What Makes a Hero?

Cassie Galloway posted this recap of the Hero’s Journey on Animation Belfast.I haven’t read about story craft in a while, and seeing how it’s the most important element (of every media?) it’s something I need to start reading about and practicing again.

“You leave your comfort zone, have an experience that transforms you and then you recover, and do it again.”

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Sound like life true enough.

Stoimen Dimitrov Matte Painting Breakdown

This is a breakdown of just a single matte painting but I like how thoroughly it demonstrates Dimitrov’s process.

“Matte Painting Breakdown Reel” – by Stoimen Dimitrov

I’ve been wondering about matte painting recently. Is it just like photobashing except in 3D space and also involving compositing moving assets such as smoke and particles? Is that not just compositing? Usually I avoid using photos in my work because I don’t like the style restrictions (maybe my own skill restrictions too?) plus I enjoy the process of painting. I think that if I learn how to paint with a stronger understanding of reality I could create some fun pieces this way.

Style Inspiration

Week 09 (April 4th 2016)

In order to create a unique style for 10 Songs we looked at a lot of different animated shorts and illustrations over the past nine weeks. Le Gouffre (2014) in particular had stood out to us for it’s painted textures but we still felt that we could push the style further. We seemed to be reverting closer and closer to realism and safety (in a struggle to understand what Iglu wanted from us maybe?) so we sat down again and looked through the different art styles that stood out to us. Jonny gave us the go ahead to try whatever we wanted, just make something beautiful he said!:)

Looking at the art we liked, I tried to break down the creation process of the artist: graphic flat colours as shapes, blended strokes, line, no line and level of abstraction.

The biggest element of Campion’s work that we could learn from is the ability to simplify. Campion uses quite a high level of abstraction to symbolise form but you can understand the story in his work straight away from composition of light and values. Sorcha also learned from his blog that he has done a lot of work for engagement advertisements which is very relevant to our own story/subject matter.

Pascal Campion Images from http://pascalcampion.blogspot.co.uk/

Jeremy Mann Images from http://redrabbit7.com/

Jeremy Mann is a painter who Kerry showed me last year. I really love the idea of walking through one of these paintings! Similar to Pascal Campion, I like how impressionistic Mann’s style is.

Jean Giraud/Moebius images from: http://www.moebius.fr/

On the other side of this, we like the importance of line in Moebius’ work. In some areas the line seems to give texture to the surface of the form. We discussed the possibility of how well these styles could mix e.g. if the characters had line and the backgrounds did not or vice-versa. We especially considered the possibility of keeping the characters flat and graphic with lne and the backgrounds loose and impressionistic so that the characters would stand out.


Josan’s The Future is Now (2016) Kickstarter at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1410842311/the-future-is-now-volume-two

Josan’s work is another example of the line detail which we like in Moebius’ work. Josan also has some simple parallax of planes and movement of objects which help to bring his concepts to life.


The Approximate Present (2014) by Filippo  Baraccani

When we were discussing Mann’s work, Sorcha remembered The Approximate Present (2014), an animated short by Filippo Baraccani which Kerry also happened to show us last year. We were disucssing how we could bring Mann’s and Campion’s abstract and impressionistic forms into 3D animated space. The Approximate Present (2014) has an example of this which we liked where the cars are represented as rectangles coming towards the camera on a road. We figured that even in 3D space we can arrange simple shapes/planes of colour in ways to represent forms such as city lights. We could experiment with the texture and arrangement of these shapes the way that Jeremy Mann does also.


As a team, I wonder how we could have experimented more with these styles a lot sooner into the project. We spent a lot of time researching but being able to jump on one particular style and make a unified team vision was very challenging. I think that personally I sometimes spend too much time thinking and not enough time expressing. I need to be more proactive in helping the team visualise. I spent a lot of time blocking out layouts in Maya for painting over and for animatics and didn’t put enough time into developing the style for these. In saying that, I think that I could at least approach this method a little faster now that I’ve tried it before.

Dark Noir

Week 05

This is another animated short that Sorcha showed the team.

Dark Noir from Gillian Glendinning on Vimeo.


Not only does it have beautiful lighting and textures but it is also a great example of how 2D animation can be mixed with 3D. The fluidity and surreal quality of the creatures is inspirational for how we could make the premonition scenes and transitions into the premonitions. We admitted that trying to achieve that level of 2D animation quality would be a bit daunting but we are keeping it open as an option.

The Art of Spirited Away

Hayao Miyazaki (2002) The Art of Spirited Away

I wrote simple observations of things that I liked underneath each image.


Cover – I like how so much information can be conveyed in a loose design sketch.


There is a distinction between the foreground and background lighting of the piece. The statue in the ground alludes to beliefs or other cultural related detail.


Roofs: Attention is paid to different types of roof construction. The light spilling from the windows is not overpowering, of high contrast or of high saturation but there is a clear distinction between the moonlight on the lower roofs.


The rough shorthand still conveys a lot of information.


The lighting adds warmth to this otherwise spooky nexus between Earth and the spirit world. The open space is simple but the mood is strong.


Alleyway: The warm lamp light has an inviting effect in the narrow claustrophobic space of the cold alley. The cracked and grungy textures give the sense of an old and long inhabited place. The exposed inside structures and bent air-vent give a sense of use.


Exterior/Boiler Room: There is an interesting mix of shape language. The Eastern styled architecture descends into more industrial shapes but the rounded window/arch shapes are still repeated at the bottom steps. The pipe leading into the image also creates an extra sense of depth without having to rely on a lot of atmospheric perspective.


FZD Line

FZDSCHOOL (2011) Design Cinema – EP 34 – Photoshop & Wacom Basics Part 02

I was working on the line of my design for the Beak house exterior. I didn’t like my photoshop line quality, especially compared to Zhu’s. I know this is mostly a matter of practice but it helped to test some brushes. I liked a calligraphic brush that changed thickness depending on pen pressure so as to give some line weight variation more naturally. Zhu recommends Corel Painter for line. I might re-download my old copy and try this out as I really like Zhu’s results:

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Portfolio Review and Paintover

Watching paintovers/critiques can be really helpful! This one goes over the usual composition, value and colour adjustments. What I found most useful though is the perspective it gave me on putting together a portfolio. He hightlighted the advantage in having diverse subject matter, camera angles and light sources to show your capabilities. I thought that this would be good to keep in mind when I’m planning my 4 concept art pieces.

Swathces (2014) [Youtube] Portfolio Review & Paintovers

Craig Mullins Interview

Bobby Chiu (2015) Craig Mullins Artist Interview :

It’s interesting hearing the history behind digital painting but Mullins also gives some good insights in this video:

Because of the tight deadlines and resultant pressures, Mullins says:

“It’s very important to schedule time to get lost. Go off into the weeds and try something that doesn’t work. Then if something does work, bring it back into the pipeline.”

Simple tools require more of yourself to make it work. The result is something more individual and unique to you.

Be mindful of how you approach the canvas. What can you learn from the constraints of a costly medium that can’t be as easily discarded? e.g. a real life canvas versus a digital canvas?

Get your inspiration from living life as opposed to looking through others’ work again and again.

Mullins is an artist because he wants to express something else. Don’t become so focused on the tools – perspective, anatomy colour etc., that they become the end point. It’s not just about art, it’s about what you are expressing.

The emotion that comes from the idea trumps technique. Therefore, how do you get better?

How to Study and Improve

Anthony Jones (2014) How to Study:

These are some helpful takeaways from Jones’ video on how to study:

How should you think about study?

Be aware of the differences between studying and copying. Studies can involve things like: colour guessing, value guessing, breaking down the shapes, negative shape study etc.

Start small and work-out in small steps. Train like an athlete. Train all the muscles in unison.

Avoid information overload. Train each area in manageable amounts.

Screen Shot 12-22-15 at 12.28 PM.JPG

Anthony Jones’ video Shortcut to become an Amazing Artist (2014) also gives some points to think about. It mostly focuses on the value of hard work which is good to hear about every now and again.

How do I work hard (smartly?)? How will I become an expert?

Inspiration for Modeling Concept Art

I wanted to develop what the mid/fore-ground could look like in our scene and create a challenge for myself to learn more about modeling. We agreed that a platform of some sorts might suit this area.

I felt that clean drawings that describe the form well would be particularly useful for modeling from. With this in mind I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and put extra time into developing my drawing skills. I’ve been trying to make progress on Scott Robertson’s book How to Draw (2013) and the accompanying video series which are online here:



The book, which has so far focused on drawing shapes and volumes in perspective, also has a lot of sci-fi vehicles, mechs and environments for inspiration.

I came across Feng Zhu’s designs for Star Wars in my bookazine The Art of Film: Volume Two (2015). I like how clear his forms come across with his strong line drawings in perspective and the clear sense of space. I thought that his concept of a ship landing area built into a cave could be applicable to our scene also maybe…? It would give us the opportunity to model organic rock forms along with man-made hard surfaces.


I looked at this drawing from the Dear JJ Abrams website quite a bit also. I like the sense of wear and brokenness that the lines convey:


Ruan Jia also has a lot of appealing forms in his concepts that we could use for inspiration. I love how this guy paints and his application of light and colour too.

Images from: http://ruanjia.deviantart.com/

Abigail showed this image from Steve Burgh to me also. We liked the circular designs on the ground which made me think of trying a circular platform instead of Zhu’s more rectangular shapes.


Image from: http://www.iamag.co/features/the-art-of-steve-burg/