Back with a Flash

And so my third and final year at university has started and is already flying by.

My first project this year was an Adobe Flash project. I had never really used flash before so this was really me starting at the beginning. Being on the design strand of the course I decided to focus on building something reasonably attractive in flash and using limited animation and effects within that. The result was a simple dress up game with an animatic introduction.

And here is the final result

The animation is very limited in the piece, but considering I had no experience with Flash at the start of the project I feel I have progressed a decent amount and would be able to produce a stronger piece again were I to re-do the project.

Helping Inspiration Along...

So I have seen a number of these Influence Maps floating around the last couple weeks and I figured I would give it a go. After all, inspiration can difficult to come by sometimes.

Rather than doing millions of these (my influences are numerous and varied) I thought I would follow the lead of my good friend Tom (T.Lucas) and make an influence map specifically for my Major Project, the main focus of my next year in university.

And here it is:

So a little bit of explanation, going from left to right:

Morgana le Fay by Brian Froud. I find it almost impossible to start work on a fantasy piece without looking at the work of Brian Froud. The combination of realism and fantasy has always intrigued me, and I am particularly fond of the way her uses colour in his work. I have always loved this specific piece for it's use of colour and composition. Also its subject matter - I have always been fascinated by the Arthurian Legend, especially when it came to Morgan le Fay. Also it doesn't hurt that in this picture she looks a bit like Anna Paquin.

Ligeia by Abigail Larson. I recently discovered Larson's work on DeviantART and was instantly taken by it. I love the way she combines her characters with the backgrounds. Her use of line and colour as well as the techniques used to apply them are all very intriguing to me. I am also fond of the way she represents literary characters in her work.

Great Expectations Score by Patrick Doyle. One of the best scores ever composed in my opinion, the music from this film is powerful and poignant and tells a multitude of stories. It is impossible for me to listen to this music and not feel inspired.

Michelle Pfeiffer. Firstly, her eyes are beyond mesmerising, so if ever I am creating s character with mesmerising eyes there is only one person I look at. Secondly, I find that it can be helpful to think of who might voice a character when you are going through the design process. And for the character I am busy writing, it could only be Michelle Pfeiffer...

Dying of the Light by Jenny Dolfen. I have been following Dolfen on DeviantART for a couple of years now and I have taken delight in looking at every new piece of work. I find her use of watercolours to be amazing and the way she creates light in her work is something I aspire to. The way she paints environments in her work is particularly stunning.

Mouse Guard by David Petersen. A stunning comic book series. I love the style of the art, with the colours and the line. Also the style of story I find very enjoyable.

How To Train Your Dragon Concept Art by Nicolas Marlet. I find the way Marlet draws his characters to be really beautiful. I am particularly fond of the way he draws expressions. I am definitely drawing inspiration from the way he works and the way he lays out his work.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I find the imagery and the scope of his stories to be greatly inspirational. Also his use of children as heroes.

Little Red Riding Hood. I find this story and its many variations and interpretations fascinating. There are elements of this fable that have most definitely inspired parts of the story for my Major Project next year.

Hylas and the Nymphs by J.W. Waterhouse. The colours in this piece I find to be lushes and indulgent, something I like the idea of for certain locations in my story. I also am inspired by Nymphs, Mermaids and Selkies in general. They have their role to play in the story, which will surprise no one who knows me.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Specifically Deathly Hallows. I really enjoyed the quest like nature of this book. I got a real sense of the physical journey of the characters and I can't help but feel that it help inspire elements of my own story that deal with the same sense of a long journey.

The Dark Crystal by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Design by Brian Froud. I love the scope of this story and how epic it feels. The uniqueness of the creature and location designs are something I aspire to.

Quinn Fabray's Ponytail. It actually inspired my entire story. No, seriously.

B Movie Night

Recently I have been working on my writing, and besides trying to keep up my sketchbook and the odd doodle I have done little drawing.

Today however I felt like doing something simple on illustrator involving a TV. I decided to go black and white and to picture a B Movie type image. I chose to bas the woman on Gillian Anderson as I am a huge fan of the X-Files, and I think she is one of the most beautiful woman in SciFi. It is very simple and took maybe 15 minutes, but I may go back and throw in some detail at some point.

Words, Words And Words

They say every successful writer sets themselves a word limit for everyday, and they don't stop until they have reached that minimum.

Well if it works for them, then why not for me? A thousand words a day is not too much to ask I think, and then in eighty or so days I'll have a book.

Could it be that simple? Would it be any good for that matter? I don't see why not. But then, I am updating my blog rather than reaching my word limit. I suppose time will tell.

On A Side Note

As well as the Detective story I have been working on I have been writing some other stories. Some in more detail than others, all for a variety of things.

One story I've been working on is a book/graphic novel that I suppose would fall into fantasy. Its quite dark as I am trying to write scary, so there is a lot of dramatic danger and a lot of it focuses on wolves, my favourite form of danger. I am obsessed with the Little Red Riding Hood stories, so the Big Bad Wolf appears in my work a lot. I think its to do with the fact that my Mom quoted Neil Jordan's deliciously good film "The Company Of Wolves" to me when I was a child...

"Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle"

Powerful stuff.

Another of the stories is something I was working on to be my script for my final major project next year. However it seems I have finished writing it, which makes me very eager to start drawing it...maybe a few sketches couldn't hurt, just as a jumping off point for September?
It's another fantasy story, although this one is more comical, probably more of a children's film that adults could enjoy too rather than the book, which feels a bit more "at the parents discretion" type thing.
I am actually quite fond of the characters, I think they have strong personalities and I can imagine all the different ways I could draw them. The main action sequences could use some work, but I suppose I need to leave myself something to develop next year.

So it seems stories are a-go-go. Now I just need to sit down and draw something worth uploading...

This is a Job for...

At the heart of all great detective stories is a great Detective (or group of) and thus there is an ocean full of novels, short stories, films and TV series to crawl through to find inspiration.

Luckily for me I write from a character stand point. That is, no character, no story. So when I got this idea it came generally from the idea of who the main characters were or could be, which means I could be very specific with the types of Detectives I look at for inspiration as well as techniques on who to write the development of such characters.

Two main things I know for sure: She is not you regular detective prototype. 2. She is a She.

I Have An Inkling...

So summer is here and its time to relax...

Right so now that's over with, it's back to work. I have had a tone of ideas floating around my head for a while now, but for the summer I decided to focus on something a bit more narrative orientated than the stuff I've been doing recently.

I was watching Michael Buble singing cry me a river recently which got me in the mood for some Film Noir, or more specifically a good Femme Fatale film. So I went to go and fetch Niagara and Don't Bother To Knock, but found that they had been lent out to someone and not returned. An this got me thinking; there really are not enough Femme Fatale films that float my boat, which is weird seeing as i adore a good Femme Fatale.

And so I had an inkling of an idea for a summer project. Something that features a killer Femme Fatale, or maybe even two or three...

So putting my uni skills into practice, let the research commence!

End Of Year Evaluation

This year has been a learning curve for me, and a very successful on as I feel I have progressed a large amount from the beginning of the year and that I am producing work now that I would not have been able to even several months ago.

Looking at the projects together a main area that I know I will be working on over the summer as well as in the next academic year is my time management. Next year I will create schedule for the project that I will work at following as closely as possible. Also, I will make sure that the schedule will allow for elements such as Photoshopping and scanning.

I am pleased with the overall look of the finished pieces in my character project. I would have liked for the line work to be cleaner, and the colours on some of the characters could use addressing, however I feel I have been successful in creating a set of fun characters. I am particularly pleased with the way colours are used as a way of representing the personalities of the characters as opposed to their cultural heritage, creating a group of strong female characters that I hope could work as positive role models for young girls.

Collaboration this year for me was working with Michaela Edmunds on her comic book, a key feature of her film “Bump in the Night”. I found working with Michaela very enjoyable, and I feel that we were able to communicate well and working off each other, something I feel is clear in the outcome of our work together. I feel the comic book sits well in her film, and that the panels are readable and exciting to look at.

Nailing down a style for my title sequence that was both attractive and fit well with the HBO show True Blood, which I was designing it for, was rather challenging, but it was a challenge enjoyed. I feel that although it took me longer to get to style I was happy with than it should have, the final outcome was reasonably strong. The storyboard itself could have been clearer, and the final visuals are relatively simple, but I feel the simplicity of the designs perhaps suits the sequence when you take into consideration the quick cut editing and character content. I find the puppet theatre look of the final visuals with the impression of shadows and light was really quite successful, and the animatic fits well with the music. I would have like to have had more animation in the animatic, but again that is down to time management.

This I have progressed more than I could have anticipated in areas that I had never before considered, such as in my skills with Adobe Illustrator, and while there are still clear areas for further development, I feel the work I have produced for my final major projects serve as proof of my development as a designer this year.


And thus it all came to an end...

After a long process and a lot of drawing, I finally finished all the visuals for my True Blood Title Sequence.
Quite a bit different from where I started, I like the simple grey backgrounds with the textured trees and the "roughly" drawn characters. I am particularly fond of the "monster" versions of the characters and the impression of a puppet theatre created through the use of shadow and light. They may be a bit simple, but I feel given the content of the sequence that the simplicity only helps to enhance the impact of it.

And so here they are, the final four visuals for my True Blood Title Sequence:

Animal Attack!

And here is possibly my favourite part of my title project: the animatic!

I feel that it is a lot clearer than the storyboards themselves, and that it fits very well with the music (Bad Things by Jace Everette, the actual title music from the show).

I would have liked more movement in there, but I feel it is cut well, and I really enjoyed editing it to the music. I hope you enjoy!

Story Is Everything...

And so the story boards are complete. Whilst they could be more readable and the final drawing could be cleaner, I feel that over all they have been quite a success and something I was not positive was possible several weeks ago.

Here are a few examples of the final panels:

Juno It Is...

After going over all the work I've done I looked back at the above collage and remembered my idea for a Juno inspired title sequence. And that's exactly where I'm going with this. Realistic drawings of the actors, sometimes exaggerated or morphed for when they are revealed as monsters, all simple pen and paper, with some of those tree textures that I had been looking at using and some interesting lighting to help with the puppet theatre look, which I still want to try and capture.

Comic Timing!

And so the first of my projects is complete! The comic book is laid out, coloured and and textured. And I really quite like it. It's sweet and fun and in a completely different style to what I would usually work in. I am particularly fond of the cover image, as was Edmunds, which is exactly what I wanted. Working with her was very enjoyable, and hope to collaborate a lot more next year.

I Need A Hero!

It's been a while since I've posted anything about the collaboration side of my project, so I figured now is the time!

After the couple of concept images I did for people, I got stuck into the main part of my collaboration, working on a comic book for my good friend and brilliant animator Michaela Edmunds (her film is brilliant, check it out!

The idea is that there is a group of shadow monsters attacking a house in the woods, and a superhero (recently christened NIGHTFORCE) comes in to save the day...or night.
It helps to set up the climax of her film.

These are some rough layouts that will be taken into Illustrator and Photoshop to be finished.

The Story Unfolds...

Now that I have some bits and pieces of what I want for my final sequence, it's time to try and develop them. I've played with the shapes of some of the characters, the colours of the backgrounds, and tried to put the two together to try and get a feel for the final visual of the sequence.
And here is a taster of that process:

Looking back on this work I can see that it is mostly half formed ideas jumbled together resulting in an overly complicated, not very series appropriate set of visuals that really need to be reconsidered.

I think that as a show True Blood is loud on its own, so with this title sequence I think what I'm going to do is take everything right back...

A Happy Accident...

As well as the characters I needed to look at the final design of another key element of the sequence: The trees!

And while I was exploring the shapes and colours of the environments, I decided to try tissue paper on top of water colour. The paper didn't stick, but then a happy accident occurred, and an unusual and fun pattern was left behind:

If I can I will try and incorporate these patterns into the textures of the trees in my backgrounds.

Puppet Theatre...

I did another collage where I layered several pages of trees on top of each other creating a sense of faked depth that I find quite intriguing. If I could recreate that, where I would have a sense of a puppet theatre, or a pop-up book, I think it would help create an interesting and fun title sequence.

Paper Heart...

After the portrait of Sookie I decided to keep exploring the textures and moods I could portray through collage. I also tried to explore creating a feeling of depth within some of the images. I feel the more successful pieces are those that seem to have a more fixed location. I am particularly fond of the above image, giving me the idea that a Juno inspired title sequence with sketched characters in the actors likenesses (rather than caricatures) could be really quite interesting.

Taking Centre Stage...

And here it is, the final visual. A promotional poster for the revamped, modernised and very colourful reincarnation of Jem! and the Holograms:

I like the composition and the lighting in the poster, although the text could be looked at a bit more.

And so, after lots of sketchbooks, lots of coffee and even more time, I feel that the final result of this project is, all things considered (all together now!) Truly Outrageous!

It's the Real World!

As well as the charcter packs, part of the project this year was to make three insitue images, and here are mine!

I am particularly fond of Shana in "Bad Hair Day" as it is quite nice to have some comedy coming through some of the designs.
"The Pink Carpet" is simple, but I think it serves as a way of illustrating the type of world Jem and her Holograms inhabit.
The Holograms could have better poses and expression in "In The Recording Studio", but I think the composition and Jem's expression work well to make the image successful.

Bring out the Band!

So Jem! was for the most part a success. And I'm happy to say its a similar story for the rest of the Holograms. Kimber's colours need some work, and line work could be addressed across all of them, but over all I think they have turned out to be a fun, colourful and positive group of characters that represent a variety of ages, cultural backgrounds, personalities and interests.
Unfortunately I did not have time to produce full character packs for all the characters, but here are some examples of Aja, the sporty Green one and Shana, the Purple princess and one of the most successful characters of the project: