If I have to rig another character again in my life, it'll be too soon!


Just before I go for a well deserved snooze, I wanted to show you a quick sneak peek of where we're at right now with Diva Dreams.
Matt has somehow managed to model nearly EVERYTHING (?!) which is awesome! Yesterday I started on making a sequin shader for our bodacious babe's dress.
Having trauled through a stupid amount of forums, I managed to find one useful post relating to a similar shader for Unity 3D. This dude wrote about how you could model sequins in 3D, render them out and then make a tiling texture from them. SO I tried this but the sequins looked a bit crap and like they were all stuck down.
I went ahead and made the amount of sequins I render out a whole load bigger and tweaked the rotation on a few of them to get the desired effect.
After some tweaking and some colour decisions I decided that the best place to test the dress would be in situ. So I knocked up a quick lighting rig so I could get an idea of how the reflections work with the shader. Here is my result..
Obviously the lights will be very different and our Diva won't be grey and maybe will even have hair.. BUT I love where this is going. Any feedback would be greatly received. Night x


So last week was pretty intense. For someone who has always hated animating, I enjoyed the week quite a lot. Campbell and Susannah's teaching was a real eye-opener, bringing the thought of stop-motion and 2D into the 3D animation equation.
I found strengths in planning and setting key poses but struggled with timing and in-betweening.

I've taken away from the week a new understanding of the patience needed to work in the art of animation but somehow found enough to stop avoiding as much animation as possible in my final year project and agree on shots which showcased my coursemate's modelling with animation, to it's full potential. I guess you could say, I'm not totally daunted by the idea anymore. Another thing I learnt was the importance of a clear plan. Without one, you're pretty much screwed.

I'll never become a great animator, that's not where my passion is but I feel a much better understanding of it's MASSIVE part of the pipeline and the ridiculous amount of time it can take!

That's all on Animation & Aesthetics for the time being but we soon shall be receiving another intense week of workshops from some guys from Dreamworks which I'm pretty stoked for (largely as I want tips on how to emigrate ASAP!)

Stay cool x


Today we're continuing with the exercise we started yesterday. After feedback from Campbell, I have been going through all the key poses and making sure that the arm is never locked as this never really happens in real life and also, a slightly weaker pose (use of a soft elbow) shows a weakness in skeleton, necessary to show age.
Campbell also stressed the importance of making use of Maya projects. Besides the efficiency of the network, projects enable multiple people to edit the same scene at the same time. We all set our projects to the same location so that Campbell could reference in all of our animations to create an Old People's Home scene.
The different timings of everyone's exercises make the big scene pretty funny and all of the overlapping action creates an interactive atmosphere.


Today's focus: Age
Today's action: Sitting down and standing up

So, bearing in mind what we've already learned over the past couple days, we move on today to the above exercise.
First of all, I made sure I got much better references. This time we actually drew our references, I gather it helps more with the whole observation factor. We took our sweet time re-enacting, over and over the action of firstly an old person sitting down and getting up and then the same for a young child to really get a feel for where the weight was for both of the characters.

The older person's PC would be much lower to the ground as they're weaker and need to stabilise themselves more. Polar opposite with the young kid, Campbell pointed out that their PC wouldn't even be inside their body but higher, in the air. Everything so light, bouncy and excitable.

Susannah said that by the end of the week, our task would be to animate the following actions.
-Approach chair
-Sit down
-A distraction which motivates the character getting up
-Standing up

As soon as I got in front of the computer and booted up Maya, I instantly felt better in tackling the exercise due to having collected better references and planning out my key poses. So I went ahead and blocked out the start pose and the key where the character fell into the chair. I find the pose to pose method a much easier way of animating to get my head around but I tend not to pose every key pose, just the very main ones. To get the rest of the poses, I pose the hips first and go from there, building layers. Susannah said something yesterday that really stuck:

Don't get hung up on graphs and don't get hung up on math. It limits your acting and you can always clean curves up later.

I took this advice and ran with it today which hopefully shows in my work.

For the first time in three years, I felt like I was actually enjoying animating. I think it's down to really getting into character.. maybe I was born to be old, who knows?!

My reference work might look really rough, and it is, but the curves really helped me work out my poses so it serves it purpose.

Below's what I managed to do in today's workshop.. (Yes I know my playlist pops up hah, I can't access a better version from home will update when possible).

Over and out x


Following on from yesterday's exercises, we first went ahead and posed a character (provided by McAllister) in a 'neutral' pose. Not moving or do anything in particular but just not completely still; nobody is every completely still.That plays a huge part in the believability of characters, especially with background ones that you're not meant to notice.

After we were happy with the pose (keeping in mind a specific gender) we were asked to start a walk cycle. I posed my character as a female due to the better reference material I collected yesterday. The walk I had in mind involved the character holding something, say a coffee cup (pictured, right).

The walk needed to use a mix of our reference footage  and our own belief in the character. We were encouraged throughout the exercise to stand up and really feel the character (calm down, mentally 'feel') and imagine where their balance would be.
After we completed a few steps, we developed the walk into five steps and then to stop, again in a still pose.

I found it near impossible to not let the tools control how my character walked. Having next to no experience in animating, it became clear how software can limit your acting if you're not really feeling the character. Susannah and Alistair constantly encouraged us to get out of our seats and walk around as our character.

Pretty much straight away I realised that I needed much better reference material so I filmed a classmate against a more neutral background so I could analyse the footage easier. Once I had this footage I found the exercise a little easier but still had a lot trouble with the movement of the hips and the timing and spacing of the steps.

If I were to begin this exercise again, Id have originally collected better references and then use that to plan on paper the key poses of the cycle and then decide which key-frames those poses would fall on.

A successful product of this exercise would be if someone were able to tell (without any defining features) whether your character is male or female.

The most important information I will take away from today, in terms of walk cycle, is that when you lift your heel off the ground your foot hangs almost like a piece of meat until it's placed back in front of you. Also, when stopping a character, actually when starting doing anything with your character, you need to think WHY is this person doing this. With a purpose you can much more easily imagine what the character's thought process is.

The exercise reminded how much I really don't enjoy animating, however was really valuable in learning the importance of observation.

There is a big difference between watching someone walk and watching how someone walks.

Stay Classy x

Thanks to Steph for the sassy walk reference

Here's my shocking first walk attempt:

*error uploading, will try again at home*

Reminds me of this.. anyone? 



Today we started our animation focus week with an exercise where one person would walk and someone behind them would follow and try to walk in exactly the same manner.
At first we all studied the mirroring of one pair and tried to distinguish what it was that stopped the copied walk from being identical.

Power centres [PC] were discussed and it was raised that a character's PCs have a lot to do with emotion, sexuality and gender.

Furthering the look into gender, in groups we were lined and stood with our backs to the other groups. The aim of this exercise was to collect reference of angles in terms of posture, etc. We concluded with the result that generally males stand with their legs apart and tend to be more centrally balanced, whereas females will be more likely to stand with weight on one leg; more of a slump.

We next collected reference of the walks of three females and three males. It was interesting to see, even within the same gender how different character's walks can be.

Hips are what leads a character's walk. Susannah Shaw raised that this comes more naturally the 3D computer animators due to the nature of the environment whereas stop-motion may struggle with the notion. The idea is easier to communicate in terms of puppets. In order to move a puppet, you usually need to move the hips first or you won't be able to move the limbs.

After a break to collect further reference material of male and female walks (realistic, not cartoony) we started out trying a walk cycle of each gender with a rig provided by Campbell McAllister. The exercises will be continued tomorrow..


 After a hugely inspiring talk from Fraser MacLean (author of 'Setting The Scene'), Scott Caple (Layout artist for movies such as Hunchback of Notre Dame, Incredibles & Tarzan) and Roy Naisbitt (Layout artist for The Thief & The Cobbler, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) I wanted to finally get some visuals of the final layotu I want for a couple of the shots in Diva Dreams. Pencil and marker sketches, excuse the terrible scanner. Peace x


Just wanted to share a quick lighting/texturing test for the 'Diva Dreams' upcoming short. Everything modelled by the brilliant Matt Hamilton (don't ask me how but he has this talent to replicate exactly what I visualise in my head/paper in 3D. Makes it so much easier to direct!)
Obviously we're not too keen to give away much at this point but a taster should do you good (and you can tell us if you hate it?!).
So, picture below.. imagine yourself in some smoky jazz club in Manhattan, wine and beer flowing and some funky soul about to kick off on stage. Oh, imagine smoke filling the room too! Okay, I'm out. Comment below, gracias x


So my festive season starts early, and what?

Last year I made this pattern and tried it out as some gift wrap on brown paper (yeah, I'm so hipster. I know). As if that wasn't enough.. I even mocked up a jokes marketing thing with: 'It's the thought that counts' and some sexy soft-focus photos..
Yeah, I went there.
Anyway thought I'd share the images in case anyone was actually interested in me getting this properly printed as wrap or maybe even tees. Hit me up if you're interested. Stay cool x


Sup. Thought I'd share a real quick test of faking refractions in Nuke. I had no idea of how much this would impact on the speed of production..wherever I can get away with lack of accuracy (in terms of refractions, caustics, etc) I will now use this method.
The image obviously still requires hella work before it would be ready for a production however that was not the test - shadow and specular passes would still be need to be composited over the top.
The refraction fake was made by rendering out a normal map of my object (using a surface shader, linked to the camera normals) and then using the iDistort node in Nuke to use this map to distort parts of the background plate. This method works for both still and moving images.
Hopefully I'll take a further look into this soon, I just wanted to try it out quick! Peace x


Inspired by the Hana - Barbera titles..


Thought I'd share a bit of a concept piece for the upcoming 'Diva Dreams' short. Cannot wait to get started properly now!


I've had this idea for an animated short in the back of my brain for some time now and think I finally may have a chance to make it this semester. Don't want to say much about it but here's some tasters. Obsessed with Walt Peregoy's old work at the moment, especially his styling for 101 Dalmatians and some of the Hana-Barbera stuff. Going to explore whether it'd be a good direction to take the piece.
I have a keen interest in lighting which I think may be quite neglected if I took this down the aforementioned route, we'll see. Peace X

Top are from a sketch I've just started based on the style of the bottom image (copyright Disney) which is a background from 101 Dalmatians. The line work looks fairly accurate and realistic until coloured. Properly love that.
Below: digital paint of original concept, want to stick fairly close to this..


Okay, I haven't uploaded anything in forever so thought I'd share a little test of one sequence I'm working on.

Still for 'Jack & the Beanstalk' as in previous post. This sequence will show the transition from the 'real' world and the giant's world.
The final sequence will need to be in anaglyph 3D which I have no experience in so rendering will be fun..
The beanstalk will be poking through the clouds and the Giant's castle will be in the background but I'll probably just matte-paint those bits to composite in later.
Pretty happy with clip but I think the clouds need more self-shadowing etc, but the white-out at the start will follow some sort of flight through space.

Aside to this sequence, I'm also working on the part where the beanstalk actually grows. I've decided to use Maya nCloth to simulate the ground breaking as the beanstalk roots itself which is working much better than first expected but I'll share a clip soon. For the beanstalk growth I've extruded NURBS along curves which is so easy to do and looks awesome, again I'll upload a clip.


A friend of mine asked me to help them out with some postcard designs for a newly set-up cleaning business.
They didn't really have much time or much of an idea of what they wanted. So I decided to run with the retro theme as it seems to be selling ANYTHING at the moment (that and I watch far too much Mad Men).
Most importantly, the business had no logo so I worked on that first. I love working in a really quick time-frame, it means you have to make a decision on whether or not you have time to keeping fannying around or not. Anyway, I quite like the logo.. nothing too serious, which is always good.
So busy with other projects and work still at the moment so this was just a couple hour's work but hopefully does the job!


Here's a quick test of some 3D text. I am aware there are a few letters missing their red front, but I'm trying to iron out some problems moving Illustrator to Maya. Gotta love how temperamental it is! Also the beanstalk is just a stand-in for the time being. It'll be growing around the letters and have leaves and beans sprouting too.

Anyway, this is a wee job from the guys at Adventure Wonderland in Bournemouth. They're performing 'Jack & the Beanstalk' as their Christmas panto and wanted to put in some animated sequences.
I've never really had a go at anything like what the project entails and I'm pretty stoked to be honest, to learn loads of new stuff! One of the biggest obstacles is that some of the sequences are to be projected in 3D (yep, glasses an' all) so I need to make the most of things flying off etc.
I'll be uploading some more stuff shortly but to see it all, you'll just have to get some tickets ;)

A little more progress. Pretty happy with how the beanstalk's coming along!


I honestly couldn't ever have too much of Saul Bass' work.
Here's a little tribute poster. Bit quick and scruffy but nonetheless I came across some of his work that I had saved and not looked at in a while so felt pretty inspired to do something.
Hope you like..


I'm currently working my ass off to get some money for the summer, so haven't really got that much time on my hands right now. However I've had this idea for a short for quite a while now and thought I'd share a concept piece for it.
Obviously growing up in Stratford, this dude has held a mighty influence over me and I really want to do something to show it. If you don't know who this guy is well, duh.. Shakespeare, of course.
Trying to find 'my style' at the moment so experimenting with different painting methods. This one is heavily influenced by Avner Geller. If you haven't come across his work, you need to!
Anyway, will hopefully get some time to work on this concept soon and will upload some more stuff.