Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Submission Disk Artwork

Photoshop Workshop: Perspective lines

This was where I used the line tool to draw the lines to the vanishing point for Scene 3. I ultimately changed the structures in the image and refined their detail.
But these lines helped me get an idea of where things ought to be in the frame.

Photoshop Workshop: Root Bridges Experimentation

Here, Photoshop Phil showed me how to put an overlay and play with the gradient to change the background colour for Scene 3
I didn't use this method ultimately but it's a handy idea for the future.

Photoshop Workshop Exercise: The Lost Egg

This is how Scene 1 started out. I wanted to include an egg with a growing fetus within it but that would draw attention away from the space so I cancelled the idea later on and just left the egg shell as a reminder of prehistoric life


Scene 2: Preparatory Studies

Scene 1: Preparatory Studies

Maya Tutorials: Digital Sets: Part 5: Lintel Details

Maya Tutorial: Digital Sets: Part 4: Windows

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Maya Tutorial: Pillars

@Phil Scene 2: It's Always Sunny In The Forest

Here is the other second scene that I am working on.It has the sneaky ray of sunlight that seeps into the dark forest. The water as well has a level of opacity where the bed of pebbles is visible. The structures on the top are nests for the growth of the prehistoric mammals. Mammals and even eggs of the oviporous animals that the Native Indians decided to create using the Magic of Chaos.

How can I improve it?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Film Review: Avatar (2009)

James Cameron's Avatar has a visual concept that uses a strong colour palette, highly eye catching bioluminescent flora and fauna and landscape structures that will release the right amounts of dopamine required for healthy functioning. However, as the history of science fiction/ fantasy films goes,(Ridley Scott's Legend 1985, Joseph Kosinski's Tron: Legacy 2010, Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the moon, 2011) the plot revolves around the freedom struggle of a local alien planet against it's human invaders. As reviewer Rebecca Murray rightly states, "(Avatar) didn't have a plot and was all about the effects." Murray, Rebecca.(2009) Film Review.
It is also highly inspired by the Hindu Myth of Lord Krishna who has blue skin and is an Avatar (sanskrit for 'form' or 'representation/image of') of God.
Fig 1: Avatar Movie Poster
 The story does focus on human reactions to situations very accurately; what with the military reacting to the alien planet Pandora's indigenous population and their anger towards the humans' presence.
The movie does give light to the cold, corporate driven decision making of the American military.
Avatar focuses on the character of Jake Sully who is an ex-marine who has lost the functioning of his legs due to some damage being done to his spine. His brother T. Sully was a scientist who was working on an alien planet by the name of Pandora on a project called the Avatar Project. This project involves the creation of beings by combining human and Na'vi DNA. Each scientist involved in the project has their own Na'vi counterpart or Avatar which they can inhabit mentally at will. When T. Sully is tragically murdered in a mugging, his brother Jake is asked to fill his place due to the high costs of the project and the convenient identical genome that he shares with his twin.
For six years, Jake sleeps in a state of suspended animation on his journey to Pandora. Upon waking up to the planet that very suspiciously resembles Earth, Jake joins in with the scientific team but only serves as the brawn due to his Marine history.
Fig 2: The Landscape of Avatar
The well known Sigourney Weaver (known for her role as Ellen Ripley) comes back in Avatar as the
strong and no non-sense Grace who is the head of the scientific research team of the Avatar Project.
With a typical nerdy character such as Norm and a masculine army girl called Trudy, this team is well equipped for any fatality.
On a research trip into the Na'vi forest, Jake is chased by a Thanator (something between a black panther and a frilled neck lizard.) and separates himself from the rest of the team. He then meets Neytiri, a local Na'vi who does not kill Jake as she is stopped by the spirits of Ewha (the mother of all that is life according to the Na'vi). She takes him to her tribe after saving him from a bunch of hungry Viperwolves. The Clan Chief (who happens to be Neytiri's father) is amused with Jake as he has never met a human who is a warrior before. The ones that they have come in contact with were all scientists. He assigns Neytiri to teach Jake the Na'vi way of life.

Fig 3: Neytiri

The humans require an ore of metal known as unobtanium. It sells for 20 million a kilo. The largest deposit of this ore in under the home tree village of the Na'vi clan. It is the only deposit available closest to the human military base.
The Na'vi refuse to move base and since Jake just gained access to their ways, the situation could not look better for the humans.
As Jake Sully is an ex-marine with no functional legs, the Colonel Miles Quaritch requests him to report to him with information regarding the Na'vi's Achilles' heel.
So begins the process of Jake learning the Na'vi way, the scientists envying him for his first hand access to the Na'vi culture.
But as the story must progress, Jake begins to develop feelings for the Na'vi, especially Neytiri and falls in love with their ways. This ends with him regretting his decision to report to the Colonel.
He then joins forces with the clan and brings the humans down by uniting all the Na'vi clans throughout Pandora. He achieves this by riding The Last Shadow- a flying pterodactyl that is the king of the sky. The Na'vi believe that the rider of The Last Shadow, brings the people together in the time of great sorrow.
The Na'vi believe that all energy is borrowed and that one day it has to be returned. Much like the Magic of Chaos- a South American belief of magic where objects are created by borrowing energy from other existing objects.
The Na'vi triumph in the end, with the help of Ehwa, who Jake summons with a plea to assist him in a war against the humans. He is rewarded by the Na'vi- they transfer his living soul from his human body to his Avatar body so that he may be a Na'vi in the whole.

Fig 4: Jake Sully being touched by the Ehwa spirits

 A small but interesting thing about this film is that the title is revealed only in the end.
Also, James Cameron had a camera developed for the shooting of the film, if put simply, it consists of two cameras strapped together to provide a distorted view of the world in the way the human eye would see it. According to Eddie Wren, "But these advances are different - the entire screen has depth, taking on the appearance of a window through which the viewer is watching a 'world' on the screen, with a distinct foreground and background, rather than a flat, moving painting " Wrenn,Eddie.(2009).Daily Mail Online Film Review. How James Cameron's 3D Film Could Change The Face Of Cinema Forever.

Avatar is a delicious visual treat that can be enjoyed even on mute. It took 12 years in the making and those years have certainly paid off as far as the look of the film is concerned and according to reviewer Jonathan Romney "The film is like an anti-Darwinist's wet dream of intelligent design, with Cameron as God with a Bible full of algorithms." Romney, Jonathan.(2009. The Independent Film Review. Avatar, James Cameron, 163 mins, (PG)

Bibliography and Illustration List:

Wrenn,Eddie.(2009).Daily Mail Online Film Review. How James Cameron's 3D Film Could Change The Face Of Cinema Forever. Available online at
(Accessed 20th November 2011)
Romney, Jonathan.(2009). The Independent Film Review. Avatar, James Cameron, 163 mins, (PG) 
Available online at (Accessed 20th November 2011)

Murray, Rebecca.(2009) Film Review. Available online at  Available online at (Accessed 20th November 2011)

Fig 1: Cameron,James. (2009).Avatar

Fig 2: Cameron,James. (2009).Avatar
Fig 3:Cameron,James. (2009).Avatar
Fig 4: Cameron,James. (2009).Avatar

Friday, 18 November 2011

Maya Modelling: Digital Sets Part 1, Part 2: Lintels (Parts 2 of 4)

@Phil: Scene 1: Gothic Upward Curves

This is the scene of the forest where the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes the trees as being Gothic upward curves. I used pillars of Gothic architecture to create the tree with the vines creeping up it's trunk. The 'stone trees' are just peeping into this scene which I thought gave the two images (this and the image uploaded in the previous post)a sense of continuity.
The egg needs to be given a more cracked look as it looks sliced open at the moment.
I am happy with this image but I cannot fight the feeling that something is missing.
Please leave your comments regarding any improvements that I can make to this image.
Thanks =D

@Phil : Scene 3: Bridges

This is the image I have created so far for the second scene with the bridges. The scene has trees that look like crosses between rocks and trees. I wanted to create a foreboding atmosphere by maintaining a 'calm' feel to the scene. There are meant to be pipes under the water that carry energy to the egg that hides behind the curtain of willow leaves. Also, the root bridges of the native Indians lurk ominously in the back.
I would appreciate any suggestions to improve this picture

Monday, 14 November 2011

Here come the Thumbnails

Here are a couple more thumbnails of the different scenes and the various angles that I thought that I could use.

More thumbnails yay!

Here are some thumbnails of the timber and hanging willow tree roots and how they react to fireflies.
The pipes are part of the scene due to the natives using them to connect the flow of energy from the surroundings to the dinosaur eggs and mammal wombs.

Film Review: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990) is a classic 'fitting in with the crowd whilst still being different' story with a lot of sharp edged blades and a rather unnecessary murder.
Fig 1: Edward Scissorhands Poster

The movie starts out with an old woman narrating a story to her grand daughter. It then progresses into a story that holds a striking resemblance to the TV Show Kyle XY where a working mother (who conveniently happens to be an AVON company sales representative-the reason for which shall become evident shortly) goes to a Gothic mansion that sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of a stereotypical 80's American Suburbia after being with several unsuccessful clients in an attempt to make a potential sale.

Fig 2: The Mansion of Edward Scissorhands

 The minute details that suggest a skilled topiary artist at work with imaginative creatures and dream lands being sculpted. That also shows that the ideas of the artist grew as they aged.
This mother; known better as Peg Boggs stumbles upon a pale boy (played by Johnny Depp) who lives in the mansion and has scissors for hands. His name is Edward and his last name is (funnily enough) Scissorhands. She takes him home after taking one look at the skin on his face, which is scarred with scissor cuts and nurses his wounds.
Edward settles in with the Boggs and is yet to meet his predictable female companion in the film, who is the Boggs' daughter Kim.
He displays his talents by cutting the hedges of the Boggs' garden and soon fills the entire marzipan coloured neighborhood with dramatic topiary.

Fig 3: The Topiary in the Scissorhands' garden

He soon moves onto hair dressing and dog grooming. What really serves as the cherry on the icing is when Edward begins carving ice sculptures that are about ten feet high.
One thing that is obvious in the movie is that one does not question where the material for Edwards 'artwork' comes from. The massive hedges for sculpture in gardens with tiny blades of grass or the gigantic blocks of ice that just park themselves in the back garden of the house.
This movie imparts the message that a person who is considered a 'freak' by society, ends up being the one that brings about the best for that very society. People do not like change. They seek comfort in uniformity and when there is a shift in their idea of balance, there is conflict. As reviewers Frederic and Mary Ann Bessant state, "Fairy tales such as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Jack in the Beanstalk help us to see that it is important to wrestle with our feelings of self-worth, fear, helplessness, and justice."- Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann.(1990).Spirituality and Practice: Film review.
Those deemed to be superiors in the society (such as Kim's rich boyfriend in the movie), despise them for being present as they consider them to be a threat.

Fig 4: Edward sculpting the Boggs in hedges

This movie probably focuses on what most people go through in terms of emotional conflict during the course of their lives.
There is also a short bit where Burton shows the misuse of the term 'rape' by a woman.
The plot is a tragic love story between a beast and a beauty and how they are star crossed.
The focus of compromise and sacrifice is large. It gives humanity hope to think about these things occurring in actuality.
There is definitely a lot of contrast in terms of Edward's dark KISS character design which reviewer Robert Ring says to "..also works to establish his character and his mysterious nature" as opposed to the Beverly Hills:90210 feel of the rest of the casts'.- Ring, Robert. (2008). Sci-Fi Block.Edward Scissorhands (1990).
There are also many references to Tim Burton's other film characters. Most striking would be Jack Skellington, whose silhouette is used prominently in the film.
More so, the character of Edward Scissorhands is one that almost anyone can relate to due to his innocent face and pure childlike intentions that are recreated beautifully by Johnny Depp. As reviewer Brian Skutle says,"With few words, and with all movement and expression, Depp portrays Edward as a misunderstood artist who is capable of creating great beauty"- Skutle, Brian. Scissorhands (1990)A+

Bibliography and Illustration List


Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann.(1990).Spirituality and Practice: Film review. Film review: Edward Scissorhands. Available online at

(Accessed on 15th November 2011)

Ring, Robert. (2008). Sci-Fi Block.Edward Scissorhands (1990). Available online at (Accessed on 15th November 2011)

Skutle, Brian. Scissorhands (1990)A+ Available online at (Accessed on 15th November 2011)

Illustration List:


 Figure 1: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands

Figure 2: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands

Figure 3: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands


Figure 4: Burton, Tim.(1990). Edward Scissorhands

Maya Tutorial: Bottle and Glass Texturing

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Maya Tutorials: Point Lighting

One Point Lighting (Area Light)

One Point Lighting (Area lighting and glow)

One Point Lighting (Area lighting and glow with light breaks)
Two Point Lighting (Directional and Spot light)

Three Point Lighting (Spot lights)