Category Archives: illustration

Going Live (Guess Who Face: Bertha)

I did some completed facial painting expressions for a Guess Who face whom I gifted with a severely shaped bob haircut suffering from bang trauma and named Bertha. I think I am going to have a lot of fun painting different characters and naming them. Considering how the Guess Who board will be in the background of the project and hardly ever in the main focus of the animation, I think it would be interesting to paint portraits of myself and the others in the class. I just hope they don’t mind that I’d have to plump their faces up in keeping with the chubby visual style.

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Guess Who Face: Bertha (Neutral, Oooh, Ahhh and Judgemental Booo Expressions)

Bertha Animation Test

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Going Live (He-Man On Rollerskates & Guess Who Concept Art)

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He-Man On Roller-Skates (Concept Sketch)

So I completed a concept sketch of He-Man wearing roller-skates. I really had to hold myself back and sketch as true to the toy as possible even when I was sorely tempted to make him go full roller derby girl. I might be rather cruel to the memory of He-Man because every time I draw this character I want to make him exaggerate his masculine body shaper but still give him overly feminine features and gestures similar to how Arnold Schwarzenegger looked in Conan the Barbarian. I think I can take it further with this sketch later as a personal illustration and draw him with stripe knee socks along with elbow, knee and wrist protection pads. At the moment I can’t think of an appropriate derby name that will not offend transvestites or transexual people. Humour and political correctness is getting harder to balance nowadays.

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Guess Who Board Face Concept Art

I also did more design sketches for the faces for the Guess Who Board. This is my first attempt but I stopped midway when I realised that I was going completely off tangent. As fun as it was to paint this, the angled tilt of the head as well as the addition of the neck and the shoulder just doesn’t make it a Guess Who face. So I am setting this aside for now and moving on to another style that would be more suitable.

Going Live: Room Concept Art

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Going Live: Room Concept

The room concept is finally finished after quite a lot of frustration and false starts. I tried with drawing line art and painting over. But the visual direction I wanted to pursue was more in live with the work that Dice Tsutsumi did for Toy Story 3 and Monster’s University. His painting style favours strong lighting direction and realistic colours composition. I just do not have his level of skill and understanding at this time but I am please that I had at least tried. Tutorials, practice and practice. That is the only way to go forward.

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Room Concept (The Do I Continue Or Throw In The Towel Bit)

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Room Concept First Attempt

Oh! The organisers for Parallax Art Fair released a video from the exhibition that I took part in a fortnight ago. It’s quite well made (ok it’s a wee cheesy) I think and I’m so thankful that I was in the ladies room when the videographer came to film my work. It’s a little unreal because everything looks incredible on screen and it doesn’t seem that me and my paintings had really been there.

Parallax Art Fair Promotional Video (February 2016)

Constellation Owl


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Constellation Owl

This week has been very busy as in a few days I will be heading off to London for the Parallax Art Fair (!!). Exciting times and I still have plenty more to do. During the weekend I completed another smoke illustration of Zeus the owl. Zeus is a wee screech owl living at the Wildlife Learning Center in California. They’re not sure how he became blind and theorised that it was through an attack from a larger bird. In any case, a combination of blood clots and cataracts have now made his eyes look as if they are windows into the galactic universe. I can’t remember where it was that I first saw a picture of Zeus, but I was so smitten with his sweet face and incredible eyes that I got to work immediately.

I have to admit I did have another incentive for painting Zeus. Actually two incentives. The first was that I need to complete one more original illustration to feature at Parallax Art Fair London. I was also motivated by my own project Little Guardian which has hit a temporary creative rut. I am still sketching and researching different designs for the spirit character so this illustration is in part also a concept experiment. Since the spirit character is supernatural, it would be interesting to design it with constellation eyes that are similar to Zeus’s.

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Zeus The Owl (Wildlife Learning Center)

I’ve also been running around getting prepared for Parallax Art Fair this weekend as I’ll be leaving Thursday night. Thanks to the guys at DJCad Make I had a vinyl sticker of my name logo made and ready to go in an hour. I think it will give my exhibition space a clean, professional look and I’m pretty chuffed about it!

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Logo Vector Art For The Vinyl

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The Finished Vinyl

I had trouble finding good name card holders in store or online and rather than spend more time searching for one it occurred to me that I had plenty of MDF wood left over from when I made the Chinese Zodiac Lantern Lamp. I used Adobe Illustrator to prepare the name card holder design and the laser cut file was ready in time for my booking hour with the laser cutter machine. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working with the machines at DJCad make and the guys there are incredibly helpful and accommodating. I couldn’t complete all of my work within the first hour because I ran into other problems with the picture frames that I ordered and I had to improvise a quick solution for them. I do have a time slot with the laser cutter booked tomorrow so I’m confident everything that needs to be cut will be completed by then. The name card holders will need to be glued and painted after wards.

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Lasercut MDF Pieces For My Namecard Holders

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Incomplete Namecard Holder

The frames that I ordered for the large prints had inside mounts that were for the original size of the paper which was 483mm by 329mm. As the paper is imported from Japan their size of A3+ didn’t match UK standards which is 350mm by 320mm (in case you were wondering, yes I am putting the exact measurements on this post as a permanent way to make sure I don’t forget or lose them). So the first attempt the printer made with the original paper this morning ended in a sad crumpled print. He offered to cut the remaining paper to SRA3 size and print again. This time the prints came out perfectly but now I had a gap between the mount and the frame in the print. The best solution I could think of involved buying black mount board and using the laser cutter to cut it to size so it can fill in that gap.

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Printed Qilin Image On Washi Paper (Paper Was Crumpled By The Printer)

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First Dragon Print (Success!)

When I went back to printers at the end of the day to collect the rest of the prints I just had to try out the inner black mount that I had just cut. The part of me that wants perfection is a little bothered that the black edge at the top and bottom is thicker than the sides but I’m happy with how the entire frame looks with everything put together. The difference between the black and cream mount gave the overall look of the frame an interesting presentation so I’m not disappointed. Oh, I have not yet removed the safety cover for the frame yet which is why it is still tinted blue in the image. In summation, I was productive today!

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Framed Qilin Painting

Little Guardian (Concept Illustration)

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Spirit Character Concept Illustration (Qilin Version)

I revisited my personal project this week with two concept illustration of the spirit character. Both concepts are based on Chinese mythological creatures; a Qilin and Long (Chinese dragon). Chinese legendary beasts are described to be chimeric and they take on different physical attributes from different animals such as deer, carp, tiger or fish. Both Dragon and Qilin are symbols of benevolence, prosperity and luck, but they also represent judgement and righteous behaviour. The spirit character in my project is presented by its physical form (it house statue) and it’s immaterial form that better represents its personal character which is innocent and pure. The statue the spirit lives in by contrast should visually represent the spirit’s duty and resembles a fierce protective statue that Oriental cultures used to place in their homes to guard them from harm. I was toying with the idea of making each design a complete opposite in appearance. The gentler, immaterial aspect of the spirit manifests itself as a peaceful looking Qilin while its physical housing is presented as a powerful and strong Dragon. But now that I have completed a concept illustration of each creature…. I don’t think it would work. Back to the drawing board.

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Spirit Character Concept Illustration (Dragon Version)

Personal Project: Little Guardian (Introduction & Moodboard)

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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.

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Angelo (Front) & Gabriel (Back)

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Gabriel & Angelo

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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

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.

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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

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Yzma Cat No. 1 (2015)

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

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Yzma Cat No. 3 “Uhoh” (2015)

Environmental Squares

I revisited a project series that I has been on hold for the last year or so. I’ve always been impressed with Instagram images of different places and environments, especially by how despite the limitations of a square image format the beauty and impact of each location is still retained. As a practice and a challenge for myself I tried to paint environmental squares from different locations. To further challenge myself I try to complete each painting to two hours. I only truly achieved this recently with the swamp painting. I find that capturing the colour and details of a landscape is challenging even when there are some places in the painting that I can get away with giving less details than what is in the reference image. I still like the square concept for environmental practice but I think that it’s time to move on to rectangular landscape work and more complex concept art paintings.

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Environmental Painting No.4 Swamp

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(Past Work 2014) Environmental Painting No.1,2 & 3 Indonesia, Ski Alps & Desert

Character Design: Primordial (Concept Illustration & Turnaround)

Concept art painting time! My favourite part of any production process. I wanted to quickly conceptualise the angry and destructive personality of the character. I reverted back to my comfort zone and used the smokey black and white illustrative style that I am fond of. The head shape of the monster differs from the sketches that I was working on, I gave it another set of heavy horns along with a double set of mandibles. I wanted to make the character more intimidating and emphasise how predatory it is.

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Primordial Concept Art

I also made the character’s model turnaround sheet; front, back, profile and three-quarter poses. This process too the longest time as I was particularly concerned with making him as anatomically correct as I am able to with my limited knowledge. Drawing his tentacles from behind was the area that I had the most difficulty with. While I was working on the model sheet for Primordial I started to consider sculpting and modelling in Z-Brush instead of Maya. The character was becoming more complicated and detailed on the model sheet and concept art so Z-Brush has become the best option for me. And also the most ambitious. So with almost no knowledge or experience with Z-Brush, I am now going to embark on my first 3D sculpting project.

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Primordial 3D Model Sheet Turnaround

Dragon Quest: The Dragon Protection League

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Dragon Quest: Dragon Protection League Comic

Over the summer I had the opportunity to do a booklet for Dragon Quest: An Outdoor Theatrical Event that is taking place in Dundee’s Monikie Park until November 1 2015. After I was given a rough draft of the manuscript I decided to turn it into a comic. I’m not very comfortable painting within the confines of line art so this test is a venture out of my comfort zone.

I think it was a good decision in the end as I had more fun than I expected. Especially when it came to picking colours. I hope I will have more opportunities to do more work in this style. It’s different from what I’m used to but I really like how it turned out.

I spent some time developing the look of the dragons and the look of the main character Kuuan, a female troll who is a formidable dragon hunter as well. She evolved from a fairy/mermaid character to a bearded viking and then to a steampunk hunter troll. I also illustrated a simple wanted poster of Kuuan for Dragon Quest.

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Dragon Protection League Concept/Development Work

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Kuuan the Dragon Hunter Concept Art & Illustration Test

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Kuuan The Dragon Hunter Wanted Poster