Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Creative Industries: Analysing Specialist ads

For this Creative Industries homework I was set the task of analysing 5 adverts that are relevant to special intrests, more so adverts that are relevant to the course. Below are 5 ads from the magazines: Games tm, Digit, Develop, Edge and Creative arts.

(A very eyecatching recruitment ad from Codemasters)

1. Codemasters
This advert is for the videogame developer Codemasters, the ad is very clear in showing that it is advertising job opportunities at the company. It uses a very striking graphic design to grab attention of those flicking through the magazine and offers a range of possible occupations such as artists and programmers. The advert also features the studio's previous projects and the slogan "Join The Evolution" suggests that the company is gonna be the pioneers of the industry. This kind of advert would be targeted twoards people who are interested in applying for a job within the videogames industry, the fact that the ad was found within Develop Magazine shows that it's target audience are people intrested in development of the creative industry from a computer perspective.

(A savvy ad from ATI)

2. ATI
This next ad is from ATI is advertising a new Graphics card for professional use. The layout of the advert gives a very professional and corporate look to it, which can build trust in the viewer as it translate that this product is an important, high-end piece of equipment. There is a small blurb of why this product is better than other to help with persuasion. This advert was found inside Digit Magazine, which is a general technology news magazine so it makes sense to have this advert in this magazine as many people who working on a professional level of computer design from animation to games design or even product design may buy this magazine to keep up to date with the latest news on technological advances.

(A very Colourful ad from UbiSoft)

3. Ubisoft
Here is an advert for a videogame produced by the videogames developer and publisher Ubisoft. The ad uses bright colours and features the titular character taking up most of the space on the page, three screen shots are seen which are representative of the product. Already the bright colours will most likely attract a viewers attention when reading the magazine, besides from the small annotations underneath the screen shots not a lot of explanation is given to the type of game it is, this means it could be from a franchise and may be recognised by people thus no need for further explanation. This ad was found inside Games TM magazine which is appropriate as the content is mainly videogame news and reviews, so it's a no brainer to advertise a videogame within a videogame based magazine.

(a stylistic approach to ads from iStockphoto)

4. iStockPhoto
This trendy looking ad for iStockPhoto is slightly deceiving and yet not. What the advert is presenting is the chance for people to buy photos for use in their products, royalty free although at first glance it could be a fashion or business advert as it's not blatantly obvious at first. The slogan "Find your image" could relate to these things also, especially fashion. There is further explanation of what exactly the product is and what it's for. This ad was found within Computer Arts magazine, which deals with image creation via use of a computer. This magazine is most like picked up by a range of graphic designers ranging from amatuers to pros, so it is a logical choice to have this ad in the magazine as some designers maybe need photos but can't afford to go to exotic locations and have the desired photo shoots they need.

5. Virgin Media
This final ad comes from Virgin Media who are advertising a new broadband service. The main motif is the main eye catcher, grabbing the viewer with a full page of red and the logo in the lower left. This ad was found in Edge magazine which features videogame reviews but also articles on the culture behind them, the slogan of the ad makes more sense within the context of the magazine, "Virgin Broadband. The Difference between life and death" this suggests that this broadband service is much better than the others in terms of use for online gaming by saying it is quicker than other service providers. With the Videogame industry developing to a point where online play is a main feature of a game it's logical to have this ad in Edge, it's clearly aimed towards people who are enthusiastic about online games and they most likely read the magazine so it's a very good business choice.

Out of all these advertisments, the only one I think doesn't make it clear what it's advertising and who it's aimed towards is the iStockphoto ad. All are designed well and have most likely caught people's attention, more importantly their intended audiences have most likely seen these ads so in that sense they are successful in their purpose.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sleeping in Style

Thats right peeps I am almost living the hedonism (on a budget) lifestyle I crave for. The latest part of this slow crawl to the top are these sweet as Designer Pillow cases. Designed by Italian designer Simone Legno under his Tokidoki brand. Originally costing £25.99 they were reduced to £12.50 which is just under half-price! So not a bad buy at all and considering they came vaccum sealed it was like living in the future. If you want to get some too there are some left at Travelling Man Leeds. But snap them up quickly! Check out how hard they rock my bed in the picture below:

(Even my UglyDoll is loving them.)

The Tokidoki brand has released many products ranging from Vinyl Toys to hand bags and shoes featuring their characters, a notable product was the tour bus for Punk Rock group +44 . It's quite rare to come across products from Tokidoki which arn't targeted towards women's fashion but more products are being developed all the time.

For more info on TokiDoki and their products check out the Tokidoki Blog.
Or go straight to the website:

Admit it, they are pretty sweet pillow cases.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Animation Research: Walk Cycles

After last weeks interm crit' my tutor suggested to me that I have a look at the cartoon Pocoyo and a walk cycle of the character Marvin The Martian from Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes. By looking at both of these I can further how my character would walk when rendered in 3D.

By looking at Pocoyo, I can see that the animator has animated the main character's legs in a minmalistic way using a little amount of frames to illustrate the movement of walking. The fashion in which the main character, Pocoyo walks is also very simplistic in that it's almost as though he is kicking the air when the walks, when he runs he also does the same but in a quicker manner. I can see why I was asked to look at this as it is rendered in 3D so it immediately realtes to my project, but I now have a slightly better understanding of how I could animate my character walking from watching this.

From looking at this short Warner Bros. cartoon, I can observe how the animators dealt with giving movement to the legs of character, Marvin the Martain. The way Marvin walks is by moving his legs so fast it could be described as vibrating. I can see why the tutor also suggested to analyse this walk cycle as my designed character has a simular build and shape to Marvin the Martian. I'm still undecided as to how to aimate my character's legs but after looking at these two variations I have a slightly better understanding of what may work better for my Character.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


So here we are again a chance for me to share my mad scratchings with you little... little... uh... things you! so first up is a character I came up with ages ago, I know the tv head thing has been done to death but meh I like the concept. so here is the original light-gun and sword wielding dynamic character I made up a while ago. (All images enlarge when clicked on).

(I created this guy maybe 2 years ago now?)

I've been toying with the concept of using him in an action comic, every once in a while I end up drawing as I'm still brain storming the the story out in my head. below is a doodle I did on my lunch break featuring said brain storming.

(Still not sure what the comic would be about.)

Recently in class we were asked to start coming up with characters for an upcoming brief so I decided I would do a character models for him. In the end I decided it would be best to develop something a little more interesting for the brief. Besides the original image, the design sheet below is one of the most finished drawings of this character.

(I tried to make it look semi-professional.)

and finally a little doodle I did whilst waiting for someone, I think it may reflect how I feel at the moment, haha. (I hope the joke isn't lost on people) Also Fu the Ninja from my up coming comic!

(you know you love Fu!)

So yeah thats it for this weeks doodles, I've also realised I'm a bit over due for finishing the second part of my biographical mini comic about my love for Final Fantasy VIII, so I'll try get that done soon!


Friday, 23 October 2009

Visual Langauge: Scene and Shot Analysis

For Visual Language I was set the task of analysing shot types from a segment (roughly a minute or two) from a scene of a film, tv show, animation or cut-scene from a video game and annotating what effects they can have on the scene. I choose to look at the 1984 film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", I'll be analysing Scene 2 "Club Obi Wan" in this scene, the titular character, Indiana Jones confronts crime lord Lao Che over a sour business deal. My analysis is from "2:48" to "3:50".

A mid shot of 5 gentlemen around a table within the restaurant, three are sat down applausing the performance that has just taken place whilst two are standing, the standing pair seem to be bodyguards. The camera slowly zooms in on the the centre figure sitting at the table. This shot establishes that the scene will include these characters specifically and that the centre figure that the camera focused on is more a pivotal character than the others in this scene.

(Lao Che and his men enjoy the perfomance.)

The camera angles changes to a wide shot of the restaurant. The Dancers run through the tables towards the direction of the camera, the words "Shanghai, 1935" appear on screen as the camera pans in the same direction that the dancers are heading. This shot is used to show the scale of the restuarant.

The camera stops at a set of stairs where a man in white clothing decends the stairs, only his feet and lower body are shown at first (this suggests a mid close-up). The camera pans back in the direction of the restuarant and back into a wide shot as it does so more of the figure is shown. He stops at the bottom of the stairs and a passing waiter stops and says cautiously "Be careful." This shot suggests that this figure has some business with the men sitting at the table. The panning of the shot and calm movements of the character suggest a slightly tense atmosphere.

The camera stays static as the figure walks towards the tables set out in the restaurant. This shows that the man is dressed in a white tuxedo, again his slow movements can suggest either a calm or tense atmosphere.

A Mid-close up of Lao Che (the man at the centre of the table). His face is face is a little unnerved as he pulls his hands away from applausing. The Mid-close up allows us to see the characters expression clearly whilst still showing it in context of the set.

Over the shoulder shot (from Lao Che's Point of View) of the figure seen at the stairs sitting down, it is revealed that the character is Indiana. His face is calm as he speaks in Chinese to Lao Che. The whole purpose of this shot was to reveal the main character, but this method is very subtle helping to build the atmosphere of unease between the two parties.

(Indiana Confronts Lao Che.)

Camera changes to an over the shoulder shot (from Indiana's P.O.V.) The three men seem a little shaken at Indiana's calm presense. Lao Che speaks calmly "You never said you spoke my language, Dr. Jones." This back and forth helps establish a conversation between the two parties.

Back to over the shoulder shot (Lao Che's P.O.V.). Indiana leans back in his chair as the two bodyguards walk over and begin to search him for any concealed weapons. "Only on special occasions." Indiana replies. Again this shows events within the conversation from a characters point of view.

A close up of Lao Che, the background is out of focus. Lao Che leans in and says "So it's true, you've found Nurhachi". By leaning in the character creates a sense of foreboding this is intensified by the close up.

Over the shoulder shot (from Lao Che's P.O.V.) this time most of Lao Che's head takes up the shot. Indy is staring back with a slight smirk, "You know I did, last night one of your boys tried to get Nurhachi without paying for him." With Lao Che's head taking up most of the shot the sense of foreboding carries over.

Over the shoulder shot (from Indiana's P.O.V.) The three men stare back, still looking uneased. Lao Che is still leaning in as a waiter comes over to pour a drink. This shot is used to show the reactions of the three men.

Close up of a bandaged hand belonging to the man of the far right (Lao Che's Son, Kao Kan). The camera pans up as the arm moves to where the man clutches at his injured hand, the camera continues to pan up to the character's face. His face is tense and he seems hostile towards the main character. This shot is used to show the results of a previous encounter between characters and the atmosphere is tense.

(Kao Kan's hand is injured from a previous encounter with Indiana.)

Three shot of Lao Che, Kao Kan and Chen. The waiter has finished pouring the drink as Kao Kan is still clutching his hand. Lao Che remarks "You've insulted my son." This shot help builds the hostility between the two parties and enforces the concept that Indiana is out numbered.

Over the shoulder shot of Indiana (from Lao Che's P.O.V.) he looks over at Kao Kan and replies "No, You've insulted me." This shot shows that Indiana is still calm and collected but that there is still tension in the air as Lao Che is still in the shot.

Close up of Kao Kan as he moves his hand out of shot. He still as a look of anger on his face due to Indiana's calm demeaner. This shot is to show Kao Kan's reaction to the main character's confident retort.

A return to an over the shoulder shot of Indiana (again from Lao Che's P.O.V.). He calmly looks back at Lao Che and says "I spared his life." This shot just renforces the hostile conversation.

A three shot of the men around the table, Chen stands up in outrage as he bangs his hand on the table. As he does Willie Scott, the lead singer from the performance (a Mandarin rendition of "Anything Goes") comes over to the table and places her hands around Lao Che, "Arn't you going to introduce us?" She looks towards Indiana. This shot is to show the outburst of Chen and to also introduce Willie Scott as a main character, showing her with the antagonists of the scene present her alliance with them.

(Willie Scott comes over to try calm the gentlemen.)
A medium close up of Indiana, he looks up at Willie out of interest, his hands are together on the table. This shot shows Indiana taking interest in the new character and a mid shot allows us to clearly see the expression on his face when he does so.

Returns to the three shot, now a four shot of the "business associates" and Willie Scott, Lao Che signals for Chen to sit down as the singer begins to stand up straight. Lao Che then calmly lifts his hand to introduce the woman to Indiana. "This is Willie Scott. This is Indiana Jones, a famous archaeologist." This shot is used to show that the three men are trying to keep their calm and remain civilised within the restaurant, it's also to show the meeting of main characters whilst keeping the theme of "back and forth" or a conversation.

This 1 minute segment has many different camera shot changes and it just shows how much work goes into a single scene. The main focus of this scene was subtlely hostile conversation and negoatiations of the two parties (Lao Che and Indiana Jones), due to the main focus being on conversation the shot type that was used the most the Over the Shoulder shot, it was also the actors though who helped build an air of tension between the two thus making it very believable that this is more of a confrontation/conclusion to a prior event.

The fact remains that so much thought was put into to presenting the narrative in the best possible way to translate the emotion and mood of the scene.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Slaughterhouse - The One [Travis Barker Remix]

Now I had no idea who Slaughterhouse were until yesterday when Travis Barker (of Blink-182 fame) posted on twitter about his latest remix with a link to a youtube video, one of Barker's most famous remixes was for "Crank That" (originally by Soulja Boy). I'm not a huge fan of hip-hop or rap but the strack is pretty good and the drums are phoenomenal. I went back and found the original version via the iTune Store and found it quite dull, Barker's remix really adds a a much needed energy into the piece, plus it's quite intresting to see how the famed drummer performs. Check it out below:

"Impressive" just doesn't do this man justice when it comes to drums.
Keep an eye out for more Music Articles!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Animation Lesson Four: Homework

So previously, I started to make a small truck using the 3D Modeling program Maya, now comes the tutor free lesson. Without any help from the tutor I have to model and give my little truck two axis and four wheels. First I need to create a cylinder which will act as the axis, this was fairly easy as all I had to do was create it and manipulate it's shape, now I could create another one and try replicate the original, or I could use the Duplicate tool which creates the exact same object over the original, so I just move it along until it's placed into a position I'm happy with.

(This 3d Modeling thing isn't so bad)

Now that I have my two axis it's time to create some wheels, so I go into Create mode and choose another cylinder. After manipulating the shape to resemble a wheel I then change the Pivot Position, and use the Snap To Vertex function to attach it to one of the four axis ends. I then Duplicate the shape and repeat this process.

Below is the result: a lovely rendered 2009 McFarlane style basic utility Virtual Truck, available for the low price of $999,999,999,991.

I could have Beveled the wheels but I felt it didn't go with the aesthetics of my truck. I found this little task slightly challenging but it did build my confidence in using Maya, I know I'm still not very able but I feel that I can achieve the basics of creating objects using the program. With a little practice I believe I can get more fluent in the commands and confident in using the tools.

My Curse... (Part II of III)

Carrying on where I left off, I'm through the list of handheld games that I still need to finish and complete and that was a lot, today let's look at the long list of Playstation 2 games I still have to complete or finish!

Musashi: Samurai Legend - Playstation 2.
I originally noticed this game in the pre-owned section of Game sometime ago now. What drew me towards it was that the cover art and character designs were done by Testuya Nomura, one of my favourite character designers. This game has a lot of gameplay mechanics found within the series Kingdom Hearts, I think last time I played this game I had got stuck on a level some where though...maybe I should go back and check why I haven't played this game in a while.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga - Playstation 2.
Again I picked up this game due to the cover art and character designs, but I did also know that the Shin Megami Tensei series had a bit of acclaim behind it. The gameplay is okay but I feel the battles are a little slow and slightly ill-thought out. I can't remember where I got upto with this one, something about a rebellion?

Maken Shao: Demon Sword - Playstation 2.
Again again, the artwork. character designs by the same fella who did Digital Devil Saga, it was also the price, I think it was only £1.50 so I thought why not? I just kind of found the gameplay a bit dull so I haven't been back to it in a while.

Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly
- Playstation 2.
I originally picked this up as it was part of a buy one get one free offer a Blockbuster (the other game was Soul Reaver 2). After playing I found it really fun and different (my first survival horror game) but I got stuck and traded it in, since then I have re-bought it and can't wait to replay it.

Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain Of Memories - Playstation 2.
This game is a 3D remake of the original Chain of Memories which was originally on the Gameboy Advance (I also played and completed) but was only available in Japan and America. I recieved the American copy as a birthday present and have yet to play it due to region locking.

(image from:

Final Fantasy X - Playstation 2.
I'm a fan of the Final Fantasy series, when I originally played this game is had a glitch that prevented me from playing since then I got a new copy and am currently stuck on a puzzle in (what I think is) the last dungeon before the big boss fight.

Final Fantasy X-2
- Playstation 2.
The sequel to Final Fantasy X, I picked this up as it was £2.50, so you know bargin! I have yet to play due to not finishing the first game.

Silent Hill 3 - Playstation 2.
I picked this up on recomendation from a friend, I also know of the fan following the Silent Hill series has, so far it's been very interesting. Last time I played it though, I think I got stuck some where. Nonetheless I am enjoying the game I just haven't had time to play it.

Persona 4 - Playstation 2.
Another game of the Shin Megami Tensei series, I really liked the look of the cover art but because it was a fairly recent game I asked if it was any good, and my friend who has played it recomended it. So far I'm a good 3 hours in but still only on the first dungeon. It's a very challenging RPG, again I just haven't had time.

Dino Crisis - Playstation.
Well we know I've recently got this game but I'm making my way through it at a nice pace and it's getting really exciting.

I think my main problem is that whilst I enjoy RPGs it takes more time than I have these days to play them and get into the swing of it, I just can't sit down for a good 3-4hours and level up or go on quests like I used to.

Stay tuned for the final part of long long list of games left to play!

Visual Language: Poster Development

Last time I spoke about this I drew up thumbnails of the ideas that I want to develop and the the ones I particularly liked I drew out with more detail and annotation. One of the ones that I liked favourably was the the Drew Struzan in fluenced piece, so using the more detailed and annotated thumbnail I began to photograph the images of the components needed, this included myself, one of my friends (who is very lovely), the Art College and the small robot toy. I took the pictures of everything but the college in one of the photography studios in the college using a Canon D30, I also used a red backdrop to help distinguish the subject from the background to allow for easier selection. I then took the photos into Photoshop and arranged them accordingly, since I was to digitally paint the subjects I thought I would create a test version of the image as the photographs had no continuity to them in that they had different light sources. I decided to use the "stylistic tracing" technique again using Photoshop and a wacom tablet, below is the result.

(click to enlarge)

This mock up allowed me to see what the final piece could look like. I tried to encoporate a boarder as Struzan does this as well. The small colour pixel Koopas I found via image searching they were put there to illustrate that I want something game realted falling from the top of the image, I am undecided as to whether or not to keep these game related characters/items as simple pixels or to give them a painted/rendered look. I also added an influence for Rob Sheridan in the form of the red band along the bottom of the image, I feel that this influence works well with the video game influence as both have simular (all be it differently achieved) visuals. Overall I'm pleased with the Composition and feel that it looks very much like a film poster and it's clear to see the Struzan influence.

After completing this rough "pencils" stage I thought I should experiement and see how it'd look with a very basic colour job. Again I used the program Photoshop to complete this step.

(click to enlarge)

The colour job allows me to tranlaste more visual ideas that I want to add to the piece such as mist coming from around the robot toy, a twilight type sky and amendments to the videogame characters falling from the sky. This give a more complete look to the the image I want to create and I feel it is successful in outline both my intrests and influences.

Now all that's left to do is to start painting it, to do this I'm going to be looking at a lot of digital painting tutorials found on the web and inside the magazine ImagineFX as for this brief I want to teach myself how to paint digitally and putting it straight into practise seems like a good way to finally break into something I've been wanting to learn for so long.

Animation Lesson Four

Last Monday in the class Animation we were finally introduced to the 3D Modelling program Maya. The main objective of the day's lesson was to construct and render shapes to make a small Truck, the tutor ran through the basics of how to build objects within Maya along with how to manipulate them as well as different types of rendering but it was recomended that I stick with pologons as they are easiest to manipulate and work with, after that I was set loose. I'm beginning to notice a more "heres what to do do it" attitude with the lessons and I feels it's been good as it's allowed me to try play around with the programs we're using and get a good understanding of them.

(There are lots of complex tools used in Maya)

The only way you can make things in Maya is by starting off with the prerendered shapes avaliable in Maya such as cubes and cylanders, by using these shapes you can create the object you desire, I was to start my truck by constructing the cab, so I had to start of with a cube. Now a cube doesn't look much like a Truck's Cab so I'm going to have to start manipulating it, by using the Insert Edge loop which when placed into the square creates a kind of lock allowing me to change and manipulate only a part of the shape rather than the whole thing. Next in Vertex Mode I can now change the appearance to achieve a look more akin to that of a truck cab. After click Freeze Transformations as this will stop the shape being manipulated again.

(The process is can be quite tricky)

Next I create a new cube, this will be shaped to create the Bed of the truck. Before that though I need to lock it into place against the cab by changing the Pivot Position to the bottom corners then using the Snap to Vertex function it'll glue straight into place. Next I form the cube into more of a cuboid and round the edges of using the Edge Mode and Bevel function, after I adjust how many sections the bevel has to create a more rounded look to the back of the truck, then I freeze transformations. Next is the Chassis!

(I'm beginning to get a grasp of this)

The Chassis uses the same tools as the truck bed, I create a new cube and shape it accordingly placing it under the truck using the Snap To Vertex function, after I then Bevel the sides to give it a more rounded look. The truck is definitely getting closer to being fully formed and the only thing it's missing are it's axis and wheels.

After being thrown into the water a little at the start I'm slowly getting a grasp of the tools but I still find it very tricky to get my head around but I feel I'm making progress. For the homework I have to finish building my truck, this will be the true test to see if I have an understanding of Maya.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Iterm Crit'

Last Monday was the Iterm Critical Anlaysis, what this means is that along with the other memebers of the class I have to put up a presentation of what we plan to animate under the guide lines of the given brief. What I had to present was a character design sheet, showing how a character would work in three dimensions, a story board and an animatic outlining the key frames of the animation.
I came up with a rough idea using a character I'm currently developing for a personal project (top secret as of now).

(click to enlarge)

I tried to think about a good way to translate my character visually to my audience so I drew to shots, front and side adding annotations. I even included a rough guide to the types of shapes that make up the character as a whole. I mainly use triangles when creating the character and although it is very geometrical I try to create a loose look to the pencil work. When presenting this the character was generally well recieved but the tutor made several key points about the design that I had not thought of. All related to animating the character within the computer program Maya.

The first was the hood, would it be animated as one item? Would it have moving parts? Second was the legs, I originally got the concept of the legs from the animated show "Invader Zim" as the characters have a kicking type of walk. From this the tutor suggested that I look at two other animated shows to study the way the animators have handled the way characters walk, these shows were "Pocoyo" (narrated by the delightful Stephen Fry) and "Looney Tunes" cartoons featuring Marvin The Martian. Next was emoting the character, it wears a mask I would have to show emotion by animating the mask through layers applied to the object that would be the virtual render of the character. Finally was the shapes involved in creating the character as animating in Maya I would have to find a way to present in three-dimensional, it's design is a collection of distorted shapes so it'd be quite diffcult for a beginner. I began to feel a little less confident about my idea but I decided that I would make amendments once I have a grasp of Maya and my skills with it.

(click to enlarge)

Above is the storyboard I drew up to illustrate the short narrative. What happens is the camera starts on the character's feet and pans out until the character is completely visible, the camera stays fixed as my character goes through a walk cycle. In the foreground is a bowl but it will be out of focus, the chacacter will walk by and suddenly realise, turn head back and investigate the bowl and we find out it's his favourite food. As with the character design the basic concept was well recieved and after a short back and forth with the tutor it was decided that I should work on the story board to felsh it out with new camera angles such as one that will allow the audience to see what is in the bowl. So I will definetly be working on the story board to try make it stand out a little more. Below is the animatic of the storyboard (again you tube has slightly cut the end off).

The animatic runs at roughly the same speed I would like the final animation to run at. Overall I'm pleased with how the presentation as a whole turned out, I have learnt that my concept may be a little ambitious for my first time with Maya but before I start to make any changes I want to try my hand at it first to see how difficult it is to grasp. If I do keep up with this idea I feel it may still be a challenge hopefully with the tutor's help I can try my best.

What can a computer desktop tell you about a person?

That's the question, but can a computer desktop tell you about a person? Using my two desktops I'm going to try analyse myself.

(click to enlarge)

Above is the desktop from my personal computer that I use at home, all ready from the wallpaper you'd be able to tell that the user likes this design or the character that it features. There are also music applications on the desktop such as Ableton Live and iTunes, this suggests that the owner not only has an interest in listening to music but making it aswell. There are also several visual creative tools present, these are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and the freeware application Opencanvas, it is clear that the owner has an interesting in creating art or design. There is also the program Pencil, another creative application used to animate. From these few things we can tell that the owner of this computer is heavily interested in the creative arts of art and music. There are also a few Video and Audio converters which gives the impression that the user enjoys audio and visual entertainment, along with these the application Playonline is present this suggests interest in online gaming. Finally there is a Tweetdeck, this automatically means that the owner uses Twitter on a regular basis to keep on track with friends and other people from around the world. He is also a Firefox user.

(click to enlarge)

Above is the desktop from the Mac that I use at College. First the wallpaper, this shows use that the viewer is a fan of the band Nine Inch Nails but because of the presentation of the wallpaper it may suggest that the owner is interested in photography, this is strengthened by the Image capture device program on the desktop. On the desktop we see alot of the same visual creation applications but some new ones as well, for instance Maya, meaning that the user has an interest in 3D modelling and animating. There is also the program GarageBand, this solidifies the theory of the user's interest in music making.

From looking at the owner's desktop we can tell that they are very intrested in both music, art and design, possibly photography as well. We also have an idea of their taste in music and art from the wallpaper they have on their desktops. The lack of office tools suggests that when it comes to written work they prefere to either write it up by hand or have another method. The way the applications and programs are arranged also suggest that this person is very tidy or likes to be organised.

Whilst looking at someone's desktop can tell you their interests it can never really tell you about the person themselve or how good they are at something, nonetheless it's very interesting to see what type of person your desktop presents you as. Why not look at your own desktop try see what it says about you!

Visual Language Research: Rob Sheridan

Not too long ago I mentioned the design work of Rob Sheridan, an American graphic designer who for the last nine years has been the designer who has been creating visuals for the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. Something about Sheridan's work really strikes a chord with me with it's minimalistic look yet fascinating depth, what I want to do is try add an influence of Sheridan's work into my "About Me" poster as it will represent both my interest in both the design work of Rob Sheridan and music written by Nine Inch Nails. With nine years of design work to select from I'm going to focus on the artwork featured within the album The Slip as it has a large collection of work to analyse and it's also one of my favourite albums.

(Artwork By Sheridan for the opening track "999,999")

One of the interesting aspects of The Slip is that each track has it's own unique art work all with a theme running through it. Looking at the piece "999,999" it uses two shades of grey one for the foreground and the other is the background, the foreground is a collection of shapes that represent the number 999,999 but mirrored against each other. The shapes are all very angular and cold cut giving a sterile, metallic look. Whilst it gives of a cold look it also has a weird warmth and because of the contrast it looks as though the foreground is coming forward off the image. One main theme that is present through out seven of the ten images that make up The Slip is "a red string" but it is oddly missing on three of the tracks.

These next four pieces are titled "1,000,000" (top left), "Letting You" (top right), "Discipline" (bottom left), "Echoplex" (bottom right). You can see the theme running through the designs and all feature the various shades of grey backgrounds. The geometric shapes are a strong presense on each piece and are all placed in the centre of the image, again the "red string" is present on three of them. I'm still unsure as to why the "1,ooo,ooo" doesn't feature the string, but I have a feeling it's either the designers choice or that it relates to a musical feature that is absent from that track. "1,ooo,ooo" literally is the number one million layed out in a particular way, "Letting you" is a parody of the American flag and relates to an earlier project "Year Zero" where it was used in the context of resistance where as letting someone go is the very opposite of resistance. "Discipline" features five small squares to create an image of an incomplete rectangle which could be considered the form of a person, the discipline in the image seems to be the red string wrapping around one of the squares. "Echoplex" features a single shape surrounded by barriers, this could relate to the actual lyrics of the song; "nice and high and far apart" and "my voice just echoes off these walls, I don't need anything at all". It's clear that the single shape represents a person and the barriers are the walls.

These four are title "Head Down" (top left), "Lights in the Sky" (top right), "Corona Radiata" (bottom left), "The Four of Us are Dying" (bottom right). The piece "Head Down" looks very much like a figure hanging it's head down, the song relates to overpowerment by another force be it people or corporations, the shades of grey here relate to the mood of the song aswell. "Lights in the Sky" is another curious track that doesn't feature the "red string" it's also the firt of the pieces that features round edges, probably because the musical features are more somber and features less elements (the main being a piano), the lighter background grey might also denote it's more melocholy subject. "Corona Radiata" features the same rounded edges as the track follows on directly after "Lights in the Sky" originally I thought that the "red string" represented lyric parts within the tracks but this therory fell apart as "1,000,000" features lyrics and "Corona Radiata" doesn't. The darker shade of grey in the background contrasts with the lighter one in "Lights in the Sky" most likely to show the contrast between the simular songs.
"The Four of Us are Dying" features four figures composed of exactly the same components in a line, again the "string" is missing from the piece. The accompanying track is another instrumental and the image certainly suits the 4/4 time signature that the song follows, with its slow and rythmic beat it really represents the song well.

The final track and piece is "Demon Seed". Here the design breaks free from it's uniformed predecessors and the "red string" is now taking over the main design motif. The song it's self deals with revelations and sudden realisation, which could be represented as a seed ready to grow. In the piece the "seed" is shown as the white scratching within the last complete square, where as the others have decayed. The raw energy behind the red lines braking loose and decaying of the previously sterile shapes are clearly a comparison to the musical elements within the track, as it is the finale it should be something that the album and it's artwork was building up to. It's probably because of this final piece that makes all the others seem even more visually impressive.

There are other elements such as overlays and effects that Sheridan has added to give a worn look to the designs but after looking into these ten pieces I feel I understand his work a little better and want to try emulate it within my own work, but try use it as an influence.

For more work by Rob Sheridan check out his website:

Friday, 16 October 2009

Creative Industries: Homework II

The homework for the class creative industries was to outline, in my own personal opinion, five of the most well known and high quality companies that work within the description of Creative Industries. This means companies and organisations that deal with film, animation and videogames design. So I'm going to write about five comapnies that I feel are some of the most well known and establish in the catagory of Creative Industries.

1. Capcom

Capcom is a Japanese company that specialises in developing and publishing Videogames. Since starting in Japan in 1979 it has grown to become an internationally known name. Since starting out as an arcade games manufacturer it has developed into a company with some of the best videogames developed under their brand, such as the Devil May Cry series, Resident Evil, Okami and many more. The reason why I believe them to be one of the more sucessful companies is that they are more recognisable due to the success of their intellectual property, the main example being the Resident Evil series, which started off as a single third person "survival horror" game and has since grown into a multimedia franchise ranging film, animation, merchandising, comic books and many sequals, spinoffs and remakes. It's clear that they have a fan base and this means they will always have potential buyers for their products, Also they have ties to the film industry which allows them to present themselfs to people who are less aware of them. This year the company's intake is up by 10% and in business sense that is quite alot, it's clear Capcom are doing well and I have a feeling they will continue to do so.

(Capcom's European home webpage.)


Founded in 1971 by film producer George Lucas, Lucasfilms is the company best known for producing the film series, Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Whilst the main company focuses on films there are many companies under it's control such as Industrial Light & Magic, one of the best special effects comapnies operating in the film industry ILM(Industrial Light & Magic) have worked on such blockbusters as Iron Man, Jurrasic Park and Transformers. The company also has Lucasarts under it's belt which is a videogames developer, mainly known for their Star Wars Videogames, the company has also developed it's own unique IPs(Intellectual Properties) such as the successful Monkey Island Series. The company laos has it's own publishing sector which handles all forms of publication based on IPs from Lucasfilm, this ranges from books to merchandising. Lucasfilm has also been the owners of THX ltd. which is a company that specialises in the presentation of sound in films, and the company also owned the animation comapny Pixar until 1986 when it was sold to Steve Jobs.
It's easy to see that Lucasfilm will be around for a while as both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones IPs are still going strong and are almost instantly recognised around the world (whether people have seen the films or not). This means that there is still a demand for products that they make, but because of their owner ship of ILM it means that they will still have an income, because of their reach across several medias Lucasfilms should be stable company well into the future.

(Lucasfilm's International webpage.)

3. Dreamworks

Founded by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen in 1994, Dreamworks is an American film studio. The company has produced not only Films but animated films, televsion programmes and videogames. Their main cinema sucesses were Gladiator, American Beauty and Saving Private Ryan. Dreamworks has also teamed up with other film studios such as Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios to help produce their films but it's main success has come from animated studios most notable the Shrek series. Since then they've formed their own animation studio which has been responsible for many animated films that could rival Pixar (in quality). I feel that Dreamworks can be noted as one of the more successful companies within the film industry as it collabortaes with other companies to help make their products and their animation studio continues to be successful (even if it's always compared to Pixar), this means that they are clearly a studio that other companies trust when they're approached to do work.

(The webpage for Dreamworks Animation.)

4. Square Enix

The Japanese videogame publisher and developer by the name of Square Enix came around after the merger of the two companies Square Co. and the Enix corporation. The company is most famously known for developing and publishing the "Final Fantasy" video game franchise, this franchise could be considered one of the most well established series in the videogame industry as it spans more than 12 main games in the series with countless spin-offs, various sequels and cameos. The comapny has also acquired a number of other Videogame developers such as Taito (resposible for Space Invaders) and Eidos Interactive (Developers of the Tomb Raider series). What puts Square Enix in such high regard within the videogame industry is it's high quality visuals, these high quality computer graphics led a brief stint in cinema. The reason why I think this Company is one of the most successful is because of it's almost instanly recognisable IPs, it's involement and collaberation with other entertainment industries (notably Disney in their Kingdom Hearts franchise). Their fan base also has a very strong following which sparks the demand for Merchandising such as action figures and other memorabilia, this leads me to believe that Square Enix has plenty of milage left.

(Square Enix North America's Webpage.)

5. The Walt Disney Company

Possibly one of the most influential entertainment companies in the last hundred Years the Walt Disney Company has grown from the Disney brothers; (Walt and Roy) starting a small animation company in 1923 to the multi-national entertainment enterprise it is today. Known for their 40+ family orintated animated films, The Walt Disney Company have been entertaining generations with their high quality animtion and narratives. The company has expanded buying up other propeties to add to their own for example Pixar and Marvel Entertainment, there are also the various "world resorts" around the world, the film company, merchandising. Then theres the fact that the character Mickey Mouse is one of if not the most recognisable character around the world. It's not hard too see that Disney have worked hard to be in the place where they are now, and it's almost a sure bet that the company is going to last well beyond it's hundredth anniversary. I'm come on it's Disney!!

(Walt Disney Picture's international webpage.)

And there we have it. Five of the most well known companies (in my own personal opion) within the Creative industries label.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Watashi no blog desu

Konnichiwa! o-genki desu ka? Sorewa watashi no blog desu ka? haha sorry about that, recently I've been taking Japanese Language lessons and I'm slowly getting better. what I've also learnt is that my name it can be translated into Japanese very easily which allows me to pick out a Kanji to write my name in, luckily for me the name "Ken" has hundreds of meanings in Japan so there is plenty to pick from. My Tutor suggested that I look on this website to choose one as it would take to long to go through them all in the lesson. I wrote down the ones that I liked the look of and I would look at the meanings behind them, in the end I chose
as it looks a little bit like a squid and I like squids both to eat and look at. Apparently the meaning behind it is "view (of life)/outlook" which has a nice meaning but I did choose it more for it's shape, hehe, I just can't believe I have to learn how to write my name again!

I can't write it very well yet...

Visual Language: Poster roughs

So far on the brief titled "About Me" I've taken photographs which represent some aspects of my life and have experimented very slightly with photoshop, I've also analysed the works of Drew Struzan to help come up with composition ideas as mentioned previously he has the ability to translate a story using only images. Since then I have discovered another source of influence to try inject into my own piece, this source is the artwork which can be found on the last four Nine Inch Nails albums created by American graphic designer Rob Sheridan. His designs can depict the sound and feel of the music written by Trent Reznor in a modern and exciting way. The most notable works that I want to draw influence from are the pieces used in the albums Year Zero but more prominately The Slip. So I will be looking at Sheridan's work more indepth at a later date.

(The cover to The Slip released 2008, design by Rob Sheridan)

Back to business though, after looking at the work of Struzan I started to develop some thumbnails to help me decide on what I want to create. I do know that I want to create something that will play homage Struzan's iconic imagery. Before I started to put pecil to paper to start drawing up thumbnails I took a further look a Struzan's Portfolio, looking at images that I'm familiar with and images that I'm not familiar with to create a robust understanding of the type of composition techniques that the artist uses, I did look at his advertising work but it's mainly the images he's created for film that I want to emulate. Lets take a look at my rough thumbnails.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Of the 5 designs that I developed there were three that I liked specifically and have marked them with a red 'K'. The top right one features a portrait shot of myself, a smaller one of Sua (a girl who is quite significant to me), the robot toy that I took a photo of, a smaller image of me with the Wii Zapper. In the background there is a shot of either the Leeds town hall or the art college I haven't decided as of yet and descending from the sky a type of generic enemy from a video game. I quite like this one as it is very similar to a composition Struzan may use but in a Landscape format.

The next one uses the same components but just rearranged in a portrait format. The final one is a little different in the center is a full body shot of myself and behind me is a backdrop of a comic page, within the comic panels will be aspects and interests of my life. I really like this idea as it contrasts with the "Struzan'y" concept I had and I think it will be these two that I'm going to have to decide between.

In the end I decided to drop the second concept I liked as I felt there was no need for it and I have started to further develop the two main ideas that I want to finalise. Below is the more in depth design I have created based around the first thumbnail that I liked.

(click on the image to enlarge)

As you can see it's been drawn with more detail concerning lighting and placement of components, I even settled on having the Art college in the background. A lot more notes have also been added concerning background choices, overlaying, angles and effects to use. I'm still working the overall idea but it is getting closer to being a finalised concept, the next step would be to make a mock up in photoshop. I still need to create a more detailed plan of the "comic page" concept, so that'll crop up pretty soon I think.

Stay Tuned for the development of this idea.