Friday, 30 October 2015

Life Drawing - 28/10/15

Best life-drawing class ever!! Halloween 'Day of the Dead' special with the lovely Lydia! 

20 min sketch to warm up (pencil, fine-liner & water)

The beginning of the faster poses - these were 3 mins (all done in Sharpies)
1 minute reducing to 30 seconds

20 second & 10 second sketches

25 minutes - pencil, fine-liner & water

Quick scribble to finish off :)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Narrative Project - Thumbnails and Reference Images

These are a few character ideas I'd had. Because they are toys I liked the idea of using simple shapes. I see them as made from wood, quite elegant with painted faces. Their clothes would be very bland at the beginning of the story, but as the characters change, I imagined their outfits more flowing and colourful and made from fabric, rather than painted onto the body of the toy as they are at the start.

Quick environment sketch to show the inside of the factory. Needs more work.

 For a bit of research and something to springboard from, I gathered some images together of how I imagined the style and look of aspects of the animation. I went with a Russian theme as this is something the group have dipped in and out of throughout our discussions. 

Russian costume, once the characters have transformed during their dance. I see this kind of style with patterns which could be mirrored in the environment once the mood of the story changes.

Some quick reference material for factories. These show both men and women at work, what they would have worn and the working conditions they would have been subject to. Lots of monotonous lines of machinery, lots of repetition.

A quick look at some Russian architecture for when the couple are dancing. The buildings and scenery would change and grow as their love builds. Again, I've gone with the theme as the colours and style would all complement each other. I like the shapes of these buildings, which would tie in nicely with the cogs and twirl of the female character's dress as she is dancing.

These images are Russian designs again which I thought could work well in transitions, or in the costumes or music box design. The image middle-right is a Bird of Freedom which I thought also links to the story nicely, though I can't easily see how we could include it in the animation.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Film Review - The Blob (1958)

Fig 1. The Blob (Film Poster, 1958)

Released in 1958, The Blob tells the story of an alien being which lands on Earth and consumes everything in its path. The film was directed by Irvin S Yeaworth Jnr and Russell S Doughten Jnr and the main star of the show is Steve McQueen. The opening credits are accompanied by a very catchy tune which will stay with you for days and notably introduces 'The teen-agers' among the actors at a time when the term 'teenager' was relatively new.
Fig 2. The Old Man discovers The Blob (Film Still, 1958)

Steve (McQueen) and his girlfriend Jane (played by Aneta Corsaut) are out on an evening drive when they discover an old man who has been attacked by a gelatinous, alien matter. They take him to the local doctor who is subsequently consumed by the blob after it has already made a meal of his patient. The blob continues to eat its way around the house and Steve has a hard time convincing the police of what is happening until the blob eventually heads into town, growing bigger and bigger as it goes.
Fig 3. Steve and Jane (Film Still, 1958)

The Blob is very entertaining and just about the right length at 86 minutes. Although in comparison to today's films, the special effects are amusing and the film is far from scary, one can imagine that back in 1958 the movie could have been quite frightening and had a 15 certificate on release. The acting and cheap effects point towards a typical B movie, though the story is still valid and a remake of The Blob was released in 1988 with much more in the way of gore and believability (and interestingly the same 6.4 out of 10 stars on
Fig 4. The Blob (Film Still, 1958)

Illustration List:

Fig 1, The Blob (1958) [Movie Poster] At:
(Accessed 27.10.15)

Fig 2, Old Man discovers The Blob (1958) At:
(Accessed 27.10.15)
Fig 3, Steve and Jane (1958) At:
(Accessed 27.10.15)

Fig 4, The Blob (1958) At:
(Accessed 27.10.15)

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Games Night!

Can this course get any better?! So as research towards our Character project, we had the opportunity to take part in a board game evening. As a lover of board games, I was over the moon with this idea and enjoyed a great evening playing two excellent games which were both new to me.

The first game we played was called Dixit and it was a fairly straightforward board/card game. The object of the game was to be the first player to reach the end of the board (or the nearest to the end when the cards had all been played). Each player was dealt cards (depending on the number of people playing) and each turn one player had to choose one of his/her cards to place face-down on the table and say out loud a word or phrase which described the card, or part of the card. The other players then all chose one of their own cards which they believed best fit the description just given. The played cards are shuffled and then turned face-up. Each player (except the person who gave the phrase) then has to decide which card they thought was the original card played by the 'phrase-giver'. Points are awarded depending on whether the correct card was chosen by the other players or not. 

The Dixit game board and bunny meeple

I thoroughly enjoyed this game and really got into it the more it was played. The game is visually appealing with some great illustrations and the cute little bunny 'meeples' are a nice addition. I found the points system a little confusing, but I'm sure once you have played it a bit it would become second nature. The idea of the game is to get some players to guess your card, but not everyone! No points are awarded if no-one or everyone chooses your card. I think with practice, one might become quite a 'pro' at giving ambiguous descriptions and Fred, our 'games master' said the game can be very amusing if played by a group of people who are very close and have little 'in jokes' that they can use! We played this game three times and it got better and better each time.

A selection of the Dixit cards

Next we played a game called Avalon. This is a fantasy style game in which each game player plays either a good guy or a bad guy. The great thing is, their true allegiance is unknown to most of the other players. The idea of the game for the 'good guys' is to win as many quests as possible. The point of the 'bad guys' is to stop them doing this! The characters were based on The Knights of the Round Table and characters included Merlin,
Percival, and the Loyal Servants of Arthur (the 'good guys') along with Morgana, the Assassin and the Minions of Mordred (the 'bad guys), among others.

Avalon game box and quest board

A selection of the player cards, good and bad

Each player takes it in turn to be King and chooses players to come on the quest. Each player then secretly chooses whether they want to Approve or Reject the mission. If the mission is rejected then no quest is carried out but a count is kept of the number of rejected missions and if this reaches 5, then the Minions of Mordred win the game. If the mission is Approved, then each of the players chosen to go on the quest choose, in secret, whether to Pass or Fail the mission. Obviously the bad guys will want to Fail the missions, so this is the point when we start to realise who the fishy people are!  

At set up, this game seemed a little complicated and it needs an experienced or well tuned-in games master in order for the game to begin successfully. However, once game play started, the game was very addictive and very easy to follow. The style of the game suits the period in which it is set and the board is very easy to follow. You wouldn't need much space to play this game either, which is always a bonus (can play in the pub!). Highly recommended to see how evil your friends really are!

Both games are now on my Christmas list :)

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Film Review - Kingsman: The Secret Service - Archetypes

Fig. 1 Kingsman, (Film Poster, 2014)

Released in 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a comedic spy film directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass and Layer Cake). It tells the story of 'Eggsy', a young down-and-out who is unexpectedly recruited by a secret spy organization. Eggsy's father was a member of the agency before him and was killed saving the lives of his colleagues when his son was just a young child. Colin Firth plays 'Harry Hart' (code-named 'Galahad') and mentors Eggsy through his training with the help of 'Merlin', a senior Kingsman played by Mark Strong.

Fig.2 Galahad and Eggsy (Film still, 2014)

The threshold guardians in our story are Eggsy's abusive step-father and the rival group of teenagers in the neighborhood. An argument breaks out every time they meet, which usually ends in a fight. In some ways this makes them villains in the story but when Hart arrives to take Eggsy to his training, they unsuccessfully attempt to block the way. The herald throughout the story seems to be Eggsy's mum as he wants to do everything he can to protect her and improve her life. However, towards the end of the film he has an encounter with Princess Tilde, one of the VIPs that Valentine has taken prisoner and she acts as a love interest and therefore another possible herald. 

Fig. 3 Gazelle and Valentine (Film still, 2014)

Samuel L. Jackson plays the villain or 'shadow' in the film as internet billionaire 'Valentine'. He is accompanied by his female sidekick 'Gazelle' who has razor sharp artificial legs and is played by Sofia Boutella. Valentine's ploy is to market smart cards which allow the user free internet and calls for life. Once a signal is broadcast by Valentine, the owners of the smart cards become extremely violent and start attacking each other. It is up to the members of Kingsman to apprehend Valentine and Gazelle. The shape-shifter in our story comes in the form of 'Arthur', the head of Kingsman, played by Michael Caine. Arthur's true allegiance is only shown towards the end of the film and Eggsy is left to save the day.

Fig. 4 Confronting old enemies as a Kingsman (Film still, 2014)
'Kingsman: The Secret Service' has received mixed reviews, and a sequel is already in the making, with plans to begin filming in April 2016. Chris Hewitt describes the film in his Empire Online review as "Exhilarating, morally dubious and exhausting, it pitches the film headfirst into its utterly demented third act." (Hewitt, s.d.). Although the trailers may not give the film the credit it deserves, 'Kingsman: The Secret Service' is a surprisingly enjoyable and funny film. With touches of Bond and Bourne, the movie keeps the audience hooked throughout with lots of explosive and fun-filled moments.

Fig. 5 The 'new' Eggsy (Film still, 2014)

Hewitt, C (s.d.), Empire Online review, At:

Hoffman, J (30th December 2014), The Guardian review, At:

Illustration List:

Fig. 1 - Kingsman (2014) [movie poster] At:
(accessed 08.10.15)

Fig. 2 - Galahad and Eggsy (2014) [film still] At:
(accessed 08.10.15)

Fig. 3 -  Gazelle and Valentine (2014) [film still] At:
(accessed 08.10.15)

Fig. 4 - Confronting old enemies as a Kingsman (2014) [film still] At:
(accessed 08.10.15)

Fig. 5 - The 'new' Eggsy (2014) [film still] At:
(accessed 08.10.15)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Character project - further ideas

We had our first lesson with Justin on Tuesday and we were able to talk through our initial ideas for our individual character projects. As a reminder, the cards I randomly picked to work from were Height, Fabric and Worlds.

I could envisage a couple of different options. The first being a game similar to Pilotwings where you are using a parachute to guide your character through different worlds, falling from a height. Although I could easily see this working, it didn't seem like there was much excitement or incentive to playing the game. I could see it as an App but I don't think it would have the addictive feeling that games like Angry Birds and World of Goo bring for example.

The second idea I had was to create characters made from different fabrics living in worlds where they behaved and reacted differently in their world depending on the fabric they were made from. Justin and I talked about the idea of maybe setting the world inside a book, like a pop-up book or children's scrap book and the idea was to work your way up the page until you reached the top when the page would turn and you could be in the next world. I really like this idea and feel like it opens up lots of different world opportunities, some of which could be:-

- fuzzy felt
- underwater world, but using cellophane as water as if a child has made it
- snakes and ladders (maybe using zips?)
- Lego (maybe using bricks to build a way to the top)
- Velcro (making the controls feel 'sticky' and the character harder to control)
- glitter and glue
- Sticker book (maybe the spaces waiting for stickers are portals to teleport the character to the top of the page)
- Bubble Wrap

I've started to research different fabrics as I'm imagining at the beginning of the game, the player gets to choose which fabric their character will be made from. There will perhaps be a selection of a few different character shapes and each will react differently in different worlds. So a character made from silk may be quite slippery and one made from wool may have trouble in the Velcro world. I'm also thinking of 'power-ups' too, so after you have completed the Velcro world, you can have 'stickability' as a one-off power-up to use throughout the game, or 'waterproofing' to use in the Underwater world maybe.

I've also looked for examples to show the kind of look and style I'd like to use in the game. I initially saw this as an App, but I'll see how I can develop the idea into maybe making a full-on video game. Below are some examples of the style and ideas I'm going for. More to come later!