Ademar - Animal Characters and Site Design

PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User
edited August 2008 in Artist's Corner
All the conceptual work I've ever done for my own stories has always been in pencil form. I've been pretty good with getting my ideas down on paper up to this point... which is why I was so upset by my failed attempts to draw what I saw in my head with my new design for the castle in The Chronicles of Ademar.

The old designs looked more like a German-inspired castle (or, as one friend put it, "a hotel in the middle of a forest"), with the interior having a plain brick-and-carpet design (if anyone remembers those old test pages I did a couple years ago with Lily killing the two bounty hunters... damn, was it really that long ago? Wow..). I've gone through several phases of redesigns to try and make things better -- including a brief, misguided attempt to make the characters human -- but I think I'm finally on the right track.

Seeing as the characters are animals, they wouldn't live in human environments. Adding to this the fact that the kingdom in the story has rejected technology in favor of nature, it definitely didn't make sense to have the royal family living in a cliche brick castle. Thinking on these lines, I had an image of a monolithic symbol of their embrace of nature: a giant hollowed-out tree.

(spoilered for the sheer vertical size of these images)

This is the first time I've tried to build a maquette without a visual reference. What started off as a single tree gradually became a twisted merging of four or five separate trees, all wrapping around each other with a hollowed center that was transformed into the living quarters for the royal family. The scale for this is HUGE, with the main entrance (seen on the ground level in one of the photos) being a grand entrance hall. This is meant to be a fortress as much as a castle, with watch towers facing all four directions.

This maquette is still unbaked and I still have plans to add extra details (like additional vines/roots) before painting. I also am going to add trees/foliage to all of the fenced-in areas of the platforms on the branches after painting. I'll base my illustrations on this model once it's done, so if anyone has any critiques or ideas (I'm not a very good sculptor, so I know it doesn't look as refined as it could), I definitely want to hear them.

PeterAndCompany on


  • RubberACRubberAC Sidney BC!Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    i remember those test pages!
    Your big ol' tree is looking nice, but your little buildings look very plain. You have this great texture goin' on with your trunk/branches. Are you adding that in your 'additional little details' phase, or were you just plannin on doing most of it with paint? What are they supposed to be made/built out of?

    RubberAC on
  • PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User
    edited July 2008
    Thanks, Rubber! I was planning on the buildings themselves being made out of a mix of natural materials, like wood and a hardened clay (and possibly a biological element, like large amounts of wax or some such). I honestly am not sure of what kind of texture to put on them, so I'm definitely up for suggestions on that. I did some experimenting with a generic "wood paneling" texture on one side of the main center building, but it looked God-awful so I wiped it out.

    I'm also worried that any textures I put in will only be filled and lost during the painting stage, so I'm wondering if it's even worth it to take the extra effort at this point in production. I could just put the details in with a brush if I can't get anything working now.

    The interior is what I'm really excited about. I've got some cool ideas that I'll be testing out when I start drawing, sort of a mix of natural flooring and heavy roots, plant and insect life.

    PeterAndCompany on
  • bboyKRILLINbboyKRILLIN Registered User
    edited July 2008
    I like this a lot, but if you're planning on adding any more to it i'd suggest looking at bonsai trees, i've seen some fantastic artificially created landscapes in miniature form, truly breathtaking settings, it might give you some ideas that might not of occurred otherwise :)

    Also spoilered as theres a few examples here:

    Post more photos when it's done!

    bboyKRILLIN on
    BBOY KRILLIN's ART cause i likes to draws an stuff
  • RubberACRubberAC Sidney BC!Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Yeah, I'm not much of a sculptor, which is why I didn't really suggest any textures or materials. I've always hated doing tiny little details with clay. Looking forward to your interior!

    RubberAC on
  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    edited July 2008
    The main problem I think you're going to run into is selling the scale of the place. Right now you've got 2 doors on this supposedly giant fortress that call out how big this place is actually supposed to be, and even then it's vague, because there's nothing calling them out as doorways as opposed to gateways, which could be anywhere from small to huge. One of the problems is that the way you've designed the 3 main sloped roof buildings- the lack of supporting detail makes them read at first glance as just standard one story thatched roof cottages than large structures. You can say the smallest is 7 stories high, but it doesn't read as such just from what can be seen so far. And when dealing with objects that are oversized like this tree is, it makes establishing the scale with the familiar all that more important.

    What's going to sell the scale is all those tiny details that indicate how big a human-sized figure will be compared to it- doorways, windows, crenellations, flags, torchholders, steps; how big the trees or the surrounding forest are, how big buildings next to it are etc. Things that call out to the viewer, "well if that is that big, then the whole thing must be..whoa". It's like Cinderella Castle at Disneyland- really, the thing is not really all that tall, but it ends up looking giganormous by forcing the perspective, and making the windows and structures smaller the higher it is.

    Now, given this is a smallish sculpy maquette, I don't know how much detail you'll be able to cram into it without going crazy. Unfortunately, I'm not a miniatures expert so I'm not sure what to recommend as materials that would respond better to getting the necessary level of extreme detail; maybe you could ask one of the WH40k guys around here about it. But even if you can't make the model all that detailed, you should keep those details in mind when you go to do your actual drawings.

    The other things that kind of bugs me- and you can chalk this up to the castle being more 'organic' if you want- is that the sense of contrast between the man-made structure and the tree isn't really brought out enough yet; the tree and the buildings only have slightly different texture, the building walls are all wobbly and organic, not sharp and precise, and the trunk of the tree may have some rootish details to it, but it still goes straight up rather than bending and twisting, making it seem more like it could be man-made rather being purely organic in nature.

    Paintover from the first pic:


    Angel_of_Bacon on
  • NakedZerglingNakedZergling A more apocalyptic post apocalypse Portland OregonRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    -you may want to work on the buildings separately then bake them, then add to the tree.

    NakedZergling on
  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    How the fuck do you do that bacon? It's like you bang out these awesome paintovers in mere seconds.

    Mustang on
  • PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User
    edited July 2008
    Woo, a week's worth of work on this and other projects, and I FINALLY have new stuff to show. Thanks for the feedback, guys!

    Bacon: Wow, that paintover is freaking awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to do that (I also wonder how you crank those things out so fast, hehe), it's the first time I've been able to see this version of the tree in illustrated form. You also definitely hit the target with the hiccups I've run into so far with this sculpture. It's really hard to portray the scale and sheer size of this castle without the tiny details in the buildings and textures of the tree itself, but I'm just not skilled enough as a sculptor to put such a high level of detail into it at this point. This is mostly intended to be a reference point for me to use when drawing panels with the castle to maintain some continuity in the design. I took your advice and tried to fit in as much detail as I could -- put in more windows, a roofing texture, more details on the tree roots/trunks -- but I think it still may look smaller in scale as a sculpture. I'll take special care to make sure the drawings capture the size of this place.

    So yes, here's the final version of the sculpture (again, spoilered for size):

    The foliage is a mix of lichen and synthetic foam plants. I don't know if I should add anything else to it at this point. I'm going to start a few illustrations of the castle today, using the model as reference, so I'll post those once they're done.

    PeterAndCompany on
  • beavotronbeavotron Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    My biggest problem with it is that trees are RARELY balanced on both sides, the fact that you have the houses almost in perfect symmetry with each other on the topmost branches produces a very man-made feeling and completely eliminates any "natural" feel to it. It doesn't look like a very convincing tree anymore. If it wasn't for the lower part, I wouldn't be able to tell at all. It seems like you're too far along now to fix it, but you might want to keep it in mind for next time
    perfect symmetry: unnatural
    broken up: natural

    I made a drawing, but it ended up not being as effective because I was struggling to make that tree symmetrical. It's like the fact that they should be perfectly symmetrical is drilled into my head now and I can't bring myself to do it like that or something.

    beavotron on
  • PeterAndCompanyPeterAndCompany Registered User
    edited August 2008
    A month late for the response time, but I had a ton of work to get done.

    Beavo: Thanks a lot for the feedback! You're right that it does look a little too balanced to be a naturally-grown tree. It's too late to fix it in the maquette, but I've already made a note to move one of the trunks higher on the tree to make it more asymmetrical. You'll be able to tell once I start doing the illustrations of the castle in the coming weeks.

    So I have been working like crazy on character designs for Ademar, doing heavy research on animal anatomy to give everything a much more realistic look. Let me know what you guys think of these. I'm very happy with how they came out, but there's always room for improvement. :)

    A familiar face, but with some big changes:

    Another character you guys have seen before:

    Two forms of the same character. He has an annoying problem where his skin actually melts off his body under certain conditions. His bandages are connected to the dial on his stomach that can be tightened to keep himself from literally falling apart. To those who remember from way back when, he originally was the ninja cat. His character has definitely changed quite a bit:

    Rechts, a powerhouse wolf:

    The Advisor:

    I'm pretty happy that I managed to pull of a komodo dragon that actually looks true to life for the most part... aside from, y'know, the whole walking on two legs thing. I also have the finished website to share, which I just managed to put together tonight: Give it a look and let me know if anything looks goofy or if you think I could improve on any of the design aspects (readability, etc.). I used Wordpress (same as all my other sites) and found a good, simple theme to modify for it. I plan on having it updated weekly and I have nine total categories that the posts will be indexed to. It's going to be a lot of fun.

    PeterAndCompany on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited August 2008
    Links head is turned waay too far around in his second pose. The rest, while not being impossible, have a awkwardness to them. Your weight distribution seems to be off because they're feet are planted so close together, or in a strait line. You are missing a lot of the natural twists of the body and maybe rigidly measuring to the point where you lose gesture. Its especially noticeable in the wolf.

    Also I think your Tiny toons faces, like on the rabbit, are just holding you back. All of them, with the exception of the lizard, seem to have flat eyes, and no volume in their face at all.

    Iruka on
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I think the "amorphous anatomy" problem is getting better (like the Links character - that was referenced, right? Looks more anatomically correct than anything else), but there are still areas where it seems to come through, still. For instance, the lines of Buckley's arms show muscle oddness, the same pants-problem with the Rechts guy...and Lily's face and neck (although that's more of a general "odd-shape" problem, I think.) I agree with Iruka that the faces lack volume, especially Lily's...and her head looks like a perfect circle, on a very tiny, very thin neck.

    Also, I like the Kimodo's face, sure, but I'm wondering how it's going to mesh into a story where all of the other (for the most part?) characters have very cartoony faces.

    NightDragon on
  • lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I agree with the comments about the faces. As it is, Kimodo doesn't fit in at all, but he's the one that looks the most interesting. Have you tried experimenting with different ways to draw the faces of the other characters that would maybe be more similar to the facial style of Kimodo? It might be something to try, at least.

    lyrium on
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