Jul19
2013

By: admin                Categories: AnimationGeneral

The following is an excerpt from Professional Storyboarding by  Sergio Paez and Anson Jew. This book offers highly illustrative examples of basic storyboarding concepts, as well as sound, career-oriented advice for the new artist. Here, the authors discuss the common shapes of drawing.

Everything you draw can basically be broken down into drawing a few elements: S-curves, straight lines, C-curves, and ellipses. Once you master drawing these elements confidently and fluidly, the quality of your drawings will improve significantly. Practice these over and over with the kind of finesse you would if you were trying to master your golf stroke or your forehand in tennis. Ghost your stroke just above the surface of the paper several times and let the pencil tip lightly drop on to the paper as you try to master a single smooth, wobble-free line. Practice and master doing this from a single angle. If you want to draw your line or curve at a different angle, don’t change your stroke, spin the paper instead.

These exercises might seem basic and boring, but you have to learn how to skate before you can play hockey, right? Find the time to draw while chatting at dinner with a friend or while in front of the TV.1 Get into the habit of carrying a sketchbook everywhere you go and using it every opportunity you have. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere! If you’re in line at the movies you should be drawing. On the bus? That’s drawing time. Out with your girlfriend? DRAW HER! If you have nothing to draw you can always spend 10 minutes on these SICO exercises. The point is from now until your death bed, you will carry a sketchbook and use it. It makes no difference whether the drawings are good or bad. The idea is to move your hand and build the pencil mileage that will help you produce great work later on.

Figure 3.1

S-Curves

Mastering the S-curve will take you a long way in creating fluid, expressive drawings. Practice drawing them as described above, but especially practice drawing S-curves that have a subtle gentle curve to them. It may be so subtle that you’re almost drawing a straight line. Try to trace over an S-curve you’ve already drawn as smoothly as you can in as graceful a stroke as you can. Then practice drawing reverse S-curves.

Figure 3.2

Straight Lines

Draw two dots on a page and practice your accuracy by trying to draw a straight, freehand line that passes through both dots in a single stroke. Practice drawing a series of straight parallel lines. Draw slowly at first, then build up your speed. Think of this exercise as Zen meditation, which is also good practice for the art of patience. With time, you will be amazed how close you can achieve near perfectly straight lines drawing freehand. The trick is to build up your hand and eye coordination so the drawing strokes react as you want them. Don’t believe me? Take my challenge—try drawing straight lines 10 minutes per day for a week. By the end of the week you will be like a robot drawing perfectly mechanical straight lines.

Figure 3.3

C-Curves

Practice drawing C-curves as you would S-curves, especially focusing on the subtle curves. You can practice the more severe curves by drawing three dots on a page and trying to draw a smooth, graceful line that passes through all three.

Figure 3.4

Ellipses

Practice drawing smooth, even ellipses at various sizes. Try to close the shape as cleanly as possible. An ellipse is a very difficult shape to master especially because of the different perspective views. Treat drawing ellipses, much like drawing straight lines above. Practice drawing the shapes a few minutes a day for a week and you will be amazed at your improvement.

Figure 3.5

Compound Shapes

Draw shapes with 3 to 5 sides using only S-curves, C-curves, and straight lines as the sides of your shapes. Combining these shape techniques will help greatly when you create your storyboard images.

Figure 3.6

Excerpt from Professional Storyboarding: Rules of Thumb by Sergio Paez and Anson Jew © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Professional Storyboarding can be bought on AmazonBN.com, or your favorite online retailer.

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Jul12
2013

By: Lauren                Categories: AnimationBooksInspiration

I had the privilege of attending Annecy 2013 this year on behalf of Focal Press. My typical conference experience usually revolves around manning a hot booth for a few hours with my insanely smart, sweaty, and patient colleagues. Don’t get me wrong, I love booth duty.  I get to meet all sorts of interesting and talented artists who tell me what they love about our books.  Some even offer some criticism about specific titles or our overall catalog, but it’s always helpful and constructive.  There is always room for improvement, and we always strive to do right by our readers.  I’m not an animator—not even close. My severe lack of drawing skills would be enough to make any artist cringe. I am, however, an editor for animation books, and I’m lucky enough to be inspired by animators almost every day.

Focal Press did not have a booth at Annecy (though we did have a presence in the bookstore across from Café Carnot), so my days were filled with meetings, conference sessions, and MIFA activities. My nights, like many other attendees, were dedicated to the screenings.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that I would be entertained at the very least. After seeing what I saw, the word “entertained” sounds inappropriate if not even a little condescending.

The first night I attended a screening of short films in competition 02.  Everyone seemed to have first night excitement—hushed whispers in all languages filled the Decavision, along with a variety of animal noises (cat, mainly) and the whooshing of paper airplanes. I quickly figured out that throwing paper airplanes toward the screen was a playful Annecy tradition—another small quirk that only magnified the charm of this festival.

Anyway, before I ramble on too much, my point is that although this was not a traditional conference for me, it was by far the most inspirational.  Witnessing such talent only makes me want to be a better editor that develops great books for the animation community. In no particular order, below are my top five favorite animated shorts from Annecy. It was extremely difficult to narrow it down—choosing five felt unfair. But I managed, and here they are! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Please note that many of these are only trailers in accordance with festival rules. Unfortunately I was not able to attend all of the screenings, so if you have a favorite, must-see short, let me know! Animation for all!

Title: Chemin Faisant

Director: George Schwizgebel

Swiss animator Georges Schwizgebel is renowned for his use of paint-on-glass animation.  In his latest short film, Chemin Faisant, we are lead through vibrant paintings which operate as Russian dolls, sweeping us through the thoughts of a solitary walker.

227 – Chemin Faisant – Georges Schwizgebel (ST EN) from Rita Productions on Vimeo.

Title: Drunker Than A Skunk

Director: Bill Plympton

An adaptation of Walt Curtis’s poem, “The Time The Drunk Came To Town And Got Drunker Than A Skunk, or So He Thought.”, about a Cowboy town that torments the local drunk. What can I say? It’s Bill. Beautifully drawn and wickedly funny, what else could you want?

Drunker Than a Skunk – Trailer from Bill Plympton on Vimeo.

Title: Feral

Director: Daniel Sousa

A wild boy is found in the forest by a hunter and is brought back to civilization.  Alienated by his new environment, the boy begins to use the same strategies that kept him alive in the forest.

Feral trailer from Daniel Sousa on Vimeo.

Title: La Banquet de la concubine

Director: Hefang Wei

It’s the year 746 under the Tang dynasty, the most culturally rich period of China’s history. The emperor, Li, beholds a court of numerous concubines and the most precious is Yang. Despite the gorgeous artwork (the coloring in particular), I couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread as the story progressed. By far one of my favorites!

The Banquet of the Concubine_trailer_EN from Hefang Wei on Vimeo.

Title: Subconscious Password

Director: Chris Landreth

Subconcious Password won the Cristal for Best Short, so congratulations to Chris Landreth!

This film is about the misadventures of Charles, a friendly guy who meets up with a friend whose name escapes him. We then are given front row seats to Charles’ subconscious, which takes the form of a game show.  It’s a painfully hilarious portrayal of something we’ve all been through!

Subconscious Password by Chris Landreth, National Film Board of Canada

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Jul11
2013

By: admin                Categories: General

The following is an excerpt from Digital Painting Techniques: Practical Techniques of Digital Art Masters. Compiled by the team at 3dtotal.com, Digital Painting Techniques, Volume 1 offers digital inspiration with hands-on insight and techniques from professional digital artists. Here, Richard Tilbury shows you step-by-step how he digitally paints fur.

Painting Fur By Richard Tilbury

Software Used: Photoshop

In this tutorial I will be attempting to paint fur, and for this exercise I will be using a wolf as a context to create the image, in order for it to make sense and not appear just as a semiabstract picture. Before starting to paint, I search the internet for various references and photographs to help guide me in the creation of a convincing representation of fur. When you begin to look at your subject, which in this case is a wolf, you will realize how varied it is, not only from animal to animal but also in the types of fur evident in a single type of creature, such as our wolf. When I began researching the subject I soon discovered how wolves vary in color and how their fur changes in length across their bodies. For example, the fur around their legs is quite short and looks almost matted, similar to a bear, and yet around the shoulders it is longer and shaggier in appearance. So with our research done and references gathered, let’s paint!

Step 1

Once you have enough reference material at hand it is time to make a start, which I will do by filling in the background color of a blank canvas with a non-descript warm gray, over which I can create a new layer for my drawing of a simple outline of a wolf (Fig.01). I always like to get rid of the white early on – any tertiary color is suitable really, and this is only a personal preference.

Fig 1

Step  2

On a new layer I start to paint in the key colors, which compose mainly of warm browns and yellows in this instance. As there will be no definitive shadows and highlights I have sketched everything in on one layer. In Fig.02 you will notice that I have made some provisional rough marks below the shoulder to denote some of the thicker fur that appears darker beneath the surface, similar to a husky. I use a paler color along the edges to show where the light manages to show through, and basically paint in the main areas. You will also notice that the brush marks also roughly follow the direction that the fur has grown, as indicated by the arrows.

Fig 2

Step 3

The next stage involves using a custom brush in conjunction with the Smudge tool so that the edges may be softened somewhat and create the appearance of numerous strands of hair. In Fig.03 you can see the shape of the brush in the upper left corner along with the marks it produces, and in Fig.04 you can see the settings used, which are simple enough. Notice that the Spacing is turned down in order that the brush leaves uninterrupted lines when used. With the brush size set quite small, select the Smudge tool and start dragging outwards from the edges – you may wish to alter the strength on the toolbar to around 55%.

Fig 3

Fig 4

You can see how this has made a difference in the latest version. I also use a standard Airbrush set to between 1 and 3 pixels wide and add in some more hair to help blend the sections. Remember that you do not really need to illustrate every strand of hair, but rather just a few here and there to suggest the illusion of fur.

In the case of the head, I paint in some lighter areas using various tonal ranges and omit any real detail. I place a few random lines around the neck line to help blend the head and body and suggest some longer fur, but do not labor on this. The eye, nose and mouth areas are darkened to help the overall impression, but you can see that the picture is much improved from just a minimal amount of detail.

Step  4

So far I have tried to create the impression of fur using tonal ranges, a small amount of smudging, and with as little attention to painting actual individual hairs as possible. What I have essentially aimed for is a good and general impression with as much economy as I can muster, so that I have a clear target for finishing the picture. Now that I have established the key areas I will begin the process of refinement.

In Fig.05 I use the same Airbrush as in the previous section to paint in a series of fine strokes that help blend the various tonal passages and show actual strands of fur. These range from the neck to the top of the back and follow the rough direction of the body, but keep mindful to draw in random directions in order to add a natural feel. You can see, particularly on the shoulder area, that the dark sections flow towards the back as well as the chest, and some of the lighter hairs on the neck are almost at right angles to the general flow.

Fig 5

Step 5

We now reach the final phase of the tutorial which proceeds along the same lines. I add in more fine strokes as well as a few that are a bit wider, to resemble some clumps of fur. Remember to vary your strokes in direction and width as well as the color. So, for example, in darker areas add in some lighter strokes, and vice versa.

In the final version (Fig.06a – b) you will notice that I have left rougher and wider strokes along the shoulder to portray the thicker fur, and kept the finer strokes to areas towards the outer edges and head. The crucial thing to remember is randomness. The last areas to be completed are the eyes, a few facial details, and a color change to the background.

Fig 6a

Fig 6b

Excerpt from Digital Painting Techniques: Practical Techniques of Digital Art Masters, Volume 1 by 3dtotal.com © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Digital Painting Techniques can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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