Thursday, 22 December 2011

Andy Schmidt Pixar talk 2011

Andrew L. Schmidt is a senior animator with Pixar Animation Studios. He has worked in the animation industry for twenty years and has a long list of credits in both traditional 2D animation and CG animated films.
Andy discussed the making of Disney Pixar's 12th animated feature film Cars 2, and revealed some of the process and pipeline used at Pixar to develop their films. 

Admittedly, I wasn't overly enthused about the prospect of a talk about Pixar's Cars 2; Cars 2 didn't set my world alight. But Andy Schmidt proved my reservations were misplaced. The presentation was entertaining, insightful and inspiring.
Recording devices and cameras were strictly prohibited during the talk so I had to up my note taking speed to get all the good stuff. Enjoy...

Pixar do CG animation, but Andy reassuringly reminds that it is not the only type of animation that is good and should be done. He has experience with traditional animation and is fond of stop-motion and other forms of animation. The technique you use for your animation depends on the film you are making and what works and what does not.
Andy broke the ice at the beginning of his talk with a light-hearted look at Pixar studios. He began showing photos of the exterior and interior of Pixar studios built in 2000, followed by a shot of the hundreds of employees at Pixar.

"The building is just brick and mortar; it's more about power to the people."

At Pixar, they promote extra-curricular activities. They have a full bar in the animation department and their offices have their own personal touches. John Lasseter’s office is full of cute toys. The employees even got together and created an elaborate Micheal Jackson Thriller dance during Halloween. There was also an “ugly contest” towards the end of the production of Nemo where they would dress up in the most off-putting clothes and make-up.

"We work hard, but we have to play hard too."

Cars 2: Pixar's process for making films

"This was a dream come true for John Lasseter."

Cars combined a couple of John Lasseter’s greatest passions: cars and animation. He grew up around strong car and art influences because his father worked at a car dealer ship and his mother was a high school art teacher.
Cars was conceived after John had completed three feature films back to back. After he had worked on both Toy Story films and A Bug's Life he found himself in a situation where he felt he was missing out on key experiences with his children during their childhood. He decided to go on a road trip with his family across the US in a huge camper van and a lot of those personal experiences that he had while he was travelling inspired the idea of the movie, Cars.


Telling a compelling story that keeps people at the edge of their seat
Populate the story with appealing and memorable characters
Putting that story and characters into a believable world - not necessarily a realistic world

Cars was influenced by that family road trip and to some extent, Cars 2 was also influenced by a road trip. When John was doing publicity for Cars, he was going to different countries and he felt “like a fish out of water.” Then he asked himself, "What would Mater do?" And that was one way the story started to develop for Cars 2.

Another development was an early concept for the character, Finn McMissile. When they did Cars, there was a scene that was cut where McQueen and Sally go to the movies for a date. They see a spy movie and there's a character there called Finn McMissile. This was developed by Joe Grant and Rob Gibbs two story writers at Pixar. This landed on the cutting room floor, but at the same time it was too good to pass up, so they kept this character alive for the sequel.

“Another impetus in Cars 2 was the case of mistaken identity.”

The idea of this bumbling character travelling around the world was influenced by the Hitchcock mistaken identity character as seen in North by North West, The Man Who Knew Too Much or Foreign Correspondent.

Believable World
With the believable world, the environment is going to affect how the characters move such as the kitchen environment in Ratatouille or underwater environment in Finding Nemo.

Memorable Characters
There were already characters from the previous Cars film such as Doc Hudson, McQueen, and Luigi but Pixar needed to introduce new characters. McMissile, voiced by Michael Caine, was a slow mechanical type of car using 1960’s technology. With the female car, they tried to strike the balance between curvy sexy female without being sexiest. Another key character was Francesco, voiced by John Turturro. He was the cocky athlete or “the movie star who likes to walk around with his shirt off.” He was an open wheeled F1 racing car to indicate no sleeves.

There were many logical loops that Pixar got stuck on with the cars such as “Why do they have door handles? Who’s inside the car?” or “Why is Francesco kicking a football? He doesn’t have feet!”

Pixar’s Production Pipeline

It takes about 4 years for Pixar to make a movie from beginning to end. All of these phases in production are supported by a number of people who develop the tools and keep things running.

Development – Story – Art (broken down into Character and Sets) – Model – Layout – Animation – VFX – Lighting – Render 

Development – This is where all the fun research takes place. Members of the Pixar team will travel to various locations to collect their research first-hand. For Nemo, they went Scuba diving. For Ratatouille, they did a lot of research in busy Paris kitchens and even took cooking classes. They would study behavior and where and how objects are situated/placed within the environment. In Up, they brought in an Ostrich to study how the large bird, Kevin, would move. For Cars, they took part in motor sport racing to experience the feeling of g-force and how much strength and balance it takes to drive these vehicles at these high speeds. This meticulous research was essential for creating believability in their films.

Story – After collecting all the research, they would get down to writing the story. Sometimes they would employ story writers but usually Directors at Pixar, such as John Lasseter, would write their own material. For Toy Story 3, they hired the Oscar-winning writer behind Little Miss Sunshine, Mike Arndt. Storyboard artists would efficiently draw sequences based on the script and pitch it to the Director. Previously, such as in Cars, Storyboard artists would use traditional pen and paper to draw the sequences but this has now made way for a digital method using tablets. Digital storyboarding has been found to be a more efficient than traditional storyboarding although Andy admits he misses using paper.

  • Art – With reference to the Development and Story phase, artists will begin creating tons of drawings and designs. They would use a range of different art mediums such as pen, pencil, watercolor, digital art and clay for sculpting. Designs will develop and improve based on continuous feedback.

  • Character – Once the character designs are complete, all characters are sculpted to see whether their appearance and expressions maintain their appeal in 3D space. 

  • Sets – “The biggest hurdle of Cars 2 was the sets.” 
Entire environments were built of London, Paris, Porto Corsa (Italy) and Tokyo.

In Cars 2, they already had all the complete character designs and models from the previous movie so they decided to use ‘Car-ification’. This is where elements of the car design would be injected into the designs of the environment such as grills and headlights. The effect will be similar to how you can sometimes make out familiar shapes in clouds and rock faces.

*** Unfortunately, due to unexpected events, the rest of the document cannot be found*** 

Interview with Matthew Stephenson - Bradford Animation Festival (BAF)

[Interview date: 9/11/2011]

Matthew Stephenson is a freelance character animator from the UK with 7 years industry experience under his belt. He most recently held the role of Principle Animator on Disneyland Kinect Adventures (Microsoft) for Frontier Developments. 
I caught up with Matt at BAF Game where he held a talk about his work on Kinectimals and Disneyland Kinect Adventures.
University of Bradford has been a BAF venue for many years. Could you tell me a little bit about your time here as a student and why you chose to become an animator?
I studied at the University of Bradford from 1998-2002 on the EIMC course, before it split into different parts. We got introduced to 3D stuff in that course. It was quite a small part of the course, but enough of a taster for me to decide that it was something I'd like to pursue a bit more.
While I was a student here (Bradford), BAF was definitely part of my inspiration to become a character animator. I saw Richard Williams, the guy who wrote the Animator's Survival Kit and lead animator on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, speak here. He was really inspiring and brilliant.
Also, as a student I spent a lot of time not doing work, but acting at the theatre in the Mill; therefore along with the graphics stuff, I found a way of combining these and so character animation became the career I wanted to pursue.
After graduating, I worked for a year then used that money to do an MA in 3D Computer Animation at Bournemouth.
Do you have a 2D/traditional animation background?
No. Drawing is probably my weakest point as an animator. I draw thumbnails sometimes, but I'm much more likely to get up and act something out and use other kinds of video reference for my animation.
I've started doing 2D work more recently; I do a bit of stop-motion work in my spare time and I've done some silhouette cut-out animation. It has been really good fun and an eye-opener trying to do an animation that is both 2D and is also straight -ahead. You've got to plan what you're doing quite meticulously and know everything that's going on every frame. It makes you look at your 3D animation in a different way because you start framing through it and being a lot more fussy about every frame of that animation. This is a good thing.
You mentioned BAF being an early inspiration. What/who inspires you now?
[laughs] There are so many! Obviously, Disney is really inspirational. They invented all the rules and discovered the techniques that we now use and still struggle to re-create.
At the other end, I really love animators like Michael Dudok de Wit who did the Monk and The Fish and The Triplets of Belleville animator, Sylvain Chomet.
David O'Reilly does some really disturbing animation that uses a lot of pop culture and video games culture references which makes you feel empty inside, but in a good way!
...How about Pixar?
CG animators can get stuck in a Pixar rut so they don't see the broader world of animation beyond that. It's one particular thing making a feature film with these lovely expressive characters that the whole family can enjoy, but that's only part of animation; the Pixar style is only a small subset of what you can do and what potentially could be done. Going to animation festivals is always a big eye-opener. It always makes you realise how narrow you could become in what you think is good animation and what it means.
What is your opinion on government tax breaks for the British animation industry?
I’m in two minds about the whole thing because it's obvious for the British games industry and the animation industry, as Aardman have pointed out recently, that tax breaks would help a great deal. It's becoming cheaper and easier to do animation in other countries where labour is cheaper or in countries that have tax breaks themselves. So if a TV company is going to fund you to make a program or a games publisher is going to fund you to make a computer game they're going to say, “Well, you can do this animation in Thailand or Canada for cheaper, so why don't you do it there?” There's no real answer to that.
Britain’s strength is that we are extremely good at what we do. But other countries are also getting really good and there's absolutely no reason why they won't get better than us. So part of me believes that we need it but another part of me thinks, “Who am I to say that the people of Thailand don't get to make games and television programs? What right have I to say that it will only happen in my country?” So I'm really torn about it.
You can make a very solid economic argument for having those tax breaks: If we have these breaks it can bring more work here doing that particular thing that we are good at and make more money out of it rather than it getting lost in tax revenue. But there's a broader moral question about those tax breaks that I don't think anyone has dealt with, but I have no solution. It feels like the government largely ignores the video games industry, which is weird because the country is getting a lot out of it and you feel like you should have at least some acknowledgement that they recognize that we exist. We are an enormous industry and they don't seem to want to talk about it. I think it's partly because electorally it's not popular. The majority of the electorate probably see games at best 'a bit fun' and at worst,' a dangerous waste of time.'
Any advice for budding animators trying to crack the industry?
The only reason you’re going to be employed as an animator is because you are a good animator. And that really is it. So you’ve got to do animation that you are happy with and that other people are going to respond to.  On a very basic level, that is all you need.
Your CV is important, but your showreel is a million times more important than your CV. It is really important to have good showreel which shows that you can do the sorts of things that would suit the type of job you are going for.  If you are going for an animation job in games then they will want to see some runs, walk, jumps, lifting things, putting things down, climbing and some performance. It is important in games as well as TV and film that you can make a character appear to be thinking about things. If you are going for a job in films, you really need to push your performance animation work and fill your showreel with beautiful scenes with characters talking and interacting with each other.
It’s also important to get feedback from your work. That is a reason why the Animation Mentor scheme has been so successful. The more feedback you get for a piece of animation, and even if it isn't from some genius at Pixar, the more you can improve it and the better it will be. No matter how good you are, your own eyes let you down after you've watched the same thing hundreds and hundreds of times. I've worked on animation for days then I'd show it to someone else and they'd point out a flaw that was so obvious, but I didn't see it myself. So getting other people’s eyes on your work is really important.
Would you say having a degree in animation gives you the edge over other animators?
No, not at all. But I have not met many people who have had the staying power to put enough effort to working on that graft without that structure around them. So higher education gives you two things: It gives you the time and space to do animation; It can be very difficult after a hard day at work to sit down, look at a screen and start animating, but if you are at university you have more of your own time that you can dedicate to it. The other thing is that you have people around you that are potentially pursuing similar goals.
One of the great things about my course at Bournemouth, in the National Centre for Computer Animation, was that almost everybody on that course was really dedicated to animation and we all pushed each other. And that makes all the difference. If I had been sat at home working on my own, I would never have got that experience.
With something like Animation Mentor, you get the feedback from your mentor and the people who are on the scheme with you.
Were you on the Animation Mentor scheme yourself?
No, but at Frontier we employed quite a few people who had done Animation Mentor. It's a good scheme but if you do Animation Mentor, try and get something that isn't Animation Mentor onto your showreel. At first, it was a massive novelty in itself and when the first Animation Mentor graduates started coming out, we were like, "Ahhh wow this is amazing! This is amazing too! This is ... the same. This is the same too..." They tend to come out at a fairly high standard, fairly uniformly, so you think that's great, but once you've seen a lot of them you start to think, "But what can they do on their own?"  When they work in the games or animation industry they're almost certainly not going to have a mentor of the calibre that they had on the Animation Mentor scheme. They're going to have to be able to be self-critical and use the feedback from just their peers. It's not clear from their showreels whether that person is capable of that and you only find that out once they start working. So it's always good to see someone who has completed Animation Mentor and then done a couple of other things afterwards, but still be really good. That clinches it.
What is your opinion of performance capture animation, like that in Tintin?
Oh yeah, those creepy people running around in latex suits! WithTintin it's like my brain doesn't know what it is looking at, but I hear that kids really love it; they don't get freaked out by that, but I get freaked out by it. There's a fundamental problem there that if everything about the style is caricatured apart from completely realistic movement, then the movement is going to sell itself short. So you need to caricature the movement. If the characters, lighting, models and everything else is stylized then the movement has to be stylized too. And that's why it looks, to my eyes, pretty strange.
I think that those performances in the film would have worked better as a live action film with those actors acting or as an animated film that animators have animated. I don't object to performance capture. Probably computer games are its most useful application because in computer games you want to look at performance from all different sides. For films, it has yet to totally convince me although it can work as special effects for live action like in Avatar.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just done some stop-motion animation that will be projected onto the sail of a boat behind the band, Sharks Took The Rest, during their gig in Newcastle. I’ll be over in there this week to check it out!

Here is a link to Matt Stephenson's personal website:
Disneyland Adventures Kinect:

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mad world

For the past month, I've been subjected to a continuous stream of bad news. This is the main reason why I haven't blogged for so long. Most of us go through it at some point, but the most important thing is to hold no grudges. Forgive, forget and move on.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Animation Inspiration - International Animation Day

On the 28th October it was International Animation Day and it got me thinking about which animations inspired me to become an animator or just simply enjoyed the most.

Recently, I finally got to watch the movie, Kung Fu Panda 2. Being a Kung Fu fan, my review of the movie will be slightly biased but personally it's one of the best animated movies I have seen in a long time. The story was simple and moved along at a fast-pace but the entertainment factor, art direction, and quality of animation were off the scale. Oh, and the jokes were spot on too.

I watched many cartoons during my childhood, in fact you could say cartoons and video games were my addictions. There were not many CG animated cartoons on TV back then, but there was one that I will never forget. Reboot was a fully CG animated kids TV series. Admitedly, the actual animation was quite terrible but that was probably due to the limitations of the software and hardware back then. Still a highly entertaining show nonetheless!

One particular animation brings back fond memories. It was a Scotch video cassette ad from back in the 80's and created by Aardman animations. The music was so catchy and once the skeleton got into his groove, I was up on my baby feet and doing my own little jig. My mum would remind me how my face would light up and how I'd dance across the carpet every time the advert came on the TV.

Last by no means least, here are a couple of my favourite FMV's from the video games of my youth.

For more information about International Animation Day here's a link to an article I wrote for Skwigly magazine

Character Animation - Francis Walk cycle

Recently I've been going back to basics and practicing walk cycles for various rigs.

The walk cycle in this post was created using my own Maya rig, Francis (featured in my Arnold Schwarzennegger lip-syncing animation )

Francis the 'Baby' - minus the face paint and lion suit
This is a regular paced walk on 12's (half a second per step). I blocked in the four core positions (contact, down, passing and up) using stepped keys, moved to splined curves then continued to build from there. I left most of the overlapping action until the keys were splined to avoid it getting too complicated early on.

Below are a couple of playblasts of the blocked walk and completed walk. Could do with some more tweaks and the head looks like it's just nodding up and down. May add some side nod overlapping action from the head through to the spine to add some more weight as well.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Moo'ving on up : Business Cards

Yesterday night, I ordered new business cards from Moo.
I created a simple design for the front of my cards and used a selection of my work for the back. This is great because when I meet a potential client I can spread my business cards out on a table and arrange them like a mini portfolio. Here is an example of my card below (untrimmed and with watermark) :

They are estimated to arrive by next Friday. The proof is in the pudding so I'll let you know how they turn out!

Here is a link to Moo's UK website:
(we both save money if you use this link)


Cards were delivered much earlier than estimated and I am very pleased with the outcome. If you're designing your own cards on Moo, make sure you save them in the correct format so they don't come out too dark. Instructions are on the site.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

'Arthur Christmas' Press Screening and Q&A with Sarah Smith

On Monday I was given the opportunity to attend a press screening of Aardman's new animation 'Arthur Christmas' at Sony Pictures in London and share a table with the Director, Sarah Smith.

Here is a link to my review for online animation magazine, Skwigly:

Brody: Speed painting and Character Design

Here's a quick speed painting of Adrian Brody. 
Previously, I had only used Photoshop's default brush set for painting but I decided to explore something new. This Brush Set worked wonderfully for my speed painting. I mainly used the brushes in category no.4 with pen pressure turned on.

I used a couple of Overlay layers to give it a little more depth and texture.

The last design in the image above is actually based on an old character of mine that I'd like to revisit. If all goes well, there's an animation in store for this chap.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Feng Zhu Digital Art Tutorials

If you're into your concept art and design, I can't recommend these tutorials enough. Feng Zhu is an awesome concept artist and his digital tutorials are in-depth and easy to follow.  All of his episodes are invaluable and FREE! Subscribe to his YouTube page for more...

This is one of my favourite episodes where he shows how he adds colour to game character line art as well as giving general advice for budding digital artists.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Freshers: 3-Panel Comic Strip (pilot episode)

"When I grow up, I want to be a Comic Book Artist"
When I was a young boy, I was fascinated by comic book stories and one of my goals at the time was to be a cartoonist or comic book artist. (*start the violins*) It's a shame that I didn't get the support and encouragement I needed at that tender age and to be honest I was constantly told it was not a respectable career path. I often stuck my middle finger up at the disbelievers and continued to draw, but when it came to key decisions for university/college and high school, I often chose a Scientific or Mathematical option. I wish I was more stubborn, but I guess the negative comments had a subconscious effect on me. (*tears*)
Fortunately, I still have the passion for visual story telling. My degree in BSc Interactive Systems & Video Games Design may not sound like an 'arty' course, but due to the eclectic disciplines within the games industry and understanding tutors, I was given greater control over what subjects would be beneficial to my career path. I studied programming, web design, game design and scripting but I found my true calling in my 3D animation and concept design modules. In these modules, I was able to awaken and develop my dormant artistic skills. I feel like a kid again, with a finger in every artistic pie and the confidence to delve into new things, like Comic creation... (*cheers and applause*)

I'd just like to make clear before I move on: As this is my first real comic strip, I regard myself as a rookie comic artist so I don't assume I'll conquer the world with my strips. It's just an enjoyable hobby and part of my exploration and growth as an artist.

This 3-panel comic is loosely based on my experiences while at university/college in the UK.
I created a stylized character design for my characters. I've called it Freshers, but the name of the comic isn't set in stone yet so I'm open for suggestions.
I shared the completed pilot with friends and contacts via email, twitter, Google+ and Facebook and received a lot of positive feedback, especially from, comic artist, John Sanford and games designer, Louis McLaughlin (he doesn't know this but the slim character on the right is based on him!).
My main concern was getting the humour right so I'm glad it was funny for the majority of viewers. The background could do with some more detail to give that student bar atmosphere and youthful character.
Alex, the one on the left, is an older student with a bipolar personality. The other dude (hasn't got a name yet) is a cynical brain-box with a dry sense of humour.
I have already created sketches for new comic strip stories so it shouldn't be long before episode 2! In later episodes I will develop their characters a bit more and introduce some new younger student characters.

Short and sweet: Twitter feedback from John Sanford
Louis McLaughlin's feedback on Facebook

Original rough sketch of comic

Daily Drawing Challenges

While on Google+ I did some quick doodles in response to a caption from artist, Carsten Bradley. Various entries including mine can be found on this blog:
Will attempt to do these everyday as they are good practice for developing my creativity and speed drawing.

dragon with parasol
Cartoon character as a sea creature
Monster cereal

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Interview with Ian McCaig

The great artist, Ian McCaig (worked on Star Wars), comes across as such a positive and knowledgeable person. Here's a swiftly sketched portrait while I listened to his wise words.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Character Design - Animal Mashup

I designed this creature while in the waiting room in a hospital in Sweden, looking through a wildlife magazine.
It's a cross between a cat, a mole and an eagle. The instincts and speed of a cat, the wings of an eagle and the digging ability of a mole. I imagine it's habitat to be a forest or cave. Pretty random concept, but was just a bit of fun. I may develop this character further and create a 3D rig for animated short.
Below is a copy of the initial sketch and some quick colour tests.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Gesture Drawing

10-20 seconds per sketch
These are 10-60 second gesture drawings using this Figure & Gesture Drawing tool:

The basic premise of gesture drawings are to capture the shape and energy of the human body through flowing & instinctive strokes. I'm not used to having such a short time between drawings so it makes for an exciting challenge. Great for warming up your fingers before you start on the hardcore stuff.

About 60 seconds

10 seconds per sketch

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Hardcore and Popcorn Posts

Where have I been all this time?
Well you'll be glad to hear I haven't been sitting naked in a dark corner twiddling my thumbs. I have a bumper pack of posts on the way!

I've decided to label my posts either Popcorn or Hardcore. I took Popcorn from the slang term used to describe entertaining films that don't require a brain. The Hardcore label was inspired by gaming, not porn.

Popcorn = Posts that were put together fairly quickly but still worth a read, short posts, slight deviation from career path.
Hardcore =  Posts that are more in-depth and took more time to produce and prepare, Some of my best work, linked to career.
I decided against calling posts that fall in the middle, Hardcore Popcorn...

Monday, 20 June 2011

Caricature - Sean Connery

A long long time ago, I used to draw caricatures for fun but then for some strange reason, I stopped. Now many years later, I have decided to pick up the pen (well, tablet in this case) and reignite the passion. You only live once after all... or is that twice ;)
I was inspired by the amazing artist, Jason Seiler. I recommend checking out his work for a visual feast.
Before I began painting, I collected various reference images of Sean Connery so that I could build a greater sense of his character and 3-Dimensional facial structure. I then drew quick thumbnail sketches of his head to warm-up and get some ideas flowing.
Thumbnail Sketches
With this photo as my main source of reference, I decided to put emphasis on his large forehead, thick eyebrows and pouting lips. I'm not a fan of the extremely exaggerated caricatures so my aim was to make mine look humorous but less offensive than these. However, in hindsight, I feel I could've played about with Connery's features a bit more.
I believe the hair could have fit better with the rest of the painting but I struggled with that part. With practice I'm sure there will be a noticeable improvement. I added some finishing touches to the portrait by applying some depth of field and noise.
The next caricature/portrait I will paint will be a toss between the United legend, Ryan Giggs, and the star of BBC's Luther series, Idris Elba. I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun with whichever one I choose!

Tools used: Photoshop CS5 + Wacom Tablet

Blocking values1
Painting values2

85% complete - adjusting and more painting

Monday, 28 March 2011

My Personal Portfolio Website

Just so you know, I have a personal website to house my art/animation portfolio. It's a temporary flash site, but it will do for now :)
My Portfolio Website

I'll be keeping it up-to-date with my latest works.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Wicked Princess - Concept and Idea Development (CID)

Recently, I have been working on a project where I will create conceptual art for a potential video game. The game is based on the story of 'The Wicked Prince' by Hans Cristian Anderson and the artwork will be finished by May 3rd.
Here are the list of the assets:

-Magnificent Ship Interior
-Magnificent Church Interior
-Devastated Peasant Village Exterior
-Heavenly Exterior

-Prince's Primary Weapon
-Magnificent Ship Exterior (as vehicle)
-Prince's Army's Tools of Destruction
-Statue of Prince
-Prince's Treasure Item - inanimate or dead
-1-3 x Mundane Props from Devastated Village

Characters (one non-humanoid)
-Prince/Princess Protagonist
-Numberless Angel
-Priest (impoverished or otherwise downtrodden)

I've been wanting to design something that has influences from West African culture so will use the culture/traditions/people/architecture as my main reference. However, I want this to be a fictional game world so will combine with reference from other sources too. At the moment, I have created mood boards (see below for examples) for each asset and  made some initial sketches.
Village Exterior


Wicked Princess

Princess Statue

There's a lot of free-flowing experimentation at this stage - no idea is set in stone. Below are a few of my initial thumbnail sketches (I've highlighted my favourites) for my version of the 'wicked prince'. As you can see, I've gone for a female protagonist.

Silhouette thumbnails are good for focusing on the form of the character and less on the fine details. This is a new technique for me and not what comes naturally to me, but I have given it a try in these initial drawings. Still needs improvement but I can see the benefits - a strong silhouette is a key asset for any character concept.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

My recent projects

Hi guys,

Here is a collection of some of my project work from the past year.
In Nov 2010, I completed work on the Xbox Live game, Big Tidy Up game, for the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. For this project I was lead artist and animator. Louis McLaughlin (Lead programmer), Tim Newsome (Team Leader), Chris Trott (artist) and Chris Owens (programmer) were the other members of the team. As well as our main duties, we all had a hand in the game design process which was a fun and fruitful process. We won numerous awards for our game and were very close to winning a year's contract with Rockstar North at the Game Republic Event.

In Dec 2010, I created an animation short with the focus on lip-sync. It was my first attempt at lip-sync, but it was a fun and challenging process. I also designed, modelled, textured and rigged the character, Francis the 'Lion'. I'm happy with this first attempt, but I feel the animation could be a lot stronger with a few more tweaks.

An on-going personal project of mine has been an original cross-platform product called, Sacred River. The project has been put on hold many times due to lack of inspiration and change in art direction, but I'm hoping to show you more very soon! Here is a concept image of the main character.

Let's get cracking!

I had cornflakes for breakfast

Hello and welcome to my blog,

Here I will share my art work and inspirations with the world :) although I do have my reservations...

There are obvious pros to online blogs and social networks but I value my privacy and I'm not much of an attention seeker. With our increased use of social networking and online blogs, privacy is becoming a rare thing and if we don't use a social network we are viewed as strange or anti-social!

Whether we like it or not, our lives are becoming more transparent.

But anyway, who am I kidding. This is an opportunity to showcase my work and hopefully catch the eye of prospective employers ;)

I will keep my mundane jibba-jabba to a minimum and treat your eyes to more visual splendor!