Archive for September, 2010

The Third Assignment

The purpose of this assignment is to give you some experience in conforming to the specific requirements of a professional assignment.  You will have to follow the directions and be careful to provide the final “camera ready” art in the correct size and dimensions.  It also will give you the experience of using your skills in linear perspective.

Your assignment is to create a full color illustration that depicts a quaint street that is narrow and winding.  This street is an Italian (Tuscan) street exterior at the end of the day (Golden Hour).  Further down the street is a blackbird.  Colors should be warm Tuscan colors.  This is for a magazine article/story.

Back story:  A fable of a young bot that becomes lost in the narrow streets of his Tuscan village.  A Black Bird appears and beckons to him.  He follows the bird and in time it leads him into a familiar piazza from which he can find his way back to his house before nightfall.

The print size is going to be 5 3/8 inch wide, by 11 inches high.  Include 1/2 inch bleed all the way around.  Paint to reduce to these dimensions.  Do not paint larger than 150% scale, or smaller than 120% scale.

Do not include the boy.

Use warm coors (Tuscany and Golden Hour).

If need be, ask questions.

Thumbnails are due Wed. Sept, 29

Color Comps due Wed. Oct 6

and FInals due Wed. Oct 13

sample of layout space in magazine

Assignment #2, Film Noir.

This assignment is due Wednesday, September 22.  Thumbnails are due Wednesday, September 15.

The bare bones are that is must be 16 x 9 inches horizontal (landscape) format, black and white (or only minimal color), Film Noir style.  The actual content is up to you.  You may want to include the typical private eye, dame, cigarettes (wafing smoke), and pistol, or you may depict some other subject in this style.  Definitely, it must be moody and dark.

REMEMBER: Film Noir must include the following attributes:

* 1. Predominance of Black.  Pure black.  60-70% of the space must be dark.

Minimal light, predominant dark.

* 2. Moody.  Dark and foreboding.

Robert Mitchum and Lauren Bacall have lots of attitude.

* 3. Dramatic Lighting.  Melodramatic, theatrical, and high contrast. All the information lies in the minimal mid-tones.  The black is black, and the white is white.  The grays tell everything.

Ministry of Fear

Look out for that knife!

* 4. Strong Use of Shadow.  Cast shadow, like the knife (above).  Almost gimicy and cheesy. What, did I say “Almost”?

"The Shadow knows"

"The Shadow Knows"

* 5. Strong Use of Silhouette.  In this style, the silhouette is very important.  Think light-over-dark, or dark-over-light.  In other words, every shape will be defined as a light shape over dark or vise versa.

Same elephant, staged well or staged poorly.

Same elephant, one staged well, one staged poorly.

* 6. Less is More.  In Film Noir it is common for a portion of the subject to be obscured in darkness.  Often half the face is in shadow, leaving the emotion to be carried by only part of the face.  All unimportant elements are minimized if not left out all-together.

Simplicity, Silhouette, and Mystery.

Simplicy, Silhouette, Mystery. Very powerful.

Study the remainder of these images to get the feel.  Look for the elements that have been listed above.

Shadows repeat the obvious.

Shadows restate the obvious.

Artistic cast shadows.

Artistic use of cast shadows.

Hey, look at the face! Any doubt about that?

Joseph Cotton

More artistic cast shadows.

The ubiquitous cigarette

The threatening shadow.

If you can successfully pull this off, then you know you can control large empty spaces and actually make them a vital part of the composition.  It’s about design.  You’ll know that you can stage the subjects well because there is such economy of information, that you have to make the best use of every little part that has light on it.  You’ll know that you can use the silhouette to your advantage for strong and quick read, either a light shape silhouetting over a dark area or a dark shape over a light area.  You’ll know that you can create a primary focal point, and secondary focal points without losing control of the composition.  You’ll know the value of simplicity, and that you can create very powerful images without cluttering up the space with all sorts of frivolous little things.

You also need to increase your skill with thumbnails and comps to generate the best creative options and solve the problems before you get onto the full sized paper.

Draw lots!

First assignment inspiration

Our first assignment has been to illustrate some toys.  Specifically, characters from Noah’s ark.  In the preliminary studies and sketches we are finding a variety of textures and materials, such as plastic, and the soft pile of plush toys.  I submit here some examples of illustrations of toys and/or other examples of the kinds of materials we are dealing with.  I hope this is helpful.

tiki figure

Carved wood.

Whether you are doing wood or not, notice how the scale of the grain helps to establish that this is a small, toy-sized, item.

action toy

Plastic action figure.

This is a fairly rough sketch, but you can clearly see the hinged joints and working mechanism of the action figure.

park ride

Plastic or fiberglass surface.

This is a rendering of a theme park ride, but the fiberglass material and it’s basic appearance would be similar to the plastic or rubber toy.  It’s shiny, and has many little highlights across it’s surface.



plush toys

Stuffed teddy bears and doll.

Here is the traditional teddy bear.  Notice the seams and suggestion of the furry material, as opposed to the shiny surface of the eye button.

teddy bear detail

Teddy bear detail.

dolls and puppets

Dolls hand-made from found objects.

These are concept sketches from a film that never got made.  This is actually the very thing this assignment is meant to duplicate, designing characters for an animated film about toys that are enchanted and living.  Notice the material on these little dolls or puppets.  The little Cherokee boy is made of an old leather glove for a body.  See the seams?

glove detail

Glove detail.


Children's toys.

Again, these are actual toy designs for Carters toys for infants.  So the assignment is very similar to this work.  Notice the clear plastic dog bone hanging on the neck of the green dog.

Plastic bone detail.

more creatures

Plush toy types.

These are designs for walk-around characters at a theme park, but identical, except for the scale, to a plush toy.  Notice how there are no crisp highlights (except for the eyes).  Everything has a soft transition from lights to darks which suggests the soft pile fabric they are made of.

detail section

Drawing of glass and clear plastic.

For Dahne, I have included these samples of glass of clear plastic (shampoo bottle).  It’s all in how you play the dark and lights next to each other to achieve the illusion of a transparent and tubular container.  The next image also has these features.  Notice the glass bottles and tubes over next to the wall on the left.  Also notice how these animation layouts are nothing more than pencil drawings.  They are not painted at all, bur are enhanced in photoshop to increase the richness of contrast and get cleaned up a bit.

animation drawing

Different textures, lost and found.

This is a good example of the lost and found principle that we discussed in class.  Stones are suggested, but not actually drawn in everywhere.  The cracks in the floorboards come and go.

Glass bottle detail.

Stone wall detail.

Floorboard detail.


Shiny red tomato.

The illusion that we see in this tomato is achieved by simply replicating the way crisp highlights sit right next to deep tones and shadows on the reflective surface. Find reference photos to help you understand the characteristics of your surfaces.  Whether you are using color or not, you can differentiate between these these surfaces with careful draftsmanship and observation.  This tomato was painted with airbrush and then touched-up with Prisma Color pencils.

Tomato detail.

Finally, I will include the next detail from an illustration that does not depict any toys, but I wanted you to see the different textures and careful rendering (modeling) that was done with pencil.  The pencil drawing was then scanned in the computer and colorized in Photoshop.  All the design, shapes, texture, line, and tones came from the pencil drawing.  There was no digital “painting” done over the original pencil drawing.  The only thing “painted in the computer was the green background, and the highlight on the face-gaurd cage.  If you can get the drawing right, there are many ways that you can add color without having to re-draw or re-paint the whole thing,i.e. water color washes.

detail from softball plyer

Detail of colorized pencil drawing.

All of these pieces are my work except for the little Cherokee Boy, which was digitally rendered by Jim Finn at the Walt Disney Studios (2003).  I did the chair and other environmental elements that are shown.

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