Monday, October 31, 2011

Adventure Time...

I love this cartoon.
It really shows how simple, clean lineart and flat colours are sometimes a better choice for creating memorable and loveable characters.
Here's a quick look at how they storyboard and create their concept art.

Environment concept art

Here is the final concept of Ivy's environment. 

Inspired by the various artist's work I've been admiring, I tried to focus mainly on the atmosphere and mood of the piece rather than the technical detailing. I used quite loose brushstrokes to give more of an impressionistic feel to the structures an make the overall image seem magical and mystical. I also made the lighting particularly dark to create a contrast that draws attention to the centre of the image, to the bright crystals and the skull. 

edit: made it a bit more "glowy" and bright:

my inner perfectionist is at work today...

Sadly I made a bit of a mistake whilst editing this: I'd resized a version for posting it on here, and without my realising, that was the one I worked on... so the final image is actually quite small. This means it will probably appear pixelated on the final A3 concept sheet. (there had to be one thing that went wrong)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I've started watching BBC's miniseries adaptation of the novel, The Crimson Petal and the White. It is set in the dark, illness-ridden streets of Victorian London, and tells the story of a writer who becomes involved with an unconventional, strong-willed and intelligent prostitute called Sugar. I was mainly intrigued by the style; costume dramas tend to come across as quite rigid and bland, but here the cinematography was quite unusual. Also, the slightly modernised, downtrodden, Gothic Victorian look is endlessly charming to me.

I found the first scene quite captivating with it's fast-paced and shaking camera shots, wonderful costume design and it's energising soundtrack which combines classical strings with the pulsating of modern electronic music. It uses the odd slow-motion shot and jump cut to create tension and unexpected moments, and to hint at a film that isn't afraid to be experimental.

Here's the first scene, if you like this sort of thing I'd recommend checking it out (don't watch further than the first 2 and a half minutes if you don't like nudity / slightly gross things!):

Artists: Carter Goodrich

Carter Goodrich is an award-winning freelance illustrator who has been working since 1983, and his first role in film was as a lead character designer on The Prince of Egypt in 1995. Below are some images he made for Despicable Me and Shrek

A majority of his work available on his site is greyscale pencil work, which shows his incredible talent for sketching. His drawings are very dynamic, lively and full of character - what can be expected from a DreamWorks and Pixar character designer I suppose!



Character - Final Art

Here is my final concept for my character.

In my head I've been nicknaming her "Rooty" over the time I've developed her as it took a while for me to think of a name that fits. Then I remembered that she was originally just an everyday human girl, and in her new state she doesn't really interact on personal terms with other beings, so I have given her a relatively everyday name. Her appearance has obviously been an influence, but I've decided she is/was called "Ivy Reid".

I've stuck with the earthy green tones, but this time I added an overlay filter in Photoshop to brighten up the colours. I think I've developed a personal habit of colouring in a very muted way and I'm trying to change that.


I'm going to use this image instead of the coloured turnaround in my final A3 character concept sheet as I think it captures her presence and personality more effectively. If I had more time, I would do a full 360 degree turnaround to this detail, but sadly I really need to use the time I have left to finish her environment.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Artists: Noah-kh

An artist whose techniques I greatly admire is Kuang Hong, also known as Noah-kh. His online galleries are interesting in that I find myself repeatedly coming back to them just to have another look.

His work is rich with texture, detail, tones and a definitive sense of fantasy, mythology and epicness - in the true sense of the word, not the internet sense!

However I find that he "stands out from the crowd" because he works with various different styles and subject matters, ranging from "traditional" fantastical dragons, fairies and vast dramatic scenery, to surrealism, horror and the downright dark and disturbing. He is clearly very technically skilled, as well as having a knack for creating intriguing and unique character quirks.

He has so many incredible artworks that I struggled to pick a few, so I'll post many. (I was surprised to discover some that really resonate my own character):

In these images I've found inspiration for how to physically meld my character with her forest environment.

This one, in particular, which was inspired by the idea that from death, the roots of life are born: I really like how her limbs and head have merged with the tree roots and changed colour, texture and shape. The colours are interestingly juxtaposed: the figure is somewhat muted, but combined with the vivid orange tones of the background, the overall image appears bright, almost akin to a summer's evening. But then we are drawn to the skeletal figures forming the tree, and recall the sombre undertones.

Other great pieces:


Artists: Dmitry Narozhny

On DA I found the artist Dmitry Narozhny (official website here), and was drawn to his sequential drawings. I was interested to see how he sketched out his panels and also drafts the basic lighting and shadows before beginning the refined versions. 

His use of angles and lighting very cinematic, and hope to achieve a similar effect when I venture into creating storyboards and graphic novel/comic scenes.

Well... here's my first try at a flip-book animation!

I'm not overly happy with it. The drawings wobble about quite a lot due to slight changes in size and proportions, and I think the scene I chose was too limited and didn't show any clear expression, which is possibly the main point of animation. (The second one was a rather messy attempt at doing something more action-related).

I found it a little difficult trying to get her the same size on each page without the aid of a lightbox or tracing paper, so on my next try at traditional animation I plan to spend more time on the drawing and ensuring it appears consistent.

it's meant to show her spotting a bird, reaching out to hold it, and then feeling sad when it flies straight by.


Here is a final sketch of my character's "skull cave". From her height I was able to estimate the height and length of the skull.

I aim for it to appear as if it is integrated into the rock and trees behind it.

Here are some sketches showing the development of the idea:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Character Development, continued...

Following the assessments of our character developments last Thursday, I've decided to make a couple of little changes to my character design. On my previous turnaround I wasn't satisfied with her face, so I've decided to make her appear almost insect or alien-like. I've also made the crystals brighter and more obvious.


I was advised to experiment with less muted colours; I chose muted colours to reflect that she lives in a dark and shadowed environment, and to reflect her somewhat tragic story. However, out of curiosity, I had a play with the hue/saturation adjustment in Photoshop and ended up with these:

I actually really like the second one along, which uses more blue and grey tones as opposed to green - it seems more mystical and mysterious. The final model has an almost Gothic edge, which is quite interesting. 

I think, when I colour my environment, I might focus on cool, blue shades to reflect the slightly "evil" force that is at work, and continue this colour scheme in my character. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Postmodernism is a philosophical movement that is characterised by the acceptance that there is no knowable objective truth; the world, reality, our beliefs, etc. are social constructs that are subject to change; the world is entirely subjective.
"Whereas modernism was primarily concerned with principles such as identity, unity, authority, and certainty, postmodernism is often associated with difference, plurality, textuality, and skepticism."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Artists: Ahmed Aldoori, again

I found the DeviantArt account of an artist I previously briefly looked at, Ahmed Aldoori. In his gallery I came across many more inspiring pieces. I especially like his loose, painterly style, and how he focusses predominantly on the texture he's achieving with his brushstrokes. Helpfully, he's uploaded an image demonstrating the steps of one of his digital paintings.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I think there are some minor inconsistences... Those twisted branches are quite difficult to memorise exactly!

I went for a cooler colour scheme to reflect how she dwells in the depths of a shadowed forest.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Artists: Seth Engstrom

Seth Engstrom created some of the concept artwork for the blockbuster Avatar, a film which Rotten Tomatoes calls, accurately in my opinion, "more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling", but that aside...

The film is set in the fictional world of Pandora, most of which covered in lush rainforest. I spent a majority of the film just admiring the scenery, for obvious reasons.

This final image is of particular interest to me. It is the "Tree of Voices", named so as the voices of ancestors can be heard through their branches. The scenery here takes our traditional understanding of a forest, and combines it with these magical and wonderful fluorescent, crystalline colours, which show the special and spiritual nature of the tree.

Similarly, my character's environment will be infected with otherworldly magic that will cause vibrant, contrasting colours to be spread around an otherwise dark, gloomy area.

Artists: Jason Scheier

I was referred to the concept artist Jason Scheier and found many amazing digital paintings that depict similar atmospheres, tones and scenery to what I hope to create.

This image really grabbed my attention. The concept is set underwater, and I think it captures a dark, tense mood; what exactly is the mass in the centre of the image? A cave? A creature, or the habitat of a creature? The faint silhouettes of sharks in the distance creates a wonderful sense of depth and vastness. The limited, cool colour palette also reflects the deep and probably very cold waters. 

This sense of mystery, of the unknown, is something I'd like to incorporate into my designs.

Here, on the other hand, the saturated greens make this a vibrant and vivid jungle landscape, which includes wonderful detail of twisting trees and branches. 

Here the mood is a bit more melancholic, as shown through the darker colours and depiction of heavy rainfall.

I like the idea of incorporating some sort of pool into the cave; something about waterfalls and bright, sparkling water is quite ethereal...

Using the character's environment to express his or her emotions and persona is a feature often found in film, game and animation, as it clearly communicates the character's intentions so that the audience may easily understand them.

I think my character's surroundings would best be suited to a limited colour palette of dark/cool greens, browns and greys to reflect her solitude and less-than-happy outlook on life.

Character Environment Ideas

The next stage of my development is to create concept art, plans and elevations for my character's environment.

My idea is that she inhabits a giant skull which forms a cave. It will be covered in various plants, branches, wildlife, etc. to show that it's an ancient relic which has existed, undisturbed, for a very long time. It will also be coated in crystals (similar in appearance to apophyllite) which reflect the undercurrent magic. 

a very rough concept I drew in Photoshop

For reference and inspiration, I've gathered a few images of wildlife and skulls. I will also use the photographs I took earlier from the museum.

I like the burnt colours and textures found in the skulls on the central image. This, combined with the open-jawed structure of the other skulls, will form the basis of my skull cave concept. I spent some time drafting ideas for what the creature might have actually looked like, so that I can more specifically decide the shape of the skull.


Earlier in the development process I was advised to find a specific type of tree to use as a reference, so that I might gain ideas for the more defined details of my character and also her environment. 

I've been drawn to these images I found of a tree called "curly filbert", and also the "corkscrew hazel". The intricate, curled form of the branches is very beautiful, and makes it look like the sort of tree you might find in a fairytale illustration, or a Tim Burton picture. I would like this style of tree to be prevalent throughout the environment and on my character. 

The "hanging" leaves on the corkscrew hazel are particularly aesthetically pleasing!