Wednesday, August 31, 2016

IFX Reviews Portrait Video

The new issue of ImagineFX takes a look at the new Portraits in the Wild video:

"James' latest video shows him doing the groundwork that supports his successful attempts to represent the breadth of humanity in his illustrations."

"The task this time," they say, "is to get figures on to paper while the 'models' get on with whatever they're doing: queueing for food at a country fair, working in a historical re-enactment village, or performing in a choir. There's also a more formal modelling session with a model who, James says, 'We knew wouldn't stay still.'" 

IFX says that my "In The Wild" videos are "creative beacons, informing the way you approach your craft and encouraging you to use the world around you to enrich your work. There's a great deal of enjoyment to be had from the characters that you meet along the way; and the Sacred Harp choir performance, which you'll hear fragments of as James paints, is sensational." 
Portraits in the Wild 
Download (66 minutes, 1080p HD widescreen MP4 video) Available at GumroadSellfy, and Cubebrush.
DVD (NTSC widescreen with slideshow) Available from and from Amazon.
IFX Reviews Tyrannosaur Video

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Painting a Chicken from Life

(Link to YouTube)
When I sit down to paint this magnificent little rooster, I'm hoping for a pose that's a little bit unusual, not just the standard profile. Luckily the bird cooperates by striking a napping pose with his beak tucked backward.

It only lasts a couple of minutes, but it's enough time for me to quickly sketch it in. The rest I reconstruct while observing him in other poses. I use just three colors of gouache: Perylene maroon, viridian, and permanent yellow (Arylide), plus white.
Full length video tutorials: Gouache in the Wild and Watercolor in the Wild

Monday, August 29, 2016

Horse Walk Cycles

Here's a walk cycle of a horse, animated from four angles by Simon Otto in preparation for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. (link to YouTube)

Whether you're a painter, sketch artist, or an animator, it's helpful to study frame-by-frame breakdowns of walk cycles. Still one of the best sources is the pioneering work of Edweard Muybridge, who took photos of horses in motion as early as 1878.

Muybridge horse walking with rider
Here's one basic observation about a walking quadruped. Typically when one of the front legs passes the other's position, the back legs will be at full extension (first and last frame above). 

Similarly, when the back legs pass each other (frames 6 and 7), the front legs are at full extension. (Note: read the action from right to left starting in the second row.)

Even if you're a painter and not an animator, it's good practice to sketch a few key poses so that you can generate them from memory. This can be a big help later when you're sketching living animals. When they're moving at normal speed it's almost too fast to observe.

Here are some resources if you want to explore this topic further.

More about Simon Otto


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Getting Blur into Stop Motion Animation

You've met the monster named Sprocket. Now watch him eat the trash left on picnic tables. (direct link to video)

I shot this stop motion animation sequence in the food court of the county fair. There's no CGI, and no greenscreen. It's 100% shot in camera at a 1/4 sec. shutter speed.

Those slow shutter speeds put a lot of blur into the background, especially in a busy public place where random people are walking around. 

I wanted the human world to whiz by in a blur in order to convey the impression that the cartoon world exists in a different time dimension.

Blur is something that's hard to get into stop motion characters. The puppet typically holds still during the shot. So unless you blur it digitally in post, fast action is inevitable composed of a series of hard-edged poses. 

That's the case with Otis the Ocelot's walk, which doesn't have any blur. It has a strobing quality since it's shot on 2s.

But blur it's everywhere in live action film. When you freeze-frame any object that's moving quickly in a live-action, the frame is full of motion blur. Speed blur also happens when the camera moves quickly through space.

I've been fascinated by finding ways to get that blur into stop motion. When Sprocket does a fast run, the puppet switches to another one with spinning foot-wheels operated by an overhead wire. 

In the photo above on the right, he's shot with the camera tracking him. The camera is set for continuous shooting at about four frames per second. So there's motion blur and speed blur. 

If your eyes are fast, you might also notice a few frames like the one above, right after Sprocket takes off.

More images like this on the Animation Smears and Multiples blog
Those frames are inspired by the special frames known as "multiples" and "smears" used for fast action in classic animation from the 1940s.

I shot them using this weird sculpt, which I dangle from two fishlines so that it swings back and forth a little during the shot.

Previous posts: 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eric Pape in Illustration #53

The new issue of Illustration Magazine has a feature on Eric Pape (1870-1938), a golden age American illustrator. He was born in San Francisco and studied under Emil Carlsen before heading to France to study in the academies. Several trips to the Egypt and the Near East cemented his love of Orientalism and exoticism, which became a key part of his work.

The article contains a welcome biography and overview of his career, replete with illustrations that range from his academic studies to his black and white decorate work to his full color illustrations.

There are over 80 images by Pape alone, mostly reproduced in color, and mostly from the original. The issue also includes features on Ellen Clapsaddle and Mel Odom.

You can learn more about Illustration Magazine #53 and preview the issue at this link.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Adding Smog to Kiddieland

I brought my sketch easel to the edge of Kiddieland at the county fair on Tuesday. 

I used a limited palette of gouache—Prussian blue, carmine red, raw sienna, and white. The scene had a lot of blue in it, so I started with a step in the opposite direction: a warm underpainting in raw sienna. 

What I didn't like about the scene was that the air seemed too crisp and clear. I actually like a bit of smog and haze when I'm painting. It adds so much more depth and mystery. So I added some atmosphere by lightening the sky, the far tree, and the tall blue tent. 

In the video you can see that I restated them a couple of times. I also added a little white chalk at the end to add to the feeling of glare.