Saturday, 13 March 2010

Princess Mononoke

I added to my Ghibli DVD collection today, and having never seen Princess Mononoke I was enthusiastic. This mighty film dates back to 1997 and is another wonderful experience from the master Miyazaki armed with another quality western voice cast. We are treated to another wonderful exploration through grounded characters in a fantasy world that explores the interface of civilisation and the natural world.

It is interesting to read how long it took Miyazaki to refine this tale and then to actually detail it through to completion. While I envisage a story of similar scope and elegance for The Cartographer, I can see how much work and energy would go into fully realising such a thing.
After having seen the full film now, the trailer above seems so much better actually, full of wonderful moments (while it doesnt show the little forrest ghost things which are just so cute)

Here are some wonderful images from the concept and production art for the film in a book review on Parka Blogs that particularly inspire me:

[Imagery from Princess Mononoke via Parka Blogs]

Plus here is some Deviantart inspired by the film:

[Art based on Princess Mononoke via DeviantArt by Imaginism and Kerko]

Friday, 12 March 2010

Adi Sketches and Art

Adi Granov is one of the great concept and comic artists around and he has a video on Sketch Theatre now. I really love watching class artists at their craft, seeing how they go about creating the works. Watching this, I really need a better pencil...

Adi has a suite of his imagery in a gallery on CGHUB which show off his talent. Here are a few that I like from the bunch.

[Adi Granov imagery via CGHUB]

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Torchlight concepts

[Torchlight image via the official site]

Doing the concept work for The Cartographer at the moment has me enjoying sites like that for the new game Torchlight. The media centre on the game's site has a range of concept graphics. We have rendered drawings with plenty of style and I like the little animations as well (full of all those principles of animation).

[Torchlight concept images via the official site]

The video presents a nice integration of gameplay and the concept art actually - something for me to look at for my coming trailers, esp around Sound.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cartographer Heroine

Here is one of the concept sketches for the heroine of The Cartographer with a quick colour job. This doesnt really flesh out too much more of the character, but does start to make the idea seem more real and going places.

NY Crysis2 Pic

The slow leaking of gorgeous content from Crysis2 continues. The devastated New York setting looks fantastic and because of the urban and architectural emphasis, the engine looks set to be super for design visualisation!

Here is one of the latest images via inCrysis covering GDC:

[Crysis2 pic via inCrysis]

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

News - Steaming Unity Oscars

There are several interesting pieces of news that seem worthy of mention here.

Steam on the Mac
Valve's mighty PC gaming equivalent of the App Store is now coming to the Mac. Though the number of titles will doubtless look rather paultry when compared to Windows, there will be surely be a good selection. With the number of homes armed with a Mac at home now, to attract those 'gamers' developers need to target OSX as well.
Oh and droool for Portal 2 (also coming to the Mac it seems) - great great game.


The Oscars
Digital moviemaking has probably never had such a high profile. Neither Avatar nor Up might have picked up the biggest award, but they were in there and did grab a suite of others along the way. Clearly The Hurt Locker is good stuff, so I am looking forward to seeing it. It is part of a long tradition of classy war films from Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan to Platoon and Apocalypse Now.
It was good to see that Avatar was seen as a 'good' film and not just a silly sci-fi flic. I was worried it may not be successful a year ago, I was really hoping it would be otherwise studios might not want to finance such things in the future. Whew...


Unity 3.0
Unity3D announced today the next release of their mighty cross-platform engine, v3.0, coming in the US summer. This look pretty exciting, with improvements to deferred lighting, the editor, light mapping and more more more. I am still looking at Unity for my big project and this might mean I will get a boost mid-year as well. The demo vid of the old cityscape is beautiful and shows what the engine can do - would be amazing to see this quality run in a browser ... possible ... hope so!

[Screengrab from the Unity 3 Demo via the main site]

Monday, 8 March 2010

The Cartographer Sketches

Well, here are a suite of concept sketches for the new piece I am working through. They are in a few categories here, we have some Characters first up, then some on the Place then some on the Vehicles. There are more of course - but this is a nice sample of where I am at.
The Cloak Priest is looking mighty cool and the general map-centric landscape should be exciting to realise.



Ghibli inspiration

I mentioned drawing a fair bit of inspiration for The Cartographer from the various Studio Ghibli films. While the ideas are distinct, the notion of how naturally they portray an alternate world which we accept so gleefully is one I am keen to emulate. The films also merge together hidden complexity, endearing characters and stunning visuals to great effect - really want all of the above. Miyazaki is also a master of weaving the little moments together with the grand sweeping context - beautiful storytelling.

Over the weekend I re-watched a few, Ponyo, Spirited Away and Nausicaa Valley of the Wind. I am keen to flesh out the collection as well now, with only Howls Moving Castle in the stable.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Cartographer

A new story is forming for me. The idea had its genesis in some simple sketches, but now is coming together as a much larger and more intricately constructed world. I am not sure I can do the ideas justice in words yet, but the growing army of sketches (coming soon) are proving quite inspiring for me. I have ideas, plotlines, characters, motivations, places, vehicles and more - details to come of course.

Let see if I can sum up the idea:

A young girl growing up in the hillocks surrounded by the constant swarming of the maps, feels she is starting to see meaning in their patterns. The Cloak Priests are the leaders of their society and claim all knowledge of the maps, so she explores her ideas in secret. She ventures further afield, discovering artefacts and places previously unknown through her growing understanding. Will a few friends and a mentor be enough to aid her in her destiny to comprehend the origin and meaning of the maps that swirl and shift ceaselessly across the landscape.

This could be game or film narrative really, it works as both so far. I quite like the game idea actually, being a player taking on the role of the young cartographer, growing in skill and understanding as the mysteries around them unfold.

I am finding the most inspiration in Nausicaa The Valley of the Wind so far (amongst many others including the other Ghibli films). Pics should help make sense of all this - trust me they are a coming...