While boarding the Pigeon Crumbs animatic I posted a few weeks ago I drew these reference sketches and character models to help me figure out how the character would look, feel and act.

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My dog is notoriously difficult to photograph, let alone draw. This afternoon I managed to capture her in the garden as she munched on a very old tennis ball and an offcut from someone’s fence.

I led more high school-age animation workshops this year, expanding on the morphing workshop from last year. This time everyone who took part was in complete control of their own piece of animation between their character and the next person’s. Whether the character melts, explodes, shatters, or morphs, this was planned out in thumbnails before it was animated. I also asked those taking part to begin with simple shapes – this encouraged them to animate the movement before animating the details.

The results are fantastic!

 

Annie modelled at this week’s session. There were some really wonderful poses, and lots of interesting hands and feet!

Bren modelled at life drawing on Tuesday. I enjoyed the variety of poses, and even drew part of the room using the mirror in the final drawing.

Mireille modelled at life drawing last night, holding some great twisting and leaning poses. I also enjoyed drawing her hair!

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.

Tree_01Tree_02Tree_03

Last week I had a good life drawing session with lots of dynamic and interesting poses. I drew in conte pastel for the first half, which was an attempt to shake me up a bit and loosen my drawings. Though everything felt a bit messy I think it was good as an exercise. I’ve noticed I’m getting much slower: I need to get back in the habit of regular gesture drawing to counteract this!

My first drawing session after Christmas, and I was quite rusty … it took me a while to warm up. We had a break just as I was beginning to feel I could draw again!

What with packing up and moving across most of the country and Christmas and New Year, it’s taken me a while to post some of my life drawing sketches from December. Here’s a selection!

Janey was the life model at this Tuesday’s session, and she brought her dog along! It was fun to do quick gestures of the dog while also capturing her lovely poses.

Andy was modelling at this week’s life drawing. He held some great poses, including one where he played the guitar. As he was actually playing the guitar rather than pretending to, I feel the final drawing has real movement.

Moving for work has meant I’ve had to search for another life drawing class … thankfully this last week I found one! It’s a great little group and the model this week, Helen, came up with some lovely poses. It’ll be good to get back into regular classes again.

I liked this bust of George Roberts, Provost of Selkirk in the 1800s, and had to draw it.SWSCR

Recently I taught some animation workshops for groups of mainly high school aged children and youth. This is the first time I’ve taught animation in any depth, though I ran one workshop on pixelation a few years ago. My main goal was to give a basic framework for people to think about animation in a different way, and teach skills that they can use themselves.

In the two and a half hour workshop everyone drew a character or object on a piece of animation paper. This became a key frame. I gave a very brief overview of key frames, breakdowns and in betweens and explained charts so each person could add a chart to their key frame. Using the chart, everyone then created breakdowns and in betweens to morph between their key frame and the next. For anyone who is unfamiliar with 2D animation, this blog post may help if you want to learn a bit more.

I ran two of these workshops, and you can see the results of both in the video above.

At the end of the workshop, I gave everyone paper and clips to make flip books. I left the direction of these completely open, and the results were varied and brilliant.

The final session I ran was a day and a half long specialism workshop, where I began by going much more in depth with the technical aspects of animation. I showed a few short animations as inspiration including The Illusion of Life, which is a brilliant little video summarising the 12 principles of animation in a clear way. As individuals and as a group they worked through a couple of exercises exploring timing and weight. I was impressed with the way people picked up on some of the principles from the video, thinking about squash and stretch and anticipation in particular.

After drawing thumbnails for their ideas, they began animating on paper. I encouraged everyone to key out their animation, using their thumbnails as poses. The group really thought about how many drawings they wanted between each key, and after the exercises they’d learnt a lot more about breakdowns and in betweens, especially the fact that they don’t have to be exactly halfway between one drawing and another.

Given that there was only one lightbox I pushed everyone to learn to flip the pages, and seeing people pick it up in only a couple of hours was incredible. Flipping the entire scene was also fantastic. I think there’s something really tactile and fun about animating on paper, and I’m glad I could share that.

The films that were created are far beyond anything I anticipated. Real thought went into the making of them, and everyone made an effort to put into practice principles they’d only just learnt. The end results are beautiful and funny. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it.

It was the final life drawing session last week, modelled by Ina. I’ll miss the weekly sketching, but hopefully this will push me to draw more the rest of the time.

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