Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pirate Cove scene

Finished my pirate cove scene from lesson 1 ready for blogging at last!! It didnt take long and managed to whizz through it and yeah im proud of myself for finally getting the hang of it, co it is me after all!!! :)

Monday, 7 December 2009


So, after the in depth research about death and the uncanny, i remembered Phil in the last lecture saying about the breaking of a mirror and people's beliefs in this linking with the dead. Mirrors and shadows are uncanny objects- the reflections you see are familiar they're you- what could be more familiar? But there's always that doubt of whether it's the real you and whether if you look in one in the dark or glance away for a second, will the reflection change?

(sorry the image isnt great :S)

popular beliefs- mirrors

  • The breaking of a mirror is said to mean 7 years bad luck and some people associate it also with the death in the family within the following year. The Ancient Romans believed that life renewed itself every 7 years; If the person looking in the mirror was ill of health, their image would break the mirror and the run of bad luck would continue for 7 years, at the end of which, their life owuld be renewed, ending the curse.

  • poeple also believed that the reflection of themselves in the mirror was their soul or spirit. In Ancient times, it was said that mirrors had magical powers, including the power to fortell the future and were considered to be the devices of the gods. Therefore, the breaking of a mirror would end its powers and result in untold miseries and misfortunes upon the one whose reflectio it last held. Though there were plenty of totally crazy 'remedies' that were thought to break the curse.

Some other mirror superstitions are:

-Never see your face in a mirror by candlelight, it is unlucky to do so.
- If you stare into a mirror by candlelight you might see the spirit of a loved one who has passed away.
- Always cover a mirror during a thunderstorm as it is unlucky to see reflected lightning.
- It is considered a bad omen to receive a mirror as a present.
- If a mirror in the house falls and breaks on its own, someone in the house will die soon.
- Many families cover a mirror if someone dies, as they believe that the mirror will capture the dead person’s soul, thus preventing its entry into heaven. It is believed that the Devil invented mirrors for this purpose.
- And if someone sees their reflection in a room where someone has recently died, they will die soon too.
- It is said that if your soul wanders during the night, a mirror can capture it. Thus some people avoid having mirrors in the bedroom or cover them before sleeping.
- A bride should never see herself in a mirror while fully dressed just before the wedding.
- Also, as seen in movies, vampires have no reflection. This is because it is said that when you see your image, you are in fact seeing your soul and vampires don’t have one.

These factors are ones that I will think about when creating my ideas for the tableaux vivants as they give atmospheric images in your mind, the candlelight one in particular would create an uncanny envrionment. Ive thought about trying out with scenes as if I'm the spirit/soul behind the broken mirror, distorting the room, though i will create some thumbnails to see if this will work.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Julia Kristeva's theory of 'the abject'

After posting a little something on the uncanny, doubling and death, the topic began to take a deeper turn and Phil suggested that i look at Julia Kristeva's theory of 'the abject.'

The abject is outside the 'symbolic order,' and being forced to face it is an inherently traumatic experience. For example, when coming face to face with a corpse, a person would almost certainly be repulsed by it because they have been forced to face and object which has been cast out of the cultural world, having once been a subject. To confront a corpse that is recognised as a human (something that should be alive, but isnt) is to confront the reality that we are capable of existing in the same fate.

The abject/ abjection is our reaction to the threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of distinction between the subject and object or by self and other.

Kristeva associates the abject with the eruption of The Real into our lives. She particularly associates this reponse with our rejection of death's materiality. Kristeva is careful to differentiate between the knowledge or the meaning of death, from the traumatic experience of acutally being confronted with the materiality that traumatically shows you your own death.

As Kristeva puts it, "The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection. It is death infecting life. Abject."

The 'Abject,' for Kristeva is closely related to religion- the various means of purifying the abject , make up the history of religions.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The uncanny and dolls

I also decided to look at the uncanny and dolls. As a child, many girls have an obsession with playing with dolls and making up games to play with them, almost making them real in our imagination. It was a little while after I grew out of the whole girly phase, when dolls were just eerie to me. I remember my nan having a doll in my room at her house and i would always ask her if she could remove it from my bedroom when i went up to bed- there was just something about it that didnt seem quite right to me- but it was just the dolls piercing eyes + the dark, that uncanny feeling.

i stumbled across this website when i was reasearching the uncanny and dolls- there was a lot of relevant information on it and videios so it will be better for me to provide the website

The uncanny, death and doubling

I was researching online and i found this little passage that i thought was also quite interesting. I didn't want to break it down so am just going to paste it because it will explain it in more detail:

"According to Freud, the phenomenon that would later be called the uncanny valley stems from a primitive attempt of humans to skirt death and secure our own immortality by creating copies of ourselves—such as wax figures and, later, life-like robots. He quotes his colleague Otto Rank in saying that this “doubling” behavior is “an energetic denial of the power of death” and suggests the idea of the immortal soul was the first double of the body.

Our uncanny response follows from the fact that most of us no longer believe we can secure our own immortality by making copies of ourselves, but we haven’t yet shaken the primitive habit of trying to do so. The sad consequence of this is that, in Freud’s words, “The double reverses its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death.” The copies we feel compelled to make only serve to remind us why we began making them in the first place: We are, inevitably, going to die."

The Uncanny

The uncanny basically refers to a situation where something can be familiar but strange at the same time. According to Freud's description, the uncanny 'derives its terrror not from something externally alien or unknown, but from something strangely familiar, which defeats our effofrts to separate ourselves from it.'

The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley was created by Masahiro Mori. It mostly concerns the design of humanoid robots. The theory is that the closer a robot resembles a human, the more critical we become of it and tend to reject robots that look more like people, like Sonny from I-Robot. If we go far enough away from the humanoid, then we much more readily accept the robot as familiar, like C3PO, R2D2, Wall-E etc- these all act like humans but don't look like them.

Doppelganger is a word that crops up, basically meaning somethings double Tehere are many connections which teh double has with situations such as :-
  • Reflections in mirrors
  • Shadows
  • Guardian Spirits
  • belief in the soul
  • fear of death.

It is said that many people experience the feeling of the uncanny in the highest degree, in relation to death and dead bodies, to the return of the dead and to spirits and ghosts. This is because the fear of the dead is still so strong within us.

I found this little quote, "All supposedly educated people have ceased to believe officially that the dead can become visible as spirits, and have made any such appearances dependent on improbable and remote conditions; their emotional attitude towards their dead, moreover, once a highly ambiguous and ambivalent one, has been toned down in the higher strata of the mind into an unambiguous feeling of piety."

I think this is something that I would like to touch upon in my project.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Unit 3: Environment

Personally, im going to say, 'new project- new start.' After lots of trouble with the last project, I would like to say that this new project may help me to prove my capabilities and show the hardworking me.

so, to begin the project, i thought it would be best to write some basic notes on the key terms for reference, so i dont make the mistake of forgetting the whole point in the project like last time.

Tableaux Vivants

online dictionary definition: 'A scene presented on stage by contumed actors who remain silent and motionless as if in a picture.'

  • 'a picture' formed by living people caught in static attitudes
  • combines the art forms of theatre with painting and also photography
  • defined by theire motionlessness, tableaux vivants convey meaning through theire 'mise-en-scene.'


  • This is a french term for the staging/visual arrangement of a dramatic production. it is also used in film- making for the stageing of the action in front of the camera

dicitionary definition

  • The arrangement of performers and properties on a stage for a theatrical production or before the camera in a film.
  • A stage setting/scenery of a play/film
  • physical environment; surroundings

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Just a note

I think that even though i made a few negative comments and explained that i will redo the moat and mountainous wall concept, I will be brave and use this as one of my final pieces unless I manage to scribble out another design tonight, but it takes me long enough so i dont think that it will work.

Anyways, the reason behind this is because today, yes the day before the crit! , Photoshop on my laptop decided that it would erase a few of my prep images that i could have used and most of another final concept!!!!!! I managed to redo one of them (the last post) and am fairly pleased with the result but thats the reason for my lack of uploaded preps (not an excuse). Emily tried to help me recover them this morning but no such luck :( They're gone forever!!!

Jungle concept continued

At the end of the last post, i explained that i wanted to add something to the image because the foreground didnt look as if the characters were trekking thorugh the jungle and the hilly area still didnt look raised. instead, i decided to add another tree as if to suggest that the characters were looking through it, and made the shrub overlap it.

Jungle Ruins Concept

When i added grass to the two different layers, they began to look like they were the same layer, so the image below shows that i added another layer over the top/

Even though I created a new layer, the foreground still didnt look like it was slightly raised as if the characters were trekking through it. This is osmething that i will work on and play around with to see if i can create a better final image.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Volcano concept

ok, so heres a piece of concept art i was working on- like i said in my previous post, i wanted to take a step back and zoom out from the close-up of the volcano and moat. I decided that i would include a piece which was a view through the end of the jungle and grass which they trekked through to get to the moat, where they faced the steep mountainous wall.
i didnt include the moat in this piece because it would be too crowded and it wouldnt overly be seen anyway through the grass and trees.

The images are very simple but i didnt want to go too much into detail and the scene is set just before the sun finally sets.

i made quite a few layers to make the volcano, but i merged them so that i was able to edit it as a whole.

I used a very pale pink/white to brush over the volcano and turned the opacity down to create a faded look, so it was clear that it was in the background and further away from the trees.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Prep drawing of moat

I admit, I was slow starting and uploading these images purely because i dont have a lot of confidence in my work, especially as i have had no experience at all of digital painting. So, here is a little Prep study of one of the concepts. It was meant to be a close-up of the moat running round the outside of the volcanic wall.

When I showed Digital Phil and explained that it didnt look right, we agreed that it would be best if i had a main focus point to the image first and also to not make it look flat. So, to improve on this, I will 'zoom out' of the view and step back a little, showing more of the volcano so that it has a defined shape and is easier on the eye. The same with the moat.

So, here goes..... :S :S oh, and the layers messed up a little too :(

Just working out a composition

I drew a quick sketch of the wall detail first before adding colour.

Same image as above, just deleted the wall sketch layer.

Grass detail in the corner was added

Added the moat detail- was meant to resemble a dried up moat with a patch of water- i used a textured brush for the mud in the moat so that it looked dried out.

It's not clear to see from this image but i used a grass shaped brush to create small patches of grass springing out of the ground.

Jungle research

There's a scene in the book which describes the characters coming across blocks of ruins- each block being separated by what had once been garden-ground, but now was dense jungle. the pathways were traceable by the burnt-up appearance of the grass which grew upon them.

I decided mainly to research some jungles to help out with composition and colour etc.

I would like to use style of the trees in this image because, though not directly in this scene, the structure of the pillars in the cavern in another scene are described as being similar to that of stately palms. Quote, 'we discovered a large quantity of stately looking palms... and i have no doubt that that the first designer of those columns drew his inspiration from the graceful bends of those very palms...' This can also be used in the mountain/volcano scene as it also says that the palms , 'now beautified the slopes of the mountain that had once formed the shores of the volcanic lake.'

I added this image because i like they way the light shines through the trees- you can see the beams of light shining down.

Some research images

In one of my previous posts, I wrote a basic background to the book and mentioned that it was set in Egypt,, but Simon commented and advised me to steer away from this and to look at Sumerian cities and ruins.

I really like the way the sun is low in the sky and has an orangey glow over the ruins. I will try and incorporate this in one of my final pieces.

I also researched other ruins to be able to understand their structure and textures.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Short and Sweet 2 :)

So Farideh, Leo and I took another trip up to London to Short and Sweet; this time the mood being a lot more light-hearted. We were quite saddened to find out that they were going on holiday for a couple of months and they will be resuming in February.

I thought i would post a few of the films that I particularly enjoyed, but they were very difficult to find....

This film, 'Spider,' was one of my favourites. When you watch it, you'll probably wonder why- i dnt really have the answer myself because its quite shocking, but i think its the pure fact that you take it so seriously up until the very end when you thenr realise that its meant to be quite a dark comedy. I think the fact that i also have a terrible fear of spiders helps me to relate to it more.....

One of the music videos also caught my eye- it was a promo for the Kooks' song 'Sway.' I related to it because i really love the song- its about losing someone. In the Kooks' case it was the lead singer of the Kooks having to get rid of his drummer after drug abuse- i relate to it in other ways but still about losing someone. I can't put the video up on here because we were given a special preview, which consisted of many of the same elements of the original video but you can check out the song and the official video on youtube or on my blog lol (whichever is available), just to listen to the meaning behind the lyrics and get the overall jist...


Edward Scissorhands

Well, what can i say? I really loved watching Edward Scissorhands am so glad we were given the chance to see it, especially being a hige Tim Burton fan. I admire the way the events happening in the film relate to Burton's life in so way or another, and Edward's appearance reflecrs that of Burton's too. I must say that although very dark and gothic in places, it was such a beautiful and touching filmand definitely brought tears to my eyes, especially the scene where Edward was carving an ice sculpture whilst Kim danced in the snowflakes he was producing. The end scene where we learn that the elderly lady telling the story is Kim herself and find out that the last time she saw Edward was when she pretended he had been killed, but is sure he is still around because it still snows is very touching.

Having Johnny Depp play the part of Edward was an excellent choice- his own character fits Edwards perfectly and we automatially feel a connection to him.

Another very effective scene was when we hear Peggy's husband explain that having money in society makes you accepted and urges Edward to charge people for the hedge shapes he created. Everyone can relate to the idea of trying to fit in and become accepted within a group. The film has a very comical value to it too but it also quite emotional.

I liked this particular image in the film, where the Avon lady, Peggy has done her door-to-door in the typical 50's suburban neighbourhood, which is humerously colourful, looks in her wing mirror to reveal a complete contrast; a gothic mansion, dark and gloomy. However, it still intrigues her and goes off in search for a new Avon customer, admiring the gothic surroundings whilst shes there, only to find Edward Scissorhands and brings him home with her, where he is treated like an outsider.

Overall, a brilliant film and possibly one of my favourites!!!

Friday, 13 November 2009


These are little thumbnails of 4 main scenes that i want to try out as Concepts. In the digital painting lesson, today, i began to reprouce the 3rd thumbnail from the picture above- Phil H spoke with me and helped me to make the composition more interesting. The ruins were the main focus, so they needed to be much bigger and bolder so the focus isnt taken away from them.

i think i may make the tree trunk in the foreground slightly stronger because it's a bit too overpowering. The ruins will be more detailed. I did still find it quite tricky organiseing myself in Photoshop and was a bit 'fingers and thumbs' on it for half the time, but i did manage to master making paintbrushes so that i can create a more realistic grass effect and also learned how to change the 'noise' of the image to create a grainy effect which will be useful for the bricks and rocks of the ruins.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Pillar of Fire

In the story of She: A History of Adventure, there is a scene where the supposed reincarnation of Ayesha's true love is asked to walk through the pillar of fire so that he will become immortal with her and 'live happily ever after.' I didnt know where to start so i researched some images of fire as a starting point- I chose to go with the one shown below...... (Although not a 'pillar' exactly, it depicts the image that was created in my mind- a suddden burst of flames.

I used this as a basis for my drawing- its only a quick drawing, mind, and doesnt look realistic but here goes....

The pillar of fire in the book was described as, "like a rainbow-many coloured,' so i decided to incorporate some more colour. I will put these images into Photoshop again and play around with the colours and special effects....

I dont have a background on these images purely because i was just testing the idea out, but i think with a bit of work, it could be transformed into one of the final pieces- The setting the pillar of fire in is 'carpeted with fine, white sand; walls had been worn smooth; not dark like the other caves.' I will try this composition out next and add the fire to it of it works.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Random sketch in colour

Photoshop decided to crash on me today, so I had to use another drawing programe that is similar but obviously not as good. However, i really wanted to try and get to grips with drawing with the graphics tablet so i used what i had ........ (the layers went a bit awry cos i got carried away!)