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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Illustration Art for the Movies, Part 3

With my involvement in creation of the film artwork of "Carrera Panamericana," I think it's important to acknowledge the continuing evolution of the artist in relation to the available technology, as that is what I have applied here. Technology is moreover a tool set. And it doesn't necessarily think for the artist anymore than a pen thinks for the writer --at least not yet. When placed in the hands of various individuals the uses and results of the application of that technology will follow according to the user's intent and level of acumen. Talent is thrown in somewhere, too.

There are some fallacies of belief about technology applied to artwork. Two main ones that I can think of are that: Across the board, the computer 1) replaces everything before it,  and 2) makes everything happen faster (with the latter being the most parroted falsehood).

Another myth is that drawing using a computer is somehow miles beyond in the deserving of praise compared to something merely drawn "traditionally." I surmise this is due to the still-ingrained or knee-jerk fascination with computers even though they have been with us for decades now. That is, if you can wield a certain technology that is esoteric, seemingly, to a larger group that does not use this technology, then somehow the praises must be layered on and that computer artist is elevated or deified.

As for me I tend to hide the medium I use but not intentionally for that end alone. I will use and wield whatever tools best help me to arrive at the conclusion I am seeking. Although it's been a long time since I've employed large swaths of paint, I am not partial to oil versus acrylics, not really. Each has its own requisite paradigm and character that will determine if it is useful or practical. Likewise if I need to alter a major component of an image, such as a picture of something that I have no practical access to as a live subject, then I will alter, lift, purloin, otherwise take what I need to achieve that end. And again the process is hidden. How the image was created isn't obvious to the casual observer of the artwork. A trained eye may know of course. But the intent is to entertain the wayward viewer, not to draw attention to the medium very much. The mystery is even better as it can, at times, elicit discussion.

As such I merge traditionally hand-drawn marker and pencil drawings with using digital layers. Yes they are markers and pencils --very unsophisticated instruments. The drawings are made as cut-outs, separate elements on bond paper that will have their own layer. In the computer the hand-drawn elements can be manipulated infinitely to attain the balanced compositions that are the desired outcomes. In that way, yes, absolutely, it is a time saver. With this process I can avoid entirely having to draw dozens of quick layout sketches or labor over covering up, repainting, redoing entire areas if such things are discovered necessary. Instead, now, if the car is drawn too big... who cares. Just resize it. If the flag is too dark when scanned, who cares.... color correct it. If the toreros' legs are too short, so what... digitally extend them. Were I to have painted them that way then I would have had to have corrected them anyway. But at much cost of labor and time --very draining.

Therefore in this beautiful process that quickly enables the end to arrive sooner, it incurs the added step of "post production." I can "fix it in post." But this is robbing Peter to pay Paul in some cases as the post process becomes its own universe and devotion of time. Pictured above this article are some of the key layer components to the "Carrera Panamericana" poster artwork that I had to create a context for. You can see that they are separate, floating as unarranged bits in a white void. Parts is parts.

It is therefore not merely the areas or rendered sections of the composite illustration that make the picture, but it is the arrangement of them. Arrangement of the shapes in a harmony is what separates a strong composition and image from a lukewarm or bad one. Therefore, one can render something expertly but fail at arranging the composition. This applies to myriad areas of the applied arts, particularly to music. What the computer primarily helps me to do is be a better musician, as it were. I'm able to think of the basic direction, rough it in, then spend more of the creative thinking time refining the last stages. In that way it is also like the darkroom. The negatives come alive and are finessed to artistry in the darkroom process (some famous photographers such as Helmut Newton had their own personal darkroom guy who would print the negatives under strict direction).

The biggest thing lacking is that of an "original." Were someone to ask (and they have) "May I see the original?" then I am only able to produce bits and pieces. In that way it is like animation cells. You cannot present someone who is a fan of the film "Fantasia" with "the whole original" as it exists only in pieces and only ever will. But what work to attain the finished movie. I can say that the longest phase of the poster creation for "Carrera Panamericana," aside from the Ferrari (which was a long process of creation as it had to really come together convincingly), was the layout of the final composition including all of the typography. The individual elements such as the flag and background were mere tiny roadblocks to that end!

1 comment:

  1. TAG Heuer sponsored: 18x24 poster and DVD of "Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)" available here: