Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Biomimicry in Watercolour

Using the loose technique of watercolour I had adopted earlier in the project, I used this to re-invent previous known products and inspirations of biomimicry. I decided to illustrate previous inventions of biomimicry in order to 'celebrate' the innovations we already know, or may not be aware of, so that the future of biomimicry can be supported and admired as a process of innovation.

Nature has inspired and keeps on inspiring innovations with a title of biomimicry, and I feel that it is important that everyone understands how important nature is as part of the future of innovation.

Here are some initial watercolours inspired by various inventions of biomimicry:

The Wright Brothers invented the plane in 1903 after studying the movement of birds, in particular turkey vultures. This phenomenon has enhanced transport centuries later, all studied from the movement of birds in nature.
The Wright Brothers invented the plane after being inspired by a turkey vulture.

The 'Flex-Foot' was invented by Van Phillips in 1984 after he lost his foot in an accident at just 21 years old. Today, the 'Flex-Foot' is used by 90% of Paralympian athletes therefore I have illustrated this innovation in watercolour as a 'celebration' of biomimicry.

Van Phillips invented the 'Flex-Foot' after being inspired by the hind legs of a cheetah.

The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe was designed by architect, Mick Pearce after being inspired by termite mounds which use a complex ventilation system, enabling natural air conditioning and heating of buildings without installing costly systems.

Mick Pearce inspired by termite mounds for his design of the Eastgate Centre, Zimbabwe.

After showing these illustrations at my formative assessment, the tutor, Christian Lloyd, suggesting that they could be a lot more abstract and less literal to become more effective as stand alone pieces. It was also suggested that I look at some more watercolour artists to gain inspiration and knowledge about current trends in watercolour illustration.

Photoshop Manipulation

Putting the cheetah/ paralympian watercolour image in Photoshop allowed me to define the line and brighten the tones to make it stand out more. However, manipulating the image this much has made the watercolour lose its subtle edges and blending of tones.

Using Photoshop, I was able to create a larger image with a mixture of all 3 images. To create this, I used the layer mask tool so I could overlay a gradient over the layers to make them blend into each other. This could be used as a mural in the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, printed on a large scale and placed on the wall as a mural sticker so the watercolour wouldn't lose its subtlety.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Biomimicry: Cheetah Morphing into Paralympian

As one of my final development ideas I decided to look into a current example of biomimicry. I chose to focus on the innovative invention of the 'Flex-Foot' by Van Phillips, who was inspired by the hind leg of a cheetah. Phillips focused on this invention as he had lost a leg himself due to an accident in his early years and was determined to run again.

Therefore, I painted a short storyboard with watercolours, defining the image in pen, to see how I could morph the inspirational cheetah into its product of biomimicry.

The main focus of the storyboard imagery was the wash and transition of colour and the shape of the cheetah morhing into the athlete. I kept the shapes as simple as possible, avoiding detail to make the images more abstract and unique.

Below is a very short animation of how all the slides look together. (0.2 second gap between each image)

Overall I am happy with this technique. Even though my drawings were originally meant as roughs, I feel that the abstract versions work well and are more interesting in the sense that the audience have to think more about what is happening.

A longer animation made up of several abstracted images could be used as a final piece, presented on one or more of the televisions in the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre. The vibrancy of colour meets the brief of the client who asked for the building to be 'brightened up'.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Photography Edits in Photoshop

Using Photoshop, I manipulated my primary source photography to alter the tones which give different moods, almost changing the context of the natural form.

Whilst these Photographs above are of the same plant, they are captured and edited in unique, innovative ways. The image on the left presents a calm atmosphere with the orange tones, hinting at a morning sunrise. The image on the right is darker and appears more mysterious. The sharp white of the plant cuts through the darkness, creating a strong image.

The image above is more simplified with its black and white tones. The plant almost imitates a 'scribble' in the air. I love the natural delicacy in all of these images which the camera has captured. The different colours emphasise a variety of moods which the viewer can interpret.

On my venture to Castle Hill, I actually found and photographed some burr plants which were initially used by George de Mestral to inspire him to create velcro. It was intriguing to see them in person as when I photographed the oddly shaped plants and edited it in Photoshop, it gave a sense of futurism. Even the background gives a sense that they are on another planet.

These images are cropped versions of the original close up dead flower which was photographed indoors. The pink is natural and unedited whilst the blue tint on the left image gives a more subtle hint of tones and a greater sense of elegance and calm.

Simply rotating an image proves to be effective as this one imitates a flame, when in fact it is a leaf. Changing the colour to reflect its new shape instantly puts the natural leaf in an entirely new context.

The edit of the left highlights the line in the image, framing the individual petals. This was created using a gradient filter in Photoshop. The photo on the right is more natural looking, it almost appears at though a bright morning sunrise is shining down onto the petals, highlighting their beauty.

I believe that editing the photographs was a success, there a some new innovative approaches to standard photography which are unique and re-contextualise some of the nature. This kind of approach could be adapted to traditional media artwork inspired by this photography.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Nature Photography: Inside and Outside

As I am a great believer in using my own imagery in my artwork, I decided that the best step to take was to go out (or stay in) and take some primary source photography of nature. I feel going out and taking my own photographs meets the brief to be innovative as no picture is ever the same, so proves to be an ideal starting point for the commission. Since I already had a few flowers inside, I took some close-up images of those, even taking some of the flower heads and leaves off to photograph them individually or photograph them in various compositions. This worked well and I especially thought that the individually photographed nature was effective as I was able to capture more detail and the colour was vibrant. 

Primary Source Photography:

Venturing outside into the playground of nature allowed me to experience the natural world at its best. Through the shivers in the cold, I managed to take some interesting photographs, though many turned out blurred. I focused on looking at patterns and textures in nature, trying to find any striking imagery. As it is not the best time of year to capture nature, the Winter climate only allowed for quite dull images. The most interesting thing I found were a bunch of mushrooms at the base of a tree.

Overall, I enjoyed taking my own primary source imagery. Now, I will filter through the images to decide on which would be best to re-invent in my own style.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Leaf Relief Development

After creating my own leaf relief pieces, I scanned them onto my laptop and rendered them on Photoshop, experimenting with tone and line.

Just adding colour to the leaf relief pieces on Photoshop highlights the detail in the veins of the leaves, producing a more effective, stronger image. The blue tone creates an almost neon effect on top of the metallic texture of the foil underneath, whilst the green brings back a sense of the original natural colour. Manipulating the images digitally has greatly enhanced their quality and I believe makes them stronger as a general observation.

This method could be further developed to compliment leaf relief technique.

More to come!