Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Its a start!
 I selected a primitive polygon (a cube) and stretched it out
Then split a face and extruded it
The top is bevelled using Chamfer
It is coloured in using Set New Material, Blinn
Rendered and saved as Jpeg.

The background has saved as black making the model look very dark, so I'm going to try playing with lighting next.  Its quite low resolution so I need to look at that as well.

Review: La Belle et la Bete (1946)

Directed by Jean Cocteau
Produced by Andre Paulve
Written by Jean Cocteau
Cinematography by Henri Alekan
Starring Josette Day, Jean Marais, Mila Parely, Nane Germon, Michel Auclair, Marcel Andre
Music by Georges Auric

Adapted from the French fairy tale of the same name, La Belle et la Bete is a fantasy film featuring an extremely theatrical set and acting that at times seems laughable. However it is a genuinely enchanting tale in which the viewer is invited to put aside preconceptions and enjoy the magic as a child would. The characters of La Bete, The Prince, and Avenant are all played by Jean Marais, which enables a quirky if predictable ending.
Fig 1

Fig 2
The set designs and cinematography were intended to evoke the woodcuts of Gustav Dore and, in the farmhouse scenes, the paintings of Jan Vermeer [1]. 

Phillip French, writing for the Observer, suggests that it's a profound allegorical interpretation of a wounded France recovering its honour after the Nazi occupation. Whilst this seems absurd, it was photographed by Henri Alekan, who the same year shot the harshly realistic La Bataille Du Rail, a tribute to the French railwaymen's heroic resistance to the Germans.
Fig 3

Cocteau has taken a somewhat morose idea from another fairy tale, La Chatte Blanche by Marie-Cathérine d'Aulnoy, where the servants have been reduced to arms and hands or faces, making the castle totally cheerless.
Fig 4
Derek Malcom (1999) suggests that this is Jean Cocteaus most perfect film because it speaks to so wide an audience with its intensity of vision and the emotions that it inspires. He adds that “ it's all the better for not relying on astonishing special effects but on the private thoughts of the watcher.”
The viewer goes with Belle on a journey from innocence, watching her become colder and more calculating, and finally falling in love.

 Information on Gustave Dore
accessed on 27/09/2011
Phillip French (2008), The Observer 
accessed on 27/09/2011 
Derek Malcom (1999)
Accessed on 27/09/2011

fig 1 - Belle with la Bete
fig 2 - woodcut by Gustave Dore
fig3 - servant arms
 fig 4 - Belle

Monday, 26 September 2011

Unit 1: Anatomy: Silhouettes

I have chosen some of the thumbnail sketches, and played with turning them into silhouettes.  Whilst I like the more insecty morphs, I will probably go with the human styles.

Unit 1: Anatomy: Thumbnail Sketches 1

I have guesstimated a potential skeleton for the mantis, as insects don't have skeletons like ours.  I have tried to use this as a biological base to shape the ideas that followed.

Unit 1: Anatomy: Hand Studies

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Introduction (or Why I snuck into the teleporter with a Chinese Mantis)

The female Chinese Mantis is, even by human standards, quite beautiful. She has long legs, wide hips, a tiny waist, an elongated neck and huge eyes. If I could just blend those physical attributes in with my own I could be really stunning...

Unfortunately it is very hard to isolate a gene for, say, slimness, so it is quite likely that I will get some other characteristics as well. I am usually a carer by nature, quite maternal and fairly passive. Maybe it would be a good thing to be a bit tougher, faster, colder. Should I take the chance to be someone else?

What will come out of the telepod? A flabby stick insect? Or a Femme Fatale?

Photoshop 1: Getting to grips with graphics tablets

This rather tiny mantis is the result of 3 hours work! I really struggled to use the pen and tablet while looking at the screen.  I couldn't judge the scale and relative sizes, got confused about layers, and my first attempt kept turning red for no reason....I've put it on here as a benchmark so that when I manage to paint something reasonable I'll be able to see an improvement!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011



The Chinese Mantis

The Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is a species of praying mantis. Originating from China they were first introduced to North America around 1895 as a source of pest control.
Their diet consists primarily of other insects, though adult females can sometimes take down small vertebrate prey such as reptiles and amphibians.
Like some other mantids, they are known to be cannibalistic. The female can produce several spherical ootheca roughly the size of a table-tennis ball filled with up to 200 eggs.
Their color can vary from overall green to brown with a green lateral stripe on the edge of the front winngs. In low light the eyes appear to be black, but in daylight appear to be clear, matching the color of the head.
Developed in the Shandong province of China in the mid-1600s, Praying Mantis Kung Fu is based on the quick movements and techniques of the Chinese mantis.

Pet keepers are a useful source of information about mantids:
Chinese mantids in particular make great pets, and need little care. Anywhere between a two and a half and a ten gallon tank or small-screened cage will do. One cricket about every other day is all they require for nourishment. Mantids drink by lapping up the dew from leaves, so a gentle misting every other day or so will suffice. After being handled a few times, the mantids will allow handling without objection as long as you move slowly. Being docile by nature, a mantis will often stay perched on a houseplant, bedrail, or piece of furniture for hours at a time, cleaning themselves and keeping a careful watch for the slightest movement, and so can be allowed out of the cage under supervision. Mantids are watchful, curious, fastidiously clean predators and will even eat wet catfood if offered to them on forceps. They typically live under one year, and only for a month or two as winged adults, but breed easily in captivity. Females grow up to 4” in length.

Review: The Fly (1986)

The Fly (1986)
Directed by David Cronenberg
Produced by Stuart Cornfield and Mel Brooks
Screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue
Story by George Langelaan
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
Music by Howard Shore

Scientist Seth Brundle discovers a way to teleport objects and uses this to try to impress a female journalist. His thoughts turn to transporting humans and tries it out on himself. He doesn't notice the tiny fly in the telepod. The computer isn't programmed to transfer lifeforms separrately and merges the two sets of genes.
Seth eventually discovers that the fly has been absorbed into his body, and that its cells are now taking over his own.

At first This remake of the original classic seems very different, having in common only the telepods and the fly. The narrative is reversed in that we start at the beginning of the story and suspense is held until the end when see what has to be done. Advances in special effects and improvements in the character design have allowed Brundle to slowly morph into Fly, physically and mentally, over a period of time. As the viewer sees this gradual process Brundlefly still retains a very human aspect.
“What makes The Fly such a stunning piece of obsessive film making is the way Cronenberg deftly allows us to identify with his monstrous creation.” Los Angeles Times [14 Aug 1986]

Changes in society over time are reflected in the very different styles. In the 50s the audience were primarily white Americans, and they wanted to see rich families behaving with decorum, whilst dealing with the horrors of potential advance s in science.
The 1986 version reflects the wants of the 80s society: consumerism, increased wealth, and feminism. The script has single women working in traditionally male roles, story-hungry journalism and sex outside of marriage. Issues of the times were euthanasia, abortion, AIDS, drug and steroid use and a rise against communism, which can all be seen metaphorically in the film.

Cronenberg was surprised that The Fly became “embraced as a cultural metaphor for AIDS” since he “originally intended the film to be a more general analogy for disease itself, terminal conditions like cancer and, more specifically, the ageing process” (Rodley 1997) The viewer certainly doesn't have to have experienced AIDS to respond emotionally to the film as it is dealing with a much wider range of topical issues such as genetic modification, and terminal or degenerative illness.

Emotionally the plot hinges on the same questions as the 1958 film, looking at the difference between humans and animals, and the boundaries we set. Anne Bilson said in her Guardian Review that “For something to truly give you the creeps, it needs to have some hint of human physiognomy”. Right to the end, Brundle tries to hold on to his humanity, even keeping his teeth safe.
Again, the female character loves her partner so much that she will kill him herself to end his misery. Interstingly the third character Stathis is portrayed as lecherous and pathetic, but he is the real hero as he tries to help Brundle and save Veronica at the expense of his own life.

Unlike the original, The audience never finds out what the eventual repercussions for Stathis and Veronica are and although there were several different codexes to the film none of them were shown.

Anne Bilson, Guardian, Thursday 15 July 2010 http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/jul/15/splice-dren
Cronenberg on Cronenberg, Chris Rodley, Faber & Faber, 1997

Monday, 19 September 2011

Review: The Fly (1958)

The Fly (1958)

Produced and Directed by Kurt Neumann
Screenplay by James Clavell
Starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price & Herbert Marshall
Music by Paul Sawtell

When scientist Hedison tries transporting himself in his experimental machine his particles become muddled with those of a fly. He ends up with a fly's head and wing, and the tiny fly gets his head and arm. His attempts to reverse the process fail, and he goes insane, begging his wife to crush his head in a press. The fly has its own problems, becoming trapped in a web.

Watching this classic film in the 21st century, the stereotypical white 50s all-american family is almost comical. The plot however is anything but funny.

The Fly examines the boundaries between humans and animals. It is also a love story, and questions our ability to love someone enough to let them go.

The happy ending is sadly disappointing, with the remaining characters forming a jolly new family. A deeper look at the emotional effect of the tragedy on those left behind would be more interesting.

The visual effects are desperately dated, however the fundamental ideas are just as valid today as the scientific possibility of DNA splitting and cloning advances. It is a thought-provoking and interesting film.

A sad story of considerable pathos despite the ridiculous plot.”
,Almar Haflidason BBC December 9, 2003

James Clavell's script successfully treads a fine line between black comedy and po-faced seriousness.”
Author: GA , Time Out

Thursday, 15 September 2011


This is my final concept for the machine.  I planned to colour it chrome but I have lost the will to do battle with photoshop any more today. I think the red and grey work well on such a simple design.

Refining the machine

It would be easy to get carried away drawing cogs and buttons on a machine, but I want to do something quite simple.  The scissors look a bit like a bike frame (been watching the velodrome) so I have combined that with the double wheel/cog thing.


I have combined front, back and top views here, and have used very basic photoshop effects (painted with a spatter brush and given glowing edges).
It is a deep sea coral.  I'm not overly happy with the white lines but haven't found anything better.
I'm quite pleased with the overall effect though.

Refining the lifeform - 2

I drew my lifeform from front and back and then tried different effects in photoshop.  My lack of skill with photoshop is really holding me back here, I could have drawn the effects I wanted easily with pastels.  I am fairly happy with these two:


The final structure...front, back and sides.

Refining the structure 3

Here I tried various combinations of the pattern in light and dark shades.  I made these using the filter gallery.

Refining the structure 2

I have chosen the structure I am going to use and tried to draw it in perspective.

Ive also had a play with photoshop patterns. I wanted to make a surface pattern suitable for an alien tower block.  I tried various planet and stone effects but settled on this blue blended pattern.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Post Four - Refining the Lifeform

I began with the more complex crustacean type creature, but I have been reading other peoples blogs and am really inspired by the way some of the group are creating worlds in their imaginations that they are then able to transfer to their artwork. I love the shape of the vase and the organic coral-like structures I drew from it, and I thought I might be able to do something with them.

Ive started with the basic shape above, and have had a few tries playing with colour and texture in photoshop.

I'm still working on these, but keep getting sidetracked with new ideas!

Post 3 - Refining the Structure

Still struggling with perspective, and also my choice of structure.  As I'm finding both choices difficult to draw I've picked my favourite!

I redrew this and changed the colours in Photoshop.  This my first try alone at photoshop, so although my kids have been laughing at it, I am quite pleased!

And  a couple of tries at perspective having watched Phils link:

I'm still working on this :(