I have been itching to do some traditional art for a change to my usual digital Art, spurred from painting and drawing with my nieces and nephew during the Christmas break. Here is some initial paintings using gouache, The first two being concept art pieces from the Game Firewatch which I haven’t played and don’t really play games anymore, but loving the colourful art from this game I gave it a bash. The last image being a quick one of birch trees before I washed away the drying leftover paint. I choose Gouache as the medium because I like that its similar to watercolour but much more pigmented and having never used it before it is a learning curve in which I am really enjoying the process, with landscapes always being my favourite subjects to paint.
I think it is good to switch things up and try new approaches and although I find it harder with traditional art to simply let go and loosing up, I think with practice I will get to a point where things are hinted at and more gestural with blocky colours and suggestive brush strokes, The last image of the birch trees was very enjoyable because it was in the wee hours of the morning, I was tired and just wanted to get rid of the paint so it was very quick and gestural. Eventually I would like to make prints and use the many inspiring photos I took as reference while back in Ireland and here’s hoping I will make prints of those photo’s too! I think we live in a time for creatives where you might need to get thrifty and monetise your hobbies to help make ends meet, So we’ll see…
Another render from the Green Glider animated short, this time of the lagoon where our protagonist Ash will float in the blissful crystal clear water before he has a sudden epiphany. I wouldn’t mind quarantining here…
I was watching the very beginning series of Tom and Jerry with my niece and was completely blown away by the gorgeous watercolour background paintings while Tom and Jerry run amok in their usual debauchery. So inspired by the paintings I have decided to adopt a similar more analogue and painterly approach, I think bringing down the complexity of many previous attempts of skies that I painted brings more attention and focus to the foreground elements and works better, that same yellow and pink that Tom and Jerry adopted works well for the Meadow scene, which is a pinnacle part of the film and where the beauty of nature of this world needs to really hit home.
This weeks Kick about was Inspired by Ernst Haeckel and his botanical illustrations showing the intricate microscopic organic matter within nature that might otherwise go amiss. I have always felt sensitive to textures and colours but this year I actually had a camera to capture it with rural Ireland really ramping up my perception towards it. The merging of colours within a few feet of land can completely counteract the next a few feet further and always makes for interesting forms.
I love relishing in the patterns and forms that bloom on a log or that is sandwiched between the trenches of rich brown peat, losing a shoe in the quicksand esque mud with shite up to my knee to get some of these pictures is all part of the pleasure.
Witches broom deformities resembling sea urchins, little pastel snail shells with their inhabitants no more and reindeer moss resembling bleached coral reef all part of the treasures that are nestled within the designs resembling Haeckel’s pieces. Sometimes I would lie on the ground and aim up to the sky to get a certain shot of a branch, plant or twig without it being nestled with its family of flora so that it would be easier to edit and isolate the flora against a clean slate of sky.
A lot of the elements within my designs for this kick about were cut and pasted out of images like the ones above, then significantly editing them by changing the colour and then when all the elements came together I merged them as one and erased half of the image and then copied it one more time to then flip horizontally so they were in exact symmetry.
I was spoiled for choice with this kick about with rural Ireland having a bountiful abundance of botany with textures, colours and shapes of all the flora and vegetation, feeling like an endless pick’n’mix. I always find myself thinking about the intricate patterns and shapes as I snap away, mint green reindeer moss looking like bleached coral under a microscopic macro lens and the swirling and meandering of ice a jigsaw of frozen motion, while twigs, branches and petals looking like spores after some careful manipulation. suffice to say I loved this kick about and loved editing, warping and colour correcting a surplus of photos from recent adventures around Ireland to get a photomontage and mimic Ernst Haeckel’s inspiring Illustrations. I have a real hankering to go on and on with creating more designs like this.
Some more updates of the Oasis world, I have dialled back the colour and added the grass paint effects as per the previous renders. A water reflection has been added as well as and the same painterly tree alpha maps to draw the eye central to the entrance as that will be where the Green Glider will plop Ash when he is introduced to the Oasis.
I have been working on trying to achieve a more painterly style with the Oasis world of The Green Glider animated short. To achieve these current renders I collated together many bunches of the 3D trees and plants and rendered them out, I then brought the renders into photoshop and painted over them in three different versions, 1 being the original scratchy and more defined version with clearer visible brush strokes. The second and third iterations blurring them out so they could plop nicely in the background to add more depth. I also made cooler and warmer versions of each painted tree mound and painted some shapes to act as leaves to bulk out areas as seen below.
〰️The Oasis Painted Tress – Clear〰️
〰️The Oasis Painted Tress – Blurry〰️
I then brought those renders back into Maya as alpha maps and situated them accordingly within the scene and added in some of the original 3D trees for the foreground so that it gave more depth of field. To give me more control I used render layers where I added the elements in different collections and rendered them separately – so a render collection for the furthermost elements and a collection for the foregrounds and so on, it means I can have a lot more control in post production if I think something could be blurred further or possibly blend more with the sky colour to give more atmospheric perspective.
There was one caveat – previously all the grass was done with alpha maps which was causing a problem where the scene was so populated with alpha maps that light couldn’t render through them and meant that they were rendering black, I found out I had to dial up the render settings to offset this – the ray depth to be specific which resulted in ridiculous render times! So using what I learned about my Boogie Woogie Jive film and the ongoing Ersilia film, I had a muck about with using Maya’s ancient paint effects which worked wonderfully. Within the many keyframe achievable paint effects parameters there is the possibility to animate a slight breeze to the grass, I will definitely be giving that a whirl and see how to looks. I think with these many trial and errors the Oasis is starting to come to fruition, things can be pushed more but I think I am heading in the right direction.
⌇I have been chipping away at plopping out the worlds for The Green Glider. It has been a bit of a journey to get the Oasis up until this point, in truth I wasn’t a fan of the way the Oasis was sprawling out before me with a previous hodgepodge of attempts, The greenery of the world felt too CG, the treetops resembled blobby forms of plasticine and looked a bit sad. I decided to take a step away and revert back to my kit of tricks and influences, the first being taking a long and thoughtful walk in the crisp Autumn morning, when the air is fresh and the dew sticks to my beard…
I’m fortunate enough living in London that an open tree filled park being that of Gladstone park is a stones throw away from me. As I meandered my way among the many trees I took my time to stop and think about the canopy of trees above me; I noticed where I was going wrong with my previous attempts was that of two things, the first being – Light travels through trees, with the previous renders the greenery was a solid mass of geometry making it so that light couldn’t pass through and the second being… I am a bit baffled that I didn’t realise this, texture! When you really look at untouched nature, flowers, grasses and bark, it is bursting with texture that intertwine and lace to form brush strokes of patterns, Phil Gets it with photographs of his many excursions where the photographs end up looking like a painting filled with brush strokes of pure unfiltered texture.
〰️ Gladstone park 〰️
This can sometimes be something that happens with me and my work, I get so in the zone and have this pin precise tunnel vision of getting stuff done that I don’t take a step back, look and see if I am answering the question that this world is asking. When I was in uni I was modelling a car, I remember distinctly Alan Postings coming up to me and saying “the way that you are thinking is a problem” I needed to hear it because it was, the car was looking like shit because I was clouded by just getting it done. I always think it’s good to remind yourself if this piece is doing it’s job by asking those questions and using everything in your kit of tricks to get it that way – it is something I am getting used of catching and making the necessary steps to remedy, I think intuition gets better with age.
With this in mind I used another trick up my sleeve, my tried and true – alpha maps. I love alpha maps because they are like smoke and mirrors, a magic trick to the eye. Old school video games would use alpha maps to bulk out the background of a scene where the player isn’t supposed to go, so why use resource heavy plethoras of polygons when you can do the same job with just one piece of geometry? Thats the mentality I like to use when making these ambitions worlds in my head a reality, reeling them back to smoke and mirrors to make it look right but at a fraction of the time and when it comes to it – cost.
Making these alpha maps is simple, I used a single continuous line brush stroke painted in photoshop – 1 with colour and 1 with just back and white, then apply that to the geometry of the Trees and what’s lovely is because the geometry is a mound the alpha map wraps around it, it is always a pleasant surprise to see how it turns out! What it gave me was a lot of texture – a single brush stroke that looks imperfect, less CG and more true to nature. It also aloud other flora to peep through and behind it which rings true for my own excursion to Gladstone park.
Because I like that this world is teetering more into the illustrative side I am going to have to dial up the same illustrative style with the other worlds – The Metropolis and The Wastelandso that it all feels cohesive and that they do belong on one single planet – more on how that plays out later…
I was also really inspired by two artists that are also apart of my kit for this project (And many more that is on my ever growing Pinterest board) – Eyvind Earle and Marie-Laure Cruschi, Earles pieces are these stunning whimsical landscapes with a vivid, palpable colour palette, Cruschi’s pieces are these gorgeous illustrations with the plant life in these universes having chunks missing to show a lot of shapely charm.
Now that I understand how the Oasis will look I just need to continue to place the plant life on a shot by shot basis, and finally getting onto opening excel and planning out those shots. ONWARDS 〰️