Character animation tests
I animated a couple of quick, rough animations in Clip Studio Paint EX in order to get familiar with the program. I learnt how to add, remove and edit frames and use the timeline to layer animations and adjust the timing of things. The first animation was with a different character from my animation. Sushi boy was still being developed, so I used another character of mine from a personal project to test out. I figured that if I could animate her figure (which is towards more realistic proportions,) then animating the cartoon characters in ROLL wouldn’t be too difficult.
The second animation was after I had more or less sorted out sushi boy’s design and wanted to test if it was something I could play around with and actually animate. I knew that the curves in his hair and his simplistic figure wouldn’t be too challenging, I just needed to get used to stretching some features to create more exaggerated expressions.
Scene and environment development
What inspired my animation style for my final major project film was a culmination of different animated shows and studios that were some of my favourites; from Cartoon Network, to Warner Bros, to Disney Television Animation and even European and French animation. Seeing how everyone’s styles stem from or are influenced by styles they’ve been presented with previously, it’s only natural to develop a hybrid of sorts among aesthetics. But from simple body forms from shows such as the Power Puff Girls to very stylistic shows like Samurai Jack to the hyper-realistic proportions of the DC animated superhero films, I decided to stick with the watered-down forms of animation commonly seen in most animated cartoon shows for the sake of keeping it all simple and easy to manage in the short 10 weeks or so that I had.
I had a look at a lot of current shows by people who I considered to be in the newer age of cartoons such as Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe and Patrick McHale’s Over The Garden Wall. I absolutely adore the simplicity of the character shapes. They were basic enough to be drawn over again and again easily, but still retained enough detail to be recognisable and distinct which I think is something that’s really valued in terms of design. The colour palette’s are masterfully done in both shows, adjusting and complementing to the mood and tone of the show brilliantly whilst still both being targeted towards the younger audience.
The backbone for the style that I developed for my short film mainly derived from an art style that I had previously experimented with and really enjoyed drawing. The red noses came directly from the Nintendo game Animal Crossing which I loved playing at the time, and the stick-man-like figured were simply me just using a basic body shape to practice dynamic poses with. I remember once getting a comment from peer who told me that, “your art style kind of reminds me of Don Bluth. Y’know, the guy who did Dragon’s Lair? Yeah – it’s the limbs I think, like the arms and legs.” I honestly don’t think my art style is quite that of Don Bluth’s, but I could sort of see where he was coming from.
When I moved to digital animation, I really wanted something like the cartoons I saw on television. Simple animations with a simple style, but with an effect performance and narrative. I turned to some animations that I personally really loved to emulate and revisited the webseries ‘Eddsworld’ created by Edd Gould. It was truly unfortunate that Edd passed away in 2012 because I really enjoyed the comedy and originality of his content and was always looking forward to his next animation. I kept following the Eddsworld Legacy series that started in memory of his work and fell in love with the animation. One of the animator’s that was hired to do the majority of the new work was an animator called Paul Ter Voorde, who coincidentally also works for Studio Yotta. The way that he was able to give such fluidity and dimension to really simplistic characters was something that I wanted to try and aim for.
To put it bluntly, I took the style of Animal Crossing, meshed it with the bodies from Steven Universe and tried to animate it to the style of the new, frame-by-frame Eddsworld. It’s a combination of various shows and styles that has influenced me over the years. With maybe some inspiration from the exaggerated facial expressions and comedy in Hanna Barbera’s Tom & Jerry. Nothing like taking from the classics!
For my final major project, I have chosen to use animation as a medium to create a short 1-2 minute film. I’ve decided to research various artists and studios who focus on animation. Analysing and exploring their style and methods will allow me to take inspiration and understand the animation medium more, helping me when I will eventually get round to developing my short film.
I’ve decided to choose a studio and an animated film or series to research about.
Gravity Falls is an animated television series created by Alex Hirsch that aired on Disney X D from June 15, 2012 to February 15, 2016. The show follows the twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they go to stay with their Great Uncle Stan Pines (Commonly referred to as Grunkle Stan,) in the fictitious town of Gravity Falls, Roadkill County, Oregon for their summer break. When Dipper Pines thinks that it couldn’t get any more boring, him and his sister discover some hidden secrets which soon begin to unravel the town’s many mysteries.
The series not only has a wonderfully comedic and lively story, but also has some great Disney Television animation to boot. The animation’s art style was crafted by the creator and CalArts alumni Alex Hirsch and is very cartoony and colourful. The character’s big, round eyes and abundance of curvy lines and amusing noodle-like limbs create a soft and charming approach to the art style which can be commonly found in many of today’s cartoon shows such as We Bare Bears, Adventure Time and Over The Garden Wall. With such a simplistic character style, it allows a lot of potential to shape and stretch the form in terms of both appearance and animation. The style carries through consistently among the wide cast of diverse looking characters ranging from differences backgrounds and sizes, making the world and the people in it contrasting and dynamic.
There is a subtle use of 3D animation int the series too, if you look hard enough. Of course, 3D elements are probably cell-shaded or rendered and traced over in 2D. For example, the golf cart in the first episode could have very possible been 3D. The way it moves and the angles shown in it’s animation is incredibly consistent and sort of lacks the rough characteristics of 2D in compensation for smoothness and production efficiency. It’s very well blended with the rest of the environment despite it’s contrastingly smooth motion. The filters and gradients are likely to be added in After Effects in post-production.
Not all shots would have had the golf cart in 3D though. Considering this, they probably used 3D in the more complex shots where the angle of the cart would have been too much too hand-draw. This method of integrating 3D animation into 2D to help aid production has become increasingly popular to Disney as well as many other animation studios out there.
The backgrounds all hold a very strong colour palette to really help set the mood and atmosphere of the scene. The lighting and gradients over some of them also really throw the scene together. There’s a variety of locations and a variety of environments throughout the show, all having their own unique personality, making the character’s adventures seem more vast and diverse.
The colour schemes and designs for the characters are all tailored towards their personality and style. For example, Mabel’s turtleneck changes multiple times throughout the series to show to her excitable and imaginative personality. The jumpers sometimes have various lights and added ornaments on them as a humourous point, but still fitting to her bubbly behaviour. In contrast, her twin brother wears nothing but the same clothes throughout most of the series as a way of representing his constant curiosity to everything around him.
The shading in most of the common, full-body shots are mostly flat. However, when it comes to close-ups or dramatic scenes, then cell shading is used to create a more dimensional appearance to the characters and, in some cases when the lighting is harsh or if the time of day is specific, it can add to the mood and expressions of their faces.
Designing an app was really interesting to me, as I had never worked in Illustrator before. Being able to learn how to create shapes and vector graphic art was really eye-opening and a whole different mindset to what I was previously used to. We were given a choice of three themes for our app: fitness, student cooking or weather. I chose to create a weather app based around cartoony characters to help children read the weather forecast and also understand the nature and science behind it too!
At first, I wasn’t sure of whether to base my app around cooking or the weather. I knew that the icon and aesthetics of weather apps was something that appealed to me more from a designer’s stand point, but at the same time I thought that creating funky food icons would also be really fun. So I brainstormed ideas and sketched out rough designs for both themes and eventually settled on creating a colourful weather app targeted towards children, teenagers and young adults. I wanted to do something character based because I knew that was a strength of mine when it came to creating and designing. Having colourful, personified characters is also very popular and appealing trend towards the younger demographic, as it makes subjects and themes more relatable and human. (literally!) Personification made things easier to understand whilst also being fun and imaginative.
After finalising my idea, I moved onto researching mobile apps and looking at their icons as well as analysing their navigation and how certain design choices were made to fit with whatever function the app focused on. For example, with photo editing apps obviously the main part of it is the photo itself, so that takes up the majority of the app display. With my weather app, the main focus is obviously the weather so the main information such as the day’s temperature is the largest feature on the screen. The mascots were the other main feature, so the two components share the homepage as main text and main image. I also looked at other aspects of app navigation and incorporated basic, yet effective principles from good UI designs. I learnt that the simpler the navigation, the better – and using the touchscreen to your advantage made your app feel more natural and smooth to use. I also observed some really poorly designed apps and made notes on what shouldn’t be done when designing an app. For icons, I looked at the use of symbols and basic vector graphics to give a clean, professional and simple look to your app icon and that squashing text onto a 120 x 120 dpi canvas was a bad idea. (Resizing text to such a tiny scale would make it impossible to read as well as make it look awfully clustered and blurred.) The various elements of app design that I researched really helped me gain a better understanding to my own app’s design.
After researching, I began drawing and designing and redesigning my app details until I reached the final design. I first drafted out a navigation map of my app and story-boarded the pages, fleshing out the layout and movement of the whole app. I did my best to keep it simple and straight forward as possible so that any children or young person would find it easy to use. This mindset continued onward into my character designs too. When I made my initial sketches for my characters I knew that they were a little too complex to recreate in a program like Illustrator that heavily relied on manipulating with basic primary shapes and lines. So I kept on redesigning the mascots until I got a result that was fun, but easier to recreate digitally later on. I researched designers called Brosmind in order to help me come up with a simple art style.
Once I had planned and designed all of my app elements in my sketchbook, I scanned them in and used those drawings as a base to work on in Adobe Illustrator. It took me several weeks to eventually come round and complete making all of the icons and characters and it was a huge learning curve. I went in knowing only the bare bones of the program, but persevered with it until I finally came out knowing it pretty much inside out. It took me a while to understand it’s unique creator mindest, as working with vector shapes and lines wasn’t something I was familiar with at all. But after mastering the pen tool and pathfinder function, creating my mascots became progressively easier.
After exporting the final mock ups of my app pages, I was introduced to the program Game Salad. I used this program to create a very basic interactive display of my app, importing all of the individual components into the program before then creating scenes and adding basic events and actions using the interface’s drag-and-drop-system. I couldn’t make things too advanced as I was limited with what the program would allow me to do without digging into expressions and specific coding. But I programmed enough to have the basic page navigation working and even have some elements rotating on scene!
Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of this project and have learnt an awful lot about Adobe Illustrator and app design. The digital colours and simple Illustrator designs really helped flesh out the look of a simple, yet fun and interesting children’s weather app. In addition to the Game Salad programming demonstrating an example of how the final app would actually function, I think the overall project turned out really well in the end and I am very happy with the results I achieved.
Copyright laws are different in every country, but the copyright law that started in the UK came from the concept of common law; the Statute of Anne 1709. It became statutory with the passing of the Copyright Act 1911. The current act is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Copyright covers the rights of artists, designers, authors, photographers, musicians, film-makers and performers. When a creator creates a piece of work, it will automatically have a form of copyright to it because it is their work. Depending on what medium you are producing with, the way you choose to handle your work may vary. For example, a painter would sell their painting but keep the rights to reproduce it but an illustrator would sell or license the copyright to their work and keep the original.
Copyright in the UK is automatic and usually lasts the creator’s lifespan and generally continues on for 70 years after their death. Some exceptions include forms of media broadcasts and recordings that are only able to be protected for 50 years after their first year of publication, and presswork arrangements that are only protected for 25 years after their first year of publication. Unregistered design right or unregistered copyright properties in the UK only lasts 15 years after the first prototype or sketch, and only 10 years from when the item is first marketed.
You are your own copyright unless you are an employee for a company or brand. In that case, it is usually the employer who owns the copyright to your work related creations. If you are self employed, it is worth being extra careful when taking on client commissions and contracts in order to avoid accidentally giving the customer more rights than you are prepared to give. It is also worth archiving your work as well as saving drafts, sketches, photographs, plans, source materials or models – anything to prove that you created the original piece of work and help defend yourself against any allegations of copyright from other creators, businesses and even art thieves.
If you want protection for something that involves making new material such as recipes, formulas and novel inventions then you can apply to register for a patent. If your invention is still under development or needs finalising but you still wish to discuss it and display it, then patents can come in handy to help protect your work whilst it’s being worked on. Until this idea or invention has been filed through the first stages of it’s patenting process known as the ‘initial application’ for at least one year, you should not share or exhibit your work openly to any third parties. A granted patent can last up to 20 years.
Branding and product names can initially be protected by the ™ (trademark) symbol. This symbol indicates that you are using this name for business and marketing purposes. If you want full protection, you must register your trademark name at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
I drew up a final design and imported it into Cinema 4D to use as a basis for my model. I used the Spline tool to create the separate parts of my character and then lathed, extruded and manually edited (via points and edges,) the parts until they were right. I then rigged, weight painted and animated the scenes.
After I (painstakingly) rendered, edited and re-rendered all of the scenes it was time to put it all together in After Effects! I imported all of the files and started compositing the shots accordingly, using my storyboard and the chosen audio as my base.
For my 3D animated trailer project, I decided to create a character based game trailer for a game that I’ve had in mind for a long time. I’ve created moodboards and researched many existing game trailers in seek of inspiration and ideas to help develop my trailer.
The idea for my game stemmed from a drawing that I made last year of a character called ‘Lightbulb Girl’. She was named that mainly because of the light bulbs on her head. This design came into mind after I discovered a popular art trend online for ‘object-head characters’ – humanoid characters who had their heads replaced with objects, commonly electronic. I was in Amsterdam at the time when I drew Lightbulb Girl, and as I was visiting the various art exhibitions there I noticed a lot of modern exhibits where utilising light and digital displays. I saw some really interesting shapes and forms not just at museums, but at cafés and shops too. Twisting wires and huge light bulbs and occasionally the odd ceiling fan. These were the main elements I took to create Lightbulb Girl.
What inspired me to turn ‘Lightbulb Girl’ – the character – into ‘Lumi Lightbringer’ – the character with a game – was the simple, singular idea of her ceiling fan-inspired propeller skirt. I thought it would be great fun in a game as a flying element! So with that in mind, I developed a world around her which could be used for a game.
Development was going fine for the most part, but I was lacking a certain mood, a tone. Without a tone to go by, I couldn’t come up with a fitting colour scheme for Lumi and everything halted because of that. So I decided to create a mood board to help brings things together. I took the character designs and minimalism from the game Journey and the atmosphere and lighting from the game Ori and The Blind Forest. Thrown in with some electronics and light inspired objects, interesting geometric forms and another ceiling fan (for good measure,) I eventually watered down the main elements that help inspired my animation.
I eventually settled on an orange and blue colour scheme for the entire project. I liked how the character in Journey contrasted really well against the environment, and also the lighting in Ori and The Blind Forest so I tried to emulate that contrast with this colour scheme. The majority of Lumi is coloured in rather plain, muted colours except for her propeller skirt and visors which are neon orange. The environment that she interacts in is all blue, so she really stands out nicely.
For our Visual Studies class, we were given a brief to create a book sleeve design for a book called ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’ by Ronald D. Davis. I sat down and brainstormed ideas for the book sleeve, trying to stem visual interpretations from the meaning of the book title.
I looked at a couple of artists for my research to get inspiration from – Edward Ruscha and Dana Tanamachi. Both artists handled type and typography art in very unique and interesting ways. Edward Ruscha really demonstrated the possibilities of depth and dimension to letterforms, offering an intriguing perspective to how we see and interpret the meaning behind text. Dana Tanamachi is a more modern artist with a very energetic and fun illustrative style, carefully composing the layout of her words and playing with the decorative flow and nature of hand-written lettering. I really loved her style in particular and it reminded me of ribbon wrapping on gifts and presents, which connected to the idea of dyslexia being seen as a ‘gift’. That and coupled with Ruscha’s piece, ‘Self’ and ‘Optics’, I became rather attached to the idea of using either a handwritten or elaborate font to demonstrate the meaning behind the book’s title.
After I came up with the idea of an actual physical gift to use as wordplay, I thought about how it could be presented on the book sleeve. I considered the book being wrapped up like a present to give to the reader to give a positive impression on the book despite the general negative outlook on dyslexia. I also thought about perhaps having a photo of a wrapped up gift on the floor to present a scene to the viewer in an attempt to approach things a little more differently, but in the end I stuck with my original idea as I knew that it would be more doable for me to recreate in programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Plus, I think the intention behind the design was a lot more effective because it was showing the gift first-person to the reader, rather than in a more third-person perspective that the photograph would have, thus having less impact overall.
After thumbnail sketching my designs, I created my final design idea in my sketchbook. Then, I moved onto using Illustrator to finalise my design. Since I had a good grasp on the programs foundation skills, I applied them appropriately whilst applying type-fonts that I thought were the closest to my design sketch that I had beside me as reference. I knew it would be very difficult to exactly reproduce the ribbon-writing for ‘dyslexia’, especially in Illustrator – so I ended up substituting it with some handwritten font based around Dana Tanamachi’s work. It wasn’t as effective, and had I had more time I would have definitely gone into Photoshop to try and reproduce the ribbon-writing I originally had in mind.
I think that overall, I did quite sufficient research and preparation work, but I fell a bit weak on my final outcome. I didn’t save enough time to work on the end product, so I definitely think that next time I need to manage my time more realistically so that I can pace myself better. Although being immersed in research was really engaging for me, perhaps it was for too long in this case. Having said that, for what it was it still came out rather well! Some of the images I used were fells short on resolution a little, but generally I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I think adding the shadows to the design components in Illustrator really helped give dimension to the final piece.
Brosmind is a freelance illustration studio based in Barcelona and is comprised of two Spanish brothers – Juan and Alejandro Mingarro. Their work has been commissioned by many commercial clients for all sorts of things; from posters and flyers, to food packaging designs, to snowboard designs and icons. They’ve also worked on music branding, video and animation as well as other forms of media. Although their skill set stretches to so many various areas of illustration and graphic design, Brosmind’s design and style remains impressively consistent throughout.
Brosmind’s designs consist of colourful, fun and rounded characters and objects that twist and interact with each other to present an idea or conform to the overall shape of the image. Their combination of interesting composition and quirky ideas mixed with a stylish and playful art style really grabbed my attention. It’s simplistic, yet still manages to grasp so much detail but not overwhelmingly so. Brosmind’s use of space and shape is also very imaginative; they really know how to mold and shape their illustrations by playing with the dimensions of things. They often break reality and realistic proportions in favour of style, which adds even more to their funky and zesty aesthetic.