Tuesday, December 29, 2009

11 second club 2009 October & November

Watching the 11second club winning critiques for October and November has me thinking about Hand Drawn and CG. I was reminded that somewhere I read the suggestion for hand drawn work to always be squashing and stretching a little, always be changing the shape, to give it the feel that it's organic and alive and a flesh sack filled with liquidy stuff, so always a bit of the feel of a water baloon. Watching Mike Walling in October gave me the impression that the CG equivalent is everything a little bit overlapping, nothing ever settling or starting at the same time (which I think is harder in hand drawn because you try and keep your charts simple so your inbetweeners can follow.)  Kind of like the juice box is the CG equivalent of the flour sack. Food for thought. (wish 11 second club would update their archives with links to the critiques faster, it's always a few months slow.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Carmen Herrera

This world is so arbitrary. My father in law pointed me to the artist Carmen Herrera, 94 year old woman, she's been painting her entire life, all of a sudden in the last 5 years she's blown up in popularity in "the art world" and is the hot new thing, making money, going to parties. Where were they 20 years ago when she was probably just as good and could have used the money? Anyway, just a great example of doing what you love to do because you don't really have an option, and not looking externally for validation, and being aware that life is very random so even if you are completely amazing it doesn't mean the world will ever wake up to it. Some quotes from the article:

“I do it because I have to do it; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure,” she said of painting. “I never in my life had any idea of money and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. So I just worked and waited. And at the end of my life, I’m getting a lot of recognition, to my amazement and my pleasure, actually.”

“Everybody says Jesse [her deceased husband who supported her throughout their marriage]must have orchestrated this from above,” Ms. Herrera said, shaking her head. “Yeah, right, Jesse on a cloud.” She added: “I worked really hard. Maybe it was me.”

“Paintings speak for themselves,” she said. Geometry and color have been the head and the heart of her work, she added, describing  a lifelong quest to pare down her paintings to their essence, like visual haiku.

When pressed about what looks to some like a sensual female shape in the painting, she said: “Look, to me it was white, beautiful white, and then the white was shrieking for the green, and the little triangle created a force field. People see very sexy things — dirty minds! — but to me sex is sex, and triangles are triangles.”


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lighting - 3 point lighting is dead

Just finished reading this tutorial on lighting by Richard Yot. Very thorough and in depth, it's kind of long but it's broken up into lots of little bits with good examples for each bit. I feel like I have a better understanding of things to think about with lighting (and why 3 point lighting is cliche'd and never very realistic in the first place. )

La Queue De La Souris

Beautiful stylish piece by Benjamin Renner

*found by JDH, again, sooner or later I'll have more stuff I find first :P

Monday, December 21, 2009

Phantom Menace Review

So JDH found this review of the Phantom Menace, which is really long, and kind of annoying with the voice, and dumb attempts to be creepy. But this guy does have good points about story and plot, like not being able to describe characters from the Phantom Menace except by job and physical description. (Luke is eager and frustrated, Han Solo is a scoundrel, Quigon is ??)  Watch it if you have something better to do but your ears are free. He's got a great clip of young George saying that effects are unimportant and boring if the story isn't strong.

Anyway, the strongest point I think he made was about the light saber duels being about more then just the choreography, they're about what the characters are thinking and feeling and choosing. Check it out at 6:00 mark. (reminds me of that Lost writing panel talking about making the boring exposition stuff matter because of what it emotionally means to the characters.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gobelins School Overview

Director of Gobelin's breaking it down. Interesting. But still seems to me that you have to be a pro to get in, so it's an advanced degree, not an undergrad (3 hour animation test + storyboard test, up against 1000-2000 appliccants, yeah what newb is going to have those skills?)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Puppets and Clay blog

Find a tight site: Puppets and Clay I think it's based out of Madrid, so if you don't speak spanish there's always google translate Has me wondering if there isn't a stop mo scene brewing over in Spain. I know they're working on that saint stop mo film (artefacto producciones O Apostolo), they drug Misha Klein over there for that I think. Anyway, looks like a good site.

plastelina, plastilina. Así se hizo "el ultimátum evolutivo" from Setem País Valencià on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

John K's "school"

Someone (John K or a fan) has collected his rantings about old school hand drawn goofy cartoon education into a single place. JohnK's Curriculum He usually has many useful ideas, (and some bitter rantings and tunnel vision for his preferred genre.) Worth a look.

Red Nose Studio

veryonce in a while I run across this guys work, it's got such a cool look. Looks like he's starting to get into stop mo a little bit. Anyway, now I know where to find it next time I'm looking for inspiration. Might be smart to put his full name somewhere you could find it on the site though ;)   (it's Chris Sickels)

paste from article in How design about his work:

Sometimes these found objects decide the size of the puppets, which are usually 6 to 8 inches tall. "The objects take the pieces in different directions," Sickels says. "It's not always in your complete control. So you have to work with the objects instead of trying to bend the objects to fit your idea." For a piece where the environment of the illustration is more important than the characters, Sickels starts with the background and uses existing puppets to work out the details. "If it's more about the puppet itself, then usually the head will kind of start it, because that head is the emotion," he explains. "In a lot of my pieces, the characteristics in the face are the soul of it. So the face is usually one of the first things to get done."
Sickles shapes the heads from Sculpey, a flesh-colored clay that can be hardened in the oven. The bodies are wire armatures covered with foam. And the fabric clothing is sewn right onto the puppets. "The sculptures sometimes look pretty crude, or the stitching is really rough, or the buildings are painted really sloppily," Sickels says. And that's where the camera comes in. "It hides so much. You throw something a little bit out of focus and it looks more detailed. So I try to use that illusion of the camera to its full advantage, especially with editorial timelines. You know, you may only have three days to do a piece." 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Anthony Balducci - Pathos & Comedy

An examination of comedies trying to incorporate pathos into them, tricky stuff to accomplish. 

Everything here's just copy pasted:

A scene, no matter how anguished, should not cause the comedy to stop. Take for example the big dramatic scene in The Kid. The welfare workers are taking Coogan away from Chaplin. Even in the midst of this emotionally wrenching scene, Chaplin supplies slapstick in the form of Coogan grabbing a sledgehammer and repeatedly bonking the welfare workers on their heads.

In Below Zero (1930), Laurel & Hardy are impoverished street musicians struggling through a bitterly cold winter. As sad as their situation is, it doesn't mean that the comedy has to stop.

Good pathos is heartbreaking. Bad pathos is cringe-inducing.

The central character of a pathos comedy is, in either case, a victim. Chaplin is a victim of cruel welfare workers and Lloyd is a victim of cruel classmates.

A filmmaker is messing with a volatile formula when he tries mixing comedy and drama. He has to get it just right or else the whole thing will blow up in his face. It offends people when a comedian seems to be showing off and trying to prove how dramatic he can be. It irritates people when the sad scenes in a comedy come across as forced, contrived and excessive. It doesn't win fans to have sad scenes in a comedy turn mawkish or maudlin. That's when critics complain that about a comedy having gooey sentiment, turgid sentiment, heavy-handed sentiment, cloying sentiment, or mushy sentiment. It is a mistake when a film is rigged for pathos scenes as a way to manipulate audiences.

It is the job of a filmmaker to create characters and tell a story. A character may find himself in situation that evokes pathos. Fine, people in the audience may feel sad and they may even shed a tear. The audience will recognize the pathos if it's there and allowed to come out on its own. Compassion should grow naturally out of the characters and situations.

The scene is real to life and it evolves naturally out of the story.

no pathos comedy was ever loathed more by critics than the Robin Williams vehicle Patch Adams (1998). This film had it all, from a self-righteous character moralizing to everyone to a gang of sick children showing up to evoke pity.


 AHHH DAAAMN! Nice little production here, fun and graphic. Created at Griffith Film School.

found at thinking animation blog

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Prep and Landing til Jan 1st

So I was initially dismissive of this, a made for tv Christmas special, but it is well done with strong animation. Storywise I appreciate that when the main character is being smarmy he's still a nice guy, and when he's being naughty he's still a nice guy, which for some reason feels not pure Hollywood to me, straight Hollywood would have been more biting and harsh I think.

Nice 2ndary acting rubbing the mug cup at 4:50. And nice thinking at 12:40. True the whole thing is very finely polished which is getting a little played visually. But worth a watch I think.

Speaking of Animation - New podcast

Hey, spreading the word, there's a new animation podcast site out there, Speaking of Animation  their first interview is with Ted Ty 2D guy who's 3D now. I love these things, it's great these guys are adding to the wealth of knowledge.

Words of wisdom from 37 minutes in:

The trick is to get them [the directors] what they want but in a way they wouldn't expect

I think that's really essential, that's where originality comes in and thats your ability that grows as an animator.

This person is picking up a cup and they sit down at a table and they pick up a cup, that's it straight. And if I did that with physics 100% accurate and everything it would be fine, but there's a million ways to pick up that cup. They could pick it up and their hand could slip, or they could be tentative, or they need this glass of water more then anything, or they could be distracted because they just lost their job. So adding something into it that doesn't dilute the idea but heightens the performance is essential in everything you do. Unfortunately in your reel out of context it will look like someone just picking up a cup, but in context in a film it can lend so much to the understanding of a character and what their feeling. 

(check the elf drinking from a  mug in the next post to see this idea in action)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

UP - Married Life

This was the heart of the film for me, the rest of the 2 hours coasting off these 4 minutes

French Roast

Must be the season of giving, all sorts of short films are being released on the net. French Roast Check out the dot eyes, and how well they work.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Cool stop mo Cartoon Network ident from meindbender they've got some fun cg ones on their vimeo page also

Gifts for Greta - Cartoon Network ID shortie from Meindbender on Vimeo.

Friday, December 4, 2009

HON video

Here's that video I was talking about for our new game, which we'll release sometime. The beauty shots where it says their names, that sky is all faked up. I wasn't involved in any of the fancy animations in this, some of the in game characters are all me though.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Typical Freelance Artist assignments

Ran across this post from Jon Hodson of Ninja Mountain giving examples of typical freelance fantasy artist type commissions. I haven't actually read it because I want to work through them as if it were an assignment, and I haven't had time to sit down and do that.

Something they talk about often on Ninja Mountain Podcasts is that you gotta bring teh awesome. I've been grabbing images off of Conceptart.org for a while now and am starting to put together a list of things that seem to improve a pieces' chances for teh awesome, pretty obvious stuff, but thought I'd throw them down so I can have a checklist if I get to painting.

tilt the figure
tilt the camera
tilt the ground plane
dynamic poses
sense of movement
rhythm in composition
strong composition
use reference
believable anatomy
control the viewers eye
majority of piece in middle third of value range (at least don't make it ALL dark)
pool your darks together into larger simple shapes
rim light
consistent palette (don't bring in colors that don't fit)

*and for my 5th life if I ever wind up trying to be freelance artist, places to scare up the little jobs:
gametrade magazine (lists upcoming rpg game releases, and therefore also potential companies)
paizo seems to employ a lot of artists
the forge
of course artorder, conceptart, and deviantart are obvious

*and some price breakdowns on the comments of a Ninja Mounta Post:
Wizards of the coast (the top) pays:
$800 a page for internals
$2000 for Dungeon/Dragon covers
$3000 for print covers
$1200 chapter start (about a week's time) (half dozen of them per book)
$850-$1000 per Magic card (if your a consistently demanded artist up to $2500)

They publish, on average, a couple of supplements a month, plus the online Mags. Internal commissions can easily run to a couple of pages. Of course this doesn't include novel covers, miniature designs, any of their other game lines.

*and a post on this from Art Order

* and Dan Dos Santos in an interview says
Tor cover 3000-3500
Scholastic cover 4000
Fantasy Flight Card 150
Magic 850
(Dec. 2010)

and another artorder post w/ a list of art order examples 4/5/11

I received a request from a student recently. She was wondering if I could provide her with some real world art descriptions to use for your university assignments. I liked the idea and wanted to share the wealth. Here are a few to start out with....

This full-bleed cover features a dynamic FIGHT SCENE in some sort of
large dungeon chamber. The goal is to make the central heroic characters
look very cool and capable. It follows the 4E D&D cover trade

TWO HEROES (see below) are fighting off a squad of GOBLINS, HOBGOBLINS,
and BUGBEARS. The exact number of monsters is left to the artist,
although it should be clear that the heroes are slightly outnumbered
(but winning nonetheless). Not all of the monsters need to be fully
detailed; the illustrator is encouraged to find ways to give the
impression of greater numbers without crowding the scene with too many
characters. The emphasis needs to be on the HEROES.

The first hero is a FEMALE HALFLING ROGUE wearing form-fitted black
LEATHER ARMOR with scalloped leather pauldrons and blood spatters here
and there. She clutches a SHORT SWORD that’s dripping with the blood of
her enemies. Butchered goblins lie face down around her feet, and she
looks quite pleased with herself. These are actual descriptions from some past products, but I'm not going to tell you what they are :)

The second hero is a MALE HUMAN FIGHTER with Asian features. He wears
SCALE ARMOR and wields a LONGSWORD and SHIELD. His armor and shield are
asymmetrical. He’s plunging his sword through the torso of a hobgoblin.
His mouth is open as if screaming some sort of curse or battle cry. His
rugged and grungy, but handsome and obviously skilled.

Use the art references for GOBLINS, HOBGOBLINS, and BUGBEARS to
accurately portrayed these creatures. The goblins are wearing crude hide
armor and wielding short swords. The hobgoblins are wearing scale
armor, carrying shields, and wielding all sorts of martial weapons, from
swords to hand axes to spears. The bugbears wear chain armor and wield
two-handed greataxes.

The front cover illo is a dynamic forced-perspective piece:
The front cover depicts a bird's-eye view of a FEMALE SHADE KNIGHT
riding on the back of a SHADOW DRAGON IN FLIGHT. Both of them are made
of translucent shadow (i.e., you can see through them), and it's very
important that we find an artist capable of doing this sort of
transparent effect. The dragon is wearing a black bridle, and the shade
knight is wearing a cloak over her armor. She grips the bridle with one
hand and holds aloft a gleaming longsword in the other. They are racing
up toward us, and the dragon's jaws are agape.
Behind the shade knight and its mount, we see the TOP of the CITY OF
SHADE, as if we're high in the sky looking down at it. The city is
built atop a gigantic floating rock, suspended above a dark sea. The
city's dark towers angle toward us, but they should still be relegated
to the background; consequently, most of the city can be hazy or
half-hidden by clouds. Also, the city and clouds should be lit in some
color, like orange, because the creatures in the foreground are dark.

THis cover depicts an ancient WHITE DRAGON confronting us in an icy
cavern. Icy stalactites hang from the ceiling, and the floor is littered
with the frozen remains of fallen adventurers. In the background,
lodged at the back of the cave, is a wrecked galleon covered in ice and
frost. (Hidden inside the wreck are the white dragon’s eggs, which we
probably won’t be able to see in the illo.)This particular dragon should
be making eye contact with us, as though we are invading its lair, and
it should look unhappy, menacing and ready to blast us with its icy
breath weapon.

Specifications: 1/4 page - 3”w x 4.5”h

This illustration depicts a CRUMBLING TOWER made from WHITE STONE
BLOCKS. It’s MISSING the TOP HALF so the hollow interior should be
visible. The tower stands on a small bluff and is surrounded by rubble.
The scene should be night and the tower GLOWS. NO VINES GROW ON THE

Specifications: 1/2 H Opener - 7.125”w x 5.375”h

FEMALE SHADAR-KAI WARLOCK with tattoos and scarification on her
face, arms, and pretty much everywhere there is exposed skin. She’s
wearing black LEATHER armor with tiny silver studs all over.
She stands or sits precariously on a BALCONY overlooking the city of
SHADE ENCLAVE. An ancient, open BOOK dangles from one hand as if she is
not aware of it and might drop it at any moment. Her other hand holds a
dagger with which she traces shadowy magical symbols in the air. She
appears tensed, almost ready to spring, utterly engrossed in what she is
doing, yet in a scene that evokes a sense of ennui. Parts of her may
seem to be insubstantial, but that should only be implied, perhaps a
trick of the light.

Specifications: 1/3 H Color Opener 11.25”w x 3.5” h

A mul slave has turned against his captor. He is strangling a drider
with the chains of his manacles. Setting should be clearly in the
Underdark but not just a cavern; could be among slave pens for a drow
arena. Give the drider a whip or other implement to make it clear that
he is a slavelord. Note that THIS IS NOT A DARK SUN SETTING; the focus
of the article is on incorporating muls into non-Dark Sun campaigns.

Specifications: 1/3 V - 3” w X 6.75” h

Nighttime. A waifish, half-elf female assassin in catsuit-type
leather armor with additional studded-leather reinforcing. She is using a
rope harness to ascend the outside wall of a palatial building above a
balcony. Her victim, a richly-dressed dragonborn noble, is sprawled
across the balcony railing, with illumination coming from inside the

Here's a few more. I'm sure Claudio can tell you where they come from as well.

#1 MALE HALF-ELF SORCERER, in an active pose, facing the viewer. This CLASS ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Male half-elf sorcerer
Features: tanned skin, dark green-black hair.
Armor: Cloth armor, no shield.
Weapon: Holds an ornate brass orb.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer. The sorcerer should look like he’s in the center of a storm of swirling fire, elemental power that originates from him but is almost beyond his control. But very powerful and self-assured.

The SORCERER is an arcane controller who channels wild arcane energy into storms of deadly energy and blasts of fiery power.

#2 FEMALE HUMAN WARDEN, in an active pose, facing the viewer. This CLASS ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Female human warden
Features: East Asian ethnicity: tan skin, black hair.
Armor: Hide armor, heavy shield.
Weapon: Mace.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

The WARDEN is a primal defender who channels the power of earth and stone to protect herself and her allies. She can change her shape, retaining her basic humanoid form but taking on aspects of beasts or trees to attack and defend in different ways.

and two race descriptions

#1 SHIFTERS, MALE and FEMALE, in full figure active poses, facing the viewer. This RACE ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Shifters are depicted in the 4e Monster Manual (see reference) and on the cover of this book (reference #2). Longtooth shifters should have features, stance, and movement that suggests a wolf. Razorclaw shifters should have features, stance and movement that suggests a panther, or other great cat.

Male longtooth shifter cleric
Features: Brown skin, dark brown hair. Features should suggest a wolf.
Armor: Chainmail and light shield. Wears symbol of Melora around neck.
Weapon: Spear.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

Female razorclaw shifter druid
Features: Tan skin, sandy brown hair. Features should suggest a feline predator.
Armor: Hide armor, no shield.
Weapon: Spear.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer

#2 GOLIATH, MALE and FEMALE, in full figure active poses, facing the viewer. This RACE ILLUSTRATION should use a format similar to those in the 4e PH.

Male goliath barbarian
Features: Dark gray skin, mottled dark and light patches, no hair.
Armor: Hide armor, no shield.
Weapon: Big greataxe.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

Female goliath fighter
Features: Light gray skin, mottled dark and light patches, long, black hair in braids pulled into a ponytail.
Armor: Scale armor and shield.
Weapon: War pick.
Action: Active pose, facing viewer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bargue - Old School Art Teachin

Classical art training used to be you would copy litho's of famous art, then do drawings from plaster casts, then paintings from casts, then drawings from models posed classically (have to distinguish color into straight value), then paintings from models, then you're on your own.

I hadn't realized that the lithographs everyone copied, (and still do), where created by Charles Bargue. Apparently the litho's were collected and republished recently as the Drawing Course by Charles Brague. Which looks like it may be difficult to track down.

Anyway, has me curious about it. This dude (Paul Foxton) chronicles his following it. And has a breakdown of the advised approach to drawing.

* thought I'd added this a long time ago. Hans-Peter Szameit lays out how this sight size approach is not historical, that Bargue himself didn't use it. Interesting to get the alternate view..... doh, I had
* and there's a wiki on it now

George and AJ

This has been around lately, think I first saw it on Navone's. Wanted to grab it as an example of a storyboard reel, since I've been drawing boards lately for a short.