Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Character design - simple weed

Here is one of the simplistic looking weeds which taunts the pot plant and which the pot plant wants to get away from. The pot plant comes to find himself tangled amongst them thanks to the dopey dog at the end of the animation just after he thinks he has succeded in geting away.

Character design - dopey dog

In my story you may have noticed one of my characters is a dopey Dog who knocks the pot plants stand over and as a result the pot plant out of the window into the annoying weeds in the Garden. Heres a developmental few drawings if you will showing the stages of design to get my "dopey Dog" character.

  • Stage 1
Dog shape and rough outline for characters appearance: my initial idea of a dopey Dog look.

  • Stage 2

Using a reference I got an idea for what a scruffy Dog actually looks like and played with its features.

  • Stage 3
Using the rough character I had just created I drew another chracter slightly more detailed. I didnt think the character portrayed a dopey enough face, unlike the previous image so I cleaned it up to create the final face.

  • Stage 4
Here is the Dogs final face and really portrays a cartoony effect. The humour that it exposes through its crossed eyes, sticking out tounge and exagerated features places the characters dopey personality.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Story refinement

After our recent internal crit day I received feedback about my story and what could be improved upon. Thus I have decided to take upon this advice and work from it. I may not be using dialogue in my film anymore, however id really like to push the boat out a bit and use it, even though some may say thats doing it for the sake of it. Ive decided to be understanding to the fact that this project relies moreso on the expressionism of the inanimate character, therefore making sure my characters nature is thoroughly exagerated to appeal to its purpose. I am going to make my character be somewhat more of an Orchid in apperance, as these plants if any would have a fussy personality about them, perfect for the fastidious appeal. I will keep my story however, just focus on the reason why the plant wants to move so much and how he complains in his fastidious nature to move to drive the story rather than the other elements around him crushing the main idea to express. Overall, I think I should have a fairly decent animation on my hands.


Character design 2

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Venus fly trap - interesting video

I came across this video of the venus fly trap in action with commentry from none other than David Attenborough himself.

Check it out, its awesome!

Fastidious pot plant character design (?)

Here it is... what ya think?

This is one of a few ideas so i'll post some more up as and when however this one is the one that really sticks out in my head. It incorporates aspects of the Orchids with the large mouth of the Nepenthes to give it a looming, inverted big mouthed characteristic.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Plant research

My Tutor has given me a wonderful list of plants to look at and take into consideration for the design of my pot plant character. From these plants I will take what I need to apply to the character I was designing beforehand.
  • Nepenthes

"Nepenthes come in two distinct types, the highland and the lowland. These plants are commonly known as pitcher plants or monkey cups as the tips of some leaves form jug like structures which hold a digestive liquid ready for the unsuspecting prey to fall in to. Generally speaking the lowland types of Nepenthes have larger and more colourful 'pitchers' than the highland species but they require more cultivation than their highland cousins. Typically these plants come from place where the temperature is high as is the humidity level - places like Madagascar, Borneo and Thailand where they grow along side orchids such as Angraecum and tropical amphibians such as Mantella."
Also showing the characteristic that could be a reason as to why my pot plant is so full of himself and wants his own way all the time comes directly from this next quote:
"You can recreate their natural habitat in a variety of ways including greenhouse growing and large terrariums which look magnificent in the home - and are quite a talking point!"
  • Sarracenia

"Sarracenia's are native to North America with most species being found in the south eastern states of Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and the Carolina's.
Sarracenia's can vary in form and shape from one species to another, but basically they all share a common method of attracting and capturing insects. The plant basically consists of a trumpet like pitcher arising from a rhizome, the mouth of the pitcher is covered by a hood. The height of the various species can vary from several cm to over 1 metre, Along the hood and the mouth of the pitcher is secreted a nectar like substance that attracts both crawling and flying insects."

Quote taken from http://www.carnivorous-plants.co.uk/sarracenia/homepage.asp

Notice how the quote mentions how the plant has a "mouth", another interesting point which could be physically manipulated into a characters mouth.

  • Venus - Fly - Trap

"Darwin was fascinated by carnivorous plants in general and the Venus flytrap in particular, I think, partly because they go against type," says Don Waller, a botanist at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, US.
"In his time and ours, most of us feel that plants are passive, harmless, and can't move. But the Venus flytrap acts like an animal, it moves fast and eats fresh meat." - Don Waller, a botanist at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, US.

Quote taken from http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8151000/8151644.stm

This quote shows how the carnivorous plant is like an animal, its quick and hunts instinctivley. This could also help provide a boastful personality for a plant, plus its "big mouth" providing a physical joke for this trait.

  • Phalenopsis

 "Phalaenopsis come in many different sizes and colours striped spotted mottled blotched plain white or a combination, flower and plant size vary depending on the parentage.
They make excellent house plants, but don't forget to make certain that the temperature at night stays above 58deg. f or the plant will suffer."

This quote already shows that the plant is typically demanding and requires attention all the time.

"These orchids are the easiest and most rewarding of the family for the home grower as they produce arching spikes of ten or more flowers as often as three times a year, and which can flower for months."

This quote shows how the plant lives for quite a long time, so could be old and experienced, hence his fastidious nature towards everything.

"The plants are shade-loving and grow on branches or on rocks where the air is warm and moist."

This quite could give the very reason my pot plant wants to move location.


Rough Character design

We have been told that it would be prefered if the characters used within this animation were to not have facial features, and that the physical characteristics that the object already has should decide on the ways the characters act. For me, as I have a pot plant to work with, I can use the bending of the stems for emotional expressionism, the movement of the leafs to stand in for arms and hands, plus the "trumpet" shaped style/stigma to represent the mouth.

This is NOT my final design for the character - but its a rough idea of what will go where and how the character may work. My tutor Phil has given me a good list of plants which emulate nasty, sly, provocative apperances which may better suit the nature of my character. I will create another blog based on research for these plants, then draw in characteristics that these plants have to construct the best fastidious pot plant I can muster.




Story idea

I have been given the task of creating a minute long hand drawn animation on a random subject given to me at the start of the project. My random subject is a fastidious pot plant, as ive shown earlier in my blog. I have to apply a story to this character with the three act structure as used in the previous project. The fastidious pot plant is a grumpy, self indulgent plant who wants everything his own way, so therefore I need to apply this characteristic to drive the story itself. So here is my story idea:

  • Act 1
An old, fastidious pot plant who's place is on a windowsill, constantly moping about the plants outside and how he should take place on the elegant stand where another pot plant is positioned. He cannot wait for the moment this pot plant dies, as it is older than he is, so whenever that last leaf drops off he knows he will claim his position on the stand.

  • Act 2
The old pot plant on the stall dies, with the windowsill plant coaxing it on in triumph. When the plant finally dies he is somewhat joyus, and states how he wants to be moved.

  • Act 3
The pot plant is moved to the stand, where he sits there with his nose in the air proud of himself. The plants outside can see his victory claimed, and he loves every second of his "coronation". Then the families Dog comes along and sits beside the stand, who wags his tail and knocks the stand over and the pot plant flying out of the window where he smashes into peices and is surrounded by the plants he fastidiously boasted to all them years...


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Animation - Megs workshop

Heres my first animation for Megs workshop! Enjoy!


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Life drawing - weeks 1 and 2

In this project we have started life drawing again, something which I have missed and feel helps to inspire my eye to draw better and excersise my artistic mindset. We have a new model for this project, a young lady who is covered in tatoos, peircings and unlike previous models can perform much more flexible positions.

  • Week 1

  • Week 2

A very much relaxing, intimate excersise which I feel is benificial to our studies moreso than some may realise.


Plants v's Zombies - more cartoon plant research!

Thanks to one of my fellow classmates, I have come across an awesome game that uses plants to fight zombie attacks. The plants however, just as the rest of the game are all in cartoon nature, and reflect different "personalities" rather well. The designs are interesting to help guide anyone wanting to understand how different plants would react to different attitudes to their apperances.

I was told i'll be allowed to have a play at it tomorow, i'll be on the lookout for which plants the grumpy one!


Jason and the Argonauts - 1963

One of the films of my childhood days that id obsessively watch with intrigue would have to be this, a tale of bravery and monsters with powerful Gods galore. Jason and the Argonauts is set in the lands of ancient Greece, where mythology and worship was a way of life, enforcing every move society took. The plot for Jason is to find the famed "Golden Fleece" and return it to his countrymen to restore peace and confidity to his land. As Jason is prophesised to become King of his country, Thessaly, he bids himself to this journey to proove himself as worthy to the throne, also beleiving this fleece is the key to his succession of power.


All is not easy however, as there are barriers in the way trying to stop him from completing his challenge. From the competitive nature of another King willing his death, to the plentiful monsters that intrude the journey, Jason is never short of a story.

The camera work used within the film provokes power and understanding of the culture of the time, and also strongly enhances the visual effects used. On a stronger note about the visuals; there are brilliant scenes of animation used where models "interact" with the actors of the film. The man in charge of the visual effects within this film is none other than the master Ray Harryhausen, an animator who primarily worked in the art of stop motion animation. Obviously, the actors are acting to thin air, and to the modern eye this can be easily seen because of our attention to realism and detail. However, for the time this was state of the art, bringing some of the most lengthly of techniques to provide the audience with pleasure. There are scenes where the camera provides the effect, for example the scene where Nepture rises from the waters, this is obviously a set which proportionally is the same scale to the male actor playing Neptune. The most impressive of visuals however would have to be the animated Skeleton fight towards the end of the movie. In this we see Jason and two of his men fighting off "living" skeletons brilliantly animated by the great Ray Harryhausen.

You can clearly see how some of the effects used within this movie directed ideas towards future movies within the stop motion era, through tedious hardwork and creative ideas that eventually pay off in an expressionate display of visuals for generatons to come.

Overal, brilliant film!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Two way conversation

Here is my two way conversation between two characters in Maya from our last project.


Character ideas based on Brainstorming

I have been given the task of creating a fastidious pot plant, therefore ive been planning how a fastidious pot plant would look and act. This personality will also help to drive the story, and snap into place its outcome. Here are a few of the design developments ive been going through to understand my character.

Here you can see I have played with the characters appearance, changing him from a young happy pot plant to a steriotypical old grumpy "fastidious" pot plant. This is to see what works better for the characters appearance and may further drive the story.


King Kong (1933)

A Giant Ape comes to town as an ideal for the commercialised world to indulge in. The human race is full of curiosity at the unknown, so why not bring what worlds we know of only in imagination and books to please our physical eyes? Thus is the motive of the story "King Kong", where an intrepid photographer/film maker decides to go on an epic mission to find a place that he heard of from one of his travels.

The use of one stop motion animation and real time film is notible for its time, being top notch for visual effects in the 1930's. There is noticable editing between the animated model and the unanimated puppetised gorilla suit, used for close up shots of King Kong. However, this was back in a time where editing was still a skill in training, and thus the way the shots were arranged together really works harmoniously towards each other.

The acting within the film at some parts becomes somewhat cheesy, however stretches out the fact that a lot of the acting skills being used by the actors within the film were relatively new at the time. One thing I did happen to notice was the political correctness involved. Its amusing to witness the derogative terms used towards black people and women throughout the film, and as the film inevitibly is based around the plot of a female being used as prey, this notion is broad and obvious. The film even implies how mediocre love was viewed back in the early 1900's, where men who strictly stand up for how women get in the way of their working lives and manly indulgences find it aqwuard to admit their feelings towards the opposite sex.

I did notice also that when King Kong is shot and holds his bleeding breast, he picks up Fay Wrays character and when placing her back down she is perfectly clean. Perhaps, even in such derogatory times the sight of blood and nutidy are to be kept at a far more unexplicit basis.

A great film which, in turn, inspired many other "monster in a big city" style epic movies of comparible nature.
The remake is truely a mere homage to the original, however the ending is over expressed due to us having more tools to be tempted to indulge in with special effects.


The Mascot (1933) - Ladislaw Starewicz

Animation is somewhat famously known, especially for animators, for being incredibly tedious. Therefore, when strapped of modern technology and given the most basic of tools to construct a moving image the artform becomes more than dedicated. In watching Ladislaw Starewicz animation "The Mascot", I was stunned at the visuals for their time. The smoothness of the characters and the enviromental effects used was suprisingly convincing at certain moments. The "magic" of the toys coming to life really gave me a sense of what may of inspired the likes of "Toy Story" (1995), especially when comparing to the moment the toys were caught up in a fast travelling Car scene.

Ladislaw Starewicz (1882 - 1965) started his work as a passionate photographer who wanted to capture the scene of stag beetles fighting together. He found this somewhat of a challenging task to capture on camera however, due to the fact they reacted to the strong light shone on them for the camera to pick up their presence. He decided, rather than trying to film them, he would create many frames of still photographs and play them together as an animation to reconstruct the movements of the stag beetle fight.

In some ways Ladislaws animations are more than just moving imagery, they are masterpeices of craftsmanship. In "The Mascot" he even manages to overlap the real world with his puppets, creating scenes where real humans "interact" with the characters. This to me was very impressive, and took some good thought as to figure out how he possibly may have acheived this.


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Brainstorming - Fastidious Pot Plant

To gain a storyline is hard enough, but to gain a logical, flowing storyline which works in harmony to the characters usually is a result of an understanding to the characters portrayed. Here I am just fixing together a quick brainstorming session, peicing together what my character means and thus what his role could entail.


  • Hard to please - (Self loving, unnapriciative, snobby, "well to do" and expectant) 
  • Tedious - (Painstakingly specific, accurate, corrective, hard work, difficult)
  • Fussy - (Annoying, irritating, dull, insensitive, spoilt)
  • Specific - (cleanliness, perfection, stubborn, insistant)
  • Grumpy - (loud, low, mopey, tired, hesitant)
  • Concerned - (thoughtful, displeased, unestablished, angry, disapointment)
  • Impatient - (itching, movement, busy, awake, energy, driven)
Pot Plant:

  • Indoors
  • Attractive
  • Artistic
  • Colourful
  • Sensitive
  • Expressive
  • Naturalistic
Okey, so what have I learned from this? There seems to be a trend focusing on how the fastidious is clearly abusive to others feelings, possibly without self realisation, how the character may feel important therefore feeling far too confident in his own pride.

The snobby nature of the pot plant can be reflected in his appearance, as he sees himself as a marvel of true beauty compared to others. Perhaps the plant can be very flamboyant in his actions to express himself and his narrow minded views on others.


Saturday, 13 March 2010

Essay subject - Ray Harryhausen

I have decided to base my essay on the legend that is Ray Harryhausen. When growing up, I used to watch a lot of the films which he played a part in, from making Skeletons come to life and have epic battles with swords to making giant apes possible. The art of one stop motion animation plays a huge role in the step between drawn animation and 3d animation, a tedious art which is still used to this day for certain filmographic appeals.

An awesome guy with a lot of awesome stories to tell!


Time management plans... yup!

Indeed, a bit of a random post however ive realised how badly ive abused my time management on this course. The whole reason im studying this is because its something I wish to pursue and understand, so why have I lacked the ability to just get on with it? Im not sure, no excuses but to just say im pretty much failing myself.

In that case, ive gota get down to business. Heres my plan!

  • Get to the Library, get books and internet research for Essay... do that asap
  • Keep working on my concept for my "Fastidious pot plant". Brainstorming ideas and making character sketches is needed!
  • Get ALL my Maya tutorials up to date when I have access to the computers at Uni.
  • Finish editing my pre vis from the last unit.
  • Keep blogging about relevant subjects.
This is like my personal post it note to say "if you wanna do it, then do it" and remind me exactly what I need to get done... I know I can do it! and I know I wanna!


Friday, 12 March 2010


Of all the films that we have watched, one that brought back a nostalgic appreciation from my childhood would have to be Fantasia. As a child I always overlooked the amount of effort that was put into the film, therefore appreciating its magical and poetical dance flickering on the screen before me. On the contrary, this currently gives me a better understanding to its overall power and artistic indulgence.

The film was made in 1940 by the magical hands of Walt Disney, being the third full feature length film from his legacy of films to come. Fantasia is based on merging moving imagery with musical scores that, in effect, work harmoniously together to create an elegant flow of artistic expressionism. Although a masterpiece of craftsmanship and hard work, Fantasia became a flop in popularity and ceased to gain a name for itself for many years until recent changes in acknowledging its greatness. Many different editions have been brought out, each over time trying to restore as much of the original film as possible.

Here are the different chapters set within the film Fantasia. Each other them depict a different scenario with a change in the mood of the music played.

  • Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
  • Nutcracker Suite
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • The Rite of Spring
  • Intermission/Meet the Soundtrack
  • The Pastoral Symphony
  • Dance of the Hours
  • Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria 
The most famous out of these scenes would probably be the Sorcerer's Apprentice. This may be due to the fact Mikey Mouse is in the story as a main character plus giving the audience an understanding of the personality he endeavors which also becomes typecast to his nature in films to come where he is featured.

The flourishing extremes of blossoming colour and the strong sounds associating to the dancing imagery speaks words about its powerful underlying beauty. The film imposes different storylines and metaphorical messages of morality through this means of exhibiting information.

I'm also fond of the crushing twist at the end of the film, where the closing scene is dark and based on a demon like character portraying death and destruction through dragging civilization to hell at his own will. What is this to say about mankind? or the nature of Animation?

Overall I really enjoy this film and the effort put into creating it.


New project - Animation

Here we are once again, new project and plenty to do. As for the last project, I will continue to upload the tutorials and get the pre vis completed.

We have been asked to create a 2d animation using real back to basics methods. This will mean using a light box to draw out our frames by hand before editing them via a computer.

Again, we have each been given two randomized subjects that fatefully decides what we are to be basing our projects around for the next 5 weeks. My fate lays with a fastidious pot plant!


Monday, 8 March 2010

Final Animatic! One man and his Cakes...

Heres my final Animatic entitled "One man and his Cakes". I got started on my pre vis however didn't finish, because I used my time management incorrectly and underestimated the time it takes to create an animation in Maya. Lesson learned!