Tuesday, January 11, 2011

20 Heads or Faces

Ever have one of those nights where you just want to hammer away at something until it's done? After visiting the 25 Years of Pixar exhibition at the Oakland Musuem of California, I realized how little experience I have with caricatures and cartoons. The exhibition was very large, and took up a sizable portion of the museum. The art included several drawings, sculptures, paintings, and a short film the brought to life several layouts from various films. There was also a bizarre zoetrope with a wedding cake-like arrangement of characters that appeared to move around as the contraption spun under a strobe light.

I learned a few new terms at the show, including "colorscript" which I think is a way of mapping out the colors for an entire film as a large storyboard. Some of the sculptors included. Budd Luckey (Toy Story), Greg Dykstra (Ratatouille, Up) , Kent Molton (The Incredibles). I spent a lot of time staring at Tia Kratter's acrylic paintings from "A Bug's Life" which had some incredibly rich and vibrant color combinations.

A colleague who had also visited the show had mentioned how happy seeing all the work in one place made her feel. I spent close to three hours sketching things, mostly the sculptures, and immersing myself in as many patterns and details I could discover through drawing. Most of the heads and figures were based on a strong silhouette, gesture, or something living, but then simplified down to their essential planes and edges. Eyes and eyelids were particularly interesting. The question of how to translate an artist's sketch into a solid object isn't always as obvious as it may seem. For example, when should a pupil be a hole versus a raised dot? How exactly should a tuft of hair be simplified into a smooth volume? The lighting in the exhibition was just right for exploring these little details.

In other news. I picked up a mini Raffy DIY toy yesterday. Not sure what I want to do with it, but it's a little giraffe with a big head and stubby legs. This might be a good excuse to get a Dremel tool. I look forward to digging through my old scale model kit parts and possibly bringing out the Sculpey again. More to come…

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cobra Telekinetic

This was fun. I was hanging out with a friend sketching at the Emeryville B & N when I finally wrapped up the pencils on this one, which were done on a sheet of bond scratch paper. I wanted to try out Painter 11's inking tools on a scan of the sketch.

My biggest challenge with Painter continues to be the slowness of the interface. Photoshop has considerably more easily accessed features that enable me to work with more speed and efficiency. Nonetheless, I found the inking tools to be easy to control. I also want to experiment with my 6D pen. I'd like to be able to do the kind of crisp and controlled feathering and fine line detail that I can achieve by hand, or with a brush.
Well, I still have to say the MangaStudio is still #1 for digital inking, but in time, I might get skillful enough to make Painter my second choice.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Little Diversion

I remember jotting down a few sketches of a Hello Kitty spoof called "Hella Kitty" The idea was to merge the image of an unabashedly loud, obnoxious and ghetto-fabulous female with that of Sanrio's popular super-cute character. The first sketches are buried in a sketchbook or notebook somewhere, but last month I was in the mood to try a series of pencil sketches for the character. I ended up with nine different designs and costumes, all of which reference a style or attitude often seen on the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area. For those who don't know, "hella" is modified version of the phrase "hell of a" that has its roots in Black youth culture. It's used for emphasis, like "very" or "incredibly". One can also expect to hear its less sacrilegious form, "hecka".

I used the sketch above to create a template layer in Illustrator and started building the illustrations one at a time. Although the series definitely lends itself to the "recycling" of parts, I found myself wanting to try different head and body types for most of them. After completing a few, I started to see where simple reflections could be used to speed up the process and ensure symmetry where desired.
The funny thing is that now I find myself "scouting" for new designs while I'm out and about in Berkeley, San Francisco, Richmond, and Oakland. This started out as biting satire, but now I something that will probably keep me busy and entertain for a long time to come. I also think these would make great wallpapers for mobile devices.

So what do you think? Are you a "Hella Kitty" fan?