Thursday, November 16, 2017

Robot jumps and does backflips


The robot "Atlas" by Boston Dynamics has moved beyond walking to jumping and doing backflips. Atlas is about 5'9" and weighs about 330 lbs. (Link to video on YouTube)

Planning a Picture with a Large Group of Figures


Karen Robinson says: "I had just been looking at work by Wilhelm Gause. I was looking at the Vienna Ball one - and puzzling over how you would even begin to render a piece with multiple figures. Do you make a really detailed drawing, pick the focal person and kind of fan out from there? What if there isn’t really a focal person, the point being that there are LOADS of people..."

Wilhelm Gause, Hofball in Wien 
Karen, when you want to show a whole lot of figures in a scene, I think it's important to work out the design in black and white preliminary sketches first.

Wilhelm Gause (German, 1853–1916)
Hofball , 1897, grisaille on paper laid on cardboard
Size:69 x 46 cm. (27.2 x 18.1 in.
In the case of Gause's Vienna Ball scene, there appear to be a related work done on tone paper. I'm not sure whether it's a preliminary sketch, or how he proceeded, but I would guess that he sketched the figures loosely at first and then worked them out individually based on models in costume.


One of my favorite Viennese multi-figure scenes is this early one done by the Gustav Klimt and his brother, before Gustave went into the more abstract work.

"Friday at the French Artists' Salon" by Jules-Alexandre Grün (b.1868)
Thanks, Damian
Some of the best painters of crowd scenes conceive of the figures as part of larger tonal masses. If you do that in the early planning stages of the picture you'll avoid the tendency for a broken up or spotty effect.

Alphonse Mucha, one of the Slav Epics
You can get that right by keeping the sketch a little out of focus, and then you can begin to differentiate the individuals. You can see this done well in the work of Alphonse Mucha, Rembrandt, Joaquin Sorolla, Tom Lovell, F.R, Gruger and others.

If you put those names in the search box of this blog you'll find posts about their compositions and design process, or this link will aggregate all posts about composition.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dalí and Halsman capture a moment

"I have an idea for a photograph," Philippe Halsman said to Salvador Dalí. "In it, you, the easel, and the subject you are painting...in short everything—is in suspension."


Using invisible wires, Halsman suspended a chair, an easel, and a print of Dalí's painting Leda Atomica. Three assistants stood ready to toss their cats in the air. A fourth assistant held a big bucket of water.

Halsman counted to four. At "three" the assistants threw the water and the cats in the air, and at "four," Dalí jumped. Flash bulbs froze the action. Halsman quickly developed the film and announced that the composition was not perfect. 

They must try again.


They kept trying for 26 attempts, each time wiping the water off the floor, catching the cats, and drying them off with towels in the bathroom. 

But each time there was something wrong with the composition. This was 1948, long before the era of Photoshop. So, as Halman's daughter said, "Everything had to be done in one shot."


Five hours later, totally exhausted, Halsman declared they had a success, a photo he called Dalí Atomicus. The only thing added was the painting on the easel, which the artist painted on a small piece of paper that was pasted in.

The photo was published in Life and has made Time magazine's list of most influential photographs.



Recently, photographer Karl Taylor recreated the photo setup, sans cats (link to YouTube).

More
From the book: Halsman: Sight and Insight
Dalís Halsman's daughter recalling the photoshoot.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mrs. Basher versus Social Media

Mrs. Basher is fed up with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, so she's going to let them all have it. (Link to video)



In the new end credit sequence, the three main characters in the Clementoons universe are Clement, Mrs. Basher, and mini-monster Sprocket. 

Each of them is represented by a set of a dozen or so different sculpts, and each sculpt has a specific range of movements.  


The style of action is inspired by video games. You might notice flashes of light with the zap rays (using mirrors), and little cloud puffs (using sculpted white blobs on wires) when Clement lands.

To get those little power-up gemstones moving, I turn beads on wires a fraction of a turn with each new exposure.


I puppeteer some of the poses with the camera set for a slow shutter speed to get motion blur in each frame of the fast action sequences. This gives the stop motion a different look and opens up a range of possibilities.


This kind of animation is fast to execute. You can animate about 10 seconds per hour, while in normal hand drawn or stop motion animation that much footage would take a week or two.
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Monday, November 13, 2017

Peter Kotov

Peter Ivanovich Kotov (1889 - 1953) was a Russian artist who studied with Nicolai Fechin. 



This portrait of the chemist N.D. Zelinsky features the main subject in warm light, while the outer areas of the scene is cast in cooler, more subdued light. 


Kotov was also known for his paintings of industrial subjects. This 1931 oil painting of a blast furnace focuses the light on the base of the tower.
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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Do you see a cellphone in this 1860 painting?

The woman in this 1860 painting seems to be looking at a cellphone, but really she's holding a little prayer book.

The book is an important detail, since it may keep her on the narrow path of virtue.

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, The Expected Ones, 1860
Once we get beyond that fun detail, look at how the painting is arranged tonally. The light is coming from behind, spilling out into the foreground path in a large, unified, triangular shape. To the left and right are well organized dark shadow masses.

The foliage masses create a circular window around the deep space view, and the foliage is lightened up as it goes back into greater distances.
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More at Motherboard "Do We All See the Woman Holding an iPhone in This 1860 Painting?"