Sunday, February 5, 2017

Lesser is to Greater as Greater is to the Whole

Little over a year ago I attended a visiting artist's lecture.  The artist was animator Sam Nielson, here are some examples of his work:

I broke his lecture into three sections, I won't expand on these points at the moment, but maybe we can go more in-depth in later posts.  The sections are as follows:  Design, Technique, and Value/Color/Lighting.

  • First, design your artwork with various shapes.  Don't put a bunch of objects together that are the same size, people will automatically put similar sized shaped together and if everything is the same it will look like an uninteresting blob from a distance.
  • Design your characters to be interesting visually: using an animation technique, add squash and stretch to your characters, over-exaggerate features. Once again variety in size and shape will create more interest
  • Your image needs to look interesting from far away.  Say that your piece is in an art gallery and the public are roaming from painting to painting. If one of those people turn around and see your painting from across the room it needs to be readable from that distance.  It will catch their interest and as they draw closer more details will be made available and they will look at the piece for longer than two seconds.
  • 3 Types of Prototyping (Planning your piece)
    • Concept Prototyping - quick thumbnails
    • Throw Away Prototyping - Breaking a big picture down and solving each problem
    • Evolutionary Prototyping - Figure everything out as you go, change things as you go
  • Lesser is to greater as greater is to the whole
  • Start with big brushes first! This applies to traditional and digital.  Work big to small.
  • Save edges for last
  • Everyone loves putting in details, but detail serves a purpose, don't over-detail.  Restrain the detail!
  • Make sure you can step aside and look at your artwork like a normal person would look at it
  • Use subtle value changes, so that you can change things without completely starting over
  • Side lighting creates the sense of action and if you want a sense of mystery use back lighting
  • For lighting a scene or subject simple is better, no need to over-complicate a piece, at the same time, don't be afraid to create exceptional lighting
  • Over Modeling - using too much light/detail in shadow.  In other words, where is your emphasis?  If you want to focus on something in the shadows then that is where your details are and there are very little details in the lighted areas. And vice versa. If your focus is in the lighted area that is where all the details are, not the shadows.
  • Direct sunlight is warmer/Filtered sunlight is cooler/reflected light is warmer
  • Softer light means weaker reflected light and vice versa

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Turning an Idea into Understanding

When a client comes to you with an idea it's up to you to be able to take that idea and transform it into an image that anyone would be able to look at and connect it with that idea.  It's convoluted.  Basically you have to take a vague concept and turn it into something everyone can understand by looking at it.

I'm mainly talking about editorial work here.  Editorial art is very fleeting.  You'll see an image in the newspaper or reader's digest and maybe glance at it for a second, but then move one when the article is read.  After reading the whole of it, the newspaper or magazine will be thrown away, not cherished and framed up on the wall.

I think that's what makes conceptual illustration so hard.  You have to illustrate a complex idea, but it has to be simple enough that any ordinary joe off the street can look at it and understand the idea instantly.  If it's not instant than you're not getting the point across fast enough.

I've found that I lean more towards narrative illustration - a piece of art that tells a story.  So this semester I've had to stretch my mind a little in order to think like an editorial artist.  I just wanted to show the progress of one of my pieces and go over some things that help in the creating process.

So for this assignment we had to illustrate a simile.  After weeks of thumbnailing lots of similes and not finding any that were particularly strong I happened upon one that my teacher told me was my strongest idea.  The simile was this:  eat like a bird. ex. "my sister is so skinny; she eats like a bird!"

I did lots of thumbnails for this as well.  Some were complicated or didn't really get the idea across very well and when one is doing editorial work it is better to err on the side of simple.  Simple gets the idea across quicker.

I made a list of everything that was even remotely related to a bird.  Pick out a couple of those and put them together.

Here's my piece.

My teacher really liked it, but during the critique pointed out a few things that could make it even better.  So I fixed a few things and here is the final rendition:

I don't think it's the best piece I've ever done, but it's also hard for me to be very invested or interested in this type of work.  So I guess I know now that I probably shouldn't go into editorial work.  But I also believe that learning to get an idea across cleanly and simply will help me out in my narrative work, so I don't think of this as a waste of time.  There's always something to be learned and applied.

If you have any questions or suggestions of posts you would like to see, please leave a comment down below!