Category Archives: little guardian project

Show Reel August 2016

[Coursework]DJ52026AdvancedProduction(DegreeShow)Posters(A1)01Ragnarök Poster For DJCad Masters Degree Show

[Coursework]DJ52026AdvancedProduction(DegreeShow)Posters(A1)02(DevelopmentProject Development Poster For DJCad Masters Degree Show

I’ve completed my course work and am now on Job Hunt 2016. My feelings are extremely muddled to be honest and I don’t know what to say and how much to say. This is my first show reel and one that I edited for my Msc Animation & VFX degree show. The quality of the work I did in it is not to the standard that I want. That said, I am quite happy with how the demo reel turned out. I have a base format that I can refer to when I polish up on an updated version of my reel. Or reels, because I think I would need more than one to cater to different job positions and applications.

Show Reel August 2016


Little Guardian (Possible-Pighead-Statue In Z-Brush)

I spent a few hours playing in Z-Brush today. I thought that I could play it loose and create a concept of the statue design for the spirit character in my (tentatively titled) Little Guardian animation. It was fun to spontaneously go back into Z-Brush, I was limited by my computer’s processing speed today for some reason unfortunately. After a few misses (the program kept stalling or crashing) I did manage to complete a concept sculpt of the head of the statue. The statue is meant to represent the spirit’s ‘anchor’ and connection to the physical realm as well as it’s home so I wanted the design  to have more weight (literally). I thought a heavier look for the statue would give a bigger visual contrast when compared to the design of the character’s spirit form. I think I succeeded in sculpting a heavy design but I ended up with something more vague and pig-like than what I was aiming for.

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Spirit Statue Concept Head (Profile)

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Spirit Statue Concept Head (Front)

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Spirit Statue Concept Head (Three Quarter View)

I had the urge today to zone out and sketch something that didn’t require me to think too much about what I am doing or why. So I settled on spending an hour sketching quick life drawing/anatomy poses from artist training videos on Youtube. I enjoy working with a purpose but I think I also need regular sessions where I just draw from observation as well.


Life Drawing Sketches

Constellation Owl


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.


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!


Logo Vector Art For The Vinyl


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.


Lasercut MDF Pieces For My Namecard Holders


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.


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


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!


Framed Qilin Painting

Little Guardian (Concept Illustration)


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.


Spirit Character Concept Illustration (Dragon Version)

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

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)