Hi everyone! I am thrilled to be back and participate in the FN challenge again. 😄
This month, I wanted to continue the philosophy I had when approaching the August challenge. Since I have a very limited amount of free time, I cannot work on a project that’s too ambitious. The philosophy is: Pick a simple asset, make it well. Of course, I can use the extra effort to pick an interesting prop, make it with the quality and attention it deserves, and invest the time to present it in a way that gives it justice.
In the spirit of that philosophy, I brainstormed a list of ideas. There were some topics I had to avoid, for example characters or big environments – it would be too ambitious for me, in terms of scale and time investment (on the list of long-term ideas you go, beautiful Mike Franchina concepts). Before I picked my final topic, I have also considered:
A Mistwraith. It’s a cool creature from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson (I highly recommend it!) that looks like a bunch of animal skeletons mashed together, in a semitransparent goo. But then I decided it’s too ambitious for the time frame.
A skulltula. I’ve seen some beautiful interpretations, but it’s all orbweaver-skull or blackwidow-skull. Inspired by the name, I wanted to make a tarantula. In the end I decided I don’t want a creature!
A forest diorama with a chicken-legged Izbushka for a witch from Russian folklore. But I’m not super confident with architecture yet.
A graveyard diorama, perhaps stylized or comical. I just wasn’t very inspired by this idea.
A rotten pumpkin. One that’s been carved, and left outside for too long. They get so much creepier after they start decaying! And pumpkins are a classic topic. But this would imply a ton of Designer work, and I’m that not comfortable with it yet.
A sacrificial altar. I could go really grotesque on this, but once again I just wasn’t super inspired.
Next, I will describe why I picked a mask, which one, and collect a moodboard!
To some, Halloween is the highlight of fall, and to others – nothing more but yet another commercial holiday. Some are excited for Halloween as a family or community event, others use it as an excuse for extra sweets. My favorite thing about Halloween is the creativity it unleashes in people. The original, beautiful or witty costumes, the decorations and the pumpkin carvings fascinate and inspire me, and are the main reason I’m looking forward to this season.
Halloween’s history seems convoluted, but whether we look at the ancient pagan origins, the Christian influence, or the modern consumerist interpretation, it has common elements at its core: reverence for the dead, a celebration of harvest, a fear of starvation amidst the death of nature, and culture represented through tradition and costume. And in tradition and costume, one element shines above all: masks.
Why are masks so important, so varied and so omnipresent? I think that it has to deal with the basics of human psychology and facial recognition as a means to survival. In the wonderful book “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud (I highly recommend it even if you don’t habitually read graphic novels – it can inspire some artistic paradigm shifts), the author talks about pareidolia. We create the world in our image, and we redefine it to our liking as well. Masks can mirror what we want to represent, they create a role, tell a story, or hide the real face of the wearer. Masks have tremendous cultural significance! Any culture, anywhere in the world, from any time period is going to have recognizable masks with tradition and stories surrounding them.
All that being said about the importance of masks and the significance of facial recognition in human psychology, it is clear why they fascinate me. But there is one mask in particular that I fell in love with when I saw it.
At the end of the day, I am a visual artist, impressed by what I see. I want to model a Barong mask because it looks super cool! But this is my thinking and research to the reasons why I chose it over other cool things, what it means to me and what it represents. Thank you!
I started collecting more references for the mask. Here’s a super awesome short video!
This is the beginning of my moodboard. I wanted to collect: actual Barong Ket masks, other wooden masks, how paint ages on wood, carved wood textures, and beautiful renders of different masks from Artstation. Some are from my Pinterest board, some are googled, and you can find some of them here if you want to like or add to your collection: https://www.artstation.com/mraducanu/collections/649175 I usually add stuff to my moodboards once I begin working and stumble upon something that needs more information.
Next step: Concept art! Unlike the flintlock pistol, which had one perfect photograph reference, I didn’t find the one pic for the Barong mask. So I decided to combine elements and draw my own version! Thankfully it’s an artistic item, it doesn’t have functional parts quite like a gun does (even though it does have a simple mechanism for opening and closing, which I might omit), so I won’t minimize believability by giving it my own flair.