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The journal of an aspiring animation filmmaker. Inspiration, Film Analysis, Animation Art, Student Work, Book Notes, Book Store, Composing Pictures, and much more!

Mar 31, 2008

Clay and Eucalyptus

Well it didn't turn out exactly as I'd planned, but I think it's good enough for my first foray into stop motion animation. Using an Andreas Deja model sheet is great for reference, but aspiring to sculpt a character in the exact likeness of Scar is not easy; therefore I abandoned the notion of such an attempt early in the production of this character.

Instead I merely reveled in studying his drawings and using them for anatomical reference. Besides an exquisite 2D design like this doesn't transfer easily into a stop motion character. There are subtle differences in their functionality which would require much more experience on my part to understand and overcome. Anyway, here's the final lion character that I'll be using in further animation assignments for Experimental Animation.

I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of animation I can get out of this. We did a quick two second test, which I'll spare you, so I can see it's going to be a real challenge. I have so many ideas, and it will be interesting to see which one I'll finally go with, but I really want to knock something good out. Something that is at least good enough to post up here. I do try and post at least semi-aesthetically pleasing student work.

You can check out my production process below.

I wasn't long into building up my armature with clay when my spine snapped. I thought I tested the epoxy seals on the wire thoroughly, but I guess I didn't test every joint well enough. I'm glad this happened early on, because I was able to fix it quite quickly and further simplify the design of my armature to one length of wire instead of the four joints in the original planning.

New spine glued, waxed, and ready for clay:

I had a lot of trouble early on deciding on the design of the face. I knew it wouldn't look like Scar, but this still didn't really resemble a lion.

I decided this was a close enough likeness, and it was time to move on as time was running out.

Final sculpt before adding Eucalyptus oil:

I had no idea what was involved in the construction of one of these, and I certainly learned a lot. I never would have guess Eucalyptus oil was so useful in the creation of these puppets. Needless to say my sinuses and very clear. I got word that Tim Hittle used it in his Jay Clay shorts, so I thought I'd give it a whirl, and it works like magic.

Final after the application of Eucalyptus for smoothing:

View of the underside and tie down holes:

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Mar 27, 2008

Muscles of the Upper Leg: Instructor Feedback

In Anatomy class, when you post early in the week you get graded right away. I like this because it gives me a chance to redo things and learn more. I decided I'm redoing all work necessary to maintain at least an A- average in this class. I think it's the only way I'll get the most out of it. Here's the instructor feedback from one of the drawings from yesterday's post. This is a great way for me to chart my progress.

See in the shoulder the idea of the seams on a shirt. In the pelvis see the way the wedge of the upper torse comes down in the middle of the back plane. See how x is slightly deeper than Y as it is turned to the side and away from the light. You need to know this plane structure as the values are too subtle to see on your own. The 8th rib is at z and so the form below this will tilt down as the 8th is the widest. Just remember that it is slightly below the bottom of the scapula. The bottom of the gluteals in the back slant down and out and do not go straight across. That is just the crease. The legs are slightly short which takes away from the elegance of this figure. Look for the halfway point on a more idealized model to be near this. The head is a bit rounded. When you really look it is quite angular.

It's funny how things work out. I was planning on redoing the other one as I thought this one was the better of the two. Now I can see it's the other way around. I'll post the redo later in the week.

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Mar 26, 2008

Muscles of the Upper Leg

This week we're studying the Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Maximus, and the Tensor Fascia Lata. Here's a couple of exercises. Both are Charcoal on 18x24, and took about 50 minutes.

Here's my updated ecorche figure from this week:

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Mar 25, 2008

Mind Your Own...Bee's Wax?

Before I shoot off to bed tonight I decided to get a start on the second stage of constructing my stop motion lion. Part of preparing your armature for clay involves sealing any wood you've used for body parts, and adding a light coating of bee's wax. I'm sure you could use another type of wax, but that's what we were instructed to use. Why you ask? So the clay will stick properly. Apparently if you skip this all important step, wires can pop out, and parts can slide giving you undesirable headaches during animation.

Animation is already hard enough for me, so thus far I've been heeding all the advice of my instructor, and taking the extra time to include tie downs, and wax to my rig. It would be interesting to have a duplicate puppet that I could test and see everything go wrong, as I'm just basically taking every precaution to make sure animating goes smooth. I sure can't wait to get to animating this thing.

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The Power of Mime and Music: Michael Dudok de Wit

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Mar 24, 2008

Horton Hears a Who

Spring Break is officially over. It really went by fast. I can't believe I haven't drawn in a week; I feel so guilty.

I saw Horton Hears a Who this week, and was thoroughly impressed. This has to be the best movie to come out of Blue Sky. I loved the story, style, and especially the animation. Soft and tender moments are great, and Pixar is clearly the master of that, but it's so nice to see some truly zany and zippy animation pulled off well. And this film is full of great snappy animation scenes. These characters must have been so much fun to work with and animate.

It was also a joy to watch the credits roll and recognize a number of names in there. You know who you are, and I'm so proud to know you guys. I can't wait to see this film again. I remember when the story crew came to Vancouver and did a presentation about Robots when they were making that a few years back. The head of story and director of Horton, Jimmy Hayward, was so psyched about Horton, and really built up my anticipation for it. I'm so happy it delivered on every level for me. Jimmy is probably my first influence to getting excited about story in animation, and the reason for me buying a copy of Paper Dreams, and loving every minute of it.


Mar 18, 2008

Armature Fatigue

We've begun working on stop-motion animation in Experimental Animation class. So we're designing, building, and animating our own sets and characters...from scratch. It's so much fun, but SOOOO time consuming. I had no idea, and I'm the king of watching behind the scenes extras. Here's some idea of what I was up to on the weekend. My model will be based off of Scar from The Lion King. I want to animate more quadrupeds so I can understand them. Plus I like to challenge myself and then complain about it later. I also wanted a leaner character so I could explore some good ranged in movement, so Scar fit the bill.

Time for Spring Break, I've got a lot of great films to watch.

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Mar 16, 2008


Is it that I'm intimidated? Why can't I reproduce a Michelangelo? Oh right...because he's amazing. Here's my lame attempt this week.

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Mar 12, 2008

Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique, and Serratus Anterior, Part 2

I need to start breaking these down faster with value planes. These are taking too long. I stopped on time, after many interruptions. Focusing on time and not anatomy isn't teaching me anything. Well, not much anyway. I hope I have time to redo this one. Onto the master duplication.

18x24, Charcoal, 50 minutes

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Chapter 3: Perspective

Chapter three of Don Graham's, "Composing Pictures." This has been a long time coming. What can I say? You can see I'm busy with school...

This chapter is great, really simply explaining perspective. I've studied this a lot, but I've never seen it explained so well as it is here. And I swear I've seen people using his graphics (the apples) in other course material. If you're gonna steal, steal from the best.


Mar 11, 2008


Part of our homework assignments each week is adding the new muscles we've learned to skeletal templates provided for us. I haven't posted these because they are more technical, and up until now there hasn't been a lot to show. As we've studied the majority of the muscles of the torso now, there's something to show. I don't know if I'll post this again until the figure is completed.

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Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique, and Serratus Anterior

It's funny how some drawings take me so long to just get going. I was really not confident when I was blocking this one in, so it ate up a lot of time just getting started. Of course nowhere close to 30-40 mins again, but I had fund with this one. More to come later today.

18x24, Charcoal, 1 hour +

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Mar 10, 2008

Second Attempt, Great Instructor

After my instructor's feedback, I was anxious to have another crack at my recent back studies. I stayed within the suggested time limit this time, which is a first for me. I think it's actually better than the first, which took me close to three times as long. I tried to focus on the large value planes as my instructor suggested.

18x24, Charcoal, 30-40 mins:

My instructor is pretty thorough with his critiques, which is really helpful. Take a look at some of his amazing work below. Yeah I think he's qualified to teach anatomy, don't you?

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Mar 7, 2008

Cutout Animation

I can't see myself experimenting with cutout animation a lot in the future. I find the two-dimensionality and stop motion similarities of it appealing. Here's a great example of good cutout animation. This is a commercial for United Airways:

And here's the making of it:

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Mar 5, 2008

Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major

I had a hard time finding the values in these ones. I'll probably redo the second one.

18x24 Charcoal, 1.5 hours

18x24, Charcoal, 50 mins

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