Wednesday, 15 December 2010

as far as i got...

So I didn't get the scene completely finished, but I got most of the little dog character finished, and i think it is long enough to see how it is working and what it could look like. Unfortunately I wont be able to work on project much over Christmas due to lack of software at I'm going to focus on my dissertation for the next few weeks. Hopefully I will get straight back into the project when we get back and begin production...

Monday, 13 December 2010

animated shot with the background changed...

Below I have changed the background of the animation I was working on so it now has the most up to date version of the background. I wanted to see how this worked, and I think it really does make the piece a lot bolder and works better. I am aiming to get this piece of animation finished by the end of this week so that I have a scene in complete colour as a final shot. I have started to work out every shot and break down the animation into sections so that the layouts can start to be drawn out and the animation can begin as soon as possible.

Friday, 10 December 2010

The test shot below is using the changed background that is a little stronger and shady and the characters have the textured line I chose when working through the animation. It was also put together in Toon Boom the way it would be during production. I think it works quite well...but I'd still like to develop the backgrounds a little more...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

test animation

Below are some test animation shots I did to try out the animation and see what it looks like when all put together. I have changed the background a little since I did this animation and intend to make it better still, however it is nice to see it working.

First I did quite a few versions of this small section to check the movement and the best method. I was most happy with the version below which I did in Toon Boom and I think this is probably the best method to use in production.

I then started to colour the scenes as I really wanted to have at least a small section of coloured animation finished by the end of term so that I could really see what it could end up looking like.I began to do this by exporting the frames out and lining and colouring them in photoshop.

However the characters were coming out with quite a thick line and not looking quite as hand drawn as the example character designs do. Andy then showed me how in Toon Boom you can add textures to the line you use, and this would save time exporting out frames and make the drawings look more hand drawn and textured, generally a bit nicer than having heavy black outlines. So I worked through these and roughly drew out the dog character using a few different textured lines to see which worked nicely.

Using one of these I then continued to clean up and colour the characters in toon boom and straight away I could see a difference in the result from the beginning frames where I used photoshop. I think it will take time to get used to working in this way as I find it much harder to colour in toon boom as I think its main purpose is for animating, however it gives nicer results if the time is taken to get used to how it works and I think the animation will generally look better with this technique.

playing with the colour...

Having got some feedback from Kathy about the background designs, I have worked on them a little further today in between animating and other bits and bobs. As they were looking a little pale, I first very quickly just tried to use similar colours, just bolder and slightly stronger however I think this came out a little garish. But I could see what Kathy meant about it being a little pale, and needing a bit more.

I then looked at a lot of background designs on animation backgrounds blog, and there are some really lovely pieces and really stylised ones. I then worked over the piece again and I think I'm definitely improving...

I used much more shading and lighting techniques on this one, but made the colours stronger and bolder as well. I also took some shades out of the grass and made it a bit simpler in the tones I used. I think it is starting to look a little better, however I really want them to look professional and working perfectly for the final piece, so I need to keep working on them and developing my style and skills after the hand in on Friday.

Monday, 6 December 2010

animation tests...

Below I have done a few different animation tests to get back into it and also to test out the way I can best animate the characters. I started a trial in TVPaint which went quite well, but there are lots of things that need smoothing out, but from this I worked out the movement I wanted. I felt I wasn't getting the movement quite right possibly as I was more used to working by hand. So I went back to basics and started to hand draw the movement, or at least the key frames I was aiming for.
I then had another go on the computer using toon boom, which I feel went quite well in the end. It isn't finished yet and some of the movement still needs tweaking and a lot of clean up. I would like to do a full test by hand, just to see if I can get a smoother and more natural animation...

Friday, 3 December 2010

Project developments...

After having a production meeting this morning with the tutors a I can see more clearly areas that still need to be worked on.

I really want to get the backgrounds working well and make them look much more artistic and stylised. I think I have made improvements since my first designs and they are really getting there, but they definitely need some work and developing.

As we are now getting close to the pre-production hand in, I really want to focus on doing a bit of animation so that we have a test shot to hand in and an idea of what we need to work on and how it will look. The animation of the piece will also be my main focus next term when we start production. Harriet is focusing on the characters for now, but next term, when I am organising and doing the animation, she will be focusing on the background design and the style of the piece, so that hopefully we can bring it all together. In the next week, after talking again with tutors about the storyboard, we will go through it and discuss the final shots and layouts of the scenes, and breaking the scenes down into sections for background and animation purposes.

We also discussed the idea of the characters having eyes. This has been mentioned a few times now, and although the characters were being kept simple as they were not the main focus of the animation, the tree is the main character, it will be hard towards the end of the film where it becomes more personal to do close up shots, or to show expressions. It will also open up the option of having different shots rather then having most of them with the characters only distant. So we are going to test what it looks like to have the characters with eyes, and see if it will work.

The different props we need to design was also discussed, along with the characters names. As the surname of the characters has to be quite a key factor at the end of the animation it needs to be simple, clear, but also a traditional Celtic name that dates back. After doing research and finding possible names, we decided on Davie. I think this will work well and the name of the poet that inspired me to call the animation beneath the bows is Davies, so it links in there as well.

I feel I got a lot of things sorted and organised for where the project will go and how it will continue after the hand in, but there's lots to get on with...

animation tests...

I have started to test some animation so that we can see what a very small part of the animation will look like. So far I am just trying to get back into it as it has been quite some time since I did any animation, and also getting used to using different programs. I did this very rough test in TVP and I quite like the way it works and how quick it is to do a test like this. However I have a feeling the movement would be better if I were hand drawing it on paper. This is how it is working at the moment. It looks a little strange anyway as it is not complete -imagine the guy has a dog on a lead and is being pulled around, then hopefully it makes more sense.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

another background..

I wanted to get another test shot/landscape idea done to see how it would look so I have sketched this one up and will draw out a more finalised version, colour it and try it with both the drawn and model tree to see what could look best.

The model test...

Animatic..changed a little...again


Below I have tried out some tests to see whether or not to use the styled hand drawn tree or the model of the tree. I'm not sure at the moment, with different lighting and better compositing I think the model one could work quite well, however I'm not sure if it looks too different from the background and rest of the piece or whether it might work. I also like the style the hand drawn one has now as it makes it quite bold...I think more test need to be done and see what the others think before making a final decision.

Tree turn arounds...

To get a better idea of the tree and how it will look in the various scenes when hand drawn, I drew out a turn around of the tree. Leki then did the colourwork on it using a colour palette I made.

The colour palette...
looking a bit neater now so its easier for others to use..


So things are well underway now with the design work and pre-production of the project. Over the past few days I have focused on the background designs of the animation. I looked at various styles, making a kind of mood/style board for what I wanted to achieve and I think I'm nearly there. After creating a landscape layout of the area the piece is set in I have created some backgrounds and I think its all coming together. I think the style is working well and the colours, after talking to Kathy, are much better and more thought through. I have also made colour palettes for each object/part of the scenes and will make more finalised versions of these before going into production and colour so that there is continuity throughout.

To see how the style is looking I made this background/concept design using the right style and colouring. I then added in a character to see how they would look together. I think it has the potential to work quite nicely. For the hand in we need a test shot, and I am planning on animating that over the next few days as I would really like a moving image piece to really show how the animation will look.

In terms of getting everything ready for the hand in and finalising the pre-production before Christmas, I think we are on track. The script, storyboard and animatic are complete and working well for now, however obviously these will be tweaked throughout and I'm sure changes will be made. Harriet has the huge job of sorting out the characters. There are quite a lot throughout the animation as the main focus is on the tree which means lots of character designs to think about and finalise. Already she has done a lot of them, and I think they are a much needed improvement on my original designs and will work well with the style and background.
The concept artwork and background designs have been ongoing between Leki and myself, and I think we could do with maybe one other background to really focus on getting the right style and colouring.

Monday, 29 November 2010

colour palettes...

I have taken the colours below from the character designs Harriet has done just to create a bit of a colour palette for the characters and as a reference.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The beginnings of a background...

For the test shot I decided to do the scene with the dog walker as it is a very short part but will show the piece and how it will look. I have started the background for this part to try and test it and the colours. Harriet has done the design for the character already and is working on the turn around. I really want to have a short bit if animation done for the hand in so that I can see it coming together and how it looks before christmas. I will hopefully have more backgrounds and layouts drawn out over the next few weeks and Leki has agreed to help with the colouring.

So this is how it is looking so far...I need to work on the tree a bit,I think it has too many tones on it and needs simplifying colour-wise, and more tonal sketching on it. I have realised that I will definitely need a full colour turn around and model sheet of the tree so that it looks like the same tree in every shot..another job that will be done in the next weeks.

The tree looks quite strangely proportioned below, but this is because of the way I want the camera to pan in the shot and I'm hopign it will look right when I use it as a background.

Friday, 26 November 2010

storyboard re-worked

Having made some changes to the animatic, I then re-worked the storyboard to fit. I have only edited the end of the storyboard from the point where the two men draw the cross on the tree with the intention of cutting it down. So here are the changes below...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

edited animatic...

After speaking with tutors and working through the script a little more, I have made some changes to the story and edited parts of the animatic, hopefully to make it work a little better and making it clearer visually. I have made more of a link between the characters towards the end, so that it works from fast snippets and becomes more relative towards the end where hopefully the audience will feel more towards the tree and characters. I think this is definitely working better, however I still think a little more consideration is needed with the shots and angles when it comes to creating the final images.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Starting on the colour...

Monday, 22 November 2010


Having finished the storyboard and animatic up to a point where I am quite happy with it (I am sure it will change again in the future!) I have started to plan out and think about all of the layouts and backgrounds I will need for the piece. Although there appears quite a lot, I think the majority of them will have part of the landscape in the background, whether it is very small in the far distance, or focused in on it at the landscape is developing and changing. this means that the background landscape is an essential part of the piece and it needs to look the same, or like part of one complete landscape no matter what angle the shot is being taken from. I have therefore drawn out a pan of a landscape which runs from the front main shot of the tree in the centre, out and around, to the view at the back of the tree, so that hopefully if the two ends of the drawing met it would create a complete circle around the tree, as if you were standing in the position of the tree.

It is just the initial sketch idea and I will work on this and other backgrounds over the next few days...

Friday, 19 November 2010



I spoke to Kathy about the colour and design for the backgrounds yesterday as this is something I definitely need advice with. Colour has never been one of my strong points and I need to make sure I get it looking right for this piece.

To get a style I started to look at different examples of other works and background designs. I really like the watercolour style pieces and I think this would work well for the piece and the story. I need to keep the colour palette quite neutral with the tree being the main focus and the characters fitting in with the backgrounds, however standing out enough for them to be clear to the audience and easy to see.

When I started to design the project I took inspiration from illustrations by Axel Scheffler for the Gruffalo. I really like the line style used and imitated this, particularly for the main tree. I still want to maintain this line in the closer shots and anything in the foreground, with them becoming thinner and faded towards the distance. However design-wise I want to focus on water-colour styles as the top three images are below, using quite soft neutral colours and shading.

So I have started to put together a bit of a colour palette to base the background designs on. This will be developed further, particularly as I start creating the final layouts and designs. As the characters are being re-worked at the moment, their colours are changing slightly, and these will fit to the background colours and work with them. I will need to do some trials and colour tests to check how everything is working.

coloured storyboard...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

storyboarding and animatic

Using the script, I have drawn out a quite sketchy storyboard as shown below. From this I can then work on the camera angles and the story, see how it is all working and work out the timing. When it is finalised I will also be able to use it to work out all of the scenes, and show any other animators what is meant to be happening in the scene. Now I have figured out what is going on, I will develop it further and use it, adding in some more movement to create an animatic, and will use the key scenes from it, and work them so they look a little more finished for the final storyboard.

Monday, 15 November 2010

After hearing that my idea was one of the ones that got through I'm more determined then ever to get it developed, get all the pre-production completed and perfected and get into production as soon as possible. There is so much to do and time seems to be flying by!

Over the last week, I focused on dissertation reading and planning for the first half of the week, whilst waiting for results from the pitches, and then started to draw out a full storyboard and create an animatic once we had had some news. I have almost completed this now and it is true to the sript as it stands, however I think this will be changed, tweaked and developed further over the next few weeks, so could be changing. I think I need to speak to the tutors more to determine changes that need to be made and finalising the script as much as possible, as it makes it hard to move on to layouts and background designs without knowing which backgrounds will or wont be used in production.

Luckily Harriet has agreed to develop the design of the piece a litte further and is looking at the character designs at the moment to improve the final look of them. Leki has also agreed to help out in the project with the designs and pre-production work that needs to be done. Now there are a couple on board with the project I feel it is more managable and achievable. Hopefully I will be able to get some people interested in doing some 2D animation by the time it comes to the production side of things so that there is a bit more of a team to spread the workload out!

Thursday, 4 November 2010