Creating my Creature Part 4: Furthering my Concept and Figuring out the Skin

With the flesh complete, I figured it’s the perfect time to look into the layer that follows – the skin. At the moment of writing this, my costume’s base is pretty much complete – the head, the shoulder piece, the hip piece are all done, the only things I would consider missing are the foot and hand pieces, but they should not be too difficult to figure out! (Or so I hope..)

Ramble bit:

In my last tutorial (which, I have to admit, left me quite crushed) I was told that I was not experimenting enough, be it in terms of mediums or different approaches to making the drag look itself. And to a certain degree, I do agree, but also, I had mentioned how I just had not reached that stage of my progress just yet but was working on it, but it sort of was overlooked. The base of the outfit had not been completed at that point and I wanted to take care of it before I could start working on a whole different aspect of it all. As I’ve brought up time and time again in my blog posts for this project – this is how I work – I hope that with my written evaluation, I will succeed in explaining that better as right now, I just feel misunderstood and underestimated. Of course, to make it clear, there is a big difference between “I feel” and “I am” – just because I feel that way, that doesn’t mean that it’s the case, and I know it isn’t as I’ve been told multiple times by the tutors that they believe in and trust my process and creative integrity. But gosh, that tutorial still haunts me to this day.. With that said, though, it did end up lighting a fire under my butt and I have been able to reawaken my accelarated artistic drive. Of course, it’s important for me to say this to myself – the circumstance at which it did happen was unfortunate but there’s nothing I can change now but move on and do better. That’s the beauty of rock bottom – the only way from there is up. It may come across as though I am slightly overreacting but in that moment I did feel like I had hit rock bottom.

With that out of the way, I can get onto writing the actual post – in which I will be laying out my furthered concept as well as showing further progress of the final piece. I will begin with the concept as it should provide more context as to why my testers look the way that they do as well as why they take inspiration from the things that they do.

I feel as though my designs for the creature work pretty much perfectly from stage to stage. If I were to animate a morphing sequence, it would make even more perfect sense. However, there was something missing, something to truly seal the deal, something to explain this shift in human evolution – why have people turned into these creatures? I started thinking.. I resorted to looking into Speculative Evolution and its dictionary defition once more.

That was it, that’s exactly what I’ve been missing this entire time – what was my hypothetical scenario? What was the event that forced people to evolve in such an extreme manner in my alternative reality. There were so many options that I could have gone for since it was such an open question and I was the only one who could come up with an answer for it.

While working, I tend to have YouTube videos playing in the background – it keeps me stimulated and because I normally put one things that are somewhat relevant or of a similar vibe to what I’m working on, it allows me to stay inspired and to think about my ideas and possible approaches. One of the videos that came up was:

I found it informative and intriguing, little did I know that it would soon spark an idea that would joint my bag of loose apendiges! Mushrooms. Fungi, even. I was sat in my room last night, thinking of how I could go about the textures of the creature, when all of a sudden, it all sort of dawned on me. The video, some of the key elements of the creature, the illustrations that I’ve used as textures to try and liven up my concept a month or so ago. It all hit me at once and I felt like I’d finally gotten it. I knew what I had to do. I started rounding up any kind of knowledge on mushrooms I had acquired over the years. The setting(-s) in which they thrive, their reproduction, their variety, their adaptability, their connection to /relationship with people and other. I then took this information and filtered it while looking through my sketchbook – I crossed out aspects that I thought were not really worth the time, I highlighted the ones that I thought I could incorporate more, I left those I was unsure of untouched so that I would be able to return to them later on should I decide to develop this concept further, which at this point, I feel is a must. In one of my tutorials with Jonathan, I was told that there would be a module further down the line which I could use to develop this concept further. At the time, I was not sure if I’d be down for that as I’ve always had the mindset of “I need to do something entirely new for each module”, but with the recent realisation and dawning of mind, I think I broke that mentality up and formed a new one – test, upgrade, perfect. The Process and Practice module I have decided will act as the testing, Developing a Visual Narrative – the upgrading module and lastly for my final year, I will commit to perfecting this vision and creating something that would challenge the bounds of my own comprehension! The concept that I will write out in a separate post will act as a blueprint for what I will do for the Visual Narrative Development module later on. I’m thinking of calling it “The Dawn of Black Sun”. It is available here:

https://robiccup.wordpress.com/2021/12/21/the-dawn-of-black-sun/

With this, I settled for the idea of integrating mushrooms into my concepts, therefore I started playing around with various mushrooms for finding the perfect texture for the drag outfit(-s). My first take on it was in the form of my first pop-up illustration and was completely intentional, but I knew that there was a reason as to why it looked as good as it did, and that’s because it just worked. The images I used were grayscaled illustrations/images of various flora and fungus that I extracted from old Russian encyclopedias that were at risk of being thrown away/burned. I decided to come back to these images and give recreating them in 3D a shot, or, at the very least, creating something that would be inspired by them. Thus, these shape testers were created as well as the imagery that inspired each one of them:

Once they are dry, I will go over them with a dry brush and add some more volume and “colour” to them. I think I am satisfied with how they are as is, but I should definitely give it some more thought and maybe take an extra step to push the idea and visual aspect of it even further. The inspirations for each tester were partial amalgamations of these reference illustrations:

Some of the testers only had a single inspiration, while others ended up as more of amalgamations. The reason for that is that I wanted to experiment with the overall sculpting bit of these organic shapes. Some of these are obviously much more complex than others and because of it, I thought it would be smarter to dedicate a full plate to the figuring out process of a singular “modular component”. The reason I say modular component is that I found it quite interesting how well some of the testers linked/paired up, a discovery that could lead to increased potential with creature design, world building and other aspects of the project (or more specifically, the narrative side of it) that I had not even considered yet.

Some of them fit together perfectly, almost like puzzle pieces, while others seemed to clash ever so slightly, however, I don’t think that would be much of an issue. Through the process of careful selection I hopefully will be able to find the “perfect” combination of textures that would result in the most cohesive and aesthetically pleasing looking skin for the outfit that I’m making full-scale for the final hand-in.

The testers I found to be the most fun to work with had to be:

Therefore, I think I will stick with the combination of these 3 to cover my base in. I feel as though the variety in shapes is aplenty but it will not be difficult to create transitions or combinations of the textures either.

I would like to explore different variations of the design too, perhaps make it so that based on whatever “mushrooms” are dominant or present on the body could determine the origin and “purity” of the creature. I think if I’m planning on incorporating humanoid sentience into the narrative, there’s esentially no escape from the development of classes within this timeline either – that’s just the nature of people – with this, I could develop a better portrayal and image of the society which would soon (quite literally) rise from the ground.

It’s quite bewildering to think how much significance and impact textures could have on a concept or project as a whole. The exploration of this route has opened up a plethora of possibilities that I think are all worth exploring eventually. However, I am satisfied enough with what I’ve been able to develop with this approach that I don’t feel the need to look into any other approaches. A risky and daring decision, I agree, but for whatever reason, it feels correct, therefore, I will not question it!

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