Saturday, 26 November 2016

Artist Toolkit - Life Drawing (23/11/16)

warm up sketch

capturing movement of 5 poses

Artist toolkit - flash, Silly Walk (25/11/16)

Silly walk cycle

Creating the frames for the cycle

Repulsion - Film Review

Repulsion Film Review

fig.1 Film poster 

Directed by Roman Polanski, ‘Repulsion’ is a 1965 British horror film that follows a virgin who is afraid of contact with the opposite sex. Regarded as “one of Roman Polanski's most brilliant films” (Bradshaw, 2013), ‘Repulsion’ has a blend of both disturbing story writing and notable camera work. Being the first of the three films from Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” (with the other two being ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968) and ‘The Tenant’ (1976),) the majority of the film takes place in an apartment building which is utilised by Polanski to create effective scenes.

The story features a young woman, Carol Ledoux, who is living with her sister during the 60s. Afraid of intimacy Carol’s state of mind begins to deteriorate as her anchor, the sister leaves to go on holiday. Eventually this leads to a spiral of madness ending with the killing of two men and Carol being left in a catatonic state.

Firstly focusing on the protagonist herself Carol, who is played by Catherine Deneuve, is placed in an odd situation. The main character could be described as a sexually appealing woman as she attracts the gaze of men around her however for the protagonist, who has extreme androphobia this acts as a curse. As a result this creates a rather empathic character who is struggling to deal men during a time of sexual uprising. It is thanks to both actor and director that the audience is drawn to Carol’s side despite the horrific actions that are committed by the character. It is difficult to decide whether or not Carol truly is the protagonist towards the end of the film.  

Observing the character in context it appears that Carol was destined to fail, signified from the start she is an outsider or foreigner. This can be accepted in both ability to function within society and terms of family origins. In relation to Polanski he himself is an outsider coming in from a foreign country. It can be implied that Polanski portrays some of his own feelings into this character.

Polanski uses a mix of several different devices to being out Carol’s insanity making it clear for the audience to understand in a visual manor. One of the signs that appears is the twisted perception of the rooms giving a sense of unease that can be attributed to the camera work as the once familiar bathroom becomes cold and strange. Polanski continues to add rather unnerving scenes including that of violent delusions showing Carol being raped. What makes these scenes particularly effective is the sound design. Rather than using the sounds of struggle all noise is exempt apart from the lone ticking of a clock. Portrayed in near silence the audience has only the disturbing imagery to focus on. In the background the ticking adds tension forcing the viewers to count every second. Strange imagery continues to appear with bizarre organic walls, dark figures appearing in mirrors, hands bursting out from the wall and groping carol and large cracks forming in the walls. All signs indicating the breakdown of Carol’s psyche.

fig.2 Cracks forming in the wall

Adding to the sense of fall from reality and lack of rational thinking is the devices used by Polanski to hint towards the passing of time. “Polanski also dresses the film with pertinent details that further exemplify both Carol’s madness and the aching passage of time: Potatoes sprout in the kitchen, meat (rabbit meat, no less) rots on a plate and eventually collects flies” (Morgan, 2011), with the audience subtly hinted towards the passing of time one begins to wonder how much has truly pasted leaving feelings of doubt and insecurity.

While effective as a psychological horror film, Polanski has also highlighted the uncertain nature of psychological illnesses. Created during the 70s, schizophrenia had yet to be understood despite this ‘Repulsion’ gives an accurate depiction of the illness for the time. The penultimate scene that is shown acts as a metaphor regarding the lack of knowledge or inability to appropriately deal with schizophrenic patients. Ultimately Polanski leaves the audience with an unnerving feeling, misplaced feelings for a violent character and insight into a psychologically disturbed mind.

Illustration list

fig.1, website (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.2, website (accessed 26/11/16)


Bradshaw, Peter (2013) Repulsion - Review (accessed 26/11/16)
Morgan, Kim (2011) Roman Polanski Understands Women: Repulsion (accessed 26/11/16)

Black Narcissus - Film Review

Film Review-Black Narcissus

fig.1 Film Poster
‘Black Narcissus’ is a 1947 film, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger which is based upon Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel with the following name. While the film can be acknowledged for many attributes from the juxtaposing set design to symbolism the most notable feature is the use of techniques to form awe inspiring shots.

The story revolves around a convent of nuns who have been sent by their order to perform charity work for the local people of the Himalayas. To help set up the school and hospital the local British agent, Mr Dean, is sent to assist the group. With the involvement of the local people and remote location the nuns slowly lose sight of their true aim and path with God.  Dean’s influence on the group eventually leads to the death of one of the nuns, Sister Ruth, leading Sister Clodagh and the rest of the group to leave the Himalayas.

Firstly, looking at the technical elements of the film one of the most notable features is the use of camera tricks to flesh out the scene. Despite being set in the Himalayas the film was captured and completed in England. To achieve one of the most effective shots (fig.1) a matte painting is used to acquire an in depth and rather believable illusion. It is only on closer inspection that one can see through the painting giving a sense of grandeur and space in combination with the well placed camera angle.
fig.2 cliff scene

fig.3 before matte painting

Civilized, worldly, daring and obliquely discreet in conveying the gradual disintegration of the nuns’ psyches” (Haver, 1998), another notable factor within ‘Black Narcissus’ is the underlying theme of the film. As the nuns set out to complete the task that has been given to them difficulties begin to  arise with increasing sexual tension adding to the friction between the Sisters. Both Powell and Pressburger make great use of symbolism throughout the film, some more subtle than others they all relate to the inner demons that the Sisters collectively carry.  

With the use of Technicolor the matte paintings are brought to life and only enhance the symbolism in a range of hues. An effective scene that highlights both the use of colour and symbolism is the application of lipstick by Sister Ruth. “An unsurpassed showcase for the possibilities of Technicolor — heightens the very meaning of the story, as a slash of red lipstick clashes with the bleached white” (Thomas, 2005), with lipstick being used to attract another by highlighting one’s sexual appeal the action of reddening the lips indicates Ruth’s loss of control over her sexual desires. Not only does the use of colour draw the viewer’s attention to the character but also portrays the clash between the path of God and inner desire. At one end Ruth stands in her dress that describes her figure while Clodagh stands in her baggier white nun tunic. While never directly stated being only hinted at, the true nature of the film becomes clear, “It's holiness against the libido, civility against the wild, control vs. desire.” (Mirasol, 2010).

fig.4 application of lipstick

The symbolism goes on with one of the Sisters planting flowers rather than vegetables. As the flowers bloom a colourful display of nature is shown, one that is purely for the act of reproduction juxtaposing the purpose of the vegetables which is solely for consumption. When interpreting the scene for what is there one can see a nun losing herself to the beauty of nature forgetting about purpose and reason. Another interpretation is that with the flowers in full bloom she is losing herself to lust.

In the end Powell and Pressburger’s film, ‘Black Narcissus’ is one that indirectly provokes thought about the balance of ‘control and desire’. At the same time it also displays a large range of technical marvels to accompany these concepts leading to a visually appealing piece. 

Illustration list

fig.1, Website (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.2, Website (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.3, Website (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.4, Website (accessed 26/11/16)


Haver, Ronald (1998) Black Narcissus (accessed 26/11/16)
Mirasol, Michael (2010) "BLACK NARCISSUS," WHICH ELECTRIFIED SCORSESE (accessed 26/11/16)
Thomas, William (2005) Black Narcissus Review (accessed 26/11/16)

Friday, 25 November 2016

Artist Toolkit - After Effects, Savanna Panorama Animation (25/11/16)

For the Adobe After Effects lesson the class was taught how to utilize the layers of an Adobe Photoshop file to create a series of moving images. The series of layers was firstly created in Photoshop portraying a savanna scene. The file was brought into After Effects before being treated as a 3D image to add depth. 
Final layers composed on top of each other
Savanna panorama layers
The final animation that was created consists of the panning camera giving a shadow puppet feel with the still giraffes and grass. To add to the shot a high exposure layer was used and adjusted throughout the 7 seconds. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

What If Metropolis, Travelogue (Revision No.1)

Travelogue-Veteris (artist: Peter Voulkos)

Those not local to Veteris would be given a single indication that they were within bounds of the city. A lone arch stood at least 10 metres tall made of stone. Oddly shaped it give a small insight into Veteris’ more ‘obscure’ architecture. Beside this gate there were no walls, it simply stood as a reminder for any passer-by of the city’s unique mind set on design.

Never static, ever building, ever changing and never afraid to stray from what has already been accepted; Veteris was a different kind of place. The biggest influence that the people have held in their hearts was their collective living space.

After the joining of two families both groups would follow the tradition of constructing a new home. This was done by taking apart their own homes and bringing in the combined materials forming a new structure. Over time the living space would grow larger, stretching towards the sky.
Upon closer inspection the tall buildings appear to be formed from multiple shapes. Intricate layers folding into each other, curved walls revolving around the base and sporadic shapes sprouting out from the ground, each part carefully balanced contributing to the building.

It was over time the people forgot how their skyscrapers, their houses and their homes looked like. Eventually the conventional, conforming buildings began to fade away with time. The architecture changed yet no one noticed. Families took great pride in the formation of their new homes pushing the design in both function and aesthetics. With the households living within close proximity of each other one can only admire at their neighbour’s construct. Each rebuilding led to a revised structure, improving from the previous one, improving the city as a whole.

Resulting in the culmination of the years gone by and reshaping of the city, no home was the same. This was not taking into account of the individual changes made by those who lived inside. With the buildings being made from the same material throughout the entire width it makes it difficult to differentiate between the functional and atheistic layers. It was the small differences that would describe the family who lived inside. Despite this one rule always stood true in Veteris’ society, the larger the building the bigger the family and thus the more power they held.  

Connecting all the buildings were bridges carrying flowing water. Bound to every building, these aqueducts act as the main source of income with goods being imported and exported between the surrounding cities. Goods come from outside to the largest of the buildings before having a portion sent to next biggest buildings. This would continue until the smallest of families received what was need. As the littlest of families are unable to take part in the trade they contribute through other means preparing food, crafting clothes, providing medical care and so on. Without each other both the largest and smallest of the families would suffer. Not only did these aqueducts bring in necessities for living but also connected the collective families.   

It was for this reason the tall structures not only acted as a home for families but also as a way of living, providing the much need food, water and essentials. Each ‘house’ connected to another through one form or another, rely upon another. The flowing water moving goods also serving as a form of transportation between houses with as many boats carrying people as there were commodities.

Even with the designs forming wild and constructive shapes advancing the form there were still limitations. One such limitation was the material that was available from the previous houses. As a result the new age designs juxtaposed the material that was used in conjunction.  The varying angles that the layers draw from are crafted from reconstituted materials that have been adhered to each other using different techniques. All structures are of the same worn, dense sturdy and bone like material. Never the less the walls have stood the ages always proving its worth when needed withstanding the rain, wind and storms.

Alongside the buildings, tall structures protruded from the ground. Often found in the same style as that of the building they stood by, chains of lamps would be hung. Others would draw themselves higher in order to hold up the aqueducts. Laced around the angular paths of the city one’s eye would be easily drawn up to meet the man-made objects above them. Much like the inhabited structures the material appeared to be of a solid material, worn away by the time. Sturdy enough to be held in the patterned brick pavements yet well balanced, these lamps lit the city for all to see at night. 

What If Metropolis, thumbnails 110-153 (20/11/16)

no. 110-115 building
no. 116-121 building

no. 122-127

no. 128-129 framing shot

no. 130-131 framing shot

no. 132-133 framing shot

no.134-153 lamp post design

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Artist Toolkit - Maya, Alley Part 1 (18/11/16)

The Maya set desgin task required the class to model an alleyway with the orthographic images already provided. The first component to be modelled was the walls of the alley way including the window and arch.
Alleyway with poster on the wall
This was followed by the lamp post which is to modelled in an individual scene and added at a later date.

Modelled lamp post carrying the inititals A & P
Finally the crates were modelled but only a small section. This was to ease texturing as the part could be replicated to form a complete crate. 

Corner section of the box, ready to be modelled and textured

Artist Toolkit - Flash, Running Man (18/11/16)

Following on from last week's exercise the class explored the movement required to create a running animation. This action was completed within 7 frames from point of contact to taking off. In comparison to the walk cycle the total time to animate was far shorter. Despite this reduction in frames I found the task far more difficult having fewer frames to smooth and perfect the animation.
Template and frame count for the 7 beat cycle

As a result of having a too shallow curve the cycle is not dramatic enough when accentuating the movement of running.
Finished running man

Artist Toolkit - Maya, Animated UV Surfaces (15/11/16)

For Friday's task the class was asked to animated the surface of our cubes. This was achieved through the use of multiple programs including Adobe Aftereffects, Adobe Bridge and Maya. Using the texture that was created using Adobe Illustrator a frame by frame animation was added with Aftereffects. 

Original UV box texture

Box animation
The final UV was applied to the model box, Despite not being on my original lighting the time to render still took a considerably long time with the more simple set up. However the end result still displays the box with the correct animation.

Final box texture in Maya model

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Artist Toolkit - Maya, Hard Surface Modelling (16/11/16).

The Maya hard surface modelling task involved the creation of a scooter that is capable of being rigged and has been fully textured. The task involved used a number of polygon primitives that were manipulated so that they fulfilled the task. For texturing the scooter several colours were chosen. The silver was given a more metallic finish representing the metal components while the grey was more dull representing rubber.

Scooter - Final Render
Overall the task took longer than expected.

What If Metropolis, thumbnails 79-109 (16/11/16)

While continuing to create thumbnails in "cooperation" with Peter Voulkos I decided to re-examine the core features in his work. I found that the more important elements of his work was that they were a mix of functional yet aesthetically pleasing, formed through layers and based upon traditional pottery before being changed into his own image. At first the use of layers was explored before having a mix of both organic and rigid shapes. For the last image a more typical skyscraper template was used before being changed to push the line between function and appearance.

no. 79-88

no. 89-97

no. 98-109

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Artist toolkit - flash (11/11/16)

For this week's lesson with Adobe Flash/Animate we were told to observe a 16 frame walk cycle. Despite not being the natural number of frames for a walk cycle the 16 frames made it easier to draw and create the movement required. In the GIF below we can see that the animation runs to 17 frames with the 17th frame resetting the cycle. In the creation of the 17 frames the figure's head and chest bobs up and down following the curved line.
The animation below shows the complete cycle with each frame being correctly positioned. In addition to re-orientating the frames the arms and legs have to switched round to give off the illusion that the limbs are swinging past each other. Despite being a little too dramatic the character has a good strut.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Edward Scissorhands - Film Review

Film Review-Edward Scissorhands

Fig.1 - Film poster
Directed by Tim Burton, the 1990 American film, “Edward Scissorhands” is a dark, romantic fantasy film. It is a heart-warming tale in the typical art style that is used by Burton but is one of his more notable films for being more relatable in the contexts of outsiders.  

The story focuses around the protagonist Edward Scissorhands, an artificial being who can simply be described as a monster based upon his design. Edward becomes alone after the death of his creator before he was able to fit Edward’s hands. This ultimately leaves Edward unable to complete every day functions but grants him the ability to sculpt the objects around him with his blades. After Edward is discovered by Peg Boggs he is brought to the lower suburban area in an attempt to integrate with society. While Edward’s gift brings him temporary comfort he is forced to retreat by the town’s people to his place of creation.

Fig.2 - Edward and his creator just before his death

While the overall story can be closely connected to fairy tales such as “Beauty and The Beast” there is a far more pressing issue that is expressed through this rather bitter sweet tale. Tim Burton himself had said the concept had been drawn from a fairy tale, “I’ve always had a love of fairy tales” (Burton, 2002) but also continued adding the statement, “but the psychological connection wasn’t there for me” (Burton, 2002). In creating a strong ‘psychological’ connection Burton has also reflected the worrying nature of American society.

Links can be formed between “Edward Scissorhands” and “Vernon God Little” (a satire on American society,) by DBC Pierre as the book revolves around Vernon God Little, an outcast. In Vernon’s case he is neglected for being from a poor background, associating himself to a minority and not following the rules of his society. As a result the people and the media use Vernon to advance their own gains, bending the rules to create profit, “we're not just talking executions here - we're talking the ultimate reality TV” (Pierre, 2003).

For Edward it is more obvious that he is an outsider from his character design to where he was created. The creation of the outcast can be attributed to set design seen from the very start. “A haunting gothic castle crouches on a mountaintop high above a storybook suburb, a goofy sitcom neighbourhood” (Ebert, 1990). Drawing inspiration from a post war American suburb the set has been cleverly put together. Obscure pastel colours coat the houses following the same theme instantly hinting conformity and social norms. Rows of green front yards, bright cars and repetitive houses evoke feelings of unease. Juxtaposing this is the European castle that sits at the top of the hill. Gloomy from afar the front yard is filled with shaped hedges, drawing one in. Metaphorically this can be applied to the characters themselves with Edward going beyond his physical appearance and vice versa with the locals.

Fig.3 - Suburb juxtaposed by the European castle in the background
The distance between the castle and suburb is matched by Edward’s and the people’s differences. “Edward himself, one of the most memorable figures in modern cinema” (Lee, 2014), is a truly unique character. In an attempt to help Edward the caring Peg Boggs tries to make the isolated stranger fit in. Starting with clothes, make up and even suggesting having a doctor ‘fix’ his hands. However Edward’s inability to integrate is signified from the start with his scissor hands. Shown through lighter scenes of comedy as Edward attempts to eat, sleep and dress himself struggling to do so in a ‘normal’ fashion.

The entire world of "Edward Scissorhands" is satire, and so Edward inhabits it” (Ebert, 1990). Accepted at first Edward is slowly rejected by the local area as the people spread rumours and conspire against him. The notable addition of Edward’s clothing having an extra tear as the stress amounts throughout the film truly helps to highlight the pressure upon the single figure. Burton has done something that is truly amazing, have the audience sympathise with the monster of the fairy tale.

Sadly this reflects events in American society, one in particular being that of Levittowns. Suburbs that were created postwar supposedly reinforcing the concept of the 'American Dream'. Despite this dream that contained freedom and wealth for those who earned it these communities were largely made up of Caucasians shunning the black society. "But the deeds restricted the sale of the houses to caucasians" (kelly, 1993). This is particularly notable as the suburb in the film borrows the design of those of Levittowns. 

Fig.4 - Levittown with houses repeating the same design
Not only has Burton created a rather emotional film but one that also provokes thought beyond what is immediately perceived. As the lone creature who did not conform with the social norms is forced away by the mass the viewers are presented with questions of their own society.

Ebert R. (1990)
Accessed on (09/11/16)
Kelly B. (1993) Expanding the American Dream: Building and Rebuilding Levittown pp. 60
State University of New York Press, Albany 
Lee M. (2014)
Accessed on (10/11/16)
Woods P. (2002) Tim Burton A Child's Garden of Nightmares pp. 59
Plexus Publishing Limited 

Illustration list 
Fig.1 -
Fig.2 -
Fig.3 -
Fig.4 -

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Life Drawing 09/11/16

This weeks life drawing entailed the use of multiple forms of medium to describe our life model. The first drawing consists of graphite and blue pencil (despite there being very little blue). While there is a sense of tone colour could have been used more effectively to give a higher value alongside bringing out the surrounding area.

The next drawing focused on several quicker poses using more colour, this time white, grey, blue and orange. over the course of the five sketches smaller experiments were done having varied results.

The final drawing was a longer study on a single part of the model's body, for me this was the face, looking at which features were highlighted by the light.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Maya Animation Exercises

The following exercises shows the playblast of several different animations that have been been completed through various means including rigs, motion paths, MEL and dynamics. 

Using Rigs

Using Motion Paths

Using MEL

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

What If Metropolis: Influence Map

The influence map consists of concepts that will help build the surrounding city. While my city is not based in prehistoric times, or in a fiction world for that matter the society itself is going to be using technology on a more primitive level. For inspiration I looked towards aboriginal cultures and buildings. Of these there tended to be a use of more natural shapes alongside materials that were naturally available to them. It was also useful to take into account of their painting style as they would be part of the decoration of the structures.

Artist research, Peter Voulkos

Peter Voulkos, an American artist was born on the 29th of January 1924 is known for creating more expressive abstract work from ceramic material. Born to a Greek family Voulkos began his studies in art at the Montana State University in Bozeman. In his university Voulkos studied in both painting and ceramics gaining experience in both fields.

Voulkos’ later career would have him involved with creating functional dinnerware; he would continue to create ceramics in the traditional sense until 1953. This would be creating smoother, more carefully crafted, and conventional ceramics. During a summer session Voulkos while teaching at the Black Mountain College and approached his craft in a different way.  It was here that he started to take up a more expressive view putting aside what he had been taught. As a result Voulkos has been recognised as one of America’s most significant sculptors of the 20th century.

On February 15th, 2002 Voulkos died from a heart attack. During his life time Voulkos has created a number of works which he has been recognised. Alongside representing his work in major museums and winning multiple awards he has also exhibited around 100 solo shows.

The work that has been recognised has often been created from ceramic material. Looking at the work it can be seen that each piece is individual having a varied weight, shape and form. Common features that appear across voulkos’ work are that the surface of his work is uneven and full of raw emotion. As a result it does not take up the form of traditional pottery but instead a number of different shapes that are both tall and wide. Often or not the forms have a lot of weight and dwarfing traditional ceramics in size. With this the clay has been both shaped by hand and worked with using tools to give gaps and holes. The reddish, brown material is sometimes accommodated by a brighter more vibrate stroke of colour.