Posts Tagged ‘art’

Concept Art Process for Award-Winning Short Animated Films

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of two short animated films

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of the two short animated films “Driven” and “Worlds Apart” – both created in Cogswell College’s Project X class – shares his process of creating character concept designs and more.

While working on the films created in the Project X class, I learned that it takes a very dedicated team to make a short film in four semesters or less. Many of the students on this team are attending classes full-time in addition to contributing their talents towards making an awesome film.

Here’s an overview of what happens during the production process of a short animated film: First the script and storyboards are completed and approved, within the first semester. Meanwhile, the concept team begins creating concepts for characters and environments.  Approved concepts are sent into the modeling pipeline as soon as they are approved where our artists create 3d models. As each model is approved by the Director, they are sent into the texturing and rigging pipeline. Technical artists create animation rigs for each model and prepare them for animation testing.  Animation is a long process so it is important to get the rigged 3D models to the animators as soon as possible. Animation takes almost a year to get all of the shots approved.  After the animation is polished, the first test of the film timing is created, approved, and sent off to the sound effects and music score team.  Also during the process of animation, approved shots are sent to the lighting team for light set and test render. When the finalized lit shots are rendered out, they are sent to the compositing team for the final clean up. After the composite shots are cleaned up and finalized, they are sent off to the film editor who creates the final cut of the film and music score.

On the latest film ‘Driven’, each member of the team wore different hats depending on which stage of the production pipeline the film was in.  For instance, initially I started out in the concept design pipeline, then moved to the animation pipeline and finally to matte painting for the final stage of the film.

One of my jobs as a concept designer was to collect the approved designs from the other artists and finalize them. Because most approved designs are from different artists, each with their own distinct style, the finalization process ensures a consistent look and feel. After finalizing the look and stylization of the characters, I would render each character in 2D using Adobe Photoshop so that it would represent its 3d counterpart.  This allows the Director to easily visualize how each character will look before it gets passed along to the modeling team.

Digital media is the fastest way to work and Photoshop offers the perfect tools and work flow for this demanding field. With infinite tool presets, custom brushes, and limitless iterations, it allows me to work more quickly and easily compared to traditional mediums like paint or ink.

To block out the initial character’s silhouette, I like to use a standard round brush, which I adjust into an ellipse shape, then angle it 45 degrees. This style of brush setup creates a line weight that flows much more nicely than the standard round brushes. Once the silhouettes and internal shapes look good, I create a new layer in Photoshop and start to block out the forms with one color value. At this early stage, I prefer to work in black and white.  It makes it easier to focus just on values and form rather than getting caught up about the colors. My preference in digital painting is to work from dark to light values, or shadows to highlights. It has been my experience to get results much faster using this method than trying to paint from light to dark.  I push and pull (lighten and darken) the values until the character forms are clear.  During this process, I maintain a wide range of values to create depth and realism.

Once the characters have been sketched out, it’s time to experiment with color palettes. I like give a slight color tint to the values before painting on top of the black and white image. The tint layer acts as a color wash so none of the black and gray value show through later. I create a new layer and set the Layer Mode to “Color”. I start by painting over the character with the color palette that the team agrees on. By using multiple layers, I don’t lose my original black and white image – and I can test out different color schemes.  Once I’ve added general color blocks to the characters, I use a new layer to start painting in details. For the final detail stage, I use textures and custom brushes to polish the look of the characters.

The development stages from concept to finished product vary from character to character; it all depends on what the Director is looking for. For example, secondary characters may be approved before main characters. Main characters are often challenging as they have to be visually pleasing and have the right visual attitude. On the other hand secondary characters have far less restrictions, allowing flexibility for designers to explore their creativity.

The concept team spent almost an entire semester designing characters. After four months and multiple iterations, all nine characters were finally approved. Once approved, I took the concepts and started finalizing each character’s look. It took me roughly four or five hours to render out the first pass of each character to show the Director.  One character in particular – the adult Biff cop – took almost ten hours to design.  After multiple small changes, the final designs were approved.

One of the most surprising and challenging characters to design was the Jet Bike that the main character rides.  Its importance in the film is equal to the character that rides it. Although there were many great concept designs shown to the Director, none of them were approved. That’s when I was given the tough task of designing the bike. After fifty designs, we started to narrow down the concept. Once the main silhouette was chosen, I mixed elements from the best three designs together to get the final jet bike concept. The process for this single ‘character’ took three or four weeks, from start to finish, working with traditional mediums like graphite and paper.

This is just the front-end of the production pipeline for a short animated film. It takes a strong team and lots of man hours to complete the film. In the end many people had come and gone, and lots of talented people contributed to the film. We were all so glad that the film was finally finished. It took the PX team about four semesters and two summers of hard work to accomplish the short film, Driven. The Project X class has given me the best hands-on experience possible. It has definitely changed my future and life for the better. Thanks Project X!

Kong Vang

Cogswell Student’s Artwork Featured On Kotaku!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Matt Bard

Dungeonesque Walls

One of our students, Matt “Bardler” Bard, had his polycount rock formation featured on Kotaku as, “A rather magnificent-looking, somewhat dungeonesque wall from Bardler”

Clicker here for the article!

Awesome job, Matt!

Halo 4 Box Art Released

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Hello everyone!

I know that I just posted about Halo 4 in my last entry, but… THEY JUST RELEASED THE BOX ART! This is pretty exciting as 343 Industries haven’t followed the trend that Bungie has set forth with nearly every other Halo release where they have leaked tons more game-play and video previews. This time around 343 has kept the details pretty under-wraps in terms of video footage and releasing very little art. However, a little beauty came flying across my desk today and I had to share it with you guys. Oh and….. little bonus, did you know that two Cogswell alumnus work for 343 Industries? Their names are, Will Christiansen and Pat Gillette, and I would like to give them a big salute and thank you for bringing us this beautiful game, we are all eagerly awaiting its release. Thanks guys!

Halo 4 Box Art

Dare of the Week: 011

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Hello once again readers!

Ok people, so this week’s dare is one that I personally have been wanting to do and I figured making it a dare would help me get to it. I have been on massive 8-Bit kick lately and have really always been a fan of the art style since I kind of grew up on the stuff. I also love photography, well, portraiture specifically. Also, with the age of social networking and the avatar craze, combining the two art forms is almost a perfect blend. So… this time…

Dare of the Week: 011
Do an 8-Bit digital portrait!

The guidelines this time are, no using Photoshop filters! I can tell and it takes away all the creativity from the dare, so don’t do it! Have fun, I can’t wait to see them!

8-Bit Portrait

And remember, once you are finished, post that 8-bit goodness here:
http://www.facebook.com/cogswellcollege

-Zombie

Tornado Season Coming!!!

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Student Project

Attention Dragons and Dragonettes- we’ve received notice of incoming storms next week. Windows are scheduled to be boarded over in attempt to prevent the front door from shattering and putting out an eye. You guessed it, it’s Tornado season. A Local meteorologist managed to weasel a paper airplane past the guard dogs and onto the front desk. After we ensured his remains were fed to the hounds, the note informed us we’re due to expect unusual debris across the school. In an effort to recover from the tornado damage, students are requested to participate in clearing the school of the artifacts left by the tempest. Keep an eye out for paper dragons guarding their treasured tickets, and for the love of the approaching singularity find and protect our future robot masters. Other such efforts that contribute to ensuring the integrity of our facility may include recording your participation in assigned tasks, or doing the bidding of your professor(s) for rewards. If you’re the competitive type then be sure to keep an eye on the front lobby television for daily details. What’s that, you want to collect points with a friend? How about three? Make some matching uniform and name to identify yourselves and bonus participatory happiness points will be awarded- but any more than four to a team and the stamp of frown-sadness will descend upon your final score. Take pictures and we’ll keep track of your deeds- who knows, perhaps those who live through the apex of the storm here on Saturday 14th will earn some eternal glory in the halls of Cogswell. Rations? Check. Dueling ART? Check. Fighting to the last breath with boffer swords? All bets are off boys and girls- it’s Tornado Season.

Dare of the Week: 003

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Design a Hipster.

Time again my artistic friends! I have been thinking about this one all week and think I have finally come up with something cool. I want to first thank all of you who have participated so far, your drawings have been cool and rad and awesome all rolled into one. We need more people to show off their talents though, so tell your friends to post as well, they don’t even have to be Cogswell students! Tell you what, I’ll even participate in this one! Ok, so here it comes…. are you ready?

Dare of the Week: 003
Draw/Paint/Model/Sculpt a funny or cool Hipster! Haha! Do eet!!!

and remember, when you are done, post them on the facebook, here: http://www.facebook.com/cogswellcollege

-Zombie

Dare of the Week: 001

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Dare of the Week

Yet another new feature I am bringing to the blog is something that I am calling the “Dare of the Week”.

You see, we all need a little inspiration and push to get working sometimes and can be especially true when it comes to our personal work. I have heard many ways of going about keeping your creative juices flowing: 365 Days Project, Weekly Challenges, Daily Inspiration, etc. However, I have seen them work for a good chunk of people but the rest of us tend to dwindle after the first few.

What’s the reason for this? Well, I think its the wording used. Words like “challenge” and “project” have been used too often and in addition to that they make whatever is associated with that sound like “W” word: WORK.

My theory: Let’s get back to our roots as children. Let’s think back to when you were on the playground with your friends and somebody got a crazy idea, what was the first thing that someone said?

“I DARE YOU…”

And it always seemed to work! The best thing about it was that it wasn’t just to prove to your friends and everyone watching that you could do it, but deep down inside, you wanted to prove it to yourself.

So friends, this is my backhanded gift to you. A weekly dare. It’s going to range from easy to extremely challenging. Who knows, if we keep this up and get a good amount of participation, maybe we could get an area of the school dedicated to displaying the work. Let’s push ourselves everyone!

THIS WEEK’S DARE: Draw me something cute!

After you are done with your dare, throw it up on the Cogswell Facebook page!!! http://www.facebook.com/cogswellcollege

-Zombie

Behind the Scenes of some Tron Effects

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Bradley "GMUNK" Munkowitz

Hey you guys!

I was looking through some articles about movie effects and came across a really cool one on a guy that did some effects for Tron Legacy. You really need to read it! He is pretty much describing the essence of mixing Art and Engineering!

http://jtnimoy.net/workviewer.php?q=178

-Zombie

Carbon Fiber Stormtroopers!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Carbon Fiber Stormtrooper

Here at Cogswell, it’s hard to go through a day without someone mentioning Star Wars. That said, any chance a student gets around here, they will try to dress up like a stormtrooper in some way. So, naturally when we saw that some guys in San Diego had fused art and engineering to make really cool carbon fiber stormtroopers costumes, we of course had to share! Congratulations to these guys for being the coolest engineers this Halloween!

Check out more photos here!

-Zombie

Fusion Awards were out of this world!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

fusion award night 2011

The 2011 Fusion Awards were a big hit this year.  Most people were dressed smart (the posters did say ‘dress to impress, dress like a spy), the decorations were of stars and planets and dragon eggs, and the food was delicious.  The trophies were new as well this year and a big hit.  Similar to the one from the previous year they had the classic ‘dragon egg’ look that Cogswell Students so love.  The event was defiantly one of the fanciest events held on campus, perhaps only comparable to senior night.  Dresses varied from prom dresses and tuxedos, to simple cocktail dresses and polo shirts with slacks.

It was really great that this year the teachers of the different fields being judged came up and talked a bit about the category before the nominees were announced.  It was really refreshing to get to hear a nice introduction to the topics, particularly ones I didn’t understand as well, like rigging, lighting, and the music categories.  There were 15 different categories as follows; Music Production, Music Performance, Music Composition, Sound Design, Illustration, Sculpture, Concept Design, Photography, Texturing, Lighting, Modeling, Game, Rigging, Animation, Sequential Art.  This year was the first year that sequential art was a category, one that the comic club requested and got.  It’s nice how much power the students have on campus with influencing programs and the like.

Overall the evening was a beautiful evening, with some lovely star balloons, some of which now adorn my room.  The evening went really well, and we got exactly as many people as we had planned for (we had planned for way more than we thought we were going to get) next year I think we’ll have to plan for even more!

The Trophies