Monday, 29 September 2014

4 More Cities!

Hey all! So here are my next lot of thumbnails for 4 cities; Argia, Despina, Diomira and Ersilia. These were all very different cities and I had a lot of fun drawing thumbnails for Argia and Ersilia, for Despina I struggled putting my ideas into pictures and I couldn't find a technique that I thought suited the city description, as for Diomira when I read it I just thought of all the different colours the city would be so most of my ideas are focused around the use of colour which probably wasn't where I should have gone with this lot of thumbnails but it was all I could picture really. 
Anyway here are my thumbnails:

Argia, City of the Dead

This was an interesting city because in my mind it wasn't really a city at all, it was a tomb. Calvino described the air as clay and dirt and this made me think, maybe the reason there is so little room in this city is because there literally is none, maybe the city is a collection of coffins in a graveyard and the inhabitants restless spirits. Anyway that is my interpretation of the city and I tried to capture it in my thumbnails.

Despina, The City of Sand and Sea
I really couldn't generate any decent ideas for these thumbnails as the description didn't provide me with any abstract ideas so all of these thumbnails are based around actual pictures which I don't believe is a bad thing but perhaps not the direction I should be heading at the moment.

Diomira, The September City
As said before this description just filled my head up with colours, reds, yellows, oranges and browns for the September autumn-y feel that the description gave and then a vibrant mess of colours for the lights and lamps that are hung outside shops in the evening. 

Ersilia, The City of Strings
This was a great city to come up with ideas for! The idea of strings making up new path ways and routes through the city is awesome and so I made so much more abstract pictures for this particular city using a variety of new types of brushes and new techniques. Personally this is my favourite page of thumbnails so far. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

My Influence Map

Right, so here I have made an influence map for the invisible cities project. The first thing you may notice is that most of these places don't exist. I am sure there would be many more real places on the map if I had travelled more and experienced more cities that stand out and well.... influenced me. As far as the buildings and cities are concerned in this collage they are all from movies games and film that have stuck with me throughout the years and I thought, hey? If I still love these imaginary places now why not use them to help fuel my own work? From the top going left to right we have a picture of a night sky. This is because whenever I imagine cities it is always at dusk or at night. I personally hate how busy cities get and I know many cities don't sleep but at night a lot of the quieten down. The next picture is Minus Tirith from The Lord of the Rings. This in my opinion was one of the greatest looking CG cities ever created and I love the fact that it is half built into the mountain and half outside. I also love Erebor another city from Lord of the Rings as I think it seems like an embodiment of power and wealth however I didn't picture it here. Instead I found a picture of Rivendell, which seems like a place of serenity and peace and calm, everything I admire in a city. It is the complete opposite to the bustling Minus Tirith which is why I included it, because I proves that cities can be relaxed and calm or busy and tireless. The next four pictures, the brightly coloured ones. They are from a game called Mirror's Edge, which happens to be one of my favourite games because of the level design and the use of colour. Every zone is divided quite obviously by the use of different colours and these colours are always very vibrant and bold, which for some reason give a futuristic feel to the game in a strange way, as most of the time, when we think of the future now-a-days we think often think of a dark metallic kind of place. Going down again we have Machu Picchu. The ruins of a once great Mayan city Machu Picchu to me is a place of obscurity and mystery. All kinds of secrets could be held there and all it is, is the remains of city, which I find quite remarkable. Moving right we have a still taken from the Hunger Games of the Capitol. After reading the books I had some idea  of what the largest city in Panem would look like but when I saw the movie it was like discovering it for the first time, It is a massive sprawling city which combines a futuristic feel with a rather contemporary style. Next (going right again) is a map. This map is taken from one of my favourite books growing up which became a great series. It is Alagaesia from the Inheritance Cycle of which the first book is Eragon. In the book series Christopher Paolini the author describes many fantastical, amazing cities which the film managed to spectacularly fail in creating. Going back to the left of the influence map we have a picture based on another book series called the Mortal Engines which was an interesting book series set in the future, where all the cities are on large sets of wheels and the bigger cities travel around and eat smaller cities. It is a strange concept but whenever I think of cities this book series pops into my head. The next picture is of a Venetian mask which I just love, because I love the idea of Renaissance Italy. The new buildings and architecture that were introduced during the time period where just incredible and rather impressive. The next image is a screenshot taken from the PS2 game Ratchet and Clank 3 from the metropolis level. This game was one of my favourites growing up and this level always sticks out to me as one of my favourites. The city was inhabited despite looking abandoned and had multiple layers to it which made gameplay dynamic and fun. The middle picture on the bottom is Rata Sum, a city from the game Guild Wars 2 (It was also in the original but it looked very different). It is a floating city which has been created using a combination of science and magic. I like the almost cyber punk feel that the city has to it combined with the geometric nature patterns which have been used to give the floating city, shape. The final picture is Venice which is an obvious piece of inspiration. As stated before I love renaissance Italy, in particular Venice, I love the idea of the festivals and parties that are had there and I would love to try and incorporate, even not as a main theme, into my work, especially since all the city descriptions from invisible cities are based on Venice.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Trying to be more informative

Okay, so I know that so far on this blog I haven't been very chatty. So here's what's been happening. I have been enjoying the course so far and am looking forward to progressing further with the invisible cities project. Now for those of you who don't know the invisible cities project is our 1st project of the year. We have been asked to read extracts from Calvino's Invisible Cities, a work of fiction that describes many impossible cities all based on aspects of Venice. For every extract that we read we have to create a series of thumbnails that don't really depict cities, rather depict shapes and lines and curves that have popped into our head after reading the extract. This is to give us inspiration as we further develop our ideas. To me this is all a little alien, before this course I had only heard of using thumbnails and using such abstract lines to develop ideas - I had never had to put it into practice which you can easily see in my work because I am always trying to draw pictures and it is difficult to get out of the habit.
Drawing the thumbnails is fun though as it give me more practice using my graphics tablet and I have learnt more in Jordan's class so far than what I have been taught anywhere else. Also the brushes that he linked us to have been awesome for creating new effects.
Maya is still a big mystery to me but it looks so fun and the things you can create with it seem limitless if you master the software, I can't wait to get more stuck into Simon's lessons and learning the intricacies of Maya.
So all in all that is what has been going on so far. I will go back and update some of my work soon, put descriptions and information on my thumbnails to try and make it clearer for people to understand what is going on across my blog. I also want to update and restyle it to make it feel a bit more personal. Also, with my next lot of thumbnails I am going to go back to giving myself a minute per thumbnail and using simple lines and shapes to try and give me inspiration.

TL;DR - Going to update my blog and write descriptions on my posts, enjoying the course so far.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

3 pages and 2 hours later.... Finished Caligari Review

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
Fig 1. Caligari Poster

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is an interesting movie to say the least. It is black and white and silent but despite all that it is filled with plot twists, murder, love, deceit and drama, everything a modern classic would have. Of course it won't be everyone's cup of tea but it really is a movie masterpiece if you take a moment to appreciate it and realise a story this complex was captured on film and created into a movie in 1919/1920.

Speaking of story this movie has a difficult one to follow. This can be attributed to the fact that the movie is silent and so there is very little that can give exposition to us but also because the movie is rather cleverly made. It is one of those movies that can change your perspective every time you watch it if a person points out even the littlest detail that you may not have seen before. My synopses of the movie at the moment is that the lead character Mr. Francis who seems like a rather troubled man is telling his story to a stranger (who in my mind is possibly a shrink, having seen the movie beginning to end) and he recounts a fantastical tale of an insane doctor, Dr. Caligari, who has schemes to murder people using a somnambulist called Cesare. A somnambulist is a person who is trapped in a death-like sleep however they can be awakened and ordered to fulfil tasks without question, like a sleeper agent. As Mr. Francis recounts his tale events transpire and Mr. Francis' best friend Mr. Alan is murdered by Cesare and then Cesare attempts to murder the woman Mr. Francis loves, Jane Olsen, but fails as he finds her beautiful so instead resorts to kidnapping her. The kidnapping fails as Cesare runs out of strength and so he places her on the ground and flees into the night. While this is happening Mr. Francis who has started to become paranoid is watching Dr. Caligari and what he believes is Cesare sleep throughout the night. This rules out the fact that Caligari and Cesare are involved in the murders in his mind, however he still has his suspicions and so the next night he returns to Caligari's house with the police and they search Cesare's Box (Cesare sleeps in a box). They discover that the 'Cesare' in the box is actually a doll and Dr. Caligari runs from the police, however he is chased by Mr. Francis. Now this is where the movie gets confusing. Caligari is chased to an asylum and disappears inside. Mr. Francis follows him and asks the people who work there if Dr. Caligari was a patient there. They reply to him that there is no Dr. Caligari in the asylum to their knowledge however the Director had just arrived and he (Mr. Francis) could ask him. Mr. Francis goes to the Director's office and who is sitting behind the desk? None other than Dr. Caligari! Francis quickly leaves the room and tells one of the workers that the Director is Dr. Caligari. See? I told you it gets confusing. A bit more confusion to go though. That evening Francis returns to the asylum with the police and they look through the Director's research notes and discover that Caligari was infact an 11th century mystic who would wander from town to town with his somnambulist and murder townsfolk. We the audience experience some flashbacks and discover that is what the Director was trying to replicate, or was it? See this is where I believe everyone has their own thoughts on what happened and these are mine. You see during one of these 'flashbacks' we see the Director get admitted to his own asylum and then they finish. The next shot we see is subtly different and I will explain why in a moment but in it we see Francis walk out of the asylum and into the courtyard with the stranger from the beginning. They walk past Cesare, who if he did murder those people should be in prison should he not? Also Cesare is awake and holding flowers which is also strange but pieces of the puzzle start to come together in your head. We also see Francis walk up to Jane who is sitting in the courtyard and asks her to marry him. She doesn't even look at him and says no because she is the queen and cannot marry outside royal blood. We are told throughout the film that she is in love with Francis so this is also very strange. Then comes the most significant part of the scene. The Director walks out of the asylum and down into the courtyard. Didn't we just see him get put into the institute?! As he walks into the courtyard he is attacked by Mr. Francis who is subdued and taken into the asylum. We finish with the Director saying “At last I recognise his mania, he believes me to be the mythical Caligari. Astonishing! But I think I know how to cure him now.” I believe that Francis lost his friend Mr. Alan and it sent him mad, he was admitted to the asylum and he blamed the death on a story character, Dr. Caligari, making various people in the institute into characters from the novel, imagining it all. This can most prominently be seen in the movie sets and backdrops, remember how I mentioned there was a subtle difference earlier? This is in the courtyard back drop. Everything in this backdrop is very square and shaped smoothly and evenly whereas before all the back drops were twisted and sinister with clawing shadows and huge contrast between light and dark. “The exaggerated, largely cold and sinister look of all subjects and objects is the first hint that we just might be inside someone’s nightmare.” (Kaufman)

Fig 2. Courtyard Fig 3. Town Square

Fig. 4 Cesare

Robert Wiene's silent classic has always been considered a keystone of the horror genre.” (Parkinson). It is easy to see why people would consider this film to be the forefather of modern motion pictures especially impressionist films and horror films. In so many films made since this one you can see reoccurring themes, scenes and styles. When I watched I was reminded instantly of 3 movies, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, Bram Stokers Dracula and Edward Scissorhands, all for different reasons. The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus takes on a similar idea that there is this surreal, story telling world however as the movies draw to a close we discover there is a darker reason for the world existing, in Caligari it is because it is imaginary, in a mental patient's head and in Parnassus it is because there is an on going fight with the Devil. I was reminded of Dracula plainly and simply through the scene where Cesare breaks into Jane's room, it reminded me of how the supposedly evil, monstrous character can find something beautiful still and I think the exaggerated shadows also reminded me of Dracula when he is in his castle and of course the fact that Cesare sleeps in a coffin shaped box is very vampiric. Lastly I was reminded of Edward Scissorhands because of the establishing shot which showed the sprawling town of Hostenwall rising into the sky on the side of a hill. The spindly sharp style of the town reminded me of the house at the top of the hill in Edward Scissorhands and as the film progressed it was easy to see where Tim Burton got his style and inspiration from, it is particularly obvious in his animations like Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride. Another theme that Burton and of course many other directors have taken from this film is the gothic idea behind it, pale faces and dark clothes, contrasting to give a haunting appearance. No one can deny it is possibly the most influential pieces of cinema ever created. “Undoubtedly one of the most exciting and inspired horror movies ever made.” (DP)

In conclusion I believe that The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari may be one of the greatest movies ever created, certainly not in my top 5 favourite but I appreciate that without this film so many other films I have come to know and love over the years wouldn't exist. It was in its time a visionary masterpiece which would have made audiences feel intrigued and uncomfortable at the same time by utilizing the very impressionist style backgrounds which gave the gothic horror and even more nightmarish feel. Also I think that some of the shots and ideas where amazingly done considering that the film was made in 1920 and I do believe it is a work of genius for its time.


Wiene, R. Fig 1. Caligari Poster (1920) - (accessed on 23/09/14)

Wiene, R. Fig 2. Courtyard Still (1920) - (accessed on 23/09/14)

Wiene, R. Fig 3. Town Square Still (1920) - (accessed on 23/09/14)

Saturday, 20 September 2014

So I started on my Summer Project over the weekend, got 25 drawings done. All life forms in this lot :)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

I'm alive and blogging

Hey everyone, Brem here. I finally got my blogger set up and will be posting to it soon :)