Monday, November 19, 2012

Poem: Consequence, the Voice from Inside

A poem created as a class assignment in order to communicate the voice of the Wizened Youth, a hallucination born of repressed thoughts and experiences of the main character from the novel By Night, in Chile.

Consequence, the Voice from Inside

Friday, November 9, 2012

Comic Glitch Pictures

I discovered something interesting as I was going through some of the art I'd put on my dropbox: most of the images looked fine and dandy when previewed on there, but the .PSD photoshop files for each of the pages of the comic I created showed previews that looked all weird and glitchy (don't worry, I checked and once downloaded the files themselves were fine and undamaged). I thought they were actually kinda interesting and pretty in a surreal, so I took & saved some screenshots of them. I might even have to try uploading some more of my layer-heavy digital art photoshop files to dropbox and see what previews they generate. Anyways, check them out below!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Graphic Novel Creation

 This spring I took my first 3-week May term course, which was a class in graphic novel/comic-making that was taught by the two talented and awesome Pope Brothers, Rowan and Bly. It was set to start just after I wrapped up finals and set up my art gallery, and even though I knew it would be very intense and would mean I'd have to wait to begin unwinding from the many stresses of my spring semester, I just had to take it. The University of Minnesota doesn't offer any comic-making courses normally and therefore this was a rare opportunity, and also it would be taught by the two fabulous Pope bros and one of my fellow classmates would be my good friend Brooke.

The class was exactly what I expected in that it was both very fun and very difficult. Coming into the class as a comic-making newbie and having to come up with an idea for a comic, and write, draw, scan and color even a few pages of it within 3 weeks is incredibly challenging. However, it was a really good experience to not only rise to the occasion and try to make the best comic I could in that time frame, but also to work alongside other students as they made their own comics and see how differently everyone worked and how their comics turned out. Overall, I'm glad I did it because I was able to learn, have fun and prove to myself that I am capable of making a half-decent comic.

I'll be sharing the comic I created below, but if you'd like to check it out on the class website or see some of the work that the other students made (like Brooke's awesome mini story about a shape-changing lawyer), go check out the class website!

Okay, so because I'm a big fan of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I didn't really have an idea for a comic otherwise, I decided to make mine about it. Because there are no adaptations that I've seen that focus purely on the story of Edward Hyde and his perspective on the events that occur, I chose to do that. My comic covers the backstory of Hyde and his creation, initial birth and the events that shortly follow. It pretty much follows the original story exactly. It gets a bit--okay, a LOT--wordy, because I got into the spirit of the writing style of the original novella, but the whole point of this was to give Hyde's account of things and I thought the narration would be fitting. I apologize if the writing isn't fantastic, as I wrote everything all in one night, and I didn't have a lot of time or energy to put into editing it.

Although most of my classmates were drawing their comics on paper and the scanning them later to color them and touch them up, I felt like trying to set my comic apart by making it entirely on the computer. It was easier in some ways and much harder in others, but it was a very good challenge and forced me to learn how to use masks very well, which I hadn't had experience with before.

Everything was done using vector masks, because I'm insane that way. My colored pages especially involved so many layers of masks it wasn't even funny. Page one definitely had over 150 layers. I used photographic reference as much as possible, and a couple panels were actually modeled for by my brother, since I needed to capture certain poses at odd angles that couldn't be found in reference images online.

Okay, done with my prattling now. On to the comic itself! I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Harry Potter Party Documentation

Once again, I have returned to my oft-neglected blog to share tales of my summer exploits! I'm doing them rather out of order, since this happened much more recently than the events that will be detailed in posts (hopefully soon) to come, but I thought I'd do both of my food-related posts first and then move on to the posts about art. So here's my account of the marvelous Harry Potter party that I assisted my friend Brooke (an amazing cook, artists and party planner) in preparing a short while ago.

As you can see from the photo above, we went all-out on the Harry Potter theme and prepared quite the extravagant spread of sweets. Brooke and I got together and worked on cooking, planning and decoration for it for between 6-10 hours each of the two days before the party. I'd definitely never done so much cooking within so little time before, but despite how much time and effort it took it was lots of fun, since it was also time spent with a friend.

I think I made a pretty good cooking assistant, and Brooke was definitely an excellent head chef. She was calm and level-headed the entire time, gave clear directions and was somehow able to cook 5 different things at once and shop and think of games and decorations and still stay sane. Now that's what I call a competent party planner! If you want someone to help you throw a great themed party you really should contact her. (Yes, I will be this shameless in promoting her - I have tasted her food, I can't not tell you to give yourself the chance to try it too.)

Anyways, let's start talking about the food! Below are more photos showing almost the whole selection of sweets we made. Brooke also cooked normal non-dessert food to eat - roast chicken, vegan mashed potatoes and cheesy non-vegan mashed potatoes, gravy and peas (selected because Brooke noticd that there are always platters with great mounds of peas on the tables whenever feasts happen in the Great Hall in the Harry Potter films). Those, however, were finished and added to the table just as the party began, and I didn't get any photos of them before they were gobbled up.

Now I'll be describing the snacks individually. First, the chocolate frogs! A must have at any Harry-Potter-themed event.

These were made using a chocolate mold that I'd gotten for Brooke as a Christmas gift a few years back. The mold sadly only had one frog in it so we had to make them one at a time, and combined with the amount of time it took to complete each frog - which involved filling the mold with an initial layer of chocolate shell, cooling it in the freezer, removing it to add the filling and second layer of chocolate shell, and then freezing it to solidity one final time - it meant that it took two and a half days of work to complete this tray of frogs. We'd pretty much do a step in making our latest frog and then wait and work on something else until we could perform the next step in the process, and repeated this ad nauseam.

For all the time it took to make them, they turned out really great and we were able to make a good amount of them. We had a few frogs filled with raspberries, and the rest either had some sliced almonds with of the green caramel inside them left over from the cauldron cakes, or some of the leftover peanut butter mixture that the mandrakes were made from.

Also featured on this tray were our lovely golden snitch truffles.

They were made of a truffle mixture using milk chocolate with hazelnut liqueur mixed in, and each also had a hazelnut in the center and were rolled around in edible gold dust to give them their snitch-like appearance.

We also made on large display snitch to clue the guests into what the truffles were supposed to be, if they couldn't already tell. Brooke made white chocolate wings painted with gold dust for this snitch, which looked fantastic.... until her dog (who's named Godric Gryffindor, so her was perfect for this event) ate one of them just before the party was going to the start. It was rather disheartening - a one-winged snitch simply doesn't look the same - but thankfully not dangerous to Godric.

Over the course of the party preparations, Godric (pictured above) also ate a bird and several books, and vomited on the carpet quite a lot. He's a troublemaker, but he was so dopey and cute everyone forgave him.

At least Godric didn't eat the entire snitch, for we would have been in quite a pickle if he did. You see, one of the big events of the party was a Horcrux Hunt, and just as it was in the original story, the ring horcrux was hidden in the center of the snitch!

You'll have to secure your earmuffs tightly before we talk about this next snack, because these mandrake roots are an earful as well as a mouthful!

These paralyzingly good snacks were made of a peanut-butter based mixture (I'm not quite sure what went into it, but it was tasty), which was shaped into the mandrake's  fat little bodies, arms and their screaming faces.

The dirt in the cups we planted them in was made of a mixture of pulverized Oreos and the chocolate cake scooped out of the center of our cauldron cakes. There was an extra layer of the peanut-butter mixture at the bottom of each cup because otherwise there would't have been enough dirt to cover as many mandrakes as we did. The leaves stuck into the top of each mandrake to complete the effect are basil leaves.

 I made sure to take pictures of as many as their cute little squalling faces as I could because they were so cute.

Next up, cauldron cakes!

These are comprised of chocolate cupcakes hollowed out in the center, so that they're like cauldrons, and filled with a potion consisting of caramel dyed green with food coloring, with a few bone-shaped sprinkles to complete the effect.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Avengers Truffles

I'm back, and I bring much news of the different happenings that kept me from updating this blog. I've got quite a few posts to make about the different events that occurred and the various things I created during that time, and this is the first of them.

This post is about some snacks that I assisted my lovely friend Brooke (who is an amazing artist, cook, decorator, hostess, themed party planner and all-around person in general, and whose Artsy-Tartsy blog has some examples of her amazing work) in making and bringing to the Graphic Novel Class we took in May, which was taught by the Pope brothers, Rowan and Bly, who are not only mind-blowingly talented artists but also incredibly nice people and great teachers.

Because the class was all about making comics, and the Avengers had come out recently and was quite popular, the two of us decided to use that as a theme for our goodies. We shopped and cooked (well, as much cooking as truffles and tarts require) for about 6-7 hours and ended up being two hours late to class that day, but it was a fun experience, in my case a very informative one, and in my eyes it was worth every minute of work.

Below is a photograph of everything we made, as well as details about each item.

Let's start our more in-depth descriptions of the food by looking at the leftmost platter.

Item one, the Superman Tart!

It consists of a delicious flaky tart pastry spread with a layer of sweet creamy stuff (don't remember exactly what it was, but it was tasty!), which is then covered with fresh pineapple and strawberries, cut and arranged to look like the Superman logo. It was very delicate, so much so I had to hold it in place on its tray with my hands as we drove our goodies to class, since it risked breaking apart if the motion of the car caused to slide around too much. It was very popular and was the first thing to be eaten up entirely once we brought it to class.

Beside it are the Thor truffles.

I like this truffle. ANOTHER!!

These truffles were cherry-flavored (we picked cherries to match he red of Thor's cloak) and used milk chocolate (because of Thor's amiable personality). Ideally we would've tried to shape them into little hammers, but we didn't have enough time to conceivably pull it off.

Next, we move on to the rest of the truffles on Tray Two.

The first one we'll start with  are the Captain America truffles.

They were the most unique truffles of the lot, since they were made using nothing but but white chocolate, along with a cheesecake-like concoction, and also contained a fresh raspberry in the center of each truffle.

We chose these ingredient to symbolize his kind and friendly personality and his pure and passionate adherence to his moral code and superheroism. As you can see, they're also star-spangled on the outside, and when you bit into them you could see all the patriotic colors of the truffle in its layers: the red raspberry center, white cheesecake filling and blue chocolate shell. These were definitely one of the most popular truffles of the day.

Next, we've got some simple SMASHing truffles:

The Hulk truffles are peppermint (because it's a really strong flavor!) and milk chocolate, to represent the calm personality of Bruce Banner. I would think it obvious why they're green. We melted down these chocolate mint candies instead of chocolate chips to make the truffles, which gave them an interesting texture.

Here are the coffee-flavored Black Widow truffles made with semi-sweet chocolate. They're covered with white chocolate because we planned on drawing spiders onto them in black, but we ended up not having enough time to do that. Probably should've made them black or orange-red instead, to be more easily visually linked to the character. Oh well, we'll just have to do that next time.

We ended up not making Clint truffles because of time constraints, and because we couldn't think of a good flavor to represent him. If anyone has any suggestions on flavors related to him, they'd be much appreciated!

Lastly, we have the truffles for Iron Man/Tony Stark! They've got red chocolate shells painted with edible gold something to resemble his helmet/suit. They had a unique inside consisting of more of a cookie dough-like substance, rather than pure chocolate and cream cheese like most of the others, and the insides were flavored with Malibu Coconut Rum, because he likes drinking and I think he's mentioned having a vacation home in Malibu in the movies, but I could be wrong

These were the least rich truffles of the bunch, and were actually a bit better for it. The other truffles were incredibly rich and filling and probably could've stood to have been made much smaller, so they wouldn't be so overwhelming. Anyways, these truffles were also very popular (so much so that out of the leftover Iron Man truffles I brought home with me to share with my family, the majority of them mysteriously disappeared all at once, most likely into one mouth), though not quiiite as much a the Cap truffles.

We ended up making 95 truffles total, and we had lots of leftovers after class. Next time, we probably wouldn't need to make so many, since nobody ate more than a few truffles before having reached their maximum intake of rich food.

Overall, these took a lot of materials, effort and time to make, but it was a fun experience and the results were incredibly tasty, and nerdy to boot. If I ever try to create Avengers truffles again in the future, I'd definitely want to complete the assembled team and make Clint truffles, dark chocolate Nick Fury truffles and maybe key-lime Loki truffles besides.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Digital Art: Sedimentary Storybook

I just finished creating this for a geology-themed class of mine. It was a group project, and since we couldn't think of anything else we decided to make a childrens book about sedimentary rocks, conveying information about the creation and transportation of sediment and the eventual formation of sedimentary rock in such a way that a kid could read it and not know they're being educated.  I ended up doing most of the work for the project, but I kind of set myself up for it and took it as a challenge, so I can't blame it on my teammates (who were also very nice people and would've probably taken on more of it themselves if I hadn't taken over everything).

 Over the process of making this, I came to realize some things about myself. First, I may not be so totally hopeless at storyboarding and storytelling with images as I believed before. I also discovered that I'm much more at ease with working on big comic-like art projects if they don't involve humans or animals, since it gets rid of a lot of feelings of worry about proportions and realistic potrayal. Give me an inanimate object like a rock, however, and I'm fine.

Anyways, here it is! I created it entirely in photoshop, and it's pretty much entirely vector masks and gradients. I hope you like it!