Sunday, October 25, 2009

Myst: The Book of Atrus Storyboards based on Japanese Text

Sometime in 2007 I was living in Japan and ordered a used copy of "Myst: The Book of Atrus" in Japanese on Amazon. BoA is my favorite book of all time and I'm studying Japanese, so it was very exciting to finally get my hands on it.

At some point, I decided to make a Japanese style manga comic book using one scene from the Myst book. I never finished the project, but I was recently preparing my portfolio and saw the storyboards I did for it.  I liked them, so I'm posting them here.

The scene is where Gehn is telling Atrus that his grandmother is to blame for the fall of D'ni. Gehn judges Anna harshly and Atrus feels confused and angry. Finally, Atrus stands by what he considers true, making Gehn very mad.

Little Glass Bottle

Little Bottle

Wow, it's been a long time since I've had a chance to sit down and paint something. Ahhh.

I did this last night. It's based on a picture I took at the Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris.

-Painter 9
-1.5 hours

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Looking for Funding at the Annecy Animation Festival

This year I'm going to the Annecy Animation Festival in France. I'm very excited. I've never been to an animation festival before, let alone such a big and awesome one as this. I'll be there from June 9th - June 10th. Only two days to cram in so much!

Mainly I'm going in order to look for funding sources for a web series that I'm developing. I'm hoping that it will be a really great networking opportunity. Right now I'm debating whether or not I should get the $630 ticket that gets me the contact info for all the companies that will be coming to Annecy. With that, I could set up meetings with people beforehand and make the trip more productive.

Sounds good, albeit pricey. I'm just a little nervous because I don't know what it'll be like. My other option is to just wait until the Ottawa film festival to really pitch my series, and just use Annecy to scope things out. But that feels a bit like I'm selling myself short. I think I should just go for it! Now I just need to find 630 bucks.

Figure Drawing with Watercolors

I went to a figure drawing session at the Hamilton Art Museum yesterday. I've never used watercolors in drawing from life before, but I was pretty happy with the results:

Some 1 minute sketches:
1 minute figure drawing sketches

One 5 minute sketch:
5 minute figure drawing sketches

5 minute watercolor paintings:
5 minute figure drawing paintings

10 minute watercolors:
10 minute figure drawing sketches

30 minute watercolors:
30 minute figure drawing sketches

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why I love Miyazaki

My google alerts for "Studio Ghibli" clued me into this article about my main man, Hayao Miyazaki.

A choice quote:

"A stiff, avuncular presence in his tweed suit and maths teacher's glasses, Miyazaki is clearly uneasy dealing with the media circus. It's unlikely the 68-year-old has heard of British pop group Blur, but he would undoubtedly agree that Modern Life is Rubbish. His movies are paeans to the natural world and coded warnings about its perilous state; in a recent interview he fondly speculated on a natural disaster that would return the planet to its pristine state."

The rest of the article talks about what makes him special: his rejection of pop culture and technology, and a strong interests in nature. Despite being friends with John Lasseter from Pixar, the article says he's never even seen Toy Story, or Wall-E.

"I can't stand modern movies," he winces. "The images are too weird and eccentric for me." He shuns TV and most modern media, reading books or travelling instead.

I felt a jolt of Miyazaki love reading this article. I reminds me how important nature and the environment are to me and how much I'd like to make films that are as beautiful and powerful as his.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Delibrate Practice = Genius

I read this article from the New York Times today and it really hits home a topic that's been on my mind lately. It refers to the following book, which I've read a bit of as well: Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin.

The premise of both the book and the article is that there are no born geniuses, that great composers like Mozart and great performers like Tiger Woods became great because of their ability to spend ridiculous amounts of time practicing and perfecting their craft. What Colvin says in his book is that what really matters is not just practice, but deliberate practice.

For example, the difference in practice and deliberate practice in drawing might be the difference between doodling and spending hours studying human anatomy and drawing the human figure over and over. Colvin differentiates regular practice and deliberate practice by the level of concentration. If you can do it while watching TV, you're not learning that much really, and it's not deliberate practice.

I think it's an interesting concept and I really like it. It implies that anyone can be awesome if they practice hard enough. But Colvin does continue to say that subjecting oneself to many hours a day of deliberate practice is something that not everyone can do. And that's what makes the genius.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pen, Ink and Watercolor

A few days ago I went to the Pearl Art Store located near Canal Street in Manhattan. It's the biggest art store I know of - five floors of pure joy.

I picked up a new watercolor set, some Sakura pens and some watercolor paper. It's been a long time since I've painted anything outside the computer. Here are the results from yesterday:

zebra watercolor

And then today:

people watercolor

Both these are up for sale if you are interested. Just drop me a line at

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Using Alpha Filters on Dynamic Textboxes

Very simple thing: You want to have a dynamic text box fade in and out with a simple alpha tween.

But it doesn't work. In order to add effects like the alpha tween to dynamic textboxes, you need to embed all the possible characters that might arise in that textbox. With textbox selected, the properties bar shows a button "Embed...". Click on that and you can choose which characters (Lowercase letters? Numbers? A-F?) to embed in the Flash file.

The more characters you embed, the larger the filesize of the final swf, so you really only want to embed those characters you think you'll need.

Jagged, Poor Quality JPEG Tweens in Flash

In Flash, I often use bitmap images (jpeg, png, etc) as backgrounds for my animations. To create panning effects I apply motion tweens to the images. Generally, if I keep the images the same size throughout the tween, then everything comes out looking great.

But often, I need to create a zoom in/out effect by making the jpeg get larger or small. When I publish, the image often looks a little jagged. It's annoying! But today I learned how to fix it. This forum had the answers I was looking for.

For Flash 8 + users, you need to go into the properties for the jpeg and click the "allow smoothing" option. That's it.

For below Flash 8, you may need to make sure the movie is on "Best" quality for smooth jpeg transitions.

Monday, January 19, 2009

First Animation in Toon Boom Digital Pro

[kml_flashembed fversion="8.0.0" movie="" targetclass="flashmovie" publishmethod="static" width="400" height="312"]

Get Adobe Flash player



Above is my first animation after learning how to use Toon Boom Digital Pro. I bought the software (educational price) a few months ago and hadn't yet gotten around to trying it out. But finally, last week, I sat down and watched their video tutorials and I have to say I'm very excited about it.

For now, I'm still focused on using Flash because of it's programming capabilities. However, I'm eager to use Toon Boom for making animations that I can then import to Flash.


First things first. I planned out my animation by drawing thumbnails sketches with pencil and paper:
Pre-planning Thumbnail sketches

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Animation Background Painting – Tree trunk

Animation Background Painting - Tree Trunk

I painted this yesterday with the intention of making a short animation on top of it. The drawing was based on one of my photos from Panama. The process of painting is similar to the one I discuss here.

I scanned in the approx. 8.5 x 12 inch drawing (based on the 720x480 pixel ratio) at 300 dpi. In Painter, I made the drawing a "gel" layer and painted a base color layer beneath it. To emphasize the tree trunk being in the foreground, I painted another layer above the drawing, smudging the pencil lines. All the painting was done with the wonderful chunky SOFT oil pastel.