Okay, for the second assignment we were all given a nationality and an occupation. The list of occupations was a bunch of different things like florist and bell diver and stuff like that and the nationality list had four choices: Viking, Hun, Zulu and Georgian. Out of the combinations that came from these lists, I got Georgian Hitman.
Now, see, I was okay with this. Hitmen are easy. That gives me a reason to draw guns or other such weapons and most hitmen that I know (or at least picture in my head) wear suits and ties and black sunglasses and are all awesome and stuff. However, I was kind of stumped by the Georgian thing. I don't know much about Georgia (the country) and I remember hearing about their scrap with Russia a while ago on the news, but if I had been asked like "What do you think about the Russia/Georgia issue?" I would be in the group of people answering "Why's Russia attacking our state?" However, I'm a bit more enlightened now (thank goodness >>), as I spent a good deal of time looking up stuff about the country.
Frankly, it was sort of hard. I kept getting Georgian as in the Georgian Times of England, when they were under the rule of King George or I kept getting links to the US State. It was hard to find clothing references for this too. However, I did find some very informative sites about the country such as this:
Most of these sites said the same thing, so I found it difficult to come up with a character that I really wanted to work with. Originally, I had found images of traditional wedding uniforms (such as this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Costumed_wedding_party_in_Georgia.jpg) and I was going to run with that. I was thinking something cliche like the character's family was killed and he was out for revenge, but I really wanted to stray from that usual story. I fiddled with it a few times, thinking he was a young groom to be, but his big day was ruined when his fiancée and family was killed in some kind of surprise attack or that he was an older man and his daughter and family was killed on the day of her wedding by like her crazy ex-boyfriend or her fiancées jealous mother/bitter ex-girlfriend. I thought it would be cool for him to be all angsty and revenge-y while still going about killing people in his own blood stained wedding outfit. But again it kind of sound cliche.
Being as most of the information I found was about Georgian culture, that liked to bring up the Soviet rule of the country however, I decided to run with that. I did consider going back to the period of World War II (one of my favourite periods) when there was the Georgian based Red Army of the Nazis, but I thought that was stretching it. So, instead, I stayed in more modern times, considering Soviet rule had only ended at the beginning of the 1990s. This also allowed me a bit more access to references to 90s clothes and would be a tad easier for me in the long run.
Before I continue with my ranty rant of rant-i-ness, here's the character I came up with:
This is Nikoloz Khutsisvili (whose last name I really don't actually know how to pronounce). He's the 34-year old son of a baker, who was born in 1957, during the time Georgia was under Soviet Union control. He grew up in a rather stable household and his family live modest, comfortable lives and had little qualms with the Soviet government. Outrages were present in the family during the attacks in 1989, and though there was basic support for a new government, the Khutsisvili household held little belief the USSR would be abolished and their rule diminished over the country.
Nikoloz had started his own family before the fall of the Soviet Union, marrying in 1985 when he was 28 and had a young daughter a year later. His small family lived fine with Georgia still under Soviet control and he soon took up working at his father's bakery.
When the 1990s rolled around however and the USSR was eventually ended, Nikoloz and his family, along with the rest of the country, took the heat of a struggling economy of a newly formed government. Fearing for the security of his family, Nikoloz was given an opportunity he felt he had to take. He was offered a job as a hitman and despite being very hesitant towards it at first, took up the offer. During the day he handles business at the family bakery while overnighting as a hitman to help provide for them.
Nikoloz is apparently a master at chess and likes to play the piano. Like most Georgians, he enjoys his wine and like his father is skilled at making bread and other pastries, though his father constantly scolds him (in a more teasing manner than anything) that he will never surpass him (though his mother claims Nikoloz has and his father's taste buds have just gone). He's proved he's a skilled enough marksman through his secondary profession and his sense of strategy aids him greatly in his work.
Nikoloz's weapon of choice is a PB/6P9 silence pistol, a weapon crafted in the 1950s for use in the USSR. How he managed to procure the gun is unknown, though he has some decent handling of the weapon. He uses his primary job as a baker in tandem as a hitman, posing as a delivery man to get closer to his targets. However, he takes great care in using that method of closing space to make sure no harm comes to his family.
In terms of his design, I gave it a lot of thought in terms of his face. I knew basically what I wanted him to wear - waistcoats and trench coats are some of my favourite things in life, though how I have him dressed seems a bit old fashioned. Overall however, I designed him to be somewhat old fashioned to go with his somewhat old fashioned beliefs. Nikoloz was fine with Soviet rule and didn't completely see the need for change, so he is still hung up on how things were before the USSR was abolished. This is reflected in both his clothing and hair style.
This was a page of heads I did when I started planning up Nikoloz. I wanted him to be older and bit more matured, over the initial idea of a young groom who's future was torn from him. I was playing mainly with hair styles here, but also dabbled in nose shape. Usually, my noses seem to be rather neat and straight and I guess... uh... Normal-looking? But with Nikoloz I played with it a bit, giving him a bump along the bridge and having the tip of his nose turn up. I thought that gave him a more intimidating look. I wanted that kind of look because of his job and because it contrasts his warmer personality towards his daughter and wife. His facial hair also adds to that and I played somewhat with designs for that here too. I wanted something with a triangular design because it adds a rigidity to the character, but to counter it, gave him some what fluffy flowing hair.
After I decided that's what I wanted, I played more with the facial shape, mainly the nose, because it was new to me. Here are some drawings of his head a different angles. I was trying to figure out what his nose would look like at different angles and how his hand would flow around his head. Also, there's a prelim doodle of his outfit.
During this time I was also experimenting with new colouring styles. I had met with Dave after we were given the assignment just to talk about other things (he's my mentor and I hadn't talk to him before until then >>) and he said something about looking into a softer colouring style as I'm very very very comfortable and prone to cell shading. So, again, I was practicing on Nikoloz
The top image is when I was experimenting with colouring. I was following a tutorial Dave showed me here: http://theartcenter.blogspot.com/2010/03/sam-nielson-painting-process.html. I ultimately failed at producing anything close to that there and I partially blame the restrictions present on Paint Tool Sai (I do really wish I had Photoshop...). However, I came up with this softer style, which I actually quite like, as it's not as harsh and cutthroat as my usual cell shading. That top image also has a silhouette I was playing with because I was... bored and stuff. The bottom image is just a comparison between the softer colouring style I was playing with and a cell shaded style.
Here are some clothing references I was looking at. I didn't know what kind of trench coat I really wanted. I thought that the full out taupe, double breasted one was somewhat cliche. In the end, I sort of just made one up and mixed up different style coats, though it basically deviates completely from the ones here. Also picture are shoes, because I have a devil of a time drawing dress-y looking shoes and a picture of Nikoloz's gun. Overall, after all that, I got the middle picture seen way up top, or this one:
I kept using a softer shading style when compared to my other stuff, thought it's still basically lightened cell shading, though I do think it looks very nice this way. I also added a very simple background (as I did with all the others) as it was another suggestion Dave had made during our talk.
For the other styles, originally, I had only chose to do the style from Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and a style based of Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl and Gorillaz fame. The first one I worked on was Wind Waker style. I had done this style before, drawing myself that way (see my last blog post for an image of that), so it was relatively easy, but fun. I was going to do this one digitally, but being as I drew the Gorillaz one on paper (I'll explain why in a minute), I doodled that on up too while in my sketchbook. Here's the scan of that:
The first time I tried this style, I just doodled up the sketch on GIMP (the program I was using at the time), but I guess it didn't matter how I did it, because I had to use GIMP to ink it anyway. The reason why I didn't use Sai was because GIMP has this lovely Pen Tool (much different from the PS Pen Tool) that emulates a calligraphy pen in a way, with different thicknesses and stuff depending on which way you write and pressure and such. I just traced over the doodle using that tool and got this lineart:
I found this works fairly well when copying WW style and looks similar to my references. Here were the ones I used and I got all these off the image galleries on CreativeUncut.com.
The top two here are actually from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, but the game uses a similar design as that in Wind Waker, they just ditch the inky, paper art for the games after WW. I only used those for ideas for Nikoloz's jacket. The bottom two are from Wind Waker and the one of the pirates helped for different facial shape ideas. If I just used refs of Link, Zelda or Tetra, they all have rounded faces so it would have been a bit difficult. Quill (the guy with the beak) helped with posing and proportion. WW characters have weird legs that shrink as you get closer to the foot (Quill's also one of my favourites in that game).
One of the issues I always have with this style though (the two times I've done it >>) is the paper grain effect they add on to the WW art. I seemed to mimic it fine using GIMPs weird filters (they have really weird filters... but they're still useful), but I had issues doing it on Sai. I didn't take it back to GIMP to do it, but instead used this feature on Sai where you can set the layer to a different grain type, like paper or canvas. Paper didn't look right when you used it, so I used one of the Watercolour options (there's two) and messed with the settings. It came out all right though it's still not the same exact paper grain (though I couldn't produce it on GIMP properly either).
For the background, I looked back to more of the official art, mainly this one:
I noted how it was nearly devoid of line (I think there's maybe a bit on the little bridge back there...) and focused basically on colour. The characters are popped from it by their heavier lineart, but the background still shares the same paper grain, which again I tried to mimic with the Watercolour layer setting on Sai. In the end, this is what I got:
The second style I tried to copy was again that of Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl and Gorillaz fame. He no longer works on Tank Girl and I guess works mainly with Damon Albarn and the Gorillaz, but I still love his style. Really... if I lived in the UK, I would probably stalk him. But anyway!
For this style, I looked at a lot of his work and it was easy to do. I have Liz's copy of her Plastic Beach program from when they were at the Fox back in October (best concert ever btw) and her copy of the Gorillaz book Rise of the Ogre. I just stuck my nose in those for a few hours or so. However, here are some example reference pictures:
I still found replicating it a bit hard though. I had tried it before with another self portrait (again, see last post) and it was alright, but just alright. In the beginning of his Gorillaz work he had more vectored lines that had gradient shading on them and they were fairly simple in that sense. His more recent stuff is clear digital coloured pencil line (you can so tell by the line work) and it still sports a gradient like effect. I chose to do the more recent version of Jamie's style which is why I had to traditionally draw the lines. I had to redo it a few times though and this was the first sketch:
That one was dumped because I ran out of space on my page >>. Here was the second one and the one I used. The first one is the sketch and the second is the pencil trace over of the sketch. Hewlett's line are pencil, but they are neat unlike the sketch I had, so I had to retrace it for neater lines
For Nikoloz in Gorillaz style, I drew him a bit more rough than usual and actually is, such as his tie hanging out of his waistcoat, his waistcoat not being full buttoned and his shirt being untucked. I thought it would fit in with the style a bit more.
To copy his colouring style, I just set the lineart layer on multiply and coloured under it, but I found I needed three other lineart layers on multiply with different opacities to get the line dark enough. The colouring was basically fill-in with a multiplied shadow layer on top that was then "gradiented" out with Sai's water tool (was Sai lacks a gradient tool).
I had issues with backgrounds, as most of the Gorillaz stuff is basically promotion stuff with them posing for album covers or in front of coloured gradient backgrounds. However, the Plastic Beach art has some backgrounds, like here that I looked at:
I didn't think that would fit with how I drew Nikoloz in Gorillaz style, so in the end, I just went with a very simple brick wall background that looked like it was roughly drawn and coloured and that seemed to fit pretty well. This was the finished bit:
Now, before I blabbed about these, I said "originally, I had only chose to do the style from Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and a style based of Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl and Gorillaz fame" and I said that because after I got these two coloured (before I put backgrounds in; I put those all in last), I figured I would have time to do at least one more style, just for the heck of it. In the end, I did two more styles, just for the heck of it.
The first extra style I did was a style based off the art from the PS2/Wii game, Okami. Okami is a Zelda-like game where you play as the sun-god who has been sent to Japan in the form of a wolf to save it from demons using her Celestial Brush to harness the other brush techniques of the other gods who have fallen. It's a fun game, because you draw the attacks and it's very pretty, utilizing a watercolour like feel to both the line art and the in-game graphics.
Here are the refs I was looking at, again, taken from CreativeUncut's art gallery for Okami.
This one I had a great deal of trouble in replicating, not know how I was going to do the watercolour like effect. I had started it digitally and didn't really have the means of doing traditional watercolour at home. However, seeing as this style had varied line weight that was sort of like WW's lines, I attempted to try that first. Here was the lineart from that first attempt:
Originally I thought this would work and played with colouring it on Sai. I had to inquire with Norma on Sai's tools (she's much more familiar with the program than I am) to see if there was a way to have a watercolour like brush. There isn't a set tool for it, so I was basically playing with the different tool settings for a few hours. I got something coloured that I thought look much like the style, but after getting the opinions of a few people (a few people from a Tron based chat, my friends Heidi and Kristina, Kevin), I found that the lineart I had done just wasn't working (and I had to bump up the colours, they were too dark at first).
Kevin said that the lines were definitely traditionally done and Heidi said that I could really use the papery feel she said was present in the official art. I didn't know how I could do either due to limitations of both my household supplies and program restrictions, but I remember then that I had watercolour paper and calligraphy ink. So, I printed off the lineart above and traced over that on watercolour paper using a paintbrush and the ink and got this:
The line weight here wasn't as varied as before, but it was much heavier and being as it was actually ink on paper it looked like... well, ink on paper. I was actually happy with it and this time around I also took note of an observation made by my friend Kristina. Okami art doesn't really have that many smooth curves to the lines. If you look at them, the lines are segmented into shorter straight lines, so I applied that idea to this lineart.
So, what I did for this was instead of recolouring everything, I just plopped the lineart over the colours I already had down and put it on multiply and played with the opacity and strangely enough, it worked. The colours didn't match up with the lineart, but that was fine, as in the official art, the colour bleeds occasionally from the lines there too, so it look a lot better.
For the background, I looked at some of the promotional art. It was just more watercolour like work, such as here:
I didn't go and do elaborate linework for the background though and basically did a quick soft background up with Sai's marker tool, which layers down lower opacity layers and gets darker the more you go over it. I made it look blotchy-ish for watercolour effect and came out with this:
The fourth and last style I tried to copy deviates from my other choices. It's not game art this time around and isn't really anyone people of mainstream knowledge would probably know. I saw an awesome speedpaint the other day of my favourite Tron character, Clu 2 on DeviantArt the other day and checked it out. Here's the picture:
Original post here: http://altana.deviantart.com/art/C-L-U-Quickpaint-194072277 If you're on dA, go fave it now. Go.
Anyway, I really really really really really really like her stuff. It's loose, but painterly and when it comes to painterly styles, I kinda like loose, kinda sloppy application. That deviation also has links to process blogs and I was looking at those and I decided to do something kind of like this, though it certainly didn't take me no 20 minutes because I can't paint or digi-paint to save my life unfortunately.
I don't have as much process stuff for this because it was like... last minute, but what I did was read over her process blogs a lot and tried to copy it, but I think I ultimately failed, because it doesn't look much like her stuff. However! It does look much more painterly than anything I generally do and this was the first one I actually slapped a background on that I was happy with. Usually when I do backgrounds, they're simple and stupid and lame, but here, it was actually... okay! And I was like YAY! and stuff...
But mine doesn't seem to have that heavy brush stroke feeling to it and I think I blended it too much or something... I might try it again later to see if I can get used to it or something. But anyway, this was that last style:
So yeah. That's Nikoloz for my second assignment in Environments and Characters. I think I'm gonna stop writing now, because I think I'm actually out of process stuff. That and I think I've posted enough anyway :p Whatever; there's more to come, as we get a new project this week :) Ta~