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The National - Trouble Will Find Me

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I decided to go with The National's new album Trouble Will Find Me. Like most of their music it has an overall sombre and melancholy vibe. On first impressions the main singer's voice conveys a sense of distant aloofness with a deep reverberating quality.  This brings to mind dark/night landscapes with a surreal alien environment, or some object floating stark white space with an almost clinical aspect. I see both of these having a more cubist or futurist quality about them to support the singer's masculine voice and the detached tone. 

Track Names:

  • I Should Live in Salt
  • Demons
  • Don't Swallow the Cap
  • Fireproof
  • Sea of Love
  • Heaven Faced
  • This Is The Last Time
  • Graceless
  • Slipped
  • I Need My Girl
  • Humiliation
  • Pink Rabbits
  • Hard to Find

Discriptive words

  • Sombre
  • Multifaceted (Cubist, Futurist)
  • Night/Dark
  • Bleak Environment/Not lush or forested
  • Distant and Aloof
  • Masculine

Thematic elements that come to mind: 

  • Holes - falling in or peering into
  • Tunnels - Hiding in or peering out of
  • Giants - Looming and searching
  • Water - Brings ideas of isolation and helplessness
  • Large Beasts - lay in wait calmly but are fierce when roused

The hardest part I'm finding at the moment is coming up with a concept that isn't so literal. I feel like most thoughts that come to mind are a very obvious at the moment. I don't want to end up with some guy literally running from something, but more convey the sense of expectation, inevitability, or isolation. 

Loose Concepts so far…

  • Reed poking through the surface of a moon lit marsh as though some one were hiding beneath
  • View from behind a man. He is buried up to his neck in a crater on the moon looking back down at earth.
  • Tall surreal glasses of water sitting on a desk with a small man lost walking through
  • Small man curled up (is he sleeping?) against a large beast (Buffalo-esque) on an indistinct etherial white background. Is he protected or found out?
  • Looking out of a cave or tunnel at a distant landscape/Errant traveler traipsing through a cave alone only lead by his meager flashlight. Is he lost spelunking, searching for an answer, or hiding?
  • Looking down on a small walled in garden with a small hedge lining the walls. A couple discarded artifacts litter the center. Children's toys? Pen's and paper?

Any and all help narrowing down a conceptual focus would be excellent. Feeling the pressure of too many options to chase down right now. Thanks!

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Thanks for your feedback Matthew and Neil. It helped me get a clearer focus for my thumbnailing. Here's what I've got so far...

Overall Ideas

Traveling across the moon - Unable to rest and always searching for new places to be safe from the "Trouble"

Buffalo - Slow, meandering, contemplative. This hits my somber and aloof tones well I think. 

Mask - Gives another layer to the anonymity/hiding aspect, as well as supporting the bizarre landscape. 

Axe - Lends to the idea that he won't go down fighting. Since an axe is more of a utility item, as opposed to a military weapon, it makes me think he had to grab something on the run and is inexperienced. 

I tend to like straight on profile shots. Not terrible emotive, but plays up some of those sombre and helpless tones. 

With the rider and buffalo walking away it makes me think they've finally found peace, despite how distant they had to travel to find it. Possibly searching for a new place to start a life? Kind of liking how they are coming off as gigantic compared to the surrounding landscape. Also, a little detail sketch of the mask idea.

Sleeping/hiding in a crater? 

Thought I'd play around with composition and scale a bit. Same over all idea, but focuses more on the solitude. Small shape lost in a huge foreign landscape. Possibly have the buffalo and rider in silhouette against the darkness of space?

All thoughts greatly appreciated!

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Glad to get some updates out on this project. Mostly I've slightly refined and detailed the 2nd sketch, and been working on color research. I opted to leave the mask off in favor of a smaller figure in a hood. It was all starting to seem like a bit too SciFi with the mask. Bringing the child sized figure in a hooded sweater brings in more of the urban renegade aspect I've been trying to hint at. 

All critiques and comments on the new sketch are welcome. In particuar I want to make sure the type is reading correctly. I'm really liking how the script for "National" turned out, but am a little worried the "N" is reading too much like a "V."

For color I've been leaning heavily toward these couple references. I think i'm going more towards the top two on the left. You can check out my whole project research collection here if you're interested: https://iceber.gs/p?5199810ae2451

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Vector Rough


Trying to move things along with out getting too caught up in the details. I've been looking at this guy a little too long to notice many things that could use improvement. So thanks for the feedback in advance!

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Glad to have some time this weekend to work out the texture and lighting on this guy. I ended up changing the type out. The hand done style just wasn't meshing with what I had in mind. My biggest questions for review are is there too much texture, did I go overboard with glows, and general color adjustment advice. Thanks everyone who has taken the time to comment with help along the way, and for making this just a great class. 

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