Posts Tagged ‘Digital Art’

Star Thief Studio Teaser – Animated Film and Interactive Book

Friday, December 19th, 2014

We’re excited to announce the teaser for the project that Star Thief Studio – one of our newer studio classes – is wrapping up for a Spring 2015 release!

Star Thief Studios - Animated Film and Interactive Book

Star Thief Studio is one of several on-campus Project-Based Learning studios at Cogswell College. These studios mirror professional production studios and allow students to collaborate with their peers – whether they be artists, animators, technical artists, engineers and sound designers – to create outstanding large scale projects.

= ABOUT STAR THIEF STUDIO =
Star Thief Studio is guided by faculty with industry experience and student work is regularly critiqued by industry professionals. We are focused on creating engaging story-driven content in the form of animated shorts and interactive stories. Currently Star Thief Studio is working on an unannounced project which will feature a stand-alone animated short and an interactive version of the story, bundled together as an app for the iPad.

Our development artists work in a dedicated studio space and use everything from pencil, paint and clay to Maya, Zbrush, Mudbox, Photoshop, Renderman and Fusion. Much of our digital painting and sculpting is done on Cintiqs. Our engineers use tools like X Code, Flash Professional, and Maya, writing code in Objective C, C++ Maya API, Action Script, Mel Script and Python.

Star Thief Studio offers students the opportunity to be an important part of a major project that will deliver a great experience, film credit and professional quality content for their demo reel. The large group, project-based environment of Star Thief Studio gives students the opportunity to develop and exercise the skills needed to work effectively with a team over an extended period of time. Skills like communicating professionally, being a team player, taking initiative and learning to lead, as well as managing time-sensitive tasks and completing work within deadlines. In the end, students will have work for their portfolios which has been refined to an extremely high standard and used in a major animated and interactive project.

See more at: http://www.cogswell.edu/student-work/studioe.php

http://www.cogswell.edu/student-work/star-thief-studio.php

Toy Story 4

Monday, November 24th, 2014


When the first Toy Story movie came out in 1995, it signaled the dawn of a new era. The fully animated film paved the way for other CG (computer generated) films, and is now the most common form of animation. Over the next 15 years the sequels Toy Story 2 and 3 were released, causing generations of audiences to feel like they had grown up with the characters. Toy Story 3 was declared to be the end of an extraordinary trilogy, and many felt it was the perfect ending. The toys had encountered the worst possible obstacles but overcame them all, even facing abandonment and annihilation in the process. We collectively said a tearful, but content,“goodbye” to the toys whom we had grown attached to. Then, earlier this month, Toy Story 4 was announced.

The internet exploded.

Mixed reviews of “Why on earth are they making ANOTHER Toy Story?” and “So excited they’re making another Toy Story!” popped up everywhere. John Lasseter made an announcement regarding his decision to direct another Toy Story movie – it seems that they were presented with a storyline they couldn’t pass up. Although personally I loved the ending to Toy Story 3 and thought it was the perfect way to wrap up an amazing storyline, it’s intriguing to consider the plotline possibilities for the upcoming Toy Story 4 that will be released in 2017. It was revealed that the new Pixar film will revolve around a love story, which no doubt put fans everywhere in frenzies of speculative delight. Will it be about Buzz and Jessie? Perhaps Bo Peep will find her way back to Woody?

Whatever the plot that will be revealed, it’s a good reassurance that Pixar has a trend of making powerful sequels that either live up to or surpass the original. There’s no doubt in my mind that Pixar will continue to carry on its legacy of excellent filmmaking.

Directing Animator at Pixar, Michal Makarewicz, made a visit to Cogswell on November 19th. Michal, whose work includes The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up, came last year and demoed an animation scene from the film Monsters Inc. Needless to say, everyone at Cogswell was very excited to see him. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some of his work on Toy Story 4 when 2017 rolls around!

Sierra Gaston
Digital Art & Animation Student

OM3D – 3D Manipulation of 2D Photos

Friday, November 14th, 2014

When it comes to editing photographs, Photoshop reigns supreme. But what if there was a better approach to editing a photograph? What if you could take an element within a picture and have full manipulation control over everything about it? Better yet, what if you could do it for free? Researchers over at Carnegie Mellon and the University of California found a way to do just that – through the announcement of a new, free, suite of 3D manipulation software. Their software, titled OM3D, allows a user to take an object within a 2D photograph and turn it into a 3D model. That model can then be manipulated and moved around the photo however the user desires. It also allows the users to adjust the lighting and texture of an object in order to blend in with its surroundings. The software achieves this by utilizing vast libraries of stock photographs and 3D models, and compares them to the two dimensional object the user wishes to shape. It then merges the attributes from the library of stock photos with that of the 2D object to create a 3D model that is viewable from every angle. Once the model is created, the photograph can be freely edited.


Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipTyCJi0t1Y
Download: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~om3d/code/OM3D_1_0_0_source.zip

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!

Digital Art is Real Art – Really!

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

There’s an old adage that most people can’t define art, but they know it when they see it. The definition of art was debated long before the digital age. From Greek philosophers to the United States Supreme Court, wise people have tried to define what art is, the process by which it is created, and its meaning to society.

Defined in simple terms by Merriam-Webster, art is “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.”

As the process of creating digital art evolves and becomes more commonplace, we see debates in internet forums and hear conversations in museums and coffee shops about whether art created digitally can really be considered art.

Open for interpretation

Many would argue that art cannot be defined. In fact, the legal system has declined to “define” art and has instead left it open to interpretation. It allows for societal norms and does not put limitations on the evolving process by which it is created.

For the most part, fine art has been defined as something created primarily for beauty rather than utility and placed into categories such as painting, sculpture, poetry and music.

What is digital art?

Digital art is any form that utilizes digital technology during production. Fairly broad in definition, we know, but there are as many forms of digital art as traditional art. For the most part, though, a digital artist sits in front of a computer monitor to create, rather than a blank canvas or hunk of unformed clay.

Sometimes the image created is done from scratch; other times the artist is manipulating an existing image into something different and unique. Like other forms, digital art can take on many forms, from illustration to multimedia to interactive.

Commonalities exist between digital and traditional art. As in traditional art, there are very few successful, self-taught artists. The best digital artists study traditional techniques in order to become better artists. There is skill involved. Like a painter, a digital artist has tools available to help him create. But those tools do not create; the artist does! And like a painter, the digital artist must be well-versed in light, color, texture, saturation, and depth. Perhaps most importantly, each artist has to possess a desire to create and express through the medium.

Does digital art meet the definition of art?

Of course it does. At its base, art is merely a form of communication. The artist, through creativity, is attempting to express an idea or evoke an emotion. The same is most certainly true for a digital artist.

Like any other form of art, digital is merely the newest evolution of art. The potential of digital will grow as technology progresses and will be limited only by the artist’s imagination.

Cogswell College’s Bachelor Degree in Digital Art & Animation is designed to prepare students for exciting careers throughout the entertainment, media and art industries. Through extensive coursework, students gain hands-on experience using the latest tools and applications for 3D graphics and animation.

Cogswell’s Project-Based Learning Receives Praise from Visiting Students

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

On Thursday, April 10th; 20 students from Management Center Innsbruck (MCI), an Entrepreneurial School in Austria, came to visit Cogswell.  Most of the visiting students are studying Art & Entrepreneurship, and were fascinated with Cogswell’s Project-Based Learning classes and studios.

The MCI students were amazed with the work they were able to see, and that it was all “made from scratch”.  From character sketches & 3D models made from clay, to digitally rendered creations brought to life; the MCI students were completely in awe. They also got the opportunity to learn about the process that a piece of art will go through to become part of an animated film or game. Cogswell’s own Digital Audio Technology students then add music to the digital projects to create a completed work of art done entirely by students.

Cogswell’s Project-Based Learning classes are the foundation of the education provided here; they help to create strong, T-shaped individuals that are prepared for careers in a variety of industries.

Cogswell Student Interns as Graphic Designer for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Aston with his Merceds Benz poster design.

Aston Majors knew he wanted to complete an internship before he left college but had no idea it would lead to such an exciting opportunity. In his wildest dreams he hadn’t imagined interning for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I found a site called TeamWork Online that all of the major professional sports teams use to recruit staff,” said Majors, “and signed up. I saw on the job board that the Buc’s needed a graphic design intern and applied.”

The Buc’s called, interviewed him, reviewed his work and Aston was on his way to Tampa Bay. Though it was not a paid position, he feels that what he learned on the job will pay big dividends in the future. In fact, his supervisor at the Buc’s asked him to stay in touch and the Banana Republic offered him a graphic design job but Aston said he has to finish school first.

Aston spent the Fall term doing his internship, working full-time with the Marketing Department and tackling a variety of design projects.

“I got to go to meetings and present my work,” said Majors. “It was a great learning experience and I found out I really liked the process. My advice to all students – don’t leave school until you have done an internship. It will make a big difference in your career and you will make a lot of connections.”

Aston will graduate this summer in Digital Art & Animation with a concentration in Entertainment Design.

The Art of Incredipede

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

In this talk from GDC 2013, Colin Northway and Thomas Shahan share how they developed the art for Incredipede. Colin handled the game design side of the game while Thomas focused on the art. The duo walks you through the process they went through to develop the image for their game.

The concept started with a simple drawing, then gravitated toward a 17th century-influenced, mythic artwork style and finally found the look they felt best represented the gameplay. At Cogswell College we have classes devoted to developing the artistic concept that best suits your project.

Incredipede is a puzzle game that celebrates the vast diversity of life in the world. The game follows Quozzle, a lone Incredipede on a dire quest to rescue her sisters. She has a unique ability to grow new arms and legs wherever she needs them, transforming into a snake, a spider, a horse, a monkey – anything you can imagine.

Have you ever struggled coming up with the right concept art for a project?

Cruzine for Inspiration

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

One of the great things about artists is that they learn from each other. It you haven’t visited Cruzine yet, you might want to add it to bookmark it.

Cruzine is a new online magazine aimed at everyone who has true interest and passion for everything, associated with creative arts, web design, graphical arts, typography, coding and other web- and design-related activities. It’s goal is to become synonymous with innovation, versatility and dynamics in the digital field.

Let us know what you think.