Tuesday, 28 April 2009


I'm putting together a few parts of my final show - what with it happening in just a few weeks. Now. Alongside finishing T&P and sorting all that PDP stuff (website, business card, CV etc...) out I need to knock together a show reel, make a load posters in full size and put together all my folders for the final show. Woot! Nothing like hard work I say. All this is alongside finishing up my trailer for my studio project and putting together my Hallmark work into a studio project...


Anyway, what Ive done today is draft up the two figures in going to be using as character cut-outs for my final show. One is of Pervert Man and the other of Captain Uber. Both needed to be posing in manners that suggested their character and immediately told the viewer a lot about them, whilst being eye catching enough to drag them over to my booth.

So this is what I've got.

I decided this is the pose I wanted for Uber. It shows stupidity and a belief in brawn over brains. So I relined it in illustrator and it turned out just lovely. It was interesting working for such a large medium and for a different kind of printing. I will be cutting out the image so I gave it it big thick black lines in case of 'accidents'.

I went for a totally new pose for Pervert Man. I had none that were suitable for the show...this one sort of involves the audience...I think that is why it works. I still kept the saggy breasts though...hanging on his arms...ugh. I like this drawing, but I prefer the original...it lost a little personality in transition and I fear this will be more so with a giant print....

There are no advantages to working in A3 but only have an A4 scanner....luckily that is where Illustrator comes in handy.

I've deliberately left the characters quite plain because I don't know what the lighting is going to be like in the room and if I start throwing moody lighting and sinister colours at the characters, only for them to be stood under a spotlit bright blue room, the effect will be lost and Captain Uber will just be a white and red outline.

Anyway. Show ho! And I'm off to the printers.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Monday - Scene 3

I drew up the background for this scene at the weekend and today I drew the characters in (Twice due to a crash) and then animated them. Again, its only computer animation...but there is a certain charm to this limited form of animation - that charm is that its really quick to do, but takes a little working to make it convincing.

Another 3 1/2 hours work condensed into one hot minute. I had paused it as I traced the character in from an original sketch and only noticed after I had finished. Anyway, you see me animate the character then go back and lip sync the scene.

I'm developing many, many skills from making these films. Animation is a technique that takes years to learn and a significant length of time to do....so animating entire pieces and doing everything leads to limited animation required by the time frame. I would like to think that given the opportunity and time I would be able to make something I was proud to animate. But I am learning a lot about using different programs, the way they interact, recording and synchronising sounds, background design and layout - so I guess these are a whole bunch of other skills that I didn't think about before now that I might be able to go into a job with.

Anyway, its another scene in the bag. On to the next one.

Saturday, 25 April 2009


I keep coming back to backgrounds - but then you would if you make cartoons because they are a requirement of the medium. I have to say though...I think I have found my niche when it comes to background design...at last. All my research and looking seems to have paid off because I like the work I am doing on my backgrounds at the moment.

I keep trying to remind myself I am doing a lot of different peoples jobs....jobs that people specialise in and get paid money to do. It doesn't help though and I still beat myself up all the time.

Anyway, here a few of the backgrounds for the cartoon so far.

This opening shot needed to be pleasant and optimistic to counter the following scene which is red and evil. Careful and non-obvious uses of gradients proved well founded in this background giving a nice sense of depth to the image. Also, by no using a sun and just using a gradient fill with a bright yellow/orange, the audience knows the sun is shining even though they don't necessarily see it. Its one less thing for the eyes to concentrate on or be distracted by, but the its presence is still there. Light after all is the only reason we actually see anything.

I have output these images as .png's to keep the quality, but also because if I was painting these backgrounds I wouldn't draw the stage size and paint to the edges, I would paint the background and cut my favourite bit out to suit my needs. Also, by having a little over the edge, no white lines show on the edges of shots by accident and it allows a bit of room for camera wiggle to add an extra element to any shot. It also looks a bit more professional and well considered.

Finally I knocked this one up this morning ('Tis a Saturday today). In this scene Captain Uber is crawling along the floor so I needed the background to be able to slide along behind him to reveal something further down the street. A longer background was required. This is a city scene so I wanted to bring a bit of suburbia to my image. Everything is quite geometric deliberately and I worked with a lot of light effects to add a few extra dynamics to the scene.

The window for instance is been attacked by light from more directions that I could ever possibly consider, but if I take into account just a few I can add a sense of realism to this cartoon side walk shot. Chewing gum, grass in the pavement cracks and a water grate all add extra detail. There is a reference to the comic book I made, barely legible on the poster behind the lamp post and suggestive brick patterns adorn the walls. I deliberately strayed away from cliches like cartoon pavement cracks and dog turds though, I am tired of seeings that in cartoons. All this adds up to a nice bit of background design that I am quite pleased with overall.

Backgrounds have always been used to add more depth to cartoons because adding such detail to the characters themselves isn't an easy or cheap task. With a static background though, you can be as detailed as you like - Gepetto's workshop in Pinocchio is proof of that. With more time and more exclusivity I would like to add a lot more detail, but working on the go means I have to use a few tricks and move on quickly. Overall though, I'm happy with this part of the cartoon (More than the animation at any rate).

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Thursday - Meh...

I'm really not happy with all the corners I have had to cut so far. I think its making its way towards a product that isn't particularly appeal ling or entertaining. I have decided that yes, animation does take a long time and there is no way to change that if you want good results. As such, I will be going back and changing much of what I have done over the last few days. Deadline is only a few short weeks away though so this could prove a fatal error down the line.

Here is another load of work squished into just under a minute.

This video is interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, you see me experimenting all afternoon with a nice cheap way to get Pervert Man to step out of the baby stroller. Suffice it to say I don't find one. I try a blur effect which is crap and doesn't work and I try all sorts of tweening tricks. But they don't work. In the end I decide to just animate the entire thing and as I do Flash crashes and kills all my work. So I was a bit miffed off and walked away - a stupid mistake that lost me a few hours work...on top of losing a few hours work when Flash crashed. Frustrating.

Sometimes in animation you have to make tough choices and they are generally to do with cutting things or limiting things, but being at university I have the 'luxury' of saying...sod it ill do what I want...even if it does mean killing myself to get it done.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Tuesday - Meh...

I'm not happy with my work today. Because of my tight deadline I am having to cut so many corners. There are going to be some scenes where I get to do some real animating....but they are few and far between. I really wanted this piece to be proof of the level I think I can animate. But time constraints say that isn't possible. I'll just have to try harder.


This is an afternoons work smushed up into twenty seconds. The two scenes I have animated today look 'OK'. But they could have been so much better. I think the layout is an issue...I'm no good at planning scenes even though I have spent so, so much time trying to learn how.

The good thing is that nothing is set in stone. I am draughting up a working version and then going back and improving anything that I can...that might even mean redrawing entire scenes if necessary.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Trailer Activate!

Started the trailer today. Deadline is looming on this one, so I have decided to put to the test some new limited animation techniques that I have learned. I will take you through a few of them as I go. I forgot to screen record the entire making of this first opening shot, so instead I will post the results of a few hours of animation work.


This is very early on, so the sound is just a scratch track (And slightly out of sync) and there are several adjustments to be made to the animation itself.

In the background an eerie version of rock-a-bye-baby is playing, but there is no indication as to why. This is the good unsuspecting character. I really like the opening shot. Because the audience will read the title first before seeing the clip, they will already have their own ideas as to what is going to happen. Through my research I know what effect the word 'Pervert' has on the brain, so to open up on a shot of a man leaning over a baby carriage will be very effective and un-nerve people. Of course, at the end of it all there is gag that catches out the audience and makes them consider what they have come to expect of not only what they see all around them quite openly these days, but what there own minds can think. I think this is going to be a really effective opening.

I am animating all day tomorrow and will be condensing the whole days work into however many minutes of film before uploading it and talking you through the video.

I'll leave you with this image of Captain Uber I was messing around with in Illustrator earlier...

This was my expression earlier when somebody told me there was only four weeks until the show has to be put up :O

Friday, 17 April 2009

Pervert Man - Illustratred

I did this aaaages ago and forgot to make a post on it. As I am on work experience and don't have time to do anything new I thought I might as well play catchup and make this post that I forgot. I have been looking at some extreme cartoons recently where the characters get really warped and pushed past their original designs. They are broken, stretched and bent into never seen before shapes. With my nemesis been very evil, I wanted to see just exactly how far I could push the character and sick I could make him look, whilst still keeping his cartoony look and feel. This led me to start draughting up some ideas.

It started with a rough drawing. I could see a lot of action in this image and really liked it. This wasn't my first attempt though, several other ideas were (literally) thrown out.

I then brought the image into illustrator and began working my line magic. I was still quite young with the program and have since learned several techniques that will really help me to speed up the process in the future.

Finally, I added colour. I have learned a few more things since then about adding colour in illustrator. That isn't to say this looks bad. I want to have time to line the entirety of the trailer, but I don't so it will have to be done in Flash. I think good solid lining and drawing are what makes modern limited animation what it is. You can get away with murder when it comes to animation as long as your drawings have weight, balance and depth. I think this applied to traditional animation to certain extent also.

I am really pleased with this image and I think the lining is great. There is weight around the edges to define the characters and his face and features are individually highlighted, with a good sense of hierarchy. He also looks really, really mental which I love. I used the hair to form devil horns, I think this adds an extra sense of nastiness to the piece. Realistically though, this is just one drawing and I would need hundreds more of these to make a good limited animation. Sadly, I don't have the skill in Illustrator yet to speed up the process...thought I spent a lot of time with a girl from work experience learning Illustrator today, so that will probably change soon. In the future I think I will draw all my character in illustrator and bring them into Flash.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Still experiencing work

Work experience is still ongoing and I'm learning lots of new stuff each day. All the After Effects talk around the department I'm working in got my interested in really exploring what the program can do. I learned a little bit at college last year, but never really applied it to anything. It's not for traditional animation, so I wasn't interested. But after doing a bit of commercial work and seeing how speedy animation needs to be, the chances of me doing any frame-by-frame work aren't high. Because of this I figure that picking it up and trying a few things out can't hurt. Anyway, here is a quick something I knocked up in a spare moment whilst on work experience.


There a few foibles, but I literally knocked this together.

After this fun bit of experimentation, I think I am going to do the final shot for the trailer in After Effects. I will also be treating all of my output in After Effects to colour correct everything and add some nifty effects that will really help the final piece to shine!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Work Experience

I am currently on work experience at Hallmark in Burley, just outside Bradford and as such my work flow has slowed to all but a halt. However it is bank holiday Monday and I am sat here working on my college project. "It will definitely rain, its a bank holiday," I said. How wrong I was!

My dissertation is out of the way and I have finished the front cover design (Which looks pretty good and I'm quite chuffed with it. I knocked up five drafts all together and think the last one is probably the strongest one, so it was worth it. But with that under my belt, I have 7 weeks left in which to finish 3 Studio projects, put together the rest of my T&P project (About 15 more animation tests and things to do on that one) and put together an entire PDP folder. O...and a show reel - which cannot be finished until I have done some work that I actually want to put into a show reel.

Let it be known that whilst I am doing this work experience that is clogging up my social life and stopping me from working properly, I am still working. Here is a screen shot of the first scene of the animation. I will be making progress videos as I work in future...but as I only had an hour to sit down and work, I thought I would run with this.

The shot deliberately opens to quite a sunny scene. A toy lays beside a pram and a kind man has stopped to give the toy back to the crying child within the confines of the buggy. But all isn't as it seems. This shot is delicately optimistic and I think I will use this background for the whole shot, rather than making it darker when things turn a bit weird. I think the bright colours contrast what the viewer is seeing creating a sense of irony. I kept asking myself why this shot doesn't look right (Besides for the character been a silhouette) but its because they aren't casting any shadows.

And yes I am enjoying work experience.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Printing 101: for Dummies!

Good things come to those who wait....for the ink company to post the ink to them.

Everything comes with a learning curve right? Well, my printing learning curve couldn't afford to be too steep. Limited ink and paper due to a lack of funds meant I had very little option of getting it wrong. A bunch of test prints later and a load of faffing around a few problems and I had 10 gorgeous looking copies of my very first comic book sat in front of me. To the shops to purchase an extendable stapler and they were officially ready...to...to...erm... well I'm handing them out to friends and then keeping a few for a few other places.

Anyway. I thought I would take a through a few snags I ran into along the way. Firstly, printing with a bleed directly from illustrator is completely impossible. So after messing around with it and wasting 4 out of 10 of my spare pieces of paper I exported it as a .pdf file and printed straight from there. Simple.

Problem 2 came when printing onto the back of the photo paper...no matter what setting I chose the ink would not stick to this kind of paper (Stoopid inkjets!) so I had to quickly develop my idea. I printed a black and white version of my front cover and adapted it a little to make the proper glossy front cover act as a 'sleeve' almost. This isn't what I wanted, but by no means does it look 'bad'. Just not what I wanted.

Problem 3 is an nonadjustable one and something I knew I had mucked up since the start. I didn't plan out any borders for printing...and limitations to the pages...or work out how much page would be lost due to the staples holding the paper together. I knew this from the start, but I was hurrying to get the piece finished and knew that it would be OK - if just a little of centre. Its not a particularly bad thing...they don't totally suck, its just a little unprofessional to the trained eye. To the reader they won't even notice as they glide through it.

My only other niggle is that I think a little bit more detail wouldn't have hurt. I like the individual style, but I think I could have gotten away with a bit more detail in the majority of the panels. This however is definitely something you could only ever learn from experience and as such I am writing this one off to the learning curve.

Overall though I am very pleased with the final result and do take a certain amount of pride from what I have produced. Now its just a matter of seeing how the public take it :S