Thursday, 24 November 2011

So far so good...

well good might be pushing my luck... there's still a lot more to do... and the pale pink background is only temporary. i intend to replace that with a real-life image- so research also needs to be done on that.

Have a look what ive done so far today- its very similar to my rough animation i did a couple of days ago but a bit more polished.. finer details are also yet to be added.

next, the flour and butter need to be added... im slightly terrified of doing the flour, i have to animate the sack falling over and im stil trying to figure out how to go about doing that...

i also apologise for the video being squished.. blogger seems to have a set frame size and mine's 900 x 400 px.

Character Designs (icing & cupcake)

The original plan was going to be that the piping bag pipes the blogname onto the cupcake- but as you can see, i totally forgot how effing long my blogname is!!... so the change of idea is that it'll pipe it at the bottom instead.. and then the part will fade in at the bottom in regular text... i know it might tak a while to animate the icing but i think with a few shortcuts- the illusion will still be there ;)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I re-rotoscoped the bowl skidding in... this is a more polished version with colour and a face! this is nearer the look i'll be going for for my final animation.. the colour's quite flat but i think i like it like that... it was a nightmare copying over everything in Flash but it's done and this is what it looks like...

I also realised that ive forgotten to animate/character design for the cupcake (what the bowl turns into) and the writing icing (that writes my blog name on the cake)... whoops!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Character walks cont'd...

eggs can't walk... everyone knows that!..
eggs also can't bounce. But mine can!
Here's my little egg bouncing along in a rather exaggerated eggy fashion.

This was done by frame-by-frame animation, using just the egg and then adjusting rotation and adding in squash and stretch. I then changed it to a classic tween so that inbetweens were added for a smoother animation- and then did the same thing for the face.

This was the quickest walk cycle i've ever done- about 5 mins- yes i know it looks pretty crude but nonetheless it's pretty convincing. I think i'm getting used to all this walk cycle malarky.
Also, what i've noticed is that if i put a classic tween on any of the layers- it doesn't make the export stupid (i.e. know traces or random previous frames being left behind... see previous post for evidence of this)... well i just noticed that there's a little bit of it as soon as the butter walks off... annoyinggggg

Anyway, have a look at this weird butter walk..

Since i've realised that my exports look better with classic tweening, i think i might go back to the previous cycles i did for the flour and sugar and export them again and see if it makes a difference..

Sugar walk with tweening..

Flour walk with tweening..

Okay so it's not perfect.... just when i thought i found a solution... *sigh*.. well at least it all looks a lot smoother...

This next walk cycle very nearly drove me insane- the whisk.
Not only did i have to animate the "walking" or "hopping" that it does, but i have to demonstrate the use of the buttons and the whisks turning. The buttons were originally going to pump up and down, but since i was stupid and lazy and forgot to create a long button to alternate with a short one (to give the illusion of the button going up and down) i just used what i had, so it kinda looks like it's blowing it's cap- a little like a kettle does when the water's boiled..

The whisks were difficult for me- i still don't know if im satisfied with this result. I basically just flicked the whisk on and off, alternating with an image that just looks like the whisk's rod. (did that make ANY sense?!).. Anyway, have a look.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

More walking...

just testing out how the sugar might walk with this new character design... it's quite simple since i wanted it to look quite quaint and handmade.. so the lack of smoothness, i find, can be easily forgiven.

However, i have been thinking about animating on Flash instead of Toon Boom, as i may be masking later to introduce the new textures in... i.e. all the collage that i was looking at in my previous post. But since i'll be using this programme... i've found that it makes everything look "Flashy" and a little less smooth... which probably isn't favourable for my "handmade" effect, but im hoping i can look at that finer details later..

Here's the test:
As you can see... it looks a little like he's sliding across as he's walking. this is due to the classic tween i've put on it so that he can move from one side to the other. a little too smooth for my liking.

Apologies for the weird tracing thing that happens.

And here's the flour... unfortunately for the way im animating, it's quite hard to show the weight of the character or make him walk in a "sacky" way... hmph..

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Rough Idea...

I did this last week, it's still unfinished.

The original idea was that i was going to a small, rough animation so that i had somewhere appropriate to place my thoughts.. only because when i look at storyboards i find it hard to translate it onto the software... I'm more of a hands-on, let's get stuck in kinda gal (oo-err!).. ahem.

As i said, it's unfinished- i'm running out of time so i thought it was best i concentrated on the actual thing, rather than fannying around with rough ideas- since now, i pretty much know how things are gonna go. (except the butter, i'm still trying to figure out how the butter's going to be introduced).

It's all a bit mixed as well, last week i had no idea about character designs or whatever so i literally drew whatever. It's just to mark out how things are going to enter and exit and get a feel for the general pace of the animation.

Oh, and one last thing.
I know the flour enters and then suddenly disappears. He will be tripping over, making the flour go into the bowl, pick himself up and scurry off. But yeah, by then i had been working for a good 6-7 hours straight and nothing was working anymore.

Apologies and forgiveness.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Style Research

Since i experimenting with the different materials for my characters, i was interested in the aesthetics that it offered- which was a handmade and endearing feel which i quite enjoyed!

I thought it would be useful to have a gander at how illustrators that specialise in collaging materials to make their images, were able to make their work so dynamic using this method.

im totally in love with this image from "T is For Taxi", illustrated by Kate Slater. The mixed use of materials really offer that homemade quality so with the shadows, makes everything look more 3-D- as if you could reach out and touch the image. The skill of cutting out sections and layering papers ontop of eachother to create depth and texture (i.e. in the puddle) is really imaginative! as is the string connecting the leaves together to give the illusion of wind. Very cute.

This image was illustrated by Christiane Engel. Although the style is quite simplistic, it perfectly depicts the scene, by just the small trees in the distance, a few nuts on the floor and a little tuft of grass. Although minimalistic, the rest of the background is left to the imagination. The materials used don't seem to be as varied as Kate Slater's (previous picture) but the colour's chosen are appropriate for the content.

This was from a blog of a former student of university arts college bournemouth. I stumbled across her blog which can be seen here. Not only was it appropriate content for what i'm doing, but i love the fact she used more diverse materials other than paper, such as felt, found images and found textures to make her own objects (i.e. the hair). I love the fact some of the cakes are more detailed in stitching and decoration and some are just shapes- absolutely adorable. Again, it just feels like you can reach out and touch the image and feel all the little treats on the counter :) This image alone inspires me to one day make an animation with little bits of cute stitched felt!

i found this image on google images- im not aware of who created this piece. But again, loving the simple shapes and the simplicity. The natural colour palette really pulls the whole composition together.

Having looked at some of the research i've found, if i had time to make my animation collaged (which i wish i did), the most successful and dynamic ones for me, used more materials, and through the clever placing of materials, were able to convey and mood through simple shapes. The choice of colours are also important to set the tone and atmosphere of the image.

Character Designs

So i've been looking at Alex Dron's style and today, i attempted to adapt this to my characters...

First, i decided to try it out in my sketchbook- taking advantage of the cut-out taste that his style offers, i used found materials to create some characters. I also tried to keep to the rule of using organically cut out shapes as opposed to sketching the shapes and then cutting them out- instead i went straight into the paper with scissors or my hands so that it looked more handmade and fresh. I wouldn't usually post up pictures of stuff in my sketchbook onto my blog but i think the comparison would be quite nice:

Yeah... i don't suggest ever trying to cut out little itty bits of foil... bloomin nightmare!

After i did this, i thought i should probably, PROBABLY have a stab at doing what i was meant to be doing, and try to copy Alex Dron's style on something like Photoshop.. which i did. I noticed that he doesn't ever use any of the shape tools, he makes the shapes himself. I tried this out and really approve of this technique because it makes the characters look less forced and it gives them a little cheeky personality.

The only thing i did rebel on was creating a little shadow using the Burn Tool. I tried using the normal flat colour as he does but when i was painting away, i accidently used the burn tool and it looked quite cool. It added a bit of a 3-D twist to the whole 2-D look... I didn't get too carried away though, i didn't add highlights, it was only a bit of shadow so that you can still tell where the root of the influence came from.

So these are exactly the same character designs but digital:

I like how different medium adds their own thing to the characters personalities. The cut-out found materials technique is nice because it gives a handmade feel which is appropriate as the whole story is on homemade baking (all to do with making). The graphics style is also good since it would be easier to animate with and takes less time to create- and at the moment, time isn't really on my side, so although i like both styles, i may opt for the latter.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Style Searching

I've been looking for a style i like to inspire and influence my animation. So far i've been dithering in and out of my own style and i don't think it's as solid as i'd like... i think i'd feel more safe to have something to base the aesthetics on. I found this following animation on Cartoon Brew was animated by Alex Dron of Yukfoo Animation. I've seen some Fot and Angus animations before, once at last year's Flip Festival.

FOT & AnguS EP4 from alex dron on Vimeo.

The style is quite striking as it reminds me of Cartoon Network back in the day, the characters have a flat, almost cut-out like style so it looks Flashy yet handmade at the same time. They use 2-D in a really imaginative way so that the cut outs don't look tacky when they move. The lighting is all set in the background so that it doesn't need to move with the characters- making the work load a lot easier. This is definitely a style i want to try and translate into my work and see if it's effective....

This is an New Zealand Vodafone advert by the same guy- loving the bright colours- they all go together and aren't garish... the smooth camera transitions and the fun character movement... i think i've found an animation crush!... and what i love is that they've been doing adverts as well (e.g. Vodafone, Cinebuzz, car adverts and some charities) which is what i'm doing in this project!! ACE!


Here's another advert Yukfoo have done, slightly different style but you can tell it's all very similar by the transitions. A more realistic 2-D approach. Reminds me of those safety demonstrations the cabin crew gives you on a plane before you take off.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


Just doing some research to inspire me in terms of style, humour and effectiveness.

This following animation had my laughing, despite there being no dialogue, the story was simply told my personifying 2 inanimate objects. This pretty much relates in every way to what i'm doing since i too am trying to make inanimate objects enjoyable to watch.

Gumball Wars from Scott Thierauf on Vimeo.

This next one really reminds me of Ren and Stimpy- a cartoon i used to watch when i was younger. The humour is pretty much similar, and although the animation was pretty crude and Flashy, the expressions of the characters had me laughing all the way through :)
Not totally related to what i'm doing, other than animating food, but i liked it all the same.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Cupcake Tour

To get more bakery knowledge and see what the produce looks like for successful sweet businesses out there, i've decided to attack the heart of London. I've tried to make the most cost effective (keeping in Zone 1) and quickest route around... i'll need to settle on a day to go aswell... There were other bakeries but they were too far to reach and the others were quite happily close together.

So the idea is, is that i will drag a hungry housemate out with me to London where we will go on this cupcake tour, i will be recording my adventure with my camera, taking pictures of the establishments, and hopefully if they'll let me, take pictures of the cakes, sample a cake between us from all the bakeries (we're gonna be so fat!) and for my own interest, i'll be recording and noting down taste of the cakes and general experience.

I know it's a nightmare headache to read, but basically, i'll be following the squiggly red route around. All the text in opaque black writing are bakeries i won't be able to reach or are just branches of ones i'll already be visiting.

So if this all goes to plan, and if we're not dragging our feet, or get too fat, i'll be visiting NINE bakeries in total... 

Better get out the maternity pants.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Getting the ball rolling...

I'm just trying to find some job vacancies at the moment for any baking type job... it's hard to find specifically what i want since i'm really just interested in becoming a self-employed baker, one of those that makes cakes to order from home... so i dont really want to sweat away in a kitchen with all those stations, with an order for 60 million eclairs to be finished in half an hour. i thought i'd throw myself into a few training courses after uni- but for the sake of this module, i'm going to poke my nose into any successful business and hopefully get a few pieces of valuable advice out of them!

Fallen Angel Bakery
So far i've contacted Fallen Angel Bakery, based in Harbourne and Solihull. This bakery is interesting as it was opened up by a student whom studied a course at University College of Birmingham and went straight for the business and managed to do really well (very jealous)...

  That's a little screenshot there of the contact form on the site. (Just to prove I actually did it :P).. I'm now just waiting for a reply...

Here's what i said:

"Hi there,

I'm a 3rd year BCU student and an aspiring baker. I'm interested in gaining some experience or further knowledge in the field so that I can become a self-employed baker in the future.

I would fully appreciate any advice you would be able to offer me about successfully entering this industry, or any work experience available. I'm still an amateur baker so any help would be valuable to me :)

Thank you!"

Blue Door Bakery
Next, i was going to attack Blue Door Bakery, which is based in Worcestershire. Now, the interesting thing about this bakery is that not only do they sell cakes AND offer workshops on how to create and decorate different cupcakes, but actually offer a workshop on how to start your very own CUPCAKE BUSINESS (£125 should i invest?...) obviously, i dont just want to specialise in cupcakes, but im sure all the information is easily adaptable. I was going to contact them on advice on starting my own business, but i thought that might be just A BIT cheeky, considering they already run a class, and they might be able to tell that im sneaky pikey.

Here's a screenshot of the site:
(hmmm... maybe i could offer to redesign their website in return for advice)

I also left a comment on their blog, there was a post about what she wished she knew before starting a cake business- it hasnt scared me off. It was mainly about hand cream, comfy shoes and spreadsheets. She actually also mentioned that she was spending more time trying to figure out how to make a website- so maybe my bargain may be well received!! I did kind of slide that in the end of my comment... something like "as an animation student, i know how making websites can be. *wink wink nudge nudge*"

Well not quite that.

Honey 'n' Love Bakery
Also based in the Midlands, i've emailed this lady/bakery (i dont know if it's just one lady, the homepage seems to suggest so) with the same thing i said to the Fallen Angel Bakery... i'm thinking i should probably offer the same bargain of a new website for some work/advice:

Rotascoping revised

i found a way to rotascope my bowls on Toon Boom- this is better than using flash because it means the exported movie doesnt have any glitches with it. Also, thanks to the "reposition all drawings" tool in the programme, i was able to move all the frames and scale them down so i could draw in the rest of the bowl the camera cut off- so now you can see the whole bowl :)

Have a look: (i think i may prefer the rolling one now, as there's more character... we shall see)

Thursday, 3 November 2011


So when i looked at my videos and tried to copy the movement of the bowl, freehand, it was insanely difficult, mainly because the perspective is constantly changing and it basically was a giant mess that messed up my brain and then my head exploded.

So i thought id make life a little easier.

I've never rotascoped in my life, but i knew it was possible on Flash. I (very proudly) announce that i actually taught myself how to rotascope- no tutorials, no articles, no nothing. Just using the prompts from Flash, i knew to convert my mp4 video files to flv files, imported them to the library, dragged onto the stage and SHAZZAM!! i could scrub through the video frame by frame and using a different layer, i could draw ontop ^_^ happy days.

I'm aware that using this method can distort the audio of the recorded file, but that's fine because i wasnt using sound.

So here are my 2 rotascoped bowls:

i apologise for the marks on the videos AGAIN- this is the reason i love toon boom and hate flash, because exports just don't work for me on that programme. Anyway, having looked at both of these little bowl entrances, i think i prefer the 2nd, as it would best suit the fast-paced animation i'm preparing to do.

Video referencing

Just as i was thinking of doing an animatic for my animation, i realised that the beginning of the animation is proving to be quite difficult, with the moment and also when i showed the storyboard to my friends, they said the gingerbread man pulling the bowl is a nice idea but it might be quite a slow start for a fast paced animation. Especially as my canvas would be about 500px by 250px, the gingerbread man would have to pull him quite a long way before the bowl is in the centre.

So! i thought maybe the bowl rolling or skidding in might be a more time efficient and appropriate option.

But wait!
How does a bowl skid??

Well, i'll show you how (i took many videos, but here are the best 3):

this was more of a "roll in and a wobbly settle"

similar to the first, "roll in and a sturdy settle"

a skid in (instead of a roll)

I think im going to animate both and then decide from the tests which is the most appropriate entrance for the bowl.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


I'm desperately trying to figure out how to make a web banner... it's already taken me 4 hours to figure out how to convert a swf file into a url so that i could use html to post it on my blog.

i found this video that was quite helpful:

The bad news is that this video teased me as he states there's a magic swf server that gives you 1GB of free space and err... it's not active anymore!!! HOORAY!! :'((((((

Anyway, ive actionscripted this banner so that when you click on it, it takes you to another website. Unfortunately this isn't working but i've gotten over the first hurdle... i'm going to carry on trecking through until i figure out how to do it T_T...

Just Browsing

...found some very useful stuff:

this article has detailed instructions how to collaborate Toon Boom and Adobe Flash, so that you can add interactivity to your animations by actionscripting if you prefer to animate in Toon Boom (which i now do!)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Sugar Rush

I was fretting today about whether i was worthy of animating anything considering my skills are pretty shabby... especially that im planning to animate inanimate objects (stuff i dont really have a reference for!) So i thought today, i'd have a stab at re-doing and improving my sugar walk test... enjoy!