Animation Production Diary – They need to look like lady hands

The action in scene ten involves a close up of the Melancholic Wife reaching up to try and bring a ghost with her as she is being pulled down. The ghost represents a positive memory of her teenage self, an instance not weighted down by the same troubles as her adult self, and the effort to carry it with her into the darkness is an attempt to accept this positive aspect fully into herself. As such I feel the movement needs to be gentle, soft and kind. She is not grabbing the ghost, she moves to embrace it and ask for her help.

For reference I took a video of my own hands but of course they need to look like a woman’s hands so the theme of this scene was softness all round.

Both together

Animation Production Diary – The wind in her hair

Scene twenty two of the film,  the calm after the pyrotechnic storm was another scene I choose to tackle early. The Melancholic Wife’s torso is stationary for the most part so it represented an opportunity to focus on animating a wave, a fundamental animation principle, in her hair. The flow of the movement is also a first exploration of animation timing for the film. I was able to achieve a balanced flow in the animatic and it is my hope and intention to carry this over as much as possible into the animated movement.

Animation Production Diary – Pulling the rug out from under

I decided early on to try and complete scene three from the animatic to inked stage ready for comping. I thought that this would support me to understood the process from start to finish as much as possible before beginning full production. The scene is about twenty seconds long as well so would represent a fair chunk of completed work. It also contains aspects of background, animation and pre-compositing.

The animation I’m sharing below is the follow up to the carpet growth, two arms reach across and pull the grown carpet up. In animating it my pre-occupation was to communicate the tension in the carpet as it’s pulled up, the carpet fights back against the force of the hands until finally being ripped wholesale from the screen.

Personal Brand Identity Development

Further development of the business card focusing on the strength of the illustration image on its own with the underlying grid of rectangular shapes speaking to my work in comic books and delivering colour information.

Possible logo and letterhead designs, I hand lettered the typography based on a font from the IM Fell Types class of fonts.

Business Card Concepts

I have been working up some different concepts for my business card.

This is my previous card and I like the duality element conveyed by the mirrored faces, it illustrates for me the different roles that I can inhabit as an artist. So I would like to retain some element of this while bringing in an indicator of the new reality of pursuing animation roles. The image gives a sense of my style as an illustrator but does not indicate an idea of animation. 
When talking to John Sherwin he recommended exploring the use of colour, hand lettering and emphasising the style that my work contains.
Here are a few samples.

Artistic Influences – Jean Giraud

As an illustrator I have had a few influences on my style and it will be interesting to see how this translates from still imagery to images in motion.

I am a big fan of the French artist Jean Giraud, aka Moebius. The aspects which I like to draw from his work include a real sense of weight and volume communicated in an expressive manner; attention to detail; and a potent sense of otherworldliness.

Animation Production Diary – How does your carpet grow?

Early on I identified for myself that Scene Two could be a quick gain in terms of production. It contained some tricky transitions too which would be good to solve early. One of those transitions is the growing of a carpet from a full black screen. I had the idea to create one instance of a carpet fibre growth then multiply it to produce a full floor.

 First Test
 Second Test – More fibres

Third test – ready to be multiplied in after effects.

Background inspiration

One of my favourite production design styles was employed on the Disney feature 101 Dalmatians. I really admire the sketchy line work that they used and the blocks of colour overlapping the outlines of objects. For me it contributed hugely to the sense of energy in the film and I hope that my backgrounds can be as effective in communicating, in this instance, a sense of otherworldliness to high energy to calm.


My film will be employing a black and white aesthetic in keeping with the comic art from the original story. In producing the backgrounds I also wanted to hold to the rendering style of the comic books. To that end I drew the backgrounds in pencil and inked them using the same techniques and tools as I used on the comic book. I see this as the base layer which may or may not require further working up. This depends on how the background will play with the animation. I’m conscious that the style was used for static images and may very well require more when interacting with motion.

Opening Scene

 Floorboards exposed

Floorboards painted

Between Floors

Dark Stage

Gallery Room first view

 Gallery Room Front View

Gallery Room Pan

Gallery Room Overhead

Animation Production Diary – First Scene

I have decided to animate my film using the traditional frame by frame method. I am hand pencilling most of the scenes because I really want to portray as graceful a feel as possible to the animation and this is the best way that I know how to. I will then be inking the pencils digitally in Photoshop. With the more complex scenes like the dancing scenes I will really want to nail down the keys through to breakdowns and in-betweens as much as possible in pencils before scanning in to ink. But with some of the more straightforward basic storytelling scenes I’ve found that just roughing the keys and breakdowns then scanning them in for inking can work and will help to economise the process. I realise that the method I’ve chosen is a labour intensive approach so I am consistently looking for ways to speed up the process while not compromising on the quality I want to maintain.

This is the first piece of animation I’ve produced for the film. It’s for scene twelve, the spotlight coming on.

Clawing Hands

In the middle conflict of my film, my protagonist is pulled down into darkness by grasping hands. The inspiration for this comes from many places. First I’d have to mention The Black Cauldron’s villain, The Horned King. The Black Cauldron was the first animated film I went to see in the cinema and myself and my family enjoyed it so much we stayed in our seats for the next showing! It was the villains clawed hands which really stuck out for me as sinister.

I also have to reference the boiler man character from Spirited Away, Kamaji, with his extremely long arms which stretch across the boiler room. I think the idea of outsized limbs really contribute to the creation of an other worldly feel. I also took inspiration from this device for the arms pulling up the carpet in scene three of the film.

Meeting With Lena Byrne, Head of Scripting, Jam Media

As part of my research into the current animation industry in Ireland I arranged to have a meeting with Lena Byrne, Head of Scripting at Jam Media. As the script represents the stage before storyboarding in the animation pipeline I felt that this would be a valuable opportunity to understand the visual development process from that perspective.

Lena was enthusiastic to share her knowledge and support. I learned a lot about the scripting process; the structure of a writing team for a series; how story ideas are pitched; the importance of knowing the tone of a series; and the interaction, the give and take between scripting and visual departments.

During the meeting Lena also introduced me to Jam’s Animatic Editor Tiago Gil Batista, and their Animation Supervisor/Director Rafa Diaz Canales. I learned a great deal about what they expect from a storyboard artist; Tiago emphasised the need for a good grasp of film language; Rafa spoke about how a lot of thought has to go in to a storyboard before the visualisation can begin. They also kindly offered me the opportunity to take a test for storyboarding with Jam when I’ve completed the college course.