Assessment 2: Rationale

My immediate thoughts when considering the visual culture of Russia went to a beautiful miniature painted scene on a wooden box that my grandmother owns. In researching Russian culture and illustration, I was most heavily influenced by the rich colours, intricate patterns and delicate line-work. I found that much of this style had seeped into the illustration of fairytale scenes – Thus, I wanted my characters to appear like fantastical creatures from Russian fables. This was why I chose to combine my characters with corresponding environments from Russia, which due to its size, contains almost every type of biome. The Olympics strike me as an opportunity to illustrate the patriotism of Russia, which is why I wanted the characters to show a coming together of all corners of the country. The elk represents the glaciers and rivers which Sochi is most known for, acting as a welcoming representative from the Paralympic Games (being shown as a double-amputee). The bear and mountain goat represent the male and female athletes respectively, combined with the forests and mountains that the animals inhabit. The red squirrel represents the spectators, being a common creature across Russia. Its ears are illustrated as the domes in the Red Square, because it felt fitting that the audience member should represent the cities. The sculpture leans more towards realism in its use of detail to reflect the Russian style of fairytale illustration (Particularly the works of Ivan Bilibin), where he is shown figure skating. I sadly did not find the time to paint it, which would have given it greater impact as a piece and shown the rich colours which are so iconic of Russia.

While I am extremely proud of my sculpture, I feel that I was not properly able to translate the fluidity in the line-work from my sketches to my digital painting. I have little experience with Photoshop, and battling with the medium limited what I could illustrate of my character’s physicality. Despite this, I feel very proud of the progress I made in illustrating using digital media.


Week 12: Final Touches and Submission

Finalising Some Delicious Sculpcha


Based on the sketches I made last week of my final line-up, I started to work with sculpting the bear using super sculpey, with wire and aluminium foil armature and a wooden block to mount it on. I made all the details separately, baked them, then super-glued them onto the main structure. I was extremely proud of the fingernail-sized mushrooms, and the level of detail I managed to get in some parts.

I was also very proud of how I managed to get the texture of the fur to melt in with the texture of the bark on the tree stump, which made the fusion of plant and animal flow more naturally together.

Final Photographs of my Bear

Analysis of Country Brand Values

Analysis of Country Brand Values

Final Bear Turnaround

Bear Sculpture Turnaround

Final Mascot Line-up (Hero Poses)

Mascot Hero Poses


Week 10: Sculpting Practice

Mrs. Mushroom Returns

Practicing sculpting a random face, which ended up as a new incarnation of an old character I doodled some weeks ago, Mrs. Mushroom.


Still not quite done with her, and the mushroom hat needs reworking. Generally I’m quite happy with her – I tried to make the sculpted version look more bug-like to suit the not-quite-human look.

After having made this, I also raided various shops in the CBD for other wonderful treats like isopropyl alcohol, superglue, and armature wire so I can get more ambitious.

Week 11: Rethinking my Approach

Research & Re-Working my Artistic Style

I was happy with my characters, in terms of their general shapes, animal choices, mixing in the animals with environments, all that jazz. I was more concerned that the expression of the animals that came through in the sketches was lost in the vector images I made in Week 10.

So I’m researching other artists who have worked with sculpture, anthropomorphic characters, etc. to draw from artistic precedents.

Forest Rogers

The texture of the animal’s skin, fur, horn, and feather is wonderfully captured in sculpture. Seeing how she adds the swirls works to capture a quality of visual flow normally reserved to line work in 2D media.

Forest Rogers Moodboard1.png

Ellen Jewett

The filigree and level of detail grants the characters intense visual flow, due to an apparent seamlessness between the animal characteristics and the floral details. The floral detail works so well in the characters because they appear as natural extensions to the textures of the animal in skin, fur and horn. With the time period left in this assessment, I acknowledge that I won’t be able to create nearly the depth of detail as Jewett’s works do. However, I feel that well placed detail to create this seamless transition will be what makes the character seem like a cohesive amalgamation between the animal and environment.

Ellen Jewett Moodboard1

Refining my Character Line-Up

I asked for critique on my pre-existing line-up in the vector image style, and was also suggested that more detail and use of line-work may better preserve my artistic style within my characters. Tanya also suggested that the colour palette could be improved by using bright line-work in colours that complement the animal. I was told that the characters are good and distinctive in their shape, and that I should begin drawing the characters in poses to show their athletic, olympian qualities. Some of the lighter drawn sketches were done by Tanya.

Here are various iterations on my final character line-up. I’m working towards adding more texture on the characters which interacts with the environment they represent physically.

Week 10: Character Line-Up

In Soviet Russia, Mountain Climbs Goat

Donald was giving me feedback in the last session on how my elk looked almost mythical, so it didn’t quite match up with my other characters. So I thought rather than making the elk fit in with the other more normal mascots, I’d make the other mascots more mythical instead.


So now I want to combine them with different environments which Russia advertises as tourist destinations, mostly specific to where the different animals are found.

This was some modelling of the mountain goat I did for funsies.

It didn’t look all that great, but no matter.

I sketched these characters out, some of them from multiple angles. I think they’re working far better as a suite now – and I’ve also managed to resolve the clothing issue – now they’ll all be wearing one element of traditional Russian dress, all with traditional textile patterning on them.


And worked out a colour palette from colour-picking from moodboard images, and began working on rendering a character line-up in Photoshop.


Week 9: Projects for Funsies

Personal Projects

Character development for the ‘Feeble’ project, playing around with body types and translating personality attributes into physical attributes.

And I had a blast with Tanya’s workshop on modelling characters, so I got myself the materials she listed in class and tried it out at home. I tried to make a mime type character with the sad, melodramatic expression and glorious cheekbones.

Week 9: Sochi Mascot Character Development

Some development sketches I’ve been working on for the various characters. I’ve decided to build the elk to represent the Paralympic games, the red squirrel as the audience members, the Eurasian bear as the male Olympian, and the mountain goat as the female Olympian.

There’s also a page in there taking notes on physical modelling, which I would like to attempt to work with for my final product.

Weeks 7-8: DoodleDoodleDoodle

Doodles, Feebles and Extra Classes

These past weeks I’ve been going to some talks at Te Papa by MK Haley from Disney’s Imagineering team on the Experience Economy, and attended the Wellington City Library’s Comic fest where they held classes and panels by comic book artists on how to create graphic novels. I hadn’t done that before either, so I gave that a go.
Here are some doodles and notes from MK Haley’s talk, and doodles from a class on designing characters for graphic novels at the City Library.

Some character building for the Feeble Project, mainly written notes.

And finally a photo taken of a practice portrait of my roommate, acrylic on paper. This is a work in progress.


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