I was lucky enough to attend an owl drawing class on Monday night. It was a well needed mental-rest from constantly thinking about the film and current workload! The class was part of Wildlife Drawing and it was my second time attending one of Jennie’s classes.
Drawing animals so up close and personal is always super fun but also a lot more difficult then drawing a life model who is posing. I definitely found my ability to get down little sketches of the owl’s poses quickly has improved since the class I attended back in September (which was on ‘exotic mammals’ and featured a coati, skunks and a ground squirrel). I think the quick nature of our life drawing classes have made me feel a lot more confident in quickly making marks and coming back to build on the images. I am definitely going back to as many of Jennie’s classes as possible, I had a blast.
Chester was my favourite owl to draw, he was still a baby so basically just a big ball of fluff. It was fun trying to mimic that texture with a pencil.
I feel like I’ve been having a steep learning curve on what not to do while making a short film. Which I guess is a good thing as next year hopefully I won’t fall into the same pitfalls!
My initial plan was to cut and build everything I needed out of paper and then to shoot everything all together. My first mistake was not setting up the space with Steve before I had completed everything. I got lucky with most of my paper cuts being smaller, but I had spent quite a while on the ‘shared house’ scene’s paper cut, only to find it was waaaay too big to shoot on top of the lightbox. Shooting it anywhere else wasn’t really an option as I wanted to keep the backgrounds of the film as similarly lit as possible, so I had to re-cut the house in a much smaller scale.
the original paper cut with wacom pen for size, and the off cuts showing the size difference between it and the end used cut
I spent double the time I wanted to on this cut, so I am now feeling a bit behind. But definitely following a steep learning curve on what works and doesn’t work!
Trying to get all my paper work asap so I can move on to the tvpaint character! At this rate I am hoping to get all my paper cuts filmed and finished for the rough cut crit so I have something solid to show the Children’s Society.
For different shots I’ve had to play with the lighting, some cuts have larger amounts of negative space, so allow more light from the lightbox to get through; I have to constantly tweak and take notes on keeping the shots as similarly lit & toned as possible.
My space which Steve very nicely set up for me! I’ve been really enjoying working with paper and in stop motion again, it’s very immediate and rewarding as opposed to the labour intensive frame by frame drawing. I still am a bit in love with both though!
My cityscape paper cut, which was just larger than an A4 page and below the remnants of it after shooting.
We had our animatic pitch this week to The Children’s Society. It went well, both Lucy & David were really encouraging. David noted that the letter blocks made him think of toddlers and it would probably be more effective if the letters were simply letters. So I’ve made that change, even though of course I had spent the past two days stitching letter blocks together. Oops! It’s definitely my own fault for jumping ahead of the client like that, lesson learnt!
I started trying to make the letters 3D through scouring and folding but I think the result was too messy & unpolished. Back to the drawing board on this one, I’m going to whip up some samples tomorrow, trying both layering 2D cuts to make 3D, and just seeing how the shots could work if the letters were 2D.
they’re definitely too glue-y and uneven and meh
I spent today building little wonky paper cities for the shot were the boy is lifted between cities. I’m embracing all the little wobbly bits my hands create rather than trying to get all the lines perfect, I think hand cut paper is more interesting than something that could have been laser cut. So expect lots of wonky windows!
I want to get all my paper things built and cut by Thursday so I can start shooting them this weekend and hopefully move on to TVpaint and drawing in my character. Lots to do but I’m chuffed to get to play with my scalpel for a while, I’ve missed making.
Amanita Design are my absolute favourite game studio. I don’t play a lot of games, but when I stumbled across Machinarium a few years ago I was hooked. Their games are point & click puzzle games, and are very obvious labours of love. Everything is so beautifully designed and crafted and I get giddy just talking about them. Their new game Samorost 3 came out last year and I only recently sat down over the holidays to give it the attention it deserves.
screenshots of Samorost 3
Their games are always so painstakingly detailed and beautiful. Every single part of it feels deliberate and considered, from the background illustrations to their sound design to their super playful character designs.
characters from Machinarium, in particular I love the bottom personified wrench character
I could literally spend all day going on about Amanita Design and the intricacies of the work they create and the stories they tell. They also designed and made the characters for Jan Svērák’s stop-motion movie called Kooky which centres around a teddy bear who gets lost in the woods. Having an ongoing love affair with sprouting vegetables, overgrown roots and dilapidated greenery (they are my all time favourite things to draw) the characters in Kooky give me a ridiculous amount of joy.
I have each and every one of their games and I love them all equally. What was interesting playing Samorost 3 after Shaun’s technical Tuesday classes was my new ability to pick up on things like their use of parallaxing in their background to give the impression of depth. It’s really nice starting to be able to dissect and recognise techniques in animation, which in turn informs the decisions in my own work.
As someone whose practice is constantly informed by the discussion between intensely laboured illustration and sporadic loose doodles (I value both on equal footing), Amanita Design’s work provides an insight into how these two things can work together successfully. In Samorost 3 there are a series of books that explain the backstory of the game and provide hints if needed, which are playful and loosely illustrated in contrast to the highly worked setting they exist in.
screenshots of the game showing the difference in styles and how the two morph together in the bottom dream sequence
This combination of styles is something I really want to incorporate into my own work as our projects intensify and grow longer, and I’m glad I found a company who encompass everything I strive to achieve. You can check them out here and I really do envy those who get to play their games for the first time.
Christmas time kind of swept me up and I seemed to fall off the blog wagon completely. So a quick catch up.
Here is my mood change walk from pre-Christmas.
Over the holidays I ate my body weight in food and then kept eating and was sadly not as productive as I’d hoped. But here is a teeny tiny paper family portrait (they were each about 3cm big) I then turned into a bauble for part of my Mum’s Christmas present (with me ruining that brown and red aesthetic with my ridiculous hair).
I also worked on updating/redecorating my website over here and I’m excited to add an animation section to that front page soon.
Our 60’s counter culture march sequence was due the first day we got back and I realise on this blog this project hasn’t even been mentioned. I genuinely struggled with this project a lot more than I thought I would.
While I hesitated on what part of the history I wanted to focus on (I mean can you really choose between bagism and defying gender and protests and generally just some people being radical and great) I ultimately came back to what I was first drawn to; the Miss World Protests. Portraying this was something I was hesitant about; having a lot of respect for second-wave feminism and all it achieved (but obviously remaining critical of it’s failings to take into account race and gender identity issues) made me second guess my style of character design. My characters are always quite cutesy and disproportionate and I didn’t want this to read as any form of dismissal or belittling of the people involved in the protests. It was a strange ongoing discussion in my head.
Heck maybe I was over thinking it. But I’d rather overthink my work and at the very least be critically aware of what I’m putting out there and what it’s implying.
So my character design ended up being quite simple. Long stereotypical 60’s hair covering the body to try and dismiss notions of physical characteristics defining someones gender (heya bagism) and some little legs and 60’s style long scarf. That was quite simply it. The varying shades of orange reflect quite possibly every 60’s colour palette ever (seriously so many orange tones) and the hair is purple because it is between blue and pink (always coming back to notions of gender).
It was a lot of fretting for a very simple result. But I’m happy and it was fun.
She was originally drawn in Animate CC in our Tuesday classes with Shaun, then animated in After Effects using the puppet tool. I then brought her into TV Paint so I could play with her frame by frame. Her scarf pattern I threw together on illustrator so she’s a super mixed media tiny thing.
I know the Royal Albert Hall didn’t want anything on the signs for our march which I was a bit disappointed about so within her strands of hair are the words of one of the main chants from the Miss World Protests:
Before I came to CSM, I had never done gesture drawings of the figure. I’m struggling with it a bit in Vanessa’s class. My drawing teacher (who I started learning from at the age of 13) always drilled it into me that people aren’t made from unseen shapes or sausages, but by drawing the internal lines and details and letting them form the figure. It’s a very fine art approach to capturing the body, and it’s what I’m used to. The whole idea of forgoing detail and breaking down the body into a series of shapes to portray the action is completely new to me, but I’m so determined to get better at it! I’m really enjoying the challenge of learning a new skill, and the short length of the poses literally has me breaking a sweat to get it down on the page.
It’s already becoming blatant to me how useful gesture drawings are for animation; I’m noticing different things about the people I pass. On the tube as well as looking at the way clothes drape and fold on those around me (thank you textiles) I find myself looking at the slump of shoulders, the overall silhouette of the person and the way people hold their hands. I’ve started doing this thing were I blur the my eyes while looking at someone and seeing if I can tell their personality just from their coloured blob of a silhouette. I’ve missed the past few classes of Vanessa’s, but I can’t wait to get back and furiously try to capture the feel of the person in front of me.
Maryclare’s classes have been more in a similar vein to what I am used to. Some longer poses, focusing on certain details, and measuring the body parts in relation to each other. I’m still learning loads though, we’ve been concentrating on how the body unfolds and the various stages encompassed in movements; facial or body. It’s been fascinating getting a glimpse at all the inbetween parts of an expression or action, the process the body goes through to get from one state to the next.
This week our model also came out in different costumes, and we had to insert little doodles to interact with them. Fabric is by far my favourite thing to draw; while studying textiles whenever we did life drawing we let the body form by drawing the way the clothes hugged and draped around it. People are so much more interesting when they’re being followed around by waves of cloth.
Today we had class with Rory on character design. One of the exercises he gave us was to create a circle, square and triangle character that would exist within the same world. It was really fun working so loose and quickly; working completely from shapes and form is something alien to me. I’m usually a big planner in terms of having a concept and context to a character before I start drawing, but I found this new way of working really fluid and fun.
Last week’s dive exercise. Definitely the most intensive line test we’ve done to date! I had to keep going back and correcting the teddy bear’s movement, first he was too stiff and then he was moving way too much under the weight of a tiny mouse. I think in this one he is just right.