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Christmas Cheer

December 26, 2011

A Christmas card: Oil on wood–and digital font:

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A Selection of Drawings from My Days in College

November 27, 2011

 

College figure drawings, Ebony pencil on bond paper:

Clay / Charcoal on Newsprint:

Charcoal on Newsprint:

The rest were one minute or less gesture drawings. Charcoal on Newsprint:

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Ravenskye City/ Ravenshire Castle

November 14, 2011

The following pictures were done for a Facebook game, Ravenskye City, developed by, Lolapps. I enjoyed the project and the talented artists who worked there…

Digital Painting for the intro:

Lolapps

The tonal study, done first in pencil–with Smartblur added:

Lolapps

Owl Totem concept (digital paint):

Lolapps

Ravenshire Castle, another Facebook game and part of the developer’s “Raven-World” concept (Ravenwood Fair, Ravenskye City). Ravenshire Castle is thematically heavier than its counterparts, with the added component of a decorator game (the castle being a type of dollhouse). We went for a mood evoking beauty and warmth, but with a dark or heavy undercurrent.

Below is a sketch of the world map environment. The game plan is based on an isometric grid and any hint of perspective is actually a cheat. I thought the golden hour would work well for the project.

Lolapps

The castle interior including characters. The lighting and staging is laid out in documents below:

Lolapps

I was brought onto the project just as the castle itself was being developed. The walls existed in grey and one level high on the isometric grid. Here’s what I was shown:

In addition to essentially ‘turning on the lights’, I asked the engineers if I could lengthen the walls in the front and create a foreground. This would make the lower portion “unplayable” but hopefully enhance the user’s visual experience. Below was the concept, it was approved, and we went forward.

Lolapps

Andrew Vera made these beautiful elements in Flash based on above concept:

Lolapps

I painted this sample on the right and then desaturated it to explain tonal structure. The idea is to keep the floor toned darkish, the walls middle toned and the characters would exhibit the lightest lights and darkest darks. Any props would be dialed down from the characters but important assets, like “heartpieces” would exhibit the hottest colors–as seen in the overall view above. The character below is a horticulturist, Rosamunde, designed by Josh DeLeon, the shelf is a Christopher Flork creation (and belongs in the “Wizard Room”). The chair design by Connie Kang:

Lolapps

Light, color, and tonal guide for the interior of the castle:

Lolapps

Tonal structure for elements OTHER than the character:

Lolapps

How to lighten and darken from warm to cool:

Lolapps

© 6L

Two contemporary painters who have done lots of stage design are David Hockney and Gottfried Helnwein.  I looked to Helnwein for lanscape ideas (same place in Europe) and for  a certain amount of heaviness of mood. Hockney for vivid color combinations that work well with animated productions…

Helnwein:

lolapps

Lolapps

http://www.helnwein.com/

Hockney:

Lolapps

lolapps

http://www.hockneypictures.com/

 

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Origins in Staging

November 13, 2011

Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) has been credited as the first artist to create a type of picturesque ‘staging’ in the landscape. The formulas begun by Claude are still employed today, particularly in animated productions.

Notice the tonal devices used in the following examples: Dark and contrasted foregrounds versus a softly lighted backgrounds.  There are tonal shifts related to the horizontal planes against the verticals. Trees function like draw drapes leading the viewer to the center of interest.

View of Tivoli at Sunset:

Disney films have utilized Claude’s formulas very well:

Tivoli?…

One of the most influential production designers in the animation business today is Hans Bacher, who began his career forty years ago. He’s created a wonderful book on production design called Dreamworlds. On a separate occasion Hans has said that you can watch a Disney film from across a room and still identify the character or focal point. That doesn’t always hold true for other film studios, and even less so in the gaming industry…But most recently that’s changing.

And back to influences…In Europe, artists have been creating a type of stage in their pictures as early as Cimabue, and further developing the stage during Baroque period. Theater and film have long influenced pictures which may have originated with the early European outdoor plays.

Mary and the Angels 1280

Below is, The Lamentation, 1305, by Cimabue’s great student, Giotto who abandoned earlier conventions about composing figures in favor of more dramatic scenes. Christ is seen at the lower left corner of the composition, a weak spot in the visual vocabulary of western culture, and appropriate in reinforcing the idea of death. All other elements draw our eye there. The sadness in the faces is so moving.

The Lamentation, 1305

Domenichino, The Last Communion of St. Jerome, 1641: Here is St. Jerome, nearly at his death. You can see the similarities with Giotto’s picture, but Domenichino includes an architectural structure (like Cimabue) but with the addition of a deep space in the background. The scene is made to feel real  (as we suspend our disbelief of a snuggling tiger and floating putti).

It’s another touching picture of a holy man at his loving death.

The Last Communion of St. Jerome. 1641

Around the same time, Claude Lorrain revolutionizes the landscape as spoken about above. Here again is, View of Tivoli…Notice the idealized and imagined city of Tivoli, towering trees, and golden hour light. The landscape dominates in Claude’s pictures as can be seen not only by evaluating the proportion of figures versus ground, but also by the light and what it illuminates. Compare to the Ferdinand Bol that follows this one…

View of Tivoli at Sunset, 1644

A student of Rembrandt, Ferdinand Bol paints, The Crowning of Murtillo in 1650– a scene from an Italian play by Battista Guarini called, The Faithful Shephard. This one is all about the characters’ story and the landscape only functions to give a hint of place. These figures are arranged toward the viewer in a distinctly theatrical composition. The background story tells of the central figure, Amaryllis, who is betrothed to the god, Achilles, having engaged in a kissing game. After being blindfolded she evaluates the kisses given by each of the nymphs in her attendance. Mirtillo, who had been spying on the group, was in love with Amaryllis and wished to sabotage her marriage. He disguises himself as one of the nymphs, kisses Amaryllis and becomes the winner of the contest. Mirtillo is seen on one knee receiving the crown but after a second look at the women surrounding Amaryllis and Mirtillo, it is evident that they know the true nature of Mirtillo. He is not a nymph but a man. Bol sets the stage in a pastoral setting, including background characters playing musical instruments to complete the mood. The front lighting illuminates the foreground characters arranged in a circular format. In person, the textures in this painting are superb and it’s hard to comprehend that a talent as great as Ferdinand Bol completely stopped painting later in life.

Crowning of Mirtillo, 1650

Of the Rococo painters, Watteau is one of my favorites. The Foursome depicts actors from a popular European outdoor play. The character on the right has his back turned toward us and we can’t see his expression.  The scene looks almost dreamlike as it is set in a darkened garden with a kind of omni light effect. The foursome appear to be flirting (the guitar points to Cupid riding a dolphin). Whether or not they’re acting in a scene or hanging around in the evening after the play has ended is not known. It’s not hard to imagine how a scene of human dalliances like this must have seemed to an artist who didn’t feel he had much stake in this world.  Watteau suffered from illness for much of his life and died from tuberculosis at only 38 years of age.

The Foursome, 1713

Rembrandt’s, Nightwatch…Notice how the figures come toward the viewer as if spilling out of the frame. The foreground ‘officers’ are black and white, bearing the highest areas of contrast–and saturation in the case of the central figure’s red overlay.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: John Henry

November 6, 2011

John Henry backgrounds used two environment styles to fit the story, one technique used Scratchboard on an acrylic painting (they were digitally composited) and the other was acrylic paint meant to look like handmade quilts. We studied the “Krazy Quilts” and the art of the Harlem Renaissance.  The film was a lot of fun to work on and since it was a short, it wasn’t in production for very long.

Scratchboard paintings:

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Acrylics: (Disney didn’t use this title screen, Bob Stanton, who art directed the film painted a new one lighter in mood and therefore more appropriately Disney-esque.)

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Tarzan

November 6, 2011

Due to its labor intensive backgrounds Tarzan required more painters than any other Disney film, about 50 total. A number of especially beautiful paintings were made in the Paris studio where more time was given to complete each picture. Lucky for them! Here are a few of my scenes of the jungle in moonlight or illuminated by red ‘flares’.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Mulan

November 6, 2011

Mulan was my first experience in film. I was hired while the movie was well under way and painted approximately 30 backgrounds, fewer than the standard 100 or so. Immediately following is and image of the Emperor’s palace, an establishing shot (first in its sequence). Believe it or not, there were some 24 layers to paint on acetate, above the illustration board. The foreground wall moves to reveal a massive staircase.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.