Saturday, 22 October 2016

Richard Williams - Career Reviews of Pioneer Animators

Richard Williams is an animator, film title sequence designer, voice actor and writer who is best known for being the animation director on Disney's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and his unfinished feature film "The Thief and the Cobbler. His other works include designing and animating the film title sequences for "What's New, Pussycat?" along with the title and linking sequences for "Charge of the Light Brigade". He also animated the eponymous cartoon feline character the Pink Panther for the two later Pink Panther films. He attended school Northern Secondary School in Toronto in which  attended has produced numerous other successful people in th entertainment industry.

He earlier produced work in 1958 for the film "The Little Island" boosted his career as it won the 1958 BAFTA Award for Animated Film. In his documentary "The Theif Who Never Gave Up" Williams gives credit to animator Bob Godfrey whose given influence allowed him to start in the animation business. He later directed numerous films which include the Academy Award-winning film "A Christmas Carol"(1971) and the Emmy-winnng television film "Ziggy's Gift (1982)". He later became the director of animation for the film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) and won two more Oscars for his work.

He later went into book writing on animation , and has writted the acclaimed animation how-to-book "The Animator's Survival Kit"  which has been published and republished many times and is still widely acclaimed to the present day. Following this, he produced a 9-minute silent short film called "Circus Drawings", and with live accompaniment it premiered at thePordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy in September 2010.

Bill Plympton - Career reviews of Pioneer Animators

Bill Plympton is an American animator, graphic designer, cartoonist and filmmaker who is best known for his several hand-drawn animated shorts - with his best known one being "Your Face" which was created in 1987. He studied graphic design at Portland State University from 1964 - 1968 and became a member of the film society there whilst also working on designing the yearbook. In 1968 he then transferred to the School of Visual Arts in New York City where he majored in cartooning and graduated from SVA in 1969. His distinctive style is recognised easily for being somewhat similar to unrealistic drawings of celebrities due to his common use of over exaggerated and over and undersized facial features.

Numerous illustrations and cartoons of his have been published in magazines and newspapers, ranging from The NewYork Times, to Vogue and National Lampoon, and his political cartoon strip called Plympton which started in the Soho Weekly News in 1975 exceedingly expanded and later appeared in over 20 different newspapers. From 2012 Plympton has created over 40 animated short films and 6 animated features and he has also published his own comic book "The Sleazy Cartoons of Bill Plympton".

He later released two DVDs of animated shorts both titles "Avoid Eye Contact" with two other independent New York City Animators and his work later appeared in a comedy series The Edge on Fox in 1992 - 1993 along with his animated series "Liquid Television" in the early 1990s, and in 1995 he broadened his horizons by contributing animation and graphics to a computer game collection called "Take Your Best Shot". He later collaborated with animator Don Hertzfeldt for the touring "The Don and Bill Show" which played in the USA, and in 2005 he animated a music video for Kanye West's "Heared 'Em Say" and created a music video for Weird Al Yankovics "Don't Download This Song".

Lotte Reiniger - Career reviews of Pioneer Animators

Lotte Reiniger was a German film director and a pioneer in the advancement of silhouette animation which is most shown through her depictions of Grimm's fairy tales such as "Cinderella" and "Hansel and Gretel". Starting with making shadow puppets in aid of telling Shakespeare plays, she later adopted an avant-garde style which was prominently brought on by World War II and was known to have widely influenced the individuality of her animations. She was also an enthusiast for the Chinese art of shadow puppetry.

She initially planned to be an actress and used her early skills as a silhouette maker to attract the attention of film director Paul Wegener who in turn asked her to make silhouettes for the intertitles of his films Rübezahls Hochzeit (Germany, 1916) and Der Rattenfänger von Hameln (Germany, 1918). Her first proper animation was on Paul Wegener's film "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (1918). Reiniger was asked to animate wooden rats in a stop motion style due to Wegener being unable to control live rats to film as an alternative, and the technique turned out to be a success due to their movements turning out to be highly realistic.

What is useful about her technique is that it enables a lot of freedom in which to convey characters, as in being able to simply use outlines of characters and portraying them clearly without worrying about any individual colours or details to give them as if they were being animated differently.

Don Hertzfeldt - Career Reviews of Pioneer Animators

Don Hertzfeldt is a two-time Academy Award nominated animator, artist, filmmaker and independent writer who has produced such films as "It's a Beautiful Day (2012)" and "Billy's Balloon (1998)". His art style is known for being whimsically cartoon - like and is simple yet significant and exploratory.

Although his films may first appear to convey little plot or scenarios, most of his films are known to actually convey quite elaborate and heartfelt storylines and deal with genuine real world problems which grip the heartstrings of many viewers worldwide. One film of his that portrays a complex but well written real-life scenario is "World of Tomorrow (2015)" which tells the story of a young girl named Emily who encounters a clone of herself who is contacting her from the future, and is thus pulled out of her own time. Current themes within the movie involve a sorrowful but wizened story of her genetic descendent, but as the story is convenyed through the eyes of an imaginative and carefree Emily, it adjusts the plot to be more light-hearted.

From Hertzfeldt's famous hand-drawn style, it is one of the many films that enabled a radical leap for him both as an animator and artist to have a creative breakthrough, as it enabled him to earn how to multitask with drawing and animating, along with conceptualise a plot-line that conveyed a strong use of Photoshop through the wide ranges of colours and gradient backgrounds.

Final reflective statement on “Invisible Cities” project

Overall I think that my experience with this project has been extremely challenging but also extremely rewarding. This is due to the fact that it has allowed me to work on my time management skills through completing other tasks alongside the project such as the film reviews. It has also encouraged me to develop my skills further within Photoshop and digital painting through creating concept art and it has also taught me on the many ways in which to follow a brief, which involves a balance of creating artwork that is interesting and artistic but also relies on the words of an Author, with our Author being Italio Calvino. What I would like to improve on next time is working on producing work faster now that I have a better idea of how the course works as a whole. I would also like to work on being less resistant to dive into our given work and work on being less anxious about our given tasks which will be beneficial to my overall working practice.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Film Review

 Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is an epic science fiction film that has engrossed many audiences through its staggeringly accurate depiction of future spacecraft. It is comprised of an untraditional plot in which portrays the developments of the human race as a whole rather than focus on telling the story of a single character, telling 2001 in four chapters. With these intentions, Kubrick’s revolutionary production design is so authentic that it becomes a film way ahead of its time, not just artistically, but through advancing technological spacecraft in the real world highly enough that in 1969, man walked on the moon for the very first time.

The first chapter “The Dawn of Man” depicts the everlasting desire for mankind to gain mental superiority over one another through two tribes of apes – this of which is initiated by a mysterious black monolith. The dry and barren but colourful atmospheres that surround them represent the emptiness and nothingness of the universe when simply using it as a means to survive rather than to live, but as a single ape discovers and teaches other apes the rule of survival of the fittest, the later arrival of the monolith encourages an interest from the other apes. It is interesting how the fascinating monolith juxtaposes with the unproductive scenery as it depicts that the establishment of the human mind was widely expanded through science and exploration, and through mans own will.

Figure 1:

All of the chapters are portrayed in an unpretentious manner, as a means to depict the characters and the spacecraft to be natural as if they didn’t have to put on an act for viewing audiences. This is especially demonstrated through chapter two “Tycho Magnetic Anomaly one” in which Kubrick tries to initiate that the advancement of a spaceship could become so common that they would not need to forcefully emphasise the greatness of it to audiences. Along with this, they also display the spaceship to have numerous similarities to an airport, along with living environments so crew members could simply use the spacecraft to relax as well. The fact that all of the different rooms have boldly different colours and bright tones could emphasise their recognisable individual functions, but they could also be chosen as a means to display their level of risk to the crew members, such as the room that Frank talks to his family from is white for innocence and emptiness and the colour of the room which programs HAL 9000 is red to be threatening.

Figure 2:

It is significant that there is little dialogue or music during the course of the movie, and it is noted that there is no dialogue during the first quarter and last quarter of the film. This is technically because in space there is no sound. However, this intention to also be to emphasise the impact of the interior and exterior design of the spacecraft. Angie Errigo states: “Its faults - sketchy narrative, overblown abstraction - are counterbalanced by its gripping engagement between man and machine, and its rhapsodic wonder at heaven and earth and the infinite beyond” and much of the stylized technology has been used in many Sci-Fi films today, such as the Star Wars saga and Blade Runner. As the movie progresses, it is evident that much of the colours of the set designs are primary colours that contain rigid outlines, however, there is also a heavy use of very basic black and white tones to emphasize that despite the artistic qualities of the set, it is displayed and design for function purposes.  Chapter two expresses an array of spectacular shots in which exceedingly cover the whole of the spaceship, such as through using long panel shots to cover a tunnel like perspective view, along with using the sets creatively to display the absence of gravity and the ways in which the crew can exploit this.

Figure 3:

The final chapters of the film become more compelling than the previous ones due to the fact that they convey an obvious plot, and they also demonstrate the characters’ actions as being critical for their own survival – especially Dave’s. A particular catalyst that supports this is when the HAL 9000 – the brain and central nervous system of the spacecraft starts to turn against the crew members of the ship even though he is programmed to be fool proof and incapable of error. Everything around the spaceship seems to close in and the colours are more dark and denser to resemble that the life support of the ship is crashing, showing a less glamorous side of the ship, however, due to this we see a more interesting character development as Dave is forced shut down the spacecraft to save Frank.

The final chapter “Jupiter and beyond the Infinite” is a challenging concept to understand by some viewers, as it incorporates the idea that man has to understand his mortality, and that new unknown life is constantly emerging beyond the cosmos. It also in some ways concludes the development of man in conjugation with the first chapter demonstrating the start of mans life. The deliberately antique room in which inhabits numerous forms of mans life demonstrates the fact that no earthly actions can prepare man for life outside of earth. It is also interesting how Dave sees older versions of himself as he explores the rooms as if he is consciously looking towards the future in the aid of personal development, judging oneself from the outside. A particularly challenging moment involves Dave witnessing an older version of himself drop a wine glass – perhaps signifying that despite a container, the liquid still exists and mirroring the concept of death when the body no longer remains but the spirit will continue to exist. The monolith also returns to the final stage of Dave’s life as a bedridden old man, perhaps foreshadowing how the later existence of technology will also be just as significant on him evaluating his life. However, the big finale which displays a particularly intelligent technique portrays Dave going through a stargate sequence after defeating HAL and as he is being transported light years into the universe, the monolith is presumed to be showing him things that he’d never have the ability to see for himself. Through this is views other phenomena of life forms and there is a part in the stargate sequence which shows the Monolith possibly showing Dave the big bang – this is demonstrated through Dave’s eyes continuing to blink and change colour, emphasising his new wave of understanding.

Figure 4:


Reynolds, D. and more, S. (2013) What does the ending of 2001: A space odyssey really mean? Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2016).

Snow, R. (2011) Reviews of classic movies: ‘2001: A space odyssey’. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2016).

Willans, J., Nybergh, T., Caretti, R., Kurkijärvi, K., Anderson, J., Aulén, M., Harris, K., Tamminen, L. and Järventaus, A. (2013) 17 little known facts about 2001: A space odyssey. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2016).

(Willans et al., 2013)
Zárate, I. (2015) The cultural impact of Kubrick’s 2001: A space odyssey. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2016).
(Zárate, 2015)

Illustration List:

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Friday, 14 October 2016

Bouncing Animals - Editing our previous bouncing balls

Maya cube - lighting and shadowing effects

This lesson taught us how to successfully adjust our lighting and shadowing settings in Autodesk Maya. Through starting with an Ambient light, I later added a directional light to direct the tones of my cube in a creative manner

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Life Drawing - Using background elements to create an atmosphere

For todays life drawing class we focused on the matter of perspective and tones in order to establish a clearer idea of how to draw our cities. We also learnt how adding different light sources and tones to different objects influence their significance and structure.

Our first drawing was a 20 minute detailed sketch that involved using background elements to create an atmosphere and establish an environment-like space. I chose to not use pencil in this session due to wanting to develop my drawing skills using other materials, and due to wanting to use a more realistic colour on our life model, I used a skin toned Pro Marker pen.

Our second drawing was a 15 minute sketch, and due to wanting to draw with colour, I decided to draw with different variations of blue chalks to evaluate how blending various tones stylises my work. I also did this due to the fact that digital painting requires a lot of tone blending of the same colour, and I thought that blue would help emphasise shadow and light sources well.

Our final set of drawings were several 1 minute sketches, and we were required to use different sets of colours to determine how the aspect of colour changes the impression of the drawing - something we would need to consider when producing our digital paintings. I used a red marker pen, charcoal, pink and blue chalk and a skin tone Pro Marker pen to complete this

At the end of our lesson we looked into the work of Artist Rachel Whitehead, whose use of the same object of white cardboard boxes allowed her environment to appear to have many different kinds of shapes. It also demonstrated how the positioning of these boxes made her work stand out and appear to have a wide perspective due to the different lighting and shadows that were projected.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Goombas in Disguise - Exploring Layers

We created our first GIF using Photoshop exploring the concept of created an animation of layers. This to help us when created animation Gifs of our Invisible Cities digital paintings

Adobe Animator Bouncing Balls

For Fridays animation workshop, we worked on the concept of bouncing balls and created different animations of different types of balls bouncing.
The types of balls we had to create bouncing animations of were:

A Ping Pong ball

A Cartoon ball

A Tennis Ball

Maya Tutorials - Finished Ray gun

 This tutorial allowed us to model a ray gun along with colour and stylize it. At first I found it more time consuming than I thought, but overall I'm happy with the result and have further developed my skills because of it.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Contextual Studies - Surrealism

For today's contextual studies lesson, we looked into the concept of surrealism and the ways in which it is portrayed through films and other art forms.
Numerous films that displayed surrealism included:

  • Un Chien Andalou 
  • Blue Velvet
  • Destino

We also looked at a film that in contrast showed rationalism and was realistic. This film was:

  • A Brief Encounter

Finally, we explored the proper ways to write film reviews and how being conservative with our reviews would benefit us academically. To do this we reviewed four American film reviews of Spider-Man 3 and compared their similarities and differences. Their similarities were that they were partially were biased and informal but their differences were that they each focused on limited aspects of the film itself, such as only the actors or the plot. We also discovered that their main purpose was not to promote the film but to simply state their own opinions of it as they hadn't used the Harvard referencing method and they were more critical than conservative.

Our recommended read was "Understand Film Studies (Teach Yourself) by Warren Buckland as it is thought to be one of the best in explaining the basics of reviewing films along with how to be analytical.

The 12 Principles of Animation - research

  • Anticipation - The atmosphere of a setting and the actions of a character prepare audiences for anticipation, and they also initiate major actions in portraying character development and developing the scenario. Anticipation is known as the backward motion, and the backward motion has to occur before the forward motion can be executed. Almost all real actions involve using anticipation as a forecast.
  • Appeal - Choosing an appeal for a character can be through their physical appearance, their personality or their intentions, and the appeal of a character encourages the audience to take an interest in their story. Appeal can even be established in motion design, such as using interesting typefaces or transitions. 
  • Arc - the impact of displaying gravity in animations is important, as it means that objects in motion should arc between the start and end points of the animation. An example of this would be shooting an arrow as it rarely flies completely straight. This technique especially relates to many natural movements in the human body because arms, hand and fingers etc move in arcs.
  • Exaggeration - Exaggeration can be as broad or as subtle as the animation requires, but it must still display genuine actions. Whether the animation is excessive or dramatic, exaggeration has to revolve around the mood of the character or the tone of the setting. 
  • Follow Through & Overlapping Action - When nothing stops all at once. Whilst portraying movements such as dancing, the characters clothing for example catches up with the character a few frames later.
  • Secondary Action - When observing primary movements in the physical world, secondary actions support the notion of the action, such as a person walking as a primary movement and swinging their arms as a secondary movement. Smaller actions such as blinking can still be considered as being secondary movements, but by little means are they meant to draw the viewers attention away from the primary movement.
  • Slow In & Slow Out - This technique relates to the way in which objects and humans in the physical world pick up momentum before they can reach a full speed, so in animation, it should also take time to decrease speed before something can come to a complete stop.
  • Solid Drawing - this means showing realistic drawing skills as a means to show good form when adding a three-dimensional feel to flat work. No matter what tool is used to create the drawing it must work in 3D.
  • Squash & Stretch - often used through an object such as a bouncing ball, adding exaggeration to the object in motion gives a greater sense of volume and weight even if the object is displaying flat graphics. The ball appears stretched when falling and squashed when it hits the ground. This technique is also used to morph objects.
  • Staging - this technique is influenced by staging positions within the theatre as it helps establish mood, create focus and clarify the plot of the animation. It also demonstrates the difference in values between characters and displays the impact of surroundings.
  • Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose - this drawing technique allows a chosen amount of fluidity between the animations movement depending on how many frames there are. It involves planning key frames that are drawn ahead of others and are then connected to the rest of the frames afterwards. This leads to more realistic and convincing results.
  • Timing - the timing of an animation is essential to displaying characters authentically and originally, and it is also an essential aspect in the way frames are drawn.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Life Drawing - lesson 3

For today's life drawing class, we drew another model whom we hadn't drawn before and we were required to focus on the tones displayed rather than simply do liner line drawings. I found it to be quite challenging as I have learnt to draw in a more realistic way. However, I am glad that I experimented with the different ways of drawing as it has helped to branch out on my tonal skills as well as my time planning skills.

Our first sets off drawings were based around doing one highly realistic one, then sketching multiple different poses in short spaces of time, whilst focusing on balancing light and dark sources. Our final drawing involved drawing the tones of our model in before our lines to allow us to focus on the different light and dark sources

Monday, 3 October 2016

Photoshop Digital Painting - Tonal Value and Perspective

For today's lesson of Digital Painting. we focused on the impact of tonal value and how it helps judge perspective through colour and detail. We also explored how creating abstract concept work helps rejuvenate any creative block. We also worked on warping and remoulding our Digital abstract work in order to test how altering the shape and focusing on certain segments of work may allow the viewer to see something that is recognisable.

Tamara Thumbnails 
Abstract experimental thumbnails 

Warped thumbnails

Maya workshop 2 - cube moulding and painting

For todays lesson of Autodesk Maya, we were required to create a 3D cube that displayed a pattern made by us in Adobe Illustrator. It was interesting to see how to further explore Maya and it was interesting to be able to combine two programs to create an overall result.