Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Moving Past "Mistakes"

Scene 13 of my film has been a huge challenge. Begun in July, the scene's action is still be roughed out in December. I keep asking myself, "Why is it taking so long?"

The answer is, "That's the WRONG question!"

This is the longest film I've ever made (five minutes.) This is the first film I've made with characters speaking. This is the first film I've watercolored the backgrounds. This is the first film I've made using Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Animate Pro. Why would I think it would be easy or quick?!

As a result of asking the wrong question, I procrastinated, which was simply the manifestation of fear. I was afraid to continue making the film because it wasn't going as I had originally--erroneously--planned.

Although it took months, I eventually diagnosed the problem and, after more time passed, I got back to work. I told myself that I--no one--can do ANYTHING perfect the first time out. Period. What I CAN do is make the best film possible with the skills and resources I currently have.

Below are various stages of the layout for Scene 13. At first I thought of the early drawings as "mistakes" but now I see them correctly, as "discoveries."

After thinking more before drawing, and applying what I'm learning from studying Loomis, Hogarth, Bridgman, et. al., I ended up with a drawing that was satisfying.

Moving on to the next step!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Terrific Animation Panel Presented by NYWIFT

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) panel called "Women in...Animation: The Business of Creativity." Candy Kugel, Deena Beck, Bernadine Santistevan and Ginger Brown were generous with their experience and advice. The people of Raw Space/Imagenation should also be commended for supplying the venue (and the post-presentation refreshments and music!)

Some take-aways from the event:

1. Be fearless

2. Do what you can with the resources currently available to you

3. Maximize all avenues (web, film festivals, museum installations, children's books)

4. Pursue your passion project because it's most likely other people will relate to it

Andrew Loomis's "Flat Diagram"—Part II

In Part I of this topic, I broke down the first of two figure-in-perspective methods explained by Andrew Loomis. The methods are diagramed on page 30 of his book "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth."

My preference is for that first method. It involves drawing fewer lines and is easier to follow. This second method is more complicated but it could be helpful to some so I'll break it down into steps.

1. Establish your vanishing point which is located on the horizon line (eyeline). (Note that Loomis doesn't show the horizon in his diagram.):

2. Draw a line that represents the width of your figure. This is line A-C (like the diagram on the left) and Loomis labels it "1":

3. Find the midpoint of line A-C. This is point B:

4. This step is not labeled on Loomis's page but I think it needs to be clearly stated. Find the midpoint of line A-B. This is point D:

5. Draw lines that extend from points A-D to the vanishing point:

6. Draw a line to indicate the depth of the figure. Loomis labels it as "Optional depth for rectangle." The confusion for me is Loomis's use of the word "optional" which implies it's not necessary. But it's TOTALLY necessary! I think he meant to say "arbitrary":

7. We now have our large main rectangle. To continue, we need to find its midpoint. To do this, draw a diagonal from point A to the opposite corner of the depth line. Loomis labels this "1st diagonal":

8. Draw another diagonal in the opposite direction. Loomis labels this "2nd diagonal":

9. The intersection of these two diagonals is the midpoint of the box. Draw a horizontal that goes through that intersection and extends from line A to line C. Loomis labels this "1st division" and "5":

10. To create the next segment, draw a diagonal from point B to point 5. Loomis labels this "3rd diag.":

11. The 1st diagonal and 3rd diagonal now intersect. Draw a horizontal through that intersection extending completely across. Loomis labels that line "2d division" AND "3":

12. Draw a diagonal from point 5 on line A to the intersection of line B and the depth:

13. You've created a new intersection of lines. Draw a horizontal through that intersection to get line "7":

14. Draw a diagonal from point D to point 3 on line A:

15. Continue to draw diagonals lines A and D until you have four total (in the far left section/column of the rectangle):

16. Draw remaining horizontal lines through the new intersections created by the diagonals. Loomis labels those lines "2," "4," "6," and "8":

17. Now with the 8 divided boxes you can place the figure into this diagram using the anatomical landmarks established in the frontal flat diagram at left:

The first of Loomis's methods I broke down into 9 steps and this method has 17. That's enough of a reason for me to stick to the simpler first method although it doesn't hurt to know this alternative.

Hopefully you found this helpful. In Part III of this series, I'll explain these diagrams:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Andrew Loomis's "Flat Diagram"—Part I

I'm currently studying Andrew Loomis's 1943 classic book "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth." I was moving along until I turned to page 30 and saw THIS monstrosity:

Dayum! That's A LOT of information! Moreover, Loomis makes assumptions about our knowledge and therefore doesn't fully explain all of these diagrams.

I went online looking for an explanation of this confusion. Instead I found only more questions. NO ONE had a full explanation as to what was happening on this page.

So I decided to crack the Flat Diagram code myself and can happily say that I think I did it.

The first step is to divide this page into sections. For now, let's focus on this part of the page:

Loomis has divided the figure into an idealized 8 heads tall and 2 1/3 heads wide shown in equally divided boxes. Loomis notes some anatomical points that relate to the box divisions (the female figure's divisions vary slightly, see page 27):

That's pretty clear and self-explanatory. Where the trouble begins is adding perspective to that diagram which Loomis, in my opinion, doesn't fully explain. Here's my approach:

1. Establish your vanishing point. Loomis doesn't show a horizon line in this diagram, but that's on what the vanishing point sits (also known as the viewer's eye line).

2. Draw the width of the figure with a line, here it's A–C. (The dashed lines indicate the extending of the width from that diagram to the new, perspective diagram.)

3. Indicate the midpoint of line A–C with point B.

4. Draw perspective lines from points A, B and C to the vanishing point (NOTE: in the image below, I extended the three perspective lines to the vanishing point. They're not fully shown in the book.)

5. Draw a horizontal to create the first box's depth by "eyeballing" its position. Notice that Loomis labels it "Optional Depth" with an arrow and the number "1". 

6. Draw a diagonal line from point A through line B to line C. Where the "Optional depth"/box 1 line meets line B is point D. Where the diagonal meets line C is point E. Loomis labels the diagonal just drawn the "1st diagonal."

7. Point E indicates where the horizontal for box 2 should go. From point E, draw a horizontal to line A. Where this horizontal and line A meet is point H. Also, where box 1's horizontal meets line A is point F. See Loomis's note about the lines.

8. Continue to draw the 2nd and 3rd diagonals. When completed you'll be as far as line G–J and point I. This gives you the first three of eight boxes.

9. Continue the same method of drawing horizontals and diagonals until you have all eight boxes.

10. Now when you place your figure drawing in the perspective diagram/map, according to the original diagram at left, you'll have the figure in correct perspective as shown in these diagrams: 

So that's my explanation of the first of Loomis's two ways of rendering the box of the flat diagram.

Tell me if you found this helpful or if any of it is still confusing.

My part II blog post discussing this page will explain the diagram below, the second of the two methods for creating the box:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

You Can't Create Unless You're Healthy

Animator M dot Strange has a helpful post regarding the importance of staying healthy. He learned after neglecting his health during the production of his first film that having a strong immune system is essential to staying production. See his recommendations HERE.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Creativity vs. Discovery

Creativity is deeply misunderstood.

I once told someone that I was about to spend some time feeding my creativity. He scoffed, responding that I shouldn't have to work at being creative, that's it's just something you "have."

He couldn't have been more wrong.

Creativity isn't inborn nor is it "created." Instead it's a discovery, a product of all of the influences you has absorbed. When you sit down to create, you're actually searching for the answer to a problem, drawing upon everything you've ever heard, seen, smelled, touched or felt. It's not conjuring something up out of thin air. I became fully aware of this difference when I started to animate Honey in Scene 13.

I realized that I hadn't fully designed Honey yet so I went about creating her look. Below are the six pages of "searching" for Honey's look. I knew I wanted a few characteristics for her features (rounded face; almond-shaped eyes; heart-shaped lips) but putting the elements together in a pleasing fashion took numerous attempts over the course of eight days. This process made me realize that the entire act of creating is just that, a process. One doesn't sit down and knock out genius. No artist ever did except for those few prodigies, like Mozart. For everyone else, it's a search for the best solution to the problem, for what best works. On the final page, you'll see what I discovered to be the best solution.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MORE Evidence of the New Creative Economy

I first posted about the "new" economy on Oct. 31, 2011 HERE.

Now there's continued evidence that we creative people are driving this new economy. Dr. Richard Florida, one of the world's leading experts on economic competitiveness, demographic trends and cultural and technological innovation, gives an RSA talk HERE about our current economic situation and the important role that cities play in it.

Wired magazine wrote about it in February HERE.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 31 Habits of People Who Connect with Anyone

For the full post, click HERE for the Scott Dinsmore's Live Your Legend website.

The 31 Habits of People Who Connect with Anyone

1. Make friends. This is the foundation. Making genuine connections is nothing more than making friends. When you’re about to approach someone, ask “how would I treat this person if they were my close friend or someone I’d want to be a close friend?” You don’t have hidden agendas and constantly push products and talk about yourself with your friends. You put friends first. You listen to them. You hear their problems so you can help in any way you can. Act accordingly.

2. Smile. This is by far the fastest way in the world to create a connection. It’s also a powerful show of confidence, which people respect and are drawn to. Smiles are contagious and the simple act makes people feel better. Whether it’s a close friend, a bus driver, someone you’re dying to meet or you’re just walking down the street or into a room of strangers, there is no stronger opener.

3. Be genuine. If you’re not connecting with people because you care about having them a part of your life, then stop. If you’re connecting just because you want to get yourself further up the ladder, then you’ve come to the wrong place. There is only one type of connection – one you genuinely care about. Find someone you actually do care to meet and get to know. Anything else is a waste of time.

4. Contribute. Meeting people is about making their lives better. Whether that’s by giving them a smile, a new job or anything in between – there is a way to help everyone. See everyone as a chance to help. Give like crazy, embrace generosity and make others more successful.

5. Know what matters to them – do your research. The more specific you can help someone the better. This comes from learning all you can about the people you want to meet. Not to manipulate, but so you can actually do something meaningful for them. Read their blogs and books, take their courses, sign up for their newsletters, learn about their interests, family, passions and charity work. Anything is game. With today’s online tools, there is no excuse not to learn about someone before trying to interact with them.

6. Start immediately & connect long before you want something. Don’t wait for the right time, more credentials or some arbitrary milestone. Those are excuses for inaction. Connecting is similar to planting trees – the best time to start was 20 years ago, but the second best is right now. No one wants to connect with someone who’s just out to get something. You will no doubt ask for help in all kinds of ways from the people you know, but that is far from the first step. Start as early as possible and connect because you want to, not because you need something. There’s really no other way to be genuine.

7. Make people a priority. There is no more important task for anyone than surrounding yourself with the right people. It’s all of our job and a part of every day. It’s not something we do for an hour every week or two. It’s a way of being. A way of life.

8. Be open to conversation. Embrace conversation with those around you. Everyone is a chance to learn something. Your server, the guy next to you on a park bench or plane flight. Even if you came to read a book, realize the best part of your day might be learning about the world of the person next to you.

9. Be well-groomed. I hate to have to mention this but if you smell like you haven’t showered for three weeks, look like you just spent the past four days strung out in Vegas, or have the breath of a dead cat, people are not going to want to talk to you. It’s not about wearing expensive clothes and watches, but it is about being presentable and physically enjoyable to be around.

10. Embrace persistence. Be comfortable with not getting responses. Most connections take a while and can’t be rushed. And while you’re at it, get used to “No” too. People are busy. Especially the well-known high-up folks. Just because you don’t hear back or get a no at first, does not mean it’s over. Most people send one email or make one phone call and think they’ve done their job. Not even close – that’s just the very beginning. If you have a way to uniquely help them, then it’s your job to get in touch. They will thank you for it. Don’t be a stalker. Don’t be the annoying nag. Friendly genuine persistence is a power few use.

11. Make days & provide memorable experiences. Get in the habit of making peoples’ days better. This could be as simple as a smile, compliment or heartfelt thank you. Provide fun/unique/enjoyable experiences that make life at least a little better.

12. Know who you are & who you want in your life. Know your passions, goals, talents, interests and the impact you want to have on the world. These will serve as your guiding light for how you can help and who you actually want to write into your story. Act with intention.

13. Be uniquely YOU. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t try to look and sound like someone else and don’t hold back! Be vulnerable and open. Share your real story and goals. Tell others about your wife, kids and parenting struggles. Talking about the weather does not build connection. Being real does.

14. Create trust. Every interaction is a chance to either build trust or erode it. Do what you say. Show up on time. Share who you are. Slowly open up your real world to others and they’ll do the same for you.

15. Keep track of everything. After every meeting or interaction, write down what stood out, what you learned about them, their goals, their interests, family, birthdays. Anything goes.

16. Pay attention. The easiest way to be interesting is to be interested. Find excitement in what you can learn from others. Hear what they say. Listen and learn about what matters to them. Not so you can say  something back as soon as possible, but so you can get a window into their world. People want to tell their story. Be the person excited to hear it.

17. Follow up & keep up. Keeping track makes this all the easier. A phone call, lunch, email or casual introduction to someone helpful. Any will do. Follow up with unique value, keep them front of mind and keep yourself in the front of theirs.

18. See opportunity in others. Every new person is a chance to connect and help, and has the possibility of being the person you’ve been dying to meet. You won’t know unless you say hi.

19. Believe in people. Know that most people are inherently good and want to help as much as they want to be helped. They want to make the meaningful connections as badly as you do. They want to hear your story and they want to tell you theirs.

20. Find common ground. Everyone has something in common – see it as a fun challenge to find what it is. The faster you can find shared ideas, beliefs and interests, the quicker you can relate.

21. Remember names. Nothing feels better than hearing your own name, especially from someone you just met. And “I’m not good with names,” does not fly. No one is good with names unless they practice! This alone puts you on a whole new level.

22. Be the connector. Bring groups together. Host events. Introduce friends who have similar interests. Make it your job to bring the right people together. There is no more powerful service you can provide.

23. Be the mentor as well as the mentee. There will always be people above and below. Be the mentor for a few people not quite at your level and find mentors to keep brining you up. Embrace both roles. You can’t have one without the other. Do your part.

24. Show your passion. You must be interesting. The best way to do this (aside from listening like crazy) is by embracing your passions, working towards an idea or cause and having a set of beliefs you’re deeply excited about that you openly share with others. No one likes talking to lemmings. Live and connect with passion. This is the surest way to be someone worth talking to – and everyone is capable of it.

25. Lead an interesting life. Live a life worth hearing about – most importantly for you, but for those around you as well. Do things you don’t normally do. Just being in new surroundings will cause you to interact with a new group of people without even trying. The more things you do and try, the more things you’ll have to talk about and the more fun you’ll have!

26. Tell stories. People connect on energy and emotion, not facts and stats. Communicate with stories as often as possible and encourage others to tell theirs. Know the fun stories of your life and share them with others.

27. See friends not strangers. When you walk into a room, see the new faces not as strangers but as friends you have yet to meet. You see the world in a more similar way to others than you probably realize – especially if you’re at the same event or a part of the same communities. Approach accordingly.

28. Care about people. None of the above matters if you don’t actually care about the people around you. If you don’t care about the person being a part of your life, you likely won’t do any of this stuff. If we’re going to connect in a powerful way, we must reframe the way we look at people. Enough said.

29. Show up (ideally in the physical world). Connections don’t happen in your house or office. You must get out there, say hello and reach out. This can start with emails and online connecting but this is only the very beginning. Nothing makes a more powerful impact than meeting in the flesh. Don’t hide behind technology. Get out of your office and from behind the computer, work from a coffee shop instead of your living room and be in the places where other passionate people hang out.

30. Create coincidence. The craziest things tend to align when you start to reach out, offer help and share your stories and passions. The examples of ‘random chance’ you’ll here throughout our How to Connect with Anyone course will blow your mind. This is how I met Simon Sinek, Tim Ferriss, Keith Ferrazzi, Peter Thiel, Gary Vaynerchuk and plenty more. The more time you spend around others, the more it happens. Be in the right places and let chance play its part.

31. Be unforgettable. When you embody these habits, standing out becomes a given. Your existence becomes memorable.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

LOTS of Ray Bradbury Wisdom

The excerpt below is from There are more links below to additional Ray Bradbury insights.

INTERVIEWER: How important has your sense of optimism been to your career?

BRADBURY: I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago. I had some wonderful Swedish meatballs at my mother’s table with my dad and my brother and when I finished I pushed back from the table and said, God! That was beautiful. And my brother said, No, it was good. See the difference? Action is hope.

At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.
Ray Bradbury on optimism in this fantastic Paris Review interview. Also see Bradbury on doing what you loverejectionspace explorationwriting with joy, and the secret of life.
Complement with 7 essential reads on optimism

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Watercolor & Photoshop Background—Sc. 13

I don't know how to paint.

Which is exactly why I've decided TO paint the backgrounds for this film. I've learned that instead of not doing the things I don't know how to do, I'll learn how to do them by simply doing them. The way to become good at something is to try doing it…and to fail. Period.

So here's the second painted background of "Adult Toy Story" for scene 13. This is the original watercolor painting:

This is how it looks after A LOT of work in Photoshop:

This is how it looks with the animated door and rough movement of Honey:


On to the next one!