Showing posts with label Star Wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Star Wars. Show all posts

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Interview with Terryl Whitlatch - Part Two

We continue our interview with famed paleo reconstructionist, illustrator, educator, character and creature designer Terryl Whitlatch. You can read part one here

JGO: What were some of your favorite characters that you've worked on over the course of your career?

 TW: The moose brothers in Brother Bear, Sebulba and Ketwol from Star Wars are among my favorites.  I like the Sando Aqua Monster, also from Star Wars.
Sebulba (above) the podracer and the Sando Aqua Monster; a massive aquatic mammal (below) , both appear in Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

JGO:  Typically, what types of stages does a character design go through from written description in a script to final film version?"  I realize that there may not be a one-size-fits-all answer, but it was a question that popped into my head as i was trying to sleep last night and I suspect that would-be creature designers would be interested to know more about the process.
TW: Regarding the stages a character goes through, of course, it is a step by step process, depending upon the project's overall nature, and the desired degree of naturalism.  Typically, it goes from realistic to stylized, for a conventional 2D production, to extremely realistic (and expensive) interpretations for a 3D production such as Narnia.  There can be any number of intermediate exploratory stages, depending on the vision of the director.  For Star Wars, Jar Jar Binx took a year to design--literally several hundred drawings, including roughs, while Sebulba was "sold" in an afternoon.  George Lucas gives his art departments lots of blue sky, while it is more typical of Stephen Spielberg to have a more precise idea of what the character looks like.

Terryl's conceptual drawings for the Moose Brother, Tuke and Rutt, from Disney's "Brother Bear"  Early designs so a more naturalistic set of Moose Brothers who gradually evolve with more stylization and personality. As I often tell my students: part of character design is showing us WHO the characters are, not simply WHAT they are. We get a sense of who Tuke and Rutt are through Terryl's expressive, action packed drawings, and their good natured goofiness continues to be displayed through the clean up model sheets and final film. 


JGO: What skills should creature design students focus on developing if they want a career in the film industry?
 TW: Drawing, anatomy, drawing, anatomy, and more drawing and anatomy of all sorts of animals.

JGO: What is one of the most important lessons that you learned from another artist?

TW: To keep on learning, that you will never “make it” in this lifetime, and to be bold and adventuresome.
JGO:  What is one of the most important lessons that you learned on your own as an artist?

TW: That I will never be perfect, that I must always be open to learning, that I can find a way to improve each day, and can learn from nature and other artists constantly.  Mistakes can be my best teachers.

JGO:  You've been amazingly prolific throughout your career. Do you ever deal with artist's block, and if so, how do you overcome it?
 TW: It’s more a case of self-intimidation, trying to overachieve what I’ve done in the past, and living up to others as well as my own expectations.  That’s what can be paralyzing.  However, I’ve realized that what that is, is a nasty concoction of fear and pride of my own making, and as soon as I recognize that, I tell myself to “stop that”, and get out of myself.

JGO: Thank you so much for giving us your time, Terryl. We look forward to seeing all of the amazing animals, both real and imagined, that you create in the future!

Students: watch free creature design tutorials by Terryl Whitlatch at the Academy of Art University website, HERE

Los Angeles residents, mark your calendars! Terryl and her editor, Gilbert Banducci, will be in L.A. between March 17th and March 19th for lectures and book signings regarding "Animals Real and Imagined". Below is a poster with all the details of the dates, times and places:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Iain McCaig

Award winning and Internationally recognized character designer, concept artist, illustrator, screenwriter, producer, author and art instructor Iain McCaig is a busy man to say the least. His concept work,  character design and storyboarding skills are highly sought after within the film community, where he has contributed  to such high profile projects as the Star Wars prequels, Terminator IIHook, Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, Interview with a Vampire, Peter Pan (2003), and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He is also Co-Producer and concept design Director of Ascendant Pictures science fiction epic Outlander.

McCaig's screenwriting credits include his adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea for ShadowCatcher Entertainment and was co-author of People, an Emmy nominated animated special created for the Disney Channel. He also wrote and designed The Pied Piper for Imax/ Mainframe and made his directorial debut with the award winning film The Face in 2000.

Iain McCaig co-founded Ninth Ray Studios LLC in 2005,  a freelance story and design group which has provided pre-production and development for several feature films including Outlander and both the Paramount and Disney/ Pixar versions of John Carter of Mars.

The images here are taken from his highly recommended art book "Shadowline: The Art of Iain McCaig", which is both a fictionalized story of a visit to an otherworldly studio and an intensive drawing course (I'd grab one while you still can)! McCaig's website is infamous for possibly being the longest "coming soon" website in history, but in the meantime he has started an inspiring blog which will hopefully continue well into the future. McCaig is also has four bestselling instructional DVDs available through the Gnomon Workshop.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome Terryl Whitlatch!

AAU Creature Design Instructor Terryl Whitlatch will now be a co-author of this blog. It seems only natural to pair supplemental information for creature design along with character design since there is a fair amount of overlap between the two. I highly recommend Terryl's courses for those of you who are focusing on CG animation, game design, graphic novels and illustration.

Terryl Whitlatch is an accomplished scientifically and academically trained illustrator who extensively studied vertebrate zoology and animal anatomy. She has worked for various zoos and museums in the US and the World Wildlife Fund and has served as senior consultant for wildlife art and animal anatomy in many venues.
For over seven years, Terryl worked for Lucasfilm, LTD., Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and George Lucas?s JAK Films and is considered to be one of the leading creature designers in the world. Her unique combination of illustration skills and widespread knowledge of animal anatomy and movement are essential components in the design, anatomy, and physical animation aspects of creature creation.
She worked directly with writer/director George Lucas on the recent Star Wars Trilogy, Episodes 1 and 2, designing countless creatures for the films and related products. Chronicle Books published a collection of her work for Lucasfilm, The Wildlife of Star Wars, in 2001, which gained critical acclaim and popular success.
Terryl has also designed for many electronic and interactive games (including Steven Spielberg's The Dig) and Entertainment Arts. She has worked with many major studios and effects houses as a creature, character, and concept designer. In addition to her work on Star Wars, her films include Jumanji, The Indian in the Cupboard, Brother Bear, Dragonheart, Men in Black, Frankenstein, The Princess of Mars, The Polar Express, Zafari, Jancroon, and Beowulf. Other clients include Pixar, LeapFrog, and the Gnomon Workshop.
Terryl is also the author and illustrator of The Katurran Odyssey, the first volume of a trilogy, as well as the soon to be released Animals Real and Imagined: the fantasy of what is and what might be. In addition to her continuing work on The Katurran Odyssey series, Terryl is illustrating her book, The Animals of the Bible, as well as creatures and characters for Helpful Bear Productions, Inc.
She resides in Alameda, California, and works as a freelance Concept Artist, and she is also teaching Animal Anatomy, Wildlife Illustration, and Creature Design for the Animation and Illustration Schools at the Academy of Art University.

As for her philosophy on creature design, Terryl says "in order to draw imaginary creatures well, and with credibility, and even to stylize them down to iconic images (such as Yogi Bear), one needs to know and understand and appreciate real animals, and to love them, and to prefer painting,sculpting, and drawing them even more than the imaginary ones. That is what, in my opinion, it takes to be a good creature designer. Real animals always take priority over the imaginary. They are the ones that give you wings."