Monday, February 22, 2010

Over at the Blog Around the Corner

A blog I follow, and I don't follow nearly as many as I should) is Today's Inspiration by Leif Peng. Lief has been posting for years now, a lot of it artwork by major illustrators, but a lot by NOT major Illustrators. Guys you've never heard of. Work that you recognize and go," So that's who that guy was...." All those second string illustrators, who didn't make it onto the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

The woods were chock full of these guys at one time. There were so many of these guys and they were so good.They could all draw and paint like crazy; realistic rendering, beautiful anatomy, bang on lighting, beautifully rendered with the strokes of a quickly moving brush, not the finicky rendering of the so called "beer bottle" illustration so commonly seen in the seventies, but real authority in one lick of the brush.

So, this week, over at TI: First Bob Foster, now David Blossom. Ok, now you're getting into territory that is tinged with one's real formative years. I remember alot of these pieces, but they are tied up with my adolescence,mostly from seeing them on the paperback racks at stores like Towers (anybody remember them?) or the occasional used book store, during those years when one knows they want a career in art and are trying to get a handle on what's out there. And alot of these seemed very.... wierd, yet compelling, along side the Frazettas and Jeff Jones and the MAD magazine artists. The years of discovering artists in the public library, fer gosh sakes-Wyeth and Pyle in those old hardback editions of the Scribner books - peering at those awful half tone colour plates, yet knowing that this was real quality,if you could only see it better... And then there were all these strange sci fi/crime drama/ slightly sexy paperback covers, nay, VERY sexy for a boy living in a time when Playboy was only available at the drugstore and the owner sure didn't let any kids near that part of the magazine rack....

What a world we are living in today, where all of this material is available so easily got at!

Back to TI's posts...Imagine if these guys were your teachers today!
What were the chances of having a teacher like that? I contend that finding men, or women like that for teachers is becoming rarer and rarer... who out there is that good now. No doubt there are some, but it is lost

What I want to know is, how come with all this material being gushed over, we don't have any new artists who are attempting this kind of work? All I see these days are guys drawing big boobed blue alien babes with guns and gorillas, or the same splashy washy digital painting with a lone figure looking out over the post apocalyptic alien landscape, badly done, shallow stuff. There's tons of cheesecake now, but none like McGinnis or Elvgren or Hawley.
What happened?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Built A Boat And Burned It

OK, so two weeks ago I made my sacrifice to the Gods for the New year - now bring me work!

An old and dear friend has a bunch of us together each year at this time to observe Uphellya, a Scandinavian (read Viking) mid winter celebration that involves a boat, offerings, fire and hope for the future.
The company arrives during the course of the lowering, chill day, materials are waiting in the shop, a boat is built- there's been very different designs over the years - then at sunset the boat is dragged out onto the frozen pond, any offerings or items that one wishes to either bring luck or as a gift to the gods are placed therein, a few words are spoken, toasts made, the boat is torched and all eyes watch for any omens that can be gleaned for the coming year.
After the last flame goes out, all file back inside for good food and drink and lively discussion.
This was this year's boat....

Comparison Composition Class

More studies from Nevsky and Two Towers.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Comparison Composition Class

Don't mean for this blog to turn into a constant recap of layout class, but on the other hand , it's a good idea to put down the thoughts and sketches that are generated while they are still fresh.
This week we hit composition in a big way. Looked at two examples of live action films: Alexander Nevsky, then Two Towers: different at first, yet similar in many ways.

So first - Alexander Nevsky, directed by sergei Eisenstein, 1938. Begun as a silent film, then repurposed for sound. Soundtrack by Sergei Prokofiev, eminent soviet composer who created music specifically to go with the visuals which enhances and complements them.. Damn, I 've been looking at this since high school and the days of Blackhawk 16mm ...Criterion has a great disc of this out, along with Ivan the Terrible.The first thing one notices are the striking compositions of the scenes. We looked just at one sequence: the charge of the Teutonic Knights across the frozen lake Novgorod then went back at stop framed to examine mainly the composition of the individual scenes, but discussed other aspects, as it is hard to comment only one facet of the thing, tied up as it is with story, continuity, screen direction and so on.

Two Towers, Jackson, 2002 - - many things to be said here, but mainly that we are jumping forward 75 years in film production- there are many differences: production value, art direction, colour, alot of moving camera work, as is normal now, It just wasn't feasible to do alot of camera moves in the early days; technology has changed all that, audiences expect it. And sound! not just Music, but beautifully mixed and THXed crunching, clanging, scraping sound efx. Also, DIGITAL technology is now part of the toolbox and that has made huge changes in what can be created on screen; here that means thousands of orcs, arrows, huge sets, things can be shown wholly, no cutting around required. Jackson and friends have added several pages to to the playbook. And YET: composition is still King! Not so obvious as Eisenstein's somewhat artificial ones, but everything is carefully staged.

Monday, February 1, 2010

more class demos

First week of class in the new semester and I did have a list of stuff to do, but i like to keep it loose to see what comes up in class discussion...asked if anyone saw any good movies over the break, and of course, Avatar was the first to be mentioned. A bit later , we got into how good do you have to be? Well, as good or better than the guys who designed Avatar, because they are your competition when you get out of here. And there's a lot of them. And they're really good.
So how you can start catching up? Improve your drawing. how to improve your drawing? Well, one way I know works, practice and use construction drawing.
And don't just do it once, you have to do it a million times. Ask any of them. it helps to be good already, but repetition is the key. and improve as you practice. You do the ellipse again and again, draw that droid head again and again from every concievable angle until you get it right.

here's what I drew as I talked, and don't believe for a second that this is any good either. But it is an approach that can help you make progress and place the details of an object in the correct place on the overall form. Whether it is a realistic organic form, like one of those alien beasties or a harder design, such as something mechanical or architectural...Scott Robertson says it all : draw through!

And then you have to pump them out at the rate of 6 or 12 a day to have things ready for that design meeting with the art director.

it's all been said before and will be said again: drawing is the foundation of design. it helps you SEE. Slows you down; makes you OBSERVE. Lets you LEARN. AS the man said, "Learn why the world wags, and what wags it!"