December 24, 2009 progress

It's aaaaalmost done. I have to fix some of the painting and the rim lighting, but essentially this is what my completed Action Analysis assignment looks like. Short, but hopefully sweet. :) Huge thanks to Chris for helping me composite and to San for the painting feedback.

Next semester there'll be about 30 of these to take care of while making our film. Phew. Wish me luck!

December 18, 2009

AA Background

Well, hopefully this is a step up from box in a room. This is my background for the Action Analysis assignment this semester. We are finally making a completed scene with fully coloured background and animation. I will be sure to post the finished scene as soon as possible, but I wanted to show the bg first because as soon as you add a moving character to a composition that's all you watch.

The piece isn't entirely finished, but with the hectic schedule I've had recently, it might be as far as I get with it for a while. Anyway, enjoy for now.

December 16, 2009

paintin' a cardboard box

So, San's been teaching me some fancy-schmancy digital painting techniques, and what you see here is the result of one lesson. This is my first real digital painting. A simple cardboard box in a room. San said, "Make the sexiest box in a room you can." Or something like that. It's been good practice for my Action Analysis project, which has a similar feel and colour scheme. Hopefully, I'll have more dynamic compositions to show soon.

November 20, 2009

Royal Winter Fair '09

It's that time of year again...

You gotta love the Royal Winter Fair. There's tons to draw, and there are characters everywhere in both the animals and the people. You don't even have to TRY! I wish I could spend the whole week there.

These three birds were a result of a strutting turkey and gossiping, Victorian-type geese. The mallard isn't as impressed by the turkey's assets as his girlfriend is.

The intention was to gouache these guys up, but I didn't like how it was turning out. Here's the line work nonetheless.

October 16, 2009


Our group film is underway, and although things are really busy I thought I should throw up a concept piece. I am really stoked about this project, and I will be sure to update now and then as to the development of the film. Until then, enjoy the sunset.

August 28, 2009

Life in Whistler

Just for good measure, thought I should throw up some life drawings from the summer. We are so spoiled with free life drawing at Sheridan. When away, I appreciate it so much more. I vow to hit the open sessions 3-4 times per week this school year. Hold me to that!

Chili Thom

Two birds, one stone:

This week my favourite Whistler artist, Chili Thom, agreed to give me a tutoring lesson on colour. I was stoked because I think he has such exciting colours in his pieces that jump off the page. He gave me a few seemingly simple tips that are already helping my work.

The cherry on top is that I've been hankering for a longboard (think skateboard meets surfing) for about two years, and I finally found my ideal board hanging in Chili's studio! Left is my new board, and I not wait to go for a ride tomorrow. Unfortunately, I only have two days to enjoy the beautiful valley trails in Whistler, but nonetheless this is a pretty sick ride to school.

Chili has the ideal Whistler life; he is a painter, DJ, and filmaker who surfs, shreds, and more. Check his stuff out below, online, or the next time you're in Whistler...which I suggest is sooner than later.

August 24, 2009

On That Note...

I know I just said I was going to take a break, but then I discovered something exciting. Ain't it always the way? I've been studying more Rembrandt, and I decided to try an experiment with mixed media: oil and digital.

I would love to paint my fourth year film in traditional oils, but I also realize that it's extremely time consuming, plus I also need a lot more training with oil. Here, I've started the piece with a traditional oil block-in (above) and finished it in Photoshop (right). I know I can't be the first one to do this; however, it's really exciting because I feel it has the texture and look of traditional media, but I was able to use layers and undo!

This study is from a black and white textbook photograph of a Rembrandt, but I still got what I wanted to get from the exercise. I'll just have to get to Europe to paint from the real pieces. Someday...

August 21, 2009

Be the Tortoise

As the summer's coming to a close it would seem, from looking at my infrequent blog posts, that I haven't been doing much with art. In fact, I have been doing too much with art. In April I decided that I would lay out a summer semester for myself complete with a reading week and three weeks off before the fall semester. I took an extra elective to lighten the fourth year schedule (which I highly recommend doing), and I also set weekly assignments for myself ranging from readings to specific projects such as copying a master oil painting. I did fairly well with sticking to my schedule, and I did learn a great deal, but at the end of it all I am left feeling a little burnt out. I need a break from this break.

I am reminded of some strong words of advice given to me by some close friends who are successful, professional artists. In first year, Sam told me that "It's a marathon." You keep a steady pace so as to not wear yourself out. Robin Muller retold the timeless story of the Tortoise and the Hare. It seems flashy to out-run the competition, but the same advice was given to me in musical theatre; those who rise quickly, fall quickly.

Finally, an elderly man, Colin, sitting across the table from me in this cafe just reinforced the idea of LSD: long, slow distances. In his youth he would try to beat the seasoned cross-country runners to the finish, but whenever he reached the same steep hill each day the older men would breeze past him. He learned that he must pace himself and run alongside his peers instead of always trying to defeat them.

I really enjoy what I do, and I want to be able to enjoy art and the animation industry for years to come. It's time to keep that steady pace and be able to last 'til the end. Just to drive home this concept, here's the Disney take on the Tortoise and the Hare, and I think Walt knew what he was doing. See you all in September.

July 13, 2009

Rembrandt 'n the Dutch Gang

My friend, San, is at this very moment tromping around Europe. He's going to world class galleries, and I am very jealous. Although I can't get to the Louvre, I do have the Vancouver Art Gallery within arms' reach.

Normally, I wouldn't be keen on seeing the same old Emily Carrs that the west is so fond of, but right now the VAG (seriously, that's the acronym...yeah) has an exhibit on loan from Amsterdam called 'The Golden Age of Dutch Art' that includes Rembrandt and Vermeer. Sick.

It was amazing to see these 17th century artists' work. Such fine draftsmen and colourists. I learned a great deal about composition, lighting, paint application, texture, and more. I fully understand why students are to learn from the Masters and see the work in person. It was an honour to walk straight up to the painting to see exactly how the brush stroke accomplished a certain effect.

Above is an oil study I did of a Rembrandt self-portrait. You're not allowed to paint at the VAG, so I did this a week or so ago in preparation for the big exhibit. Apparently Rembrandt rarely used more than red, yellow, and black in his compositions. I gave it a shot here, but added a little white for the accent. I wouldn't hold this next to the original, it's too embarrassing, but if you are still curious it's here. I also just learned that Rembrandt had his students copy his self-portraits as part of their training. Kind of a cool coincidence (and a little narcissistic).

I understand that art today has evolved, but I would love to see more artists striving for that impeccable level of discipline that existed in the Golden Age of painting. Perhaps it has always been few and far between who have mastered gesture, character, line, colour, and so on. Maybe that's why we see the same artists in all the museums across the globe. Maybe that's why they are called Masters.

June 29, 2009

Whistler Livin'

It's been a lot of cinematography talk on here lately, so I thought I should post a sketch. One of the many Whistler patios in the sunshine. We are so spoiled here, and it's hard to focus on producing artwork when there are lakes and mountains calling your name. Plus, when you only get four months a year to travel, be active, and gain some alternative input (not that Oakville isn't stimulating enough) then you better fill your cup while you can, y'know?

On that note, I'm going outside...

June 15, 2009

My Turn

I am no Polanksi or anything, and my camera is pretty weak, but that didn't stop me from capturing shots around Whistler. Whenever I saw some type of story possible I pressed record. Below are the results of the day and some findings I discovered along the way...

First up is my favourite house on my morning walk. Here I learned that, just like any story, each shot has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We start off with a view of the brook to give the audience an idea as to the type of environment we're in. The camera catches a car (invisible here) moving across the bridge, which causes us to change panning directions. Finally, the car speeds out of frame, leaving the audience with a view of the house where the car is supposedly headed.

Below are the quilted BGs. One as the camera sees it, and another with a potential (but very crude) animation layer.

The following shot is a little more complex, but once I put it together it made a lot more sense. The idea is that we are following the character up the stairs and around the corner to the phonebooth. In the end, the trickiest part (aside from warping the layout properly) would be making sure the character maintained its volume and stayed planted on the ground. I have to thank the English Patient work I did for helping me with that task.

This was a happy accident. I just wanted to film a busy intersection to contrast with the peaceful mountains, but when the Purolator truck entered the frame a better story developed; it seems like the Purolator truck is delivering something up the mountain! lol Lesson here: what is at the beginning of a shot will unavoidably relate to the end of the shot, and vice versa.

Next up, I discovered that it looks really cool to move from an interior to an exterior. It feels really sneaky, as if someone has a secret or someone is the target of an evil plot. Here I thought it looked like the protagonist (again, invisible, but seen in crude drawings) was sitting on a bench inside with his reflection in the mirror while the antagonist was making a call to his boss on the payphone to say "I got him".

Also, it's awesome that you can move from a bright set to a dark set in one shot.

You know, there are much fewer verticle pans than there are horizontal or diagonal pans. Perhaps we don't look up or down as often as we stare straight ahead. Here, I stood on a bridge and caught this cyclist from above and followed him into the distance. Creepy...maybe...yes--but effective.

And finally, another deceptful-looking shot moving from an exterior to an interior this time. I'm not sure if I nailed the porportions of the character or not, but you get the idea. It seemed to me like he was going to his car to begin a mission.

It's key to remember that the character continues moving even when a large forground element covers him. He will most likely change porportions and/or direction by the time he gets out the other side.

And there you have it! After this first session I feel a teensy bit more knowledgeable and hopefully next time out in the field I will be able to capture more ambitious shots.

June 8, 2009

Same Same, but Different

And the screen-capping adventures continue...

After the layout discovery with Oliver Twist, I moved onto Anthony Minghella's The English Patient. Beautifully shot film. I had much more difficulty quilting these shots together, but it was worth the effort as I learned quite a bit. For example, the camera is like the audience's heart-rate. When you want them to breathe really quickly, make quick cuts. When you want them to rest, use long, sweeping shots. This I already knew, but analyzing films just reinforces the concept.

The first group below is comprised of all the straight-forward camera moves; pans and diagonals. Most are rest-period shots, but the half-moon background in the desert has a slight feeling of panic on screen.

Now things get a little trickier. Truck ins and rotating shots are incredibly awkward to piece together without layers. I fully appreciate the use of CG now. Some of the shots in live action are just impossible to achieve in traditional animation. The perspective is always changing. You would have to animate everything. Mad. Also, I think we often forget about hand-held shots. They can be really versatile and intimate.

Because this group is more awkward, I've also posted the boards below the background. Check out the complex staging in the first shot of the couple.

Okay, now these next shots just looked ridiculous when quilted. Everything was on top of each other, and I just couldn't make heads or tails out of it. Nonetheless, I've posted the boards because they are examples of how gorgeous camera work can reveal all the information the audience needs in one fluid shot.

After talking to Hans about my epiphany -- get this -- I thought I could offer a tip for his students in Asia. He trumped me by saying not only does he encourage his students to do this exercise already, but he tells them to get an actual videocamera, get out there, create their own shots, and analyse their own backgrounds. Yeah, it was like I told the Dali Lama how he should be meditating. Good one, Jamie. So guess what's next? You'll see my oh-so-developed camera skills. Beware.

June 2, 2009

a camera is a camera is a camera

This a new discovery for me, and everyone else may already know it, but I'm stoked about it and had to share...

As you may know, Hans Bacher posts many recreated animation backgrounds. Same same, but different. While screen-capping Polanski's Oliver Twist I was mainly looking at composition and lighting, but eventually I found myself wondering "How did he do that shot?" I took sections of each pan (or truck, or diagonal...) and stitched them together in Photoshop. Without realizing it, I had discovered how the layout would have to be drawn if the shot was animated!

The patched-up shots clearly showed what would be in the frame at any given time, where the necessary warping would be, which elements needed to be animated, where the characters would walk, etc.! For someone like myself, who finds planning a complicated layout about as easy as climbing Mount Everest, this analytical look at live-action shots shows that a camera is a camera regardless of whether the film is animated or live-action. Animation layouts may look all warped and funky, and they may seem to be a beast of their own, but they are drawn that way because that's what we see on the screen in live-action!

Below are a few of the quilted shots from Oliver. Some match up perfectly, but where they don't quite work is where the drawing would be warped or animated. It all makes sense now!!

The UPA Attempt

With our last character design assignment we were given the option to explore a flatter, UPA-style design, so I thought I'd give it a go. I realized that it's much harder than it looks. The designs are simple, but you really have to know your shapes and positive/negative space. I am still in the beginning stages of understanding these design concepts, but working on the characters above really forced me to focus on the essentials of a design. All tips and crits are welcome.

These three are the villains from our last storyboarding assignment. In the Wild West, these guys are not to be crossed.

March 31, 2009

Keep Your Dead Birds to Yourself

So there appears to be a surplus of dead bird reference on this blog. I may need to reflect on my current mental state. Anyway, I get some slack for not posting my animation assignments on here, so today is a milestone of sorts. After an inspiring lesson from Braden I was much more enthused about this piece than my past animations. He taught me how to better plan my scenes and really nail down the story poses before trying to fill in the inbetweens. Thanks, man. I'm stoked about diving into the next assignment; a beak sync. (Yeah, another bird...weeeeiiird.)

The Hand

Recently, the Sheridan second years were lucky enough to get into the University of Toronto Medical Labs. (Picture lots of severed and sliced body parts floating in formaldehyde.) Given a few hours to sketch the specimens, everyone was intensely working away.

Inspired by my friend, Sam Bradley, I tentatively brought out my watercolours. A while later, this hand emerged. Not the best scan of the piece, though, so I'll try to update the picture shortly. Until then, creep yourself out.

March 15, 2009

San Fan

Caught my dear friend, San, watching a film--a whole film, which is unusual for the workaholic-- and decided to do a quick oil portrait. I'm sure he liked Raging Bull more than his expression here shows. I was paying more attention to the shapes and values rather than his hypnotic state. Actually, I was foremost studying the media. I've wanted to try oil painting for a while now, but I don't really know what I'm doing with it. lol If you have any tips, please share them!

March 8, 2009


Look! I made something!

Over reading week a couple of Sheridan friends and I made a 16 hour film! It was supposed to be a 24 hour film, but thank goodness Saud got tired and called the whistle after 12 hours. I am useless after midnight anyway. Ashlyn was a hero and composited the thing, adding the extra 4 hours or so. In the end, we came out with this little ditty entitled Look Before You Leap.


February 27, 2009


Seems like the word of the week is "Shape". I wish it had been the word of the last couple years because I now see how important it is to drawing, painting, and overall design. The concept is still a little zygote in my mind. I need to take some time to nurture it, but I am really looking forward to the discoveries to come.

February 19, 2009

Figure Painting 101

I've recently been brave (or foolish) enough to try figure painting with watercolours. Being inspired by the bold colours of Charles Reid's figure paintings, I've definitely taken some liberties here. I do not profess to have anywhere near Charles Reid's capabilities, but hey, 'ya gotta start somewhere. Plus, slapping colour around is fun, and that's what really matters in the end.