Saturday, 27 September 2014

Project: Invisible Cities - Initial Thumbnail Sketches 1, 2, and 3

Invisible Cities is our first ever project based around the aspect of concept design. As part of the brief, we are tasked with creating thumbnail sketches based upon extracts of the novel "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino. It has been noted that each city has been named after a woman. Whether these descriptions of said cities are meant for relating to a female of a similar name, we are not sure.

Below are the first few thumbnail sets that I have completed. Each set was made into an exercise, sort of a challenge if you will, so that each individual box had to be filled with different, with only a minute to complete each box.




As these are just initial ideas, I thought that it'd be best to be quick with sketching, so although it isn't a crisp clean linear artwork, the ideas are there. It is best to work quickly and efficiently. I was also experimenting with different brush tools in Photoshop so that I could get used to the feeling of how each brush handles. Time to get back to some more tablet work!

It's all a bit loopy - Our First Session with Animation and Character

So on Friday, our year was due our first session with Animation and Character. As a start, we were tasked with creating a loop animation using a paper disk:

Basically, this disk was going to be placed on a zeotrope. A zeotrope is a device that allows the illusion of motion to be displayed using a series of images drawn so that they are believed to be going through the process of motion.

In this video, the 2D animation is displayed on the mirror, reflecting the image to the viewer. The zeotrope is spun at a certain speed so that the illusion of motion is taking place.


Although, because this was our first time handling one of these devices, we didn't realise that we had made our ball look like it was bouncing on the ceiling! 

We then progressed to create a group morph animation, where we had to draw the person sitting on our left, and then copy the image of ourselves created by the person sitting on our right. With these two images, we then had to produce the rest of the 10 frames that would come in between our original images, creating the morphing scene, thus giving us 12 frames per person. 12 frames resulted in one second of footage. Here's the results!


Friday, 26 September 2014

Film Review - Robert Wiene's "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920)

Fig. 1 - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Movie Poster

It is no surprise that Robert Wiene’s, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (also known as Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari, 1920) has been noted as the pinnacle of creative art house film. Essentially, it was this film that started the development of the film industry and allowed it to become what we know as this extravagant fantasy world. As one of the most influential films within the Silent Era, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a German Expressionist, silent, black and white film produced within the 1920’s.

The film portrays that of a psychological theme, touching into the horror genre, displaying what is now known as the first “classic twist” towards the end of the film, which would be assumed as rather disturbing within the 1920’s. The ending could have caused the audience to question themselves, second guessing their own choices in what they thought they knew. The dramatised expressions and the dance-like movements displayed by the actors emphasises the impact of the situation within the scene. For example, as Cesare carries Jane away over many jagged terrains, the villagers become this sort of mad, bustling mob with flailing arms and quick paced movements.

Fig. 2 - Cesare carrying Jane over the rooftops

The camera shots were vital to setting the scene, so to speak. “Wiene is fond of the iris shot, which opens or closes upon a scene like an eye.” Due to this artistic direction, the opening and closing of the ‘eye’ conveys that the audience is blinking into the next scene, the catch being that they have a sense what is going on whereas the characters may not, like an exclusive secret that is about to be revealed. Wiene would also tend to create close up shots of each characters, allowing the audience to decipher the character, and see them for who they are.

Fig. 3 - Cesare creeping through the streets at night

The weird and twisted atmosphere of the surroundings of the characters are notably some of the most expressionistic sets to have been made. In true German Expressionist style, “most of the set (designed and implemented by Hermann Warm, Walter Röhrig, and Walter Reimann) is a two-dimensional backdrop constructed of paint on flat canvas. The image of three-dimensional people walking through this starkly two-dimensional world is disorienting, making the universe within Caligari seem slightly off-kilter.”

Although Wiene’s “Caligari” may not be the most extravagant of affairs, it is certainly a memorable one. “Not only does provide an engaging visual experience, unlike any other, it offers something few other films can – the background and foundation to better understand and appreciate those films that followed in its footsteps.” To what is stated to be the origin of horror itself, Robert Wiene’s, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari certainly set an impression upon it’s viewing audience, not only surprising us with the extensive artistic background and tremendous effort put towards production, but it differs from other films, showing how collaboration between art and film can become a masterpiece within itself.


Ebert, R (June 3rd, 2009) (Accessed on 26/09/14)

Merriam, J (October 13th, 2008) (Accessed on 26/09/14)


Fig. 1 - Wiene, R, (Accessed on 26/09/14)

Fig. 2 - Wiene, R, (Accessed on 26/09/14)

Fig. 3 - Wiene, R, (Accessed on 26/09/14)

Monday, 22 September 2014

You Learn Something New Everyday - An Introduction to Autodesk Maya and Photoshop

And so concludes yet another busy day at UCA. As it was the official start of term today, we thought we'd kick things off by jumping straight in with getting to know the software that we will be using for  the many days to come.

As computer animation students, the basis for our artistic toolkits are the software known as Autodesk Maya and Photoshop. We will essentially be working primarily on our computer drawing tablets, BUT that doesn't necessarily mean to say that traditional methods of art, such as drawing, painting and sculpting, aren't relevant. On the contrary, drawing and painting are just some of the basic foundations that are vital for us to kick start our animating careers, so to speak.

The day started off with getting to know our tutors who will be with us throughout our learning process of the programs. And then came the hard part. AUTODESK. MAYA.

Let me just say that, although this is an incredible piece of technology, it's pretty tedious to begin with. There was dragging, shifting, rotating, bending, stretching; basically there was a lot of manipulating tools to grasp the concept of.

Admittedly, I found it a little hard to navigate around the screen because there was so many components that I didn't understand. I may be a novice with Maya, but I feel it's going to be one of those things that I'll get used to the more I practise and handle it. BUT we all definitely needed a break!

After refreshing ourselves, it was back to the computer bays, only this time, we were handling something that, I feel, everyone was a little more familiar with. Photoshop!

To limber ourselves up and to get everyone used to the drawing tablets, we allowed ourselves to experiment a little with the different tools and brushes the program offered.

Again, I was a bit of a novice with Photoshop at first, but having experience with using a tablet and similar photo manipulation programs, it didn't take long getting used to. I actually enjoyed every moment I was on my tablet, after buying a brand new shiny tablet, I'm determined to put it to full use inside and outside of university!

During our Photoshop session, we were also given a few tasks to do, but I will post about those soon enough. Watch this space to find out more!

Friday, 19 September 2014

And we've finally made it! - CAA Summer Project Challenge (Final Turn Around Designs)

 So after coming up with as many design ideas as I could, it was finally time to pick my top 3! Unfortunately I wasn't able to produce 101 ideas completely, but I tried being as imaginative as I could.

So for each "turn around" image, I had to choose my favourite Structure design, Life form design, and my favourite Machine design. Looking back on what I had produced, to me, numbers 6, 7, and 14 were the winners:

So after deciding my favourites, I had to create refined turn around images of my final decisions. Here's how they turned out:



And there we have it! My final turn around designs! I have very much enjoyed this project, although there were times when I struggled for some inspiration. They don't call this a summer "challenge" for nothing! But, nevertheless, I had fun working on it ^.^

I hope you enjoyed viewing my work, and hopefully look forward to seeing my future works. Please feel free to let me know what you think of my ideas, all critiques are welcome. I'm always looking to improve!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Pocket Full of Stuff (Concepts 45 and 46)

And so the experimentation continues! Another method I considered using for producing ideas was to incorporate tracing paper as a tool; introducing the Pocket Full of Stuff!

 As you can see, inside the pocket are tracings of the objects given to me. Each tracing is just a simple outline, but my idea was to take a few tracings and use layering as a method to produce new ideas. Below are just a couple of experimentations I have produced.
I enjoyed the effect given by number 45, the overlapping of the one object has given definition to create a new shape. Either that, or it just looks a bit silly. BUT that is what experimentation is for! You never know unless you try!

So, as a conclusion, personally I think that although it can be fun to overlap, don't over do it, otherwise you can't make sense of what's going on. Back to the drawing board!

Nearly there! - CAA Summer Challenge (Concepts 27 - 44)

As a continuation from my previous post, here are some more concept designs as part of my summer project challenge!

Admittedly, I am starting to strain for ideas as to what else I could capture given the concepts and objects I have. As I mentioned previously, I was having a recurrence with symmetry in my designs, so now I'm trying to broaden my ideas by becoming more abstract and asymmetrical with the concepts.
I think what I need to improve on the most is be my time management skills and quick thinking. My pace is not quite up to the speed I want it to be, so looks like it's more practise for me! Wish me luck!

Also, feel free to let me know what you think so far. All critiques are welcome!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

So It Begins - CAA Summer Project Challenge (Concepts 1 - 26) and a Quick Introduction

Hello there everyone! It's very nice to meet you all (or at least, you know, see you reading my post). My name is Chelsea and I am a new student proceeding into the BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts course at UCA! ^.^ Feel free to drop me a message saying hello, I look forward getting to know you all.

As part of entering this course, we have been given a summer project to complete before we arrive. The challenge was to create 101 concept drawings based off a certain amount of objects. So, to start off my days of blogging, here are a few of the concept drawings I've come up with so far:

As these are initial ideas, they are a bit sketchy, but initial ideas usually are at the beginning. I've also noticed that I have a continuous use of symmetry in my silhouette ideas, so maybe I could now try something more abstract in my next few designs.

And there you have it! My first post! \(^.^)/
I hope you have enjoyed viewing my ideas so far, feel free to comment one what you think, I'm always open to criticisms.

(Also feel free to tell me if I ramble on too much, I never know what to write in these things!)