Monday, 9 November 2009

Titus Groan concept art – understanding the imagery and gaining inspiration

I have been presented with the task of creating concept art for three excerpts from the novel “Titus Groan”. Here I am going to talk about some different parts from the excerpt that I plan to create concept art from, that give me the strongest mental images. I am also going to talk about different sources that give me inspiration to go towards my artwork.

Inspirational sources

I have been on the lookout over the past few weeks for things which spark inspiration from other sources of artwork, be it book covers or scenes in films. Here I will name a few and mention in another blog about why they are so influential.

  • Lord of the Rings - Film and mainly Book cover artwork

  • Merlin - TV series run by the BBC

  • Rochester Castle

  • Tim Burton films, in particular the "Corpse Bride"

Excerpt 1: Hall of the bright carvings.

There are several key pieces of imagery that strongly come to mind from this excerpt. Here are the ones that took my attention most and what I will be using to work upon.
I found the description the power that the Castle has over everything else in the land the story is based in to be a really strong, intimidating presence. When I read a couple of lines based around the Castle, I could feel the sinking of my stomach as the image of a towering beast in front of a blood red sky empowers everything underneath its groaning slumber.

As you can see below, I am constructing my conceptual sketches into digital paintings via photoshop. As I create them I will show the developmental stages to each pictures finished product.

Few hours later... ta da! Hall of Bright Carvings.

(LOTS more to be added to this... bear with me... blogspot has a passionate hate for me)


  1. Interim Online Review - Unit 2 : Space 10/11/09

    Hi Chris,

    Progress seems rather slow? It's reassuring to see some thumbnails arrive, but I'm not seeing any evidence of your developing skills with Photoshop and graphics tablet - are you making the most of your classes with Phill Hosking? You appear to be 'colouring in' some your thumbnails, when other students seem to be benefiting from taking Phill's advice and working more impressionistically - at least in the first instance. I don't see any evidence either of you working up many alternate views/compositions via quick, instinctive thumbnails?

    Experience suggests that you're not giving this your fullest attention; I direct you towards Ruben's blog, as that is a much better indication for me (in terms of assessment) of what I'd expect to see after 2 weeks... also, you appear to struggle with blogger - can I strongly suggest you engage with your classmates and suss out where you're going wrong in terms of file size/type etc. Other students seem to experience little or no difficulty, so get some advice and don't let it become an obstacle.

    We had a discussion re. the visual opportunities presented by Gormenghast - a rich, theatrical world of exaggeration and grotesques; you may already be familiar with the painting technique of chiaroscuro - see the paintings of Caravaggio for some deep and rich inspiration; you may also derive inspiration from the film, The Cook, the Thief, the Wife and her Lover, which we'll be watching together on Tuesday afternoon.

    More generally, I still want you to give more thought re. how you present your drawings etc. on the blog - photographing them just isn't doing you or your work any favours; take the time to scan them, tidy them and post them to their best advantage.

    See second post for general info re. written assignment.

  2. Written Assignment stuff…

    Some general structural advice regarding framing your essay in the more general context of ‘production design’ – by way of introduction to your specific case-study (i.e. the movie or game of choice), you’ll need to demonstrate your understanding of the purpose of production design/designers in enshrining certain ‘narrative values’ within the look of the production; you should discuss the general aims/objectives/definitions of production design – see below:

    “Before designing anything, the designer develops a "design concept," an overarching metaphor for the film's appearance that governs individual choices. This "concept" may or may not be established in conjunction with the director. Once settled upon, however, it structures all decisions made, helping the art staff to give an individual film visual distinction.”
    Read more:

    You’ll find alternative definitions that you may want to include, but your following analysis of your chosen exemplar should be an in-depth discussion of that ‘overarching metaphor’ that organizes all the various components of the production’s design; you need to be looking for recurring motifs, colour values, use of space, set-design etc. that, collectively, create ‘the look’ and be able to talk insightfully about the narrative contribution of ‘the look’ – i.e. – how does it assist in the audience’s understanding of the narrative or thematic framework.
    IMPORTANT; try and think of your written assignments as ‘complete worlds’ – i.e., that they must contain all information necessary for your reader to follow your discussion coherently. Never presume prior knowledge on the behalf of your reader; do not, for instance, presume that your reader understands or is familiar with ‘Production Design’ – you always need to define your terms WITHIN the essay; likewise with films and games; give their release date, their director etc. Use footnotes to give definitions or information that would otherwise interrupt flow of argument; for instance, if you don’t want to pause rhythm of sentence by giving reader additional information about a particular artist or designer, use a footnote to put this data into the ‘margins’ of the discussion. On Word, goto to Insert and then ‘Footnote’ to install footnote at bottom of page.

    AVOID DESCRIPTION – obviously, you will need to give some plot details to contextualise the scenes you want to discuss, but I don’t want a blow-by-blow account of the game/film; give a brief précis and get on with the ANALYSIS.

    Below is a list of useful websites; use them in addition to other sources of reference (books, docs, making ofs) to SUPPORT your observations; you need to gather EVIDENCE to corroborate with your analysis. GENERIC observations (i.e. ‘stating the bloody obvious’) are to be avoided at all costs. Tell me something I DON’T know!


    The gloves are coming off; the brief asks you to produce 1,500 words… and that’s what want; shortfall assignments will be penalized accordingly – or failed.

    Good Luck! ☺

  3. ... about the perception essay; as I haven't been involved, I can't necessarily appease all your (and others) confusion. However, I do have some very basic advice for you;

    Go back to the brief: below the essay question itself you will find the 'assessment criteria' - unfortunately, I couldn't get hold of an actual copy of the brief - otherwise I would copy/paste the exact requirements, but my point is simply this; use the 'assessment criteria' as cited in the brief to guide and formulate your response.

    So, if memory serves, the first criteria asks you to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the principles of perception; therefore, to begin your essay, you should reflect your understanding of the key ideas as covered in the lecture series - Gestalt theory, semiotics etc - a general statement regarding how our relationship to the world and meanings has been discussed in theoretical terms.

    The next criteria is all about APPLYING that understanding; so, what I therefore suggest is, out of the various theories/principles, you select one/some to develop further and apply them to something; if you were to select semiotics, before you could apply it, you would first have to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject itself - whose idea was it, where did it come from, and what does it 'do' - then, once you've defined Semiotics, apply it - my advice would be to apply it to something 'simple' first - because when you apply it to something simple, what is 'complex' about how our perceptions of it are formed is made very obvious; the example I've used is the traffic light - green = go/ red = stop. Of course, red and green don't equal anything - their significance is entirely cultural and created. Then, once you've applied it to something simple, you are in a position to move onto something more complex.

    The way to succeed in this essay is for you to define the limits of your own enquiry - don't let the whole weight of perceptual theory lead your essay, make the essay lead perceptual theory.

    The other assessment criteria is about 'academic style' in the writing of the essay itself, which is something we've all talked about before - that is, finding a formal 'voice' with which to express yourself and observing the Harvard Method for quotes and citations,

    I know what the essay question says (or doesn't say!), but basically you are being asked to use your knowledge of perceptual theory to 'unlock' an existing image, object or sign. If you're doing that, you're doing okay.

    Golden Rule - when in doubt, use the assessment criteria as your guide!

  4. Okay – just a few important reminders for week 10…

    1) !IMPORTANT! Hand-in for Perception essay is Monday 23rd November (Tomorrow!) between 10am and 12pm at the Design Office (Jackie’s office on Lower 4th – just up from the CG Arts Baseroom). Ensure you complete the plagiarism form; if you’ve misplaced it, ask Jackie for a new copy and attach to your essay.
    2) Your crit on Friday starts at 9am in Lecture Theatre 1; we will be reversing the register order – so we’ll be starting with Simon Watts, then Richard etc. There will be a named folder on the Lecture Theatre 1 computer: as soon as you arrive please copy your 3 finished scenes into the folder in readiness for your presentation.
    3) All Maya exercises should be completed for Friday morning so Alan can assess them while you are in your crit.
    4) Upload to your blogs your 3 final concept paintings plus a minimum of 5 preparatory studies for each painting that demonstrate clearly your comprehension of the source material and the representation of space. Your supporting research into source material and for written assignment. All drawings from life-drawing classes. Your modeling & UV layout tasks, lighting & rendering tasks, and first digital set as specified in your technical classes.
    5) Please can you ensure that you have a printed copy of your essay to submit in addition to the digital file on your submission disc.
    6) Also – please ensure you copy 3 scenes and essay file into named folder on computer in baseroom by the end of the submission day.
    7) Good luck! Have a great final week – work hard, be amazing, be successful! I genuinely look forward to seeing your work ☺

  5. A clarification; Alan WON"T be looking at students' Maya work until Monday of next week, which means you have the weekend to complete your various exercises. I know Alan has spoken with the class about this already - so I'm just confirming it from an assessment point of view. I'll do my best to post this message on everyone's blog, but if you could spread the word, I'd be grateful. Cheers!