Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Newly (and soon to be) released incredible stopmo

Madame Tutli-Putli at NFB website

Yes friends, I imagine by now most of you know this, but at long last Madame Tutli-Putli is available here in the good ol US of A!!! There was a bit of a mad scramble when it was released in Canada and to International Customers but not here.... I think quite a few US citizens frantically sought out and befriended quite a few Canadians (I know I did!!). Little did we suspect the wait would be so short!


Breaking news.... you can watch all of this year's Oscar nominated shorts online at Ticklebooth.com... that includes Madame Tutli-Putli AND Peter and the Wolf!

Brighteye Pictures Blog

And my eyeballs are sweating waiting for this one!!! Finally a DVD by Bruce Bickford, released as he intended... not another Zappa concert thing with inserts from Bickford's films chopped up and rehashed, or cutaway shots used in the Monster Road documentary. Very soon we'll be able to order Prometheus' Garden (the clip above is from it) through the Brighteye Pictures site. Brett Ingram isn't saying much about it on his blog, but I subscribed to the newsletter for info a while back, and if I remember correcty the release date is set for Feb 2nd (or was it the 1st?). Not sure, but anyway, check the link I posted above.... there should be some official announcement soon! And meanwhile, to whet our Bickford appetite, feast your head on all the Bickford goodness posted at Youtube!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Planet JP


Meet my friend Jindra Polak, resident of Prague. I've known him for a few months now (email) and had no clue he has his own blog!!! He's an artist and animator, and also has just started reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.... how freakin' cool is that?!??!?? Below is his first animated film (I believe).... done without a framegrabber, no armatures, and I suspect he did the entire soundtrack with nothing but his own voice.... you tell me, does Prague breed natural born animators, or what??!??!?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One thing I'm starting to get a feel for.... when you have everything zoned in perfectly and create a compressed Jpeg to post on the web, it changes things.... the entire image lightens and some of the color is leeched out. So you want to start with it a little dark and oversaturated.

I've known for a while now that the moon needed to be moved... now it accounts for the rim lighting on her shoulder and in the hair, and it's more like the right size. Also it was kind of weird and distracting hanging right in front of her face like that, as if she was looking at it somehow. It took on too much importance there.

Did a bit more nippin' and tuckin' on the nose - it looks plasticy now, but the form is better. Too big, but better, if that makes sense. I discovered by flipping the image that the facial structure is completely screwed.... when the nose looks right for the left side, it looks wrong for the right, unless I make it a huge honker like this. I mean, Joely has quite the schnozz in real life, but not like THIS!!!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The POWER of Photoshop

I did some extensive reworking in photoshop. I went too far really. ended up with too much blurring in some places, the skin tones are maybe a little too pale now, but I'm through messing with this one. I just wanted to see how far I could transform it. Kind of ironic that I gave her a nose job... it's crooked, but then her nose IRL is crooked (the other way though I think). The bottom of the nose should have been tilted up a bit, but oh well. Lots of things I don't like about this, but lots I do. I think the main thing I learned is that my skin tones tend to be too oversaturated, shadows a bit too dark... all killing the sense of unification in the skin tones.Now that photoshop has shown me that, I can pay more attention to it in the future in my paintings.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Core shadow exercises

In the comments under my last post I mentioned Core Shadow exercises, which have greatly strengthened my drawing/painting skillz. So I thought I'd post some of them. This was the result of a training exercise I participated in maybe a year ago on Conceptart.org (fantastic site). There's an instructor named Ron Lemen who was kind enough to devote a lot of unpaid time there doing these workshop type things, where he'd give assignments and then grade the results. He really stresses the importance of learning to see and depict the "core shadow", giving solidity and form to an object... something a lot of students miss. Rather than try to repeat what he said, I'll just link to a Core Shadow Tutorial he put up at Anticz.com, which explains it very nicely. Here's a brief excerpt: "The problem most everyone seems to have with painting the human head is they paint colors that they see them in a photograph, but they don't paint a guy, a 3-dimensional man. The construction is substituted by fancy colors that matched the photo, with a lack of understanding as to why these colors were being painted in the first place."

The pic above is the beginning of my attempt. He recommended finding pictures from Getty Images, a free image resource.

Here's a later stage. This is actually just about my first attempt to draw in photoshop. A mouse is not a very good drawing implement!! Anyway, the point is to depict the forms of the head, ignoring the details like eyes, mouth etc. Just the basic forms. I'm not sure I really understood cpmpletely... I don't think I was supposed to depict the nose so realistically. And I probably shouldn't have put so much detail in the hair and clothes etc, but I couldn't help myself. Oh, the little patches of value alongside the image was what I used for my palette.... I'd just dip in with the eyedropper tool when it was time to select the next value. Works beautifully.

Coming along. Here you can really see the jaw area was getting lopsided. and I was sort of making it into more of a caricature than an actual portrait. I was doing that a lot at that time.

Here is the final result. I was pretty darn proud of it! Like I said, not sure I did it exactly right, but it still helped me immensely. Now when I draw or paint a face this exercise is always in the back of my mind, and my rendering of form is much stronger because of it.

Here's one I tried in pencil. Wow, it's a lot harder in pencil than digitally!! Again, it's more like a caricature (I don't have the original reference pic anymore, sorry). But still the form comes through powerfully.

I always find every time my skill develops dramatically it's after a period of intense study like this. sometimes it's a serious study of anatomy, sometimes techniques like this designed to strengthen drawing/visualizing skills.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I've been moonlighting - New and Improved!!!

click the pic for full size image

My friend Sven pointed out that the images I had posted were pale and rather greyish looking, so I revamped them a bit. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes.

It's been quite a while, but I decided to dust off my drawing/painting skills. This was done in oil pastels (Cray-Pas Specialist) on fairly heavily textured paper (Sennelier D-340) that's coated to be able to accept oil pastels or oil paint without needing to be gessoed first. The teaxturing makes for some harsh, rather ugly artifacts (hah... strange - computerese is now making its way into my vocabulary for "analog" art!). All I wanted to do really was get some practice, but I thought possibly I was ready to reach for that next level (which is fully rendered realistic painting in full color) - I often find after some time off my mind has been wrestling with the last set of problems I tried to tackle and has usually made headway during the down time. And this time was no exception! Aside from the rough texturing and harsh, gritty look of this piece, I'm quite impressed with a few things about it - things that I had been struggling (unsuccessfully) with in the past.

Up to this point, most of my color work has been pretty unrealistic (with the exception of the Fafhrd paintings and one or two of the others). Well, once again I find myself unable to find the right words when it comes to talking about art... you know what they say - "talking about art is like dancing about architecture". I guess by "realistic" what I mean is a good illusion of three dimensional solidity. Most of the full color art I've posted in the past has been more like colored drawings, and the colors have been pretty graphic and flat, sort of like old-style comic book coloring rather than painting.

But with this one I began to learn a couple of things that ended up pushing it past my former boundaries....

First, I seem to have gotten over my fear of blending colors. The way I tended to work before was to put down one color - for instance, for all exposed flesh areas I might lay down the lightest color I think I'll want there. Then I'll lay another color over that and, if my media allows, blend them together where needed. Then another color.... etc. It's a dull and laborious way to go, and results in blandness. And that's exactly the way I started this one, believe you me!!! But I was getting frustrated, because i wanted to push ahead, and I knew basically how to do it.

So what I did was to sort of scribble loosely with many different colors... all the colors I thought I might end up wanting in that area, put them all down BEFORE blending, and then blend away and watch what happens. It makes for far more interesting results than my old way, and usually comes pretty close to what I wanted, needing only a little more noodling. Not surprisingly, I first tried this on the background, where I wasn't afraid of messing up so much. It worked so nicely there I went ahead and started doing it on the figure, which was basically already fully rendered, but in the old painstaking and color-stilted method. It worked wonders.... made things look looser and more spontaneous and at the same time much more "alive" with color, which creates an energetic effect.

The other thing I learned from this piece is how to turn form with color. By using stronger colors along the edges (outlines and also edges of shadow areas, places where the form turns away from the viewer) you create a strong effect of surface being rounded.

I know it looks rough - that doesn't bother me, but I feel like I was able to fully "work" all the surfaces, so that no area of the figure looks unfinished to me (though there are a few areas that could use a little more.... I'm afraid to try getting too detailed in oil pastels).

Extemely helpful in this venture are a few things I've learned recently in my pursuit of stopmotion knowledge.... note the orangish fill light in the shadows and a little rim light here and there. Also, I kept thinking about that picture of Tom I posted a little ways below where he has his arms raised.... that picture benefitted incredibly from a painting I stuck behind him just to bring some color in. In fact, I was thinking about that when I started scribbling all those colors together.

I hope to be able to apply the same techniques to oil painting (actually Alkyd painting, but it's almost the same thing), where I should be able to get much tighter results.

Ok, I've danced enough about this architecture.... signing off now!