Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Looking good!

So, it's starting to come together with almost a minute of planned animation knocked up and nearly 30 seconds of completed stuff, its starting to come together. I have done plenty today and here are the screenshots and video to prove it.

This shot is where the boy jumps out. You can see more of this shot in the video at the bottom of the page.

Here we see the boy landing after the jump before he tries to swipe the butterfly with his net. I used some old test footage to map out the background for this shot....the boy needed adequate room to perform the swing, but the butterfly and log needed placing into the scene first.

There is a lot of nice use of perspective in this cartoon. It really helps to add a sense of depth to the piece.

This is the background for where the boy sits down on the log after missing the butterfly. He is sulking when he hears a scream or loud sound effect and falls off the log.

When he stands up, the camera pans out to reveal this shot...which will of course be colored in and look totally awesome and beautiful.


I'm not sure if there videos are running correctly...they aren't on my computer, but I'm having some issues with it at the moment that I haven't had time to sort out. I need to view it from another computer...but if it is, then this is the scene where the boy jumps out to try and catch the butterfly. We see him whizz past the screen in one shot and then appear into this shot. There is a lot of special effects in this scene that I am looking forward to adding in....afterall the above video is only a planning shot.

Planning the whole thing out is actually really helping me see the piece come together and note where it needs improvement or the story doesn't quite carry properly. Perhaps the lack of time I have is a blessing in disguise....more tomorrow!

Monday, 29 December 2008


For many moons, in fact as long as I can remember, I have been really, really rubbish at planning. Working towards this degree means you have to be quite good at planning, so I made the effort to get better...and I did get better, a lot better. I now plan ahead, draw up agendas, think about what might go wrong and right, that sort of thing. I have actually got pretty good at this and it even started to bleed into my personal life. I could timetable things in mentally without having to set reminders or appointments on my phone. I would be on time for things, remember peoples birthdays and generally live up to my responsibilities a lot better. But this time around I am worried I have really cocked things up!

I have been planning this animation for a while now and I have got so into it, so in depth, so detailed: down to each scene having the characters, camera movements, sound effects, special effects and all of the other things that come with making a an animation great, planned, that I have completely pushed through my deadline. I should be adding final touches in preparation for the final push, putting things in folders and doing supporting documentation. Instead, I am at the beginning of what I believe will be the best animation I have made so far...with no time in which to do it.

But I have learned to plan for crisis! So, what I have decided to do is use my storyboards, initial ideas, written plans and source material to put together a rough working version of the cartoon. it will essentially be what a director sees at the end of everyday to make sure things are running smoothly. The animation, rough backgrounds and sound effects will all be there and done. The timing and the 'feel' of the piece will be complete....but it will have no colour, special effects or 'polish'....

Now, this may sound like a resounding 'failure', but it isn't because that isn't where the plan stops. I will continue to work on finishing the cartoon after the deadline, getting as far as possible and add the finished piece to my folders, hopefully less than a week after the deadline. All of the documentation will be done, the folders will already be ready...the only thing missing will be the completed final piece...which will slyly be added when it is finished.

So. No that the plan is laid out: I will show the progress I have made after one day! I have completely planned out the animation now...all I have to do is put it together. All storyboards and that sort of thing are completely taken care of....so I have set to drawing...and it is going well. Two scenes drawn in....I have all week and at two scenes per day will more than likely have the whole things pencilled in and ready for the next phase by the end of the week. Hurrah. Here are two very lonely screenshots to liven up this post. I would put video of the rough plans up but...no actually: I will add them too.

This scene is quite important in the scheme of things and this is only a rough plan of it....but it is essential that we see the mothers hand warn the child otherwise the piece won't make sense at all. That is why there is little detail in the scene, to draw attention to the hand...which will point and wag in the final scene.

Imagine this fully coloured in. You can see the camera movement in this scene in the video below creates a sort of 3D effect. When it is coloured in the foreground and background will swap focus...one becoming blurred and the other not...so that the attention of the viewer is drawn to the correct part of the scene. It's going to look tremendous.


Last but not least is the rough animation of one of the scenes I have done today. There has been more added since this output - but a bit of video certainly spices things up, so here you are!

More tommorow. Same bat-time: same bat-blog.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas Time

It's Christmas time. It is the eve of Christmas eve in fact, bu the work must go on. I have been grafting all day and to finish the opening shot (Which I have finished) and to get the animation for the second shot done. Which is done. I am pleased with both....though how they will fit together is yet to be seen...as I don't want to see them together until the second scene is complete...otherwise I will start nit-picking and going back and changing things when they don't need to be.

I have animated the opening shot from scratch. The last post shows the frame-by-frame nature of the shot. I have done all of the inbetweening, line cleaning and tidying, colouring and special effects on the scene and then today I added shadow to the character to give the final touches. I am very pleased with it. The opening shot was important to me because I wanted it to show that my animation had come to fruition...to a new level that I am proud of. I have worked really hard this semester, investigating new techniques and practising old ones to try and become a better animator. With nobody looking over your shoulder and telling you what you are doing right and wrong you are always second guessing yourself and because if that I think I haven't progressed at the 'typical' rate that most students been taught this fine art would have. Never the less, it has been incredibly rewarding and I believe that my animation is finally getting to a stage that I can be proud of.

Here is a test of the effects I wanted to use on the opening shot:


I did a test animation to make sure the video I was exporting from Flipbook could be embedded into Flash at the same bit rate and resolution as the original output. After some tweaking, I got it looking the way I wanted and decided to do some test special effects over the top of the video - just to make sure that my whole plan wouldn't come crashing down when I went to do the final thing. I had only read about it all working together and not really tried it before - which was a rookie mistake to make, but one that I chanced because of time constraints. Anyway: this led to the making the final opening shot....which can be seen below:


So here is the completed first scene of the animation: the sound scape still needs to be added in, but that will be done in a different program and then added over the top in Quicktime afterwards. The special effects I used in the test animation were pretty good, but I added in some extra things to really bring the scene to life. The shot bright white after several seconds of black (Not included here) and the whole time you can just hear the wind blowing. The bright white light will then blind the audience, before the lens flares. They get a few seconds to take in the serenity of the shot before the butterfly comes in. The grass at the front of the shot is blurred to increase the perspective of the shot and it is constantly moving to increase the beauty of the shot and to make sense of the wind sound effects playing over the background.

Originally the butterfly flapped around a bit, but I thought that this didn't work. I also didn't like my original butterfly...it was too bright and 'scene stealing'. With this new butterfly, I used a blur effect to make it appear that it flies in from the distance, then had it pass through the camera. The swirls on it's wings are an early indication of my theme for the piece which is: The Never Ending.

The boy then comes charging through and stomps on the grass which springs back up. I think this really adds something to the scene. The camera also shakes as his foot hits the ground, helping the audience to 'feel' the piece as well as see and hear it. As the boys foot comes down, that is when the music for the piece kicks in - which is yet to be decided. I might use Air's The Dancer by Penguin Cafe, because I don't think I will have the chance to make my own music with the animation taking so long.

Next we have the basic animation output from the next shot:


This the scene with the boy running up the hill chasing the butterfly. The butterfly isn't there, the boy isn't coloured, there is no camera work to add some realistic wobble and there are no effects or grass close to the camera: all that will be added in on boxing day - but I just wanted to post this early shot of the next scene because I have worked hard on it all day. The boy has already been through line clean-up for what I have got so far, but he needs to be inbetweened.

Merry Christmas. I will be back with some more posts after the celebrations.

Friday, 19 December 2008

The Completed Poem

Eligh's Dark Fable

As you turn these pages, heed my warning

Read through the night, and you may not make the morning

For within these words, a curse is held

Evil and corrupt, that cannot be expelled

You have one more chance, to turn away

But if you choose to read, you better prey.

Amidst the mist, and fiercest fog

Through the trees and across the bog

A shack stands still, damp and rotten

Hidden away, almost forgotten

But within its walls, a figure lies

Still and silent, waiting to arise.

A fair bit away, where the air is clear

A young boy wandered, empty of fear

Steer clear of the forest, his mother had barked

Accepting this rule, the child embarked

As he came to the forest he slowed to a stop

“I’d better not enter, or I’d be for the chop”

As the child thought, he turned to go home

But from within the trees came an awful moan

“What if someone’s hurt,” pondered the child

And off he ran, into the wild

As he stepped on branches, hearing them crack

The boy came upon an old wooden shack

The door swung open, with one loud creak

The child began to shake, and his knees went weak

As he peered inside, darkness peered back

And an eerie voice came out of the black

Come closer my child, could you lend me a hand

And in one slow movement, inside he did stand

At last you’re here, I’ve been waiting so long

There’s no turning back, this is where you belong

As the child turned around, to run away

The door slammed shut, much to his dismay.

Leaving so soon, I should think not

You’ll remain here forever, in this very spot

A long loud scream erupted from the child

Passing through the shack and into the wild

Back through the trees, and back through the bog

Back through the mist and back through the fog

Finally reaching the outskirts of the trees

Where a young girl hears it, on the end of the breeze

Monday, 15 December 2008


So, with the Hallmark work out of the way its back to the project. I wasn't particularly excited about coming back to it I admit...but that was just lazy me popping out his head to remind me how easy it is to sit on your butt and do nothing. So, today I started animating. I started at the start as well...which is a rarity in me and I have also worked through this first scene with technique and patience...another rarity. And I won't lie. I am really, really chuffed with how it as come out. I realise that the animation is only on 2's at this stage, the inbetweening needs to be done and there is no colour, but I'm really pleased with my opening shot. I have never done a perspective run before in my life, so that makes this one my first one and I think I've done very well. Until now I've always avoided them like the plague, but this one was a necessity in getting the look I want for this piece.


This is really early on into animating the scene. It was basic shapes, with guiding lines and I outputted it to see if it made sense to watch. It had a few foibles and there was virtually no animation in there yet, but the positioning and timing were getting there and that is what I wanted to check.


I outputted this video in colour to make sure that the legs were disappearing into the grass correctly. They were not, but I could see where the changes needed to be made. You can see that character flashing in and out a lot and arms missing in places, this was still very early in the animation of the scene and was just a basic output to check on a few things before I continued to animate the scene. The characters movement and the timing made sense and that was all that was important at this stage.


In this final Test Output, you can see things have come together much more nicely. The character is no longer flashing in and out and all of his limbs are present. There is no colour and it is only animated on 2's, but I wouldn't post the final scene here because you would have no reason to watch the full piece when it arrives. The important thing is that this short clip shows the character looks correct and acceptable as he bounds through the grass. Obviously, he is only roughly lined. The inbetweens need to be done, then the whole thing needs to be 'inked' and coloured - this is just a test shot.

I have posted the making of this scene into my T&P blog, where I go into detail about the techniques I have used and why I chose to do the scene the way I have. I'm finding that it looks like I have done less work this time around - which isn't true - I've just decided to tie it into my T&P because it makes more sense that way and I get some T&P done as I go....it would be cheeky to post it on two different blogs.

Anyway, check out the making of this scene on my T&P blog here: http://techandpro.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Last week Hallmark came in with a task that was too good to turn down, so this kinda got pushed on the back burner a little bit. I thought perhaps it might be healthy because I would be able to clear my head and come back to the 'background issue' with a fresh pair of eyes. I had a bit of success with the forest background style I have to admit. I am posting a half finished background here to show you my progress. I really like how it looks so far and feel like I might be getting somewhere now. If not, it really is too late because the deadline is looming and I really have to start animating it as soon as possible. This is the last 'testing' of background styles that I will be doing, after this I am pressing on regardless - so its animation from here on out.

I really feel like I'm getting somewhere with this style.

I also did another bright background. This is the second shot of the entire piece. The grass at the bottom moves across the screen from right to left and the boy is chasing a butterfly up the hill at full run. It doesn't quite have everything in the shot that I wanted, but I think when the boy is in there running you won't notice too much.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Today's post contains some work I decided to do towards Eligh's Dark Fable right at the beginning of the project. Way back to I don't know how long ago, it has been considered helpful to create small models of the 2D characters you animate. This way you can see them from every angle, helping you get the perspective right and keep continuity with how the character looks. I think this is a terrific idea and because I think its so great, I decided to make some characters of my own....this eventually turned into a lot of fun and burned away quite a lot of time. Still, it was worth it because I think the results are pretty good :) So here we go!

....and Tutors, before you ask: No I will not be making a claymation or stop motion video...I am making a 2D animation and this is a homage to traditional animation :P

To clarify: the character is not green, this is just a representation. I might history brush the background around him for effect...

This shot is to highlight his cute little quiff!

The net makes for a solid addition I think and it was all relatively simple to put together...and a lot of fun.

I have seen my character from all angles now, which is really going to help me when it comes to animating him :)

But who is this approaching?!

OMG he's coming closer!

O, my god its Dark Boy! :O

Now...in the light. Notice his little shoes...I was particularly proud of them...and the little lines at the bottom of his body...and the eyes...and head. I just like him a lot!

These shots were a lot of fun to create...his mouth was a bugger to 'draw' into his face.

Amazing what you can do with a torch isn't it....

So here they are together. It was at this point I thought...we could do with some light/dark, Star Wars-y type shots to really hit it home!

My camera doesn't like the dark.

It's quite eerie and surreal.

This one really captures it I think. This is the telling shot. The Dark boy is just behind the light boy....but the light boy hasn't noticed...arrrghhghghbbq!

In seriousness: this was a really fun little project that took up a few hours. I had a lot of fun with and it really helped me put my character into perspective. I see him as a 3D entity now and it is my job to draw him from the right angles and in the right poses so as to communicate what I see across to my audience. This is going to be trickier than I thought....but I think as soon as I get my backgrounds right we'll be ready to rock, then its just a matter of animating it!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Pretty Fields

You've already seen some of the images I have drawn up for the Evil Forest...but so far I haven't even looked into what the fields at the start are going to look like. I know I want the sun to be high in the sky and for it to flare in the lens on several occasions. I also know that I want it to be very bright and vibrant, so that when the piece goes dark and maniacal it the stark contrast is evident. On that premise, here is a bit of research into some lovely English fields.

Lovely background and immediately something I hadn't originally considered even bringing into my piece. The intro chase scene is pretty much sorted.

Perspective. This image came in really handy as a reference when I made my first background for the piece. The way you can see the grass more and more individually as it gets closer to the camera was something I really wanted to get into my piece.

I love this shot. Classic English countryside.

I didn't consider using something like this...having the boy in a field full of flowers would really help to show his innocence.

I love the way the fields almost look as if they are knitted. The sky in the background is really wonderful too.

This was a lucky find and I will be using it to reference the boys house when he waves to his mother.

Love the white gate - yet more scenery I never considered for my piece.

This patch work field really helps to show off the nuances of the grass that surrounds us. It isn't all just green and randomly poking up, it is many colours, textures and varieties. I would do well to remember that when it comes to doing the backgrounds for the piece.

So there is a lot more to fields that I originally considered. I think I would do well to remember that when it comes to designing some of my final backgrounds.

Real Evil Forests

There are a lot of woods around me and most of them are quite scary, but they are scary for the wrong reasons. They are full of old needles, used condoms and booby trapped attache cases with blood diamonds hidden in them...suffice it to say, I don't want hepatitis so ill stick to Internet research for the time being. Well, till the weekend. Going to go take some of my own pictures. After still not been able to find the right style for my evil forest, I've decided to return to nature and go and have a look at some real woods...but that will be tomorrow because I've already missed first and last light. So until then, here are some images I've gathered from different blogs and forums across the Internet.

This image is obvious heavily treated, but it still looks good. I like the use of black and white, with a tint of sepia. The long shadows make it quite haunting....but it also looks like something you'd see in a UFO film.

This is a 'classic' country wood look...what you expect to see. The foregroud is particularly well done and the shadows on the floor look really good - a look I have been trying to replicate for the last week.

This is a striking image. The water is a great addition and something I didn't consider adding....I think one of the main problems with my woods so far is that they have all had paths. By taking out the paths and just using huge expanses I think it might give the piece more dimension. I am going to put my theory to practise soon.

This is a very thick wood. I want my wood to get thicker as the piece goes on, so this is a great reference. I especially like the way the moss on the edge of the trees is highlighted by the light, giving them a strange glow...it would probably be a really hard look to replicate, but it would be fantastic if I could get it right.

This shot is all about the foreground. The background is far too pretty. I just wanted to study the way twigs and branches worked in the foreground, dividing up the image.

This is quite a lonely and desolate scene...it really confirms my 'no paths' idea. The problem with the idea is that a path shows the characters direction, without one the audience might get easily bored, not having visual confirmation that the character is heading in the right direction. This image really confirms just how many branches and minor details are going to need to go into these scenes.

This is my favourite find. It is classic, dark, English foggy wood straight out of a Monty Python sketch. The bendy trees and the way the light pierces the canope everywhere, then the low dusky fog and the boggy mud really make this quite a haunting scene.

This research has really helped me clear up a few of a perceptions about woods. This is probably one of the first things I should have done, rather than studying how other artists go about drawings wooded backgrounds....but I have done it now, even if it is a little late into the project. I will be taking my own photo's at some point this week.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Still backgrounding....

Still the background testing goes on. I just can't seem to get the right image here. I keep on trying and trying. I think perhaps something more radical might be needed. Anyway: today's work was cut short due to a meeting with some Hallmark Representatives that was very, very intriguing. It means that I have an added work load...but I think I can manage it.

I did a background design yesterday that I decided to put to digital ink. Here are the results:




It's not creepy enough. It doesn't have the right feeling about it...im thinking it might need to go a bit more surreal....I'm gunna have a look into that over the next few days.

Sunday, 30 November 2008


Its Sunday! Day of rest and animation! Something like that. Today, I have done a bit of character work, a bit of background design and research (Which is before this post) and a little bit of animation. I have been reserving my test animation for my T&P blog, which you can link to from the left hand side of this page, but the test piece I've done today will be covered in this entry instead.

Oooo where to start. We'll start with the character stuff! I needed to get some more work done on the boy after he enters the forest - with his darker look. I have started doing that:

Basic elements of the character. He is simple in design, but that doesn't limit what you can do with him.

I think when I get to animating him fully, he is going to look great.

Awww, he's scared....

Next, a new character that has never been seen before!

This is a manifestation of the darkness that has lured the boy into the forest. Swirls have the never ending are the theme for the forest and with this character been the antagonist of the piece, I wanted people to think he had made the forest all swirly, dark and evil because...well, he has done exactly that.

Above is the hand that will lure the boy into the shack and then snatch him up.

What will happen inside the shack I don't know. Above = hypothesis!

Then a little bit of background work...these still aren't quite coming together - I can't decide on a style and I don't like what Ive done myself...

Another dark background - still not quite feeling it.

This is going to be one of the most important shots in the entire piece. When the boy walks into the forest everything transforms. The scenery, the foliage...even the boy. This needs to be conveyed to the audience perfectly, otherwise they will get confused and it will ruin the piece. That is why I have made it as simple as possible. A background, divided into two halves - one light, one dark. When the boy crosses behind the tree he changes into the darker version of himself. If I do it right, it will look great. Do it wrong, it will look crap.

Last but not least. The animation of the day! Fast running boy. First the run itself:


Then the making of the run:


Then my commentary: This run is OK. It's very procedural though, nothing that great about it. It's not inventive in anyway. I don't mind it because it looks OK and it suits the piece...but there are a few other mistakes. There is too much head movement. The head needs to move in a tighter circle otherwise it all just looks a bit too much. I had to shoot this on 2's to slow it down so that you could actually make sense of it. But lesson learned and that is whats important!

Other than that, I think today has been a good progress day. Plenty of work done - just need to get cracking on the backgrounds and get a few more poses for the boy down. I've got to draft up the end of the piece, which I will do the same day I get the end of the poem. Then I need to go over everything, make sure it all makes sense, it all looks good. Go to an in depth final storyboard, make sure all the backgrounds are done then animate the it and find the right music. We're getting there slowly....but the deadline looms! DUM DUM DUMMMMM!