Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Creative Quarter Project: Phase 2

The second phase was where we worked on the practicalities of the build. Firstly we borrowed one of the heads for a paint test so the hairdressers could work with waterproof paints for decorating the heads, then we devised some visuals to give us something to work from and to show the hairdressers what could be done. We found acrylic paints to be sufficient for brightness of colour and to be hard wearing with a PVA coating.

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Below are some of the concepts and visual research that we undertook.

phase 2 mood concepts

We spoke to the workshop and model making department to get an idea of the process and the cost of doing such a design. The hairdressers wanted the head to be completely transparent and head shaped which meant making some kind of curved front. We found out early on that this was not possible for a number of reasons, firstly because it was a lengthy process and we would have to vacuum form a plastic front, which would take weeks. Secondly it would cost us near £1000, which given the budget was impossible.

So Emma and I set about reworking the design so to create a shape that was still head shaped and still allow all the heads inside to be seen. We had to inform the hairdressers of an altered design that was more angular and allowed the face to be covered with straight flat pieces of acrylic sheeting which would make the build quicker and cheaper.

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The model above provided a visual for working out how many heads needed painting, the dimensions and as a guide for the workshop and hairdressers.

When we finally spoke to Mick at the workshop we were told that there was very little time that the workshop was free.  He gave us a couple of slots in which it would be possible, amounting to 2-3 days at the most, one day being too close to the deadline. He also looked at the model and said that it would take some skill to angle the wood and joints and that he would have to do that, time permitting.

He suggested a bit of a “find object and alter scenario” due to the time constraints and later that day we had a search for furniture that would be suitable. We found a TV unit that could be altered and an old plinth from Nottingham Trent that was going to be scrapped. In doing so, we were keeping to our original plan of using recycled items as well as saving money and time. We took the TV unit and plinth to Mick and worked out a day for construction.

Later that week, Emma and Mick worked on the structure, altering the shape a little so the back of the unit had a curve. The shelves were removed to create a space inside for the heads to fit. Then they fixed the head unit to the plinth neck.

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Completed structure ready for heads and decoration.

We also had to provide the hairdressers with a wire structure for their hair design that would sit on top of the head. They had decided to go for a hair style in the shape of Robin hood’s hat. So we built a wire shape and covered it with chicken wire to provide a framework and holes to which they could sew or fix hair. They told us that the hair was going to be costly so opted for a combination of wool with hair for the edging. We took the wire hat to them for decoration. At this point we had about 2 weeks left until the deadline. Next phase was decoration.

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app project 096

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Above image shows the full hat structure with wood supports for stability.

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London Locations 1: Set dressing, CGI and inspiration

This last weekend I visited London to source some potential locations that could be adapted for the story. Because the story and city are so vast it will probably take more than one trip to find everything that’s suitable and to finalise measurements and logistics of filming. I have a handful of good locations but I’m not altogether happy with the suitability until I have a go at some concept work first.

The first two locations are the tube station entrance with a small high street and a park. Whether building a shallow pond would be preferable to finding a park with a pond remains to be seen. The pond would only need to have enough water to show part submerged shopping trollies which could be cut to fit a shallow water, so to have the appearance of a deeper pond. One side could also be green screened to allow a CGI overpass in the distance. The amount of trees could cause a problem, so I will keep looking for another park that might be more suitable. The street around Shadwell is a smaller high street that potentially could be closed rather than a larger street that might prove to be more of an upheaval for local residents and shops. It could also be quieter in the Docklands area at the weekend.

london 1a

london 2 a

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Digital Painting: Painting over photos

Another way of producing concept ideas particularly when dealing with actual locations is to paint over photos. This will probably be useful for when visualising set dressing rather than set build. It allows visualisation of a mood, alterations of lighting and might be useful for the designer who wants to guide design at the post production phase. I see that I will use this technique for some of my location choices around London that are not going to feature in my main model/design.  Once I get the hang of digital painting it should be fairly straight forward to produce concepts.

Again, these are just rough images showing what can be done. I will spend a lot more time on my chosen locations when I have my photos next week.


photo work

photo work2

The bottom image is some digital painting with various filters to change sections of the buildings.

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The Creative Quarter Project: Phase 1

Last month Emma Bibby and I teamed up to take on a brief with Nottingham’s Creative Quarter initiative and Nottingham City Council in which artists work with apprentices from Nottingham’s various work sectors.

The Brief:- To work with the apprentices on designing and realising a piece of sculpture that would be installed for apprentice week at the beginning of March. Although it didn’t have to be a literal connection with their trades it had to encompass something about them.

We were also given £300 budget to work with.

We were assigned to the hairdressing academy and in week 1, once we’d meet up with Kathy from the Creative Quarter, Leanne from the council and all the other artists we spent some time collecting visual ideas as a starting point and as something to encourage the hairdressers to think of possible designs. We wanted them to have as much input from an early stage, so kept our ideas and visuals to the possible use of recycled materials and hairdressing styles, using visuals from Pinterest. Below is the mood/visual board that we put together to get the project started.


This was what we took to the first meeting, along with a selection of samples of plastics that could be used in the construction.

Meeting 1 mainly consisted of discussing the idea and CQ project, meeting some of the apprentices and their supervisors and leaving them with the task of coming up with an idea. We  were aware from the early stages that the apprentices didn’t have the building skills to do anything large-scale so Emma and I would take on the construction side. It was apparent that they had very little time to spare on the project, mainly Mondays.

Meeting 2 on the following Monday was when the idea was presented to us. They wanted to use old hairdressing heads that were no longer useful due to the thinning hair and build a larger head from those. There were practicalities to consider such as what paint to use, how much time they had to spare, scale and how many heads would need to be painted. We also discussed the possibility of doing some kind of hairstyle on top of the head, so left them with the task of designing an avant-garde hairstyle/piece for the following meeting.

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Above images are the heads to be used and an example of an avant-garde hairstyle.

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Digital Painting: Playing with Photoshop

I recently bought a Wacom board so I could practice digital painting, combining software such as Sketch Up with Photoshop. My initial Sketch Up drawing was okay but a bit too clinical, so the idea was to try painting over the top of it and layering filters to see if I could come up with some thing that was half decent. This is my first attempt with the Wacom tablet.

From this…

rubbish street mask

To this…


The following two pictures are using sepia and blue filters.

wacom 4 cool

wacom 3 sepia

It’s sketchy and will take some more practice to get the precision of a pencil and brush, but theoretically concepts can be developed through combining Sketch Up, Photoshop and painting with the Wacom tablet and pen.

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