'm sure there'll be even better speakers next year.

To get more info about Animahenasyon you can check out their website or download this pdf.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Martian Ships Concepts

I have a couple of preliminary tasks that I set for myself before I actually go ahead and start the final illustration for the Art Order "Princess of Mars" challenge.  The first task is to design a Martian ship.  I must admit I'm really awful at vehicle designs.  Prior to these sketches I did do a few sketches of sailing ships like galleons and even modern ships like destroyers just to get a better idea of the basic shapes and silhouettes of ships.  I even had a look at one of Feng Zhu's free tutorials on vehicle design to try to get my head in the right space, but I just ended up being depressed at how dull my designs are.  As with most things it'll just take me time and a LOT of vehicle concepts to really get better at this.

I think I'm going with ship number 3 just because it looks the least Earth-like.  Next up, I'll have a crack at designing what the green men of Mars look like!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Princess of Mars Art Order Challenge

I've been waiting for the opportunity to join an Art Order Challenge, so I was excited to find out there was a new one announced just last week.  The "Princess of Mars" Challenge task artists to create a "homage" artwork to celebrate the original work of fiction as well as pre-empt the visual designs of the upcoming John Carter movie.  I put "homage" in quotation marks since it felt a bit nebulous, and indeed it seems people aren't sure whether they're supposed to remake the cover or recreate a scene in the book.  I chose the latter, and decided to recreate this scene:

Sola and I had entered a building upon the front of the city, in fact, the same one in which I had had my encounter with the apes, and, wishing to see what had caused the sudden retreat, I mounted to an upper floor and peered from the window out over the valley and the hills beyond; and there I saw the cause of their sudden scurrying to cover. A huge craft, long, low, and gray-painted, swung slowly over the crest of the nearest hill. Following it came another, and another, and another, until twenty of them, swinging low above the ground, sailed slowly and majestically toward us.

Each carried a strange banner swung from stem to stern above the upper works, and upon the prow of each was painted some odd device that gleamed in the sunlight and showed plainly even at the distance at which we were from the vessels. I could see figures crowding the forward decks and upper works of the air craft.

After going through a couple dozen thumbnails I picked two that I liked the best and essentially altered each one's viewpoint slightly to end up with 4 slightly more polished thumbnails .  I have to thank my friend Chester Ocampo for pushing me in the more challenging direction (in terms of perspective) of thumbnail 3 (3rd from the top) by sketching that out for me.  I've gotten just one vote each for both thumbnail 3 and 4, so I'm waiting a bit to see which composition I'll go with for the final piece.  I'm not entirely in a rush since I'll have to conceptualize what the ships and the Martians looks like before I proceed any further with this.  Next up, ship concepts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

What I learned from the Gobelins Master Class on Animation pt3

This last section of "What I learned from the Gobelins Master Class on Animation" is gonna be much shorter than parts one and two because the tail end of the talk was very animation (ie frames of animation) focused, so there wasn't a lot of stuff for me to bring over to my illustration work.  However there were at least two things brought up during the talk that I think were very important.

What Leads Your Character?

In other words, the body part that the character chooses to lead their walk can give you an inkling about that character's personality.  To help explain this I sketched out the samples that were given to us above.  During the actual talk, Alexandre was actually miming these motions so they were even more impactful, but even these still images prove the point quite well.

What Questions Should You Ask Yourself?

The last thing I'm going to share with you sounds really simplistic and obvious, but I'm finding that knowing what questions to ask yourself when creating an artwork can be the most important thing of all.  When you're creating an artwork in isolation it's often hard to tell if you're doing a good job or not.  Some artists are good enough to just look at their artwork and instinctively "know" that something's wrong, but I'm not quite there yet. If you're in the same boat as me, here are some questions you can ask yourself when you want to self critique your work:

  • have I brainstormed and chosen a story the feels right and clear and original?
  • Do I have a clear idea how I will stage my scene and create an interesting composition?
  • Do I like it?
  • Am I communicating my ideas clearly?
  • Is everything in the image there for a purpose?
I've already learned some of this stuff via Jason Manley's video tutorial on composition, but it's good to have a reminder from another source to help reinforce it.

That bring us to the end of this "What I Learned" series, which I hope some of you have found useful.  Please check out the links above for parts one and two and do drop me a line if you've found this useful or have any suggestions about how to make it better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

David Gemmell's "Legend" Mockup Cover

 A couple of weeks ago I saw a job post looking for an artist to create a cover for a fantasy novel.  Having never created a cover I decided to create a mockup cover for one of my favorite fantasy books so I could send in a sample .  I actually never did get to send the sample because some other work concerns got in the way, but I decided to finish it anyway.  I was going to go more in depth into the creation of this but frankly I'm a little tired right now and there's really not much to say about it.  I'll leave some process images here though, in case anyone's interested in seeing how this came together.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I learned from the Gobelins Master Class on Animation pt2

In part one of this series of posts I discussed some of the things I learned from the Gobelin Master Class in Animation, including finding the right Camera Angle, Body Positioning, and more.  This second set will focus on  how different body parts work and the ways we can use  them to express emotions, beginning with the metaphorical "windows to the soul"

The Eyes

In many ways the eyes are rather hard to talk about since it's already common knowledge that the eyes are the easiest way to reflect a character's emotional mood.  For example, in the highlighted area the three sets of eyes easily read as sad/angry/surprised.  Something that seemed to be more relevant back then than it does now is the idea that an artist should think of the eyes as two separate entities; the pupil and the eyelids.  The pupil shows where the character is looking, for example at an object, and the shape of the eyelids determine the emotional relationship of the character to the object.  Again, stuff that's pretty common knowledge, but is still probably good to keep in mind.

Another thing about the eyes that was interesting to me is the effect called Alexandre called strabism.  After doing a google search I think he actually meant Strabismus.  In any case when a character is looking far away he said that the eyes should stray a little farther away from each other, and when they're looking at an object that's near then the eyes should move closer to each other, almost cross-eyed.

In the above image you can see my notes about the eyebrows.  I didn't think they deserved a section of their own since I didn't really learn anything apart from how they work, but you guys might find it interesting anyway.

The Mouth

I'm not a big smiler in photos.  I believe that when one smiles it should be genuine, and there's just no way to capture that kind of smile in a portrait photo.  That's because the muscles that control a genuine smile start from the cheekbones and involve contractions in the eyes as well, all of which will tend to move upwards.  A fake smile on the other hand will expand sideways.

Another thing that was brought up that was interesting to me is that anger is expressed on the face in terms of contraction.  Your brows scrunch down and the mouth moves up almost as if they were trying to squish the nose.  It makes me wonder if that kind of emotion could be expressed using an entire body as well.

The Head

It took a while for me to figure out what to say about the head.  I think I was losing a little focus at this point in the talk so I didn't quite write down what Alexandre was saying.  But after looking at these drawings I think that the basic idea he was trying to get across was that the more "bent" the head/neck was the more it showed that a character is thinking.  A character with a straight head knows his purpose and is heading towards it.  A character with a bent head not quite sure, and is thinking about his options.  Alexandre showed us a video clip of a villain that expressed the extreme end of this, a character whose neck could bend so far as to suggest being as flexible as a worm or snake.    This mirrors our cultural biases, where being "straight" equals being good and being "crooked" means being evil.  Obviously this isn't the case in real life, but it's good to bear it in mind when designing characters that are arcehtypes.

The Elbows

The interesting point that was brought up about the elbows is how their positioning in relation to the body can express a mood.  A neutral mood is expressed by having the elbows in a straight position.  Having the elbows sticking out to the sides shows a more aggressive stance, while finally having the elbows sticking inwards or having the whole arm curving inwards can show a more feminine or seductive stance.

The Hands

The last body part we'll discuss is the hands.  My takeaway from this section of the talk was almost ridiculously simple: Open hands equals an open, friendly mind, while closed hands (ie a fist) means a closed, unwelcoming mind.  I also sketched an open hand here that's supposed to show fear or "afraid".  I forget now why I drew that, or it's relation to my first insight, but I think it was supposed to show the hands sort of recoiling from something fearful.  I apologize that I can't explain any further than that!

Well, this part was a little more rough than the first one by virtue of more time having elapsed since the workshop.  I hope you still found it useful though, and I'll try to make the last installment of the series even better. Stay tuned!