Artistic Choices

With day four of the 25 Days of Stadarooni here, we now move closer to jovial times and merry cheer to be had. I once again welcome you to another round of reading and fun times, and I am happy to say that the success of the 25 Days is quite noticeable to me, and it is awesome to see that you are enjoying it as well. I have determined the post for every single day between now and Christmas Day, with stocking-stuffers and bigger gifts to be unwrapped as well. The one-chocolate-per-day concept may still hold its merit, but why not open the presents early as well? (Editor’s note: Do not open presents early)

The above title may reflect something that may be quite deep and personal, but it really is not. It was to get your attention, as one word should define both it and the above image: Christmas.  Pristine red ornaments sprinkled with snowflakes in what appears to be a fluffy snow, against a white and glittery background. You can extrapolate decorating a tree, and from that presents, and from that Christmas morning. Nothing in the image directly spells out ‘Christmas.’ A natural chain of events makes you instantly realize the tone of this image, as well as its artistic direction.

If you think that is too much of a rabbit-hole, it really is. However, a clear art direction can spell out a (potentially) meaningless object with a plethora of emotions, tone, and external factors as well. This goes all the way from everyday things such as church’s and the way we dress, all the way to the way cities are constructed as determined by both culture and time period. Of course, this extends to media as well. Science fiction, high fantasy, and film noir all have a distinct style, which may exist within a single work as well.

Take this, for example.

me3_n7_armor

For those of you familiar, this is the N7 armour from the video game Mass Effect (specifically Mass Effect 3 in this image). The plot and story for this franchise do not matter for this specific analysis as if it did we would be sitting here forever.

There is a reason why this armour is so iconic, and it lies within an artistic choice with it. Its design is not overly complicated with small and insignificant details and is instead graceful and coherent. Along the armour, there is a basic shape that is appealing to the eye, made in curves that are so subtle many will not notice them consciously. Its colours are smooth with darker shades, bringing the red details out far more than if the armour was more neon in colouration. It is a nice combination of an astronaut suit, military armour, and futuristic sci-fi.

Of course, these arcs are a staple of the Mass Effect franchise, giving it a distinct look from the likes of Star Wars in even its environments.

alliance-normandy-1024x607

The ship Normandy has a distinct curve on its minimalist design. Colours make it quite utilitarian and human, with white in particular giving it a sense of cleanliness.

MassEffect2Citadel.jpg

The space station called the Citadel also retains the curves in its vast metropolis, with angelic clouds and its arms giving it a distinct otherworldly sensation. It is the seat on the top of the world, and the final frontier of the galaxy.

While these examples may have been shorter, there is a clear direction taken with them. Pictures do speak louder than words in this case, but there is something the artists of Mass Effect took great care not to do: over-complication. Visual fidelity to a single object or scene is a great thing to maintain an image that is not too simplistic or cluttered, but some artists take it far too out of hand. A good example may be some shots in the Star Wars prequels, but there are far more apparent ones that give it away as well.

optimus-prime-fighting-transformer-4-movie

Yes, the Transformers movies may be heavily flawed in every single aspect of its storytelling, but it also translates to imagery as well.

For one, these characters have designs that are not clearly distinct from one another. They are all hulking titans with mechanical bits and pieces covering every inch of their bodies. This makes each Transformer far too similar to one another, as shapes and silhouettes cannot distinguish them.  The clutter on their bodies also distracts a scene, with little emphasis put on action and too much put on everything else on the screen. Also, an explosion coming out of other explosions is just hubris for eye-rolling ‘spectacle.’

To compare these characters to their older counterparts here is an image of Optimus Prime.

old-vs-new-transformers-optimus-prime

As you can see, the design on the left is the over-cluttered one from the film. On the right, the design may be more ‘childish’ or ‘of a cartoon,’ yet it is a far superior design for a number of reasons. Optimus Prime has a clear figure that resembles a truck, with colours that separate each section of his body. It is simple, well-designed, and does not have robot parts scattered everywhere on his body.

There is also a divide between artistic styles in a franchise, with Halo being a great example. It makes sense for different factions or races to have their own designs in terms of their architecture, weapons, or ships. Here is an example between human, alien Covenant, and mythical Forerunner ships.

While the image may not suggest it, the Forerunner ship on the bottom left is actually much larger than this mosaic would suggest. The human ship on the bottom is much more rugged, with more blocky lines covering its hull and uniform colours of grey and white plastered across it as well. The Covenant ship on the top is shaped like a sea animal, with curves elegantly and evenly corresponding across the front and back of its hull. A dark purple gives it a very ‘alien’ look, and the smaller orange lights giving it a greater sense of scale and scope. The Forerunner ship is very symmetrical on the other hand, with a dull grey and distinct vertical shape bringing out the neon red lights. Angular lines and a ‘folded’ look make the ship look compartmentalized, and very different from the other two in what would be expected from a ship in the Halo universe.

There are many examples of very good art styles, and ones that are not as well. Imagine if you were watching a WWII documentary with laser guns in it. It would contrast immensely with the realistic and militaristic art style that is established and could even break it. Artistic choices have plenty of liberty, but they should all reflect one direction to spell out a single word, whatever that may be. I encourage you to take a deeper look at the next film, video game, advertisement, or even place you experience. What blends in well, and what does not?

And with that, we come to another close. The weekend is over, and the posts may be a little shorter as a result of school and other activities throughout the week. I do promise that they will still be fun and worthwhile, however. And yes, there may even be some surprises in store. I cannot wait to share them with you, and until next time!

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