Friday, 25 March 2011

Creature Discomforts

Here are some more indeterminable creatures following on from last week's, using a significantly different colouring process. This relies heavily on public domain watercolour textures that I've been playing about with since slapping together the "Book of Women" album artwork. I don't really have any planned projects that involve them (their main purpose is to add more contemporary content to my portfolio) but I could see them as part of something targeted toward younger audiences. I'm pretty pleased with how they came out and how not-my-usual-style they seem so I might just sell the images as a series of prints.

Here's a sped-up vid that more or less shows the process, taking one of the uglier initial sketches and making it look sort of passable through textures and relief shadows. Actually kind of an effective cure for a hungover Sunday afternoon.Speaking of Christmas-themed animation, which I absolutely wasn't, the second edition of the Cagliari-based Skepto International Film Festival will be screening "The Naughty List" on April 9th. As with Salento Finibus Terrae, it's an Italian fest which also screened a short of mine the previous year ("Ground Running" in this instance) which fills me with fuzzy warm validation and seasonal cheer.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


It's becoming increasingly apparent that this planet has finally acknowledged that the human race is a disease, and its immune system is doing its damnedest to get rid of us. Beautiful in its way, when you take a step back and observe the Earth's biological cleansing as a miracle of nature our heads will never truly be able to wrap around. Of course, being in the thick of it, the general attitude is less one of quiet awe than a kind of screeching, repeated "HOLY SHIT WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE WE'RE ALL FUCKED IT'S ALL OVER WE'RE GONERS AND I NEVER FULFILLED MY LIFELONG AMBITION OF INVENTING TIME TRAVEL AND PERSUADING L7 CIRCA 1992 TO DEFILE ME!!!"
Or something to that effect.
Of course, it may all just simmer down...but I dunno...worldwide tragedy and devastation's stock is definitely on the up these days. Haiti, Brazil, New Zealand, Japan and now Rebecca Black. All of a sudden this 2012 shit is starting to seem more feasible.
My impulse whenever things get too real is to bury my head in the sand and focus on the inconsequential drivel of my cartooney nonsense. It's called 'being a grownup'. Or 'being alarmingly disconnected and childish', whatever melts your butter.To that end I'm putting some time into colouring in some random character designs I whipped up over the new year, mainly to balance out my in-development portfolio that's quite people-heavy and animals/creatures light.

This first batch are for an as-yet-undetermined project I'm referring to as 'Brimstone', which will take place in Hell (oddly appropriate given, y'know, it's the apocalypse right now) or possibly a similar, non-theological underworld-type setting.
While I like the line art quality of these characters, others I've designed I feel lend themselves to different colouring/texturing approaches. I'm still finalising how they'll be grouped (many thanks to Maria, Jo, Natalie and Nusha for the feedback in this respect) but here are some to give you an idea:

Friday, 18 March 2011

Springtime Santa

As the Stuttgart Animation Festival draws incrementally closer and my excitement manifests itself as a series of unsettling girlish squeals, flights are booked, screening copies are delivered and I now know "The Naughty List" will be shown on Friday May 6th as part of the International Panorama at 11pm. Venue details to follow.Meanwhile the film is continuing to garner screenings and friendly feedback across the globe, with another US airing tomorrow (19th) afternoon as part of the Charleston Film Festival in South Carolina.Heading further North in April it'll be shown at Canada's Dawson City International Short Film Festival. Yukon ho! It is nice to get some Canuck exposure, here's hoping it'll contribute to me someday getting a screening in Montreal.Some particularly splendid news is that the film will be part of Salento Finibus Terrae in Apulia, Italy. This is the second consecutive year a film of mine has been part of the festival after "House Guest" was featured in their 2010 edition. This will happen sometime in the second half of July, as always the specifics will be posted when I know them.
May your weekend be grand and gluttonous!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

My Pretties...

I've had a few (as in literally three) emails from people who have noticed that, of late, my main website URL just links directly to this blog. The simple reason behind it is that the Great G5 Crash of 2010 took out all my website source files and assets. While the pages that were already uploaded survived, it's rendered the updating process a chore that'd take the same effort as redesigning the site from scratch which, to be honest, is the better idea. I liked the way last year's site came out and it was a valuable project in terms of getting acclimated to Actionscript 3.0, but it was pretty dense and I think a series of separate sites that cut through the treacle would serve me better professionally.
To that end I'm putting together a new design portfolio that will filter out a great deal of my earlier work and focus more on commissions of late. As my animation work has increased, there have been a fair few graphic/illustration offshoots including character design work. Digging through external hard drives and backup DVDs I've been piecing together the ones that stand out and, in my mind, go together well. Here's the first smattering, from my favourite project of 2010, Channel 4's 'SuperMe'. These were all partially inspired by the young Bristolian clubgoing contingent, glimpsed spilling out of pubs/clubs/taxis/clothing at 3am when their nights are just beginning and tired old men like me are headed home, judging them sanctimoniously while my memory glosses over the many years in which I behaved just as cretinously.

Of the twelve designs, the bottom two were the ones that ended up being used. The other short I animated for the project made use of all the proposed designs as it took place in a populated nightclub, though some are only glimpsed briefly or in the shadows.

These are twenty-one of nearly a hundred designs for people alone, so it's very possible that once I've amassed them all I'll need to do some filtering. If you have any thoughts about which characters are more expendable don't feel shy about letting me know. There are also less proliferate sections for 'Animals' and 'Things' which I'll have ready soon. Meanwhile I'll bow out with some adorable transvestism:

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Such Is Life

Cheltenham College, a lovely place knowing that I never have to set foot inside it.

Every once in a while my old secondary school sends out alumni newsletters and magazines, defying my seemingly logical assumption that Cheltenham College crumbled to dust after I left. Apparently it has soldiered on without me, the photogenic contingent of its pupils beaming with enthusiasm and joie de vivre, unaware of the nightmarish, painful, unfulfilling life to come.
I liked school. I was a 300lb potato that stayed very still and as such was somewhat invisible, save for the odd musical or theatrical endeavour. Scholastically I was mediocre at best, and for a long time I looked back on those years as being creatively stifling. To be honest they weren't at all, if it wasn't for the excruciating dullness of the regimented curriculum I wouldn't have felt as motivated to skive off and instead spend time doing comics and attempting to make and sell music online. The staff weren't exactly supportive but they weren't dicks about it either. I think on some level we all understood that if I was ever going to do well it would be from uni onward. Fortunately that turned out to be the case.
My only real gripe was with the head of the art department who insisted I shouldn't be allowed to take Art as a GCSE subject because I was bad at sculpting, which seemed like counterproductive logic; I was way worse at declining participles, but the bastards made me take Latin. I ended up taking Art History for A levels which I loved, I still sucked grades-wise but it cemented my affection for Bacon, Freud, Hockney et al. I wasn't too thrilled at having to stare directly into the anuses of Tracey Emin or Gilbert & George, but those are sacrifices every young schoolboy has made, I'm sure.
Now it seems like decades later (it's actually been about eight and a half years) and I'm still kind of playing catchup. When I approached "House Guest" it was from a background in design, motion graphics and recreational webcomics. There was a huge gap in terms of formative artistic education that it helped to fill, my subsequent films contributing likewise, but I'm sure there are tells to those who know their stuff that I'm winging it from time to time.
My main attempt to amend this is to do more life drawing, which I stupidly didn't do nearly enough of when at UWE. Fortunately, Bristol being the artsy town that it is, there are semi-regular sessions dotted about the place.

You can tell I have nil confidence in faces (yet I'm inexplicably attentive to detail when it comes to bottoms and boobs, odd that*) and anatomical perspective is a brutally uphill battle, but given it's early days I'm quite happy with how it's coming along.

*Chill out, it's not friggin' sacrosanct.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

As the feathers settle

A week after going up, "Chicken Chokes You" has amassed 1000+ views across YouTube and Vimeo. In the world of online video that's obviously a mere drop in the ocean but for me it represents a big leap forward. While it's admittedly riding the coattails of Yimmy and the b-b-boys, the feedback regarding the animation itself has been really encouraging. Many thanks again to everyone who passed it on, yellow treats for all!
To karmically balance out the universe following a week of vainglorious self-promotion, here are a bunch of other O&A animations from a while back that stand out to me. I'd say it's a safe bet that very few of these are safe for work:

There, that dirty feeling's starting to abate now...