How to Improve (Group Talk) – Bleak Manor

Yesterday as a group we discussed methods we use to improve our work and how we would help ourselves when lecturers weren’t around.

We talked about the way we practice. Kelly codes and likes to read message boards to find answers, for example. The modellers use YouTube tutorials for functions they are stuck with, and the 2D artists (including me) use tutorials too.

I told everybody how I like to use the new Instagram feature to help me. It lets you save posts to private albums in your account. I find many step by step tutorials on there. I don’t necessarily follow them, but I take inspiration from their methods to help me with my work, so I made an album for my references called ‘Art’. A lot of them are from various software and I am very new to digital art, so everything I can apply to myself is a big help.

As a team, we are confident in our specialisations. I believe there is always a lot of room for improvement, but I can already see a change in the quality of my work now, to how I was working in my Imagined Worlds project. I think the rest of my team are very good at what they do and I am using that to push me to keep up and do well, so they have good references to build from.


Portrait – Bleak manor

Yesterday I finished a portrait to go on the wall in Bleak Manor for my synoptic. I Used Photoshop to do this. It is a painting of the former owners of the house on their wedding day. Based on the woman’s makeup and hair, and the way they’re posed, we can imagine it was around 1920. The sinister looks in their eyes are because the painting takes time to do, but also they are mysterious people.

I drew the people from scratch and used Matt’s advice of using a bookshelf photo in the back, burring it and adding overlays. I also them drew in a vignette. I didn’t make the picture too dark or gloomy because this is meant to be a happy occasion documented, but there is contrast in their facial expressions of that.


I originally drew my idea for this painting on paper. The girl looks quite different, but I think I kept the style similar for the man.

portrait concept

I think the drawing looks a bit too smiley, and I had put no research into the dresses of the era or anything yet. I also think the flowers were too much of a colourful idea.

I am happy with the outcome of the picture and hope it looks good in the room.

Desk Concepts – Bleak Manor

One of my tasks in the synoptic project is to create a desk for the room. I have to come up with a concept quite quickly. Firstly I got some research images.


Then  I picked some of my favourite attributes from these desks and applied them to my own designs. I was insistent on the two sides of drawers like the majority of references. I prefer my second design as it has more character I believe.



It has to be 60 inches long. I have included a variety of drawers and compartments where a key (or decoy) could be hidden. I also think it would be fun for the player to have different sizes and styles of compartments and doors in the game to work and play with.

The next step will be a digital design of my desk, and then for it to be reviewed and (hopefully) modelled; if not I will make changes to the design until the team is happy with it.

Completed Chair Concepts – Bleak Manor

As an update to my last post about my chair concepts, this is the final picture I have to show the chairs from any angle you would need to see them to model, and the simple colour charts that go with them.

I am happy with the outcome and hope the team are too. I can’t wait to get really stuck into designing other individual assets now!


Comic Books and The Incredibles : Movement that has Inspired an Imagined World

Comic books have a distinctive art style, and have since the earliest stories. In the sixties a lot of series were set in an undistinguishable era, where predictions of future technology were mixed with fashions of the time. I will discuss in this essay how comic book art, particularly The Fantastic Four, has remained timeless and inspired The Incredibles.

‘Googie’ is a term used to describe the “Space Age Futurism”, which is a common theme in comic books. As the characters have fictional powers, writers would design worlds where technology and science existed to make their ideas plausible. That’s why many stories are an alternative reality of the time period. Furniture, vehicles, and decorating styles in The Incredibles follow this path. They used a Googie theme- “Future from the perspective of the 1960s”.

The volcano island Nomanisan in the movie was based on another form of Googie, as it is filled with Tiki architecture.


As futurism is common in comic books, it’s no surprise it’s used in hero movies today. The Incredibles references- and draws inspiration from- many comic book tropes and ideas. The most obvious similarity being the Fantastic Four comic books.

The Fantastic Four began in 1961 but was set in a world where the characters had gotten their powers through science that did not yet exist in reality, as they were ahead of their time (Googie). Though it wasn’t the intent to copy the characters’ designs there are similarities with the look and plot of the film and comic books. The heroes all wear Lycra suits (popular in older comic books) to match Fantastic Four’s, both with logos on the chest. Every suit is tailored to the character’s powers, in both cases, where the powers are almost mirrored. Since the characters’ powers were the same, the ideas for the costumes in Incredibles would come from Fantastic Four, as everyone would recognise the thought process. The early issues of Fantastic Four were the bigger artistic influence over later ones, as Pixar’s Elastigirl’s hair has the same style as the original Invisible Girl; proving the fashion of Incredibles was of the 60’s.


Incredibles and Fantastic Four have been compared a lot, even Marvel saw similarities and altered the 2005 Fantastic Four movie.

More Marvel comic books influenced Brad Bird (Incredibles director), as he claimed he was heavily influenced by Jim Sterento’s comic book Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The comic book was from 1973, and ‘Fury’ is all about futuristic tech. Marvel (creators of Fantastic Four in this same period) definitely swayed the look of the film. Other costumes from the movie were inspired by Marvel, proven when the fashion designer character Edna designed costumes for supers which looked like Captain America’s, Cyclops, and Crystal of the Inhumans’.


DC also inspired the movie. During the wedding scene, Helen says to Bob, “You are my greatest adventure”. This quote references the DC comic series My Greatest Adventure, where the Superhero story is focussed on the familiar family dynamic. They have a character named Elasti-Girl also- which is why in Pixar promotions they had to call Helen Mrs. Incredible! This proves there were more comic influences.

The city the movie is set in is called Metroville, a combination of Superman’s Metropolis and Smallville. But the Superman influences on artists goes deeper.

Bird directed Iron Giant for Warner Bros in 1999, before moving to Pixar for Incredibles. Bird brought the whole design team with him to Pixar. This meant the design ideas for The Incredibles came from those same people, with the same artistic motivations. At the end of Iron Giant he calls himself “Superman”, which is an obvious DC shout out. The Giant itself then appeared in the comic book Superman: Lois and Clark– and speaks to Superman. His design was unchanged, and fit perfectly into the comic book, proving the artistic muse from the comic books in the first place had come full-circle.


Joe Johnston who designed the Iron Giant character had beforehand directed Rocketeer and went on to produce Captain America: The First Avenger– he definitely has vision for how movies based on comic books should look. His comic style art will have influenced the team’s work.

Bird first designed the Incredibles in 1993, only to postpone the project to make Iron Giant, and was told once he moved to Pixar he could make whatever he wanted. He already had an outlook for The Incredibles, so it would make sense to assume he would have stuck to that same art style in both movies, saving the big ideas for The Incredibles. When things changed from 2D to 3D the team claimed they were “Merging the worlds of hand drawn and 3D”. They kept their ideal style, but used the 3D to their advantage. Rather than creating hyper-realistic characters, they went for a cartoon-like edge and used movement and exaggerations to make believable people.

Behind the scenes clips reveal storyboarded cut-scenes for the movie, where you could see how the movie would have looked in comic strips, because they showed super powers in stills. They brought these strips to life throughout the film. John Lassater said “I will never let something go into production unless it’s working fantastic in that version with still drawings”.


The movie could be inspired by many 60s/70s comics. They all share bold outlines, bright colours, well-lit scenes to convey light hearted atmospheres, and dramatically lit scenes to show drama or darkness. There’s never much blending in comics so the costumes were block-coloured, and their furniture was simplistic. In The Incredibles they kept the pattern-less furniture, and straight forward suits and designs.

Compared to other Pixar colour scripts, Incredibles’ is more colourful and complex. Ralph Eggleston was in charge of colour scripting for this picture. It is probable the comic book style of the sets and characters just brought out the colourful designs he did. They also did lighting concepts to demonstrate emotion and drama. Designers also made sculptures of characters to see them from every angle before modelling them digitally. It was important for them to create “Human emotion through the shape and colour of the sets.”


On the second disk of the DVD set for The Incredibles is a 60s superhero cartoon spoof called Mr. Incredible and Pals which is made to look authentic to the era (60’s/70’s). The 2D characters are barely animate because the technology is supposed to be limited, and the story imitates a Batman parody- that is speculation, but another DC inspiration for Incredibles was Batman. The spoof’s colour scheme still resembles the Fantastic Four’s 70’s TV show, which again proves those comic books in particular were Pixar’s leading inspiration; especially when Bob is wearing his blue costume, not red. This extra feature shows exactly how the characters of the show would have looked if they’d existed in the 60s and had their own books and shows, returning to comic book roots. The characters were authentic to the movie, and looked like the perfect fitting 60s heroes- bold outlines and exaggerated super-bodies, costumes to match the era, and a colour scheme to bring out how light hearted it is. This just proves that the characters in the movie most definitely look how their 2D counterparts would look with a third dimension added and with better technology.

After looking into the background of The Incredibles artists and discovering the many ways they were inspired by comic book art I can see why Fantastic Four was such an inspiration. The series has not only encouraged their own movies and cartoons, but also The Incredibles, the powers are so similar, it was only right to take notes from an existing popular art form based on a similar plot.

Early Layout Concept – Bleak Manor


Using the Group Trello I looked at the list of assets (and people’s concepts) and decided to draw a room layout idea with the assets in to see how the space would look in game.

Kelly made a white-box game and we saw it in VR. The room was rectangular and had a starting spot (the small square of flooring on the right) where the character spawns in. We discussed extra space for the desk and desk chair, so I didn’t include them in this version of the concept, but will be doing more of these in the future to explore ideas for that.

This drawing helps me get a feel for the room. An idea of where things will be and how the player will be walking around objects in VR. What I am trying to do, when drawing these concepts, is consider how the player would interact with the environment and be able to complete the puzzles.

Final Chair Designs – Bleak Manor

Today I completed 2 final designs for my chairs for my synoptic project. I will include the process in this post for each chair.

I still do need to draw the chairs from other angles so they can be modelled, but these are the full colour finalised ideas for the smoking chair and the desk chair.

Smoking Chair:

Firstly I used research to sketch some chair ideas. Then I drew some on paper based on my favourites. I drew up an initial colour concept, also, of an early idea.

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The final Smoking Chair looks like this. I believe the height and red leather fit a Gothic living room very well and think it looks like a lot of classic smoking chairs, with my own personal touch.



Desk Chair:

I used the same techniques for this chair. I designed a few chairs on paper and on Photoshop. Considering the modellers, I decided to stick to a 4 legged chair, which most of my designs are, with Gothic carvings in the back.

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The final design came out like this. It is wooden and I opted for no cushion. It is a simple chair with some intricate details. There is a slight dip in the seat (something I’ve seen on a lot of wooden chairs) and swirls down the centre of the legs.



Both designs came out quite nicely and I know they are my favourites because I used my initial sketches to whittle my concepts down into ones which had the best features from my experiments.

Youth Arts Exhibition

On Wednesday was the Youth Arts Exhibition opening at Arts Centre Washington. I’ve entered 3 years in a row and this year entered a large print of my cowboy digital piece. I have never won and thought I would rather enter something eye catching this year, than something that was time consuming to make.

My cowboy drawing has caught the attention of a few people lately and it was definitely different to other pieces there that night.

I will continue to enter the competition until I am too old (21) and don’t know if I will win at all, but I love entering and going along. Your piece gets displayed for quite a while in the exhibition and it is cool to have your artwork in a gallery no matter what.


A couple of years ago I entered an Acrylic painting of my friend Naz imagining New York City. I spent every night for 2 months painting it and it was the first painting I ever got in a gallery. I was so proud and even though I didn’t win, I used it for my GCSE so it could help me at least achieve a good grade.

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Trapped in Bleak Manor

After the pitches I was grouped with the project Trapped in Bleak Manor; a VR escape room experience. I am the lead concept artist of my group and have began some designs for the project already.

Firstly we listed assets we wanted done as priorities. I did a sketch of these in a perspective drawing practice on Monday.


Then I began work on my Smoking Chair designs. I did some research and then drew up some ideas.


After that I had to complete a task for Tony drawing a fancy chair anyway, so used this to draw a proper concept of one of my ideas. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is the final one, just a coloured design.


Next I did some quick concepts for a frame and a portrait that may at some point end up on the wall. This is lower priority so I might not do more for some time, but I enjoy thinking of designs of the fancy former-owners of the house.


The group I am working with is very hard working and they’re all very talented. I want to do well and lots of the others do 2D art as well so there isn’t too much pressure on if I cannot do something. Objects and perspectives aren’t my stronger areas so this will be good practice for me, and will push me to learn how to do stuff I struggle with.