Sunday, 28 February 2021

*New Reel Update*

I usually update my animation showreel in spring and autumn for some reason (perhaps when I realise I've enough new pieces to add), so here is the spring 2021 edition! Enjoy!

Friday, 19 February 2021

Rotoscope Paint Test

I’ve been wanting to do some rotoscoping using analogue techniques for a while now and I finally was able to do so as I now own a printer (yay). Probably a little more excited about that than I should be, but I’m an artist type person and stuff like that gets me excited, so there! As you know if you follow my work, a lot of what I do combines both analogue and digital techniques, so creating some rotoscope pieces not using the computer (or at least not fully) seemed like the next logical step. I often use paint and other analogue methods as backgrounds and/ or to add texture, though never rendered a piece fully by hand.

The closest I’ve come to doing so is this short test piece:

As you can see, I printed out the frames and used different media to mark make. I liked the effects I created, though never since took it further than this clip.

Introduction over, I will now talk through the process of creating my first hand coloured piece. Note: everything I do in the computer is still done by hand, drawing every frame using a Wacom tablet, but it basically cuts out the step of scanning everything in.

For this piece, I decided to draw the outlines on computer first, then print those out and do the colouring by hand. This decision was because after printing out some frames as a test I found it hard to trace each frame accurately. As my printer is only monochrome some of the shading was hard to make out when printed. I also printed 4 images on each page, so they were quite small and therefore a little pixelated, which again made it harder to trace the outlines accurately. Yes, I could have printed out one frame a sheet, but I’m quite conscious of being environmentally friendly by using as little paper as I need and not wanting to use ink unnecessarily.

Going into this, I wasn’t quite sure which medium I wanted to use, as I had quite a lot of ideas and didn’t know which one would work the best or to depict what I had envisaged. To help with my decision, I printed off eight frames: four with a solid black outline and four with a light grey outline. This was because I didn’t know how each might look when printed- would the solid black outline look too harsh against textured, analogue colouring? Which is why I thought I would print off one in grey too. With these outlines I was able to create some style frames using various media (below).

All the techniques I tried:

Sharpie (regular colours)

Biro + gel pen


Water colour pencils

Sharpie (unnatural colours)

Watercolour paint

Acrylic paint

Black felt nib

My findings:

It turned out that the black outline looked much better for what I wanted to achieve here- the grey one wasn’t very visible and didn’t give a strong enough image.

The pencil and watercolour pencil didn’t scan very well, so needed altering in post, whether that be by Premiere or Photoshop.

The Sharpie’s bled a little, especially on the second one- not sure whether that was the effect I wanted to create. I do want it all rough looking (well hand rendered/ textured) or I may well have done it by computer, but I still want it to be appropriately neat for each medium. If that makes sense. Probably not!

I added the original frames over the acrylic paint one and the ‘graphic novel’ kind of style one with the black felt nib, to make the outlines stronger. I felt with the original frames brought back in, it really made the image stand out and definitely will be a technique to take forward into the final version.

After studying each image carefully, I came to the decision that one of my favourites was the one which I painted. So I decided to start with that. The pencil came a close second and I think I might use that technique in a future piece (yes, there will be more)!

The painted one had a fantastically bold look to it which I loved, especially when overlaid with the original frame. I also thought having brush strokes on each frame would add lots of texture and a boil to it, which you rarely get when colouring by computer. This is why I wanted to do it by hand- to get a look which is as far from computerised as possible.

So, now for the fun bit: painting! I do enjoy painting a lot, but hadn’t done much for a while, so it was a quite refreshing task. With the added bonus of not being sat at a computer for the 24 hours the paint section took to complete. I used a combination of acrylics and emulsion (didn’t have enough colours of either to do it in one medium) and used one coat of each. I wanted the paint to have large brush marks on it as I wanted it to be as textured as possible.

I went over the lines a fair bit, because I didn’t want there to be any white gaps on the character and I knew I was going to overlay the images with the original outlines I made on the computer anyway. When scanned in, I took each painted frame into Photoshop and matched each with the corresponding outline. Once in the swing of things, this didn’t take as long as I thought it would and before I knew it, I was able to import the image sequence into Premiere to export. TVPaint lets you export the animation frames with the frame number surrounding each one if you check the ‘slate’ box when outputting your animation. This was super useful when using printed frames or else I would have no idea which ones would go where.

The whole piece took 41 hours and 20 minutes for 4.5 seconds of animation.

I am really pleased with what I created here, though if I were to do something differently, I would have liked it even more textured. This is something I can build upon for future versions of this, but for a first go, I am super happy with it. I think it turned out a little better than what I was expecting. It would have also been nicer if it was a longer piece too, but I had no idea how the thing would pan out, so didn’t want to do a ten second clip to find out it would look terrible!

As always, watch this space for semi-regular write ups about my creative processes. Here’s the clip:

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Man in a Suit

My latest animation clip: 

I say latest, but I actually completed it last August, though had not got around to posting it anywhere (besides Twitter) before now. It was going to be part of an experimental short film I was making last year, but I think I've decided to leave that project as just a test/ experiment as it wasn't really going anywhere. So over the next few months I'll be posting what I created on my various social channels (and this blog, of course), as I still want the clips to be seen as I am pleased with what I created.

The background for this one was lots of photocopied pieces of paper, photocopied over and over until the image was completely distorted and unrecognisable, but produced (in my opinion) fantastic texture and pattern. Lots of this project was character animation created in TVPaint, juxtaposed with collage backgrounds created from several different media. So if you think this is exciting, then keep an eye on here and on my Instagram over the next few months as there's plenty more coming! Hold onto your hats!

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Conversation Animation [Test in Style]

As a lot of the pieces I’ve been doing recently were mainly using just outlines, I wanted to divert away from that and bring back using colour. However, I didn’t want to use outline and colour in the traditional sense, but wanted to develop and build on what I created in the in the video below:

I created this piece using solely blocks of colour to create the figure, which I really liked the results of but wanted to see what else I could do with this technique. I had an idea to use some lines but in a really limited sense, though with the main emphasis being a piece without any outlines. I was thinking something in the manner of the style I used in this short film I made towards the end of 2018:

I like the fact that no outlines were used, but instead used what I call ‘inlines’ to show creases on clothing and lines on skin etc. Since creating this, I have progressed massively in my work and I wanted to make a clip which reflected that. I had the idea to use an amalgamation of the two techniques (so the inlines in Cardigan’s Corner Shop [above] and the colour blocks in the experiment of the person smoking) to see whether I could work them into a useable style for future projects.

It comes about because what I do is often quite flat and blocky, which is fine, but it’s nice to add a bit of depth here and there to mix up what I’m able to achieve in my practise. I came up with a super rough style frame to check if my idea would work in terms of combining the techniques (obv. the colours etc are off, but just wanted a quick proof of concept). I decided it would look how I wanted it, with a few tweaks here and there.

In the final version, I actually wimped out quite a bit and didn’t do as much shading on the character’s face as I did in the style frame. In retrospect, I wished I had gone a bit further as it probably would have turned out stronger. I did add a lot more shading to her arms/ hands though, whereas in the style frame I did not. I feel this paid off as I love the shadows here.

On her top I didn’t do any shadows, but just used the inlines so we can see the creases of her shirt. This was a choice I made in order to differentiate between her clothes and her skin to make the two appear contrasting and have a firm telling apart of both. I also used coloured lines on both her shirt and her skin when needed, rather than using the ‘black cartoon outline’ which is ingrained so many animations. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I mean I use it all the time and it’s used pretty much everywhere, but this piece I wanted to feel different. I think using a darker shade of the colour works just as well as using a black outline or black shading, though makes the piece appear softer overall. This could either be a positive or a negative, depending what effect you want to create.

I’m pleased with the outcome here and I definitely achieved what I wanted in terms of combining two styles I’ve previously used. However, there are some things I would do differently if using this style in the future, such as more shadows on her face and maybe even try a mixture of shadows and inlines on the clothing.

This piece was also quite time consuming- perhaps because of the combination of lines and shadows, and being in full colour. It took a little over 44 hours to complete for 8 seconds of video. But the more detail a piece encompasses, the longer it will take. I don’t really mind as I think the result was worth it, but it’s something to consider when deciding a style for my next short film.

The clip:

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Collage #2

Here's another collage. As promised, I said there'd be another one this week and here it is! I won't write a full post on this one, as I think it might be fairly similar to the previous one and I'm conscious of not wanting to bore you!

But anyway, the background this time is post-it notes (please don't sue me, other brands are available). And I used a thinner outline on the character, as the thick one I used previously didn't suit this as well. I did try for like a frame or so and thought nope. Anyway, here goes:

Ps. a shout out here (I can do what I want this is my blog) to the amazing Animation Industry Podcast which has reached it's 100th episode! This episode features the stop motion animator Terry Ibele who is usually the host/ interviewer of the chat, but this time we get to hear his story to where he is now. If you've not listened to the pod before, would really recommend doing so as it's super inspirational and interesting!