Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Boot Camp: Weeks 2 & 3

Sherlock Holmes is basically my personal emoji.
Time for an update on what I've been working on for Art Camp! (Read my previous post to find out all about Art Camp and why I am going through this online course!) So, I've kind of decided to be somewhat rebellious and use the Art Camp material to work on my graphic novel rather than the original content the course wanted me to focus on. Titus Lunter, the artist teaching the course, is a game concept artist, and so it makes sense that he would make a course focusing on developing game environments. Even though I do not want to go into game design, I had originally thought that it might have been good to stick with the assignments he gave even if it was something I wasn't ultimately interested in because of what it could teach me. At the start he wanted you to come up with three different game ideas and work on thumbnails for all of them, and then choose just one to work on for the rest of the course. So, I came up with three really cool game ideas (if I do say so myself), and was going to focus on those. However, despite the challenge that would give me, with the variety of styles and concepts, I ultimately decided that would be a waste of time. My true focus for taking this course was to help me develop ideas for my graphic novel, Infinity's End, and since it is already going to take me forever to make this novel, I thought I wouldn't delay it longer than I have to. Thus, I decided to rebel and apply his material and assignment specs to fit in with my own material of my graphic novel. (Sorry Mr. Lunter, if you ever read this!).

Despite this adjustment, I have been working hard and learning so much. The course starts off with thumbnailing and continues to delve deep into the whole process. I feel as if I've already improved in my skill with just by doing a few thumbnails and applying his techniques! It has given me a fresh and new perspective on designing environments and I feel like I have more certain foundation in not only where I want to go with my graphic novel, but for any further concept art that I am going to do in the future! I'm pretty excited.

So, I guess I'll dive right in and outline what I have been working on and show you some cool stuff.
To begin, then, I started by doing very abstract white on black type thumbnailing. This process was to not allow myself to be distracted by the literal things I would be drawing, but focus primarily on composition and shape alone. This is all part of the process of becoming more organic and expanding my perspective, to break free of box-like thinking, as it were. I found that this process was the most crucial for me, and made developing environments signifnicantly easier! (Yay!)

I did several sheets, choosing different environments in my story that I want to develop and explore. I did much more than the ones I am showing here, but this is just to give you an idea of what they look like:

From this abstract beginning, I then went on to develop them further. Now this is where you begin to explore the canvas and find what those blocks of shapes are saying. You begin to interpret them and read them. It was almost like magic in how environments popped out at me from the formless shapes! It was really weird, but it works, and this what I came up with:

And through this whole process, I've been ruminating on various conceptual ideas that have inspired me for the feel and atmosphere of my world. There is always this fusion of Gothic and Science, of the medieval with the future, but as I've been really nailing down my concepts here, I've been able to ascertain specifics that best articulate what I am going for. My good friend, Brittany Ward, really helped me in discovering this (^_^), which is essentially a fusion of the architectural and technological designs at CERN (the nuclear research center that houses the Large Hadron Collider, LHC) and the beautiful, surrealist, mathematical work of M.C. Escher! This is most especially true for my main character's laboratory, which this fusion made the most sense for. Dr. Sarton's laboratory is going to be the extension of his character, a place that represents who he is. Well, more than that, it will be like being inside his very brain. I cannot go too deeply into the why's of everything, since that could give spoilers away, but I purposefully made his room feel more enclosed and a bit more chaotic than the usual pristine quality of the rest of the Academy or the Casimir Laboratory. His environment is more intimate and mysterious, and almost, though not quite, rather hostile to the viewer; the black web-like material nebulous, dark, and obstructing. I'm still developing these concepts for all my environments, but here are some inspiration images to show you the direction I'm going in:

M.C. Escher.
These specific pieces have inspired me for the look
I want for The Academy.
And here are a couple of the final developed concept thumbnails, which is the last step to this thumbnailing process:

There was one last part to the homework assignments, and that was to create a map of your world. With this in mind, I thought it would be kind of interesting to make a layout of my laboratories, just for my own reference, and this is where I began to do some more experimenting. I started playing around with some fun geometry stuff I discovered online, and, much to my surprise, my "maps" came out exceptionally well! Although I had not known what the outcome would be when I started, I have been visualizing my world for quite some time, and somehow, what I was experimenting with ended up fusing well with what I was seeing inside my mind. These layouts work exceptionally well with the action and character placement I will be using, and how I visualized everything, spatially, falling into place! It is so exciting! Check them out:

Yes, Dr. Sarton's Laboratory is purposefully fetus-shaped, in case you were wondering, and you can also see how it is more chaotic in layout in comparison to the other laboratory, which is more symmetric. I'm imagining the web-like lines to be part of the whole mechanism feeding energy into the whole thing. These labs, specifically, are essentially like the LHC, except instead of colliding particles, they are manipulating them, and if you have seen images of inside the LHC, you can't even imagine the hugeness and complexity of that machinery and what it takes to move little particles at incredibly fast speeds! It is really amazing. And in my future world they are dealing with unimaginably higher energies than we can reach today, so it takes a lot to power that sort of thing. Another thing to note is my use of lightyears, which you'll notice that The Casimir Lab is surrounded by 30 lightyears of space extending from all points of it and is 10 to the 750th power lightyears away from the Academy. In my world, space is basically an infinite playground, and distance takes on a meaningless concept. People are traveling instantaneously in my universe, going 30 lights years or 100 billion lightyears is all the same to them, so any point in space is equal to any other point. Actually, according to relativity, this is always true, that's the nature and beauty of spacetime, where something is only understood relative to the observer. However, distance forms a concept in our minds because of our slow speeds of travel. It takes time and we see the passing of space. On a regular basis we are traveling at pretty slow speeds, and even if we could go faster, we can never go faster than the speed of light, which is the universal speed. However, if you were a photon (the particle of light), and were observing your passage, there would be no passing of time or space, it would be like everything is stopped, you would be trapped in infinity. Your birth and your death, going from the sun to hitting the human eye would all happen instantaneously. As a photon, you could travel anywhere, no matter how far, and it would take zero amounts of time.

Realistic transportation would actually be about a transfer
of information, i.e. an exact replica of you would be made
from a subatomic level, particle by particle,
and the previous "you" would be destroyed.
That would be in the fine print.
Now, although it is impossible to travel at the speed of light or faster than the speed of light, there are always loopholes around it. We all have heard of the mainstream concept of wormholes, of bending spacetime, but in my world, they use the beauty of quantum mechanics via the means of entanglement! It is known and proven that if you entangle particles together they communicate with each other instantaneously! They are circumventing (although not breaking) the law of faster than light travel! This is something that Einstein called "spooky action at a distance", and was really freaked out by it, which I find kind of funny, though understandable. Somehow particles can communicate with each other, no matter how far apart (they could be infinitely far apart) seemingly from out of thin air! Since its discovery, they have been experimenting with it, and, in fact, they are making use of it to actually transport objects. Right now they can only transport particles, but, theoretically, it would be possible to transport larger objects, even humans, through this method! So, Star Trek transport beaming actually isn't just a fiction! Obviously, it is impossible for us to do right now, but in my world, they've developed transportation technology. It is similar, but different from the technology in Star Trek. In Star Trek, as long as they have the coordinates, they can beam anyone anywhere. In my world, it is more controlled than this. Obviously, there are problems with beaming anywhere, your atoms can be scattered or lost! One such example is in Star Trek 2009 (spoiler alert!) where Chekov loses Spock's mother in the process of her being beamed up because of her falling off the cliff's ledge! Sadness. In my world, this would never happen because everything is contained within chambers I call the chrysalis. You can only be transported if you get into one of these, which may seem inconvenient, but there are countless numbers of these, all connected and intwined throughout the universe! Space travel is obsolete and all of humanity is connected together through these chambers and their corresponding corridors as if they are one large molecular structure! So, really, you can still go basically anywhere you want, but it is absolutely 100% safe. Actually, I've made it where it is impossible to transport human beings outside the chrysalis.  If you do, you are lost in the infinite void of the subatomic world!

Anyway, I went on a science tangent there, but I wanted to explain the mechanics of my world and how it works because it is actually really important to my plot and why things happen the way they do. It is important to me to thread the science of my world into every aspect of my story, whether realistically or symbolically or both! Very excited how it is coming so far. As an reward to reading all my natterings, I have some extra art below! Until my next post, signing off!

Surprise bonus material -> Character Concepts! 
Dr. Aedon Concepts.

Dr. Carlyle Concepts

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