RMK Foreword

The Radiant King--ruler of the nation, conqueror of foreign lands, the most important man in all the kingdom, surrounded by his most trusted advisers, his stoutest protectors, the mightiest of lords, the most masterful of minstrels, and his very lovely queen--is Mad.

Tasked with governing his people through the hard winters and the easy summers, the King devotes himself to... well, anything but that.

The resulting bureaucratic nightmare leaves his retinue crippled, his own steward dragged about like a common servant, and leaves all the power in the kingdom in the hands of his very capable wife--the Fat Queen.

The Radiantly Mad King and his Retinue

For my final project (two quarters) in college I designed and modeled a set of characters in a project that I could approach through several optional modules as I explored and learned from them. The original cast included five characters posed in a dramatically illuminated audience hall. As I had never sketched so extensively and had almost no experience sculpting when I began (I bought Zbrush for this project!), I was very aware of the risk of overextending myself. I remedied this eventuality by exploring paths that allowed me to focus on each aspect of the project separately so that when the year was done, whatever I had gotten done would be of a finished quality. Early on I reduced the cast of characters to the three integral to the story (not counting the turtle) and as the end of the year approached I downsized from my designs for an overgrown audience hall to a set of hand-painted stages. The characters' exaggerated poses were very well suited to a stage and the resulting was well received.

The biggest impact this exploratory project had on me as an artist was in introducing me to sculpting and sketching. In retrospect, the carefully smoothed lines and softly shaded sketches that I began with were the least interesting while the quick, gestural sketches I pumped out later on were among my favorites. Before I began my sculpting, I honestly had no idea how far I could take it. My basic models, while great examples of clean topology, were almost entirely lacking in character. My success in sculpting and painting these characters likely inspired me to continue sculpting with such vigor. I can see now that my divisions were low, my proportions a bit off, and my eye sockets unreal yet I'm still happy with the way it turned out.

I think one of the most difficult obstacles I faced was the organization of my vast collection of files and the unraveling of partially corrupted zbrush files. As a beginner working on my under-powered laptop, I struggled to recover these files. After working on a set of hands for several hours, I discovered that the original model was slowly deleting itself. The lower my divisions, the faster it unraveled. Faces began spiking out into open space and I barely managed to keep my work from slipping away into the void. It felt like one of those wolf maze games where each step you take towards the exit, the wolf takes one step towards you. In the end I did what I could to save my characters but my sculpting was put on hold for the remainder of the project.

An unexpected element this project allowed me to explore was project marketing. I spent a lot more time than I intended designing tickets to display my renders and progress along the way in a form that everyone would recognize at a glance. The purple banners and paper leaflets became visually synonymous with my project by the time we arrived at our final presentations. When asked to provide a pre-production design document to show the results of the first few weeks we had dedicated to design, I printed out 10 large, colorful sheets each packed with an essay of notes, research, comments, thoughts; rows of references and designs, and my standard purple bordered paper style and brought it to class. I've included one or two of these pages to show how deeply the idea took root in my mind. I still use similar themes in my work as is the case with the framed renders I use here.