My Work in Progress

A sketchblog where I post a few of my scribbles from a variety of works-in-progress, usually from my rather random personal creativity outside of the daily grind. I occasionally, but not always, post the final artwork.


Bits and Pieces

What a busy weekend! Of course, I didn't finish everything I'd set myself to do, but I think I made a good dent in at least part of it.

So, starting with Friday....
The ABOSG hosted an excellent presentation by Andrew Gordon, a senior animator from Pixar. Some of the characters he animated included Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc., Edna Mode from the Incredibles, and Marlin from Finding Nemo.

Some highlights from my notes (and some I was happy to snag from Keith Lango, since he seems to have taken better notes than I did, heh):

For character development:
- take the time to do research to get to know your character, if it's based on a real creature or animal, then study and understand all of that creatures movement, poses, reactions, etc. (he showed examples of fish video for Finding Nemo)
- then, secondly, use your rigged character to emulate those motions, poses, reactions. He showed us side by side versions of the 3D character next to videos of a clown fish. By doing these exercises, you really get to understand how your character moves, and why.
- after you've built up that understanding, start pushing the boundaries. This is animation, so as an animator, you have the opportunity to convey meaning, develop your character's personality, do some squash and stretch, "define the universe of style and motion for the character "
- now you can bring your character to life

Other points he presented:
- Overlap movement when at rest
- Use of layering, from basic to detailed, going from a simple static pose to a fully animated character that acts out his part in the scene/story
- Consider how you can best present clear attitudes and poses with your character for each scene. One thing he mentioned was how patterns can help strengthen character poses and actions. And to illustrate that he showed some video from "Naked Ape" by Desmond Morris, as well as some of the characters from Toy Story.
- Gestures. How you want to avoid the "w" of both hands/arms being equal in pose. This is something as an illustrator I've definitely worked on as contrast helps make a more dynamic pose, whether as an illustration or a concept sketch for a toy.

Then, right after the presentation I got to see a classmate of mine who's currently working at DNA in the Lighting/FX department. Long time no see! Funny, I'd almost forgotten his name the other day when I was talking about him with SJ who also works there, although in a different department. He's doing pretty good and is really excited about his work on Ant Bully, the feature that's currently in production over there. He was kind enough to applaude my decision to seek work as a visual development artist in the animation industry instead of focusing on 3D modeling. Although modeling is something I'd like to continue growing skills in, realistically I have much more practical experience as a 2D if I can get my little foot in the door at a studio, it's probably gonna be that way. On Thursday, it kind of sucked when SJ gave me back the artwork and resume I'd submitted to DNA right after I'd graduated last year. Eh, another nail squashing that dream. Like most US animation studios, they legally have to keep submitted resumes and such on file for a year before they finally can toss it. Can you imagine the pile of submissions they'd have if that wasn't the case.... When I was an intern there, we could get up to 20 submissions in a day. And that was before they were really doing any advertising for creative roles on either the Neutron series or the feature. Anyways, it was sweet of Amy and SJ to think that I'd want to hang on to them. But, no. In the trash they went. I have new stuff in any case, and a new creative focus so submissions to studios now would have to have an updated resume and new art samples to see as well. Speaking of...note to self - make new business cards...

Anyways, after the presention SJ wanted to know if I'd be interested in going to a party hosted by some friends of hers from work. She was a bit ambivalent about going for reasons of her own which I won't go into, particularly since I had my own reasons for thinking this might be a bad idea, but I was kinda hoping that she would want to go in the end so that I could chat with all kinds of creative people that work in animation like I hope to one day. She decided to go. Joy!

Although I will admit, my usual quiet nature tends to hold me back when I'm at a party, but I was hoping to run into at least a couple of people that I knew, or at the very least be SJ's shadow (lol) so that I could join in a conversation or two before we left. It was quite fun! Lovely quirky house, a diverse crowd of animators, their co-workers, and various friends and/or spouses, sweet fluffy cat to play with as well as two friendly Boston Terriers...and entirely too much vodka and orange juice. Yes, that was my downfall. I turned into a Chatty Cathy. I narrowly avoided the keg of Miller Lite, but it's the one beer I cannot stand, blech! I managed to speak clearly for most of the evening, I think; and didn't embarrass myself or anyone that I spoke with. I hope. Mostly chatted with the others about what they do at work and what they liked about the ABOSG meeting....but, I do sadly recall that I went on and on a bit too much about how I was a toy designer but I really really wanted to work in the animation industry. I'm such a dork. :(

And then there was Saturday...
Woke up late. Surprise! It was so nice and rainy all day, too, which made it difficult to get motivated to do anything but sleep in my nice comfy bed. But, I did manage to get myself moving in time to catch a Madagascar matinee at the Grapevine Mills theater. I totally enjoyed it! And so did all the kids that I was surrounded by. So much better to see these kinds of animated films with the audience it's intended for: little kids and their parents. The styleguide art that I'd been using to develop samples for at work didn't do the film justice. I thought it had a nice style, the backgrounds and textures weren't so outrageous that they fought for attention (cough:unlike Robots:cough), and while the story had a few weaknesses, it wasn't something that you couldn't ignore. And I'm definitely looking forward to watching the new Penguins short on the DVD release (already heard about that bit of fun stuff). Then off to SJ's to finally get to have some of that awesome Carrot cake she'd been promising me. And, yes, it was even better than what she described. I was quite happy to take a couple slices with me after thoroughly getting trounced at a game of Trivial Pursuit. I WILL have revenge, I say. heh.

Suddenly, it's Sunday...
This was supposed to be a work day. For my work. It almost was.

In the morning, I met up with the Sketchgroup at HP books. These are various concept artists from local game companies like Ensemble Studios, Paradigm (Microsoft, these days, I think) and Terminal Reality, among others. And a few students from my old school and so on. Usually anywhere from 10 to 20 people all sitting in the back sketching stuff and chatting about everything and nothing. A good way to spend a couple of hours doing something creative. I got started on a little project that I think will make a good intro to my website redesign. A wee little illustration that makes you wonder, "What's going on here?" Here's the finished pencil sketch:

So...I ended up meeting my friend Toni for lunch along with a couple of her girlfriends that I knew. Great lunch at Chuy's, interesting chat/gossip - typical "girl" stuff; then off to walk off the meal with some window shopping at Z Galleries, Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn. Saw my couch and it was comfy to sit on. Excellent news. Toni is working on setting up a small home studio for her painting projects...a bit of space I'm hoping to share once in a while so I can paint some large canvases, too. All in all a nice relaxing afternoon. But it took too long to get back to my drawing table. Darn it.

What happened to Monday?!
It went by even faster.

I did do a bit of research and sketching for the animation short. Also did my weekend chores. heh. And, I found out that the ABOSG have tickets to an advanced screening this week of the feature animation, Howl's Moving Castle by Miyazaki. Must get tickets! I sent an email as requested with my info, so hopefully I'll manage to get a ticket for it. I sent SJ an email about it, too, just in case.

Hmmm... I've got about another do some more sketching...


It's in the Timing

I've been working on the storyboards for the first couple of scenes in our animation short. The script is loosely based on a fairy tale that isn't as well known as the usual standard or Disney fare. We added our own flavour to it, too. :) Anyways, some of the character development during the story has to be in the characters' actions or reactions because they have such a short time in the story.

Well, it IS an animation short.

So, I'm trying to work out some of the pacing to help the audience get a better understanding of the characters while still keeping to our script and working on the design and layout of the panels. It's really quite fun and interesting! I'm enjoying the challenge. And I can totally see that we'll be doing some tweeking to the script and the characters when we finally get to the animation part of our little movie. But, that will be even more fun!!

The whole process is a learning experience that just totally shows me that I'm finally going in the right direction with my creative career.

OK, that's enough for the weekend. I really need to get back to the drawing board....


Getting In Character

The last couple of days my designs have been mostly with licensed characters. Disney stuff (Pooh and Tigger, Tinkerbell, the Princesses, Mickey and Minnie), Pixar's Cars, Dreamwork's Madagascar, and entirely too much Scooby-Doo. What started out as 2 possible product art requests for Scooby have ended up being 6 final products because the product manager liked ALL of my concepts. D'oh! We ended up narrowing it down a bit so I'm only doing 6 of the batch of ideas I submitted to our creative manager. Yay.

After having to read through the Pixar Car's styleguide to make sure I followed requirements and knew the characters, now I know what the movie is supposed to be about. Darn it. Nice story! Not quite what I expected based on the trailers, but definitely much better than the NASCAR feature I was afraid it would be about. I'm sad, though, that I won't have the total surprise when I finally get to see the actual movie at the theater since I pretty much know what's going to happen. Still really looking forward to it, though. For all that it's a movie about cars. ha.

I mentioned a report that I read from Animated-News to the Product Managers about all of the upcoming feature animations that have penguins in them: Madagascar, Happy Feet, and Surf's Up; plus there's a new short that's supposed to be with the four penguins from Madagascar when the DVD comes out. Our creative manager and one of the senior artists got to take a look at some of the animation from Happy Feet when they were at Warner Bro's last month. Sounds like it could be a cute and fun film. Although I don't know how well Elijah Wood will be as the penguin's voice. Anyways, looks like we'll be doing alot of penguin stuff in the next year. Glad I like penguins. :)

Looks like we might be adding in a bit of Wallace and Gromit. I mentioned the movie to our Product Managers and they weren't aware that it was in development (say what?!?). That could be fun to create some Halloween products for. Couple of my favorite characters. Yup. I could use a Gromit.

We're meeting this weekend to do some more work on our animation short. I'm so looking forward to getting working on that, even when it's one small step at a time. It's still progress and we're learning from the experience. Plus, it's what I want to do. I have some more character art clean-up I want to do before the meeting, so it's a good thing that it won't be till Sunday. Was going to be Saturday, but then SJ said she was going with her friends from work to the Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival. She's been wanting to go for a while. My sister and her husband are part of the court there. Funny.


Everyone has a First

My first post. Just a test really. It might be a while before I post another.

I've been thinking about posting my own online sketchbook, outside of my website. Maybe this could be the place.

On the other hand, maybe I'll just do a blog about nothing at all. I've seen a few of those, too. I have a friend who uses LiveJournal and I'd considered doing that. But, I like the look of this one better. So far. I could be wrong.

We'll see. :)