21 February 2021

Animation: A Vine on a House based on the story by Ambrose Bierce

 


My latest gothic horror animation is based on a very short story by Ambrose Bierce, read it here if you like, and is itself fairly short. Like my previous Bierce animation, this one also strays quite a bit from the text as I try to make it relevant and more visual. For all the character, save one (the man on the porch) I used a free character generation application called "Make Human" which lets you create realistic humans with slider controls, including dressing, rigging and weighting. This means you can, hypothetically start using them in minutes and creating them takes only a few minutes as well. It is a huge time saver, especially for subjects that are not required to be created in a specific style or have to do anything unusual or complicated. I used this as a starting point and repainted the clothing myself and added controls to the rigging to make moving then less of a bone by bone affair and it worked for the most part. 

The setting itself took few months to put together. It is one location but one that ages and rots over a long time period. I wanted the fade from past to present to be noticeable but for the house to retain enough features that no one would thing the location had changed. 

I found the Make Human models were not suited for some of my rigging techniques. At least I could not figure out how to use them which was  ashamed because there are some plugins I rely on for every project that I could not use. I did find some work arounds but making them walk was really a challenge so I had to limit that as much as possible. 

This IS a horror short so there is some blood and violence but nothing like we see on TV show everyday. I do hope there is a little shock or 2 for people watching, however.

08 February 2021

recent updates: Affinity Photo, Designer, Publisher and Krita and Sparkle Web Designer

 

There have been a nice amount of updates recently. Some things update more than others and I would say free software like Krita and Blender are pretty fast and furious with updates while some commercial software seems to be slowing down. Maybe it is the pandemic. Free software people might have more time as their normal jobs are on hold while commercial software might be the opposite because it's those companies who might have put jobs on hold. This is just a quick take on my latest updates and not an  in-depth review of any of the software.

The Affinity Suite

I won't lie, I was really hoping for an iPad version of Publisher to get released as it was sort of scheduled for last year. That aside the 3 desktop and iPad apps got nice improvements and Serif as a company seems to really listening to its users. 

Photo has a great new blend mode, Divide that is wonderful for taking a colour tint from photos. I tried it with a night shot from Budapest which had a very strong yellow tint because of the lighting and it was impressive as you can see.





Designer has a nice contour tool that is hard to describe as it have a few uses that really give you more options for designing and vector drawings. 

Publisher had PDF passthrough now which makes adding them to existing documents super easy. There were problems still with adding them. I have a project which uses a 300 page PDF and it works like a charm... at first. Reopening the file was a nightmare and I had to split the PDF up into sections and export each section as jpg pages. Smaller Pdfs were better but slow to open. It's edging closer and closer to having all the features I want form Indesign so - progress. For the next big update, 2.0 which will be paid most likely, I would love to be able to group pages in the page window so you can drag them around higher or lower in the hierarchy. This would make book with chapters that get moved around much easier to accomplish. Right now there is some limit to how many pages you can select and move and it's not easy to drop them in the right place. 

Krita

This has been moving along nicely and is more and more my choice for drawing on the computer. The blending brushes and the natural look to the painting, drawing etc brushes is really amazing. It's a little buggy now and then but this new update has been bug free for me so far. It needs better text handling if only for adding my name, title and date to a finished piece easier. 

Sparkle Web Designer

This software is always fixing bugs and improving. This time is had a blog feature I would love to use as some point. If I continue to have almost no one reading this one it might be easier to just switch the blog to Sparkle and integrate with my home/portfolio page. 

31 January 2021

drawing: acrobate suspendu 02


 Another in my acrobat series but this time done with paint brushes in Krita. It looks a lot my colour drawings but that isn't really a bad thing. I often work in colour by doing it all in grey scale and recolouring then adding addition touches, but this time I just picked different paint colours and blended  them in. 

Definitely a challenge but it was easier than I anticipated. I think all the drawing I have been doing lately especially in Krita has paid off in being comfortable trying this and not automatically thinking it was just going to fail big time. 

Sadly, my ability to get tons of reference images from all the free cirque shows were normally get here in MontrĂ©al was cut off this past summer because of the pandemic cancelling everything. So this is something I found in a folder from years ago. Maybe this summer I can get new references to work from? 

27 January 2021

Poster project: Dracula


Took many references to get this one going. Overall, I like it but the likeness is still not where I want it to be. I do not have a solid grip on the new techniques I am using. The background is from an image of the underground crypt at the start of the film but I tried ot be loose, well, loose for me, with it. The red touches were from when I saw the play in the 70s with Louis Jordan. Everything on stage was black and white with one red coloured element. The logo is copied from a title card for the film. One thing I noticed researching these is there seems to be no official logo for any of the films. They differ from the actual film titles ot the posters to the lobby cards. 

26 January 2021

Illustration: barn


 I have thing for delapitated barns, I think  many artists and photographers do. There is something challenging and cool about a solid structure collapsing in on itself that turns lines into curves and wood into splinters. This is a barn in northern Quebec from a photo I took while ago on a long bike ride. I plan to visit more barns someday when I and everyone else can get outside and travel again. 

Drawn in Procreate on the iPad over several months when I had the time to dedicate to it, 

18 January 2021

In production: A Vine on a House

 Opening shot completed. It's good the characters are too small to really see clearly as I fully animated them and found some issues that would have been more serious in a close up. I finished the second shot and went OK. I don't think anthropomorphic animals would like they did in "Cask of Amontillado" but I prefer animated those sorts of characters it turns out. This should be very short, maybe only 3 minutes as there is no dialog and not much story. 

11 January 2021

Poster: The Wolfman

 

Click image for larger version.

This was the one that started it all and almost anded it all. I tried several times to do a Wolfman illustration/poster over the years and never came close to getting anything close to what I envisioned. This is pretty far from what I going for back then, but I have been fairly successful or at least having enough fun with making monster poster more recently and gave Lawrence Talbot another go. 

I made a pretty detailed sketch based on quite a few reference images. I wasn't sure how much I wanted to show his shirt details and decided to try a style in-between the giant monsters and the classic horror monster posters. So mostly black and white wth hints of colour and still used the charcoal brushes in Krita  for the character. I used some brushes in Affinity photo and modified a 3 moon image I made a long while back which I painted over. The logo is from the opening credits of the film and remade in Affinity Designer. 

Despite the references I have myself  much more liberty to use my own imagination in the pose, details and lighting than in previous projects. Sadly the TONS of detailed I put into the fur on the head is now hidden in shadow but it looks better this way in my opinion. 

This one has a true "move poster" vibe to it. 


09 January 2021

Poster: Frankenstein 1931


 
A real challenge, this one. The references were taken from the scene where the creation sees light for the first time. The camera is on his head then pans done to the twisted hands trying to catch the light. Title was done in Affinity Designer ands the rest in Krita. 

I think I only got a kind of-looks-llike-him version of Karloff. It a strange angle and the hands were a nightmare that I reworked and reworked a bunch of times.





08 January 2021

2020 is finally over and 2021 has begun!



Last year was terrible, let's not mince words about that but there were some high points as well. It seems free software really came into it's own with Blender 3D, Krita and others starting to take more space in my workflows. Others like Opentoons, might soon be part of my work as well as I think about 2D animated projects for future. 

My films "The Raven" and "Cask of Amontillado" were shown in festivals and some interest is being shown in once of my older documentaries for a history project in Boston - that could be big news for me and is a really nice pat on the shoulder. 

Work was scarce and a few new projects got cancelled but I have been expanding my drawing skills and looking forward to continuing that and a couple of my regular clients are still there, less is going on but they were not knocked out of existence so I can be thankful for that. 

What will 2021 hold? I hope to get enough work to somehow justify updating my computer to something faster for 3D and be able to have a few less restrictions on what I can accomplish. There were delays with Affinity product updates, but they are chugging along and I hope the iPad version of Publisher will come out the start of this year since it never got released in 2020. They have some interesting updates coming up with the betas well underway that should make Publisher better competition of Indesign and should fill in a couple gaps in functionality it still is missing for me. I have a new animated project started, going slowly but it's at least moving along. 

I have been thinking of selling art on Etsy or someplace and maybe starting a Patreon to help pay the bills. I have zero social media skills or networking so that might be fool's errand but it might be worth a try. If anyone knows anything about that stuff, comment and tell me about your experience! 

I have been happy to see some of my friends getting involved in art again and trying new things as they are stuck at home for months on end.  Exploring creativity is always a plus and can really carry one through the dark times. My friend Mike Luce is forging ahead with his art and that always inspires and keeps me on my toes. I am looking forward to maybe getting out of my neighbourhood and going somewhere for a photo vacation. Vacation seems like a dirty word but I hope by summer it's a possibility or maybe fall. I haven't seen my family or many of my friends in well over a year now - something many people are coping with for sure. 

So here's to a brighter year than the last, more creativity and mobility and the hope that everyone has learned the importance of creativity, what's important and how important it will be to work together to make things better. 

06 January 2021

Poster: Gamera


Yes Gamera, the giant flying turtle and friend of all children. My mom's favourite giant monster so I had to do it. 

I used my "giant monster style" I didn't know I had. Simple background, silhouette with white ink lines to add details with hints of colour. I really like drawing white on black. I used to do scratch boards in secondary school and every now and then and I just like the look of it. 

03 January 2021

Poster: King Kong



 I love the original King Kong, it was my Aunt Helen's favourite movie. She saw it many times when it was released. The looks of the creatures and the jungle scenes are just amazing and Kong is one of the few effects that really reads as a real character even today. 

This went through something like 30 iterations before I stopped changing things. Should Fay Ray be on the top of the Empire State? Should I draw the planes coming for Kong? At first it was to be just a long shot of the Empire State with kong seen tiny at the top and the planes arriving.  Finally after going though the film a few times I saw some interesting shots I had not seen used before and decided a mostly silhouetted Kong hanging off the building inspired by the screenshots and Willis O'Brian's preproduction drawings with an art deco design inspired by the opening credits might be best. 

The logo was interesting. It looks normal enough watching the film but if you start to recreate it it's sort of Escher-like in its construction. The letters looked carved but actually could never exist in the real world. I drew a simplified version of the tower and kept Kong mostly black with white highlights and some subtle dark greys to fill in details around his face. I looked at how the stop motion puppet was constructed to draw the feet and hands. 

There were a bunch of RKO logos in the 30s and I picked one that looked the most interesting with the other deco details. I added grain to the background elements so it would have that airbrushed from the period but excluded Kong and the titles so they would be super clear and stand out more. All things considered I am happy with this as it looks like what I was going for and combined my drawing and design skills in equal measure. I think so, anyway. I struggled with where to to put the title as it was on the bottom and small for most of the process and I did not want to cover his upper hand but it fits more on the top and larger and gives it more a feel of a poster from the time the film was released. 

A good start for 2021!