Friday, April 22, 2011

Lord McCaw

This was for an exercise I did with some of the other concept artists.  We were supposed to take an animal, find an appropriate personality, and push the caricature a bit.  I want to do another where I push the caricature further, but I was happy with it anyway, considering I did the whole thing in an hour.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


As a kid, I loved Superman. But now he's so boring to me. Maybe it's that he can do everything. Maybe it's that he acts like "the ring is so heavy" Elijah Wood whenever fake green rocks show up. Or it might just be that in order to balance out all his power, writers seem to love making him unsure of himself. Uncertainty doesn't necessarily make a character appealing. It just makes you frustrated with him, like you always are with Hamlet.  And let's face it, Hamlet would have been way less interesting if they made him sword-proof.

Friday, April 01, 2011


Gestalt psychology is an important concept for artists, and it's one way that the struggle of order and chaos is part of good design.  The Gestalt effect is also built into everyone, so you can expect audiences to respond exactly the same, regardless of age, gender, or culture.

Gestalt psychology is about how we sort the complicated mass of information our eyes (and other senses) constantly feed our brain.  Look closely at the above image for a minute.  Stare at one point, or move your eyes around.  Notice how everything swims a bit, like your brain is having a hard time retaining the shape and spacing of the circles?

Now look at this image in the same way.  Any better?

How about this image?  Notice that most of the swimming is gone.

Your brain makes sense of things by forming relationships between the objects in your field of vision.  When these relationships are all equal (in the first image, even the blank spaces are similar in size to the circles), your brain has to constantly work in an attempt to organize the field.  In the third image, your brain easily categorizes the shapes by proximity, value, and size.  Clustering the circles into groups and the colors into gradients makes this sorting even easier.

Strangely, in Gestalt psychology, too much order feels chaotic and organic disorder feels more controlled! This idea can be incredibly useful in painting.  An artist with a good understanding of Gestalt effects can visually engage an audience without overstimulating them, helping them be open to the ideas his or her art is trying to express.  I'll talk about some specific Gestalt principles in later posts, so stay tuned!