Urbaretum - Criqitue please

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  06 June 2013
Smile Urbaretum - Criqitue please

Hi everyone,

This is a proof of concept for a project proposal. A full sketch if you will. I'd like to take this idea further by making a mock up of a real city block. So this was a way for me to work out ideas I'd might want to keep for the final piece.

I started out by building models of two buildings in Blender3D, rendering, then painting the rest in Photoshop. My focus though is to get better at digital painting, so I'd like to have a more painterly feel to it than it has right now. I'm aware that to achieve this I should start with painting the entire piece instead of relying on 3D, but modelling is a great tool for me for establishing perspective, especially when doing an urban block like this. Should I completely paint over my rendering to give it more of organic feel?

Anything else that seems out of place?

Thank you for your time.

  07 July 2013
A painterly feel doesn't necessarily require you paint everything. Clever use of NPR (non-photorealistic rendering) can do a lot in pushing things in that direction, and you only need to embellish on top of the render a bit to push it even further. Or, you can just render normally and then try experimenting with filters that get you kind of close, and then embellish on top of the result.

The colors are nice, but the actual design of the building seem a little odd. Those orange balcony looking things--they work on the vertical building, but on the horizontal one, it doesn't make sense (that's assuming they are indeed balconies sticking out from the wall). The ladders also seems an odd touch--that's some gigantic ladders in terms of scale. Is there something unique about the premise that explains these anomalies?
  07 July 2013

Thanks for taking the time, to respond.

The idea is that if suddenly buildings, and their respective gravity would stop functioning vertically, people would adapt by developing different ways of co existing in this new environment. So the balconies on the horizontal building would still be in use for people inside the building, or alternatively by people on the outside who could walk between those balconies. Am I asking too much from the viewer and not giving enough information to go on?

As for the ladders I'm glad you noticed as I seem to have a problem: When working on a big setting (like cities) I try to render details (such as wires, lights, signs) but when I do they look too small, insignificant, faded. I give myself a bit of artistic freedom by emphasizing certain elements, and I make things a bit larger. I'm happy with it visually, but then proportions go to crap. Do I stylize or stick by the proportions? Is it a case where strong elements elsewhere in the piece will make even the smallest details work?

Thanks again!
  07 July 2013
I had trouble figuring out what it was because I didn't expect the scale discrepancies. I saw a very small model building with rows and rows of very small cylindrical balloons on it. As someone not accustomed to seeing balconies which look like that, I didn't recognize them as even miniature balconies.

The ladders looked unusually wide, and then I saw the small tree on a plain with "normal" grass, and thought the building and tree must be miniatures, due to the size of the grass.

Thereby explaining the size of the ladders as being access for little... uhh critters or something that were small, but too large to actually get into the building (and the miniature building might not have an actual interior).

I suspect the ladder size was subconsciously my biggest indicator in terms of determining size at first, and then the grass. I recognized that the ladders must be for "larger" beings than what would be appropriately scaled to the building, and the odd width for them might be needed to accommodate them.

I saw that one story height (ground floor) is equal to two or three balcony layers...

scratch that.. I see now that two of the buildings are laying on their sides. It looked like a multi-level little science fiction building, lifted into the air and I didn't realize the gravity scenario, partially because of the similarities between the buildings, and the way the main extruded square building was projecting beyond the vertical square one. Also, the ladders are all based to work with the standard rules of normal gravity, as are the larger birds, and the signage, and the tree and the road, along with all the cables sagging under a downward gravitational pull.. so I really didn't have a reason to question the gravity issue. In fact, the only apparent gravity issue is that there's two buildings laying down, one with signage that's horizontal to the normal ground direction.

I mistook the building rooftop structures as being sci-fi antennas or something on the long building, and the white balconies as being odd-looking skylights on the market building.

The road was throwing me off too.. the tree and base looks uprooted from the ground, and yet the road has a thin, pristine cut-off squared edge, and the other end abruptly ends at the wall of the building. It has what I THOUGHT was the sidewalk in-front of the first story of the building, which turns out to be the barrier edge of the road. The market sign there, suggested a sidewalk, but the blue light voids indicated otherwise.

The birds are odd.. in relationship to the building, and the other, much smaller birds resting on the wire right next to them, they'd be about 4 to 6 feet tall.

Scale is important to me. That doesn't mean you shouldn't exercise your right to scale things differently to make the message clearer, but it means some folks like me, are going to take cues from those scales to try and interpret your drawing with it. I might be in the minority though, because at my job I regularly do fabrication blueprints from photographs and to me, scales and ratio is everything. As I identify things in the picture that I feel comfortable with knowing the size of, and the ratio looks about right to me, I'm often required to use that to estimate the size of everything else in the picture.

The story, as told by these buildings is that, one day, gravity suddenly changed to where large objects gained their own gravity field. There is no architecture to support this condition (other than laying the buildings down), and so ladders have to be used to access the buildings.

If you wanted to, you could add transition points, like a handrails that cross between gravity planes. (Ie- from along the top edge of the building, down the side, to a supported walkway that does an arch to align with the nearest gravity pull). This would indicate that the people building this were aware of the what the gravity was doing, and built to accommodate it, rather than hobble together ladders which wouldn't be useable by the elderly or infirm, and would encourage people to peek into nearby windows.

Anyone standing in one of those horizontal buildings, would see the signs as being hung sideways to them.

As for using 3d modelling as a basis for the drawings, that's the fundamental basis of rotoscoping for animation. Animators draw directly over a series of actual photographs or 3d models to get a more realistic feeling. I think it's a great idea! You could draw over the structures on a different layer, and then fade it in or out to achieve a balance you like.

There's great imagination here, and I recognize your skill is much better than mine. I especially like the lighting and shadow effects. I've said a lot here, and that's not because I don't like this image, but because I can feel it, despite my confusion, and want to help you realize what you're going for. Best of luck!
  07 July 2013
I think it depends on what your goals are, and what kind of stylization your're after.

If this is meant to be a stylized video game, for example, you can get away with some artistic license, and you can mess with the scale a bit to make things more readable for the sake of gameplay, but at the same time, if the figures climbing on the ladders are normal scales, they'd look strange climbing giant ladders--they probably couldn't even reach between each rung of the ladder.

Ultimately, the internal logic of your stylized world has to make sense, and if you can achieve that, then everything will work.
  07 July 2013

Thank you both. This was very helpful. I understand where the issues lay.

You're right that the gravity is mostly going one way through the picture, and there's no transitions between the physical and gravitational planes. A railing going from one plane to the next is a great way to illustrate that. And signs, ugh - why did I think to put them all the same way. Oh well, that's the learning curve.

This is a beginning of a series of works. An illustration to show an abstract idea of shifting gravity and with it - shifting lifestyle of a community. My goal is to recreate existing blocks in my city, using this similar concept. So more project like this to come, and a place to apply your advice.

Thanks again for your time and help.
  07 July 2013
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