Experiments - An Exploration of Color, Composition, and Character Design
Other World, Transient Labs, Super Rare
Experimentation in art is crucial for the growth of every artist. As such, I’ve approached this project with this critical goal in mind, to experiment. I’ve explored five different approaches to crafting layer-by-layer generative art. Each approach/experiment explores different colors, compositions, and character designs. All five approaches contain their own unique art and assets. The only assets that are shared amongst the five experiments are the foreground characters, but these too are technically unique assets for each experiment as their placement, shadowing, and size are different across all experiments. Although this is experimentation in art, I’ve still worked within the parameter that each approach must result in a balanced art piece.
Results and Discussion
The first step I took was to create the foreground characters. Each character must be detailed and interesting enough to stand on its own and be the main character of their own story.
Figure 1 - Foreground Characters
A) Foreground characters, from left to right: Prophet, BlackKnife Red, Faun, Angel White, Fox Pink, Hitman Dark, Condo Red, Monkey White, Charon Green, Nightmare Pink
B) Foreground characters, from left to right: Dracula with Repeater, White Collar Wolf, Wolf and Sheep, Death Angel, Haunted Girl, Magritte, Hot Head Black, Cerberus, Star Bird, Soldier of Night, Messenger.
C) Character variation examples: Hitman Close Range, Hitman White, Hitman Dark, Hitman on Fire (left). Haunted Girl, Haunted Girl on Fire, Haunted Girl Red, and Haunted Girl Possessed (right). n = 74
Here, I’ve shown a sequence of foreground characters with their placements set to be on the left side of the canvas (Fig 1A). Next, I’ve showcased the foreground characters with their placements set to be on the right side of the canvas (Fig 1B). Each character is going to have 4 variations, with the exception of “Prophet” and “Messenger” which will have just 1 variation, and “Star Bird” and “Monkey” which will have 2 variations each.
While I was working on the foreground characters, I got started on the next step, which was the five different approaches/experiments. For the first approach, I wanted to reimagine Edward Hopper's Nighthawks .
Figure 2 - Night Hawks
A) Three possible scenes, depicting a re-imaging of different time points of the famous diner.
B) The possible Other World paintings that will be shown in the diner (left, middle) and an example of a final Nighthawks Experiment with two possible characters (right). n = 33
The scene here is shown from the opposite side of the diner with the mysterious man showing us his face. The Execution scene reveals this man to be a hitman, completing his mission. The following scene, Aftermath, shows the worker in a state of shock near the end of his mundane shift. The foreground characters are placed outside the diner with their shadows, lit by a bright streetlamp, being cast across the green concrete.
Next, I wanted to re-imagine Pablo Picasso’s Guernica . The original, completed in 1937, is an abstract depiction of war and the brutal sacrifice of the innocent. My re-imagining is the same in its message, but different in its presentation. I’ve taken a digital collage approach to represent the characters in the original painting.
Figure 3 - Guernica
A) Five possible backgrounds, A Gray/Black Garden is a collage of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Heironymous Bosch.
B) Overlay on one output of collage pieces across all five background types.
C) An example output including the foreground characters in two possible variations. Zoomed in images of a collage piece (Burning Skull, Pink) and a right-side foreground character (Magritte Demons). n = 64
Each of these collage pieces have 4 different possible variations, but the same position placement. The background consists of five possible settings. Each is muted in its colors to match the tone of the original painting. The foreground characters are placed near each other and in between the Burning Monk collage piece (left-side) and the Wooden Door (right-side).
Unlike the previous two experiments which are based on major works of art, this next approach, titled “Deserts” is an ode to the minimalistic style without a specific historic painting to build on. Most of my works are admired for their chaotic, dense, and detailed scenery. Deserts employs the opposite technique with a minimalistic desert background and a desaturated color scheme. In the distant plateau, surrounded by the dunes, two subjects are visible.
Figure 4 - Deserts
A) Seven possible Desert backgrounds
B) Example of possible background subjects in the distance
C) Output of complete scene with foreground characters overlayed on Morning Sky background
D) Zoomed in cut outs showing the resolution and detail of subjects in the distance. n = 64
The seven backgrounds all consist of calming colors, minimal contrast and smooth blending. The characters in the distance are painted with a textured oil brush, to match the background. The foreground characters are placed in front of the viewer with the desert sun casting a strong shadow on the sand.
The next experiment is called Sacrifice. It consists of a multi-armed character, the sacrificer, and his offerings.
Figure 5 - Sacrifice
A) Six possible background colors, specifically desaturated to highlight the subjects
B) Three out of Five possible Sacrificer characters overlayed on different background colors.
C) Example of Sacrificer with a complete set of Offerings (left). Possible final output (middle). Zoomed in images of different sections in the final output. n = 64
The Sacrificer is based on The Shepherd David Triumphant by Elizabeth Jane Gardner. The variations of the Sacrificer are all drawn with popping colors. The Offerings consist of various collage pieces from many inspirations ranging from historical paintings to music album covers. The foreground characters in this experiment are placed with a black outline, to match the rest of the assets in the scene and to make them stand out even further from the background. Each arm has 10 possible Offering variations.
The final experiment is a small collection of PFP characters, to give a taste of what a PFP project by me would look like.
Figure 6 - Cash Grab
A) Six possible background colors.
B) Two examples of possible character outcomes with randomizable body, mask, face, pet, weapon, and aura. Utility not included.
C)Two examples of final outcome with overlaid foreground characters.
D) Zoomed in images showing the detail of different sections. n = 25
The backgrounds are simple colors. The actual PFP character is a masked skeleton that is wielding one of three possible guns, each with two variations. There are two Pets possible with four variations each. The placement of the foreground characters is furthest toward the edge of the canvas from any of the experiments, to give center stage to the randomized Cash Grab character.
This art project serves as an exploration of different artistic styles and showcases the creative potential of layer-by-layer generative art through five distinct experiments. Highlighting the importance of experimentation in an artist's career, the results of this project are not going to be seen at its completion, but rather throughout my career. The effect of this project should be obvious in the coming years if elements of my future art incorporate one (or more) of the art styles explored here.
Of course, this is still a small sample size of artistic styles. One thing I didn’t have time to include in this project was code driven generative art (no drawing by hand). This is a challenging medium that I plan to explore and learn in the future. In addition, I’ve been thinking of ways to blend my scientific career into my art. Art has been a mental escape from the hectic science work life for me, but as I get closer to completing my PhD program in bioengineering, I see myself bridging the gap between my science and art careers in a way that is unique to my experience.
I am extremely happy with the completion and presentation of this project, and hope it brings joy to both the collectors and viewers. Although it's been incredibly challenging and forced me out of my comfort zone, It has been incredibly fulfilling to put together the largest collection I’ve worked on and see it go from an empty canvas to many new collectors.
Materials and Methods
Illustrations and creation of art assets
All art in this project was created by Other World using an iPad Pro 12.9in (5th generation) with an Apple Pencil (2nd generation). All referenced artwork that is not public domain has been expressed here under fair use. A canvas size of 6000 x 6000 pixels was used to create all art.
Layer-by-Layer generative code
Custom code needed to be written for this project to encompass the different assets for the five different experiments and to maintain the 6,000 x 6,000 pixel high resolution outputs. The generative code was written by Ben Strauss. The generative code was run using the random seed from the hash of Ethereum block 420 hash. The number in the title for each output (Experiment #) was assigned using the random seed from Ethereum block 69 hash.
Contract details and minting process
The contract 0xac0589A2C39fE62A8FA1c480E3De7822D5b1C780 was minted from my only minting address, 0x9303fFCCC6df17225BaF77a0405598d19eA0d427, with the help of Charles Crain, CTO at SuperRare. All tokens are ERC-721. I’ve purposefully left out any marketplace blockers/filters because I believe this is the best choice for the project's long term health. The tokens were minted using the batch mint feature on the Sovereign NFT contract. This was done by bundling all the artwork metadata into a folder and uploading that to IPFS so that a single transaction created all the tokens.
References and Acknowledgements
I want to thank Transient Labs for helping put together the project on short term notice, especially Ben Strauss who built the custom code from the ground up. I want to thank the SuperRare team for their critical role in my success and growth as an artist. I want to thank my friends and collectors who have all had a major influence on my art career and whose support is irreplaceable. Thank you for taking the time to read this.