Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

Patrick Osborne to Deliver Cogswell Commencement Address

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Source: Animation Magazine

Sunnyvale, CA — Cogswell College, a 600-student educational institution offering a unique curriculum fusing Digital Art, Engineering and Entrepreneurship, will host Academy Award-winning animation director Patrick Osborne (“Feast”) during the school’s commencement ceremonies on May 16th. The event begins at 11 AM, and will be held at Club Auto Sport in San Jose, CA.

Based on the theme of “Learning to enjoy the blank page in front of you,” Osborne’s keynote will address Cogswell’s Class of 2015.

“It is such an honor and privilege to have Patrick Osborne, a brilliant and gifted animation industry director, agree to speak to our students on one of the most important days in their lives — college graduation,” said Dr. Deborah Snyder, Cogswell College’s President & Chief Academic Officer. “His exceptional talent serves as a role model for many of our students who aspire to walk in his footsteps. We are so grateful he is willing to share his experience and ideas with our students, as they embark upon the next phase of their careers.”

Osborne is the winner of a 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his original short film, Feast. Starting in 2008, he worked in-house with Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he animated on Bolt, Tangled and Wreck it Ralph, and acted as Head of Animation on the Oscar winning Paperman. In addition, Osborne was also the co-head of animation on the smash hit animated feature film, Big Hero 6.

Osborne began his professional career as an Animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where he animated on an assortment of films, including I Am Legend and Surf’s Up. He later worked at gaming company Electronic Arts, Inc., where he contributed to the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 videogame title.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, he is a 2003 graduate from the Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Computer Animation. Osborne lives with his wife, Ali, in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.

Source Article: Animation Magazine

Juan Rubio

Recent News in Animation and More

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

source: (cc) flickr user fleecircus

When reading about famous animators I’ve come to realize there is a very clear trend, there seems to be more coverage of male talent vs female. Is it that I’m not looking in the right places? Or perhaps there is actually more male than female artists in general, I’m not exactly sure to be quite honest. Luckily, Canadian artist Heather Kai Smith has taken it upon herself to create a website/database called Great Women Animators.

Great Women Animators says its a “collection, dissemination and categorization of identified women who have or currently work in the field of animation.” The website features biographies, filmographies, and images from female artists from the early 1910′s up until present day, illustrators, and contributors. Not limiting itself to western film, Great Women Animators also features artists from Japan, the former Soviet Union, and other international animation regions.

The project began as a month long series of film screenings hosted by Kai Smith in the summer of 2014. At the event, the attendees analyzed and explored “techniques and thematic influences of these women animators” and took part in “discussions regarding feminism in the field of animation, masculine and feminine aesthetics, and what it means to be a woman working with animation today.”

Great Women Animators is very much a living, breathing creation, which is to say its a work in progress that’s constantly evolving. The about page reads, “This is an ONGOING project and this list is by no means comprehensive. New animators are added all the time.”. The website also features a resource list, where visitors can look at and explore related websites, events and academic journals.

The site not only sheds light on women animators, but its also a reminder of all the work that goes on behind the scenes of our favorite cartoons and and movies. Please check out the website and show your support!

source: schmoesknow.com

In other news, Pixar’s new movie “Inside Out” has been confirmed to premier at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival! Director Pete Doctor, who was behind “Up” (the first animated feature ever to be the festival’s Opening Ceremony film), producer Jonas Rivera (Up), and co-director Ronnie Del Carmen (Up) will be in attendance at Cannes, along with members of the all-star English-language voice cast.

“We are overjoyed at being included in this year’s official selection at Cannes,” said Docter. “With Inside Out, we spent years imagining — and then building — never-before-seen settings and characters within the mind. It was an incredible, fun and exciting challenge and now we can’t wait to share it with the world.”

“Inside Out” follows the story of a young girl named Riley, who moves away from her life in the Midwest when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Riley is guided by her emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the central hub inside Riley’s mind, where they help get her through her struggles in adjusting to a new city and school.

Disney/Pixar is going to ‘Inside Out’ in 3D in theaters everywhere starting June 19, 2015. The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival will kick off on May 13th, and you can view a trailer for the film on YouTube.

Source: Cartoon Brew

Also premiering at Cannes is filmmaker Mark Osborne’s ‘Le Petit Prince’ (The Little Prince), known for being the director of Dreamwork’s ‘Kung Fu Panda’, Osborne’s take on the french children’s story is fresh and vibrant. It will be released October 7, 2015 in France by Paramount Pictures, a US date has not been announced but Paramount Vantage has US screening rights already. The film is a new interpretation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic 1943 novel ‘The Little Prince’, presented through the eyes of a young girl who discovers the book thru en elderly reclusive neighbor.

The film features two distinct styles, a familiar and contemporary CG world while we follow the girl’s story, and a beautifully rendered paper world when following The Little Prince. In this vibrant world everything is made of different sorts of paper and animated with the meticulous process of stop motion. We see everything from scraps of torn construction paper, to elaborate sets carefully made out of tissue paper, the world of ‘The Little Prince’ offers a refreshing break from the otherwise standard style of most CG animated films today. The book is the most-translated-French story of all time, selling over 150 million copies worldwide. The new movie was developed primarily by Mikros Image in Montreal, Canada, where Osborne is currently residing.

Watch a trailer for the movie on YouTube.

Juan Rubio

Pixar Resume Presentation

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Source: Pixar Times

On April the 29th, I attended a presentation at Pixar by two leading HR recruiters in the industry who specified the do’s and don’ts of the application process. The presentation was highly informative and answered many burning questions that any applicants might have for companies looking to hire. I took notes on what the recruiters said they were looking for, and would like to share them with other Cogswell students.

Resumes
• Include all of work experience with dates, keep updated. Don’t worry so much about formatting.
• Put work experience before schooling.
• Make contact info easy to find.
• List software skills. (Maya, Zbrush, etc) Make sure of proficiency. Some people put level of experience next to the software.
• Clubs, interests, awards are good to list.
• Font doesn’t matter, readability does.
• Prior work experience that isn’t industry experience is acceptable.
• References aren’t necessary, they come later in the hiring process.
• If you took time off to travel, include in resume.
• High school details don’t really matter.
• Objectives, if included, should be focused. It’s ok not to have it.
• Personal logos don’t matter so much.
• If you have experience/education in one thing but really have interest in another, present that.
Cover Letter
• In production, the cover letter is everything. It’s all recruiters have to know your personality.
• Summarize who you are, what you do, and why you want to do the job. Don’t go on about your life story, but clearly explain why you would be the best candidate.
• It is very good to have a cover letter, and you should always have one available. Sometimes, hiring managers do skip reading the cover letter and go straight to the resume.
• Don’t be a fanboy.
• Don’t be arrogant. The cover letter is about your story and you—tell it like one.
• Humility and being humble will take you far.
Demo Reels
• Should be around 2 minutes. Quality is better than quantity. Most recent work in the front if possible, things that you’re really proud of.
• Do call-outs in your demo reel, clarifying what you did if you’re presenting group work. Be honest about what you’ve done, specify your job.
• Sound isn’t necessary, unless it’s lip-syncing.
• ONLY include best stuff. Don’t put in filler material.
• If submitting on a website, having demo reels separated into different subjects/different areas might be good.
• They can see all the positions you’ve applied to. Don’t go applying for every job available at the studio. Be certain about what you want.
• It’s ok if the demo reel is super short, only include best work.
• Social media can influence a decision.
Interview
• Be well-presented. Dress well, care about hygiene and personal appearance.
• Come prepared. Make sure links, material is all set and ready to go.
• Do research on the company. Know about the films and their work.
• Come early, rather than late.
• Show interest, speak about what you’re applying for. Know about your position.
• Ask genuine questions, ones you can’t find on the website.
• Be humble!!
• Make eye contact with everyone.
• Write a thank-you email to the recruiters. It’s okay to follow up.
• Check-in emails are good. If you got really close in the interview process, every 3-6 months you can stay in contact with recruiters.

Sierra Gaston

Recent News in Animation

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Image source: http://referentiel.nouvelobs.com/

The Academy-award nominated, BAFTA award winning, and French academy award (Cesar) winning filmmaker and director Sylvain Chomet (director of ‘The Illusionist’ and ‘The Triplets of Belleville’) has just directed a brand new animated music video for “Carmen“, a song off of Rwandan-Belgian rapper Stromae’s album ‘Racine Carrée’.

The video is very clearly done in Chomet’s style, a look achieved by scanning pencil drawings into the computer and then coloring them. With minimal cleanup if any, and watercolor style backgrounds, this creates a more raw look that is both appealing and refreshing to see. The song is loosely based on the 1800′s opera of the same name, and features an animated Stromae struggle with his addiction to Twitter. What begins as a small habit soon turns into a massive weight on his shoulders, an obsession that sinks its claws into every facet of his life, from friendship to love.

The video was released Tuesday, March 31st on Buzzfeed, and has gotten over 5 million views on Buzzfeed and 2 million views on Youtube. It was produced at Th1ng, Chomet was not only the director but served as lead animator as well alongside Neil Boyle. Background layout was done by Marcin Lichowski, while Kirk Hendry served as lead compositor and lighting designer for the short.

Fans of Chomet’s style might also want to check out his Simpson’s Couch gag, which can be viewed on Th1ngs channel on Vimeo.

Source: cartoonbrew.com

Industry veteran Will Finn (animator, voice actor, character designer, storyboard artist and director) with nearly 40 years of experience has offered his thoughts and advice to anyone who’s dream it is to work in animation. In his blog post, “Why You Shouldn’t Want A Job In Animation”, Finn spoke about and explained the difference between a ‘job’ and a ‘career’ in animation:

“To me a job is something you depend on from an employer. It’s theirs to give and theirs to take away… A career is something I have to be responsible for based on my reputation, my ability, and my preferences. I don’t expect much beyond what I invoiced for last week, and I keep tabs on whatever’s coming up—staying in touch with long-term contacts and making new ones almost constantly. I try to keep at least one ‘Plan B’ in mind at all times. And that’s fine. A career is like a life: mine to tend, mine to succeed or fail at, mine to take credit and blame for, mine to earn. I would not have it any other way.”

In the post, Finn also speaks about what it was like starting his career at Walt Disney Animation studios. Following his childhood dream only to have that dream ripped apart after “barely nine months” on the job”, while working on ‘The Fox and the Hound”, getting into behind the scenes politics, his run in’s with the higher ups, and producing work that was “substandard even for a newbie”.

This was his first crash and burn with Disney, Finn would later come back to Disney to supervise the characters of Cogsworth in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and Iago in ‘Aladdin’, he also worked for Warner Bros., Dreamworks, the Don Bluth Studio, Reel FX, IMAGI, Renegade Animation, and others.

In his third leg at Disney in 1999, Finn would come to realize that his original childhood dream of working at Disney until retirement was clouded by the innocent lens of youth.

“Senior Disney artists who I remember envying on that day in 1979 when I got let go were being given their 20th and 25th anniversary pins alongside pink slips terminating their employment. Some of them had never worked outside the studio and the transition must have been difficult. But at that point I knew while I still admired their talent and artistry, I had stopped envying the idea of a long tenure at a single studio long ago. In 2004, I was on the pavement again, looking for work.”

If you would like to read the full post, please do so on Will’s Blog.

Juan Rubio

Recent News in Animation

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Image from cartoonbrew.com

Tonko House, the studio founded by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, is making a feature film based on their short ‘The Dam Keeper‘.

The news came with the announcement that Tonko House is pairing up with First Second Books, an offshoot of McMillan, to expand the short into a series of graphic novels. The first book in ‘The Dam Keeper‘ series will be released in 2016, picking up after the events of the short, and set a few years after Pig’s original story. The book will address two unanswered questions from the short: What became of Pig’s parents? And how did his world come under the influence of a dark cloud? To date, no further details of the feature film have been divulged.

As a fan of the Academy Award nominated short, I await any new details or sneak peaks with bated breath, this is going to be great!

Image from Cartoon Saloon

In other news, Oscar nominated film ‘Song of the Sea‘ from Cartoon Saloon and ‘The Secret of Kells‘ director Tomm Moore, is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD! ‘Song of the Sea‘ takes the viewer into the wonderful world of Irish folklore. It features a fantastic art style incorporating techniques used in ‘The Secret of Kells‘ and mixes it with watercolors, creating a world bursting with color and personality.  It’s truly a treat for the eyes. Based on the Irish legend of the Selkies, the story tells of the last seal-child, Saoirse, and her brother Ben, who go on a journey to save the world of magic and discover details of their past along the way. Hounded by Macha, an owl witch, and a variety of ancient and mythical creatures, Saoirse and Ben are on a race against time to awaken Saoirse’s powers and prevent the world of spirits from disappearing for eternity.

Image from aceshowbiz.com

In what many would consider an upset, Genndy Tartakovsky has dropped Sony’s ‘Popeye‘. While finishing ‘Hotel Transylvania 2‘ Genndy noted that the studio was moving in a different direction and opted to drop out of the project. He was quoted as saying,“I was in love with what we were doing, but I think the studio is going through changes and I don’t know if they want to make the ‘Popeye‘ that I want to make.” He continued, saying, “Right now, I’m off that project and moving on to the other one we soft-announced, which is Can You Imagine?…It was hard to let Popeye go, but that’s the business.”

Genndy is going on to work on ‘Can You Imagine?‘, his own project at Sony. ‘Popeye‘ was announced to great reception last March. A proof of concept was released shortly after the film was announced, it was brimming with personality and showed great promise. Fans of Tartakovsy know he has an incredible track record: creator of ‘Dexter’s Labratory‘, ‘Samurai Jack‘, ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars’; co-creator of ‘Sym-Bionic Titan‘; and director of ‘Hotel Transylania‘ 1 and 2.

No news of the film’s future have been given, and no indication of whether or not Tartakovsky is out for good has been given either. I, for one, hope whoever they choose ends up honoring the original vision and style Mr. Tartakovsy had in mind.

Image from spinoff.comicbookresources.com

If the above image doesn’t already tip you off, Astro Boy is getting a brand new animated series! Paris-based animation studio Caribara Animation unveiled a teaser for the new series, titled ‘Astro Boy Reboot‘. 26 episodes of the hybrid 2D/CG cartoon are currently in production. The short was directed and designed by Florian Thouret, co-art director and assistant director of the French feature ‘The Suicide Shop‘ (‘le magason des suicides‘). Mickael Crouzat animated the piece. Crouzat, who was also a key animator on ‘Despicable Me‘ and ‘Ernest & Celestine‘ shared his pencil test on Vimeo as well.

Caribara is co-producing the series with Monaco-based Shibuya Productions and Japan’s Tezuka Productions. The series will be based on Osamu Tezuka’s creation, but will feature a brand new storyline as well as new characters. The announcement was made just a few days ago, and there is currently no word on a U.S. localization, or whether any U.S. broadcasters will air the show. Whatever the case, this is exciting news and I’m looking forward to seeing what this new series has to offer. I find the art style vibrant, colorful and incredibly appealing as well.

Watch the finished teaser trailer here: https://youtu.be/Z240pys_D4A

Watch Crouzat’s pencil test here: https://vimeo.com/122894003

Juan Rubio

Women in Animation and Women in Games International

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Image from http://www.womeninanimation.org/


Image from http://www.womeningamesinternational.org/

The animation and games industries are two places where you rarely find women working, until recently. Even Cogswell has been a heavily male-dominated school until a few years ago. What’s exciting is the wide-spread growth of organizations that are specifically for women in these industries (although men may join). These groups promote networking, inclusion, exposure, encouragement and opportunities to hear industry leaders. By creating a more diverse workplace, animations and games will be even stronger therefore garner more consumer enjoyment.

Two organizations that I am involved with are Women in Animation and Women in Games International. Thanks to Women in Animation, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Pixar twice as well as network with some of the best known women in the business. Being a newer member to Women in Games (WIG), this week I will visiting Zynga’s campus for the re-opening of the San Francisco WIG chapter. As a primary developer of Facebook games, Zynga is one of the most famous game companies in the Bay Area.

I definitely recommend checking these two groups out, and any groups dedicated to animation and games in general. As well as being fun to join, they can be key to getting crucial contacts in the industry.

http://www.womeningamesinternational.org/
http://www.womeninanimation.org/

Sierra Gaston

Lucasfilm and Disney’s Strange Magic

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Image from Blackfilm.com at: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/3wv7Li2V7S8/maxresdefault.jpg

When I heard that a recently-released animated movie had just set the record for all-time worst-opening ever for an animated film in 3000+ theaters, as well as the 7th-worst opening for any film playing in 3000+ theaters, I decided I needed to see for myself why the film was being avoided like the plague. So, I went ahead and purchased a matinee ticket to see Strange Magic, a 3D animated adventure that had been included in the Lucasfilm deal to Disney. So, Disney released it in a notoriously bad month to release movies: January.

To be honest, the trailer was awful. Not only had it been released at the last possible second, it looked like someone had thrown together clips from the film in a way that made no logical sense to the actual plot. Most people who watched the trailer decided that the movie was full of terrible, clichéd jokes and felt completely disorganized. However, there have been plenty of movies with bad trailers that turned out to be decent films, which is why I wanted to give Strange Magic a chance.

The verdict: it was strange. I was cringing in embarrassment and impatience for probably the first 10 minutes of the movie while all of the characters sang seemingly endless love and heartbreak songs. Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals, but the movie went about it the wrong way. The songs were steering the plot, while it should have happened the other way around.

Once the song marathon ended and we entered the Bog King’s domain, the movie picked up a little bit and I found myself enjoying some parts. There was some good character development for Marianne, the main character, in the first part of the story. While she started off as a starry-gazed, lovesick princess, something happens and she changes into a sword-fighting, awesome, disillusioned warrior chick that is grossed out by the mushier things of life, which had me cheering. After some good scenes in Act II, however, the movie reverted to being cringe-worthy and mushy.

Overall, the message of the story was good (everyone deserves to be loved, no matter what they look like), but the kaleidoscope-like scene at the end threw me off and was really too weird to get over. So—it was strange, yet slightly magical in some places, but understandable why the movie had such a bad opening weekend. Despite this, the animation was really impressive, and I was impressed with the color design in many of the environments (not quite as green as Epic). Although the plot wasn’t up to par, visually the movie was more fun. High-five to all the artists involved in this one!

(And still a better love story than Twilight)

Sierra Gaston

Star Thief Studio Animation & Interactive Book Teaser

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Star Thief Studio is one of several on-campus Project-Based Learning studios at Cogswell College. These studios mirror professional production studios and allow students to collaborate with their peers – whether they be artists, animators, technical artists, engineers and sound designers – to create outstanding large scale projects.

= ABOUT STAR THIEF STUDIO =

Star Thief Studio is guided by faculty with industry experience and student work is regularly critiqued by industry professionals. We are focused on creating engaging story-driven content in the form of animated shorts and interactive stories. Currently Star Thief Studio is working on an unannounced project which will feature a stand-alone animated short and an interactive version of the story, bundled together as an app for the iPad.

Our development artists work in a dedicated studio space and use everything from pencil, paint and clay to Maya, Zbrush, Mudbox, Photoshop, Renderman and Fusion. Much of our digital painting and sculpting is done on Cintiqs. Our engineers use tools like X Code, Flash Professional, and Maya, writing code in Objective C, C++ Maya API, Action Script, Mel Script and Python.

Star Thief Studio offers students the opportunity to be an important part of a major project that will deliver a great experience, film credit and professional quality content for their demo reel. The large group, project-based environment of Star Thief Studio gives students the opportunity to develop and exercise the skills needed to work effectively with a team over an extended period of time. Skills like communicating professionally, being a team player, taking initiative and learning to lead, as well as managing time-sensitive tasks and completing work within deadlines. In the end, students will have work for their portfolios which has been refined to an extremely high standard and used in a major animated and interactive project.

See more at: http://www.cogswell.edu/student-work/studioe.php
Andhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTv8U7n_cIg&list=PL9DCF83E90D3F20A7&index=1
Video created by Cogswell alumni and Cogswell students:
Rachael Sass
Andrew Long
Jose Hernandez

OM3D – 3D Manipulation of 2D Photos

Friday, November 14th, 2014

When it comes to editing photographs, Photoshop reigns supreme. But what if there was a better approach to editing a photograph? What if you could take an element within a picture and have full manipulation control over everything about it? Better yet, what if you could do it for free? Researchers over at Carnegie Mellon and the University of California found a way to do just that – through the announcement of a new, free, suite of 3D manipulation software. Their software, titled OM3D, allows a user to take an object within a 2D photograph and turn it into a 3D model. That model can then be manipulated and moved around the photo however the user desires. It also allows the users to adjust the lighting and texture of an object in order to blend in with its surroundings. The software achieves this by utilizing vast libraries of stock photographs and 3D models, and compares them to the two dimensional object the user wishes to shape. It then merges the attributes from the library of stock photos with that of the 2D object to create a 3D model that is viewable from every angle. Once the model is created, the photograph can be freely edited.


Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipTyCJi0t1Y
Download: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~om3d/code/OM3D_1_0_0_source.zip

Concept Art Process for Award-Winning Short Animated Films

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of two short animated films

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of the two short animated films “Driven” and “Worlds Apart” – both created in Cogswell College’s Project X class – shares his process of creating character concept designs and more.

While working on the films created in the Project X class, I learned that it takes a very dedicated team to make a short film in four semesters or less. Many of the students on this team are attending classes full-time in addition to contributing their talents towards making an awesome film.

Here’s an overview of what happens during the production process of a short animated film: First the script and storyboards are completed and approved, within the first semester. Meanwhile, the concept team begins creating concepts for characters and environments.  Approved concepts are sent into the modeling pipeline as soon as they are approved where our artists create 3d models. As each model is approved by the Director, they are sent into the texturing and rigging pipeline. Technical artists create animation rigs for each model and prepare them for animation testing.  Animation is a long process so it is important to get the rigged 3D models to the animators as soon as possible. Animation takes almost a year to get all of the shots approved.  After the animation is polished, the first test of the film timing is created, approved, and sent off to the sound effects and music score team.  Also during the process of animation, approved shots are sent to the lighting team for light set and test render. When the finalized lit shots are rendered out, they are sent to the compositing team for the final clean up. After the composite shots are cleaned up and finalized, they are sent off to the film editor who creates the final cut of the film and music score.

On the latest film ‘Driven’, each member of the team wore different hats depending on which stage of the production pipeline the film was in.  For instance, initially I started out in the concept design pipeline, then moved to the animation pipeline and finally to matte painting for the final stage of the film.

One of my jobs as a concept designer was to collect the approved designs from the other artists and finalize them. Because most approved designs are from different artists, each with their own distinct style, the finalization process ensures a consistent look and feel. After finalizing the look and stylization of the characters, I would render each character in 2D using Adobe Photoshop so that it would represent its 3d counterpart.  This allows the Director to easily visualize how each character will look before it gets passed along to the modeling team.

Digital media is the fastest way to work and Photoshop offers the perfect tools and work flow for this demanding field. With infinite tool presets, custom brushes, and limitless iterations, it allows me to work more quickly and easily compared to traditional mediums like paint or ink.

To block out the initial character’s silhouette, I like to use a standard round brush, which I adjust into an ellipse shape, then angle it 45 degrees. This style of brush setup creates a line weight that flows much more nicely than the standard round brushes. Once the silhouettes and internal shapes look good, I create a new layer in Photoshop and start to block out the forms with one color value. At this early stage, I prefer to work in black and white.  It makes it easier to focus just on values and form rather than getting caught up about the colors. My preference in digital painting is to work from dark to light values, or shadows to highlights. It has been my experience to get results much faster using this method than trying to paint from light to dark.  I push and pull (lighten and darken) the values until the character forms are clear.  During this process, I maintain a wide range of values to create depth and realism.

Once the characters have been sketched out, it’s time to experiment with color palettes. I like give a slight color tint to the values before painting on top of the black and white image. The tint layer acts as a color wash so none of the black and gray value show through later. I create a new layer and set the Layer Mode to “Color”. I start by painting over the character with the color palette that the team agrees on. By using multiple layers, I don’t lose my original black and white image – and I can test out different color schemes.  Once I’ve added general color blocks to the characters, I use a new layer to start painting in details. For the final detail stage, I use textures and custom brushes to polish the look of the characters.

The development stages from concept to finished product vary from character to character; it all depends on what the Director is looking for. For example, secondary characters may be approved before main characters. Main characters are often challenging as they have to be visually pleasing and have the right visual attitude. On the other hand secondary characters have far less restrictions, allowing flexibility for designers to explore their creativity.

The concept team spent almost an entire semester designing characters. After four months and multiple iterations, all nine characters were finally approved. Once approved, I took the concepts and started finalizing each character’s look. It took me roughly four or five hours to render out the first pass of each character to show the Director.  One character in particular – the adult Biff cop – took almost ten hours to design.  After multiple small changes, the final designs were approved.

One of the most surprising and challenging characters to design was the Jet Bike that the main character rides.  Its importance in the film is equal to the character that rides it. Although there were many great concept designs shown to the Director, none of them were approved. That’s when I was given the tough task of designing the bike. After fifty designs, we started to narrow down the concept. Once the main silhouette was chosen, I mixed elements from the best three designs together to get the final jet bike concept. The process for this single ‘character’ took three or four weeks, from start to finish, working with traditional mediums like graphite and paper.

This is just the front-end of the production pipeline for a short animated film. It takes a strong team and lots of man hours to complete the film. In the end many people had come and gone, and lots of talented people contributed to the film. We were all so glad that the film was finally finished. It took the PX team about four semesters and two summers of hard work to accomplish the short film, Driven. The Project X class has given me the best hands-on experience possible. It has definitely changed my future and life for the better. Thanks Project X!

Kong Vang