Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stump Hogs and Branchites

Stump Hogs tend to be in good spirits when they are buried in the wet earth with their heads exposed. This morning, I had time for three sketches of this one as it rested near a bush full of bright red berries.

Branchites still give me the willies. I think it's their random, beady little eyes that get to me, and how they float silently through the park. Sometimes, they seem to appear out of nowhere, or form clusters that resemble the bare tree canopies of winter.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Winter Spirits 2013

The first November rains arrived yesterday, and the cooler weather makes getting up early for a brisk walk and some exercise surprisingly easier. I look forward to the clean air and the colors and textures of the changing season expressed through bright yellow, reds and oranges in the trees and on the ground, wet rocks and black mud.

 We hardly ever see extreme weather. One or two thundershowers might make the news. Maybe a enough rain will make the earth swell and shift in some remote development in the hills far from the urban areas. But for the most part, the weather by the bay is mild this time of year, which makes studies like these both pleasant and possible.

I rarely speak of how much artists like Brian Froud and Alan Lee have inspired and influenced me since childhood. Alan Lee in particular has published in the past some pencil work from his nature walks, so you might see a feeble attempt at emulating some of his line and detail work in these quick studies.

 These recent sketches reflect my mild interest in legends of fairies, trolls, and other mythical forest creatures. Because I already tend to let my imagination run wild during these walks, it makes sense to try and transform more of what I see into the stuff of dreams and fantasy. I still dream of compiling my own collection of creatures, which is something that has been in the back of my mind since around 2004 during my days of posting regulalry at Elfwood.

I can probably commit to about three or four of these per week until the cold makes my fingers too numb to draw and paint


Friday, October 4, 2013

Another House

A really difficult scene to simplify into values and colors, but after adding the final touches with a ballpoint pen, things seemed to come together. I wanted to quit about halfway through this one, but it taught me a bit more about light, shadow and reflected light.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Killing Lines

What is it that makes the smaller than an inch wrong turn of a mark upset a design so. As I sketch these imagined objects in pigment pen on an appropriately weighty stock, the forms I derive from skeletal frames materialized in alien eggshells, so easily broken. Today, I made a fist with my free hand after another failed formation, not for pounding, but for the tension it let me release when I eventually opened my hand.

Does it ever get easier? Will I sooner than later get my bearings and draw good things on purpose (whether they have one or not?) There was a moment tonight where I recognized a few of those shapes from my explorations on an existing vehicle, an underground LHD loader. It was an incredibly simple partial cylinder fused with a boxy wedge shape, and I felt as though I had already drawn it 100 times.

A dreadful day of drawing awaits. I'm close to wrapping up an evening of scanning the web for inspiration. I have a newly found fascination with flintlock pistols, afro picks (contemporary and ancient), resonanators and oscillators, and gun katars. So much to draw. So little time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Real Drawing

It was during my misguided days as an engineering student at San José State University that I had phenomenal luck of rooming with an industrial design major. He was a transfer student from an area junior college who had already amassed an impressive body of work in the form of latex creature masks sculpted and cast completely on his own. Tom was always either sketching for his design classes, or sanding Bondo® in the stairwell of Hoover Hall, or working in the model shop well into the early morning hours. I envied the fact that he had found a major that allowed him to do what he loved and what he was good at.

Years later, after my disqualification from the mechanical engineering program and Tom's leaving for Art Center in Pasadena, California, I ran into him at a Massive Black Inc. workshop in Seattle, Washington. We had corresponded off and on through email, but it was great meeting up with him again and seeing how far his work had progressed while working in games. I remember seeing him surrounded by attendees at his table with his portfolio of sketches strewn about for anyone to browse through. He was that kind of person: generous with his knowledge and unpretentious.

This semester's props, weapons and vehicles course with Brandon Luyen at AAU is my first time experiencing first hand an approach to design drawing that reminds me of what I enjoyed about seeing Tom's marker and ballpoint pen sketches on vellum. Even as an undergrad at CCAC, I was always intrigued by the dynamic and expressive form studies the lower-division industrial design students posted on the crit walls near the beginning of the semester. As with so many other practical drawing and painting principles I've learned at the Academy, part of me dreads not having gotten a stronger foundation as an undergrad when I was much younger. And yet, after two weeks of a highly focused sketching regimen, I am seeing some improvement in an area of sketching, namely sketching mechanical objects and basic geoforms freehand with a pen. It's easy to overlook the importance of drawing mechanical objects freehand in a way that reflects a deeper understanding of the structure of things. We spend a significant amount of time looking at and drawing existing objects using a method that forces us to see through and around objects.

Aside from having a couple of amazing classmates, we look a lot of inspiring examples of prop and weapon designs for games done by industry professionals. The continual emphasis on design in my illustration, animation and game design courses reminds me of how much more I need to study through sketching.

An added bonus has been time with a Cintiq. We used them in Visual Development for Games with Michael Buffington, but the class was so poorly taught that had to force myself to do the assignments, let alone take full advantage of the facilities. Nonetheless, with or without a Cintiq, it's great to once again wake up with a strong desire to draw first thing in the morning.

Here's a look at Tom's amazing and diverse body of professional work: Tom Johnson Studios

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nr. Young

An inordinate amount of time on public transit over the past couple of weeks has led me to conclude that we might as well just go ahead and add "nigga" to the list of accepted honorifics, along with Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr. etc. I shall hereby accept Nr. Young as an expression of cultural awareness and sensitivity until further notice.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Willie Brown's Bridge

I am happy to share that in spite of the usual pattern of inconsiderate drivers encountered during my morning an evening commute to and from San Francisco, driving under the new gleaming white tower and suspension section of the Bay Bridge is always an uplifting experience.

Beauty matters.

Attaboy coming to CCSF!

Hi-Frucktose Magazine Founder/Publisher, Toy Designer, Book Illustrator/Designer, and more!
Attaboy will talk about his pilot with Cartoon Network, his new book, Hi-Fructose's upcoming box set, some toy inventions, and Hollywood/art misadventures.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
City College of San Francisco
Visual Arts Building
Room 102
50 Phelan Avenue, Ocean Campus
6:10p to 7:30p

Space limited due to classroom size, so arrive early!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Short Good-bye

My work and school schedules will prevent me from frequent blog posts until mid-December. Having entered what may be my second to last semester at AAU, the challenge of crafting a strong and cohesive portfolio and final thesis presentation will require my full attention. I've added a new and intensive regimen of daily sketching exercises in addition to my weekly homework assignments and learning Maya. I'm hoping that sacrificing a bit of fun, sleep and socializing (including deactivating my Facebook account) will keep me on track for a successful fall semester.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

AAU Spring Show 2013

Although my teaching schedule kept me from attending the opening reception back on Wednesday, May 22, seeing the Academy of Art University Spring Show last Tuesday without the massive crowds gave me more time to take it all in.

Five of my projects from 2012, including two personal, two creature designs and one figurative paining in oil, were accepted

into this year's show. It was a huge honor to have such a range of works and mediums acknowledged by my department. The Academy's emphasis on principles rooted in classical realism continues to inform how I approach drawing and painting as a concept artist.

I also saw my first credit as a concept artist on an animated short entitled Wafa ki Wafa, written and directed by Alifya Khandwala. Wafa's story is of a little girl and her brother who have their own planets. Wafa's world is lush with trees, plants and flowers, and Amir's world is rocky and barren. A conflict arises between them on Wafa's world, after which Amir returns to his world and begins raging. His violence eventually shatters his planet, prompting Wafa to come to his rescue. I designed trees, a couple of environments, several plants, storyboarded the fracture of Amir's planet, and painted rendered T-poses of the main characters. Working collaboratively and with a demanding, passionate art director was a great experience that helped me to better understand the role of the concept artist on an animated short. I have to be ready to wear many hats, be fast and flexible, and design beautiful things without sacrificing quality.

Seeing work by several former classmates and rising stars this year was both inspiring and informative. I found myself focusing on the award winning pieces and what made then so much stronger than my own. In generally, they each had the following:

1. Strong design
2. A high level of craft and attention to detail
3. Effective use of color
4. Charm or universal appeal.
5. Storytelling and personality

The good news is that my work is getting better. Balancing work and school was really tough this semester, and at times I regret I'm not able to put in as much time as my peers. I saw some incredible finals in my Advanced Perspective class with Brandon Luyen. Joko Buodiono's Adv. Perspective class also had a phenomenal group of hard-working and inspired students. It would have been great to have studied with them last semester.

The Academy of Art Univesity Spring Show was held from May 23, 2013 – June 5, 2013
10:00am-6:00pm. (Closed Sundays and Holidays) at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My First European Design Credit for Characters!

*COVERART - Coverdesign by Ingunn B. Engen
** Characters developed by Eugene R. Young, Lily Vazques, JR Fletcher & Ingunn B. Engen

At last! About a year ago, a dear friend and former classmate at AAU approached myself and several others about working on an animated music video for a rock band in Norway. I was asked to handle the design of the four band members as characters for the video, while others would work on storyboarding, animation, additional characters and layouts. Although the animation project didn't make it to completion, the band agreed to include some of the original concept art, including my character designs, to promote their next album.

Fast-forward to now: March 15 will mark the release of Phone Joan's new single, "Crybaby" with the four finalized versions of the heads of the Phone Joan psychomechanical automatons. Concept artist JR Fletcher reworked the hairstyle and overall figure of the bassist, and animator Lily Vazques gave the drummer an even cooler look. My design of the guitarist remained the same, while Ingunn turned the lead singer and keytarist into a supercharged rock vixen. There's nothing like seeing a project come together with this kind of team work, trust, and cooperation. It was also exciting to see my original concepts improved upon.

Rumor has it that there might be an artshow in Norway later this year featuring all of the concept art for the project from beginning to end. This will hopefully include work from other artists who didn't get to see their designs animated. In the coming days, I will be hammering away on an illustration to go into a companion booklet for another song from the up-coming album. Right now, I'm awaiting approval from my first batch of thumbnails.

This will mark my first international design credit for character design. Hopefully, I'll be cleared to share the sketches that went into the project soon. I was also thinking of how cool they'd look as posable action figures.

Show the band some love and like them on Facebook, add them to your Spotify playlist and buy their music!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Into Ki-Khanga

Authors Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade have embarked on a project that will breathe some freshness and originality into the world of tabletop gaming. Ki-Khanga is a continent roughly half the size of Africa but with many similarities, including rivers, savannahs, desert, mountains and islands. It is also home to a mysterious no-man's land to the north known only as "The Cleave": a great gouge in the continent from which all manner of beast and terror emerges.

You can set sail for this exciting new world NOW with Ki-Khanga: The Anthology, an ebook available for $3.99 on Nook, Kindle and Kobo. Proceeds from the anthology will help to fund the much-needed illustration work for the game which is slated for release later this year. I've donated my Dragonist painting "Acolytes of Trono", for the ebook cover art, and will be contributing a few creature illustrations to the project. It's great to see this incredibly crafted sword and soul adventure come together in these works of fiction. Rumor has it that some of Ki-Khanga's most interesting denizens might have crafted their own expression of Dragonist culture. Players beware.

Help us to "change the game" and get join us in building this amazing world!