Character Design

March 30, 2010

Gosh I’ve lost track a bit. What have I been doing?

I’ve drawn a character:

And done an Adobe Illustrator version of her:

This was done by tracing the path of the original sketch and dicking about for about a day with deleting points and just finding my way around the tracing process. I don’t consider it a waste of time though. I’ve definitely learned a little more about Illustrator by doing it. I like some of the wobbly lines so I left them in.

First try at character model making:

I modelled this scary head before realising that the eyes were not working this far apart. I quite liked the rest of the face, probably my best attempt at anatomy so far. Fortunately it was unbaked, so I could push the eyes closer together

I remodelled the head and baked it at 130°C, much happier with the position of the eyes. However, I used white glass beads so that I would be able to animate them with a dental pick. Sadly the beads cracked as soon as I tried to move them once I got them out of the oven. I’d let them cool down so I guess plan A for the eyes didn’t work.

I had to cut off the eyelids and get the beads out. I thought I’d take a break and test out some eye designs. These are pretty awful looking, although I didn’t try that hard, only used acrylic paint and didn’t use a magnifying glass. It was just a quick and dirty 2 minute job, just to see how acrylic paint would work. It was rubbish. I’ve got some model Airfix paint but had no thinners and didn’t want to ruin my brushes (again!), but I reckon that would be good paint to try.

Waiting for them to dry, I ordered some 10 mm eyes from and also some 8mm and 10mm ball bearings as I thought I could use them as baking placeholders. I got these at Simply Bearings and they arrived super fast.

I tried out the painted eyes in the lidless face:

And then the 8mm ball bearings in the lidless face. I really love this look. I am certain I will use bearings for eyes in the future, they are so reflective and a little bit melancholy like a sad alien’s eyes.

Using a photo of the lidless face. I used Photoshop to mock up some better eyes and to see what hair would look like on the model:

The Photoshop hair brushes came from Suzanne Woolcott.

I ordered some brown and blonde Saran hair from My Little Customs and also some eyelashes, which just look like human sized false eyelashes, but I can cut them down.

Super Sculpey is a bit delicate but so lovely to model, like butter. I’m really enjoying working with it. They say you shouldn’t overbake it, so maybe if I don’t it’ll be stronger. Will look that up.

My models will have to be slightly bigger with 10mm eyes I suspect. I think there may be a juggling act as I have limited space for the set and want to keep the character size down.


I’ve been a bit ill so I’ve been slacking. I found myself procrastinating by nitpicking in Illustrator for hours, so I need to nip that behaviour in the bud right now.

This last couple of weeks I’ve done the following:

Photography in Roupell St with Canon 20D. It was okay but it was pissing down with rain and I was a bit haphazard with the photos. I need to be able to line them up well in Photoshop later and the way I took them didn’t bear that in mind.

Amazing cake shop, Konditor & Cook, Roupell Street:

I did a re-shoot with my Lumix, it was dry but the results weren’t too good. I will be doing a third shoot tomorrow with the Canon D20.

I designed a dolly and track ready to be built (this was the nit-picking file). This drawing was based on this design I found online.

Dolly Design – End View:

Dolly Design – Underside:

I sourced some nuts & bolts from the very fantastic Stagonset, who do any quantity you want, so you don’t have to buy 100 when you only want a few. Ordered nuts & bolts to make the dolly and to make armatures (can’t afford the really expensive proper armatures yet).

Finished my test armature (Suzanna’s new armature). I tried baking magnets into the feet for the tie-down, but they look like Frankenstein’s monster’s feet, so remade them and just stuck the magnets on with sticky fixers.

Interesting how Super Sculpey gets successively darker with each baking, you can see the different colours depending on how many times the part has been baked.

Next job is to make proper (as proper as I can, at least) armatures with moveable joints. Also I’m going to try Milliput for my final armatures as Super Sculpey is a bit delicate.

I’m feeling very inspired by these amazing felted models by Kay Petal. What fantastic work!

Yesterday was a frustrating day. Two Canon 20D cameras came. Both have got dirt on the sensors, so I have had to order a sensor cleaning kit (which turned up today, really quickly).

The lights came on Monday. I had some assembly problems with them and had to sand bits down.

I tried one of the three lights out (on boom stand) and the cameras, by making a one second animation. I used iStopmotion animation software with the Canon 20Ds and thankfully it works really well.

Ordered 8 skateboard wheels to make a dolly.

I’ve realised that a nine inch model will be too big for the space I have to build the set in so I expect I will need to use 6 inch models, this might change if I decide to make the set somewhere else, but it’s unlikely I will.

Feeling a bit like I’ve gone off the boil about this film. Hopefully it’s just a passing phase. Need to put my schedule on the wall and a day list.

Test Sets

February 11, 2010

Earlier this week made the decision to buy a studio light set and ordered one off eBay. I’m also going to get a Canon 20D. Ahh it’s only money (eeek!).

I got a load of pictures up on the Wall o’ Inspiration (Sorry, it’s blurred because they are not my photos). The boys are a bit concerned that I have pictures of little girls on my wall, in case I die and they come under suspicion of being dodgy.

I built some test sets, as follows (Nancy is helping me out here, she’s about 11cm tall):

Small window cut-outs (Test 1)

Small window cut-outs (Test 2)

Large window cut-outs test, I thought this looked really cool and realistic, especially with the curtains

I did some tests on a door to put in a top window and ‘glossy’ paint work, using a print on glossy photo paper, just for the door itself.

Unfortunately the glossy doesn’t show well in this picture!

I also did a test for a correct scale door (assuming a 9 inch child model)

Finally I did a test row of houses:

This is 8 A4 sheets taped together

Nancy & Peter model the houses for me

Context shot

Thoughts about tests:
The set tests were made by gluing matt photos on to medium card. The row of houses went quite wobbly overnight so I need to make a proper wooden frame for the final set and use greyboard or maybe MDF or plywood to stick the paper houses onto.

The ink ran with the glue so I am planning to get the sets (houses, pavements & road) printed on sticky back paper.

Next actions:
I need to work on the narrative & storyboards and do some tests to work out how wide & high the sets need to be for what shows in the viewfinder.

Wall O’ Inspiration

February 10, 2010

I put in 2 bids on eBay for Canon 20D bodies but I let myself be outbid, I’m not in a rush to start photography yet.

I have been printing off images for my inspiration wall. I do not want any pink on my two little girls because Pinkstinks! I’m looking at quite old style toys, a wooden skipping rope and I have ordered a pattern for a cute doll. I’ll be a challenge to make a doll for a 9 inch model, I guess that doll would have to be about 1 inch tall. I could go to 18 inches for my models if it helps.

I spent Monday finding inspiration pictures for my Wall o’ Inspiration, characters, terraced houses, kids fighting etc.

I have also printed out some large pictures cut into A4 to make mock ups of a terraced row, I need to ask the people who I got them from on Flickr if I can use them as I’ll be posting pics of my efforts later. I will be doing my own photography at some point, if the weather EVER gets better!

I had a thought about music. I need to find out about using it, licensing etc. I was thinking about just one song drifting in the background as if from the radio.

My friend James brought round his massive ‘lamp of dreams’ for me yesterday as another lighting option, but he tells me it makes the electricity meter whizz round like a catherine wheel, so I may have to reconsider using it.

The other day I was looking at software specifically for creating animation. I think I was browsing and came across an article about it. After a quick research I found iStopMotion, which is supposed to be one of the best ones for Mac. I want to be able to shoot straight from the laptop with my stills camera.

I bought the mummy bear’s bed version, which cost £86.82, including a backup disk and VAT.

I installed the software and (damn it!) neither my Lumix DMC-LX3 or my Canon 350D work with it for direct capture. I may need to buy another camera. There are a few cameras that are compatible. I could buy an expensive Canon 20D with a lens that I could use on my 350D (I always wanted another lens for it) or I could buy mid priced compact camera.

I’m torn. I shouldn’t be spending, but this film is going to cost money one way or another.

In lighting news, a friend of ours brought two floodlights over for me to borrow, need to do some tests and see if they are good, or if they will be blinding!

Update: I am bidding on a Canon 20D body only on eBay, I can always sell it after.

New Blog

February 7, 2010

This is my new blog, where I will detail my day to day activities as I prepare to produce my stop-motion animated film, which is currently under the working title of ‘Best Friends’

I will be documenting the preparation for the film, the making of the film and publicising of the film. The blood, sweat and tears (especially the tears, I expect!)

This is my main blog, but I wanted to make a special one for this, the last unit of my BA in Graphic Design.