Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pre-Production: Final Front Skeletons

Hello Everyone,

Just thought I would drop by for yesterdays update, it literally took all night to upload the video I wanted to post. Things on the turnaround front are moving forward with the frontal skeletons plotted I just have to do the side and the back next. The step that follows is just me adding flesh and clothes to the bones and joints. I have probably gone the long way round to do this but there was so much debating over proportion I kind of got side tracked. Still it is nice to explore these forms a little further then having flat images. Its actually been kind of fun.

This whole experiment started with me playing with Benjamin's scale proportions. It was then agreed that each character should fall into Benjamin's world scale. From there I had to adapt Barnabas which I found 7 Barnabas heads fitted into 10.5 Benjamin heads. From there I removed half a head of height from Barnabas to make Bernard (10 Benjamin heads). Young Barnabas is actually the same number of Benjamin heads as Benjamin (4.5), his lower eye line naturally makes him smaller and his head only fits into himself 4 times... This makes each sub character (Bernard, Young Barnabas) shorter.

With scale now explained lets get a little look at those front skeletons!


The image above shows the skeletons in motion. As my previous skeleton tests this is just to show the skeletons in motion demonstrating activity within the proportion. I did this as an extra step, the walk cycles on there are the moment do not reflect the future movement of the character. I did this mainly so we could get a real idea of how the proportions function together. I cleaned up each skeleton with ink and colour using the colour pallet's Sammy suggested on her sketchy faces image. I added the hat as another indicator of scale - the same  size hat fits all and even looks slightly bigger on the kids.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Tutorials - Week 9

Hello Everyone,

Week 9 has been interesting, there has been a lot of written work but now we are in a place to continue the development of this short. I am pretty much focusing solely on the models for the duration of this project. I still have to finalise all of the skeletons for the characters but now that I have drafted the main two its not difficult to adapt the other two from those. That will be the post that should follow this one. After that I have to crack on with turnarounds which shouldn't take long with the joints mapped out. From there its just adding colour and skin/costumes.

Its hard to believe that we are here already but I guess time fly's. It's looking like my tutorial discussion will concern Alan more then Phil at this point as we are deep into the technical aspects, the story is not far from being finalized in animatic form. Still I will jump in and get advice when I can, we don't have long till Christmas is upon us so I have to start pulling the finger out here... I have a bit of modelling and then rigging to battle my way through but I am quite confident in my ability, ZBrush is going to be my home for a while now. You will begin to see a Flurry of "Operation Z" Videos so beware!


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Update - Week 8

Hello Everyone,

First of all I would like to point out that the term "Tutorials" has been replaced with "Update" mainly because we did not have any meetings with Alan or Phil. This was mainly because we had a presentation to foundation students and had no real updates on this blog for that week. The reason we sit with Alan or Phil is to receive feedback on any and all work we have recently submitted. That week and its following week were pretty slow as we were refining dissertation drafts. Suffice to say I didn't want to miss a week having started these tutorial updates... I just wanted to repurpose them for another week (like I did with the interim presentation).

Now that I have explained what this post isn't I will explain what I have decided to do here for this week... I thought I would take a little glance back to the very first day of the project. A day when myself, Story Director Sammy Butler & Art Director Chrissie Peters sat down to discuss adapting Sammy's prior year 1 Unit 1: Storytelling project into a refined animated short. I even have a recording from another discussion on the same day which I thought I would include. I will warn you though there is a lot of noise interrupting our discussion... We picked a day when the "red room" was full... not the best time.


The video above is the very first activity I recorded from the Uni. You will have to excuse my introduction which had me filming my legs before noting the work ha-ha. The initial conversations we were having were actually about art style and the characters primary and secondary. We had not actually been long out of the briefing when we sat to have that conversation as you can see the nerves were kind of high. The only videos that pre-date this one are the discussions we had over the summer break, which are being edited by Chrissie, cant wait to see them...

Pre-Production: Barnabas Form Anatomy

Hello Everyone,

We are back and it pleases me that I am the second post since this weeks Dissertation fiasco. We basically had to get our drafts ready for a Friday hand in so we were wrapping all of that up... That more or less excuses our absence but now we are full throttle again. I have to say I thought doing these anatomy tests would be a quicker exercise but there was a lot of face book debating over the forms so I had quite a bit of correcting to make Sammy and Chrissie happy. It's cool though I mean I'm not doing my job if we don't all agree with something...

Anyway this post is the Barnabas rendition of anatomical skeleton tests. Prior to adding detail and establishing a side profile I thought it best to get opinion on the number of heads into Barnabas's body. We had a system in place which we thought would work. We actually found that in the end it didn't which required me to go back and adjust Benjamin's profile slightly. Of course then we had an issue with Benjamin's head being bigger then Barnabas's head which we looked odd when we compared to two together... Benjamin was clear as day and Barnabas wasn't...

Anyway I have included everything in this post so you will see the journey...

The images above show a couple of the animated skeleton tests I conducted... This time I just had fun with the form which I ended up creating. There was such a huge amount of adjustment that I figured I'd just show the girls how this form looks when moving in various ways. The arms are a little longer now just to bring it closer to the reference but fundamentally that's the form I ended up relying on. I could not resist adding the hat here, it was essential to figuring out Barnabas to Benjamin's head space. You may have to click the images to see it in its glory, Barnabas is significantly taller then Benjamin.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Barnabas' Build-up

Stitch is all ready to start creating the orthagraphs and turnarounds for our characters but to help keep consistency across the board I've repeated what I did with Benjamin, with Barnabas. I took Chrissie's design for him and translated it to a broken down structure to iron out the structural build-up for him.


1 - Sketching over the original design and working out the shapes
2 - Building a 2D rig from the sketch
3 - Use this rig to sketch out the character
4 - Sketch on its own
5 - Using the rig to create a side veiw

Basically this is to pass information onto Stitch for him to work from. Showing the leg from sideways and front means he can interpret the design more clearly. In the file I've sent him it the layers of clothes so he can hide things like the blazer. This is because, for the second scene, Barnabas won't be wearing a blazer so Stitch needs to see the shirt detail too.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pre-Production: Bernard Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

This week was another interesting one, mainly because it had us presenting once again only this time to foundation students. I think Sammy realised on the day that I am still a little out of my element in front of a crowd, I tried my best though. Anyway I was meant to do this post sooner but dissertation alterations kind of took priority. I still have a few to make but hopefully it shouldn't interrupt my final anatomy tests for Barnabas. I decided to complete my costume test posts by doing Bernard's just to show a couple of colour/costume variants to inspire when I'm finalizing turnarounds.

When drafting these designs I was looking at Chrissie's research while also conducting a few little google searches of my own. It was nice to explore these choices, I mean it was kind of limiting as Sammy had already pretty much defined the costumes with her animatic. There are only so many options you can create for a standard issue suit and top hat. I guess more then anything I wanted to see how the costumes looked on the dummy forms. Having explored a little I can also say of some things which I will be including on the physical 3D model.

Anyway lets take a look at some costume options for Bernard Bardgersworth
The image above shows the little costume wardrobe animation that I have been accustomed to making for this Unit. The costumes are made from 4 variant costumes which are broken into parts and then reassembled to create different variants. I use this to create 10 additional variants from the primary 4. This allows me to explore the idea of what Bernard could be wearing and what colour combinations may or may not work. These costumes are all tested on a Bernard's early dummy form which was chosen by the Polydoodle Team to base him on at a structural level.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Pre-Production: Benjamin Form Anatomy

Hello Everyone,

I meant to post this up the other day as per Sammy's request before jumping into full on turnaround mode but its here now so lets get to it. Sammy put it to me on Tuesday that she wanted me to explore the stylised vs. real anatomical connotations on Benjamin. She wanted me to explore the possibilities for the character before deciding on a route. Of course I was a little sceptical I mean I have explored the form with 3D dummy's earlier in week 1 of this project (See link here). Anyway I set to it not just to give Sammy what she wanted but to prove my theory of Benjamin's ultimate form.

I have staked out numerous sources including some of the earlier stuff Sammy and Chrissie have been drawing in regard to Benjamin's design. I even used a book ("Figure Drawing for all its worth" - Andrew Loomis) to gain more of an understanding for the head rule in young boys. What I found was that boys aged 5 tend to be comprised of 6 heads (evenly 3 to groin - mid point and 3 for legs to foot). There was also something else to consider, that children's characters tend to have bigger heads then their bodies (2x the head) this makes them appealing to children.

With these things noted I jumped into redesigning Benjamin's Skeleton.
From my experiments I conducted a few basic movement tests using Benjamin's skeleton (images above). The image to the far left is based on the realistic proportions of a 5 year old with Benjamin's head. The image in the middle is an adaptation suggested by Sammy - that being shorter chest and longer legs. Last but not least the image to the far right is actually based from my dummy 3D pose tests. It was bugging me that we were not using the proportions of my form tests even though it appeared we were more or less adhering more towards them without our knowledge.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Interim Presentation

Hello Everyone,

Its taken a while to upload but it is here all 22 minutes of our interim presentation last Friday (08/11/2013). For those of you that do not know usually once every Unit we have to give a presentation to our tutors and class to get the fabled "Green Light". A green light is the tutors way of giving the all clear to a project that they are satisfied with its direction. This also allows the tutors to give feedback to any areas of a project that need improvement or adjustment. From our presentation it was mostly positive but there are little areas which our tutors (Phil & Alan) thought could need adjustment.

To make things easier on everyone I decided to embed the actual full version of the animatic and pre-pre-viz into the video so people could experience it full screen. I will time code these areas just in case anybody would like to look at those solely. Other then that everything else is the actual presentation and feedback directly from Phil and Alan (you should be able to see them in the bottom left of the video). At this point we were just trying to be in a half decent place to receive more advice from our tutors. This is also why our interim document was quite short as we were told just to show the things which were finite at this point in our creative journey for "& Son".

Anyway to view the crit video please check it out below... I will time code the extras!


The video above shows the entire 22 minute duration of our presentation to our CG Arts class. I was feeling a bit crap on the day so there were not many words from me. Our show runner Samantha Butler lead the presentation and myself and Chrissie Peters tried to jump in where we could. The presentation was largely about the Animatic just to see what peoples impressions were of the story at this stage. We didn't exactly get feedback from everyone in the class but Alan and Phil gave us some much needed input which will hopefully shape its outcome further.

Pre-Production: Young Barnabas Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

We have been taking a few days to get our dissertations checked and double checked so you will have to excuse a few delayed posts here and there for this week at the very least. While I am doing this I thought I would take the opportunity to post up a couple more costume test things. This may not be the most interesting topic but it is never the less a development step for the key characters. This post particularly focuses on Young Barnabas where I tried to go away from the traditional norms as he is a mischievous child at this point in his life.

I decided to shy away from keeping him too done up but I wanted a kind of formality to his attire. I wanted the thing that defines him to be a paint splotch or two or a paintbrush in the silken lining of his hat. I had quite a bit of fun with his design for this reason. I still put the normal undertakers attire in to appease what I envision to be Sammy's vision but these ones were probably more for me to show that I fleshed him out a little. Of course then you randomly mix and match and you never know what might work in the end... I just want to provide everyone with options.

Anyway below are a couple of costume variants for the Young Barnabas form.
The image above shows the randomised costume variants available (which I kept limited to 10 once again). I could have sat down and picked out my favourite but I always think its better to post randomly here. After all the girls can always say to me I like that hat but I don't like that it has a paintbrush in it, etc. I also want to make my mark on the character, something which is solely my influence but I figured I'd get that opportunity in the modelling process. I just want to make sure that I have explored the earlier steps fully before going into 3D.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Minor Pitch

The Presentation

Interim Crit Document



The Animatic



The Pre-Pre-Vis?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Pre-Production: Barnabas Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

Apologies for the delay this goes out to my Polydoodle Partners Chrissie and Sammy more then anyone else. Been sick the past few days, got flu from somewhere, argh its irritating. Anyway one of the things I have been gradually posting up is the costume tests for our characters. After doing one it didn't feel right not to do all of them. Besides I also would like to explore costume options before settling on the design for the turnaround and thus the 3D model. This is what inspired me to try and get these done before tacking turnarounds...

Anyway after my posting the Benjamin costume tests my partners Chrissie and Sammy had a few scaling and asymmetrical requirements not in the design. I went about this just by explaining that these costumes are not to show scale as these are just to explore colour and alternative details. The asymmetric details are something which is not entirely needed until after the models are made. I find it easier to build 3D models symmetrically as it allows me to duplicate sides. The asymmetric details are added after everything has been painted and properly staged.

Anyway below are a couple of costume variants for the Barnabas form.
The animation is made from 4 costume variants mixed and matched to make 10 alternative designs using interchangeable parts. The dummy itself was chosen in the earlier weeks from a massive selection of forms. All 3 of us came to agreement on how it looked but it has since changed a little from what it was. The final turnarounds will feature some of the characteristics of this dummy but may not be exact. The arms are a little too long and the back is arched a bit too far back. All of this is crude for the costume tests, refinement is the next step.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Pre-Production: Benjamin Costume Tests

Hello Everyone,

One of many updates but this took so long to get completed I will have to drastically speed up for the next 3. I have turnarounds to blast through before Friday. Anyway when it comes to costume design its always a bit of an ache for me. Don't get me wrong I get why we do it but argh it can be tedious just trying to think up new design ideas for costumes. For this post I have knocked together a couple of ideas that I have been keeping to myself. These designs were drawn layered on a light box before being brought into manga for inking... There is quite a process that I went through for these designs.

Everything begins from the base forms I knocked up in weeks 1-5 which were our rough guide for character form... They are not final but they are mannequins to dump costumes over. After that I posed them and then took a render from an angle I liked. I then chose to drape the mannequin in layers using the light box. This means that I drew 4 versions of his suit jacket on one piece of animation paper and 4 versions of his trousers on a different piece of animation paper, etc, etc. From there things got scanned and were inked in Manga studio before making their way to Photoshop for combining and animating...

Phew that was a bit of a mouthful, anyway I will show you the end result of this...
I created this from 4 full costume variants, I interchanged certain elements of the image to get 10 alternate costumes from my initial 4 (e.g. mixing a hat with another costume or a different bow tie with shoes, etc). What I got was a variety of different styles which certainly cheered me up only having 4 colour variants (I wish there was time for more but I have to get cracking on the others). For now though I think this really gives a good selection and if anything is preferred we can address it at a later date... From what I know the suits are pretty much decided... I mainly wanted to play with size and colour...

Animatic Scene 1 - The Graveyard

All this week I'm full steam on the animatic so we can present it at the pitch and receive an all important audience reaction/feedback. We've all looked at the story too long to be able to see it with fresh eyes. Here's the first scene of the animatic. Not happy with the dodgy curtain action at the beginning but it's there to represent live footage. The curtain will be real on a real theatre box... then the animation with appear behind the curtain as it lifts and obviously still using SFX I've pulled from the net. We plan to record our own soon.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Pre-Production: Hat Design for Final Logo

Hello Everyone,

You will probably all call me crazy but I suppose what else is new. I spent a bit of today knocking about a hat design for our T Shirts (something to make the logo "& Son" ours - unique to us). I first set about looking for Hat models to give me a basic hat shape to work from (trying to save time). Once I found one I put it in ZBrush and distorted it shaped it differently (making it much longer). I wrapped it up with a nice little flower stuck in the hat (which is actually a gag flower - not a real one). After that I thought "as I'm already in ZBrush why not try to composite some layers?"

I did just that being fully into it since Phil asked me to do the Driver last week. This post will show all of the render layers I used in creating the final outcome. The beautiful thing about working in render layers is you can change the colour of shadows/lights, anything because it is all separate. You can mask sections of the hat allowing you to paint that section only or exclude it from other layers. It gives you full licence to make the image something different just by tweaking values and adding splatters of paint here and there... Seriously its powerful stuff!!

Below you will see the final hat and then everything that led up to it!
The image above is the final hat on its lonesome... This of course was tweaked and adjusted from a number of render layers allowing me to slightly tweak certain aspects including light colour and opacity, material, depth strength, colour raw/Photoshop & reflectivity. I could even use the FX controls to adjust hues of shadow and light or drop slight shadows behind the hat itself. The control by doing compositing (or Weta) is certainly astounding I love it. The hat design itself is slightly elongated. In case there was any question this is Benjamin's hat...

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Video Logs: "& Son" Tutorials - Week 6

Hello Everyone,

Another week has gone by so I thought I'd get out in front of these as I will be spending the rest of my time up until next week working on expression sheets and turnaround images for our 4 chief characters. I also have a couple of costume designs to knock up based from Chrissies invaluable research (something I haven't had in my earlier designs). I will do my best to get as much done as possible so we can get cracking. Chrissie will be putting one of my former character models (Charles - rightly owned by Smoke Stack Studios: http://smokestackstudios.blogspot.co.uk)  into a scene with our 2D assets to see how they look comparatively. Special love goes to my former Smoke stack creative partners Anita Gill and Lydia Caplan for allowing us to use him. You rule ladies!

Everything is go as we have our green light pitch next week in which we want to only submit resolved stuff. The development has been discussed in numerous tutorials across this unit so no more development needs to be seen really... We now have to show everyone what we have resolved and I personally am getting stir crazy waiting on getting my hands dirty with some 3D modelling. I also have my business Partner Rosslehoff waiting in the wind for me to turn up at his with some Magic sculpt and 4 turnarounds for him to get stuck into sculpting them by hand... Another little video log ;) The future is going to be interesting!


Character Faces

This week the team has been steaming ahead with perfecting the characters. We've been together drawing up costumes and discussing the final details on each of the 4 characters to be modelled- Barnabas, Benjamin, Young Barnabas and Bernard. I then took Chrissie and Stitch's designs and combined them, along with the goal of making them all look related, to give us the final designs for the characters' faces.


The colouring is subject to change but they're roughly the colours we're going for. Also Young Barnabas has a fleck of paint on his cheek and the heavy lines are in places are to pass information to Stitch for his turnarounds and orthographs.

These are also my designs for Barnabas and Benjamin's costume...