Another Day Another Sculptris Model

Progressing, some might say evolving, from slugs today I’ve tried creating something with limbs.

Meet Teddy…

"Teddy" by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

“Teddy” by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Though I think I’m getting better with the software there are still some things that confuse me – like how to move a second sphere, the best way to make eyes, or how to reselect said sphere/s once they are anywhere near the original mesh. Confusing! I guess I’m just going to have to sit down and watch a few more tutorials. Still, finding a lot to love about Sculptris, perhaps tomorrow I’ll try adding some texture to this less than cuddly teddy bear!

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Illustration Friday – ‘Return’

Okay, okay, so maybe I’ve listening to one too many of Escape Pods sci-fi podcasts because alien life seems to be becoming a theme for me!

This week, for Illustration Friday, I wanted to do something different, both in terms of style and, with any luck, content. Since this year is full of all things Mayan due to the end of the Mayan calendar this December and the prophecies of the end of the world, or civilisation or such I thought that I would use one of the more sci-fi theories of what will happen as inspiration.

What’s the theory…

Mayan society reached its peak somewhere between 2000BC and 250AD. Mayan civilisation was pretty advanced with a system of writing with which they documented astronomical events and several huge cities supported by complex water and agricultural systems. This early advancement in their civilisation, along with some of their writing and art, has made some people suggest that they were visited by Ancient Astronauts… aka aliens! These benevolent space travellers evidently popped in to give them some pointers and, unless you subscribe to the theories of David Icke, headed back in to the stars. Now, with the Mayan calendar coming to a close, could the 2012 prophecies point to the date when these extra-terrestrial benefactors are due to return?!

'2012 - They Return' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

‘2012 – They Return’ by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

I always loved the aesthetic used in the PSP game ‘Patapon’ and, having recently done some research on the subject for another project, I’ve also become very interested in shadow plays. So for these image I wanted to see if I could create something using that style. Additionally, I wanted to produce an illustration that was completely unlike the work I normally do, which is very based in colour, texture and details and usually predominantly about characters. Much as I would have loved to sit and create and photograph and actual shadow theatre and puppets this is all done, once again, in Photoshop.

"Shades" by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Illustration Friday – Shades

I must confess, I would have been happier if this weeks Illustration Friday topic had been ‘shade’ rather then ‘shades’. That little ‘s’ changed, in my mind at least, a nice broad topic to a choice of blinds, sun glasses or paint squatches, all of which I found about as inspiring as quadratic equations or filling out a tax return. To be fair, there are weeks when I’d have been happy to embrace the challenge, think outside the box and break new ground but, with a midweek deadline and a dying computer causing me both literal and metaphorical headaches, its not been that sort of week!

However, I have been reading 2 truly awesome books “The Perfect Bait” by Bobby Chui, whose online tutorials I’ve also been following, and “Masters Collection 1: Digital Painting” by those talented chappies at Focal Press.  So, inspired by the former and interested in testing the techniques shown by the latter, I freestyled an illustration in Photoshop – no plan, no sketches! I’m not displeased with the results but have to say it was way out of my comfort zone… especially as I had to use a mouse rather then a graphics tablet!

Introducing… Shades

Timid and shy, Shades lives in the dark and shadowy places in the world. Despite his huge orange eyes he sees only shades of grey.

"Shades" by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

“Shades” by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

In terms of inspiration I think he has a look similar to a lemur or, more specifically, an aye-aye and, as usual, I think there is a kitten-like quality to him too. I feel I should also mention here that I was obviously heavily influenced by the illustration work of Imaginism team as well as the character of Gollum from Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation of ‘Lord Of The Rings’.

Oh… and I know that my Illustration Friday offerings of late have been sort of charcter-design-tastic so I will try in the next few weeks to do something a little different…. depending on the topic of course!

"Mr. Animator - life cycle of a project" by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Does Freelancing Equal Freedom?

For some freelancing is the chosen alternative to permanent or agency work, for others it’s the way to start on the ladder whilst they find a permanent employer and for yet others it is the only route in their chosen profession. Many who have the choice as to whether to go it alone or work under the umbrella of an employer say they choose the former because it gives them a greater freedom. But for those naïve souls just bumbling in to the creative world, what does that ‘freedom’ actually entail?

The Customer Is Always Right

I think the first thing to point out is that freelancing does not give you carte blanche to be lazy, self-involved, isolationist or antisocial. In fact you must be the antipathy of those things – diligent, organised, hard-working, personable, professional, communicative and friendly.

Freelancing gives you a greater choice in which projects you work on, as long as you choose enough of them to put food on the table, but that doesn’t mean you can whimsically indulge your creativity and do things how you want. Oh no, you have a client to think about and by their very nature they will have a budget, a time frame, a brief and most likely a plethora of ideas. You may still need your mad skills to deliver on the projects but each project is about the client and not about you exploring your art and yourself. This does mean, however, that you can choose work that drives your career and your portfolio in a specific direction, again, as long as you can make that pay of course.

So Does Freelancing Give You Any More Freedom?

Yes. Much of the time, as a freelancer, you have the flexibility to choose when and where you work, both in terms of the contracts you take and the hours and environment you work in. Many freelancers work from home or their own studio (depending what they do) and freelancing can be a super option for those with other commitments to work around.

However, as ever, this can be a double-edged sword as great power comes great responsibility and you could end up working long in to the night to make sure a project is delivered on time. As any home worker knows, scheduling and discipline are your friends as a freelancer. Not having a separate work environment means that there is no clear-cut off point and work will happily chew up your entire life if you let it. Sometimes, especially when you are starting out and don’t know your own limitations you may take on too much and if so you will need to man up to the task even if it means running on empty in terms of social life, family commitments and sleep for a while to do it. Additionally for the freelancer, like those who self-publish or are in any way self-employed, those responsibilities also come in the form of promoting yourself, dealing with complaints and queries and filling out your tax return.

I’m certainly not trying to put anyone off freelance work – I freelance – and it does offer the awesome freedom of being able to pick and choose what you do. You are not constrained by the same obligations and chains of command as those who are employed on a permanent basis which means, as long as you can drum up enough to pay your overheads, you can seek out the jobs you want and create an interesting and diverse portfolio and working life. As with so many things, if you get it wrong the freelance world will become your prison and a tireless task master, but if you get it right then it will show up as a world of dream jobs and interesting, fulfilling and challenging opportunities!

"Independent" by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Creative Freedom

From online shops to web comics, film makers, writers and artists are moving away from conventional routes and finding their own to get their work to the public and make their passion pay.

The well-trodden path…

You are told at school that whatever you want to be in life you must follow a prescribed route. These paths usually involve continued education and eventual employment by a larger corporate entity. For most walking these well-trodden paths is the way to reach their goals, however for many more they have realised it’s not the only way.

Rise of the machines!

In many ways the rise of the internet and increasing access to better technology – from broadband to software – has freed things up. Once if you wanted to write fiction you would need to find an agent, then a publisher or there would be no way of producing enough copies of your work to distribute. Now the birth of epub systems with retail giants like Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes and Noble means you have a choice, and a simple online process can have your self-published book listed with the literary elite in an online store at little or no cost.

Similarly Youtube has made it possible to produce and screen your own short films or animations, while iTunes gives you the chance to sell them. Sites like podomatic.com let you upload audio content – be it audio ‘zines, fiction or how-to guide – while Magcloud.com gives you the chance to produce a high quality printed magazine. Not forgetting, of course, etsy.com or, the granddaddy of them all, Ebay.com which will let you sell your creations online or retailers such as Zazzle.com that will let you stick your art on t-shirts, bags and iPod cases!

Independence day…

It used to be thought that self-publishing or independent production was the last resort and the refuge for those who not be accepted through mainstream routes and were, in some way, substandard. However, though the move away from the mainstream options has come under attack from various critics, producing independent work has created some notable successes, including ‘Simon’s Cat’ creator, animator Simon Tofield, self-published YA author of ‘Tiger’s Curse’, Colleen Houck, and film maker Gareth Edwards, whose low budget film ‘Monsters’ ended up securing a cinema release and much critical acclaim.

Like more traditional options, being self employed is still a double edged sword for the Creative. Obviously, the independent route does not give the creator carte blanche to turn out a sub-standard product, what it does offer is substantial creative freedom and  a way to produce and distribute product without being constrained by an organisations views on fashions, future trend planning or global mass market appeal.

The concept of going it alone is not the easy option though, not least because you don’t have the professional and financial support, advice and backing of a studio, publishing house or agency. It is a huge responsibility and means you are not only the artist but also the publicist, accountant and company secretary. Taking this path puts you very much in charge of your own destiny and whether you blast in to the stratosphere of success or make an equally spectacular balls up of the proceedings you do it on your own time and your own dime!

Choices, choices…

In the end this explosion of creativity should be as exciting for consumers as it should for artists as it takes away the control of the big corporate studios, galleries and publishing houses. Original and edgy work, that may be too niche, nerdy or edgy to appeal to big concerns, is finally making it to audiences.  A brief search online can produce a diverse cornucopia of podcasts, art, crafts, eBooks, web comics, fashion and film to fit every appetite. I have, with only the most basic search, discovered some amazing podcasts, web comics and online boutiques that, in some cases, are every bit as polished as the “professionals” and far more interesting.

All I can say is long may it continue!!

'More then Capable' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Illustration Friday – Capable

So, the word for IF this week was Capable.

ca·pa·ble  (adjective) – having power and ability; efficient; competent: a capable instructor.”

Dictionary.com

I didn’t really think I’d have much time to do something for this week because of other commitments but I still toyed with several ideas, some more sophisticated than others, before doing a quick doodle on the side of a Sudoku puzzle in bed. Hmmm… I thought sleepily, this might have potential, but then I fell asleep and dropped the Sudoku puzzle on my face!

I re drew it the next day, scanned it in and then, every time I needed a break from the work I was doing, fiddled with it a little bit more in Photoshop until it was done. Had I had more time to dedicate to it, it would have obviously been more polished but as it is only a day’s tinkering in my downtime, I’m actually quite proud of it!

Right, without further a do, I am pleased to introduce to you Intergalactic Dishwasher Extraordinaire, Bob, a more than capable member of the kitchen team!

'More then Capable' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

'More then Capable' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

3D modelled playing cards - Cinema 4D

Model Career Wanted – 2 years of 3D!

Pride cometh before a fall, the saying goes, but throughout my time studying how to create in this medium I’ve always been a little short of pride… but not short of falls.

For those without the God-given gift of “natural talent” in this area, and trust me when I tell you I don’t, the way to creating 3D models is strewn with pitfalls. Let’s start with the software in which the magic happens. These are colossal, computer-crashing behemoths of programming, with complicated interfaces, swelled from years of innovation and expansion, redefine the term un-intuitive.  Take industry standard Autodesk’s Maya, for example, not only presents the user with several rows of icons framing the stage but also incorporates layer upon layer of secret menu options, only accessible through obscure short cuts as obvious to the newbie as mason’s handshake!

Of course, there is a reason that these programs have become SO complicated, it is because they have become so powerful.  In a single application you can build, rig, texture and animate something, you can add particle effects (like dust and smoke), cloth effects (self explanatory, right?), sound and lighting, you can even composite real footage and CG objects! Mind blowing! The product you have on your desktop computer, or even your laptop, is the same thing used to create big name box office animations and VFX spectaculars, from “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Shrek” to “Avatar” and “Transformers” ! None of which is any consolation when you are staring at your early attempt at character creation and wondering why the things arm has suddenly and inexplicably turned inside out! It is like discovering the buried treasure and finding its in a safe with a combination lock!

But it’s worth slogging it out, win your fight with Zbrush, Cinema 4D, Maya, Modo, 3Ds Max and you have the keys to the kingdom! I think for me it is safe to say that the jangle of those keys is still some distance away but this is some of what I’ve managed so far…

Zbrush –

Zbrush

Maya –

Maya

Cinema 4D –

Cinema 4D

… and I’m still only getting started!!

Work in progress… character animation

Meet Limpy, my cursed character animation for a college project. It’s been a long and difficult road to get him this far, as both project and character have limped forward, and there is still much to be done including adding lights and UV mapping!

Limpy was modelled, rigged and animated using Maya 2011. I’d not used this software before so this project came with yet another steep learning curve… where have I heard that before!

Character Designs

Thought I’d share some of the concept work I’ve created for the college character design project.

These are my character turn arounds:

These were hand drawn then coloured using Photoshop – I have always shied away from that dreaded program before but I confess I’m a convert, I guess there is a reason it’s become a verb! Who knew?!

The final character will be created, rigged and animated with Maya. Hmmm… wish me luck with that!!

New Character

Ok, so I know I should be doing the truck load of other things that are piling up in this final sprint towards the end of my college course, but sometimes you just need to step away from the weighting tool and go back to basics… and so I did and this was the result!

Please let me introduce… The Biped!



The Biped – part frog, part freak and all mine!

This is part of a project I started ages ago and left because I wasn’t really familar enough with the software to get him finnished. But since recently I’ve spent a lot of quality time on Cinema 4D it seems I’ve skilled up enough to get him finnished.