May 19, 2011

A Little someTHING... tide you over. Here's a quick Thing update. The hamsters that turn the wheels in this 'ol computer of mine were complaining about the file size of this model, so I ported the head over to its own folder. The body is a bit of a challenge. My only concession (so far) to modern Thing design is giving him a defined chest section. This is to help give the torso some flexibility when it comes time to pose the model. Also, I've taken another stab at adding a texture in Photoshop. A little too much impact if you ask me, but that's why we're experimenting here (click on image to view full size.)

April 30, 2011

And Another Thing...

A quick update on my Thing model. Making progress on the face but it's not quite there yet. The eyes look good ( had trouble getting them the right size so he didn't look too beady eyed.) The mouth is a separate component (see my Galactus post from 2009) and I'll make a couple different ones to help give him a range of expressions. Also, need to make a couple of brow ridges for a mad look, surprise, etc.

These are also a test of adding some subtle Photoshop filters to enhance the rocky texture. Again, needs some work. And that mammoth cigar is just a quick attempt but don't worry, Ben Grimm is not complete without his trademark stogie.

Well, it's getting there. Keep checking back!

April 27, 2011

The Real Thing, Baby!

Keeping with the whole Jack Kirby/superhero vibe, I've decided to tackle ol' bashful blue-eyes himself, Ben Grimm - the Thing. I won't even go into why he's simply one of the greatest, most memorable characters in the history of American literature (seriously.) Instead, let's just stick with the visuals and remind ourselves why Kirby was "The King of Comics."

Here's a panel from Fantastic Four #85 that I'm using for reference. I've quickly colored in Reed Richards and Ben to emphasize the scale and bodily proportions of the Thing beside those of a normal, albeit athletic person. This panel also displays where Kirby got it right and a lot of today's artists don't. Look how even though Ben's arms and legs are massive compared to Reed's, the overall impression of the character is one of compactness. Also, his waist is not that much wider than normal, which seems to give him a low center of gravity. Too many current pencilers make the mistake of expanding the torso to ridiculous extremes, or make him top heavy by inflating the arms to the same size as the chest (click on images to view full size.)

Below is a sort of test arm I did a while back just to see if I could recreate in 3D the Thing's distinctive rocky exterior. It came out good enough to encourage me to give the whole figure a try (although you can see how adding a sketchup line 'style' is a little hit-and-miss with complex surfaces like this.).

And this is where we're at, so far. I'm trying not to exaggerate his proportions too much and I deepened the cracks between the rock plates to help with the shadows. Not too shabby.

If he looks deep in thought, it's 'cause he's thinking about where his eyes are and how hard it is to make them look natural when placed in a 3D head. I'm sure the hands and feet will provide me equal frustration. Let me know what you think and keep checking back.

April 1, 2011

The Celestials

Somewhere on a hidden plateau, high in the Andes Mountains, stands mighty Arishem, leader of the fourth Celestial host. 2000 feet tall and clad in strange extra-terrestrial armor, he looms as silent and immovable as the mountains around him. Yet he is aware of all that occurs in the realm of insignificant humans below him. After 50 years he will render his judgement. And on that day Earth will live...or die!

At least that's the way artist/writer Jack Kirby envisioned it back in 1976 when he hitched a ride on that ol' cosmic gravy train Chariots of the Gods? and produced The Eternals for Marvel comics. Originally supposed to take place outside Marvel continuity (but shoehorned in by writer Roy Thomas in later Thor books), the story was a bit uneven and slow but let's face it, you don't go to a Sinatra concert for the witty banter. And in this book, the King of comics did not disappoint. Every issue had at least two splash pages of  Kirby's dynamic art. And the Celestials themselves are some of my all time favorite creations of his. Each one distinct and enigmatic, and pulled out of Kirby's cosmic well of imagination that never seemed to dry up.

Below is a page from issue #12 that I used as a starting point for my design (click on images to view full size.)

And here's the result of my labours. As a backdrop, I pulled a two page spread out of issue #2 depicting the landing of the Celestials ship. It's got a nice dose of  "Kirby-Crackle" (those distinctive dots he used to depict huge amounts of energy being unleashed) and some really quality inks by John Verpoorten. I also grabbed an ancient temple out of the Google warehouse just to show the scale of these titanic beings.

Up close on his helmet, and you can see the array of weird cylindrical lights and the side antenna thing. The fact that there's barely anything that even hints at a face was what grabbed me as a kid. Kind of like Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Here's a dramatic low angle shot to show the chest emblem (or whatever.) I tried to keep all this close to Kirby's style and embellish it as little as possible. The only place I veered off was the neck because -well- the comic never showed that this guy even had one.

Down at the waist is his inter-galactic belt buckle. The cosmic significance of the symbol is too far beyond the understanding of our feeble human minds to even risk contemplating.

And finally the hands. Believe it or not, these gave me the most headaches. To try and emulate those distinctive, square Kirby chiclet fingers was more of a pain than I ever thought possible. But now that I've made 'em (and posable as well), I can use them over again in other designs. Which is good because I'm dying to try another Celestial or different comic book character down the road.

If this has even come close to making you interested in the amazing visual style of Jack Kirby, Marvel put out The Eternals Omnibus collecting issues 1-19 back in 2006. And don't forget Neil Gaimen and John Romita Jr's revisit Eternals. See ya soon, true believer!   

February 17, 2011

Haunted House Update

Because you demanded it (actually only one person was kind of wondering about it), here's some fresh haunted house action. Finally getting around to the house itself with the addition of windows and front entrance. And yes, that's the twisted, gnarled tree from the 2009 graveyard scene. I'll distort it a little more to fit in here but it's nice to have some ready made props that I can just drop in (click on images to view full size.)

Halfway up the staircase is a small landing with some rusted out wrought iron railing. The missing section is bent out to look like something (or someone) took the plunge right through it.

At the top is the main entrance overhang. The stone wall in front will also get some railings in a similar state of decay.

Quick close-up of the hanging lantern. Not sure how I'm going to properly weather and age this to get that 'decrepit' look.

Finally, here's a look at the tower with added dormers and railings on the top lookout. I'll twist and age all that too.

Well, still got a ways to go here. The roof needs worn and missing shingles. The sides need some crooked and weathered clapboards. Basically the whole thing needs to get more haunted. But I'll keep at it and keep you updated.
Creative Commons License
SketchUp/Screw-up by Timothy P. Butler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.