Movement, Story & Structure: Developing the 'identity' idea

I've been exploring the idea of masks more and more, trying to develop a simple scenario in which emotional baggage could cause conflict. My initial thoughts, as suggested by members of the brainstorming groups, was to simply portray a number of family arguments perhaps caused by physical conflict of the gigantic mask bags they lug around with them. Perhaps a wife is trying to wash up with her bag beside her, her husband hauls his onto the worktop and breaks a plate, a fight breaks out, a cat steals a mask — that kind of thing. I didn't feel it was strong enough though — there wasn't so much of a meaning I could try to express. It just felt to me like a family wearing a bunch of masks and arguing.

I also tried toying with the idea of the businessman again — perhaps he's stopped taking his 'work face' off at home and his wife is sick of it. There could be pictures on the walls of happier times as she remembers the man he used to be? Again, though, quite a generic message and I was having difficulty deciding how to portray it visually.

I started toying with the idea that the masks don't have to be conventional masks at all — they don't even have to be human. Masks have always been thought of or used to disguise one's true intentions or identity, often so they fit in with another crowd —

Masks contain complete social schemas. Others look at the mask and understand what it represents and know what mask to wear themselves. [...] Masks thus protect the person and facilitate interaction with others. I wear a mask in different situations to be the person I want to be there.


Pretty much what I wanted to express. People project themselves differently depending on who they're with or what they want. A good example might be primary school where you get students segregated into clusters — anybody that doesn't slot into any of those groups is usually picked on. I've always thought of school kids as packs of animals or wolves — I thought that might make a nice metaphor? Wearing wolf or sheep masks?

I had a brief spark of an idea involving a kid being chased through the playground by a pack of 'wolves,' carrying his huge sack of identities, and trying to hide amongst the other 'animals' — but I didn't get very far with it. I think I'm straying too far from the original concept. I need to revert back to the 'domestic' concept. I'm just over-tired and in no fit state to think clearly. I've had a look at quite a bit of reference material, maybe I just need to take a step back and let it sink in?

Mr Stache

OK, this one's a bit sillier and it's not animation but it made me chuckle and it's quite a nice take on the theme of identity:

It was created from a very bizarre pitch received in a competition, in which a guy, staring deadpan into the camera, describes a "very serious drama about a guy who grows a mustache and everybody hates his mustache and he's sad because everyone hates his mustache." All's well, though, as our hero eventually finds acceptance in a girl… with a mustache.

It's totally silly but actually quite a refreshing look at the whole thing. Again, an example of a relatively simple concept executed with a bit more depth. It's quite dialogue-heavy, though that tends to be more for comedy value rather than story progression. I'd imagine you could tell a very similar story with no dialogue at all.

Café Bar

Another one from British Animation Classics — Café Bar by Alison de Vere.

I'm really liking the style — the inclusion of a mask is an added bonus — using colours to emphasise all the important or dreamlike segments, a ray of excitement in an otherwise bland existence, establishing false identities before finding acceptance in the mundane and regularity of everyday life.

The scene in the beginning where the man takes off his beard and glasses also got me questioning my use of masks and whether they have to be masks at all — could they not be props or costumes used to project a different identity? What if they weren't human masks? I think the biggest issue at the moment is that I'm trying to make a concept around a film rather than a film around a concept, causing me a bit of difficulty in actually progressing. It feels a bit like I'm creating symbols with nothing to actually symbolise. I think what I need is to take a few steps back and try to come up with a solid concept or theme. If I can summarise my intention — the message of the film — concisely in one sentence then it might be easier to start fitting the rest of the pieces into place.


Had an absolutely terrible time of it this afternoon, I don't know if my brain was just fried or what but I just could not get anywhere. I couldn't seem to hold an image in my brain — I've got a real headache now. And snow blindness from staring at a blank page.

Managed to get my hands on a copy of 'Oozat' though — featured on the British Animation Classics Volume 2 DVD. I had to watch it a couple of times to really 'get it' — it's actually pretty straightforward but I think I tried to over-analyse it the first time, looking too hard for some kind of deep and hidden meaning. I'm always afraid of seeming stupid so I tend to try too hard to 'get' things rather than taking them at face value. Sorry, rambling again! Melty brain no work good.

Anywho, there's a really imaginative use of masks here. I found it interesting how they were used to show expression and identity rather than conceal it — something I'd never considered before!

I was fairly surprised how close it was to my original idea — having the confusion with constantly switching identities rapidly is perfectly captured here and it's kept very simple with only a few characters. I tend to think too much about the larger mechanics of things and sometimes find it difficult to boil it down, so this is a very useful reference. It shows that you really don't need to go overboard with detail — you can summarise potentially complex relationships very quickly with only a few characters. Certainly something to bear in mind.

It's not really related but there was another great short I came across on the DVD — Manipulated by Daniel Greaves (also ex-Farnham!)

It's an absolutely fantastic piece of animation. Demonstrating an animator just having a bit of fun, with an astounding result. I think I've seen something similar before but I don't remember what it was called or who made it (how helpful) but it involved the animator interacting with a rabbit-like character? Always loved these kinds of animation — pure body language and character oozing from every orifice.

Movement, Story & Structure: 2nd brainstorming session & ideas feedback

Yet another intensive day (thinking hurts)! We had to present our three most robust ideas for feedback and decide on one to develop further in preparation for the pitch next Tuesday.

My three presented ideas were... varying in overall quality, I suppose is the diplomatic way to put it, two centring around identity and the last related to phobias.

My first idea I was initially quite keen on, as previously described I wanted to animate to a recorded interview — similar Aardman's 'Creature Comforts' shorts:

It's a great example of how the best comedy or the best ideas simply come from everyday life and conversation — people say the strangest things and sometimes just shifting the context can make such comments hilarious, poignant or even just depressing. Very witty use of characters and subject displacement — something as simple as a piranha with a toothache works really well. I suppose this is something I'd been hoping I might be able to emulate as well — but in hindsight it's a very different subject and it probably wouldn't have lead to the desired result.

I was thinking of asking people to describe a type of person, group of people or subculture and have the character be built, come to life and change in accordance with the given description. I thought this could have been pretty interesting but it was problematic in that I would have been very limited to what information I could get from interviews. The idea would depend almost entirely from what was given to me — it would have been difficult to plan and schedule for it, and even (as Andy suggested) trying to gently engineer the interviews to give the desired results would have been tricky.

The second idea was the one with the masks; Andy did note that it was the third mask idea he'd heard that day but wasn't terribly surprised as, with four fairly standard themes, common ideas were bound to occur. It is, after all, how you approach and present the idea that's most important. He liked my suggestion of a big bag of masks, being awkward to carry around, representing emotional baggage, and suggested that I condensed the idea down to a simple domestic situation with conflict caused by or involving this baggage, as opposed to having a big long tale of a man getting up, going to work and encountering lots of people. He mentioned I should look at the way Darren Walsh used masks in his graduate film 'Oozat' — so I'll be having a poke around for that.

The third idea was quite similar to the first in terms of execution. Rather than interviewing, I was thinking of simply having some sort of recorded voiceover giving a (fictitious) account of something that had happened to them — a typically 'adult' worry such as debt, redundancy, or some other difficulty but animating that as a child might understand it. I was intending to represent the idea that as we grow older, fears and phobias are commonly seen as something 'childish' or as a sign of weakness — by illustrating them from the innocent perspective of a child I'd hoped to suggest that we are all reduced to a childlike state in the face of fear or danger. The biggest problem with this though is that I wouldn't be writing something that I knew — having never experienced something like severe debt (for example) I'd probably end up giving a very shallow portrayal. I did have some things in my head that I thought could have worked fairly nicely — representing 'debt' (or whatever) as a big, scribbled monster destroying a house as the voiceover described how their family and home was lost — but, ultimately, I do completely agree and it wasn't an idea I felt was really 'working' for me.

I think I'll be sticking with my second idea. The tricky part is going to be coming up with a relatively simple set up and conflict with enough legs to work with. I've been toying around with different settings — an argument over breakfast, washing the dishes, a pub — but nothing's really been sparking my imagination so far. Hopefully a quick break will help!

'The Itch of the Golden Nit'

Interesting example of children's illustrations used in animation — this could be an interesting technique to use in contrast to some quite 'adult' phobias, such as debt, redundancy or getting old.

Phobias are often seen as something quite childish and even a sign of weakness — animating with contrastingly simplistic and childish drawings could represent the perceived innocence of fear, the idea that even the strongest and most authoritative of us are reduced to 'children' in the face of fear.


Really nice little animation I just found on Youtube... super-simple story, just over a minute long, in which a pint-size criminal spends the days leading to his impending execution avoiding everything electrical. I especially love the shower scene.

It's a simple idea but quite well executed! It brings to mind other situations in which you can play around with characters and unfortunate circumstances or conflicting situations — perhaps a vet that's afraid of dogs or a bird that's afraid of heights. The tricky part is keeping it simple and fitting it into a narrative...

Movement, Story & Structure: Post-briefing and initial thoughts

Straight into the new project and had a pretty intense brainstorming session. I managed to weedle out a few ideas that seem to have legs of some description, but generating ideas is very often a tricky process. I suppose the problem so far is that I'm too concerned with finding a "good" idea and am censoring myself too much, worrying that "this is stupid" or "that won't work."

We were given a set of four themes/working titles to play around with, all of which are broad enough to allow us creative freedom to do pretty much whatever we like but still providing us a good starting point:
  • Fears/phobias
  • A moment in time
  • Memory
  • Identity
  • A commercial
I found a commercial and a moment in time to be the trickiest. It seems that so far I'm attracted more to "identity" — I've always had a great interest in people, the ways in which they behave and why. I just love watching the way they interact with each other and figuring out exactly what makes them individual.

We've got to have at least three solid/robust ideas by tomorrow, ready to select one to roll with in preparation for (gulp) the big pitch next Tuesday. I'm a little apprehensive — how robust is robust? How fleshed out does it have to be? I suppose I can only do my best and just need to push my ideas as far as I can.

So far, the ideas that have really stood out to me amongst my masses of indecipherable scribblings have revolved around the identity theme, though I did have a vague sort of concept for phobias as well.

For the first, I was thinking of interviewing some people and asking them to describe a type of person — an old man, for example — and as they're describing his physical appearance he begins to be built on-screen (this could be using a multitude of techniques, such as drawing or collage from photographs) — and then as they proceed to describe his personality he begins to move to reflect that. For example "they're usually really slow and grumpy and are really rude!" This could also potentially introduce interactions with other characters (built in the same way) — e.g. "they hate young people." It would basically be examining the how different people perceive the same groups or individuals, etc. Kind of similar to Aardman's "Creature Comforts," in which a number of interviews with regular people on a variety of topics (doctors, housing, etc) are animated to using animal characters.

The second idea was more of a "conventional" narrative, about a man who works a very serious office job and has a number of cardboard "masks" he wears (each with a different face or expression) to suit a different social purpose — for example, one for work, one for his family, one for greeting a friend on the street, one for drinking with mates. Everybody in the world has a number of different personas or identities that they rapidly switch between to suit different purposes — a boy trying to pull an attractive girl will behave much differently than when he is with his family, for example. I was imagining the character repeatedly encountering different people throughout the course of his day and needing to change his mask to accomodate each situation.

The third idea was very similar to the first — again, involving interviews, this time asking children what they are afraid of/what frightens them most. It could be quite interesting to animate to this soundtrack using very child-like drawings. I'm really not sure about this one. It could be interesting but I don't feel it has as much weight as the other two?

I'm going to sit down and have a closer look at them though, see if I can pull them together more solidly. 

Animation practice: walk cycle V2 [clean]

Annnnd here's the clean version. Less clean/refined than the previous cycle, owing mainly to the fact that I made all corrections to the arms on the new "clean" layer, but there you go. Rather less pleased with this one than the last but it's quicker and more careless, so I'm not too upset about it. It's really just me playing around, trying to keep fresh, doing different things, etc. etc.

I seem to have a morbid fear of heads — again, he loses it in a few frames.

Comic: 28/01/2012

More comic fun. Honestly, mainly just an excuse to draw a skull! Nice to see my anatomy study from last summer paid off — cross-checked my drawing against a reference at the end and was pleasantly surprised to see that I'd kept (mostly) everything in the right place.

Again, that's supposed to be Jazzy... at least she looks vaguely human this time around!... (and not Amish) I suppose that, with hindsight, it's easier to caricature yourself. You don't need to worry about being too honest — though having said that I think I draw myself far too flatteringly. Need to up the ugliness ratio a touch!

I seem to be running out of things to say about these comics. Maybe that's a sign I'm not doing enough differently?

Animation practice: walk cycle V2

Another walk cycle, did this one pretty quickly and pretty much just made it up as I went along which explains why it's a bit squiffy. I think I've pretty much got a good grasp on leg movements now but I still seem to be having difficulty with the arms — practice makes perfect as they say! Going to try and fix the arms slightly on this one — there's a bit of a jump as he brings them forward and they extend to the furthest point too quickly so they're kind of delayed too long at the front... I know what I mean!

Comic: 27/01/2012

I'm going to consider this one an exercise in patience and consistency. Drawing the same thing consecutively and keeping it looking the same without going insane and taking 14 million hours. I'm trying to train myself to draw quickly and accurately — a useful skill to have at any rate, but also because I'm an impatient little sod.

Animation practice: walk cycle V1 [clean]

Made some slight corrections to the arm! I think it's a bit better now but I'm not entirely satisfied; it seems, to me, as if it goes back too far. If it went back a little less I could possibly have delayed it at its furthest point for just a little longer which would probably have looked better, but hey ho!

I also did a very quick cleaned up version:

I'm actually surprised by how it turned out — looks better than I thought it would! I forgot the head in some frames, because I am a big stupid face. The arms look a lot better in the clean version but I'm not at all sure why — I didn't change them at all?

Still, it was great practice and I feel that — looking at this compared to my early cycles — I've actually made some sort of progress and, dare I say it, I may even begin to be getting the hang of walk cycles. Which is a nice feeling. Let's hope it lasts...

Comic: 26/01/2012

Lots of exciting first person views here.

Significantly hastier and more sloppy comic; but at least it's remaining quite clean! I'm still not entirely sure why somebody was compelled to actually post me a box of beans. They're either having a laugh or they know me very well.

Comic: 25/01/2012

Chronicling the exciting events which led to the destruction of my phone. This is completely accurate and not at all exaggerated.

Rather more pleased with this one in terms of visuals (with the exception of the last panel where everything seems to fall apart) — it didn't take me too long, it's relatively neat and the people look at least remotely human! Still need to work a lot on expressions and posing but I think I'm making progress. I'm finding these comics are a really useful exercise — taking mundane events and characters and just turning them into ideas. I'm hoping it will be beneficial in terms of developing narrative in the future.

Animation practice: walk cycle V1 [with inbetweens]

Lazily working away on this. Got the inbetweens done; think I'm mostly happy with the legs at this point, but the arms could use some further tweaking. Need to delay them slightly so there's a bit more of a pause before he brings them forward. I think it's too fast as well; 24 frames on 1s. It just seems really really quick to my eye, though I could just be used to shooting on 2s after AP?!

I always seem to mess up on the keyframes as well, never spacing the limbs far enough apart so that there's no room for movement when it comes to inbetweens. I think it's because I don't consider the timing enough — I tend to forget I'm doing keyframes sometimes so I start animating the limbs so they're nice and smooth... then realise, oh shit, I still need to inbetween this.

Er. That all made sense in my head. COMIC TIME, BYE.

Animation practice: walk cycle V1

I'm still really lacking in confidence when it comes to walk cycles, so I thought I'd do some more playing around!

Only keyframes thus far. It's pretty simple but it seems to be mostly working. I need to adjust the arms very slightly and the hips need more of a defined arc, but it's getting there... I think!

Gotten a bit behind with the comics; planning on finishing them up this afternoon after I'm done playing around with this.

Sketchbook: 23/01/2012 and a quick animation test-thing

I barely got anything done today. It seems that somewhere between tidying my room, going shopping, arguing with the pharmacy and trying to fix my phone that the day has drifted away. I just wish I didn't feel like such a failure every time this happens. It's just one day and I don't have anything pressingly imminent to have achieved, but I feel like I've wasted my time and that I've let myself down. I that, unless I'm eating or sleeping, I should be working all the time, or else I'm not working hard enough. This makes me feel like crap, which causes me to do even less. It's a vicious hate spiral.

Bleh. Anyway. Things!

Wanting to do some quick experiments/tests/practice animations just to start getting back into the swing of things, so I thought that I might try doing a short sequence of somebody waiting for a bus, or something... for some reason. I filmed myself for reference and to get some basic ideas, kinda came up with a guy leaning on the wall, drumming his fingers and looking around. He straightens up, puts his hands in his pockets and swings from side-to-side a bit, before checking his watch and throwing his arms down in impatience. Looks very nice in my head, but in reality this is all I ended up with:

Again I demonstrate my complete inability to finish anything.

It's barely more than keyframes and some really shoddy inbetweens right now. It's a bit scruffy and terribly lazy, with some obvious problems — not too pleased with the standing up (think he needs to move his weight forward a bit more before straightening) and there's a kink in the swinging where he goes back and then suddenly forward then back again. I think there needs to be more of a pause as he looks at his watch, and I'd like the arms to have a bit more weight as he drops them, maybe sag his shoulders a bit more to emphasize his frustration. I think the looking up/back just before the watch check is a bit fast too, bit lifeless.

I don't know if I'll keep tweaking it. I'm going to maintain that it was just a loose exercise, nothing too serious, just something to freshen up — but I need to start dedicating myself to these little practices. It's a good habit to get into and I need to work on my attention span/focus. I get distracted too easily.

Sketchbook: 24/01/2012

Drawings from yesterday, first three sat in the cafeteria and the last one in the lecture theatre just before the animation awards screening.

Not much to reflect or comment here I'm afraid, but it's worth noting that yesterday seemed to be quite a good day. I didn't even think twice about getting my sketchbook out and it didn't feel forced at all. It probably sounds really pretentious but it felt perfectly natural and really nice. I wasn't worrying excessively or anything. Doesn't mean the drawings are any good of course, but it was a nice feeling and I hope that it's a good sign of things to come. I suppose I'm only really mentioning it to remind myself that sometimes, things go well. :]

Comic: 24/01/2012

Simple comic for today — look and me being all topical! Taken a couple of steps backwards in terms of neatness — it's sketchy and messy again but it's the animation awards this evening and I'm all excitable and can't sit still. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Having a little more fun with things this time. Trying to loosen my representations of people — it still looks nothing like me (my eyebrows are nowhere near that cool) but, for me, it's just about trying to loosen up.

Yes, I read The Sun.

Comic: 23/01/2012

Feeling slightly better today (thank God)

Sorry... eraser peelings everywhere! Forgot to brush them off. Me stupid. Will re-scan later!

I took a bit more time over this one and it kind of shows (aside from aforementioned eraser leavings)? Still messy and that looks nothing like my dog at all but I'm thinking that I might try another tactic for cleaning it up. Rather than inking directly over the original pencils, which I would imagine fills most people with terror in case they mess up, I'm probably going to just scan or photocopy it, make the sketch blue, re-print and then ink over the copy. At least then I might be a bit more relaxed. Used to do it in ye olde days when I drew for fun and it got some quite nice results.

Our dog is horrible and she smells.

Comic: 22/01/2012

I'm feeling like a massive failure today. I'm sorry, I don't mean for this to get too personal.

(But hey, look! Clean lines.)

Sketchbook: 22/01/2012

Just some more sketches from today. Really not feeling it; had difficulty concentrating. Tried in vain to use only one line, tried using Mr big red pen to keep things loose but it just wasn't working out. I think I'm over-tired.

Comic: 21/01/2012

I'm having a really, really bad day today. All I drew was a generic and really terrible angst comic. It's not particularly dark or disturbing or anything, it's just embarrassing and pointless and I'm not entirely sure I want to post it. But I feel like I should, if only for documentation purposes.

I don't know.

Sketchbook: 21/01/2012

Seem to be having a bit of an off day... I'll be lucky if I can get one decent drawing out.

More practice with poses and gestures - I used the random pose viewer on for reference. I tried to draw all of the ones it gave me but it seems to be quite fond of giving you all sorts of weird perspectives and angles that, quite honestly, I wasn't feeling up to tackling.

I don't know what on earth was wrong with me today. I just found that my mind kept wandering and I found it very, very difficult to keep looking at the model as I drew. I suppose most of it's discipline. As noted in my life drawing feedback I have a tendency to be a bit generalised and, when my eye wanders from the model, I tend to 'invent' a lot of things. It's all due to lack of observation on my part. I just need to be stricter with myself and keep drawing with my eye locked on the model. I think I'm just a bit too timid - I'm terrified of getting it 'wrong,' and so by constantly looking at the paper I can make sure I'm drawing something 'good.' Not looking at my paper kind of removes that element of control and leaves me vulnerable to failure, or producing something 'bad.' I just need to work on my fear and stop being so self-conscious about everything.

Sketchbook: Thumbnail storyboard 21/01/2012

Following on from yesterday's comic, it occurred to me that despite my very obvious discomfort and what, at the time, felt like an onset of a seizure, nodody appeared to pay any particular attention. I don't go out expecting attention, per se, and to be frank I'm quite glad nobody did, but this is certainly not the first time it has happened. On a number of occasions I've been walking down the street and witnessed somebody having a seizure, or falling, or in some other form of trouble, and the amount of people that simply walk on by or — even worse — cross the road to avoid the situation is quite startling.

That's a bit of pointless preamble, but anyway — it got me toying around with a bit of an idea that I decided to very quickly storyboard as practice. It's unsophisticated, unrefined and just generally quite crap — but it's more an exercise in habit-making. I need to start jotting down everything and developing stuff. I tend to fool myself into thinking I have no ideas, when I do — it's just that I haven't learned to recognise them as such. I'm rambling again.

At any rate, here are my terrible thumbnails (my sketchbook is tiny and there was no space for annotations, so forgive me as I type my ramblings. Do yer best to follow along)

Scene opens with a figure waiting at the bus stop. The bus pulls in and scene cuts to inside, showing a side-view of the seats. The figure, a woman carrying a purse, settles herself into a window seat. She glances idly around — out at the aisle and up at the ceiling.

Cut to a front view and she opens her handbag, reaching inside.

She pulls out a small tin of mints/packet of gum and pops a piece into her mouth, chewing.

Cut to side view. Still chewing, others begin to make their way onto the bus. She casts a wary glance at each one as they pass but appears ultimately at ease.

Cut to first-person view, looking towards the front of the bus. There is a pause and a strange clunking sound. An old man with a walking frame (making the clunking noise) hobbles into view and purchases his ticket. He turns and begins to hobble, very slowly, towards her, his walking frame clunking rhythmically with each step.

Cut to side view again and she shifts in her seat slightly as the old man shuffles past. He comes to a halt next to her and, reflexively, she tightens her grip on her handbag. There is a pause, and she slowly turns her head very slightly to glance at him. Cut to first person view.

We see a comically graphic close-up of the old man's incredibly wizened, wrinkled face as he turns his head to smile broadly, ancient skin stretched taut and revealing a large number of missing or discoloured teeth.

Cut back to regular view and the lady recoils slightly, eyes wide. The old man turns and settles himself into the seat next to her and she hurridly looks away, sitting slightly straighter. Cut to front view as the bus rumbles into life and begins to pull away.

There is a moment of slightly awkward quiet between the two, the only sounds are of the bus's engine and the chatter of fellow passengers. The old man is smiling good-naturedly to himself and the lady continues to stare straight ahead, drumming her fingers slightly on her handbag.

The old man turns his head and smiles sweetly at her. She returns it, weakly. Delighted, the old man begins to chatter away,

Cut to side-view. She glances desperately over the old man's shoulder as he waffles away. There are a few cuts to other areas of the bus — ordinary conversation, but gradually everything begins to change very slightly. People leave faint motion blurs behind as they move and the conversations become slightly muted.

Cut to side view, from the opposite side (looking out into the aisle). The lady leans forward slightly, turning her head towards the window, fingers on her temples. The old man is seemingly unconcerned and continues chatting away.

Front view. The old man is laughing and talking and the lady rubs her temples, casting a sideways glance at the old man.

First-person view of the old man. He, too, is leaving motion blurs and appears very bright, almost over exposed or with a "bloom" effect — and something about his face is off. His mouth is moving out-of-sync to the rest of his face, slightly delayed as he turns and moves his head so it slides across his face to catch up with the rest. His voice is muted too, a faint ringing/humming sound begins to creep up.

The next series of shots are choppy, cutting between random snatches of conversation, the old man and various other parts of the bus (the ticket machine printing etc.) These random shots are repeated, getting faster and shorter and louder, interspersed with the lady gradually leaning further and further forward, hands clutching her head, the ringing noise growing louder and the motion blurs increasing as people move. Her vision becomes clouded and colours get distorted — eventually reaching an almost thermal-vision-like effect. It grows more and more rapidly intense until —

cut to black, and silence.

There is a pause, and we hear the squeak and rumble of a bus. We see the side of the bus as it begins to pull away, revealing the lady standing behind it.

She is outside her house again, and all is still. There is a faint wind, birds are tweeting. She pauses for a moment, takes a deep breath, then turns, adjusting her handbag over her shoulder. She walks up her garden path, fumbles with the lock, pushes it open, and steps inside. She closes the door behind her.

As I said it's not at all a sophisticated or clever idea and I'm concerned that it would appear as a shallow or needless representation of this kind of thing — I dunno? I can see the whole thing very clearly in my head and I wish I'd put a little more into representing it visually, but like I said, this was just an exercise in catching an idea and getting it onto paper quickly before it escapes.

A lot of the visual/sound ideas I'd pictured came from an experience I had in primary school — I still don't really know what happened, I just had a really funny turn and everything got extremely bright, I couldn't hear and everything looked like I was seeing it in thermal vision. Not exactly a broad representation of the entire spectrum of such panic/anxiety/etc attacks but, I dunno.

I sort of knew what I wanted to say to wrap this up but unfortunately it escapes me. Best just leave it here.

Comic & sketchbook: 20/01/2012

Today's comic reveals what an absolute wuss I am. Why do people feel they have to talk about these sorts of things really loudly in public places? Eugh.

Had a bit of difficulty with this comic. Found my mind kept wandering and my heart just wasn't in it - but I ploughed on through anyway. I really can't resort to that sort of excuse to justify lackluster work - it certainly won't hold up in employment so I need to break it now.

Spent most of the day out in town today, ended up doing some quick drawings at the train station. Nobody else was around unfortunately, but it was a good opportunity to practice and see if I can successfully apply what I've been learning to my drawings without reference. (That sentence made much more sense in my head)

Above, just some quick experiments at applying action lines to poses without any reference. I didn't really have a clear idea of what I was trying to draw most of the time - I just kind of draw a line and went with it - so they're a bit weak.

Then just some things scrawled on the way back home. Drawing on a bus is difficult.

I'm really trying to commit myself to using less lines when drawing - it's a habit, though, and a tricky one to break! I'm aiming to train my eye to really observe and THEN draw a line - just one - and really get the feel of that arm or leg or whatever. I just need to learn to look at the subject more than my paper.

Sketchbook: 19/01/2012

Didn't get nearly as much done tonight as I'd hoped, owing primarily to my mother managing to get lost twice on the way back home. Subsequently, a journey that should only have taken an hour and a half ended up taking three. Ho hum!

Continuing my quest for perfect posing, I tried using a big red pen to very loosely capture the flow of the action through the body, giving myself more of a starting point. I then built on top of that, trying to start by looking at the tilt of the shoulders against the hips to keep things in balance. Certainly still far from perfect, but I feel like I'm beginning to understand it a little better - though I don't yet entirely feel the weight that I'm supposed to be drawing. That'll come with time I suppose.

Comic: 19/01/2012

In today's exciting installment of ~*MY LIFE*~, Alex gets his feedback. And promptly pisses his pants.

In all seriousness, though an initially terrifying prospect, the feedback was really really helpful. I'm very happy with the advice I got - it's given me more direction now that I know for sure what I need to be working on. The comic strips, especially - as pointed out the drawings in my last series needed a whole lot of work. I think the biggest problem is that I never really know how much time I should spend on these things - I could easily spend hours slaving away over each panel and making it look perfect and pretty (very much a temptation) but is that really the point? Plus, I'll be the first to admit, I'm incredibly impatient! I tend to just get an idea and want to roll with it as soon as possible. I certainly think I could stand to spend just a little more time over each comic - it's just going to be about finding the right balance.

Anyway, er yeah, this one's kinda a bit rushed. Whoopsie. Silly little mistakes like magical shrinking legs in the third panel caused by me not paying attention. In my defence - I'm distracted! I'm going home in precisely one hour and I've still not packed.

Sketchbook: Lines of action

Been having a little look into the basics of posing in the hopes of helping my stiff clean up situation. The crux of strong, energetic posing is all about weight and balance so I'm revising 'lines of action' —an initial line drawn to express the momentum of a pose and "describe the force moving through the body."  

I tried copying some of the illustrations on the examples to see if I could try to understand how the line placement corresponded to the body but I don't think it really got me very far. Copying somebody else's lines doesn't really help you to understand the subject. I wasn't feeling the weight of what I was drawing at all. I tried a few experiments of my own, using poses from (Great drawing tool if you're not already familiar with it!)

Posemaniacs is a great resource but unfortunately it's not the same as drawing from life. It's helpful to understand the body and anatomy a little better but a lot of the poses are quite stiff. Still, I think it would be a useful experiment to try and exaggerate some of the poses!

I think that a large part of my problem lies in relying on sketchy lines to help a pose feel powerful, rather than keeping the actual feel of the overall drawing energetic. Because my initial posing and lines are a bit weak, my clean ups tend to look static and uninteresting. A good pose should be identifiable "feel" the same, even when reduced to a silhouette. If I can begin to fully understand weight and balance and figure out how to better express that in my drawings I think I'll be on the right track.

Similar to what we did in life drawing I think I need to start committing myself to drawing using less lines. I need to be able to capture the feeling and weight of a pose in as few lines as possible, which should hopefully serve to give my initial drawings more strength.

Comic: 18/01/2012

Look mum, no scribbles!!

Trying really hard to keep my lines as clean and focused as I can. I'm working on a pretty small scale which makes it a bit tricky as erasing any mistakes usually takes half the drawing along with it, peeling the surface of the paper away and making it very tough to re-draw. That's a really weird excuse, isn't it? But it's true! Paper that's been re-erased hundreds of times is really hard to draw on. I think I need a putty eraser or something.

Er. I'm digressing. It's still inconsistent and not terribly well drawn but I'm a bit more pleased with this one. It seemed to come a bit more easily — found myself not worrying quite so much about it — but that might be because I only had to draw myself again.

I must seem so narcissistic!