Revered Hollywood concept artist Syd Mead distils some of the lessons learned over 50 years into a couple of hours
Publisher The Gnomon Workshop
Price $69 ven Syd Mead can’t believe how long he’s been doing the job he loves, laughing in disbelief in his intro to this video when he mentions his fivedecade track record. The humility of a designer famed for his work on the likes of Blade Runner underpins the video. He never takes the easy option of trotting out Hollywood anecdotes: these two hours are solid art training.
Showing the creation of a large-scale piece of concept art, Airship Arrival is a masterclass in deploying just the right amount of detail to convey the information the viewer needs. Syd relies here on a long-standing physical workflow based around hand-mixed gouache paints, but most of the tricks and techniques revealed are easily transferable to digital.
Syd isn’t concerned with arguments over physical or digital: “I admire very much what’s being done in the electronic field,” he says, “but you still have to learn how to make a picture.”
Artists who enjoy traditional methods will find plenty of inspiration, as Syd shows how quickly and accurately you can block out a large area with a single flat brush, or casually draws in a consistent sweeping curve with the help of a straight ruler.
Detailing is at the heart of this workshop, however. Everything from palm trees to parking lots are created with the utmost economy, lending scale to the central, semi-abstract future dirigible. You’ll see how few brushstrokes it takes to suggest a car with shadows and highlights.
If there’s a criticism of the video, it’s the camera work, which switches between close-up work and cut-scenes of Syd mixing colour, but too rarely steps back to give you the chance to see the effect Syd’s choices make to the bigger picture.
At $69 for two hours, this isn’t a cheap download, but there’s a rich seam of knowledge here that you can mine for your own work.
Syd uses a single flat-tipped brush to block out, switching between broad strokes and accurate dabs to do the job fast. The making of Syd Mead’s Airship Arrival painting is a masterclass in giving just the right amount of visual information.
You’ll see how easy it is to suggest details like woodland or parked cars with relatively