Monthly Archives: February 2014

Digital Painting: Sketch Up and Photoshop

I had a go at digital painting over an image created in Sketch Up. The Sketch Up image is a basic,  clinical looking drawing but is quick to produce. I’m more used to drawing with pencil and painting so I’m making the transition to digital art in order to work quickly.

shadows and cladding 1

Basic Sketch Up drawing

tester 2

Drawing altered in Photoshop using a blue filter and digital painting with a mouse, building broken windows and texture.

rubbish street 1

Starting to add possible rubble from photos.

rubbish street 2

rubbish street 3a

Above pictures show the cutting out sections of wall to show dereliction in Photoshop.

rubbish street mask

Adding more texture to floor and walls with painted grass. I didn’t go any further with pasting rubble on this occasion but will be adding in some other pasted images at the next stage. All the painting has been done using a mouse which is a little awkward to use when I’m used to pencil, so the next time I will be using a Wacom tablet that allows a more natural way to paint digitally.


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Mood Boards: Inspiration for lab

I have compiled another mood board, this time for the medical research centre that features later in the story. It blends old and new ideas and inspiration which  reflects the external locations of the city. I also like the idea of using some Frankenstein inspired lab equipment alongside some of the more modern computer display units.

mood board lab

Images from my Pinterest page

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Mood Board 1: Initial ideas

During the reading process I have been adding images to my Pinterest boards for inspiration. London of the future isn’t hugely different in the way that it still has Victorian and Edwardian buildings with a few modern additions. In fact The Tube Riders London shows very little in the way of development. What has been built, has been left part finished. Most of the modern parts of the city are in the east around Canary Wharf, similar to modern-day London. Future London is walled, as are all the cities of the UK. The city is a police state in which people live in fear of the looters, gangs, the government and the Huntsmen. The idea of the mood board is to start to piece together a selection of images that provide a starting point for research.

mood board 1

All above images are from my Pinterest boards at:-

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The MA Project: Designing for film

This is the stage  where the script gets broken down into scenes, internal/external, night/day, props, and special effects. Before I do that I am making choices about which sections of the story to focus on, ones that give me plenty of visual research and also  show as much as possible of the overall aesthetic of the film from the Production Design point of view.

Project Plan and Main Scenes

Rough outline of potential sets and locations

St Cannerwells :- abandoned underground station in which the gang meet and ride the trains(INT)*

St Cannerwells Park :- unkempt park surrounded by streets, with rubbish filled pond, boxes, overgrown with views of overpass in distance (EXT)*

School exterior :- The external area around the school gate is Victorian with alley ways, streets of burnt out buildings, looters and a view across to the east where a spacecraft is seen launching. (EXT)

Parliament Tower :- Government skyscraper building at Canary Wharf with external gardens/park land, walls, portcullis. (views from inside and outside) (EXT)*

The Governors Office/Room :- Office/lounge area inside the Parliament Tower with art on the walls, leather sofas, tinted windows and views out over central London. (INT)*

Medical research Centre :- Main experimental complex that is situated underground, beneath a warehouse. Houses multiple floors, lifts, corridors, a lab, reception area, an arena area, torture chambers, a bathroom etc. (INT)*

There are also many scenes of street locations and internal house sets that could provide further concepts. I have stared the main scenes/locations that will feature in some way as concepts and designs with the Medical Research Centre as the main set build for the model and technical drawings. I’m aiming to have a diverse choice of locations to show the overall look and feel of the film. In addition to sets there will be some prop and character concepts which will probably include the following:-

Marta Banks


The Governor

The Huntsmen ( hybrid/cyborg/animal/human hunters)

Props:- Claw boards (Skateboard without wheels but with hooks for riding the sides of trains)

Props list will be added to when I break down each scene further

Practical Work

To answer the MA question through case studies/Q & A with known Production Designers and through the exploration and realisation of a practical project (novel to film) to include:-

*Art department text breakdown (scenes/props/special effects)

* Sketchbook work/visual research/experimental design work

*A series of set concepts/designs to include at least 2 exterior adaption/locations

*storyboard of a selected scene

*a minimum of 2 character concepts, to include the Huntsmen

*Full white card model to scale of composite set with a rendered section

*Technical drawings of model set including elevations and plans

*Minimum of 2 prop makes with drawings

*Scaled up realisation of a part of set for Expo(small section) to show practical techniques (dependent on timescale)

*Scaled up realisation of Huntsmen to show practical skills in prop/model making

The next phase will be a detailed breakdown of main set choice and details for the exterior locations.

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The Novel to Film Project: The Tube Riders

I have chosen The Tube Riders (part 1) as my novel to film project for a variety of reasons. The obvious one is the genre. It’s set in future London in the year 2075 so it fits into the sci-fi category as well as having a strong dystopian thread to the narrative. I was also struck by the post-apocalyptic feel to the settings the first time I read it; some futuristic architectural elements are present but there are a lot of existing modern-day locations that are in  varying stages of decay or destruction with some areas of London being more well-kept. There are external locations that can be adapted from today’s London, a large underground complex that contains a lab, torture chambers, an arena and various floors and corridors that would be more than adequate for a model/concept designs and government buildings that provide further concept options. In addition to this there are abandoned tube stations, cars, rubbish filled streets and a general look of a war-torn, unkempt London. There is also an opportunity to work on some interesting character/costume concepts and with horror elements in regards to the “Huntsmen” hybrid creatures that feature all the way through the book.

tube riders

The overall visual aesthetic of the story is that of divisions of rich and poor, but predominantly poor and abandoned. There is a sci-fi genre crossover between dystopian, post apocalyptic, horror/gothic with the characters and locations but also in the way that the buildings are described in the text; empty shells, half-finished building work, particularly the bypass road depicted as “a severed arm” I immediately thought that this way of  describing the landscape could work well with all the buildings, adding a sense of  a gothic, almost Frankenstein look to the film design, which fits well with the cyborg/human/animal hybrid Huntsmen.

The next phase is to breakdown the chapters into potential settings/props/concepts and to list all the  designs/types of work that I will produce in order to explore the role of Production designer, initially for the pre-production stage and then possibly for later stages should it be necessary.

Synopsis from Amazon

“Beneath the dark streets of London they played a dangerous game with trains. Now it is their only chance for survival…
Britain in 2075 is a dangerous place. A man known only as the Governor rules the country with an iron hand, but within the towering perimeter walls of London Greater Urban Area anarchy spreads unchecked through the streets.

In the abandoned London Underground station of St. Cannerwells, a group of misfits calling themselves the Tube Riders seek to forget the chaos by playing a dangerous game with trains. Marta is their leader, a girl haunted by her brother’s disappearance. Of the others, Paul lives only to protect his little brother Owen, while Simon is trying to hold on to his relationship with Jess, daughter of a government official. Guarding them all is Switch, a man with a flickering eye and a faster knife, who cares only about preserving the legacy of the Tube Riders. Together, they are family.

Everything changes the day they are attacked by a rival gang. While escaping, they witness an event that could bring war down on Mega Britain. Suddenly they are fleeing for their lives, pursued not only by their rivals, but by the brutal Department of Civil Affairs, government killing machines known as Huntsmen, and finally by the inhuman Governor himself.”

Further information about author Chris Ward is available at:-


visual and synopsis

WARD,C., 2012. The Tube Riders Trilogy (#1) . (Kindle Version)

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Skills and Digital Design: Auto CAD


Above image is a screen shot jpeg of my computer screen.

The second practical session this week was Auto CAD. It provides a quick way to produce technical drawings for scenic design, but can also be used for architecture, product design and a number of practical applications. It’s a particularly important design tool for film and TV design as the role of the Production Designer involves a fair amount of technical drawing that has to be produced to a high standard for the construction team. The drawings have to be clear and to the appropriate scale, which is usually 1:50 for film and TV design.

I had a go at drawing some simple shapes, cross-hatching, adding a few measurements and then exporting the document as a jpeg just to get a feel for the basics. In my next session I plan to do a basic room layout with measurements and to have a go at importing an existing plan of a sound stage that I can add to.

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Skills and Digital Design: Google Sketch Up

Today I downloaded Google Sketch Up as it’s a useful tool  for producing quick concepts of architecture and interiors. I exported the first two images as Jpegs which means I should be able to use them in other applications like Photoshop. The first images are really about experimenting with rough room shapes and textures and seeing what I can do. Each wall has a different texture chosen from brickwork through to stone. There are plenty of textures to choose from so it’s possible to render architectural buildings, rooms, streets and external scenes that contain organic matter such as grass.

room textures 1

room textures 2

dogs and sketch up 099

This image show the introduction of objects that are imported from the Sketch Up files. The clock, desk, chair and rug are all imported additions that were resized and manipulated to fit roughly with the shape and size of room.

Today was just a starting point and there is a lot to learn. I’m going to keep working on the application this week and see what’s possible. Whether the textures are realistic enough for some of the concepts I have in mind remains to be seen, but maybe creating composites of Sketch Up and Photoshop combined might produce some nice textures and workable designs.

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