Dracula Untold Concepts - And opinions please!

Hey guys,

On my previous Job, I ended up working on the 'Dracula Untold' re-shoots, and heard more vampire designs could be needed.
Following the original ideas, I produced these concepts the following day and passed them on to my boss.
Production ended up going for a more "Ill looking/extreme old age" look (as seen on the final cut), but I heard good feedback.
Though I'd stop being so scared and share them here  :smile:

I'm slowly making my way to Character/Creature designs, but obviously, for now, lack the skills to do it but on the sidelines.
Now, here comes the doubts; Some people think it's great for you to produce more of your work in your own time, as it shows love and dedication, and encouraged me to produce more, telling me I'd get better and quicker with experience.
Others however, though it was very bad form, and that you should stick to what you have been told to do. (and only provide new work when you're completely off-Same people who think working for another department is unacceptable).

I was curious to know what you guys thought?

Post edited by Adelaide Filippe on


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    Hi Adelaide,

    Working outside your department can be tricky, and fought with issues.  In some cases there are union regulations to be concerned with, but it's typically frowned upon because of three factors.
    • First, it means you're not supporting your own department, or can at least be perceived that way.  In many cases perception is more important than reality.  Even if you have the down time to interact with another department, a department head/producer/ad/etc. may see you as not making good use of your time.  
    • Second, it could be stepping on the toes of someone in the department you are reaching out to.  
    • And lastly it can get in the way of them doing their job.  When on set every department is either in rush mode or hurry up and wait mode.  Even when idle on set, folks are usually on high alert for when they are needed, so distractions are often not welcome.
    Of corse, all of this depends on the nature of the production you are working on.  Smaller or more relaxed productions are often less rigid when it comes to department lines and folks are often wearing more than one hat.  But at the same time, smaller productions are often working with less time/budget so folks can be overloaded or stressed on occasion too.

    That said, I've crossed department lines on many occasions.  You just need to do it delicately.  I'd start by making friends with everyone you can in that department, getting a good understanding of their team structure/dynamic, knowing how they operate, and how overloaded/stressed they are.  That way you know if you have a suggestion or help to offer how it might be received.  Building those relationships can give you an opportunity to have some off-set social time where shearing your sketches/concepts would be more welcome.

    Really it comes down to the person you want to share with, and when you choose to share.    Awesome creative types who are capable of operating without ego will welcome suggestions or willingly help nurture someone's interest in their department/creative field. 

    My suggestion would be spend your time off set working on a portfolio and growing your skills (even helping smaller productions by volunteering for the department you want to work with), and your time on set watching, learning, and building relationships.  And if an opportunity arrises on set where you believe sharing your concepts is welcome or beneficial to the production, share with caution.

    Best of luck!

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    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer (and in such details!).

    I apologise, I haven't word my post accurately enough. By "working another department", I meant, being on Prosthetics for film A, and by the time Film B rolls, try and move to the Art department, or vice versa. (Not especially crossing the lines while on a project, but I thank you for your advice as it crossed my mind before, but I wasn't sure how to deal with it in a sensible way).

    I will spend more time growing my skills (aren't we all!). If you have any insight on the actual work from the previous post, I'd be very grateful :)

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    Ah, I get you now.

    As far as moving from one department to another between projects, your best bet is always to be known by the department head before a team is assembled for the new project.  Make friends on project A, and let them know you are interested in project B.  That way when they are assembling the team, or budgeting for team size when pitching, they can keep you in mind.  Coming in as an assistant is a good way to get your foot in the door, and working under someone as an assistant is a great way to learn.

    For the work you showed in the previous posts, here are some suggestions.  (First off, they look great, and you are off to a good start)

    The male character has very dramatic lighting.  While that helps establish a mood, when pitching a character design (especially for makeup) it's a good idea to show the character fully lit.  Having much of the face obscured by shadow hides the possible details that may be there.  

    When looking at a comp for a character, after I decide if I like the direction or not my mind immediately goes to how would I create and break up the appliances, where would my blending edges be, etc.  Not being able to see the full face makes breaking the character down a bit more difficult. 

    I would also try and avoid mirrored symmetry created by sharing common assets that are flipped horizontally for each side of the face.  When dealing with an asset like a vein pattern, dirt/blood grunge spots, etc, it's a good idea to use that asset as few times as possible (and vary the rotation, scale, opacity, etc.), so it does not create recognizable patterns.

    The male face looks like it was designed as a half face and then mirrored, which could be a great trick when doing something like a beauty makeup or fantasy character where symmetry creates beauty.  Time saving tricks like that can earn you bonus points as everyone loves fast turnaround when dealing with many iterations on a design.  But for an evil/dark character a bit of asymmetry (like the nice lip detail you have on the female character) can be really powerful.

    My main note for the female character is on the lip detail.  It has the feeling of being a transparent overlay on top of her face.  I would go in with the airbrush tool and shade/highlight it a bit so it looks more like part of her face.

    Here is a quick/sloppy sample I did (on the left) in just a couple minutes with the smudge and airbrush tools.  All I did was bend the top lip highlight so it deforms as if it's falling on top of the curved teeth rather than the straight lip line it was following before, and moved/shaded the line between the lips to deform it to match the new line created by where the upper and lower teeth join.  This makes the teeth you added look more like part of the anatomy, and less like a transparent layer.

    I really like the muted earth-tone color palette you are using in both comps.   

    Again, great work, and I really hope you can share more in the future!



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    Wow! Thank you so much for replying so fast and sharing all theses amazing informations! 

    Would you then use your project A portfolio for project B?Or would you simply produce few good targeted work , even / especially for an assistant position, so HOD can take you a bit more seriously? ( even if you've made friends already) 

    I never really know as I have missed positions because of untargeted work, but heard of people landing amazing gigs with completly unrelated project display ( for example , a guy worked painting props for 6 months and accessed prosthetics as a hair puncher later on)

    I'm glad you liked it, and I trully appreciate the insight. Looks  like I should start by learning more tricks like that shading you did in order to use the software to it's full advantage.
    I have indeed painted one side of the male face and flipped it around to create a full makeup. Then realised photoshop didn't really work like z brush and had a hard time getting the face a bit more " character" ( FAIL !) 
    The female was the one who got most attention, but was showed later. Would you advice spending more time on designs, to start with? Maybe have a longer turn around, but really work the details? 

    Thank you, I Definitly will, keeping all of your advices in mind for the next projects !

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    You can totally use works done for one project to help get you in the door on a new project.  Though I would try and tailor the portfolio for the job if possible.   For example, if the job is a werewolf film, a portfolio full of zombies not be as well received as a portfolio that has more animal characters and hair work.  Tailor the portfolio to each new job, both in terms of subject matter, and discipline.    

    The example of the person you know who used their paint work to get a position doing hair punching is very uncommon.  But it's possible they were hired more because they had already established they were dependable, hard working, talented, easy to work with, etc.  

    When showing new works I would spend as much time as possible on them, just to give people an idea of what you are capable of with enough time.  But also keep in mind that they may want faster turn around, so making sure you can deliver on deadlines is important too.

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    I would say thanks as well for such detailed info, I've heard somewhat similar here and there it's nice to know it was more than just talk or just stuff that sounds good. Dependable, doing what you say you can do i can't see how that could go wrong. It's the knowing how, when and possibly where to exercise a chance that i happen to like for the most part.
    Thanks again here.
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    Great! Thanks Chris :)
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    Great zombies you designed. I think you should go with the film making in New York. Your creation is too good for any film for zombies. People are love to watch zombie films. I suggest you to please create animated zombie. Now a days, animated zombie are in demand.
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    edited August 2015
    Haha, thanks. Actually they are vampire concepts following Mark Coulier original translucent skin idea from the first film. I guess they could do good zombies too!

    Thanks for the tips and the compliment!

    EDIT: I found this one I forgot about as well :smiley: 
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    I dig this one.  Great asymmetry, and those eyes are super haunting.

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    Thanks Chris!  :D
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