30 October 2016

Design Exercise

Drawings from Monday 24/10/16

For this exercise we randomly selected one object and one animal, we had to design a version of the object based on the animal. I selected carriage and snake.

Initial Sketches
Further Development

I came up with a design with the main body of the carriage resembling a snake's head with an open mouth and seats that mimic a scale pattern.

Jean Arp Research

28 October 2016

Drawing Sessions 5 and 6

Session 5: 19/10/16
5 min poses
Quicker Poses
Long Pose

Session 6: 26/10/16
20+ min pose
Quick Poses
Long Pose

Animation and Character: Lesson 5 - Halloween

Exported as a GIF

Photoshop image

Animation and Character: Lesson 4 - Bouncing Characters

Richard Williams

Animator Richard Williams was born in Canada in 1933, and attended art school. His book 'The Animator's Survival Kit' (2001) is an important text often described as essential reading for people interested in animation.

Fig. 1 Richard Williams
Some of the most famous film's Williams worked on include his roles as animation director for 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' (1988) and director and animator for 'A Christmas Carol' (1971). He provided the opening sequences to the 'Pink Panther' movies and also worked on the television film 'Ziggy's Gift' (1982), which won an Emmy award.

Fig. 2 'A Christmas Carol' (1971)

Williams is often seen as one of the best examples of classic hand drawn animation and his approach, as outlined in 'The Animator's Survival Kit' (2001), continues to be relevant, not only for traditional animation, but for all fields of animation. He has won 3 Oscars, 2 British Academy Awards and another 250 other awards.


Illustration List

Fig. 1

Fig. 2 

Bill Plympton

Bill Blympton was born in Portland, Oregon in 1946, where he learnt to draw and his imagination grew. He studied at Portland State University and, as a member of the film society there he made is first attempt at animation. He has done a lot of design and illustration work but animation has always been an obsession of his. 
Fig. 1 A Self Portrait of Plympton
Plympton describes himself as 'really terrible at writing dialogue' (Plympton, 2015), he also believes that 'it's more poetic to tell a story through visuals and music, the head gestures, the eyes, the hands, the things like that.' (Plypmton, 2015). For these reasons his films are often free of dialogue. 

Fig. 2 The Tune
Plympton did a lot of commercial work and some very well received short films before building up to a full length animated film 'The Tune' (1992). Plympton hand draws all of his animations and this film took 30,000 cels to create. He has received several life time achievement awards from different organisations including SITGES Film Festival and Action on Film International Film Festival. 

Lotte Reiniger

Lotte Reiniger was a German animator, born in Berlin in 1899. Reiniger made more than 60 films in her life, beginning to experiment while still in school. Reiniger's masterpiece, 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' (1926), is considered to be the oldest surviving feature length animation and took 3 years to complete. She was inspired by Chinese shadow puppetry and she created delicate paper silhouettes for her animations.

Fig. 1 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' (1926)
Her animation was revolutionary and there is no doubt that she has inspired works throughout history and her influence can still be felt today. Film historian and reviewer Philip Kemp wrote for Screen Online that 'To date she has no rivals, and for all practical purposes the history of silhouette animation begins and ends with Reiniger.' (Kemp, s.d.)

Fig. 2 Reiniger at work
She based the stories for her animations on European fairy tales and tales of the Arabian Nights; this combined with the Chinese influence on her style makes for a very interesting and unique atmosphere to her works. Sarah Cronin, writing for Electric Sheep Magazine, commented that Reiniger worked by 'depicting her characters with an almost grotesque exaggeration that mirrors the over-the-top acting in live action silent pictures.' (Cronin, 2008) Reiniger's work can be related to the German Expressionist movement; the dark silhouettes, crooked shapes and exaggeration in her work are reminiscent of the style in films such as Robert Weine's 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' (1920). She also created stunning worlds for her characters to inhabit and was able to create a sense of depth that thoroughly defies the inherent flatness of the paper she worked with.

Fig. 3 'Sleeping Beauty' (1954)

Boult, A. (2016). 'Who is Lotte Reiniger? The pioneering animator who would have been 117 today'. At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/01/lotte-reiniger-the-pioneering-film-maker-whose-shadow-puppets-in/ (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Cronin, S. (2008). 'Lotte Reiniger's Fairy Tale Films'. At: http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/reviews/2008/12/02/lotte-reinigers-fairy-tale-films/ (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Kemp, P. (s.d.). 'Reiniger, Lotte (1899-1981)'. At: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/528134/ (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Nye, S. (2013). 'SCOTT REVIEWS LOTTE REINIGER’S THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED [BLU-RAY REVIEW]'. At: http://criterioncast.com/reviews/blu-ray-reviews/scott-reviews-lotte-reinigers-the-adventures-of-prince-achmed-blu-ray-review (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' (1926)

Fig. 2 Reiniger at work

Fig. 3 'Sleeping Beauty' (1954)

21 October 2016

Invisible Cities Reflective Statement

The Invisible Cities project has been very enjoyable and very challenging. I was looking forward to the project and I have learnt a massive amount both from the lessons we have had and from working independently and trying to push myself to be as creative as possible.

In my previous digital painting I have always tended towards the same blended finish and I wanted to move away from this and try new things for this project. I am pleased with the difference I see in my painting skill and the way my style is developing. I have made my largest leap in my ability to get what is in my head down in front of me in all of my time making art.

The thing I think that helped me the most in this project was doing my best to always be fully excited about and invested in the work. This really helped me to learn and I will take this with me to future projects.

I started the project working quite well but after the OGR I slowed down a little, this meant that I left too much work for the last week of the project. I do think this impacted the quality of my paintings and my 'Art Of' and I now know that I need to keep a good pace throughout my projects.

I am looking forward to using the knowledge I have gained from the Invisible Cities project throughout the rest of the course.

Invisible Cities Crit Presentation

Invisible Cities 'Art Of'

16 October 2016

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

Stanley Kubrick’s '2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968) is a visually stunning film, made in collaboration with science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. It is also a very strange film, though it masquerades as science fiction, upon closer inspection is defies genre. Kubrick himself once described the film as a ‘mythological documentary’ (Walker, 1971:241).

Fig. 1 Poster
The film has very impressive special effects, Kubrick worked with Douglas Trumbull, among many others, to create sets that sometimes seem so simple, yet always beautiful, with a key focus on realism. The Variety review at the time said that 'There can be little doubt that the special effects created for “2001” are the equal of any the screen has come up with.’ (Frederick, 1968). The effects remain convincing even today and are truly remarkable for this reason.

Fig. 2 The Ship Travelling to Jupiter
The importance of the visuals of the film far outweighs that of any plot or character in the film. The dialogue is minimal and functional and the few characters seem emotionless, they themselves functional to Kubrick’s vision. Roger Ebert writes that the film is 'meditative. It does not cater to us, but wants to inspire us, enlarge us.’ (Ebert, 1997) The most interesting character in the film is HAL 9000, the artificial intelligence tasked with running the ship in which the less interesting characters travel. HAL's death is perhaps the only moment in the film where the audience is expected to feel emotion for a member of the crew, that it is a computer they feel for might be unsettling.

Fig. 3 HAL 9000
Unnerving the audience seems to be a key point of the film, the camera remains at a distance for most of the film and any close up shot occurs at a moment of importance in the film. This works very well to disconnect the audience from what they are seeing on the screen. However, this may have been a key element for those who did not enjoy the film; Renata Alder of the New York Times wrote that the film is 'somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring’ (Alder, 1968). The scene in which Frank watches a birthday message from his parents is emotionless and shown from a distance, it is very strange to watch, and it seems to drag on as nothing happens. Although nothing happens, the scene works well to build the strange mood of the film.

Fig. 4 An expressionless Frank watching a birthday message from his parents
During production Kubrick worked with noted film composer Alexander North, but after North put in a considerable amount of time and effort into producing music for the film, Kubrick scrapped everything and used pre-existing works instead. This was not done kindly, as North found this out at the screening of the finished film. The decision to use pre-existing music in the film confused many people in the industry and it caused concern among film composers as they worried is this would become a trend that could affect their livelihoods. (Patterson, 2004:445-446) The score was seen by some as ineffectual and strange, described by author Randall D. Larson as 'a somewhat arbitrary incorporation of music not intended for such a purpose’ (Larson, 1985:311). Others found Kubrick’s decision to employ pre-existing classical music to be very good. Ebert considered North’s score a 'good job of film composition’, but noted that it ‘would have been wrong for “2001”’ and that the music used in the film 'brings a seriousness and transcendence to the visuals.' (Ebert, 1997).

The placement of the music is very important, too. There are moments of silence, with no music, sometimes there is the functional dialogue to fill this space, sometimes only breathing and then sometimes, nothing at all. The gaps seem to convey the nature of the void of the universe and also work to build tension. The loud classical music is very atmospheric, the audience expects things to happen when it is there, they expect the pace to increase. At different points in the film, the music, or lack thereof, can be quite frightening, as the viewer struggles to predict what will happen next. This underlying tension brings a sense of mystery to the film, which goes well with the strange plot and the vast emptiness of the environment. There is a particularly effective scene in the first act of the film with a monolith, where intense music is used for dramatic effect. There are similar scenes throughout the film, with different pieces of classical music used to build suspense. Almar Haflidason, writing for the BBC, said that ‘It's triumph lies in its scope of cinematic splendour and the attempt to marry some of man's most beautiful music to the infinite mystery of space.’ (Haflidason, 2001).

Fig. 5 The Monolith
The film divides opinions, but it cannot be said that it has not made an impact. The film has been very influential and quotes and images from the film have been borrowed and parodied many times. The film continues to be a talking point today as film’s such as ‘Gravity’ (2013) and ‘Interstellar’ (2014) so clearly take their inspiration from it.


Alder, R. (1968). The Screen: '2001' Is Up, Up and Away: Kubrick's Odyssey in Space Begins Run. At:
http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9a04e6da1530ee3bbc4c53dfb2668383679ede (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Ebert, R. (1997). Great Movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. At:
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-2001-a-space-odyssey-1968 (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Frederick, R. (1968). Review: '2001 A Space Odyssey'. At:
http://variety.com/1968/film/reviews/2001-a-space-odyssey-1200421723/ (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Haflidason, A (2001). 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) At:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/09/18/2001_review.shtml (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Larson, R. (1985). Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

Patterson, D. (2004). 'Music, Structure and Metaphor in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey' In: American Music 22 (3) pp.445-446 [Online] At:
http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3592986.pdf (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Walker, A. (1971). Stanley Kubrick Directs. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Illustration List

Fig. 1 Poster
Kubrick, S. (1968). '2001: A Space Odyssey' [Poster] At:
http://criterioncast.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2001-Space-Odyssey_68.jpg (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Fig. 2 The Ship Travelling to Jupiter
Kubrick, S. (1968). '2001: A Space Odyssey' [Film Still] At:
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/7g27GTH-KaM/maxresdefault.jpg (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Fig. 3 HAL 9000
Kubrick, S. (1968). '2001: A Space Odyssey' [Film Still] At:
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/qDrDUmuUBTo/maxresdefault.jpg (Accessed on 16.10.16)

Fig. 4 An expressionless Frank watching a birthday message from his parents
Kubrick, S. (1968). '2001: A Space Odyssey' [Film Still] At:
Kubrick, S. (1968). '2001: A Space Odyssey' [Film Still] At:

15 October 2016

Tamara Colour Keys

Interior Establishing Shot
Exterior Establishing Shot
Exterior Low Angle Shot

I've added a ledge to the low angle shot and some lights to the exterior establishing shot.

I feel like the interior shot needs more contrast in the foreground and less in the background. Also, I might add more floor space in the middle, shrinking the objects in the foreground a little so they are more to the right of the shot, and lessen the light rays outside of the pillars.

14 October 2016

Maya Lighting and Rendering

Without Lighting
With Ambient Light
With Warm Colour
With Depth Map Shadows
Depth Map Shadows with Increased Filter
With Spotlight
With Adjusted Spotlight
With Reflectivity Increased and Raytracing Shadows
More Adjustment to Raytracing Shadows and Added Light
More Adjustment to Lighting

13 October 2016

Don Hertzfeldt

Don Hertzfeldt is an animator who has been making animated films for over twenty years. He studied film at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he had access to their animation camera. Prior to this he had also used a VHS camera to teach himself some basics. (Robinson, 2010:179) 

Fig. 1 'Billy's Balloon' (1998)
'Billy's Balloon' (1998), one of Hertzfeldt's earliest films, is funny and somewhat horrifying. The film depicts a balloon assaulting a small child, twisted and yet it still manages to charm. Chris Robinson describes the violence as 'so utterly absurd that can't help but laugh'. (Robinson, 2010:182) There seems to be no point to the story, but the film is still engaging and this is reminiscent of the surrealist movement, in the sense of making strange art that has no obvious meaning.

Hertzfeldt is also known for his ability to create emotional films using much simpler methods than one might think necessary. His animation uses simple stick figures and has been largely traditionally hand drawn, with only more recent use of digital tools. David Jenkins of The Guardian writes: 'Hertzfeldt's method of making grand existential statements with almost recklessly modest means has made his cinematic oeuvre one of the most fascinating and enjoyable of all contemporary American directors.' (Jenkins, 2013).

Fig. 2 'World of Tomorrow' (2015)
Hertzfeldt's most recent film, 'World of Tomorrow' (2015), is quite grand in the way it explores the future of humanity. David Sims of The Atlantic comments that it 'poses fascinating questions about our commitment to living as long as we can by whatever means we can devise.' (Sims, 2016). This is Hertzfeldt's first science fiction film but it is his favourite genre and he got some ideas for the look of the film from the covers of old sci-fi books. (Bramesco, 2015).


Robinson, C. (2010). Animators Unearthed: A Guide to the Best of Contemporary Animation. [Online] At: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=oozKz8Hu4xIC&pg=PA179&dq=don+hertzfeldt&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false (Accessed on 13.10.16)

Bramesco, C. (2015). Animator Don Hertzfeldt on not trusting happy people. At: https://thedissolve.com/features/interview/980-animator-don-hertzfeldt-on-not-trusting-happy-peop/ (Accessed on 13.10.16)
Jenkins, D. (2013). Don Hertzfeldt: the best animator you've never heard of. At: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2013/may/02/don-hertzfeldt-animator-beautiful-day (Accessed on 13.10.16)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 'Billy's Balloon' (1998)
Hertzfeldt, D. (1998). Billy's Balloon. [Film Still] At: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/7jksRQcI9NA/maxresdefault.jpg (Accessed on 13.10.16)

Fig. 2 'World of Tomorrow' (2015)
Hertzfeldt, D. (2015). World of Tomorrow. [Film Still] At: https://i.vimeocdn.com/video/555705466_1280x720.jpg (Accessed on 13.10.16)

Drawing Session 4

20 minute warm up
Detail Close Up
20 minutes
30 seconds to 3 minutes