Monday, August 27, 2012

Great Falls Park

I went to hiking at the Great Falls park in VA yesterday. The nature was beautiful and the river especially was very intreaguing to look at. I took my time studying the rock formation as a result of the river’s flow as well as layers that had stacked over the years of history and I realized how much information rocks can convey through its textures. I might end up making another study for the rocks in the future posts. In today’s post, I did a quick study of the grass area of the park. I was sitting on a bench and saw a car drive by and its wind was causing the leaves to fall right behind the car like it was being chased by the nature.

Monday, August 13, 2012


This week I was over at Los Angeles Convention Center running around doing Student Volunteer duty, checking out cool emerging technologies in the Exhibition hall, lining up in a HUGE line for Pixar’s teapot, talking to recruiters at the job fair, and meeting lots of wonderful people who shared common interest in the computer graphics world. The experience was unforgettable, and the amount of information and inspirations that came through this week was simply overwhelming. Amongst the captivating creatives that were spotlights at SIGGRAPH 2012,including ParaNorman, Avengers, Wreck-it Ralph, Brave, and much more, Disney’s short animation Paperman stood out to me as one of the most emotionally charged, visually appealing, and a well crafted piece of motion picture. Without touching on the spoilers of the film, I would like to point out some of its appeals and what I learned from as an artist.

Aesthetically Paperman is simplistic, focusing mostly on large flat shapes and using lighting and blurs to bring focus into the composition. With limited details and color, the film strictly focuses on using the visuals to frame the story. In Disney’s Paperman talk, the creators made a comparison between the 3D films we see today and the traditional 2D approach they used for Paperman. While the 3D movies today have advantage of creating depth and complex settings, it can become so appealing that sometimes the visuals overshadow the story it is trying to tell. I think that is where Paperman really excel. The ratio of visual information and storytelling was just right so that it created a harmony that is best suited for telling Paperman’s story. For me, watching Paperman allowed me to see my role as an artist in a bigger picture. I have always thought that a best design should be so captivating it can stand on its own. While that may be true in many cases, I think it’s important to also consider how one design stands amongst a whole bunch of other designs within a film as a whole, and hit that golden ratio where visuals can most effectively deliver a story.

Another thought I had after seeing Paperman was that portrayal of humanity can be a very strong device to capture the audience’s attentions. Paperman tell a story about how a small decisions can lead to a life changing experience. It’s a theme that is universal and can easily be related with. Even when the character does not exist in the reality, as long as we can see them responding the way we do, showing ranges like curiosity, confusions, determination, and love, they can feel real even on a flat screen. I think that is portion of the reason why many Miyazaki films are also successful. Take Princess Mononoke which illustrates the struggle between polar justices. We can see that both sides of the opposing forces are fighting for what they believe is justice, and neither sides are wrong in their motives. I think simulating a real-life behavior into animated characters adds a layer of depth and helps guide the audience feel engaged in the narrative. It’s definitely something I can explore more as I further myself in character design and storytelling.

Disney’s Paperman will be presented right before Wreck-it Ralph in November and I highly recommend everyone to go see it. It will be an experience to remember!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Silent Amusement

I did this piece recently to aiming to practice drawing nature, lighting, and color. It all started after watching Princess Monoke and I had a huge urge to draw a forest scene. Although I have seen the movie many times I keep coming back to find new things to get inspired by. I was very moved by the complexity of the storyline, the beauty of visual language, and depth of the research and appropriate connection to the old Japanese culture. From type of spoken language to the way clothes were worn in order to reflect maturity, the whole movie was so carefully thought out that I'm in awe with the amount of information that Miyazaki is capable of handling. That man is a true beast. From doing this piece, I got to explore more approaches in drawing the variations in nature. It also took me a little longer than usual because I spent so much time making decisions for subtle color differences in many areas. It really made me realize that the amount of decisions made within a piece is exponentially related to how rendered the piece is.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Mac girl

From today's drawing. I've definitely been working more into characters and exploring how to combine style and gestures effectively. This piece was done differently from my usual painterly approach, but I like the simplicity and cuteness of the result. Looking forward to exploring more.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Broken Pride

I watched Brave recently and there was a scene that stuck with me. At Merida’s low point, she sits in a cave in the rain and reflects the mess she was in. As opposed to her typical puffy hair, we got to see her hair getting wet in this scene and it’s one of the rare times in the movie where her hair isn’t so flashy and over-powering. Her hair is muggy, stranded, and deformed from its glory. I think Merida’s hair was a great device that reflected her mental state. Good design!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I recently played a game called Journey and my gosh it was stunning! Unlike most of games I normally play, Journey is stripped down to the very core of emotional expression using visual and audio interaction. The game takes its vagueness to advantage, allowing the player to figure out everything from the very beginning and experience the journey up close. I absolutely love the way music and the visuals intertwine in the game as every moments is designed so precisely to accentuate the best experience possible. I’m really looking forward to playing this game again and getting the white robe! I also read that the company (called thatgamecompany) has finally made all 3 games for PSN marking the end of their contract with Sony to produce solely for PSN. Now that they have more freedom, I can’t imagine but to be excited for what comes next. It’d be super cool if their games (like Journey) came to the iOS.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Daily Doodles

I've been trying to get into the habit doodling everyday to keep my hands sharp and also have an excuse to experiment. I started this a few weeks ago and since then I have been posting my daily drawings on tumblr where I use it as kind of a visual diary. Here are some ones I like from the doodle. So far through doing this, I got the chance to experiment and discover a great inking brush, draw stuff I really love but never had the excuse to, and most importantly exploring areas where I need to push further. Right now I'm spending more time with character development. I've just discovered the important role gestures play in the process of creating unique and dynamic silhouettes. This might not be something new to others but it is quite a discovery for me. I'm going to put more time into characters and hopefully find more tricks!