Thursday, June 5, 2008

Animation Forum Workshop: Intro to Painter

Greg, aka Terro, who runs the Animation Forum, has been kind enough to make some top notch video tutorials on Corel Painter. In a recent expansion of the forum, Greg added workshops & virtual studios in an effort to encourage collaborations & such. To help get things started, he is hosting a workshop for painter, and if you have any interest at all I strongly suggest you check it out. Greg is a fantastic artist, and a particular whiz with painter. Right now there are 8 short videos already available, and more will follow. I'll be keeping track of my progress in the workshop here, but I hope some of you will give it a look yourselves & join in, I've learned a lot already & we're just getting started.

It's worth mentioning that you can follow along the lessons with the "essentials" version of painter that ships with most wacom tablets, so you don't need the full version to participate. There is also a 30 day trial of the fulll version available on the Corel site.

Here is my first attempt. The point here was to experiment with a few of the default brushes, create & use a few custom brushes, & get familiar with the program overall. That said there are plenty of problems with the composition of this piece, but that was pretty much secondary for this exercise. You'll see a stark contrast between the soft tones in the background with the harsh, bright wall in the foreground. Regardless, I'm absolutely in love with the brush I made for the wall. :) There are many cool things to do with this program & I'm barely scratching the surface. Let me know what you think & I hope to see you over at AF.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008


Someone posted this on the AF & I was just blown away. I need to watch this a million more times just to learn from it. There aren't many 10 minute animations on the web that keep me glued to the screen,... this one had my eyes popping out of my head for the entire duration. My only disappointment with it (more with myself) is that I don't understand French. I have no clue what is being said but the animation is so damn good it has me wanting to learn the language.

Here it is for your visual pleasure, the first couple minutes are build up, but it really starts around the 4 minute mark. Unfortunately embedding was disabled by the person who uploaded it, but here is the link. Enjoy!

I just read a translation of the speaker's words in the animation. It is available through the "more info" link on the youtube page. Once I read it I was even more blown away than before, in fact I was almost moved to tears. The artist Mathieu Labaye created it as a tribute to his father Benoit Labaye who was put in a wheelchair from multiple sclerosis and passed away from pneumonia at the age of 55. The voice in the animation is Benoit, and his words are beutiful, scary and full of wisdom that only comes at great personal cost. His words touched me for a number of reasons. While my father did not suffer from MS, he did have a disease which gradually robbed him of the ability to move and communicate, and it took place over an agonizingly slow 10 year period. Through that time, much like Benoit, he never lost "himself." He never became a different person, but the person he was was forced to exist and live for the most part within the confines of his own head. I can't relate to what it's like to live within such constrictions. As Benoit points out, none of us can unless we've been there. I can, however, recall many times when my father & I exchanged glances where I would say "I wish I could share this with you" and he'd seem to simply say "I know." Unfortunately we both knew it was impossible, but he accepted his condition with quiet grace & never a complaint. Benoit's words remind me a lot of my father & almost seem like something he would have said.

Aside from the connection to my father's illness, MS is also a disease that affects my life as my wife's mother has suffered with it for almost 20 years now, the last 9 of which have been in a wheelchair, & the last 4 of those years she has lived in an assisted living facility. To add to that, my wife was also diagnosed with MS a little over 2 years ago. Her symptoms have been mild (relatively) so far, but we both have a clear sense of reality & I know there is an additional fear for her because when she see's her mother she now feels like she is looking into her own future. I showed this to my wife in the hope's that she would find some inspiration from Benoit's words and Mathieu's tribute to him, I know I have, & I hope you can as well. Please take the time to read the translation and watch the animation, I think you will find it to be more than worth it.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Protect Your Rights - Write Your Congress Person!

There is a very disturbing piece of legislation before Congress right now regarding Orphaned Works. Orphaned works refer to ANY creative work, be it a drawing/painting/photograph/song etc. that is not officially copyrighted. As it stands right now, all of your own work is protected by copyright as soon as you make it, in this country and internationally as well. If you don't register your work and someone steals it, it might be more difficult for you to take action against them, but you still have the ability. This orphan works legislation proposes changing that, and in doing so robbing you, me, and countless others of our artistic & creative rights. The proposed bill would force artists to register EVERYTHING they create with private registry companies. That means every sketch, photo, song etc that you create will have to be registered or it will be considered an "Orphaned Work" and therefore be fair game for any person or company to profit from. Scarier still, if someone found one of your orphaned works, they could register it themselves, then later sue YOU for using YOUR OWN WORK!

Here is what will take place if this passes: Private registry companies (who knows how many) will begin popping up. In fact, a couple are already set up & ready to go if the bill becomes law. They have owners with names like Bill Gates. Now, however many private registry companies emerge is interesting, because artists will have to register with ALL of them - yes, ALL of them, in order to protect their work. If there were 10 registry companies & you registered your work with 9 of them, the 10th could call your work an orphan work, take it, and profit from it.... LEGALLY!!! As if that isn't bad enough, what about the price? Even if it cost just $5 per copyright, that would be $50 just to protect one photograph. At a conservative estimate, I publicly post a couple hundred photos a year, plus countless drawings & animations, do the math. The term "starving artist" is about to take on a whole new & entirely scary meaning. Basically no one but high end studios and well established professionals will be able to stay in business. People like myself who are aspiring freelance artists will have to aspire to new careers, this bill will crush us if it passes.

Oh and I almost forgot, all these new registry companies will be just that - NEW COMPANIES..... so what reassurance do we have that they will actually protect our work for a year? 10 years? 50? Will they still even exist? What track record of performance do they have to show that I can put my trust in as an artist?

If you don't think this applies to you, you are wrong. Even if you just email a few family photos here & there, there is nothing to say you won't see them in a magazine or advertisement - generating money that you will never see. The people that want this law to pass (big business, on-line art wholesalers etc) will claim that there is no interest in small time stuff like that - they will be lying. They don't want your photos etc. right now because they'd have to pay for them, but that won't be the case if they all become orphaned works. I can tell you right now if I owned a registry company I would most definitely have a department that did nothing but search for & claim orphaned works. The possibilities for using them are endless, compiling calendars, making advertisements, photos in books, logos, background music for films, commercials or anything else.... the list goes on, and I'm not even close to being a savvy business person.

The potential repercussions of this bill are terrible, which is why I'm asking for your support & your voice. Please contact your congress person & tell them why you think this will do more harm than good. It doesn't have to be a long letter or anything, but sincerity is a plus. Even if you truly don't think this applies to you but you give a damn about people like myself who would like to continue pursuing their creative aspirations - tell your congress person that. It will be a great help & you have my thanks.

Here is a link to a longer article on this topic from Animation World Magazine if you desire to read further on the subject.

Here is a link to the contact information of your congress person .

Thank you all for your time & your help. I wouldn't send this if it wasn't important to me & many others. If it is not too much trouble, please pass this info along with the links to anyone you can, the more the better. If the Orphaned Works bill becomes law, the internet at large will quickly become a MUCH less creative and interactive place.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Homework assignment - Self Portriat

Allow myself to introduce... myself...

This week's homework was a self portrait. I'm pretty damn pleased with it so far, just need to finish the shading at this point. Here are the first & second passes on this WIP. Should only need one more sitting to finish this off. I'll post the final when I do.
The first pass is 4 scans patched together, the second one I got lazy & just took a photo, so it's a bit yellow but you can see the differences I think.

Crits & comments welcome as always.

1st version:

2nd version:

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Another BG Concept

As you know (or don't) I'm using photo references from my local trout stream for the BG's on my project. When I took the pics, one series was me standing still (more or less) & taking shots as I rotated about 270 degrees or so. I didn't really have the intention of one giant panning BG when I took them, but after reading this thread a few times the idea of connecting the pics was too much to resist.

Since I didn't take them with this purpose in mind, they don't all overlap perfectly, but it's enough to get the idea & I should be able to keep perspective when I paint. Anyway, the intention is for the pan to create the illusion of the viewer turning & looking around 270 degrees. I may go take one or two more shots for the full 360, but this works for now. It will take a while to paint I'm sure, but once done I'll be able to use this BG for the vast majority of my toon, the total dimensions right now are in the range of 11,000 x 2,300 pixels. Each pic was 1600 x 1200 originally, but most were resized or rotated when putting them together.
I'm curious what people think, forgive the ugly camera movement, this was just a quick test. I may tweak the allignment of some of the pics as well.

Here ya go:

Link to fullscreen


Some people have been having trouble viewing the .swf, so here is a QT version that you should be able to see. Not sure what the problem was, but let me know if you can't see this one.

Link To QT Version

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Second Life Drawing Session

Got a couple more hours at class today to finish up with our model. I tried correcting a few mistakes from last week, more successfully in some areas than others. Was tough because his pose was just slightly different this week, as was my angle I'm sure, so connecting this week's hand to last week's wrist was tricky & it looks pretty sloppy in spots.

That said I'm really quite happy with it. Ran out of time before I could fully render it, so there isn't much detail. Only made one pass with an "F" pencil to block in tones. If I had time I'd have gone back over the whole thing, add details & push the shadows & highlights more, but this is what I got done & I don't want to keep working on a life drawing when the model is gone. Feels sac religious somehow.

Here it is then, let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Portrait Practice

Working more on my portraits. Started off liking this one, ended up sort of hating it. I'm sure in a couple days I'll feel somewhere in between. Did this from a photo, it's a friend of mine from the Animation Forum. I'd like to start doing portraits more often, I know it's not animation, but I really enjoy them. Too bad mine never quite look like the people they're portraits of lol.
Anyway, here goes this attempt, c&c's welcome as always.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Final - I think

Here's what I think is going to be the final version of my first Falling Rock BG. At this poin I'm not really sure what to add & am afraid I'll do more harm than good. Seems like a good time to call it a finished piece... Any accessories or moving pieces I'll add in Toon Boom or Pencil. I might mix it up a bunch with the bitmaps & vectors... we'll see. Long way to go before I worry about that. So until my next posting, let me know what you think of this one. Comments on the texture & such would be particularly helpful as I'm thinking of doing the rest of my planned BG's in the same style of mixed media. Does it work for you in general?

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Update on BG WIP

Went at my background wip for a bit today. Just added some lights & darks really & worked on the reflection in the water. Pretty happy with it, I think I'd just like to further define the overhang of the embankment. It needs some grass or twigs hanging over in places & maybe some roots & such popping out of the dirt as well. I'll post that when it's finished, but in the meantime, let me know what you think of this version.

And another version using Squirlz Water Reflections (link on right side of page). Let me know what your thoughts are on the effect here. I can tinker with it more, but in general does it add appeal or detract from the painted look of the image?
Here's the link.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Nude Life Drawing Session

We had a nude model at class today, he'll be back again next week so this is a WIP. Just tried to get the general form down today, next week I can work on shading & details.

I got a lot from this session, next week if we get have enough time I may ask him to do some quick gesture poses. I'm enjoying the life drawing stuff, but I'd like to do some looser stuff as well. I think some 30 sec to 3 min gestures would be fun.

So here's what I got done today, I made him a little thicker in the waist & legs than he really is, but I think my proportions still fit in with human anatomy, or pretty close at least. Would love any crits & comments as always, I feel pretty good about where this is headed & think I can produce a quality finished product. Here's hoping...

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Profile Drawing

Here's my latest homework assignment, a drawing of someone from a profile view. I ended up drawing my wife because I waited til the last minute. Nothing against drawing her, but when you try to capture someone close to you on paper I often find it a struggle to keep all my preconceived notions of what they should look like out of my head. It's easier for me to just draw what I see when it is a total stranger or acquaintance. I don't think I'm alone in that problem though, so it's no big deal, & drawing Erin was probably great practice.

Couple parts of it I caught in the high-res scan that I hadn't noticed on paper. For instance, the contrast between the shadow & highlight on her upper lip is too stark. Also I could have done better on her cheek. Overall though I'm pretty pleased. Would love to get some feedback as always, so please fire awawy with any crits or comments.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Background WIP

Here's something I've been messing with in Painter lately. I'm half working on the painting itself & half just getting used to various brushes in Painter, so it contains a wide variety of mixed media right now, but that's fine with me. I like how it's taking shape so far, & I'm definitely getting more comfortable in Painter. I'm only using the "Essentials" version that came with my wacom right now, but I can see a future investment in Painter X for sure, I like it far better than PS for drawing/painting. I've used it for a few things before but mainly stuck with a small array of chalks & watercolors. I've been trying to expand my toolkit so to speak with this piece & I'm glad I'm doing it.

I used a lot of impasto oil brushes & palette knives for the ground, as well as some oil pastels on the trees (will probably use more of these to add definition to the ground). I also used some watercolors in various places as well, mostly with a very low alpha to help with the water.

Anyway, this piece will most likely find a home as a BG scene in the Falling Rock project I'm working on . Would love to hear what you think as always, especially if you see something that looks drastically wrong, as this is still a WIP, please let me know so I can fix it before I get too far off on the wrong track.

Other than that, what do you think of the overall look? Does the combination of media work for you? Just curious as I'll probably take a similar approach to the other BG's I have planned. This one & the others are all from photo references. I took a bunch of pics at my favorite trout stream & based this painting off one of them. Didnt trace, but tried to keep it pretty accurate. Anyway, hope people like it, I'm very curious about your opinions, so please feel free to leave feedback.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Concept Art

Was continuing to mess around with Pencil today & ended up with a scene I may use as a BG for a project I'm getting started with. I'm going to animate the story of Falling Rock. Not sure how many people are familiar with it, but it's a story that I believe originated in the Boy Scouts. I thought for years that my father had made it up, but after some research I found other re-tellings of it around the net.

The versions I found vary greatly & were all interesting reads that just made me appreciate the oral tradition even more. Anyway, the common theme in all of them is that they take place in a mountainous area, and they involve an Indian by the name of Falling Rock. Sometimes he's a boy, sometimes a man, sometimes anywhere in between. In my version, he was always a boy, probably because my dad kept him around my own age to keep me interested. If you live or have traveled anywhere near a mountain region in the U.S., then you've probably seen a sign that says "Look Out For Falling Rock." The short, short version of the story is that the boy grows up the son of a Chief, and learns the ways of the tribe as he grows. Eager to impress his father & show his strength, he goes off to hunt on his own & never returns. The tribe searches endlessly for him & go so far as to have signs posted to keep people on the watch for him.

It's really a great story & one that I was old a hundred times in my youth. I think it will make a great animated piece, I only hope I can do it justice. Anyway, here's the sketch I scribbled out today, obviously needs refinement, but I like it as a start.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Just Messing Around

Well I was playing with a new program I downloaded recently called Pencil. It's free, open source, and the code is available (in fact I think they are looking for programming help). The main thing that attracted me to Pencil is the fact you can draw & animate both bitmaps and vector shapes. I think this is one hell of a feature, especially for a free program.

I really haven't spent much time playing with it yet, but I can say I'm a big fan of the drawing tools, particularly on bitmap layers. The pencil tool itself serves different functions depending if you're drawing on a bitmap or vector layer. On bitmaps layers it behaves beautifully like a pencil, & is one of the most natural feeling drawing tools I've come across yet. On vector layers, the pencil serves much like the stroke tool in TBS, it draws invisible lines that make borders you can fill in with the paint bucket.

The coloring tools in pencil are limited but ok. The palette is very basic to start, but you can add custom colors and save palettes as well so it's no big deal. I didn't do much coloring in Pencil, but I did find a look I really like by sketching in Pencil on a bitmap layer, then exporting as a series of PNGs. I then imported these into TBS & added a drawing layer underneath where I added color. The animation is very simple, just 3 drawings, & the eye itself could be better for sure, but the overall look is very pleasing to me & I think I'll be attempting more stuff in this style.

I'd love to hear what people think, so feel free to leave crits & comments.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Some Studies...

Didn't realize how badly I've been slacking on keeping content on here. Sorry about that..., been pretty busy at home & work lately & back in school as well, but I'll try to have fresh content more frequently.

Here are a couple of eye studies, a couple WIP character designs, and a poor attempt at a portrait. Pretty happy with most of it except the portrait. I'll give myself some slack as it's the first one I've tried in probably 10 years or more, but still, even my untrained eye can see it's waaaaaaay off from the reference pic. As a stand alone illustration though it's not that bad, almost looks more like a caricature than a portrait, which would be cool if I had been trying to draw a caricature lol. I'll include the ref pic so you can beat me up more easily. Please fire away with crits & comments, I need them!

Oh & here's a few more bits of classwork, some contour drawings & hatching:

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Updated Link for Cut Out Tutorial

Due to wildly popular demand by upwards of two people, here are new links to the cut out tutorials. Apparently some people have had trouble with the putfile links, so I uploaded the tut to my site. Here's the catch - the new links are going to be very temporary. I'll keep them up as long as I can, space permitting, but the files are quite huge & I can't keep them on my site forever. I will look into other video hosting sites though in the meantime & of course will do my best to keep them available. Hope they are helpfull, feel free to ask any questions. Also it's worth noting that these were done using TBS version 3.5. Everything still applies, but if you're using version 4.0 the interface may look different. Also apologies for the quality of the first one, I think you can still make everything out, but it's litterally the difference between a 20mb SWF file & a 345mb AVI. 345mb?!?!?! yeah.... anyway if the quality suffices I may be able to host them longer than I thought. Here ya go:
*edit* The first part is an swf, second one is wmv. They are both pretty big so they may take a little while to load, part 1 in particular, but they work I checked both.

Part 1

Part 2

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Challenge Results & Other "News"....

Well the results are in, and the winner is.... Fernando Porcel! (see last post). You can check out his entry along with the other winners Here There were a lot of good ones & all the winners deserve a congrats. Ferx scored himself a copy of digicel flipbook lite, so I'm sure he'll have some new stuff for us soon.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... I just got some good news today, I'm officially enrolled in school again, pursuing a B.A. in Digital Arts. I work at a university so the price is right, & while they don't have an animation major here per se, the Dart program does involve a few animation classes. Plus I'm going to learn loads of stuff I need to know whether they are artistic or technical skills. I'm really pumped about getting started, it was looking like I was too late for this semester, but they hooked me up :). I start Thursday with a drawing class that I'm very much looking forward to. Really psyched to get some formal education behind the past year's hobby.

So that's my big news, I can now at least guarantee a certain amount of work over the next few months & I'll be sure to post my progress through the drawing class. For now, here's a little drawing I did last night. Took roughly 45 min, but I had to get up a few times while working on it, so that's just a guess. Not thrilled with it, but it's O.K. I didn't get to finish the basket, & the bananas need a lot of love. In my defense though the general darkness around the left & bottom edges is a result of bad scanning, the BG is really a pretty even tone of grey. Crits & comments are most welcome.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Mmmmm... Eye Candy

Here is a piece from a good friend of mine, Fernando "Ferx" Porcel. He entered this in a recent challenge at the CG Society, and I can only hope he won (if he didn't then something just isn't right in the world). I was so blown away by this that I felt the need to help spread it around so that other people can enjoy it as well.
He calls it "Lobsters For Dinner" and there is a short story that goes with the painting. You can read the narrative HERE. I believe he worked on this for about 2 months, and it shows. I'm not art critic, but this looks like a snapshot from a Disney movie or something of equal caliber. Enjoy it, I'll be sure to pass along any comments to Fernando.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Walk Cycle Final

Finished the walk finally! Pretty happy with it, although there are still things I could improve on for sure. But this is what I handed in for the Winter Challenge . I'll post an update with the results when they come in, but in the meantime let me hear what you think! Oh & do check out the other entries, there are some really good ones & the competition will be tough to judge I'm sure.

Here's a link to the fullscreen version

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Getting there...

Yet another update on the walk cycle. I keep falling in & out of love with it now, I think I've just been staring at the same thing for too long. I was absolutely hating it last night, but then I got some really good feedback this morning, so maybe I was being a bit hard on myself. Regardless, it's still not where I want it to be, but it is getting closer. I should be able to get it done to my liking in the near future.

Here are 2 versions of the walk. First is 28 frames looping on 1's, then 56 frames looping on 2's. I also did a quick & dirty BG in TBS based on the sketch in my previous post. Ultimately I'd like to animate most of the BG elements to make the world seem "alive," but I'm not going to worry about that until the walk is where I want it. It's not a BG contest afterall...

I'm very curious to hear opinions on these, especially in terms of fast vs slow. Everytime I look at it again I like a different version, & I'm having trouble deciding. Is it too fast on 1's? Too slow on 2's? Aaaaaahhhhh!!! *pulls hair out* Well, whatever I go with I just hope I get it looking good by the end. I've already learned a lot through the 6 million mistakes I've corrected already & there are plenty more to go... So in the meantime, please give me your thoughts on the 2 versions.
On 1's

On 2's

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