Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Night (1976)

As I sit at home this evening browsing the various news media projections for who will win the 2012 presidential election, and witnessing all of the "buzz" over the tight race, my thoughts drift back some 36 years to the eve of the '76 election race between Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter.

Of course in those days, we just had the three major networks and that was about all for television. We're talking about the days when the local affiliates normally signed off at 12:30am while playing the National Anthem.

Knowing it would likely be an otherwise boring evening for me with nothing on but election coverage, my mother took me to the local pharmacy store so I could pick out a fun toy or game or puzzle to keep myself entertained.

Being in small-town Ohio, we didn't really have big-box retail, so the locally-owned pharmacy always had a pretty extensive inventory of toys and games and comic books compared to the pharmacy chains of today.

So with carte blanche to pick out pretty much anything I wanted, of all things, I chose a new Colorforms playset themed as Castle Dracula Fun House.

I was brimming with excitement to spend a long evening playing with my cool new Colorforms set full of all my favorite monsters, a spooky castle backdrop, and awesome illustrative graphics!

My last memory of that whole experience is waking up in the middle of the night on the living room floor, my Colorforms set all spread out in front of me, my mother asleep on the sofa, and on the TV: Jimmy Carter accepting his newly-won presidency.

Given the current state of this country, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounding this election. And yet I cannot help looking back to a time when the only excitement I knew over an election was getting to play with Drac, Frank, Mummy, Wolfman, Phantom, and Creature, all in a castle of hidden doors and secret passages.

It's curious how such things tend to stay with us over the years. This was just one of many childhood influences that led to the passion I hold today for haunted theming and design. And though most of that beloved visual media is long-since physically gone, I always keep a bit of it close by so the inspiration and excitement never die away.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Unique Environment

From the weekly challenge series, a "unique environment" concept painting a la Scott Robertson from The Gnomon Workshop.

The gist of the process is creating a series of quick grayscale marker sketches (or the digital equivalent) and overlaying them in Photoshop on individual layers with varying layer effects.

Then, within the jumble of visual information (like finding recognizable forms in clouds or wallpaper patterns), identify the visual "bare bones" of a composition and render it to a finished view.

In working through this process, I found considerable difficulty in visualizing usable compositions hidden within the overlay of abstract sketches.

After a lot of experimentation with layer order, effects, opacity, etc. one clear landscape finally materialized.

The process work for the project is shown below:

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Brock and I have decided to resurrect our weekly challenge to generate concept art and reinvigorate our creative drives.

This challenge tasked us with the design of pieces based on any part of the following randomly generated sentence:

"A particular pose ascends near the rock."

I simply chose the single word "ascends" around which to design this piece.

Line work and a basic shadow layer were created in Sketchup Pro and exported to Photoshop where the image was painted and composited with a few different photo plates.

Though originally intended as a mall or possibly a hotel with the perspective itself and the elevators representing the concept, the piece evolved into an airport which provided both the visual payoff of the airplane as well as another layer of "ascends" to the piece.