Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays!

click for larger version
(My Christmas cartoon for Spill the Beans Magazine Issue 8)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My paintings and lightboxes from the exhibition MINE will be available at the upcoming SUSS'T Exhibition / Designer Christmas Fair at the KZNSA Gallery from 6 December until 10 January. There'll be loads of awesome stuff there, so hold off on your Christmas shopping until it opens!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Next Artists' Walkabout, and Seminar at KZNSA

Hey, for anyone that missed the last artists' walkabout of our exhibiton MINE at KZNSA, we are doing another one this Sunday (29 Nov) at 10:30am just before we start taking down and packing up. We had a great turn out at the last one, thanks to all who came! I hope you enjoyed hearing from the artists what our work is about and how it was made. We are also doing a public presentation/seminar type thing this Thursday evening (27th Nov) at 6pm where we'll each present some of our findings on a variety of art related research topics - art movements, particular artists etc... accompanied by a little slide show. It's open to the public, no charge, at the KZNSA. Check the website link in my post below for more details or drop me a mail.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Artists' Walkabout: MINE

We are doing an artists' walkabout for our PPC exhibition: MINE, tomorrow morning at 10am and will be talking about our work and answering any questions.
click to enlarge The image on the invitation is one of my lightbox artworks entitled Aquarium 1. My artwork Aquarium 2 was used on the exhibition opening invitation:
To see all the artwork please see the KZNSA Gallery Website.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A few pics from the opening

Screenshots from my animation Fine thanks and you
speeches, artist line-up, performance poet (pic from when we were setting up)
my video and lightbox installation

me with my paintings

For more pics of my work, to see the lightbox images, info on the exhibition, all the artists involved and the concepts behind the work see the KZNSA Gallery website.

For all the pics from the opening click here.

For pics of the setting up of the exhibition click here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Painting in Photoshop with an smooth "airbrush" effect

This morning we had a lesson in painting in Photoshop, specifically using the Flow setting to create smooth, airbrushed shading. Which I've never done before. 

The Flow tool makes kind of a fine spary of colour at it's lowest settings, and a darker splodge of colour with fine spray blurry edges at it's higher settings. So basically what you do is select the paintbrush tool and paint your base colour at 100% opacity and 100% flow (the sliders are at the top of your canvas when the brush tool is selected). Then on a new layer, select a draker tone of your base colour, set the Flow to 1% and start painting layers of fine airbrush shading over your base colour. Keep adding layers to get the opacity that you want. The edges will be smoothly blended. Do the same with a light tone of your base colour and inbetween shades to define your shape with a nice silky smooth finish.

Some tips:

1. The larger your brush size, the smoother the blending, smaller brushes create a bit of a streaky effect and you end up seeing the lines, but they work quite nicely for areas of detail as they appear to focus the spray of colour

2. Setting the Flow to 1% creates the finest and smoothest blend of colours but you will need many layers of it if you want the colour to realy show. Setting your Flow higher, even just slightly creates a more opaque effect but also can end up a bit streaky. 

A 1% difference in Flow can create a very different effect, so test it out a bit.

I used a combination flow levels and brush sizes for this exercise - 1% flow in the cheek and nose areas, with higher flow setting and/or smaller brushes for the detail around the nostrils and eyes. I was working into a sketch that I had done previously so to keep the sketchy look I also used some straight 100% flow brushes for the hard lines of the mane etc. 

The brown and blueish splodges above the horse are examples of what the low-flow brushstrokes look like on their own, with the dark squiggle being a slightly higher flow setting. I work with a pentablet so my brush is pressure sensitive which also helps a lot.

Anyway, hopefully this will be of some use to someone new to painting in Photoshop who likes the smooth effect and but doesn't know how to do it. Personally I'm not sure that I like the very slick and smooth look, which is why I've roughened it up a bit with some sketchy lines.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pieter Hugo's Hyena Men

I am totally captivated and fascinated by 'The Hyena Men' from South African photograper Pieter Hugo.
Pieter Hugo, Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, AbujaNigeria 2005
Have a look at both Series I and II and read the story behind these incredible images.
What led me to his work was some feedback I recieved this week on one of my own recent experimental works (below). But more on my own work later.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jumping Jack Flash

We generaly don't have a lot of time to actually create something decent in our Toon Boom class. It's just a few short hours on a Saturday morning, so we usually watch a demonstration and then get a quick task to do to test the tools and methods shown.

The walk cycle below was done a few weeks back in Storyboard Pro, which I'm not all that impressed with (I find it extremely limited). We just had a few minutes to put a walk cycle together and try out some things, like adding and editing sound, so it's not a finished piece or anything. It was a stroke of luck that I found this sound clip on the computer I was using, complete with dog yapping and chariots of fire. And it was the first track I opened! Definitely had karma on my side that day. I only wish I'd had time to do a bit more with it.

The second short is what I managed to do today (and last Sat) in Digital Pro. Things are starting to get a bit more complicted, but I'm not yet convinced that I couldn't do all of this in Flash, which to me seems a lot simpler and easy to use. I'm sure that once I get the hang of Toon Boom and start getting into the nitty gritty of cut-out animation, inverse-kinematics, lip-synching and so on, that I'll be a whole lot more impressed, but for now it's slow going learning to do some basic things in a seemingly complicated way. The good news is that we're going to have a bit more time to develop this little short as next week we finally get to create backgrounds. Yay! But this is where it's at for now.... I know - it's tiny, but I have my reasons for that...

Monday and Tuesday I'll be attending Animation Day 1 and Day 2 which is being run as part of the Durban International Film Festival - there'll be presentations by some of my CFAD teachers, screenings of animated films, a Toon Boom presentation, and some discussion about the animation industry... so we'll see if I have anything interesting to report back.

Right now, Im totally distracted by ET which is on the telly... and they've just done the flying bicycle scene. :) Love that. And how weird to hear the voice from the 'Speak and Spell' thing that we had as kids... "Spell nuiscance. Correct. Now spell question...." I remember that voice like it was yesterday!

Friday, July 24, 2009


It's been a busy month. I've mostly been working on the compilation and layout of a 77 page corporate branding document which outlines the guidelines for application of the client's various company logos and other design elements. And doing some fun animation which I'll post here soon. Only just got around to finishing my cartoon for the next issue of Spill the Beans Mag which comes out in the next week or so, so here's the preview:
(click to see larger version)
I've had the idea for this one in my head for some time now, and every time I thought about it, I'd crack up laughing, thinking it's the funniest thing on earth. But now I'm beginning to wonder about my sense of humour. I tested it on my dad last night and he didn't find it funny at all. But then, he didn't get the last one either.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I only have eyes for you

Having now watched WALL-E for the second time, I am once again amazed at how little is required to breathe life and emotion into a character. There is practically no dialogue at all in a large part of the movie, which is pretty incredible in itself, but what struck me the most was the simplicity of the face of EVE. She has only eyes. No eyebrows or even pupils. No nose, no mouth, no malleable flesh to move around. Just eyes. And yet she has so much character and is able to communicate and show emotions really successfully. Using just her eyes. Granted, the tilt of the head, the speed of the movements, the sound effects and other obvious or even subtle elements of scene itself, all contribute to getting the message across, but EVE is basically a floating shiny white egg, with eyes (and occassionally arms).

So the lessons I have learnt from EVE: 1. How easy it really is to present an emotion by simply changing the basic shape of your characters eyes.

and 2. Your eyes will always give you away.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Animation Lesson 5: Drawing Creatures - Concept Art

In this Drawing for Animation lesson, we looked at drawing creatures. Specifically for 3 basic genres: Sci-Fi, Medieval and Horror. These are some of the tips we were given: 1. Sci-Fi (Aliens) In the early days, sci-fi creatures were generally hybrids or humanoid, then they became reptilian in nature, and lately they are based on, or mixed up with, insect types. I'm not sure I've watched enough Sci-fi movies to be able to tell you if this is true or not. These creatures are usually sleek and clean in a futuristic kind of way. I'm guessing robotic creatures would fit into this category somewhere but I think (hope) we do a separate lesson on drawing those. 2. Medieval (Dragons, Trolls, Orcs, Knights and swords) These are creatures from the Warrior era, and Mythology. The creatures are typically massive so that the hero can appear that much more heroic. No glory in squishing a cocroach with your foot (unless you live in MY house). 3. Horror (eg Zombies, Vampires, Ghosts) The point of creatures in horror movies is (obviously) to frighten people. So what do people find scary? Well, things that make them uncomfortable and are disturbing (like the sweet innocent child that goes around killing people, or the 90 year old guy with the limp, wheezy voice, and the extremely long fingers). Also scary are dead things that come back to life, because we just know that's all kinds of evil (Pet Cemetry scared the bejeezus out of me), Zombies with rotting flesh, etc. But the scariest thing of all, is your (my) own imagination - so the girl with no face, the dark shadows, the footsteps following. And the creature you don't actually see. I used to have one of those in my bedroom when I was growing up. Sometimes it would lurk in the passage when I got up to go to the loo. Mostly it hung out in my closet or behind my curtains. Trust me, those aren't fun. We did a little exercise sketching some of these and then we did another exercise combinging different genres, for instance Horror and Sci-fi, or Western and Sci-fi. A bit tricky for someone like me, with a fine-art background, who is particularly good at drawing what she sees in front of her, and not so well practiced at drawing the things her silkworm moths turned into that late night in Std 5. Then we had a look at how to draw "animalistic creatures". Here are a few pointers for anyone out there that cares: 1. Work off a reference - use a real animal as a starting point 2. Start by drawing the basic shape of your reference creature (then release your creature back into the wild, or the zoo you stole it from) 3. Think of the goal that the animal has - what does it eat? what climate does it live in? So, if for example, your creature eats elephants, then it may have to have a really big throat or neck, or a really big belly. How can your creature be killed? What is it's weakness? Working with your basic shape from before, change the relevant properties. 4. Exaggerate things 5. Think of what "skills" your animal has. Is it fast? Then it must be streamlined, possibly lightweight. Is it strong? Then it must be muscular or bulky or heavy. Draw accordingly. Combine animals with similar skills. Colour according to surroundings and predators. And voila you have your creature. Here's mine. Crits welcome.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Coffee For Two debut!

This is the first of my Coffee Shop Cartoon which debuts this month in Spill the Beans Magazine Issue 5, June 09, just released! Get one at coffee shops in and around Durban, or read the mag online here.

Illies and Maps

I totally loved this project. The website and brochures for African Homesteads are so beautiful, I was totally gobsmacked when I saw them! My task was to create these two maps and illies to complement their brochures. I think I made about 30 different layout drafts before arriving at these finals, which I think work quite nicely and I'm very proud of them. My client is "delighted" :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pixar To See List

From the Pixar Hall of Fame: 1. Up (2009) For some reason the characters in this one don't really appeal to me, but I may have to see it anyway, just to complete the list. 2. Toy Story (1995) "The first-ever computer animated film." Seen it. Tick. 3. A Bug's Life (1998) Seen it. Don't remember it much. Tick. 4. Toy Story 2 (1999) Mmm... I think I've seen it. Half a tick. 5. Monsters, Inc (2001) Seen it. Loved it. Tick. 6. Finding Nemo (2003) Seen it. Loved it. Tick. 7. The Incredibles (2004) Seen it. It re-runs on SABC a fair bit. Enjoyed it the first time. Tick. 8. Cars (2006) Seen it. Tick. 9. Ratatouille (2007) Not yet. 10. Wall-e (2008) Damn. I actually wanted to see that when it came out and never got around to it. 11. Pixar Shorts - well those don't really count. 6 and a half out of 10. Off to the DVD shop now...