Saturday, 30 January 2021

Recent Embroidery

Below are several images of some recent embroidery I've been doing in between rotoscope projects. I find it good to exercise my creativity in a variety of ways as I feel it provides me with space for my ideas to develop and breathe in my main practise (animation/ moving image). It's nice to do something creative which isn't solely computer based, too!

These are all my own designs, however I didn't design the typefaces on the one with the letters, though I would have loved to have been the person who designed Helvetica <3 The one with letters was more of a sample piece to practise different styles and stitches. Many of those used on that piece were ones I've never tried before.

Also, pictures ain't the best quality (just using my phone, soz).

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Collage #1

Moving on from the skate clips (or at least for now) I’ve been working on a couple of collage style pieces. This post is about the first one, the second to follow next week- I’m sure the suspense is killing you!

I’ve had several old maps lying around in my room for a while, which I bought some years ago from charity shops with intent on using them as backgrounds for some art pieces I was doing at the time. I only ended up using small parts of them and have been waiting for an idea to use the remainder of them ever since. Which brings us to this.

I decided to get out the good old PVA glue (oh hey GCSE art) and make up some collages from small torn up pieces of map. I made ten of these, which would then become the background to the animation:

With the background being maps, I wanted the rotoscope foreground to relate to travel, or at in least in a loose sense. Either way, the piece of footage I chose to animate, juxtaposed with the maps, would then (hopefully) give the feeling of travel/ adventuring. Basically all of the cool stuff we can’t do right now. I chose this clip of a guy walking around in a forest. Because nothing screams travel more than that, right?!

I did several style frames for this one, as I wanted to find a look which really complimented the map background. So I was looking for something which was fairly rough around the edges, which could actually be drawn on a map in real life and of which would suit the rough aesthetics of the torn map pieces. It also needed to show up against the quite busy background, so was looking for a style which was bold.

I ended up using the ‘pen brush’ with a quite high thickness, but also with pressure for how hard I pressed down with my pen as I wanted the lines to have some nice differentiation. I think if all the lines were the same thickness, it might look weird and unnatural. 

The style is overall quite different to my usual fairly neat look I go with, but it was super refreshing to animate something that I could be loose with and not care over the minute details. I feel there is a place for both in animation and for my personal progression, I am a strong believer in diversifying what you do or I feel you don’t move forward as much or as fast as you have the potential to. I’m aware that I bang on about this quite a lot in this blog so I’ll read this is my queue to stop talking writing.

Here’s the finished piece:

Friday, 22 January 2021

Skate Again

In my previous post I said I may or I may not do more skate related animations and in this post I’m saying that the ‘may’ turned into a ‘yay’ and here I am talking through another skate clip. Though with a bit of a twist, as the character in this video isn’t actually skating (gasp) he’s just walking with a skateboard, but I thought that might be a little more interesting than someone just plainly walking. Am I right?! I think so…

Desperate to continue evolving my designs, I wanted to break away from the usual colour and outline I so often do and try something a little different. I did want to use both colour and outline, but not in the usual sense. I wanted sections of colour and sections of outline (how many times have I just said colour and outline), but did not want them to be joined, in an attempt to break down the traditional form of a picture.

I originally sketched out some style frames but for a different clip which went wrong (long story, but I do hope to do something with the clip at some stage as I think it has lots of potential, so watch out for that). You can view those below:

As you can see, I have broken down the image and taken some colours to focus on and others to leave out. Despite choosing a different clip in the end (lots of it was down to the first clip not having much action for the character- he was just sat there and not moving about much so was uninteresting to animate- I mean, I’m not sure what I exactly expected from a clip of someone sat on a train but anyway) I still kept the concept the same and tried to do what I could with the new piece. Unfortunately, unlike the train video, the second clip had less imagery in the background to deconstruct, so it turned out a little less exciting visually than the original style frames.

One of the major pros of working in this manner was the fact that only having to do outlines on the character cut down the time immensely! I ended up focussing on the skateboard as the ‘stand out’ colour in this clip, as I did not want to be drawing lots of nature stuff in the background as I wanted the clip to look quite graphic-y with clean lines.

Instead of colouring the skateboard though, I drew a filled box around it for each frame and coloured this red. At this stage, I quite liked the appearance, but didn’t think it was especially exciting or outstanding, so messed with it some more. I decided to colour the outlines which were within the box white (as opposed to black which the rest of the outlines are in), so there was some contrast and also further emphasis on the boxed area. I like this effect and pleased that I went with it in the end.

For the background, I wanted something textured as the rest of it is very smooth (I really like playing with texture), so I used some cine film to make a contrasting backing. I use analogue techniques a lot in work and love how it looks when juxtaposed with something digital.

Overall I really like how it looks, but I still feel the deconstruction idea can be pushed a lot further. Perhaps this might be easier on a clip with a more interesting original background or maybe push myself to be a little less tentative in my approach. Perhaps a mixture of the two… As always, check back on here to see more of my work or see me on IG/ Twitter for slightly more regular updates.

The finished clip is below:

Friday, 8 January 2021


As the title of this post suggests this one has nothing to do with light or shadows and is something completely different altogether. Why? Because I just wanted to have a bit of fun! This isn’t to say the other ones were not (they were), but they were all quite structured with an end goal/ aim and I really wanted a project where I could loosen up again.

I’ve done several skate clips since I began rotoscoping way back when and because it’s a subject I have an affinity towards, every now and then I like to revisit it. I also used to skate. I tend to experiment heavier on the skate clips than anything else for some reason, so it’s always good to go back to them and see how to progress further. Perhaps because they’re often short, snappy clips which don’t take that long to create, it encourages me to do something I usually wouldn’t do as it doesn’t matter if I ‘mess up’ or do a style I’m not happy with. This clip (for a couple of seconds animation) only took 2.5 hours which is like crazy short in animation terms!

As I often do, I rough out several style frames to get my ideas going. Usually more ideas develop from just putting pen to tablet, so even if I don’t have an idea to start with, after about half an hour of messing, I’ll have lots! Most of these were just line work and some were similar to what I have used before so I wanted to steer clear of those. It was the 6th design when I created the one I used for this project.

Style frame

I used the filled stroke tool and silhouetted each section of the skater in a different colour. None of the other ideas were especially jumping out at me and I seemed really drawn to this one- maybe it was the bright colours- I definitely get distracted by shiny things! It’s not a style I’ve used previously and I thought it would look super cool as a moving piece. The original clip had a lot of motion blur, so drawing it in this manner meant I could be quite rough and it didn’t matter if it wasn’t super detailed- I wanted to get the general impression of the clip down, rather than focussing on the minute details. I decided that this clip wasn’t especially about the intricacies, but more the action of the skater, which I feel came across nicely in the final outcome.

I definitely had some fun with this one and I like to think that comes across too. Watch this space for more (maybe skate clips, maybe other stuff, I’m yet to decide)…

Monday, 4 January 2021

2020 Top 50 Film Recommendations

I’m sure readers of this blog know that I keep Excel sheets of both bowling alleys and football grounds I have visited, but I also keep a spreadsheet of all the feature films I’ve watched. I started this back in September 2010 when I started my Film Production degree to see what films I would watch over the three years, but I have kept it up ever since. There is a column for the film title, the director, the date the film was made according to IMDb (what would I do without you), my rating out of five, a line for comments and a tally where I mark subsequent watches (though these day I don’t re-watch films as much as I used to).

The only thing I left out was the date in which I watched it- I would have found that really interesting. Which is why at the start of 2020 I created a separate document titled ‘2020 watched’. After adding the films to my main spreadsheet, I would copy and paste them into the supplementary document allowing me an account of films watched by the year. I have already started this again for 2021 and will continue to do so for years to come.

In 2020 I watched 219 different films, all ‘new’ watches, besides three which I have seen in previous years. One of these was on purpose (oh hey Waking Life) and two by mistake (I had no recollection of having watched them until I went to add them to the spreadsheet only to find they were already listed).

Instead of putting the whole list up for all the world to see, I edited it down to my top 50. I have put them in the order of which they were watched, rather than try to find a number 1 film and so on (would have genuinely been too difficult a task). The title of the film is in bold, with the director(s) in italics and the date in (brackets). If you can’t spot a film on there, it’s either because I’ve not yet seen it, I watched it prior to 2020 or I simply didn’t think it was good enough!

Please enjoy and let me know any recommendations in the comments.

1. Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven (2015)

2. If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins (2018) 

3. Our Little Sister, Hirokazu Koreeda (2015)

4. Only Yesterday, Isao Takahata (1991)

5. Capernaum, Nadine Labaki (2018)

6. American Honey, Andrea Arnold (2016)

7. Diego Maradona, Asif Kapadia (2019)

8. Stations of the Cross, Dietrich Bruggemann (2014)

9. Three Identical Strangers, Tim Waddle (2018)

10. The Grand Bizarre, Jodie Mack (2018)

11. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma (2019)

12. The Lunchbox, Ritesh Batra (2013)

13. Ghost Town Anthology, Denis Cote (2019)

14. Honey Boy, Alma Har'el (2019)

15. Eden, Mia Hansen-Love (2014)

16. It Felt Like Love, Eliza Hittman (2013)

17. The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki (2013)

18. The Souvenir, Joanna Hogg (2019)

19. The Farewell, Lulu Wang (2019)

20. The Selfish Giant, Clio Barnard (2013)

21. The Vast of Night, Andrew Patterson (2019)

22. Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler (2013)

23. Woman at War, Benedikt Erlingsson (2018)

24. I am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck (2016)

25. Jeune Femme, Leonor Serraille (2017)

26. The Red Turtle, Michael Dudok de Wit (2016)

27. 1985, Yen Tan (2018)

28. Girlhood, Celine Sciamma (2014)

29. Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach (2019)

30. Bait, Mark Jenkin (2019)

31. Lynn + Lucy, Fyzal Boulifa (2019)

32. Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Eliza Hittman (2020)

33. Finding Vivian Maier, John Maloof; Charlie Siskel (2013)

34. Little Women, Greta Gerwig (2019)

35. Notes on Blindness, Peter MiddletonJames Spinney (2016)

36. Matthias & Maxime, Xavier Dolan (2019)

37. Rocks, Sarah Gavron (2019)

38. The Forty-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank (2020)

39. Queen & Slim, Melina Matsoukas (2019)

40. Perfect 10, Eva Riley (2019)

41. You, the Living, Roy Andersson (2007)

42. Calm with Horses, Nick Rowland (2019)

43. Ernest & Celestine, Stéphane Aubier; Vincent Patar; Benjamin Renner (2012)

44. Mangrove, Steve McQueen (2020)

45. Song of the Sea, Tomm Moore (2014)

46. The Australian Dream, Daniel Gordon (2019)

47. Parasite, Bong Joon Ho (2019)

48. Roma, Alfonso Cuaron (2018)

49. Festen, Thomas Vinterberg (1998)

50. Saint Frances, Alex Thompson (2020)

I’ve also added on a couple of bonus films (it’s my blog I can do what I want). These were two of the re-watches, but wanted to recommend them as they are both fantastic each in their own right.

Waking Life, Richard Linklater (2001) 

Like Father, Like Son, Hirokazu Koreeda (2013)

The Cat is Out of the Bag

I did this piece for one of my friends for a Christmas present of her new cat- isn't she the cutest?! I won't be writing loads about this one as it wasn't especially an exercise in my animation development (even though I did use a style I've not used before), but just a bit of fun. Is that even allowed these days?

Happy new year to all readers of this blog and best wishes for 2021.