Pop Art – A Quick Guide to the Basics

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920′s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it’s mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930′s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol’s work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney’s works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.

Conch Piercings

Conch Piercings are located within the hollow space of your ear; it is called a conch piercing because of the resemblance it has to the conch shell. Literally pierced right through the center of your ear, this is not a very popular piercing (as far as numbers go), but people who have conch piercings (and other bod mod enthusiasts) absolutely love them!

Conch Piercings go through the thick cartilage located directly in the middle of your ear. Because there is a copious amount of surrounding tissue, migration or rejection risks are nonexistent. If you are looking to begin your first foray into body piercing (outside of traditional ear lobes), this is a great piercing to start with!

Experienced and reputable piercers will not have difficulty in piercing your conch. Unlike some other ear or body piercings, there aren’t any strange angles, bends, or specific equipment that must be used. The piercing is a straight shot using a simple, basic, sterile piercing needle. The Conch is one of the easiest places to get pierced.

Once you and your piercer agree that a Conch is right for you, your piercer will recommend the best jewelry – it usually is a captive bead ring for the initial piercing. And just to forewarn you, the gauge (that is, the thickness) of the jewelry might appear to be rather large. Don’t be alarmed! These piercings call for jewelry of a larger girth, and it won’t hurt anymore than if it was pierced with a smaller gauge. Once your piercing has healed (it will take about a year to be fully and completely healed) you can replace it with a myriad of affordable and fun jewelry. The first three to six months are very crucial in the healing process, so take good care of your ear!

Your piercer will mark your ear with a marker to denote where they think it will look best on you; once you have confirmed or rearranged the position, your piercing will happen. Clamps are usually used (all they do is secure the area from moving), and a straight piercing needle will push through on your exhale. It is a very fast procedure, and your jewelry will slide in your new hole. Once your piercer has finished securing the piercing, your ear might feel a little hot and your heart may be thumping rapidly, but that is just the adrenaline and endorphin kicking in. Enjoy it while it lasts – many people live for that thrilling feeling! The actual pain ranges from person to person, but most don’t feel any pain. Like so many piercings, this one looks more painful than it actually is, so don’t be nervous!

You can get more than one piercing in your Conch, and then it’s called a Conch Orbital. Basically, an Orbital is two separate piercings joined together by one piece of jewelry (please see my orbital article for more information). You can also get the Conches in both ears pierced but I would suggest staggering these two piercings so as to ease the healing process. For example, for about 3 months after your piercings, you really shouldn’t sleep on the ear with a pierced Conch; getting both Conches pierced simultaneously may therefore interfere with your sleeping patterns and may lead to prolong healing in both ears. Discuss with your piercer if a conch orbital is right for you – if you think you may want one in the future, alert your piercer so that they can give you a piercing in the right location.

The aftercare for the Conch is very easy – not only is this an easy piercing to get, it’s easy to take care of, and it’s easy to find jewelry for it! Soaking your ear in warm salt water (properly called a saline solution) is one of the best ways to assist your new piercing. The next best thing to do is NOT TOUCH your new piercing! It’s very hard to do – it’s a new addition to your body so you will doubtless want to play with it – but don’t touch it! Human hands are covered in germs and bacteria and fidgeting with your new vulnerable piercing can lead to infection. Only touch it when you are cleaning it, and be sure your hands are clean first! Other simple tips to avoid an infection include not putting your cell phone on that ear, don’t sleep on it, don’t use headphones that go into your ear canal, and try to keep long hair away from it (it can wrap around the back) during the healing time (once it’s healed, no big deal if your hair touches it).

Taking care of your Conch is very easy, all it takes is routine cleaning, abstaining from touching it, and common sense! Your piercer will give you a complete rundown, so pay attention. Should any problems arise, return to your piercer and they should be able to provide you with more advice or solutions. Enjoy your conch, and get ready to be the envy of many!

How to Write a Motion Graphics Design Or Animation Treatment

Give Yourself the best chance of winning the Design or Animation project with these guidelines

The Title & Introduction

The very first thing you will write on any treatment is the name of the project, so it is highly advisable to make sure you get this part correct. When taking a brief it is always a good idea to take as detailed notes as possible about all aspects of the project including the people involved, key words, reference material, technical aspects or limitations, audio preferences and project working titles. These notes will assist when putting the basics into a treatment, and showing your fullest understanding of the brief, like the correct title, or key words that the client was at pains to describe the project with.

Once you have a clean leading page with the clients name, the name of the project, and any subtitle, you are ready to add the first and most important body of text, the introduction or approach.

The introduction, outline, premise or approach to a treatment is a vital and concise 2 or 3 line paragraph, clearly telling the reader what it is they are about to read, and the reason for reading it. Ideally this paragraph will ‘grab’ the reader immediately and tweak their interest, wanting to read the rest of the document.

The Writing Style

The use of descriptive language is an important part of the art of all writing, no less with treatments, where you ideally need to squeeze all the information into one or two sides of a4 paper to paint a clear picture in the readers mind’s eye of exactly what they can expect the final film or animation to look like.

When describing your concept, try and use flowing and elegant phrasing while being descriptive and to the point. A wide use of vocabulary will keep the reader interested and their brain visualising the result.

For example, The brief is for a television crime drama title sequence, and the Director wants the style of the title sequence to reflect the period, atmosphere and subject matter of the script. The Director may use quite descriptive words in a brief like, dark or chilling, ensure to re-use these words in your treatment and add some of your own to further embellish. For example; dark foreboding blackness, or chilling, spine jarring finale.

Try not to repeat the same word too many times, and think of alternative ways to describe the same or similar part of the project. For example; when mentioning a transitional effect in the animation or film, try and find new ways to write about that effect.

Your Branding

Ensure that your business, company or studio logo and branding is clearly marked on the front of the treatment, as well as the body of the treatment to ensure that all who read it will know where it is from and who wrote it. It will also help ensure your ideas stay as your own and are not borrowed by someone else. Another consideration is to flatten your document to ensure that the logo and graphics are displayed correctly and no one is able to edit your treatment or take paragraphs for re purposing into another document. Saving your MS Word or other word processor document as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file is an ideal way of achieving this.

The Concept

This is the main body of text where you can flesh out the idea in more detail. It is important to ensure that this paragraph is easy to read and to the point. Use this part of the treatment as a way of quickly describing the rest of the information that you eloquently touched on in your Introduction. Try and keep the sentences brief with enough space around them to be absorbed easily. Allow the sentences to flow together easily to ensure the reader does not get lost partway through, it is vital that your idea makes sense from start to finish giving your reader the chance of constructing the piece in their own minds eye.

Imagery

Consider including images to assist your concept.

You will probably be producing a storyboard separately to your treatment, but using additional reference images, character illustrations, environment and backgrounds or mood board images in your treatment can really help the reader to grasp what you are saying. Positioning the images is also important, breaking up the paragraphs can lose the readers flow, so try adding an image or series of images under a paragraph.

Using a large image under the Introduction can act as a real eye grabber for the rest of the document.

Reference Material

Reference material is key to helping sell your idea, especially if you can reference your own past work. It is another chance to showcase your work and give the client every confidence in your ability to deliver what you are writing about. References can be web links, embedded links, images, sounds, music tracks, illustration or video. If possible, try and collate it all into one place, an ftp location, a website, a file share location or as zipped attachments to make it easy for the client to explore your references and not have to go to many different internet sites. Again, keeping the treatment easy to read, follow and absorb is paramount.

The Technical Breakdown

The technical section of a treatment should be very factual, very brief and very clear. The clarity will, once again, illustrate to the reader that you have carefully thought the process through and understand exactly what it will take to achieve the finished result. You will always be able to change your thinking with kit later, but at least at this early stage you have approached the idea with a way of technically creating your masterpiece. This paragraph will also illustrate your ability to handle both aspects of any motion graphics project, creativity and technical knowhow, the core components to any motion graphics designer.

Think about outlining what and how many computers you will need, how much disk storage space and backup will be required, which software packages will you be using and are there any specific plug-ins or presets that are relevant. Also take into account the amount of rendering time and hardware that will be needed, archiving considerations, and final delivery formats and other delivery aspects.

Music and Audio

As we all know, music and sound effects can really bring animation and video to life and is a major part of any visual experience. Touch on ideas you have for the music and sound design, include references to other similarly styled videos and describe the tone and atmosphere that the music will evoke with your visuals.

The Budget & Estimated Costs

Costs and quotes are also a huge factor in whether you will succeed in getting the project you desire, but refrain from including any mention of money in the treatment. Instead provide a separate quotation document including any reference to technical or creative specifics in the treatment.

The Conclusion / Summary

The final part of your treatment should act in a similar way to the introduction.

It is a short paragraph that allows you to quickly remind the reader of the key points you discussed in the rest of the document. It is also a chance to use good language to leave the reader wanting to see what you have described, wanting to explore further, wanting to make it come to life.

List of Components

INTRODUCTION – short and sweet

CONCEPT – main descriptive body of text

IMAGES – reference material

TECHNICAL – geeky but essential breakdown

AUDIO – style and reference guide

SUMMARY – the final roundup

What’s the Difference Between 2D and 3D Anyway?

Isn’t it obvious? Well, apparently not quite, when you consider how many people are still struggling with this topic!

The first concept you must grasp is that 3D means 3 dimensional and 2D means 2 dimensional. Now before you think I’m stating the obvious, let me go on to say that the 3D and 2D in animation refer to the dimension in which the animation was created. Ahhhh. The plot thickens eh?

For 2D animation, everything happens on a 2 dimensional platform. Pictures are flat, without depth and offer only one perspective. Objects and characters are usually drawn without the subtle soft shadows we see in real life and colours have few varying shades. In 3D animation, everything happens on a 3 dimensional platform. Pictures have depth and offer multiple perspectives just like in real life and have soft subtle shadows casted on the objects and characters within.

In 2D, characters look cartoonish and unrealistic. In 3D, characters can look cartoonish but realistic at the same time.

Another way to think of this is to think in terms of a painting and a sculpture. 2D is a painting, and 3D is a sculpture. 3D introduces “depth perspective,” so we not only see a rectangle (2D) but a CUBE (3D). You may also want to think of it like being the difference between a photograph of a glass of water (2D) and being able to reach out and actually pick up the glass of water (3D).

Typically, 2D involves “drawing,” or movement on, say, a flat surface (sketch pad, etc.) or in the vertical and horizontal planes. 3D involves “modeling,” i.e., creating objects in 3-dimensions using a computer software, residing in an expansive virtual environment, complete with lights, reflections, other objects, shadows, etc.

You could start training yourself by comparing a cartoon like Bugs Bunny, Aladdin, Lion King (2D) to “Toy Story 1,2 & 3, “Finding Nemo” and “Incredibles” (3D). If you have not watched any of these great cartoons, you should grab one right away or be branded a Neanderthal forever!