Sunday, 24 May 2015

No More Deadlines

At least, no more college related deadlines as I've submitted my last module last Thursday!
3 years of DFGA adventures flew passed  so fast, it's hard to believe that we wil be having a Final year Show in couple weeks time. Excited!
This blog is going to be pretty quite from now on as I'll upload everything just onto my sketchblog and other sites. Oh and if you're interested in reading about my LCA and DFGA experience I'll post something soon :)

Thursday, 21 May 2015


GA-MA-YO is a network for game makers based in Yorkshire, providing information about events happening around, such as local monthly meet ups (for Leeds it's a Game Toast with the meet up happening on 26th of May).

Website is easy to navigate, while following their twitter account makes finding out about upcoming events and opportunities a lot easier. The links section provides information about organisations based in UK, while teams tap is basically a massive list of companies and freelancers based in Yorkshire.
I started looking thru this tap last year when searching for internships and this year I'm doing it again, but this time my goal is to find a job. As mentioned list of companies is huge and ealier this year I had a look to see what type of work their produce and if there are any positions available. I also tried to track their employers to see what kind of work their produce and if my portfolio could potentialy match their style.
There are not many advantages of living in Leeds, since London is a hub of creative minds, however Yorkshire provides a lot of opportunities. Companies are smaller, mostly making mobile game, but that's good. Another good aspect of GA-MA-YO is the fact that it's open to anybody, you don't have to be a part of existing team : freelancers and game enthusiast can also join events.


On of the submission criteria for this module was to create a showreel. I struggled with the idea a bit, as I describe myself more as a concept artist/ilustrator than animator and don't have a sufficient amount of moving image work to include. On top of that I'm still trying to figure out if animation is something I'll like to do or not? I'm more interested in concept/character or storyboard artist jobs than being actual animator.
However I was pursued by tutors to make one. Personally, I feel it should be treated more as a trailer for Fern Flower than a showreel. I've included the scenes from my animation I'm most proud of plus simple breakdowns of puppets to show the amount of work that goes into it.

The Witcher3 and racism|PPP3

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, one of the most anticipated games of 2015, finally was released on 19th of May. While there are people who decided to play Destiny's new DLC, House of Wolf, most of the community got excited ofer the new CDProjectRed title.
I haven't got a copy yet, as I still have to finish Dishonored, but watched few Twitch streams to see the downgrade of the graphics (actually, CDProjectRed apologised for the lower quality graphics). What caught my eye was no complains about the visuals but accusastions that this game is racist.
You would probably look at me and think: what? How can people complay about lack of PoC in a game, that action takes in Slavic Poland. It is like expecting Asian assasing in Assassin's Creed: Unity. It doesn't make sense (let me just note that this is different from the whole discussion about having female assassins and lame excuse from Ubisoft).
While some games could benefit from having larger diversity of the characters, others simply shouldn't follow th trend. In case of The Witcher - the story and time period are well explaining the fact why there are only white people in it. Having African merchant wouldn't make sense, it will be out of place. Moreover, game is based on Sapkowski's books and if there is no such thing in a source material, why should it be included in a game?
Adrian Chmielarz, creator of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter prepared a 3 point list of possible sins of The Witcher 3. While I find the following list amusing, it is also scary that some people may actually come up with such things.

So, let's leave games alone, stop blaming creators of things that do not match the story/time period and just enjoy gameplay. And, if you really dislike something - stop watching the streams of it. It's as simple as that.

Leeds Illo|PPP3

I found about Leeds Illo thru twitter back in January, when the first meeting was about to happen and Facebook group was just created. Group was created by Tom Wolley, the goal, according to description is: bi-monthly Leeds meet-ups for illustrators in Yorkshire. A chance to leave your desk and chinwag with fellow illustrators.
Leeds Illo are a bi-monthly meetings that take place in Leeds city centre. As it gatheres multiple creatives from illustration field is probably a great networking opportunity for me, as a graduate, to get some contacts. Moreover, since finishing college, I will be alone again and getting to meet like minded people will be great.
Also the group provides interesting news and opportunities in illustration field.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Value my CV|PPP3

Recently I came across the website that evaluates and estimates the worth of your CV. uses a word or pdf document of CV as a base to create a summary, skills breakdown, list of available job offers and salary range. I decided to give it a try because I was curious what it can come up with.

Interestingly enough the majority of jobs offered to my by this website were Web Designer positions. I'm not sure how it works, but maybe because concept art jobs aren't advertised on your average, normal job search engine, the closes it could get was making websites.

Other thing that made me giggle was that a position of a Senior Lecturer for Illustration BA course at LCA was my best match.
I didn't expected this website to work properly but never thought it could be so wrong.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Game industry and dress code|PPP3

Interesting article, titled The video-game industry has a dress code – driven by a lack of diversity, was added to the tech section of the Guardian on the 18th of May.

Entry written by Holly Nielsen tackles an issue of overly relaxed clothes that most game developers wear. Somehow we became used to seeing white guys dressed in denim and checked shirts. I agree with Holly, if men wants to wear casual clothes everywhere, thats fine. E3 is upon us and we wil again see a number of guys wearing said combo or the slithly geeky game/tv show themed tee (most likely from LootCrate or similar place).

However, the fact that there is only 22% of women working in the industry is something we should worry about. Or at least talk openly. Yes, according to the studies, this number doubled in last five years, but it's still small. Women are not expected to make games. Activists such as Anita Sarkeesian does not help either. Her talks are irrevelant and not backed by the actual figures/studies. Plus she didn't completed goals of her well funded kickstarter campaign (yet managed to get money from people again).

Going back to the whole dress-code thing - Holly states later that she stand out in a crowd during the event and was very concious of the clothes she decided to wear. At her best she tried to avoid anything that could brand her 'sexy'. Somehow the outfit could potentially make her look less professional, which sounds crazy when we get back to the casually dressed men.

I agree with the statement that game industry lack diversity and hope that this will change in the upcoming years.


Recently a lot of artists started talking about importance of having your own IP. Fact that studios can lay off a lot people quickly, while projects get cancelled, having something new in your portfolio is important. When working in a studio environment you'll get constantly challenge by new tasks, which is great, but new skills are not always visible for the future clients. Moreover, personal projects are more fun to do as you are your own boss and can do things that makes you happy. With the rising popularity of Patreon (and Tapastic), getting your own project funded been made really easy. Artists such as Sakimi-chan are a proof that you can make a decent wage by creating thing you enjoy.
Another direction some experienced artists took is opening their own schools, making mentorship programmes or gumroad tutorials. Chris Oatley and Oatley Academy, Stephen Silver, Anthony Jones with his mentorship programmes, that's only a few examples of the constantly growing community that is about sharing knowledge. Matt Kohr, creator of ctr+paint quitted his daytime job to devotehis time to the resource website.
I think it's wonderful that so many creatives are willing to openly share their stories, techniques and advice with audience and are not scare of young people taking their jobs. Afterall we all benefit from it.

Upcoming Competitions|PPP3

As we are about to finish college I've started looking for interesting competitions to take part in.

Tigerprint, a design company based in Bradford and London that specilise in creating products, such as cards, for Mark&Spencer, launched another competition titled: Characters for Everyday. Brief included on the website asks for a card design that features characters, humans, animals or objects, presented in a way that's appealing to the Marks&Spencer customers.
Deadline is 15th of June and max of 5 designs can be submitted.

Healpful Bear Productions just posted a list of prize sponsors for the third edition of Creature Design Contest. At the time of writing this post no other details, such as brief or deadline, were known.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Searching for Work|PPP3

I have to admit - I've been quite lucky so far, because all the small jobs that was offered to me came from various websites I've been posting my work on. There was no need for me to ask or search for work. However, I still liked to check sites such as Behance, Deviantart, Artstation and for job offers. On twitter I follow 'animation jobs' which tweets daily at least couple of animation related positions available worldwide.
I feel like my skillset is quite broad, as I can do concept art, illustration, asset design and storyboards. My style is indeed quite cartoony but I'm always open to the possible challenges. There are still many things that I need to improve and I work hard everyday on becoming better.
As for the job offers - most studios expect at least 3 years of experience and some ask to have at least one released title. Of course good technical knowledge is a must. On the other side, degree is not a necessity, compare to the strong portfolio. I haven't applied for any concept art related jobs anywhere, but I'm planning on doing so after graduating.

Interesting Stuff 013|PPP3

  • I found Zachatronics podcast few days ago and had a listen to the first episode. It looks like we are going to have a good indie dev podcastwith the behind the scene insight.
  • If you missed Feast, charming animated short by Disney, don't worry, there is a 720p version on YouTube :)
  • ARTCAFE is a new livestream goodie run by amazing Maciej Kuciara. Two recent episodes were about working in movie industry and using photos as reference and photobashing and incoming stream is titled : The Video Games Development Experience : How to break into video games industry. Along with Maciej we are going to hear Raf Grassetti, Ryan Hawkins, Nick Gindraux, John Sweeney, Alexandria Neonakis, David Lesperance and Jung Park.
  • Working out podcast is something I came across recently and to be honest I haven't listen to any episodes yet but according to the website description it's about turning your creative hobby into business. 


Becoming a freelance artist and working from home is a possible career option for me. Of course I'd prefer to have a full time job in a studio, however it can potentially be a difficult task. There are pros and cons of freelancing: getting clients is more difficult for unknown graduate plus the amount of the money earned need to be enough to cover at least costs of living. There is no guarantee you'll have enough work each month to pay bills, some months ca be realy busy while other quiet. However, since having little baby, working from home cuts the cost of the childcare. Working alone can be daunting and also requires a lot of motivation and discipline. It's easy to lost hour or two scroling down tumblr or Facebook knowing there is no boss looking over your shoulder. Nevertheless deadlines and milestones has to be reached.
A motto/mantra I started to repeat is 'under promise, over deliver'. I've heard it during one of the LevelUp! streams and it resonates well with me. Afterall it's better to promise less to the client, achieve the goal or even exceed it by making something even better. That makes you look even more proffesional, results in a happy client who may decide to commission you again or recommend you.
Since I'm taking my baby steps as a freelancer I have to be extra good for the clients as I need to build not only a good portfolio but also a reputation. In the end it's good to have few good clients that are happy with the work and are most likely to come back again.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Final Exhibition - Planning Space|PPP3

Final Year show is upon us and since the biggest module been already submitted, planning space can start.
From what I've been told, moving image pieces (animation and film) will be shown in one room in a form of reel. There is also a possibility to get a 'wall' to display all the concept art work in the other room. Board wall is around meter wide and I've been thinking that having two is enough (I mean if I could get extra one will be even better). So here's a plan of what I'm planning on displaying:
  • Title Banner saying: Fern Flower (large font) - a magical adventure (smaller font), takes almost two walls;
  • 4 A2 posters/pamphlets showing the design process, how animation was made, character development. Last year for COP3 we made academic poster and I felt like A3 is too small, so I'll go with A2 and lower the word count (that's why I'm thinking 4 A2 posters);
  • A4 printouts of puppets;
  • If there is an extra spare board I'd also like to display some screenshots;
  • If there is a space I'd like to have at least one puppet printed large and hand on a string. I've already saved a bit of cardboard to get it made.
  • I'm hoping there will be also a desk somewhere so I can put my business cards, if not I'll make a shelf for them on my wall (like I did suring Showcase Spectacular exhibition);
Another idea I've got is to use QR code to direct people to my website (or maybe I'll make a tumblr blog that showcase it all? Will see).
In terms of space I was thinking somewhere in front, next to the airconditioning machine, which would give me extra room to hang puppets from the ceiling. Or, if not maybe a back wall facing doors?
This a very rough room plan with spaces I'm happy to have.
Also this a quick mock up of how I can possibly arrange things on walls. This is just a guide for me to get idea across and many things can still change.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Children Book Illustration Research|PPP3

For some time I've been wondering what it is I exactly want to do. Is it concept art? Animation? Illustration? Comics? A very difficult question, which I'm unable to answer at this point. However, as I'm still trying to find myself, I've decided to look at one of the options.
Illustrating children's books been a dream and one of the personal goals for the long time. To be honest, opportunity to illustrate any type of book would be awesome. However, children's books are able to offer more creative freedom than regular title aimed at adults. Usually, when it comes to books, it's only a cover images plus few illustrations inside. Reader treats them as extra, a nice treat. But when it comes to kids, they look at those images as inspiration to let their own imagination go wild. The goal is to enrich their imagination. And since so many books are for children that haven't mastered reading yet, illustrations have to tell the story.
Another goal in this field would be for me not only to be able to illustrate somebody else story, but work and publish my own. Ever since Alice appeared in my life, the amount of stories that wonder in my head increased dramatically and I've got this constant urge to share them with the world. But how do you approach this task? How do you get in touch with publisher or agent, make a pitch?
I've been following Will Terry's YouTube channel for quite a bit time. He is a professional children's book illustrator (and teacher) with many years of experience. Recently he launched a new series on his YouTube channel in which he's discussing his journey of publishing book.
I want to also note that at the time I'm writing this blog post, Will haven't published it. We, viewers rooting for his success, don't know if the story'll be a hit or not. One of the illustration he shared looks very good and I'd love to see it.
My plan is to learn as much as I can from his experience. I'm aware that publishing an actual book is very difficult task and in my case it could be a bit easier to get it out by making it digital, in form of app. But before I start on that I need to create a decent story, design characters and enviroments, establish mood and art style. A lot of work ahead, but that's very exciting.

Monday, 11 May 2015


FernFlower was quite a ride. I've enjoyed the process as much as I felt in love with the story and characters. So natural part was for me to start thinking about expanding universe.
First idea that hit me during the creation process was making a game. A 2.5D adventure game. Or Maybe a platformer? I've been watching a 'DoubleFine ADVENTURE!' documentary and have a weak spot for UbiArt titles. Both have a very amazing art style, carefully detailed backgrounds and really nice looking characters. Speaking of backgrounds - I should add Ori and the Blind Forest to this list. Even tho I haven;t played this game yet I saw some concept art on Artstation.
So yeah, first idea - game. Story could stay the same and the journey thru the forest could be a main part of the gameplay. Multiple traps, platforms, puzzles to solve. Goal - get the Fern Flower. Everything ending with the epic battle between Boy and Vodyanoy. Since Boy would be a playable character I could use a Girl as a sidekick or a mascot. Or maybe give her also some abilities and allow player to switch between both of them? In terms of art style I feel like Broken Age is the closes to what I'd like to achive if I'd ever emabrk on making such complex thing.
Second idea - comic. Which is kinda obvious choice. Original thing is an animation so comic book coming out along it seems normal. In terms of story, again it can be increased by showing their actual journey thru the forest.
Third thing that hit me after completing FernFlower was making it into series. Using this style, imitating puppet theatre, to tell the stories based on various myths, folk tales and legends. It could be interesting. My husband also suggested that it could be cool not to have dialogue, just a music and let parents tell the story to the kids. The breakdown of whats happening could be included in the description or in form of subtitles. When I was a kid my mum used to tell us tales by showing different slides on the oldfashioned projector. It really made those moments special. I feel that giving too much information in one go limits children's imagination as they are already told by the thing what's going on.
At this point I'm unsure if any of those ideas become reality, but it would be totally awesome if they did.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Interesting Stuff 7-12|PPP3

Compilation of Interesting Stuff posts, my lists of interesting things from the world of animation, ilustration and concept art!

  •  Female Potrayals in video games - quite a good article I came across recently thru elsevilla DA journal entry. Worth reading whenever you agree with it or not ;)
  • New version of Krita which I need to download and test soon! (for symmetry tool and wrap- around mode)
  • Chris Oatley interview with Loish - artcast #85 - a bit different to other episodes as it was an interview done in person, with all the funky background noise.
  • THU2015 is upon us with quite expensive tickets some people can't afford. Luckily there is a competition going with a really cool prizes!
  • The Freelance Handbook - free 116-page ebook.
  •  Since Alice joined our little family and made me almost completly unable to paint I've started binging on all types of podcasts, streams, vlogs, hangouts, timelapses and whats not. BelowI tried combine a list of art related talks/tutorials. Some channels are still active, other been dead for years but still worth listening to (and few went into gumroad mode with more trailers than content). Probably forgot about tons of other cool stuff, but hey, thats me ;)
creative trek  , levelUp , robotpencil , chrisoatley , sycra , cubebrush , ctr+paint , feng zhu , noah bradley , proko , collective podcast , bobby chiu , shaddy safadi , schoolism interviews , clint cearley , will terry , scott robertson , draw with jazza , dave rapoza  , stephen silver
  •  Duik 14.23 is a plugin for AfterEffects.. or should I cite DuDuF R&D website:  The essential tools for the animation on After Effects: Autorig, Inverse Kinematics (IK), Bones, Morphers, Dynamics… Animation becomes handy and easy on After Effects!The essential tools for the animation on After Effects: Autorig, Inverse Kinematics (IK), Bones, Morphers, Dynamics… Animation becomes handy and easy on After Effects! 

For me the most important is the Bones and Autorig features, which I'll test out as soon as I'm done with college animation :).

  • Mark Molnar Steampunk Pirates Digital Painting Tutorial - to be honest I haven't watched it yet, but it's on my list. I've decided to mention it here as it looks quite interesting :)
  • 12 Principles of Animation - series of short videos looking at 12 principles of animation by Alan Becker.
  • DoubleFine Adventure! - along with other documentaries from DoubleFineProd channel, became a guilty pleasure of mine. Honestly, those vids are really well edited and interesting. Also, suprisingly, they talk openly about running out of kickstarter money gathered for Broken Age.
  • Finally Juanjo Guarnido posted a making-of from the Freak of the Week music video and it's as sweet as the actual video. I just wish it was a little bit longer and not in French. I know, I know, there are subtitles, but it's always nicer to just watch video without having to rely on translation to understand it. Anyway, back to the video - it just shows the crazy amount of work that was put into making it. 
  • Krita got a Kickstarter campaign! From the features mentioned I'm really looking foward to the animation tool set :)
  • BATZ is a charming animated short directed by Max Maleo. Aurelien Predal shared on his blog recently quite a lot of development concepts and designs. Really loving art style. But hey, that's the same person who did colour keys for Monster in Paris, ofcourse it's gonna look good. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Double Fine Adventure|PPP3

Double Fine Adventure! is a 20-part documentary about the challenges that comes with having a successful Kickstarter campaign. It's been recently added to the Double Fine Prod YouTube channel and shows a production of Broken Age - point and click adventure game created by Tim Shafer.
Each episode is very interesting, provides a lot of information on what was actually going on in the company, how much time, resources and money costs making an unique game. I liked the fact that they talked openly about the financial issues and admitted that they run out of Kickstarter money at some point during production (Double Fine Adventure! gathered over 3 million dollars). Despite of the lack of money, they've decided to keep going, looked at different ways to get money in, but also had to face diffcult decisions such as lay-offs.

My favourite are definately concept art episodes. 'Walking around in our drawings' is a great episode in which Peter Chan shows his studio, talks about his inspirations and approach to drawings. The moment when he throws away some drawings and Tim picking them up from bin is great. It shows how we, as artists, are insecure about our art and how much we want it to imrpove.
Episode 20 still hasn't been released, but in a meantime I started watching other documentaries from their channel, such as Massive Challice and Amnesia Forthnight.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Evaluation|Extended Practice

For the Extended Practice module we where asked to come up with our own briefs and set of criteria to follow and fulfill. It is a very large project, worth 60 credits, therefore the task we set ourselves to produce had to be complex, challenging but in the same time interesting.
I have decided to produce an 2.5D short animated video, up to minuted long. My main software choice was Photoshop and After Effects which I am familiar with.
As for any moving image, I had to came up first with the story script. I have decided to get inspiration from Slavic mythology and folk-tales and after some time I came up with a story that is loosely based on three different tales. From that I wrote a more detailed script, bullet point all key events. Based on that I drew a storyboard. Again this task it is somewhat familiar to me and was not a struggle. However, looking at it now, with the whole experience, I feel like there are things in terms of composition and framing that could be improved.
Next step was creation of characters and props. As an aspiring concept artist it was the part I definitely enjoyed the most. In terms of art style I have decided to push myself a bit out of the comfort zone. By making my characters looking like paper puppets I could not take my usual approach to the characters or colouring. I had to change and improve my work flow in order to produce all needed assets on time. I became more fluent at using lasso tool in Photoshop and creating quick selections which helped me speed up colouring process. Each part of the puppet had to be a separate layer, which was hard at the beginning. I had to think animation while drawing. Moreover, due to the nature of the design, I had to colour in all spaces by hand. Lines where drawn with the chalk brush, so there are spaces between, making using a bucket tool to fill in impossible, as the colour bleeds out. As for the brushes – I have a large collection of sets from various artists. I used a chalk brush from one of the sets as a base and changed few values in a brush editor window to make it more unique and personal in terms of line quality. I did same for my main colouring brush, which also had a little bit of texture to it. I tried to use subtle colour palette to imitate paper nature of the dolls. Again, switching my brain and staying away from the bright, vivid colours was hard but also refreshing.
Animation took probably the most time since it is a task less familiar to me than drawing. First I had to figure out the way to animate my puppets. Initially I thought about puppet tool, but later came to the conclusion that all movements can be done by changing rotation value. To make it work properly I had to move anchor point of each part, usually a bottom of the design, where the pin was drawn. While animating I tried to preserve the puppet feel of my characters, imitate the way they could move in real life. I have also attached a string to each character to better explain the way they move.
Making movements look good took a bit of time and a lot of testing. The best way to make it look decent was by offsetting some of the frames to create a sense of anticipation and follow up.
Run scenes where the hardest one to complete in my opinion. At the beginning I used a front view puppets, which was not a good idea. Front view puppets running sideways was a strange combination and did not deliver a message properly. At this point I still had the time to change it, so I have drawn a side view of both Boy and Girl. Second pass for those scenes, done with side views, worked a lot better. Making the motion look believable was another difficult task which required a lot of testing, changing and moving frames, adding ease-in and ease-out.
After completing most of the scenes and showing it on one of the critiques, many problematic areas appeared. For example the story inconsistency. Opening scene was not showing river or rocks, just a forest. There were not mountains in a background either. All of these elements were introduced later in a story which was confusing for the viewer. Re-doing an opening sequence was a must.
All the elements needed was first compiled in Photoshop and then transferred to After Effects. The file itself was large and caused some issues. Camera could not render out in After Effects. First I thought it is the issue of my home computer and low number of RAM available, but after taking the scene file to the college same problem occurred. The way I solved it was by key framing position movements the way it imitates camera movement.
With all the scenes I did quite a bit of acting to better visualise motion, but did not record any of that. However, during the course of this project I have learnt a lot about After Effects and working efficiently. My familiarity with the software improved and, as mentioned above, I got challenged with different challenges.
Sound design was a thing I left for last, which itself was a big mistake. I did sound editing by myself and picked few new skill in Premiere.
Definitely there are things that could be improved. With my current knowledge I can tell which parts should be approached in different way and which decisions I should have made earlier. All this experience I will carry to my future personal projects as I wish to make more puppet stylised animations. This module pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged with multiple tasks that had to be completed on time.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Finished Movie|Extended Practice

Complete animation is one minute and 44 seconds long. It has a college logo at the beginning and the end, sound and credits. I happy with how it came out at the end - it was a scary and stressful project, very challenging and time consuming. I tried my best to make animation look good, even though my main specialisation is character design.
Below are few screenshots of the finished movie. I won't be posting it on YouTube yet, as I want to send it to few festivals.

Final Puppets|Extended Practice

Below are the puppets I've used for this project, taken apart, so all the elements are clearly displayed. Each part was a different layer in Photoshop, allowing me the greater control in After Effects.
They are not that complex, but thats partly because of the nature of the design.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Sounds|Extended Practice

I keep making same mistake, leaving sound editing to myself. This time round my main concern with collaborating with sound designer/composer was the fear the they might decide to drop from project midway or I might be unable to provide them with enough content. Also attending meetings with little baby could be difficult. So I've decided to take care of the sound myself.
As usual, I visited first but then moved onto as their sound library matched my project a bit more. As a main track I've decided to use a orchestral score title Loire.It's a really good piece, starts quite calm and then tension rises. Actually it works really well, almost giving an illusion that this animation was made under it's influence.
After adding my main sound I moved onto ambient and atmosphere. Little sounds, like birds tweeting, water, wind can make enourmous difference and add a lot to the piece. I tried to keep those sounds subtle so they don't overshadow the main score.
At the end I also added a growling sound for the Vodyanoy and scream for Boy and Girl. Those are still place holder sounds as I'm going to work more on it before final year show.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Opening scene redesigned|Extended Practice

Last week, after chatting to various people and showing my finished animation, I've decided to re-do opening sequence. I tried to follow given feedback as closely as I possibly could.

 First, I've started with compiling all the assets in the Photoshop. Each element that I needed/wanted to move had to be on separeted layer. In the original opening scene there are only trees moving and camera is moving around, however doesn't show river and rocks. Also, later on in animation, mountain in the background is introduced. Somehow, viewer looses a sense of scale/space. There is no clear explanation of how far kids went, how deep in the forest is river with fern flower. I tried to include al those elements in my .psd file.
 Next step was creating new composition in After Effects and setting all layers to the 3D. I've arranged them and keyframed position value changes to imitate motion. I then tried to set a camera but it only came out with black screen. At the beginning I thought it was my PC fault as it only got 8Gb of RAM. Unfortunately even After Effects on college computers couldn't run it properly. So I had to approach this problem differently.
Knowing I can't rely on camera to the zooming, I decide to keyframe motion of the assets toward the basic camera that is always implemented with scenes in AE. After a bit of time this scene started to look as I wanted.
I've added a light and set 'cone angle' and 'intensity' keyframes. It gives a nice feel to it, revealing a scene slowly, like when a curtain goes up in theater. I added a few subtle movements, like moon and clouds moving.

Saturday, 2 May 2015


During portfolio review session LevelUp! team looked at the work of their followers and commented on it. Unfortunately my portfolio submission didn't make it, however I still managed to picked up some important things.
First of all, when it comes to concept art portfolios sites such as Artstation are acceptable, but it's better to have own website dedicated. It can be hosted on a service such or made with Deviantart or Artstation porfolio templates. For mine I'm going to stick with Deviantart as this address is already printed on my business cards as well as it got all the important info, it's easy to upload new works and change layout. I recently updated all my details, attached new CV and changed categories to just 3. I got 'character design', 'concept art' and 'cartoon', which are best represantation of what I enjoy doing. I heard many times that you should only include work that you want to do (and enjoy doing) in portfolio (along with it being strong). I used to have 'illustration' as category, however never managed to collect a range of quality pieces to fill it. Similiarly now, I struggle a little bit with a 'cartoon' category - I've included (in my own opinion) strong and good pieces, however, when compared to two other categories, this section look kinda empty. Therefore, ti's going to be one of prorities after Extended Practice deadline to work on making it better.
As for my 'character design' and 'concept art' categories - both got good selection of works, but I'd love to produce a lot more new content to be included, which I'm hoping to achieve after Extended Practice deadline. I'm also going to contact few people working in industry and ask for feedback.

Thursday, 30 April 2015


Since I worked really hard on the extended practice module it seemed like a waste to just hide finished piece inside college walls or deep in YouTube. So I've searched for animation festivals I could submit my work to and here's a list of few that got me interested:
    • Be There is a Corfu animation festival, submission for the 4th edition of the festival are open until 30th of June. It got a separate category for student films made in any technique and genre.
    • DAFF 2015 - Dublin Animation Film Festival is also open for submission, deadline is also 30th of June and there is a category for student films (international student short film)
    • KLIK! - animation festival happening in Amsterdam later this year is open for  submission until 1st of July and there is Animated Student Short Competition category
    • Ars Independent Festival - a film/animation/game festival taking place in Katowice, Poland this September. Deadline is again 30th of June, animated shorts must be submitted in The Black Horse of Animation 2015 category, but other than that, it's open to all types of animation and genre
    All festivals mentioned above are connected by the same submission deadline and the fact there is no entry fee. They happen in all different parts of the world during autumn, which is pretty interesting.

    Wednesday, 29 April 2015

    First Pass|Extended Practice

    Today I've put all the scenes together in Premiere to see what changes can be made and what I can still improve. Below is a list of things I feel like stil needs changing:
    • Forest moving - opening sequence - if there is enough time I want to revisit it or perhaps make a completly new version;
    • Second running shot - work on run cycle for both Boy and Girl, make it a bit faster, also add little jumps up and down and imrpove lighting;
    • Showing left and right - this scene is very bad as I cut it from a longer piece (took out middle part), it needs better lighting, timing and puppets needs to be moved closer to the ground;
    • Boy climbs up the branch - overall I'm happy with the movement (might fiddle with it a bit if there is time for it), however I need to change size of the fern flower as it's too big now;
    • Vodyanoy appears - I need to either add Boy to it or zoom in so only bottom part of the tree branch and water will be visible; also needs to add lighting and a string to the Vodyanoy puppet;
    • Boy/Girl scared - just a better cut, maybe a black slug somewhere in between those two?; 
    •  Vodyanoy hides - need to add string, but also work on framing as again Boy is not visible (maybe just add legs?).

    I've also been thinking about adding extra scene in between parts where Vodyanoy tries to grab a Boy and Boy reaching for flower - perhaps a fighting scene where Boy triews to kick monster to scare him off? I feel like there is no logical follow of the events and it may be very confusing for the viewer.
    Sound still needs to be added, which is my next concern. I started gathering different types of sounds and may also use some classical music.
    Test video is 1:28 long (including credits), which is good. It fits perfectly with my brief constraint (up to 2 minutes long), it's fast paced and I hope viewer wil be able to understand what's going on.

    Monday, 27 April 2015

    Typeface|Extended Practice

    I got the idea for what to call my extended practice animation quite early and the only thing stopping me from creating a title/ending sequences was a font. It had to be perfect. It had to match the style of my animation, connect with it. I knew I wanted something simple but in the same time unique. First step was ofcourse searching thru the library of fonts already implemented in After Effects, which was actually pretty unsuccessful. Or maybe I'm just too picky? Luckily I follow few graphic design and creative blogs on twitter, who one day mentioned Besom2. Instantly it clicked.
    Besom2 is a typeface I'd describe as playful. Capital letters aren't that much different to the small ones, also 'i' is in a form of a line with a dot above, not just as a line. I also like the edges of each letter being not straight and perfect.
    Before finding Besom2 I considered even making my own font, which definately would add to the charm and make this piece even more personal. However, I'm glad with the typeface I used and the look.

    Final Crit Feedback|Extended Practice

    Last Thursday we had our final crit presentations which means it's only two weeks left until module deadline. Goal was to have a your thing finished to the presentable level. At that point I had around half of the scenes ready, however still without lighting/camera and, in most cases, roughly blocked (I'm revisiting those scenes now and making them smoother). Unfortunately all the videos from animation group (me, Keiron, Sarah and Finn) didn't play properly on a machine we had in that room. It's a really bizzare issue as I've been rendering everything from After Effects as H264 and even used Mac other day to put all scenes together in Premiere. I've tested my file on both Mac and PC and it played fine. However during the crit it was crashing and skipping frames, making it really difficult to watch and therefore to get a accurate feedback. Nevertheless, there were few issues pointed out that I took into account such as making side view for Boy and Girl to use in running scene. There were also few pointers about the animation itself and which parts should be faster/slower which I've changed already.
    I'm glad that people liked slightly creepy and gloomy vibe of my work and the way I animated puppets. I've added a string which was mentioned during the session too. As for the sound - this is something I'm going to concentrate more now as I'm almost done with animating (only two scenes left.. or just one as I'm redoing mentioned earlier running scene).

    Friday, 24 April 2015

    Side View|Extended Practice

    I tried to avoid drawing side view for Boy and Girl, hoping I'll save time and that running scene will still make sense. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Running scene made by using front view looks a little bit weird and akward and I really couldn't relate to it. So I decided to devote some time to create side view for both Girl and Boy.
    I managed to cheat a bit by using arm from the front view. The hardest part was making side view of the body and face have same feel as the front view ones. Girl has her feminine curves, round belly, while Boy still fits in his rectangular shape. Also their silthuettes are still strong and easy to tell apart.
    Left side was created just by mirroring parts as I didn't need it much.

    Thursday, 23 April 2015

    Running scene - evolution|Extended Practice

    As I've been animating for few weeks now, some changes to the characters had to take place. Running scenes in Fern Flower are important and take some of the screen time (roughly 15-20 secs of running footage). At the beginning I used the front view to animate them, however it's difficult to make it look right. Boy and Girl are running from left of the screen to the right and I used puppet designs prepared at the beginning.
     After showing it to the tutors I decided to draw a side view for Boy and Girl and use it instead for those scenes. Quickly tested side view version of a Boy and after few hours of making animation look decent I started to like it. It actually works quite well. I'm going to make side view for Girl next and create another run scene with both of them.
    Also, scene of the Boy running is the first one where I tested string attached to the belly part of the body. Again I used pick whip to follow the movement of the puppet. Initially I went for black, but decided to stick with gray as it works better and stands out better from the background. I also applied light in this scene and made it follow character which reminds me a bit of how actual set lighting works. It all came out very nicely and I'l continue doing it on the other scenes.
    Also, I've tried string on other parts of the body but felt like it takes away a bit from the characters, strings becoming main part, which I don't want. After all they're a digital paper/shadow puppets and there is a room to leave things unexplained ;) .

    Thursday, 16 April 2015

    Artifex Mundi|PPP3

    Artifex Mundi is a game company based in Poland. Their games are very stylised and illustrative, such as Grim Legends 2 and Deadly Puzzles. One of my good friends worked with them on one of the games
    I really like their art style, it's very colourful and stylised. Their website is in both English and Polish and to work with them you actually don't have to be in Poland. I feel like I need to make more enviromental pieces to include in my portfolio before applying.

    Wednesday, 15 April 2015

    Puppet Rig|Extended Practice

    One of the important moments in my animation is the scene showing fern flower blooms. When designing fern flower I had to take a possible ways to animate it into an account. Since chopping it into parts and adding pins didn't sound right I decided to keep it simple and use puppet tool to animate it.
    Each leaf is a separate layer in Photoshop - to animate the movement I just had to move anchor point to the bottom of the drawing. For the flower I used few puppet pins and set keyframes on those. In intial design fern flower stalk is kept straight, which allowed me to manipulate it a lot without destroying it.
    For this particular scene I had to bend flower first and hide it behind the leaves. Then I animate it unfolding, which was a pretty straight foward task as I already had some experience with using puppet tool and pins.

    I'm pretty happy with this scene. After completing all animations I've added a 'glow' filter to make the scene feel a bit more magical.

    Friday, 10 April 2015

    Scene List|Extended Practice

    Below is a list of the scenes I need to animate along with some notes. I got a very basic, rough storyboard, which I'm basing this list on. Also I feel it may be easier to have a simple shot breakdown on the side.

    1. Title screen - black bg, white text: Fern Flower;
    2. Opening scene - camera moves thru the forest, wide shot;
    3. Running across forest - just feet visible;
    4. Looking around;
    5. Running across forest - full body visible (or maybe just from torso to toes);
    6. Opening bushes - Boy peeks thru the foliage and look around;
    7. Fern flower blooms/unfold - use puppet pins, flower starts to glow;
    8. Boy points out the path;
    9. Boy starts climbing the tree;
    10. Vodyanoy appears;
    11. Girl looks scared;
    12. Boy gets scared ;
    13. Vodyanoy tries to grab Boy, Boy jumps back;
    14. Vodyanoy hides;
    15. Boy and Girl holds glowing fern flower;
    16. Ending - credits.
    It's 14 scenes that needs to be animated + opening and ending, which may look like not that much but it's going to be a lot of work. With a month until deadline it should be enough time to make this project happen.

    Friday, 3 April 2015

    Setting a light and camera|Extended Practice

    Lights and camera are easy to set in After Effects and can improve scene drastically. Since I wanted to imitate look of the theatre sets, making lighting look right was quite a bit of challenge. I decided to use spot light, as I wanted to illuminate only specific areas as well as have light follow/highlight character or important element of the scene. Moreover, since the action takes place at night, using correct light to give the right feeling was crutial. With the spot light settings I'm able to control cone angle, size and feather.
     I've tested quite a few different colours to create a mood and atmosphere that'll work. I went with the light blue as it gives a very nice eerie vibe to the scenes. It's quite bright, but not too strong, and I feel it complimates glow of the moon well. Also, a small vignette adds to the charm.

    Next - camera. In this case I didn't had to use it much, as in most shots camera just moves from left to right and I'm more interested in creating paralax than zoom-in or close-ups. However, I used camera for the opening shot as it felt appropriate to have inviting shot.

    Thursday, 26 March 2015

    Anchor Points vs Puppet Tool|Extended Practice

    I came to the point where I should start thinking about what tools can be used to animate. Initially I thought about using puppet tool in After Effects, however, while drawing puppets and props, I came to the conclusion that it'll be more efficient and easy to just use anchor points. So, whats the advantages of anchor points over the puppet tool?
    First of all, puppet tool is great when used on a drawing as whole, as it creates rig/mesh - great for pieces that are not made from multiple parts. However my puppets and assets are made from many separate elements. Puppet tool can't be used across multiple layers, which is another advantage of anchor points. I can parent joints and create hierarchy (e.g. finger > wrist > forearm > arm). Anchor points can be moved at the end of each joint, which will be marked by a pin. By using rotate I'll be able to animate them. After a brief conversation with one of the tutors I also found out that anchor points moved in Photoshop will be transferred into AE so I don't have to do same job twice. Below is a screenshot showing how I parented shoe and knee to the leg and that change of rotate values makes whole leg move.

    Another thing i had to consider was whenever I should add sticks to the character arms or not. Problem with that is that I'll have to imitate the motion caused by it, which could be problematic and difficult to do in After Effects (oh and time consuming). Moreover I like the current aesthetic and with digital media I don't have to worry abour 'is it even possible' thing ;).
    So what's next on the agenda? Lots of tests and wrapping up background painting. 

    Saturday, 21 March 2015

    Finished Props|Extended Practice

    Below are finished assets I'll be using. It might seem like I'm repeating it over and over again, but thinking modular was a key to the success. I'm able to fill up scene quickly, while not making it look boring.
    I feel like those are the most important props I'll need but I may draw some more, depending on what will be needed.

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    Plants- Modular Approach|Extended Practice

    I need to draw forest. And I want it to move and interact with characters! Okay, Betty, slow down... From the beginning I knew that there will be a point where I'll have to change my approach and create modular parts which will speed the whole process up.
    Above is a simple sketch that explains this idea and shows few initial rough sketches that I quickly created. From it I've created a finished assets. Keeping each part of the plant separately makes it not only easier to animate but also allows to create multiple variations. Below is an example of what I mean by that:
    • 3 different bush assets where created with 7 elements;
    • each element can be scaled and manipulated, allowing to create complex parts of set fast;

    • colour of each element can also be adjusted in Photoshop, allowing for even more variety in design.
     It's also worth mentioning I used the same brush for lines (FernFlowerLineBrush) and shading was done with 'spongy' Sample Tip1 brush from Artur Fast brushpack, which gives a realy nice texture.

    Business Cards|PPP3

    I've created my business cards a while ago, last year, just before the Showcase Spectacular in Corn Exchange. Since I was taking part in a student collective exhibition and shared a selling table, having business cards with contact information was a must.
    I used Moo service as they've got a good opinion, their cards are quite thick and print quality is decent. I used few of my favourite drawings on one side of the card, while other had my name and contact details. I like to call myself concept artist - illustrator. Those are two jobs I'd love to do for living and are my passion.
    In total I've created 8 different designs, half of them showcasing my concept art work (character designs) and other half with illustrations. 
    On the back of each card I've added a link to the portfolio and my professional e-mail address.
    I'm quite happy with how the cards look like, however I'm a bit sceptical on where I can potentially use them (other than Final Year Show) as I still lack a lot of confidence when it comes to approaching new people.

    Tuesday, 17 March 2015

    Storyboards|Extended Practice

    Below are very rough storyboards I've quickly drawn to map out all the scenes. They are far from perfect and I wish to have more time to work on them.