Monday, June 3, 2013

Developing Lively & Dragons; Concepts, and Influences from Anime

Here are some of my earlier concept sketches, and experiential sketches I did with "Lively".

Lively pretty much, pretty often, went through most of whatever I did, however, I don't like to make her go through very bad things. I believe she deserves much better than that...

I was very inspired by this very fantasy proto steam-punk theme, like I'd said in my previous post, from the rave culture of Eurodance, and Happy Hardcore, and other techno bands in Europe... So, I had all these feelings, concepts and ideas inspired from all kinds of these musics, and esthetics, and all of that whirling around in my mind and my day dreams... I'd already been dreaming up my project "Eyewitness" (which I will blog about in another blog) since I was also a teen.

But, for my Dragon Project (which I'd originally named "Guardian" but I have since then scrapped the name) as I have said, it started out that a  number of the scenes were of Lively.

Here are 2 of my original concepts, and I DO have some story boarded.

Lively Zeppelin Deck 0001 by ~BlackUniGryphon on deviantART

Lively Zeppelin Deck 0002 by ~BlackUniGryphon on deviantART

Eventually, I had to change up the story, because I KNEW the story had dragons, and especially 1 dragon, but, I didn't know how to make her yet... Then, during my 1st & 2nd quarters at AIPH I began developing my dragon character, Djehkäujaa. She would have a number of quirks, idiosyncrasies, and be the type of personality that needs to learn EVERYTHING the hard way, by being foolish, and making SUCH big mistakes that she MUST learn VERY hard lessons. Unlike Lively whom is very carefree & bohemian yet VERY thoughtful & wise, Djehkäujaa starts out as being CARELESS, selfish, and completely oblivious to consequences of her actions & causality. So, when she has to pay the price for what she does/did, she not only is STUCK with her punishment, she's also banished. She never appreciated who & what she was, and what she had until she screwed it all up... So, as she's in a humanoid form, she's very sulky, solemn, and depressed. VERY bitter too. She did it to herself, and has ONLY herself to blame. And, she feels utterly guilty & self loathing about it.

That's where Lively comes in... and, they both have to deal with each other...

But, anyways, the story worked! The ironic thing is, my villain character, at the time, I'd thought might've been TOO over-the-top. I was afraid audiences would reject the story for having SUCH a horrible villain. But, after having lived through the Bush & Obama eras of extreme wealth, greed, and corruption he seems MUCH tamer than real life, now.

Livley Contortionist 1999 Pencil Sketch by ~BlackUniGryphon on deviantART

For me, I learned some lessons myself, but they're not as bad as all that.

Life Lessons:  
Standing Up To Abusive Authority Despite Religious Ideology

I'd had a misogynistic art teacher that utterly abused me. He didn't think he was wrong either. It seems like they never do...

Ironically, his original teaching methods were very good in my 1st year. I learned VERY much from him, and my skills & talents took off after his simple basic instructions for the fundamentals of pencil sketching, blending, and painting, as well as old school graphic art.

I was told, and everyone was told, that we could learn & study animation starting in our Junior year.

I'd won so many awards, scholarships, etc. all the time, but this teacher was so smug and full of himself, that he couldn't acknowledge me, his student.

His own work, beyond the basics was just so-so. And, he would ONLY praise his past students if they were male.

So, when it came time to study the animation, he kept lying, and putting it off, or changing the subject. I kept experimenting with a Painter program (animation) on the computers, because he wouldn't teach us, and, he let everyone else run wild (which is an understatement IF YOU ONLY KNEW).

Finally, even tho' I had already been going to classes at the U-ARTS in Philadelphia on partial scholarships, I confronted him about the animation. When were we gonna do it? Then, he lied and said that I was crazy, that he'd said no such thing, and that was the end of it... (So Ha-ha! Did that actually matter to you? Oh well, deliberate SAD DAY FOR YOU!)

But, that wasn't the end of that, he'd goaded the upperclassmen to berate me, rob & destroy my things, and viciously harass me, in waves, and for entertainment! 

Here is an example of my work:

Alanis Morissette Glam Sketch by ~BlackUniGryphon on deviantART

This was a homework assignment. We had to draw faces/portraits of people from magazines, like celebrities, or public figures, in graphite pencils.

I got an A+ on this. There was NO ONE in the class whom could draw ANYTHING like this. NOT EVER during the entire time I went to the class/shop...

But, after a while, he started to give me bad grades, bad marks, and WANTED ME TO DO THE WORK FOR OTHERS! After the 2nd or 3rd time doing this, I began getting REALLY angry...

Now, mind you, I was supposed to be a Protestant Christian. You are NOT supposed to fight back, you are NOT supposed to have bad or angry thoughts, you are NOT supposed to judge people (Forgive them for they know not what they do), you are JUST supposed to FORGIVE people, and PRAY for them, and LOVE them altruistically... ALL the more reason as to WHY they were SOOOO vicious to me, AND the teacher ABUSED his power by GOADING the class AGAINST ME! (Power dynamics)

1998 Bluemchen pencil sketches by ~BlackUniGryphon on deviantART

He barely lifted a FINGER to help me, EVER! AND, whenever he did, he'd abrasively scrape & rub it in my face, and threw salt in it!

When I won awards, he would parade around to other teachers with MY paintings & artwork showing off HIS STUDENT!
Look at what a GREAT teacher I am!
Smiling, and getting attention from all the other teachers.

Then, when he'd come BACK into the classroom, his face would change, and his gaze was ever hateful & spiteful to me! Just because he didn't use inappropriate words, didn't mean what he said, or his tone, nor the way he treated & abused me, made it correct or appropriate at all...

Not a SINGLE fellow student would stand up for me, and yet they also would agree that he singled me out to pick on me specifically.

After he'd screwed me over for another chance to have my artwork hung in Congress (because I'd had my work exhibited the previous year), promised to matt my illustration, and didn't, then it was too late, he turned on me. He started yelling at me saying he NEVER promised that, and that I'd NEVER even asked him, when I'd asked him, all day, every day, for 2 months! Then, he got the other students to gang up on me. So, Ha-ha!

I couldn't believe this was really happening! AND, it was getting worse!

A BIG student art festival was coming up, and we ALL had to get our art ready for "The Teen Arts Festival" and some others. So, of COURSE, NOW he wanted to matt my illustration. But, the problem was this guy in the class. A senior... I think his name was Brian, maybe... This guy NEVER did his work, didn't do ANYTHING, yet his grades were good, and mine now weren't so good...

The teacher wanted ME to do this jerks work! I REFUSED!
Then, he pestered me! I still said: NO!

So, he went on and on about how my grades were slipping, and how I could do so much better... WHAT THE HELL??? You want ME to do the artwork OF THE BOYS???? But, I AM SLIPPING??? I COULD DO BETTER??? MAKE THEM DO THEIR OWN WORK! AND DON;t GIVE THEM a GRADE for WHAT I DID!

The majority of the students in the shop were FEMALE (more than 1/2 of whom were drug addict bimbos whom turned tricks, or boasted about their slutty sex lives. But if I wore anything slightly sexy, oh no, I'm a bad person!), many of the guys dropped out!

There was even a boy, whom COULD actually draw, passed all the tests, but the teacher wouldn't let him into the class because he thought he was ugly!

Meanwhile he let some Satanist randomly come into the class with us, and draw hideous things EVERYWHERE against his OWN RULES!

Some of the idiot girls even drew PENISES EVERYWHERE! On the chalk boards!

But, he would manage to get the TV signed-in for our class-room EVERY DAY so these morons could watch "The Faces Of Death" which got more & more morbid as the videos progressed, and eventually with this horribly noisy audio punker music which gave me a migraine and I couldn't do my work!

(I used to give lectures an talks in my senior year about this sort of thing! And, here, I was the victim of it!) The Satanist used to tell me "You have nice lips" and that they would look pretty around his cock. The teacher thought this was amusing.

So, then this guy (not the Satanist), let's call him Brian, gets SO heavily into drugs that he starts to bring HARD DRUGS to the school! And, of course, because he's a fool, he gets CAUGHT!

He had a physical fight, and yelling match, with the art teacher, and then began making massive trouble with the school principals. He was so wacked out on drugs, that he was acting out, and going literally insane! So, teams of cops came into the building, and they had him in CHAINS, and dragged him away. (I remember watching him get hauled out of the building from out the window of our shop on the 2nd floor, in chains, kicking and screaming.)

He got expelled, and no one ever saw, nor heard, from him again.
Good riddance!

-BUT... the insanity didn't stop there!


This asshole left some of his unfinished artwork in the classroom. Several things, because he NEVER finished ANYTHING!

So, the teacher grabs them and 1st tries to get ME to finish them.

To me, as an artist that is like the ULTIMATE FAUX PAS! You NEVER work on someone else's work, unless you've MUTUALLY both agreed it was OK, and consented to it. There were about 3 that he'd picked... 1 of which I recall was one black illustration board with a trombone that had been TRACED ON. Not authentically drawn... NO! TRACED! 'Cause Brian was a HACK! In fact, the majority, if not ALL, of the students WERE ALSO HACKS! They even used techniques with the Xerox machine...

So, this piece of CRAP illustration of the trombone, had used colored pencils & maybe some paints in funky colors on it, where some of the reflective areas were...

Having refused to work on it, he forced 2 of the older girls to finish it, especially the ethnic girl, whom was probably THE ONLY girl who wasn't insane, and could at times ACTUALLY be genuinely NICE including TO ME. And, she did the majority of the work, because the white girl also refused to do it after a while...

He (the teacher) kept nagging until that was done too!

Finally, the artwork gets finished and she'd redone the whole thing, and made it more HER. But, then, EVEN the TEACHER worked on it! So then, this teacher turns around and submits this crap UNDER BRIAN'S NAME to the Art Festival, and this HACK'S CRAP actually WON!

Da Faahk???

This jerk DID NOT EVEN GO TO OUR SCHOOL ANYMORE! AND, he DIDN'T EVEN do the whole thing! The other students did, and EVEN the TEACHER!!!!

Life Lesson: This is the kind of bullshit that goes on "in the art world".

But, my piece was probably the ONLY real, authentic, actually ORIGINAL, detailed, time consumed piece, AND FREEHAND!

So, not only was this about the time when I was FED UP! I was like a pressure cooker, or a bottle of champagne that had been shook up WAY to much, IN THE HEAT! I'm about to bust open, explode everywhere! I was festering, and I was SO angry with this teacher! I began obsessing about how evil he was, and began to consider leaving.

1 thought led to another thought, and it began making sense... So, I'd asked the people in Environmental if they might ever want me to come back... they seemed VERY happy with the idea that I WOULD come back! I used to hang out with them all in their shop anyway on my lunches! And, still worked on projects with them! Then, I asked Mr. Moore, and he seemed to JUMP for JOY with the idea that I might come back, cause he had a MILLION uses for me, and he was in charge of Vo-TAG (Vocationally Talented And Gifted) which I was also in.

I'd pretty much HAD it with this art teacher! I already HAD enough reasons to leave the shop. But, being a Christian, it seemed odd to do... you're just supposed to STICK WITH WHAT YOU STARTED & FINISH IT (as the Protestants would preach). Don't be a quitter! For shame! You should TRY to work things out. You should forgive.

So, I tried that... I tried to talk to him. I even asked him: Why do you treat me this way? WHY are you doing this? This made him laugh and goad the other kids after me, and mocked me further.

Even tho' the other kids would laugh along with him, they would even also ask him: Yeah, why do you treat her like that? What did she ever do to you?

Then, he would laugh and say stuff like: She was born! (meaning I was a freak or a mutant, another thing he'd mock at me about... perhaps because I used to read X-MEN as a Freshman, or watched Star Trek)

Oh... hilarious...


I'd had it! I even hollered at him.

Yeah, you know that whole thing that Jesus said about "turn the other cheek"? Turns out that SAME guy protested and went after the money changers, and physically turned over their tables and threw them.... (ironic, because my way of dealing with bullies in the 7th grade was flipping over the desks and throwing them because the MALE teacher would do NOTHING to save me, nor help me, and ALLOWED boys to assault & batter me, EVERYDAY!) Usually, for me growing up as a Christian it was taught to me that I wasn't allowed to fight back, but you COULD stand up for those less fortunate than yourselves and be THEIR hero... yet, pretty much NO ONE wanted to be MY hero... including people whom professed to be Christians...

So, at lunch, I went to the office of the female principal, and I talked to her. I told her I had something very upsetting to tell her, and that I was being abused for the past several years, and I just wanted to leave that shop and go into Environmental, and that Mr. Moore had told me he was already OK with it.

Lila 1996-98 by ~BlackUniGryphon on deviantART
This upset EVERYONE!

Next thing I knew all the teachers were upset! They didn't want me to leave that teacher's class/shop. Many teachers wanted to talk to me, and dissuade me from leaving, and even that principal tried to dissuade me from switching.

I was SO fed, up, that I started screaming, and crying, and freaking out! I told the principal that he was a horrible man, and I couldn't take ANOTHER moment with him after everything he did to me! He not only allowed the other students to ROB me, he encouraged it!Bullying, sexual harassment, favoritism, etc.!

Then, my mother was called to the school.... and I was so upset... but, even my mother wanted to know more... she seemed to think that I needed to handle the situation gracefully, and believe me I was holding myself together just fine unless I was being back into a corner & berated... she told me "not to burn my bridges" and to shake his hand, etc... I told her I didn't even want to look at his face EVER again! He was a bad person. I gave him the chance to fess-up, or do right by me, but he didn't...

Can you believe that so many of those teachers tried to push me to stay and told me it was "to help me follow my dream"? No. My dream was NEVER to be abused. All the things that went on were outright crimes in the simplest, and even complex forms!

And so, I left...

So, THE most talented artist, not only in "Advertizing, Art & Design" BUT also the ENTIRE school, (possibly in the top of entire State of New Jersey) left and went back to Environmental! :D I wasn't worried at all. I still went to the U-ARTS Philly on the weekend, and I was confident that I could get accepted to AIPH. Plus, my art NEVER stopped!

After all, remember?: Child prodigy. *points to self*

Being in Environmental gave me MORE opportunities to do MUCH more with WHO I was, and what I did than that "Advertizing, Art & Design" ever could. I had so much privilege, and I could walk the halls without a pass, and never get in trouble, because I was so highly regarded, if I wanted.

My Mural at BCIT Medford NJ by ~BlackUniGryphon on deviantART

I painted a HUGE Mural my senior year as well, AND I made MY OWN projects, CONSTANTLY, and DID THEM! I was self motivated, responsible, capable, and helpful.

All the younger students looked up to me... which of course caused me to become HATED among my peers in my own class (the class of 1998, whom wanted to bully them for entertainment). Plus, since I was so well regarded among the teaching faculty, and the administrators, and had high grades, they (my fellow peers in my grade) all began to resent me... They didn't think I even knew the scientific materials... but I DID! I'm a geek, so not only did I know the materials, I remembered more of it than they did... Thus, more hatred & resentment... They didn't see me as an asset, they saw me as competition, but I wasn't completely with them. I had my self to compete with, to challenge myself to become more than whom and what I was. I wasn't putting anyone down. I would help to build people up. I was altruistic.

As it turns out, tho', that art teacher, after I left according to the other students whom told me that he's calmed down entirely, he didn't mock or razz students anymore, and he'd seemed to have regretted how he'd behaved, and maybe have mentioned something along those lines slightly... they even said he'd totally changed after I'd left, and was quiet, and mopey... 

Turns out, when u abuse people you're supposed to be in charge of, they don't respect you... and you get in trouble... It wasn't as tho' this man didn't know any better, because at times he would preach about how some people should be this way or that way... and even quoted some philosophy... except, ya broke your own principles, dude...

Even tho' I was respectful to him (because if you're a Christian, you MUST respect authority, and ALWAYS be respectful and kind to others) he actually didn't deserve any respect at all. True respect is earned. I respected him for what he'd taught me in the 1st year, but after that, there was NOTHING he could really teach me, and when I needed his help or assistance he turned on me... A true master teacher is ALWAYS respectful to their students, but he was not....

And, so...  What's the moral of the story?

* DON'T let people push you around. Stand up for your dignity. Because if you let them it's like saying you deserve it. And you DON'T DESERVE IT!

* Sometimes, when you are a true genuine person, people that are either just normal, or fake, resent you... because it shows them what they are not.... actually, they AREN'T actually resenting YOU, but THEMSELVES and taking it out on you, because they don;t try to be real, genuine, or good.

* People fear what the DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

* If you truly have self respect, you will treat other with respect & dignity, even if they don't always deserve it, because it reflects better of yourself.

* All form of attack is a psychological cry for help by way of attention. 


As for the last year (Senior Year) of high school, well... it came with MANY challenging things... some not so good, like being robbed, being beaten up twice, death threats, moving, a trip to Germany, summer collage & big scholarships, insane work and insane working hours, exhaustion, and more...

But, there were some GOOD lessons, which were NOT painful AT ALL!

Some art related ones...

Where to even start???

Having attended animation classes on scholarship, on the weekend, at The Philadelphia University of the Arts (U-ARTS) taught by Lowl Boston, it was normal for his adult full-time students to come in and sometimes help out with the classes, or even work on their work with us...

For whatever reason, many animation students would just drop out after having paid so much money for the classes... I NEVER understood this!

Do, animation was 1 of the BEST emotional feelings one could have when your art played back in motion on a pencil test machine! My MOST cherished memories of my ENTIRE LIFE!

But, anyways...

MOST, if not ALL, art schools HATED Japanese looking cartoons, or anime... the reasons why are SO obvious. They are often times CRAP, based on simple technique, not real artistic techniques, but cheating, are often bad stories, bad quality, the "animations" are often shot on 5s (yes that's animation geek talk for frame rate) and they're NOTHING but a "mange that slightly moves set to audio". Having seen anime from the 80s & 90s, the majority was just turds in a toilet because they were SO BAD! Mass produced junk... you know quantity VS. quality... well, I LOVED Disney, which was QUALITY, and I loathed anime which was junk! Much of it often still is...

However... since I'd already made up my own mind, having seen SO much junk anime, I'd judged & deemed it to be beneath me and NOT worth my time... yes, very snobbish, don't you think? (I mean. COME-ON! Have you EVER watched Sailor Moon? Good grief, it's SO BAD! Worst animation ever! The only thing it has going for it is the visual designs!)

But, this guy/student whom was about to graduate within a year at the University and was buddy buddy with Lowl (the animation teacher) liked anime. I remember discussing it with both of them, and we were all laughing about how bad anime was, but they still watched some.

Well, 1 day, Lowl decided that guy should show "Macross Plus" and they BOTH said I'd like it... but, whatever... I wasn't interested...

But, since it was on... I had to sit their and listen to it as I sat at my animation disk, doing my traditional pencil animations...

That guy said there were different versions of it. There was a movie version, and then there was a mini series version which was better... so, he had the episodes play 1 after the other...

As the 1st episode began, I was ALREADY starting to HATE it... but, it was an innovative animation piece that integrated computer & traditional animation to do things that NO OTHER animated film or series had EVER DONE.

But... again, just like several anime films, 1 of the main characters is an arrogant jerk... (Isamu)

By the time we got to the 2nd episode I was about to EAT MY WORDS! There was a musical concert scene of Sharon Apple that was SO eye-catching & lovely, and the artwork didn't look Japanese! It looked European! The music was SOOOOO good! It wasn't that annoying cutesy Japanese rock/pop music! It was all totally unique!

Not only that, but before I knew it I was getting into the story, even tho' I was in denile about it!

What REALLY got me was that the END has a melodramatic twist in it! A psychological twist! The person we'd all pegged to be an arrogant jerk, and thought was more of a bad guy, turned out wasn't all that bad... and the guy we'd thought was THE good guy actually was the one who did something bad to the girl, but because of his genetics, he'd blocked out the memories. So, he was blaming that guy, and trying to duke it out and kill him, he suddenly had a flask-back total recall, and realized HE was the villain! And, he thought he'd killed the guy! he felt totally wrong having dishonored himself, and realized that the guy didn't get blown up but turned off his engines and road the updraft. So, he fessed-up and they both realized that deep down inside, despite all the hate, that guy was actually protecting his feelings and took the blame for him, so when the ghost plane was hacked by the evil AI program, he sacrificed himself for his friend to redeem himself.

When I saw this film, I was SO moved. And, I'd learned a lesson too. Sometimes, some Japanese anime films might actually be good...Sometimes, it's possible to misjudge someone or something...but, you should fess-up to it, address it, make amends and move FORWARD.

By the time I'd gone to AIPH the way that all the other artists would bond with each other was by watching movies... usually it was anime...

I learned WHY Japanese animated products were so popular. It wasn't because of their artwork... no, because much of it stinks... It was ALL ABOUT THE STORIES!

Even if your art is ugly, but your story was GREAT, that often times mattered more than an expensive yet pretty video. Good stories MAKE YOU FEEL.

So, when I think of many of my concept for Lively, there's much inspiration from parts of Marcoss Plus, which I've watched OVER & OVER in several different versions, and have multiple soundtracks of! Turns out, there is TECHNO in the film!

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