Monday, January 26, 2009

Concept Thumbnails Session 1

A little bit too bulky but this is one of the first drawings here that has jumped out at me. I want to keep him grounded in some sort of realism, but I don't think the clothes will be black, but certainly dark. The visor I wanted to enhance his vision in the dark- not infra red though, not night vision....I'll think of something. I like the idea of a backpack. The over-the-shoulder bag has been done, and I liked how "Captain America" had his shield straped to his back. He can't just web his stuff to a building like "Spider-man" so this could do. Maybe smaller, just to carry clothes, a digiatl camera for gathering evidence (?), homemade weapons, bandages, cable ties etc.
Something similar to the bottom right may be the final suit. The pillow case masks that I've been scribbling look a bit too ninja-ish. The logo I've almost decided on, will be a fist symbol from the I.T.F taekwon-do logo, as I'll have the hero train in it. Still haven't decided on whether he has any powers or not. Anyways...

Still toying with ideas and costume designs- at the moment just going for a mask/face. I think the fact that I'm talking street level hero or vigilante that the images of a "Daredevil" type of design keeps creeping in. Also, considering Jack Kirby and Joe Simon's first "successful" Superhero ("The Red Raven" apparently didn't sell well) for Timley comics was "Captain America", I wanted to have some kind of touch in his mask. I like the idea of a cheap, inexpensive costume, so the zip up jacket, pants, gloves and runners will probably be the go. Maybe earlier on, the pillow case mask and the t-shirt with the logo on it will be the way to go. I'll keep playing, this stuff was only my preliminary thoughts and doodles.

Colouring process test for Comic pages...

I've been toying with some different colouring techniques that may aid me greatly this year if I choose to run with the graphic novel approach. Not quite finished yet as I've been busy on the holidays trying to semi-cement my ideas, working, reggie strips, folio stuff and trying t get over a small bout of sickness, but I've picked up a great deal of knowledge thanks to a great book "The DC comic gudie to Colouring and Lettering Comics".
Basically the book has some great photoshop techniques in order to prep artwork to colour and administer colouring via channels (something I've always wanted to learn.) Also it has made me very consious in regards to what Colours I pick for what (flats) and their temperature (warm or cool) and aiding the artwork in creating the main focus points for the viewer.

So I've been practicing on a splash/cover page I penciled for CFCA involving a fight scene (See above); problem is the page wasn't inked so I really had the play with the pencils for a while in order to get them sutibly dark enough to begin applying colours. I basically faked the inks by running over the areas that needed to be black with digital blacks.

I'm finding CMYK to be handy to work in as the concept of mixing the colours to get something similar to what I need makes more sense that mixing RGB which is based on light and not ink. Anyways, here's some of my progress. I havent touched the picture in a few weeks, I have started modelling shapes with shadows and have applied mild gradients to the larger block areas and am almost up to the highlights stage.

I realise that I'm lucky to pull off decent pencilling let alone colouring, but it's fun to dabble in something else. There are so many concepts and rules to consider with just pencilling alone, let alone inking considerations and colouring, but it's a challenge and I love the storytelling and depth/focus theories being it. My other main problem is that I don't have a wacom tablet so all the "inking" and colouring has been done with a mouse so it's a little slow.

This is a greyscale look of the finished colour flats. The book says it's good to have a variety of contrast. If your colouring looks like a bunch of greys with no lighter areas then it looks bland (hope that's right anyway...)

Colour flats. Tried to make the main colour of the page seem like a sunny day, and have warmer colours for the foreground characters such as the guy bottom left with the bloodied face, and then the main focus of the work ie: the heroes have warmer tones for their main colours- ie warmer greens for Sea Dragon. Problem is with Blue Flyer is that he's blue, which tends to be cooler but Im hoping the eye at least travels around where Seadragon is, sees the red of blue Flyer's goggles, and is also drawn to the guy in front, who in hindsight could have been made darker/ cooler so not to draw so much attention and maybe even enchance the middle more...I don't know, it's my first real attempt at this sort of thing :P

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brainstorming for Project 1

Brain Storming for Honours Project 2009.

Art Style/Influences:
Jack Kirby
John Romita Jr
Tim Sale
Klaus Janson

Graphic Novel? How many pages (Colour or Black and White)
Think of the workload- plot, pencil, ink then scan prepare page, flat colours, shadows, highlights for EVERY page…?

Series of Issues making up a Graphic Novel/Story Arc?

22 page or 12 page?- (Stan Lee era stories where Marvel had two for one superhero comics that went for 12 pages eg: Tales of Suspense starring Iron Man and Captain America, Tales to Astonish starring The Hulk and Submariner etc.)

Tie in with animated trailer/s (similar to CFCA work experience project)?
Include printed promo material

Or animated Comic panels
- Depth of Field
- Moving Elements eg: Fire, Smoke, rain etc.
- Speech Bubbles (Dialogue?)
- Slight Movement of characters eg Hair) (similar to storyboard/animatics)
- Recorded Dialogue? Sound effects?
- Adobe After Effects?
Similar to “Batman Begins” Special Features comic or a more animated short piece version “Hellboy 2 Epilogue”

Dialogue/Music/Sound- Would need to storyboard/Animatic to co-ordinate timing.

Ø Australian Superhero?
Ø Stan Lee/Jack Kirby era (beginning 1962) form of origin (atomic age powers/cold war era)
Ø Modern Setting- Brisbane? Sydney? Both?
o Or “The Phantom” Esk period- Linage of Vigilantes thru different eras?
Ø Man gains powers, unsure how to use them?
o Good: protects neighbourhood
o Robs Bank?
o Fame and fortune seeking?
o Police/army/overseas?
o Modern perception?- 1940’s Captain America political

Action comic
- Vigilante?
- Guns difficult to obtain, maybe makeshift weapons (Black Jack?)
- Costume?

- Gangster? (period-Sydney)
- Corrupt Cops
- Graffiti gangs?
- Biker gangs?
- Street Race gangs?
- Terrorists?
- Ethic /white gangs?
- One main villain?
Big, Scary type (Similar to Kingpin in size and stature?) Long Black Hair? Drug Baron? (Cliché), People smuggling? (Cliché) Ex- Military or Rich Family Immigrant
Petty Crime gangs tie to main villain?

Political/Racial issues?
- Saves a Muslim shopkeeper from Bigots?
- Homeless
- Corporate villain- is he rich or poor?

Story hooks?
- The struggle to do good in modern context? –( Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Spider-man) or similar (Bendis and Mark Bagley)
- Kid? (Don’t want to copy concept of “Kick Ass”)
- Teenager? (Don’t want to copy “Spider-man”)
- Army Reserve? Martial Arts?- Don’t want to rehash “Ninja” stuff like Millar (Daredevil, Wolverine) or Iron Fist or Shiang Chi
- Taekwon-do angle?
- Poor? Middle Class? Prison? Ex-prisoner? Or villain ex-prisoner?

What Abilities?
- Trainer Fighter? No Powers?
- Super Strength? Flight? Jump? New Powers? Laser vision? (nah, too Superman/Cyclopes)
- Super Solider-like powers?
- Origin?
o Freak Accident? (“The Hulk”, “Fantastic Four”, “Spider-man”)
o Chemical/Science? (“Captain America”)
o Mechanical? (“Iron Man”)
o Magic? (“Shazam!”)
o Alien (“Superman”, “Captain Marvel”)

Ideas- session 1:
- Write based on own experiences – Brisbane/Sydney
- Start in Action before telling origin? Or discovers origin?
- Trailer- Sitting in Centrelink office interview
o Being told off for not making designated job interviews (Stopping crime on the way)- Sounds too Peter Parker ish
Someone with limited resources and time
- Beanie with holes/Ski mask? (look too bank robber-ish
- Pillow case mask? Cloth wrapped around head?
- Not Ninja looking- “Amazing Bag Man”
- No Black Jacket- Been done to Death…(Matrix, Punisher etc.)
- Surgical Mask/Dust Mask?
- T-Shirt/Black Turtle neck?
I really like sometimes how the Punisher is drawn with a T-shirt with logo. Or a zip up jacket with a logo (or something like “Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider”)

Is there a definite style of Outfit or do they all evolve over time? From Pillow case to mask/outfit? (not spandex looking)- more functional like Punisher or Ultimate Captain America.

Pillow case- Baseball Cap and Dust Mask-could be mistake for robber/bad guy?
Jumper hood and mask around mouth? Sunglasses/ski goggles/Paint ball mask? (Maybe would become too much like the same process that lead to the “New Goblin/Harry Osborn” character in “Spider-man 3” Film.)

Here we go again...

Back for another year (I think...still waiting on the mail out). Anyways, been taking notes/jotting ideas so I'm ready to rock and roll when I get back. Will post notes and copy of proposal hastily typed in November after an all nighter working to the 3rd Year film.

Decided to focus on a main interest this year- Copy of original proposal below.

Marvel in the 60’s: What factors helped shape this creative period and how does this relate to recent Hollywood adaptations and Contemporary Concerns.

I have a huge interest in the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby era of Marvel comics- the period in the early/mid 1960’s where after the “Golden Era” on the 1940’s and the senate/public backlash of the 1950’s, the Superhero genre of Comic books came back into popularity mostly thanks to both the artwork and never-ending creativity of Jack Kirby and the storytelling/characterisation of Stan Lee. Together they made a struggling comic company spitting out a handful of romance/western/monster/flavor of the month comics into an American Household name, brought the world an almost endless stream of popular and original characters and changed the visual and written language of the comic book.

My interest lies in what factors both within the industry and the American political landscape helped shape this creative period (such as Superman and his influence, World War 2 and America’s role, the creator’s perspective of Hitler, The 1950’s backlash/Senate hearings and the creation of the Comics Code Authority etc.) and how much of an impact these characters had not only in the popular culture of the day but how these books are seen today in the comic book industry. The majority of these characters are almost 50 years old and yet their popularity, particularly in the realms of Animation and live action films are greater than ever before. The current trend in Hollywood sees a revival of these characters and stories that Lee and Kirby created so I wanted to explore not only the visuals and the comparisons between the books and the films but also what aspects appeal to the mass market and what was left out for cinematic/audience considerations (such as dated references and issues which don’t concern/no longer apply to contemporary ideology, years of continuity that a non-comic reading audience would not be aware of etc.). Contemporary adaptations of Lee and Kirby’s work exist in the Comic book industry too (in the form of “Marvel age comics” and in particular the “Ultimate” Universe series of Comic books and graphic novels) and I wish to touch on their relevance, the 40-50 plus years of cultural/social issues that differ between them and how this continuity of stories and characters reflect on the Hollywood adaptations.

Other artists that I wish to look at in relation to Kirby’s Influences is John Romita and John Buscema, who were artist that were in Marvel around the time the “Kirby look” was being pushed as a storytelling must in the Marvel Bullpen and modern artist John Romita Jr, who is influenced by his father John Romita and Kirby’s work also. He doesn’t have a contemporary penciling/storytelling style that is the popular/stylized trend of the day, and yet some of the major books including “The Amazing Spider-man” and “World War Hulk” crossover and Frank Miller’s “Daredevil: Man without Fear” contain his work.

In regards to the Studio proposal I would like to incorporate what is considered to be “Marvel” way of composition and artwork and produce a piece of work as a Graphic Novel format. This was a trend that Kirby predicted years before they surfaced as an alternative to main continuity of comic books and then as a way to repackage comic book story arcs into one volume that can be sold not only in Comic stores but reach a wider audience in book stores and libraries. He also felt that Comic books needed to do this if they were to survive as a medium competing with Television, and now Video games, Film and the Internet. At the same time, I would like to explore the trend of composition in comics and how Kirby’s artwork is designed in a sense to work within the frame and how now there is a consideration of frames in the composition of the entire page, which may not have necessarily been an important factor in Kirby’s art, and yet it works. Accompanying this is the growing cinematic considerations of storytelling within a comic book and how even though comic books are considered cinema’s “little brother”, the comic book is a medium that can interact more so with the reader as they play a roll in the “pacing” of the story and images, they can flick back and forth in the realm of the story, and can take more time to consider an image. Only a comic creator can limit the size of frame and what detail is shown in regards to the altering of time and ideas.

To accompany that I would like to do a small trailer for the Novel with some simple animation and camera moves- nothing long and fancy, but something that would incorporate the panels into a film/animated structure as a form of “cross-promotion”, similar to the videos posted regularly on Marvel’s websites promoting New story arcs or upcoming comic events (such as Planet Hulk, Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion etc.) Marvel Comics in recent years have reinvented itself into “Marvel Entertainment”, and no longer has total core business interest in just Comic Books, but in the licensing of its characters into other markets; Meaning it is aggressively branching into other mediums such as Graphic Novels for Bookstores, Cartoon series for Television/Web, Video games, Direct-to-DVD Animated Features, Live action films, Digital comics, Toys) in order to promote the characters and books.

The Outcome of all this is for me to have an overall better understanding of the process involved in creating a Graphic novel and promotion of such, and a greater understanding of the contemporary market for such stories and characters. From my freelance and work Integrated learning/work experience projects with Cult Fiction Comics Australia, I hope to have greater access into the smaller Australian audience and have it provide a bigger opportunity for the work to be viewed on top of just to its creation for my portfolio.

I believe this research/proposal is worth doing as it is a topic and a medium which I am passionate about and hope to incorporate into my future profession. Research in relation to Marvel is important to me as part of my future portfolio ambition is to apply to them- a background in their overall art style and characters is important in their criteria for entry.
For my approach, along with working closely with the research/source material that I have at my disposal (including detailed books on creators such as Lee, Kirby, Joe Simon, John Buscema, Klaus Janson, text books on various other writers and artist in the field, documentaries and a 700+ comic book and graphic novel library), I would like to work authentically in regards to drawing on Professional Blue Line pages and referencing photographs which I would like to take of various locations in Brisbane city and surrounding suburbs (narrative permitting) which would serve as possible locations for the Novel. I would like to incorporate Digital coloring and lettering as the contemporary industry does and hopefully produce a professional package with complementary promotional material. Considerations will be made as to whether it would be best to create a story arc which would release as various issues and then package the final result into a Graphic Novel or whether the project would suit better or appeal greater as a complete text.