Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sketchbook: Caricatures

Eminem and Dr. Dre sketches, scanned and colored in Photoshop. A bit "meh" and needing of some more love, but I've been busy these days with other things and unfortunately I can't spend as much time on each face as I'd like:

And finally, animators Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena, from a picture taken at Siggraph. After scanning in the drawings, I pushed the proportions with the smudge tool to the point where the hatchmarks are nearly invisible. I went for a loose, distorted look, which was a lot of fun. I think I might be onto something with this style, specifically with how nicely the colors get formed by drawing color out from the variety of values found on a drawing that has a color layer on multiply above it in Photoshop:

The photo:

Siggraph 2010

I went up to Los Angeles this week to attend this year's Siggraph expo. In addition to a show floor, demonstrations, panels, and lectures, Siggraph has an area called the Emerging Technologies show, where you get a sneak peek at a variety of engineering marvels from around the world. I took a few pictures as I walked through:

Clockwise from top left: adjusting the direction of a pair of synthetic eyes via joystick, my friend Sabine dancing with a small French robot, a set of sensors that could be positioned in any number of arrangements, tickling a holographic pixie.
Left: Two people testing a "scent sensor" that, when activated by a perfume-scented piece of paper, would bloom and attract bees and hummingbirds cast from a projector above. Right: putting my hand out in a scanning field, where it was then rendered on a computer in real time. It was like putting my hand underneath a falling stream of virtual water and seeing its shape appear on the monitor. Very cool.
On to the show floor. I stopped by the Vancouver Film School table, and saw that I'm now included in their alumni book. It brought a nice feeling of closure to see it.

Another real time 3D scanning booth, only this had a much larger field to step into. The render on the left was taken from my iPhone. 
This Tandent booth had some impressive technology. It was able to isolate the shadow layer of an image and remove it to show the subject as if it was evenly lit from all directions. There was one before/after shot that they had of a wrinkled receipt with the after version looking essentially like a printed-out text document, it was so clear. When applied to faces (in real time, no less) you got this result (original video feed on the left, then the isolated shadow layer in the middle, then the differential "diffuse image" on the right):
The man at the booth who was explaining the tech to me said that the main function they were developing it for was facial recognition software.
On the way out, I bumped into animators Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena, co-creators of the world-famous Animation Mentor online school. Both were extremely nice and fun to talk with, and I was very pleased to hear from Shawn that Red Dead Redemption is currently very popular with his coworkers at ILM!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Sketchbook Excerpts from ComiCon

Sat through more panels today, including:

Hawaii Five-0 & The Walking Dead TV series. They're going to be taking their time on each episode for TWD, and Kirkman and Frank Darabont said that they wanted to throw surprises the viewer's way, even if they'd read the comic books before. There was a scene with Grimes hiding in a tank in downtown Atlanta that wasn't in the books, so I'm curious to see what else they'll put in.

I also attended the one for "Neighbors From Hell," which Patton Oswalt was a part of. I introduced myself to him after it ended and he was very nice, saying he liked my caricature of him, which he had seen from the Facebook post I sent him. We took a picture together, but the angle is looking straight up my nose.
Next were Jill Thompson's watercolor class and Scott McCloud/James Sturm's panel which discussed comic book theory and educating people on how to create cartoons.
Then there was the Drew Struzan panel, which I was really looking forward to. He was joined by two filmmakers that are putting together a documentary about him, 20 minutes of which they screened for the crowd. Frank Darabont, who was interviewed in the documentary, was also in attendance. Struzan seemed very surprised at the standing ovation and overall attention he received, mentioning a few times that most of his life was spent alone in his studio and he doesn't get much contact with his fans. He looks like he could be the kinder, artsy brother of Clint Eastwood:
Then came the Archer panel, which was hysterical, and not just because they showed the next full episode. The cast were all there (including Aisha Tyler, but I wasn't able to get a good angle on her, so I didn't get a drawing in): 
Struzan and Archer panel members:
After the Con my wife and I went to see Patton Oswalt's show at the House of Blues, which featured Brian Posehn, Paul Scheer/Scott Aukerman, and was hosted/opened by Kyle Kinane. After the show I bumped into Kinane and James Adomian of Last Comic Standing fame (whom I also did a little caricature of recently) and took a picture, this time far away from my nose:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sketchbook Dump

ComiCon started this week, so I've been drawing a bit each hour while I'm in panels. Here are a bunch of recent sketchbook pages:
Queens of the Stone Age.
Softball team and the Scheme Team.
Fist, hats, and people at ComiCon.
Paul Pope, ComiCon attendees, and the Marvel panel.
Panel members hosted by Chip Mosher of Boom! Studios.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sketchbook: 7/13/10

This morning I remembered to bring my sketchbook with me when I gave blood. Unfortunately the magazines in the waiting room were nearly all Good Housekeeping and didn't have much in terms of celebrity faces. The left three women on this page were in the room with me, and the rest were in the magazine:
Cont'd, with some IRL people on the right side of the bottom page:
Later on I did a pass on all the remaining Last Comic Standing contestants in the simple caricature style I've been developing. Still not stylized enough for my taste. (Ref):

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Caricature Practice

I'm still trying to find my go-to style for caricatures. I've been picking themes for subjects, and today's ended up being animators & animated filmmakers. Most of the source images for these came from the podcasts from the Speaking of Animation Blog, which I was listening to today.

Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (ref), the guys behind the story to How To Train Your Dragon. I did this first thing in the morning, so it doesn't have much flow to it.
Ted Ty, Aaron Gilman, and Richard Baneham. Kind of a spectrum of angular minimalist to straightforward portraiture, which I keep slipping into accidentally.:

And finally Steven Gordon, David Weatherly, Ben Rush & Ken Fountain (ref). I tried something different and "chunky" with these, which ended up being pretty unexpected and fun:
There's a big world of animators out there, so I'll no doubt be including more of these as time goes by and I hunt for more subjects. I'll also be posting some co-worker caricatures on here soon too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Comics I Like: Brian Posehn, Seth Rogen, and Aziz Ansari

More caricature sketches with digital coloring in Photoshop. Brian Posehn is one of the "Comedians of Comedy" and went on to appear in movies and recently had a role on the Sarah Silverman Program. He's also a big metal head. The first time I remember seeing him was on the hilarious "Titannica" sketch on "Mr. Show":

I've since seen him live in San Diego, and he had a great set.

Posehn Ref.
10/25/10 Update: Here's me with Posehn and his fellow Mr. Show alum Scott Aukerman after they presented The Blob at the Silent Movie Theater:
Seth Rogen and Aziz Ansari are probably the funniest guys of their generation. Rogen popped onto my radar back when "Freaks and Geeks" first aired, and Aziz's $#!++iest Boombox Blast first let me know he was someone to keep an eye on.
This scene from the movie Observe and Report (language NSFW) has them facing off by exchanging the same insult back and forth. Their body language and energy levels contrast nicely, and I wanted to make it seem like Rogen is saying the first part of the insult on his side of the image in an angry way while Aziz is finishing it on the right side of the image almost silently (watch the video link to see what I mean).

Ok, that's enough links and swearing for now. It's hard to turn off the caricaturing part of my brain now that I've tapped into it, so I'll be posting more in the future.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Comics I Like: Patton Oswalt

I like a good number of comics, but if you were to ask me my overall favorite, I'd have to go with Patton Oswalt. I remember when his 222 album had just come out and it seemed like no one knew who he was. No matter who I shared his album with; however, they were instant fans of his crazy characters and uniquely-worded rants. Now he's a famous actor whose voice starred in the Pixar classic Ratatouille and the disturbing but fascinating Big Fan, which I watched for the first time last night.

In Big Fan, Oswalt plays a New York Giants fan from Staten Island who accidentally disqualifies his favorite player from playing. Torn between standing up for himself or his team, his character's life is turned upside-down. You never know just how far he's been pushed by the humiliating circumstances in his life, and Oswalt plays the character with a mix of enthusiastic, pathetic, and even a bit deranged. I loved the movie, and it reminded me why I'm such a "big fan" of Oswalt himself.
As for the piece, I decided to keep with the caricature style that I've been developing this week. I've been tending to over-render the original sketch, which ends up hampering the digital coloring process a bit. Here's a photo of the original drawing (the scanner on my printer is acting up yet again, so I had to use my camera to get it into the computer):
I decided the sketch was too stretched, so I squashed him down a bit to the final proportion and painted the rest in Photoshop. Caricatures are never flattering, and I wanted to push this rendition of him in a disturbing direction, to mimic the character Oswalt plays in the movie:

Founding Father Caricatures, Pt. 3

For this round I chose the two most trusted and competent commanders in the Continental Army under George Washington: Henry Knox and Nathanael Greene. Both men were instrumental in leading their divisions and preparing the untested American forces for the battles against the British and Hessian troops. They were mentioned prominently in the 1776 book I finished this week, so they seemed like natural choices for the caricature kick I've been on.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Founding Father Caricatures, Pt. 2

Started off the day right--with some drawing. Specifically, more caricature practice, with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. I got looser with the Jefferson one, and I ended up liking it more.

The original sketches, without the dab of Photoshop color:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Founding Father Caricatures, Pt. 1

This week I've been enjoying the audiobook to David McCullough's 1776 and I've been in the caricaturing mood. Here's a pair, one of the famous 1st president and the other of author Thomas Paine (the second being less of a caricature and more of a mashup, admittedly). I gave both a touch of color in Photoshop as well.

I'm not at all experienced with caricaturing, but it's something I want to focus on practicing this year.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Toy Story 3 and Red Dead Redemption

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of watching the new movie Toy Story 3 in 3D. I have to say that it was one of the most solidly entertaining movies I've ever seen. It's really something to be almost frozen in a state of joy for such a long time, with each new scene bringing with it new laughs, smiles, and love for the characters I've grown to know more with each sequel. I'm not sure what more I can say without spoiling the movie other than it needs to be seen, and seeing it in 3D made it even more enjoyable.

I have a bit of personal history with the Toy Story trilogy. Not in any direct way like working on it in some capacity, but more from the vantage point of a person directly inspired by it. Specifically, Toy Story 2 was the movie that caused me to drop out of college to enroll in animation school. There was no denying its charm and ingenuity as I watched a night showing in my college town's local mall theater, and I vividly remember walking back to the bus stop with a new determination to become a part of the undeniable magic that was 3D animation. My college was a lot of fun and I loved the school tremendously, but it was clear where I wanted to go now, and the better way to get there was through an animation-focused school. Less than three years later, I finally found myself animating for a living.

All this is what made make this piece on the LA Times' website a funny read. It compares Toy Story 3 with my recently-released video game Red Dead Redemption, with its author Ben Fritz wondering which could be seen as the "signature success" of 2010. Until I read that article, I hadn't realized how closely-timed the release of my game was to the finale of Pixar's flagship trilogy. Both have enjoyed tremendous success so far, and it goes without saying how amazing it feels to be a part of something that is received so well. While I can't answer Fritz's question, it is interesting to think that after such a long period of time (has it been eleven years??) the sequel to the animated movie that influenced me the most in my life ended up appearing like an echo within a month of my latest and best project. It has all made for a memorable summer.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Comics I Like: Todd Barry

Todd Barry is my wife's favorite comic, and is one of my favorite comics as well. In addition to seeing him open for Louis CK at the Spreckles Theater a few years ago, my wife and I both saw him at the Casbah (underneath the San Diego airport's flight path) a few years ago, and he did a great set that kept us in stitches. Being die-hard fans, my wife and I called out "joke requests" once he was done with his regular set, and he was kind enough to honor them all. I felt a little self-conscious doing this, but we met up with him after the set, and he sounded more glad that he had such big fans rather than annoyed at us, and he posed for a picture. When I went to New York for a motion capture shoot for Rockstar in 2007, I popped into Raffifi's (before it went out of business) in Manhattan, and Todd was one of the comics I recognized there. I introduced myself and shook his hand--he was very nice. He can be a very subtle comic whose facial expression often hovers around what I interpret as "are you really that stupid?" Hopefully this reproduction captured this thought. Judge for yourself:

The work in progress, pre-computer. I only used an 8B pencil on this one, as I did the Louis CK and Myq Kaplan pieces. The soft lead makes it easy to move around the page and not have to stress as much about making an effort for the lines to show up.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Comics I Like: Louis CK and Myq Kaplan

Did a couple sketches and brought them into Photoshop to paint. For some reason I like the look of keeping the sketch in there on Multiply with a slightly lighter opacity. The downside is the somewhat muddy/gritty look that appears where there is a lot of shading.
Louis CK. His new show "Louie" premiered this week on FX and it reminded me of how much his sense of comedy rules. I saw him absolutely destroy at San Diego's Spreckles Theater a few years ago. Even though someone backed into my car in the parking lot right before the show, his act made me forget about it. A lot of his act revolves around his physical appearance sliding out of control, so I chose the scene in his doctor's office to reproduce:

Myq Kaplan. He's my choice to win this year's "Last Comic Standing." I'd never heard of him before a couple weeks ago, but his material really hits home for me. Maybe because I also don't eat meat? I dunno. Hopefully I'll be able to see him live soon. (Update: this piece now seen on Myq's site!)
I love doing portraits, I love comedians, and I need more drawing and digital painting practice, so expect a bunch more comedian pieces in the near future.