Marks & Traces. Pt. 2

I have gotten over my fear of Photoshop!  I was becoming more and more frustrated and flummoxed with the complexity of it.  I would thought that it’ll just be a slightly more advanced version of ‘Deluxe Paint 2’ that I had on the Amiga 500?  Boy was I wrong.  To me, using Photoshop for the first few attempts is the equivalent of trying to pilot the ‘Millennium Falcon’ blindfolded!

I found the whole concept of layers and background baffling.  Quite frankly, the only ‘Magic Lasso’ I was familiar with is Wonder Woman’s Lasso Of Truth.wonder-woman-lasso-of-truth

Magic LassoBut…

I am working my way towards getting on the course of Computer Games Art, so I knew I had to start to become more comfortable with it.

For the ‘Marks & Traces’ project we had to use my digital nemesis to merge my photos (which I took over the Xmas break) with a drawn version.

Firstly I scanned in my experimental hand drawn copies, of which I thought we needed to work from?  This wasn’t the case as I hadn’t realised that we were to take the standard original photos into the workshop lesson, not the modified ones.  This held me back due to my mistake, and therefore had to do them again in my own time.  This was fine, as I managed to achieve the objective in the end.

Here are my finished ‘Marks & Traces’ pictures done in Photoshop:

Traces in Photoshop

Traces in Photoshop

bucket bin chickenbone4 drained umbrella2 urban door

Ritual- Day of the dead

This past week has started a new joint project on the theme of ritual. I had the opportunity if working on my own,  but felt that from my experience on the first project brief  I wasn’t confident enough yet with my editing skills. I’m paired with the very talented & witty Mr Mestre for this project who not only has excellent editing skills , but is an expert in Photoshop and great at choosing colour- what a great person to be in a team with!

Tuesday, I had a taste of Premier Pro– I found this difficult, firstly as I’d never done any editing in depth before and secondly as for those of you who use Adobe products ( amazing as they are) they aren’t designed for the casual user! My hopeful  Xmas present is a subscription to Adobe online.

From the original brainstorm of ideas for Ritual we thought of several options : sacrifice, hunting, celebrations, religion, festivals and many more.  We quickly decided on a  theme of the ‘Day of the Dead’.  For those who are unfamiliar with this celebration, it is yearly Mexican originated festival that like Halloween has the dead returning from the grave to reunite with their loved ones.    Unlike Halloween,  this is a joyous festival of love and fun, rather than scaring, haunting or terrifying others.

day of deadWonderful face painting, scenery and costumes are used. Central to the festivities is food and drink of all kinds- check out http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/dod/index.html for some beautiful sugar skulls.

day of dead day of dead day of dead

I began researching Voodoo halfway through the week, as I’d mistakenly jumbled these thoughts in my brain. I have a soft spot for snake dancers and I was a wee bit distracted…. I had Salma Hayek in Dusk til Dawn in my mind. Anyway, I will use this later on in a different project.

Salma Hayek

Looking in to famous Mexican Artists, led me to the work of Frida Kahlo- http://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org. ( Salma Hayek also played her in the film adaptation of her life.) The  use of colour within her portraits and paintings, I feel dilutes the darkness of her oftenemotional work.

The-Little-Deer- Frida Kahlo

Colour and character design has to be central to our plot development so far. Currently we’ve divided up the project so that I will be responsible for character design and Mr Mestre for the backgrounds. We’ve both contributed to the storyline and are now developing our Storyboards for comparison to start the making of the project this week.  Below are some character designs I have come up with so far…

My Day Of The Dead character designsfridge Look what I found when having a beer break!

COMPLETED PROJECT.

Our plot was originally very long- too long! It involved a little girl, who loses her mum and when she arrives at the  families sepulchre in a graveyard she finds her mother spirit rising to meet her from the grave. Along the way she sees parades of people and cars.

After consultation we decided that it would be too long, and not showing enough focus on the day of the dead. Too much detail would have to go into the development of unnecessary detail.

So version 2 involved a much simpler approach. The little girl walks from her house on the left and using a side scrolling pan shot we had her moving through the town, entering the graveyard. This distilled approach allowed us to complete quickly, but focus on smaller details for movement of characters and features.

We divided up the work: Mr Mestre. worked on the background for the stills. He drew, then scanned and finally edited in Photoshop. The smooth texture and quirky perspective made this a highly suitable background for our project. On reflection, I think it draws some of its influence from Lowry. ( see his picture below).

It also reminds me of the work Friz Freleng did on the Pink Panther show. (Unlike the theme tune I didn’t agree with the statement ‘everybody loves a panther that’s pink’ – I would only watch it as a child as it was  A) a better choice than the Waltons and B) it was a cartoon.)

background

A Village Square, Lowry

A Village Square by L.S. Lowry

the-pink-panther-classic-cartoon-collection--20060126042734513-000

Pink Panther show by Friz Freleng.

I  developed the character designs using foam board sheets. I see my research on the day of the Dead to inspire me and give greater detail.

living dead female
characters day of dead

The final cast

Dragon frame
Capturing the stills using Dragon Frame. This was much easier this time around. Familiarity with software is they key!work in progress

Signor Rossi was a cartoon , which I loved as a child with a far better theme tune than the Pink Panther Show tune! The abstract backgrounds, psychedelic colours and catchy music I feel are reflected in our final pieces.

The final Videos. After capturing with Dragon Frame the video was edited using Final Cut Pro.

Day of the Dead COlour

A still from the video- the undead mariachi band. Click on the film for a real life version!

Our Final Colour Video

Day of the Dead COlour

Click above  for the colour video

The video was then edited into black and white.  I think in this style it looks reminiscent of Disney’s Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance. When shooting it we wanted it to be set in the 1920′- having a vintage, blurred atmosphere.

Skeleton Dance

Click to see full Silly Symphonies

Day of Dead B & W

Our Final black and White Video- click above

Overall, The videos simplicity worked in its favour. I did realise that simple does improve things sometimes! I thought it would be quicker using foam board as time could be saved in colouring each individual piece, however the fiddliness of manipulating these tiny pieces in the animation process slowed us down. Looking back- these were quite awkward to animate and even though I loved the end effect I may not use them for a while!