Monday, 7 January 2013

Learning Outcomes: Knowledge & Understanding

"Appraise the issues relevant to character design in various contexts"

By immediately looking at the Friday the 13th horror film franchise antagonist Jason Voorhees from a character design point of view, instantly you find a character that needs to portray the image and psychotic nature of a mass murderer while being constrained within an essentially mute individual. The iconic design of Jason stems from the character's notable hockey mask that is worn throughout many of the films in the series, among other things. The former immediately creates a stoic and emotionless personality without any need for dialogue to be uttered. In addition to this the mask acts as a barrier between the character and the audience which stops the viewer personally connecting with the true intentions and emotions that facial expressions, such as sadness, could convey. This makes the character of Jason Voorhees very simple but effective in how there is a sense of a cold, robotic nature conveyed from the use of the hockey mask, creating a personality that is void of human emotion (perfect for a serial killer) behind it.

It is these choices and visual references that build and make a character design such as Jason Voorhees realistic and believable. By looking at pose, posture, facial expression, attitude, costume choice and prop use, a character can be built in a variety of different ways. Jason's towering stature is immediately a much more intimidating body shape to be faced with when combined with a bloodied machete and clothes. When this is then compared to the characters around him, who are usually much smaller, teenage victims who are powerless against him, his character is amplified incredibly into a horrifying killing machine. 

It is by using and balancing these various factors that we can make a character design that can fit specific audience criteria or brief. Designing a character for a horror film is very different to designing a character for a children's TV animation, meaning that the right set of visual references and body language must then fit the surrounding area the character exists in. The viewer must be able to read and decipher character design in the same way as we read other human or animal behaviour in real-life, meaning that designing a character with the right set of attributes is the key to creating a successful piece that the audience can connect with. 

The most important aspects of design to look into for the environment settings of the Alien Prison brief were the visual clues and props that lent towards the overall image of a prison. Within the designs for the Alien Prison interiors and exteriors I had to make sure the visual references I drew from hinted at the themes and ideas I wanted to convey, e.g. isolation, desolation. This was the same for designing the Alien Prisoners themselves. At the very basic level of design, I had to make sure that these characters had evidence of somewhat unusual anatomy while using visual clues, like shackles and chains, to hint at the idea of imprisonment.

"Make informed choices relating to the creation of artwork designed to meet professional requirements"

I feel that this is demonstrated in the pieces shown below and the work I also submitted within my ICA work for this module. 


"Demonstrate an understanding of techniques and methods appropriate to the chosen area of design"

Throughout this module I feel I demonstrated my skills with a number of different techniques that could be used to create and design artwork. My main focus was the use of digital media, primarily with the use of Adobe Photoshop and Google Sketchup in conjunction with a drawing tablet. I began by creating a number of silhouettes to start the Head Warden design process. I used silhouetting as it allows for interesting and striking poses to be developed quickly. From this I was able to see the most visually pleasing and effective design that could then be taken forward and continued with in Photoshop. Throughout the design pipeline I created a number of iterative steps with both my environmental and character design ideas, picking and choosing the most effective based off feedback from the class and my own ideas. The use of Google Sketchup came into play with the creation of certain environmental concept art pieces, allowing me to lay down the basic construction of buildings and areas which would then be painted over in Photoshop. This allowed a lot of time to be saved in the creative process and gave me freedom in finding the right perspective and composition that was right for the piece I was working on. 

I feel I have demonstrated the mentioned techniques and methods in the pieces below and the work I also submitted within my ICA work for this module. 

Silhouette examples.

Piece based off Google Sketchup model.

Learning Outcomes: Cognitive & Intellectual Skills

"Investigate and synthesise visual research into the creation of original concepts"

The research for this module was based mainly around my own experiences from other video games, books and movies that had interesting and similar themes to my main ideas. The majority of the inspiration for any visual work I create comes from these sources and for this particular module I decided to mostly draw from science-fiction. The design and scope of games such as Halo and Deus Ex: Human Revolution have always been a huge influence in my work from their use of scale and futuristic technology. Halo in particular mixes the use of grand vistas and gigantic alien structures to create stunning areas the player wants to explore. It was this in particular that I drew from for the exterior design of the Alien Prison, seen mostly in the image below: 

For the interior pieces of the Alien Prison I took inspiration from the video game Manhunt, a dark third-person stealth game that relies on the use of shadows to progress through a game filled with psychopaths. The design of the areas within this game were incredibly similar to the look and feel I had in mind for the interiors of the Alien Prison, taking influence from the rusting, derelict and decrepit buildings, hospitals and cells that the player must explore.

For the character based work within this module I decided to design my Alien Prisoner designs around humanoid versions of animals. For this I looked into various internet and book sources to gather enough information and inspiration to create three different ideas based on a fish, wolf and reptilian creature. From this I changed and morphed these characters to suit a humanoid form, something which I now feel I could have taken further with more iterative design work. I took a similar approach with the design for the Head Warden of the Alien Prison, basing my research for the character off real-life insane asylum doctor's and mixing the uniform and props of prison officers. For this I also took costume inspiration from science-fiction films such as Moon as I felt the sleek and utilitarian design of both the set and the characters would be a great juxtaposition against the ruined and dirty environmental areas. 

"Evaluate and defend own work in the context of contemporary practice"

Immediately I feel the strongest pieces of work lie in the environmental side of my module work because of the lack of time and experience spent in comparison to the character design of my artwork. While I have loved the challenge of creating character design based work I know that it is distinctly lacking the drive behind it that I put to my environmental pieces. 

With the pieces of environmental art that I did create for this module I feel I have learnt a valuable lesson which can be applied to all aspects of character design, the importance of visual clues and representation that would hint and tell the viewer what exactly they were looking at. This is something I tend to forget and give up trying to push my work to that next detailed level. This was a great thing to realise at such an early time in my work for character design as I can hopefully apply this to all areas of my work from now on. 

The successes I feel in my purely character work lie mostly in the progress I feel I have taken. Not one piece in particular jumps out to me personally as a stand-out success, instead I feel certain aspects of the work that I have created for this (and my other two modules) talks for themselves in where I feel my character work is at the moment. The iterative process of the Alien Prisoners is one the biggest parts of this module that I feel there has been a distinct progression from very poor sketches to a much more presentable style that could be improved. In comparison to professional artwork in the games or film industry at the moment I feel that I have much to learn. However the positive side to this is that I now know what I need to do to improve. The basics of character design, such that I have looked into in LO1, have been set out to me and much like my learning process with environmental artwork, I must study and practice as much as possible to create more successful pieces in the future.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Learning Outcomes: Practical & Professional Skills

"Explore and evaluate the appropriate skills relevant to the creation of character design"

Since coming to the end of this module I have built on the skills I came into the course with from my experience outside of university. I feel the feedback and issues I have encountered in my own work regarding character design have made me realise the importance of planning and detail when designing, whether it be a character or an environment. The ability to work towards and within a brief I feel is one of the most important aspects of, not only character design, but good practice within the field of industry. Learning to work within the constraints and rules applied within a brief is important to stop deviation from the overall goal of the project. Applying the fundamentals of character creation, such as drawing ability, posture, personality and other elements I have mentioned in other learning outcomes, leads to an effective design being created. In addition to this the importance of planning through silhouetting, thumbnailing and sketching enables a solid iterative process to be accomplished.

"Operate ethically demonstrating critical understanding of the issues governing good practice"

Throughout the completion of the character design module I have made sure to research and create without plagiarising or stealing ideas, designs and artwork directly from a copyrighted source. This is the same for my work outside of university, meaning any work I have completed has come about from an iterative process based off my own design. This is because of the importance of originality of ideas and IP ownership. Within industry protecting and creating valuable intellectual property means that others cannot steal and use your ideas for themselves, by operating and developing your own work ethically lega action can be avoided. I feel I have demonstrated a my own personal development and research here:

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Learning Outcomes: Key Transferable Skills

"Demonstrate an independent and reflective approach to personal and professional development"

I feel the skills that I have learnt within this module regarding character design have really opened my eyes to what exactly I need to focus on in my creative career. With anything I have done before, the use of Photoshop and traditional media has always been a staple need for me to create artwork and I feel confident in my knowledge about the use of these mediums. However within these I have a distinct lack of practical research regarding character design as a whole as I feel my strengths lie in other areas of concept art. This module immediately challenged and taught me to look into the importance of anatomy, costume design and depiction of personality in relation the characters I began to create. Within the first few weeks on the course I realised it was these things in particular that I had completely negated to include in any character work I had completed before, therefore giving me a set of goals to research and practice with every concept created since. I feel that my progression through the module shows a distinct growth in the work I have created, regardless of whether I feel they are at a 'professional' level just yet I am beginning to learn about an area that I have hardly touched on. 

The environmental art side of this module is where I feel most comfortable as it is where I feel I am strongest in my artwork as a whole. My love for creating environmental concept was a hard one to breakaway from for this module as I feel that I am much more confident at communicating ideas through mood and lighting than by direct line drawing, posture and personality, ideas that go hand-in-hand with character design. This is not to say that I feel my character work was a complete disaster, but it was missing the edge that my environmental concept art is hopefully able to transmit. It is this which I feel I need to bring into my character design work, mixing the use of looser strokes and less calculated mark-making to create characters that best represent my art style. 

"Exhibit professional communication skills in the specialist area"

I feel I have exhibited professional communication skills through through the learning outcomes written previous to this post. I feel the class environment was mature and discussions were taken in a professional manner, be it regarding feedback for module work or art-based discussion in our peer groups.