Scenario: Office Stress Part 01

Easter Week 02

During one of our team skype meetings over Easter we divided out the scenarios that each of us could work on. I took the stress focused scenario that we had thought of and I also took the task of developing a mood and style painting of the star gazing scenario.

For the stress focused scenario we had thought of a scene that focused on William being stressed working in his office and Julie looking in on him. I started by making some thumbnails exploring how the different possible office layouts/designs and camera angles could influence the composition and clarity of the concept. However, while drawing this I struggled to visualise a version of this which didn’t fall into the stereotype where William is the hard working male and Julie is the passive housewife standing worried, looking in the door. I ended up only including William in the shot.

I found that trying to make this piece work was an awful time black hole that week. I went back and forth a lot between different local values, different light spreads and intensities and different colour palettes. These were the versions that were somewhat acceptable at the end.

Aidan and Sorcha gave some helpful feedback on this piece, pointing out that William’s arms looked slightly out of perspective and unnaturally straight and also that the office looked too neat and organised (inorganic and over-planned maybe?). Poor quality figure drawing aside, I think that the composition was the biggest let down of this piece in the end. I think I tried too hard to break the focal point between the window and William as I liked the idea of seeing the rain (possibly animated) through the window. I revisited this piece a few weeks later, which I will blog about soon (yup you’ve caught me, I’m posting these into the past with the wordpress time machine). I tried looking through Jeremy Birn’s book, Digital Lighting and Rendering (2013) that week for some inspiration to fix the lighting. The best alternative solution that I could think of was to perhaps make a more apparent/interesting divide between the light from the city outside and the light from inside.

Looking back, I think that I missed an opportunity to get feedback on my early thumbnail drawings that may have saved me a lot of time later in avoiding poor composition. Sometimes in an early drawing I feel reserved about showing anyone as I think it’s missing what I truly want to express in that piece. I need to remind myself though that even at the roughest stage of a piece, the initial elements of a shot should still work without any polish. I worry that I can’t express the potential of a shot in it’s early stage (also dependant on the observer to a degree) so I guess that this is an area of communication plus technical skill in which I need to improve upon.


Environment Concept: Student Flat

Easter Week 01

Jonny had expressed in a meeting that he wanted to see the happier side of their relationship in our concepts also so I tried to keep this in mind even for a concept of a room. I took positive feedback that Gareth had given on Sorcha’s student kitchen/living room concept and developed from the ideas that Sorcha had created e.g. the exposed red brick, the fairy-lights and the skyline open and visible through the window. I had also thought of including patterned wall hangings so Sorcha researched some patterns that I could use as inspiration.

I had put time into drawing vanishing points but still made perspective mistakes in areas like the TV. I had considered blocking it out in 3D as a base for drawing over (as Alec suggested) but at the same time I wanted to have the challenge so as to improve my drawing skills with no base. For this piece, I put time into planning the local values as part of my process which is something that I’ve often not put enough focus on. I had almost left this painting at the stage where it still had the black line art. I’m really glad that I didn’t now as it had a very murky and unwelcoming effect on the piece.

Rew Day (2012), which I talked about in an earlier post (link), was a great source of inspiration for the initial colour palette and also for the foreground framing elements. Throughout painting this piece I tried to keep a traditional media feel in the textures like in Rew Day (2012) and Le Gouffre (2014) (blogged about here: link). I ended up painting most of the colours on a hard light blending mode in order to retain the paper texture. Haha I’m not even sure if I could replicate this process as it’s not something that’s easy to control.


House Plan: 3D Sketching

Easter week 01

When designing the layout of William and/or Julie’s student apartment I thought it would be a good idea to sketch in 3D for ease of being able to make accurate measurements. I wanted to get a feel of how real space related to measurements in 3D so I did a layout of what I thought the approximate measurements of my own house is. I had thought that I might be able to develop the birds-eye view floor plans into something more detailed like these images that I pinned on Pinterest: link. I eventually found that it was more useful to make painted concepts for the time available as I could also push the style and mood in this medium.

The red rectangles indicate the placement of doors or wardrobe doors.

Stargazing: Balcony Design Research

Easter Week 01

For our stargazing idea we had initially thought that the setting could be their balcony so I had started to gather inspiration for this.

Image sources on my Pinterest board iglu: environments and colour  and from the books, The Edible Balcony (2011) by Alex Mitchell and The Art of Big Hero 6 (2014).

I got excited about the idea of making Pascal Campion-esque/abstract plants in 3D as well as creating interesting practicals in-shot with round paper(?) lanterns as well as out of frame lighting e.g. hard edged light cutting from the doorway. I worry that some of the designs that I contribute would slide too much towards an idealised romantic world. Gareth and Jonny did initially pitch the brief as something like the You’re the Worst (2014) tv series which deals with the realistic and cynical side of life also (in a comedic way).


Looking back, I feel like I could  have presented these ideas better to the team if I had of kept up-to-date with my blog and presented to them through posts like this (particulary during Easter when we were apart). I think in general that I need to improve my ability to sketch and present ideas quickly.

Male Figure Drawing Practice and William Concepts

Easter week 01 (21st March)

These are some studies I did using references that I talked about in a previous post (link).

When drawing in my sketchbook I initially made the mistake of using the head’s initial construction circle as a unit of measurment rather than from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin (silly mistake). This resulted in my sketches being a few heads shorter than I realised which became very apparent to me when I resized them in photoshop to match head sizes:

I tried sketching different body types also. Sorcha pointed out that I had drawn the pectoral muscles too high so I was able to keep an eye on this when I started on the digital sketches (the second one below):

I then used these as a basis for drawing outfits, facial features and hair styles for William. I definitely feel that I need to develop my gesture drawing skills also as I might have been able to get more of William’s character across by drawing him in more interesting poses. I admit that I found making concepts for William was especially challenging as I usually draw characters from punk, fantasy, sci-fi or Halloween settings.

I asked my sister for some advice as she owns a clothes shop and she advised me that typical clothes for guys in their twenties would be brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Superdry, Hollister, and GStar Jeans. I made a small Pinterest board of these for inspiration (link). There’s still something lacking in these concepts and I wonder how useful they really are without seeing William in a characteristic pose with a simple environment. I see these kind of line ups done a lot in concept art but with these few that I’ve done so far I haven’t been able to jump up and say ‘that’s William!’.

I also sketched some new facial and hair options. Some of the feedback on my early head sketches (in my sketchbook) was that he looked too scruffy and thin so I tried to avoid this. I also tried to give him a warmer neutral expression/kinder eyes. Sorcha commented that she also liked he idea of William going through different hair styles. For some reason a lot of the programmers that I’ve met have had long hair tied back so this style has stuck with me. Maybe William could have long hair when he’s younger and then cut it short when he’s older? Or would that be too similar to Julie? Maybe his hair just gets thinner or the hairline changes/recedes.

Male Figure Drawing

Easter week 01 (March 21st)

For the start of Easter I agreed to focus on William so as to help finalise his design for use in our concepts. This was the first time during the project that the responsibility of developing the characters (on paper at least) fell my way. I found that I haven’t been practicing my figure drawing enough and I wanted to have a strong anatomical foundation from which I could develop William. Because of this, I spent some time trying to refresh/improve my abilities in constructing the male figure and proportions. I’ve been a follower of Loomis’ teachings for a while now and I like to go back to his books when I’m having problems.

Andrew Loomis (1943) Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth

I came across this huge database of character design references on Pinterest also:

Character Design References

It has a lot of useful collections for different anatomy types and demographics. This pin which I found on the male anatomy board was particularly useful as we had discussed the changes that William could go through over the 10 years (keeping them subtle):


Image by phobus-romulus on deviantArt. Found on Pinterest here: link


Le Gouffre Proportions

Week 08

We were questioning the level of cartoony to realism that our designs have so far. We had agreed that we liked the character design in Le Gouffre (blogged about here: link) so I thought it would be worth while to study the proportions of the characrers’ faces in this. It might also be useful to reverse engineer a 3D model into a simplified 2D concept so as to see how our own 2D concepts will translate into 3D.  This is sometimes difficult to imagine for me.

These studies might not be exact due to perspective in the screenshots. I did learn that the eyes are not as big as I expected even though they are still large and appealing. I also realised that I was constructing heads with the ears possibly in the wrong place so I need to reconsider how I go about doing this.