Sunday, 5 December 2010

A post that has been long overdue ...

So on my travels through the on-line world of concept art, (there was just way too much stuff to take in at once) and a massive headache (which had better go) I took a break and sifted through the 'My Pictures' folder on my laptop, to see if there was anything good on offer. Among the amazing concept inspiration stuff and odd photographs of the sea, I settled for a look at my old life-drawing pieces. Noticing I hadn't posted these pictures at the end of last term, I decided to name the blog post title as such and share them now.

My skills in life drawing have the potential to be pushed much further, and are nearly there in producing some really lovely work but since time has been a priority in other areas term I feel I've missed out on producing some really good work. Hopefully next term it shall be different, and I haven't gotten too rusty.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

A Forest Bird Never Wants a Cage

After working on the block through for most of the week I decided to spend part of Friday and Saturday on a little break furthering my skills in digital painting. After some prying around on the internet deciding what to do on whether or not to take the plunge into Corel Painter, I decided to give it a shot. And quite honestly it is an amazing bit of software. The layout is very similar to Photoshop, so getting used to the interface was quite easy.

Granted Photoshop may win hands down on being a powerful photo editing suite, it does kinda lack in the whole running properly area, as there does tend to be an awful lot of lag for the bigger file and its new brushes in CS5. And this is where Corel comes in, because from what little usage I have given to it, it has a lot of brush settings and types with no (encountered as of yet) lag. Anyway I'm not going to pretend I know anything at all about Painter 11, and what's there and what's new because I'll figure it out as go (and it would seem rather daft to talk about something I hardly know), so check these guys on the Corel website, they'll probably be able to say a lot more: Painter 11 is half price too, so may be an excellent Christmas present.

But I must admit you need a bigger screen to get the best from it without messing around and shoving your boxes out of the way, because unlike Photoshop you can't minimize all the boxes to little icons and shove them in a corner (or maybe you can, and I've just lost the plot). In any case I would recommend using CP 11 on a nice big monitor, that way you can see your layers and an awesome interactive colour palette. Yes you can mix paints, as if they were real!

Below is the image I have produced, I have stuck to something simple and a style I know for this image in order to get to grips with how well the software works and how quick and easy it is to produce results. Had I done this kind of image in Photoshop I'd have given up because of hard it is to mix and get the right colours.

I have enjoyed working in Painter far more than I would if I was producing something like this in Photoshop, I don't know if that's because the novelty has yet to wear off, but it just has such a lovely colour and brush interaction. I can only vouch for the Painter's Oils at this point, but the way the colours are able to mix on the page just seems to give my work a little something more. I am quite pleased with how this image has turned out, yet I do think a little bit more could have been done to the trees. Having said this though, it may distract from the detail of the flowers and distant creature, so I think I've achieved the right kind of balance.

However I do still have such a long way to go in order to fully understand Painter, but after first usage I don't think I've done too badly. I will definitely put in lots of time into using this software over the next month or so in order to get the most out of it, and hopefully I'll be able to produce some pretty good work.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Just a mid-week post much ado about not much. A little quick exercise I did just now, to try and loosen up my hand at drawing in 'straight-to-photoshop', I'm rather happy with how they have turned out considering they are just speed sketches (if they can be called that). I tend to worry too much at how one brush stroke turns out, thinking too much as to how to produce this line, the next line, and how it will all look good or right at the end. But in doing these two pictures I've proved to myself that I can progress through an image with little or no idea as to what to draw, without worrying if it looks good or right; I've simply just gone with the flow and let the image come to me as I paint away ...

Rabbits Eye Up Cabbages


Hopefully, in continuing exercises like this over time I will develop a much looser way to working, not thinking about how it will look and just jump in and paint. Also I will be able to create these sketches like this much quicker, producing more, and hopefully, it may become easier for me to get my visual ideas and inspirations down on paper more efficiently and quickly as I do find drawing what I imagine can be quite challenging at many times ... or maaaaybe I just think too big ...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Week Commencing: 15-11 File Name: Scene Tree

During the past week I have been working on a scene for the block through, and doing this we can all get a feel for the timing of the animation

I have animated the scene where the Hunter and the Apprentice are in the treetops searching for the creature, which has somehow yet again escaped the Hunter's clutches. Small summary of the scene:

It starts with a pan-up shot to the Hunter overlooking the area, and then peering over to the Apprentice, cutting to a short clip of the the Apprentice looking rather cheerful. There is then a cut back to the Hunter and then to where he is looking, immediately spotting the creature on a far away branch peering back with it's own binoculars. The Hunter is surprised by the creature's salute and then becomes angry. A cut back to the creature shows us he's just fooling around, jeering at the Hunter. A cut to the Hunter now reveals his deep loathing for the creature immediately withdraws his sword. The Apprentice is shocked and is now in disbelief as to what to do, when he suddenly realises he is holding onto the vine that is keeping the Hunter up, he lets go. A cut to the Hunter now shows he is falling and a massive plant (like a Venus fly trap) eats him.

Below are a few shots from this scene:

While doing this scene I found that a quite a few shots cannot be taken literally from the storyboard and animatic. There are a few that need more time to show that character, for example on the first and second shot there needs to be a short hold on the end to establish what the characters have just done and give the audience time to catch up with the images being shown to them. Some shots however need to last considerably longer to get in more emotion and/or actions to tell the story better. The shot where the Apprentice realises he can just let go of the vine needs considerably more time.

I feel there should also be a couple of added shots in order to fully explain the story to an audience because I did feel when I watched all the shots together, that it was too snappy in places and the story of what was happening just wasn't flowing as good as it could. I think while the Apprentice lets go of the vine, I feel there could be another shot or two after that shows the Hunter coming extremely close to his prize, arms outstretched with an expression of manic glee on his face. Then he suddenly falls only just inches away from the creature. (In the background the Apprentice could wave to the creature as we see the Hunter fall /or(or while) the creature is completely oblivious to this then turning around spots and waves back to the apprentice) If this was added I think the story would flow a bit better to the audience and adding a few more comical shots.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Clips of Bobbin and Squidge

After a small rest from the major project work on Monday and Tuesday, I decided to allocate some much needed time for some major development for my dissertation work which involved gathering more information and essays going back to the complete basis for my dissertation: feminism. I have done this along with gathered books on cultural studies in order to gain a much greater understanding in why women are represented as they are in film. And hopefully, by accumulating many different theories in this way, I can then use a selection of these theories that will make my argument stronger and actually help to reinforce it. Throughout the week I have managed to spend time throughout the day on dissertation work that is much needed considering the weighting of the major project and dissertation are equal.

On Wednesday it was back to the studio again and for the next couple of days I decided to go back to practising some more animation, as I really enjoyed the bouncy mushrooms sequence. I started by making Bobbin, bob up and down, well bob meaning animated standing movements.


I then progressed to blocking out some rough shapes and placed them around Bobbin in the scene, then putting some more animation in using these blocks. Thinking back to the mushroom scene, I decided I could then have the Squirrel bouncing around from tree to tree. So after adding in the squirrel, I should have some animated standing and looking around from Bobbin, and some nice flowing movement from the squirrel focussing on the tail movement and getting it to look right.

As it is this test, is rather basic and simplistic, but its purpose was to get me into producing some flowing animation after a little while away from it, and in doing this test I have done it quite well. I do think there could have been more refined movement from the legs and arms of the squirrel with some secondary, ear and possible finger animation. My next test may be do look at this, possibly doing a jumping run cycle for the squirrel, getting it as smooth and right as possible with some nice secondary animation in there too. For Bobbin I would probably continue his movements throughout the jumping squirrel sequence and also get some more secondary motions into his fingers maybe, and for definite his eyes. As another possible test route I could look at a rig like Blake and do some simple arm to finger movements creating some nice arcs, and also some subtle facial expressions and changes in emotion.

If I were to come back to this practise animation, which I may do in order to progress this idea a bit further, I would continue working into the Bobbin, and do more of a sequence of shots along with some character interaction getting in plenty of emotion.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Preparations Go!

So this week it was a 'prepare-for-the-pitch' week, which all seemed to go down well with the industry professionals, and they all seemed pretty happy with the projects put forward with our producer making a good job of our project.

That said, I shall start by posting some images of further jungle development that didn't want, for some strange reason, to be uploaded a few weeks ago:

This past week though, I have been working on pre-production, going back to the drawing board and producing some colour work which was to also be used for the pitch as well as our own reference. I have drawn many more forest ideas, now incorporating my little inklings of ruin and destruction of old by-gone era ships and stone ruins. Here are some of my quick sketches:

After doing lots of quick sketches, getting me back into the flow of drawing after animating the week before, I then imported the best sketches into Photoshop and started to apply colour to them. After talking to Kathy, our pre-production area tutor, it was decided that I should apply more of a colour variation into the tree tops scene, so what is shown below is what has been quickly applied and looks much better than how it was before. So I will come back to a few of these environment concepts in a week or so and throw in a lot of colour, which should hopefully result in some good work, leading to a better understanding of the 'look' of the environments.

Having now done some colour work, I have realised how little has been done in the colour area in order to gain the soundest understanding of the environment, so I think it is now a definite area to focus on this closely in the coming weeks when the blockthrough stage is complete. When I do come back to this, I hope to produce a lot of sketch/scenes/colour work so our team can have the greatest understanding of the jungle when modelling, animating, texturing and lighting. Hopefully the environments, through plenty of development, will then have a refined and stylized look of its own.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Animate n. to depict oneself with exaggerated motions

Starting out this week I started back on animation. It has been a while since producing final shots so I was expecting it to take forever for me to get back into the swing of things, knowing where stuff is, how it works and more importantly how to do it. But surprisingly enough, I felt like it was kind of like riding a bike, you know how to do it, but you do a few practise laps before you’re confident again. I was asked to do the same scene as Oddne and Holly did: the mushroom scene, animating with the same character rigs, Bee Boy and Squirrely.

Over the three days I was working on the scene I found the first day just to be a ‘getting-back-into-it’ day, and most of what I did I scrapped and started over and over again. I figured that what I was trying to do was focussing solely on getting the poses right and as such threw timing ‘out of the window’ in a way. So knowing this I started late afternoon on the first ‘true grounding’ on “advancement.” Here I took the approach that the squirrel was jumping on two legs over the mushrooms, I managed to start and get a good base for some really nice tail movement. But in general I found that the squirrels animation in general was really stiff and seemed forced, not really flowing and cartoony as I‘d had in mind. I called it a day and would come in fresh on the Tuesday to try and tackle the problems.

I managed to get some stiffness out of the animation, but I decided to start again and maybe come back to it later. The next approach I used was to animate the squirrel jumping swiftly on all fours from mushroom to mushroom. Focussing on timing and posing I managed to get a really nice base to work from and put some lovely secondary tail movement in. However it did take me a long time to figure out how to pose the tail. I knew that the tail flows, following the path that the body takes and it seems as though the tail is always trying to catch up with the body. Having this in mind though, I still found it rather tricky to achieve, but after a while of fiddling about I sat and thought about it. If I just pose the tail to how the body would be in that place, then I thought I would get good results, and I think that that works.

The next stage after that was bringing in the Bee Boy rig and animating a fall, that I knew I would find really tricky to achieve. So I bought him in and keyed out the main poses getting the timing right too. However figuring out how to make him fall was tricky in itself, I could make each mushroom wobble in all directions with his weight, but if I were to do that it that way it may seem a bit odd if they all didn’t wobble like this only slightly for the squirrel. So I decided to make him slip on the mushroom because he’s so busy looking at the squirrel, its then too late when he looks down at the mushroom.

Overall I’m really quite happy with the outcome for about 8-10 hours work animating on this version. I just need to keep in mind that the tail movement flows with the body, so in essence it will always try to catch up with the body movement. For the Bee Boy rig I think I should look at maybe creating more dynamic poses, but what I’ve done, I think his animation fits well for his purpose: chasing and catching the creature (squirrel.) I still think it would need a little more tweaking if it were to be the final thing, but since its only test animation, I feel that it’s to a pretty good standard already. I just need to keep on practising, and if every shot is of better quality I should hopefully become a good, sound animator.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

And He Took Pride in the Grandest of Things

Onto the third week I have been carrying on with environments and general pre-production work. I have also started work on designing the interior of the cabin to a general brief of a grand room, something big, something that this pompous egotistical man would be proud of, and something to literally show off to his acquaintances and friends in high places. I browsed around the internet for images of grand rooms but this didn’t give me any rooms that had an overall feel of cosiness. So then I thought about anything that I had seen before, initially I thought of split levels and then I immediately thought of the TV programme Grand Designs, and remembered one episode that had a double level style room, and at one end of the room, stairs led up to a study/balcony style area. I thought that this would be a grand room indeed for a hunter of very high standards. Combining this idea with a Victorian style I knew I could create an impressive room.

These birds eye view sketches show the layout of many room styles. My favourite room is this one with a cosy living area surrounded by bookshelves and many odd items of antiquity with small spirally stairs leading up to his desk. However due to the blimp design and Simon not wanting to stretch it any more than is feasible, my double level room has had to be scrapped and I’ve gone back to the initial thought of a split level with a couple of steps leading to the hunter‘s desk and the window lending spectacular views. With this in mind I couldn’t create as grand a room as I could have hoped. Below shows my reworked cabin room.

Here I have created a design that should fit into the boundaries of the inside of the blimp design, and more importantly the boundaries of the window, with the given dimensions. I have also put a focus on a huge stone fireplace which would be the main grand feature of the room, so I was thinking of either having it placed in the middle of the room, or have it taking up one of the lower corners. I think it would do well in the centre of the room, to show off how grand his room is and as a practical feature too, it would heat the room better with flames emanating from the middle.

I have also started to draw out many variations of the possible items and objects one could find in a room such as his. And making a list of and staring to think about items, such as tiffany lamps, books, maps, trinkets, plants, paintings, sofas which would be very similar to that of a chesterfield sofa, with matching club chairs and high backs.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

This place ... the tent, near the edge of the cliff... Hm, impressive.

For the duration of the past week I have worked on the pre-production side of things which has encompassed mainly concept sketches for the environments and plant life to be contained within our films world.

I think that I still need to push my ideas further though, and come up with more interesting drawings, because I feel some of them lack that unique alien-like feel to them. So through the next week I shall be focused on pushing my drawings further looking at more tropical plants, and writing odd ideas that could make a great plant. I have also worked on the creature design, by drawing many initial sketches of a cat-cross-weasel like creature. Although I have been working to a description of a cheeky, cute and a little unaware creature, I do feel like I have focused on too much of a basic, one-look kind of design, and all the sketches look quite similar. But overall I felt I’ve produced the work to Simon’s specification on what it should look like: a short muzzle, less fox-like than my initial quick sketches; a roundish like head; and big ears. The tail I feel though should hint at a bit of bushiness or a tip with a clump of fur like a lion.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

So it begins... on a fairly warm October day

At the start of another term we have been given a brief for our final year project which could be an animation based on an original script, an adaptation, a music video, a documentary, comedy, drama and may be produced in any form of digital animation. As well as portfolio builders such as character animations in 2D and/or 3D, or possibly building a creative portfolio showing concepts and designs. But first we had to propose an idea which would then become the base of the major project.

Having the basis of our team from last term Tom Dowler, Matt Luxton, Simon Acty, Matt Butler and Roy Nottage and myself, we were ready to start. Before heading back to start the new term Matt Luxton, Simon, Tom and myself sat down and talked about what we would be doing this year. We thought that we should step aside from the game idea and characters created from the last pitch project, because it was rather hard to come up with an original storyline, other than the generic capture and interrogation, as we’d already come up with back stories for the characters. In order to show the characters emotions and tell the story to the audience in the right way would require many more people and more time to produce this 7-8 minute short.

Having stepped away from this idea, we had a brainstorming session coming up with lots of ideas. Based in a steam-punk like environment we thought of three possible storylines: the first an escape, the second, the need to acquire something and the third, a hunt. I took these and developed them further over the next few days along with a few others. The first titled, an Escape to Freedom, is the story about a youth who so desperately needs to escape a world where curfews and strong laws choke those who live within the city walls. S/he finally stows away on an airship and once over a forest, jumps out into a world where s/he can smell, feel and touch the freedom.

The second idea titled, Acquiring the Key, is the story about a young person who is on the trail to find the key that will create an adventure, finally leading to the freedom of the people in an environment similar to the first story. So it will be a trailer showing the first few minutes as she is following a trail that will lead her to this key.

The third was the hunt idea, where a pompous, egotistical hunter is on the trail of finding a very rare creature. He brings along his apprentice, who is sabotaging his every attempt on this creatures capture because it is very, very cute.

We all decided to go for the last idea, as it is a very simple story to get across to audiences, especially for a short 3-4 minute piece. We will be creating a short 4 minute, 3-D animated film to hopefully show at many shows as well as on websites such as 3-D total. My role within this project will be to work on the concept art, and environment designs, also working on the animation later on in the project.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

"Haha check this out, Marco" ...... "Polo"

This is indeed true, well for inspiration. After researching into various different explorers just briefly looking at Coloumbus, Francis Drake and Marco Polo, just to see how they record the information on new places. It was looking into Polo however I recieved most information on this. He would describe places in such great detail it was like reading a piece of creative prose, which, is something I can hopefully get across in my Journal Exerpt, so writing that over he past day or so was particularly fun. I do think I could have made it a little longer though but again it was the short and sweet approach.

I have also nearly finished off the gem location area for the forest location which then progresses into the dragon's graveyard which is looking pretty good so far.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Title, title ... um, not yet.

Okay so the design bible title isn't really anywhere in sight yet, so I've been on with the show on the main stage, centre light.

Creating the characters for this game idea is quite an interesting aspect because I need to create quite a diverse cast of characters to keep possible gamers interested. So I have written the character intro's in prose first, to make them feel like better more real characters to possible gamers. I feel I have done a good job in doing so for Elita, the heroine, and since she was the main character I have given her a lot of my time this past week in order for her to look and feel like a good character when played. I also feel I have done this well for Braxen, Elita's companion, whom also I gave great attention to.

I have also written back story for the heros introduction into this game, up until Elita travels to the new world. I was going to write the whole story presis, but because I'd be explaining the story it would take far too long and be at least 25 pages in length, even in basic detail. So I opted for a short and sweet approach, because if I were to present this to a game design studio, they would only be interested in something quite short, not wanting to really read more than 2 pages.

This week I have also started to draw up locations for the first of the gem locations, the heart of where it all begins. This gemstone resides in a graveyard of the the Great 5 which I will write an exerpt (like a cut-scene) later on, when I figure out the floor pla

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Secrets of.... something, I'll come back to a title later

So there's now been plenty of time for me to think of the story line, and work that I will do, so; here's my brief (reviewed): To create a design bible for a fantasy/ action and adventure
game that concentrates heavily upon story, based on the idea of 'great' games today
that are the bestsellers; having a compelling and oftentimes intrinsic storyline, solely
concentrating upon the single-player side.

From this I made a plan, which I hope to stick to for the right time-management. I've created quick rough sketches of different maps while researching the maps of Earth and how it was formed and where certain places occur (for example volcanoes, mountains, forests etc etc. From here I created a rough map of the world that our hero would traverese and become to know well, and then made the final map:

As for working out the storyline I wanted it to be something original and new, so I read
the presis of many good fantasy books to get a good grip of where I wanted to go with
the story. After many long hours I managed to create a rough plan about 2 pages long. I then sat with this plan and let it mellow in my mind while I poured over various concept art images across the internet. But this wasn't really helping me get more ideas for my story because they are images someone else has created with different feelings behind them and they're distilled real-life images. So I then looked at beautiful settings all over the world and created image-boards for the settings that would occur in my world:

After doing this I had so many more ideas for reaching the certain artifacts which I worked out to be the Gemstones of the Great 5 (5 Dragons that ruled the realm eons ago.) From this I created image boards of where the 5 gemstones would be found. I also used the map to plan out the various locations so that I could fit these stunning places in the world in:

Below is my location map for where the gemstones would reside: