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All artwork and text is copyrighted by Frederick Gardner, unless otherwise attributed to the respective copyright owner, it is illegal to publish or print any such artwork or text without written permission by the artist or copyright owners.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Contour Continuation

Early in school at CalArts, I learned to watch for tangents in my designs. My instructors, Bob Winquist and Mike Giamo, would train us to recognize these design errors and avoid them at all costs.
As I studied animation throughout the years, I noticed some artists would intentionally create tangents to make a design statement. The result is, in my opinion, visually striking. I started using this "Contour Continuation" technique as a background designer at Warner Bros Classics. Contour Continuation is the lining up of shapes to continue a contour (or directional element) across the composition. Sometimes this technique is extremely successful and beautiful, other times, it is subtle and almost invisible.

This background design was for a theatrical short, "Nina the Hyena", directed by Disney animator, Dave Kuhn. The look was graphic and stylized. The environment was the African savanna during severe drought. My challenge was to create something visually unique that did NOT resemble "The Lion King".

I have used "Contour Continuation" to create a flowing rhythm to the composition. As the camera pans through the scene, the landscape "flows" by the camera like water so lacking in the environment. The final effect resembles a heat wave. Pay particular attention to the dead tree branches hugging the contour of the hills behind them.

Production Design: Frederick Gardner

Transparency, Texture & Color Reversal

A few years ago, I was doing some experimentation in Visual Development with the amazing Disney Artist/Painter, Scott Fassett. Using my background in design from Warner Bros and Cartoon Network, I wanted to incorporate some tricks I had used (and had seen used by Art Directors on popular 2D productions) in a CG environment. Scott brought his fine art and Disney influences and, together, we developed a re-imagined classic cartoon look.

This painting highlights some subtle, yet complex details used by Picasso, Maurice Noble and Eyvind Earle.
Self colored lines and the sponge tool (in Photoshop) we liberally used to create a "hand painted" look. The sponge broadens the range of color and brings a richness to the digital canvas. You will notice the posters on the wall and telephone pole are transparent. The colors are influenced by overlapping each other and the surface they are on. The lettering on some of the posters reverses in shadow or when overlapped by another poster. This is subtle, but brings a sophistication to an otherwise mundane street scene. The wood grain on the telephone pole and the grout in the wall also reverse (light to dark) in the shadow. I really wanted to use a lot of modern art techniques in the final look of our visual tests.

Something else Scott and I really enjoyed exploring was the use of color panels. These "color panels" (used with great success in Disney's Sword in the Stone and 101 Dalmations) allow for subtle color shifts in the "half light" are of the subject matter I think it creates a real "luminous" quality you would otherwise miss using flat color or traditional mixed color. You can see examples of the "color panels" on the Bus Stop bench, the telephone pole and the wood fence on the left of the image.

Production Design: Frederick Gardner
Art Direction: Scott Fassett

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Prop Test - Part II

This is another part of the prop test I did for Cartoon Network a while back.

This part of the test required me to design an "Anime-style" tank and show it being destroyed by a "monster". I think the Israelis have one of the most advanced Main Battle Tanks in the world. Using the Israeli Merkava Tank as inspiration, I played with the proportions until I cam up with something I though looked plausible, modern and cool. Doing the destroyed version of the tank was a "blast"!

Prop Test

This is a Prop Test I did a while ago for a new show at Cartoon Network.

This part of the test required me to design a "Stealth Ship". Following the basic design in the storyboard, I used the basic shape as my starting point for the first few sketches. As you can see, it didn't take long for me to go in a number of different directions. None of the designs ended up being used, but I think this test shows my thought process and exploration of a design.

I decided to post designs that were successful as well as some, not so successful. Overall, I had fun doing the test, and I think it shows. I think?

The "Stealth Fighter #18" (the ship that looks like a Cicada Fly) was my favorite, because it is so different from what you would expect to see.