week OOF update

So pre-production has been a little stressful on me, mainly because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough despite constant reassurances from my peers and tutors that I am. The joke is on all of you, I actually do very little and talk a big game. Ha-ha, and ho-ho. It is to laugh.

With presentations today (oh look, here’s mine), I feel like I have very little to offer, but I will write what I can.

I begin with the celebratory statement of: I finished my animatic. Huzzah. It’s about 3:30, which isn’t bad at all. the link is right over here

I’m pleased with the overall look, but only because from my perspective, I’ve done what I can. I would very much like input on how to keep things interesting, as I’m afraid it comes off as too repetitive. I also wound up forgetting a few frames, but it gave me the idea to try something different that hadn’t occurred to me before.

In one of my favorite animated films, Watership Down, the character Hazel has this speech where he prays to his god pleading for the life of his people. This sequence is structured in a way that flits between what Hazel is doing, and where his people are. This emphasizes the direness of the situation, and the jumps between Hazel and the threat keep the audience engaged.

What I’m hoping to achieve is a narrative that communicates how Little Hands sees herself, and how White Bear sees her. There is one problem however, as I’m concerned that this may come off as a little iffy considering this whole thing has been from Little Hands perspective.

As for my development work, I want to dedicate a majority of my time to value and lighting. I would be more than happy to work on characters more, but I don’t think the story can progress unless I flesh out my environment more. I don’t think I have a world.

Alec sent me some good videos on value and painting, and those have helped a little bit, but I haven’t done enough with them to really earn my satisfaction. Tyler Edlin has a good video about the problems beginners face when starting this technique, and I’ve really picked up a lot through just this one alone.

He does a good job of explaining the very basics of lighting, and while it’s frustrating, I’ve come to realize how little I actually pay attention to the lighting in my own work and what I need to focus on to get better at it.

I’ve also been looking at Alex Collins‘s work for simpler shots. I want to get as many done as possible, and his work is very similar to what I’m hoping for. I like the vastness of his work and his understanding of light and shadow are very clear. I think actually in most of the work that I’ve seen, I understand what he is doing the most.

Alex Collins value thumbnails

Another artist I’ve been looking at is Marco Bucci, who is an illustrator who works in the game industry and has so for the past fifteen years or so. His composition pieces are quite pleasing and bouncy and he has some great videos about staging your paintings and working with lighting.

Lastly, I added Nikolai Lockertsen to the list of artists I’ll be using for reference. His daily sketches on art station have amazing atmosphere and he’s always doing something different with light as well. What I hope to learn from him is mood lighting, which is incredibly important when it comes to the final scene with Little Hands. Lockertsen also has great depth to his work, and I feel as though that’s something lacking in mine. I think this has a lot to do with my disregard for the fore, back, and mid ground.

 

After presenting I got a lot of great feed back discussing my progress, and I’m trying to start trusting them when they say I’m doing well enough. Sarah say that there seemed to be a lack of distinction between the size of  Little Hand’s world and White Bear’s. This is something I honestly stopped paying attention to when I was making the animatic, and it’s such a good point as well. When I do the previs I will keep that in mind and try to work with angle demonstrating the frustration Little Hands feels when she see how big everything is. Hopefully I can better communicate this.

Brian recommended I touch up the 3D bases I made up last month, and I agree. Having White Bear finalized definitely makes things easier, and also allows me to get a better understanding of what he will look like in 3D. Alec has also said I should start the 3D characters, and then come back to finish up the assets. Since it’s best to make mistakes now with zbrush, I will get started on that this week.

I still have the old videos Alec sent me last year on character modelling in Zbrush, and I also will ask some friends what they’ve been doing when it comes to the program. I’ve used it in the past, but never much to any avail.

So the rest of this week I will see about potentially doing a previs and getting started on sculpting my characters and rigging them.

Aesthetic board

Working on some colors for the short. Figured I would throw together a quick mood board to help me keep on tract for what I’m looking for. I really love having this late winter early spring look to it, and I also really love the forest lighting, which it supposed to get progressively darker the more Little Hands struggles.

These should be excellent for when I work more a little with color theory. Alec was saying I need to pay more attention to values.

Week four update

So I’m getting a little further in 2D work for Little Hands, and I’m feeling a little better about it than I did last week.

Last week’s presentation resulted in me feeling a little behind and like I didn’t have enough of a solid idea to begin 3D work. This was true as my story board is still unfinished and my concepts are a little weaker than I’d like. BUT! I had gotten further and I feel more comfortable with where I am now.

I started with color pallets, as Henry requested I get some of those done, just to keep in mind what wanted this world to look like. In the past I have been working with shots from the movie Brother Bear, which utilize a lot of vivid hues like orange and green. In the movie, the colors are used to communicate life or a new day, like the scenes where Kenai first wakes up or whenever his brothers are all together, or when he and Koda finally catch up with the other bears at the water hole.

 

However while talking with Henry, he also suggested exploring the use of blues and purples. I’m really excited about that idea, as I wanted to have the lighting and colors getting darker the further into the woods Little Hands gets, and the more insecure she becomes before transitioning back into light and vivid pallets when White Bear encourages her.

So far my color pallets are the following. While I like these, and think they at least help me with environment, I think I need to work more on tone to help direct the story.

 

I also took this time to work on White Bear more and come up with a better design. Alec was saying White Bear looked too young, and that I needed to decide if I wanted to make a character based on my mother’s father or my grandfather. I chose to make a version of my mother’s father, who was already quite old when she was born. I made his face rounder than previous versions, and paid close attention to his eyes and smile. I want to make him a little thicker, like the North References I was using last week, but I’m really liking this version a lot more than the previous two I worked with. I also have started to draw him with Little Hands to show their contrasting personalities and similar color pallets.

 

I would say the biggest problems I’m having right now are my completely an total refusal to story board and struggling with getting darker pallets. I like the dreamy warmth I’ve been working with, but I am also looking for something a little darker. I really loved the work Yann Boyer And Remi Salmon did in Mune. Their color works are fantastic at communicating environments and mood.

 

The transitions and eventual blending of the night and day worlds are amazing, and I want to try an communicate the same thing with light and color, albeit it a little more similar. It’s hard, but I’m going to do more thumbnails and try and put Little Hands in environment to see if I can create the feeling of hopelessness I’m looking for.

My over reliance on warm pallets is finally proving to be the death of me, but it’s the death I would have wanted.

As for story boarding, the only honest answer I can give is that I loathe it. I cannot stand drawing so simply and I can never find myself in the right mindset to work on it. However it needs to be done and I need to get over myself and push harder. I only have two more scenes to draw and it shouldn’t take that long. It’s only Tuesday so I have time. I just need to keep pushing.

I also kept in mind what Yuan said about making the audience connect more with the father daughter bond I’m trying to portray. Yuan recommended I look at the short film Father and Daughter. The film is nine minutes long and was made in 2000 by Michaël Dudok de Wit, whom I’ve actually met! Cool! He is known for his most recent work Red Turtle. His style of silent story telling accompanied by water color like animation is beautiful to watch and perfectly captures complex emotions with such a simplistic style. The use of lighting to help show the passage of time and  the past is enchanting at times.

After giving it a watch, I can definitely appreciate this style of story telling, but I’m uncertain if it’s what I’m looking for. To me, the story is similar to my own, but in my opinion, to straight forward in it’s narrative. Where Father and Daughter tells the story of a girl clinging to that last shred of hope that her lost father will return, I want mine to to tell the story of realizing that the people you love will not last, and you must learn to live without them and that most importantly, you will be ok on your own. 

While de Wit’s story does have the Daughter move on with her life, start a family of her own, and grow old, she still lingers almost daily on the hope she might one day look up and see her father standing at the pier. I think all of us have had that thought, that one day the person we lost will return, and it was all just a bad dream. For my mother however, that hope is really what prevented her from moving forwards.

The point of Little Hands is to become comfortable with the inevitable, and not to fear it, but to become strong enough so that one day, when something happens, you will be able to process it. It’s to remember all the times our loved ones helped us and encouraged us to become who we are today. It’s about the preservation of the person rather than the loss. There is just something about de Wit’s handling of grief that doesn’t sit well with me. There was a distinct air of constant sadness hovering over the story that made it difficult for me to connect with the character. Sadness is only natural when loss occurs, but for my  family, sadness is only something that fades with time. Yes, we remember how much we miss the person, but we remember also how much that person would have wanted us to live without clinging to the past.

To sum up, I feel like de Wit comes from a different experience with grief than my family does, and it made it difficult for me to connect with his story.

I really liked the film, but I don’t it has a lot that I can use story wise.

 

week 3 update

Presentations were today!

Last week’s goals were to get a story board finished, a script, and work on white bear’s design. After a meeting with Bryan, he told me I should put character designing on the back burner in order to finish the overall story.

I managed to finish the script. I got a lot of positive feedback and in general I’m happy with the emotions conveyed.

I then finished least the first two scenes finished for story boarding, but not the whole thing. I had a pretty solid animatic going, but no where near what I needed it to be.  I feel disappointed in myself that I didn’t budget my time wisely enough

Animatic link

So for White Bear, I first started out just sketching while trying to focus on the original design I had used years ago. White Bear’s design is incredibly important to me because the first time I drew him my mother was extremely touched and I wanted to preserve what she was seeing in the drawing.

I was talking with my dad while  I was drawing, and sent him updates on what White Bear was going to look like. Unfortunately, the first result did not look anything like my grandfather. He looked more like Geralt from The Witcher.

 

 

So this is totally not what I was looking for and I went back to the drawing board. I’ll admit I was a little put out about the first result. My dad really liked it but my mom wasn’t a fan. I started this time by studying some old photos and finally came up with a design I was quite pleased with. His face is rounder, his eyes are brighter, and I managed to capture his smile, which was important to me.

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I got a lot more positive feedback on this one, and overall I find it easier to draw. Despite positive feedback, there were comments that he still didn’t look old enough, so I will spend more time on that once I have finished my animatic. I also need to work on his shape as well. My grandpa was a really thickly built guy, but I want White Bear to be a little more athletic in build rather than stout. I mentioned in my presentation that I liked North’s design in rise of the guardians, and I think I want to pursue that figure, but perhaps not as jacked as North. Perhaps a combo of Nicholas St. North from the books with his film counterpart.

 

Story wise I did get a lot of compliments, and I am happy about that, but it still does need revisions. Brian said I should consider what intellectual barriers Little Hands may encounter instead of all physical. Henry said I should consider color pallets as well. I can work with that, and I will add them to this week’s schedule.

I also did some research on the indigenous people that I wanted to base Little Hands and White Bear on. I focused on the Inuit and Yupik people. The tribes are semi-nomadic, and tend to follow the seasonal changes. They dress in thick furs and skins, usually that of seal or caribou to combat colder temperatures. One of the cool parts about being a roaming tribe, is that they often constructed Inukshuks- large piles of stones- which are navigational landmarks. They usually resemble a person standing on the horizon.

Other aspects I’ve been looking at are the clothing and housing styles. As mentioned before, Inuits wore Parkas of animal skin, which were also waterproof and helped greatly in the winter months and when hunting whales or seals. Design wise, this would prove challenging enough to texture, and would also allow me to explore stylized fur. (No, I’m not doing fur dynamics, but I will be trying to sculpt chunky fur in zbrush.)

Week 3 and 4 will be dedicated to completing the animatic, white bear’s design, and coming up with color pallets.

My full presentation can be viewed here

How I feel about the presentation unfortunately isn’t very strong. I don’t know if I’m just getting intimidated or if I genuinely don’t feel good about the project, but I came away thinking I wasn’t doing enough. Hopefully I can complete my new tasks and feel better about myself. I am really excited about the idea, it’s just difficult not to beat myself up. (for no good reason or anything too I mean come on goon, calm down. yeesh)

 

Week 2 update

Last week’s tasks are all finished, so now I can get started on the more difficult ones. This week I will be focusing on White Bear’s final design and maybe some script writing and story boarding. I’m trying not to rush into anything and stay calm, which is still working pretty well.

My dad also sent me the original story. It gives me a little more detail and more reference photos of my grandfather. I didn’t take enough pictures with him when he was here, so it’s good that I’m starting to find more of him

Little Hands

I’m excited to start on White Bear’s design first. Character design always takes me the longest and I’ll have more time to think about planning the story board as I’m drawing.

Week 1 progress!

I managed to try out some hand-drawn texture for that drum! I’m very happy because I was the most nervous about this task, as my past success with original texture have been spotty at best.

The finished product still needs some work, but I’m pleased with it thus far. I toyed with what I thought the map should look like and eventually managed to make a symmetrical UV that could be drawn on. I chose thick, warm colors to match my planned color pallet and after two hours I had something I was happy with.

After applying my finished texture, I also created a specular map and a normal map. I placed both bump maps into a layered texture with the SpecMap on top and the NormalMap on the bottom with the intensity bumped up a little to show through the top layer. This helped the lighter parts of the texture push up a little with the specular map and drag the darker parts down further with the normal map to create better depth. I want to edit it later on, but I’ll see about that once week two ends. I’m not allowed to think too far ahead or I’ll get goofy

Rose sent me this AWESOME reference for hand-painting textures. The artist is a professional prop artist from Brazil who has work on a few games that have required his own styled texturing. He has some good advice on keep a personal, workable touch on all his models in the sculpting progress and how to arrange UVs. I was happy to know we were both on the same page about that last part.

Visual References/Week 2 Schedule

SO! I am being hit with the realization that I have A Lot of work to do and it’s time for me to begin making to-do lists or I will die. First things first, I was talking to Henry and Brian and they both said I should definitely consider my overall look for Little Hands so I’ve been gathering visual refs to help me keep on top of things design wise.

I LOVE autumn so I wanted to give the film nice, warm tones. Also considering the wilderness location, I would be working with a lot of nature shots and very organic assets. What I’ve been looking at so far are scenery shots from some of my favorite animated movies and shows.

 

 

I really liked the heavy backgrounds with lots of detail, but I have to keep in mind that I want to do hand painted textures so I’m gonna have to be careful about how my I plan on making.

Next up is Over The Garden Wall! I love love loved this show and it’s environments. Brian was saying he thought Little Hands had a dream like vibe to it, and I want to maintain that as much as possible. Over The Garden Wall not only has these gorgeous nature shots, but a very depersonalized feeling to each episode. It’s otherworldly at times and so beautifully creepy.

Also very detailed, but the lighting is on point and very close to what I’m hoping to achieve.

Lastly, we have shots from the game Lost Winds! This is what I’m hoping to do with texture. It’s very personal and gives me a more consistent style to shoot for rather than worrying about realistic textures and such. Lost Winds also has that dreamy quality to it as well.

 

SCHEDULE!

Alright, so week 1 is finishing up, and my overall goal of this week is to develop a stronger visual style with an asset I already made a while back, this cute little drum

drum

I will upload the finished test hopefully on Sunday.

As for week two, I want to start story-boarding. I should have my dad’s updated story to work with by then. I want to have a clear cut script and story board by the end of week two so I can finish white bear’s design and move forward from there.

Week 2 goals: story board, set texture style, white bear

 

Final year project!!

I’m back and ready to GO!!!

Here’s my plan: solo project. This one’s a little personal, but it’s something I’ve been promising to do for a while. My project centers around a character named Little Hands and her father White Bear. The two live in the wilderness alone, and Little Hands, who is still very young, begins to doubt if she will ever be as strong or as fast as her father.

This story and it’s characters were created by my dad in 2014. That was the year my grandfather died, and my mother was having an incredibly hard time coping with the loss. Little Hands is my mother as a child, and White Bear is of course, her father. The story really helped my mom start to take steps to recovering.

My dad first approached me about doing something visual with the story a year later, with the intent of turning it into a children’s novel. Unfortunately I did not have any time to commit to any sort of project. Time passed, I got accepted to UU, and after almost five years, I finally in a place to do something with it.

Little Hands represents a lot about my family, but it’s also a story a lot of people can place themselves in. We’ve all had moments of doubt, and we’ve all had that one person we look up to more than anything. Most importantly however, we all want that last shred of something to hold on to when that person is gone. It’s a simple enough story that can still be deeply personal. I wanted to make something that people could relate to.

So! coming up we have my first few sketches I ever did of Little Hands along with some beginning concepts for White Bear. I also have one asset ready and Little Hands’ character base which I’m hoping to put into zbrush as soon as I get the willpower

 

 

These were the top three images I liked using. My mom is between 5-7 years old here, which is how I’m trying to get Little Hands to look. She’s supposed to be very squishy, still very young and not very strong or quick. When I first began the designs, I wasn’t very confident in utilizing references and shapes. I also really liked the idea of incorporating something to do with bears as well. My first attempt was a very rough, unsure, and overall not what I was looking for. My dad was also really good about providing feedback in what he expected, and he also began providing pictures of my mother when she was little.

concept-1
First design. Too old, too modern, and looks nothing like my mother.

After poking around a bit and considering some of the pictures my parents gave me, I tried again and got something I was a little more comfortable working with. Since these are from five years ago, I wasn’t using my tablet a lot and suffered from Fool Never Finishes Anything-Itis, I usually couldn’t complete anything more than a scribbly sketch to communicate my idea.

 

This was when I also started to try and work with my grandfather’s character as well. He was a lot older when my mother was born, which I wanted to keep in White Bear’s design. I really loved the idea of showing visible ware and age on a character who has been living in the wilderness all his life.

 

Unfortunately I haven’t worked as much as I should have been on the designs over the years, and will have to start again with White Bear’s. However I did end of finalizing Little Hands look in August. I began to work more realistically and incorporated the actual shapes of my mother’s face and her hair as well.

concepts1

The blue lined one was the design that ended up being the chosen look. It was hard to preserve my mother’s girlish look. I also really wanted to keep my mother’s nose shape. She’s always had a slightly hooked nose and it’s been her most recognizable feature

With the character designs in the back of my head, my dad and I started to discuss environment, and how we wanted the short to look. Over time he began to relinquish more control, which is a little stressful, but we both have a firm idea of how we want this to look. Specifically, my dad requested a look similar to a lot of Russian indigenous people before they emigrated to America over the land bridge. Personally I saw the world as closer to the native american style of long settled people.

We eventually settled down to talk about it and began to bounce visual references off each other.

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My dad was extremely fond of making Little Hands and White Bear closer to Eskimo people, but he also doesn’t understand how Zbrush and Fur dynamics work and how much time and effort that would take.

 

The biggest issue, I think, will be the environment, as I’ve never been good with putting together interiors by myself. However I will have to learn to be if I want to get this done.

 

Right now though, I’m getting a lot of advice from teachers and everything and I’m thinking I need to take a chill pill and just do some story boards. so I will focus on that and work on creating a cohesive story-line before worry about the bigger details.

Henry says I should create minor tasks for a weekly schedule, and I think I  can work with that. I am terrible with pacing and forcing myself to stay on track. I just get so antsy about things and start focusing on three months from now rather than on the present.

But, I have a plan right now, and if I stick by it I will just fine.

Update

I want to keep updating this over placement year hopefully, so here’s a look at what I’ve been up to!

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One of the gnomes from Gravity Falls!

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This was particularly fun because I’ve never done a full character piece before in maya! It was great being able to mess around with textures and lighting. I’m working on a different one right now, hoping to better my character modelling skills for my next show reel!