Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Das Fahrrad

Oh, and in Germany, EVERYONE rides bikes. I saw more old people (think 70s' and up) and little children (think two and up) on bicycles in our two weeks there than you'll see in two years in the United States. I used the above sketch from my Germany sketchbook as a chance to do another photoshop paint job and texture practice. I've been aware for some time now how totally awesome a good sketchbook doodle can look with a layer of texture and a splash of color, but I'm just now getting around to trying it out. Thanks Lyle for the lessons - I'm looking forward to the next one :)

Kunsthalle Wurth, Germany

While in Germany on our honeymoon, my wife and I drew constantly. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Tomi Ungerer exhibit in Kunsthalle Wurth. Ungerer has been a prolific artist, illustrator, and cartoonist in Germany, Canada, and the United States for many decades now and his work inspired me to draw a few other patrons of the exhibit. The one above is one of my favorite. Enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wedding Cake Toppers

I learned first-hand that you have essentially invited yourself into a dizzying avalanche of decision making - from the moment you go down on one knee until the organist at the church begins to press the ivories on your wedding date. The hardest part about planning a wedding is trying to find answers to questions you've never been asked (or asked yourself ) in your entire life. This leads to a lot of research and the epic struggle of trying to balance the "what is traditional or customary for a wedding" versus the "what we want our wedding to be like", all while trying to stay within the budget.

The American Wedding Ceremony is one that is steeped in tradition (churches, veils, rented tuxedos, bouquet tosses, soiling your pants after realizing how much reception halls charge, etc.). But, as Marcel Duchamp and the Dada movement in modern art has taught us, the stronger the chains of tradition are, the more likely you are to find people who want to challenge tradition.

Case in point - Alternative Wedding Cake Toppers.

The classic Groom/Bride wedding topper pictured apparently isn't enough for some people, so not surprisingly there is a market for non-traditional wedding cake toppers. Some of them are mildly clever or personal to the bridal couple:

Many are quite campy, kitschy, inappropriate, obscene, awesome, or awesomely bad (depending on personal tastes):

And a few are pretty scary. Not like monsters, zombies, or People of Wal-Mart scary, but "Wow, you two have serious, unresolved communication problems, markedly different financial priorities, or fear of commitment issues that you not only haven't addressed, but you obviously don't even take them seriously" scary:

I never really imagined that it was possible to scream "Divorce" with a smile from a plastic figurine, but here you have it. These are the types of wedding toppers that remind divorce attorneys, psychiatrists, and couples counselors that they will (unfortunately) always have work. Many of these mini sculptures are eerie reminders of the Top 10 Reasons for Divorce.

But then again, sometimes even a wedding cake topper reminds us that people do find someone they are compatible with and who they can share their lives and interests with...

Thanks again for checking in :)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Floating Right Along

Found this interesting image online when looking up "men's beard styles" on Google. I'm not even sure some of them are possible! Super Mario? Really?!

Between finals and leading a busy life, I was still able to get together another Jonah head for Luke - this time with a front view. Even though I like to draw, and even though I most frequently draw characters, I still don't draw turnarounds very often. I think I should do this more often because nothing challenges your own idea of what you think you just drew than having to draw it in another orthographic view. I haven't been able to develop the fish character too much farther, but I did do some additional sketches that taught me a few things. Turns out its difficult to draw a large fish, that's not a whale, that's self-conscious and insecure!

Thanks again :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Batman: The Animated Series Storyboards

I usually try to make sure that the work that I post on this blog page is mine (after all, the name of it is "The Art and Animation of Kurt Hartfelder"), but this one was too good to pass up. I've been taking a storyboarding class this summer as part of my MFA degree here at the Savannah College of Art and design and recently rediscovered the Batman Animated "art of" book that I had bought with a gift card to Barnes and Noble while I was in high school.

The storyboards above are the original production boards for the series intro. The camera work, screen design, transitions, and compositions are fantastic - and the infamous Batman music playing above it all really tops it off. I knew that this show was great when they were still producing episodes for it back in the early 90's, but after looking at this book again, I have a whole new respect for the artists who designed it and the producers who made it possible.

It's amazing what can be done with few gray scale markers, isn't it?


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shave and a Haircut

Luke really liked one of the "Jonah" heads I sketched up for him in class, so I decided to elaborate on the design by playing around with different hair and beard combinations. In addition to different hairstyles and beards I also gave him slightly different noses too. It's amazing how much these few details can change one's perception of the character. A few of them stand out (for better or worse) to me already:

#3 looks like a SCAD student I've seen around
#8 looks like he's got a bad toupee on
#9 looks kinda like an art professor I had in undergrad

Thanks again for visiting my blog.


Sounds Fishy to Me

So it turns out that fish are not only good for you, but also a lot of fun to draw! I have not seriously taken to drawing a fish since I was obsessed with sharks in 5th grade, but recently another fellow classmate of mine, this time Luke Brewer, asked me to do some concept art for him. Luke is making an animated version of the story of Jonah from the Bible for his MFA film and is retelling it from the perspective of the fish with the appetite. I drew these sketches over the course of the afternoon today and shot them off to him in an email to see what he thinks. I'm excited to hear what he has to say . Drawing is always fun, but I find the give-and-take of character design even more engaging since it's a collaborative process.

Oh, and the reason there is only one whale drawing is because he specifically didn't want a whale, but a rather large fish (not a mammal). The drawings are posted chronologically, so you can actually tell how my brain (and hand) started to get in a groove and pick up steam by the third or fourth page. Also, the numbering system makes it a LOT easier for discussion via email or phone concerning character designs since you save a lot of, "no... the fourth one down on the third page... the one with the tail that's fan shaped but not rounded at the bottom..." descriptions when referring to a specific example - learned that one the hard way!

Thanks again for visiting :)


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tree Test

Here's a little animation exercise in simplicity. I am trying to play around with different ways to make plants grow using simple techniques in Maya. I have been noticing on Vimeo that there are a lot of animators and filmmakers out there who are making beautiful work using very simple, "low tech" techniques. Don't get me wrong, ornate characters with sophisticated environments and detailed textures can be beautiful too, but these types of projects are often made with much larger teams with substantially larger budgets and time frames than a graduate student living in an apartment can compete with. It's fun to keep it simple and graphic-design oriented and to enjoy the process and avoid the many technical problems and challenges that can frustrate and derail you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Old Men Concepts

Friend and classmate of mine, Eiad Dahnim recently asked me to draw up some concept sketches for his thesis film character. Eiad is a wizard when it comes to modeling and Zbrush, but asked me for some help sorting through potential face shapes and personalities. I often just doodle faces for my own practice and amusement, developing characters rather haphazardly. I've already noticed that drawing for someone else's character development is a little different because you need to draw enough variety to help create some direction and dialogue when you meet with them next. Often, it's more about elimination for them - they may have only an obscure idea of what they want the final character to look like, but they probably already can identify pretty easily what they do not want.

Plus, I admire Eiad's work, so it'll be interesting to see my sketches leave the page and become more than graphite on paper!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Baby Toss

My dad used to toss me and my siblings in the air when we were little. Maybe he wasn't giving it his best effort...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Logo Design

I came up with this logo design for my personal promotion materials in portfolio class this spring and just recently noticed that I hadn't posted it on my blog page. Its a little homage to my 17 years of playing baseball :)

Recent Doodles

Lately I've been realizing that I do lots of sketches and doodles on scrap pieces of paper at random times throughout the week and never think much of them. I usually don't think much of them until a friend sees one and chuckles. Here are a few of those random sketches. All of them were done on computer paper; the last one was done as a gift to my year old niece Ava, who LOVES all things prehistoric.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Citroen 2CV - Process

Several months ago, myself and a few fellow SCAD classmates started collaborating on a side project that started as a playful doodle. While we were drawing one day, I had happened to spy a fantastic caricature of a car my friend Lyle Nagy's sketchbook. The car, a 1970's era Citroen 2CV, just oozed personality and begged to be animated. At around the same time another friend, David Riddle, was looking for something new and different to model. I introduced the two of them and a little while later Lyle provided David with several more drawings to work off of and the project was off and running. The images above are examples of David's work.

The next step was getting the car "rigged". For those who are not familiar with the term, rigging is the process by which a digital skeleton is built inside the model so that it can become animated. These digital joints are assigned to controllers that the animator can use to position the character into the desired poses. Rigging is a very technical and involved process that requires intense attention to detail and strong problem solving skills. Derek Superville, another friend and fellow classmate, was up to the challenge. Derek was really interested in the chance to rig an automobile because up till that point most of his rigging experience had been limited to bipedal characters. The technical challenges posed by a vehicle, he said, would be a welcome change of pace.

The first question Derek asked me, the animator, was "How would you like this character to move?". It was a lot like going to the barber. Before the scissors come out, you're asked "How would you like your hair cut?". Answering this question and has proven to be one of my favorite parts of the project. Typically we animation students are provided with ready-made rigs that are freely downloaded online off of popular animation sites. The conversations we had to determine how the rig would operate were interesting, and they got me even more excited about animating with the final product.

Derek's rigging questions were great because they also forced me to more carefully consider what I was looking for in the final rig. I had always envisioned the Citroen as an agile, athletic car. I really liked the attitude of the Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee, but the 2CV wouldn't be that intimidating or powerful. A better fit turned out to be rally cars and Mini Coopers because they had a pleasant, positive vibe while still maintaining a sense of confidence and purpose - Like a Jack Russell Terrier. Jack Russell's have an uncanny ability to appear cute and intense at the same time - I wanted be able to portray that quality in the 2CV.

Derek and I agreed that the appearance of the Citroen lent itself cartoony squash and stretch actions. Since David was able to maintain a lot of the hand drawn feel in the digital model, it was also important to be able to have that 2D animation quality come across in the motion and poses. This increased elasticity would also hopefully allow me to hit poses that convey attitude and personality without having anthropomorphic facial features on the vehicle. Besides, cars already look like they have faces!

In addition to photo references, I also provided Derek with thumbnails of the kinds of poses and positions that I imagined I'd be putting the car into. Derek was particularly interested in the squashy/stretchy positions because, as he said, "It's better to have the ability to squash and stretch and not need it than it is to need it and not have it." The possibilities (and options) are virtually endless, so the more you can define what you're looking for before you get to the computer, the better off you are.

One of the most important elements Lyle, David, Derek, and I have all learned from this process has been communication. So often in our classes we are assigned a project that we complete largely by ourselves from start to finish. This side project has been a great experience because it can be really challenging to articulate the images in your head. The goal of any creative collaboration is to amplify one another's abilities, talents, and skill set - and that's exactly what this character has allowed us to do.

Thanks again :)