Welcome to the “Beneath” themed issue of your free Digital Art Live magazine!
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Welcome to the latest issue of our free magazine! Please, dig in. No, literally… dig in. Ideally with a giant nuclear powered drilling-machine! Because this is our issue on the theme of “Beneath”, aka “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”.
There are also many opportunities for creative visualisations of real-world and well-funded technologies, which are moving ahead at a steady pace. There’s Elon Musk’s Boring Company, for instance, which recently completed two miles of tunnels around the Las Vegas Convention Center, in just six months. This and many other innovative technologies may yet meet up in the future, perhaps to construct new habitable caverns under Moon craters or beneath the surface of Mars.
Underground exploration is a fast-developing field. 3D mapping drones can fly/swim through cave systems and old mines to map them in minute detail — perhaps rather useful if the caves are home to virus-laden bats! Or these may be mines that could be made productive again with the aid of robotic tunnellers, miners and ore-carriers, or could be tapped for the long-promised but elusive dream of free geothermal power, or put to a new use for future mushroom-based food production.
The science of the world beneath our feet is also fascinating, with potential new medicines being found in a deep scoop of soil, and hardy life-forms being discovered far deeper into the earth than was ever thought possible. If we find life on other nearby planets, it may also be deep — perhaps sunk in dripping volcanic caverns under Mars, or swimming far down in the oceans of Europa. And with those deep thoughts, please dig in to this month’s issue…
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Doug started work with Disney, patented a new form of comics storytelling and now works in pre-vis for major productions.
COMICS | MOVIE PRE-VIS
“I write the story with pictures before I write it with words. [and] I sketch a lot more story ideas than I complete. This is by design. Most people spend too little time on their initial ideas. The best way to come up with a good idea is to come up with a lot of ideas.”
Bjorn (‘Ariel-X’) is making an ardous move from Vue to Blender, and talks with us about the highs and lows of creativity.
POSER | VUE | BLENDER
“Creating images is my favourite thing to do and I had a well rehearsed process with Vue, Hexagon and Poser. To cut those ties was scary and it was like I was back in 2006. … For the longest time, I thought I would never be able to
Sylvia is a leading Krita artist, using the free painting software to create both superb speedpaints and refined card-sets.
KRITA | CARD SETS
“Many artists say that they get faster at creating artworks as they progress. For me it has been quite the opposite. At the beginning I worked three to four days on an artwork. Nowadays it can take four to six weeks to complete a new addition [to my card sets].”
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BACK ISSUE INDEX
Excerpt from our interview with Doug Lefler
See the full interview in issue 51
DAL: Doug, welcome to Digital Art Live magazine. We discovered you and your creative work while searching for the best examples of motion-comics — and then realised you’d be perfect for an interview in our planned “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” themed issue of the magazine.
DL: Thank you for contacting me, and for giving me this opportunity to discuss one of my favourite subjects!
DAL: Great. Before we begin, could you say a little about your long career. I know you’ve worked as a storyboarder on a long list of hit movies, from The Avengers back to Wayne’s World, plus a number of animated features.
DL: Yes. I have worked in the film industry all of my professional life. I got my first paying job when I was still in High School, doing stop motion animation on an industrial film. I was hired out of art school to work in the feature animation division of Disney when I was 20. My first feature film was The Fox and the Hound. During that production I segued from animation to the story department, and I have been drawing storyboards ever since. Because I was a good storyboard artist, it led to opportunities to do screenwriting and directing. My first directing gig was second unit on Army of Darkness for Sam Raimi. My first main unit directing job was the TV movie Hercules and the Ring of Fire, for Sam Raimi’s production company. I worked as a director for fifteen years doing television and features.
DAL: You also worked on a fave science-fiction series of mine, Babylon 5?
DL: Yes, on one episode of Babylon 5, which happened to be written by Neil Gaiman.
DAL: Nice. And I see that you studied at the California Institute of the Artsthe mid 1970s. A great deal has changed since then, but what would you say has stayed the same — perhaps for the young creative starting out in the world, then as now?
DL: I was in the first year of the Character Animation program at Cal Arts, a class comprised of creative misfits that included John Musker, John Lasseter and Brad Bird. Tim Burton started in the second year of that program. A lot has changed in the film industry since then, and some of my classmates are directly responsible for those changes. Lasseter started a little company called Pixar.
But the principles of drawing, animating and storytelling have remained constant. Today knowledge is readily available and pens and paper are cheap. I was an early adopter of digital drawing, but I still return to pen and paper when I am problem solving. It is easier for me to think on paper. Or I return to it when I want to improve my drawing, because paper doesn’t have an Undo button. Of those three skills I listed storytelling has been the most important to my career. I have not animated in years. I can draw well, but there are others I own to be my superiors. However my ability to tell stories with drawings has led to most of the significant opportunities I have had.
DAL: So storytelling trumps all, I see. Turning now to your current interests and work. Your graphic story episodes at Scrollon — online for free — are not motion-comics, of the sort that one might make with Smith Micro’s MotionArtist 1.3. They’re more akin to something the mainstream comics world is only now really catching up with, which we might call ‘scroller comics’ for readers using phones and small tablets. Scrollon’s succinct description is: “Storytelling without pages or borders”. What were the inspirations, and how did it develop over time until you perfected the format?
DL: The idea for Scrollon originated when I was in art school. One of my professors took our class on a field trip to the Los Angeles Museum of Art and showed us a Chinese scroll painting. It was one long landscape, but it was an immersive experience to work your way through — by rolling up the portion you just saw, and unrolling the next section. At the time I thought it would be a great way to tell a story. Afterward I got a big roll of paper and started to draw a comic on it. I got far enough along to convince myself it could be a marvellous method of storytelling, but at the time I could not figure out how to mass produce it. So I tabled the idea for a few decades.
When I eventually considered the challenge of the digital comic medium, the one thing that was clear to me was that we should not try to force a computer, tablet or a phone ‘to be a book’. We needed a new approach and a new visual language for storytelling. My solution was to dust off a very old idea that suddenly had relevance, and Scrollon® was born. So I hired a programmer and filed for a patent.
DAL: Super. Now, I understand you don’t feel that the word ‘comics’ really fits what you’re doing with Scrollon? How do you prefer to describe these storytelling works, and what is the reasoning behind that choice?
DL: I believe Scott McCloud — author of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art — said that the timing of comics is hidden in the gutters between the panels. I am probably misquoting him…
DAL: What the industry calls ‘the gutters’ or ‘panel gutters’…
DL: Right. And the same concept is true in film editing where the most important part of storytelling can happen between the cuts. In any art form knowing what to leave out is as important — but harder to learn — than knowing what to include. Scrollon does not have ‘gutters’, so I needed to develop a visual language that would allow the reader to know when one ‘story beat’ ends and the next one begins.