Friday, May 17, 2013

Workshop in Estacada

Lecture on brow structure
from Fantasy Genesis
I miss teaching..  There, I said it..  Straight away, no qualms, no regard hitherto stated evidence against, case closed without recourse from judge or jury!  Granted, not every day teaching is a successful, or even mildly pleasant day (especially mornings on deadline) and I doubt any particular mode or method one chooses will bring results to everyone, even if you're the most brilliant educator the Sphere's ever seen, but you can, and Do have an effect on some folks in a quite rare and magical time in their lives, and that's something few of us can predict or quantify.  It's simply the best! (bettah than awl the rest!)  Even though my freelance work has never given me time to completely focus on teaching, my inner LightPusher would love to start up again in the future, and the opportunities to teach seem to appear from time to time. =)
Couple of in class sketches showing Staggered & Aggressive brows
Although between recently being invited back to Focus Week by a couple of my students to finish out the school year at the PNCA, and giving a workshop/demo to three great groups of high school students at the Tri-Valley Art Conference, one thing has been revealed to me.  The fact that there are times we all can be teaching without a gig, without even being aware of it?  Like a chaotic ink wash, perhaps it's those serendipitous moments that are the most informative or inspirational, when we are at our most genuine state?

After all, a Compassionate action is never a one way road, both folks or groups need to bring something to the table to empathize or to understand.  This was the case in every class I taught at the PNCA, and it was the case at the Tri-Valley Art Conference in Estacada put on by Janice Packard a couple weeks ago.  I gave some sketched demos, had some great one-on-one time with art students from three different high schools, and generally had a blast!  What an awesome bunch of kids, and I hope to do more one-day events like this, but I got a sense of what kind of skill sets students are capable of nowadays, at such an early age?  A real baptism of fire, that!  I've always thought that if students were young enough to have been raised with the internet and it's exponentially growing supply of photographic reference, then you definitely had an advantage over my generation of beta-max video recording and library reference, and moreover this was the main reason for the quickening in skill sets; The more access to cleaner and more infinitely diverse photographic reference picturing this Sphere we're livin' on, and all it's wildly diverse Cultures and History, the more accurately one is able to document it all?  Of course it's more than any one reason, but you can tell the skill sets are just getting better and better from when I was in high school, and I can't wait to see what those students have to offer when they graduate?  Goot Lawrd!?!  =)

It was also fun to observe what modern tech doesn't necessarily teach at all, and the kind of things that will spring from an individual's personality traits or archetype, regardless of the tech around at the time of development?

I think there's a theatrical bug in most illustrators (especially the one's who might also want to be musicians, or spend a portion of their youth in front of a mirror) and I've noticed this leads to them/us mimicking and documenting emotions through facial expressions earlier than most.  Since Facial Expression & Anthropomorphism was the subject of my workshop, it was interesting to see who gravitated to the emotional aspects of the face, or who might have a better grasp on documenting realism, or who might veer towards expression in gesture and pose, or for those most skilled, who had a really good start on all of the above.. =)

More to come on Focus Week at the PNCA next post around,
and gracious thanks to all the talented young folks that attended
my short workshops at the Tri-Valley Art Conference!
Keep in Touch & Stay Tuned !!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Forging Games - Part I

On finishing any big project, it's remarkably easy to kick back, become one with the closest comfy chair and watch period detective series'  for hours.. or weeks.. But as any freelancer will tell you, the time you can take to rest on your accomplishments is usually no time at all.  While you were working quite diligently on the biggest looming deadline, the host of; meetings, promised work for friends, personal work, and all the focused self-promo to carve your way into the next big project, sit smoldering there in the corner, bent up and in states of neglect.

To my amazement, (and thankfulness, as I didn't teach one class) the whole of last year was miraculously filled back to back, with nothing but big projects, and I rode the awesome wave, just hoping that all that other opportunity didnae stick me hand in warm water while I was sleeping!  Opportunity is tricky that way. =)

The Warden in all her 3D modeled
and action packed glory, not your
run of the mill tank character.
One of those big projects came in the way of an email from; wildly skilled digital illustrator and visual problem solver, Adam Cook, and the wickedly brilliant and fun team of creatives at SuperGenius (additional links to your right).  Adam brought me on board Paul Culp's do-all video production house in Oregon City, SuperGenius just around this time last year.  Can't really describe the honor it was to work on the design and concept team for their video game Forge.  It had been a long time since I worked on any team, let alone one with so many Super Geniuses (Genii? Geniui? Genieye?Gene Kelly? I dream ah Genie?) but the results have been double down rainbow in the sky, all the way; working on my World Development skills, Characterization, the slow but interesting progression of my Digital Chops, and above all, being a visible and solid part of FORGE; a brilliantly fast paced and fun game that is now out on the Steam game engine, using some of the very latest in animation and visual tech.  It's a bloody romp of hack, slash, and arrow nocking melee strategy, with massive fiery explosions, and magical burst of mayhem stashed away in every corner.  For the sake of your inner-viking I would defo check it out!! =)

The Warden's Bear and Ranger's Wolf.  Belly tattoos, shaved knot
work, spinal and tusky protrusions, and bands of forged armor. 

I'm pretty proud of the work I did, and what seems fairly unlike a large majority of gaming studios; Dark Vale, Digital Confectioners, and Super Genius gave all Forge's concept artists the ability to show this work shortly after release, so here it comes my friends, in a three part series!

Final Bear Modeled
The Warden character was Forge's "tank" character and from the beginning she was to be something of an anomaly in the video game status quo.  I can only hope that we were able to do so in even a small way.  The Warden character was a task in balancing strength, body type, posturing, costuming and the myriad other things that make up the tank, while still having her remain feminized enough to read as such on screen.  Her shield took on many different shapes and forms, as did her helm and weapon, but the final 3D models took on all the right elements, while remaining in the ancient Nordic period we were after.  The weapons I designed for the Warden were especially fun, and although I only really had time to design out the top half of the shield, the Warden's shield attack features a ring of shields lit up something like golden lanterns!! just beautiful to watch, and brilliant to see some of my imagery make it to game play!

Final Wolf Modeled
The idea of familiars or spirit animals for each character was being tossed around throughout all waves of development, and here I had the chance to develop some fun ideas that were developed further as the initial 2 weeks were drawing to a close.  The Warden's familiar was to be a Bear, as was the Ranger character's to be a Wolf. The Thief/Assassin's familiar was to be a Panther, and the others were to become awesome ghostly and pyropocolyptic beasties

The Ranger character began when I didn't really have a great grasp on how some of the aspects of modeling and animations would actually play out, or the process that was to be followed.  Portions of his costume, and the blue lit Celtic cross chest plate remained, but the Ranger character gained largely from a couple different folks joining in on design.  The Ranger did help me understand how being ignorant to portions of any process might be a blessing in coming up with combinations that wouldn't be attempted, but also how they remain a curse.  Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I learned throughout Forge, was that very few of the tricks illustrators use to direct the viewers attention two dimensionally, actually apply when designing for games or film, where it's all about the 3D all day.  Thinking about function and mobility in real time 3D while you work, is utterly different than thinking about the very same things as they're required for only a split second in time.  =)  I'd like to think by the time I finished the last character I designed for Forge, that I had a better handle on the specific hassles any particular material, or body part, or structure might pose, because of the growing pains in the first character.  =)

 Fun to see all the ways in which simple shapes, or the mention of words during the ideation process can effect outcomes, it's just an amazing thing to take part in, and much like the free association or improvisation that happens when I use Fantasy Genesis, so was working with such a creative team of folks.  Stay Tuned for Part II !!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Portland Grand Prix

What a great event!!  The Con Center was packed with Magic the Gathering players, and the front line of illustrators were the likes I've nae seen!!  RK Post websiteMark Tedin website, Anson Maddocks, Mike Dringenberg, Steve Argyle websiteMike Daarken Lim website, and myself; sketched, signed, told lightpushing tales of old and new, and otherwise sold our artistic souls to the fans of the greatest collectible card game done placed on this here spinnin' Sphere!

One of the highlights of the show was having a great dinner with fellow LightPushers Mike Daarken Lim, and his wife Kat.  Daarken is of course a name synonymous with most brands at Wizards, and a long list of publishers and vid game companies, but in my research for an upcoming interview, I also found all the brillos work Mike has been doing in the form of tutorials & reviews on his Enlighten site. Quite an artist, and I can't wait for the chat!

Sad to see her go, but Barrington Forge Tender is sold and off to a new home!
I had the great fortune of selling the original painting for the Barrington Forge Tender during the Grand Prix as well..  There was an interest at the show, I started a haggle that I would've followed through with, if there was a decent offer, but in the 11th hour when I got home for the night, an email collector snatched it oop!!  Crazy timing on that one.  I've used BFT at school as an example of professional process, at shows as an example of the multi-layered wash technique and how an original glows in ways a print simply cannot, and at home this painting has been off and on my walls in both Detroit, as it has been in my apartments in Portland for the last 7 years.  After all that, I'm torn, but I'm also happy that the BFT will be framed up and enjoyed, instead of stuffed away in the closet as well.. =) Cue Sting..

The best part of any Magic show is sketching and sharpie markering up cards and playmats with weird and fun alterations, and this show was no different.  It was every bit as weird and wonderful as the last, and like the theory behind Fantasy Genesis, the most creative wig bubbles seem to come from limiting yourself to only one or two words in association. After all you don't want your skeletal robots getting too complicated on you, nor should you give too many fans playmats crabs.. =)
One of the many highlights of Portland
GP, was giving a fans playmat crabs.. =)
Now it's straight on to the Grand Prix Las Vegas in June, and a whee further bit on to the new Theros World dropping in Sept.!! Stay Tuned !!