Con­cept sculpting

Eric wilk­er­son de­vel­ops a sculp­ture be­yond a sim­ple ref­er­ence ma­que­tte, and demon­strates why sculpting is so use­ful for paint­ing an imag­i­nary crea­ture

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents -

Sci­ence fic­tion at its best has al­ways been a form of so­cial com­men­tary. Pre­cau­tion­ary tales and im­agery that cover is­sues such as pol­i­tics, race, prej­u­dice and in­equal­ity.

‘Alien Lives Mat­ter’ is a paint­ing di­rectly in­spired by the de­mand for jus­tice for vic­tims of po­lice vi­o­lence and the in­sti­tu­tional racism that con­tin­ues to plague the USA. As an il­lus­tra­tor of sci­ence fic­tion, I ask my­self, what would it look like if we as hu­mans treated an ex­trater­res­trial the way we treat our­selves? What might the out­cry from a coali­tion of young mul­tira­cial ac­tivists look like?

I set out to cre­ate a com­po­si­tion that de­picts a peace­ful protest march through the streets of New York City. I chal­lenge my­self with this pro­ject by de­cid­ing to have the scene take place at night, sur­rounded by the multicoloured neon lights of the city. For this paint­ing to be suc­cess­ful I need to de­sign and sculpt a ref­er­ence ma­que­tte of the alien, which will be the fo­cal point of the paint­ing.

Not only do I need to stage mul­ti­ple fig­ures into clus­ters that sur­round the fo­cal point, but the light­ing that falls on the alien needs to match the rest of the com­po­si­tion. I don’t be­lieve in guess work when it comes to paint­ing some­thing that doesn’t ex­ist. There­fore I typ­i­cally cre­ate a ma­que­tte so I know how light and shadow af­fect the form. Once the ma­que­tte is com­plete, I have a re­source to re­fer back to or to pho­to­graph in any light­ing set up I choose. When I move to the fi­nal paint­ing I can work quickly, know­ing that all my light, shadow and tex­ture ques­tions have been an­swered.

My ap­proach to this work­shop is to cre­ate a sculpt that’s built from a loose sketch. I’ll let the clay speak to me and de­velop the de­sign as I go, in­stead of work­ing from a re­fined 2D con­cept. Be­fore we be­gin I want to share that this is part of a se­ries of on­go­ing per­sonal paint­ings. There­fore I spent ex­tra time to push my sculp­ture to a higher level of fin­ish for the sake of the fu­ture paint­ings.

Eric is a con­cept artist and il­lus­tra­tor for film, games and pub­lish­ing. He’s worked as a con­cept de­signer with Weta Work­shop and lead cos­tume de­signer for Blue Man Group. www.er­icwilk­er­son­art.com

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