Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Persephone and Hades II: Another Random Concept Piece

So, over the weekend I attended the Phoenix Comicon. Thanks to all those who voted for me in the badge art contest, I was able to win two free passes to the comicon! I was happy to be able to go with my brother and my cousin. I love the Phoenix Comicon. It is full of nerdy fun, great atmosphere, and you never know what is going to happen or what type of people you are going to meet. I particularly love walking through the exhibition room where there are hundreds of booths of artists and merchandise to peruse. I actually met some lovely artists, particularly one artist named Lyla Warren. She has a lovely style, working in both animation and sculpting, and her pieces are full of movement and character. I'm happy to say I own some of her work, which is now on my "wall of crazy", and I would recommend anyone to go check out her website, blog, and Etsy shop!

What does this have to do with another concept piece of Persephone and Hades you might ask? Well, at the comicon I went to a panel that had animators and artists for video games and films that were doing a Q & A type session to help artists who are desiring to get into the industry. They were very helpful, friendly, and of course knowledgeable in their field. The advice they gave me I am already doing, which is good to know, but  I also sensed that I should probably step it up a notch, as far as drawing goes. Being a concept artist means drawing all the time. The one panelist mentioned 40 hours a week should be the kind of work I should be putting into drawing, which is a full time job. It is true. You have to keep up the practice and drawing is a constant learning process of refining the skill. I have no qualms about how much hours I put in, but of course, what is doable is the question. I think I already put in at least 20 - 25 hours a week, so I'm going to see if my life permits me to add more in. So, as the summer goes on, hopefully you'll be able to see more work from me! For now, enjoy this concept piece of Persephone and Hades. For some reason I was struck with inspiration again with these two characters and came up with this piece. I don't know if I'll be doing anything with these characters in the long run, but there is definitely something compelling about them.

"Persephone, meet Cerberus." - Hades is kind of a jerk.
Oh, before I end this random post, I would also like to mention that another great thing about this year's comicon is that my cousin and I were able to promote our webseries, The Sting Chronicles! Production is going well, promotion is going well, and the scheduled air date is June 7th! We are all very excited! So, don't forget to check it out on Youtube!

He makes everything beautiful in its time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Avengers Project: He Who is Worthy

Thor: You think yourself above them?
Loki: Well, yes.
Thor: Then you miss the truth of ruling, brother. A throne would suit you ill.

In anticipation for Thor 2, I am pleased to say that I have now completed my Avengers concept poster of Thor Odinson; a demi-god, with an all-powerful hammer and incredible hair. Thor's story was a surprise for me. I can't say I was ever interested in Norse Mythology and I particularly wasn't drawn to a hulking, viking figure with lightning coming from his hammer, however, when I saw Thor I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the movie's weaknesses, the sophistication and creativity of Thor's story really came through. His character, though one-track minded for most of the film, ended up being sweet, gentlemanly, and honorable. I think there is a lot to glean from his story particularly the theme of his becoming worthy of Thor's Hammer. The hammer represents all the power and authority given to him; it can destroy or create and so a great responsibility lies on Thor as Prince of Asgard. At the beginning of the film he is a completely rash, arrogant, and foolhardy young man whose only thought is to lord his power over his enemies. When Odin takes that away from him, banishes him to earth, Thor is forced into humility. With the help of the quirky, but intelligent Jane Foster and their friend Dr. Selvig, Thor, who is like an immortal, puts on mortality as he learns from these "tiny" humans. He even comes to fall in love with Jane, a human girl, and this becomes a kind of catalyst for his care and protection of human beings. When Loki threatens this, putting everyone he cares about in danger, Thor is brought to a point of decision. What he decides is what we often see in these types of films, the self-sacrifice, the Christ-like moment where the hero gives himself up for others.
What is different about Thor, though, is how the story was told up to that moment. I believe Thor could easily be called The Tale of Two Sons. The film follows the paths of the two young demi-gods, Loki and Thor. Loki takes the path of deception, mischief, self-glorification, revenge, and murder, becoming more and more twisted, more and more consumed with himself and control, but as I pointed out in my post on Loki, his motivation stems from a desire for identity and this becomes a striving to be found "worthy" of Odin's love. He says in the film that all that he has been working for was "To prove to Father that I am a worthy son! When he wakes, I will have saved his life, I will have destroyed that race of monsters, and I will be true heir to the throne!" Let us contrast this then to Thor's story. Odin casts him out, forcing him to take a lowly path, a humiliating path, as he is faced with earth ways and customs. Through this Thor comes to see others outside of himself and his own glory, and when the choice is him or those whom he loves, Thor doesn't hesitate. So Thor, unlike Loki, becomes more and more servant-hearted, more and more contrite and self-sacrificing. It is in this that Thor proves himself a "worthy son", worthy to take up that power and authority, and when he gives himself up to Loki even unto death, his hammer is restored to him. From that moment on, Thor identifies himself with being Earth's protector and servant. In Scriptures, Christ says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 This is what Thor's story is about, a god becoming a servant, which makes him worthy of his godhood. I believe and hope this theme will carry over to Thor 2 as what he cherishes and took upon himself to protect is threatened like never before. Also this tale of two sons is not over either!

In this piece, I've incorporated this idea of Thor being a protector and servant. With the movement of his red cloak drawing the eye from the center to around and downward, emphasizes Thor's bowed position. His position is humble, but not passive, as his hammer is encased in lightning, his face fierce and determined. With the title being He Who is Worthy, his position, color, emphasis, and movement, they showcase Thor and his servant-hearted devotion and powerful guardianship. Here is a detail:

I hope you enjoyed this post. Next up, The Cap'n! My series is almost complete!

"Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?"

He makes everything beautiful in its time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11

Friday, May 10, 2013

Persephone and Hades: A Random Concept Piece

"We dance, we kiss, we schmooze,
we carry on, we go home happy."
The other day I was watching Disney's Hercules, and admiring the artistry and excellence of that film. I haven't seen it in many years, I can't remember the last time I'd seen it, but watching it with fresh eyes I really was able to appreciate the humor, the art direction, the music, and the wonderful characterizations. It is definitely one of my favorite Disney animations. One of my favorite things about that film, though, is the villain Hades and his Underworld. He is definitely a different type of Disney villain, and one that stands out as truly unique. Unlike other villains, there isn't decisive destruction, an absolute end to him. His plan is foiled and he gets trapped in the whirlpool of death, but he is immortal and god of the underworld, so he can't really be destroyed entirely. Even more than that, though, he's hilarious and zany. I like the tongue in cheek humor of the film, which is due in large part to Hades characterization. He's the fast-talking, deal-making, god of the underworld and you can't really dislike him all that much because he's funny. His character design, is excellent, with his hair flames ("Whoa, is my hair out?") telling of his mood and his greek-esque hulking figure with swirling smoke and snake-like face that really emphasize this sinister, quick-tongued villain. The underworld in which he is charge is also amazingly designed. I need to get the Art of Hercules to really be able to study the concepts behind all of this, but I do have a fascination for the dark and macabre and there is a lot going on here in this design work:

"While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy "Man,"
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm."
- Poe
Anyway, I can geek out about this all day. Needless to say I was inspired, and it got me thinking about Hades and the tale of Persephone. In the Greek myth, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter (goddess of the harvest) and Hades sees her, desires her, and kidnaps her. After much angst, Hades is finally forced to return her, but tricks Persephone into eating some pomegranates from the underworld before she leaves. Eating food from the Underworld makes her a part of it, so she must always return to the Underworld and be by Hades' side as his queen. Thus this is why, as Greek myths go, we have winter every season, when Persephone has to return to her place as Queen of the Underworld. I thought all of this could be really fascinating as a retold story, a twisted and dark "Beauty and the Beast". It was also reminding me of Once Upon a Time's Rumpelstiltskin and Belle, this idea of an anti-hero and his journey from darkness to light. It would be done even deeper way than simply just "don't judge a book by its cover" concept. Hades would truly be, in many ways, despicable and unlikable, but as anti-heroes go, there is hope for redemption and who doesn't like a good anti-hero now and again. So, I just let myself imagine what that story would be like and the characters and I came up with this concept piece:

Maybe one day this will be animation masterpiece of death, vanity, true love, redemption, responsibility, and the human condition, but for now I just have this piece. Enjoy!

He makes everything beautiful in its time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11