Posts Tagged Art
In art, like in physical exercise and other activities, warming up is often recommended. Whether in a formal art class, or in text references, there is almost always some attempt to get the students to get in the habit of skating the page with scribbles. This helps get a tactile sense of pressure, resistance, and speed of the substrate as marks are being laid down. Mike Mattesi, in his books and video lectures (which you can find links to in my reference tab above) also has a variation on this, where the purpose isn’t just to get a feel for the surface, but also as a quick reminder to the brain to be conscious of how curvature works with speed, and how the sharper the curve, the slower the speed. He uses the analogy of a car driving around a track, speeding up in the straight sections and slowing down to make the bends.
The result of that kind of exercise usually looks something like this:
All of this is extremely helpful, but I’ve been adding to my ‘warm-up’ routine as of late, because seriously, who ever warms up with just one stretch? But there has to be a purpose behind the warm-up and in this case, it’s about putting the mind in a place where it sees form and structure in addition to line. Taking Mr. Mattesi’s lead a bit, we draw two curved and forceful arcs, such as per his rule, that one of the forces leads directionally into the apex of the next, forming a rhythm. The key here is that I’m not looking to draw anything real. I’m just placing lines at this point.
Just two lines, right? Well, because of what we know of force from the references mentioned, the next step is to see form, and one of the keys to generating form is overlap, so let’s throw an example of that into the mix.
Now you can almost start to see the shape of something dimensional forming in the mind. Now keep in mind that though I’m not specifically planning any of these marks, I am still trying to be aware of space. If I put the marks too close together, seeing form and volume develop might be more difficult.
In any case, let’s go ahead and add a couple of straight lines to add some structure and contrast to the curves.
Mind you the order I’m doing this in is not gospel. Straights followed by overlap works just as well, but in the very beginning it helps to use the two curved lines in some kind of forceful arrangement. We can go further by adding some marks indicating volume:
Not my best endeavor, but that’s what warm ups are for, to work out the kinks and set your mind working right. I went ahead and did a little more to this one and added tone for effect, but not that you have to, unless you want to practice using tone to indicate depth at the same time, which is great, but as I’ve been told and instructed myself, it’s probably best to learn depth through line first, and tone later.
Anything you come up with here may end up looking rather surreal, but at the same time you may find yourself inadvertently drawing part of a figure. It’s whatever comes into your head on the spur of the moment. These are quick exercises, and doing them has helped me look for and see these same qualities in the representational work I go on to do after the warm-up.
That’s pretty much it. Sorry for the delay in updates the last couple of weeks, but I hoped to make it up a bit with a double post this week.
Until next time.
Maintaining open horizons: The key to finding answers isn’t to always look in the box marked “answers”.
I’ve been working in CGI rendering methods for approximately two years, creating a handful of characters and each time the approach in modeling has been slightly different, but almost all of them started out similarly. I’ve come to accept this as part of the territory when learning anything new and potentially complicated. Textbook examples for modeling something like say, a face or a head will only usually take you far enough just to get your feet wet, unless you only find yourself creating the same kind of character each and every time.
My ‘book of choice’ at the time illustrated a method for creating a face by creating the mouth, nose, ears and eyes as separate entities and connecting them afterwards. This works fine as long as you want to model a realistic human face. But what if you wanted to create faces like these?
Well, suddenly that method doesn’t seem so sufficient. How do I attach the mouth structure to the nose structure when they’re integrated by design? The book illustrated how to go about the business of crafting each one separately, not together. Having nothing else to go on at the time, I muddled through by pushing and pulling the mesh into the ‘right’ shape and produced faces much like you see in the top image. And while there’s nothing obviously wrong at a first glance, when it comes time to move the mouth, the deformations become… difficult to manage. I don’t want to get bogged down in the details here but essentially it has to do with the flow of edges and polygons as they wrap around the model’s surface. Another problem was that the character I was modeling was based on my comic strip character which in turn had been composed mainly of soft shapes that lacked a certain amount of defined structure in the face and head.
Time travel to this past July when I started thinking about creating a new character (bottom image). In the period of time between the two, I ended up viewing some particularly helpful tutorials. Hand-drawn art tutorials. There was one in particular that addressed ways to stay on model by clearly envisioning the planes of the face and consequently adding the structure that my previous work had so sorely lacked. It wasn’t until I started applying that knowledge in the hand-drawn design of the character that the thought occurred that perhaps one could model the head and face as a series of very low-res planes (basically one polygon per plane), merging them and then going into the requisite detail. You can see the effect most clearly in the mesh between the bridge of the nose and the corner of the mouth. As it turns out, using planes rather than parts provided a level of control over that tricky area of the face that develops in these kinds of muzzled characters, as it ends up dictating how well the face will wrinkle, fold and deform when it comes time to animate.
There are broader implications here which will become a recurring theme on this blog: Finding solutions is not unlike good design. The answers do not necessarily come from looking in the obvious places.