Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

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

Cogswell Student’s Artwork Featured On Kotaku!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Matt Bard

Dungeonesque Walls

One of our students, Matt “Bardler” Bard, had his polycount rock formation featured on Kotaku as, “A rather magnificent-looking, somewhat dungeonesque wall from Bardler”

Clicker here for the article!

Awesome job, Matt!

Fonts to Amaze and Inspire

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

If the creative design side of your brain needs a bit of stimulation, here is a bevy of typographic designs to inspire and amaze. Designers from around the world post their work on Behance and this image article in Creative Blog offers up 25 of what they consider the best.

In addition to the truly awe-inspiring creations, the piece tells you a little about each artist and links you to their websites so you can check out more of their work.

For instance, the design above was created by “Alex Trochut, a typographer and graphic designer based in Barcelona. He has worked as a freelancer since 2007 and gained clients such as Pepsi, Wallpaper* and Audi. His experimental style has earned him critical acclaim from across the board and with a philosophy of ‘more is more,’ his array of work is a perfect example of embracing the endless spectrum of font formats.”

Do you have a favorite?

Cogswell Student Interns as Graphic Designer for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Aston with his Merceds Benz poster design.

Aston Majors knew he wanted to complete an internship before he left college but had no idea it would lead to such an exciting opportunity. In his wildest dreams he hadn’t imagined interning for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I found a site called TeamWork Online that all of the major professional sports teams use to recruit staff,” said Majors, “and signed up. I saw on the job board that the Buc’s needed a graphic design intern and applied.”

The Buc’s called, interviewed him, reviewed his work and Aston was on his way to Tampa Bay. Though it was not a paid position, he feels that what he learned on the job will pay big dividends in the future. In fact, his supervisor at the Buc’s asked him to stay in touch and the Banana Republic offered him a graphic design job but Aston said he has to finish school first.

Aston spent the Fall term doing his internship, working full-time with the Marketing Department and tackling a variety of design projects.

“I got to go to meetings and present my work,” said Majors. “It was a great learning experience and I found out I really liked the process. My advice to all students – don’t leave school until you have done an internship. It will make a big difference in your career and you will make a lot of connections.”

Aston will graduate this summer in Digital Art & Animation with a concentration in Entertainment Design.