WEEK 15 - RESULT OF HELPING OUT A FRIEND

Hi people,

I just realised I did not post the final design for the dog I showed concepts for a couple weeks ago. Here you go

Doodle the dog chosen concept.jpg

My friend love it. I am currently working on designs for a Dad (human) in the same film.

Until next time, God bless!

WEEK 14 - Stay hydrated

Sometimes a word in season is like refreshing water washing over you. Feel the water, drink the water, stay hydrated! What are you on about man?

I'm on about the need to surround yourself with both people who will encourage you and people who will be brutally honest with you. If you do not have people who meet the criteria in your life I would suggest you:
1. Seek them out
2. Find online resources/ forums that provide both

I made some good friends on my Animation course who I can trust to give me honest feedback but as well as that I have sought out some professionals who would do the same (they have no reason to be nice to me).

Oh, and if you are a visual artist I suggest you listen to this podcast as it always challenges me and gets me to rethink my approach to things but not in a way that breaks my spirit: https://chrisoatley.com/visual-storytelling-podcast/

That's it! Happy hunting!

Until next time, God bless!

WEEK 13 - HELPING OUT A FRIEND

Hello there!

So, my crazy talented animator friend Christina asked me to help her out with some character designs for her new short film. I would have been a fool to say no as she is my good friend and her last film 'Leave a Print' was a smash hit! Don't believe me? Scroll to the bottom of the post.

Animals are not my forte but knowing Christina that is exactly why she asked me to design the dog - a french bulldog or boston terrier type. Good old Christina; always challenging, always kicking up the backside - these are the kind of friends you keep around.

'Enough talking' you say, 'where are the designs you've done?' Jeez, tough crowd. Here you go:

First rough concepts

First rough concepts

I can't even lie to you, the struggle was real, but (learn from me young and or stubborn people) I told Christina I was struggling and she provided a lot of helpful references including other cartoon versions of those dog types. It was so helpful. Then I was motivated to come up with more concepts, some were slight variations based on feedback from Christina that she liked the body and head of 1 but the face of 3 and she wanted the ears sticking up.

Doodle concepts 5-9.jpg

From the above Christina liked 6 so I am in the process of finalising the design and posing the character and surprisingly enjoying drawing an animal. I will show you the final drawings. Much to your relief, I'm sure, that's all I have to say for now.

Until next time, God bless!

P.S. See below all the festivals 'Leave a Print' has been in so far! Is she a legend or what?

nerland festivals.jpg

WEEK 12 - CONSTRUCTION MY OLD FOE, WE MEET AGAIN

As many of you know, I am currently doing courses through Schoolism Subscriptions (online art courses). I recently finished my Gesture Drawing Class with Alex Woo which highlighted all sorts of drawing weaknesses. 

I have now moved on to do Fundamentals of Character Design by Stephen Silver. The great thing about these courses is that you can see feedback that the instructors give to other students which is incredibly useful. As Stephen Silver critiqued each student the theme of construction kept coming up again and again and again. Initially I almost turned it off because I use to construct a lot and all that would happen is that my characters would look robotic. I pushed through and listened to all of them and I realised that the way he was constructing was not robotic at all so I paid attention. Apparently, I don't hate construction after all. Apparently, it can make your drawing stronger. I'm being a bit facetious as I have always known the purpose of construction was to strengthen a drawing, I just didn't think it worked for me personally so kind of stopped bothering. Also, I now understand where 'drawing through' comes in and just why it is so important.

Silver advised one student in particular to practice construction from photos of real life and I thought that would be a good thing to practice too. See below:

 

These images are not mine. 

These images are not mine. 

construction practice 2.jpg
These images are not mine

These images are not mine

construction practice 4.jpg

And of course, I had to practice it on stylised cartoons/ illustrations because that's what I am most interested in.

The great Ronald Searle 

The great Ronald Searle 

construction practice 5.jpg
Aurelius Battaglia

Aurelius Battaglia

construction practice 7.jpg

It's fair to say my opinion of construction has changed and I will be practicing like this more often :)

Until next time, God bless!

Week 11 - Inspired

Earlier this week I watched the Incredibles 2. I remembered that I really liked the first Incredibles but hadn't seen it since I watched it in the cinema all those years ago so I can't really compare the two. What I know for sure is that Incredibles 2 is a great movie and it inspired me to want to become a far better artist. Also, I don't remember the last time I watched a highly rendered 3D movie and the whole way through all I could think about was much I wanted to improve my drawing skills.

This morning, I drew some fan art of Frozone because he's cool - literally!

frozone.jpg

If you haven't seen Incredibles 2, get to the cinema pronto!

Until next time, God bless!

WEEK 10 - PROPORTIONS

While doing my gesture drawing assignments this week I began to realise just how bad I am at proportions in general. When I have 30 secs to 1 minute to draw the figure I am getting better at capturing what is happening but find it impossible to do that and keep realistic proportions.

My way of addressing this initially was to find out what the actual landmarks of the figure are as for some foolish reason, I don't think I have properly sat down to work this out before. 

Initially, I used a stock photo to work it out myself and then I had a look at a very basic but helpful proportion guide - both below

landmarks.jpg
proportions july.jpg

It was as if I had never really seen a human body before as I was shocked by most of the proportions. eg. The position of the chest, how long the torso is, the position of the shoulders.

This really proved to me the growing up I learnt nothing in art. I may well have been taught it but I did not retain any of it which is a shame. I thought I knew this stuff but had no idea.

Everytime, I want to move on I realise there are thousand more basic things I don't know. Drawing is so so hard!

Until next time, God bless!

WEEK 9 - Fanart

Hi all,

I missed last week as I had a very busy weekend but have been drawing as usual.

During the week I was listening to the radio and heard a song which reminded me of the Police Academy films. I love those films and had to start doing some fan art.

Here are some attempts at Hightower which I can't stand but I thought were important to share because there are some things I want to point out that I am aware I need to work on (apologies for the really bad cropping in the first image, I decided I wanted to share the rough sketches after I cropped it) 

Hightower scribbles.jpg
Hightower.jpg

1. Trying to correct mistakes too early/ Drawing way too many lines - it just looks like a mess

2. Facial features - no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to let the face breathe/ have varying proportions without the face feeling squashed. 

3. I can't seem to stop rushing drawings, especially digitally I get so impatient and just want to get colour on it

Any tips on any of the above welcome!

Until next time, God bless!

Week 8 - Gesture Drawing: Silhouette

Hi guys,

Hope you are well. This week on my gesture drawing course I've been learning about silhouette, which I know is a very important part of drawing but for some reason I have tended to completely ignore in my own drawings - I just get so caught up with the inner details which I began to address last week by thinking bigger!

Not much to say this week, but part of my assignment was to observe some silhouettes in photos/ art and make them better. Here is my attempt below:

1b) 10 bad silhouettes improved.jpg

Just to point out as well that these silhouettes were not all terrible to begin with but could be clearer. I also practiced this with cafe sketching which was another part of the assignment and as usual have been relating it to my characters. I may have some fan art/ original designs to post her next weekend.

Until next time, God bless!

Week 7 - Shape

Hi everyone! How you doing?

Another week, another update. This week I have been watching the 2nd week of the Schoolism gesture class again because I was very confused when I watched it last week. However, as a friend of mine pointed out to me, the great thing about the subscription is that you can do the course at your own pace so you can re-watch a certain lesson until you understand it. I still want to treat it as though I am on the live course just for the sake of my own discipline, but if I need to I will slow it down. The race is not given to the swift (biblical reference)

Anyway, in essence, I have been learning about how to use shape in gesture drawing. Alex Woo was talking about thinking big and thinking graphically/ not getting into the details too soon (my number one pitfall because I love details). He was encouraging us to look for the overall shape which describes the pose. 

Part of the assignment was to find 10 pictures and look for that overall shape. See my attempt below. I'm not sure I fully get it yet.

10 shapes from pics.jpg

As with a lot of principles, it is transferable and because my interest is character design my immediate thought was how can I think bigger in my design. The colour blocking exercise below was a good starting place. I pretty much knew what I was going to draw from the start but I began with bigger shapes. 

colour block for blog 1.jpg
colour block 2.jpg
colour block 4.jpg

I really enjoyed this exercise. Not only was it good for me thinking big with shape but also thinking big with colour and detail. I was also more conscious of the silhouette which Alex Woo will be talking about in next week's lesson.

Overall, things are slowly clicking and I am excited about the future, This gesture class, much like my Masters in Animation, arose from a need to build a stronger drawing foundation. Although I felt these courses were necessary, they are still a means to an end and the longer I wait to do a dedicated character design course, the more antsy I become. I am enjoying this course but hope deferred makes the heart sick (another biblical reference).

Looking forward to finishing this course so I can start a Character Design one. Just trying not to get ahead of myself which is really hard for me because it's no secret that I'm an eager beaver.

Until next time, God bless!

Week 6 - Artcasts

Hi there,

I am still enjoying my gesture drawing course with Alex Woo but I haven't got round to doing the assignments yet so thought I'd post about something else - artcasts! 

Over the past few years I have come across some material which has reminded me both of what it is I am trying to achieve (big picture) and how I should approach it on a daily basis (details).

I have listened to quite a few inspiring ones but I keep listening to this one over and over again. I think it's mostly because it is coming from people who are not yet professionals but have had a change in perspective and they say some things that one should keep in mind constantly.

Have a listen if you are interested:

http://chrisoatley.com/visdevmyths/

Until next time, God bless!

Week 5 - Gesture Drawing - Line of Action

Hey there!

So... I signed up to Schoolism Subscriptions earlier this week and started taking the gesture drawing class with Alex Woo. 

For those of you who don't know, the way it works is that there 8-12 weeks worth of pre-recorded lectures and there are assignments to complete each week. You can watch the videos at your own pace and you have access to the instructor's feedback on the assignments of those who are signed up to the full (more expensive) course. The benefit of this is that you can learn from other's mistakes and hopefully recognise when you are about to make the same errors.

After week 1's lectures my mind is already blown. I have never understood line of action and I am definitely beginning to now and I am starting to see things more simply and graphically which is exciting.

Here are snippets of my assignment below. You may not be able to make head or tail of this so you just have to trust me that I am doing the right thing :)

 

30 sec gestures from video pt 1.jpg
10 lines of actions from entertainment.jpg
10 lines of actions from entertainment pt 2.jpg

Looking forward to the next lesson. The plan is to listen to lectures on Tuesdays and do the assignments on Fridays. Much more learning to come.

Until next time, God bless!

Week 4 - Some more anatomy - legs

Hello people,

So, I finally got round to having a go at leg anatomy and I must confess it was and is a struggle - I think it's partly due to pictures I found and partly because there is a lot going on. What you see below is unfortunately me pretty much copying what I see without understanding and hoping that understanding will come later. 

20180602_171442.jpg
20180602_171452.jpg

I think for now I will study legs on the surface from life and photographs and look at gesture etc. All I can do is keep trying right?

I will of course update you on any progress.

Until next time, God bless!

Week 3 - Fan art - A fresh perspective

Since I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Animation I have heard murmurings of underground debate about whether artists should be making fan art or not. For those of you who are not sure what I mean by fan art it refers to artwork based on already existing fictional characters - in this case I am referring specifically to characters which have already been visually represented.

One argument in favour of making fan art is that it will increase you public profile and then you can use that to get people interested in your original characters; an argument against is that making fan art is cheapening yourself and you should spend time developing your own intellectual property.

Until this point I have't been sure which camp I sit in - sometimes I see fan art and it bores me, other times I see fan and it excites the heck out of me.

Here is some fan art that excites me:

The artwork  below is by Alan Stewart (@artofalan on Instagram)

The artwork below is by Justin Rodrigues (@JTown67 on Instagram)

These are two of my favourite artists and they have managed to keep the essence of the characters, but still make it their own and this is the kind of fan art I personally like seeing.

Having said that, what I have discovered through trying fan art of my own is the personal benefit of fan art. This week I decided to have a go at drawing characters from one of my all-time favourite cartoons, Dexter's Laboratory. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed drawing Dexter and DeeDee - initially I tried to stray too far from the designs and the results were horrible haha! See below (yucky stuff):

20180527_210616.jpg

I then really tried to think of what epitomised those characters and what was essential to their design. In the end, I only made subtle changes to their design and focused more on using their personas to create typical poses for them.

20180527_210903.jpg
20180527_210942.jpg

This was the game changer for me! Not only was I able to notice how simple the costumes were (which will ultimately help my own designs) but I was able to focus mostly on the pose which was a relief as most of the time I am trying to do both at the same time. 

Needless to say I will be doing a lot more fan art to learn from.

Until next time, God bless!

Week 2 - SIMPLICITY, WHY DO YOU ELUDE ME?

Hello people! I hope you are well.

So... the first thing to say following my last blog post is that I did not focus on leg anatomy this week as I said I would so I am none the wiser there. Instead, I got sucked into admiring shapes and wondering how such simple shapes can be so appealing.

One of my biggest pitfalls, not just in art but in life, is that I often tell myself that things cannot be as simple as they are and so I end up over-complicating them and the result helps no one. This is something I am working on.

With regards to Character Design, I see incredibly simple base shapes and I can never believe how simple they are so when I go to draw my own characters what do I do? I make more complex shapes than the Professionals because surely that will make my work look better even though it is the opposite of what my heroes do. Makes no sense right? I need to constantly remind myself to keep it simple and that the first design doesn't have to be and in fact should not be the final design - it is a process so I should be free to fail.

Anyway, I am a work in progress and the more I look at people's designs and listen to blogposts the more I realise how important clarity of thought is. If my thoughts are jumbled how can I convey something simply? Food for thought... That's all I have to say this week.

Until next time, God bless!

Week 1 - Beginnings

Hey everyone! What's up?

Just thought I'd start recording this new leg of my journey. I have recently taken a year's contract at a Mental Health Charity, working there 4 days a week. Have I given up on working in the Animation industry? Not a chance! The exact opposite in fact - I am more motivated than ever. I know that I will become a professional Character Designer and this decision I took was with that in mind. I realised that I am not yet ready for the Industry and the best way to address that is to invest in my development. The idea is that I am not going to actively look for work this year but rather spend the time and some of the money on courses to improve myself. 

There is an endless list of things I need to improve but by the grace of God I am actually aware of my weaknesses which puts me in a great starting position. Before I even take a Character Design course, I first need to improve my anatomy knowledge and my gesture drawing so that is what I have begun doing.

About a week ago I came across Taylor Krahenbuhl's old portfolio ( and I was just struck by how many different variations he was able to produce - see below:

TAYLOR KRAHENBUHL'S WORK

TAYLOR KRAHENBUHL'S WORK

TAYLOR KRAHENBUHL'S WORK

TAYLOR KRAHENBUHL'S WORK

I had been aware of my lack of anatomy knowledge before, but this made me think 'Okay, there is a secret this guy knows that I have never come close to knowing!' There was a revelation that it must be his understanding of anatomy which allows him to abstract things in a number of ways and it still look believable (of course he knows Character Design secrets too but it is underpinned by a confidence in what he is drawing). This was the catalyst for me to improve my basic understanding of anatomy which, this week I learned, was even more basic than I realised. Time to spice up my drawings!

I can't lie to you I have very little interest in learning the names of all the bones and muscles - I just want to know what they look like. These are some studies that I did during the week, I have simplified them for my own benefit:

anatomy studies 1 May 2018.jpg
anatomy studies 2 May 2018.jpg

Don't laugh at me, but I can already see how much I have improved since learning the general position of where thing are in the body. At the moment I am trying to get a general overview and later on I will return to specific parts. This week I have looked at the head, torso and arms and next week I will focus on legs, but I am aware that I will definitely need to return to heads and hands as these are key in figure drawing. These anatomy studies will of course be accompanied by life drawing and studies from other references to see how things fit together.

Until next time, God bless!