An assignment about creating a realistic scene that could never actually be photographed.

"Characters do not exist alone- they exist in context and are the product of their culture and environment." Robert Gould, President of Imaginosis Transmedia Arts

With this thought in mind, you will be creating a "world" which will be made up of a believable environment inhabited by a character of your own design.

Adopting the working methods of James Gurney (Dinotopia)and as an integral part of the process, you will create a maquette (a 3-D statue) of your character, paint it, cloth it, light it and photograph it. (You can use Sculpey, found objects, etc.) That photographic reference will be used in conjunction with carefully researched sketches of an environment meaningful to your character, the context which will supportit and create a narrative. The result will be an image that combines your environmental research/sketch process with your photo reference of your maquette, seamlessly merging 3-D and 2-D and fantasy with reality.

MassArt alum Robert Gould, President of Imaginosis ( represents artists who create imagery based in imaginative realism (such as Brian Froud and Wendy Froud). Robert will be visiting MassArt on Wednesday, November 18th and will critique this assignment as well as discuss his journey from MassArt to the present. In the early evening Robert will lead a panel discussion two additional artists from the area, They will discuss the challenges and opportunities that artists face today.

Here are four important key points that Robert feels are at the heart of every successful world building process.
• Where are you? (Place)
• Who are you? (Character)
• How do you feel? (Emotion)
• Why are you? (Purpose/Motivation)

And another consideration I'd like to add is: What have you done, what are you doing or are just about to do?

Additional considerations:
• Are you indoors, outdoors?
• On land, on water or under water?
• Existing in this time period or another?
• What country, what culture?

How to Begin

You can start by either creating a believable world (based on the above information) that will serve as a sort of stage setting for you character or begin with the creation of the character itself. Your character and its world are linked and most likely you will work simultaneously on both at various stages of the project.

Just as in any assignment, you need to begin with lots of thumbnails. Even on paper in the planning stage, our character should be thought of as three dimensional with a front, two sides and a back.

You may also want to plan how your character will look from different vantage points. I suggest a minimum of 50 thumbnails in the development of your character. When you feel you are ready, proceed to a drawing that shows the four views mentioned above.

The environment for your character needs to be thoroughly researched. You will want to consider time of day, the season, the temperature/weather, surface materials, vantage point, etc. I would recommend doing at least 50 thumbnails before you decide on developing a particular environment. Once you have narrowed things down, begin your research and proceed to a working sketch. (This can be in black and white.)

Here is a timeline of the assignment.

Due October 27th (by email as there is no class because of Registration Day)
50 thumbnails and revised sketches of your character from front back and sides. 50 thumbnails of the environment, and a rough sketch developed from those thumbnails which considers research and reference.
Homework: Begin the creation of your maquette after approval of sketches.
Revise background/world sketch adding researched details.

Due November 3rd Your character in progress or completed. We will use class time to complete maquettes and light and photograph them.
Homework: Complete maquette photography and merge this reference with your world sketch to begin the final art.

Due November 10th Work in progress.
Homework: Complete final art.

Due November 17th Completed final art. You may also participate in the crit with Robert on November 18th at 3:00pm.

Here are some inspirational images. Enjoy!

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