Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hella Evil.

113B this year was another eye-opening class for me. I learned a whole lot about bettering myself as an artist and Owen has given me loads of confidence in moving forward in the program. I can say a lot about the class but this post isn't about that.

One thing I enjoyed most about the class though, was the progression of our projects. It was crazy that every project beforehand led into the next, and how everything we did so far in the year led up to our final. Upon completing my painting last night, I was curious to get a timeline post going to see how this whole piece ended up becoming what it was now. After compiling a good amount of the work, it's ridiculous how far this concept has come. I'll try to explain the process a bit.

This all really started at our Hero/Villain tree project. Here are just a few of the initial thumbnails I produced just to get some creative juices going. Didn't get anything really from this sheet, but you can see me playing with different ideas.

Found a good direction on my 3rd sheet of thumbs. Here's a few rows of the concepts that I liked and wanted to run with, and below are the small scale drawings fleshing out some ideas and details.

Next step was to fully render the final tree. Obviously, my "Hero Tree" assignment turned into a "Villain Tree". One piece of brainstorming I would have liked to add in here was my concepts for the villain tree. I wrote notes on what made a tree a TREE, what evil means and what symbolizes evil. In essence my process was to make my tree do almost everything a "regular tree" would - growing nearly perfectly vertical, large and tall, very full and bubble shaped canopy, many leaves, solid bark and roots, etc. Mine on the other hand would be short and wide, no definitive canopy, few to no leaves, aging/flaking bark, "dying" roots. To expand on that, a handful of evil words that I tried to incorporate visually were some such as snake-like, venomous, insidious, dying, grotesque, flesh-like, rotten. I had a strong concept in my head, and I think I did a decent job of getting it on paper.

The next project after the villain tree was to finally start planning our final painting. Our tree didn't necessarily have to be the main focus of the piece, but had to be included in it somehow. Seeing that I loved my tree so much, I decided to make it the focal point. Here's a shitload of thumbnails trying to figure out a good composition. Brainstorming at its finest.

After choosing a few thumbnails that I liked, I blew them up to about a quarter size and added some value to it. The bottom two ended up becoming the two that heavily influenced my final composition.

Next is the final large scale composition, sketched in pencil. A lot of problems become immediately apparent after blowing up thumbnail sketches. It was an interesting challenge to figure out what was and was not working at this point. I immediately didn't like the "hill" on the right side of the piece, and the foreground just didn't seem to match well with the background. But I figured I run with it until I got to the photoshop portion of my planning.

This is after scanning and importing into photoshop. I played around with the brush to find some better strokes and to get the gesture back into the tree. You can see a lot of the elements moving around by the different colors.

Unfortunately, a large amount of the composition work got lost here, as I ended up saving over my original file which had a lot of the first few composition changes. Nonetheless, this ended up being the final composition (in photoshop) and I ran with it and gave it full black and white values.

Next step was to get some color compositions in. I SHOULD have done more, but it was a rough week artistically and I just didn't feel much motivation. Luckily somehow ended up with one that I enjoyed, shown on the bottom. In order to separate the "living forest" from the "dead tree", I used an hot/cool palette. In general, the living forest would be saturated in warm colors, and he evil tree would be done with less saturated cool colors. Red/Brown Red/Green for the surroundings, and for the evil tree jumping across the color wheel to Yellow/Purple.

Finally got to painting, and while this in itself has many more steps, it would only end up being an entirely new blog post. Many changes happened here: the evil tree grew a few more branches, the left and right hills became bumpy ridges, the far distance directly in the middle of the piece got carved out to depict what was sort of a path to help sell the space of the piece. One of my favorite changes ended up coming about at the last hour of working on the night before deadline. What was supposed to be a dry/flaky/scaling tree ended up becoming some sort of alien-like, phosphoric-looking, grotesque, bulging, veiny evil tree. I actually had a cool looking green on my paint palette and I threw some onto the tree just to see what it would look like. I immediately got hooked and it ended up being a big part of the entire piece, as you can see the veins on the tree extending into the floor below it, following the crack all the way out into the background tree line.

There actually still will be a few changes, thanks to feedback from the teacher. Mainly fixing some ridges on the left side, adjusting the color temperature on the snake, and adding a few more tertiary branches to the evil tree. I don't imagine it to be too different from this final piece but if it ends up looking a lot better I'll go ahead and add to the post later on. Still have other projects to worry about at the moment.

I spent a good chunk of my painting time actually hating my composition. I felt like it had no energy and felt a bit lifeless compared to other students and friends in my class. One thing I'm really working on personally though is not to compare myself to other people - very dangerous habit. Kept pushing and eventually ended up with something I liked.

In the end though, not 100% satisfied. Happy to know that this might be the last project I'll have to physically paint for the rest of my studies at SJSU. I've never considered myself a good painter, and it's nice to know I won't have to worry about figuring out how to mix paints anymore and move my skills onto photoshop where I'm a bit more well-versed. Taking that into consideration, I decided that this winter i'll take this piece and give myself a challenge to "re-do" this composition entirely in digital. Still have a lot to learn in photoshop and I'm excited to see what kind of lighting and detail I can get into the piece to make it feel ALIVE.

This blog is slowly coming about. This is a bit long, but I'm glad to hear if you stuck around for the whole thing. You'll probably be seeing my final intro to animation reel for my maya class in the next few days, and shortly after that I'll be chronicling the making of my winter sketchbook.

Stay tuned!

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