Thursday, August 18, 2011

Urhu Erhu Lute

Another prop finished for the Desert Set. This, the sacred string instrument that the Serpent Sage Musician, Urhu, plays all day everyday by his painted tent in the desert.
Sherie was the "starter" for me on this (that's the designation for my wonderful project assistants who I assign to kick a prop or set off and then I can progress it easily. Project Rule #68; Rolling on a task someone has started with you is far easier than trying to start alone from nothing.) She and I decided the Sage's instrument should follow the petal-shape motif used in his tent design. After auditioning many possibilities, we cobbled together how it might work (upper left) using the bottom of an empty dishwashing liquid bottle and odd wooden shapes I had on hand, including chopped twisted chopsticks.

She started sanding and painting the basecoat on what we'd devised last time. We decided the strings would be golden to connote the sacredness of this spiritual being and his music. We made the center of the flower-petaled bridge a little window on another world by gluing a glass half dome over dried yellow dahlia stamen. Appropriate material to use, yes, but its effect is like a looking into a strange landscape in miniature. Perhaps it's a glimpse into where the character comes from (noted for future episodes in the film!)

It's a Halflandian cross between a cello, a mandolin, a snake, East Indian primitive culture, Middle Eastern primitive culture, Asian primitive culture, and a flower at essence.

The neck has faux ivory inlay details and a tuning peg near its carved scroll head stock. The body, shaped from newspaper and masking tape, was given a hollow wood instrument look by filling in the seams and cracks a few times with layers of wood filler, sanding, and painting with raw sienna acrylic. The final coat was clear natural paste wax for a soft polished sheen.

Sherie cut and fitted an oval of nude leather for the face which was later stained and tinted with Nova's rich transparent Indian Yellow acrylic, tinted, near its wood oval sound board in the middle, with walnut ink shading.

I used metallic gold thread for the strings which begin at the neck and travel around the tail piece underneath. They are held away from the body and separated by the wooden flower petal bridge.  It won't actually play any sounds. But in the film will be resonate like a cello as the strings of the bow are drawn slowly across them.

Sherie is slamming on the Desert Set progress. Next time she comes over I'll ask her to make a start on the bow!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Reflecting on Halfland Posters

Starting to sketch up concepts for Halfland's posters and other collateral materials.
My dream of creating ambigram lettering of sorts for the logo titles for the project began in earnest yesterday when I came across artist Rowena Murillo's profile photo at random (lower right). She had a school logo on her shirt and that got me thinking about making Halfland's lettering reflect in a mirror.

Wikipedia on a search turned me onto the beautiful rorschach ambigram paintings (a couple bottom center) by John Langdon that I roughed onto her shirt. I found that there were automatic ambigram generators online and that the very best, based on my results was Flip Script. I'm still refining what raw ambigram I'll use, but when I do, I plan to purchase the high res art to use as the basis for the rest I'll do to it from that site. So far, I've used screen grabs of the various free previews, edited their positions and added insect and human artifacts to them letter forms (above).

Here's the thing, ambigrams, a term I hadn't known before yesterday, generally read the same at 180ยบ angles, right side up and upside down. I wanted the lettering to read when reflected in the mirror, yes, but not just that. It really also needs to be somewhat communicative without the use of a mirror, viewing right side up. So my results below are very satisfying for me. They do the trick for me.

I have since gone back to the Flipscript generator and tried all sorts of approaches to trick the code into giving me lettering that will read as "Halfland" when viewed from every direction with a mirror. Somehow I cracked the code and did it. So those results may show up in t-shirts or other items.

But in the meanwhile, I completely enjoyed experimenting with various project imagery to begin to see the world being created coming together at long last...
Some of my favorite 1/2L images are the underwater shots of the Koi of Enlightenment. Here I've paired one of them (liking how my hand is visible with it) with some of the layered painted clouds and cyc sky.
Here's a rather dark and strange collage of the character Tarn and two distinct landscapes representing her two aspects, the moon at night and the healing desert, with a vertical lettering treatment.
Bosq the Snoring Cat dreams a languid dream of Halfland as if submerged in the smeared syrup of sleeping.

PS: If you happen to have a mirror nearby you, try holding it up to the screen, either above or below any of these sketches lettering horizon lines. If you wait a moment your brain should find the language pattern in the lettering and reveal the name of our secret place anyway you reflect on it. 
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