Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bastet's Gift

Quite literally finished up this project today. The premise was that we had to come up with an adaptation of "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. I didn't really like the project, at first, but that was only because they milked the bejeezus out of this poor story last semester when we had to visualize the most ridiculous adaptation ever thought of for it. Anyway, we had free reign on where to go with this one. Our only restriction was that we could not use humans. It seemed simple enough. I started off as an animal artist, anyway, so I narrowed down my ideas to this.

These two cats were already pre-existing characters of mine, but in serious need of development. My original pitch for the story was that they were once worshiped deities to the ancient Egyptians, but the Roman takeover basically left them forgotten. The male, Zemti, pictured on the right, is upset about this and has taken to sulking around the ruins of their once great temple. All he has left to remind him of his glory days is a luxurious, though small tapestry that he sleeps on. The female, Tiaa, on the leftt, tries to cheer up her companion by going into town to find him something to compliment the blanket. Though not taken seriously by a merchant, Tiaa manages to sell the jewelry she wears in exchange for money. She drops off that money as payment as a textile stand and takes a small pillow in return. When she gets back to the ruins, Zemti is infuriated that Tiaa's jewelry is gone, but she quickly shows why she did it. We find out why Zemti was frustrated when he shows that he got rid of his prized blanket in order to get a charm to clip onto Tiaa's collar. The story basically ends with the two coming to terms that all they need is each other and cuddle on the tiny pillow Tiaa "bought". D'aaawwww.

Yeah, it was too complicated.

After the pitch and much help from my class, I managed to simplify the story down. Rather than Tiaa and/or Zemti going to town and dealing with other characters, they both go inside the temple to get something to keep warm.


Even this version went through a number of changes. It went from Tiaa going on an epic graverobbing adventure to Zemti not recognizing her and trying to scare her off. Overall, everyone seemed to want me to lean towards putting very Indiana Jones inspired elements into the story and I ended up with something like this.


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It was a pretty fun project and a cuter story than the ones I normally do. If I pitch this for my senior thesis, I definitely have to have a track of cats singing the Indiana Jones theme in the background.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Medium

Just a small personal piece of mine that I did to dabble my hand in shaded pencil sketches again. Funny how these kinds of things end up with my "darker" characters as the subject matter.



This ball of sunshine is Kale Dalsten. He's an antagonist in a story I'm currently developing. He's a brooding guy all the way from New Orleans, Louisiana, and works as a medium for his childhood friend's ragtag paranormal investigation team. Even though he tries to be the character that is taken the most seriously, I have a tendency to make him the most frequent victim of ridicule and gags. Funny how that works. Anyway, I'll try to upload more artwork of this cast in the future, especially as I develop more on the story.

I also need to get better at fancier pencil sketches.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Subjective Storytelling

The last Concept Development project that I completed was... interesting. We had to take a sort of different approach to how we told a story. Rather than the straightforward, linear fashion that we normally worked in, we were told to tell a story through metaphor and aesthetic shift. We had to pitch three story ideas and with the help of the class, choose one.

My first idea was one that I did not even have an idea for until I dreamt it up quite literally a couple days before the pitch. It was a strange dream that was nothing but color and had this sickly, man creature thing as the focus. To try to make sense of it, I drew up the character and gave him more of a consistent design than the vague one in my dream and sort of molded a very underdeveloped, pre-existing storyline around him and this dream. The long and short of it is that I created this alternate universe that is basically technicolor outer space. It's populated by various creatures called Sparks and each individual one represents an emotion or idea, etc. The story for my class focuses on the Prince Spark. For my own sake of this story that didn't need to be told for class, he is the Prince of this world. He is the embodiment of the child's disposition. He works through the seeing crystal pictured here and watches over the children of the world. He tries to make them happy, but that doesn't always happen. When a child is beyond his power, he becomes terribly sick. This piece is heavily based on emotion and showing them through color.

Idea two was based off of a theme from one of my original stories that I've been wanting to play around with for a while. It started with specifically Vin (from the thief project) and the audience experiencing delusions with him until ultimately, they drive him to kill himself. For the pitch, though, I made it a LITTLE less specific and just wanted to visualize insanity and the twisted belief that death is the only salvation from it. You can guess that no one really wanted to touch it when I told them about it.

My third idea was probably my least enthusiastic, but I pitched it because I was willing to see what kind of suggestions everyone would make to try to make it better. It was originally made to be an idea to pitch for my senior thesis, but I think I'm going to lean away from it. Anyway, the story is about a dollmaker's cat, Ollie (can anyone guess the reference?), and his want to be just as talented and versatile as any human is. Thinking that what they are is in their clothes, he tries on various doll's clothes and has fantasies of himself in each occupation depicted by the clothing. He eventually comes across a circus ringmaster's costume and goes into a more elaborate dream about being a ringleader.

The winner ended up being Prince and his story, though I was now faced with the challenge of explaining this universe I made up AND his particular story in a matter of 30 seconds. We had to do two variations of the same story, but both were still very difficult. Still, I had fun and doing this project helped me see exactly what my issue is when it comes to storytelling: I over complicate things. Still, by doing this, it's helping me figure out how to simplify not just this story, but all my other ones. If I can get this simple enough, a better version of Prince and his story will probably show up in my list of thesis pitches.

1st Variation:
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2nd Variation with music from "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe":

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Revolutionary Snowman

This probably had to be one of my favorite projects in my second semester of Concept Development. We were all separated into groups and were given a random series of pictures. My group was given photos of old ruins of a cabin in the woods, a bucket full of blueberries, a bear trap, and an illustration of a snowman. The meeting for coming up with our story was entertaining and started off as nothing serious, but we ended up with an idea that we hoped tugged at people's heartstrings. It's the story of a little girl during the American Revolutionary War building a snowman outside of her small, cabin home. As the story goes on, it cuts back and forth between her and a young teenage boy fighting on the front lines. I seemed to become in charge of a lot of designing on the project, mostly with the characters. My own personal designs for the children, named Hannah and Nathaniel, ended up something like this:


When pitched to the group, these two went through a few changes into what they look like in the animatics, but I think I'll be keeping a variation of these designs for myself.

Now, we actually did not just make a final animatic and call it a day. The story that we came up with was just a foundation for different techniques of storytelling that we had to portray. These aren't in order of which one we did or exactly how I, personally, want to tell the whole story, but it's in a vague chronological order of what the class ended up seeing and the different techniques' definitions according to my professor' website.

The first is Simultaneity - two separate things will converge:

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Second is Contrast - opposites:

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Third is Le Motif - repetition of theme:

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Fourth is Symbolism - juxtaposing two events and one is a symbolic representation of what is happening in the other:

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And finally, Parallelism - juxtaposing two events that may be related but never "meet up"

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I don't know if it's because I'm a history nerd or what, but I really liked working on this story and would love to develop it into a more completed short someday. I'll definitely try to work on the full, correctly narrated animatic and post it up some time in the future.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Artie Excercises

As our first assignment this semester, we were given a premade character that was simply called Artie and had to do the following excercises:

A finger point. This one was pretty simple. It definitely helped me get to know Artie and how to move him.

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A walk cycle. I decided to have a little fun with this one and project a character that I used for a later project onto him. Also got a little carried away with the music, but it was enjoyable to do and I learned more about animating arms during cycles, which I always have trouble with.


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A head turn. I just had to do this.


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And finally, a take. I wanted to try my hand at subtle acting. It was pretty simple to do, but I liked it.


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This project was so much fun. I must have broken his face so many times playing around with expressions. It definitely gives me the heads up to attempt some pretty crazy blendshape faces in my own character rigs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Simple Poly

This was our final project for my first semester of Computer Animation. From scratch, we had to design and create a simple character that only required two things: two legs and another limb for secondary action. I went through a lot of possibilities, from a rabbit in a hat to a lamp with feet. I ended up making a simple, children's camera. After doing this project, I discovered that I liked animating characters with long limbs, despite people around the department discouraging them for all the problems they have in animating.


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It's definitely not my best stuff, but I learned a lot from this little camera.

The Haunted Kitchen

This was one of my first projects in Concept Development last year. We could do anything we wanted with it as long as we stayed in this basic storyline: A human character is either eating or preparing food while a non-human character is trying to steal it. I had a number of ideas, but my professor and I ended up deciding on using a concept of a haunted kitchen. At first, my victim was going to be a ghost, as well as a thief. I decided to develop one of my long running characters. I'm glad I did. The challenges of redesigning him and redefining him turned him from this:

to this: Now, he of course, has gone through a few changes since this project, but I am very proud of this direction that he's been taken in.

As for the other character, it's actually Vin in his normal story. Ghosts being all magical and spooky and whatnot, they can transform into various things. Vin has taught himself how to turn into a cat.


For this story in my class, however, the cat is a separate entity and is the only ghost. Vin is still alive and is slowly being driven insane by the spooks in his home.

This was the final animatic that I ended up with. It had to be 30 seconds long and I learned then that I have a hard time with that number.


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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Introductions and Foxes

Hi there! So I'm new to this whole blogging experience. Hopefully, I'm doing it right.

I don't have much else to say other than what's in my profile, so on to the art, I guess!

This is something from my traditional animation class last year. We were all assigned animals from a list to do turn, walk, and jump animations on. I was given a fox and came up with this little spitfire, Nape.


I'm very proud of how he came out and how I ended up animating him. He was a lot of fun with some of those over the top features. I'll try to get around to upload an animation or two featuring him once I get around to fixing them up.