The Unpredictable Nature of Balloons


I'm going back to Cornwall tomorrow for the first time in almost two years, for a few days to see my old mum, who is usually the one who comes here to visit. It might be the sort of peace and quiet I need to get some writing done, or maybe it'll be a pit where creativity goes to die. Who knows. It might even give me some time plan out a webcomic Wilson and I have been writing (for quite some time now). As opposed to our previous similar ideas, most of which were on scales too big for our current level of skill, this is a bit smaller, a story with a smaller scope and fewer characters, but hopefully visually interesting and entertaining enough to get us a decent following (see, it's all part of a larger plan to gain enough credit to be able to effectively pitch our children's animated show when the time is right). With Wilson on board it means I can do a story bigger than the last comic, because I can concentrate on story and he on art. If I don't come back in three days with a dozen or two new pages planned out, I'll be pretty disappointed. 

Either way it'll make for a decent change of pace from London, the hustle and bustle of which I love. But I'm on holiday so I think a change of scenery is needed. And if that doesn't work, maybe my trip back up to Sheffield will be the sort of creative kick in the pants I need. Being back in the city I studied might trick my brain into thinking there are some serious deadlines up ahead. This one I actually am looking forward to. Spending Friday with Lauren, catching up, and Saturday with the first friend I made up there Chris Gray, who's taken it upon himself to show me what's changed (I imagine everything's gone downhill since I left). Should really make a checklist of old haunts to visit. Get the feeling about half of them will have closed for health and safety reasons. That or they became Weatherspoons.

However having all of these plans means I have to finish a project I've been working on the last couple of weeks, which is a project actor Chip Dewey gave me to do. You might remember him as the lead in the short film I wrote six months ago. He wrote and shot a short film and wants it desaturated, with one colour remaining. You know, like the little girl in the red coat from Schindler's List. (in typing this, autocorrect has given me the title for the single worst porn parody, Schindler's Lust). It wasn't as difficult as I'd envisioned (mainly because it wasn't as long as I thought), but when you're filming a blue balloon against a blue sky and want the balloon isolated, it's nopt incredibly easy. There was masking and tracking involved (though I gave up on tracking three frames in), and ended up just masking. Of course due to the random movement of balloons it meant doing every single frame. Sometimes there were two balloons. 

Oh god why is there another balloon?

That said, I had a great time doing this. It's nice to be given a project outside of the usual stuff you like to do. Plus with this being our second collaboration, I'm looking forward to working more with this guy in the future.

But for now, time to enjoy the countryside. 


Painting Pixels

Eesh, I haven't posted anything on here in a little while, probably mainly because I haven't all that much happening. Still in the summer holidays there are about three weeks now until I move back up and start my final year, a year I still am not prepared for at all. But we'll get there when we get there.
While I should have been working on my 3DS Max or, heaven forbid, Maya work, I've been doing a lot of Photoshop painting and drawing lately. Gotta admit, I'm loving the progress I've done since I started this "painting" style.
Firstly, a picture of my friend Gill in a zombie survival setting. I made it because she thought it would be cool to have a picture of herself like that. Whatever.
This second one I drew for a Twitter follower, as a thank you for sending me something she painted herself. It was an art exchange, but I got lazy and thought to send it electronically.
It's sushi, because I didn't know what else to do.
By the way, if those images aren't loading if you click on them, go to my gallery tab and check them out in my "Photoshop Work" slideshow
I wish there was more I could be saying about things, but nothing is happening. I'm almost at the finishing point of the comic I've been doing since April and the first chapter is up on my Google Plus page, I dunno if I've mentioned that before. But there it is.
This is a part of what I've just done tonight:
And I'm still working through various ideas for an animated piece for next year.
There'll be a lot more on that in the future, and there were some articles I was gonna link that I found interesting, about animation and stuff, but I dunno what they are anymore. So for the moment, I'm gonna say goodnight

The Land that Forgot about Time

Somehow, here, I'm too distracted. I don't know why but it's annoying. I spend hours which I should be using to work or whatever reading the latest news on The Dark Knight Rises or Arkham City (by the way the gameplay looks incredible, better than Arkham Asylum, and I love the Catwoman gameplay too), or catching up on image blogs or Youtube subscriptions or, you know, just helping around the house. Either way I've got a strange schedule going on which I can't seem to regulate; I blame Cornwall. Time seems to go strangely here.
I'm in two minds about the level of productivity I've been achieving the last week and a half. On one hand, I think I could have done a lot more, but on the other, the last three pages of comic (which I've been doing much slower than normal) are probably the three best pages, artwise, that I've done in the whole thing.
That's a splash page I started and finished today. See it's not a case of me taking more time to make the pages look better or anything, I just spend days where I don't do anything. I think I'm just getting better at the whole thing. (btw I'll reupload the whole thing somewhere when I'm finished. Still editing previous pages too).
I've also done a few bits of concept art and begun modelling an alien for next year's animated project which, I think is fair to say now, is definitely not the Usurper.
Here's an image, I'll get into the details in a few months when we begin pre-production and all
On the left is the original concept, which I blogged about last week, in the middle is a newer sketch I did today (as part of set to work on his costume which I'll be doing this week hopefully) and on the right is one of my first renders where it looked vaguely like I wanted it to.
Here's what it's looked like three days ago followed by what the most recent render (which I put in the Toil and Trouble cottage because I wanted to see how transparent his back fin was and how the whole thing looked in the natural lighting setup I had created).
Right now everything's still renders. I've still to type a script and come up with a title, but that will come in due time.

Unmoving Pictures

This post was originally going to be about gaming, and E3 and all that crap, then I couldn't figure out exactly what I wanted to say, so screw it. Here's a Cracked article about gaming and E3n 2011 which is probably better written than anything I could have done instead.

I really can't figure out what to do for next year. I haven't got a single idea that would work for a student animation film (unless I worked unbelievably hard), and even then I don't really have a plot sorted for any of them, just titles and imagery which might work.

Here are some of the pictures I've saved, as visual stimulants to get my imagination going. (Note, I don't want the animated piece to look like I filmed it through an indie photo lens, but these kinds of photos are probably the best for inspiration, as they bring about so much in a single frame)

You can kind of see what kind of look and feel this thing is gonna have. After Toil and Trouble, as much as I liked it and am really pleased with the finished piece, I want to do something on a bigger scale. For one thing, it would probably have to be outside. And feature realistic human animation, and maybe even voice acting (if I can get my hands on the appropriate talent. There's nothing worse than a student film, no matter how good, with terrible voice acting). It's a lot to consider, but this is going to be my final, graduating piece of work. I'd have been pleased with Toil and Trouble if I was graduating with it, but not overly thrilled. This year, I really want to do something which pushes my limits. (Not that Toil and Trouble didn't, after all, I had to learn everything more or less as I was doing it).

Thankfully I've got all of three months to come up with a solid plan (and with that concept sketches and maybe even early models). I did this CAT-rig suicide video, where a rig plummets to her supposed death, which I think I linked a few posts back, as a jumping off point (no joke intended, but it really is quite a fortunate one) to an idea. Sadly, nothing really manifested there.

In other news, I'm ten pages into the comic, and still not past the first part. Still a long way to go before I finish it, but if I do it by the end of July I'll be a happy man.

Also, I'm looking forward to the new announced American Gods TV series HBO are planning. Neil Gaiman himself is writing, so it can't be bad at all.

Allow me to play you off, with this classic gag from silent film legend Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle

By the way, Paul Merton's Birth of Hollywood on the BBC, currently running, is a really great watch.




It seems I've done nothing all week but do comics. No, that's not meant to be in the plural. Comic. Just one, and I've only done 7 pages for it so far. It's taking an insane amount of time, but I'm really happy with the way it's progressing.

If you want, you can check out these 7 pages in the downloads page, at the bottom. I don't really have any proper comic online publishing thing set up on this site yet so it's just gonna be thumbnails you click on like a normal image.

I'm hoping to get it done before I head back to Cornwall, so that there I can focus on other things, like my animation project for next year. I still have no idea what to do for it, and even began modelling and considering doing this story (the one in the comic) for it. In fact, a big reason I'm doing the comic now is so that I can forget about it becoming a short. I want to do something big, but there's no way I'll really be able to do something like that. Not for a long time and not without a team.

It's really helping me work through different Photoshop techniques, though, and am improving my tablet skills more, as well as my colouring (I went for black and white for this, both for a more manga-esque feel, but also so that I wouldn't have to worry all that much about getting the colours right).

Stylistically, I've been looking at the work of the legendary Naoki Urasawa - the brilliant mind behind the unbelievably epic 20th Century Boys, about a group of childhood friends who find the fictional Book of Prophecies they wrote are coming true under the command of the terrifying Tomodachi, the films of which I'm rewatching and the manga I've started to read. It's such a huge story though, this might take me a while to get through.

It's not the only piece of work by Urasawa I'm checking out. I've (finally) started watching Monster, which a lot of people have been recommending me for a while. And I have to say it's really living up to the hype. If you haven't heard of it, it's a bit hard to explain in a few words without giving anything away. But it's a really well paced, thrilling mystery, and I'm learning a lot about storytelling simply from watching it.




I'm enjoying working on side projects. You know, the things you never get the time to do until you're on holiday or unemployed. The things you can never really finish because everything starts up again far too soon.

But we'll see what happens.

For example, I've begun work on a comic. Here's what I've done so far, a page of half and we've already got nudity and blood.

I don't know how long I'll go on before I stop out of boredom or something, but I hope to get ten pages *at least* if not the whole thing. I figure every page I complete will be motivation enough to start another one. If anything, I've done more of this than another webcomic idea I've had, which for some reason I can't get past the planning and concept stage.

I've also been working on my modelling, such as this Kappa. I wanted to do it in animated short format, but this clearly isn't going to happen - too many characters and sets and plot for me to do.

I like the modelling but dear god I can't stand what I did with the textures. The beak looks like it's been painted on. So screw it, I'll do this as a comic. It probably works better that way anyway.

I leave now with this interesting link from Phil McAndrew about really obvious things you should have been taught in art school. Really interesting reading