Theme development/ Idea generation / Research / Elements
What was the theme / title of the unit?
The purpose of the brief was to create a short animation that would be a piece of fiction, unlike the previous module where we created something on an existing story, here I had to come up with every aspect of this animation. I wanted to do something different from the previous story and decided that I was to create something comic book inspired. At the moment I have been looking at a lot of comic book art, especially some of the more darker toned, I decided that I wanted to tell a revenge story, the story of a vigilante. With the project being fiction I wanted to come up with an idea that allowed me to tell a full narrative in a short two minute slot. This is where I decided on the simple narrative of wife gets killed, husband takes vengeance on killer and then becomes a vigilante, Thus the story of “The Reeper” was born.
How did you get started on this unit of work?
With this project I decided I was going to try and address some of the short comings from my Ninja animation, with the previous project I had pretty much jumped straight into the animation with little planning. I decided with this project that I would plan more fully and ensure that it had much more direction. The first thing that I decided to do was create spider diagrams exploring all the potential ideas that I had, this allowed me to see which where the most accessible in terms of creating a narrative. Once I had decided on the final idea for the storyline, I brained stormed further, looking at things such as era and mood. Originally I decided to set the animation in the modern era but upon doing research and deciding that I wanted the animation to be a film noir I decided to reset the animation in the 1930’s as I felt it lends itself to that tone better. however during the course of the project I did revert back to the modern setting. One of my concerns for this project was ensuring that I met the outcomes for the brief, I wanted to ensure that I fulfilled what was required for the narrative, next I brainstormed again how I could get a decent story into such a short space of time. It was during this process that I decided to use the newspaper articles to further the story and give information. Once I had written the script the next part that I concentrated one was the visuals, like mentioned before I planned a film noir in the 1930’s so I created several moodboards that would help me with developing that aesthetic. I was very pleased that I created the moodboards as they were very good reference, I particularly referred to the visual film noir moodboard constantly to help achieve the look that I wanted.
How did you make use of your Sketchbook?
Once I had developed my narrative and done the research into the style and aesthetic that I wanted the next stage was to start further developing some of this into visuals and designs. The first thing that I really explored was character design, i originally created six characters based on the 1930’s era, these were done with consideration on what types of armour and weapons the character might have had access to. To do this I consulted my moodboards again. I was happy with the character designs that I created and also the variety. I also did a more modern character design that I was very happy with, however at the time I was still keen on setting the animation in the 1930’s era. The next thing that I utilised my sketchbook for was the storyboard, in the previous project (non-fiction) I considered this to be my biggest failure. I didn’t really do any storyboarding and although I had an idea in my head it wasn’t put done on paper and I didn’t know how it would look until I created it for the animation. I consider this to be a big detriment to that project and I wasn’t happy at all with the result. With this project I did several storyboard versions and planned out exactly how I wanted it to look and also how the animation would work. I am very glad that I made the storyboards as it allowed me to plan out all the shots, for example in some scenes there are several frames of action in the shot at once and it allowed me to plan how these would look. It is interesting how close my final animation is to my original storyboards.
Did your research / investigation work help you with the development of ideas?
Although my original intention for this project was for it to be set in the 1930’s I am still happy that I did the research, although I didn’t really use any of the research that focused on era for the final piece it was really useful for the character designs that I had produced. One area that the research was really useful for was the aesthetic, I had wanted to create a piece that was film noir style, I did lots of research and it allowed me to explore what would look best for the project, I was able to see what animation styles would look suitable, from my research I decided that I would try a pseudo 3D experiment where I utilised Google Sketchup, I was very happy with the result of this. Also animated comics like Batman Black and White and also the film Sin City helped me to get inspiration for my final animation. It was looking at the visual style of Sin City that persuaded me to add the accent colours to make certain parts of my animation stand out.
List the media and skills that you used throughout the unit?
I was already very familiar with Adobe Photoshop and After Effects so I didn’t really learn anything new on those programs throughout this project, however I wasn’t at all familiar with Adobe Flash and one of my aims for this project was for me to gain some familiarity with it. I definitely improved on Flash and learnt how to use some of the new functions as well as increased dramatically in speed and efficiency. The main animation was creating using Photoshop and Flash and the two different programs give a different look of animation, the photoshop was used for parts that were going to be zoom and pans, or more mechanical parts, whereas flash was used to animate the organic parts. This gives the final animation a mixture of animation styles that I was initially unsure of. However with the way that the final animation is constructed and the even amount and distribution of different styles I think it works well.
Explain how successfully you used the media and skills. Did you find difficulty with anything in particular?
I think I used the different media very well, because the project had been planned out I knew exactly what needed to be created and how. I was able to decide which software and techniques to utilise for the different parts, I am already familiar with most of the Adobe suite and so I had very little difficulty, the only time I struggled was when using Flash, there were several moments where I had simple problems but these were rectified easily and quickly by consulting YouTube for the answers. If I was to do this project again I would like to include some more drawn animation using Flash, it definitely gives the animation a more “alive” feeling, this is definitely my weakest area and something that I will concentrate improving over the summer period. I don’t particularly have difficulty with it as my drawing skills are okay, it’s just the unfamiliarity with the program slows me down and puts me off using it. But now I have improved in that area and also seen work that I am happy with I plan to practice more and implement more of this into my work.
Which of the following art elements predominant in your early work?
With this project I wanted to create something in the style of film noir, to do so I would be concentrating on line art and tone. Much of the work would be line art and colour either black or white, I decided early on that I didn’t want to try shading objects/characters but instead wanted them to be flat black or white, for this reason the line art was particularly important. I used different line weights when drawing the characters/objects to give them more form and to give the illusion of being 3 dimensional. Even though the art style is just line work and flat black or white I really think the subjects have good form, this is because I concentrated on one of the principles of animation which is solid drawing.
Art appreciation and criticism in context
Did you look at the work of other artists? Which artists and how their work influenced you?
I had decided that I wanted to do something in a comic book style, I am a big Batman fan and was looking at Batman black and white at the time, I was definitely influenced by the different artists who worked on those comics. Another comic that I looked at was HellBoy, with art by Mike Mignola, I thought that his style of art would be suitable for my animation, with its dark colours, strong line work and flat colours this is something that I really wanted to achieve. If I had more time I would have tried to create something more in this style, but I didn’t think it would be achievable in the time frame. To replicate this it would have all been hand drawn and that would have taken an exceptionally long time to create what I wanted, Another artist that influenced me was Robert Valley and his animation Shinjuku Nights. I thought that this was a beautiful piece of animation and if I decided to create an animation for my FMP then I would definitely want to create something in this style. Although this is much more complicated than my fiction project there are definitely parts that influenced my work, areas that I tried to replicate but to a lesser degree.
How did your ideas develop towards the final work?
I came up with what I consider to be a pretty strong idea pretty quickly, I did come up with numerous but I think I went with the strongest for the brief of the project. I planned it out thoroughly before I even started on any art making, for that reason it was pretty straightforward and quick when progressing with the making part of the project. I decided on the style of the animation very early on and that never changed, I definitely think it was the best solution to the brief.
Did you make any changes as the work developed? What were these, why did you
make them and how did they improve your final ideas?
I didn’t make any changes, it was more of an evolution, I did initial tests where I liked the style but decided to improve upon it, the only real change that I made was in terms of the setting/era deciding to change it from 1930’s to present day.
Your opinion/ evaluation
Describe your final outcome. Do you feel that it was successful? Why?
I was reasonably satisfied with the outcome of this project, I definitely meets the targets that I had for the project as well as the learning outcomes of the brief. In terms of having a fictional narrative I think I told quite a story in such a short amount of time. I think that it was successful in achieving the aesthetic that I wanted as well as the tone. I think part of the reason that I consider the project to be a success is because I compare it to its counterpart, the non fiction project. I think this is a definite improvement in every way, in storytelling, art style and also execution. I think the main reason behind this success is that it was planned out better and I had much more direction,
If you had time, what improvements might you make to this work? Is there anything you might have done differently?
There are several areas of the animation that I consider to be weaker than others, for example the section with the protagonist boxing and then seeing the villain in the alleyway, If I had more time I would definitely make these scenes lot more detailed. I would also liked to have included some more hand drawn animation, obviously this is very time-consuming and many of the parts that are zooms or pans would look a lot better if they were replaced with full animations.
I think the main thing that I would improve would just be making everything more detailed and polished, I like the final product and I am considering spending more time on it over the summer.
How did you develop as an artist by producing this work?
I think that I created something in a style that I wasn’t familiar with, I really enjoyed it and will explore differing styles more in further projects. I think the other development from this project was that I improved in terms of animating, I think this is an improvement over my previous animations/animatics.
What are your aims with your artwork now?
Although I do prefer creating concept art and that is the career that I want to pursue, this project has definitely invigorated my desire to do more animating. I done plan to concentrate on concept art but now I aim to add more animation into this, whether this be through animated concept pieces like I have experiment previously, or animated key scenes from something I am designing as part of a game. For my FMP I am considering creating something which is a mixture of different media.
Is there any media / theme that you are very keen on pursuing?
I aim keen to continue with more work in this art style, I have been looking at the recent work of Sparth a lot recently and he has been producing work with line and basic shapes so I would like to evolve this into something like that.
Is there any particular aspect of your work that you would like to improve upon?
I particularly want to carry on improving my drawing, I think that my use of line improved during the course of this project and I would like that to continue. I am becoming quite good on all the software, however that is secondary to being confident with the art fundamentals. I will continue to try to improve those and during the summer work on exercise that I have seen on conceptart.org, level up as well as been shown while at uni.