Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Invisible Cities: Argia, Armilla, Diomira & Moriana 106 - 113

Jumping back to traditional thumbnails, I looked at the cities Argia, Armilla, Diomira and Moriana. I worked quicker this time – somehow, with graphite I feel more comfortable drawing the cities and using effective perspective; I may need to practice this more in Photoshop. On this page, I started off with Argia, however as this city is described with being full of clay and has a rocky terrain, I feel I couldn’t make an actual city be visible, so I moved onto another city. My favourites on this page would be #108, #110 and #112. Moriana reminds me of the scenery of Assassins Creed II – an Italian renaissance stealth adventure game. The “Medusa chandeliers” gave me many ideas and I looked at my influence map to see Venice, which heavily influenced these designs. I also am really fond of the point of view on #108: the water pipes receding down into the ground and water gushing out from this perspective is very dynamic. Soon, I will begin to chose a select few cities and refine the thumbnails.

Invisible Cities Thumbnails: Zirma and Anastasia 90-105

Zirma: 90 - 97
Anastasia:  98 - 105

Continuing my thumbnails, I come to the last of Calvino’s cities: Zirma. This time, I tried a different way of painting – laying down all the background tones and then blocking on top. I thought the end result would be good, however I was actually unsatisfied with it. This led me to actually outline and highlight small details in a white colour, which dramatically improved the thumbnails. I like the inverse effect and sharp little details the lighter colour gives. My favourites for the city of Zirma are #90, #95 and #97. I like the perspective and composition of the drawings. I believe #93 and #94 could use improvement as they don’t really fully show the city. 

The sketched black and white section goes back to the first city: Anastasia. I wanted to explore this city again as this was the very first ones I attempted, plus with the freedom I've learned when it comes to thumbnails, I wanted to attempt them again. I’m not sure of this different technique I used to draw the cities – it looks quite messy, yet they resemble the style I used when i drew in pen and shaded with Promarkers. I think they could all do with some improvement, but I was happy to let the pen flow and see what happens.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Space Oddities: Metropolis (1927) Review

Fig 1: "Metropolis" film poster

When it comes to appointing the first few early feature length films of impactful cinema, there is no doubt that Fritz Lang's “Metropolis”(1927) is included. For the many audiences who have witnessed it from the release date to our present day, those many may know that “Metropolis” sets in stone the foundation of science fiction movies to come. As described by Mordaunt Hall (1927):“It is a technical marvel with feet of clay, a picture as soulless as the manufactured woman of its story. Its scenes bristle with cinematic imagination, with hordes of men and women and astounding stage settings”(Mordaunt Hall (1927), this feature embarks on a thought provoking, whirlwind plot that shows imagination at its finest. 

Only seven years after the release of Robert Wiene's “Das Cabinet Des Dr.Caligari” (1920), it is sure that the cinematics have progressed and envelop you into a whole new world. The dynamic camera angles and rapid shots and the loud, dramatic and visionary music have definitely evolved to produce a compelling film.

"Metropolis" transports the viewer into a vision of the future. Rich with innovative design representing what modern life would be like, this German expressionist feautre hosts a complex miniature city - with clever camera tricks to display it's people walking across the heightened walkways (using mirros and shooting the perspective) and an exciting storyline that steps out of the boundaries of "normal" cinema.

Fig 2: The city of "Metropolis"

 As seen in Fig 2, with soaring skyscrapers, elevated highways and train transport; lit-up signs and bustling human activity, the city of “Metropolis” presents a luxurious and satisfying way of life for the spoilt and rich. In a monstrous contrast, and here described by Roger Ebert (2010):“Below the surface is a workers' city where the clocks show 10 hours to squeeze out more work time, the workers live in tenement housing and work consists of unrelenting service to a machine”(Roger Ebert (2010) , the city’s workers that keep the city running endure long hours and exhausting jobs just to get by. The extent of the unseen employees work underground that goes unnoticed can be seen in Fig 3: with the drained and depressed body language. Ebert continues: “Consider the first glimpse of the underground power plant, with workers straining to move heavy dial hands back and forth. What they're doing makes no logical sense, but visually the connection is obvious: They are controlled like hands on a clock”(Roger Ebert (2010) , it seems as though the humanity in these workers are lost as, in a way, they become machines themselves: repetitive, lifeless, emotionless and endlessly working until they’re commanded not to.

Fig 3: The workers

The son of the ruthless Jon Fredersen, Freder (seen in Fig 4), weans away from the luscious lifestyle in order to pursue Maria (also seen in Fig 4): a poor worker who shows children the life of the upper class. A madman inventor, Rotwang, creates a robotic version of his former love, named "Hel" (Fig 5), kidnaps Maria and creates a human like double with the robot dwelling within. As stated by Mordaunt Hall (1927) "The sequence in which Rotwang, the inventor, manufactures a double of Maria is put forth in a startling fashion, Rotwang first gives chase to the real Maria, and then puts her in a glass cylinder, arounf which appear circles of radium lights. To add to the impression, there are boiling liquids in glass globes, and finally Maria without a soul is produced with the help of an iron Robot like woman Rotwang has made previously"(Mordaunt Hall (1927) , Lang clearly and cleverly portrays the intense transformation of the sweet, kind hearted Maria that is tainted and copied to create an obscene version that shows no mercy. The cinematic features of the bubbling flasks, intense electrical currents, hula-hoop rays of light that rise and fall over the sitting machine, all show a technological advance for a film of its age. Supporting this, Ebert explains: "Without all of the digital tricks of today, "Metropolis" fills the imagination. Today, the effects look like effects, but that's their appeal." (Robert Ebert, 2010)

Fig 4: Maria and Freder

The distorted Maria causes chaos and persuades men to destroy the very machines they slaved away for, and in the process completely forgot about their own kin. In the destruction if the city, Freder and the real Maria save the children, and eventually Freder fights Rotwang until he falls to his death. After a roller coaster of complex plot, scenes, high tension, anxiety, suspense, joy, fear and adoration, the film concludes with a peace making between the bitter Fredersen and worker Grot with a shake of hands encouraged by Freder. 

Fig 5: The robot

 Especially energetic scenes include Maria being chased in the dark catacombs: the spotlight that only shines on her to find her, and Maria's utter despair along with the suspicious music gets the viewers hearts pumping. Another scene is the destruction of the city. A "perfect" city flushed and succumbed by it's own failure of machinery; the ground shaken by the buildings turning into rubble, chaos forming everywhere and causing panic - the "Metropolis" has become run down and completely destroyed.

When filming for a year, trying to accomplish perfection and completely immersing himself in creating an influential classic, there is no doubt that Fritz Lang has done his job. To simply put it, without the existence of “Metropolis” it is believed that modern science fiction cinema would just not be as it is today. 


Hall, M. (1927) Metropolis (1927) A Technical Marvel, Ny Times, (Accessed on 29/09/2015)
Ebert, R. (2010) Metropolis, (Accessed on 29/09/2015) 

Illustration List: 

Fig 1: "Metropolis" film poster (Accessed on 29/09/2015)
Fig 2: The city of "Metropolis" (Accessed on 29/09/2015)
Fig 4: Maria and Freder (Accessed on 29/09/2015)
Fig 5: The Robot (Accessed on 29/09/2015)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Maya Tutorial 2: Block Modelling

It seems Maya and I struggle to get along at the moment. In class, I designed this version of the block modeled ray gun, however things started to go wrong as I couldn't get rid of the Lattice square outline and be fully able to render and outline this model successfully. I couldn't fix it, so I decided to model the gun from scratch again. The positive side of this model is that I like the spikes that add character.

Version 2 of the gun. This time, I followed Alan's online tutorial and took my time. I feel in class, things went extremely fast and like last time with the egg cups, I had to start again. However, I was expecting this to happen, and I am glad to keep going and not give up. I am really happy with the outcome now.

The rendered versions. I really like the toon effect: the model looks as though it was simply drawn in Photoshop. I also like using the tumble tool and see the colours reflect and create a smooth reflective surface.

Invisible Cities: Thekla and Zenobia 82 - 89

Thekla: 82 - 86
Zenobia: 87 - 89

Back to traditional thumbnails, it's quite obvious I enjoyed drawing the city of Thekla. The city that is continuously under construction - it's possible the little nick-nacks and details are what I enjoyed drawing. However, I am well aware I got carried away with the detailing for just thumbnail drawings, yet in a way, my confidence is growing with drawing cityscapes and larger area drawings. Once starting to draw Zenobia I picked up the pace and similar results of quality can be seen. My most favourites on this page would be #84, #85 and for Zenobia, #89. I have been encouraged by Phil to open and expand the "view" of the cityscapes ; to almost, zoom out, and see what is in the surrounding area. This proved to be quite thought provoking on how I would achieve this, but slowly I believe I'm getting there.

Photoshop Digital Painting : Master Studies & Abstracts

I'm very happy with the outcomes of the master studies. I also learnt that there is no need to always be zoomed in and focus on tiny details - blocking out colour, then roughly refining is just as effective. I also feel these exercises help a lot when it comes to practicing scenery and environments for personal experience.  

Abstract paintings - not focusing on actual buildings and structures, but allowing freedom to create never before seen shapes and forms.

More abstract paintings - this time mostly using the lasso, polygonal lasso and transform features. I am fond of the clean, sharp lines and layered grey tones.

This was a very fun exercise. Taking our two versions of abstract drawings, we combined a chosen few together and warped, deformed and manipulated the images : stacked, layered and, in this case I colourised the images (with the use of changing the layer's blending modes, e.g: overlay, soft light etc) which gave a very nice effect and colour.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Invisible Cities: Phyllis, Sophronia and Tamara 66 - 81

Phyllis: 66 - 69
Sophronia: 70 - 75
Tamara: 76 - 81

Continuing the digital art journey, I'm slowly getting happier with the outcomes. I mostly enjoyed painting the city of Sophronia - half amusement park, half city. I felt the atmosphere and perspectives are more striking than the rest of the images. I struggled with Tamara, the sign covered city, and I can feel myself getting a little repetitive with the designs. However, I changed things up by painting white into a black background, and doing pure sketches too. I am happy with the progress compared to the very first few thumbnails I have done. 
 My favourites for this section would be #66, #70, #72 and #81. I feel they have an impact on the eye and you can see what I was imagining. The ones that could do with the most improvement would be #78, #79 and #80. The last two especially lack depth, yet the quick paced speed paints are a good variant.

Invisible Cities: Leonia, Moriana and Octavia 50 - 65

Leonia: 50 - 52
Moriana: 53 - 57
Octavia: 58 - 65

 Another set of thumbnails exploring three more cities. I began with a struggle; it seems when using a tablet, even though there is freedom to paint strokes and create quick work, it still took me quite a while to make these, and the lack of practice of continuously drawing cityscapes/ scenery shows.

However, as you go along the images, I feel i get more comfortable. I did find it hard to imagine Moriana: number 57 portrays the sharp spikes in planks, piles of cans and soot covered pipes. My most favourite to draw is definantely Octavia, the spider web covered city. It came easier to me to imagine a birds eye, close up and far away perspective and addition of thin webs. Even though it is a challenge, I am going to keep going to put my ideas out there whilst gaining experience.

Concept Artist: Who's Who?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Invisible Cities: Esmerelda, Fedora, Isaura and Leonia Thumbnails 42 - 49

Esmerelda: 42 and 43
Fedora: 44 and 45
Isaura: 46 and 47
Leonia:  48 and 49

The second set of traditional thumbnails exploring more cities. I tried to up the pace, but in some cases some drawings came out looking a bit too rushed, such as 43 and 49. However, overall, I do like how these came out, my most favourite being 42. This was created with the aid of my influence map and the image of Venice, but with my own little twist. I also like the composition and the depth the Promarkers give. 

Some cities are given a large description, whilst others are given very little. I like this concept as for each city, they can be interpreted in many ways.

I believe on the next set of thumbs I will do more for each city - this time round it felt quite difficult to think up ideas, but as I keep going I gain more experience and I am enjoying this much more.

Invisible Cities: Diomira and Ersilia Thumbnails 34 - 41

Diomira: Numbers 34 - 37
Ersilia: Numbers 38 - 41

This time round, I have drawn some thumbnails traditionally. There is a vast difference between my traditional and digital skills - these thumbnails are clearer in terms of perspective and actual structures. I'm happy with these sets of drawings - keeping up the practise of perspective, looking at reference images and not setting too much pressure on myself, these more relaxed and better looking sketches came about. I like number 34 - the perspective is to my liking, and I like numbers 38 and 39 too: with the chaos of strings and lack of inhabitants, and the perspective of 39 is dynamic, plus is inspired by what I saw in the Photoshop class. However, one nit-pick is that these took a little longer than the digital thumbnails, so I need to work on not being into too much finer details.

I hope to carry the positive traits forward with my digital skills.

Maya Tutorial 1 : Creating Eggcups

After the first attempt of creating an eggcup in class, I wasn't satisfied with the shape, so I decided to re-do it. The purple eggcup shows the second time creating it with NURBS, and this time round I had a much better understanding and took my time. With the second grey eggcup, I followed Alan's online tutorial, however something in the pipelines went quite wrong and I ended up with an odd shape. I found myself to be rushing ahead again and not carefully listening to the tutorial, so I attempted the grey one all over again.

This third eggcup is a re done version of the very first eggcup in the line. As can be seen, there is a vast improvement and I am very happy with the second attempt. I believe what went wrong was just editing with the Edge Loop tool and not moving the segments of the shape as a whole.

The finished set of eggcups. I am really happy with the outcomes and slowly but surely, Maya is becoming just that bit easier.

Highlighted views of the cups. The purple is a NURB, turquoise is a low quality polygon, the yellow a subdivision and the red a polygon smoothed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Invisible Cities: Armilla, Baucis and Despina Thumbnails 17-33

Here are the second set of thumbnails, again done digitally.

Numbers 17- 24: Armilla
Numbers 25 - 28: Baucis
Numbers 30 - 33:  Despina

I was inspired by our first Photoshop class to move onto more monochrome work, instead of taking time to pick colours, and to also use the lasso tool to quickly map out shapes sharply. This method proved to be much quicker and less stressful trying to perfect things - it felt more natural like graphite on pencil. I also feel the perspective studies helped me to think of dynamic perspectives, such as number 21 (which is a birds eye view: a crow is visible on the upper right corner), number 19 with the man looking right up, and number 27, looking down again.

That being said, I strongly feel I need to keep improving my structural drawings - I feel very inexperienced with this, and thus I feel it shows. However, with perseverance and research, I know I can gradually get better.