Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
This past Christmas we were hit with a film that was very divided on everything from the frame rate to the artwork, but to everyones surprise, Spider-Verse was one of the biggest and freshest films we as artists, fans and nerds have seen in a long long time.
One of the artists that put whole heart and soul into this film is a man by the name of Yuhki Demers. Yuhki, sat down with myself on the most resent podcast to talk about his life leading up to his art career and current projects. One of the biggest things that was impacting was his stories of how misplaced he felt in life with the personal expectations of peers and family. Something that connects with a lot of us personally because are we not trying to figure out who we are as individuals, even when trying to please those around us.
This genuinely reflects and works so well with the main character in, Spider-Verse, Miles Morales, A young kid from Brooklyn, trying to find out who he is while trying to meet the expectations too those around him, finding his own footing in the process.
Yuhki, mentioned about growing up and excelling in school and finding time to be in metal bands playing bass just trying to do what he loved until he found were he'd fit in eventually. As time went forward he had taken time during school to try a figure drawing class and from there a metal-head, comic reading star was born.
After attending Art Center, Yuhki, shared some tips that helped him focus his skill and kept him on track with himself as an student, artist and developer.
Grabbing Art Reference/ Art of Books and working on a piece of art that was placed next to the original piece in the book and doing a series of honest critiques to measure his skill and versatility.
Also Keeping in mind that, yes there are always artists that are better than yourself but the amount of work and hours you put into your artwork can determine the ready skills. "Your intention whether its clear or not is that you're trying to get a job that someone has been doing much longer and saying you can do it and do it better, They are drawing, painting and creating 30-40 hours minimum a week, if you're not producing that much yourself, you're never going to reach their level or opportunities
Also when you surround yourself around people who are willing to collaborate and share take advantage 100,% it's great chance to re-examine your work and/or approach a peer and ask, "what do you think about this?"
as simple as that seems sometimes we tend to forget that keeping a firm honest and open mind to your art helps you grow more versatile and confident in your endeavors.
One of the biggest things that hit myself about, Yuhki, was the idea of having fun with what you’re doing no matter the situation. Speaking more about his career, Yuhki, shared his time on, “The Emoji Movie” and how while working on the film with many artists who’s talent and styles varied greatly, inspiring each other day to day to world build above and beyond. After the film was slammed by critic reviews I asked how that affected him artistically and as a person.
Very warmly, Yuhki, shared that working with so many artists that had great styles and approaches was just plain fun and made it worth it.
“it’s a fine line you have to walk sometimes, on one hand you have to look at the internet and critics as something that will say anything and everything to get their opinion out or say something to just a reaction out of you,
and that can bring you down if you focus on it too much but at the same time, I love it!
The internet and social media is also packed with lots of fans who know the material like the back of their hand, why wouldn’t you take notes on what to do or what they’re looking for in a film or game? I’m a fan too!
we want to see something that means something to ourselves and getting a massive input can help you push yourself to produce something better than thought possible.”
Be an individual while being aware,
thats something that most of us are trying to figure out with life and art, so hearing that from someone who has their artwork put out on a global spectrum to see and critique is a great stabilizer for us to realize, “oh shit, they go through it as well”.
Miles, like, Yuhki, is a person that is true to ones self and it shows through the story and his art. Thats an obvious reason why we can like him as a character and believe him to be a person we relate to or know. Which makes you think, How many pieces do we create that honestly resonates with ourselves or others when it comes from a honest place?
Yuhki, then started to talk about how we can understand characters and stories from strong designs and pallet choices. In example: Miles’s room, Uncle Aaron's Apartment and The VISION school for the gifted in Brooklyn. The contrast of comfort and discomfort are met with warm and cool tones.
For those that are new to color palette lingo:
Warm: colors that live on the warm side of the spectrum like sunrises and sunsets
Cool: colors that live on the cooler side of the spectrum like a fat kid shopping in a Hot Topic by moonlight
"welcome to my Lamp-Black Parade, mom"
When we look at the color palette of Brooklyn in the beginning of the film, Miles is shown in his home headed to school, singing without a care in the world. Everything form his room, kitchen and front porch to the neighborhood has warm values that represent him feeling comfortable and in his element. As he starts walking to school we notice the motion of the characters he interacts with, all having a more fluid motion (flavor) with their actions and frame rates, a variation of colors like the community of Brooklyn itself.
But when we move to Mile’s father driving him towards the new school he’s attending things become colder in pallet choice as well as sterile in frame rate and design. Something that we as viewers get as, "Oh its a new school, Of course he feels out of place."
But look at the way the contrast in design and colors really tells a story without words. Yuhki shares that the everything from light and color choice to character uniforms and body language had a massive contrast in telling a story but designing that show, Mile’s is now out of his element and cant find himself in the same head space as the contrasting warm home neighborhood/school he was at earlier in the film, creating a whole mood and narrative with design and color.
A blend of both warm and cool palettes to emphasize a character or an environments dual purpose is found in Uncle Aaron’s apartment.
Here we see both warm and cool tones that show a sense of comfort and something else that is hidden for those that haven’t seen the film, (spoilers, he’s really two midgets in a coat)
But why does any of this matter ?
When talking about color choices and a solid palette we have to keep in mind that theres is a uniformity that helps us tell a story, metaphor or point with out having to post big ass words that say,
“IM PROBABLY A BADASS SUPER SECRET NINJA ASSASSIN OR ELSE WHY WOULD ANYONE LET ME BUMP BIGGIE THIS FUCKING LOUD AT 11:30 ON A MONDAY NIGHT, WITHOUT SAYING SHIT, ITS CLEARLY A SCHOOL NIGHT SINCE IT WAS THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FOR MILES, DON'T FUX WIT ME CHIGGA!”
although lets be honest, Somehowl that could happen and we’d still give this movie a 10/10
"Just, "The Man" tryin' to keep a Brotha Down"
The color choices we are seeing help give a better mood or identity to the characters from an artistic perspective.
Most of us try to figure out what to put on a canvas or piece of paper without anything else besides the, "I’m bored, what should I draw?" approach when in reality we have to ask ourselves, are we trying to tell some sort of a story or just trying to express some kind of emotion
" Bout to go ham on this sweet-ass Mecha spin kick, Harambe",
Keeping this in mind, since we're talking about narration in this article, helps us find what we are aiming to work towards in our piece, which is why the colors and temperatures of the past few panels mentioned help push the narrative of a character, story, time and place.
Most of us lack any experimenting with our pallets or knowledge of temperatures to help us think outside the box, pushing ourselves to create with new formulas and ideas that might open a whole door of expression and design.
Most of us don't write stories we illustrate them, so with that argument how are we going to push the story we are illustrating?
The Panel below is one of Yuhki's that shows many artistic elements,
Dynamic Perspective, Mono and Poly-Chromatic palette choices Pop & Print work styles, etc....
but the Main thing were looking at is a Miles running down the streets of New York, a plethora of colors and temperature choices. From a normal point of view we can say, "well of course, New York is full of Neon lights and the occasional urine soaked elevator, So what?"
Well smarty pants, what if we looked closer to color choice and interpret along side the different styles and the different influences you'd find in New York city any given day, they all compliment each other in unison to form what we in call Harmony.
Does this matter to the average consumer? probably not,
but to us this helps us realize the time effort and work when we break down the thought process and ideas that go into projects like this. Every bit is unique and conscious as possible even when "winging it". So when working on your pieces whether physical or digital, keep in mind your setting, story and temperature (color and emotional) you want to convey.
Strong pieces whether master or study have strong fundamentals
The two studies done below were put together on what would the same location look like based on the palette of the character, showing us two things.
One, that a characters color palette is also a good guide for how to focus our choices in world/environment building
and Two, An unrealistic representation of how clean and empty subway cars can be in New York City.
Use these as studies for yourself try building a panel or piece your own with a character palette
Spider-Gwen (Yuhki Demers 2018)
Spider-Man Noir (Yuhki Demers 2018)
Lastly I wanted to share this impactful panel that, Yuhki did and hit home
Asking him what was on his mind when doing the tribute panel to, Stan Lee, he replied,
"Growing up my father searched high and low for the , How to Draw! The Marvel Way!
and many other books to help me learn, If you were to go back in time and tell this young kid that one day he would be tasked with saying goodbye and thank you to, Stan Lee, himself in a Spider-Man movie, I would have never believed you in a million years. I came up with a few concepts and this one just stuck out clear of Stan and even made me tear up"
Speaking for myself, I went to the theatre with a lot of reserves of another Spider-Man movie let alone a, what seemed like another reboot after Marvel's Infinity War and Goddamn was I wrong, this movie pushed the boundaries of my artistic curiosity and love for the world of animation. But this Stan Lee Panel hit home on another note for the idea
While some of us push to fit in as much detail and ideas into one piece to get a message or ability across to the viewer or ourselves, sometimes simple and clean is the most impactful and says all that needs to be said.
I could go deeper and deeper on to many more things, Yuhki and myself spoke about breaking down process but I'll leave that to you the reader to listen to his Podcast episode here on the site or to attending his classes, panels and events.
If there is more you want to see from Yuhki Demers
is the best possible way to keep up with him he has informed.