Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Animals Part 2 (Decisions!!)

I'm really trying to get this out ASAP. So after a bit of procrastinating, I'm working out some kinks in the final book organization and layout...

My initial idea put the emphasis on the world map and geographical areas, but I'm now wanting to showcase the animals more prominently. It's tricky in terms of space. The bigger the animals, the less space I have for text. So I'm thinking of downsizing a bit and featuring a maximum of 3 animals per region/continent (instead of 4). Problem is, that means leaving some cute beasties aside and, well, it makes me a bit :(

Some changes are easier to justify:

I initially had the Arctic Fox in North America, but found out it was better suited for Iceland (being its only native mammal). I had intended to replace it with the Bison (seen here not coloured yet) but I will drop it altogether for the 3-animals limit. I like the Racoon and Beaver designs best.

The Hummingbird will be changed to a Cedar Waxwing, which is more exclusive to N-America (I have yet to finish it). I will have to find another use for him!

The Caribbeans page doesn't look so crowded (partly because the land-mass isn't taking much space) but I want to try keeping the layout consistent. I love the Green Woodepecker, but I think I prefer making the other guys bigger (besides, there is another woodpecker in the Korea area... that makes it okay. ...right? I'll put you to good use somewhere, Woody; I SWEAR!!):

I justify my downsizing with Europe (BTW the texts here are still bogus filler text, obviously). With all the countries, it leaves the four animals just competing with the text for space. The Salamander is staying for sure because I want to include reptiles/non-furry-feathery animals. The Ibex is truly endemic. So the Pine Marten is probably going to get the pink slip... as if I don't feel like a jerk enough already...

I get a bit too personal with my art, sometimes...

Alright! Five regions left to finish!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Disney rant, in context...

After my initial, rather snarky post on my impressions of the upcoming movie 'Tangled', I saw several other blogs, videos and articles on the same topic. The opinions were fierce on both sides: Those who were underwhelmed by what they saw, and the ones who felt the former were acerbic cynics raining on a perfectly fine-looking flick's parade.

I actually don't like to be some big bad wolf, putting down the hard work of skilled 3D artists, so I figured an honest opinion in the proper context is wiser than a few snarky remarks in a vacuum.

If I did NOT love Disney and its contribution to animation, I wouldn't be bothered enough to voice criticism about their recent output.

Animation is an important and delightful form of art. I have been fascinated by it since early childhood. I have studied it out of sheer interest. I have a beloved collection of films including Paul Grimault, Soyuzmultfilms, Ivanov Vano, Norsteyn, Miyazaki, Kon... Pixar and Disney films are on the shelf with them.

It has bothered me that, for the past few years, I have no longer been drawn to the Disney flicks (I don't count Pixar as Disney: I did love Finding Nemo, WALL-E and UP, each for reasons I won't get into here).

I was SADDENED that after all the contrived, PC issues and blatant business-driven changes to 'The Princess and the Frog', I had to make myself want to see it. It's not at all how I wanted to feel about the 'revival' of Disney's 2D animation.

It had lots of good potential. The art no doubt was lovely. But it struck me as artificial, not magical; repetitive, not innovative. A familiar recipe: Broadway tunes, a slightly darker-coloured Belle clone, another 'necessary' ubiquitous, Owen Wilson-type love interest that the girl is bound to marry (no matter how utterly mismatched), a Jafar/Scar-type villain.

All I could think was, this is set in the roaring 20's, it's in New Orleans' jazz era, it has VOODOO in it... how can it NOT feel like a mind blowing, refreshing, trippy masterpiece!? The whole thing ought to feel like the 'drunk Dumbo scene' on banned absinthe and swamp gasses, an intoxicating juxtaposition of art-deco sophistication and quietly mysterious bayous...

Basically, I was extremely disappointed in Princess/Frog because I had high expectations. I had this nagging feeling that the idea and premise had ME way more inspired than the writers. This may be too arrogant of me, but we're talking about DISNEY, arguably America's most heavily funded, premier, default animation studio (unless I'm wrong). Mea culpa, I DO expect more of them.

I'm starting to have the same, nagging feeling about 'Tangled'. I'm seeing a pattern: Business-driven, contrived changes (namely the ridiculous name-change to attract male viewership; obviously, the suits at Disney have a low opinion of young boys' intelligence, in spite of desperately pandering to them), the 'necessary' Owen Wilson schmoozing bad boy, a Barbie/Bratz-doll clone... I'm waiting for this one to come out on DVD. My expectations are now lower.

I think I have OUTGROWN Disney movies. I loathe saying this, because I am a firm believer of animation as a great art form for all. But Disney movies are starting to smell more like flashy selling tools for tickets, DVD's, games, toys and plastic tiaras than inspired and passionate stories and works of art.

I finish with the words of Sylvain Chomet, of Les Triplettes de Belleville fame:

Walt Disney invented everything, he absorbed all these guys who came from the eastern countries who brought their rich cultures with them. He found this brilliant way of making money out of a new artform.

[...] The artists have no say any more. The suits decide everything now, and there are so many of them. It is like the dinosaurs, it has got too big and the brain is too small.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oh me, oh moai...

I upload some of my vector drawings on Istockphoto as stock images. I've noticed that despite the fact that I keep adding more, with various subjects and themes, none of them get downloaded nearly as much as my Easter Island moai pic:

It leaves all the others in the dust. I always thought it would be neat to know where all my stock images get used, but that one is an especially puzzling riddle. Where are all these moai going? (they have no legs!)

One of life's minor mysteries...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I want to want to see Disney movies again...

... but I just don't think I can handle seeing THIS expression on an animated character yet again without breaking in hives.

And then there's THIS (Rapunz... oh, sorry boys, TANGLED trailer):

Like, OMG right?

Disney, do you think you could take us 'kids' again to a magical land far, far away, especially away from valspeak and shmoozing fuck faces?

Ready when you are.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

World Animals- Part 1 (whew)

The one project I'm really working hard to finish is a children's book on animals around the world (especially endemic animals). I wanted to make a book that would combine a bit of geography and the appeal of animals, as well as putting a lot of focus on the illustrations so it would look good as a coffee table book.

I am about halfway through as far as the animal artwork is concerned. I also have about half the pages laid-out. The animals are organized by continent or region. I'm hoping to have it out in both languages (English and French) by the end of the summer...

Here's a few of the animals so far. They're isolated on white here because the pages' backgrounds are HUGE files and it takes a long time to resize. Besides, I have to keep some of it a surprise, no?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Frazetta Tribute

It took me a little while, but here's a little piece done in honour of the late Frank Frazetta.

In memory of one of the greats.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Vector Illos

Some day, I will make a lenghty post about how Inkscape is made of sheer awesome and unicorns. It's gotta be one of the most user-intuitive software I've ever used. It completely sold me on the idea that free doesn't necessarily mean crappy (to the great joy of my militant open source user husband Jacob). Anyways.

Here's my latest batch of vector illustrations. I tend to get into a vector mood and crank two or three in a row, then return to raster or analog for a couple of weeks...