Name: Anya Elvidge
P Number: P1321360X
Project Title: Epic City
Overview: To create a series of semi-stylised concepts of 4 colossal cities based in the 1700’s. All the cities must be geographically distinct but exist in the same world. Must also consider hero buildings and inhabitants.
I first created some moodboards on Pinterest, then took some of my preferred images forward to a moodboard in Photoshop where I overpainted shapes I liked, and wrote the thoughts they gave me. At this point I also looked through books such as Structura 3, Assassin’s Creed art books, and Studio Ghibli books.
This gave me a few vague city ideas, which I shortlisted to 6 and wrote a bit about how I could imagine them. I chose images that fitted in with my imagining for each city. I ended up settling on University, Agricultural, Magical, and Military-themed cities.
Even though I already had ideas in my head for each city, I decided to create two pages of sketches per city developing on these ideas or trying to push my ideas in a new direction. I wanted to play about with views, building ideas, and city layouts too. I stuck to black and white and tried not to overthink this stage- that’s where I went wrong with my last project.
I was more experimental with some cities than others. For instance the military city wasn’t particularly solid in my head, so I played about with symmetry and all sorts in Photoshop.
At this point I was beginning to lean towards some sketches more than others. I took the sketches I preferred, and tried to develop them further so that I was beginning to have a definitive city layout that I could later create in 3D. I feel that because the project was so short I didn’t get to spend long enough on development, and in hindsight there are some cities that are much weaker than others in terms of interest and design.
I imagined this city to be extremely horizontally expansive, with rice-paddy-like tiers built around hillocks. I wanted to it be colourful, mostly due to the lack of industrial development. The city had been built around nature, not against it, and the city would retain natural lakes, rivers, and plantlife.
This city I could imagine having a very ethereal feel, not really retaining one specific colour palette from night to day to dusk as magic changed the city by the hour. I wanted it to have a dream-like sparkly/shimmery feel. The city would be built into a waterfall, with it’s magical properties protecting it from the water’s power.
The military city was much inspired by Oxford and photos I took at Chateau de Chambord in France. I wanted it to be grand, clean, and well-designed for protection. I could imagine great arched structures throughout the city that could be closed with gates to section off areas of the city should it be attacked. The city would be very very long, stretching along the border of a rival country, and one side of the city would be fiercely guarded and controlled while the other was welcoming and beautiful.
This city would be largely quite dull and oppressive looking, covering a huge expanse of land with boring, single-height buildings like a maze. Consideration has been given to functionality as a place of teaching, not to the comfort of the city’s residents or the appearance of the city.
I started to add colour to my developed sketches, thinking about colour palettes, atmosphere, and mood. Again I felt very under pressure here to just get on with the final paintings. I didn’t have the time to create iteration after iteration of mood ideas, and so settled very quickly on a final. I’m glad I was quick to move on to the main paintings because I needed every hour I could get, even if it meant my design ideas were weaker.
Like I said, I wanted this city to have quite a bright colour palette and friendly feel while still being very expansive. The tiers made it possible to add random bands of colour that would complement the palette overall.
In these mood paintings, I created a totally different mood for night and day and liked where that was going. I was inspired to make the city have a whole rainbow of colours radiating out from the central palace, but kind of lost that in the final painting. I could imagine the city colours changing constantly though, like it was iridescent or something similar.
I really liked the colour palette I started to develop for this city. The dark, oppressive feel was really coming through. I could imagine this city being in the middle of a desert or moorland, surrounded by next to nothing.
The final paintings were when my shortcomings really started to become apparent. Colour palettes I had established started to fall apart, multiple different styles emerged, I started to fall behind schedule and in some cases I just felt completely incapable of painting certain things. The first week, development week, of this project went really smoothly and I was well on schedule. Unfortunately I didn’t really know what to expect with creating my final paintings and 3D blockouts, and so though I stayed relatively on schedule, some oversights led to bits being missed out or paintings remaining unfinished.
Agricultural City (‘the failure’);
This is the city I struggled with most for sure. I consider the paintings for this city pretty much a complete failure, and would remove them if I could; the idea was bad in the first place, the thumbnails were too vague, and the blockout was awful. I was completely unsure where to start with the 3D blockout, because the terrain would have many tiers forming rings around the hills. I considered 3dsMax, UE4, and World Machine, but in the end just created simple terrain and decided to try and make up the tiers. This ended up being a really stupid idea, and though I still have no idea how I would have created the tiers, they would have made the whole painting process much easier.
The paintings for this city had to be started and re-started and I ended up losing about two days as a result of problems creating this city. The bottom right piece also isn’t actually finished yet and I will be returning to. The top right piece I strongly dislike, and ended up actually abandoning this piece because it was so frustrating. I really started to lose the colour palette, and in my attempts to reinstate it realised that I had really put no consideration into any aspect of this city.
I think the pieces for my magical city are some of my favourite. I feel that I successfully achieved a dream-like atmosphere. I’m particularly happy with the top left painting because I kept trying to incorporate the style of Tom Scholes into my work, and I feel that I achieved this a little with the buildings in the city. The waterfalls in this piece became so stylised that they look nothing like them, but I don’t mind so much because I like the overall style. The right-hand painting I’m not so pleased with, and would like to come back to if I can find the time so I can work on the ceiling.
Again I’m quite pleased with the Military City pieces, however I again feel that I really lapsed out of the style I was aiming for and would like to fix this. In my initial ideas, I was going to make all the roofs out of purple slate, but I liked the combination of the orange and green, with bits of purple here and there. I find that when I’m trying to render something very specific, I accidentally adopt a very stylised and cartoony style, such as with the bottom-right interior shot. I’d really like to work on changing this, such as by learning how to suggest detail with textures, and also by learning how to render surfaces properties more realistically.
The paintings for the exterior of this city were the first ones I created and I really enjoyed myself. In hindsight, they’re perhaps a bit grey, but I also really like the hints of colour I’ve thrown in. I felt that I worked really fluidly here, and they were the quickest paintings I created. In contrast, the bottom painting was a real grind and I’m really unhappy with it. It’s just got no atmosphere or realism to it. I wanted to fix it during week 10, but I think it would have been too big a job, involving re-creating a blockout and starting from the beginning.
Instead of including realised inhabitant sketches in the main paintings, which I think would cause me to agonise over them too hard, I decided to just do a sheet of inhabitants with 3 characters per city. This would give a vague idea of the sorts of characters found there. I’m not particularly pleased with them, but they’re by no means a ‘final outcome’; just something to give you, the viewer, an idea of who could be living in these huge cities.
Week 10 reverse engineered thumbnails;
I had a lot of feedback to deal with during week 10, and many changes I wanted to make to multiple paintings. So, I decided to work fast rather than re-working my final pieces, and create cut-and-pasted thumbnails of my paintings to show changes I would make in detail if I had the chance. They are remixed versions of my paintings, some with new additions too. I thought you may be interested to see the changes I have made from the originals above.
Overall I feel that I had some real failures and some great successes with this project.
I found it extremely hard to maintain a single style when I was learning so many new processes over the course of the three weeks. I think this was one of the main shortcomings of my work so far. Some pieces have quite a realistic feel to them, some are almost abstract, and some are just awful and line-arty and flat. Trying to maintain the colour palettes and moods I had established in my mood sketches was also really difficult, because as I developed throughout the project I found it really hard to not just free-style it and change everything on the fly.
Another big issue during this project was trying to stick to my time schedule, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times. I mostly did, which I’m pleased with, but unfortunately I missed out a bit on time to rectify mistakes at the end of the project. I have a big list of things I want to fix and finish because I didn’t have time this week. I found that some paintings took far far longer than others, which completely threw off my ability to measure my progress on the project. I’ve definitely discovered that 3D blockouts are very important to whether I successfully create an image or not; the Agricultural city had a very vague blockout, which had a knock-on affect on my finished paintings which are quite poor. The University city also had a bad blockout when it came to the interior shots, and so my final interior shot ended up being a total disaster with a bad sense of scale and no atmosphere.
For future painting projects I’ll be much more careful to plan my images and create informative blockouts. I think I’ll also plan my material properties so I can be more realistic in how I render them.
My biggest overall failure, I think, was that I completely failed to convey the sense of scale I was going for in all of the cities. A lot of this came down to my 3D blockouts, and also to my inability to fake detail such as windows, decorations, brickwork etc. This aversion to adding detail also had an effect on my city interior concepts; the brief states that I must consider hero buildings within the cities- I don’t think I achieved this. I definitely need to practise if I hope to get any good at creating interesting and impressive paintings.
It’s not all bad though. I’m super pleased with the way I handled the atmosphere in a lot of the city exterior city shots. I’ve become more sensitive to lighting and atmosphere over the course of this project. It’s been really great to practise pure painting for 3 weeks, and I’m happy to have learned so much. I’m a bit annoyed that I have so much I want to go back and fix, but that’s all part of the process and I’m sure my paintings will improve a decent amount with some time away and then further development.