Thursday, August 27, 2009

Working on the wrong movie - and drawing random caves

Click the image to see it bigger on Flickr, then click on "All Sizes" above it

I am getting some work done on my film, but I've actually been spending a lot more time working up the scenario for my next one. I'll have some images to post soon for the bar flick though, promise! (And no, the image above is NOT from that other film, it's just a random drawing I did to play round with my new charcoal and carbon drawing kit!)

Meanwhile, I've also been drawing! I recently read The Art of Ray Harryhausen and discovered he did his key drawings using charcoal powder, compressed charcoal and carbon pencils with highlights pulled with various types of erasers, and decided I had to try it. Hard to believe, but this is actually the first time I've rendered a complete environment with full-on lighting/shading effects. Feels like the beginning of a new era.

This began as just random marks on paper... when my new materials came in as usual I was too excited to actually plan out a drawing, I just started smearing things around on a piece of paper... but what I've discovered (as I had hoped) was that this method allows almost unlimited redos... if you don't like something just erase it and rework. It doesn't feel quite finished yet, but I decided it was time to scan it in case I completely screw it up after this.

Here are a few fun links to tutorials on drawing with charcoal and carbon pencils... this is some awesome stuff:


Jessica Koppe said...

Hi Mike,

procrastinate now! Tomorrow would be too late! :D

No, seriously, I think even procrastination will take us further, and you obviously learnt something new which is great!

You did a fine job with the drawing. I like the grungy "taste", I hope you know what I mean...? I would suggest to use deep black sometimes. For example on the left side, there could be parts of the walls where absolutely no light is shining on. With greys, you'd have a wide range of colours (well, shades) between black and white, so use them. With a bit more contrast your drawing could become some more tense or intensive.

Darkstrider said...

Thanks Jessica!!

I'm glad you like the grunginess.... I like it too! I tend to like very sketchy art like this, with spots and faint lines and scratches all over it... it adds energy and vibration.

There used to be a lot more black... but I found I had to erase a lot of it to make those two stone formations on the cave floor show up clearly. The drawing can change if I decide to procrastinate some more tomorrow... or maybe the next day... :)

Darkstrider said...

Hey, I just realized.... this explains why I like the "old film" or silent film treatment so much for my movies.... the film grain, scratches, dancing hairs and dust and dirt particles. It's the film equivalent of sketchy drawings like I described above!! It adds grunginess that's pleasantly 'animated', and creates a layer of artifice that draws attention to the film as a physical thing (even though it's really fake effects and the film" is really digital pixels in cyberspace). That's what modern painting did... draw attention to the painting as an object, rather than as a perfect window to another reality, as classical art was supposed to be.

Hmm.... much to ponder as I procrastinate more....

Shelley Noble said...

Love the texture quality of the drawing Mike. I didn't see the "cave" in the post title and saw instead a woman in a white bra in the drawing.

Extraordinary technique, great links. Ms. Robinette's advice to work "from the general to the specific" are words to live by that I'd be smart to take to heart for everything.

jriggity said...

art adventures are fun....

I agree...the texture is very cool.


emmyymme said...

Looking great!

If you don't have one you should pick up a kneaded eraser - they're fantastic for working with charcoal and layered drawings.

R.S.Cole said...

When I first laid eyes on this, I wondered what the hell that photo was of and didn't realize it was a charcoal rendering until half way through reading the post. DO NOT TOUCH IT ANYMORE! It's beautiful as is.

I haven't worked in charcoal for many, many, many years and I remember loving it but, KEEPING it was always the problem. Charcoal is so vulnerable to smudging (even with a fixative) and yellowing over the years.

I switched over to colored pencil but, you just can't do the same things with them at all, even pastel pencils don't give you the range of fading and shading that you can get with charcoal.

Happy black fingers!

Darkstrider said...

Emmy, yes, a kneaded eraser is part of my arsenal! Along with an electric eraser for really aggressive work.

Ron, that's the great thing about it... I can keep working it as long as I want, and as long as I keep scanning it as I go, I never lose an earlier version.

But as you said, it's hard to tell what it is... I guess I picked a pretty tough subject for my first landscape attempt!! A cave interior is a difficult thing to draw. I like the rock formations, but it's hard to tell what's going on with the back wall.

Darkstrider said...

It would be the easiest thing to just stop working on this now. But it would be a copout. As I learned in art school, it' the final 10% that makes or breaks a piece of art. If you just quit before pushing it to that final 10%, then you have an unfinished piece. But if you don't make the right choices right at the end, you can have anything form a halfway decent drawing to a complete piece of crap... it's only if you make just the RIGHT choices you end up with an excellent drawing (painting, movie, whatever).

Plus it's more a learning piece than a gallery piece. Like I said, this is my first landscape attempt, and my first try with charcoal and carbon pencils, so I want to try a lot of things and see what works and what I should avoid like the plague later. If I had quit on this one at a few other likely stopping points, it would be an absolute piece of crap as it was for much of its lifespan so far. But as I said, this is a remarkably flexible drawing method.

Darkstrider said...

Shelley.... a white bra???!!!!

Heh... wow, that poor deformed woman!! But I can see what you mean.... a drawing like this is like a cloud or an inkblot.... you can see just about anything in there.

R.S.Cole said...

A cave interior was actually my first guess. My second guess was an electron microscope view of dead skin cells and my third guess was a white bra. :)

bRYEnd_of_the_schtick said...

(^ gol darn knit . now I know why lynn norris sent me a link to this:

========just click the link: nothing else. the rest is just me clearing my mind======

to bRYEnd Oftheschtick
date Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 5:35 AM
subject Bruce ain't got nuthin on this gal

hide details Aug 20 (12 days ago)

Check this girl out!!!!!!!!

++(^ok?ignore the rest of this++

(^ but remember:
animation is meant to be moved.
(^ not archived.
(^ a temporary fixative at best.

(^ some of the very first animations were either scratched directly into film emulsion

(^..or.... drawn with white chalk (^ on blackboard :
(^ then left as a negative print for projecting.

((^ I had huge rolls of newsprint coated with drawings /ink splotches done using liquid white out, china markers, paperstomps,8 types of erasers, compressed-vine_..etc I really mean etc charcoal(s), conte crayon(s) (again the etc on waxes)/magic markers/inks: water, coffee and oil.
just salad dressing oil.

(^ burger grease.
(^ dishwater.

(^ this became a problem.
(^ i ate while I worked.

I ended up using peanut butter oils and mustard seeds.

and catsup.
and blackberries.

when peopl said "you'll never get that stuff hung in a gallery"..
I'd say something flippant like "take a picture. It'll last longer"

Darkstrider said...

Great vid!!! I remember seeing that one some time ago and marveling at it. I love the way the constantly renewed images are built over old ones piece by piece, gradually wiping them out. It emulates memory slowly fading.

Funny how people call it animation... they seem to be confused as to the meaning of the word. It's definitely done live action. If it was animation the images would MOVE and you wouldn't see the hands.

bRYEnd_of_the_schtick said...

(^ perhaps a clarification then:
>Funny how people call it animation...

(^ even funnier how many call everything "claymation" even if made by puppets and have nothing to do with wil vinton studios:

>they seem to be confused as to the meaning of the word.

(^ or a brand name.

> It's definitely done live action.

(^ and so is animation.
(^ think about it.
(^ do animators die between camera clicks?

> If it was animation the images would MOVE...

(^ i wonder if joan gratz would feel this way.

(^ funny how this one post is the only one my brother ever responded to:
(^ this thing...

>..and you wouldn't see the hands.

(^ unless the hands fer part of the animation.

(^ for me that seems to be key:
to catch the animators in between shots.

(^ maybe that is WHY I made a vhs tape of a friend animating:
and held 35 to 80 frames per image in between of one 8 hour session that once made into animation was less than 6 seconds worth.

(^ all I'm implying is that charcoal dust is as valid a form of animation as a pin board.
9^ and I'd LOVE to see animation puppets ANIMATING a pin board.

: wanders off to do more research:
(^ ok so let's call it pinSCREEN:

Pin-screen by Alexeïeff & Parker

(^ animation or not?

(^ i saw this first in a history of animation course taught by Professor Ramond Fielding.

(^ endjoy.

Darkstrider said...

Yeah, the Claymation thing too....

I guess the General Public just doesn't think much about the definitions of these words the way we do. They call it Sand Animation because it's done with sand and well... it's moving, right?

Nevermind that it's moving because the artist is standing right there moving it as we watch... so the images themselves aren't actually moving but just being REDRAWN.

Animation is the ILLUSION of movement for inanimate objects, manipulated between frames. You can't shoot something with a video camera running at normal speed and then call it animation. If that's animation, then so is The Muppet Show, and so is every damn show and movie ever made, and so is life itself! Then we'd need a new word for what we do....

UbaTuber said...

NICE!! I loooove charcoal for the very reasons you describe, the constant working and reworking...drawing with my eraser/working reductively comes naturally to me so charcoal is one of my fave mediums....keep it up, can't wait to see your new film images too :)

Pram said...

Some thoughts...

* Sand animation- saw a video on Youtube by a Vinton animator, and yet it was live action of him sprinkling sand over a light table. Amazing stuff, too- he doesn't work with clay because he likes the look of sand now more. Amazing, the way one's taste for a medium can change over the course of their lifetime.

* Everything gets called Claymation, even Coraline. It's sad... That stuff's rubber. I would imagine it's especially irritating to hear that term used to describe the work of a studio that no longer identifies with the trademark that made them famous.

* Colored pencisl are great fun, too- never used much charcoal except in school, but Gary Bialke did some of the greatest clay puppet designs in colored pencil. The only thing closer to the look of a clay sculpture would be oil paints.

Ahhh, best of luck on both films! I did my share of procrastinating over the summer, but now that it's starting to cool down outside, it's GO TIME. All it takes is a trigger, and there's no doubt in my mind you'll be off and running again. Doesn't even have to be a very big trigger :)

Acacia said...

I'm loving your charcoal drawing Mike! I also recommend getting your hands on a chamois cloth (or's far more fun to say) for blending. It's one of my all time favorite tools for charcoal. :D

Darkstrider said...

Thanks Pram and Acacia! I definitely want to get a chamois.... I guess a ShamWOW wouldn't be quite the same thing??!!!