Monday, May 24, 2010

Fake Website

This week's homework assignment for my class in Graphic Design for Film & TV was to design a fake website. Something that would appear in a film or TV show on a background computer monitor, or one that an actor might interact with. I decided to do the homepage of a corporate website. The corporation in question? Omni Consumer Products from the movie Robocop...

The large image is actually a slideshow of different OCP projects, like "Delta City," and "Ed-209." Another fun assignment. Now, back to my "real" work...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010


In my last post, I mentioned that I'm currently taking a class at UCLA Extension, as part of a certificate program in Advanced Print and Graphic Communication. This semester, the class I'm taking is Graphic Design for Film & Television, taught by Geoffrey Mandel who is the designer on popular shows like Mad Men and Parks and Recreation, as well as films like Surrogates, MI3, Solaris, and Spider-Man 2. He also worked on several of the Star Trek shows & movies, so he has plenty of credits that are impressive to a comic book guy like myself.

The job description of Graphic Designer on a film or TV show is pretty interesting — and one I've never given any thought to before. Basically, he works with the Art Department to create anything that needs graphic design. That could be a show logo, title sequence, set dressings, signage or props. It also includes images that might be played back on a TV or computer monitor within a scene (such as all the monitors on a starship, or a TV news report that a character might be watching, or a website he might be browsing). On show such as Mad Men it is a crucial role, since it is a period drama, where everything must be recreated.

The homework assignments have been fun and varied. One of the tools we've used is the free 3D software application, Google SketchUp. It's fun, free and easy to learn. I'm usually baffled by 3D programs, so I was happy to find that all the demos on their website are easy to follow. For my first try at SketchUp, our assignment was to recreate an existing set from a TV show or movie. I picked the warehouse from Reservoir Dogs.

Here are some screen shots of my model...

Structurally, this building is completely unsound! I was learning on the fly here, so as I built this scene, I became aware of many mistakes that I could easily avoid if I were to build it again from scratch.

In case you're wondering, I did NOT build the car, or the crates, or the table, props and figures. These items were imported into the scene from the handy Google 3D Warehouse. It's full of objects that other people have designed and shared to the SketchUp community. It's one of the things that makes SketchUp fun to work with.

That was fun, but thanks to the learning curve it took forever! In the end, it is nowhere near complete, but I learned a lot about SketchUp.

My second crack at SketchUP was more successful. For this assignment, I had to design the "look" of a fictitious daytime TV interview show called "Barbara." My attempt included a model of the actual set, with logo graphics, as well as an example of on-screen text that might appear. This was also fun...

Above is the backdrop, below you can see the beach scene placed on a curved background on my set. The "Barbara" logo floats in front...

Before modeling the scene, I sketched out a few ideas, including the overused city view that you'd see on Letterman or Leno. I was waiting on the checkout line at the grocery store, when I became inspired by a magazine cover showing an inviting veranda scene...

I liked the columns, shuttered doors and tropical motif, so I kept that in mind while building the set...

Finally, I imported some of these views in to Photoshop and added some figures and graphics (apologies to Barbara Walters & Michael Ironside!)

I have a few more images with graphics that I submitted, but you get the drift. We've also done some other excellent projects in this class, but I promised not to show them at this time. The bottom line is that I'm having a great time. Time spent in the classroom and working on these assignments has been very stimulating and inspirational.

More on what I've been up to lately soon...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Hey Blogosphere.

I haven't posted recently, except for the random image, and that's mostly because I haven't been feeling very talkative lately. Or "blogative." Whatever you want to call it. The fact is, so far, it has been a lousy year for me.

Unlike many bloggers, I usually don't like to get too personal in this forum. I'm mostly a private guy, but I use my blog to share images and anecdotes about the projects I'm working on, as well as general observations about the comics biz. Today, I'm going to bend that rule a little, while I share this little piece of Photoshop art with you all...

This is a drawing of my father, James Buccellato. He passed away a couple of months ago, and that has made for a very difficult year. To put it mildly.

In the weeks since the funeral, I've reflected on everything I know about my father, and on my own relationship with him. In the final analysis, I can't say that we were extremely close, but I did love my father very much. This piece of art was an interesting challenge for me. It's really the first time I've used Photoshop in this manner; creating a digital painting from scratch. I didn't use any Photoshop trickery (it isn't a doctored photo) just drawing on my Wacom tablet, looking at photo reference, and using digital paint (whatever that is!)

I enjoyed the painting process, and I savored the time it took to complete it. It was uninterrupted time spent thinking about my dad. My only regret is that it's just pixels and doesn't truly exist like a "real" painting. I did get it printed onto canvas to see what it looks like, and I like the results, but it isn't the same. Maybe I will use it as a study for an actual oil painting in the future.

Meanwhile, I've been just trying to keep busy. A challenge unto itself. I've spent much of this year investigating job prospects and career moves. I want to change things up—abandon the freelance lifestyle and find a more collaborative environment to work in. I've also started taking courses at UCLA with the goal of getting a certificate in Advanced Graphic Design & Communications. This has been a lot of fun — very stimulating. I will tell you about it and share some of my school work in future posts.

I'm starting to feel as though things are looking up. Lately, I have been busy with work and I have some interesting job prospects. Last week was my birthday. Milestones like birthdays provide a good excuse to reevaluate and rededicate oneself. I'm staying positive and moving forward! Keep an eye on this blog, my friends, because I'll be posting some interesting news and cool artwork soon!

Thanks for reading. This was a difficult post to write, but I wanted to share the picture of my dad, and that necessitated an explanation of sorts. Next time, I'll be all business. ;)