Last 3 test pieces

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Just finishing the last 3 test pieces so I can make a definitive paper choice.

With each of them I feel that my confidence in mark making grows.


The little philips projector is doing a fine job, the spread of the projection itself is quite wide, so I am using a central portion and using my previous drawing to line up the body of the Bustard for registration.


The little grater works well as I am able to be flexible with colours and only grate as much as is needed, but I need to make sure I pick up any feathers as I am going through them quite quickly.


I have discovered, however, that I can use a wider feather to create the very slim ‘fingertip’ feathers of the Bustard by using just the side round to the top and then moving the feather slightly to make a thinner profile.. This is a bit problematic as obviously when I move the feather over, the conte dust sticks to the underside and moves over too, sometimes making marks where they shouldn’t be, so I am keeping a keen look out for thinner feathers!

wpid-dsc_0398.jpgNumber 4 in the keyframes.



Number 5





Number 6




So all the keyframes are done and the technique is coming on well, the use of colour has developed and is achieving a better look than in the earlier tests. I can’t wait to see it moving…




Paper tests – key frame flight animation #greatbustard

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After a few teething problems with my rotoscope projection I need to test paper and refine the working process… All of this gives me more time to get comfortable freehand drawing with the conte and charcoal I’ve chosen to work in. Being extra careful as it’s a messy business, and a smudge in the wrong place could affect the way my drawing looks. I can’t wait to put the animation frames in between, but essentially I am working on the keyframes currently.

I’m using a small grater to create my own coloured powder as this gives me a little more flexibility to work bit by bit as I could buy charcoal powder, but would probably be tempted to use too much and be too heavy handed with it, but through the testing last night I found that the black conte and the charcoal take to the paper in different ways, I was only able to test 3 of the paper samples as they take a little time to produce.


Putting the paper and projection into the right place I start with light outlines of the body (using the grey conte) and then choose a real feather to work with. I try and match the shape or the curve of the projected photo frame with the real feathers I have, then grate the colour I want onto a tiny palette. Placing the clean feather in situ I swipe a small amount of powder over the edge of the feather and add more or less depending on how it takes and how it looks. This is where I found the conte giving great grip and almost biting the colour dust from me and drawing it into the paper, whereas with the charcoal it could be light and adding a second sweep can move or smudge the original outline, plus the dust does eventually get through the feather, and reprints underneath where you don’t want it and in an unclean fashion…

I tried to use the paper samples just in order as they were rolled up so I don’t know which is which yet but here are the first 3 in the paper test set.



With projectionwpid-dsc_0385.jpgwithout projection


Detail, this is using charcoal dust, charcoal lines and a white conte line to highlight, I also used a yellow conte dust over feather to try and indicate where the coloured feathers of the Bustard are, but it seems a little lost in the final image.


Second frame, with projection


Without projection, this time I added in a few light strokes to indicate the speckled feathers and added yellow conte dust, and some brown dust applied over feathers and this works better for giving indication of the shape and coloured areas.




Third keyframe, with projection


without projection, this paper has a slight cream hue and I tried the white conte for highlight but am unsure as to whether it adds anything, I think the paper would need to be darker… This time I used the black conte dust for the wing tips and it really took well, giving fantastic high contrast. Using the charcoal I was able to smudge for depth in the right places and again the yellow dust over feathers works really well. I was very pleased with this particular combination of marks, but not so pleased with paper choice.


Detail, you can really see how much conte dust works into the edge over the feather here, really good definition. But you can also see a few finger smudges which I need to be careful of.

I will test the other 3 paper samples so that I can make a choice, all the time practising and refining my technique and I estimate I will need at least one full movement of flight comprising approximately 12 images for a second of animation. The best of these images I would like to display gallery style as one of my aims was to make a beautiful piece of animation/art.

I want to test the keyframes when finished into a very short animatic and see how the lines and marks work when animated, I may need to lessen the swipe length, it may be confusing, at the moment, in my head it looks beautiful!


Binocular iPad idea for installation

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just came across the great piece about using AR in a museum.

I love the fact they made an iphone into a giant loupe/magnifying glass, and it became more native to hold it up and look through it rather than use it as a mobile device.

Augmented Reality idea


<p><a href=”″>meSch prototype: the loupe</a> from <a href=””>Waag Society</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Perhaps I could create something  that would work in the same physical way as their ‘loupe’ but be associated with birdwatching, ie  binoculars, again removing people from the device and making it more secure


Projection experiments

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Starting the animation process requires a bit of set-up organisation.

A projector, this is a dinky Phillips pico with 55lumens



An easel and a large board



Paper, my favourite newsprint


Conte Crayons, just in 3 colours

Sprinkler – to create the coloured powders


So I set all of these items out next to my computer so I could control what was projected and started on the newsprint paper that I love using for Life drawing… and here was my first problem, the newsprint really doesn’t take the powder I sweep onto the feather and onto the paper to make the relief imprint…


So I needed different paper, the only large paper I had was A2 size cartridge paper, lightweight and fairly smooth..

wpid-dsc_0372.jpgSo I began working in the feathers and simple lines and another problem rears up, because I am working on an upright easel, the powder tends to ‘drip’ down the page, unlike my primary experiments when I was working over the top of my page.



It doesn’t turn out to bad…


Then I look at another of the flying reference images I have…


beginners mistake! I will need to re-set out my easel and space so I keep in mind the top and bottom of my projection images.

Also will need to test different paper, to find the best feel for the feathers and powder marks I want to get into the frames…

I will be testing watercolour paper, thick cartridge, cream cartridge, craft paper and something called student cartridge later.


I really like the way it looks with the projection

wpid-dsc_0368.jpgThere may be an opportunity to colour the areas digitally with a light transparent fill once the animation is perfected – I did want to keep it minimal though.



Charcoal, Feathers and printing…

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After testing out getting feather texture into plaster, I wondered how much texture I could get into the hand-drawn section of animation, so with my trusty charcoal and feathers in hand set about experimenting..

I was very pleased with the results, now I have to figure out how to consistently incorporate this beautiful texture into my animation..

One thing I need to bear in mind though, the last set is on the newspaper that I like, and it doesn’t fix quite so well, or have the lovely texture of the cartridge paper…

wpid-dsc_0282.jpg wpid-dsc_0281.jpg wpid-dsc_0283.jpg wpid-dsc_0291.jpg wpid-dsc_0290.jpg

Plaster, Feathers and imprints

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Friday was my first opportunity to get into the 3D workshop and I wanted to try 3 things, carving polystyrene, skimming the polystyrene with plaster to see how smooth I could get it, and somehow getting feather texture into the plaster itself.

I started by carving the polystyrene, that went fairly well, I’m confident I could get the rough shape carved into a large block of poly, then I skimmed it with plaster.. I made the plaster to thick though so it went of quicker than I had anticipated, but the half I was happy with I could see would be smoothable. Also talking to some of the BA students putting up their final plaster pieces proved that smooth was possible!

Then i used the thick plaster to try and get feather prints into, but that has mixed results, so a final test perhaps using plaster to impress and making a plaster mould from that would be more succesful.. but this I won’t know until next week when I can get back into the studio and release the plaster from their moulds, as it wasn’t quite set when the 3D studio was closing..

to be continued…
wpid-wp-1400250959304.jpeg wpid-wp-1400250909299.jpeg

Mark Making #2

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I’m pretty happy with my choice of mark making, charcoal on Newsprint, but I couldn’t miss another opportunity to go to one of the open access life drawing session. I felt that it didn’t go quite so well as before, but, the quality of line and feel of movement, shape and contour are still evident and this reaffirms my media choice.


A short 1 minutes pose


Standing Quick pose



This pose has my favourite type of charcoal mark made, angular, strong, but with a smudge of contour and shape.


My favourite pose, although a little weak in execution compared to others, it has a nice feel to the shapes and definition.

I know need to find some footage of the Great Bustard flying and transpose the technique.

Beautiful Figurative Animation

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One of the guys on my course pointed out this animation which the Arctic Monkeys have used for one of their songs, but I wanted to know who had done the original animation.

Turns out a chap called Ryan Woodward created the animation a few years back in 2010 for a personal project.

With a different original song.

The movements are beautiful and the drawing is fluid and simple yet the soft touch of the hand-drawn line brings an element that is indescribable and unattainable through digital drawing, this is just the sort of feel I want for my hand-drawn section.

I love how he plays with the animation and enhances movement with ‘unreal’ and impossible physicalities.

Mark Making

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To complete the animation part of my masters project I need to gain more confidence in actually applying pen to paper! I have no trouble using photoshop, editing video or illustrating on my wacom tablet, but the last time I applied charcoal to 150gsm smooth white was an awfully long time ago…

So to gain my confidence back in my own physical drawing abilities I went back to one of my favourite lessons, from my BA course, Life Drawing.

With some trusty charcoal and my original oil pastels (let’s hope they still work) A3 pad under arm, I wandered into the life drawing class, not knowing what to expect. It’s all very help yourself, the easels are lined up on one wall and the chairs the other, small board or long board and a plan chest full of various types of paper with accompanying bulldog clips in a box.

“Just use the cheap paper for these first fast poses,” recommended the tutor, so I and the other 7 students duly set ourselves up whilst he sorted out why we had 2 life models turn up.

Eventually it was decided to use both models together for the first half of the session so they remained clothed and struck their first shared pose.

I felt it easiest to try with charcoal to get my eye back in and as I concentrated let my fingers take over.

I knew immediately that I wanted to make strong flowing marks, not mess about with tiny fine touches, just to capture the line and essence of the figure. I always found it harder to draw people with clothes draped as they can hide so much, but I tried to just use similar strokes to denote the shape and hang of the garment. I found an old trait crash straight back into my life drawing, no matter how big the paper I couldn’t get a whole figure onto my piece of A2, and I concentrated on only one of the models, I wasn’t interested in trying to get their pose together correct, I just wanted to feel like the lines were flowing and have confidence in my marks and movement.


I was pleased with the pictures although the tutor pointed out that I seem to have a habit of making the heads too big, but he really like the angular feel to my drawing.


I tried an oil pastel, but this went terribly wrong, she’s come out too wide and has none of the poise and delicacy of her actual figure come through, she was – obviously – wearing a tutu, but what I didn’t draw was the beautiful ‘enpointe’ she was making with her right foot in her ballet shoes.

I did try a really quick angular line only drawing but didn’t have time to finish this before the model left so that the chap could do his single longer pose…

wpid-IMG_20140227_144403.jpg leg_cu arm_cu

This style of life drawing is straight from my past sharp strong lines with lighter lines and a smudge to denote shading/shadow. I am really pleased with this image and it has the essence of the texture that I want to get into my animation for my Masters Project.

Chris Landreth – 3D maya

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Chris Landreth joined Autodesk in 1994

where he defined, tested and abused animation software as it was being developed.  Chris’s work was a driving force in developing Maya 1.0, in 1998.

His 2004 film ‘Ryan’ (with the National Film board of Canada and Seneca College), pioneered a style he calls “Psychorealism” which he uses to show the psychology of the characters.

Chris’s mastery of Maya in his film is mind blowing, not only has he got fully rendered 3D figures and characters of real people, but he has then removed areas to translate psychological problems into something visceral, that we can all see.

The way that the characters warped and grotesque defects change with their mood and what they are saying perfectly emotes what can be hidden by psychological problems, Chris does an amazing job through the 3D world he has created, that draws you in, but never lets you forget the underlying problems people have.

Showing what is normally unseen, to be seen.

 Ryan received the 2005 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and over 60 other awards, including prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and Grand Prize at the 2004 Ottawa International Animation Festival.

The film itself is an interview between Chris and Ryan Larkin, an Academy Award nominated animator (walking 1970) who learned his animation from Norman McLaren.

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