Mar 25, 2010

Monday Artday: Monkey Variation II and III; and Some Method-ology.

'"Hey... hey! Not the frog, don't let the monkey kiss the frog!" yelled Medici.

    Well, while Rome burned this afternoon and I waited for my eight year old Jersey cow to lay a golden egg, I stood on the front balcony and played Irish battle songs on my grandfather's ancient Heindecker fiddle.
    And as I fiddled, driving the neighbours nuts (even those in Victory Apartments stuck their grey heads out), I asked myself: "What's the most important part of the monkey illustration I did this morning?"

    Answer: The relationship between the boy (Tim in case you don't recognise him), the frog, and the monkey. So I cropped and re-arranged and came up with this. The hand without a body was a risky manouevre. But if  Degas circa 1897 could cut off bodies, so can I circa 2010:)  (and don't forget, Van Gogh cut off his own ear with a bread and butter knife - and his hearing was never the same....)
     But I digress :)

     Below are some images from along the way. They might be of interest if you are interested in the method. Don't you love tautology?

     The first is a bluescreen of the main action. Firstly I rendered this against the church background, then blurred the background up and superimposed this transmap. (for 'transmap' read 'alpha' map. ) In the transmap what you see here as white is actually clear. That way I can put shards of light behind these figures if I want, and get a little depth of focus happening. Sometimes you need to blur the edges of the transmap to get it to sit correctly. It's a good time to play with lost and found edges. I like to use the mouse for this and make it less clinical - rather then the precision Waacom.

The next image is the texture map for the "Organ Grinder" box. (Gee that is a scary word). Hmm. With the texture, you can see I used a lot of grunge and wear to give it some character - grunge is very fashionable at the moment among Cg artists. I'm also not too particular about geting things straight and even. CG work is straight enough as it is.

I've been using the 'clea'r attribute lately on my brush work in photoshop elements and it makes it easier than using eraser all the time - as you can change the brush orientation. But I am working with very big images at 300 dpi, and a lot of the time the brush resolution is not high enough. Uggh.

This next character in the image below is, of course, Max the monkey. He is rendered again as a transmap so I can bring him into photoshop and place him where I want on the organ box texture. Great suit that I made for him.... I should have been a seamstress ..... puting the gold braid on was fun. I hope he appreciates it when the next monkey parade is on. He is rendered with a high ambient setting to increase shadow detail.

And lastly, below is the whole scene in situ, without the viscious cropping. You can see the shards of light painted between the foreground figures and the church bricks. And also the detrious painted on the ground really adds a bit of flavour - it suggests both the passage of time and the fact that there is something outside what you can see in this illustration (ie adds temporal and spatial elements). 

 I'm not really happy with the organ grinder's face, though I fiddled with it for a while. And gave him a new slick haircut! His head is too small compared to Tim's, and his legs too long. Good, I have something to work on over Easter.... :) :)

   The programs I used in this were:

  Anim8or for some of the basic modelling. Blacksmith 3d morph for the facial morphs. Blacksmith 3d paint for the face textures. Uvmapper Pro for the organ texture uv mapping. Photoshop elements for post processing and some textural work. Stitwitch for texturing the monkets clothes. Carrara for Scene setup, rendering and some meshwork and texturing. I also used basic Carrara content for the base meshes, plus purchased content. And lots of different brushes from different sources,

 Thanks for looking and, if you like, click for big. :) 

 Sorry about the spellink mistakes. Englash is my secondo language.


The last image is to give you an idea of the underlying geometry of the scene. You can see a better example here, of Saint Enrico the Dwarven Acrobat and Chicken Sexer. 


  1. Ooooo, oooo, I'm here first, can I have the golden egg, puhleeeassseee! I didn't win the marshmallows - Big 'Ol Al did - so I need the golden egg OK, thanks!

    Man o man Andrew didn't realize you bought out the computer graphics industry to produce these incredible pieces! Wow, this is just spectacular! In spite of your misgivings about the organ grinder, this is my absolute favorite portrait of Tim you've done so far. Here he looks sweet with a touch of mischief, I love his outfit too, and of course the monkey's (I think you meant you should've been a tailor - but hey, I'm not here to judge!).

    Is the pheasant part of your signature now or just this image?

    Thanks for sharing your creative genious process, always a treat!

  2. Wow, this is so complicated. How do you do these so fast with so much going on? It would take me weeks to this, if I even knew how that is! The clothing is very cool, I agree you could have been a tailor!

  3. Wow, this almost looks real!..great details.

  4. Ok, I'll admit it-- all of this explanation goes waaaaay over my head. The end result, however, is fabulous!

  5. I salute you, my friend! This without a doubt shows a lot of patience and perseverance!! Something I have to beat myself up for every time I'm trying to finish a piece... One word to you: ingenious. (^_^)

  6. holy smokes!!! wonderful work!!!

  7. You make me want to take classes in cg and I already have enough distractions...LOL organ grinder! I think this is my favorite image.
    And I do so appreciate the steps in the process.

  8. Now let's try that again!

    Hi! Thanks for the kind words everyone. I'm sorry the explanation was kina geeky and really needs a glossary.

    Susan you are right I meant tailor :)

    Karen I obviously am having a mispent adulthood. I should go and sit on the beach. But seriously, to set up something like this takes about five hours. But you can then proceded like a fashion shoot on motor drive if you want!

    And Krista, Celine and Amalia and Diana and Cathyann thankyou once again for the kind comments.

    Yes, I stumbled over the fact it was an organ grinder and stuff - it makes the label a bit hard.

    Next time he will be the hurdy gurdy man I think!!I

    It looks better when you say 'And Enrico Medici lept over his hurdy gurdy machine to save his monkey from the feindish hands of the evil Doctor Tim'.... rather than the other choice...

    Oh gee I ramble!!

    see you :)

  9. awesome, Andrew! Your customary palette plays really well here, and the utterly-rapt expression on that quizzical monkey is priceless (really draws this viewer in and can't take my eyes off him!).

    Who's more amazed, the frog or the monkey?! ;)


    You have been so prolific! These are incredible. I have an award for you Andrew.


Hya! Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I appreciate your time and thoughts.