Thursday, 27 May 2010

Slime mold fruiting body character

Here he is! Its my fruiting body character to be used in my animation.


Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Slime world development

I am creating the "alien" enviroment of the slime mold where we come to find our characterised fruiting body which starts the adventure of the slime molds life cycle.


open scene

Here is a clip from my opening scene, where the camera moves into the cartoony slime mold glowing on a log before the audience is taken into the microscopic world.


Monday, 24 May 2010

"Cartoony" slime mold enviroment development

Okey, I know the resoloution gate is the wrong setting but it wont be like that when finished. Here we have a screenshot to show the work in progress of the slime molds 2D brought 3D enviroment. I call it Toon-D! All to be done is some more lighting and the addition of the log which the slime mold is based upon, then the camera will move swiftly into the log for the microscopic adventure to start. 

The below image is a peice of concept art I created showing the opening scene in the gradual simplistic stylisation that I have been approaching, yet it helped give me a feel for animation through how it is set out. All I have done is simplified the colour pallete and made everything feel a lot more drawn and sketchy within the 3D world. The less detail creates a somewhat childish, bold cartoony effect which I feel enables room to open the doors to worlds which by using realism I couldnt reach in the same way.



Thursday, 20 May 2010

Toon shaders

I have recently come across the effect of the toon shader, which will allow me to apply a solid line around the characters and enviroments in my animation to appear as if they are "drawn". This might therefore be able to help me keep my characters closer to my own hand drawn style that has been seen in my concept art.

Anyone else wishing to understand this technique go to

Heres an example of what a toon shader can do, showing how effective it can be for a hand drawn traditional style cartoon.

Image obtained from


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

and so it begins! maya concepts

Here we have it! The world is starting to be built in Maya, keeping it simple as I said in my graphic tablet designs. Oh, and say hello to the fruiting body!

Notice how im applying aspects of 2D  into a more 3D world by using transparancy in planes and creating the illusion of depth by backing the planes up over the top of each other.


Monday, 17 May 2010

Fruiting body walk cycle

To understand how this strange character will move around, or how the "blob" like formation it comes from would move, I have created a small walk cycle to imply an idea more clearly.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Slime mold - understanding the elements

I have decided that as I am persuing a particular target audience, and including my cartoonish drawing style through into the 3d world I will need to find a way to adjust to something that compromises. I beleive simple is the key, and in using planes with drawn textures I could provide a 2D effect within the realms of 3D. With after effects I can add additional animations over the top of things such as bugs, cells, slime etc. In the slime molds "world" I have decided to use an orange sky, however everything that isnt an asset of the "characters" such as the ground, should be white to further the drawn effect in 3D. 

Heres a quick hand drawn animation which helps me further understand how the characters in my world will act, as seeing them in my head to witnessing them move in real life ive come to find renders out a lot different. This also helps me understand how a 3D character would work and move in a 2D sense, or in the style of my own cartooning.


Life drawing class

Here is the images from our most recent life drawing class, this week with the model Francis.

I am quite pleased with this above image, as the pose is at a diffucult angle, the proportions and perspective was aqwuard and tedious to work out. I think I done a good job though!


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Further concept art

After the pitch I realised a new confidence in my animation and the style I am persuing. Further more after a chat with my tutor, I have gained a clearer understanding of how I can acheive my strange, wacky stylization with the use of maya. I was guided to watch a similar style of childish fun imagery used in an old cartoon called Roobarb and Custard. This was created by Bob Godfrey, a style which seems to be in a similar legue for how I could expose my own world through animation.

This animation is using simplistic drawings to effect, the characters somewhat are the only colourful feature within the cartoon, which makes the character designs stand out.

I could use a similar technique for my maya based animation, where I could bring a simple colour palette with what would usually be found within a 2d world to 3d. Here are some examples:

  • This image may be peaceful and the scene is understandable, the colours used brighten the image up and display a balance between real world and cartoon. This however, doesnt need to be in existance, as I could create the same scene with a much more simple colour palette. Just like in Roobarb and Custard, the lack of colours for the more unimportant objects will help to further the response to the characters and drive a feeling of being immersed into a diagram of a slime molds life cycle and into a world depicted by my imagination.

  • Heres the same enviroment but in a simple drawn perspective which would appeal to my target audience more. My target audience is children at the age of doing their SAT's exams, which are around 11-12 years old. This would become 3d if the assets in the image, such as the trees, were on seperate planes, with the added lighting, would look like a picture book coming to life.

Slime mold cover idea

Heres a lil random idea I knocked up for a title slide or for the DVD.

Im thinking if I persued this idea I could have more spores flying around the image, yet I dont want to overcrowd it.


Animatic 1

Here is an animatic I done for this projects animation. I beleive the music isnt working with the target audience and with the imagery. Therefore im redrawing ideas to entwine with this animatic to work out new sounds to go with it and to better my animatics understanding.

All sounds have been removed from this animatic, I will develop a new set of sounds to go with a new animatic within the next few days.


Monday, 10 May 2010

Concept art 1

Concept art insperation - the incredibles

Whilst sitting in the baseroom after Uni hours, ive picked up a book which has secured some confidence in the path I have decided to pursue with my animation.

The book "the art of the incredibles" talks about the Disney/Pixar film "The Incredibles" and shows the vast amounts of concept art behind it.

Here you can see the ways in which the characters for the film The Incredibles were designed, drawn by hand and in photoshop until satisfied with the result. Numerous facial expressions and character positions have been implicated to show a strong understanding of how the character will act on screen.

In knowing most of my peers are doing highly detailed "photorealistic" work, I hit a wall of intimidation when going to do this project. From the start I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this; I could see how a microscopic world could be turned into something entertaining and amusing through a more cartoonist approach for the audiences pleasure. I continue to take this stand with this project, as id like to see my imagination come to life and if it possibly can do to the audience what I think it has potential to.


Friday, 7 May 2010

CG based Cartoon enviroments

For my project as I am creating my slime mold animation to be characterised, I am basing them on the stylistic approach that say Pixar would take to bring Monsters Inc alive. As I am doing the life cycle of a slime mold, the cells which develop this grand "adventure" will be characterised to connect the audience to the "story" behind a slime molds deveopment.

Here you can see an example of the enviroments used in the film "Shrek". Observe the difference between the realism and the colours used with this to Avatar.

After effects class

Today we used After effects, learning to incorporate the following:

  • Alpha layering
  • Specular/reflection dialing
  • Hue shifts/basic grading
Some of these elements will be really useful within this project. I can use alpha layering to my advantage my animation consists of cartoonish enviroments, therefore I can apply 2d animation over my bold, colourful maya-based world.

Here is what we created in class today using these techniques.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

storyboard - the slime mold life cycle

I have decided to use the benifits of humour to my advantage to help people learn about how the slime molds life cycle works for my animation. I like to think that by using a quirky style you can provide entertainment through learning, therefore relate to all ages.

In the first storyboard we see the enviroment that the slime mold is growing in, a rural area with a tree, river and log. The log has a slime mold developing on it, which the camera zooms into during the animation. We go so far into it that we can see the microscoping fruiting body of the slime mold.

The fruiting body stands there as if something is about to happen, but not quite sure what. He then starts to choke, throwing up the spores which fly out of his "mouth".

The spore releases his "parachute", and becomes an amoeba.

The amoeba flys towards a large mound of others like himself, which he sticks onto and becomes one with.

The collective of cells squeeze together in syngamy until they start to reproduce and form zygotes, then performing meiosis by becoming more duplicates of the original amoeba cells. This continues and we see the collective bundle become a new fruiting body.

The camera focuses on the new fruiting body, which in turn zooms out back to the landscape of the tree, which now is covered in gooey slime molds.

Slime mold videos

Here are several slime mold films I found on youtube which are helpful to understand how the slime mold "moves" as it grows.

This first video shows a slime mold pulsating as it grows, spreading out in a yellow gunge which takes over the ground it lays on.

This second video shows how the slime mold "dominates" its enviroment. Its somewhat grotesque to watch, however shows the slime molds somewhat "alien" appearance and power to submerge its victims.

This last video shows how a slime molds fruiting body is formed, extending out and "gracefully" turning into a stem to form new life from a blob of microscopic gunge.

Enviroments for a slime mold

Slime molds are highly conspicuous organisms that can “magically” appear overnight on mulch, plants, and turf. How do they get there so fast? Its made people confused for years. Slime molds are not fungi, although often mistaken to be. They are infact in the class of Myxomycetes, which is the group slime molds fit into with around 850 species known worldwide. They are found on wood chip mulches, lawns, garden beds, on herbaceous and woody ornamental plants, and even creeping up foundation walls of buildings and other structures. In lawns, the presence of a slime mold gives the grass a bluish-gray to purple-brown appearance from a distance. These areas can be patchy and can be as large as several feet in diameter. Their life cycle is similar to those of a fungi. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why they were classified as fungi for many years. Periods of moderate temperature create perfect enviroments for the slime molds to grow, especially when conditions are moist. The spores will germinate and release small cells where two of these haploid cells will fuse together to create a shapeless mulch called a plasmodium. Plasmodia can be either colorless, gray, cream, bright yellow, or orange in colour. As the plasmodia grows, or "creeps",  they can move several feet within 24 hours. When environmental conditions become drier and warmer, they are no longer at this stage of the slime mold. At this point, the slime mold undergoes obvious changes from a Plasmodium to what is known as a Sporangium. This is the looming stalk like object which once developed it is in during this stage that spores are formed and the cycle starts to repeat.

hand drawn concepts

Here are a few hand drawn concepts for the enviroment/characters based on the slime mold cycle. Its enviroment is damp and woody, making the fungi like structure of the slime mold happily at home. I have decided to use my cartoonish style to see if I can apply it to CG, which I beleive will make the video entertaining to watch for students.

Fruiting stages diagram

Here I have found a diagram showing the stages of growth of the fruiting stem known as the "Dictyostelium discoidium".

From this I can understand how the stem grows for use in my animation. I have found videos from youtube which show the formation of these tower-like structures. Heres an example:

Its only short but it shows the growth of the fruiting body from the dictyostelium.

Here is a basic concept of a "hostile alien" fruiting body landscape.

Slime mold research

I have discovered a website which is full of different types of slime molds to help further gain an understanding into their appearance. There are different shapes and sizes, colours and textures.

  • Arcyria ferruginea

  • Arcyria oerstedii

  • Diachea leucopodia

  • Hemitrichia serpula 

 Here you can see four different types of slime molds given from the above website. Dont they look pretty!

Im going to use these images to help further understand the design of a typical slime mold, which the audience will be able to understand from a first glance. These slime molds tend to grow on other organic vegetation, such as tree bark or forestry.

As a result I should create concept art on the slime mold to show it in its natrual enviroment, to help me further grasp a concept of how the slime mold may act in its life cycle.