Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Universe of Trouble Ep.12 Storyboard

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Favorite Ep. 11 Scenes!

On the afternoon before Thanksgiving, I looked at the remaining scenes that needed to be done. My schedule said I'd finish them by Dec. 26.

But I couldn't wait.

I decided that I would spend the entire 4-day Thanksgiving weekend cranking out the last 7 scenes and end credits for Ep. 11.

And I did it!

It took 10 hours of work on Thanksgiving, 9 hours of work on the day after and 2.5 hours on Saturday to complete the scene but I did it!

This was a HUGE victory because it puts me one entire month ahead of schedule. I'm enjoying making this series and I'm satisfied with and proud of the results but…I'm eager to move on to learning and doing other things. So the sooner I can finish this and get it out into the world, the happier I will be.

Here are two of my favorite scenes from Ep. 11:


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Practice—Scribble and Spaghetti Noodle Gestures 11/22/16

I'm posting these practice drawings to show that daily practice will cause improvement to show. I may not be there yet but I'm determined to continue trying and you should, too, if you're trying to get better at anything.

Also, my approach to drawing gesture has evolved since I started this area of practice. I'll talk more in future posts about whose gesture methods and ways of thinking I've learned and am practicing.

5 second "scribble" gesture drawings made with black Pentel Touch Sign Pen on smooth newsprint. I stopped using the brown Pentel pens because for some reason, they weren't as inky as the black pens.

30 second "spaghetti noodle" gesture drawing made with Conté à Paris Pierre Noir B charcoal pencils on smooth newsprint.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lesson Learned—Make Color Scripts

The color script of a film serves multiple purposes. It’s an overview and a map of the color, lighting, emotion and moods of a film.

Here are some color scripts from Pixar:

As I make this animated web series, I want to document what I did right and what I did wrong to help others avoid making the same mistakes as they create their projects. I documented some early lessons and mistakes at this post

My latest mistake and therefore lesson learned is that I should have done a color script for the entire series instead of making things up as I got to them. For example, the color choices I made for the lizards, their planet, the flying eye and the Repairwoman’s lizard suit all blend together too much:

If I had known to make a color script at the beginning of this project, I would have known that these choices weren’t sufficiently distinct and I would have made different choices.

At this point I’m stuck with the choices I made; changing them would be too time-consuming. 

But I NOW know for future projects, not only do I need a completed storyboard but I also need to determine the color and lighting BEFORE I start to ensure that all of the scenes work together and that the viewer can clearly see the differences among the foreground, middle ground background and the characters.

I made this mistake so you don’t have to!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Studying Gesture—Kimon Nicolaides

I'm working from a variety of drawing resources to "hack" my learning—to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.

Now that I've settled on developing my gesture drawing skills as the foundation of my abilities, I want to know as much about it and the best way to approach it.

I'm pulling from 9 sources of gesture drawing lessons and I wanted to devote a full post to each source.

The first source of gesture drawing instruction is from Kimon Nicolaides. I've had his book "The Natural Way to Draw" for many years and have tried about 3 times to follow his specific course of study. Due to time limitations and my own lack of discipline, I always gave up, but the lessons I learned were important and the exercises were often fun.

After contour drawing, the second lesson Nicolaides teaches is gesture. His method is that you're to feel the movement of the whole form in your whole body. You're to focus on the entire figure and should keep the whole thing going at once.

But I think this is the key to gesture drawing from the book: "Draw rapidly and continuously in a ceaseless line, from top to bottom, around and around, without taking your pencil off the paper. Let the pencil roam, reporting the gesture."

When I first started doing these studies, I removed my pencil from the paper to draw each part of the body separately. But once I read about keeping the pencil on the paper, I found that both the experience and the results improved.

So that's the Nicolaides scribble gesture method in more detail. "The Natural Way to Draw" has gotten mixed reviews. I like it's discipline and the way it breaks learning to draw into a curriculum that let's your newly-learned skills build upon each other. Even if you don't follow the curriculum as presented, I recommend trying some or all of the book's exercises in the time that you have.

Happy drawing!

Friday, November 18, 2016

See Robert Valley's "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" NOW!

I've been inspired by a lot of animation lately.

The work coming out of the Ecole de l'image Les Gobelins is amazing. Like this:

So there's a lot of animation—especially hand drawn/2D animation—out there to inspire and emulate.

And one person's work that I'm really loving is Robert Valley. He draws like this:

And he animates like this:

He's amazing! And although I wish that all of his women weren't insanely skinny, I love the ethnic diversity of his characters, something that many artists don't do. Usually diversity, especially of women, translates into one blonde, one brunette and one redhead. Hair color diversity! Obviously, that leaves out a lot of other people.

So when I heard that Valley not only made a 35-minute mature film that was accompanied by an ebook and tutorials, all available for purchase, I bought them immediately!

A page of thumbnails from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book. Valley explains why doing thumbnails is important.

And if you're interested in being an independent animator, I recommend you purchase the film and the bonus features of the ebook, tutorials and commentary.

I've watched the film twice (and intend to watch it again with the commentary), studied his ebook, which contains the original script, and went through all four of the Photoshop tutorials. And it was the most inspirational and educational experience for which any independent animator could hope.

A page from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book. 

One idea in particular that I thought was incredibly smart was that Valley designed the artwork for the graphic novel to also be used in the film. To keep the work to a minimum, he used a specific aspect ratio— 19:9—that worked for his graphic novel panels as well as for the film frames. The graphic novel ended up essentially being a storyboard for the film! 

Each panel of the graphic novel is a layered Photoshop file. Valley then takes that completed panel and puts it into a Premiere file and times it to music. This creates a placeholder/animatic showing the timing of every scene. He would then take the panel art and extend it and adjust it to create the animation for the film. So awesome!

A page from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book.

The ebook contains links to YouTube for the music, which is just as great as the animation. I downloaded the whole playlist. I'm listening to it as I write this! And it has a private password to watch Valley's "Shinjuku" animation, a precursor to the methods he used in "Pear."

A page from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book.

Valley's "Pear" is a big step in the direction of convincing people that animation isn't just for children and is a great medium for adult topics.

"Pear Cider and Cigarettes" is available for rent or purchase at Vimeo.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Part 04—Andrew Loomis's "Creative Illustration": Informal Design

In Creative Illustration, Andrew Loomis explains that one of the functions of line is to produce informal design.

Here's an animated version of Loomis's various examples of informal design:



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Practice—Scribble and Spaghetti Noodle Gestures 11/15/16

5 second "scribble" gesture drawings made with black and brown Pentel Touch Sign Pens on smooth newsprint. I like them because the ink flows just right and they're short so they can be held between the fingers like a charcoal pencil.
30 second "spaghetti noodle" gesture drawing made with Conté à Paris Pierre Noir B charcoal pencils on smooth newsprint.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Drawing Horse for an Apartment

The election has me so out-of-sorts that I'm neglecting my drawing practice.

But after venting, meditating and commiserating, I'm back to doing the only thing any of us can do: live our lives and pursue our life's purpose.

With all of the gesture drawing I've been doing, I was sitting in a way that ended up straining a few muscles in my leg. Clearly I needed a drawing horse but in a small room like my drawing room, a standard one wouldn't work.

Then I discovered The Folding Art Horse®! This is a perfect drawing horse for a small space since it folds flat and has a hole for hanging. There are 4 different models depending on your needs.

Now back to practicing and making good art!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Make. Good. Art.

Like many other Americans, I've spent the last week upset over the outcome of our latest presidential election.

I've had some time to recover. To inspire others to move forward, I wanted to share Neil Gaiman's words from his keynote address for the  2012 University of the Arts commencement:

  Zen Pencils made a wonderful comic version of his address:

There's nothing else to say…

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Part 03—Andrew Loomis's "Creative Illustration": Formal Design

In Creative Illustration, Andrew Loomis explains that one of the functions of line is to produce formal design.

Here's an animated version of Loomis's formal subdivision diagram. The diagram is captioned, "This is the key to formal subdivision."


From Loomis: "Subdivision by diagonals, verticals and horizontals produces unlimited design. Try it."

Yes, try it!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Learning is More Valuable than the Final Product

Jony Ive of Apple.
From "Playing The Long Game Inside Tim Cook's Apple":
"I’ve always thought there are a number of things that you have achieved at the end of a project," Jony Ive told me and Brent Schlender…"There’s the object, the actual product itself, and then there’s all that you learned. What you learned is as tangible as the product itself, but much more valuable, because that’s your future."
As I make this web series, I believe this more and more.

Although the final product will reflect the best of my abilities at this time, what I've learned as I'm making it will be incredibly valuable for the next projects.

Play the long game!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Practice—Mentler Skulls

Before I decided to put skull studies aside to focus on gesture, I was doing these skull studies based on the measurements of artist Michael Mentler.

I like his system and look forward to returning to studying it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Gesture Drawing—"Spaghetti Noodle"

In this previous post, I talked about breaking my gesture drawing studies into two areas—"scribble" gestures and "spaghetti" noodle gestures—and discussed the scribble method in detail.

Now about the spaghetti noodle method…

I use the term "spaghetti noodle" instead of "stick figure" because stick figure implies straight, stiff lines, the opposite of what we're trying to achieve.

Instead, we want to draw curvy, rhythmic lines that quickly capture the action and feeling of the figure.

Stan Prokopenko's "spaghetti noodle" 30 second gesture.

Steps in the Samantha Youssef gesture drawing method.

With only one full week of practicing these two approaches, I feel that I'm seeing the figure more clearly. The blocking exercise has me seeing the various shapes that make up the figure and the gesture exercises have me capturing the figure's body language quickly.

If you want to improve your figure drawing, I recommend practicing gesture drawing until it becomes second nature. This will most likely take years or months but you'll be a better draftsperson as a result.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

Gesture Drawing—"Scribbles"

As I progressed with my drawing instruction, I hit a wall. I traced that problem to having gone through Stan Prokopenko's Figure Drawing Fundamentals series too quickly.

I'm now reviewing that series with an improved mindset of PATIENCE. 

Although I took the time to practice gesture drawing when I first started these lessons, I didn't keep in mind the CONCEPT that was being taught with the lesson. Appreciating the concept of gesture is just as important as doing the gesture drawings.

This time, while watching the full version of the Proko gesture lesson, I took FIVE pages of notes as a reminder of how to do the exercise and its purpose.

Here's a summary of why gesture is the single most important part of the drawing:
  1. Gesture is: the movement between things; the motion, action body language, energy, story idea, message. It describes the relationship among the forms.
  2. Gesture is NOT the contours, forms nor the tone but the movement that connects the contours, forms and tone.
  3. The goal is to practice gesture so that it becomes second nature.
  4. Gesture is in everything. Without it, the drawing is static and boring.
  5. Gesture is more about how the object feels than how it looks.
  6. The concept to be learned from gesture: I'm training my mind to see rhythm in everything I draw; training my mind to consider more than just contours when I draw and shade.
Here's an example of how gesture is in everything—a Frank Gehry architecture gesture drawing:

After reviewing the Proko approach to gesture, I was reminded of the gesture lessons of Kimon Nicolaides, Samantha Youssef and Glenn Vilppu. Proko, Youssef and Vilppu have similar, spaghetti-noodle approaches to gesture.

But Nicolaides teaches a scribble method that the others don't teach that I thought would be valuable to practice. Both methods require quickly recording the feeling of the pose but the scribbling involves a faster, even more visceral response to the pose. Plus, I like all of those moving, energetic lines.

I'm dedicating four weeks to practicing just gesture. My daily drawing practice now looks like this:
  1. Warmup circles (1-2 pages)
  2. Warmup ellipses  (1-2 pages)
  3. Warmup straight lines  (1 page)
  4. 50 drawings of 5 second "scribble" gestures
  5. 50 drawings of 30 second "spaghetti noodle" gestures
  6. Youssef blocking exercise (1 pose)
I start with the Watts warmup of circles, ellipses and straight lines using a charcoal pencil. Then I switch to a Tombow fine point and brush pen for the 5 second scribble drawings. I found free-flowing ink to work better than charcoal for those particular drawings. I then switch back to a blunt charcoal pencil for the 30 second gestures. For the blocking exercise, I use a well-sharpened charcoal pencil. All of these exercises are done on smooth newsprint.

In her book Movement and Form, Youssef describes blocking as "…the practice of training our eyes to recognize the individual shapes of the objects in our picture plane…It is meant to train your eyes to graphically translate what you see onto paper with accuracy."

This idea of blocking is similar to that of concept artist Robh Ruppel's in his book Graphic L.A. He talks about how drawing is symbol-making; that the way to make a drawing look real is the use of basic shapes, basic brushes and getting the relative values right. He recommends—like Youssef—reducing everything we see into simple geometric shapes and the fewest values. Youssef recommends daily blocking practice so that's exactly what I'm going to do. 

My goal in life is to be able to paint like THIS!