Friday, 10 December 2010


So, this week hasn't been a complete waste!  I have missed all my classes and been a big snotty lump on the couch for the past four days... But I got some drawing done!  And, surprisingly, it's exactly what I had wanted to create all project long.
Maybe my brain is fuddled from lack of sleep, but I actually prefer the character pictures I've done this week to all the ones I've drawn while in good health.  That's why I feel comfortable posting these up online:


[Pencil drawings.  Dodge and Burn Tool in Photoshop to shade and strengthen lines]

This is the orphan that Piper will meet on Andona and can't get rid of.  She doesn't have a name, so he comes up with one for her from 'Andona', settling on 'Andi'.

You might have noticed that I've taken away her left hand - the cruelty!  It's all a part of her back story and will tie in with how the story plays out.  Not only that, but I got fed up of looking at how gorgeously perfect female and child protagonists are in animations - either looks or personality, if not both.  I wanted a sense of realism, and what's more real than admitting life can be cruel and unfair?

I'm toying with a few ideas at the minute; making her a boy, less cute, short hair....
What do you think?

J. x

Monday, 6 December 2010

Redesigning. Recuperating.

I've finally been struck down with whatever horror has been doing the rounds!  There's nothing more deadly to your artistic energy than illness.  And maybe television.  Which is what I only have the energy for at the minute!

To feel like I'm capable of something creative I made the banner above.  What do you think?

I hope I feel better soon - I've been wanting to draw so much all day.
I'm prescribing myself a good dosage of children's films.

J. x

Saturday, 4 December 2010

"Less Disney, More Grimm"

The Games Design course I'm on has given me the liberty of deciding what I personally want to do for the year's final project, which is fantastic as I'm already growing weary of 3D modelling.  I think self-directed projects are the easiest to motivate yourself for, it's what you want to do.  I'd say if you're not finding it easy to be enthusiastic over it, then don't be afraid to change direction.

My proposal is to create pre-production work for a would-be animation, then storyboard several sections.  I will finally produce four final images, taken from the storyboards, to look like film stills.

I instantly wanted to adapt a fairy tale or children's story, as if it were going to be a feature film in the vein of Dreamworks and Disney - a classic 2D animation!  I looked at the usual suspects; Hans Christian Andersen, Brother's Grimm, and classic children's literature.  I knew I didn't want to do anything that has already been famously adapted, even if I were to put my own spin on it.  It took a lot of strength to step away from the original Little Mermaid story!

I finally decided on The Pied Piper of Hamlin.  When I told people this it was greeted with mixed reactions, from, 'oh, how boring' to, 'wow, how creepy!'.  This actually made me convinced I was on the right track.  The Piper tale is so vague, the ending so mysterious, and the amount of historical theories over what really happened makes it easy to work with.  Furthermore, I'm not adapting it precisely.  The end of the original story is not the end of mine.  If anything it's the central event.

So far it's been a lot of fun!  Researching, deciding on settings, costumes, characters, and writing it all.  I've completely made a new story, a new world, set in space, with Hamelin becoming the planet Andona and the Piper a space traveller looking for work wherever he can find it in the galaxy.

Planet Andona Concept

Here's a brief idea of what I've got so far:


Piper, a part-time pest controller, part-time musician, comes across the desert planet Andona infested with an alien vermin.  The Andonian Princess employs him for the job of ridding the planet of the infestation, promising a large sum.  During his work he sees the poverty of the Andonians and begins to doubt the Princess' word.  Along the way, Piper meets an orphan who he can’t shake off.  Job finished, he returns to the palace where the Princess refuses to pay Piper for his work and is escorted back to his spaceship where the orphan has secretly stowed away.
Piper flies back to the Odd-Job space station where he resides with all manner of characters.  Piper tells of his misfortune and his want for vengeance.  The Andonian orphan reveals herself giving Piper the idea that people will pay anything to get their children back.  Together, with the orphan’s knowledge of the planet’s people and the help of the Odd-Job space crew, Piper comes up with the idea to hold the Andonian children hostage until the Princess pays up - but not all will go to plan…

I've been working on it for about 4 weeks now, and I think my enthusiasm blinded me from just how much I have/want to do.  Designing each location, costume, vehicle, animal, character...  EXHAUSTING!  But exciting and really enjoyable.  The story's world has become more in-depth than I had ever hoped, and possibly not what anyone would expect.  Less Disney, more Grimm.

I'll post visual work soon.

J. x

P.S. Happy birthday, mum :) x

Monday, 1 February 2010

Exciting Times!

After a lot of contemplation, lasting over a year, I've decided to leave my BA Illustration course. Everything seems to be right in its timing for this to be my final decision.
Character Concept - 'Eli'
I went through the whole of my first year feeling unsatisfied, constantly trying to please tutors and failing, all the while letting my own happiness be sacrificed. I started the second year filled with more optimism after getting to grips with my time management and work load, but then the work I was given wasn't right for what I wanted to be doing. Project after project I felt I was trying to be another person in my work, nothing came naturally anymore, and the briefs that were set weren't with the clients I had had in mind. I am a story teller, a character creator, and here I was trying to be a graphic designer, event promoter, typographer...
Once I realised this, I knew I needed to take some sort of action. With great encouragement from my loved ones I searched around for some advice.
I contacted a Senior Concept Artist, asking how he got his career and what could I do to get there one day, despite my soon-to-be shortcomings in qualifications. The reply I received was much more than a wishing of good luck, it was real aid. Not only did he ask to see work I had done already but he also set me work to do. Soon I was following the Conceptual Artist course he runs. Then there was a downside to this optimism.
Still being on the Illustration course, starting the second semester, I didn't have the time I wanted to be doing this work on the side. I was letting myself down. What point was there sacrificing my ambitions and dreams for the sake of a few good marks in work that I didn't even enjoy? I would end my degree, feebly, with a portfolio demonstrating what I'm only decent at, which would then possiblyjustmaybe get me work in areas of design I would resent and feel like a complete fraud. That was that.

I spoke to a tutor about my first semester (where three of my projects in a row were marked 3rds) and confessed I wasn't happy, haven't been for a long time, and I'm heading in the wrong direction. Contrary to my fear of being told I'm a failure or have to stick it out anyway, I was advised to speak to another member of staff about my possibilities. After much discussion and bureaucracy change may be about to occur.

 I am currently sat in the Graphics and Illustration studio hoping this will be the last time I need to be here. I am waiting to meet with my possible future tutor, to see how soon I can join the first year of The Art Of Games Design course. On it I will continue Life Drawing classes, learn 3D programming and design, and, most exciting of all, conceptual art work for games; characters, environments, weapons, vehicles... Even better, this design work does not confine me solely to games but can be used for animation, film, and TV. Finally I will be given the specific learning requirements I want yet the broad stroke to approach projects for different media.

Despite how much I resented the Illustration course there is still a lot I have taken with me. My work ethic, time management, awareness of presentation, use of design programs, and of course html coding and my very own bit of cyberspace.

I am feeling much happier and hopeful, which I haven't done for a very long time.

J. x

Friday, 29 January 2010


I recently purchased 'Shadowline: The Art of Iain McCaig', and I can tell you now, it is beautiful.  Stunning.  GORGEOUS!

'Shadowline' front cover

Every page is filled with his art.  Work from Star Wars to Harry Potter, storyboards to illustrations.
Not only that, it has mini-drawing classes inserted in booklet form inside.
It is a book that is both fiction and a presentation of-- baaaah!
Let him show and tell you himself!

Iain McCaig on Shadowline

I'm not a particularly big Star Wars fan nor am I much of a fan of the Harry Potter films, but you don't need to be to admire these works of art.
Buy it!  You will not be disappointed!
J. x