Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Environment: Research- David Hockney

Hockney isn't a tableau vivant style artist as such, but his photomontages present a scene in a very unique way. When looking at them, it is clear that each photograph makes up a portion of a whole image, but the arrangement tends to force your focus on a specific area. The noticeable clipping of some of the photographs could be considered both accidental or intentional. Did Hockney simply make a mistake, or is he deliberately masking portions of the whole picture to keep something from being seen?

Here are a few examples of Hockney's photomontages.

Environment: Example Model for Texturing Practice

In preparation for friday's Photoshop and Maya workshops, I've created a quick, basic model of a bar of sorts, simply so that I have something of my own that I can apply textures to during the sessions.
Its a very basic shape, but I'm not looking to push the boundaries just yet, just to get  develop a familiarity with the whole texturing process.

Environment: The Inspiration Behind 'Ico's Iconic Cover Art

I tried posting this on the group blog, but it was being funny, so I've thrown it up here instead.
Luke Plunkett of has written an article around the work of Giorgio de Chirico and how it inspired the Japanese and European cover artwork for the videogame Ico (we really do get better cover art than North American game releases, just look at the cover artwork for the EU and NA versions of Resident Evil 4.)

The painting that inspired the artwork, de Chirico's The Nostalgia of the Infinite

"Forget the woeful American cover for a minute, and instead let's focus on the Japanese and European box art for PS2 classic Ico. It's as memorable for many as the game itself, with its bold art style and rich colours.

So I thought for today's Total Recall we'd look back at the artist, and one of his paintings in particular, which inspired not only the cover, but the game itself.
The Japanese/European art, which was thankfully also used for the recent American re-release, was directly inspired by a painting called The Nostalgia of the Infinite by Giorgio de Chirico, one of the great artists of the early 20th century.

De Chirico, considered the founder of the Metaphysical art movement, was born in Greece in 1888. A surrealist, his early works inspired the likes of Dali and Max Ernst, and while he would continue painting into his nineties, his efforts around the time of the First World War are considered his strongest.

Completed sometime between 1911 and 1914, The Nostalgia of the Infinite (left) features two small, dark and lonely figures dwarfed by an enormous tower. It's a theme that runs through many of De Chirico's other works as well, like The Anguish of Departure and The Red Tower, which also show large structures looming over small, lonely people.

De Chirico wasn't just the starting point for the cover art, either (which, as you can see, has a lot in common with Nostalgia). Ico creator Fumito Ueda has cited his entire body of work as a big inspiration in the development of the game (alongside Eric Chahi's Another World), as that loneliness they capture so well, that feeling of being almost trapped by an overpowering building, carries through into Ico and is present from the moment you start playing until almost the very end.

De Chirico passed away in Rome on 20 November, 1978, at the age of 90. You can see more works similar to The Nostalgia of the Infinite at his WikiPaintings page." (Plunkett, 2011)

The original article can be found here at

Monday, 28 November 2011

Environment: Initial Ideas

1950's Diner Idea
The idea to construct a 1950's style diner is one that has been rolling around in my mind for the last couple of weeks or so, so for an early idea, I've put a fair amount of thought into it.

Iconic, Archetypical Features of 1950's Style Diners
-Chequered flooring
-The use of linoleum and vinyl in furnishings
-The use of chrome and stainless steel in fittings and furnishings
-Flat, often neon lighting
-Massive amounts of advertising and endorsement through posters and illuminated signs (notably, Coca Cola and Pepsi)
-Shiny, wipe-clean booth seating
-Two-tone colour schemes (blue and red, black and white etc)

-Moderately simple geometry makes for quick modelling
-A plethora of visual reference from the internet, film, television and video games (See Pulp Fiction, Back to the Future, Happy Days, Fallout 3 and Grease, not to mention Nighthawks by Edward Hopper (sure, it was painted in 1942, but the composition aspect is relevant))
-Many opportunities for creative lighting (lights from neon signs reflected across the glossy floor tiles and reflective chrome detailing)

-Highly detailed textures (posters, signs etc) may be particularly time consuming (although the possibility of getting to design some delightfully kitsch poster art is incredibly enticing!)

Presenting the Scene
"Closed for Business"
This idea revolves around the theme of a distressed environment. The clean and bright diner decor is just asking to be destroyed. The linoleum on the floor has started to peel away, the tiles on the walls have cracked, with posters strewn across the floor and the remnants of a once loved jukebox lit dimly at the back of the room. Light pours through the boarded up windows, bouncing off of the now empty bottles behind the bar. The vinyl has been torn away from the seating, revealing the spongey material beneath, now wretched with the stains of a hundred spilled beverages.

I really like the idea of this, as underdeveloped as it may be, although I need to establish a way of integrating more ambiguity in the scene. Although the viewer doesn't know why the diner is so run down,  I need to be careful not to imply something so obvious later down the line, otherwise the storytelling aspect could potentially be ruined.


Victorian Sweet Shop Idea
Another potential idea was a traditional Victorian sweet shop. This idea seemed quite charming and quirky when I first thought of it and I may possibly pursue it if I develop the idea further.

Iconic, Archetypical Features of Victorian Sweet Shops
-Colourful jars lining the walls of the shop
-Classic, British branding (with wonderfully misleading poster artwork)
-The brass weighing scales at the counter, next to the hefty till
-Dark wooden decor and furnishings
-Large, thin framed windows at the front of the shop

-Moderately simple geometry
-A wide scope to be creative with the general aesthetic of the store (unlike the '50's diner, the general aesthetic isn't so specific)

-Unless executed intelligently, the scene has the potential to be more dull than intriguing (for example, unless the dark brown wooden elements are lit effectively, it'll just be a mess of brown blocks with no narrative impact).

Presenting the Scene
The door is pushed open, followed by the welcoming ring of the bell above. The walls are lined, floor to ceiling with tall jars filled with colourful sweets of every variety. The dark, thick woodwork is reminiscent of the chocolate stocked behind the counter, along with the tobacco and other products for those who aren't paying with pocket money. Mouths water as the sugary delights are poured little by little into the brass scales on the counter, with a familiar ring resonating throughout the shop as each sweet hits the bottom, one by one. The deal is sealed with the clickity-clank of the till. With pocket money exchanged and a final ring of the bell above the door, the banquet of sugar begins.

This idea needs a lot more work to become an interesting scene, although the potential is there. I need to revise the idea to amplify key areas of interest and make the idea 'pop', otherwise it may not deliver the compelling ambiguity required of the scene.

Digital Sets: Part 9- Ground Floor Windows

Added the windows the ground floor of the model.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Avatar Film Review

Avatar Review


Space Crit Presentation 25/11/11

Crit Presentation 25/11/11

'The House on the Borderland' Progress