The playground scene belongs to the "stage" where Emelia comes in contact with others. Another
example of this "stage" is the kitchen where she must interact with her parents (although they all
manage to ignore each other pretty well). So the mood I was wanting to convey was once of feeling
distanced and threatened.
I began with a trip to a schoolyard where I took reference photos. I also visited several playgrounds and
decided that the best equipment was not the new kind with its fat forms and bold colors but the 1970's style
made of rusted thin steel and chain link. Based on these I made my first attempt (on the right). It was cold
and had emotional distance but the school itself behind the playground was so visually dominant that it was
overpowering the playground equipment which I wanted to be the central focus.
So I decided to make the playground in a park instead. This worked well for directing the viewers eye to the main
action on the playground. I also tried to get away from the realism of the first draft and go for a more ethereal
watercolor style (bottom left). I liked the results, but it seemed dreamy and inviting rather then unreal and overwhelming.
So I "killed my darling" and moved onto draft number three.
I was thinking about how I could make the park seem more threatening and had the thought "what if the trees
were made of human hair?" So I pulled out a pair of scissors and cut off a hunk of my hair (I have a lot)
to make some trees with. I also changed the lighting to make it more of a "nuclear waste" feel, which is the
image you see at the top of the page. In the final version I plan to make the grass more like a shag carpet, the hair trees
more gnarly, and of course add the children playing frantically.
In general I would like to explore using the "wrong" material for objects like I did with the "hair trees" to give
things a quality that is at once recognizable but also strange. Right now I am working on using corduroy pants
for a plowed field, and oatmeal flakes spray painted green for leaves. Coming from a background in CG photorealism,
I use a lot of direct photographic reference, incorporating it directly into the CG world. This gives things a
more organic quality then procedural textures do. But there is no rule that says I have to use the "right"
reference material :)
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