Sunday, August 28, 2016

Boot Camp: Weeks 4 - 7

"They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.
It's a very bad definition. But it does apply to detective work.”*
. . . and concept art work.
Hello, followers! It has been awhile since I have updated about my graphic novel! Life has been full (as it usually is), but I finally have a few things to show and a few (a lot of) things to talk about! For one, the writing of Infinity's End is going well. My goal is to have it all written out by the end of the year! If you want to see updates on that, I sometimes post lines from the story on my twitter account, so definitely follow me. I also like to post quantum physics articles and videos on my twitter as well, as I continue on my research journey.

One of my recent favorite things is the YouTube Channel, PBS Space Time. If you don't know what that is, go check it out! It is a channel dedicated to explaining all manner of physics, and it is awesome! They've recently started on their quantum physics series, and it has helped me immensely on reiterating everything I've learned. The host is astrophysicist, Matthew O'Dowd, and he is very knowledgeable. It took me a few videos to get used to his teaching style, but I like how he explains everything clearly, but also challenges you to think outside the box. It is really neat! So, things in the quantum world are still very strange, we still don't understand it, and so far there has been no discoveries from CERN, despite reaching higher energies in their collider. That is very interesting! There are a lot of theories out there on what is at these fundamental levels, but so far: nothing. Curiouser and curiouser!

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about and show today is what I have been working on in developing the look of my world! Going through Art Camp with Titus Lunter has been really helpful for me in going through the step by step process of concepting my ideas, and it has given me the tools I needed to get my ideas the way I want them. So, one of the things was discovering the "shapes of the universe", and this is about breaking down everything to their basic shapes. This abstracting has given me the fundamentals of my world. Here is example:

"Shapes of the Universe." Copyright Danielle Pajak Illustrations 2016.
The words and descriptions I listed is what I was going for with my concepts. I want my universe to have the organic quality of nature, the randomize chaos like you see on a ground full of pebbles or a branch full of leaves. Yet, despite this chaos, there is still an underlying order to it as well, which I wanted to retain. Then infusing this organic quality with the sharp, hostile nature of science fiction technology, is to show that this is man simulating nature. Remember, in my universe, mankind can manipulate matter at its most basic levels, so they can create basically anything. Mankind has, essentially, conquered the universe and in so doing, orders it as he sees fit.

Here are two rough Photoshop sketches of taking these ideas and their corresponding shapes and applying them to the environment:

"Concept 01." Copyright Danielle Pajak Illustrations.
"Concept 02." Copyright Danielle Pajak Illustrations
You can really see what I am going for. In one of my earliest sketches for my story, my brother-in-law made the observation how it was like the micro world has gone macro, and that is exactly what I wanted to convey. If you look at images of artist renditions of molecules or neurons of the brain, that is what I want my universe to feel like. That enclosed and intimate ordered chaos that resides at the microscopic levels. It is taking the structure of the smallest worlds in nature and blowing them up to encompass the entire universe! So what happens is that space as we see it now, full of its endless galaxies, stars and planets, is no longer like this in my universe, but has been entirely replaced by these dandelion-like, neuron-like structures, which in of themselves contain an infinite variety of simulated life for humans to inhabit. Stars, planets, and even black holes have become novelties to humanity, and they use them as sources of recreation and art, but no longer have a practical use for them.

Before I show you my finalized piece, I wanted to side track into another area that has inspired me in my concepts. Recently I watched the Russian 1972 Solaris film, which is based on the novel by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. It was really fascinating! True, I think it is even more pretentious than 2001 A Space Odyssey, but the atmosphere, set design, and cinematography is just phenomenal. There really is no other experience like it, very much like 2001, but even more exquisite. It got me thinking about how much I wish science fiction films (or films in general) would return to a more abstract, visual way of storytelling, where shape, design, and composition held more meaning and purpose. I do love the visuals we can achieve today with out technology, but I think in our ability to really get realistic effects, we've lost some of the poetry of it. It isn't just about technical proficiency, but artistic expression. So what if you can make a realistic monster alien, what does it mean? If it is there just to fill the space and gets cheap thrills, then I question the point of its design!

So in my design, I wanted to capture the cinematic textures of Solaris and 2001. Here, let me show you examples with some screenshots:

Solaris 1972.
Solaris was a very cerebral story, and as you can see from these screenshots, they are unnervingly empty. That was all part of the atmosphere as psychologist Kelvin investigates what happened on this space station. What you can also see is how everything is very intentionally set up and framed. The circular shapes and their repetition keep the eye moving and gives it a surreal quality. It also gives the sensation of when two mirrors reflect on one another, and you see that repetition of the image going out towards infinity. This was probably also intentional as one of the famous quotes from the movie is "We don't need other worlds. We need mirrors."(Dr. Gibarian.) You can even see in the top screen shot that there are mirrors lining the hallway. The movie is a deeply introspective piece, a philosophical question on what man is looking for out in the black, and these concepts come out within the entire set and within the frame. It is really beautiful.

2001 A Space Odyssey 1968.
I loved watching 2001 for the same reasons, in that everything was very intentional and set a specific atmosphere. For this movie it was more about conveying the relativity of space. All directions become equal and the camera and sets utilize this. There is no "right" way to look at the space because all points are equal to every other point. I also love the circular, repetitive shapes in these screen shots. This movie also had such rich color and great cinematic landscapes whether it was prehistoric earth or the moon! There is this epic Making of 2001 book that is chalk full of information and imagery. I covet it so bad! One day. . .one day. . .

So, as I continue with my graphic novel, I am definitely going to be keeping these two films in mind. Every panel I create is going to be purposeful and express mood, concepts, and ideas. Here, then, is my finalized piece, where I combine all of this together, and of which is going to be an actual panel within my graphic novel, so you are getting a taste of what it is to come!

"Panel 01." Copyright Danielle Pajak Illustrations 2016.
In my final piece here, I really simplified the shapes in comparison to my previous concepts. I brought them back down to their basic level. I did this so that there would be less distractions and really showcase the power of the shapes themselves in conveying my ideas. The color and subtle textures are also intentional. It is very isolating and frigid atmosphere, but solemn and silent. I cannot wait to share this with you all, as color, texture, line, and shape become even more important elements in telling this story! For now, thank you for reading through my ramblings. Signing off! But stayed tuned for further developments!


*Sherlock Holmes (CBS Elementary)
He makes everything beautiful in its time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11