The Picture of Dorian Gray

With the new adaptation of Dorian Gray in cinemas, I was curious to see the original source material.

The original 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' is a fascinating watch with its theme and subject matter, where the presentation of the film is brilliant being consistent throughout while brimming with atmosphere. Made in 1945, sure there were some cliche moments, but I was genuinely impressed by some of the camera shots and techniques used particularly with in the scene with the sphynx, Dorian Grey and the staircase set up in middle, foreground and background respectively.

The presentation of Dorian Gray was particularly intriguing as we see him in the beginning as a fine gentlemen before being confronted by thoughts of temptation that ultimately lead him to damnation. The theme of how one's face reflects their true character is definitely apparent as the two portraits do a fine job in reflecting this transition, where the use technicolour contributes to the dramatic presence and contrast of the portrait while never feeling out of place.

Overall, I enjoyed watching the original Dorian Gray and while I have yet to see the modern adaptation, I feel it did a great job in presenting such an intriguing plot while raising some key concepts.

Life Drawing #1

It was our first Life Drawing session today, which I most enjoyed. There's something about life drawing that I am most fond of where one can quietly study the human form and express oneself in capturing the essence of the human figure. As I have come to learn through experience, it is probably the best way in improving your drawing technique not only in in terms of anatomy in proportion and composition, but also your confidence and ability in mark making.

It can take some time getting used to but stick with it - persevere and you'll find yourself enjoying the moment and later be amazed at your own improvements in no time.

Normal studies

Straight-line studies

I am pleased with my results today. I found adjusting to the restricted use of straight lines difficult at first as I didn't quite capture it in my first attempt, but am pleased with my second attempt as I feel it captures the form well in rather than focusing on details.

I look forward to seeing other people's results, as well as next life drawing class.

Pair of Dice

Today I managed to complete the Maya workshop tutorial creating a pair of dice.

Initially, I worked with Farideh with this workshop tutorial. All was well until we stumbled upon a problem when UV Texture mapping which continuously refused to map correctly despite our best efforts. Small but detrimental - we had to call it a day. Later after some mulling on my own, I have found out it was due to a hiccup in scaling and extruding the selected faces that must of confused the automatic mapping.

Despite the earlier hiccup, I must say, it wasn't all too bad at with the great steps laid out by Alan. It marks a first milestone for me as it is my first piece in Maya, and I feel I am getting to grips with the daunting interface navigating my way around Maya. They may only be basic steps, but I believe they will serve me well in the first stepping stones in Maya.

These are the results of my own later attempt in Maya.

I have to show you where we went wrong last time Farideh!

Weekly Evaluation #1

At the end of each week, I have found it good practice to assess my progress to see what I have achieved and what I need to cover next week. Time can go pretty fast when you're not looking, so hopefully this will help me keep things in check throughout the project.

This week has more or less been time settling down into the practice of lectures and introduction of workshops. Nevertheless, I have begun my research into looking at several artists, whilst also gathering several books from the library concerning portraiture and the concept of identity. As of yet, I haven't caught on to a solid concept for my self portrait as I have begun to contemplate the idea of a digital painting or photo manipulation.

Thus, I intend to continue my research into artists and range of books which should help me to identify some core concepts for my portrait and essay by the end of week.

Cian Mcloughlin

I find contemporary artist Cian Mcloughlin portraiture particularly captivating using a wild array of mark making to capture his subjects. Being expressive in nature, Mcloughlin allows his use of media to flow with each piece with bold marks and leaking drips that seemingly blend his subjects into the background as one with the piece. This creates an interesting atmosphere to each piece leading to interpretations pertaining to the identity of the subject and their emotional state.

With this approach, I wonder if it contains more depth to the portrait and identity of the individual versus that with photography. Does Mcloughlin use of traditional media capture the soul or essence of the subject more so than Greenberg's use of photography? If so, why? I believe this to be an interesting area of question particularly in portraiture that I may explore further.

You can find more of Cian Mcloughlin's work here.

Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya Workshops

First day of workshops today covering Photoshop, Illustrator and Maya software packages. A long day indeed. Where I was treading familiar ground in Photoshop and Illustrator, Maya was definitely new to me. Seeing it in action first hand actually got me pretty excited as things started to fall into place, while gaining an understanding in the basic interface and certain terms certainly starts to break things down into manageable chunks. I look forward to next workshop where perhaps we are able to have a more hands-on experience.

Quick Self Portraits

After my previous portrait, I felt loosening up could do some good. Here are some quick mirror studies I did ranging from 2 minutes to about 20 seconds. Coincidently, I find the ones I spent less time on much more pleasing not only to the eye but also to work with. Its a good exercise where you really do have to just let go and trust in your mark marking, boosting your confidence and technique.

As such, perhaps a more expressive approach can provide more interesting results, something of which I will consider.

District 9

With all the buzz and talk of District 9, I had to go see it for myself. And I was pleasantly impressed, finding it entertaining, thought provoking and quite simply brilliant. Perhaps the best film this year.

The scene is set with the arrival of an extraterrestrial race of alien refugees who are forced into slums to live in areas controlled by humans, with tension mounting on both sides. Initially being shot in a documentry style with similar camera work to that of Cloverfield sets the tone of a world that is not too far from our own, which we are taken for a ride in and will keep you guessing to the end. Despite treading some familiar ground at places, the film treats them with an edge of unpredictability that does not feel swept up or laboured with.

The CG work was very impressive feeling believable and not excessively over the top. Where the character design of the aliens or 'prawns' felt unique and seem to fit in an odd sort of way without being cliche.

District 9 hits the two hour mark and while it may not be everyone's film, (perhaps even a little absurd at times with some alien and human interaction shots), I myself thoroughly enjoyed it and heartily recommend it to anyone willing to be engrossed in an engaging plot executed quite brilliantly.

Crying Babies - Jill Greenberg

Having looked at Sam Taylor Wood, I stumbled upon Jill Greenberg's photography where her series of crying children stood out in particular. Greenberg captures a range of children crying in a series of around 35 pieces. Her methods involve giving the child a lollipop to enjoy, only to take it away.

With the subject being children, the impact is decisively different from Wood's crying men. Children are delicate, pure and beautiful. We instinctively move to protect them. Seeing the children's raw expression and emotion stir memories of our own childhood and the anguish we perhaps once had to endure. To a degree, we feel what they feel as we instinctively feel compelled to ease one's suffering.

The effectiveness in both Greenberg's and Wood's work stems from the emotion of the subject. Both confront us with raw emotions that can relate to a personal level. Thus, portraiture with an emotional context can sometimes overwhelm us as in this case a child crying is all we are presented to see, making for a powerful gripping image.

You can find more of Greenberg's work here.

Sam Taylor Wood

'Women cry, men get angry.'

The very notion is still a common core stereotype of both men and woman, an accepted course of emotions which anything otherwise is perceived as odd, unbecoming or unfit of the individual.

Photographer Sam Taylor Wood's series 'Crying Men' captures a range of male Hollywood actors exposed in various states of emotional breakdown. Men who are icons admired by many for their talent and success where their fame has granted them a meaning far greater than their physical presence, are exposed and reduced to tears. Their grief has a powerful gripping influence that perhaps could not be achieved with any anonymous individual. Such actors include Laurence Fishburne, Paul Newman and Daniel Craig, all of which Wood claims that each experience was truly unique where ‘some shook with grief, others quietly wept and Laurence Fishburne couldn’t stop himself crying.’

The fact that Wood’s subjects are actors makes one question the authenticity of their emotions. Yet in such a personal manner you cannot help but feel that they are fully exposed, that they are not playing a role but are in actual grief, which begs the question – what is going through their minds as they cry?

These icons of our modern society who express such deep human sorrow make us aware of our own grief connecting to each of us in a unique and personal way. We are confronted with such raw emotions of grief that perhaps it also begins to question the identity of men and their perceived roles in society.

I find Wood's series most intriguing as it demonstrates portraiture capturing raw emotions of sorrow not often associated with males, where the focus is in the expression of the inner self rather than on notions of power, wealth and status being particularly apparent in the renaissance period.

Initial Portrait Study

Its been a little while since I did a digital portrait, and with portraiture in mind for the next project, I wanted to refresh myself with with a quick study.

I made this self portrait using Adobe Photoshop with a tablet, as a direct study using a mirror roughly taking 2-3 hours for me to complete. As a warm-up study for things to come, my intention was not to spend too long or get bogged down with this piece.

Its a good idea to save steps as you work through a piece for backup and reviewing purposes.

I feel satisfied with the piece, feeling it served its purpose in getting back into the swing of things. I think I messed up the colours a little along the way (with probably just about everything else) - skin in particular can be troublesome business!

Notice how my glasses distort the form on my left side? Yeah it happens in almost every angle... it just makes life difficult.

Hopefully in time to come, I will be able to produce a self-portrait that far excels this current piece, with additionally depth and meaning toward the nature of one's identity.

Once again, feel free to leave comments or constructive criticism if you will :)

Fellow Bloggers

I've added links to fellow bloggers on the course down the right side for easy access, let me know if I forgot you!

Summer Project

Here are my designs for the summer project, in which we had to use a set of predetermined objects as inspiration to come up with some unique concepts of a structure, life form and machine. I later decided to mount my final designs having picked up some cheap foam boards two for the price of one at Hobbycraft!

The objects in question:

Reconnaissance Vehicle
As a reconnaissance vehicle, the characteristics of this vehicle follows a light-weight streamlined design to focusing on speed and mobility, with a notable lack of weaponry. It is dual-piloted by an aviator and navigator for maximum efficiency. I used Adobe Photoshop to realise the final design.

This design came from adding a range of different characteristics and features to single object to form an interesting silhouette from a top-down position, before re-imagining the design as a whole from various angles.

I am pleased with the design feeling it captures an intriguing form with some depth and substance.

Life Form
An extraterrestrial life form capable of telepathy. The idea came from a rather peculiar object exaggerating certain details with the creases of the forehead.

Admittedly, I found the creating a new unique life form the hardest. Perhaps this is due to the lack of organic objects tending to lead my designs in a more machine and structure direction. I also found my numerous attempts at life forms looking far too cartoonish and cliche without a defined sense of anatomy. Out of the three, I'm not so pleased with this result as as I feel it lacks originality and some purpose.


An industrial structure powered by steam to extract raw materials. Cog-wheels turn at a 90 degree angle to rotate the drill piece. It can raise and lower at any time to adjust to various surfaces, as well as allow personnel to inspect the inside machinery located top central part. Note the small door to emphasise a sense of scale.

I had fun with this concept designing and figuring out how certain aspects would work in the design as a whole. I tried to have a sense of realitism in the design as I feel that if a concept could look like it could function in the real world, it can help flesh out the design as a whole adding more depth and substance, and ultimately, making it much more appealing and believable.
*Oh Life Form and Extractor designswere made with pen and alcohol based makers Letraset and Kurecolour for definition and tone.

Feel free to leave your comments here, with constructive criticism being most welcome.

New Beginnings

Ok, its the start of a new blog to keep track of my work in the CG Arts and Animation course at the University of the Creative Arts. Let's go!