Sunday, October 21, 2012

Building character

As both of you know, I enjoy fantasy art, so I was delighted to have the opportunity this summer to take one of the Animation program workshops by Ed Binkley, whose work I really enjoy. It was a Photoshop class on fantasy character creation, which sounded AMAZING, so I got special dispensation to enroll by asking nicely and name dropping my roommate Nate, who is amazing at art (that there is a work-in-progress, by the way. He's freaking pro) and almost done with the Animation program. Nate vouched for me, which was good enough for Ed, so I was in. I baked Nate some thank-you cookies, because I'm a nice roommate.

Then we headed off on our Fantasy Character Creation adventure along with a lot of his classmates and a few of mine, one of whom was the inimitable Lauryn, who is better than me at everything and made that awesome Miskatonic university poster I linked a while ago. Lauryn is modest as well as talented, and claims I do cool stuff too, but she totally owns my face and I'm ok with that.

So, anyway. All fanboying aside, the class was great. We learned a couple techniques and a lot of tricks, and I was delighted to see that my traditional methods were the base of the techniques we learned. Like this one, which is essentially heightened drawing, where you work from big, very transparent shapes to smaller and more opaque strokes, eventually becoming the tiniest and most opaque lines. It's just like oil painting: fat -> lean, dark-> light, thin-> thick, transparent-> opaque. We drew mostly interesting or old faces, since they come with character already installed, and then do a lot of warping and stretching and flipping and other such manipulations in transform and liquefy.  Along with this strange old lady, I draw the late and great Ray Bradbury and eventually turned him into a painting which I grew to hate and am not gonna show you. But you can see my sketch of him, which is basically just a painted copy of the reference photograph.

Looks pretty neat, I think. Just white and black round marker brushes in Photoshop. Nothing fancy. It took a while, but I got faster eventually. For the final painting of Bradbury and a few test runs of different old lady versions, I added layers of transparent colour set to multiply and painted them like watercolours. You don't get pictures of that.

Next up were quick silhouettes, to get a basic idea of movement and shape. We drew a bunch, saved a few, and used one for our next technique. Here's some of mine; I picked the guy with the pointy hat for my final and the kicking-leg kid for fun.

Kicking kid started out as a drawing of the previous type with white paint directly over the plain silhouette, and I got its face on and that's about it. I might finish someday, when I have time.
The pointy-hat guy seemed kinda morose to me, and I just get a huge kick out of making sad things, for some reason. I wasn't sure if he was a tin man or a scarecrow or just a guy in a pointy hat, so I tossed him in Photoshop and started doodling. Instead of linking each screencap I took of the progress, I'm just put them all in a line so you can see how long it spent sucking real hard before I finally pulled the finished detail up to the top level. Thing took like eighty hours, and about half of that was getting that level of finish. I like the dude, although he's less downcast than his initial iterations.
So here's the final of the birdman, and Rodey says he needs to be on a faux-letterpress poster with a poem of some sort. I'm inclined to agree, but I've yet to write the poem. Should it be like an old Mother Goose poem, or something anachronistic like "haters gonna hate" or some other trite crap? I dunno. 

The other question for the ages is "what's in the sack?" The current theory is it is a sack of sacks: i.e. an infinisack. It could also be bees, I guess. Or little pieces of river mud, polished like glass. Or fingers. I guess it contains an exercise for the reader, which is the kind of thing that ought to get me slapped. 


So make up a story, readers, and tell it to me, and I'll totally credit you if I use it. Totally.

1 comment:

  1. a sack full of baby teeth! that's why it's so small.

    that or his confidence.