Monday, September 11, 2017

Create 101 - Semester 2 - Week 6 - Mini Male Portrait/Value Studies

One layer - mini portrait studies, from reference.

After drawing the Jesus looking fellow I moved on to Sven from Switzerland (well I'm guessing that's where he's from).
Then I went to beardless town and found a photo that is fantastic for studying values. Just look at the lighting? It's pretty coolies.

I didn't zoom in very much for these - used only two brushes and had a pretty low stress, fun time doing them. I need to do more.

Create 101 - Semester 2 - Week 5 - Caprian Jackal

Trying to get the flintlock fantasy world of Capria out of my head and onto the page. 
As my skills improve, I hope my ideas will read better.

The following is a regimented unit known as a a "Jackal." They are a secret police force who serve the Black Fox - the Empire's Seeker of Truth (Imperial Inquisitor).

They were originally called Hounds, but due to being easily confused with the nation of Hundar (an opposing nation refereed to as "Hundar Hounds" I changed it to Jackal.

Jackal is a better fit as it can be defined as - "a person who performs dishonest or base deeds as the follower or accomplice of another"

The idea is, you can do terrible but necessary things as a Jackal. Caprians don't believe in capital punishment (more on that for another time) - but as a Jackal, one has the anonymity to carry out Divine Justice.

Essentially any Caprian woman can be a Jackal. There are "forever" Jackals and those who are summoned in secret to serve The Black Fox.

Each has a number. Each is is known only to the Black Fox who, as gifted by Yemere, has the ability to recognize the woman under the mask. All are also recorded in the Black Ledger.

This keeps undesirables from entering the ranks. The Aimless have tried and failed many times to don the black mask and assassinate the Empress.


I wanted to give the Jackal a heavy coat and hood (to cover the hair). Problem with the hood is - do I have the ears sticking out through the top? Hood holes? It could, sort of work. I'll have to look into more designs.

I am happy with the "Anubis" looking mask. I also wanted red lenses in the mask to give them a more ominous look.

I'm still not sure how far I should render something like this. I really have to learn more about concept work and what each stage is actually called. I understand thumbnails, however, I see some with just black and white, others with flats.

Not sure if my anxiety is making me over think these things.

Either way, I will continue to think about my shapes, my form and how to best render them in my work.

Create 101 - Semester 2 - Week 4 - Portrait/Value Study

This week I decided to go back to my comfort zone for a moment. 
I utilized a reference photo and focused on my values. The proportions are a little off and I am still discovering different brushes.
I went back to this portrait and made the nose less crooked. I also tried using the brush at a higher opacity, looking at the form and not being afraid to do more defined strokes.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Create 101 - Semester 2 - Week 3 - Cyberpunk Bounty Hunter

Have been doing 2-3min gesture drawings using a figure drawing, reference website. Have discussed with work as to whether I can have Friday nights off so I can make it to actual, live, figure drawing at CDW as I think this will help me immensely.

For this week I decided to draw a cyberpunk, bounty hunter. When I was younger, some of the first anime I ever watched were from the small collection of Manga VHS tapes at my local Video Ezy.
This included a lot of cyberpunk - Megazone23, Bubblegum Crisis, Project A-Ko, Ghost In The Shell, a whole bunch of others whose names escape me (must be getting old). 
I also thought of Blade Runner. 

I was originally going to include a street scene. Given my current skills, I decided to focus on just a character design.

Unfortunately, I don't think I captured the look or feel that I was going for originally. I was very caught up in trying to make sure the gesture of the body was right.

I wanted a yellow, spray like jacket, a gun with neon lights. I eventually came up with two versions. One with a more techno, 90's vibe. Then I gave her a prosthetic leg and tattoos. I struggled with the hand over her gun holster, as I really wanted to make sure you could actually see the hands (and not some lazy, fudged attempt).

I was happy with my line work. I can see an improvement. I also tried colouring using flats and an overlay layer, as I saw Tyler doing during the Art Show. My final design is below. 

I also, finally realised what underlying, mental barriers I was experiencing during the development of this character. Now Tim, this is going to be a bit of a rant, so if you don't have the time or interest in reading further, it's completely fine. 
I just figured I would type it out on here, as I think it is important to my creative process and is something I need to address if I want to continue with character design. 

As you may have figured already, from some of my work, I am passionate about exploring and challenging socially, conditioned ideals of gender and gender roles. 

While working on this piece, I came to terms with some of the experiences I have had, when wanting to discuss the portrayal of women and female characters - specifically in genre's like gaming and comics. 

I finally figured out what has been bugging me so damn much and why this is so important to me. I believe you only have this life and it's about time I stopped doubting how I feel about this. So here it goes. 

Female representation in gaming/comics - the difference between sexual and sexualised.

When it comes to discussing female characters in games/comics and the topic of sexualisation, I'm often met with comments like - 
"It's not real, it's a fantasy", "Women are aesthetically more pleasing than men", "Sex sells, deal with it" or "most gamers are straight men, that's who they need to market to - that's where the money is."

When I went to draw this cyberpunk character, I was willing to just accept that I should probably make her look sexy. Big tits, slim waist, nice legs - follow the archetype. As I sketched her out, I felt like a hypocrite. "I thought you didn't like the sexualisation of women in gaming?"
No, that's not the problem. Shit, what was my problem exactly? Then it hit me. 

The problem is the "role" female characters have - their purpose, their function. 
Their reason for being and how it is portrayed. 

The idea that women "can't" be anything but sexy or desirable. They are a quest, the end game, a love interest. If not that, then they are a family member - a daughter to be saved or a sister like character that has known the protagonist all their life. 

Image result for booker and elizabeth

If not for your enjoyment, then they are a villain, evil or insane. If they are strong they are usually cold, distant.
Then there is the token - the one and only female member on the team. - sexy, or if not for your viewing pleasure, then they must be boyish, just like one of the guys. 

It's right about now that I hear it. The thundering cries of "but men are all ripped and muscled in games, they get objectified too".

I ask wearily, objectified how, and for who? 

They can be suave, strong and sexy. Everything a social ideal tells us a man should be. That's an idealised version, a fantasy, but of a different kind. (and is not exactly the best representation of dudes all the time either, but that's another rant).

There lies the difference between "sexy" and "sexualised."

It would appear that male characters are usually designed to suit their purpose/archetype.

You will have a swordsman who is muscled, but unlike a female swordsman they are usually fully clothed and not missing armour to show off their massive package or their well toned calves. 

Male characters don't need to be sexualised to fulfill their characters purpose, whereas many female characters have only one purpose, and that is to be sexy.

So am I proposing that should games be full of nuns? Am I pushing for titles like Grand Barn Amish IV? How dare I try and take away the boobs and butts and the ability to bash hookers. Seriously. 

This too seems to happen whenever I bring this stuff up. Why does it have to be one extreme or another? Shit son. I just figured after loving games so much, for so many years, it would be kind of cool to have "my" fantasies get some representation.

Like the fantasy of seeing a woman being sexual on her own terms, for her own purposes. A woman with her own interests and backstory that doesn't revolve around a man or her looks - A unique story and not one transplanted from an already well-established male narrative.

I also want young boys to be exposed to seeing female characters that aren't just quest items or something you find at the bottom of a castle. To see women as friends, allies, mentors, rivals and formidable foes. Also not just as a character carrying on some male characters story. As protagonists in their own right.

As for young girls - representation matters. 

I was lucky enough to be exposed to characters like Princess Nausicca - (knowing her under a different name as it was released in the 80's - "Warriors of the Wind") Either way. She had her own goals, her weaknesses, her strengths. Nausicca was never purely sexualised or idolised. 

(Yeah I know this is anime and not a game, nor a comic. This is still an awesome example in my mind of how you can write, portray women in any genre - film/gaming/fiction etc.)

Recent games/comics  are doing a lot better. There are exceptions.
Bioware is leagues ahead in some ways with the representation of diverse characters (at least they're trying).

When I went to draw this cyberpunk character, I hesitated. 
A part of me wanted to make her beautiful, sexy, alluring. To follow the archetype. Then I realised I could work through this. I could learn to draw women being sexy, but not just for the straight, male gaze. I would think of the curves, the beauty, the skin, the hair, the mind, the love, the fire, the passion, the life behind the form. Women can and are sexual beings. I don't want to erase that.
Instead, I want to reclaim it. I'll take it back from this idealistic "fantasy" that women can only reflect a small number of specific roles.
And when someone tells me "it's fantasy" I'll happily proclaim that yes, yes it is, but it's not the only fantasy. 

Fantasy is, after all, about asking "what if?"

Monday, August 7, 2017

Create 101 Semester 2 - Week 2 - Post Apocalyptic Desert

For this week in Create 101, I had an idea about a post-apologetically landscape that included a shot of a tree, growing up and through a car.

In hindsight, I could have just focused on the car and the tree - creating a small concept design for the object. As I had just started Digital Painting with Simon, I was more aware of gathering reference shots, however, I hadn't learned the magic behind custom shapes and how to utilize them in composition thumbnails.

I also didn't have the knowledge or experience of compiling thumbnails for environment scenes, which would have made my process a lot easier and hence helped me create a more dynamic and solid image.

Not all is lost in this piece. I am happy that I followed through on process steps - construction lines, using my sketchbook to work out possible composition. I was able to think about values, however, there is much work needed on my perspective and formation of foreground - background, with overlaps.

I do have some overlaps. I wasn't too happy with my colour palette. The mood is okay, I do like what I have done with the skyline. I do believe I needed a bit more detail and form in the foreground as it looks a bit too flat - also the value grades are too dark.

Overall - I think I have learned a lot from attempting this piece.