Some Character and Background Design From My Work Placement

During my two week work placement I collaborated with a second year student, Brogan Jones, on her graduation short movie, based on a script by Henry Egar titled Critical Update. 

The movie is set in a futuristic city whose inhabitants are immersed in some sort of collective, augmented reality game.
Taya, the protagonist, is an androgynous young woman that, due to a software crash and consequent head set update, is temporarily plunged back into the real world.
Here she bumps into a graffiti artist, the only character that does not operate in the virtual game world. The graffiti artist is rebelling against the real world’s white backdrop, injecting colour with graffiti to bring it back to life.
To visually highlight the contrast between the clinical and bleak real world versus the colourful and vivid virtual reality, the author decided to use two different animation techniques: 3D and 2D respectively. As a result, I was required to produce work in both formats.
For the two-dimensional work, I was given rough sketches to develop into five characters and one background.
It was a very smooth process, overall, as I was able to replicate the style of the author and match her colour palette.
Working on the background was a great chance to make my own creative contribution, whilst still adhering to the brief. The author was happy to take my suggestions on board and was open to how they could complement her work.

I created a monster.

As part of my course assignments I designed a fantastic creature.
I came up with this hybrid creature, half nautilus and half flamingo.
I created the 3D model below in Oculus.

Making concept art in VR is a very fast and enjoyable process!

 

I built a talking Charles Dickens for the Bank of England!

Two weeks ago I was assigned an animation for the Bank of England. I had to create a Charles Dickens character lip syncing a famous quote by the writer himself.

I used Z-Brush for this project and then I retopologized the mesh in Maya.

My character mesh is composed of two objects, a head and a torso.

I then created some blend shapes and proceeded to the animation. Overall it was really enjoyable to use Z brush for the sculpt and the blend shapes in Maya for the lip sync.

Here you find a quick recipe for fiercely riding a 3D dragon:

RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 x dragon rendered in alpha channels. You can use any dragon animation you want, some people buy them readymade, I prefer homemade mesh. Luckily I happened to have one left from last week’s project. It smells ok and with a splash of new materials it will look as good as new, people won’t be able to tell the difference.

1 x Awkward footage of yourself riding a chair with a green background.

1 x make up and props. Everything works for a late 80s fantasy revival genre, don’t worry if you cant use real make up, use whatever you can get, try with a scoop of nice and hot bitumen, it will do the job just fine!

SEASONING:

1 x Background: for this I followed my personal taste and I created a matte painting background of images which I had shot with my phone while travelling. Again, everything goes and it’s free from copyright, a rock can become a floating mountain or if you have no rock images just take a picture of a piece of pavement or even your elbow could do!

Imagination is paramount at this stage of the recipe. 

 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Place everything in After Effects and cook for a good 8 hours until the footage appears to smooth with the background  but is still chunky.

Et voila’ the footage is served!

Bon apetit!

 

Drawing Emotions With Closed Eyes

During our latest Laban physical acting class at the end of the session I had to draw basic character emotions keeping my eyes shut.

On the right columns of the sheet are the sketches made with closed eyes. For each we had to list few of the elements that combined together create the emotion.

After opening the eyes we developed the first sketches in a cleaner version.

 

Life Drawing Day at the Natural History Museum

I have lived in London for 8 years and am ashamed to admit that until now, I had never managed to pay a visit to the Natural History Museum in Kensington.

Generally speaking, I am quite disinterested in scientific displays and as a result, had completely missed out on the wonders of this spectacular architecture; a jewel of Victorian genius and its taste for revivalism. 

In short, the whole place looks like it has come out of a Romanic architectural book on steroids. The view above is from a corridor called Matroneo, the corridor that faced the central body of the Church (Navata) where the women, (Matrone) would witness the function.

As much as I tried not to let it get to me, I really am not keen on stuffed animals and keep  thinking that I am looking at something organic coated in chemicals, like a mummy and this makes my OCD flip.

How to make a dragon in 8 steps

Let’s make an animated dragon in 8 steps!

The title may make it sound like a walk in the park, but don’t get fooled fellows, it will surely be a painful and slow process the first time! And maybe even second and the third…

Step 1: find a reference

Detail, San Giorgio e La Principessa, 1469, Ferrara, Museo del Duomo

I decided to base mine on San Giorgio and the Princess painted by the great Cosme’ Tura around 1470.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Sculpt it!

I used Oculus Medium for this and it took me about 30 minutes only. This was the funniest and more  right-brain involving part of the whole process…

 

Step 3: Retopologise the obj

This is how the mesh looks in Maya once you import it from Oculus, it’s A HOT  MESSH!

 

 

 

 

The screen grab below is in the between and after the retopology.

Personally I find drawing quads a rather enjoyable process, it’s a bit like doing a jig-saw.

 

Step 4 and 5: Rigging and setting up controls

Ok, this is where the multiple headaches followed by panic attacks may start to kick in. Below is a screen grab the first attempt I made. It worked well however I decided to use a TSM rigging machine in the model I used for the final animation.

Step 6: Paint Weight

This is quite straight forward to execute but it must be done carefully. The best way I found was to run a test animation to see the behaviour of the different regions of the mesh in relation to each movement.

Step 7: Materials and lighting

Assign some kind of material to your dragon and light up the scene! I wanted it to look like it’s made of shiny rubber.

Step 8: Animation

Finally, you get to animate! In this scene the dragon simply walks from one edge of the screen to the other.

 

 

Odillon Redon: Into the Dream

Over New Year I went to Copenhagen where I visited the show Odillon Redon: Into the Dream at the Glyptotek.

The museum itself is impressive, once passed the entrance you find yourself in a tropical lush forest in the beautiful winter garden, with its glass dome and  ancient palm trees.

The display of antiques is stunning. When museums show antique Roman and Greek art, I am always drawn to cabinets containing multiple versions of same detached body parts, in rows. I find it suggests a phenomenology of the style of a body part.

As a child I recall visiting the Riace Museum in Reggio Calabria. They had one of these cabinets filled with detached bronze testicles. I found this display (image below) with noses at the Glyptoteket super cool.

Going back to the Odillon Redon show, from the old building you access a futuristic pavillion.

 

 

 

 

 

I am always mesmerised by his work when I see it..

His production shifts from influences of the culture of the time back to a mythological past. In this dimension dream and reality can coexist.

He gained the nickname”The Prince of Dreams” amongst his fellows painters in Paris at the end of the 19th Century.

Odillon Redon worshipped black for half of his artistic life before suddenly embracing colour. But before that, black was his trademark and print was his favourite medium.

 

“One must respect black. Nothing prostitutes it. It does not please the eye and it awakens no sensuality. It’s the agent of the mind far more than the most beautiful colour in the pallette or prism”.

Odilon Redon. Into the Dream

 

Mr Green

As part of my course assignment I created this character design with three real life scenarios.
I followed the Stanislasvky method to create the concept of Mr Green.

I then created the 3D model in Oculus Medium based on the ideas in the sketches.