Sep 28, 2009

Making the old new again

One of the first CG projects I ever wanted to tackle was a Finding Nemo like project set in the Burgess Shale (some samples of my 2004 efforts can be seen here). Like so many of my ideas this one fell by the wayside. However Marek over at eTrilobite has had his own idea for a Burgess Shale project, that he has been producing quite successfully for over a year now.
I have not been able to resist the chance at resurrecting my old Burgess Shale ideas, and adapting them for Marek's Walcott's Quarry. This also fits well in with my goal of more collaborative projects with other creators.
The Abyss strip is just the first of a few I'll be doing to help Marek out, while he reintegrates into a busy skool schedule. So please not only check out my contribution to the Walcott "saga", but be sure to catch up on his other 70+ strips while your there!

Sep 25, 2009

Wanting a Time Making Machine...

I can not get over how fast time is going the older I get... 2009 has been racing by, and despite this fleeting year, I can't say I haven't accomplished many things in that time.
The greatest of these accomplishments has been ART Evolved. Not only did it take a lot of effort to setup and organize, now I have to take time to run it, and of course keep producing art for.
My projects have suffered in ART Evolved's wake, but I have still managed to keep Traumador going (who can believe it was 3 years ago both myself and he left the Tyrrell!?!). Sadly my movie creating has hit a critical crisis.

Why do I contemplate all of this? Yesterday marked the end of term 3 of the New Zealand skool year. As of such I'm about to get my last "break" before I leave this country. (I say break in quotation marks as I'll be working a secondary job at a childcare centre throughout the two weeks).
This term was wickedly busy, and has sapped a lot of my energy. Which of course makes focusing hard!
There is a lot of potential directions my limited (and possibly shrinking) creative efforts could go. I'm torn as to where to commit them.

However given the leaps and bounds my Palaeo-art has seen this year, I fully intend on making this my top priority!

This month I've already begun work on this CG Jurassic. Though I have traditionally sought to composite my prehistoric creatures onto photographs, it has been in those pieces where I put in the extra effort to create a fully CG environment that I get the best results. In the future I plan on at least one major entry into the time capsule galleries that is completely CG.

Creating a forest has been surprisingly difficult. I do like the fact the Carrara has a handy plant generator tool, but it still requires a lot of honing and tinkering to get right. I'm very happy with my costume texturing jobs of the trunks and leaves, and the scene is a great deal more realistic with them.

My efforts to build Sauropod inhabitants started with this, my old Mark 2 Sauropod. It hasn't been overly touched since I built it in late 2007 (other than a texturing job in early 2008).

It is not my best effort, but at has served as a good base to start on building a greater Sauropod.

I guess I shouldn't be so hard on the model, as I did produce this great pic for Traumador a little while ago. Despite the old 3D model, I am quite pleased with the composition of this piece, and the compositing with him and the water worked well.

This shot also gives you a better idea of the changes the model under went last night.

During 5 minutes talking to Peter on the phone (before running out the door on an improved date with Lady R), I tweaked the "generic" Sauropod into this okay Brachiosaurid. Now I'm not claiming this is done by any stretch. If anything it is only the beginning for this poor guy. However for a 5 minute remodelling effort he isn't half bad.

Expect lots of updates on him and the forest in October.

Another of my huge priorities is the completion of my Squalodon (way to Glendon on the ID!) for Dr. Fordyce. Sadly this has been delayed by the good doctor and my own schedules being polar opposites (or rather exactly the same working hours). Until I get him to examine my whale with his technical expertise I can not really proceed past this point.

I'm wondering if perhaps another smaller dolphin would interest him, and possible a detailed sea floor (including shellfish based on fossils from the layers this guy was found in)?

My biggest conflict (and regret) has been how The Tyrannosaur Chronicles have been suffering in my palaeo-art shift. Sadly I just don't have the time or energy to focus on both equally, and thus Traumador (with his current lack of probable monetary or professional payoff) has become secondary.

I do love the character, and I will be sticking with him (thanks to my many confidantes who have been pressuring me not to kill this key outlet for my child like tendencies), but perhaps not at the same rate he enjoyed in 2008.

His return trip to Canada has taken about 4 months too long, and it is only 3/4 done at moment... fortunately as of his next two posts he will FINALLY be leaving Drumheller (for now) I may get re energized by his adventures in Calgary and beyond...

The key Prehistoric Insanity creators of Traum have made me sit down and with them (over skype) and start scripting out Traum's upcoming NZ adventures. We're wondering if this will help the rate at which he gets through adventures...

Though let us know your thoughts. Has Traum's trip to Canada been enjoyable (despite its length)...

With all the work put into some of his return to New Zealand adventures it'd be sort of a shame to quit now. Though there are a lot of photos that need to be taken in the next 2ish months before I leave, for this is to happen. So the script needs to be completed soon!

Peter has been toying with the idea of making another movie (possibly a Skinwalker themed project) I'm not sure I can get into this creative outlet anymore.

Movies are a LOT of work both in making and putting together. At our level of production (aka no budget) the results are nothing spectacular, and will almost certainly not get us any paid gigs...

So I wonder these days if such efforts are worth my while... Especially given how my Palaeo-art is approaching (but not quite at) professional levels...

I do intend on working on Delta Patrol heavily in the new year, especially while me and Peter are in the same town for February. Perhaps through this effort my interest in movies will return. I'm just not sure at moment though.

What is an ADD artist to do with his limited time?

Sep 16, 2009

Assessment Rain Check

Sadly my meeting today with Dr. Fordyce did not happen. It turns out we're both extremely busy people. Being the head of the Otago University's Geology department means Dr. Fordyce carries an awful lot of responsibilities and commitments, and myself being a teacher work the same hours as his. So when I got an offer for a morning of work, I couldn't turn it down, but sadly Dr. Fordyce was occupied all afternoon when I could pop into see him.

This has me bummed out, as I was really jazzed about getting the whale into its final production stage (I need a lot more technical input on whales, as they are pretty new to me reconstruction wise). Oh well, I have this demo of my whale, with all the necessary angles for Dr. Fordyce to tear apart (I'm anticipating a need to shrink all the teeth based on my research of Dolphins this morning, and there is bound to be more mistakes in the skull...).

Oh well. I am hoping to regroup and catch him after work tomorrow or Friday, and that failing I have no scheduled work next week (on account of it being the last week of skool this term).

I am also very saddened that no one has taken (even a half) guess at what type of whale this is :(

Your next hint, to help promote some participation, it is found in New Zealand (and thus has appeared on Traumador at least once ;p ). Good luck...

Sep 15, 2009

Art Assessment, and a Palaeo-Know-How Challenge!

Tomorrow is a potential exciting day, dependent on whether I have work or not. I'm meeting up with Dr. Fordyce to have him critique the whale.

Rather than just show Dr. Fordyce the boring "flat" version of the model (flat being the rigid unposed version of a creature, making it often look like its been road killed or turned to stone... the 3D version of Glendon's "ugly phase") I decided to create some prototype poses and scenes for him to look at.
This being a general idea for a piece I have, complete with two brand new primitive penguins. The penguins were today's modelling project, and though not my best effort (up close) are functional in this long shot. I plan on building better versions if Dr. Fordyce likes this direction for the project.

What are your thoughts on it? It is not a final by any stretch just the general idea.

Finally just for my own amusement, and to test my audiences palaeo-knowledge, let's play a quick palaeo-game.

Who can guess what type of whale (or Dolphin) I have recreated here? Super bonus if you can guess one of the possible genus of Penguin he is trying to snack on? The only hint I will give you, is for a sense of scale the Penguins are about a meter in length (in other words about the same length as my whale's head). Good luck!

Sep 10, 2009

Busy Day Indeed

Not to be out done by my cohort and partner in crime Peter Bond, I have thrown this post together to "counter" (really to promote I swear) his most recent post. Why am I feeling insecure? Peter managed to churn out an incredible palaeo-art storm, by painting 5 really cool pieces today.

I can't claim this much productivity. Sadly I'm in the midst of the busiest time of the skool year here in New Zealand (whose skool year is Feb-Dec), and am working next to none stop...

However I was able to catch Peter at the tail end of his epic effort on the phone, and so I feel I'm somehow a part of it (lame rationalization on my part :P). More to the point while talking to him, I engaged in the one form of multi-tasking I can pull off. Talking and 3D modelling. So despite not pulling off 5 awesome pieces, I did make some key progress on a long term project I've had this year.

Though I've hinted at this in a few places, I've decided to make a formal announcment tonight. All this year I've been volunteering off and on at the University of Otago's Geology lab (the only public fossil preparation lab in the whole country!) and with Dr. Ewan Fordyce, New Zealand's "only" vertebrate palaeontologist.

In addition to some field work and fossil preperation he has been kind enough to let me help out with (which I have talked about here before), I've also been working in coordination with him on my biggest Palaeo-Art project to date...

Though it still has a little ways to go, I've been recreating a "shark toothed" dolphin for use by Dr. Fordyce. Tonight while talking to Peter I made two huge break-throughs on the project!

Applying some of the hard earned lessons from rigging my Pterosaur I can now not only pose the animal, but animate it too!!!

I'm not going to elaborate anymore details about the project at moment, as I'm planning a series of posts chronicling this collaboration on ART Evolved soonish. So stay tuned over there.

As you can also see Traumador has got a (few) adventure(s) upcoming with the good doctor, so keep an eye on his site too (when I finally bloody get him out of Canada and back to NZ! Man I'd seriously kill for more time!!!)

Sep 5, 2009

I'm in a Magazine!

It has ended up being a huge week for ART Evolved. Not only did we just launch the new Anomalocaridid gallery, but we just got our first big bit of publicity!

When Peter and I began our efforts to launch ART Evolved we joked about how cool it would be if it was noticed early on, as it can often take awhile for palaeo themed sites to take off. For the first time ever a Prehistoric Insanity project has taken off as hoped for (and to be honest our stuff normally doesn't warrant attention :P)

Myself and Peter were interviewed by EARTH magazine a while back about why we gathered an online community of palaeo-artists, and the article has just come out in this month's issue. It also features artwork of our fellow ART Evolved member's Glendon and Zach (sadly they didn't approach all our members, but we did suggest it), and Traumador gets plug through the picture of Lillian that they used.

Check it out if you can. Not that it is the easiest publication to track down. My mother in Calgary couldn't find it sold anywhere in town, and retailers here in NZ looked at me like I was making up the mag. However if you happen across a copy I'm in there :P

Here is my piece The First Great Predator from this month's ART Evolved. This has become my next vechile from which I hope to get published in print soon. Prehistoric Times will be featuring Anomalocaridids in an upcoming issue, and I plan to have at least one of my 4 pieces included!

The EARTH magazine article has me really fired up artistically, and I'm starting to feel like I might have some talent. I'm quite proud of my final products for the Anomalocarid gallery (especially The First Great Predator and Once Upon a Claw), and hope to continue this upswing in my overall abilities 2009 has heralded. Now with this achieved and potential publication I'm thinking I may yet to break out as a semi-professional Palaeo-Artist in the foreseeable future...