Tuesday, May 7, 2013

From the vault: I Dream of Jeannie

I'm going to try to post a little more regularly by not biting off more than I can chew! So I'll be putting up a random old image or two every week from my archives. 

These are from 2005, one of the first movie projects I worked on, I Dream of Jeannie: the Movie. Actually had a fun script that spent a good third of the running time in ancient Persia. Too bad it never got made. This illo was produced in the days when I was transitioning from pencil and marker and traditional media to Photoshop, so it's a pretty lifeless piece and you can imagine how much painstaking time went into it compared with today's techniques. Still, it was a lot of fun for the time. Enjoy!

Iron Man 3...

I've had the pleasure of seeing the movie twice now, once at the Premiere and once at the Cast & Crew screening, and I couldn't be more pleased. Marvel seems to be able to pull a rabbit out of their hat every time. It's nice to have some small association with such consistent quality storytelling. 

Anyway, I'm going to wait until the Art of Book comes out on the 14th to post any work, but I'll be putting some stuff up here, so keep your bookmarks hot.  There's even a final battle suit design that accidentally got left out of the book, so I'll get to put up some "exclusive" content :)

Stay tuned...

Ray Harryhausen, R.I.P.

Seems like these have been a couple of years of the passing of the greats. After Ralph McQuarrie and John Berkey, now Ray Harryhausen has left us. The Sinbad movies were a highlight of my childhood. They fell into the very limited category of movies that my mother would allow us to stay up for if they were on TV, even on a school night. Very special indeed. Part of the magic that led me to this business in the first place. 

He will be missed, but his impact lives on in all of us who pursue the magic of the movies.

May he rest in peace. 

Or, his skeleton could come to life and move around in herky-jerky movements. He's certainly earned that much.  And I wouldn't put it past him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Superman "Flyby" - The ROUSER.

The highlight of the project was Superman's cousin Kata-Zor's giant battle mech. The film climaxed with an epic battle between Superman and this Kryptonian battle pod. Despite the numerous logic bombs in the conception of the sequence, it still would have been a cool scene to watch!

These were some early concepts that were rightfully rejected as too "chicken-like," but I enjoyed envisioning some alternative weapon configurations. 

This was the final design. The Rouser needed to start out as a flying battle pod before the legs folded down for walking mode.

Two versions of the interior. Production designer Owen Patterson wanted to represent Kryptonian technology as a backlit glowing green energy. The Mech would be controlled by a motion control scanner that would translate the pilots motions into movement.

When it was considered that the vfx and wirework required for the zero-G gyroscope would be too expensive for every shot, I had to come up with an alternative design that could be achieved practically. 

I've posted this before, but here is the climactic battle. Once again, I wish I could have used a more dramatic angle, but the production designer wanted a clear sense of scale between Superman and the Rouser.

The battle ends when Superman flies circumnavigates the globe before the Rouser can turn around, building up enough momentum to fly through the battle pod. 

Boy did I get a lot of mileage out of that one sketch, huh? Anyway, an interesting project that never saw the light of day.

Superman "Flyby" - Kata-Zor Pod

In J.J. Abrams' script, Superman's Uncle Ty-Zor sent his soldiers to Earth from Krypton to hunt him down. This would have been one of the pods his soldiers arrived in. 

Early Concepts:

Final design:

Cockpit interior: 

Next up, the ROUSER... 

Superman "Flyby" - Kal El Pod

By request, I'm pulling out some oldies but goodies. Just realizing looking at the dates on this work that I'm in the middle of the 10th anniversary of this project! Holy crap time flies. 
This is work I did for Brett Ratner & J.J. Abrams' version of Superman. I was brought on when Owen Patterson brought in a new art department after the previous production led by Arthur Max went down. So ultimately I was tasked with designing the vehicles, taking over where my friend Harald Belker left off. 

The first job was to design the pod that baby Kal-El crash lands at the Kent Farm with (and flies back to Krypton in at the end... you'd have to read the script.) 

We are, of course, time-traveling back to the days of pencil sketches and marker renderings, so bear with me :). 

This one was my favorite version. I like the engine concept. Going to have to use that on something else. 
This was the design that Owen Patterson finally approved. He was looking for something as simple as possible, with no visible external signs of technology. Like a chrome teardrop. Of course, "Flight of the Navigator" was never mentioned. Ever.

The challenge with this one of course was to come up with an interior concept that would accommodate both a baby and fully grown Kryptonian. So I came up with a baby seat. Krypton style. 

 This is how the script envisioned the crash site. Ma and Pa Kent would have been pretty startled in the middle of their breakfast!
Next up, Superman's evil cousin gets a pod too... Dum dum DUUUUM!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Another Random Tron Quickie...

Like the title says... At one point we were asked to develop a bunch of background vehicles to populate the freeways of the Grid, but ultimately stylistic choices (and budget constraints, no doubt) left us with a more sparse environment. This one might have been a dump truck or something.

The cab is above the quad wheels, which would have turned as a unit, pivoting from below the cab.

Random Tron sketch...

Here's a little sketch I did while we were working on background vehicles for Tron:Legacy. Fun with the speedpainting brush set David Levy made us for Tron. You never know what shapes you'll come up with and the technique is fast and addictive.

This would have been a Corvette, maybe an escort vehicle for the Rectifier.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More Leviathans

Here are a few more early sketches for the Leviathan:

Avengers Alien Craft Round 1

These are a few quick B&W sketches I did early on in the development of the alien craft. Originally they were spec'd out as the "Jumbo" and the "Chariot," and it was unclear pre-script whether the Jumbo would be a vehicle or a creature or some kind of hybrid, but it was always described as being like a whale or dragon-like shape. My first attempts were on the mechanical side, inspired by various kinds of parasitic worms:

Originally there was another class of craft like a one-alien flyer that would detach from the Jumbo, and these I envisioned as being the spines of the Jumbo that would drop off like shed scales and unfold into something like wingsuits.

The chariot was pretty self-explanatory, A craft that would carry a pilot and one or two gunners in the back. I liked the idea of the pilot being somewhat integrated into the craft, an idea that Ryan Meinerding pursued as well into the final design you see in the film. At this point we had yet to design the Aliens themselves, we just knew that they would be basically humanoid.

Mk. 7 Suit Transformation

Those who like to get into the nitty-gritty details of design process might enjoy this.

To design the cruise missile I had to take Josh Herman's beautiful model of the Mk 7 and chop it up, re-articulating it so that I could pack the major components in as tightly as possible with a minimum of theoretical interpenetration. The other goal was to come up with a shape that would allow as much of the actual skin of the suit to be visible but unrecognizable as a suit until the transformation, with a minimum of added panels.

I liked the dynamic visual of ejectable fairing panels blowing off in flight like an ICBM as you'll see in the following clip. It's my first Modo test to come up with a process for transforming the "cruise missile" form of the Mk.7 suit into it's final form.

Modo is relatively limited in its animation tools, so this is necessarily crude. We knew the tough work would be carried out by the visual effects team, so I only had to go so far to give them a starting point. Ultimately in the movie I think there's more "Transformers" sleight-of-hand going on in the short sequence, but I like to think this gave them a jumping-off point.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

More WOW!

... As in World of Warcraft trading cards. These I did over the last couple of years, from sets 15 and 16. As always, I take these on as a fun break from hard surface concept design, and it gives me an opportunity to just do pure illustration and try out new brushes and techniques. As reference material is usually provided in the form of screen caps of the low-poly models from W.o.W., I'm not bogged down in the nitty-gritty of design problem solving. 

From Set 15:

And from Set 16:

Set 18:

Okay, now that I'm seeing them all together I think I may have to vary my compositions a bit!!! No more right hand in foreground!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Avengers Aliens

I had a brief stint working on the Ch'tauri (though they weren't called that at the time) while in the Visual Development department. I took a couple of passes of refining Justin Sweet's original designs and attempting to define the look of the armor & weapons and how they might integrate into the creature. Ultimately Ryan Meinerding developed the final look in Z-Brush. 

I imagined the helmet as being a little deceiving, so that ultimately when the mask was ripped off you would find that the creature had air holes in the place of eyes, which would actually be to either side of the mouth. I also liked the idea of some kind of "light chainsaw" that would wrap around the forearm. Kind of the hedge trimmer of your nightmares.

Quinjet early development.

The next thing I worked on was the Quinjet. The initial mandate was a craft that could carry the team plus pilots, travel at hypersonic speeds and take off and land vertically on a carrier deck or in the middle of Times Square. It needed to have windows in the roof (to see Thor land on it in flight) and a ramp opening in the back for loading.

My first ideas never went past the rough sketch form as Jos Whedon considered them too sci-fi:

The design was refined to more of a conventional aircraft with some F-35 characteristics and variable geometry in the cockpit section like the Concord. The nose could drop and the wing tips fold down, giving it a bird of prey attitude during VTOL, as the unfinished sketch at the bottom shows.

Ultimately Production Designer James Chinlund was looking for a more brutal, ground attack craft aesthetic and the need to cross the globe in an hour was no longer a priority, so the aerodynamic qualities were downplayed and I pursued this concept that's a little more A10 Warthog-like:

Early work in progress gives a peek in to my process, as well as showing my initial thought as to how this would work in VTOL mode, but the design was rejected as still too streamlined and futuristic before I could develop it any further.

Given the note of "more attack-chopper-like" and having been steered toward referencing the Apache and Comanche helicopters,  I headed in a different direction with this one:

Fellow concept artist & modeler Mike Meyers had developed a rough model that was very well received with some radical variable geometry that extended the engine nacelles back for high-speed flight, visually lengthening the plane. Myself and colleague Tani Kunitake were tasked with pursuing that basic concept further, he by doing an aesthetic pass on Mike's basic layout that ultimately became the Quinjet you see in the movie. In parallel developed a concept for a forward-swept scissor-wing geometry that would motivate the lengthening of the silhouette for more aerodynamic high-speed flight and maintain that hawk-like attack attitude for VTOL. I started with the basic design above and roughed it in using Luxology Modo for modeling and simple rigging:

As James was unsatisfied with the styling, feeling it to be somewhat "heavy" looking, I sketched loosely over a screen cap of the model to find a new form vocabulary:

This lead to the following design:

Working from these sketches I went back into the Modo model to further refine the transformation:

While I would have liked to refine the design further (In particular the rear and engine area which is pretty basic and crude in its forms) I was pretty pleased with the overall concept and think it would have been a very unique and dynamic aircraft. As it turned out Tani's excellent design had already gained traction with James Chinlund and Joss Whedon with it's complex forms and canopy evoking such navy carrier planes as the Tracker and Grumman Prowler, so ultimately that design was chosen and passed on to Paul Ozzimo for further refinement in 3-D. Someday I'll jump back into Modo on my own and develop a design I like based on this geometry.