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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More early Helicarrier...

A few more Helicarrier designs, drawing more from the idea of a massive amphibious transport aircraft with a carrier deck on its back.

Helicarrier development

Before working on the Mk 7 suit with the Visual Development team, I was initially brought into the Art Department to work on the Helicarrier. While ultimately the Production Designer James Chinlund's direction was pursued by Nathan Schroeder to the version you see on screen, I was tasked with providing some alternative approaches. Below is a sampling of some initial sketches pursuing a combination of naval and stealth-inspired forms. In a more radical departure from the concept of 'Heli-' carrier I was exploring some form of vertical jet engine clusters to lift the massive hull rather than the traditional ducted fans.

Remember Avengers?

Yeah. Been awhile. And Avengers is old news.
But as anyone who... ahem...'follows'... my blog, it's not something that focuses on timeliness.

Better late than never, eh?

I do have a big dump to put up, as I spent a little time on almost every aspect of the movie, including the Helicarrier, Quinjet, Aliens and Alien craft.

So, prompted by special request, I'm putting up a selection of my work on Avengers.
So lets begin with a few bits of what you've come to expect from me and the one design of mine that made it into the film untouched... the MK 7. 

Below are the initial 3 sketches I did early on before we knew what the Mk 7 should be. The first was actually a revision of a design I had been thinking of initially for Iron Man 2 before ultimately choosing another project. It was a lighter, more streamlined version of what had come before, trying to integrate a flowing theme wrapping around the "RT" on the chest and mirroring that fast line through the body. This was more of the evolutionary design, and ultimately was approved pretty much immediately as a starting point for the Mk 7.

The next design was playing around with the stance  of the suit toward more of a brawler attitude, somewhat beefier and less aircraft-like.

Lastly was a more extreme departure, trying to create a very different silhouette, sort of the Stark Industries answer to a more heavily militarized suit like War Machine, but drawing from Air Force form language instead of Army.

Further discussion of the function of the suit in the script lead to the idea of having a more armored suit that over the course of battle would shed its ammo packs and additional armor. Styling elements from the first and third concepts were integrated and the design was revised as below...

The final design would incorporate a thruster backpack for the pivotal final battle, which wrapped around the "lats" and "serratus" areas under the arm to form flush mounted adjustable intake vanes. Much of the approach was based on the mantra of the "wearable Ferrari" so a lot of attention was spent on creating flowing lines from chest though the torso, pelvis, arms and legs. 

Final design detailing was painted over turnarounds of the Mk 4 suit, to keep proportions consistent and realistic.

Lastly elevations were painted at an extreme level of detail to make sure lines would resolve all the way around the surface, giving our modeler Josh Herman a solid foundation to build from. Even still a lot was resolved in the modeling process.

The final model below, digitally sculpted by Josh Herman, reflects a very tight collaborative process to create the final form.