Monday, September 17, 2007

Speed Blur

Here’s a painting of Will Denison that appears near the beginning of Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. It follows a finicky establishing shot of Waterfall City. The idea was to grab the reader with fast movement.


Maybe you’re like me, and you love to stop-frame DVDs during fast action sequences (drives some people crazy). I got this idea by frame-grabbing during scenes where the camera is tracking a fast-flying object through tight spaces. The whole background blurs radially from the vanishing point along the path of movement. The blur gets more extreme toward the edges of the picture. Forms closest to the “camera” blur the most. Only the edges perpendicular to the movement get the blur treatment; the ones running along the path of action stay sharp.

Yeah, I know there are Photoshop and 3D programs that can create this effect, but I wanted to do it the “inconvenient” way with good old oil paint. I laid in the whole scene wet-into-wet, and swooshed the edges with a white nylon blender.

9 comments:

Bowlin said...

Mr. Gurney, I've been admiring your work for quite some time. I've noticed that in a lot of your paintings the oil looks thinned to the point of clearly showing your pencil work as part of the painting. In this painting you posted it appears there's some pencil work in the bottom left hand corner, on the dinosaur and sidewalk?

Do you use some sort of spray sealer over the drawing? If so, what kinds are appropriate for oil?

And thank you very much for making such a detailed blog for us aspiring artist. The amount of information in here is quite overwhelming. Your insight into the Golden Age Illustrators studies is remarkable, making it sound so obvious.

And as mentioned in a previous post, I'd also love to see more about your lighting, not only on models, but some thoughts how you use it in composition as well (Edge lighting,etc.).

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Bowlin, I appreciate your great ideas for future posts.

And you're very observant. In a nutshell, I draw the image in pencil on illustratiion board and seal it with acrylic matte medium before laying in thin or thick oil layers. As you probably already know without the matte medium, the oil solvents would dissolve the pencil.

Munchanka said...

Very cool, James. You captured the dynamic cinematic feel of the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi. The inverted stirrups are a nice design touch. Will is developing as a very cool character!

Cat said...

I had this painting as my desktop for most of this month, actually! (Though I used the much smaller version found on the main Dinotopia site.) One of my co-workers asked me: "is that a dinosaur in Venice?" and I replied: "pterosaurs aren't technically dinosaurs." ;-) I also got many compliments when I was using Morning in Treetown!

K_tigress said...

Oh yeah love it. Love those action and or dramatic scenes.
Heh what a coincidence, I'm planning on making one of those. Just not sure what subject I’ll do. Maybe one of my characters.

Lux said...

Can I just say I love your blog!? It is such a source for inspiration, imagination and technique. Please don't ever stop Mr. Gurney and thank you so much for this labour of love. All the best to you.

Stefan said...

as always, you never cease to amaze me. As a digital artist these things are easy to accomplish with a click here and a filter there, but to do them on canvas with that level of precision and realism is astounding. It's the sort of thing I can pass around my work group and say 'look what this guy did... and that ain't digital, folks' to various appreciative and jealous gasps and raised eyebrows...

Napualeon16 said...

If I'm not mistaken, I believe that this is your first speed-adjusted Dinotopia painting. Correct?

Claire said...

I saw this piece at the LA Public Library... I think. Or I stared at it online. Anyway, the method of capturing movement totally stuck with me, and I'm glad to read this post and realize that, ha, you achieved it exactly how I would have hoped. There's something satisfying about getting cinematic effects with such classical materials.

-C