Saturday, 18 February 2012

Wilbur: Face Concepts 3

Following Alan’s advice, I have attempted to construct Wilber’s head using tree branch silhouettes.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Akira (1988)

In a post-apocalyptic Tokyo a young biker gang member named Tetsuo is transformed by a secret government experiment. Tetsuo gains extraordinary telekinetic powers which eventually lead to his rampaging downfall.

Fig 1: Tetsuo
Akira’s Neo-Tokyo is a highly atmospheric and grimily stylistic megalopolis that echoes the cyberpunk style of Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982). The films rich atmosphere is arguably derived from visuals only achievable in animation, “gusts of wind from chopper blades, ground shattering in blocks, ka-tooming bursts of fiery explosions, the strobes, lights, and neon of Neo-Tokyo in 2019, even the rush and squeal of racing motorcycles. And there are the visions of Tetsuo.” (Gibson 2010).  This, along with the epic scope of the film itself, understandably makes one cynical about the prospects of the 2013 live action remake. The films gritty, pulpy, visceral and sometimes violent sense of atmosphere makes it a visually engrossing experience.

Fig 2: Neo-Tokyo
Akira also boasts a soundscape with an equal level of engrossing power to that of its visual landscapes. The booming, industrial ambience fills one with a tense and potent sense of a society on the edge of collapse.  

The film explores the themes of youthful rebellion, atomic disaster and powers corrupting influence. These themes are heavily rooted in Japanese culture but have international resonance.  Akira is yet another example of how animated film does not need to conform to the family friendly, Disney model. Critic Jay Cocks describes the film as, “a violent adventure tale, a head- bending sci-fi morality play and a venture into the higher realms of animation art that kicks all the squishier conventions of the genre right in their well-upholstered butt” (Cocks, 1993). The film, although dark in tone, does not succumb to the worst excesses of the animi genre. 

Image List
Fig 1, Tetsuo, Available at:

Fig 2, Neo-Tokyo, Available at:


Jay Cocks, 1993, Time Magazine,  A Pulp-Style Pop Epic, Available at:,9171,977583,00.html

Brian Gibson, 2011, VUE Weekly, Neo-Tokyo, Available at:

Monday, 13 February 2012

Air Ship Particle Sketching

Wilbur: Face Influence Map

After drawing out a few face ideas for Wilbur I decided the facial features are still looking to generic. I decided it might be a good idea to look at Pan and Fauns in classical sculpture.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Wilbur Whateley: Face Concepts

I am using tree silhouettes to create hair with a suggestion of horns. I think number two is by far the most successful of this group. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Wilbur Whateley: Limb Extenders

I have spoken with Alan about the idea of using concertina like limbs that contract and expand. This is in order to explain the concealment of Wilbur’s non-human aspects. It also gives him the ability to make himself larger and more intimidating.  I have done some abstract concepts based around my tree influence map.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Wilbur Whateley: First Concept

Moving on from the silhouettes I have created this first colour concept. I think that, although this design works well in silhouette and outline form, it seems to fall stylistically flat with the addition of colour.




Friday, 3 February 2012

Wilbur Whateley Silhouette Experiments

I have experimented using tree branches and roots to create a silhouette of Wilbur.

Two Old Trees

I have found this interesting drawing by DeviantArt user ~pitacok

I am interested in it because it is a re-appropriation of tree branches into Lovecraftien style tentacles. I intend to do something similar in order capture a folkloric style in my design for Wilbur.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Fauns, Trees and Tentacles

The Dunwich Horror has its roots in a story by one of Lovecraft’s idols, Arthur Machen. Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan is a story about the child of the faun god Pan. The Dunwich Horror is Lovecraft’s reinterpretation of Machen’s folkloric tale. Lovecraft’s description of Wilbur Whateley seems to incorporate aspects of traditional fauns. 

I decided that I could incorporate a suggestion of traditional folklore in my design for Wilbur. I began looking at depictions of fauns in traditional artwork. 

 Burne Jones

 Arnold Bocklin

These paintings are interesting and may become more useful later on to further establish a visual style. I was stuck in an attempt to find a way of incorporating more Lovecraftien aspects (such as tentacles) with traditional Folkloric elements. In my tutorial with Alan, it was suggested that I look more closely at faun mythology and the connection to nature.
  As advised by Alan, I have created abstract silhouettes using the shapes of tree branches and roots. These shapes could form the basis of some initial concepts. 

I have also made an influence map showcasing various strange tree textures.

My next step will possibly be to begin sketching some initial ideas.

Mary and Max (2009)

Mary and Max (2009) is an Australian stop motion animated film from director Adam Eliot. The film tells the story of two pen pals who have never met. Mary is a lonely eight year old girl who lives a dysfunctional life in the suburbs of Melbourne. Max is a reclusive Aspergers sufferer living in a grim New York ghetto. The two become pen pals when Mary choses Max’s name at random from a phone book. The film follows the development of the characters and their relationship over many years.
Fig 1: Aspies for Freedom

Stylistically, the characters and environments are extremely exaggerated, and almost grotesque. This is perhaps a representation of the way the characters view themselves, the people around them and there environments. There are two distinct, but equally muted, colour pallets for the two locations in the film, New York and the Melbourne suburbs. Australia is a gloomy sepia tone representative of humdrum suburban life. New York has a hard egged, grimy, film noir inspired black and white tone.  
Fig 2: Colour Pallet

The film explores adult themes with a darkly comic and witty sense of humour.  Mental illness, anxiety, death, suicide, alcoholism and sex are not subjects usually considered suitable for animation but Eliot proves that, in the right hands, they certainly can be. Possibly, the reason this works is because of the innocents of the story telling style.  Slant Magazine critic Chris Cabin echoes this suggestion, he states that: “Mary and Max should now finally be included in the list of recent animated films that deal head-on with bleak adult themes and yet bring out a wide-eyed wonder in their imaginative aesthetic” (Cabin2010). 
  Mary and Max impresses as a technical wonder in addition to being a beautifully told, adult and thematic story. The film balances realism, adult themes and dark comedy with a consistent heart-warming honesty.  

Chris Cabin, Slant Magazine, Mary and Max, Movie Review, July 19th 2010, Available at:
Image List