Earlier this week I was asked by two people if I ever considered creating a piece using an animal as a subject. The thought had occured to me earlier in the project, but the notion dropped out of my head soon after as I got swept up in illustrating humans and their skulls. So it was kindly reminded to me, and I decided to tackle this new image using a horse as the model.
I don’t have any original photos of horses at my disposal, so I had to use some found photography to help out with the piece. Then I had to track down some references for horse skulls and spines which turned into quite the challenge on it’s own. Once I got everything I needed, the real fun started as I tried to draw the contours of an animal skull which made me feel like a fish out of water. I was midway through when I realized I had never attempted to draw a skull other then a homosapien, so it was a neat and challenging ordeal.
I also had a very rough time choosing colors and getting a level of contrast I was happy with. Even now, the piece looks less heavy then the others. This new image is a test piece in preparation to tackle the real thing at some point.
As I continue my work on the skull series I’m constantly thinking about how the style and pieces can be applied to other mediums. I quickly began thinking about cd covers, book covers, magazine designs, clothing, and eventually toys. I have been a longtime fan of the Dunny series created by the mighty Kid Robot. They make killer toys anyway but the Dunny line really spoke to me, mostly because of it’s cute design coupled with great designs by famous artists.
KidRobot commissions artists and designers to create their own version of the Dunny character with a blank sculpt. The artists go bananas creating the toys, then KidRobot has a release party showcasing all of the new colorful designs based on their toy. Pretty genius.
So one hilarious thing led to another and a Signalnoise Dunny was created. It was a challenge to get my style to bang down to a little cartoon, but the final product is rather funny. I had a good time rendering this little guy so now I’m considering throwing together a few more Dunny designs in the future when I need a break from my more serious work.
Here is the new large-format piece, entitled The Warming. I will hopefully get the three new works out for a print test this week to see how accurately the colors will translate, which is pretty crucial given how long I spend picking the right hues. I worked hard on this new piece to keep a level of androgyny about the figure. My previous attempts all have an obvious gender involved, so it was a nice change to bring that element out and leave it to interpretation. There is a detail shot of the skull posted to show a bit of my digital paint at work.
I like choosing colors, but I’ve noticed with these pieces in particular I always tend to lean toward a warm spectrum. I use lots of red, orange and yellow ochre throughout the entire process because it feels pretty natural to me. For that reason I am trying to steer my work away from that color palette to use more greens and blues.
More to come later this week as I’m trying to organize a few more photo shoots.
This is the second large format piece constructed using the previous photoshoot with Sarah. After the initial rendering of the figure and skull was done, I loaded the textures on top and started peeling them away one by one which led to me having a far better understanding of how the colors were being influenced. Oddly enough, most of the textures were deleted before the final image emerged, which makes this piece a bit clearer then the previous.
I was told by a friend that when making music it’s important to put many musical elements on top of one another in order to get a full grasp on how they are effecting one another. Then muting or deleting each level to see which way the composition swings. I tried very hard to keep a similar process with this piece, which led to the image shifting drastically a few times. The piece was green at one point, and a mistake made me realize orange was the route to go with. Perhaps next time I’ll keep a series of snapshots to show the different steps as the image evolves.
Large print tests will be soon to ensure my colors are being translated properly to paper. This will be done next week, as well as a hopeful second photo shoot with an established model here in Halifax.
It was always my intention to allow this project to gain its own momentum and girth as I proceeded with my trial and error tactics. I tried a lot of different processes over the past few weeks (documented on my Flickr stream) as I tried to forge my own imagery using the tools I’ve been using for years. I started as mere sketches and continued to layer on more detail as I went on.
Last week I decided it was time to up the ante a bit, so I organized a photo shoot with my friend Sarah who was nice enough to allow me to use her silhouette in my new works. It was nothing advanced, simply my Canon Powershot camera on a tripod set up in my living room with normal lighting but it really allowed me the freedom to capture just the right shapes I was looking for. The warm-up composites were mostly found poses, but now I had the ability to really nail what I wanted visually.
As I started using her images, I quickly realized the difference in quality and it reduced the amount of headaches I experienced by using shots by other people who obviously didn’t have my kind of artwork in mind when they took the shots. This new composite, which I guess would be stage three, was designed at 24″ by 36″ and I will be sending it to be printed this week sometime to test color values and texture qualities.
It’s going to be a little while before any new art emerges as I’m busy doing photo shoots and preparing more art assets, so it’s a good time to post on another of my influences. Jacob Bannon is a recent discovery of mine, which came about through friends recommending a band called Converge. Bannon is the band’s frontman as well as their artist.
The first word that comes to mind when Converge starts on my iTunes is violent, but the second word is thoughtful. This duality doesn’t happen a lot in modern metal, but somehow Converge manage to pull off a sound that is harsh, loud and fast but also soulful and beautiful. After getting into the band it came as a surprise when I was told Bannon did all of the beautiful artwork that graces their covers, posters and shirts. And once again Bannon manages to execute very angry images with grace and beauty, and this duality is why Converge has become one of my favorite metal bands going.
Bannon uses a very painterly style involving a lot of texture and splatters mixed with corroded typography and digital manipulation but he holds a very strict design sensibility. His compositions are well thought out as are his color choices and use of imagery, which make his artwork very iconic. He is one of the rare cases where I can’t figure out how he does his stuff.
Jacob Bannon has become a very important influence of mine because he fuses art and music together almost effortlessly. In short, his art is how his music would look if it were physical.
I have a lot of texture work in my art mostly because it forces the piece in a more traditional direction, rather then something obviously Photoshop. I add layers of dirt, concrete, sand, rock faces, bushes, splatters, scribbles or whatever I can find that would add more dimension and emotion to my work.
Working with textures is a big part of my creative process and I hardly got to touch on it in the previous posts, mostly because adjustments are being made the entire time I work. So I thought it would be easier to show a simple texture in action rather then explaining. You can download the ZIP file (3.06 mb) which contains a 72dpi PSD file with my layers and setting intact. It only contains four layers that, when overlayed and adjusted, create a nice splattery background texture. I used this particular combination in a lot of the recent composite work.
When creating textures I am very religious about using Mayang, Stock.xchng and Morguefile for my various texture needs. Try searching for grit, grunge, rust, metal, etc.
So, open up the PSD and have a look at my layer settings and opacities to see how it works. Have fun.
I wear my influences on my sleeve, I always have. During school between ’95 and ’98 the internet was really starting to take off in a big way, and having access to so much information and imagery really turned me into a sponge. There were so many cool and innovative artists emerging every day and design portals were rising to the occasion of keeping designers and artists worldwide on the same page (no pun intended). It was an important time for me because I was learning new art tools while experiencing new ground-breaking artwork from around the world.
So I figured a good mode of documentation might be to talk about the people who influenced me along the way as I created my own art and struggled to find my own voice.
I suppose Joshua Davis would be a good starting point. Josh came to fame by means of his personal Flash-art experimentation site called Praystation, and later launched Once Upon a Forest (his art site) and Dreamless.org (a message forum for like-minded designers and artists). There were a lot of people experimenting with Flash in it’s infancy, but Josh stood alone in his methodology. Not only was he using Flash to create art, but he was also writing code to randomly generate new compositions. In essence, he was teaching a program to create art with bits of code and drawings he supplied, documented his day by day projects on his website, then supplied his source files for download. To this day he makes available his Flash source files on his workshop website, and teaches artists how to use the tools he has developed.
From time to time I will try creating artwork in a similar fashion, but it is more his process and theory that I enjoy. The loss of control he has over his artwork when the computer takes over allows it to take on a life of it’s own, as if he painted the wings of a butterfly but doesn’t know how it will fly until he lets it go.
In a field where it is almost customary for artists to hoard their secrets and keep their creative process a mystery, Davis’ openness about his art really makes him stand alone. Josh is still at it today, running joshuadavis.com and still creating machine-driven art while travelling all over the world doing workshops and teaching.