ILM Art Department / Artstation Challenge
This was a fun activity to participate in. Department leads and art directors at Industrial Light and Magic provided a hypothetical production course to give the participants a taste of life in a high-end visual effects art department (ie: ILM). The contestants were given a briefing, which would alter, sometimes drastically, as the simulated production unfolded. We had to adapt very quickly with updated ideas, illustrations, designs in a very short turn-around.
To read each of the briefings, visit the official challenge page.
Create two (2) keyframes (minimum) – an emotive still image that tells a cinematic story – within the world of Star Wars Episodes IV – VI. Use only existing Star Wars worlds, vehicles, creatures and characters to create a new story moment.
Some initial thumbnails of overly elaborate environments that would never come to fruition because of time constraints.
(previous image) - I wanted to get the T-16 center frame (my favorite SW ship that never went past a prototype model stage until the Special Editions). I decided to sacrifice complexity for simplicity and time. I chose a composition that emulated a shot from the 1970’s in the same vein on the original films. A low, static shot of a homestead, with the T-16 flying past and a gentle zoom in.
Design two (2) new Star Wars vehicles within the aesthetic of Episodes IV - VI. They can be Rebel, Imperial, or utilitarian — your choice; anything from a giant starship to a land speeder. Be sure to finish your images by placing the vehicles within the context of an environment. We want to see the story — not the blueprints.
This was a SW version of a Dodge Challenger; a Tatooine muscle speeder.
The second vehicle design had to be on Cloud City. These are some initial thumbnails.
Refined sketches of the cloud car variant. I was determined to actually create a more elaborate environment than the previous challenge. This was also one of my favorite environments from the film.
The final cloud car on the city airport. The background environment was a quick render of “cloud city-esque” building shapes. The second set of vehicles on the right were thrown in at the last minute again due to time, but they get the idea across.
The Job, Part I
The final challenge began with a reference to the storied history of Star Wars and the influence of Akira Kurosawa. We needed to create a keyframe based on a specific film (‘The Hidden Fortress’) and update that to this scene of the rebels escaping Hoth after the battle scene in ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’
I started with creating a storyboard of frames from a specific scene in ‘Hidden Fortress’ (next image) to coalesce into a single keyframe of action. I took that and sketched some preliminary thumbnails of Rebels overrunning Imperial Stormtroopers, then imported those on my iPad and used Procreate to lay down the base colors and final composition, the dropped that back into Photoshop to clean up. This one was another fast turn around so I didn’t have time to incessantly polish it….
The Job, Part II
The second challenge was to introduce a new alien race, via their spacecraft. The caveat for this was to utilize the same design technique that the original SW designers used in creating the iconic craft for the original trilogy: real-world reference.
The Job, Part III
The new alien race is introduced. This part of the challenge was to reference cinematography that would enhance the mood of the scene. Our primary source also needed to reference a specific piece of classical art. I chose a personal favorite of mine, David Roberts.
The Job, Part IV
The second part of this challenge required a rapid around exploring a drastic lighting change for a critical scene of a new alien race joining the Rebel Alliance.
The Job, Part V
We were asked to create a spunky “puppy/side-kick” for R2-D2 named DD-3. I ran with very friendly proportions (rule of thirds) to make the little robot adorable and very kid-friendly. I explored different shapes and modes of locomotion, but I wanted to keep it in the realm of the early 80’s prop design. In the end, I decided to stay close to the aesthetic of R2.
I ran the scenario that whomever built the R2 droids has a product line for various regions of the galaxy. DD-3 was simply a simpler “inexpensive” version of R2.
The Job, Part VI
We were given two scenes to visualize. I chose one that featured Han Solo and a new character in the midst of a heated battle/argument while looking for C3P0, who is trapped in the wreckage of a downed spacecraft.
As with mood piece, we were asked to look over specific cinematography. I chose one of the great cinematographers, Roger Deakins, as well as David Fincher. Both of their bodies of work easily leant to the tone I was thinking of for the scene. The following were some shots from various films that I used as a foundation for my keyframe illustration.