Thursday, March 26, 2009

So much for Watchmen week...

Sooooooo- about that... and about those regular posts I was making... It appeared to have just stopped.

But!- Not all is what it seems... The reason I haven't done anything on here is because I was asked to do a bunch of concept art for a potential new game, but It had to be done ASAP. I pretty much only had 2 and a half days to get it done. Naturally, I put everything else on hold.

So the good news... MASSIVE BREAK. It's like the first time I've done something at work that I can actually show as more than just experience. Plus, apparently my stuff is a hit, so they've asked me to design more of the characters and specific track highlights. Naturally this is also awesome, but It means I wont be doing any side stuff for the moment. Furthermore... the legalities of the situation are a little cloudy at the moment, so I don't know if I allowed to post the stuff I've done here, or if it has to stay hush hush.

I don't wanna stop posting here though... and I'm not really cool with posting without any pictures or anything. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do in the meantime.

For the moment though, please enjoy this logo my sister asked me to photoshop for her boss... I had to photoshop out the gray gradient background or something. Mission accomplished?

(Oh... and I've been re-reading Watchmen the past couple of nights. I totally forgot about the mention of Ride of the Valkyries in the Under The Hood excerpt. In the comic, Hollis Mason refers to it when recounting the saddest thing ever. It's there as a contrastring soundtrack to a ridiculous and heartbraking moment in his childhood. It's basically a super serious piece of music that's playing while a bunch of people are laughing.

Co-incidentally (since I totally don't believe this was on purpose) it was also playing in the cinema while a bunch of people were laugh at its self referential status in pop culture. I guess this, coupled with trivialising the Vietnam war with a Giant-Blue-man-exploding god and a sadistic american hero was the movies attempt at placing the song in a similar context to the book. I would almost give Snyder some points for this, if I wasn't a bitter husk of a man who is hoarding all his points for himself).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wednesday Morning Watchmen

Hrm... More like Wednesday Night Watchmen... There may be spoilers.

So Watchmen (the movie) finally comes out and it's time to test my geek loyalties in the toughest of ways. Who am I supposed to back: Comic-God Alan Moore (writer of the comic) or the voice of Solid Snake, David Hayter (adapter of the screenplay)?

There was always a feeling in the air that this would be a terrible movie, it showed all the right signs. It'd been in development hell for 20 years. It was a comic book movie coming out in a market where every second movie is a comic book movie. The comic is way to long, complicated and layered to translate onto the screen. Plus, adaptions were being raped left and right by Hollywood (hello Wolverine!). What chance did it have?

Well, there's two ways to look at it: Was it a good movie in its own right, and was it as good as the comic. Lets take the fairer, first option to begin with.

Straight up, it was a good movie... I was entertained through out, there was no point I felt bored and it never felt like it was dragging on (hello Dark Knight!). The story played out fairly coherently and there were some stand out performances. The best thing though was the look feel of the whole thing. I'm trying to distance myself from comparing to the comic, but some shots astounded me by having even more impact then the book. And let's not forget some excellent use of soundtrack. 'Unforgettable' during the comedian fight scene was perfect!

It's not all great though... Some performances were awfully flat. And for a movie that had some excellent special effects, the ageing make-up was terrible... And then there was the delicious layer of cheese, some of which attributed by some odd sound track choices (seriously... flight of the valkyries?) some by bad dialogue (NOOOOOOOooooooo!!!...). But to be honest, I've put up with a lot worse in other movies I've thought were excellent. Looking at this strictly as something seperate to the book, It's still a solid movie in my opinion.

But there's the problem... the movie has to be compared to the book. Several hundred thousand fanboys demand it (Note: fanboys are always problems themselves) Try and imagine what you'd feel about the movie had you not read the book and you wouldn't even know there was changes... Surely, you'd just be swept away by the technical brilliance of it all? But, continuing on with the 'problem' theme of this paragraph, most people who saw this movie and hadn't read the book didn't like it/understand it.

So, and this is where we begin to compare it to the comic, why not? Well... the reason is, as you may have heard before, because Watchmen isn't filmable. However, despite what some might say because of the sheer fanboy love that gets heaped on Watchmen and Alan Moore, and even what Alan Moore might say now that he hates Hollywood, the only true reason Watchmen isn't filmable is it's length. There are plenty of complicated and deep movies out there, it's just that they don't always rake in the money. A movie like this needs money to pull off. It needs to be accessable to a broad audience. In that sense, Watchmen can't really be turned into a motion picture, or 'film' if you'd like.

And that, for someone who hasn't seen the book, is what kills this movie. The book is full of complex characters. By that, I dont just mean the heroes, I'm refering to the supporting cast too. By the end of the story, you care about most of them, The fact that some of them are sacrificed by the time the climax is over adds gravity to the situation. In the movie, we don't even have time to flesh out all of the main characters. Sure, Manhatten and Rorshach get a little backstory and development. Ozymandias got to tell his own backstory in about a minute. Most other characters were lucky to get that. And then they felt the need to cut out a bunch of my favourite scenes as well, although I'm not that bitter, since I'm sure they'll be making the extended DVD version. And even then I'm not fussed, since I've still got the memories of the scenes in the book. Let's face it: the only reason us fans don't need a lot of what was in the movie is because we already have that in the book.

So does the movie do justice to the book? Short answer: No. Longer answer: There is no possible way you can condense Watchmen into 3 hours.

But it's not just that. Watchmen is considered literature for a reason, not just because it can't be compressed into a 3hr movie. The comic has layers upon layers of themes and symbolism, not just character development and (for its time) thought provoking plot. Furthermore, it used as much of the comic book medium as it could, playing with the time and composition and repetition and such. It broke away from what comic books were and expanded the experience by using book excerpts and other text between chapters. Although it's unfair to call it after only seeing it once, the movie didn't even touch the creativity of the book in this respect.

The movie should've explored all the abilities of the film as a medium. There should've been bits where the audience was floored by the sheer genius of what was happening on the screen. Not just for presenting something deemed 'unfilmable' but for adding something to the experience and making people think differently about what a movie was. I will admit there was moments that almost approach it; case in point being the title sequence. It seems though that the only three tricks in Snyders bags were: Slow motion action, hidden references and music.

I've gone on way too long in this post. Theres more to say (there always is about Watchmen) but I think I might call it a night. Who knows, I might turn the rest of the week into Watchmen week. Don't get me wrong though, I definitely enjoyed the movie and will be watching the extended version DVD over and over again...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

That's about enough of that.

Web browsers are weird. After I put up the picture last night I noticed that it didn't quite look right. The colours were a little off and the shadows looked a little patchy.

When I uploaded this one tonight, I was worried the same thing was going to happen. Surely enough, it did... For some reason these images look a lot less vibrant when looking at them through a browser. Downloading them and viewing them in say, Windows picture viewer shows the correct colours as they appeared in photoshop.

I dunno what the deal is... It'll just have to do for now.

I think this will do for this picture. I've added the lighter colors and details, and I think it looks alright. There's a couple of things I wish I knew before (I wouldn't have outlined so much of the lips for instance), but I guess knowing is half the battle after all. I might try banging out something Watchmen related with the next tutorial I do... Or I'll do a sketch or something... Just so I can write a hefty post about it.

So, to end Nora Zehetner week here on the Stompy blog; One last spoiler.

Of the 12 movies Nora has been in so far, 4 have started with the letter B, meaning there is a 33% chance her next movie will start with the letter B also.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm wearing my digital smock.

I only managed to do the dark colour pass tonight... Mainly due to the hair, but also because that tutorial's part for doing the shadows was basically: "Add the dark colours to the mid colours". Very helpful.

It took me a while to work out a way to get the skin shadows looking right. I started out just assuming I'd do something similar to the mid tones; block colours\no passing over sections. I couldn't get that to work so I ended up going back to my old ways. But that looked like ass too. Eventually I figured I should be using the eraser to soften/tidy murky colours and everything kind of fell into place.

The hair was still murder though... I also now regret lining soo much of the hair- big black lines look good in line art, but not when they are in the middle of colour. Lesson learned.

Also, to all you haters out there... Watchmen was pretty good after all. Don't get me wrong, it's not for everyone (Alan Moore for example) and there was a few changes and omissions that made me a little sad inside (and totally changed some of the themes in the comic), but there was no way anyone could fit all of Watchmen into 3 hours. I'll probably write a post about it some time in the immediate future, If I ever get past the Noras...

In keeping in the spirit of Nora Zehetner spoiler week, in movie "Beneath" Nora plays 'Claire' a girl haunted by an accident that left her older sister horribly disfigured. The sister eventually dies of a heart attack, but it turns out shes not really dead after all. She's just been living in some cellar. Then the sister's daughter stabs her and kills her.

(also... Something weird happened when I exported as a JPEG... some of the shadows look a little dusty :S)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Damn you hands...

I didn't get as much done tonight as I was hoping... So I'm putting up this half done paint for the moment.

This time I'm using Studioqube's 3d paint tutorial, but it wasn't as helpful as the other couple I've done. It didn't really teach me anything specific that I didn't know... It pretty much just shows what he's done at each step. It would've been nice if it explained what brush he used/how he used it- but I guess figuring it out is half the fun.

I'll get around to finishing this later in the week... Tomorrow night I'm seeing Watchmen, so I don't think I'll have much of a chance to do anything. If I can muster the energy, I might write a small post ranting about or praising Zach Synder.

Continuing on with Nora Zehetner spoilers, Nora was also on the TV train wreck that is Heroes. She played a villian (I assume) who had the power to control people using suggestion. In some strange twist of fate, she also did one of the only heroic deeds on the show so far: Shooting herself in the head to stop Sylar from geting her power. Despite the shows willingness to resurrect other characters over and over (I'm assuming its Nathan's secondary power), she's yet to make a reappearance. Same with Kristen Bell. Make it happen Tim Kring!

Also... I think Nathan's tertiary power is to completely change characterization every couple of episodes.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


My plan for the weekend was to go through a few photoshop tutorials and learn how to properly use it, instead of the regular "use one tool and make the most of it" approach I normally apply.

Unfortunately, nothing ever truly goes to plan... Things happened on Saturday... and then I had to spend most of Sunday reclaiming my computer back from a bout of the spywares (there's still something going on where windows will loose focus every 20 seconds... very annoying). Eventually I decided to get on with it and try a couple of tutorials.

I was looking at absolute beginner tutorials originally... but they weren't really teaching me much so I ended up searching random tutorials til I came to Melissa Clifton's site. I started with a line art tutorial, since I use it a lot and really needed to learn how to use the path tool. Then I wanted to pick something else I could do with what I already had... So I gave the pop art tute a whirl as well.

I think the line art pic turned out alright, but I'm not totally pleased with the pop art one... It looks OK in it's shrunken state, but viewing it at full size is pretty ugly. I was going to just put up that one, but then at the end I was pissy that all the lines I drew in the hair were barely visible, so I put up the line art as well. I may give just the line art a proper paint later.

The model is Nora Zehetner, the actress who played Laura in Brick... She can steal my brick of herion anytime, if you get my drift. (Oh- MASSIVE SPOILERS).