Thursday, March 19, 2009

More blogs!

More people are blogging about their final major project, its great to see. I've made a quick link menu down the left side for easy access. Be sure to check them out!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Week Evaluation #3

This week has been an absolute mess. Sorting out UCAS forms and making my final decision on university courses has been very stressful, taking up a lot of time and putting me in a discouraged position when working. Thus, I am disheartened to find I am behind by my own standards once more. I still have some bits to wrap up in my research, but really I need to get drawing working out initial ideas and developing them. Perhaps it seems I have done too much research as noticed by colleagues, by this should pay its benefits keeping me well informed when developing my ideas.

Additionally, this Wednesday a group of friends and made a trip to London for an open day, afterwards going to a few shops for tools and equipment such as the London Graphics Centre. We also tried to visit The Cartoon Museum where I thought the style of drawings may provide some inspiration in envisioning a tale of Grimms’ works in a unique way. Unfortunately, the museum was closed for a private viewing so we couldn’t even step through the front door.

Overall, it has been a tough week but it should be over now. Either way, its time to take things a step up a gear and begin envisioning a Brothers’ Grimm tale in earnest.

Jack Duplock + Waltz with Bashir

I had the opportunity to talk to practicing fine artist Jack Duplock for advice on my project. Although I did not find his work entirely inspirational, some intriguing ideas ere raised. He responded well with my intended approach in the designing process believing it has potential, while recommending that I present my work in a narrative graphic way with dynamic compositing, reminiscent to comic books and film cinematography. Films such as 'Waltz with Bashir' and 'Akira' was suggested for inspiration and interesting concepts, which I may look into at some point. Notably, Duplock did not entirely understand the concept of digital art with digital painting, and could only refer to animation sources.

Upon further research, I found 'Waltz with Bashir' is an animated documentary film, where live action was drawn directly from. The unique vector style is most intriguing being visually captivating. I hope to watch this movie sometime soon.

Overall, this tutorial session provided some insight in further ideas and inspiration.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


With a talk with Sue, I was recommended to read the book Metamorphosis, which tells the story of a salesman who finds himself transformed into a creature of sorts. His remaining family have to learn to cope with Gregor Samsa’s transformation while struggling through financial difficulties.

The narrative is most intriguing being perceptive of many quirks and observations, particularly of Gregor’s own awareness and actions. At times, one questions Gregor’s transformation and whether perhaps he is simply succumbing to a break down from his busy job and family’s financial difficulties, making for some interesting interpretations if one believes the latter.

I found the story intriguing as my curiosity got the better of me to find out the end. The presentation of narrative was rather long winded at times with a paragraph spanning across a page and a half, making for a difficult yet interesting read at times as it is most probably reflective of Gregor’s condition. Although, I did not find the ending entirely satisfying, concluding in a hollow and unfulfilling way.

Overall, Metamorphosis provides an intriguing way to interpret a story which may provide some inspiration in envisioning a Grimms’ tale. Notably, it recognises some of the psychological aspects of character

Kafka, Franz. (1996). The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. New York. Dover Publications.


Art Spiegelman captures his father's experience during the holocaust, with an intriguing twist as Nazis are represented as Cats and Jews as Mice. Not only does it provide some relief to such a sensitive subject, the style and presentation becomes unique in a visual and narrative way. Thus, a similar type of conditioning may provide a visually unique way to envision a Grimm tale - similarly as animals or a condition that all characters are blind as a as a wacky example.

Overall, Maus makes for a good read providing a unique account of the holocaust, which I hope to finish reading soon enough.

Spiegelman, Art. (1987). Maus. Harmondsworth. Penguin.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Weekly Evaluation #2

This week, I have completed the majority of my research as intended in my SOI, from John Watkiss, Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier, Marek Okon and Kekai Kotaki, as well as reference to Imagine FX magazine articles and Skillful Huntsman book.

However, there are some still outstanding points that I have yet to record and reflect in my journal and blog. Ideally, I aimed to have completed the research this week to start developing initial ideas. Although it seems that things took longer than expected overrunning slightly in my timetable. Thus, I have made amendments to my timetable to keep on top of things.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Christian Bravery

Looking into silhouette design furthermore, I found an article in Imagine FX issue 40 covering this in a workshop. here the artist Christian Bravery takes inspiration of a dragonfly to design a futuristic helicopter. With a silhouette, Bravery works in line to define further details before colouring with reference photos.

The style and professionalism in approach and design is very inspiring, something that i hope to similarly achieve in my own work.

Howlett, Claire. (2009). Making Fantastic Flying Machines. Imagine FX. 40. February. p. 72-76.

Kekai Kotaki

‘Start with an idea, and do your best to bring it to life’
Featured in a recent interview in Imagine FX Issue #41, Kotaki talks about his career and method of approach. He works as a lead concept artist in AreaNet, developing conceptual designs for the mass multiplayer game ‘Guildwars’. Initially working in black and white before adding colour, Kotaki often begins with a single keyword or description as his inspiration to create his concepts. Resolving initial elements is key as Kotaki describes his paintings as a continuous process where ‘nothing is safe’ as elements are continuously refined and reworked.

Kotaki also featured in a workshop ‘Painting a Heroic male’ where he demonstrates his process in more detail, beginning with a rough sketch that is continuously reworked and refined to completion.

Initial shapes are blocked in to define the form and composition. Layer by layer, more details are added to start to bring definition to the piece. Flipping an image can help reveal any flaws in a piece. A subtle use of colour is added, adding a cold overlay to 'cool' the warm tones and rework the piece.

Finally, full colour is reworked with final touches and details.

I am most fond of Kotaki’s style creating bold character designs with the implication of detail and deliberate colour palettes. These serve as striking images capturing the essence of the subject portrayed. The high standard in forming concepts and digital painting in something which I most aspire to and hope to achieve with my own concept designs in this project.

Howlett, Claire. (2009). The Art of Kekai Kotaki. Imagine FX. 41. March. p. 44-49.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Imagine FX

I’ve been an avid reader of Imagine FX magazine since Issue 1, where it covers a broad range of fantasy and sci-fi digital art with featured news, workshops and interviews of renowned artists. It’s a fantastic magazine that I recommend to anyone interested in digital art or those with a passion to create imaginative images.

With my project focused towards the development of concept designs digitally, it became a natural choice to include in my research being host to wealth of resources and inspiration.

Check their website out here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Marek Okon

Marek Okon is a great believer in the narrative of art following the notion that, as artist, we are also storytellers. Communicating a narrative through visual imagery is essential as it is perhaps the first way in which stories were told before language. One should be able to determine the narrative of the image without explanation as Okon himself states:

“If you have to explain to people what the image is all about then the image fails, as it should speak for itself. That’s why I never describe my images, nor answer any story-related questions. What you see is what you get and if you don’t see what I wanted to show you, then it’s my fault as my visual messages obviously weren’t clear enough.”

An important message that all artists should be aware of – this is something that I will defiantly be keeping in mind with my own conceptual designs for Brothers Grimms’ tale.

Imagery with a narrative can have a much greater impact to the audience stirring emotions with an extra layer of depth. A prime example is Okon’s piece ‘Rain’, a powerful piece capturing a dramatic scene of a woman pushed to extreme. Not only are the fine details exceptional with intricate folds of the raincoat, to rain distorted light with a distinct cinematic approach; it also entices the audience to discover more as to ‘what pushed her to this point in life, ready to risk everything…’. Thus, I found myself looking in much greater depth and detail to find further narrative cues to the image with elements such as the contents bag or the pulled pin of the grenade.

This became particularly true with Okon’s ‘Hide and Seek’, where Okon has added finer details to convey the possible full narrative of the piece. Details such as the reflection on the icicle reflecting both the mutant and woman suggests that they both see each other, to the bioharzard container and mutilated hand perhaps suggesting a outbreak of mutated humans – the cape both the woman and masked mutant wear appear to be the same suggesting they were once human. Thus, the attention to detail provides much more depth contributing to the narrative of piece, rewarding those who take the time to analyse the image. Issue 038 February 2009 Marek Okon Interview

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nicolas 'Sparth' Bouvier

As games and technology has advanced, the demand for artists has also increased needing their vision to create new worlds. Sparth is an art director and concept designer in the gaming industry having worked on projects such as Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed.

There is something quite special in the way Sparth creates his images, maximising composition techniques and implicit details to envision new worlds from the depths of our imagination.

Assassin's Creed - Jerusalem
From the imposing structure to the looming clouds, a sense of atmosphere and drama is wrought into the image for a convincing, breathing world.

Lapsang Area
Here Sparth presents a sci-fi world maximising key focal points such as the central building, with integral contrasts of warm and cold colours grasping attention and central framing of composition. The attention to detail from road signs, lights and cevhiles help communicate the idea of a believeable world.

Le Monde Enfin (Bookcover)
The use of light and colour is particularly captivating drawing focus to the distant building with the contrast of cold and warm colours. A sense of awe is created by the magnificent scale of strctures as reinforced with the lone indiviudal for comparision.

Having read many novels and played games in my childhood, the thought of creating a new world has always appealed to me as an exciting process. Thus, I am eager to create a world reflective of Brothers Grimms' tales in my own unique way.

Designing captivating environments will be an essential part of this project in communicating a convincing world reflective of Grimms’ fairytales to an audience. I intend to approach this from a range of different angles and interpretations that will best reflect my chosen theme in a visually unique way.

Gnomonworkshop interview
Bouvier, Nicolas. (2005). Structura: The Art of Sparth. California. Design Studio Press.

John Watkiss

John Watkiss has worked on a number of films as a concept artist developing art for films such as Disney’s Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow and his latest project Sherlock Holmes. His aim is to capture the essence of the world of the subject from characters, environments and props, in the form of concept art creating the foundation for production artists and film directors to work from. As Watkiss himself puts it, he gets paid to ‘dream, imagine and inspire’.

I had the honour to meet John Watkiss in person during a lecture here at the university, where he made a presentation of his work for Disney’s Tarzan. The lecture was most inspiring seeing many of his works which are not available on the internet, as well as hearing advice on techniques and the industry. He presents the idea that the human figure is the perfect design icon and inspiration, turning a complex form such as an ear on its side to form the basis of composition to work with. Although, I also found that Disney retains the rights of the work that Watkiss, or any other artist, produced which is stored in an archive for as long as Disney please. Thus, over a hundred paintings by Watkiss produced for Tarzan will most likely never see the light of day again for quite some time. Producing artwork that you will never be able to see again seems a rather dispiriting process.

Contrary to today’s technological emphasis, Watkiss preference in medium is acrylic paints mostly likely due to quick drying time of acrylics to complete many works, as well as the great range of colours it can achieve. Most notably, Watkiss adopts a wide angle composition for his pieces enhancing the drama and focus of his characters.

In this piece in particular of Tarzan swinging through the trees, the composition heightens the sense of movement contributing to a dynamic shot.

Alternatively, Watkiss invites us to see the powerful primeval figure of Tarzan engulfed in the jungle, to the delicate and civilised Jane Porter in the foreground. Individuals from two completely different worlds, the contrast is striking making for dramatic scene filled with tension despite the lack of action.

Overall, I find Watkiss greatly inspiring being foremost in compositing capturing the mood and essence any given scene. I hope to achieve a similar level of depth with my own concept designs, improving my skills in digital media and as an artist myself.

Watkiss also features in two videos on One advertising Levi jeans while taking the chance to ‘express’ his content for Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’, and the other presenting his alter ego known as 'Brother Vendi' who reviews some of his previous work. He may seem a bit out of his mind but he speaks some truth, while adding some great humour to his paintings. A bit of fun never hurts anyone.

Art of John Watkiss.
Schroeder, Russell. (1999). Disney's Tarzan. New York. Disney Press.
Levi's spec ad featuring John Watkiss.
Brother Vendi Investigates.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Skillful Huntsman

My research of Brother Grimms’ tales revealed the art book ‘The Skillful Huntsman’, an art book showcasing the visual development of a Grimm tale of the respective name. It is not surprising that concept art has been developed before with the wealth of stories and imaginative scenes in Brothers Grimms' tale. From straight sketches to silhouette designs, the process and results are most inspiring exploring a wide array of different concepts with varying techniques and mediums.

Thumbnail Sketches
These thumbnail sketches introduce strong poses with the use of positive and negative space.

Silhouette character designs
Designing new concepts through silhouette designs is a unique approach encouraging a different mindset. Ignoring details, one is encouraged to use a variety of shapes to form an intriguing silhouette. This becomes most crucial in creating strong character designs which are instantly recognisable without confusion. For successful designs the viewer should be able to easily identify what is being conveyed, whether human or creatures.

Inspired, I tried some of my own ideal silhouette designs. It was difficult to adjust at first, but soon became an enjoyable process that I hope to explore further later on.

One of the refined designs for the main protagonist made with digital media. The use of implicit detail is great for assessing the final potential of the design.

Overall, I believe this book to be a prime example of developing ideas that I cannot wait to explore further myself.

Le, Khang. (2006). The Skillfull Huntsman. California. Design Studio Press.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fellow Blogger

My good friend Matt has also started a blog as an additional journal for his Final Major Project, something I encourage anyone to do to keep an online record of things. Check his blog out at

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weekly Evaluation #1

With the first week come and gone, it is surprisingly really how little time there is. The arrival of Easter during the last two weeks of the project essentially means that there is only 6 weeks worth of studio time left to develop and produce our final outcomes. Thus, I am much more aware of the importance to keep on track more than ever.

Starting is always the hardest part of any project, and it indeed took me a while to start. Fortunately, I have managed to complete the tasks I have set out to achieve this week, starting my initial research, gathering many books from the library (reaching the maximum number of loaned books) and creating my online blog. It is my first time maintaining a blog and I can already see the vast benefits it will provide, being able to publish content from practically anywhere with little time, as well as having the opportunity to publish content such as videos which a book will always lack.

With this said, I intend to step things up a gear and ideally finish the majority of research during this second week.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

While researching Brothers Grimms’ fairytale stories, I came across an intriguing book: ‘Politically correct bedtime stories’ by James Finn Garner, which turns the entire concept of fairy tale storytelling on its head. Whimsical events and imagery is replaced with a degree of political exactness that results for some greatly entertaining reading. The extract of Little Red Riding Hood perfectly demonstrates this:

The wolf said, "You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone."

Red Riding Hood said, "I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."

Red Riding Hood walked on along the main path. But, because his status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to linear, Western-style thought, the wolf knew a quicker route to Grandma's house. He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma's nightclothes and crawled into bed.

Little Red Riding Hood

Essentially, Garner translates Grimms’ fairytales into a satirical comedy, providing a new and unique setting. Much of which, I hope to similarly achieve with my own unique visual designs exploring a wide range of themes and concepts.

Garner, James. (1994). Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. London. Souvenir Press.

Man and his Symbols

As recommended by my tutor for an alternative perspective on concepts, Jung’s ‘Man and his Symbols’ explores the intriguing idea of an inner self that can shape our character and ideas. Jung expresses that all men and women possess a personified figure of the opposite sex in ones’ own subconscious, guiding or tormenting the individual.

‘Anima’ – the female form in men
‘Animus’ – the male form in women

The anima in men can provide answers from deep within his consciousness, shaping and defining his inner values leading to more profound inner depths. Alternatively, it can manifest into moods of depression, uncertainty and insecurity, stirring dark notions such as erotic fantasies. Where the animus in women can provide courage, truthfulness and spiritual profundity, or alternatively manifest a hidden ‘sacred’ conviction bearing an inexorable power that leads to qualities of a cold, obstinate and completely inaccessible women with brutal emotional outbursts.

Essentially, I found these values most fascinating understanding the possible psychology that men and women may undertake. These qualities are reminiscent in Grimms’ fairytales from the characters to the plot itself, such as the original folkloric text before translation of ‘The Girl With No Hands’ where the father bears incesturous desires of his daughter who conversely develops a sense of purity and enlightenment – perhaps the anima and animus of the characters at work.

Overall, Jung’s book was insightful if a lot to take in. With this in mind, this will hopefully influence my designs for the best in capturing the essence of characters.

Jung, C. G. (1990) Man and His Symbols. London. Arkana.