Sunday, 11 December 2016

CTN-X 2016

So I just came back from CTN Expo 2016, and it was a blast.

It was my first visit to an animation convention. My first time in LA, and my first time in the United States.

Los Angeles was a place I had known before, yet new to me. Seen a million times in movies, videos, TV shows and collective imagination. On top of that, the landscape and the weather was uncannily similar to what you'd find back in Andalusia, southern Spain, where I come from.

Here I present some observations about visiting this event. They come from a compilation by Oatley Academy friends Dan Kelby Rich Chabot, this video by the amazing María Paiz and my own notes during the event.

Getting to the convention

If you are coming from abroad, you're very likely to fly into LAX, Los Angeles airport. I highly recommend you to book a shared van ride, like Super Shuttle, to get to and from the airport. It's affordable, pretty efficient and the drivers are quite nice.

Moving Around

It’s super inconvenient to move around (compared to European cities). Uber was a wonderful way to get around for short trips, but if you are planning a lot of travelling it may be more economical to rent a car. Be sure to bring along an international driver's licence though.

Eating

Food is generally bad. It’s tasty indeed, but unhealthy. You will need to research good places to eat. It’s OK to indulge here and there, but c’mon, you can do better than pancakes every morning. That body of yours needs to keep functional for many years to come.

If you’ve booked lots of panels you will probably have to skip lunch at some point, so make sure you have healthy snacks and water in your backpack! A great tip by Chris Oatley: nuts! They are very filling and easy to carry around.

Accommodation

Many hotels let you book a reservation with cancellation at no cost up to 24 hours prior to check in. There might be an available CTN-X discount as you read this, so you might as well check out the website today and see if it's still up!

There are many reasons to choose the Marriot Hotel. You might think you’ll save money by staying in a airbnb nearby, but really, you’re not. Moving to and from the convention is money I didn’t account for, for example. The ability to pop back to your room mid-afternoon to dump all your new books/prints, visit a quiet bathroom or just chill away from the crowds for a while cannot be overstated! The Marriott has a shop where you can buy water, snacks etc. but it is SUPER overpriced, so consider the 7-Eleven down the road for supplies.

Business Cards

Business cards are essential, specially in a convention like this, where there are a thousand events taking place at the same time. People don't always have time to sit down and chat for half an hour, so a great way to continue a discussion or a critique is to take it online. This was one of the things I wish I had prepared well in advance.


As well as handing them out to people, there are tables you can put them on between the pool and the new fire pit area (next to the elevators). It’s worth checking if you need to put some more when you’re passing between workshops, too.

Registration

There was a two-hour wait in the sun for registration this year, which kind of sucked. Apparently, that was down to a technical fault on the part of CTN. Hopefully it will be better organised next year, but bear in mind it’s possible something similar may happen and plan to be at registration EARLY on day one, or even the night before. Panels don't start until 12 on the first day, but don't get overconfident. Also, bring water and sunscreen just in case.

Workshops

Arrive at least 15 minutes before each one, especially if they are popular speakers/panels. I experienced something pretty crazy, actually. I had booked and paid for a ticket into a private workshop at a certain time. I was there a good 10 minutes before, but they told us the presenter had decided to start early, and let in a bunch of people that weren't even booked. At first they told us there was really no room left, but after speaking to the people inside, we reached a solution, and either standing/sitting everyone did fit in. Never under-estimate how early people will queue!

Budget

Bring more money than you think you’ll need, if possible. You WILL see something you want to buy from an artist you never knew existed, and realise you have to actually make sacrifices. Never sacrifice food. That candy, though? Yeah, that was optional!

Make a plan on whose booth you absolutely have to visit and write it down, like a shopping list. Prioritise those on day one, then spend the rest of the con visiting other booths. Also, make sure you buy those “must have” books and prints FIRST, so you don’t miss out. I wanted to buy Shadowline by Iain McCaig, waited one day to get it and it was gone. Also, allow extra space – and more importantly WEIGHT – in your luggage coming home. A top tip from Dan's roommate: bring a hard folder with you if you can, to get all your prints home unscathed.

The People

People were super friendly and warm, specially people from the Oatley Academy. It's no wonder the group photo keeps growing and growing every year! I had not imagined how down-to-earth these superstars were, though. It makes me realise just how human we all are, with our flaws and worries and gains.

Wifi

Make sure you have roaming data activated, and if possible, buy some extra for this trip. Internet is super unreliable at the hotel, and you're going to need it, be it to find places to eat, communicate with others or even check the time schedule for the con. The Marriot hotel offers paid wifi, but it's super expensive!

I hope this encourages people to come to CTN-X in the following years, and maybe we get to catch up there as well.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Figure Drawing

I have been missing figure drawing for a long time. Back in Madrid, I had Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday practice with model, and I could also go to The Circulo de Bellas Artes, which had daily poses as well. Oh well..

I discovered www.quickposes.com and although it's not the same, it is a very gratifying experience. You can adjust the times between poses, and it's got a very large collection. Here's a selection of the practise I've been putting out last months.

These are about 30 seconds to 2 mins.



The next one took about 30 minutes. My self-portrait was about 1 hour, greyscale and colour all.


The next was a colour practise. This took longer! I didn't check the time, but let's say 2 or 3 hours.



Monday, 21 July 2014

Painting Drama

I forgot to mention that I got into a new online painting course: Painting Drama! It is taught by Chris Oatley, contemporary master illustrator, designer, inspirer of disney fame and very well regarded in the industry today. (Seriously, check the website. It's got archived years of free learning stuff, ranging from techniques, interviews, PDFs, brushes....)

I'm really enjoying these lessons, mainly because they do not verse about the usual technique tutorials and step-to-step method of teaching that one can generally find online. This course is pushing me to find the "why's" and "what-about's" of any given piece. I'm starting to see patterns in successful paintings that earlier I simply couldn't get through. Technique isn't anymore what I'm after; I do not want to reproduce reality anymore: now what I want is to tell stories in visual form. This is just the right course for it!

Here are the first two finished illustrations I've produced for the course.

The first one is Medusa in Repose. This was for an exercise in leading the eye through the composition. I sought to show a tired Medusa, one that isn't content with the role imposed on her by society. She's tired of all the killing. But as long as she's got a breath in her, she'll keep fighting for it.


Here are Mr Hoover vs. The Dusties. This is a play on the theme of "David vs Goliath" in which I wanted to express a difference of importance in the painting using size.


And that's it for now. I'll continue updating when more things come up.

The Neverending Story

Personal project! My aim is to visually reimagine the book "The Neverending Story", keeping close to the descriptions of the book and avoiding the film look. 



Proyecto personal! Busco reimaginar visualmente el libro "La Historia Interminable", siendo fiel a las descripciones dentro de la historia y evitando la versión de la película.


The book


Bastian


The bookshop


a Will-o-the-wisp


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Flipping

I believe flipping is an essential tool in the arsenal that visual artists have. If you have ever seen any speedpainting in youtube, chances are that you've seen their work flip horizontally several times as they paint. However, flipping the image isn’t a new thing.  I have found this article which mentions it was already used in the early Renaissance. And probably it goes even further than that…

Traditional use

Why flip? Did you ever notice that if you take a break from a painting that you’re satisfied with, and then come back after a while, the painting looks much worse than what you remember? This is because our eyes –actually our mind­- get used to our piece of art. You start focusing too much on finer and finer details as you work on it, but the moment you leave it rest your brain disengages.Once we look at it again without any precondition, we see it for what it really is. A very good advice is to take a break from time to time when you’re doing art. But what if you're studying from a live model and can’t just take a break whenever you feel? Or you just want to "refresh your eye" and continue working? Enter mirror flipping.
 
    Instructions:

  • Turn your head away from your piece of art. Close the eye that is furthest from the image (if you turned right, you should close your right eye).
  • Hold a pocket mirror next to your eye, and adjust its position (and your head) until you see your piece of art.
  • Voila! Now it looks like crap. And that’s good! Make a mental list of flaws to correct, and get working.
This can be useful even when you're painting from reference. You just have to position your head just so that you see both your art and the model. I can't count the number of times this has saved my ass in anatomy class.

Digital use

This can also be used when working on a computer.  The screen is right there in front of you, so you only need the mirror. However, there’s even a niftier trick in Photoshop:


    Hidden within the Image menu, you can see “Flip Canvas Horizontal”. By default, it doesn't have a keybind. In order to set one, go to Edit-> keyboard shortcuts. Once there, select Application Menus and open up Image sub-tab. Flip Canvas Horizontal should be down there. You can choose any key that you don’t normally use. You might say that flipping this way is OK and enough. If you're using a reference, and want to compare, you can just select it and flip it as well. However that makes you lose a lot of time.


There's even a better method:     Basically what I've done with actions is that at the press of a button, both my document and the reference flip in unison. It’s very easy to set up:
  • Open up the Actions tab.
  • Click “create new action” at the bottom of the panel. Give it a name and assign a F key for it.
  • Perform this sequence of actions:
    • Flip the document you’re painting on
    • Select the reference image (you should have this open in Photoshop to work!)
    • Flip it also
    • Select back your image
    • Stop recording.
Now, by pressing any key you chose from F2 to F12, both documents will be flipped and you’ll instantaneously see just how wrong you got that arm. Or perspective.  On top of it all, you'll be able to paint a mirrored version of whatever reference you were using… that’s an advantage over using a regular mirror. To top it off, you can assign that F key to one of the buttons of your graphics tablet. I've found that it's way more comfortable that way.

 
 I hope you found this useful. Thanks for reading!        

Friday, 1 November 2013

Studies

This past week I've been learning from my painter heroes.

 My painting mentor and teacher, Amaya Gúrpide (check her site here), always reminded us that in order to better understand reality, we had to see how others had interpreted it before us. The best way to do that was, of course, to study former painters. I made many (and not enough) pencil studies during my stay in Madrid, as the city is blessed with many museums that hold incredibly rich collections. But then I had to relocate to Málaga... and sadly, we don't have that many museums here.

 So I was left with only one alternative: study from pictures. It's definitely not the same, as the quality of the printing will never be as good as the original. But hey, then again, I had to continue practising! I decided that, to make it worthwhile, I'd do a bunch more, using digital techniques, and try to be as tight and precise as possible. And boy is this teaching me something: colors are tough, yet great fun! I've done a bunch of thumbnails, and three complete(ish) paintings. I've also included, at the end, the process for two of the paintings.

 I'm a little nerdy when it comes to painting process, and always want to see how others see it. I guess it's only fitting that I also share my own way of painting then. You can click on them to see larger sizes.  I hope you like wh   

   









   
  1.  "Portrait of an Unknown Woman" by Ivan Kramskoi. Find more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_of_an_Unknown_Woman
  2. "St. Eulalia" by John William Waterhouse. Find info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Eulalia_(Waterhouse_painting)
  3. "Arrow Shirt Collars Ad" by J. C. Leyendecker. More info here: http://www.burningsettlerscabin.com/?p=5235

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Hi!

Hi, this is JBZ, and from now on I'll be posting now and then about art, my quest for living off my passion, and general tutorials I might think up now and then.

I hope you enjoy your stay.