Friday, 27 February 2009

Storyboard Finished!

My storyboard is finished and rather than punish you with hundreds of words of reading, I'll just post a few shots and be on my way. I will be continuing my research posts soon though as I work on the comic book, which I hope to have a rough copy of finished by early next week.

At the moment, I don't know whether I am enjoying this project or not. I think I have set myself far too much work and I am yet unsure as to whether or not its going to get me the mark that I want.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


Storyboarding is still an activity that I haven't quite got my head around. I do things very rough deliberately, partially out of laziness and partially because I am concentrating on getting the shots right, making sure that the what each shot is trying to say is clearly stated and staged. Its a tricky balance and one I am quick to admit I am not that great at...but with study and practise I am getting there. I say it a lot - but working alone, you don't really need a storyboard because you have everything in your head...but it does help to lay it out on paper.

Essentially though, by the time I am finished I have directed, laid out, storyboarded, animated, voiced, sound edited, video edited and completely created my own cartoon....I'd say I am only good at very a few things on that list, with storyboarding and layout been my worst and directing coming a close second. But...practise makes perfect and all that. I don't want to give away too much of the plot on here because I like to leave some things to the imagination and at least have there be some surprise in the final piece. So I won't be posting the whole storyboard and this time I am only making a hopefully won't take quite as long - this is something I think is important with all the other work that needs finishing at the moment.

Anyway: here are a few examples of the storyboards this time around.

I think the opening scene is really going to grab the interest of the viewer...because its quite a twist on what a lot of people might be expecting from the title. I thought this was a really good way to get people questioning their own though process. They here the word Pervert as they read the title before they play the video...then the first thing they see is a pram without a parent around a man picking it up and peering into a cot. Immediately the mind tells you something is a bit sick this....but then, there is a big surprise waiting around the corner that will have people asking themselves...." I a pervert for thinking that would happen or is it just I am shown so many things like this in the news and on television that I expected it to happen". I thought this was a really good way to turn the audiences own mind back around on them.

Strangely, this is the scene I am most looking forward to animating. I think its one of the funniest scenes in the entire thing. It follows the line: "Only one man can save us..." and then, its Captain Uber dragging himself along the floor trying to reach a hot dog. Awesome. Hot dogs are Captain Uber's power source by the way....but mustard is his Kriptonite. Nostrils of FIRE!!!

I decided to do my storyboard on the computer this time around to help with clarity. The ridged boxes surrounding the boxes don't distract the eye from the important part of the storyboard...the story. It actual helps carry the eye from drawing to drawing, so that you can see the continuity and make sure it is there. Also, by doing it on the computer it means I can adjust anything I need to quickly, meaning I can change things as I go. So far I think this is the better way of doing it. I am just finishing my storyboard...if you're lucky I might post some more images in another post...but none to ruin the final product!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Still going...

Another week on this cartoon and I have to say that my interest isn't at its highest at the moment. I am letting things get on top of me and the pressure of the hard couple of months is really burdening me at the moment. I am trying to push it to one side because I know compared to many other people on my course, I am ahead of the game. My T&P is coming along nicely, my dissertation is first draft going on second and my studio is work is in good shape - although, again my research isn't quite coming together...or at least I don't think it is. My PDP is behind I think, but I know what I have to do for it so again I think I'm going to be OK on that one. After writing this opening paragraph I really am beginning to wonder why I am panicking.

I'll open the post by telling you that this week I am moving into the main part of my project. I am finishing my storyboard this week for the trailer and I am putting together the comic book amongst other things. I was hoping to have this project tucked away by mid-March...but I think its going to be later March when its done. Then I have a placement to do at Hallmark in April, which I am looking forward to, but I will be working on my next project at the same time: which I have drawn up a concept and brief for already. Surely, actually working a job can't be this hard and the added benefit of not being as poor as a student at the time of a recession won't be hanging over my head. Anyway.

This is the first drawing of the week. Not sure what to think of it yet. Will come back and edit my opinion in later:

I can't believe I originally hated planning drawings. For one, I love drawing in red pencil. It doesn't constrain me and I feel like I'm a kid and its OK to make mistakes because I know I've got a second chance at getting it right. Here Pervert Man is actually in contact with Captain Uber...I quickly decided that this looked difficult to read and messy, so with the magic of computers I moved him away after I lined him in.

Normally I save a version before I colour the characters in, so that you can see the final lining. But I tough, really.

26th Feb 09' - edit:
This is the first time I've drawn these two together and I love how I've managed to 'oppose' the two characters designs. I am really proud of how deliberately different they look and how easy this makes this image to read. If I was to hand this to somebody and say...whats going on - they would answer: 'The good guy is punching the bad guy' which is absolutely perfect. Coming back to this drawing was a really good idea because a few days later, I have to confess to quite liking it, even though it is far from perfect.

Well. Onto the meat and pie part of the project: exciting! :D

Friday, 20 February 2009

Progress Report

I have taken a big step in the right direction today. This week I have felt like I haven't worked anywhere near hard enough...but that is because this week hasn't been about drawing anything or has been about planning. I have just finished putting the final touches on the script for the trailer and before that I just finished writing up the plot and dialogue for the comic book that I will be making first. I am very pleased with both of them: the trailer is especially fun and I am looking forward to trying out some new techniques and making my best piece so far.

Both of the scripts are completely over the top and both are very, very crude. After spending nearly two weeks dilly-dallying, I read a lot of the questionnaire's that I got back after handing them out and it would seem that offending people, (Especially people from my own age group) is a lot more difficult than I previously thought. This has led me to just press on and move forward with my ideas. It is still tongue in cheek and it still tries to carry some morals, but it is also a comedy cartoon. I really think I have got the balance right, which is rewarding after putting so much effort into trying to make this piece carry the correct message and tone. Of course, I won't find out if I have been successful until it is made, so I could have completely cocked it up.

The comic is deliberately a little cruder because well...the idea is that it supposedly got banned from being published after the first issue, so I wanted to make it quite crude so it was obvious why. I have already begun to plan the comics layout: here is an example of me trying to get it right. The printing of the comic should be the fun bit, because I want to be able to staple it together so that it can be read.

In the top image...I was considering doing the comic monochrome to save time and money...I was also experimenting with which looked better: hand drawn and written speech bubbles or computer drawn and typed bubbles. I think the latter personally, otherwise it is all a bit too messy. The bottom image uses limited colours: I think I am going to use this throughout the comic, just to make it a bit more interesting. I am also going to try and find out how to adjust the dps when printing so as to get the same effect that comics used in the 70's.

This doesn't feel like progress...even though it is big step towards what I am trying to do. It is however time to crack on and this where the real work begins. Whoop!

Two Days

Before I continue I feel it necessary to tell you that it is a reading week at College at the time of writing this...whilst not a holiday, it has certainly stunted my progress.

I have been fixing things for the last few days. Computers and other electronics that seemed to think that I have nothing better to do or more important to concentrate on. However, I do. And it still hasn't stopped me working, it has however slowed me down. I will post here the only drawing I have managed to get done and then I will tell you about the comic (Which is now fully planned - post on this later) and I will tell you about the storyboard for the trailer...which has just been touched upon.

How much sillier can I get with this character is what I asked myself when drawing this? Well...a lot apparently.

I have been watching the new season of Spongebob Squarepants (Well, currently available on DVD new season...not the new, new season...) and was truly surprised at just how much they have changed the animation. At first, I was apprehensive. I had heard that the animation was significantly different and that Spongbob's voice was a lot higher and closer to how it is in the movie and what I heard was right. But I have to say, it is much, much better for it. I love the older episodes but the newer stuff is laugh out loud funny.

It's much more adult and some of the expressions that Spongbob pulls make me spurt milk out of my nose. What I particularly like is that no one movement is the same anymore and that there is no set 'style'. If Spongebob is doing karate then he adopts a very Japanese style of animation, if he needs to be cute and fluffy they call upon the 'greeting card' style of drawing and if he needs to be completely over the top, they use the 20's rubber hose style. It is almost as if the animation itself has become a parody of itself.

I saw this starting a while ago online, but I am surprised by how fast it has made it into a mainstream animation like Spongebob. By using certain styles of animation you use certain cliches that people recognise and send up your own cartoon at the same time as telling the story. This is so that the adults watching the cartoon with their kids can also laugh at the drawings, instead of just the dialogue. It works so so so well, that it is something I have decided to incorporate into my own animation. For years I have enjoyed many different styles of animation in the same way I have enjoyed many styles of music. With music you don't seem to be able to get away with bluntly sellotaping different styles together...but in animation, it actually helps to convey what you are trying to say. This is something I had never considered before, but now I have noticed it, I'm very interested in applying it to my next piece of work. I will probably do another post with some more examples.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Digital Ink - Captain Uber

Lot's of updates today, it has been a good first day of the week and I am pleased with how much I have got done.

To top it all of I have got the final design of Captain Uber down after moving him to digital ink. I slapped this together earlier today but waited to post it last because I am really chuffed with how it turned out.

It all started with this wire frame. My priorities were: emphasise his size (He is a dwarf) and make him look stupid. The line of action was to help me visualise and give him a sense of weight and action. This line can be seen running straight through the middle of the shapes. The circles with the lines in are to help me with the layout, perspective and direction of the characters body. The frame and plan overall are to help me with the characters proportions. I would not have achieve this drawing without the above plan.

Using my previous drawing as a building block, I set out to make sure that he looked exactly how I wanted him to. I love using the plan now instead of drawing straight ahead, which is a significant change and an important advancement for me personally. I used to hate planning and layout, now I think it is essential. You can see from the above drawing that I made a lot of changes from the original frame. The lip is thinner and more arrogant. His muscles and arms are drawn in slightly different places that help him appear bigger and stronger - this wouldn't have been possible without having already made the mistakes and been able to see them as I worked, allowing me to correct the drawing as I went along.

Take away the grid and this is what you are left with. I am very pleased with the final drawing, although I am still not happy with the lining. I have got it thinner and more consistent, but it lacks any humanity because I turned off the weight and tilt settings on my drawing pad. I really need to get on my T&P and research how to get those great 'Cow & Chicken' lines. I think this will be essential for making sure my cartoons look great. I wanted him to be sticking out his butt a bit more...the little lump just doesn't quite cut it and in retrospect actually does nothing for the final drawing. At least with digital ink it is much easier to make this sort of changes.

I messed around with some colours for a while and settled on this one for now (It will probably change). I chose the Captain America style colours because I wanted people to recognise the satire. I love how muscly he looks because it helps to make him look shorter, which overall makes him look more stupid.

There is still progress to be made, but I feel that I am constantly taking steps in the right direction. My drawing is getting better and better, but I'm still not happy. I know with some practise I can be better...but that will have to come later. Now it is time to plan the comic and storyboard the trailer. Time is running out and I really need to stop fretting about offending people and just crack on with my ideas.

Captain Uber's Logo Design

Each character has his/her own logo for their costume that I will probably design on the fly, but considering Captain Uber is the 'main' character I wanted to put special effort into designing his. So I have come up with a sheet of designs and I just wanted to take you through a few of my favourites.

I decided to come up with three main variations and then try out different colour schemes on each. They are divided into three lines with different in colour and design adjustments on each variation.

No.1 was my original design, but it didn't quite work. I thought adding colour and trying different things out might help, but it didn't. I tried making the gap in the 'U' larger, smaller, thinner and the like, but overall the logo just wasn't quite right, so I moved onto another design.

I really like the second line's design. No.5 is very bold and I really like the design. It would look good at one side of the costume near the top. No.6 is also quite bold, but I am not fond of the big black outline around the circle. No.8 was my favourite until I started making this I prefer No.5.

The final design was intended to be a full chest sized design. No. 9 is probably the only one I really like out of this variation, although No.12 looks good when it isn't on a bright orange background. The background is orange because originally I wanted to make Captain Uber bright orange. But there is a cartoon called, Burnt Face Man on (Where my trailer will eventually end up to try for a personal goal of front page) and I thought they might be too close.

This was a fun little distraction and it was great fun to try my hand at some graphic design again. There a few I really like, but overall they aren't great. I haven't made my mind up which I am going to use yet: but I am sure you will see in the final trailer. I really like the effect I have on the title at the top though, with the embedded red, white & blue.

Offensive Content

I have spent the last few weeks fretting about the content of this cartoon and altering things I thought had gone too far. I believe I have now found a good balance between satire and cartoon entertainment. After researching cartoons that show on the channel I am making this cartoon for and after reading this months Viz I have decided that you I am barely scratching the surface in terms of gross out humour and that my cartoon is actually a decent attempt to satire this kind of content. But at the same time, I am making a cartoon for a website that people have to choose to watch. My cartoon will be forced upon people on a TV channel, instead it is something people will have to find and then watch: meaning that the people watching this cartoon will have had to look for this kind of content rather than it just been readily available. The Internet is a haven for ugly and disgusting things. At least my cartoon is trying to point this out at the same as joining in.

I hate to use the phrase, but 'at the end of the day' it is a piece of entertainment and if it makes you think about a few important issues along the way then good. But it if makes also you laugh at the same time it makes those issues a lot easier to swallow.

Other Main Characters

There are many characters in this story and so far I have only introduced you to two of them. In this post, I will introduce you to Captain Uber's best friend and sidekick: Black Guy and Uber's love interest: Unnecessarily Attractive Counterpart (UAC for short). I will also introduce you to Pervert Man's sidekick: Pin-Down-Panda (PDP).

There are many more characters I have written for the episode that will not be seen in the trailer and I have deliberately limited the amount I'm making so that this project meets the deadline.

I will start with Uber's best friend and sidekick: Black Guy. He is the 'token black guy' of the cartoon and is his relationship with Captain Uber is a reference to the relationship that JD and Turk have in Scrubs. Accidental and borderline racism for the benefit of a predominantly white audience. I personally find Scrubs hilarious and am a big fan of the series, but I have always wondered about the implications of broadcasting jokes like that to millions of viewers worldwide.

Black Guy is the biggest and meanest laundromat owner in history. When he was a young child he discovered a penchant for washing clothes, proving from a very young age that he could wash and clean clothes better than any one else. He didn't know he had super powers at the time and when he found out he wasn't interested in using them anyway. But he does believe in justice and will always lend a hand when needed.

Above is Black Guy in costume...or not in costume. Whenever he does battle he tears off all his clothes except for his underwear. He is absolutely massive and only has one weakness: mice. He hates them. And whatever you do, don't show him some dirty laundry because dirty laundry makes him maaaad!

In drawing we see a very happy black guy, fully dressed and hanging up some washing to dry. I love the irony of having a massive, huge, muscular guy whose hobby is doing the washing.

Next up is Unnecessarily Attractive Counterpart (UAC). She is a spoof of several characters including Cat Woman, Stripperella, Wilma Flintstone and every blonde girl you have ever met. She is to highlight the surplus requirement in ever superhero comic to have some girl with massive boobs running around the place. She is to spoof the fact that attractive women are used and abused in an attempt to attract a bigger audience and to spoof the television executives approach to making a good TV programme: The bigger the breasts, the bigger the viewing figures.

UAC is a young, attractive and fresh member of A.R.S.E (The Alliance of Respected Super Entities). Captain Uber takes an immediate fancy to her and this plays a heavy part in the movie that will never be made but has a trailer that doesn't include said piece of information. She has multiple powers including: Hypnotic Breasts (Used to stun her enemies) and her mean weapon the Purse of Protection. The Purse of Protection allows UAC to help out her fellow super entities by providing a shield with her handbag. It also has a brick inside which really helps when using to twat people in the face.

I have never really drawn a female character before that had the necessary requirement to be extremely attractive. This posed a problem and I had to quickly learn. Lucky, I am a bloke and this seemed to come really easy to me. Big hip, thin waste, nice thighs and big boobs. Done and done. It occurred to me how much I have been conditioned by television and other media outlets into thinking only certain parts of a woman's body are attractive whilst others are not. In an attempt to not feel like a complete asshole I concentrated on making her hair and eyes very alluring, as these two features are far more important when drawing your eye. Long wispy eye lashes help to make the eyes appear bigger and the Farrah Fauschett hair with the Wilma Flintstone curl make her appear quite diva-ish. It's weird that I felt bad deliberately making a women attractive when it was the most important part of satirising this kind of character, thus satirising the people who think it is ok to use women in this way. If anything, I should feel good because im trying to point out that this is wrong.

The head is all wrong in this drawing. But I was concentrating on the pose. This character needs a lot more development yet, but she will only briefly be seen in the trailer so this work can be done digitally and on the fly: all that matter is that her basic design and necessary (Or rather unnecessary) features are in place.

Finally we come to Pin-Down-Panda (PDP).

PDP was a child's teddy bear at one point, but Pervert Man stole it from its owners pram and brought it to life in what would have been comic two: A Fluffy Frankenstein. Now he can't do anything but his masters bidding; even though he doesn't wish to. At his masters command he can transform into a giant snarling beast with incredible strength.

PDP is a very early character but I am not sure whether he will make an appearance in the trailer. I would like make an episode in which he is made giant and destroys the town. He is an innocent bear that is forced to do things he would rather not do.

As well as transforming into a giant beast (That I have not yet designed...) he also has the ability to disguise himself as a teddy bear. This means he can sit next to prams and kind hearted passers by will pick him up to give him back to its owner. But when they pick him up, he snatches them off and takes them back to Pervert Man so that he can 'Pervert' them and turn them in to raging maniacs who only act on their deepest and darkest desires.

This is the most recent drawings of PDP. There really isn't much more to do with him other than design a really big, scary and evil version of him.

So, they are the extra characters. Each on is an attempt to send-up something about modern culture or other modern cartoons that I personally find ridiculous or funny or every wrong. The idea behind this cartoon is to get people thinking about what constitutes right and wrong in the things they allow themselves to watch.

Captain Uber!

I've introduced you to his arch enemy but thus far you have seen nothing of the epic hero of our story: Captain Uber!

Captain Uber is an arrogant (Accidentally racist) idiot, dwarf...but he just happens to also be able to get the job done (In his own special way and with a significant amount of help from his friends). He fights crime using his Uber powers (Which can be virtually anything) and he is willing to help in virtually any way possible; he'll even take your poodle for a walk if you can't be bothered. Be warned though! Chances are when you get it back it will be pregnant and addicted to meth.

Here are some original drawings in chronological order. I will take you through the gradual development of our wonderful hero and explain some of my design choices (Including an explanation of the word 'uber').

Ladies and gentleman, I want you to look at this drawing closely because it is how I used to draw. I want you to look at it and remember it, because I am now a better cartoonist. I have never drawn a 'muscle man' in my life, so this was a real challenge for me. This sequence of images shows my progress in learning to draw this body shape.

Not much progress here. I drew this the same day and hadn't done any research into how to draw this kind of character or looked at any life drawings of somebody this huge.

This was a significant step forward. I did a bit of research into muscle men - looked at some images and some life drawings and this was the basic outcome. It is still very basic, but it helped me to decide on the basic shape of his head: something that has stuck all the way through designing this character. The muscles are still quite basic but the fundamental design really started to shine through. I knew I wanted his upper body to completely dwarf his lower body and another factor that was very important was his overall stature. Captain Uber is very, very small. He is actually a dwarf, though if you asked him he wouldn't admit it. His head was good here and I liked the design, but it was under developed and I knew it so I decided to work on his head before working on his body hoping that this might help me get the body to work around his head a little better.

I started by trying to basic expression and emotions. This is Uber after he has just eaten a mouthful of jalapenos. His tongue would be sizzling and steam would be rising if this was animated. This was a good step forward, but I didn't like his hair and his mask wasn't right. The taller head shape worked much better though. This was close to the point where I started planning in red so as to help visualise and correct any errors as I worked.

This is Uber getting mad. Although, as you can see: not that mad. His head was now too tall and needed bring back down a little. His hair was also still not quite right. One thing I really want across all the characters was a 'lack' of costume on the face. I really like it in cartoons when a characters face looks exactly the same in their hero costume, but nobody recognises them. I think the audience likes to feel they are a bit smarter than the towns folk because it makes them feel good about themselves and it also makes the cartoon not seem as childish.

This was a good step in the right direction, but the hair wasn't right. I lifted the bottom of the mask to allow for a nose, but at the same time it accidentallybrought more life into the eyes. This was something I noticed and started to reign in. I also like the blank expression here, it really describes the character I have in mind for him really, really well.

This is Uber thinking. He looks slightly mad because he finds this particular activity (Thinking..) really difficult indeed. I would love to start a shot on this expression and have it zoom out to him holding a book the wrong way up or attempting to read a chart at an opticians or something. This was a good design for his head and I liked it so much I decided to make it my final choice. It has weight and depth and lots of flexibility.

As you can see here: lots of flexibility. This is an expression we briefly see when Captain Uber gets 'Perverted' by Pervert Man. This is a significant part to the plot of a movie that will never get made, instead it will be supplemented with a trailer.

I recently went back to Captain Uber's body shape and this was a good step forward. The lower half of his body isn't right at all. I need to make sure the bottom half of his body emphasises the fact that he is actually a dwarf. Work in progress really is what I am trying to say. I think I will definitely doing him in red, white and blue as a spoof of Captain America. This a simple mechanic to help people to recognise the genre. I am definitely going to design a logo for Captain Uber, one of the things I liked most about this project is that I am getting to do a lot of logo and graphic design. It is an enjoyable change.

Uber is a word that a lot of people have asked me about and I never considered that people who don't spend a lot of time on the Internet or in the gaming world might not have heard the word in its modern connotation. It means 'awesome' to the most extreme level. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary it means above, beyond or 'to an extreme or excessive degree'. It originates from the word Uber in the German language, only with umlauts removed.

You can certainly see a lot of progress within this character and he really has become a lot stronger in terms of drawing. I think he still needs a another stage of development to get him spot on a really emphasise both his sheer idiocy and his short stature, but I have to get cracking now so that final touch will have to be done digitally.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Gettting Away with Murder

There is a well known British publication now published monthly 10 times a year...yes, that's what I said, called, Viz. It is a compilation of fart jokes, satire and swearing bound as a comic and sold for the last 25 years. From its sweatshop like roots, to its million copies sold monthly years; Viz has become a standard in corner shops 'adult section' and I have read it since I was far too young to know the meaning of half the words. My dads Viz annuals and books provided a source of much laughter and dare I say 'education' for me and to an extent, they still do today. As I am researching comics, I thought it best to find out just how much you can get away with and still get issued....and it turns out: you can get away with almost anything. Suddenly, the chances of me offending anybody seem very slim indeed...and inspiration would lead me to say: bugger it if it does anyway.

The drawings style is a send up of post-war cartoons like The Dandy and The Beano, except far more rude and crass. I really like the cover of this months edition, I love how they still paint their covers properly. I would like to find out how to gain this effect in a computer programme so that I could incorporate it into my own front cover. Something else to investigate I think.

I always loved 'The Fat Slags'. They really make me giggle because the characters are so recognisable. This comic provides real inspiration to just stick to your guns and do what you think is best.

Digital Ink - Pervert Man

This is the point where I normally start to get excited. But the last few months have taught me that getting carried away and losing perspective means that your work mirrors your trail of thought.

One thing I have being doing whilst I have been learning to draw at a better level, is researching and looking into inking. Another extremely tedious part of the animation process. Inking is the lines around the character and there are many different ways to do ink drawings. The interesting thing about it is that you don't choose your favourite style, it chooses you. You just look at it and know: that's right I like that.

For instance, modern cartoons animated in Flash use BIG BOLD out lines and then do the details inside these lines with a thinner pen. I absolutely hate that look. It's a disgusting use of inking to make things look 'cartoony' and it doesn't, it just looks wrong and ugly and graphic designy: not cartoony. Dexter's Lab, Johnny Test and virtually every Flash based cartoon have adopted this method and I detest it: no matter how good the show is, it bugs me.

Inking gives the character their definitive shape. It gives them depth and appeal and if done well, even a sense of perspective. I am going to do a post on this in my T&P blog, because it something I need to get better at and further investigate. I know my favourite shows when it comes to inking and I will discuss them on that blog.

Anyway, to my work. I am pretty crap at inking. There was one drawing in Eligh's Dark Fable that I was so, so proud of. It was perfectly inked and it look great. It was the scene where the boy jumped out and tried to catch the butterfly: it looked great and I don't mind patting myself on the back for that scene. Anyway, I decided to bring Pervert Man up to a digital state as a kind of 'test' to see how this style of drawing will translate to Flash.
I have always been so timid with Flash as a tool, relying on a the computer to do a lot of the work. But my drawing practise and research is leading me down the right path because each drawing I do is better than the next. This basic outline gives me the foundation on which to build on. Because I know all the basics are how I want them: the proportion is right, the line of action gives a sense of weight and movement and the pose is good: this means I can concentrate on all of the little details that would be lost if I tried to do a straight forward drawings with no prior planning. It gives me a bit of breathing room.

When I then come to line the drawing in I don't have to concentrate on the basics of the drawing: they are already in place. This helps me to get all the angles and body overlaps correct because I can concentrate on the superfluous details that help bring the character to life. It also helps me to see where I need to adjust things to make sure everything adds up. For instance here, the head was too high, but my 'net' helped me to see this early enough to change it. If I had tonned ahead with the drawing, it would have been wrong.

Then I simple remove my guide and I have a full drawing left behind to work with. I am particularly proud of the his saggy man-boobs in this drawing because of the way they look like they are slipping off of his chest. This was a deliberately accentuation to gross out the viewer. They are supposed to despise Pervert Man. There is a lot of action in this drawing and its a significant improvement on all of the other drawings so far, but it isn't perfect. The pointing finger should be joined to a continuous line to help carry the eye, this would give a larger sense of movement. Because the hand bends down, you lose a lot of the impact of the post. Lesson learned though. I need to get this far with all of my other characters before the trailer.

This is a preliminary colour version of Pervert Man. I have known since I started drawing him that he would be wearing a second hand purple catsuit that he picked up from a thrift store. Pervert Man has a back story that won't be revealed during this project: but he started out like any ordinary person. The suit it far too small, thus his belly and fat hangs out. He had to cut the suit in two to even get into it. The gloves are Marigold's and I originally wanted them to be two long so that bits the fingers were loses and hung down...but I couldn't get the look right so I abandoned the idea. His shoes were originally going to be condoms...but they aren't, though they could be. His feet are based on the Dwarf's feet from Snow White. I love how much you can do with them, they are incredible versatile. Overall, all of the characters outfits need to be a little, dare I say: 'gay'. This is a homage to the fact that you can no longer get this fact past people. All they see now is a man in Lycra and they find it funny. They can no longer remove themselves from a sense of reality and the 'typical superhero' is now a stereotype reduced to stag doo costumes. "No More Heroes Anymore"

The lining here needs significant work. It is too thick for a start and considerably wobblier than I would like. But this is due to the tools I have to work with. I need a bigger tablet so that my 'sweeping' style of drawing can be further exercised. I am drawing with my wrist, rather than my arm and it loses some of the impact of my real style. But, this is progress non-the-less. Animation wise, I will be working with 'extreme' poses and moving between them using typical computer animation techniques. I don't want to, but time will be a short after I have finished making a whole comic book as well.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


This project has struck up a lot of openly discussed issues so far and has opened up a whole new path for me to explore: one which I had not previously considered. It has caused me to alter certain decisions, revise my plot and generally take an alternative look at my approach to making this cartoon.

Originally, the cartoon was very out there and I liked it. It didn't so much push the envelope as tear into and steal the money secreted inside, before posting it anyway. Now I have revised the plot and well, in truth I have completely changed the story line. I am in two minds about this. I want to make a piece that forces people to look at the responsibility they have when it comes to making cartoons for a young susceptible audience. But at the same time, it is a cartoon and I want it to be entertaining rather than preachy. I know there is a balance, but thus far I haven't been able to find it.

The logo for instance is very blatant, but it doesn't really come into the project very much. Yes, it is at the top of my page for every visitor to see, but it is deliberately there to grab the viewers attention. I believed this to be a nice middle ground (You should have seen the original).

And then there is the title itself. The word Pervert has come a long way since it was first used I am sure and these days it seems to have more connotations towards children, molestation and other such heinous and disgusting things. I have asked around and a lot of people have said a lot of different things and come up with a lot of different meanings. I have noticed that people within the age group I am aiming at tend to be indifferent about the word and that older folk define 'perverts' as people who leer at women.

This modern climate of political correctness has really led me to question my own definition of the word and has even made me question a lot of other things I previously thought I was sure about. I don't want to ditch everything I believe in, but I also don't want to piss any one off. But I guess you've got to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelette, right?

Anyway, to clarify that I have considered this argument and gone so far as to change things and even question my own beliefs that I thought were stone set, I have created a questionnaire which I will distribute and correlate. In the end it may not change anything I do, but at least I will be able to gauge whether or not I need to buy a ticket to hide away in a foreign country before I put the damn thing out there.

As a further note: not a single mention of the plot will be in the trailer I am making...nor will there be any touching, snatching, grabbing, rubbing or any other words that make people think I am animating a cartoon that says it is OK to act like a disgusting and vile individual. Cappiche?!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Old Comics

Comics aren't just for over weight kids with no friends you know! That is a very one track way of thinking. They're for thin kids with no friends as well!

This project is divided into two distinct parts: An original comic book and a Hollywood blockbuster trailer. A director stumbles upon the comic book I am going to make in a bargain bin. It was originally made in the 70's. He likes it so much he decides to turn it into a Hollywood blockbuster. I play the role of that director as well as the parallel role of having created everything within this story.

I will be making the comic book first. It is very important that the comic book is a bit rubbish, because it never took off and got cancelled after the first issue. The research in this post will be essential to making sure that the comic looks like it was made over 3 decades ago. I will be looking at character design, comic layout, panel shape and design, overlaps, story lines, speech bubbles, form, paper the comic is printed on and any consistencies from comic book to comic book. I will be analysing old comic books in this post but in another post, I will analyse new comics to make any differences obvious.

The front covers are all full of motion and excitement. The drawings are often detailed and depict a major event that the comic is centred around. The detailed drawings are to capture new readers eyes, but the content depicted will be to bring back the regular readers. Sometimes the covers will feature the cast of the comic instead, all posing or flying in shot. The Fantastic Four covers do this a lot.

The covers are printed on a glossy paper with full ink colour and usage, inside however it is a different story. The action and quality of the artwork continues, but the print and paper type is significantly down played in an effort to reduce cost.

The first page of most of these comics often uses a full page image. This image generally either sets the scene, or shows a preview of a significant event later in the comic. This whets the readers appetite and gains their interest. These images are generally printed at a higher quality that the rest of the comic, but on the same low grade paper.

I never understood all the cross overs in comics and it was always one of the things that put me off. It seemed that whenever things got stale they would bring in a character that was more popular at the time to spice things up a bit. I always found this a bit frustrating, but it must have worked. For me all the super heroes exist in their own universe, but apparently that is not the case.

I am starting with a black and white comic deliberately, so that I can follow the significant changes in style in the next few examples. They run in a rough chronological order by year. The older comics were printed in black and white and I have to say right off the bat: I prefer them. You can clearly see all of the action and the use of contrast between light and dark leads to some great graphic drawings. The drawing quality in the older comics is also of a higher consistency, because they couldn't use colour to distract the viewer. This is the first page of an 'Avengers and the savage sword of Conan' comic from 1976. Comics were being printed in colour by then and the cover is full colour, so I'm not sure as to why it is in black and white.

Older comics tend to use strict panel rules. They are rectangular or square and firmly lined around the edges. This makes it nice and easy to see the pictures and follow the comics story, but it doesn't necessarily provide too much excitement.

I scanned this page out of interest. Did they not have time to finish the drawing? It isn't shaded and it is the pages main image. It certainly draws the eye, but for the wrong reasons. I like the idea of having a full page drawing and then scattered panels with the story surrounding it, this is a great early example of what became a staple device for comic books.

I really like this idea. The clock is counting down until the rocket takes-off and the panels count down and show each second of the action. This really builds the tension. The design with the really thin panel strips helps the eye flick through the story. You can almost read a panel a second, so it is like you are counting down along with the story.

It would seem a mixture of rigidity and broken comic panels makes for a good comic. Attaining a good balance so that the eyes do not tire, the reader doesn't lose interest, the story is correctly told, the cost of the comic isn't too high and hundreds of other factors must be incredibly difficult. It is a challenge I am really excited about. Planning for speech bubbles must be the most difficult part and the use of bold text to highlight important things is a simple but very important device.

This shot is very clever, I would call this: A Dummy's Guide to Advanced Comic Book Layout. The negative space at the top means the eyes don't get confused with the busy scene below. It also doesn't mislead the reader into thinking this is a solid panel-to-panel read. The chaos of the scene is communicated by using an open format and it works really, really well. The main shot of the 'Stilt-man' walking is the most important shot and if you look closely you can see it is a whole background drawing, with negative space at the top. The panels are then laid around the drawing. I can imagine a lot of cut outs been shuffled around to achieve the correct balance for this page. The writing in the yellow boxes is helping to communicate the story and without them I have to admit, I would be totally lost.

This page from 'Guardians of the Galaxy' provides a great example of some of the more exciting ways to lay out a comic book. In scenes with a lot of action, the panels are bigger so that the drawings can clearly be scene and so that their isn't as much to provide allowing the eyes to move quicker. This provides a true sense of excitement and action for the reader.

While the layout above is quite simple in style, it is a very effective way of showing lots of big movements and action in a fight scene. This comic is from 1968 and the colouring and drawings are considerably better than anything from the later 70's. I much prefer these drawings and colours: although they probably cost more money to make. The comic itself is also significantly thicker, another additional expense.

Something I have noticed throughout all the comics I have researched is that they all seem to contain a mini-comic story halfway through. This might be an additional series in itself for the reader to follow. It is also a good way to test new characters in their own environment before commissioning them for their own series. The strip above goes across two pages. I find this an interesting idea because you read all the way across and back. It is considerably more effort in my opinion and puts you off. This comic is also drawn in a significantly different style from the rest of the comic, this helps it to stand out. This comic is from 1985 and a lot of comics were beginning to emerge that didn't rely on the traditional 'realistic' approach anymore. This was due to cost and the waining of popularity in the face of newer forms of entertainment: such as video games.

Another thing I have noticed a lot, is pages of adverts halfway through or at the back of comics. They advertise everything from fake tattoos to bikes or video games to t-shirts, all at bargain prices. Reading some of the things that people used to buy is quite exhilarating and I would really like to do a send-up of this sort of thing within my comic.

Here are a few things I noticed throughout all of these examples:
  • There can only be a limited palette of colours, most of these examples chose a few colours to work with to make the printing process a lot cheaper - this will be essential to getting the right 'look'.
  • Highlighting important facts in bold seems like a consistency. I won't just be laying out action shots, I have to work around speech bubbles.
  • The use of a 'voice-over' in little boxes at the top of shots that start a new part of the story help to set the scene. Things like: "Meanwhile, further downtown..." or "Later that day..." add a sense of perspective.
  • Each comic seems to start with one major drawing. This drawing is rarely the start of the comic, instead it shows a major event that will come up later on in the comic to whet the readers appetite - this seems like an important device.
  • All of these comics have adverts in: this could be a fun addition to make the comic appear more 'realistic'.
  • Nearly all of these comics don't use full print, they use a distinct dps (Dots-per-inch) system: I should probably discover what this is so as to get this look. It seems to be a money saving device as well as an artistic device. A lot of drawings use a full colour block background colour and then use dotted print on the characters they don't want you to pay as much attention to. I recognise it from a lot of 90's computer graphic art that was deliberately designed as such so that crude home printers could manage the colours.
  • A lot of these comics use line, hatch or dot-shading instead of distinct shadows. This is probably because the paper that a lot of older comics were printed on couldn't have handled a full black print. It may also be a money saving device.
  • Motion lines provide a guide for the eye, these can show where a character has moved from and to, providing a sense of continuity.
  • Each comic tends to use one to two full page drawings half-way through. This is probably to keep the viewer interesting and maybe give them a rest for a few seconds.
  • All of the action scenes are quite spaced out, full drawings. These panels provide the real excitement in the comic.
  • Each comic has a glossy front cover and then different paper inside: this might be worth taking notice of. All of these front covers are very exciting and either contain an image of a significant part of the story, the hero of the story in some sort of danger or duress or an image of a group of action heroes together. Either way: they are all full of motion.
  • A lot of these comics have a 'cut this out and send us your address' bit: this could be a fun addition for the back cover.
  • Many of these comics have mini-comic stories halfway through: This could another fun addition.
  • My characters must be designed slightly differently from their 'modern' appearance: perhaps more muscular and more 'Marvel' like.
Since I started this project I have looked at all sorts of Super Hero related materials, in both the film and comic book mediums. I believe I am not beginning to get a good idea of the 'rules and regulation' that govern this form of entertainment and am getting very excited at the prospect of making my own comic book.