Saturday, 30 October 2010

concept art

Below is an idea of some concept art that I am working on. It's a possible scene and viewpoint in the story. I think the front layers look OK and work well in the style of the piece, but the background still needs some work as it doesn't look quite right and fit with the rest of it.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Below are images showing my working up to my final image which I think I will use as my wow picture. I think it shows the style I want the piece to be in and how I intend it to look. I'm not sure about the characters yet as I am still working on them to get them looking at little better, and as the script isn't 100% finalised yet I'm not sure which characters will definitely be in it at the moment, however I think is gives an idea of what I am going for.

This is just a title idea that I might use in the presentation and just as a header for the information and bible.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Design work...

Speaking to Kathy today about my designs for the animation made me realise that although I have thought about the characters quite a lot and the style I wanted them in for both the looks and the way the piece animates, I had thought less about the background designs and the way I wanted them to look. I had looked at images of landscapes etc when drawing out the background designs but I didn't really think too much about stylising them as I was focusing on showing the development and how I wanted them to change throughout the duration of the piece. Now I realise it is very important to have this style and design worked out and tested, particularly because my piece is more about the visuals as the story is really about the development over time.
So, to overcome this I have been looking at illustrators and images from books. One that really caught my eye was illustrations from the gruffalo books by Axel Scheffler. I really like this style as it is bold and clear but still has that sketchy quality that makes it a little different and more appealing to look at. I found more of his work online and think that this kind of style could work really well for my piece. I think it would make the background and landscapes stand out which is the main focus of the story. Having got my characters looking close to the way I want them I need to make sure that the two compliment each other and that the backgrounds don't drown out the characters or look ridiculous. So, below are a few of the design from the book and the background I really like, one where I have added in a couple of my basic characters designs just to see how it looks, and another where I have basically tried to digitally emulate Schefflers illustration...

Below i have added in my characters. Obviously the background was designed for another composition so my characters don't fit into it well, however I still think they have potential to work together and don't look too odd, or like two completely different designs.

Below I have emulated the image. I think it works OK, however due to my limited knowledge and previous use of photo shop I think it might be more successful to hand draw the images, or at least the outline and black sketchy lines and maybe colour on the computer.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

revised script...for now..

This is the script when I last wrote it out. I have spoken to tutor Andy since this and will. most probably be making changes, particularly to the ending, and am hoping to speak to another tutor tomorrow where more changes are likely to be made...but this is it...for now...

Beneath the Boughs


After setting the scene we focus in on a young Celtic man planting a small twig-like plant. He pats it into the ground and walks off into the distance. Focusing on the plant the camera pans up with it as it grows, passing it to end on the sun. The screen whites out. As it resumes focus branches can be seen moving. The camera then pans back down what is now a huge tree trunk right to the ground, with an old church built behind it. The camera pans back to the view which has now developed into a small village. It is now around 1850.


A stag slowly walks it way towards the tree grazing. Reaching the tree the stag gets his antler stuck in the bark, so tries to jump and shake to free himself. Hearing a noise he frantically manages to free himself. He then pricks his ears up and looks around before running off into the distance. A group of WW1 soldiers march past the other more open side of the tree. Past the tree, others can be seen falling to the ground as men are cutting them down and transporting them towards the village on a horse pulled carriage.

In fast speed the camera focuses on the landscape as the village builds up into a town. The number of houses, buildings, factories, roads increases.


Two gentlemen are standing in front of the tree looking out at the landscape, holding clipboards and making plans to build a railway. Zooming out we realise the viewpoint is from a squirrel sat high up in the branches of the tree. The camera follows I as it scrambles its way down and around the tree to the base where it sits and nibbles at a nut.
In fast speed the camera focuses on the landscape as it builds up, more trees disappear, more housing and factory style buildings pop up along with the previously planned railway.


A mother and her two children walk up towards the tree planning to sit and picnic beneath its branches. The mother begins to lay out the blanket and basket as the children run around playing. They stop suddenly hearing a sound and look up towards the tree to see a man and a parachute caught up in the tree. The camera focuses on the little boy running around oblivious, pretending to fly a toy plane. The camera focuses in on the toy plane as a real bomber flies right over the top of them swooping down over the city dropping bombs. The mother gathers the children and runs away. The camera shows the city in ruins below smoke bellowing up, buildings and communication lines ruined. The pilot scrambles out of the tree and runs towards the city.

In fast speed the city below is sorted out and rebuilt in a much more modern style, spreading even farther with housing and buildings spreading closer to the tree and edge of the forest.

The camera pans down the great tree with a very autumn feel to the scene. A dog and its owner walk past and the dog stops to wee up the tree. Men in high-visibility jackets walk up to the tree from the town making plans, looking out at the view and having a discussion, they mark the tree and leave.


A group of hippies climb the hill with ropes and boards. They walk up to the tree, stop and look at it before standing around it and climbing up into its branches and waiting. The men in high-visibility jackets return and are startled at the hippies sitting in the tree. There is a slight standoff between the main hippie leader and the man before the men in high-vis turn and walk away with the hippies celebrating.

In fast speed the focusing on the landscape more buildings, flats and high-rise buildings as well as cars pop up, the city starts to gain smog over it.


A group of young climb their way up the hill start a fire nearby the tree and set up camp for the night watching fireworks going off over the city.
In fast speed again the city builds up even further.


A couple walk up to the tree, stop and look out at the view. The man is a soldier and is saying goodbye to his wife. He hands her a note. Close up on this note there is a drawn heart on it. The soldier walks away and the woman leans against the tree whilst the wintry sun goes down.
As it gets dark a small magical shape can be seen crossing the sky in the distance.
In fast speed the focusing on the landscape more buildings and housing is built right up to the edge of the forest.


As a thunder storm starts overhead the tree is struck with lightning. As the storm ends you see the tree looking worse for wear.
In fats speed the camera focuses on the tree and people can be seen busying around it. The camera pans out to the view.


The woman seen previously walks up the tree looking around expectantly. Disappointed at not seeing anyone there she notices the tree having been ruined and rebuilt with a staircase all around it. She walks up closer to the bottom stair when she notices a drawn heart on the bark. She walks up the stairs to the viewing platform at the top where her soldier is sitting. The couple embrace and the camera zooms in on the view of the landscape from the top of the tree.


the beginnings of a wow picture...

re-working and stylising the characters...

After designing and colouring some of the characters for the piece I realised that they aren't as stylised as I was hoping. I think I had managed to fall back into the normal cartoon style I go for. I initially wanted to get something similar to the style of Joanna Quinn, however I love the style and the emotion you feel when watching pieces such as Dudok De Wit's Father and Daughter. The characters in this are very simple shapes with heavy shading and very few facial features. I think these will work better as you should be able to pick up the emotion and expression best from the body language and movement. As the characters change frequently in the short there is no need for facial features. I also think these will be easier and faster to animate with.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

character designs

Below are some character designs I have been working on over the last few days. I wanted the characters to be quite simple but also quite sketchy and stylised. I went through the script designing the main characters and ended up going back to my normal kind of style. I found that if I made the characters really stylised then it would be hard to show differences in them and also the fact that time is moving on which is usually shown by clothing and styles.
I love the really simple designs like those in Father and Daughter and would like to use something similar to these, however I think with the script I have that would become very complicated as it wouldn't be clear whether characters were returning or whether they were new characters, and the time change wouldn't be as clear. I think the way to overcome this if I really wanted a far more stylised piece is to find a way to differentiate them easily, or to make the characters in the story a little simpler. I think the best way could be to try drawing out a few in a very particular style and seeing if I can characrise them. For now however I did the characters below, some of which worked quite well and maintained some of the sketchy style I was going for after being coloured.

Colour Ideas for the characters designs

Friday, 22 October 2010

landscape developments...

Below are my basic landscape sketches ranging from the earliest when the tree would be planted to nowadays with very built up land and high buildings. Obviously the same view would not be seen in every shot and the angles may change, however I just wanted to show an idea of what I was aiming for at the start and end of the short and how the land would develop.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Continuing with the planning for the final major project I have carried on with the designs, styles and actually creating the tree. I decided to make the tree a physical object that I could film with a blue screen. Hopefully this will work with the 2d landscapes and characters, but I will need to test this once it is finished. I just think it will add a really nice textured effect to the piece. I have also started to plan out the background and landscape designs so that I can show the developments over time and the landscape changing, or at least have the basics of what I want it to look like throughout the piece at the pitch. When I have completed the basic backgrounds and tree I can then start to get some more concept artwork and frames together based on the storyboard. At the moment I have a very quickly sketched thumbnail storyboard which I need to develop into a full and finalised script and storyboard. However, for the moment I think I'm going to stick with working on bits and bobs I need ready for the pitch such as finalising character designs and illustrations, the 'wow' picture and concept artwork...

Initial landscape sketch of when the tree is planted

Tree in wire form..I have got a bit further with it now but will follow up with progress...

I really want to get the style of the piece right and want the characters in a nice style that works and can flow well, but are simple due to the amount that is in the piece. I was just looking at the movement and expression in these characters for a bit of inspiration.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Having spent the week looking at styles, storyboarding, thinking about the script a bit more and getting some initial design ideas down, I spoke to tutors this morning and feel like I'm a little more re-focused on what I need to do now.

Revising the story, I think Derek's suggestion of making the tree a yew tree would work well. I looked up more information on them today finding out more about the history of them. For example some of them are thought to have been around for thousands of years, many planted by Celts in places they thought were sacred, which is why they are often found in church yards and churches were often built in the middle of a group of trees as they were thought of as the biggest protection against evil. They have also been said to 'teach us to see death as a transformation that is never final', 'bring a greater stillness to life' and they were used for summoning spirits, understood as a link between death and rebirth. They sound like a very spiritual and meaningful species of tree with an interesting history. Using this as my tree would also solve the issue of the changing seasons and not having to worry too much about how it looks.

So, now being a little happier with changes I made to the script and doing some editing, I started to get through the research I will need to do to be able to complete this piece well. Thinking things through, using the story I have I will need to research into at least 10 different time periods for the clothing/landscape along with Celtic England, more on yew trees, churches, various wildlife, army uniforms from various times, railways, bomber planes, hippies and building and architecture, and after that, hopefully get it into a style I really like and that works.

Below are some of the images I found when researching that I will use as reference for some of the items and characters in the piece.

Images I found from my research on yews

Gathering images of British landscapes from farmlands to cities so I can create a gradually developing landscape.

Thinking about the church at the beginning i did some research into old churches and industrial/factory buildings for later when the landscape develops

Images I can work from when designing some of the characters. From Celts to fashion of the early 20th century

In terms of style, I would really like to create the tree as an actual standing object out of mixed materials. I think this would be quite effective as it would stand out as the big feature of the animation and could be really textured. I would need to make sure that I filmed enough footage of it for each scene before moving onto the next one where the tree might change, for example if one of the characters marks it or breaks a branch etc. and make sure I use a green screen so that I can then fit it in with the 2D drawn animation. This means that storyboading will be key and one of big things next on my list. I will need to do some screen tests before getting too into this idea to make sure that the mediums will work together and not look a bit odd having the two quite different styles together.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

charater designs

As there are quite a few different characters in this piece, I want to do them in a style that is very simple, and probably not in too much detail, except for perhaps the characters that are in the animation for slightly longer.
Yesterday as I started to draw the storyboard up, I found it quite hard without knowing what style the characters were going to be in and roughly what they would look like and, therefore, could only really work on the camera angles and getting the basics of the story down.
So today I began to think more about the characters and the style I want the animation to be in. I had a basic idea of this in my head, however when starting to design the characters I found it quite hard to stick to a particular style and really enforce it, without going back to my natural drawing style.

I had a look a various artists or pieces of work that I like and the way they have been created. I love Joanna Quinn's sketchy style of working and was leaning towards this, however as my piece isn't as focused on particular characters I'm not sure it is such a good idea. Quinn's work is very much character based and I think it works so well because there is so much detail in the characters she uses, you really get to know them within seconds. My piece is very much the opposite of this with quite a lot of characters coming in and out in a short amount of time. I think it would be hard to get as much detail as she does into each character and I'm not sure this should really be my focus.

The trials I have done above I quite like, however I think they are a little too bold and bulky for the style to work. I actually preferred these characters before I coloured them, and may perhaps go back and completely rework the colouring as this may simply be due to not knowing photoshop well enough to create more hand drawn looking images.

The other issue I was thinking about is if I made the characters really simple it could work well as a short, however I think it would be much harder to identify particular characters, and more importantly it would be really hard to show what time period they come from and that things are becoming more modern throughout the duration of the piece without details in clothing and hairstyles etc changing.