Move Summit is an industry-focused animation conference in Edinburgh now in its third year. In 2017 and 2018 I was a volunteer, but this time I was able to attend. This year it was a three day event jam-packed with speakers from Pixar, Axis, Aardman Animations, Blue Zoo, and many many more. The first day, Wednesday, was geared to students and those new to the industry, though they could also attend the other days.

Noah Klocek, Art Director at Pixar, spoke on Thursday about ‘The Importance of Authenticity in Animation’. Noah spoke in depth about considering the story when designing, but much of what he said could be applied to other areas of filmmaking. I found this talk particularly inspiring.

That afternoon Noah ran a workshop which recapped and further explored the idea of authenticity. Especially emphasised was research – he said it’s better to have great research and a bad drawing than a beautiful drawing without research. It was thought-provoking, and has challenged me to think about and change how I go about my projects.

My sketch from Noah Klocek’s workshop, researching Akitas
Thumbnail sketches for a Greyfriars Bobby/Hachiko-inspired story

Mike Sharpe, of Found Studio, spoke about how he split work into three categories: Base work, Investment, and Unique. The first is the general day-to-day work which pays the bills, the second work that’s more exciting but doesn’t necessarily have the budget, and the third the space to play and try out new things as part of personal projects. Other speakers, including Jon Yeo and Noah Klocek, spoke about this work/play balance. It’s something else I need to rethink, and challenge myself to do.

On Friday I attended the character design talk and workshop led by Kenneth Anderson. It was great to learn about his journey into character design, and pick up several of his tips. In the workshop we worked through a character design for an evil and eccentric hunter child zombie. Beginning with really simple shapes, everyone developed their own version of the monster. I enjoyed watching his process, and seeing how much was very loose and undefined. I think with character design I tend to rush ahead, and get stuck, when I need to spend more time at the basic stages to set a good foundation.

Exploring basic shapes
Refining …
… and refining further – hopefully to be finished one day

The other part of Move Summit is the networking! There are plenty of opportunities throughout the days to catch up with or get to know other artists and professionals, but there are also evening socials. At Drink and Draw, I took the time to sketch some of the others there as well as have fun doodling.

I had an incredible time, and came away full of inspiration! It’s a fantastic event for those studying or working in animation. Be sure to put it in your diaries for next year!

The first two drawings, in charcoal, are from a workshop on an artists’ retreat back in February. It was (just) warm enough to sit outside, though I remember my hands freezing. Both charcoal sketches were drawn half looking at the paper, half looking only at the object. The top one has several under-drawings that have been rubbed back. I wouldn’t normally draw in this way but it was a good exercise.

The final sketch I drew in my garden yesterday, in glorious sunshine.

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If you’ve been following me for a few years you may remember that back in 2015 I drew ‘Pieces of Sky’, small squares of the sky I saw that day. (Here’s an example.) I’ve been thinking about starting to draw small colour studies again, as I enjoyed the challenge. However I feel only drawing the sky is perhaps a bit limiting, so I’ve set myself a new goal within the same guidelines of a 500×500 pixel canvas. I’ll continue to take inspiration from life, but it will now be from anywhere.

It’s been a very grey, snowy day so unfortunately there is very little colour anywhere. Today’s ‘Study Square’ shows some of the snow piled up outside my window.  I like how mountainous the shapes are despite the fact it’s only about a foot in height!

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There’s a little maple tree outside my window in the new house. At the beginning of the year when we had quite a lot of snow I did a quick study of it because I loved the way the snow blobbed around the branches. A couple of weeks ago, I did another study. It’s fun to compare them (I didn’t refer back to the snowy one at all) and see the differences, particularly in the way I’ve painted the branches.

TreeTreeSpring

It’s been over a year since I last updated my portfolio and showreel so (thanks to the prodding of others) I’m finally sorting through my work. In doing so I uncovered this painting of Glencoe. From what I remember I abandoned it in frustration, but I quite like it now! It’s loosely based on a photograph I took the last time I was there.Glencoe

I designed, storyboarded and animated this video for trypraying. The trypraying booklet is a seven-day prayer guide which encourages people to try praying for a week and see what happens.

Some of my concept art for the project is below.

CharacterDesign

I began with some rough character sketches from the script. From the outset I wanted designs that were simple but attractive.

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BGDesign

I also began to explore the background environments and colour design. For the background, I wanted to have a very flat, “false” perspective. I wanted to tie the colours to the trypraying booklet.

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I created colour keys using the storyboard, finding a range that would work through each scene.

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Once the storyboard and animatic were complete, and the colours approved, I made last-minute changes – like the policewoman’s new hat – and then began building the characters and backgrounds in Illustrator and Flash.

Characters

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I drew some sketches of how the characters would need to be broken up for animation.The minister only needed to wave his hand, whereas the main character had to be able to turn, walk and move his arms. The main character’s trousers were simplified as a result.

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Here are some of the final scenes in the video. I’m really pleased with how the colour and designs came out. This was a fun project to make!

And here’s a little extra: I added a caricature of myself sitting on the bus!

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Granny

Here’s a little sneaky peek at a project I’m working on right now! I’m having fun with the simple palette and design. I’m building all the characters, props and backgrounds in Illustrator and am animating them in Flash.

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I paid more attention to the sky today. Though most of the time it was completely cloudy, there was one moment when the cloud thinned just enough for the sun to be seen as a white disc.

This one I drew on my phone, using an app called Sketch Club!

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I love looking at the sky and seeing how different it appears every day and night. For a while I’ve been wondering about doing quick little colour studies of what a piece of sky has looked like, and today I managed to sketch one!

After a bright, clear day heat haze fell. Now it’s reflecting the orange glow of the streetlights.

Bird Animation – Development

For a while I’ve been scribbling down ideas for this bird project. This weekend I began to do some more research into the location and character design. Here are some of my sketchbook pages!03 01 02These were all sketched using Zig Clean Color Real Brush pens by Kuretake. I like how they give a good variation in line. They’re quite a recent purchase but I already prefer them to the Zig Art & Graphic Twin pens I used before, which have a foam tip instead of a brush.

New Portfolio and Showreel

I thought it was time for an update of my portfolio and showreel!

Here’s a peek: click on the image to view the full portfolio.

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My latest animation showreel, featuring Maya and paper animation:

Music: “Dial Up” by Kris Oliver www.krisoliver.com

Paper Animation (Photoshop / ToonBoom): All character, background and colour design by myself.

Maya – Personal Project (1): Character (Morpheus) from here: www.joshburton.com/projects/morpheus.asp, chair prop provided by Aardman.

Maya – Personal Project (2): Horse rig by Tomasz Jurczyk and Carlos Contreras, from www.mothman-td.com/portfolio_items/horse_rig/

Maya – Aardman / NFTS: All characters and props provided by Aardman.

All sound effects from www.freesfx.co.uk

Deer Background and Breakdowns

I returned to my deer animation today, changing quite a lot of the ending and adding more breakdowns and inbetweens. I’m planning to clean it up in Photoshop, something like the deer shown below: quite loose and free, hopefully keeping some of the rough nature of the original.Deer03 copyHere’s one of my favourite breakdowns from today:

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Landscape 01

I’d like to get into the habit of drawing daily so I’ve come up with a list of short exercises to do, one each day. Today’s was a landscape study.

Landscape_01_Image copyMountain landscape 478216 from http://wallpaper-kid.com/mountain-landscape-backgrounds.htm

Landscape_01_BW copyI did a B&W study first to try and understand the tones in the photograph. In my sketch it’s difficult to distinguish between the mountains and the rocky formation in the foreground. In future I’ll allow myself to play with more values of grey. It also took me a while to realise that though the shadows on the mountains were dark they were lighter than the shadows in the foreground.
Landscape_01 copyFor this exercise I took the colours directly from the photograph. I plan to build up to the point where I choose my own palette, and work in real paint, pencils, pastels etc.

Dunes

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I got some new paintbrushes for Christmas, so I played around with gouache this morning!

Close-ups below.

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Reflections

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Another page from my book. The perspective on the dogs’ reflections is tricky to get right. I think I’ll need to adjust it further before painting them and finishing the water.

Small and Scared

 

I’ve been working on one page for a while and it was only yesterday that I finally understood what I was actually trying to say. The words for this spread read “Liffey was a big dog who thought she was a small dog.”07_rough_01

My first few sketches were all using the same idea. On the left, Liffey looking down on a smaller dog; on the right, her surrounded by the “scary shadows” of her imagination.
07_rough_02 07_rough_03Using the sketch I started to play with colours. But it never felt right. I wanted the scary page to be full of clashing colours and conflict, but it never sat right with the other page.

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I am not proud of this page, and it was never really meant for general consumption, but it’s needed here – so I apologise for its crumminess!

Next I changed my colour scheme for the dogs a bit, bringing them into a more natural realm. However I tried to keep the bright green and blue.

After completing it I wasn’t happy and left it for a while, wondering how to fix it. I knew it didn’t work as I wanted it to – painting technique aside, Liffey looked sad rather than scared, and the monsters seemed like an afterthought. So I started sketching out ideas in my notebook giving the monsters more precedence.

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So this is what I painted yesterday. I’m pleased with it as a piece (though of course there’s always things to nitpick) but I still wasn’t happy with the page. Liffey sure looked scared, but it felt TOO scary. After all, it’s supposed to be a light-hearted children’s story …

It was when I was taking a bath yesterday evening (baths and walks are fantastic for coming up with ideas) that I finally realised where I’d been going wrong. Somehow I’d forgotten all about the words on the page: “Liffey … thought she was a small dog.” I’d moved away from “small dog” to “scared dog”, even though her fear of other dogs is addressed on the next page in a much clearer way.

07_inprogress_03_copyThis is my latest idea: much simpler and, I think, much clearer. It fits so much more with the words and will sit better with the other page in the spread.

Now just twenty-one more pages to go …

 

 

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