Thursday, 10 December 2020

Playing with Fire

In continuation from the last piece, I wanted to continue exploring the visuals of light. I had a lot of fun creating that piece and I think it shows in the result. In true Flora Martyr fashion I didn’t want to replicate what I had already done, because that would be a) pointless and b) boring, so I decided to take some of the aspects and combine them with something new. I always say on here I constantly want to be developing and learning new things, which is true. Once I feel I have ‘mastered’ (probably a too grandiose word, but whateves) a certain style or technique, I like to have that in my ‘bank’ of what I can do knowing I can pull upon it again in the future, but then acknowledge that it’s time to move on for now.

I downloaded a nice piece of footage of someone lighting a match- it made a lovely glow on her fingers when the match was lit. This piece was actually downloaded for the intention of using in the previous piece, but decided against it and to save it for something else. A good decision, I think!

At first I didn’t quite know what to do with it, but then I started scribbling a few ideas down and came up with what I thought was the style I would use. If I can’t think of any ideas, I find noting down or sketching thoughts usually helps develop what I already have. I come up with a lot more ideas when I put pen to paper rather than when I think ‘oh I’ve no idea what to do with this’ and leave it for some ‘inspiration’ to hit. Rarely happens without making it happen. I feel that creativity spawns more creativity, so it’s better to start with something, however small. Anyway, I digress.

Initial sketch
Style frame #1
Style frame #2

Above is my initial sketch on paper with a couple of notes followed by some style frames I created in TVPaint. The second one is the one I decided to go with- well as a starting point, because the final design is a little different.

Being as the previous piece had such a heavy emphasis on colour, I decided to go the opposite way here and drain all but several colours. I did this for a number of reasons: the first being I wanted the match and the light of the match to stand out, but also as a nod to my earlier rotoscope work where I used to use a lot in greyscale for some reason. I also thought using grey for the hands would really bring out the yellow glow (which I think it did).

Roto test (May 2013)

I decided to revert back to using an outline here besides the flame (and smoke). This was to emphasise the flame, but also because fire isn’t a tangible object I thought it would make sense. The outline was a different style to what I usually use when working with an outline- here I used the pencil tool (one I pretty much never use) to give the edges a bit of texture and to test out using an outline style I usually avoid. I did think it worked quite nicely- I really like the sketchiness of it and would definitely use it again if the circumstances allow, but it won’t work for everything. Despite the fact that I coloured the piece quite ‘blocky’ or non-textured, I don’t feel the rough edges look out of place.

When thinking of ways to colour the light reflecting on the hands, I first tried to create them in a textured way. I drew up a number of style frames testing out different brushes and then started shading the light using one of the styles. Below are two of these frames:

About ten or so frames in, I decided the textured way was not the best fit for this piece- I felt it looked ‘weak’ and didn’t have much verve about it. I then changed direction and decided to use a way I did’t even use for any of the style frames, but I just felt it would work better. I used the ‘filled stroke’ (which gives a solid colour) and drew the shapes as they appeared, adding emphasis and exaggeration where appropriate. This way felt much more suited to the piece than any of the texture ideas I was initially considering. It also brought further emphasis to the pencil outline, making it the only textured element in the whole piece.

The result of colouring the light in this way looks somewhat naive, but I quite like the bold effect it has. It won't work in every circumstance and I feel if I’m to use this technique in the future, using it sparingly might be best. I do kind of like the result though and it’s definitely a step forward for me in terms of my development.

This 7 second clip took 20 hours to complete. Usually hands take a lot quicker (I do hands a lot), but I think because of the fact that I used a textured outline with multiple stokes, along with adding some highlights and colour, it took a little longer than it usually might have. I think each style takes as long as it needs to take and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ regarding completion time. Or at least not at the moment where I have no external pressures of deadlines etc and I can really spend time creating work.

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