Sunday, September 30, 2007

Progress On The Board

Not posting anything just yet because I've not been able to run it by James, but the board's coming along quite nicely. Another sit-down or two with it and it'll be done. I'm not blocking out the shots all that completely but I'm taking them far enough to know what'll need to be modeled and what won't. I'm using this board as a chance to get more familiar with Sketchbook Pro and it's going pretty well. I'm still not as comfortable with it as I am paper but it's one hell of an app. I do wish it had a slightly broader range of brushes than it does but it's good. I like being able to add color quickly and easily, which is one thing I don't do when I sketch on paper.

Hopefully next week I'll have some progress to report on the concept artist search but even if that takes a little bit longer than hoped for, there's still plenty we can do while waiting for designs. There are matte paintings to paint and there are plenty of city elements left to model...This sucker is still a ways from being done.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Behind Schedule, Still Working

Ver. 01 of a brief is done and I've got a few initial feelers out to an artist I've worked with in the past. I'm tempted to put the brief up to give a sense of where we're going, design-wise, but 95% of the reference in the brief isn't our work and I don't know that I want to do anything that would imply that it was. I could source it all but that would be one hell of a long post and I've probably lost links to some of the stuff along the way.

One fun thing has been going through a lot of forums and blogs and putting together a list of artists we're planning on contacting for the job. I've been scouring the forums over at CGSociety and ConceptArt and spending a little bit of time on Deviant Art looking for good folk - and finding plenty. Our problem is going to be that we don't have a lot of money to spend.

Now that that's somewhat in motion, it's back to storyboards. I'll start posting them as soon as I have enough frames that are working for me to make a decent post.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Arrrgh! Weekend Work

Absolutely no progress to report from this weekend.

I spent most of Saturday finishing some animations for FX and right now I'm in the middle of doing styleframes for a new talk show on...I don't remember what network.

I'd hoped to get a brief written for a concept artist but once I'm done with this work, I really don't want to keep sitting in front of the computer. About the most I think I'll be able to do is to sit in front of the television for a while with my sketchbook. If I can get a page or two of sketching done I'll be happy.

Hopefully I'll have a brief Monday night and I'll be in touch with some artists over the next week. After the brief, my next task will be take a second pass on our storyboard. We have a new beat sheet/outline of the major scenes (did that last week) and it calls for some small revisions to the board. That's fun enough work and it'll be good to get done. I am so ready, though, to get back to modeling.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bird Sketches

This is another character we're going to try to get some help with. These mechanical/clockwork birds are becoming more important in the story and we want to make sure that the designs for these ends up being as good as it can be. These initial passes are telling me more what the birds shouldn't look like than what they should look like - but that's important to know.

This is some sort of mecha-dodo bird. Odd shape, not very menacing. The bird(s) in our short need to be able to do some menacing. This one is not spooky in any way. Nevertheless, I like the placement of the seams along the body shape.

Here I've moved from paper and pen to Sketchbook Pro and Wacom. I like the combo. It works for me. The sketches though...meh. The one colored bird head is ok, but that's about it.

And this is just my menacing guard bird. It works for what it is, but it's not much more than a notion of a menacing bird. It's not yet an illustration of one.

So, yeah, hopefully we'll be getting some help on these sketches soon and then, armed with awesome orthographic views, we'll be modeling fools.


Girl Sketches - First Pass

None of these sketches are really nailing it but they're a sampling of where my head is at- sort of - in terms of the main character in the short.

She's a skinny girl, 9-12 years old maybe, tall-ish and gangly. Here she's rocking a very simple ragamuffin outfit, colorful patches accenting a plain, utilitarian dress, striped sleeves and maybe colorful knee socks to add character. Not too dissimilar from Sally in Nightmare Before Christmas - but our girl is alive, and not a puppet seamstress.

Abstracting the head shape a bit more, trying to work with simple shapes and not being too concerned with realism.

This looks a bit more like someone's still kind of hot, hippy mom, than it does like our girl.

A couple Courtney Crumrin-inspired sketches here. I'm a huge fan of this book, though it's not really a direct inspiration for this short. Maybe the next project....Who the hell knows?
And lastly, a girl with some spunky attitude, demon eyes and a scarf.

Yes, it's quite the mixed bag (and there are others I'm not posting) but it's been a good exercise for me. I think that we're in a position where we can start talking to a concept artist or two for some help in taking this character - and two or three others - all the way to completion.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Tools

I just ordered a new MacBook Pro and I feel totally sick to my stomach. I am a total cheapskate. I hate spending more than $5 in any one place, let alone spending way, way more than that on something that's gonna be obsolete mere weeks after I buy it. At least software updates are usually a year apart - and then you rarely need to buy whole new versions, you can just update them.

Nevertheless, I felt like it was time. It'll be a faster rig than my current desktop, which I'm not getting rid of, and the chance to be somewhat more mobile is awesome.

Oooh boy I'm excited.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Character Design

With a title like "Character Design" you'd think this post would have some pictures. Alas but no. More than anything else, this is a post to kick myself in the pants and get a post up so that this thing doesn't succumb to blog-fade.

What we've been up to is looking at characters and sketching some and really trying to nail down who our main character is. When we first began this, we made a decision that we'd not go too "AmeriManga" with our main character. It's that I'm not a fan of the style, it's more that it's ubiquitous. AmeriManga characters are everywhere these days.

But, some of my favorite character designers show a definite manga influence. And a good AmeriManga character is also a good character, simply put. So I've opened my mind to that look a little bit and we're making progress in creating our girl.

I'd love to be able to show some sketches soon, with the understanding that I'm no character designer, but I don't have a scanner and my best drawings so far have been on that old analog paper. I am starting to make a transition to doing more digital sketching with Sketchbook Pro but I won't be doing really good work in it for a while, I think.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Further Explainations

So, riffing off of Barry's post, this diagram is an attempt to illustrate (My Take) on the changes being discussed. They consist mainly of artistic and pragmatic changes and not a complete re-think of our story or primary art direction.

I choose this picture as it was one of the pictures included by Barry in his post "Rethinking Stage Design"; Regarding certain shifts in art direction.


These images were not photographed by us, nor did we have ANY involvement in the creation of the models, set, props, etc. The changes made in panels "B" and "C" are for illustrative purposes only, and will not be used for commercial purposes.

Image A:
The original image from our Tear Sheet.

Image B:
A more developed rendering, with emphasis given to the 'Space' in which this scene takes place. 'Space' here meaning: lighting, physical space, negative space, and the overall relationship between actor(s), primary set objects, and secondary or tertiary objects in the scene.

Image C:
A technical breakdown of the shot elements from the standpoint of production. (If this was a shot of ours and if we were to approach it from this revised direction - How would we do it?)

**So what's the point? What are you trying to show?**

Well, the main change here is not about puppets or stages - so much as it is about changing the way physical space is represented in our piece. Barry and I have been spending quite a lot of time modeling objects - In an attempt to represent the 'Space' of the story.

In other words making sure the spatial relationship of every object makes sense, logically, with other objects in the scene - according to our established art direction.

In attempting to represent so many aspects of each scene explicitly - Some of our focus on the artistry and elegance of the work as a whole has been put on hold. At times we have found ourselves asking questions more akin to civil engineers than artists.

In addition, the man hours involved to model an entire city - down to the last screw or nail - are proving to be beyond the resources of our limited crew.

The reason that stage work, stage design, and puppet theater have all become so important to us is that we have decided to borrow from them a more spartan design aesthetic - as well as their sometimes surreal depictions of time, space, and circumstance. (Usually necessitated by traditional stage works' having Real-World limits on time, space, budget, and the like.)

Having said this - The significant thing being illustrated in Image B is a more Stage-Like approach to Blocking, Lighting, and Set Design - As opposed to an all-inclusive 3D world - In which the scenes take place. (For example - It's okay that the Foreground Characters are floating in space and not grounded to anything physically - What is important is the overall impression of the frame upon the viewer.)

I believe our final approach will be a combination of stage, dream, and reality; Ideally in a space unique to this production. I suspect....Looking foreword, Some scenes will be detached from 'reality' - While others hint at the physical word beyond.. And still others are a more grounded - almost deliberate - depiction of real world relationships between objects and events.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

This Weeks Homework Will Be...

American Set Design, by Arnold Aronson.

It's another $10 find from my local used-bookstore, The Iliad. It's a lot of interviews, which I may or may not read and a bunch of pictures, which I'm hoping will be very useful.

Stay-tuned folks, this sucker might actually turn out kind of cool one day!

Tearsheet One, Rethinking Stage Design

I've been looking at stages online, puppet theater stages, "experimental" black box stages, all that jazz. I've really been out-to-sea, somewhat, trying to understand where we're going with this new look.

I've had no trouble grasping what this will do for us in terms of character design. There are lots of brilliant marionettes and puppet designs out there that I'm more than happy to use as jumping-off points for our character. I've had trouble understanding the space that the film will be taking place in.

The photos leading off this post are the first stagings that have made sense to me. I can start to see how to construct a space for our short to take place in, after looking at these and thinking about them a bit.

They're from a production of "The Peddler of Swaffham" by the Bognoggin Theatre Co., at the Witham International Puppet Festival. Witham is a little ways outside of London, in the UK. I've never been there, never heard of it before, never knew they had a puppet festival there. Oh the wonders of the internet.

That's my post for now. I think it lacks in some particulars, particularly the part that explains the "why" behind the change of direction, but that's just the way that it goes sometimes.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Small Art Direction Re-Think

Don't wait with bated breath for the next AO-shaded model post. We've had a small change of art direction. As we develop the concept a bit more, we'll start throwing up some reference images and, eventually, some tests of the new look.

The reasons behind this change are myriad, some purely practical, some aesthetic. I don't have a full-blown post in me right now but I imagine that one of us will explain our new choices before too long.

Stay tuned.