Monday, 30 December 2013

Pre-Production: Skeleton Turnarounds (Anatomical Frames)

Hello Everyone,

As I said previously I have a bit of a back log of posts so you will probably see a couple of little flurry's like these two today. Possible a third a little later. These are where I'm kind of trying to do things in an order to demonstrate the process. Sometimes I dip in and dip out of areas of creativity like if I've been modelling all day Ill go and do some drawing in the middle to give my eyes a rest. I also find this refreshes me for when I hit a wall or find no solution to a problem. Anyway these skeletons are the framework for the final turnarounds which will be used for the characters.

I have already begun the modelling process so this is really me catching up with myself. I use these frames to block in a form mostly to make sure the body holds weight and has the an S curve flow throughout the form. My turnarounds of the past have mainly been a little static and that is mainly because we don't consider the weight of the flesh and how that interacts with the bones. Characters can quickly look rigid if the body isn't holding any weight. I also realise that these skeletons are more for orthographic view so some details have to be flattened (the feet for example).

Anyway lets take a look at my skeleton frameworks!

The image above shows the skeleton forms worked out from Sammy's original head sketches and my early proportion/skeleton tests. I have defined the joints as that is where distortion lies if it were not for these we would be blobs. I have a top arm separate for modelling the hand and the muscles of the arm. The side is where one notices the S curve from the central line. The chest sticks out leading into the pelvis Benjamin's body is like a bean which I know from the earlier form tests we conducted... He looks a little older then we had considered but this is just the earlier test.

Pre-Production: Phil.. I mean Bernard Expression Sheets

Hello Everyone,

I have a chain of posts backing up I am just trying to get everything ready in the right order here. I have one model totally made and completely UV Mapped I just have to find the right moment to post it up. The posts that will follow will be more epic but I have to get the skeleton turnarounds posted and the final turnarounds I used. Of course there have been a couple of delays here and there but I am aiming to have all of this final 2D stuff out of the way so I can fill this blog with 3D bliss. Sammy and Chrissie have been patient but if everything goes to plan we should be okay by next week!

For those of you that do not know next week is the deadline for our minor project which is when I am aiming to have 4 complete character models ready for rigging and eventually production. Obviously I have a couple of questions for Alan when we return before going into Rigging mode but I'm hoping any issues will be minor. I thought I would conclude the expression sheet array with the last of our 4 characters "Bernard" which is Barnabas's dad. I have been told to prioritise his miserable side due to our narrative but I couldn't resist doing a couple that shows he isn't always a grumpy gus!

So lets get down to my final array of expression sheets... you know him as "Phil"... whoops I mean "Bernard".

I kept most of Bernard's expressions to the darker tones but I did break free from it which gave me time to explore some of his other facial activities. "Annoyed" and "Angry" were directly what Chrissie and Sammy saw so I indulged my "Thinking" expression. I actually think this one goes across all of the characters. After you do the basic emotions its hard to knock down more, I wanted to fulfil the 12 expression quota. Of course Alan and many like you will probably call me crazy and this is unnecessary but I liked to do it... If anything it made the others more explorative.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Pre-Production: Young Barnabas Expression Sheets

Hello Everyone,

First of all I would like to say MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Yes it is the early hours of Christmas Eve (essentially making it Christmas Day). I thought I would post this little update while I get other little bits and pieces ready. I still have one set of expression sheets to complete but hopefully they should be up tomorrow at some point. Following those I have skeleton turnarounds which should hopefully lead to me posting the turnarounds for our final models. Last but not least I will post up the models current progress. You will have to forgive the delay... I have been trying to get the work done... Posting every day can take a toll on time.

I have also made a couple of additional videos which I have not had time to get up and running (this is another reason why I'm a little delayed). I am of course prioritizing the 3D models above all. I have one modelled totally the other 3 I'm hoping to begin and finish by next week. This leaves this week to get any and all final 2D conceptual work complete. Of course I have the rest of today off as well as boxing day. That being said I will probably fit in time to get the expression sheets finished. I'm hoping to be back in the modelling game by Sunday.

Anyway this post is based on the expressions from the adolescent "Young Barnabas".

The expressions above are where I started, I actually took a little time to align all of these models to be somewhat related to each other. Following Benjamin and Barnabas's expressions I didn't like how incorrect some of them are. It also bugged me how some of them didn't look necessarily like the same character. I corrected this for Young Barnabas but I probably should have spent more of this time on the main 2 characters expressions. Alas I cant use much more time on this 2D work, I have more models to make and we are graded on the CG aspect not pre-production.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Church Turnarounds

Just a short video of the Ext and Int of the Church, untextured. There's a few more little items to put inside like the candles, tables and pulpit and outside, gravestones and trees but these are likely to be flat planes with a transparency image plugged in to give the details and shape.

Monday, 9 December 2013

"And Son" - scenery tests

 1) composite drawings from my sketches in Rochester

 2) The "tea-shop" using the 3 styles from the composite drawings: 1) sketchy, 2) tidied up, 3) redrawn over  the UV map.  (Ignore the chimney & top windows).

The buildings are built, the UVs laid out, and most of the artwork is done so I just need an opinion on how much to clean the lines up please guys :)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Pre-Production: Benjamin Expression Sheets

Hello Everyone,

I'm getting closer and closer to having quite a few things wrapped up at the moment I'm juggling the 2D and 3D aspects of our project like they are proverbial tennis balls. I have finally excelled for a basic jacket design on the models so that is the hardest part so far. Never the less I have started playing with some minor facial detail at this point I'm still refining certain details. Hopefully by next week I should have something that is "3D ready" to be seen on the Polydoodle Blog so stay frosty. In the mean time I am providing you with a couple of final twists and turns which I have been finalizing here and there...

The expression sheets are something I always had penciled onto a post it note but the concern was mainly about getting it done. Should I have some more spare time I will sit down and knock out the other 2 3D characters expression sheets. In the off chance that I cant at least we have the main 2 - Benjamin and Barnabas. Expression sheets can tend to shed little details I find especially when I'm working in a variety of angles with a face pulling a variety of poses. I am still getting to grips with it but I don't think the result I got was particularly bad for Barnabas.

Check out Benjamin s expression sheets below!! Woop Woop!!

I started the first 3 expressions by doing what Justin told us not to do and what Sammy wanted me to do. I knocked up a facial expression which isn't ideal for the character (that being "Annoyed"). The kid is kind of a happy chappy so I did this mainly to appease me curiosity for "Angry Pooh Bears" (ask Sammy she will fill you in on what I mean there). I knocked up the "happy" expression trying to recreate what Sammy and Chrissie had originally decided on. Even though it went against my inner darker demon. The "shocked" face was directly from Sammy's front turnaround for reference.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Tutorials - Week 10

Hello Everyone,

We are on week 10 the countdown is seriously starting to begin here. I wasn't exactly around at the end of Week 10 but I did manage to wangle myself a few further audio logs which correspond to what I would have talked about on Friday. We are just a couple of days late on posting it. Sammy and Chrissie are cracking away at environments while I have my hands full with character modelling in the epic ZBrush. Things are about to go full on into modelling there are just a couple of pesky t's to cross and I's to dot. These include the expression sheets and turnarounds, they will be here soon!

I went in today to get my UCA Just in Interviews continued but everyone who was there was either not ready or too busy to chat so I didn't want to hassle. When I finally got someone the rooms had people in them. The 365 Day Project is taking a little out of me but I will get there. I am not sure whether after next week that there will be any tutorial posts as we are off for Christmas. I will probably put these logs on hold until we are back as it is pointless if it serves no developmental value. When we return in the new year I don't doubt there will be more audio to log... There of course will still be video coming down the pipeline so watch out for those posts :)

Church Reference Images

I'm starting the design for the church environment. As churches tend to have a particular construction we're going to use a real church as referance. St. Mary's Church in Middlesex is a classic old church that has been rebuild and added to over the years giving it a quirky look. It also has the absurd grandure that we wanted for the church. These pictures were taken in the 1900's so we know the appearance will 'of the time'.

I found information about the dimensions and the age of the church at:

And the pictures from:

Monday, 2 December 2013

Pre-Production: Barnabas Expression Sheets

Hello Everyone,

Apologies for the delay in my posts, been getting lots of bits and pieces together. I am partially through most of what will be the final stages of my pre-production contribution. After expression sheets and skeleton turnarounds to final turnarounds I will be deep into production. I have already started some elements but I want to keep those for when I wrap up this side of my pipeline. I want to keep everything orderly, to those of you that know me know I like keeping things flowing. I shouldn't need too long to get the models together, the rigging will be the biggest challenge.

Either way these expression sheet posts will be done as 12 tests for the main 4 characters. I realise that some of them do not look 100% correct but what can I say I'm still learning how to keep character proportions. I only did these as a way to do a bit of a comparison when I'm knee deep within the 3D pipeline to reflect my 3D character expressions. I did this with my last Adaptation project and quite liked it. It gave me something to base the expressions on. It's always good to explore the character with some key facial movement, even if it isn't all used...

Anyway this post is entirely dedicated to the father character "Barnabas".

These are the first 3 expressions I knocked up, Chrissie and Sammy know about my fascination with all things sad (emo eyes anyone?). I never begin with "Happy" I do better with a kind of sadness. Of these 3 I love bored the most, there is something wrong with the shocked expression... I probably should have extended the nose a little more. It's like I said though I kind of have to move on from these pretty sharpish so I am posting up what I can now. This week is based on getting all of this pre-production stuff finalized on my end so I can get to modelling...

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pre-Production: Final Front Skeletons

Hello Everyone,

Just thought I would drop by for yesterdays update, it literally took all night to upload the video I wanted to post. Things on the turnaround front are moving forward with the frontal skeletons plotted I just have to do the side and the back next. The step that follows is just me adding flesh and clothes to the bones and joints. I have probably gone the long way round to do this but there was so much debating over proportion I kind of got side tracked. Still it is nice to explore these forms a little further then having flat images. Its actually been kind of fun.

This whole experiment started with me playing with Benjamin's scale proportions. It was then agreed that each character should fall into Benjamin's world scale. From there I had to adapt Barnabas which I found 7 Barnabas heads fitted into 10.5 Benjamin heads. From there I removed half a head of height from Barnabas to make Bernard (10 Benjamin heads). Young Barnabas is actually the same number of Benjamin heads as Benjamin (4.5), his lower eye line naturally makes him smaller and his head only fits into himself 4 times... This makes each sub character (Bernard, Young Barnabas) shorter.

With scale now explained lets get a little look at those front skeletons!

The image above shows the skeletons in motion. As my previous skeleton tests this is just to show the skeletons in motion demonstrating activity within the proportion. I did this as an extra step, the walk cycles on there are the moment do not reflect the future movement of the character. I did this mainly so we could get a real idea of how the proportions function together. I cleaned up each skeleton with ink and colour using the colour pallet's Sammy suggested on her sketchy faces image. I added the hat as another indicator of scale - the same  size hat fits all and even looks slightly bigger on the kids.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Tutorials - Week 9

Hello Everyone,

Week 9 has been interesting, there has been a lot of written work but now we are in a place to continue the development of this short. I am pretty much focusing solely on the models for the duration of this project. I still have to finalise all of the skeletons for the characters but now that I have drafted the main two its not difficult to adapt the other two from those. That will be the post that should follow this one. After that I have to crack on with turnarounds which shouldn't take long with the joints mapped out. From there its just adding colour and skin/costumes.

Its hard to believe that we are here already but I guess time fly's. It's looking like my tutorial discussion will concern Alan more then Phil at this point as we are deep into the technical aspects, the story is not far from being finalized in animatic form. Still I will jump in and get advice when I can, we don't have long till Christmas is upon us so I have to start pulling the finger out here... I have a bit of modelling and then rigging to battle my way through but I am quite confident in my ability, ZBrush is going to be my home for a while now. You will begin to see a Flurry of "Operation Z" Videos so beware!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Update - Week 8

Hello Everyone,

First of all I would like to point out that the term "Tutorials" has been replaced with "Update" mainly because we did not have any meetings with Alan or Phil. This was mainly because we had a presentation to foundation students and had no real updates on this blog for that week. The reason we sit with Alan or Phil is to receive feedback on any and all work we have recently submitted. That week and its following week were pretty slow as we were refining dissertation drafts. Suffice to say I didn't want to miss a week having started these tutorial updates... I just wanted to repurpose them for another week (like I did with the interim presentation).

Now that I have explained what this post isn't I will explain what I have decided to do here for this week... I thought I would take a little glance back to the very first day of the project. A day when myself, Story Director Sammy Butler & Art Director Chrissie Peters sat down to discuss adapting Sammy's prior year 1 Unit 1: Storytelling project into a refined animated short. I even have a recording from another discussion on the same day which I thought I would include. I will warn you though there is a lot of noise interrupting our discussion... We picked a day when the "red room" was full... not the best time.

The video above is the very first activity I recorded from the Uni. You will have to excuse my introduction which had me filming my legs before noting the work ha-ha. The initial conversations we were having were actually about art style and the characters primary and secondary. We had not actually been long out of the briefing when we sat to have that conversation as you can see the nerves were kind of high. The only videos that pre-date this one are the discussions we had over the summer break, which are being edited by Chrissie, cant wait to see them...

Pre-Production: Barnabas Form Anatomy

Hello Everyone,

We are back and it pleases me that I am the second post since this weeks Dissertation fiasco. We basically had to get our drafts ready for a Friday hand in so we were wrapping all of that up... That more or less excuses our absence but now we are full throttle again. I have to say I thought doing these anatomy tests would be a quicker exercise but there was a lot of face book debating over the forms so I had quite a bit of correcting to make Sammy and Chrissie happy. It's cool though I mean I'm not doing my job if we don't all agree with something...

Anyway this post is the Barnabas rendition of anatomical skeleton tests. Prior to adding detail and establishing a side profile I thought it best to get opinion on the number of heads into Barnabas's body. We had a system in place which we thought would work. We actually found that in the end it didn't which required me to go back and adjust Benjamin's profile slightly. Of course then we had an issue with Benjamin's head being bigger then Barnabas's head which we looked odd when we compared to two together... Benjamin was clear as day and Barnabas wasn't...

Anyway I have included everything in this post so you will see the journey...

The images above show a couple of the animated skeleton tests I conducted... This time I just had fun with the form which I ended up creating. There was such a huge amount of adjustment that I figured I'd just show the girls how this form looks when moving in various ways. The arms are a little longer now just to bring it closer to the reference but fundamentally that's the form I ended up relying on. I could not resist adding the hat here, it was essential to figuring out Barnabas to Benjamin's head space. You may have to click the images to see it in its glory, Barnabas is significantly taller then Benjamin.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Barnabas' Build-up

Stitch is all ready to start creating the orthagraphs and turnarounds for our characters but to help keep consistency across the board I've repeated what I did with Benjamin, with Barnabas. I took Chrissie's design for him and translated it to a broken down structure to iron out the structural build-up for him.

1 - Sketching over the original design and working out the shapes
2 - Building a 2D rig from the sketch
3 - Use this rig to sketch out the character
4 - Sketch on its own
5 - Using the rig to create a side veiw

Basically this is to pass information onto Stitch for him to work from. Showing the leg from sideways and front means he can interpret the design more clearly. In the file I've sent him it the layers of clothes so he can hide things like the blazer. This is because, for the second scene, Barnabas won't be wearing a blazer so Stitch needs to see the shirt detail too.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pre-Production: Bernard Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

This week was another interesting one, mainly because it had us presenting once again only this time to foundation students. I think Sammy realised on the day that I am still a little out of my element in front of a crowd, I tried my best though. Anyway I was meant to do this post sooner but dissertation alterations kind of took priority. I still have a few to make but hopefully it shouldn't interrupt my final anatomy tests for Barnabas. I decided to complete my costume test posts by doing Bernard's just to show a couple of colour/costume variants to inspire when I'm finalizing turnarounds.

When drafting these designs I was looking at Chrissie's research while also conducting a few little google searches of my own. It was nice to explore these choices, I mean it was kind of limiting as Sammy had already pretty much defined the costumes with her animatic. There are only so many options you can create for a standard issue suit and top hat. I guess more then anything I wanted to see how the costumes looked on the dummy forms. Having explored a little I can also say of some things which I will be including on the physical 3D model.

Anyway lets take a look at some costume options for Bernard Bardgersworth
The image above shows the little costume wardrobe animation that I have been accustomed to making for this Unit. The costumes are made from 4 variant costumes which are broken into parts and then reassembled to create different variants. I use this to create 10 additional variants from the primary 4. This allows me to explore the idea of what Bernard could be wearing and what colour combinations may or may not work. These costumes are all tested on a Bernard's early dummy form which was chosen by the Polydoodle Team to base him on at a structural level.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Pre-Production: Benjamin Form Anatomy

Hello Everyone,

I meant to post this up the other day as per Sammy's request before jumping into full on turnaround mode but its here now so lets get to it. Sammy put it to me on Tuesday that she wanted me to explore the stylised vs. real anatomical connotations on Benjamin. She wanted me to explore the possibilities for the character before deciding on a route. Of course I was a little sceptical I mean I have explored the form with 3D dummy's earlier in week 1 of this project (See link here). Anyway I set to it not just to give Sammy what she wanted but to prove my theory of Benjamin's ultimate form.

I have staked out numerous sources including some of the earlier stuff Sammy and Chrissie have been drawing in regard to Benjamin's design. I even used a book ("Figure Drawing for all its worth" - Andrew Loomis) to gain more of an understanding for the head rule in young boys. What I found was that boys aged 5 tend to be comprised of 6 heads (evenly 3 to groin - mid point and 3 for legs to foot). There was also something else to consider, that children's characters tend to have bigger heads then their bodies (2x the head) this makes them appealing to children.

With these things noted I jumped into redesigning Benjamin's Skeleton.
From my experiments I conducted a few basic movement tests using Benjamin's skeleton (images above). The image to the far left is based on the realistic proportions of a 5 year old with Benjamin's head. The image in the middle is an adaptation suggested by Sammy - that being shorter chest and longer legs. Last but not least the image to the far right is actually based from my dummy 3D pose tests. It was bugging me that we were not using the proportions of my form tests even though it appeared we were more or less adhering more towards them without our knowledge.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Interim Presentation

Hello Everyone,

Its taken a while to upload but it is here all 22 minutes of our interim presentation last Friday (08/11/2013). For those of you that do not know usually once every Unit we have to give a presentation to our tutors and class to get the fabled "Green Light". A green light is the tutors way of giving the all clear to a project that they are satisfied with its direction. This also allows the tutors to give feedback to any areas of a project that need improvement or adjustment. From our presentation it was mostly positive but there are little areas which our tutors (Phil & Alan) thought could need adjustment.

To make things easier on everyone I decided to embed the actual full version of the animatic and pre-pre-viz into the video so people could experience it full screen. I will time code these areas just in case anybody would like to look at those solely. Other then that everything else is the actual presentation and feedback directly from Phil and Alan (you should be able to see them in the bottom left of the video). At this point we were just trying to be in a half decent place to receive more advice from our tutors. This is also why our interim document was quite short as we were told just to show the things which were finite at this point in our creative journey for "& Son".

Anyway to view the crit video please check it out below... I will time code the extras!

The video above shows the entire 22 minute duration of our presentation to our CG Arts class. I was feeling a bit crap on the day so there were not many words from me. Our show runner Samantha Butler lead the presentation and myself and Chrissie Peters tried to jump in where we could. The presentation was largely about the Animatic just to see what peoples impressions were of the story at this stage. We didn't exactly get feedback from everyone in the class but Alan and Phil gave us some much needed input which will hopefully shape its outcome further.

Pre-Production: Young Barnabas Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

We have been taking a few days to get our dissertations checked and double checked so you will have to excuse a few delayed posts here and there for this week at the very least. While I am doing this I thought I would take the opportunity to post up a couple more costume test things. This may not be the most interesting topic but it is never the less a development step for the key characters. This post particularly focuses on Young Barnabas where I tried to go away from the traditional norms as he is a mischievous child at this point in his life.

I decided to shy away from keeping him too done up but I wanted a kind of formality to his attire. I wanted the thing that defines him to be a paint splotch or two or a paintbrush in the silken lining of his hat. I had quite a bit of fun with his design for this reason. I still put the normal undertakers attire in to appease what I envision to be Sammy's vision but these ones were probably more for me to show that I fleshed him out a little. Of course then you randomly mix and match and you never know what might work in the end... I just want to provide everyone with options.

Anyway below are a couple of costume variants for the Young Barnabas form.
The image above shows the randomised costume variants available (which I kept limited to 10 once again). I could have sat down and picked out my favourite but I always think its better to post randomly here. After all the girls can always say to me I like that hat but I don't like that it has a paintbrush in it, etc. I also want to make my mark on the character, something which is solely my influence but I figured I'd get that opportunity in the modelling process. I just want to make sure that I have explored the earlier steps fully before going into 3D.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Minor Pitch

The Presentation

Interim Crit Document

The Animatic

The Pre-Pre-Vis?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Pre-Production: Barnabas Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

Apologies for the delay this goes out to my Polydoodle Partners Chrissie and Sammy more then anyone else. Been sick the past few days, got flu from somewhere, argh its irritating. Anyway one of the things I have been gradually posting up is the costume tests for our characters. After doing one it didn't feel right not to do all of them. Besides I also would like to explore costume options before settling on the design for the turnaround and thus the 3D model. This is what inspired me to try and get these done before tacking turnarounds...

Anyway after my posting the Benjamin costume tests my partners Chrissie and Sammy had a few scaling and asymmetrical requirements not in the design. I went about this just by explaining that these costumes are not to show scale as these are just to explore colour and alternative details. The asymmetric details are something which is not entirely needed until after the models are made. I find it easier to build 3D models symmetrically as it allows me to duplicate sides. The asymmetric details are added after everything has been painted and properly staged.

Anyway below are a couple of costume variants for the Barnabas form.
The animation is made from 4 costume variants mixed and matched to make 10 alternative designs using interchangeable parts. The dummy itself was chosen in the earlier weeks from a massive selection of forms. All 3 of us came to agreement on how it looked but it has since changed a little from what it was. The final turnarounds will feature some of the characteristics of this dummy but may not be exact. The arms are a little too long and the back is arched a bit too far back. All of this is crude for the costume tests, refinement is the next step.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Pre-Production: Benjamin Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

One of many updates but this took so long to get completed I will have to drastically speed up for the next 3. I have turnarounds to blast through before Friday. Anyway when it comes to costume design its always a bit of an ache for me. Don't get me wrong I get why we do it but argh it can be tedious just trying to think up new design ideas for costumes. For this post I have knocked together a couple of ideas that I have been keeping to myself. These designs were drawn layered on a light box before being brought into manga for inking... There is quite a process that I went through for these designs.

Everything begins from the base forms I knocked up in weeks 1-5 which were our rough guide for character form... They are not final but they are mannequins to dump costumes over. After that I posed them and then took a render from an angle I liked. I then chose to drape the mannequin in layers using the light box. This means that I drew 4 versions of his suit jacket on one piece of animation paper and 4 versions of his trousers on a different piece of animation paper, etc, etc. From there things got scanned and were inked in Manga studio before making their way to Photoshop for combining and animating...

Phew that was a bit of a mouthful, anyway I will show you the end result of this...
I created this from 4 full costume variants, I interchanged certain elements of the image to get 10 alternate costumes from my initial 4 (e.g. mixing a hat with another costume or a different bow tie with shoes, etc). What I got was a variety of different styles which certainly cheered me up only having 4 colour variants (I wish there was time for more but I have to get cracking on the others). For now though I think this really gives a good selection and if anything is preferred we can address it at a later date... From what I know the suits are pretty much decided... I mainly wanted to play with size and colour...

Animatic Scene 1 - The Graveyard

All this week I'm full steam on the animatic so we can present it at the pitch and receive an all important audience reaction/feedback. We've all looked at the story too long to be able to see it with fresh eyes. Here's the first scene of the animatic. Not happy with the dodgy curtain action at the beginning but it's there to represent live footage. The curtain will be real on a real theatre box... then the animation with appear behind the curtain as it lifts and obviously still using SFX I've pulled from the net. We plan to record our own soon.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Pre-Production: Hat Design for Final Logo

Hello Everyone,

You will probably all call me crazy but I suppose what else is new. I spent a bit of today knocking about a hat design for our T Shirts (something to make the logo "& Son" ours - unique to us). I first set about looking for Hat models to give me a basic hat shape to work from (trying to save time). Once I found one I put it in ZBrush and distorted it shaped it differently (making it much longer). I wrapped it up with a nice little flower stuck in the hat (which is actually a gag flower - not a real one). After that I thought "as I'm already in ZBrush why not try to composite some layers?"

I did just that being fully into it since Phil asked me to do the Driver last week. This post will show all of the render layers I used in creating the final outcome. The beautiful thing about working in render layers is you can change the colour of shadows/lights, anything because it is all separate. You can mask sections of the hat allowing you to paint that section only or exclude it from other layers. It gives you full licence to make the image something different just by tweaking values and adding splatters of paint here and there... Seriously its powerful stuff!!

Below you will see the final hat and then everything that led up to it!
The image above is the final hat on its lonesome... This of course was tweaked and adjusted from a number of render layers allowing me to slightly tweak certain aspects including light colour and opacity, material, depth strength, colour raw/Photoshop & reflectivity. I could even use the FX controls to adjust hues of shadow and light or drop slight shadows behind the hat itself. The control by doing compositing (or Weta) is certainly astounding I love it. The hat design itself is slightly elongated. In case there was any question this is Benjamin's hat...

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Tutorials - Week 6

Hello Everyone,

Another week has gone by so I thought I'd get out in front of these as I will be spending the rest of my time up until next week working on expression sheets and turnaround images for our 4 chief characters. I also have a couple of costume designs to knock up based from Chrissies invaluable research (something I haven't had in my earlier designs). I will do my best to get as much done as possible so we can get cracking. Chrissie will be putting one of my former character models (Charles - rightly owned by Smoke Stack Studios:  into a scene with our 2D assets to see how they look comparatively. Special love goes to my former Smoke stack creative partners Anita Gill and Lydia Caplan for allowing us to use him. You rule ladies!

Everything is go as we have our green light pitch next week in which we want to only submit resolved stuff. The development has been discussed in numerous tutorials across this unit so no more development needs to be seen really... We now have to show everyone what we have resolved and I personally am getting stir crazy waiting on getting my hands dirty with some 3D modelling. I also have my business Partner Rosslehoff waiting in the wind for me to turn up at his with some Magic sculpt and 4 turnarounds for him to get stuck into sculpting them by hand... Another little video log ;) The future is going to be interesting!

Character Faces

This week the team has been steaming ahead with perfecting the characters. We've been together drawing up costumes and discussing the final details on each of the 4 characters to be modelled- Barnabas, Benjamin, Young Barnabas and Bernard. I then took Chrissie and Stitch's designs and combined them, along with the goal of making them all look related, to give us the final designs for the characters' faces.

The colouring is subject to change but they're roughly the colours we're going for. Also Young Barnabas has a fleck of paint on his cheek and the heavy lines are in places are to pass information to Stitch for his turnarounds and orthographs.

These are also my designs for Barnabas and Benjamin's costume...

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Animatic - Ext Graveyard Sequence

I'm working on the more refined storyboard... which are really the cells for the animatic. I wanted to get an idea on what style the team are happy with... my original animatic wasn't very telling of the action though I had coloured it in and so on. This time the facial expressions, timing and actions are more important then making it look filmic for the animatic so I want to invest the time into getting the movements and expressions right through line... You'll see in this little snippet here.. detail where it's needed. Once I have all the cells and I've made a really rough animatic... the real work begins. Finesse the edit!

"& Son..." - environment concepts part 2

In an attempt to knit together the environment and characters, and to demonstrate the way the theatre box could work, I've mocked up a very rudimentary box in Maya and some back-cloths in the different styles we have been looking at. 
Thoughts please... :)

Video Logs: The Draft Animatic

Hello Everyone,

This post is once again about Sammy's draft Animatic which you would have already seen by looking at this post here. There have since been updates reaching the conclusion of the final storyboard draft which can be located here. Of course I felt that a little explanation is in order and of course a little snippet of Sammy working in premiere putting the still images together. So in the interest of clarity and to show a little more behind the scenes development I thought I would knock up a little video, and do a post showing where we were and where we are going.

Since starting these little logs I have acquired quite an amount of behind the scenes video so I am trying to use it to educate a little (or not at all). This is my promise to myself more then anything but I think I would have loved to have known how to do all of this a few years ago. The documented video for this post is quite short but I figure the shorter it is the quicker people with short attention spans can move on. These are all Sammy Butler's developments for the story of "& Son" I have included a snippet from her prior Unit 4 work all the way back in Year 1...

So take a look the essence of this story is still here after all!

The video above shows a bit of the editing Process with Polydoodle Pictures Sammy Butler. She is working in premiere putting all of those stills in one by one. The next stage in the process is drawing over them but we will get there. I thought I would just go over it a bit before revealing Sammy's already released initial draft. I think it is Act 1 just leading on to Act 2 right before the second prank from Benjamin. In this case though I have to say we have avoided the "little shit" territory we previously found ourselves at with his character.

Video Logs: "& Son" Tutorials - Week 5

Hello Everyone,

Another week gone and nearly another too! Things are heating up, we are looking to finalize our turnarounds and some expression sheets by the end of this week. There are costume and colour tests well on their way from us so keep your eyes peeled! We are using a really cool light box process which I got from the first Iron Man movie so Ill post up a little Intel on that when ready. We have quite a bit of work cut out for us still but I'm hopeful that most of the little odds and ends of our project will sort themselves out by the end of this week... We can get down to some concept art and maybe begin the Pre-Viz.

The audio logs for Week 5 only include Alan as Phil had a Crit with the Year 1 class. I spent the rest of the day helping Sammy stick down storyboards on her wallpaper (sorry I mean storyboard). Alan gave a few last minute pointers with regard to its direction and optimization of some of the panels. Sammy retroactively changed the storyboards to suit some of Alan's suggestions in the hope of making the story simpler in certain areas. There is no doubt in my mind that she is probably home right now inking up those boards for some inspiring animatic... Cant wait.

Clothing reference material

Clothing references for Benjamin and Young Barnabas...these are  English and from the right time periods & class. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Animation Branding

In preparation for our shirt I needed to get a final Logo for the animation it's self. From my Font tests we established which font to go with which I've now taken forward and made a little mock up sign for the Funeral shop front.

A mock up for our shirts (we'll each have our own preference in style and colour)

Benjamin's Build-up

I needed to have a practice drawing Benjamin from Chrissie's designs for the animatic so I thought I'd break him down into the shape build-up.

1. I drew over Chrissie's design
2. I used circles and lines to build up his structure and features
3. Check it looked ok without the sketch behind
4. Then used it to draw Benji again to see if I got the same character at the end
5. Yup

The main test comes when I have to move the build-up into a new position...

1. I had to create a new head shape but I could use the original as reference for proportion. 
2. Drew over the new build-up
3. Then added in a few details... 

A few tweeks needed but I can use it for the Animatic at least :D

"And Son..." VERY ROUGH Barnabas face sketches

After talking with Justin about hereditary features, these are very rough sketches of Barnabas looking at face shape, ears and eyes and how they could be transferred between father and son.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Rough Storyboard Complete

Tomorrow I start work drawing these up neatly for the creation of our animatic. Mounting these up on boards really helped plot the story because we had everything in front of us in order to follow the story and see where it might be lacking... That stage is complete now so we can move onwards. (Note: Scene 2 also has some alteration about angles but the actions play out the same.)

"& Son..." - revised Benjamin sketches

After a chat with tutor Justin, I have made some revisions to the Benjamin sketches.

Firstly Justin felt the black mourning outfit needed breaking up.  There are restrictions on our colour palette because of the narrative, so I have kept to a range of greys. The red-and-white bow tie is necessary to the story.
Justin also felt the original boots were "wrong": too stubby and rounded, so I have revised these using reference material.
Justin suggested making the coat tails long to help make Benjamin's clothes look too large, but I'm not sure about this, I think it makes it a bit too comical. 

The second set of sketches show revised faces now that we have settled on a face with widely spaced eyes, large low ears, and a wide forehead.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Video Logs: The Draft Storyboards

Hello Everyone,

This last few weeks have been a testament to our development of this project. I took this time to sit back and dig into a few hours of the footage which I have gathered specifically from Polydoodle to get another nice Doodler update for this blog and of course the 365 day project site ( After sitting down with Sammy at the end of Week 3 she took some time out to talk through the draft panels of our animated short for Q2 2014 "& Son". I thought I would capture this on my trusty camera although she was not very appreciative of its gaze.

After sitting down with Sammy she talked us through her vision for each shot, which she relayed on each storyboard panel. Chrissie and me were gobsmacked when checking out how long the storyboard was... Sort of put my 2012 "Ashen Bloom" Smoke Stack exploit to shame. Never the less the delicate nature of our short is what requires an abundance of shots for a simple gaze or tilt of the head can mean everything in this particular short. This is something we have all agreed on after discussing this over the past 4 weeks with our Tutors Alan and Phil.

Anyway lets check out the video with commentary from an invading Stitch!

The video above is based entirely on our first draft storyboards. I wanted this mainly so when we are sitting around at Week 15 wiping the sweat from our brow we can look back at this for some nostalgia. It is not only to show how far we have come but also to somewhat explain the storyboarding process for people who have yet to come to grips with its benefits. I do let my introduction trail off throughout the video just to let Sammy explain a couple of details in the short, things you will see come Q2 2014 next year should they make the final edit.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Tutorials - Week 4

Hello Everyone,

Apologies for the delay on these logs! Stuff has been getting real particularly with the 365 day project ( Most of this week has been looking at the videos I got from some really receptive CG Arts students. I have begun doing a little editing, nothing major as of yet the big unveil wont be until next year. Rest assured nobody has been seen in bad light this far so nobody panic about what they did or did not say. If they went on and on or kept everything brief. It does not matter, these videos are a snapshot of you now... nothing more, nothing less!

The talk of this week has been more about refining our animatic and storyboards, all of which are on their way. I have personally been involved doing character stuff, just making sure we explored everything with enough scope. Character costumes are the next thing up for debate what will then follow will be colour choices. I just want to play with a couple of ideas before we get into the concept art stage of things. Chrissie has been doing the same thing, getting her hands dirty with more character stuff... The environments will come after this round of decisions.

Pre-Production: Main Characters - Head Tests

Hello Everyone,

Sorry for the delay but these heads took a bit of time to knock up. I wanted to make sure I wasn't repeating myself too much so I was trying a couple of different tactics to create them. That being said I gave myself some rules to follow when knocking up the young Barnabas as I wanted to keep it similar to the adult version of Barnabas. I also wanted to convey these curls of hair that could be optional for the adult Barnabas when he loses his strict "all work and no play" philosophy. I have to say I had fun knocking up the heads it was a good learning experience!

I have also been playing quite a bit with the father "Bernard Barnabas" mainly because he's the cause of such rigidity within Barnabas. The girls wanted me to shift an expression of Anger onto Bernard which is something I'm still refining, I accidentally keep making them look oriental. Suffice to say when I sit down to knock out expression sheets I will be looking constantly at my expressions book. You may also note that Barnabas and Benjamin start later in their alphabet, that's because there were earlier posts depicting facial possibilities... The links are here and here!

 Now lets get to the fun part of the post... THE HEAD TESTS!!
The image above shows the head tests I conducted for Benjamin. These basically continue from M and are a little jumbled but I figured as long as the letter is there it doesn't matter. The girls gave no opinions on these but I quite liked Q. S was a very close second mainly because I loved the curly locks. I wasn't sure if these curls were something we were showing on Benjamin before or after his Fathers adjusted personality but never the less I couldn't resist trying out lots of things with his hair. I also tried a few slight feature adaptations, I kept making the eyes progressively bigger with the forehead for example!

Monday, 21 October 2013

"And Son..." - Barnabas shaping

right - early Barnabas concept
middle - Barnabas drawn to our model proportions, before decisions were taken on shoulder size and aging
left - lightly re-sized Barnabas with younger face

"And Son..." - Benjamin in Funeral Clothes - concepts