The Art of 'Soundscape 17'

My art book for the summer project '1 Becomes 2' arrived earlier this week from I'm very pleased with the quality where the book turned out pretty much exactly how I designed it. Its a lovely feeling to hold work you've created entirely digitally on the screen of a monitor, into a physical copy such as a book.

Some images and even a video(!) for your viewing pleasure.

There's three levels of shipping from Economic (~£5), Priority (~£10) and Express (~£20). I ordered mine on priority shipping on a Sunday evening and received it the following week on Monday. In total, my book (which is a Standard Landscape Softcover type with 48 pages), came to £25. However, I found a promotional discount code on google and manage to get £5 off - so in all it came to £20.

For more info, hit where there's a simple introductory video on the process of designing your book. In short however, you create a blurb account, download and install their software 'Blurb Booksmart', design your book in Booksmart and hit Order Book when your ready to publish.

Its fairly straightforward, but it does take time when designing your book so keep that in mind if your working to a deadline.

Car Modelling - Mustang 01

The next stage of our Maya workshops involve car modelling, as they stand as the mid-ground between structures and organic shapes. We've begun by establishing orthographic references of the car while forming the initial base of model.

More to come as we continue to develop the model in the next few weeks.

Generi Guy Lipsync 01 - Jaw Bounce

Maya workshop introducing Lip syncing. This first video focuses on the movement and rhythm of the jaw when speaking

Influence Map

With the theme of Soldier/Cyborgs, the two are a natural combination that has been well traversed in a variety of mediums. Thus, the difficultly for me will be ensuring that my character designs remain distinct and unique from the many established concepts of soldier/cyborgs.

Breaking down the two words, the word Soldiers undoubtedly implies the setting of my cartoon show to be of conflict and war. Whereas the actual definition of Cyborgs suggests a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device. This presents the interesting combination of man and technology, where technology is used to enhance the individuals prowess in combat by improving their skills or by granting new abilities altogether.

Here is an influence map to gather a range of reference material for this project.

The images focus on the idea of cybernetic technology enhancing the soldier, whether replacing an arm or limb entirely, or as a extension of oneself as a large robotic form. Evidently, the theme of soldiers and cyborgs can work across a wide range of audiences from children's shows/games such as Astroboy and Megaman, to mature teens with anime series Ghost in the Shell and upcoming game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and with films such as Terminator and Iron Man for adults.

Establishing the world of our given cartoon show will be key in order to draw and develop unique ideas from. I am yet to develop this world although with some initial ideas, I intend to keep most of the heros' humanity intact with a human form and face so the audience can identify with him/her. Where in stark contrast, the villain will be overwhelmed with technology to the point where he has seemingly lost his humanity. I'm not too sure about the sidekick yet, though perhaps it can be a small robotic figure to aid the hero or conversely 'aid' in the villain in a useless comedic way.

Hopefully, I can start to get some designs up as well as develop the world of my given cartoon show.

Character Design Workshop #01

For our first character design workshop, we began to identify reoccurring elements in traditional heroes, villains and sidekicks with several examples.

Heroes often wear bright primary colours and are usually human-like so the audience can relate to him/her. They are confident and capable, or later learn to be through character development. In the CG film Robots (2005), the main hero bears the most human-like features of the group while wearing bright colours.

Villains predominantly exhibit dark colours such as purples and black while possessing vast power. They often have long elongated shapes that are sharp and angular, while acting melodramatically in their actions with deliberate hand movements/gestures. Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959) is a prime example of this.

Sidekicks usually have no specials powers where they are there to provide comedy relief to the scene. The sidekicks are often very physical in their actions as well as being flexible with a sort of rubber hose animation to emphasise their idiocy.

Later, we began some quick character sketches combining random elements together. Nothing too serious - just some fun to get into the swing of things. I drew the cards for 'Super Ninjas' (drawn on the left) and 'Galactic Cowboys' (drawn on the right).

Bad Kids Go To Hell - Comic

Finished reading 'Bad Kids Go To Hell', big thanks to Matthew Spradlin for the comic (and Alan for carrying them all the way from America!).

The premise of Bad Kids Go To Hell is similar to that of The Breakfast Club (1985) where a group of dysfunctional high school students spend a Saturday in detention at their school, in this case, at Crestview Academy. However, visions of ghosts and rumours of the curse of Crestview Academy take hold as the kids soon discover the building therein was once a native burial ground. One by one they fall victim to seemingly super-natural causes, or is there something more sinister in the works?

I loved the artwork being fresh and vibrant that remained appealing throughout. I also found the character designs great; sure they're a cast of typical school stereotypes but they play on the story well enough - not to mention they look fantastic. Dialogue is also spot on with witty banter that is neither too abrupt or particularly long winded.

- Spoiler Ahead - Highlight text to read -
My one little peeve to an otherwise great story, was that I wasn't quite convinced about Dr Day and Kelly/Veronica's motivations to conjure such a plan and why they would be in cahoots. I can perhaps see Kelly's possible desire to reek a sense of justice on the four characters Megan, Tarek, Craig and Tricia as they exhibit a negative persona, although I find Day's sense of motivation a bit lacking particularly if it was simply for the money. Maybe I'm reading into it too much (or missing something entirely), but it was a small blip I could not quite fathom.

As a side note, the story ends up taking the route of a B-style horror movie, which is all fine and dandy. Though I think the initial premise had a great setup for a true Horror story, which could also have been interesting to explore.

- End Spoiler -

I understand a film adaptation is in the works, so it will be interesting to see how well it translates into a live action movie. Overall, Bad Kids Go To Hell was a great read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

You can find out more on Bad Kids Go To Hell at

Lost in La Mancha (2002)

Lost in La Mancha (2002) is a fascinating documentary that showcases the harsh realities of film-making and how it can all go wrong.

Film director Terry Gilliam is best known for directing films such as The Fisher King (1991) and 12 Monkeys (1995). However, in his endeavour to produce Lost in La Mancha, based on the tale of Don Quixote, everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. Actors falling ill, thunderstorms and even military jets do their best to ruin the production film set. It seems the film was never meant to be as financial disaster kicks in with their limited budget, where ultimately the film was cancelled and Gilliam's dream could never come to fruition.

Its a shame to see the project fall as the glimpses we see shows that the film has potential. One cannot help but feel sympathy for Gilliam as he simply tries to achieve his dream that he worked so long and hard after. Despite being very unfortunate, one cannot ignore that perhaps Gilliam was his own undoing as the entire project felt overwhelming and disorganised with a lack of planning and coordination. At times, they seemed to be shooting scenes on a whim, rather than to recoup and resolve a new solution. The fact that there was no backup plan with the illness of main actor Jean Rochefort, ultimately led to the demise of the project.

If anything, the great lesson to be learnt is that good planning is essential to the success of a project. Things will go wrong - so even more planning is required in preparation for these unfortunate mishaps.

With such an ambitious project and limited budget, I'm surprised that creating an animated film was not considered. With the very nature of the film, one would think animation could lend nicely to the world of Don Quixote where he uses his imagination to see the world through the eyes as an adventuring hero [1]; not to mention the seemingly complex scenes that required elaborate sets and a multitude of props.

Nevertheless, while the documentary itself is a little depressing, the crew's 'sense of humour and commitment to the project shine through', that is rather encouraging. Ultimately, Lost in La Mancha presents an honest portrayal of the highs and lows of film making, filled with the humour and human drama that it all encompasses.

From the latest news, it seems Terry Gilliam's latest attempt to make a film about Don Quixote has 'stalled after his financial backers pulled out', as of It has now been more than 10 years since Gilliam first attempt to produce his film of Don Quixote.

Unit 2 - Character Design

The second project we have to contend with individually is a 10 week project on Character Design. The premise for this project is that an eighties Saturday cartoon series is being rebooted, requiring Character Designs and an Animation Bible for three of the shows main characters - a Hero, Villain and Sidekick.

The theme of our eighties cartoon show is again given by random by the draw of the cards - literally in this case. Draw two cards from the deck and refer to the legend to see our corresponding theme. I drew the 3 of Diamonds and 9 of Clubs.

...which effectively gave me Soldiers/Cyborgs.

We did this in this way, as typically cartoons of the 1980s comprised of multiple genres or a ‘mash up’ of ideas such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, incorporating a random mix of themes from mutants, ninjas and turtles into one happy mix that children can enjoy.

This project's primary focus is in traditional drawing skills, so digital designs are not essential at this point. Their may be an opportunity to visit a character in CG or as a digital painting at some point, although this is will likely be towards the end.

Unit 1 - Narrative: Retro-Fest

Our first project titled, Narrative: Retro-Fest, is actually a group project where we must produce a short animated trailer of a maximum of 2 minutes, based on a random retro movie title dealt by the draw of cards. Interestingly, our group has to function with a studio mentality in mind by delegating roles and tasks while developing a studio brand and identity in order to promote ourselves.

The members of my group are:

Dan Bright -
Kin Chan -
Elliot Mcgregor -

...and the title for our retro movie trailer is:

Day of the Chainsaw Wielding Baby from the Centre of Earth

Indeed, its a crazy title that should prove to be fun and interesting with its potential possibilities. Another interesting thing to note, is that potential awards are up for grabs in respective categories such as Best Editing, Best Character or Best Art Direction. Simply put, its a fun incentive to achieve the best we can in this project and to be formally recognised as such for doing well in a particular area.

With my group, we've establish a group blog to centralise our project work, so feel free to check it out at:

Our studio name derives from our initials, but you can find out more about that over at the group blog. I've also added a link up top on this blog for easy access.

Second Year Beginnings

Its been a while again since my last post, but yes its the start of the second year here at CG Arts & Animation officially since Monday 20th. I must say, things are shaping up to be as busy and as exciting as ever, with two simultaneous projects working along side each other, along with a third theory project for good measure. That's three layers of projects to contend with!

More on that later, for now I just want to wrap things up left off from the Summer Project. I was able to produce a few more concept pieces before finally designing and ordering the 'Art of' book for the project, which should hopefully arrive sometime next week.

I redesigned the Tech Guy character (renamed him as Wise One), as he felt a little too capable and detached from the others as a whole. The new design captures the slightly mad and inquisitive nature of the character, with oversized flip-flops and an amassed a collection of trinkets.

The last piece I did began to capture the ritual element of the soundscape. I wanted to give a mystical quality to the scene, so I experimented with elements such as a limited colour palette with tonal values rising from the tree to create a dramatic glowing effect, casting the gathering figures in darkness.

To be honest, I did not get to do as much as I originally intended for the project, although I am satisfied to an extent with what I produced, I wanted to explore so much more. Perhaps I may return to the project at some point, although now its time to move on and get cracking with the second year.

Wish me luck!