Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Mermaid Part 2

So now I am blocking in the painting with this layers of oil. I begin running into a problem as I moved the lighting in the composition. This, of course changes how the light would fall on the figures. I play with the idea of fudging it but decide that I just need to reshoot the figures in the studio.

For the wave reference I have a pile of images collected from the web, great painters like J.M.W. Turner, and even screen shots from movies like Master and Commander.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Little Mermaid Part 1 - The references

The painting was going to be of the little mermaid rescuing the prince when his shipwrecked in a storm. I was a little intimidated to take on a project involving a storm in the middle of the ocean. I haven't spent time painting seascapes and I knew that finding references for storm waves would be a challenge. Not to mention that I had no idea what my lead characters would look like floating together in the water.
A first I thought I could get away with just setting up the models in the studio but after the initial shoot, decided to go all out and find a pool. Friends of mine were kind enough to let me use their pool and set up my studio flashes on either side. My hope was that one would represent the lighting and the other would act as a fill light. Unfortunately my "fill light" was too strong and I didn't realize it until later. But I gathered some great information about how my figures would interact in the water (It helps to have a volunteer pound the water to give us the waves).

As I developed the painting, I moved the lightning which caused me to have to reshoot the reference for my prince.  By the way, I dressed up the prince in a nice costume with a vest and everything (maroon puffy-sleeved shirt and blue vest) but everything looked black once it was wet.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Making Breakfast for Mom

I'm a little late but this post is for Mother's day.

So how do you create an image with a complex, perspective ridden backgrounds and children? Why with good reference of course. For this project I contacted some family friends and asked to borrow their kids... and their kitchen... and make a mess.

I came up with the idea, did some sketches and went through the cupboard to find the crazy breakfast items. With a couple of bags of food and dishes I headed over to the "set." The kids were ready for me in their pajamas but had no idea what to expect. They watched as I put dishes around the counters and then created my breakfast concoction. There were many questions about why I was putting chocolate syrup on the grapefruit and Fritos with the pancakes.

I then put them in poses and took about 25 pictures. I will admit that I did not stage it very well or mix up my compositions. One problem I ran into was that the oldest son was quite a bit taller than the girls. It was also challenging to get the right expressions on all three at once. But that is why you take many shots. Upon reviewing the images I found 3 individual poses but none were together. So I just clipped out the ones I liked best and posed them, adjusting height and position.
You can see I wasn't too interested in making this very clean - just wanted to get everyone in position. Next came the painting. Due to time I went with a digital medium - just my tablet, Photoshop and me. The final version turned out like this.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Women's History Month - Betty Zane

I know it is the last day but in celebration of Women's History month I thought I would post a sketch for a painting I am working on. It tells the story of Betty Zane, who saved Fort Henry from the British toward the end of the Revolutionary War. The fort was out of powder and 16 year old Betty dashed from the fort to a cabin some 60 yards away to get a keg of powder. She dashed back to the fort at full speed while the ground exploded around her with the shots of the enemy. She made it without injury and the fort was saved.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Page 3

So here is the final one for Adam and Eve. I hope I can do more to develop my take on the story but we'll see what time permits.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Page 2

Here is page 2 for the Adam and Eve layouts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Graphic Novel Time

Here are the first 3 pages of a graphic novel version of Adam and Eve that I am developing. Let's look at the thumbnail planning and the cleaned up pencil work. I wanted to get right through creation to the interaction with the serpent. I subscribe to Genesis as a poetic telling of the fall of man (that's not to say these events didn't happen) and so I want to visually tell it in the way I feel it was intended when Moses recorded this revelation.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Surprise from a 1935 cartoon

So I was watching this Betty Boop cartoon, "Betty Boop and Grampy" (1935) from the Max Fleischer studios. I am used to seeing, as is almost always the case, the animation over the top of a matte painting. So imagine my shock when in the scene when Betty is walking down the street (singing a very catchy tune), the background moved in 3D. Now I am used to this in modern productions with the use of CG to map paintings onto 3D mesh backgrounds but what I saw in this cartoon from 75 years ago seemed IMPOSSIBLE! I didn't even realize that I was watching something out of the ordinary until she had finished crossing the street. All of a sudden I paused it and thought, "Wait a minute!" I rewound it and watched it again. "No WAY!" It was on the third time that I realized that they had shot the animation cells in front of an actual miniature set built to match the background painting style. I don't know if this communicates well from the stills but here are some screen shots I pulled.

This reminded me of a modern film that had also caught me off guard. It was a scene from Katsuhiro Otomo's 2004 masterpiece, "Steamboy." The artwork in that movie is staggering. Take a look at some of the Matte Painting art here. So about 20 minutes in I continue to be captivated with the incredible work on the background art when all of a sudden the camera rotates the scene in 3D. Whoa!
Now I know that Disney has been using a blend of CG and 2D cell animation since Beauty and the Beast and that perhaps Tarzan was the first to really use that technique so that it didn't really look like CG but this was so unexpected because this wasn't a Disney-esque background, this was a fully rendered matte painting. Turns out about a quarter of Steamboy uses CG but it's is very difficult to tell. It all fits together so seamlessly.

I certainly cheer artists who surprise me today but I was definitely not prepared to be surprised in a movie from 1935. Check out the Betty Boop short here if you like - I think you too will be pleasantly surprised.