Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Posion Diaries: The Mandrake

I've recently been creating a series of plant characters for the Poison Diaries project which are planted in groups of 4 at the poison garden - poisondiaries.com.
The first batch has been up for a while now so I thought I'd highlight some of my favourites as we go along, starting with the Mandrake.
Atropa Mandragora has a rich historical relationship with humans and was used for both good and bad. Medicinally, it has helped people sleep, soothed pain during operations, cooled skin complaints, calmed the mad and warded off demons. In the wrong doses Mandrake causes nausea, rapid palpitations and madness (quoted from The Poison Diares by the Duchess of Northumberland.)

The roots often split to resemble
human limbs and some believed new people could literally be grown from the plant. When harvested, the mandrake was said to scream so loud it killed anyone nearby. The solution was to tie a pet dog to the plant. When the owner ran clear of the scream, the dog ran after its master pulling the plant up, therefore killing the dog instead. They don't farm like that anymore!

Most subjects require a few options at the concept stage but the mandrake was pretty much accepted at first attempt. We decided to change the shape of the scream for the final 3D image.
I like sketching concepts in ArtRage, usually on a canvas texture with a thinned oil brush, but there are so many other options in ArtRage it makes me giddy. Another nice touch is the ability to load, resize and rotate reference images which float over the canvas.
The sketch is then brought into acclaimed 3D package, Cinema 4D and 'traced over' with 3D geometry. The 3D model is textured then cameras and lights are set before the final shot is rendered.

Click on images to enlarge.