Thursday, July 27, 2017

SF&F... The 'F' is for Fashion!

-By Dan dos Santos

Gucci finally figured out something we've all known for ages... Science Fiction is cool! Gucci has just released preview images of their upcoming Fall/Winter 2017 collection, title 'Gucci and Beyond'.

The ad campaign, shot and filmed by Glen Luchford, pulls directly from classic SF films and shows, such as 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Star Trek, Ray Harryhausen, Forbidden Planet and many others.

Although the campaign relies heavily on the imagery created by a slew of talented artists from our past, the Gucci clothing actually blends incredibly well with these sets, creating a bizarre, light-hearted and eccentric look that is surprisingly appropriate.

The trend of fashion houses looking towards the SF&F genre for inspiration is nothing new. In fact, even Prada's latest collection utilizes the art of the inimitable James Jean. More on that HERE.

Take a peek at the 'Gucci and Beyond' campaign below. And be sure to check out the short video at the end to really see it all come to life!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Howard Terpning's Movie Posters

-By Arnie Fenner

In the past I've written a little bit about the movie posters of Frank McCarthy and about movie posters in general. It takes some sleuthing to figure out who painted what in the credit-stingy-world of advertising, but "back in the day" there were a number of exceptional illustrators creating iconic imagery: Reynold Brown, Roger Kastel, McCarthy (of course), Bob Peak, Jack Davis, Frank Frazetta, Drew Struzan, Robert McGinnis, and Richard Amsel among others effectively lured us into the theaters with promises of spectacle, adventure, and excitement.

Yeah, in the 1950s/60s/70s (even well into the 1980s and early '90s) the ad-art biz was admittedly something of a Boy's Club—a reflection of an era when commercial art was primarily a male industry and women freelance illustrators were still comparatively few in numbers. And, yes, even with the Photoshop-dominated field today, the occasional painted poster still appears (thinking of some recent pieces by Struzan and James Jean)—but I believe it's safe to say the last half of the 20th Century was the Golden Age for movie art and these guys were simply the best.

Above left: Cast a Giant Shadow. Above right is obvious.

Through trial and error I've gotten a pretty good handle on who painted this one or that one over the years, but for some reason I was unaware that many of the posters for some of the most famous titles in movie history were painted by the renowned Western artist Howard Terpning early in his career. 

Above: A pair of paintings for Cleopatra.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1927, Terpning knew he wanted to be an artist from the age of 7. Enlisting in the Marine Corps at 17 and served from 1945 through 1946 and was stationed in China for nine months; he enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Art on the G.I. Bill upon his discharge. Terpning became an apprentice to legendary illustrator Haddon Sundblom for a year before embarking on a freelance career; his many clients included Time, Newsweek, Field & Stream, McCalls, Ladies Home Journal, Reader's Digest and, as evidenced here, numerous movie studios.

Above: Even though this was painted for the 1967 re-relase of the film,
this is the poster for Gone With the Wind that people immediately think of,
not any of those created for the original campaign in 1939. 

In 1967 at the height of his commercial career Terpning was commissioned by the Marines to go to Vietnam and chronicle what he saw for a month. With sketchpad and camera in hand, he went out on combat patrols with the Grunts; Terpning has said that he was "profoundly changed" by the experience. He produced six paintings which are now part of the collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Always interested in painting the Old West and Native Americans, Terpning left the commercial field to create Fine Art around 1974. Within two years of his move to Arizona he was elected to the National Academy of Western Art and the Cowboy Artists of America. His paintings have been exhibited around the world (including in Paris and Bejing), the Greenwich Workshop has published books and limited edition prints, and his Western-subject originals now can sell for more than $1million. (His illustration art seems to fetch anywhere from $1500 to $8000, depending on subject matter; the only movie art of Terpning's that I've seen at auction was the painting for 55 Days at Peking, which hammered at $13,742.50 in 2011.)

Above: Terpning's Western painting "Search for the Renegades"
sold for a bit over $1.4million in 2006.

There is a 2012 documentary about Howard Terpning—Howard Terpning, Portrait of a Storyteller—but it seems to be out of print and difficult to come by. However, there are some interesting interviews with him on, unsurprisingly, YouTube—like the one below. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Best of Both Worlds

-By Julian Totino Tedesco

Hey everybody! I'm super excited to become a small part of the MC family. As many of you, I've been visiting the site on daily basis since its beginning, so i'm very happy and proud of being able to contribute.

This Meme sums up pretty well how I feel here at MC, among such amazing artists.

In my first post, I'd like to share a method that has proven to be very effective for me to achieve a more organic and traditional feel in my digital paintings.

The truth is that, when it comes to traditional mediums, I'm not as skilled as I'd like to be. Given time - a lot of time - I might be able to come up with something decent (or barely decent). But even having time on my hands, I'm never able to control the final outcome.

Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe that vertigo and uncertainty, in moderate amounts, are wonderful things, but having absolutely no control over what you're doing is no good when you're a pro working under a deadline.

Mixing traditional mediums with digital tools can be an efficient way to get the control and speed that comes with digital tools, and the texture and organic feel of traditional mediums. This is a method you can use, even if you aren't a skilled traditional painter.

Pencils for the cover of "Web Warriors" #4. Marvel Comics 2016.

I usually start with a traditional pencil drawing. The size and type of paper tend to vary according to my needs, but I usually work with a 11"x17" Bristol board.

Once I have the pencil ready and scanned, I print it out on a 9"x12", 300 gm aquarelle paper. I've printed it on a smaller size here because I wanted to work fast, and I wasn't looking for definition or detail at this stage.

Before I start painting (I'll use acrylics), I apply a layer of acrylic gloss medium & varnish covering the whole sheet. The varnish creates a sort of thin plastic coat, impeding the paint from penetrating the paper completely, letting the paint flow freely and reacting in unexpected ways, which is part of the organic feel we're looking at this point.

It doesn't matter how bad you're with acrylics, this is a stage you can still handle. And it doesn't matter how tight your deadline is, this is a step that can be done very fast.

I've used a very old brush with hard bristle to apply the varnish (a cheap, dirty, old brush), so it can leave a texture that I can shape at will, but you can use all sort of different tools like a sponge, a crumpled piece of paper, etc, and get different textures.

For the painting, I'm using Acrylics. You don't have to be picky with the brand here because it won't be a final piece, and the coloring will be handled in Photoshop.

I'll just loosely set the lighter and darker tones using just a few different tubes of paint. The whole point of this proccess is creating a sort of underlayer to work on top later in Photoshop. This is the stage where you bring the texture, the brush strokes, the chaos! Go wild, and don't worry much about details, you'll take care of that at the digital stage.

Now that you have your painting done, we are ready to jump into the digital stage.

With tools like Hue/Saturation and Selective Colors, you can add adjustments layers and start building your color scheme. The painting will change dramatically, but the texture and brush strokes will remain.

Once you're happy with your color scheme , you can start with the actual digital brush work: Adding accents of shadows, glazings , working on details, etc. Try to keep your layers semi transparent at first, so you won't cover the textures, but feel confident to add some opaque accents here and there for the end, where it corresponds.

"Web Warriors" #4. Marvel Comics 2016.

It's not about fooling anybody into thinking this is a traditional painting. It's about bringing some organic elements to your digital work.

There's a lot of great brushes out there, to get "painterly" results, but sometimes it's easier to just paint something very basic and work from there.

Cover for "Thunderbolts" #2. Marvel Comics 2012.

You can see the three steps in the image above: The pencil stage, to the left, the acrylic underlayer, in the middle, and the digital stage, to the right. Notice how the acrylic layer is very basic and raw and, still, was enough to give the digital work a nice organic feel.

Cover for "Agents of SHIELD" #7. Marvel Comics 2014.
Digital and final step.

Corel Painter offers a great tool called Blender. As indicated by the name, it allows you to blend the painting and mix the colors in a very efficient way. Like and advance version of the Smudge Tool in Photoshop. I use it very often, but have in mind that you need to have your layers flattened for a better result.

In this detail you can see the result of mixing your edges with the Blender tool.

Just a fast and loose layer of painting should work to get you some nice texture, but you can go as far as you want/can with your painting, before jumping into the digital stage.

Cover for "Black Knight" #4. Marvel Comics 2015.

Last tip: You can emphasize the texture by using one of the Sharpen filters in Photoshop, during the process, or once the image is finished. I use it a lot. Have in mind that the printed work will probably look less sharp than what you see in the screen, so don't be afraid to push it a bit. By using a mask, you can apply the Sharpen filter to specific areas, instead of the whole image.

Have fun!