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Week 3: Tone/Value

Our homework tasks to complete for this week started with digitally painting 6 thumbnail backgrounds. This time, I remembered from the get-go that it was to be greyscale so that was helpful! I wanted to focus on showing how empty most of this world is; even the highway beside the contrastingly vibrant city is starkly desolate.

What was easier for this batch of thumbnail backgrounds was the fact I wasn't misguidedly worrying about colours. However, what was definitely harder was the emphasis this time on "paintng". My arch-nemisis. I tend to stick to cell-shading with my art as I find no matter how good my digital brushes are: they can never replicate the look of traditional paintings. Whilst I don't believe any of these backgrounds particularly look "painted", I'm grateful to be forced out of my digital comfort zone. I came in this time with inspirations lined up for each background, as I found it gave me a base to materialise ideas on - compared to some of the backgrounds from last week which were completely original and thus more challenging to construct without any foundations. For Poison Snowdrop I further developed on last week's Winter #1 - as I believe the unusual pairing of neon on a winter's morning is striking. I also particularly enjoy the contrast of this delicate, innocent and withdrawn appearing flower having poisonous sap. I drew inspiration from Lily Allen's Somewhere Only We Know music video, as it contains the my personal favourite Winter scenery, (ignoring the insanely beautiful technique of paper based stop-motion and zoetrope animation). I loved the scenes where its fields blanketed in snow, with a huge forest in the distance not too far away - couldn't tell you why though! For Neon Highway, I further developed last week's Highway thumbnail - again drawing from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and one of its Rainbow Road tracks. I also drew inspiration from my own futuristic cities from my webcomic, Gateways. I rendered a bunch of building assets to save time a while back, and them along with some of the backgrounds from Chapter 3 really influenced me... not to toot my own horn or anything...

What I also found when "painting", was that trying to translate bioluminesence/neon was mighty challenging without any colour, and with all you can do instead being to use the airbrush tool, (in greys, of course) on a shine layer with a low opacity...

I chose "Radiation Source" to fully illustrate as I believed it would be a key area for the story. I wanted to achieve almost a "1920s Frankenstein movie" vibe, and attempt to use textured brushes. It was challenging to make the old site seem futuristic and decrepit simultaneously, but with enough messing around with all the SAI brushes I'd ignored, I achieved something satisfactory. I wanted to combine the sheer gloom of Modern Warfare's Chernobyl level with the tucked-away forests of Gravity Falls. For the site itself, I took inspiration from this area from Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, (bottom left) during the first level. I also was influenced by the destroyed/partially complete ominous, sci-fi machines from Gravity Falls and the Owl house repectively. Overall, I found digitally painting to be super challenging, and something I'd need a lot of patience to hone in on.

Continuing our development of our world, our group had a call on Discord to see if we could tie any more loose ends, and tease out some more character ideas. We soon learned that Jodie enjoys the buff ladies - which honestly, how could you not? We decided on around 4/5 human survivors in their own group, with one alien that crashlands and ends up joining them. We discussed what character archetypes would be present, and what mild mutations they'd have. This included a buff lady with cat mutations, two squabbling twins, a small child, and an alien. At the end of our call, we decided on taking whatever or as many of the cast as we wanted and pumping out some design ideas for them. I wanted to try my hand at the buff cat lady and the alien protagonist - both of which I had immediate ideas for.

With the alien, I envisioned a well-meaning, internally nervous alien who tries to come across as professional as he can. I imagined the race he came from would be interested in Earth in its glowy state due to their own planet being nautically orientated - as the majority of bioluminecent creatures hail from the sea, which I discovered during research. This discovery lead me to make the alien's design more themed around bioluminescent sea creatures. As our group had already created squid themed creatures for our world, (as them and jellyfish tend to be the more popular glowy sea friends) I wanted to find creatures less commonly known. When I came across the far right image below, I was striken by its almost machanical and certainly spikey looks. The pyrodinium, as its known as, is a microscopic creature that produces the bioluminescence in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico:

I also took inspiration from the Tallest of Inavder Zim! Their exaggerated proportions and sci-fi getups helped fuel my design - especially in the second page of cooncepts. I wanted to take the original concepts and make the alien more.. "alien" and uncanny with longer arms and these weird hands that contain a thumb and two seemingly normal fingers - the latter of which can actually spit into four fingers for when a situation would benefit from it. I'll admit I'm not the strongest at creating designs that aren't whacky Star Wars level - so the only way I could think to replicate hair in a non-human way was to make the hair a flappy fin thing! I decided whenever the alien would be underwater, the fin would go up to aid with swimming, but out of the water it would droop down. Giving it that "hair" look. The "nose" is really just basically a singular gill for breathing, and the ears are the same type of fin as the "hair" but also aid in swimming and adapting to hearing underwater. I focused on using the cliche teardrop alien-head shape through the design - obviously to hammer home that this alien is indeed, an alien, but also to convey introvertedness and a passive nature.

When designing concepts for the buff cat-lady, I drew inspiration from Overwatch's Zarya mainly. I believe the short hairdo ephasises her athleticism, and her exaggerated build is something not usually seen in female character designs. I also used Steven Universe's Jasper, and The Last of Us 2's Abby as other influences. Additionally, I remembered a post on Instagram I saw a while back, that was depicting different ways in which human designs could have cat ears. I tried both giving her elven styled cat ears, and cat ears that were moulded around her head more - the latter also gave me the chance to give her these furry sideburns, which aren't commonly seen on woman characters. I also wanted the whiskers to be more similar to facial hair, which again, is more unorthodxox. For shapes, I heavily used inverted triangles to show upper body strength. Oh, and the last reference image for her design was included purely as it made me chuckle.

Our lesson time was to be spent in our groups to further develop our worlds. We lost Dayna and Jennifer, and gained Daniel and Darren. After catching them up to speed, we individually continued sketching ideas whilst discussing potential world details. I decided to further develop my alien protagonist design so I could try out a colour palette I had in my head, and to push the cartoony proportions more. The bust up drawing was the first concept to include colours, and I believe the magenta and teal palette works nicely! The two colours compliment each other in the way that red and green do. I believe they capture the spacey and deep-sea vibes well! I'm super pleased with the full body render - taking away some of the outfit's details from the bust up doodle strengthens the minimalism and thus effectiveness of the design, and making some of the facial markings more nuances allows the main features to pop more.

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