Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Sculpting - Session 1

For our sculpting class the aim is to produce a small bust of a character of our choosing. We were instructed on some basic do's and don'ts of choosing which character we wanted to sculpt, and I chose to base my sculpture on the concept art produced by one of my favourite artists, Loish, for protagonist Aloy, of the new game Horizon: Zero Dawn. I was initially unsure if this would be suitable because of the hair, but emailed Alan about it to check, and said about probably simplifying the hair in Photoshop for when it actually reaches hair sculpting time. The left image on the first design page is my main inspiration. 

The first step was to assemble our stand, securing piping to a board, and then to start forming the base neck and head shape with tin foil to save on clay and help in the drying process. 

Next I began to lay clay over the foil base and roughly create basic facial feature points, like nose, cheekbones and chin. 

Using my printout as a reference, starting small but building up the clay slowly.

Adding more to the backof the head for the base of the braided hair.

This is the stage I got to in the first session, a basic head shape and features. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Adaptation: World Animation - Ireland: The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells is a 2009 Irish animated film directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, which loosely tells the origin story of the Irish Abbey settlement of Kells, and the creation of The Book Of Kells,  an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament - an Irish national treasure.

The protagonist is Brendan, a young and curious boy living in the Abbey of Kells, under the care of his uncle Abbot Cellach who is consumed with his obsession of making the abbey safe from viking attacks by continually building a wall around it, separating them from the outside world and surrounding forest. Brendan is apprenticed in the scriptorium of the monastery and also cared for by the monks, and reveres the fabled Brother Aiden, who soon arrives at Kells with his cat Pangur Ban after the destruction of his own monastery, the creator of the famous book of Iona, by legend the most beautiful book in creation, bringing with him the unfinished Book of Kells, a book to rival the Book of Iona and bring light to darkness.

Brendan soon becomes apprentice to elderly Brother Aidan who has become unable to work on The Book of Kells due to his age and failing health, and the loss of the Eye of Colm Cille, a special magnifying lens captured from Crom Cruach. Aiden ventures out into the surrounding forest in search of specific berries to make green ink with for the book, and meets the forest spirit Aisling, who soon accepts him into her forest and aids in in his quest, showing him the beauty of nature, however they encounter the dark spirit  Crom Cruach whop brings darkness and death to the forest and barely escape. 

Once back in the Abbey Brendan is reprimanded by Abbot Cellach for going beyond the walls and forbids him from leaving again. However Aiden wants to help Brother Aiden continue to work on the Book of Kells, and believes he can find another eye in Crom Crauch's lair, but is caught leaving the Abbey by his uncle, who locks him away in the Abbeys tower. Pangur Ban who has beome close with Aiden alerts Aisling to Brendans entrapment and they set him free and run to the woods, where Brendan convinces Aisling to help him try and capture another eye, despite Aislings pleas for him not to battle with Crom Crauch, fearing he will not live. Aisling nevertheless helps him into Crom Crauch's lair, nearly being killed herself in the process, where Brendan battles the dark deity and blinds it by stealing the other eye, in turn making crom Crauch become an ouroboros.

Brendan returns to the Abbey and begins working on the Book of Kells with Brother Aiden, much to the dismay of Abbott Cellach, who rips out the page Brendan has pinstakingly inked and locks the pair in the scriptorium. Shortly after, Vikings envade the Abbey and breach the walls, the people are unprepared and unable to defend themselves, Abott Cellach is struck down and watches in horror as the scriptorium goes up in flames, unbeknown to him however both Aiden and Brendan have managed to escape the Abbey. Abbot Cellach survives his injuries however believes his nephew to be dead and falls into a deep depression.

Years pass as Brendan and Aidan travel Ireland, and eventually complete the book of Kells. It is entrusted to the now adult Brother Brendan once Aidan passes, who then returns to the site of what he believed to be the completely destroyed Abbey of Kells, however there he finds his uncle still alive, ridden with guilt, still cherishing the first page inked by Aidan he tore out years before, and the pair happily reunite over the completed Book of Kells.

This film is unmistakably Irish and filled with Irish pride, evident not just in the contents of the story but in the way the animation has been produced. The visuals of this film have been carefully considered and painstakngly brought to life to deliver a visually beautiful masterpiece. All elements of the animation echo the artwork of the Book of Kells itself (example page image below), and the deeper you look the more considerationa nd reason you find within the stunning artwork. Even the character designs themselves mimic traits and themes of the story, Abbott Chellach himself being a prime example of this, his bodyshape and colouring mimicing that of his abbey towers stained glass window, similarly do the silhouettes and designs of the other Monks of Kells.

Fig 1 – http://static.rogerebert.com/uploads/movie/movie_poster/the-secret-of-kells-2010/large_5B7V6paZJPduO3Wlqd0Q5xWDZJR.jpg
Fig 2 - https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/07/19/a6/0719a696fddfd56861bea7be9f75ff0c.jpg
Fig 3 - http://medias.unifrance.org/medias/86/143/36694/format_page/brendan-and-the-secret-of-kells.jpg
Fig 4 - https://curlewriver.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/tree.jpg
Fig 5 - http://static.rogerebert.com/uploads/review/primary_image/reviews/the-secret-of-kells-2010/hero_EB20100331REVIEWS100339983AR.jpg
Fig 6 - https://joem18b.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/vlcsnap-2011-02-27-11h28m46s216.png
Fig 7 - http://www.leonieverbrugge.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/the-secret-of-kells-original.jpg
Fig 8 - https://soontobeangel.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/book-of-kells-illumination.jpg

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Adaptation: Part B - Post Interim Crit, feedback and moving forward.

Today's pitch went a lot better than I was expecting, I was really quite nervous that people might not really "get" what I'm going for with my project, but it seemed to go down well and I got positive feedback which has really boosted my confidence with the project and given me some confirmation on where I'm heading, and what my final product should consist of. This coupled with the fact the essay is all done and dusted now, plus I feel like I've got the hang of low poly modelling and using the PePaKuRa software too has made me really feel much more relaxed and able to not only focus fully on this project, but also actually quite excited to get going and continue on too. 

I've known since early on in this project that I wouldn't be creating a full animated video for the whole song, and had planned to have refined animatic and textured models as my final outcome, with some possible animation cycle, and I got positive response to this in my feedback and urged to try and push myself to experiment with particle effects in Maya to create the flaking/dissolving of my animals that I want to achieve. I've been told to look at some year 3 Maya tutorials and also been linked some by Deanna on nCloth and some other processes too which I've been told should be useful for me, which I'm excited to start experimenting with a little later on. 

I also got response that this premise would be strong for taking on and developing further in 3rd year, which is definitely something I think I would be interested in doing, as I had thought about the possibility of this before feedback too, and at this point I'm really enjoying the project and agree it would be annoying just to drop it at the end of this year, as I definitely have an idea of how I would like a final animation to look and would really like to see it come to life, eventually. 

First though moving on from my current point, I need to finish creating the low poly models of the rest of my animals, and create the paper mesh models for each of them. This will allow me to start experimenting with different patterns and ways of adding colour to the animals. I want to look a little further into patterns as I want each animal to have patterns relating to its natural habitat, whether they be tribal based for possibly the elephant and tiger, or just generally in theme, for example wavelike patterns on the orca. I feel like having meaning behind the patterns I create will be better than just "drawing pretty patterns" because my whole project focuses having meaning behind the work I create. I will also likely take this into consideration too when deciding colours for the animals.

Next step after I've got my designs finalised will be bringing them back out of the physical and into the virtual, finding a way to apply these textures I have created physically to my animal models in Maya. I will also likely experiment with enhancing colours in Photoshop too, but without overworking them as I still want to keep the freedom and expressiveness of watercolour. 

Then also once Ive got my final colours I can focus on creating a really refined/high quality animatic for the whole song.

To summarise, happy with the positive and confirming feedback I received, and excited to move forward with this project and see what I can create! 

Adaptation: Part B - Interim Crit Presentation

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Acting Class - Week 2

Despite my hesitations for last weeks acting class, I actually found myself quite looking forward to this one. Although we only had a small class this week it was still successful and I think it just made us have to try that bit harder during the team activities (no bombs this week, we had lasers instead), although The Wildcats really didn't do so well with burger-ball this week. 

We had a long exercise where we each had to act out our morning routine to the rest of the group then have them say what they saw/understood from it which was quite interesting, trying to figure out a way to make yours unique to yourself and also try and understand things you might not yourself be familiar with that other people are doing. Also the spacing and imagined house layouts were interesting to see take shape. 

Overall I found todays lesson fun and also I can see how these classes will definitely be of use when character posing and so on, its really made us think about the little details like turning vs pull up taps, opening draws, leaning over cupboards to reach further away things, and remembering your shoes have zips. 

Zip zap in action 

snoozing is a must for any morning routine

mastering the art of the acted-sit

Friday, 17 March 2017

Adaptation: Part B - Learning PePaKuRa Software (& Penguin (1/8) 3D Mesh)

After creating my base low poly penguin model it was time to take it into the PePaKuRa Designer,  which is software that reads and unfolds 3D models, as well as also adding in fold directions and tabs, allowing you to print out your unfolded design and be able to assemble it into a 3D paper model. I plan to do this for each of the animals which will be featured in my project, so I am able to physically create the textures on the paper models, then scan in these textures and apply them to my models, giving them a much more physical look, I will however probably also enhance them in photoshop, but still want to keep them looking hand drawn and painted, as I really love the effects of watercolours and think the freely expressive nature of the medium will be great for this project, plus its always been something I've enjoyed using in the past. 

Also, there is an add on program for PePaKuRa that works with Silhouette Studio that I also got, for use with silhouette cameo machines, which I very handily already happen to have since buying one for personal and business craft use about a year ago now, so I was really pleased to see PePaKuRa had compatible software which allows working with this machine. The silhouette cameo is in essence a CAM cutting machine. The cameo model as oppose to the smaller portrait model is the larger and more advanced machine, with a cutting mat area of 12"x12" and can also cut projects up to 10 feet in length. It uses a small blade to cut and can be used with over 100 materials, ranging from paper, cardstock, vinyl, and fabric, however for this project I'll just be using thick artist grade paper , so that it can support both pen and watercolour media.

First thing you do is export your model as an .obj file, so its compatible to use with PePaKuRa, then open the file and  make sure its brought it in correctly. Then unfold the model. 

Also you can manually input what size you would like the physical model to be.

This made my unfold mesh larger meaning it spreads over several pages. 

 Also it hadn't divided it up enough to fir on an A4 page, so I went ahead and split the mesh myself a bit and re positioned it all to fit better on the pages.

Then you go into the PePaKuRa 4 for Silhouette Cameo and open the unfolded model file. First thing is to set your registration marks, these are the small printed marks on your sheets that the silhouette uses to ensure the paper is positioned correctly on the cutting mat so the blade is able to cut the design accurately. Next you print your design, and also export as a DXF file to take into the silhouette studio software to use with the cameo. 

Next you open your silhouette studio software and ensure your preferences are set correctly for importing the DXF file, ensure its set to import "as is" and unit lengths are set to millimetres, then go ahead and open your file/s (if your design takes up more than 1 page, as mine does where I specified the size, then you'll need to open each page separately. You also need to ensure in the pepakura software its set to export and print as an a4 sheet, and match this setting in the silhouette software. 

Next up is to set up your registration mark settings, you need to turn the cut inset thresholds right down to 10mm/1cm to match what you put earlier in the pepakura software, and also make sure its inverted as the registration marks from the pepakura software are opposite to the usual positioning for silhouette marks. 

The final step is to set up the cut settings, you need to go into advanced settings to ensure only the black outline is cut, and not the blue and red fold lines. This is where you also need to tell the machine what kind of material its cutting, and the time you would do test cuts to determine what blade settings, depths and speeds you will need, if you're using a new material. For this first model test I'm using plain printer paper so the pre-programmed copy paper cut setting will be fine, but when I come to my actual models Ill be using a thicker artist paper so I will need to experiment with these settings to find the right depth and speed to properly cut through the paper, but also not go too deep to damage the cutting mat underneath, or too fast that it rips the paper or doesn't cut small details correctly. 

However when I tried cutting mine (after quite a few registration mark issues!) my silhouette ended up cutting the design in the correct place, but 0.8cm too small (either side). I wasnt sure where I went wrong as I followed the tutorial on the pepakura site as well as I could given the basic instructions, however I thought of a quick fix of trying to use just the silhouette software to both print and cut. I also played around with line styles and colours, making the fold lines grey to not stand out as much and dashed to differentiate easily between them and cut lines.