Monthly Archives: January 2016

Maya Run Cycle

This week we had a run cycle tutorial in 3D class. We made our character run 360degrees in a circle. The process wasn’t that much different from the walk cycle besides timing and exaggerating the characters running exertion. The key pose I felt was the jump pose that takes the character off the ground and appear as if he is flying. We also used the graph editor again to smooth out the animation. I still don’t have a good handle on it and I find it frustrating to use.

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Jump Pose From The Front (Not As Extreme As I’d Like)

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Running In Maya

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Jump Pose From The Back


Personal Project: Little Guardian (Introduction & Moodboard)


Spirit Character Pencil Sketch

My personal project work has not progressed as far as it should since its conception. I thought writing about it in a blog post will help me to develop the story and generate some ideas on how I can improve on it as well.

The story for the animation centres around a cat and a little house spirit. When I was a child I was told to always keep ‘something with eyes’ to look after my wallet, my bike or my home. ‘Something with eyes’ is quite a vague term but I took it to mean things like stuffed animals on the bedroom shelves, small clay statues by the window or even a photograph of my mother in my wallet to protect to it from would-be pickpockets. I used to believe that if a person treasured an object it would ‘grow’ a soul. I found out years later that there is an actual believe system based around that thought. Animism is the concept that non-human entities such as animals, plants, rocks and other inanimate objects possess a spirit. The spirits are not ghosts; they are thought to be the consciousness of things that most people don’t consider to be ‘alive’. As far as anthropological theories go this one truly fascinates me and I am really excited about making a short animation piece based on my little childhood fantasy.

I also knew from the start that I wanted to do an animation that featured a cat. Most specifically a cat character that looked and acted like a combination of each of my cats. I have a pair of twin Scottish Folds named Gabriel and Angelo and they have been in my life for over seven years. I’ve taken care of them both from the moment they were born so I’m extremely attached to them. Each cat has their own distinct personality and are both equally selfish, greedy and rude but there are also truly precious moments in between where they show themselves to be loving creatures. Without the risk of starting another dog vs. cat debate, I would just like to say that I believe that cats are capable of feeling loyalty and love for their person as I have experienced this myself. At the beginning of this project assignment I knew without doubt that I wanted to tell a story about a cat’s love for his human. As cats are selfish creatures, it’s naturally also a selfish sort of love. I didn’t want to pit a cat against a dog or a rodent as those narrative tropes have been done before. Thankfully, I won’t have to as cats have the tendency to make an enemy out of anyone.


Angelo (Front) & Gabriel (Back)


Gabriel & Angelo


Cat Character Pencil Sketches

I’ve also created a Pinterest board for my project where I’ve pinned a lot of interesting illustrations and artwork as well as animation that I could take some story or visual reference from. Most of my inspiration for the visual style for the project is from Tonko House’s The Dam Keeper animation and Cartoon Saloon’s Song Of The Sea. I really like the use of colour and light in the Dam Keeper that supported the film’s narrative so crucially. Song Of The Sea has a visual style that I am inspired by as well but I think the main challenge for me at this point is first pin down my films story and script. Visually, I have many references at my disposal and quite pretty confident that I can create my own visual style that will work and that is hopefully unique to me as well.

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Little Guardian Project Pinterest Board

And speaking of Song Of The Sea, when I first watched a film there was a scene in particular that will always be seared into my brain. Not for the usual reasons unfortunately. There was serious shot in the film that featured a group of seals looking up at the main character in awe. The seals moved as one and were all animated with the same derpy expression that look exactly like my cat Angelo. The laughing fit that I had then pretty much ruined that scene for me. To cope with my feelings, I then proceeded to make this gif.

Angelo:Song Of The Sea Parody

Flashing Angelo


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My Pinterest Board

I’ve had a Pinterest board for about a year now as that folder on my hard drive titled “To Be Sorted Later” is not going to be organised anytime soon. I find that it is a very conducive place to set up a project board and organise images in a practical way. I have a system on my board now that I find works very well. Pinterest also allows me to double pin a single image into different folders. For example I might find a attractive illustration of a fox in a dress that I can pin into Inspiration: Illustrations board and the Projects: Fox & Crane along with any other boards that I think might be relevant. That way, when I need specific references I can go to a single board that has as many options as possible. Also (and I’m not proud to admit) since its not taking any of my hard disk space I feel no qualms about having duplicate images in multiple category folders.

Maya Walk Cycle

We’re back in 3D class with Sang this week and hitting the ground walking with a 3D walk cycle animation tutorial. It wasn’t as scary as it seems once we broke down the key contact poses we needed to create a somewhat realistic walk cycle. Sang gave us a sheet with a 2D walk cycle chart from Richard Williams Animator’s Survival Kit and showed us some videos of walk cycle animation that looked very natural. Felix Sputnik’s walk and run cycle animation video gave me serious animator’s envy. At the end of the tutorial I had a walk cycle that looked more like it was from a RuPaul’s Cover Girl video. Sang taught us to use the graph editor to make the animation smoother as well. The graph editor and I still have communication problems though.



Walk Cycle Contact Sheets From The The Animator’s Survivors Kit By Richard Williams


Down Pose


Contact Pose


Another Contact Pose

Idea Nuggets: Chicken Lady

One of the ideas that I have for our Idea Nuggets session of the Going Live project is from a video of Michelle Dobyne. As an eyewitness to a building fire she accounts her experience escaping it with her children. Her upbeat and defiant response to a fire breaking out inside her Oklahoma apartment and enthusiastic storytelling filled with African American colloquialisms went viral. When the brief for our Going Live project was given to us I thought that this particular video would be a good candidate to pitch. Not only was Michelle honest and unintentionally hilarious, I also could not stop picturing her as a mother hen. The Creature Comfort series animated by Aardman Studios was given to us as a reference point and I suppose my thoughts were already leaning in that direction. I set about searching for chicken references and illustrations and made some sketches of how I pictured the main interview shot of the animation to look like.

The rest of the team are also considering other ideas including Andrea’s crash test dummies and toys idea and I’m a little hesitant to develop my ideas for this one too much. So we will see at our next meeting which direction Axis and the class can agree to on. It is exciting to see how everyone has progressed and the process of developing ideas as a group has been a lot of fun so far.

Michelle Dobyne Viral Fire Interview


Chicken Lady Concept Sketches


Chicken Lady Concept Sketch

I found a sketch from las semester from when one night, on my way to the bathroom I tripped over one of the cats and injured my drawing hand. A quick trip to Ninewells later determined that nothing was broken only sore. I couldn’t draw with that hand so I tried to draw using life drawing videos as reference. I’ve been able to do so before but I am out of practice. Ambidexterity training is said to open new neural pathways between the left hemisphere of the brain and the right. As a child I favoured the use of my left hand more than the right, it was trained out of me by my parents. I am trying to use my left hand more often for everyday tasks. Hopefully it will become more dominant in the future and I will have taught myself to write with both hands.


Non-Dominant Hand Life Drawing

Idea Nuggets: Alan Watts

The next Idea Nugget that I pitched to the group is based around a short audio segment of a talk that philosopher Alan Watts gave titled Out Of Your Mind. In this segment he encourages the listener to explore the possibilities of life through looking at one’s dreams. To consider oneself as a part of the world and hence ‘not as something here on probation’. The group was open about pitching a more reflective and philosophical idea to Axis so Sheila and I paired the audio with a short video clip from WWF Hungary Paper World animation that was directed by László Ruska and Dávid Ringeisen. Krish had shown us the video and the pairing of philosophy and origami animals fitted. Most people can relate to the need to question one’s purpose of existences, the reasons why and how and what do I do with myself today. Animals however do not have feelings of existential crisis, paper animals less so I should think. But I find the connection between the three as one that makes sense. At this point I haven’t a clue as to how this pitch can be be realised in a proper animation production but for the moment I think that it’s worth putting on paper and pushing forward.

I  have box hidden somewhere in my flat filled to the brim with origami cranes. After spending money on fancy origami paper I realised that receipts are actually a lot better than washi origami paper if a person wants to fold a teeny tiny crane. There is a Japanese urban myth that claims that folding a thousand cranes within a year will grant you a single wish. Now that I am in the last and probably final stage of my formal education I think it’s time to get back to folding. Just for luck.


Cranes In a Box


The Smallest Crane I’ve Ever Folded

After stumbling over a drawing/painting tutorial by Loish, I felt inspired and fired up. I took a couple of hours off yesterday to sketch random female drawings but only produced a single page that I felt remotely satisfied with.


Some Sketches

Going Live (Lets Make Something Together)

Back in Uni! Everyone is set to work hard on our Going Live Project for Axis Animation Glasgow. The brief is to take a segmented audio file that is heart-warming/funny/tragic/crazy from the Jeremy Kyle Show or a similar source and create an animation to support the track. Our Idea Nuggets pitch is next week and I think I have a few ideas for it. Looking forward to see what we will come up with this semester.


I Didn’t Think To Take A Picture Of All Of Us But This Is Basically How We Looked (Image Source)

Personal Portrait

Happy New Year! After all the festivities of the holiday season I’m relieved to be back in my natural environment. Which is in front of a computer in a dark room. As Neil Gaiman once commented; “My people, we stay indoors. We have keyboards. We have darkness. It’s quiet.” Since its January in Dundee it has certainly been very dark and miserable. I spent the first day of the New Year finishing up a painting that I had left on hold; a personal portrait. Needless to say, a part of me thought that a chubby yellow cat with red hair holding a cupcake represents me perfectly.


Personal Portrait

During a group dinner after DJCad’s Degree Show last year, our guests stayed later to watch Disney movies with us. One of the films was the Emperor’s New Groove, an underrated film in my opinion. I don’t know anyone who has not seen the film who is not enamoured or entertained by Yzma’s kitten form. I, myself adore it so much that I proceeded to make three separate pieces of fan artwork of her. At the time I wanted to experiments with a different painting style and to also try to build a painting from line art. Before then I preferred to colour straight onto the canvas and I would shape and define the character as I went along. I had had a lot of flexibility to improvise on the painting’s look that way but I thought it was time that I made a bigger effort to paint outside of my comfort zone.

Emperor’s New Groove: Yzma Becomes A Cat


Yzma Cat No. 1 (2015)


Yzma Cat No. 2 “Is that my VOICE???” (2015)


Yzma Cat No. 3 “Uhoh” (2015)