Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Utopiales Poster, Part 1

I thought it might be fun to share a job-in-progress with you. So for the next few days, I invite you into my studio to see how a picture progresses from start to finish.

The Utopiales festival in Nantes, France, will take place Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, 2009. This year they invited me to contribute the artwork for the official poster.


Utopiales is one of the largest fantasy, comics, and science fiction festivals of Europe. The city of Nantes, where it is held each year, is the birthplace of Jules Verne. It’s also the home of the Royal de Luxe theater company (scroll down to the previous post).

So somehow the image has to weave together Jules Verne, giant mechanical creatures, and steampunk-flavored science fiction.

After a little Internet research I discovered that one of the famous places in Nantes is a town square called the Place Royale. I flashed on the idea of a huge insect aircraft departing from the town square. The scene could be set in the time of Jules Verne.

From these pencil thumbnails, I worked up three color sketches in oil and stuck them into the poster graphics from last year. From left to right, the titles are:
1. Arrivée Place Royale (Arrival at Royal Square)
2. Décollage nocturne (Nighttime Liftoff)
3. Départ pour Cigaleville (Departure for Cicadaville).

Tomorrow I'll let you know which one we chose and the next design steps.

Part 1: Initial Sketches
Part 2: Researching Insect Flight

Part 3: Maquette

Part 7: The Painting

21 comments:

Jérôme Alvarez said...

Hello,
I'm from Nantes, and your vision of the city is great !
I hope to see you at the Utopiales...
Your blog is a real encyclopedia of painting and drawing !

James Gurney said...

Thank you, Jérôme! I am looking forward to visiting Nantes and maybe seeing a little of Brittany. During the festival, there will also be an exhibition of Dinotopia: "Return to Dinotopia" Exhibition

Matthew Gauvin said...

wow! I can't believe these are just the color comps. They look like they could be the finished art.How long do each of these take to paint not including the sketch adn research stage?

Mario said...

excellent color sketches, all three have strong points, although my favourite is the first.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, guys. Matthew. These oil sketches are 3.5 inches square, and they took about three or four hours each. I did a little pencil drawing first on the illustration board before painting.

jeff jordan said...

I love how everything balances out both tonally and colorwise in the second one--that one's like a visual poem to me.
Do I win a Dinotopia map if I choose the one you're going to use?

Can't wait to see the finish!

Frank P. Ordaz said...

Just Awesome Jim!!!!! I like the 3rd

Erik Bongers said...

I hope they'll retain the black 'framing', as it really makes these paintings jump out.
As an artist you always secretly hope that the client will pick out the thumb you prefer yourself, but if I had made these three ones, I'd work out the non selected two as well, just for my own pleasure!

I can't help to think about Francois Schuiten again when I see these thumbs.

Steve said...

I'd go with the second one. It seems to evoke the era and the giant cicada isn't quite as overwhelming. To me, it has the interspecies collaborative spirit of the Dinotopia books. Of course, with all three I'm amazed that so much energy is transmitted in such a tiny square.

Jesse said...

My vote would be for the 2nd or 3rd, mainly because the time of day could lead to some interesting color development. I really like the background colors of the third. It almost gives a Monet sort of feeling!

Although I may like the "bug" of the first one the best.

There's just too much good stuff!

badbot said...

that's a lots of good news!!

to me the first sketch is the most attractive, it's propably due to the strong color contrast...
the point of view of the third is interesting too, it's kind of "view from the eyes of someone walking by".

i'm really glad with the perspective of an exhibition with some of your work, at a reasonable distance ( yeah! i'll not be forced to swim to america!!)... actually a few steps from my appartement :)

hope to see you there :)

this will be an Utopiales edition to remember, for sure...

Jesse Hamm said...

These look great, James.

I notice the bug is facing one way in one image and the opposite way in the other images. How do you decide which way he should face?

Jean Spitzer said...

This is fascinating. I like them together best, but probably my individual favorite is the third.

Saskia said...

I like the viewpoint and sense of scale in the 3rd!

Daroo said...

These are all great.
While I like the color in the third -- I like the second concept the best.

It has the most depth -- Your value plan really pays off -- my eye goes right to the area of action as if I'm coming upon the scene as it enfolds (creating an interesting story). The up-lighting is really compelling and offers some great color temperature contrast opportunities.

Maybe the spectators should be holding on to their hats, jackets and scarves to keep them from flying away in the down draft generated by the wings.

Excellent work.

Björn said...

This is AMAZING, James. I'm forever grateful for your blog. You've made me pick up Plein Air and you keep pushing and developing your blog!

thanks!!

~B

GooGoo Supreme said...

fly on the right with the setting on the left....

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everyone. You're all so encouraging--it's like having you all hanging out in the studio.

I'm working on the line drawing today, and here's what I'll be sharing in the next few day:
--refinement thumbnails
--research
--building the maquette,
--lighting and photographing the maquette
--and perspective line drawing.

John Calvin said...

Awesome! The first one is my favorite. I'm looking forward to further details about the process. Great blog!

eric said...

oh man, just checked out your pencils, i think the pencil of "sipping from the fountian" is your strongest composition...by far.

with the color and mood of your image on the right it would be a knock out!

eric said...

side views just are not as interesting as that big thing coming up from behind the fountian, now thats an eye grabber, haha!