Saturday, 14 July 2012

BF Sketches

A couple more Butterfly Maiden concept sketches from the other day - again just pencil in a regular A5 sketchbook. After watching Snow White and the Huntsman I felt like putting a little more thought into the armour on these two.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Caprica CG

Just finished watching Caprica and it was a classy continuation of the Battlestar franchise. The characters, plots and production values were very high and it really drew us into the world of Capricans, Taurans and the fanatical STO. There were many more interesting explorations of belief and the singular god and I particularly liked the end logic where the promise of heaven for all would destroy the incentive to behave well in life - paralleling the New Cap City storyline.

One of the key aspects of the series was the CG work, for a TV show the effort and quality of the effects and digital scenes are inspirational. We are treated to full digital realms in v-world like the chaos of New Cap City with its attach zeppelins and fighter planes, the cylons, foreign worlds, cities. Having the characters situated in locations that emphasise the nature of all these worlds help build the narrative for this prequel to the major conflict to come later while tackling important issues in our real world earth.

These images are from the submission for a Visual Effects Emmy in 2009/2010 (CSI won). They not only show off the CG work of the episode and series but delve a little deeper for us on deign and integration with story telling. Check out the full post on the Drex Files blog for the originals, more images and lotsa credits.

[Caprica Emmy Bid Panels vis the Drex Files blog]

This video also comes via the Drex Files blog and showcases how much compositing into digital sets was done for the show, again - super stuff for television (well DVD for us now).

Lastly you should check the images on the arkinet blog post on how the CG team build Caprica City from Vancouver. There is something very cool about futuristic city visuals, the extrapolation of the sky-scraper and all the signature architectural statements.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I came across this tech via the pointpusher blog where they had loaded up this pretty sweet looking demon 3D model into the in-browser model viewer. The viewer lets you not just move around a 3D object right here in the post, but also change to see the polygons etc (which is lots of fun and reveals lots about the models)

Cool huh!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Lyon and Paris

I quite like getting the spammy emails from Renderosity as they point to nice things now and again. Danae recently released two new morphs and maps for Victoria 4.2 that are beautifully executed and the renders are gorgeous armed with the special PoserPro 2012 Subsurface Scattering (SSS) shader. The maps of the skin with all the little colour and tone variation as well as the freckles is very well done indeed.

The nice thing then is that this puts assets of this quality into the hands of artists who don't have this particular skill but do want to create. Imagine if Pixar gave 'us' the rigs, models and environments used to create Brave - people could then leverage that talent for their own creative works. It isnt that simple though and no doubt even working out the render complexity in a masterpiece like that would be a big job...

Anyhow, here is the main promo image for Lyon and Paris:

[Paris and Lyon V4.2 image by Danae via the Renderosity site]

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


The kids and I watched the latest little gem from the wizards at Pixar today on the big screen (2D), Brave. The tale of Merida with her simply wonderful mass of red hair is a simple little tale of a little magic not going to plan setting a cascade of events in motion. As is the strength of Pixar films, the characters must learn, the protagonists must overcome and evolve and draw from their hardships something that will see them through at the end. I almost would have preferred a bit more of a quest, there wasnt quite enough driving things forward in the middle, but the story was actually quite poetic in the end.

There are a few standouts for me in the film, there is the gorgeous Scottishness of the whole thing, the accents, the soundtrack, the kilts, the accents, the red hair, the tartans, the accents, the wisps and more. This dedication to the Scottish 'culture' gives the film a real charm and a grounding that works. The environments are just delicious, the creative team injected so much character and vibrancy - particularly the lush forests.

[Disney Pixar's Brave shots via the Pixar Wikia]

The character design is what we spent the most time discussing afterwards and with great reverence. King Fergus is a zillion leagues wide and yet has a lovely warm uncertainty about him and the clan leaders, their sons and off-siders are a legion of funny chaps. The visuals, animation and all the other layers really are a showcase of the Pixar talent now, every frame is stunningly crafted as these images attest. Films like this are definitely the high-water mark for animation and story telling of this sort, the more I think about it the more impressed I am.

The images here are all from the Pixar Wikia site where there is much more to be seen and learnt. The CGSociety article on Brave reveals much more, working out the new Hair simulator (Taz) and other technical feats. I like this snippet from animator Austin Madison "Every Friday at Pixar was Kilt-Friday. We'd have sword-fights, throw hammers, shoot arrows and generally get into the characters"

I adore this set of images on the CGSociety site so much I have reproduced them here as they demonstrate just so well the evolution of a single frame from storyboard through to finished rendering - inspirational stuff indeed. CGSociety is certainly one of the goto sites in this arena and features like this get us under the covers.

[Brave under the covers imagery via CGSociety]

I adore exploring concept art for many films and the work on Brave is no exception. Here are a few pieces that show off character and environment,

[Disney Pixar's Brave shots via the Pixar Wikia]

I still love this poster, it was the first thing I saw of the film and it really sets the tone, the quality, the mystery and that shock of red hair.

ps. La Luna was the short before the film and it is a lovely little piece!

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Passenger

One of the Short films we discussed during the mocap training last week was Chris Jones' The Passenger. Chris didnt detail the creation of the piece as he went along, but did give us a nice year-by-year summary after he eventually finished and won Best Animation at the LA International Short Film Festival. There is a great deal to learn here, about pushing through all that time, about striving for quality and making meagre resources do your bidding.

The finished animation is lovely to watch and has superb production values. The character design is lots of fun, with those bulging eyes and nice environments. Interesting to see how he knew only a tiny bit about the story involving a bus, then slowly the other elements fell into place over time. I wonder when the fish-in-the-bag came into being?

While the 8 years part is depressing, the dedication the cause is inspirational - even through the tough times, the creative blocks and various digital hardships. Plus (as he details in the credits) this is his work through and through "Written, designed, modelled, textured, illuminated, animated, composed, recorded, mixed, edited, produced and directed by Chris Jones".

[The Passenger shots via Chris Jones' official site]

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Butterfly Col

Here is a quick colouring of one of my recent Butterfly armoured maiden sketches. The basic sketch was pencil on paper which I scanned in then used photoshop to layer things up. I used some photos of forests and jungles jumbled up as the background and played with some colour jitter in my brushes which is quite fun. Apart from the base sketch below, there is one with that sketch as the multiply layer and then a variant with the sketch run through a 'cutout' filter. I like the brighter metallic colours that the Butterfly culture uses with the dangling gems and geometric engraving. The sketch is very front-on and not as dynamic as I would like, but she has a decent level of believability going on.