Men in Black Artwork

A lot of people have been asking about the process/technique behind the Men in Black segment. I can talk a little bit about my end of the production. But as for the actual animation, the guys at The Law of Few are the ones to ask. They did a really outstanding job with the animation, and deserve much praise for the work they did. Men in Black was truly a team effort, and The Law of Few made it something really special.

That said, here's some sentences:

The artwork was done entirely in Photoshop CS2 on a Mac, using a Wacom 4.5x5.5 inch Intuos3 pen tablet.

The actual resolution of these individual scenes were pretty big. We're talking 4440 pixels by 2760 pixels, including generous bleed for pans, zooms, and camera shakes. Some scenes were composed wider or taller, depending on the desired pans and zooms and whatnot. Each scene had its very own PSD file, numbered consecutively, of course, according to the final script.

I used basically one custom brush for all of the linework, and another custom brush for the dust cloud effects (thanks, Justin). None of the linework was vectorized.

For each individual scene, the background elements, foreground elements, individual figures, vehicles, and effects (like gradients, color adjustment layers, dust particles, explosions, debris, bullets, ricochet sparks, cigarette smoke, etc.) were each given their own layer. The actual objects, like people, vehicles, and buildings, were each "opaqued" with a scanned texture (which would also be used as the base "gritty texture" layer for each scene). I knew that the animators should be given as much flexibility as possible, so I gave them all the layers they could possibly want, without overwhelming them with layers they didn't need.

With all of these layers in each Photoshop file, I made it easier on the animators by labeling each layer, so the animators could easily spot which layer they wanted to mess with. Often, I would group a bunch of related layers together, using the "New Group from Layers" command. Having to scroll through a ton of layers gets mind-boggling, so this helped me by condensing (or collapsing?) a lot of related layers together while I worked. Like, little families of layers that belonged together.

I did use a ton of photo reference to draw basically everything. From jpegs of stryker vehicles found on the internet to multiple models posing in army uniform (bought at the local Army/Navy store) to models posing with AK-47 BB guns, photo reference ensured accuracy and efficiency in actually doing all of these drawings. Having the reference you need takes lot of work and alot of time (not to mention connections), but it always pays off in the end. Thank God for digital cameras.

As far as my production details go, those are the basic specs.


Blogger jeffkunze said...

Congrats on a freakin awesome piece of work! You did a great job on the illustrations and great job also goes out to the animators.

Great writing too!

This blew me away. Thanks

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent job on the art. Reminiscent of the animated graphic novels from the Metal Gear Solid game cinematics. Can you tell us how many PSD files you created? Was it one PSD file per shot? And how long did it take you?



5:01 PM  
Blogger ckoelle said...

Thanks, Raul.

Yep, one PSD file for every shot (see post for details). I think all my artwork took about 3 months or so, and that's including other projects interrupting every so often. The animators, of course, spent their own lotta time animating the PSD's.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Original piece of art.
I have been searching about the video for awhile until get you name and search again. As an art and motion graphic student I have watched it at least 20-30 times so far just to learn from the piece. almost perfect in everyway both of production and creative. (at least to me)

keep up good work

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sir are a genius. Please teach me your ways of your art.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Oliver. said...

One of my old favorites from your work but I've never read about the process. Very interesting.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Chris,
your atworks and art are abolutely amazing. This is stunning (as well your works for portland studios). I´m a great fan from Germany. Keep up the good work.

Your fan from germany
Peter Voth
(Blogger, Producer, Illustrator)

5:15 PM  
Anonymous The Thus said...

Nice job..

5:52 AM  
Anonymous The Thus said...

Nice article

5:53 AM  

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