I Think This Is My Best Design Of 2009:
It represents a personal victory in the areas of spontaneity, loose-tight balance, strong drawing, appeal through silhouette and of course, character. …ALL of the areas within which I have been focusing my efforts.
The irony of the previous statements is that I did this piece at the beginning of the year. Yes, I have been focusing on all of these areas all flippin’ year, but I have not yet had a bigger win than what’s represented here.
I have had a few personal wins at work (Disney) in the last nine months, but those wins were based more on the improvement of technical skill and efficiency of brush. This Tin Man represents a big win for me personally because it looks the most like I WANT my personal work to look.
There is a LOT more to say about the above idea. But I won’t write all about that here. You can listen to several of my most recent ‘Collage Casts’ for more insight and I will be talking more about this pursuit in the upcoming podcast episode: “Looking Forward To 2010.”
The Design Of My ‘Wild Tin Woodman’:
This is the third Tin Man design that I have shared with you. This version gives you a better look at the ‘heart hatch’ concept that I talked about in Part 3 of this series.
There is obviously no ‘buzz-saw-beard’ like I talked about in part two, but I was attempting to represent a beard here. This ‘beard’ was conveyed in essence by solving yet another design problem inherent to any ‘robotic’ or rigid character that also has a face. (That is to say that this problem does not apply to ‘robotic’ characters like C-3PO or R2-D2.)
How do you show mouth movements and facial expression when the face is made of metal?
There were some interesting solutions demonstrated in the Blue Sky Studios film Robots. There were concepts like jointed-eyebrows and bendy metal mouths. The mouths moved subtly, so that they maintained the illusion of rigidity most of the time. The animators achieved an appealing kinesis through fluid pantomime and a more global squash and stretch application.
Pixar’s Wall-E is also a very dynamic character. And though his face is expressive, the animators relied more on posture and pantomime (ie: Andrew Stanton’s ‘Chaplin’ influence seen in the animated performances) than on Wall-E’s facial expressions to convey emotions.
My solution when designing my Wild Tin Man was to form the head (including the eyebrows) out of metal and to form the mouth out of rubber. This way, the mouth could be very flexible (as demonstrated in this image) but 80% of the head remains rigid.
The darkness of the rubber mouth makes the face resemble that of a man who hasn’t shaved in a month.
If this character were animated, his eyebrows would remain a fixed shape and they would just move up, down and rotate.
So this Tin Man, when animated, could have more dynamic facial expressions than the Blue Sky Robots or Wall-E.
This is not to say that this level of expressiveness is necessarily more desirable. Its simply another solution to the expression challenges presented by robotic or otherwise rigid characters.
The scarf and knit hat were attempts at irony. Yes, they are ‘Tin Woodman’ visual cues as I described in Part 2, but they are also ironic since he’s made of tin. Or maybe they are not ironic. …maybe Tin Men get cold… The painted-on suspenders were a last minute addition.
I don’t have a favorite part about this piece because I think it all works so well. I guess if I had to choose, it would be the overall silhouette. I like the variation in the silhouette; the contrast of the skinny limbs and the massive body.
I rarely, if ever, feel this satisfied with my own work.
Art is a discipline (in case nobody ever told you, that’s VERY important truth to accept) albeit a very enjoyable and rewarding one. Art is also a battle. In finishing a piece of art there is always a tally of wins and losses. I just think that when this piece came to an end, the tally was mostly wins. And that makes me really, REALLY happy.
Now, if I can just figure out how, in essence, to do this every time…
I am VERY interested in your thoughts on this post/ piece so PLEASE share your thoughts in the comments below.
…did I mention how much I LOVE the ‘Wizard Of Oz’ characters? Especially Tin Man.