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Posts from the ‘Design Illustration’ Category

So You Want To Be An Artist part deux

So if you got this far I assume you must have decided that you really do want to be an artist. Truth be told its kind of a trick question. Artist really don’t get to choose. For some people its just what you are.

Anyway the question of how to become a successful one still stands. Unless you were born a genius prodigy  ” pretty rare ”  you will need training to make it work. In the old days ” art history here ” talented youth mostly wealthy later sons of wealthy families ” the one who didn’t get sent to the church and weren’t suitable for the military ” would be apprenticed to a master artist for years to learn the fundamentals and become an artist. Thankfully today education is a lot more available and less creepy. The training you need depends greatly on your ultimate goal but the fundamentals are the same for pretty much any artistic career path. As I mentioned in the first post the basics include

  • drawing ” sketching “
  • painting ” mixing of paint and use of tools, materials etc…
  • color theory ” understanding how color works and how to control it in your work “
  • composition and basic design principles
  • perspective ” the method you use to show 3D form on a 2D medium
  • figure drawing ” human and animal anatomy “

Theres more to this but by the time you have mastered these basics you will be well on your way to specialized training where you can expand upon what you know and add the specific skills needed for you discipline. Designers will follow a different path then say illustrators or Graphics Specialist.

Throughout the process you will be working with computers, printers, scanners photographic equipment etc… The current and future artist / Designer must be up to speed on all the industry standard equipment and technologies software packages etc. that you can. As somebody who came to the computer late in my development I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this. When I began working things were still being done mostly by hand, I made the transition to digital art about 2 years after graduation. Luckily thanks to my good friend Mat, I bought a Mac Clone the last term at school and he and I kind of taught ourselves Photoshop… I had friends who were already mastering serious 3D and animation software at the time, if I could do it all over I would spend the time down in that computer lab!

Anyway at this point its not even a question you will be using computers to produce most professional work.

Where to get your training is the real question and my answer is from many sources. While your still in high school take advantage of your schools arts programs. The more you learn early on the faster you can develop and the more enjoyable the process will be.

Here are some things to look at using in your training plan. Art of any type is not a cheap undertaking, unless you have the good fortune of well heeled parents you’re going to need to be strategic in your planning.

Make use of as much free or cheap training as you possibly can.

  • The library can be an amazing resource. look for classes and workshops. For example here in Orlando the downtown library offers training in beginner and advanced 2D and 3D graphics. For the price of the workshop which is just a few bucks you have access to thousands of dollars worth of equipment and an instructor.
  • art clubs and local artist associations.Almost every city is going to have some local artist. Connect with them, the advice and help they can provide is priceless
  • Online instruction sites and youtube. You tube is packed with an insane amount of tutorials and videos to teach you pretty much anything your interested in. Not all of its great but a surprising amount of it is very professionally produced and presented by working artist . Thats unbeatable! Then you have sites like Udemy and Skillshare that offer even more training for a very reasonable amount of money.
  • Artist blogs and podcast, I don’t do tutorials maybe some day I will but there are good artist that do. These people are sharing their knowledge and experience for a multitude of reasons. Its inspiring and instructive here are a few of the ones I watch
  • Fung Zhu Design, this guys work is amazing, he went to ACCD a few years before me…
  • Trent Kaniuga art Video Blog – I found this guy while trying to figure out some function in Sketchbook Pro my favorite sketch app which also happens to be free 😛
  • Bob Ross – This may be ancient history but the guy still has something to say…
  • Blender Basics – good 3D tutorials even for an old guy like me
  • The Craftsman – I am not sure how to describe this show? But the guy is a lot of fun and full of great info especially for being creative on a budget…

Point of this is that there are an almost unbelievable sources for artist to learn new things online. This didn’t exist 20 years ago when I was a student. Be sure to take advantage of it.

Back to the core question should you go to school?

You don’t actually have too! I work right now next to an incredible artist for Universal Creative that as far as I know is self taught. He’s at the top of his game in fact most of the marketing art you have seen for Universal Studios theme park is his work so…  At the same time most people do not have that particular brand of self discipline so you will most likely need some instruction.

On to School

Try your local community college. You will be amazed to find that some amazing artist instruct at Community college. Its a fraction of the cost and you can usually transfer your units to an expensive school if thats your ultimate goal. Do as much of your undergrad work here as is available. You don’t want to be paying Art School tuition for basic english and history classes if you can avoid it.

While your preparing the undergrad stuff really start to narrow down what kind of program you want. Not all schools are created equal and one school might be great for illustration and really weak for Graphic Design. Ask around and find the school you will really like.

Remember there are public Universities with great art programs which will be much easier on the budget.

My opinion is that dedicated Art Schools are a positive thing for an aspiring artist but not necessarily for the reasons you see on their marketing materials.

Some things to consider

  • Art School can be extremely expensive ” think $100,000 plus for any top rated school ” and realize that when you graduate that bill comes due ” more on this later “
  • It takes self discipline. Everybody thinks ” from the outside ” that artist because they love their work have it easy. It’s the furthest thing from the truth. Being involved creatively is exhausting physically mentally and emotionally. Outside of my time in the Navy I have never worked harder then I did at ACCD…
  • Some schools are a rip off ” Trump University anyone “
  • Some schools do not prepare you for the real world of Art / Design ” Theres more to being a successful artist then the quality of your work “

For the top schools you’re talking private institutions and they aren’t cheap… Choose this route and you will be hit with a bill that in other schools lands you a doctor or Lawyers credentials. It was the same for me but at this point probably 2 to 3 times more money… Remember that point about getting all the classes you can before heading to the expensive school?

Scholarships and grants can help, they are hard to get but if your serious about it they can make the impossible, possible. Take advantage or whatever programs you can. For example, If you happen to be a young Latina who’s interested in design, think of applying for a program where most applicants are males like product or transportation design. The school and whatever industries support them will jump at the chance to help you… Don’t be too proud this is going to be tough enough…

Make sure to check with the school you want to complete your training with to find out what their requirements are. They will help you if you ask…

One of the main benefits you can receive from attending a top end school is the name recognition of the school. Its hard to pinpoint exactly but there is definitely an effect on potential employers. Top schools also require you to compete for placement. Competition is good and if you approach it positively it will make you a better artist / designer / whatever…

Access to the latest technology and techniques is also a factor ” this is especially true for people working with heavy computer driven industries like 3D graphics or animation

Obviously the best schools should have the best instructors. Look for schools that use working professional as teachers. There is nothing wrong with dedicated teachers but  the people actually doing the work in the market are the true experts.

And finally your peers. In my experience you will actually learn more from your classmates then most of your instructors. Not to mention you are building your network. Believe me when I tell you it matters who you know! In my experience the vast majority of the work I have done comes through people I know not necessarily classmates but some of them are in there too. Your network is a vital part of your artistic career…

Some examples of high end schools, this is by no means an exhaustive list but it should help to make a start

Rhode Island School of Design

Art Center College of Design

Cal Arts

 

University of Cincinnati College of Architecture

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

A note on financial realities. If you are like most people you are going to need to consider your budget and the cost of your education versus its benefit. I speak from experience here, I had no money and no support other then my GI bill which lasted me all of one term at school. I applied for and won a half scholarship and then increased it through a review process. Its the only way I could ever have gone to ACCD. I also was a completely naive about money and credit etc… I literally knew nothing as with my background it just wasn’t available.

I applied for credit cards ” they specifically target students or at least they did back in the 90s.”  Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t living large I just used the money to pay for supplies and live, the problem comes later when its time to pay it back.

A few things to consider

Your education may end up costing way more then you will realistically earn when it comes time to start paying that loan. A great teacher we had Andy Ogden told us this in our 2nd term. He said when he graduated in the 1980’s he owed $50,000 and got hired as a designer for Honda at a salary of $45,000. He then said ” we ” would graduate owing around $ 100,000 and if we were lucky get a job paying $ 45,000… That was in 1994…

Andy wasn’t wrong, his point was that if you are in this career for the money you’re in the wrong place. Keep in mind that over time you will earn more money as you progress but this is not like being a lawyer or a plastic surgeon. Theres a reason we have the term ” starving artist ”

do this because you  love it and it will be a great life. Do it to get rich and you may be disappointed.

Credit and loans can be a great tool but you should treat them like the deadly objects they are. Only take out what you really need and be frugal. As an example use cheaper art supplies in the beginning. There is a difference between a Windsor Newton series 7 brush and a cheaper alternate but as a student you will not get the benefit. Save your money and buy the other supplies you will need 😛

Series 7 – about 350 bucks for 4 brushes

I really do not mean to scare anyone off or depress you, I simply wish someone had taken the time to explain some of this to me when I was starting out.

” learn from the mistakes of others, you will not live long enough to make them all yourself ” Eleanor Roosevelt…

Frank Abagnale is an FBI agent that was also a successful con man. His life story became a feature film and a number of TV series.Here is a link to the youtube video

Catch Me If You Can

 

I suggest anyone should watch. Its entertaining and highly informative. Well worth an hour of your time. The first part is the mans personal life story which is pretty amazing the second part is most important how to make credit work for you…

Some final thoughts on how to get the most out of your training

  • Be open to direction, whether as a student or in the real world you will need to accept direction. Listen with attention and if necessary take notes, address those notes immediately in your work, this will help establish a positive respectful relationship between you and your instructor / director. This makes it possible for open communication…
  • Learn to accept and give criticism. Critique is necessary if you want to excel at anything. Critique should be given and received as a positive. This is how we learn to push ourselves to become better. Try to accept critique without emotional reaction, remember it’s not about you it’s about the work… at the same time be ready to defend your design decisions, you don’t always prevail but part of being an artist is believing in your vision. I have found a good way to start this to always look first for what is good in something, this sets a positive tone and helps others hear your ideas without getting defensive.
  • Do not fall in love with your work. ” this is particularly important early on.” Unless you are working solely for your own purpose you need to not get too emotionally attached to things as they develop. In the end your work is for someone else and needs to fulfill their desire not yours. Over time you will become better at this, it’s one of the hardest things to do for an artist…
  • Recognize your strengths and the areas you need to develop
  • Be aware of your peers efforts and work to compete with them but do not base everything on this alone. In the end your only real competition is yourself. Becoming a good / great artist is a long process. Do not get down on yourself for perceived shortcomings or become overly confident at imagined strength.

That was a lot and there’s a ton more I could say but hopefully this is enough to help you start making some plans…

More to follow

 

So you want to be an Artist…

Not too long ago an old friend :” she’s not old but I am getting there ” reached out to me for advice for her daughter that wants to be an artist. My first reaction was                         ”             NOOOOOOOOOOOOO…… we cant stop here this is bat country!!!!!!!!!!!!      ”

p20996_v_v8_aj

Just kidding 😛

I meant to get back with her quickly but life happened. So it occurred to me I could just write some things down here and theoretically it can help my friends daughter and some others contemplating this.

It’s a complicated thing the decision to go down the artist path. There are some basic questions you need to ask yourself and decisions to make.

3 main questions to address…

  • What kind of artist do you want to be?
  • Should you go to school?
  • Can you have a satisfied/ successful life doing this?

There are many more question to answer but I figure these 3 are pretty core to the issue. For the sake of my own sanity I will break this post into 3 sections dealing with those 3 basic questions.

What kind of artist do you want to be?

First of all it’s vital to understand just what is an artist. My opinion is that an artist is anyone that dedicates themselves to creative effort and seeks to explore that with all their energy. Art is all around us it’s in the clothes we wear, the products we use and of course it hangs on the wall at the museum and if your lucky your home… without art there are no movies or plays, music or books or video games.

Bruce Lee – Martial Artist

Art is the very essence of what makes us human. Sounds overblown but I truly believe this. An artist seeks perfection, there’s a reason they call a master of Kung Fu, a martial artist…

I will focus on the visual arts what I know best as it’s my own path but I assure you whether you want to write screenplays, or become the next a Lady GaGa a lot of this is the same.

In visual arts there two main paths with an infinity of sub categories and disciplines. But I think it’s all basically depends on where you fit on the spectrum between the two extremes.

One side is the full blown fine artist and the other is the engineer. In between those two extremes you find , illustrators and architects, painters and industrial designers. My own education was in the last one, industrial design specifically car design. I went to one of the highest rated / most competitive “expensive ” schools for that. I use what I learned there every day but I have rarely been asked to design a vehicle… I will have some ideas on education in the next post..

Think of it this way, fine art is created to serve itself, it can; and great art does, have meaning but it generally exist for its own purpose.

Andy Warhol – Fine Artist

Design is the use of art to solve a problem or provide a service. A car could just be a box on wheels but who would want it.

Fine car Design Vroom Vroom

Engineering is the combo of art and science. Most engineers would argue they aren’t artist but I beg to differ. Just look at an aircraft…

Form Follows Function

Honestly I think it’s not realistic to think you can know right away where you fit on this spectrum. I was attracted to my field because I have always loved cars and vehicles of any type boats planes whatever. But I also love buildings and great illustrations so I think it’s best to just start down the path and keep your mind open. You will quickly discover the things that attract you.

Part of this first phase of preparation is forming an idea of the type of artist you want to be. Everyone has natural inclinations. Listen to those signals as that’s probably what you will find easiest to master and most rewarding. You can always branch out and go after new subject areas and techniques later but for my advice go with your natural strengths first.

Part of what your doing in the beginning is learning to succeed. You want that feeling of accomplishment to happen because it will push you take on new challenges and grow your capabilities. I have known a number of really talented designers that started off in another area. Architects that became car designers, graphic artist that are now art directors for Disney and Universal theme parks. The artist path is long. Unlike many careers paths you are stronger the older you get so there’s time to develop and explore…

Research great artist and become inspired, understand that with rare exception the only thing separating them from their peers is practice and dedication. Go to museums art galleries, and exhibits. Look through the library art section, and of course use the internet. Never before have so many opportunities to learn about and be exposed to art existed…Humans have been creating art since we have been humans so there is a lot to see.Try to figure out what interest you most and realize whichever path you choose it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to master.. you’re whole life if your serious about it. Art as a career is not like many others in that you don’t just do a job and then have a life, the job is your art and the art is your life…

All journeys begin with one step…

If you are serious about art as a career I assume you want to make money. If you already have the money; good for you, life will be a lot easier. For Everybody else you need to be competitive to get the good jobs and that means a high skill set and a serious work ethic. Art is a business like any other the main difference being the product is your creativity and your ability to make that come to life. Competition is fierce and at this point global. Technology; especially computers, have changed how art is produced and for anything other then fine art you must master their use. But the computer is nothing more then a tool the artist uses.

My First Super Powerful Graphic Workstation circa 1995 500mb HD Whoo Hoo!

Your most powerful tool is your mind connected to your hand. I firmly believe all beginning artist need to draw by hand on paper. Whats paper? Ask your mom she will know 😛

Maurits Cornelis Escher,

Hands Drawing Hands – by MC Escher

It’s the first step, it’s where it all starts, the sketch is how you can quickly put down the idea of something in a way that other people can understand. Everything you see around you started life as a sketch… You draw by hand to teach your body and mind the skills you will use in all the other activities. It doesn’t matter what you draw on or with what, it just matters that you get what’s called mileage. The more you do something, the better you will get at it.

The First Designer

Draw anything and everything you see. Try to capture the essence of your subject and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Trust that with time you will improve and this is all about the journey… carry a sketchbook or similar media with you and use it often. Another hidden benefit of this is that over time you can easily see your skills develop and of course it also makes you look super interesting in coffee shops 😛

the other fundamental skills include perspective, anatomy, color theory, rendering of form etc etc… it’s a rabbit hole but if you want to be an artist you need these basic tools to build on later.

And above all else believe in yourself and do not quit. Art is hard, sometimes painful and it’s incredibly tough to master but if you have the drive it can be a wonderful life…

More to follow

Just a quick dip

I haven’t been back here in forever. A lot has changed since my return to the US. I am not approaching my 2 year anniversary working in house for Universal Creative I am a Senior Attraction Designer working on the concept team with Universals Core. I have worked with Universal on and off over the years but never as an employee. Its been fun and I am excited to be working on some of the best Themed Entertainment projects in the world but I would be lying if I said I don’t sometimes miss my freedom :p

the nice part is I get to work with some really amazing people on stuff like this… Obviously I cant take credit for anything but this painting and even that was based on a 3D massing model but pretty exciting regardless, and people are gonna love this land which will eventually make it to Hollywood and Orlando…

done for US Japan’s Super  Nintendo World…

Someday soon I will come back and finish some of my previous China post and maybe talk a bit about what I am doing now and future plans…

Thanks for lookin
D

Another Bump In The Road

On a slightly different tack then my last few posts which have mostly been about that Themepark project in China I decided to document what I am currently doing this week. Right now I am not on a job. I recently returned to USA from China after our project there died and have since then been trying to re-aclimate myself to eating American food ” feel like I have gained 10 pounds in spite of going back to the gym ” hopefully thats not really true..Working with the Imagine Now group from the China project on RFP ” request for proposal ” for gigs here in the states Linq Hotel casino in Vegas and Hasbro ( cross fingers ), and preparing presentation materials, documenting my work to try and prime the pump for new jobs. I will share more of those later.

But to this latest project o mine…

Last Fri I had 2 teeth extracted which will eventually have implants in them, but in the meantime it has been very  very painful and I have not been up to even going outside until just this weekend. Once I was functional enough to get out of bed though I decided very quickly that I was bored. I don’t have a gig so what to do?

I could do a painting or finish some other project. Fanny is back in China ” hopefully for the last time alone ” which means, I pretty much have nothing to do but my art, since there isn’t really anything else I am interested in doing here in Baton Rouge… And since I am on  serious pain meds right now probably not the best idea I go tooling around the countryside…

I decided to give learning MODO; my long since purchased, but barely ever used, except for rendering software. I don’t have to learn it for my work I can still do what I need thats 3D using Sketchup Pro and its way faster for me ” maybe cause I know how to use it ” But I am fascinated by 3D modeling, I just never learned when I should have in school. I thought I was pretty cool doing it the Old School way, by hand,” what some might call real 3D” which I am glad I learned but at this time I kind of wish I had at least gone to my Allias classes instead of sneaking off to the shop…

Anyway what sparked this was MODO now owned by the Foundry has just released their newest version 901. the one I original bought was 301 so you can appreciate just how long I have been procrastinating :).

Like always they claim it is the be-all and end-all of everything!!! Greatest thing since sliced pepsi cola pudding pops, yaddah yaddah yaddah! But it did look pretty cool so I broke down and downloaded the trial version.

Modo901

Modo901

This is one of the main new functions I want to learn in Modo, (Mesh Fusion) is a more developed version of Groboto which was a really cool little program I played with a few years ago. Modo has now fully integrated it within the program as a tool set… It will be awhile before I am ready to play with this…

MeshFusion

MeshFusion

I also went and reactivated my membership to Digital Tutors, this time I did a full year  I figure its worth it, they definitely have a lot of tutorials for lots of software. The tutorials are done very well and mostly interesting enough to keep me awake while I try and watch em…

digitaltutors

digitaltutors

I have also purchased from 3D garage their intensive training course specifically for 901. I have found that Modo is one of those softwares that the developers love to change ” I mean improve ,wink wink nudge nudge say no more… ” which means that when trying to learn it you have to deal with the fact that the training you are looking, at whether professional produced or just some guy on youtube may not make any sense if the version they are using is not your version.

The cost was cheaper as it is on pre order…

3D garage Course

3D garage Course

I will be learning basic modeling. The course is project based which makes sense to me and at the end of it your supposed to have created a cool little dune buggy remote control car thingie. I know myself and I know I won’t end up doing exactly whats in the project files or even finish it necessarily. My goal is to learn the tools so I can do my own work.

MODO-DigitalTutors-Tutorial

MODO-DigitalTutors-Tutorial

The tutorial starts off much like the one I did last time using Cinema 4D with basic polygonal modeling.

Cinema4D

Cinema4D

This one was pretty fun as well and I am pretty sure the experience has helped me with my understanding of how 3D works, but in the end the price of Cinema 4D is simply to high to justify at this time. I think a current full seat on Cinema goes for nearly $6,000 versus the $400 bucks for an upgrade to 901.

I was able to do some fun stuff with it though…

Flying Craft

Flying Craft

The tutorial starts off with basic polygon modeling to make the basic shape of the body. Its kind of fun to see how; depending on where you put the control points,  it affects the shape during subdivision.

body4

body4

The basic body shape still in hard angles with no subdivision. The Subdivision function  is what gives it the blocky form its curve but the curves are all dictated by the position of the hard angled shape its made from…  Its confusing and seems like black magic but this is the main function I wish to learn and add to my tools. Skecthup has though certain plugins like Artisan the ability to do sub division modeling but its controls are very primitive compared to the more advanced 3D programs like Modo

here is an example of the subdivision thang in Modo… Starting with a basic rectangle shape.

Cube

Cube

Rectangle  smoothed, Modo has the ability to jump back and forth between the polygonal modeling mode and the Sub Divided mode

Rounded Cube

Rounded Cube

By adding an edge loop one of Modo’s many tools you get this basically the same shape but with a series of slices through the shape…

Cube with control points

Cube with control points

Just hit tab and it gives you this.

shape that is created

shape that is created

I know anybody who does 3D modeling will be pretty bored at this point but I am just trying to explain this in a way that will make sense to somebody like who knows very little… Like myself 🙂

Building the basic body shapes

body1

body1

body2

body2

body3

body3

These are screen grabs from the tutorial as I didn’t decide to document my progress till later on.

The body when sub divided.

Body5

Body5

Fast forward to when I decided to make a post out of this. At this point the body shape is basically done and I now am working on the wheels…

wheel unsub

wheel un-sub

Here you can see the wheel created from a basic primitive cylinder shape without any sub division magic.

Same shape with Sub Division. Since there are no controlling points or cuts in form yet the shape is very soft and amorphous. This could be good for some things but probably not for a machined piece like a wheel.

Wheel Sub2

Wheel Sub2

With some more control points ” really not sure what is the correct term for this ” depending on where you place the lines and how much force they have applied the shape will alter when sub-divided.

wheel sub1

wheel sub1

The more developed wheel, at this stage I have increased the number of divisions which allows for greater detail.

wheel3

wheel3

Each tutorial last for about 10 to 15 minutes and they take you through the use of various tools to achieve different modeling goals. Here I am building up pieces of the frame and suspension. I am roughly following along with the tutorial. I did not do as they suggested and import the orthographic views of the dune buggy to use while modeling. I figure this way I can make my own exploration which will be more relevant for my use of the tool in work. No one will be handing me views to work from since thats pretty much my job…

early frame view

early frame view

Actually beginning to enjoy Modo, I wonder if its because they have improved the program or if somehow I am just ready to understand it now…

frameview1

frame view1

Some views of the buggy from inside the rendering window. 901  has made a lot of changes to its interface since 601

901Renderwindow7

901Render window7

901RenderView4

901Render View4

901 Renders in real time which I think will be really fun once I get a handle on it. You can see below the wireframe view, pretty complicated even this early on.

The Buggy is starting to come together now, I have decided that my dune bug will not be a toy but a full size 2 person vehicle. Just can’t really get into making a toy…

ModelView4

ModelView4

Here is some funny, Trying to build a set of shock absorbers for this beast and its just not working. the main body of the shock is fine but the spring is not working out…

shock

shock

What the hell is that? Hopefully it will make more sense later… Believe it or not this function is supposed to be quite simple, I am really not sure what that squiggly line is but I suppose it makes sense to the logic that drives this program.

Radial Sweep

Radial Sweep

Later on I have made more progress working on the suspension parts I went ahead and made my own super special sci fi shocks that utilize the patented Un-Obtainium™ Technology

ModelView3

ModelView3

and more now we have a wing which is somehow able to stay up there with no actual support structure.

model View2

model View2

Rear view of the wing, Going to need to develop some more structure and possibly some kind of tech pieces I can pretend would be power source for this thing. I am actually thinking its a solar powered vehicle possibly with the aero wings doubling as energy collection. Each wheel could have an electric motor in the hub…

Wing Model View

Wing Model View

Switching from the modeling view to the render view I can immediately see they have changed quite a bit since 601. Main thing is I now have a real time preview of the render which right now shows really nothing since there are no materials assigned yet. Speaking of which they also seem to have hidden the materials pallet. Going to take some getting used to, but I am sure it will be worth it. Modo has a very strong Rendering capability which I am not showing here 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 9.48.04 PM

Renderwindow4

Render window4

Complete with Wings2

Complete with Wings2

Complete with Wings

Complete with Wings

Just for fun I decided to take the model into my older version of Modo. Aside from the dire warning that there may be and I quote ” weird behavior ” since the model was built in a newer version it seems to be fine.

901Rendering1

901Rendering1

Using my preset materials in 601 I am quickly able to add some materials to the model…

901Rendering2

901Rendering2

The funny little random square render thing that happens in 601, I wonder if it still does this in the new one.

601Rendering

601Rendering

601 No Materials

601 No Materials

Materials are fun

601 Render2

601 Render2

eventually when its finished I will do a full render but thats for later…

601 render

601 render

Here is where I am leaving the buggy for now. I figure I could continue on using the tools I already have learned but I am thinking a better plan is to start my training course which arrived last night instead. That way I will have more knowledge to use in completing the project.

Dune Buggy

Dune Buggy

I hope you enjoyed this, more later…

 

 

A quick job

I always seem to be saying this but it’s still true, Its been a while…

I am back in the states, this time without a clear idea of how long. My project in Shijiazhuang has unfortunately hit a rock and most likely will not continue. I am torn about that as its very hard not to feel attached to something you worked on for so long… Maybe its best the client is truly in a hard place, they not only turned us off but all of their projects.  A lot of people were affected kind of sad…Maybe thats a sign of something going on in China and maybe its just particular to our case…

Anyway I am currently working on some RFP’s ( Request For Proposal ) with the team for projects here in the states. Too early to tell but the work is looking good and our first presentation was a slam dunk so cross fingers…

This post will be about a small 2 day job I did back in March. I was contacted by a producer named Justin Bursch he had my number through another Art Director; Tom Lisowski, who I have done some film work with in the past. Justin tells me he has a really cool project, very fast turn around and oh yeah not a lot of money but the subject is fun. I am between gigs and he is right the subject is fun. The client is DJI the makers of several commercial drones, the Phantom Series and the new Inspire…

Logo

Logo

DJI  is a  big deal in the world of high-tech drones and film production gear. this spot will be for a promotional piece showcasing their new Ronin camera rig. I honestly know nothing about this stuff but it is fascinating. I guess the Ronin allows filmmakers a new level of freedom for their shots and DJI sponsors a lot of independent film production so…

Ronin Rig1

Ronin Rig1

The Ronin is a rig to hold cameras steady during filming it must have some kind of cool gyroscopic leveling system. You can check out more here in this video

 

ronin3

ronin3

DJI builds drones from what I saw lots of them some cute little toy like ones and other somewhat ominous ones.

This cute little guy is the Phantom…

Phantom

Phantom

Their new offering less cute more powerful, the Inspire can carry a bigger load and has cool articulating arms…

Inspire Drone

Inspire Drone

Don’t know what these bad boys are all about but they are much larger and seem to be geared towards the professional user

DJI Spreading Wings S1000 Drone For Aerial Imagery

DJI Spreading Wings S1000 Drone For Aerial Imagery

and then…

Just kidding

Just kidding

Okie yeah pretty sure DJI doesn’t make these kind of drones, at least not yet…

 

 

My part in all this will be to come up with a design for a 2 man, hover board flying vehicle. Obviously this is not a real vehicle but a prop for use in the film. I am given a written brief from the director Lin Oeding. I have never worked with either of these guy before but I know if they are coming through Tom it will be a great experience. It’s actually a good thing for the project that I am in China right now as I can work on the initial concept while  the team in LA is asleep

The brief calls for a cool design that has some hand-built feel to it. The story being that an inventor has created this in his home garage / lab. The plot of the film is actually pretty deep, it seems the inventor has died and his daughter will have an encounter with his spirit where he shares the hoverboard they worked on together and of course his eternal love.

Ranger7 Films ” my client ”  has actually already gotten a design from another artist in LA but the end client DJI, is not happy with it. Truth is; what I saw wasn’t bad at all actually very slick, but it did seem a bit too polished. More like a design that was actually in production as opposed to one that was a prototype.

The Director is asking for a more aggressive look and the element of a hand-built machine, possibly exposed mechanics. I don’t have any real dimensions yet but I know that it carries  2 people so will scale it accordingly…

The first thing I do is some sketchwork to establish a base look, I do them in an ortho fashion as I feel at this stage the silhouette is really the key.

During the day I am reminded of a job I did way back in 2000, sure enough  have a copy of it. I don’t even remember what it was for but there could be something here.

concept from 2000

concept from 2000

I then send these off to the guys in LA, ” they are still awake ” and I get back an initial go ahead with one of the profiles. From here I will dive straight into 3D as in the end they will need it for fabrication and we just don’t have any time.

ORTHO - Sketches

ORTHO – Sketches

Early Sketches3

Early Sketches3

This last one is the one I am given the go ahead for along with some notes from the director… Its got a streamlined shape and obvious direction. The exposed mechanics will help give the prototype look and I am thinking of a big light unit in the nose.

Early Sketches2

Early Sketches2

By the end of my day I have a pretty well fleshed out machine, I send it off for review and shut down for the night.

The First days design…

First Pass Design View1

First Pass Design View1

First Pass Design View2

First Pass Design View2

First Pass Design View3

First Pass Design View3

A few hours later I notice an email rom Sheldon Shwartz the Creative Director over at DJI. He is very excited and has a lot of input. At first I am bit confused as due to the time difference this guy would have to be writing me at like 3 or 4 in the morning. After a few emails back and forth it becomes apparent that not only are we both in China but we are actually both in the same city. Long story short Sheldon wants me to come in and finish the design with him at the DJI offices. I figure what the hell its gotta be interesting so we agree on a time to meet and I go to sleep.

With my portable gear in tow I grab a taxi early in the morn and head  towards the other side of Shenzhen. DJI is pretty much on the opposite side of the city and Shenzhen is no small place not surprisingly for a city of almost 11 million people.

DJI occupies a huge complex in a nice part of Shenzhen a far cry from our home on the farm in Lian Tang… Sheldon  comes down and brings me upstairs he is a fast talker and a fast mover. This place is a trip. High tech security systems and guards. tons of mostly young people rushing around. They occupy at least 6 floors of this building and from what I can see its aa very cool place to work. An interesting combo of western and eastern styles, the other interesting impression is that everyone so far seems really busy and yet also really happy to be there. I meet Sheldon’s team and get set up. Sheldon is one of  those intense individuals, a young guy but obviously very intelligent and fully engaged in the work. After talking a bit it comes out that he was actually one of those genius kids that graduated really early. If I am not mistaken he said that he worked with NASA when just 16 years old, pretty impressive stuff here… What was that movie in 80’s” back before Val Kilmer got fat?

Real Genius

Real Genius

It also turns out he loves the work of  Concept Artist, Ryan Church. This is kind  of funny as Ryan and I are both graduates of the Art Center and were actually class mates for a while. I dn’t know him all that well but I do know his wife Tracy. I guess that’s the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon thing in action…

I won’t bore you with all the details but I do need to describe this because it was so cool. Sheldon wants me to get a feel of what their product is all about and arranges a demo of their newest commercial drone the Inspire. We head down to a lower level testing area basically a high open space with very tall ceilings. One of Sheldon’s people has brought along one of the drones and its controller which by the way is also hooked up to a iPad mini.This drone is right on the edge of looking  serious, its big and I have to say when they turn it on its pretty exciting. You can feel the pressure of its little rotors and the articulating arms are a nice touch. I have no experience with these kind of machines before but I must say they are very cool and I know now what I want for Christmas…

Inspire Drone

Inspire Drone

Drone Controler

Drone Controler

 

I don’t have any pictures of this part as I had to sign all kinds of NDA ( Non Disclosure Agreements ) docs and there’s no way I am gonna get on the wrong side of that… Just picture a really cool, chaotic workplace with  a lot of experimental tech lying around and you get the picture…

These are not the droids you are looking for…

 

Some sketches for front end  of the new design. more industrial less refined…

Front end roughs

Front end roughs

The new design is sharper and now sports  a massive ram scoop in the nose I did keep the rear fairings from original design but they are more aggressive now.

Final Design View1

Final Design View1

Final Design View2

Final Design View2

Final Design View3

Final Design View3

By the end of the day I have completely redesigned the hoverboard, she now has a more automotive feel with a clearly defined front end. The craft is made of pure Imaginarium and of course it’s powered by UnObtainium sorry Mr Cameron but that’s an old Art Center standby for when you need to justify things we can’t technically do yet…

Sheldon likes the Lamborghini so I have tried to give it some of that feeling as well. It’s a challenge to design something that fits both the needs of the story and at the same time can be built in the time allotted. On commercials or shorts like this you just don’t have the luxury of time needed to fabricate extremely complex forms, you have to learn to simplify while still hitting the mark…

schematics of final design

schematics of final design

 

 

I think in the end the design is successful. It would be nice if I had more time but that’s the nature of the film world. It seems whenever I get called in its last-minute and you are late before you even start…

some more refined views of the final design, this will all get sent to LA for a rush fabrication job.

Drone POV1

Drone POV1

Drone POV2

Drone POV2

On a side note Sheldon has sweetened the deal by offering me a drone of my own. I am assuming that would be a Phantom Considering they cost around $1,200 bucks with the camera gear that actually makes this a correctly paid gig.  Of course if he insist I will accept an Inspire :), I am still waiting on that to appear but when it arrives ” Hint Hint, Sheldon ” I will definitely write about it here…

My future drone?

DJI Inspire shot1

DJI Inspire shot1

A few weeks later Justin sends me some pics from the shoot, it’s always so cool to see the design realized.

Screen Grab 6

Screen Grab 6

On Set 4

On Set 4

And here is the final video. 

Here is a follow-up talking about the Ronin M and its use on the short…

I hope you enjoyed this post, the plan is  to wrap up the story of Leo’s Kingdom very soon and then I can share with you some of the other cool things in China this year…

Talk soon

D

 

The Saga of Leo’s Kingdom ” or continuation of what I did last Summer “

This is going to be really difficult as so much happened. Way back in 2014; in fact its the only post of 2014, I spoke of the project I was currently on. Since that time the project has gone through 2 more complete concept designs, the beginnings of Design Development, much internal shuffling including but not limited to a change of ownership after the disappearance of our Chairman and now an indeterminent waiting period to see if it will even continue.

Needless to say I am pretty disappointed at the current status. With much; blood, sweat and tears our tiny little team has designed a really kick ass park. At 245,000 square meters it is one of the largest indoor Themeparks in the world. With 64 Rides and attractions and 4 distinct Lands “Leo’s Kingdom” would / could be a truly world class experience. Maybe not up to Disney or Universal Studio’s level but hey, there were only a hand full of us…

For now I will simply try to put down here the experiences I had, I will not do it justice as this was one of the most intense projects I have ever worked on and there is no way to fully relate it through my words alone. Maybe Doug will write that book he keeps threatening…

 

It all starts back in 2013, around april if  I remember correctly, I was back in the states working from my home studio in Baton Rouge. One of my best friends Danilo Montejo calls me up very excited as he would soon be leaving for China to design a theme park. Danilo and I have been great friends since we met working for BRC in Burbank CA, he is an amazing illustrator and designer and a true friend. You can check out his work here.

http://www.danilostudio.com/index.html

3 or 4 years ago Fanny and I built him this site for his portfolio. I should say fanny built it I just designed it… This used to be a way for us to make extra money. We even considered a service providing custom websites for artist but with the availability of cheap templates no one seems to want it anymore. Was fun however and its nice to see it still working for him.

Danilo2

Danilo2

Danilo3

Danilo3

Danilo4

Danilo4

Danilo is also a graduate of the Art Center for Illustration. His career began in advertising back in the days before digital art was even possible. Thankfully his transition to digital hasn’t removed any of his artistic brilliance.

Primo Danilo

Primo Danilo

 

He wants to touch base and get some info from me as I have been living in China off and on since 2008. I was working on a commercial for Toyota at the time but as my career actually started in Themed Entertainment I am really curious to hear whats up. Doing set design for film and TV is very lucrative but it doesnt often feed the artist inside.

I got him the best info I had and set him up with direct contact for Fanny as she was already back in China and nothing beats a friendly voice while traveling especially for a westerner in China. I of course put it out there that I am interested if they need more people.

A few weeks later Danilo calls again while I am working on another commercial. Why is it that people always call about work while you are working?

He is now in country and really having a blast on his project in Changsha, turns out his client has multiple projects and needs someone else for another one. The client is a south Korean water park company called DPI, Danilo is very positive about it and so I tell him of course I am interested. I won’t be working directly with ” Primo ” but in another city he calls “CheechaChong”. Over the next few days I talk more with him and another american Peter Blouestein who is also working in Changsha.

Eventually I speak to Jake Park the owner of DPI that I now know is Dream Park International. Jake seems a nice enough guy with pretty good english and we begin to rough out the details of what is needed.

Over a few days Jake and I agree to terms, Pay is quite nice with half a months up front before I even leave the States. I strongly suggest anyone thinking to work on a chinese project to insist on getting money up front, its not say you cannot trust the Chinese but things just are a bit crazy over here… This is doubly true when working with new people again just words to the wise.

The timing is a bit last min for me. I like to plan my asian trips well in advance but I agree and await the contract. A few days go by, then a week I begin to wonder if this will be a no go and decide to take some more commercial work. half way through the second week I receive emails from Jake with a contract to be signed and request for info to purchase flights, I had by this time written it off as no joy but I go ahead after another lengthy talk with Danilo and sign the contract.

I will be leaving in 5 days for “Shishchatchewan”. My task is to be senior designer on an indoor theme park / waterpark. There will be a Korean team already in place which I am told has all the information I have been requesting like a project brief etc… I had hoped to have copies of this before I leave in order to wrap my head around the project but this isn’t possible for now.

GOING TO SHIJIAZHUANG

Where is Shijiazhuang

Where is Shijiazhuang

 

WTF is a Shijiazhuang.  OK the Chinese language is extremely challenging for the western mind especially one like me not inclined to language. But this name is special even for China. I turn to Fanny my source for all knowledge of China, first off she knows exactly where I am going and by the way has relatives living there… more on that later…

Shijiazhuang is the capital of Hebei Province, of which Beijing is a part, Yes it gets complicated. Beijing is the capital of the country and the seat of power for the central government but it somehow is not the capital of the province.

Provinces of China

Provinces of China

Hebei map

Hebei map

 

I had this explained to me many times over the last 2 years and I am still unsure what this really means, in my experience of it Beijing pretty much rules the place but whatever makes ya happy…

Here is what Wiki has to say

Shijiazhuang is a modernizing and ever growing city. It experienced dramatic growth after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The population of the metropolitan area has more than quadrupled in only 30 years as a result of fast industrialization and major infrastructural developments.

Here are some pics I found online before going.

Beautiful Shizz2

Beautiful Shizz2

Beautiful Shizz

Beautiful Shizz

street scene 2

street scene 2

street scene

street scene

Mountain Temple

Mountain Temple

Spynx2

Spynx2

Those pics I am sorry to say are a bit misleading. Shijiazhuang suffers from extreme pollution, pretty much the worst in China so it actually looks a lot more like this.

More like it

More like it

Shijiazhuang or the ” Shizz ” as we came to know her is a 2nd tier city rapidly being developed into a 1st tier. This has more to do with population  then anything else as I understand it but it means its going to be an interesting mix of the old and the new. Its also a center for industry which means its environment is under stress. Being second tier doesnt make it small either, the Shizz boast a population of right around 5 million people and growing, so its freakin huge by western standards.

It is also has the honor of being where Mao led the communist during their ” Long march ” of the Chinese Civil War and served as the headquarters of the PLA. It also; from its name, was at some point the ” Stone Family Village ” as thats what the name means in Chinese…

Next post The Journey Begins…

 

A Bump In The Road ” 3d modeling training “

Well it has been a few weeks since the last post, would love to say that this is because I was so busy either on a job or using my new Cinema 4D skills but then I would be lying :). I have been busy watching tutorials and doing exercises but I have hit a major stumbling block. Truth is this has been kind of a frustrating period for two reasons.

1.Work is real slow always seem to happen around this time, actually one small job right now and its on spec meaning of course I won’t get paid…

2.The second reason for frustration would have to be my fear that I have wasted the last month or so learning the basics of a software that I cannot use.

Here’s the deal. I already use a lot of 3D in my work. Sketchup for modeling is central to what I do for set design and even finds its way into my Themed Entertainment work. Modo is great for rendering what I build in Sketchup. My idea in advancing my 3D knowledge was simply to add more capabilities and keep myself occupied productively during what appears to be a long down time.

In the tutorial I was following you build a flying craft which was a good subject as it allowed the instructor to demonstrate most of the tools in the software and was fun to build. I stopped working alongside however at the mid  point as it went into rigging and animation which while very interesting are not my focus.

My little craft in its completed form and rendered in side Cinema 4D with very basic lighting. I like it definitely feel I learned something. Would have been nice to add some cut lines to add 3rd read elements but otherwise good.

Flying Mothra

Flying Mothra

Side View

Side View

Rear 3/4 View

Rear 3/4 View

Rear View

Rear View

I choose Cinema 4D as I had heard and read many times that it is a powerful 3D package yet still is accessible to non computer geniuses which certainly describes me. On its positive side are lots of powerful modeling animation and even rendering tools. On the negative side would be a hefty price tag, over $4,000 for the full package and a somewhat lack luster reputation among the serious 3D packages. I figure I can get a discounted price due to my previous purchase of C4D many moons ago so why not give the new version a try. It is a fun piece of software and I do find it much easier to wrap my head around then the others I have messed with in the past; Modo, 3D Studio Max even Alias way back when… I found a great tutorial series which I wrote about earlier and highly recommend, don’t think I feel asleep once ” except during the part on rigging ” but all in all very good. I recorded the sessions so can go back and watch again and I know that will be impossible in China.

The tutorials can be kind of fun every once in awhile I thought this was a cute little easter egg during a lesson on sculpting in Cinema.

whats that there

whats that there

The problem is this. I cannot fit the work I produce in Cinema 4D into my pipeline. My hope was that I would be able to use Sketchup as my basic building program like I do now and then when I needed something more organic I could jump over to Cinema and knock it out there.

This would be great except… Cinema doesn’t want to play. All 3D programs have their own proprietary file formats but then they will also export to other universal formats so people can do what I am describing. For SU and Modo this turns out to be the OBJ format which works fine I can bring anything I do in SU into Modo and render it till the cows come home. Cinema also exports to OBJ so I figured no problem right?

Wrong, first off Cinema doesn’t have a good OBJ exporter which means that when you do export it none of your files info goes with. All that time you spend adding materials is gone since you get a base model with one material. OK no problem I can try the other file formats like FBX, DAE, well no luck for me. So what to do?

I have this cool little flying craft and a floating base station that I have spent time on and would love to see rendered.

When I export to Modo my geometry came in fine but without the textures I have no way to render it here except to go back and redo all the texturing. On the plus side all the geometry is there and its in correct position just no materials…

Flyers base Overhead View

Flyers base Overhead View

I was able to render it in Cinema with pretty good results Of course there is no lighting here but I can see it could be nice…

Rendered In Cinema

Rendered In Cinema

Rendered In Cinema

Rendered In Cinema

The Issue is that I need to be able to render it along with items brought in from SU and I still feel that the renderer inside Modo is superior for me as its speed is quite good and at least I know how to use it.

After a bit of searching I found a plug in by this guy for Cinema called Riptide which supposedly will solve this issue. I find it a bit strange that a $4,000 program has to use an added plugin to do such a basic function but whatever it solves the problem will gladly pay the $50.

Riptide

Riptide

Cool now we are getting somewhere. I DL the trial and start messing with it  sure enough it allows you to export much more info then the native cinema function materials and much more if needed. I decide to export the landing pad first just to get a feel for it and it works flawlessly.

Landing Pad in Modo

Landing Pad in Modo

Next comes the flyer. I am a bit concerned as its much larger file size then the landing pad and I am new to Cinema so no doubt I have made mistakes. Sure enough there are issues with Ngons since I have no choice I just tell it to export anyway and it does but the file is freaking gigantic. It went from 25 mbs to 4 gigs. Okie…… obviously something is really screwed up.

I am sure its my fault but still would like to try some more. I decide to break up the model in Cinema and export as pieces this technique works for me in SU as that program has such a weak ability to handle large files. Sure enough it does allow me to export the wings and I am able to load them into modo there they are sitting with my landing pad.

Wings by themselves seem to have no problem

Wings Alone

Wings Alone

The problem is obviously in the flyers body section. I go back and start looking at the file seeing what I could consolidate and in retrospect I think this is where I went wrong. I have a feeling that when I collapsed th geometry down in Cinema it somehow had the opposite effect then intended. Instead of making it cleaner it just made it infinitely dense.

As you can see in the wireframe view here the flyer is very dark and what that means is it will have too much information or be too heavy to work with. I think this is because of the sub division smoothing inside Cinema.

A bit Too Dense

A bit Too Dense

OK I am at a decision point here. from what I am seeing so far  my basic premise can work, you can generate work in Cinema and bring it to Modo for rendering however so far the only thing I have had success with is something I could have modeled in SU only about 10 times faster. I think the flyer may be a lost cause this go around but I still have my cool floating station base thing I designed for it and its forms are more complex and should be a good proof of concept for the Cinema to Modo pipeline idea.

The base by itself may be possible. see how dark the mesh is for the flyer.

Floating Base

Floating Base

So back in Cinema I take the time to assign unique basic materials to all the different pieces of this thing as once its in MODO that will be the only way to differentiate the parts. I am gonna leave out the flyer for now as its causing issues. I am pretty happy with the results in Cinema its an interesting structure and I look forward to making some illustrations with it all this 3D is making me miss painting…

Overall view

Overall view rendered in Cinema

I break the model into pieces so I can export the sections I am hoping this will allow me to get the results I want.

OK now we are having some issues again. It seems the for some reason when I bring the geometry into Modo its relative position is changing this might have something to do with the crazy non reality based measurement system they use in Cinema. Again not a disaster as I can move the pieces manually in MODO this time but it will cause an issue for real work as it needs to be exact.

Wrong Placement - Wrong geometry - Wrong Size

Wrong Placement – Wrong geometry – Wrong Size

Now we are having a real problem. Not only are the sections coming in at odd positions but the actual geometry is being altered. This is unacceptable my sections are all over the place and some have even changed their size… I wonder if this is somehow related to the OBJ export plugin as without it the geometry came in correctly but had no materials.

Wrong Placement - Wrong geometry - Wrong Size

Wrong Placement – Wrong geometry – Wrong Size

About the only thing that is working here is that all my materials came in not a nice feeling…

Wrong Placement - Wrong geometry - Wrong Size

Wrong Placement – Wrong geometry – Wrong Size

I am sure there are a great many reasons for what I am experiencing here and I am sure that if I spent another 6 months learning about Cinema I could solve the problems but you know what? I don’t have the time for that. I need a program that I can use now, not a year from now…  So in the end I must put Cinema back on the shelf. Pretty  disappointing  but maybe later, after I can find the tool I need for work we can go back and figure out what I did wrong. Of course by that time I probably won’t care too…

There are other options out there, Rhino 3D look somewhat promising and I could just bite the bullet and learn to model in MODO, decisions decisions…

I do not feel that my time was truly wasted here though.  Like Edison supposedly said about inventing the lightbulb no mistakes just many ways not to do something…I am already noticing a change in the way I think about things in Sketchup and this must be because of the stuff I learned for Cinema, so progress has been made just a lil hard to see from here…

In the midst of all this I did find a very cool little program which I am having success with, will tell you about it next time…

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