Test Animation pt.2

I severely underestimated how long it would take to complete this! Firstly, the previous animation came in at 1.5 seconds, was 12 frames long, and it took me about a day to complete. This one is 3.8 seconds, almost 40 frames, and there’s a lot more going on, so I’ve no idea what made me think I could do it in a day.

I felt a bit more comfortable navigation the process this time so that helped speed things up. The original idea (and the reason I probably thought I could complete it so quickly) was that the mouse would run in and slide to a stop in the middle of the scene, but it occurred to me that I wouldn’t learn all that much about how animate the character in different poses and facial expressions do that, so I changed direction (literally). It’s still not as smooth as I’d like it to be and frame to frame I can see I’m consistent in drawing the proportions, but I’m getting there I think.

The major challenge here (apart from… well… all of it) was the “fall and get up”, as I’ve never drawn those poses before I don’t think. I found myself having to act it out and think about what limbs I was moving and then translate that to the character in a different 3D plane. In hindsight I should just video myself from the angle I want and draw that. The other challenge here was adding the light, which for this test was direct light and a bit of bounce light. I’ll maybe start getting a tad more adventurous with the rendering of light and shadow as I progress, but really the focus will be on getting the movement right as a before I attempt to get too fancy.

Cheers

Matt

Mouse and Squirrel

A couple of very Disney-esq character designs. These were done mostly as a response to watching the Disney classic “Basil the Great Mouse Detective” which is still a great film, but looks really roughly animated when you compare it to some of its polished modern counterparts. The character designs seem basic, there’s less thought about peripheral characters (mostly they all look the same), the backgrounds are less interesting etc… These issues are mostly due to time constraints and the fact that Disney was still growing and learning. When you watch the modern animations, like Zootropolis, you really see how far things have come! Every piece of dialog has meaning, the environments are immersive and have hidden easter eggs for the eagled eyed viewer, the main characters are thoroughly work-shopped and designed, and the background characters all have a look and personality of their own too.

It’s a melancholy feeling watching those old animations because you love them so much, but you know Disney has moved on from hand-drawn animation and are unlikely to ever return to them, and that’s really sad. There’s something amazing about those hand-drawn films; maybe it’s nostalgia (in fact I’m positive it is) or maybe it’s like when you see a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh painting in the flesh instead of a print. Or maybe it’s the fact that there’s something sacred about knowing it’s all hand-drawn; the most fundamental way of drawing, the way everyone starts, the way the cavemen did it. Maybe it’s that.

Cheers

Matt

Freyja character sheet

This isn’t really a character sheet… well it is because of how it looks here, but it’s actually a movement cycle for a double page spread that I’ll hopefully have done tomorrow. I should actually work on character sheets more I think if I want to work for Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks/Netflix as a character designer, so expect more of these! I’m pretty happy with this except for the face of the first figure (far left). I’ve been looking at the way a lot of the Disney (and similar studios) character artists work over the last couple of days, especially the likes of Annette Marnat https://annettemarnat.ultra-book.com/portfolio, Kevin Roualland https://rouaroua.tumblr.com/, and Brittany Myers https://rouaroua.tumblr.com/, check out their work!

Cheers

Matt

Hammer Time

Thor character design. I had to play around with this one for a while because the proportions seemed out of sync and the colours were difficult to get right. It was also a challenge to stay away from the Marvel aesthetic of the character though I think there’ll always some similarities as there have been so many iterations in the comics over the years.

Cheers

Matt

Ha’Way the Lads

Another fun commission here! I’ve been very lucky recently in that most of the commissions I have taken on have had very open ended briefs, meaning I’m pretty free to do whatever I want with few limitations. The client wanted this one for their old piano teacher who is also a Sunderland AFC fan. I was originally inclined to do something similar to the Leeds Utd poster I illustrated a while back, which was very footballer heavy. Somehow that didn’t seem appropriate for this one, as the client wanted a fusion of piano and football. I went back and forth having a football scene float up out of the piano like music, but it felt a bit obvious. I did a bit more research in to the clubs musical history and found that the players walked out to “Dance of the Knights” by Sergei Prokofiev (if you’ve seen The Apprentice, with Alan Sugar, you’ll recognise the music as the intro that). After that I just sourced the sheet music and Bob’s your uncle. I particularly like the textures I’ve thrown in.

Cheers

Matt

New Orleans JazzFest

This was a really fun commission to do. The client wanted it as a present for a friend who is into jazz, and they simply asked that there be a woman singing and a guy with a sax in a jazz scene. After illustrating the two characters I felt that adding anything more to it than a bit of typography would ruin the composition. I went back and forth as to whether the singer should have a black or a white dress, but I think the white balances the composition quite well as it draws the eye. I added a bit of texture to give the piece that old/distressed look and then created the jazz logo so the poster would look authentic.

Overall I’m really pleased with this one, so it probably means no one else will like it, as typically any of my work that I dislike gets the opposite reaction. I feel like I’m hitting my stride with this style of character design at the moment and it doesn’t feel boring or gimmicky – a feeling I was getting about the houses I was going crazy with a couple months ago. Anyway, all I can do is keep beavering away and trust the process – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Cheers

Matt

Editorial mock-up

This is just a bit of practice to see how my style might fit around an article – don’t try to read the text, it’s just made up rubbish to give the piece a bit of realism… I mean you can try if you want, but it might make your brain bleed.

I’ve been looking a lot at the work of Satoshi Hashimoto and Tommy Parker in the hopes that their skill and mastery of this type of work will rub-off on me, while being mindful not to straight-up copy their style. I ‘m trying to simplify the characters, shapes, and colours to make the illustrations striking and easily readable. I’m also focusing on drawing things from everyday life which tends to be a main-stay of these kind of pieces, the downside to this is that if I get too generic I could suffer from appealing everybody, which results in appealing to no one.

Cheers

Matt

Coffee

This piece and the previous one have really been an experiment in how to add painterly touches to my digital work. You might ask be asking yourself, “Well if he wants to make his work look painted then why doesn’t he just use real paint?” The simple answer is time.

I almost always start a piece with series of pencil sketches to create the bare bones of the idea I want to develop. From there I’ll go in to photoshop and refine the sketch over and over until I have a design that I think works. I terms of the image above I literally had the barista pouring milk into the coffee cup without the heart shape. This next part is why I tend to not to work traditionally.

If I was to have painted everything traditionally up to this point there would be very little room to change what I had made. I’m one of those people that struggles to do loads and loads of rough drawings (because I’m impatient and I want to make a start on my idea right away) and because of this inability to plan ahead, I would have had to start all over again in order to incorporate any new ideas I might have that may have showed up in the roughs (were I to do them… which I don’t).

The beauty of working digitally (at least for me) is that I can continue to iterate, redo, rework, and change canvas size without having to scrap pages or scrape oil paints off. In working this way I save myself an immense amount of time and materials. The added bonus to this is that I don’t have to get messy, clean brushes, palettes etc…

Don’t get me wrong, I love traditionally painted work and the mastery required to use it. I often play with the idea of using it more often as a part of my practice, and I don’t doubt for a moment that my work would be worth significantly more were I to paint in this way. However the pros of working digitally far outweigh the cons in my opinion, but that is after all, just MY opinion.

Cheers

Matt

Not Quite My Tempo

This was such a frustrating piece to complete! I went back and forth for ages as to whether I should make the composition landscape, but eventually settled on portrait because all the others are same and it would break up the series. The background characters were the main issue because I just couldn’t find a way to fit them around the main character, so I had to get inventive in order to make them visible. I think perhaps because I feel like I have to make a series of these – and they have to be good – I’m thinking too much and over doing it, which is why this one felt more forced than the other two. The name of the piece has been taken from the film “Whiplash”, and again if you haven’t seen it then go sort yourself out!

Cheers

Matt