The Wolves Within - Animatic

Initial animatic for The Wolves Within. Jolanta has also made a version of the animatic (technically version 1) over here, so be sure to check it out.

A number of changes/tweaks come to mind while putting together this initial animatic, so except some further developments. The sound is temporary for the moment, but it serves to capture the sort of tone we're trying to achieve. Its not fully confirmed yet, but we'll most likely need a sound guy to help create the soundtrack for us (students welcome) - so drop a comment or email if you're interested.

The Wolves Within - Update

Lots of activity over at The Wolves Within - I'm just updating things over here.

Refined Approach + Storyboard
In transcribing the original Cherokee tale of Two Wolves, our idea now consists of a race between the two wolves of good and evil, as they seek to control and dominate our actions by reaching the metaphorical representation of the human soul/psyche first (currently represented as a Native American Doll).

Throughout the race, we will see the wolves’ effects on the neutral landscape of the inner psyche; where the evil wolf brings chaos and destruction, the later brings harmony and life. Neither wolf will gain a decisive advantage, culminating to a stand-off between the two wolves. This in turn reflects the eternal strife within us where our conscience seeks to guide us to do right or wrong.

With this narrative in mind, Jolanta and I have been working on some thumbnails and storyboards which you may have seen earlier. Here we have arranged our ideas together to form our preferred approach thus far.

Essentially, the race is broken down into three acts: the evil wolf initially takes the lead demonstrating his destructive effects to the environment, then the good wolf later manages to take the lead restoring life to landscape, before finally culminating to a stand-off between the two wolves as they approach their goal.

More to come as we'll begin to form some concept art and animatics.


Some work in progress storyboards

Initial thumbs

Further references


Freud's Id, ego, super-ego
In discussion of the very core of our narrative, we found that it captures the essence of the conscience seeking to direct our lives and goals, not dissimilar to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis of the id, ego and super-ego. While not straying too far from the point, we briefly drew parallels from Freud’s theories to elements of our narrative.

The evil wolf comes to represent the dark, inaccessible part of the Id, where primal instincts drive the subject to satisfy pleasures and desires in complete disregard to all else. The evil wolf brings chaos and destruction to the environment with its relentless pursuit of its goal.

Conversely, the good wolf can come to reflect the Ego, as it seeks to control the Id’s primal instincts. It too desires to control the human psyche, but to suit long term benefits as reflected in its restoration of life to the surrounding environments.

Lastly, the super-ego is found in the culmination of the human soul and psyche of the Native American doll. Being influenced by both id and ego (the two wolves in this case), it strives to maintain a balance to suppress the unacceptable urges of the id and make the ego act upon idealistic standards rather than on simple realistic principles. It is present in the conscious, preconscious and unconscious.

This helps to discern the essence of what each element in our narrative may come to represent.

Cultural Perceptions of Wolves

A collection of research investigating some of the cultural perceptions and symbolisms surrounding wolves. This is key in influencing and informing our designs.

With European imagination, wolves long stood as a symbol of bane being uncontrollable nature. The Bible describes Jesus as the shepherd protecting his herd of sheep from the wolf, signifying the wolf as a symbol of sin and prurient influence (John 10:12). Wolves in literature also do not fair well, often being wicked villains as long fanged, terrible beasts, with examples in Grimms' Fairy Tales of the big bad wolf in Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs.

In Roman mythology, the Wolf symbol appears with the founders of Rome with the twins Romulus and Remus. Being cast out by their great uncle Amulius, the two founding brothers were adopted by a she-wolf known as Lupa. Otherwise, they have become as symbols associated with the Gods of war, Ares and Mars.

In Norse mythology, the Wolf is a symbol for victory when ridden by Odin and the Valkyries upon the battlefield. It often includes the legend of three malevolent wolves Fenrir, Sköll and Hati, where the tale suggests that Fenrir will have grown so large that his upper jaw touches the sky while his lower touches the earth when he gapes. Otherwise, the wolves Geri and Freki were Odin's faithful pets, becoming a sign of good omen.

As a Celtic symbol, the Wolf was a source of lunar power. Two wolves drive the time as they chase the sun and moon. Celtic lore states that the Wolf would hunt down the sun and devour it at each dusk so as to allow the power of the moon to come forth.

In Asia, the wolf guards the doors that allow entrance to heavenly, celestial realms. The Wolf is also said to be among the ancestry of Genghis Khan. Grain farmers once worshiped wolves at shrines and left food offerings near their dens, beseeching them to protect their crops from wild boars and deer; where talismans adorned with images of wolves were used as charms to ward against calamities such as fire and disease, as well as bringing fertility to crops and couples.

Native American Culture
Wolves held a special place in almost all Native American tribes, being admired for their strength, endurance and hunting skills. They taught the tribes about sharing, cooperating while hunting and looking after the young, caring and having pride in their tribes. They showed the Indians how to move in the forests - carefully and quietly. The hunters looked for signs of them, for when game was scarce, the wolves would be gone. And after killing the prey, a good hunter always left a piece of meat behind.

For the Cherokee tribe, they would never kill a wolf, believing the spirit of the slain wolf would revenge its death. The Cherokee also believed that if a hunter showed respect and prayed before and after killing an animal, the deer, wolf, fox, and opossum would guard his feet against frostbite.

The Native American symbol/carving of the Wolf:

Symbolising intelligence, leadership, a strong sense of family, guardianship, ritual and spirituality.

Revered because it was a good hunter, the wolf symbolizes cunning and was often associated with a special spirit a man had to acquire to become a successful hunter. As Wolves mate for life and live in close family units usually traveling in packs, they are regarded as a family-oriented symbol in West Coast Native culture. Wolf is the land manifestation of the Killer Whale as they mate for life, protect their young and do not separate from their families.

Upon looking at further symbols of Native American culture, I found an interesting example concerning The Twins.

Portrayed in most emergence or creation stories, they illustrate the concept of duality in life. In the natural world everything exists in balance: male & female, large & small, light & dark & good & evil. The twins are usually shown as boys or short men who overcame great odds to defend the people from all enemies, drought, attack from other beings, animals, or many other problems. Here they are depicted as Father Sky & Mother Earth from a Navajo sand painting.

Again, the idea of twins arises to reflect the duality of good and evil; they are part of the same and perhaps together form as one.

Cry of Wolves:
Totem Wolf Symbols:
Meaning Wolf:
Wolves and Christianity:
Symbols of West Coast Native Art:
Wolves Spirit Meanings:

Discussing Approaches

There’s been much discussion over the approach of our idea in The Wolves Within. Here I’ll try to surmise our line of thinking thus far.

Our idea is to illustrate the story of the Two Wolves with an animation that captures a frozen moment of time between the two wolves. Theatrical camera movement and staging of characters and props will be used to unravel the story, akin to Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and animations such as Apnee. This is to reflect the inner space within us, and perhaps the theatrical performance of the stage. The passage of time can be reflected with careful and seamless editing of frozen moments, not dissimilar to the idea of a modern La Jetée of sorts.

Only a select few of the qualities describing the wolves that echo the lines of good vs evil, will feature in our character and environment designs. For example:

Good Wolf
Peace, Benevolence, Love, Hope

Evil Wolf
Anger, Hate, Arrogance, Greed

These will be grounded with Native American culture and influences to reflect the philosophical origins of the tale.

Objects/props can help illustrate the two polar opposites. For instance, a Native American doll is presented to the two wolves where one is shown to care for the doll, the other destroys it, before descending into a final frame of eternal conflict. Acts such as this will help provide resonances of the ‘evil’ twin, sibling rivalries or the Doppelganger into the mix, reflecting the notion of the battle between good and evil raging within us.

Hope this clears things up a bit.

Wolf Sketches/Reference

Just some studies of wolf anatomy as I've been collecting reference material for The Wolves Within project.


The Wolves Within

Our group blog for the project is live over at the - be sure to follow it!

The idea for our third project is to transcribe a Cherokee legend known as the Wolves Within. The short tale describes the potential for good and evil inside all of us, with metaphorical descriptions of two wolves.

The Wolves Within

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is
anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed..."


From this, we aim to focus on Character and Environment Design of the two wolves specifically, reflecting their polar opposites of good and evil as defined by the tale. Where the final piece will be a culmination of the two as a final still, as well as a diorama of sorts as a piece of time based media to further capture and illustrate our designs.

In this way, we will be able to focus specifically on improving our techniques on character and environment design, rather than be over-burdened with technical aspects such as rigging. We are also keen to effectively integrate software such as ZBrush into our pipeline to further develop our skills in this regard. Essentially, the main challenge arises in creating unique and interesting concepts and designs that capture the prescribed nature of the wolves, while avoiding simply creating two generic wolves.


This is the initial proposal of our idea so far, so things may get tweaked after some feedback. I will still be keeping things up to date over here, but be sure to follow our group blog for all the complete updates.

Dawn of the Third Year

The third year is upon us! I'm delighted to say that I will be working with Jolanta Jasiulionyte for our first project of the third year. We've been discussing ideas and have settled on a Cherokee legend to transcibe from, forming our project title as 'The Wolves Within'. More on than that later as I intend to get a more detailed post going.

Over the summer, I've mainly been chipping away at the dissertation, getting to grips with some tutorials and software such as ZBrush, and generally enjoying my time off. I've made a few tweaks updating things here and there on the blog which I'll hope you approve of. Other than that, its time to get things going on here!