Since my previous animation test I have been thinking a lot about how the production might look and why it would look that way. I know that original chinese artwork is largely black and white, or rather black ink. These normally take the form of mountains and hills then accompanying them you will get a poem of some kind written by another person as you can see in Fig. 1. I did a lot of work on this in a previous project, however I didn’t really think about the colours, when it came to creating my own versions of the mountains I just picked a colour scheme I liked as appose to really thinking about why I was using those colours in that particular form. So now I've gone forward in time a bit to the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s to see what sort of colours and processes where used. Fig.2 is a collection of images used in cigaret and match box packing from this period all from China or Hong Kong. I think looking at this type of image is quite useful because I think I need to see my subtitle and title credits being used in a similar way, or similar context to that of the cigaret box. What you notice right away is that pretty much all of them use red, whether thats the background or the writing, after that the other main colours used are blue, black and yellow. There really isn’t any of colours used other than these. The trend seems to be that the background is often red with black writing and blue detailing somewhere on the image.
Following on from this initial research into colours I started applying it to my own drawings, Fig. 3 was my first attempt at drawing out a still from ‘When Taekwondo Strikes’ using this newly acquired colour palette. I used a fine line pen and a short brush pen for the black then applying the colour I used a ‘Zig Art & graphic Twin’ as it gives quite a strong saturation of colour imitating the match boxes. For this test I thought I would lay it out a little like it was a promotional post card similar to that talked about in the last post from Isle of Dogs. The snowy background is influenced by lady snowblood. As a first try I like how it has gone but I was unsure about the line weights around the character. So for my second attempt I did a set of 4 which you can see below in Fig.4. Here I flipped the colour choices around to see what impact it has on the images, if maybe there is a sequence that stands out better. I would say that actually the black background probably works best, but as a set of 4 all together they really stand out. I particularly like how the title matches the colour of the skin tone as this works very well from a semiotic point of view; matching the title to the character. The next step was to see how blue would work in place of black as this is maybe more of a authentically chinese colour scheme. This example you can see in Fig. 5. Although the drawing is not as good as the previous 4, I still think this colour selection is not quite so powerful. It doesn’t quite Jump out at you as much as the contrast of the black yellow and red does. This has been very beneficial indeed as I really only use blue instead of black in my professional work so would probably be the route I would take if I wasn’t thinking deeply about the colour, but knowing why I am diverting from this choice makes me feel quite confident about the effectiveness of the artwork.
next I wanted to see how a computerised drawing might compare to a hand done one from my sketch book, testing to see what the advantages are and does it look any better? The initial advantage that sticks out is that changing the colour to see how different sequences work can be done by clicking one button, so very easily. Fig. 6 is drawn in much the same way the ones from my sketch book are however I felt the image really lacked a hand done feeling, or maybe not hand done but like an authentic feeling as if it was made using real tools. Instead it looks flat and very computerised even with textures applied to it. My thinking was that this is because of the type of brush that I was using, Fig. 6 is drawn with a pencil or pastel type brush, so from here I started thinking about other ways to visualise it. I thought back to the old original chinese artworks, and the brushes that they were painted with, how would the figures look drawn with this tool. (Fig. 7. 8. 9. are all examples of artworks created in this authentic chinese style using a long brush pen with black ink.) Instantly I knew that going this direction had improved the artwork, it gave the figures the right feel and also I believe combated the computerised feeling as well. You can see in Fig. 10 that the expressive brush strokes give the figure a kind of energy which reflects the context of the figure really well. I also think this would animate really well, although that would have to be tested to be sure. My next step in that direction will be to animate a series of fight scenes in this way. I dropped the yellow from this image as I felt that it gave the image a short of comical side which was not really the direction I was now moving in with the whole project. I also felt like the yellow in it was slightly distracting and I foresaw that I could run into problems with making the chinese figures have yellow skin, although it was an aesthetic choice I didn’t like that people could accuse me of following a racial stereotype.
After this successful test I decided to go a little further with this image and see how it might look in the context of a HKC poster. See Fig. 11. Although it might need a little design work on it I think it is quite a powerful image. That’s without even thinking much about the female character or playing with the concept of how she might be in the image. I think it stands out really well especially with the orange text and heavy black background and figure. I used a type of font that imitates a HKC style and mixed yellow and red together almost as a blaze of fire to lift it even more out of the darkness of the background. Doing this image in black and white has enabled me to mess around with textures and light a bit more, whereas when I do something in colour those subtleties can get lost. So for example the character has a glow texture around her head and face which helps to lift her and separate her from the background more, but in colour that does not really stand out.
My next line of investigation was to go back to my sketch book and see if my hand drawn artwork might be an improvement on the computerised artwork now that I have discovered the brush pen and ink technique. Fig. 12. 13. 14. 15. are my first attempts and i have to say I greatly enjoyed drawing these. As you can see I kept the bold red and black colour scheme that I thought worked so well in Fig. 10. The drawings are a little more wonky and not quite so perfect compared to the ones drawn in photoshop as the tendency with computerised artwork is to get the drawing just right. I do like these wonky drawings however, they have a character to them that maybe the computerised drawings don’t have as much. The flip side to that is that the computerised drawings have a bit more depth to them, with layered textures that can be added and removed. I think the hand done drawings will have a part to play in the overall project, but maybe not in the final piece. I could complete a whole sketch book using this colour scheme and then display it in the exhibition at the end of the project. So far they have helped me think about how I might visualise scenes in the trailer and possible promotional artwork, I think this will remain its purpose.
Finally, when I was messing around with the composition of text and colour layout from the computerised drawing I accidentally created this image, see Fig. 16. I have been thinking a lot about the dark turn this project has taken since looking away from HKC more, sense why I dropped the yellow as well. So this image instantly excited me. Although quite crude I think something could be done with this concept, the female character shadowed except for her hands. What does that do to the idea of the female character? well I think it makes her more mysterious, gives her a darker edge. Maybe this is how our character should be seen more, vengeful, waiting in the shadows to strike on her male targets. Does it also hint at how hidden sexual abuse is? I do like this angle. I wasn’t too sure you the red background however as I thought maybe it just looked like she has blacked up which isn’t really the right message, so I created Fig. 17. to play with the idea of lurking in the shadows with only her revenge taking fists on show other than these ever watching eyes. I am really please with this especially the effect of the bold red characters over the top.