Yeah, yeah. Nobody really bothers with this blog. But hey, I'll keep posting until Robotech actually becomes RELEVANT in today's fast-paced, attention-deficit facebook/ myspace/ blogger-based society. Anyway, I stumbled upon this really great interview by a certain blogger by the name of Donata Giancola. The article discusses something that has interested me for quite a while - and its these novel/series things. You know, like the Dune Chronicles or all those other more-hardcore sci-fi geekery stuff I said I wanted to learn more about.
Anyone reading fantasy and science fiction knows that the genre is dominated by series. From my end of the business, series are both a pleasure and a curse. Once you get the look of a series down, its continuation is relatively easy for me -- so many decisions are already made, the type, the artist, the tone. I get a few new details and basically sit back and let the artists work.
When a series starts off looking good, it usually sails along nicely, but then, of course, the reverse can be true as well. If you don’t hit the mark on the first go you set up a sizable hurdle for the following books. Unfortunately that means rather conservative decision making up front. While I may want to try out a new artist, I don’t always feel comfortable committing to 3, 6, 12 books with someone that I have never worked with before. Not always, but often enough, I tend to stick to the guys that I already have proven relationships with. This, in turn, often leads leads to scheduling conflicts down the line -- an inevitable alignment of stars and planets will end up with a bunch of one artist’s titles in the same catalog season.
I’m glad for the ease of some series, and when they go well I really enjoy seeing the paintings as a collective whole, but I can't help but to wish we had more stand-alone books and different points of view to explore.
I asked a few artists what they felt about working on series titles:
"Series are cool because it gives you a chance to fill out the world you're building in some more detail. I also feel more connected to my character after several portrayals. It can be a shackle when the marketing crew is sure that a particular portrayal is responsible for selling the book. It's best when the AD gives you latitude to be able to show the world from a different view each time. I also think that the tendency to "brand" authors with a single artist can make the biz of illustration tougher. Instead of book assignments, you have series assignments, and that makes the ebb and flow of work more extreme. Your flow is also greatly effected by how prolific your authors are, and that can vary enormously." DAVE SEELEY
Please note that Dave Seeley was featured artist in this blog!
"From an artist's standpoint its quite nice. You become familiar with the characters. That means less time worrying about accuracy and more time developing story." DAN DOS SANTOS
Geek fact: Dan Dos Santos makes art for the Warcraft Trading Cards game.
“A series is a good thing if you're an artist. You want the books to look good and do well, so you'll get the next one--that's the pragmatic, economic reason--but you're challenged to keep the series fresh, which forces you to think about the approach, to try to see things from different perspectives. Even a series has to have variety and flow. It's a restraint that can help you to grow. It also lets you explore a direction more than once. A series of books can become a collection of paintings, each with a slightly different flavor.” TODD LOCKWOOD
Geek fact: Todd's behind the great artwork for Dungeons and Dragons.
“Series are neither harder nor easier to undertake, as I approach each and every commission as a new start. The goal of each image is to convey a compelling representation of the content of the book, and considering the variations most authors place on the content of their novels, I do not see how it is possible to use the same approach every time. For me, continuity in a series, if there is any, tends to be more formally based than anything related to design.
One of my most successful series was for Isobelle Carmody, where the unifying factor was the scale of the figures to their architectural environment, and the passage of time 'through' the images: the beginning of the journey; the journey; and the final recuperation/rejuvenation. Each image stands alone and has very little, in terms of design, to do with the others. As a painter, I look to challenge myself and find new ways to reinterpret similar content without appearing too incestuous within my style.” DONATO GIANCOLA
A toast, to Donato Giancola, a really talented artist! (As always.) He won the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist. If that means something to you.
This is yet another post which I hope I actually made you care about. I myself am just watching in the distance as this art industry plays out through this monitor. Hundreds, no... thousands of artists flock to art conventions, seminars to learn from these artistic gods, and here I am. How I wish I can be those lucky few. Anyway, enough with this ramble.
You know what looks nice though? It's that overplayed trailer for an Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game called Tabula Rasa. I say overplayed because it is - it seems waaaay too hyped actually (at the time of this writing). Just because its done by some guy named Lord Richard Garriot, doesn't mean its going to be a classic. Or will it?? Who knows? Enjoy this awesome, albeit cliched trailer! Hot women abound!
It's like looking at a modern update of a classic serial poster or something. It either has something to do with the use of a lot of great photo-referencing in Photoshop, or I'm just weird. In any case, I will admit I've been a great admirer of this artist's work for quite some time now, because it looks so darn purty. Plus, he does science fiction art for Tor and other well-known publishers. That's always a great bonus.
"I'm far more influenced by modern day sci-fi noir that by illustration in the industry today" he says. Some of Mr. Seeley's greatest influences have been artists like Dave McKean, John Muth, Kent Williams and George Pratt. Of course, he also admires the works of Caravaggio, Egon Shiele, Robert Graham, and many more personalities I can't care enough about at the moment. Maybe in the future.
Damn, this guy is good.
Many of these images are also found in various digital art books such as the "Spectrum 10" and "Painter". His work is definitely an inspiration. What do you think?
If there is one thing I can't stand, its seeing art that evokes such depth and emotion, it makes me sick-- no wait, it makes me glad. And here is one artist that does it quite well. I'll make this a new regular thing in my blog, just a post where I can admire all the little nuances of a particular unknown artist's work. Not much is known from this Melo fellow, but as you can see, his art is simply vibrant and teeming with character.
The artist described this piece:
"A little tribute to the memories from an old anime series i used to love - Tom Sawyer. Although my picture doesn't refer to the same time. It's also a celebration of music and summer."
What's made me so interested in this piece is the colors. It's almost like from a Hayao Miyazaki flick or something. And the overall pleasantness of it is actually a refreshing change from all the grim and dark fantasy/dark fantasy/ science fiction pieces I see all over the net.
Every area is so lovingly detailed... I hope the artist pursues more subjects such as this. Oh, before I forget, he also did a piece this other piece on August 2007, called Like Summer.
In his own words:
"Trying to go back to an animation style. I was looking for a feeling of carelessness, and of going to meet nature, when everything tries to force you to stay home."
From this piece alone, taking a closer look at the fine details of Mr. Melo's works, they can almost tell you a story. They're beautiful that way, especially with his current cartoon style.
I need not tell you that this trip through the rain isn't going to end well for these two punks. Hey, how about some feedback or comments, eh?
Why are you so cruel, Void? Why can't you offer any words of encouragement, or feedback or anything? Well, I'll be waiting, dear Void. Sooner or later, your heart will soften, and you will see that yes, I will... no, I must give good constructive feedback! For I am here, sticking it out, reading this fool's words. I am here to see this idiot make a spectacle of himself, as he has done so in the past!
But for now, let us all gaze at the beauty that digital art age has offered us. This ugliness, the raw evil of the real world - as well as this virtual world, has made the likes of me... somewhat tired, somewhat... disenfranchised. Mine eyes long for the sight of this calming beauty of art and grace - to forget for a moment that, you, don't care, Void. I present, the awardees of the CG Choice Awards.
May you enjoy it, and in turn, make your own art. Why? You didn't think this damn blog was catering to the handful of Robotech fans/friends I've made in the past? What are ya, crazy?? I mean, this blog is like, for anyone who likes to hear fools like me ramble about... well, art! And all that junk in between. And now I ramble. On with the art! Calming beauty... Calming beau...
This piece is called "Empire Total War: Grenadier" by Michael Kutschie -
"GameStar cover-artwork for the SEGA/ Creative Assembly game "Empire: Total War". Completely done in Photoshop and Painter. I got some reference for the costume by CA's art department. Used myself as a reference for the pose and face (I did some poses with a hoovertube :)"
A bold piece, with a very classic pose, and the cool colors add so much to the overall atmosphere. The strong silhouettes of the infantry help give a nice tense atmosphere. You just have to say, aaaaah. Oh, and that guy's face is super detailed. I forgot to check if this guy merged CG work with Photoshop. Maybe he did - then that's cheating! Hah! No, just kidding. Crap, I feel like I took too much coffee now.
"Umbrella Sky" by Marta Dahlig
"Well, that's a quite old piece originally done for ImagineFX Issue 22. It can also be seen in the upcoming Exotique 3. :) This version, however is quite different, as I came back to the painting after a longer while and reworked it a LOT. Overall, it took many hours in Painter and Photoshop. I also used some references (especially for the fish and the sea)."
Now If only I can paint like that! While talking about it won't improve my skill, I like to whine, so there! This is a blog remember? A place where I can put in my innermost thoughts and desires... Okay, shutting up.
"Outpost" by Marcin Jakubowski
"hello, I'd like to present my attempt in the sci-fi environment field. I wanted it look like a cover illustration for some classic s-f book. Strong colours are intended. One of the forum mates called it "a big sewing machine" :) Photoshop and about 12 hours of work."
Whatever this man's inspiration, is - this piece is certainly... inspired! Brilliantly warm use of colors, with great composition as well to tie the image together.
"Oiran" by Srisuan Skan
"OIRAN" was created for S magazine japan in oiran theme issue, Oiran is high class prostitude in EDO that wearing a georgeos clothes. This piece was done photoshop 7 and ball mouse as I used to do for long.... this piece make me think of further progress for my works and make me decide to use wacom. welcome for any comments and notice, thank you."
This piece was created by an artist based on Thailand. Wow. I don't live anywhere near the States, so like... cool. The girl's face isn't the focal point of this picture, which I find odd - it is a bit of a mess but whatever - if I ever had a technique like that...
This, you damn Void, is "Iron Grip: The Invasion"
"Here's a piece I did for the Iron Grip project by Isotx.
The scene takes place in a baroque/industrial like world yet with with powerful "next gen(?)": ) ww2-inspired machinery. Props goes out to Keith Thompson who did the airship-design. He's been doing some great concept work so it wasnt a problem working after this design at all. But I wouldnt mind doing my own take on this myself. As refreshing it might be doing all sorts of freelance projects, sometimes I wish I could spend more time with certain projects following them from beginning to end.
Hope you like!"
Oh, I like floating subs! Sort of reminds me of a show called "The Southern Cross"! Hell yeah! A unique and refreshing take, especially for this particular era, which is kind of languishing or something...
"Waterfall City" by Luis Melo
"A sudden idea, which resulted in a combination of references. Some slummy architecture on a cloudy day in a dream place. Took a long time, considering my attention span capacity :\ hehe"
Oh, I love Photoshop/Painter pieces about cities that make me feel like the insignificant insect that I am. Beautiful, I feel so small right now, and you Void. Oh, why do you do this to me?
Ominous Winds by Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe
"Heyho, I haven't been active on CGtalk for quite a while so I reckoned it was time to change that! :) This was started back in autumn last year, hence the theme of the image.
I had been practising 3D modelling in the hiding, so this is one of my first combinations of 3D modelling and painting. The tank was modelled in Wings3D which is a very powerful but free tool! All the rest and overpainting was done in Photoshop. I like the pilot... :)
- around 15-20 hours maybe, no reference"
You hear that? A true German-based artist! No visual reference to help him out in perspective or texturing of this piece! I wonder... can I achieve that? Huh, can I?
"The Plane Idol" by Arnaud Caubel
"Hi! This one comes from my WIP called "An Improbable Travel". I had fun with the jungle 'trip'... I hope you 'll like it! Pencil sketch, Psd, approx 7 hours.."
This is what you get if you spend your whole life just making art. While you wither away, something beautiful or grand appears on screen or on canvas. That is the beauty of art - And I have no idea what made me think of it that way.
"Poet's Square" by Sergey Skachkov
"This piece is my new image from "Utopias" series. It is my free interpretation of one of Moscow's squares. All legends on the buildings are composition names of the poet-futurist who has poetized at the beginning of the twentieth century. I created the image in Photoshop CS with custom brushes."
His interpretation? This beautifully made piece of s**t? How I envy you! Your warm use of colors, your grand use of perspective, its all come together, so well - and this - this is it. I have no idea what the f**k am I saying. Is nothing sacred? Can art heal the labored mind? Can it calm frazzled nerves?
So okay, that's just a small set - of art that I found most striking around the net. I ask you again, Void. I asks you'z nicely now - do you want more posts like this? Do you want anything from me? ANYTHING?! Huh?!? Answer me! (StudioMMG apologizes over this tirade, but I blame the Void anyway for this blogger's condition)
Thank you, and have a good day. Oh, and here's the old Final Fantasy XII intro. I don't play PS games so I place it here because it's pretty. So there!
If there's one artist that I've been admiring for quite a while, its this guy. He's good. He's really good. I may have talked about him before, but I don't care. He's such an inspiration for my work, because he does that whole space marine thing so well. In fact, you may not know it, but this guy is the concept artist for Bungie - a.k.a. The Guys Who Made Halo. Yep. He's the one. But while Halo is his crowning achievement, he's also worked in other high-profile commercial projects such as the Need For Speed Underground series, the Wolfenstein remake, as well as film productions as well.
The 39 year old Californian native attended Pitzer College in Claremont for two years before studying product design at the Art Center College of Design. Mullins soon found that he was better at drawing cars, which led to 6 months at Ford in Detroit. He also discovered that his design sense was a little too weird to be of value to the car design industry and returned to Art Center to study illustration, where he finally finished his degree in 1990.
The guy's anatomy was a little funky, since these pieces were made in 2002, but you can already see where this artist's future style is going. From this, to...
To this. Behold, Master Chief looks better than ever. The following concept art were made around 2006, so you can see how big a difference four years made in Mullin's style - the muted colors are fantastic, the strokes are bolder and more confident - there's a beautiful painterly feel to his work for Halo - and its really a great evolution in style. (This might sound like the simplification of a lot of factors, but I will focus on his works for these two properties for now)
Many of these pieces were for promotional purposes, but as you can see from these concept pieces, even the overall stylings of the original Halo have been vastly improved, with more depth and focus in the designs for the Covenant aliens, the Marines, the settings - Fantastic!
Straight from the Horse's Mouth
In an old interview from Ballistic Publishing (Folks behind the Expose Art Book Series), Craig answered some cool questions - the first being about how he developed his style:
Craig Mullins: "My style is a sum of hundreds of influences, and a few (just a few) ideas that I came up with. I think that in a way way, my everyday life contributes a little. I'm a bit of a dinosaur, and I don't want to think too carefully about the wisdom of using these great new digital tools to produce work that was cutting edge 150 years ago.
The idea of 'originality of concept' being the highest value in art is a legitimate one, but there are other ways to look at things. The master apprentice model is as good a way as any. But being labeled a 'revolutionary' is sexy. I guess I am just not."
And his influences in art..
Craig Mullins: "I like learning new things -- not just about art, but the world in general. The more I know, the better. Except composition, the more I know about composition, the less able I am to compose well!"
And then he rambles on how he got into Photoshop, and his later works and influences. He's quite an interesting fellow, and like the guy who interviewed him said, everytime you look at Mr. Mullin's art, you always "find something new and profoundly interesting"
Craig Mullins: "I had first used Photoshop to touch up some physical mattes for a British Petroleum commercial, and remarking what a cool program Photoshop was. John Knoll (the co-creator of Photoshop) suggested that I try to do the whole thing in Photoshop. Just having started with it, I had no idea of how to paint with it, or even if you could. It was an experiment for all concerned. It was pretty much kluged photos, but it worked OK.
I bought a 33MHz Apple Quadra 700 with 36 MB RAM back in 1993. My idea was to scan in color roughs (I did little paintings before committing to blocking in a huge final piece) and play with them in Photoshop. You can try so many variations so quickly.
Eventually, the computer took over more and more of the task. At first it was very hard convincing clients to accept digital illustration work. I think they had visions of a contrasty mess of procedural textures, but I kept at them. I remember driving into town to set up a clients AOL account so I could send them works in progress.
Now I am trying to stay in as many areas of illustration that I can. I think it is better for me as an illustrator and it makes good business sense as well. There is a lot of mutually supporting aspects to the different areas of work that I do."
While I admire this artist sooo much, it also helps that he was commissioned by Bandai to do this piece (Below). Man, this is one artist I aspire to be - and will probably never end up being.
This is a companion post to my previous one on the 'Drawbacks in Drawing Anime'
Please bear in mind that I did not write this. It is a post by some frustrated anime fan, whose name I stupidly forgot to remember. While these articles are hardly related to conceptual art, I don't really care. Bleah!! It's not like this blog is popular enough to garner outrage!
So why does he say their is still a pervading 'ignorance' among the population regarding anime? While I, ChrisK doesn't really agree with a lot of points here, its food for thought by Mr. Know-it-all here. So let's go! (I will be inserting my own thoughts from time to time like this)
- The problem lies in three forms. the 1st is a problem of clarity. Terms/jargon are frequently used but not understood.
- the 2nd is a problem of media, (television, internet). All too often corporate television networks such as cartoon network market its anime in an unfavorable manner. Deviantart is filled to the brim with shitty cartoony anime. (you said it - What is this Robotech crap? Just kidding)
- The reputation of anime is further injured by its associated fans. I would like to believe that most anime fans are intelligent people with a sound understanding of art.Unfortunately, as listed below, there is evidence of the contrary especially in high schools across America.
- Thousands of anime fans who make an attempt to draw well are making shitty drawings in an attempt to mimic anime/manga style.
- Art schools and professional art communities tend to avoid anime like the plague. (Refer to my article again on Drawbacks of Drawing Anime')
- the few people who draw anime well and have fundamental technical drawing skills are ridiculed and tagged as unprofessional.
- Anime is often associated with goth poseurs or nerds who wear black.
- hot topic regularly promotes anime in the form of T shirts. I have nothing against hottopic, since I bought a "Death Cab for Cutie" shirt from there, its not a terrible place, but it adds to the problem at the same time. (This guy is confusing me...)
- the T-shirts that have anime on them are poorly designed, for the most part.
- The goth community has been injured by poseurs for a variety of reasons. Goth poseurs are attracted to anime, and that association is bad for both genuine goths and genuine anime fans. (This is getting weird, maybe he should mention 'emo' as well)
- Some non artists also shy away from anime because of its percieved association with shitty people.
- The art community is also starting to turn its collective back on a unique and truely wonderful art form as a result of media and shitty association. (Arguing in circles..?)
I disagree with the notion that not all animation from japan is anime.
Anime - a blanket term that describes all forms of animation in Japan. All animation in Japan have common elements that separate it from western animation or comics. The same elements occur in manga as well.
NOTE: exaggerated features are not one of these elements.
Element A - anime has an emphasis on being there in that moment, where the work has a ton of "aspect to aspect" illustrations. This is a aesthetic 'pioneered' by the Japanese. It occurs more frequently than in western animation. (uh...)
Element B - that heavy emphasis on the moment to moment representation rather than action to action. An American cartoon would be more likely to portray a man getting out a gun in 2 seconds. In anime however, would show him unzipping his jacket, wiping his hand accross his face and slowly reaching in his pocket and getting the gun out. (this is a lousy example, but I get his point. These elements are often better seen when comparing western comics to 'manga' in general, with lots of subtle and not-so-subtle actions to expand a scene, giving it more depth or character)
Soap Opera Aesthetic - most of anime is in a serialized format, with long sagas and complex plotlines. Lets put it this way, if you went a watched episode 49 of batman beyond, you would have no problems comprehending the plot. This is not the case with all american cartoons, but as a whole, they lack this serial element. However, if you were to view the anime "Last Exile" at episode 53, you would have no fucking clue as to how to make sense of the plot. (We can minus the fact that American television industry is completely different in that they want to extend a series as long as possible - look at shows like the Simpsons. Plus the fact that the general American public still sees these animated cartoons as 'kiddie fare', whereas the Japanese view anime as an alternative to live-action storytelling mostly due to tighter budgets)
Japanimation - a term used and invented by the Japanese to describe animation produced in Japan. This term was created to distinguish Japanese anime from the the more general word for animation or "anime".
Anime style (also known as manga style)- a method of abstraction which relies on exagerated eyes, etc. It is based off of the cartoony aspects of anime, it is not however, derived from animation from Japan as a whole. That is simply a [false] western perception of anime as a whole. It is a style that is apparent in certain anime, but does not apply to all.
Anime inspired - a term used to describe western cartoons, illustrations and comics that seek too mimic the design aesthetic and storytelling techniques of anime/manga.
- Remove the term "anime style" from your vocabulary. (The author speaks of creating new terms for all kinds of anime. It sounds like the failed 'Metrosexual' revolution - and we know what happened to that)
- Market more anime T shirts that incorporate better graphic design and are form fitting. (This guy speaks of T-shirts, I'm thinking of the whole package of advertising)
- Convince Dolce and Gabanna and other high fashion houses to design and sell anime clothes and accessories (Ah, to allow anime to penetrate the mainstream again. It has worked to some degree in other areas over the years)
- Somehow convince cartoon network to air a huge amount of realistic anime. (I think G4 TV and other networks are doing this, and a lot of other networks)
- somehow convince cartoon network to run a yearlong documentary explaining the differences between realistic anime and cartoony anime and their relationship with cartoony american comics and realistic american comics. (Ah, that would be nice!)
- market anime to a more mainstream audience, besides nerdy people and poseurs. (Isn't anime and manga already attracting a lot of female enthusiasts?)
- Remember when everybody aside from geeks were staying up late playing Halo? The same thing needs to happen to anime. Market, market market!!!!
- Make the above distinctions widely known and accepted by the art community in every scene so artists, teachers and art school admissions would stop bashing anime due to a misunderstanding of what anime actually is. (According to Scott McCloud, comics are also facing this want to be reccognized)
- Stop telling kids anime is merely kiddie fare, and is capable of a mature form of storytelling that won't just cater to nerds.
- Realize that realistic anime/manga is to be celebrated and accepted part of American pop culture. (New York Post I think praised films like Paprika for its grown-up storytelling)
- Realize that a few good anime pieces can make an already polished portfolio even better.
- understand the differences between terms
- Realize the existance of "realistic anime".
- Begin to see that drawing realistically wont betray the anime/manga aesthetic elements.
There are "good" points, though for me the biggest problem is that I don't live in the United States - but I do know that a lot of people still regard anime as something for the kiddies, rather than being a legitimate art form. I don't know the extent of it though, and forgive me if it actually turns out that people in the States already appreciate anime in the way that this guy is ranting about. Bah!
In the mean time, why not feast your eyes on this old anime trailer?
Similar to an old thread someone started before, I bring up this 'eye candy' thread. It's based on the theme "Grand Space Opera". By observing these images, it gives you a little idea on what makes a space opera a space opera. What are the elements of making one? Perhaps I shall leave it to you, Void.
Does more spaceships mean more epic? Or is it how they are composited to a scene that makes it memorable?
The classic ideas have always been some spaceship floating serenely high above a planet. Is this the key ingredient?Is it it all about perspective? The main idea? Do explosions make for an 'epic' scene?
By adding something mundane, or something of our world, and dumping it to space (oh say... stupid whales) does that make it epic?? Does that make you the best damn science fiction writer/artist in the world because of your wildly imaginative mind??
I ask myself these questions when looking at these visually stimulating images. You can find out more about these images and the art book that was released quite some time ago...