Monday, January 30, 2017

Episode 13 Production Has Begun

Continuing with my "Big Push Period" to complete the last 6 episodes of "A Universe of Trouble" on Memorial Day weekend, 2017, I completed the storyboard and scenes 01 and 02 this weekend. In the process I discovered that scene 03 is simply a closeup and scene 02 which saved me from having to do another scene.

This scene will be the last time for awhile that the Repairwoman is in the temple. After this, she moves into the actual hyperspace beacon to make the repairs.

Here's the storyboard:

I'm relieved that after doing a 30-scene episode, this episode has a mere 13 scenes.

There's no excuse to complete this quickly!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


April, 2017 will be the 2-year anniversary of working on "A Universe of Trouble."

My original intent was to quickly get some work out into the world. I assumed telling a short story would take less time than animating a 5-minute film.

Yes, I will complete this web series sooner than I would have completed the animation for "Adult Toy Story."

No, it's still not THAT fast!

I'm pleased with the progress of this project and am enjoying the process. However…I want it to be OVER!

First, I want it to be over because I'm eager to do so many other projects. But none of those projects can be worked on until I learn two important things: human anatomy and perspective.

Second, I want to enjoy my summer this year! Meaning, I want to get out of my drawing room and ride my bike while not having a little voice telling me that I should be working.

Therefore, I decided to make the remainder of the winter and some of the spring my BIG PUSH TIME. This means that I will cut back slightly on drawing practice to work as much as possible on completing these last 6 episodes (I'm days away from completing episode 12 of 18).

That's 4 months to complete 6 episodes. Right now it's dark and cold and I don't want to be outside anyway. THIS is the time to really push, to wake up even earlier (5am) to get this project DONE!

My new deadline is Monday, May 29, 2017—Memorial Day—to complete this project. That will be a long weekend and the official start of summer. What better time is there to wrap this up?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Newest Favorite "A Universe of Trouble" Scene!

I'm happy to report that abruptly switching from Toon Boom Animate Pro to Harmony is not nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be. The two programs look and work similarly which is a great help.

BUT Harmony has many more features than Animate Pro and I happily discovered one of them: the Quake module!

In Animate Pro, I was able to do a camera shake effect by altering the x, y and z coordinates of the camera in the timeline. It was effective but a little time consuming.

In Harmony, I drag a module into the Node View, attach it to the camera node…and I'm done!

Here's the Quake module at work in my newest favorite scene of the series:


What do you think of this scene?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Studying Gesture—Examples of Combining Methods

In the previous post, I talked about combining the methods of Stan Prokopenko with those of Samantha Youssef.

Prokopenko's lessons communicate to me better than anyone else's. I think it's because I think linearly and completely and his lessons are designed that way. So I started with his spaghetti gestures and then moved on to the bean gestures.

Youssef also starts her gesture drawing method with "spaghetti" drawings:

I was ready to start the second step of Youssef's 3-step approach which is adding 2D forms to the spaghetti gesture. With limited time to practice, I decided to combine Proko's bean practice with Youssef's method. I did this after realizing that Proko's bean shapes are similar to Youssef's egg and rectangle shapes:

Youssef's method has this important element: the addition of 2D shapes to the spaghetti gesture that represent the silhouettes of the solid, inflexible chest mass and the solid, inflexible pelvic mass. This 2D element is essential before adding the 3D forms of the figure. They act as a bridge between gesture and structure. Here she shows that the shapes should be a simple egg for the chest mass and a simple square/rectangle plus how they differ between male and female:

My practice of these principles:

Black charcoal is used for the spaghetti gesture and the bean masses. Red marker is used to make the egg and rectangle shapes.

Not only am I enjoying doing these otherwise tedious exercises, but I feel that I'm understanding and improving at drawing them. It's making SENSE to me!

There is a LOT more to gesture drawing than I imagined. So much so that I find that I regularly take 30+ minutes to review the principles and thinking behind the methods to ensure that I'm doing them correctly.

Keep drawing!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Studying Gesture—Combining Methods

Last year I made the mistake of going through the Prokopenko Figure Drawing Fundamentals lessons too quickly. I saw the lessons as "easy" and in my eagerness to improve quickly, I dedicated no more than two weeks to each lesson.

Needless to say, NONE of the lessons stuck!

Once it became clear that the skill of gesture drawing was the foundation for all figure drawing, I returned to studying and practicing it mindfully.

I'm dedicating four weeks to each lesson this time to ensure that I get it. I'm also combining methods from various instructors to see which work best for me.

Currently, my daily practice involves a warmup of circles, ellipses, egg shapes and straight lines. The circles, ellipses and straight lines I got from the Watts Atelier. The egg shapes I do because of Samantha Youssef.

I returned to the Youssef method after dismissing it the first time I studied it (I also dismissed the movie Tekkonkinkreet the first time I saw it and now love it having watched it again recently! Funny how age changes the way you look at things.) Originally I found the method involved too much thinking and too many steps to follow in the short period that models pose.

Well, I looked at it again and now understand how her methods relate to Prokopenko, Vilppu and Nicolaides. I'm making the connection among these various methods, finally understanding what they mean and how they're different ways of teaching the same principles. This is how I'll eventually arrive at the best gesture and figure drawing method for ME.

Next post: what combining Prokopenko and Youssef looks like.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New 27" iMac!

I'll admit, I didn't necessarily WANT this gigantic computer (it weighs 21 pounds and my arms were sore for 2 days after from carrying it home.)

What I DID want was a computer with the power to last for several years and to handle my animation, 3D rendering and film editing software. I would've preferred a laptop for the portability option but a desktop will do fine (especially since the latest MacBook Pro eliminated most of its ports and I REALLY need ports.)

It was recommended to me that I get a computer that will allow for parts to be removed in case they fail instead of having one where everything is integrated. That requirement combined with a video card that works well with both Toon Boom Harmony and Adobe gave me one option: the 27" iMac.

It's been a few weeks now and I'm absolutely loving this machine! Yes, it's a little big for my desk and I miss the portability of the laptop but the power of this machine makes up for all of that. I no longer have a use for my second monitor since the iMac's is so large.

I swapped out the 8GB of RAM that it came with and replaced it with…32GBs! It boots up in 10 seconds and effortlessly runs animation and video editing software simultaneously. I. LOVE. IT!

The speakers are so awesome that I no longer need the external speaker. The wireless keyboard and mouse frees up ports (4 USB, 2 Thunderbolt). And although I chose the smaller 512GB Flash storage instead of the 1TB, having less space forced me to clear my harddrive by moving all of my iTunes music to an external drive (the drive that I salvaged from the MacBook). Besides, I can always upgrade it later.

The only issue was that I was now forced to switch from Animate Pro to Harmony mid-project which is exactly what I didn't want to do. The change, however, has gone a lot smoother than I expected and Toon Boom even converted a few files for me.

I'll talk more about how much I'm liking Harmony in another post.

Ultimately, I consider the purchase of this machine as an investment into my future.

Now back to work!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

White MacBook Crashed!

It was going to happen eventually.

My white MacBook stopped booting up suddenly. The only bright spot of losing that computer is that the harddrive didn't fail. It was more likely the logic board.

Bye bye laptop, hello shiny, new desktop!