Space is the Animated Place – Reflection

A short reflection on what I have learnt during the project Space is the Animated Space and what I would do to improve my work if I had the chance.

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Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 14.52.41.pngI enjoyed this project as it allowed me to explore a new type of animation that is less controlled and more experimental. I was also able to play with materials and their properties which is something that I enjoy doing. I used a tablet on a tripod to film my animation which isn’t something that I had done before and I discovered that it has pros and cons. It was quite unstable which made some of the films jerky and not very smooth. I enjoyed the process of this animation and making things up as we go along. One scene which I think worked well was the scene where my monster eats a cactus, this was fairly improvised as we weren’t sure if it was going to work or if it would look effective but I the end I think that it worked really well.

I found working in a group to have its advantages and its disadvantages. It was interesting as we were all able to combine our ideas and our different skills in order to create the animation. This was really helpful at the beginning when we were discussing how the animation could start and how all our monsters and spirits could encounter each other. The disadvantages of working in a group became apparent when people were absent as this slowed the animation process as we weren’t able to discuss what we were going to do next and it became harder to animate all of the characters and film at the same time with fewer people.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 14.57.11Some of the things that I think could be improved in our animations are the framing and lighting in some shots. In the clip that we filmed of the spirits going up the stairs it was hard to include the larger monster in shot and to make the smaller spirits noticeable at the same time. We could have filmed close ups of the spirits travelling up the stairs with a better quality camera in order for them to be more clear, we could have then added this in in the editing process. I could have also filmed some close ups of my spirit for the scene where it escapes the sketchbook. This would have allowed me to show my character in more detail and to have more of a focus on it on the screen as toward the end of the sequence it travels to the edge of the frame where it is harder to see. I think that we would have done these things if we had had more time, but as this was a relatively short project we focused on filming the main narrative of our animation.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 15.00.07.pngI was already interested in animation but I think that this project has made me want to explore the idea of  sketchbook animation further and to experiment with the technique of using a tablet to animate as it is an easy, instant process that I think could work really well for short, relatively simple animations. I also like the idea of found animations, creating something from similar shapes and colours, linking them all together.

Space is the Animated Place – Making the Animation

The process of animating the different sequences that made up our collaborative film.

As a group we decided that the animation would start with all of our monsters and spirits leaving their sketchbooks. We all filmed this part independently with the idea of bringing each separate origin together at the end.

I started by roughly storyboarding an idea for how my spirit would come alive in the sketchbook and then leave it.

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I filmed my beginning piece on my desk in the illustration studio. I set up my desk with my sketchbook, a pile of book and some pots of pencils and a train ticket. The idea was that the monster would come alive in the sketchbook and then reach out and consume the train ticket, allowing the monster to take on the pattern and colours of the ticket. I then wanted the monster to come out of the book and run over to a stack of nearby books into which it would disappear.

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I then roughly storyboarded some other ideas for where my animation could come next. These ideas would use the string model and the cacts model of my monster.

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To film the next bit of the animation I met up with another person in the group. Together we animated our spirits meeting in the kitchen area and interacting with each other before mine chasing the other out of frame. We chose to introduce our spirits to each other because they were quite similar, they are both small and the ideas behind both were similar.

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The animation started with one of the books from the desk in my first animation being put down in the kitchen. My spirit then emerges from the book, it is now multicoloured implying that it has eaten images in the book. After the spirits meet mine chases the other and ends up jumping into a pile of cardboard. This ending would then enable me to use my cardboard model of my monster in the next frame that it appears in.

I then worked with another member of the group in order for our monsters to meet. As our monsters which such different sizes we placed mine on a table so that it could watch the other monster as it walked past. This also allowed my monster to change from my card model to the cactus model.

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For the final part of the animation we wanted all of our spirits and monsters to come together. We wanted to start the sequence with the largest monster standing at the top of the stairs as the others make their way towards it. The little monsters would then dismantle the larger monster and carry parts of it down the stairs. We wanted to film this part through close ups and cut aways which would allow us to focus on each spirit individually as well as animating them all together. The idea for the end would then consist of all of the spirits in the whole group coming together to create a large collage made up of materials, and other elements of spirits and monsters.

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This filming process went well, starting individually at first was a good idea as it meant we didn’t have to rely on each other and we could work at our own pace. The collaberative  aspects of our animated film were made difficult because some people weren’t always in so they were unable to help. This meant that for some parts of the final sequence there was only three of us animating all four spirits and filming what we were doing.

The idea was then to incorporate all of our group films into one big film that showed all these different spirits in the School of Art and Design. In order for the film to be coherent we needed to film an ending as a group. We did this by incorporating all of our separate spirits to make one big mash up monster. We filmed this from above on a large sheet of paper. The idea was that different parts of some spirits would be carried to a ball of mess by other smaller spirits in order to create on big monster which would then throw up some spirits and then itself turning into nothing. This process went well but I think that we should have planned it all before hand so that it would have gone more smoothly.

 

Glamour and the Grotesque – constellation reflective post

A reflection on what I have learnt from the study group Glamour and the Grotesque and Constellation as a whole.

In this study group I have learnt a lot about materials and their connotations. I have learnt that different materials convey different concepts and that materials have ‘cultural CVs’ which can have a massive impact on the overall meaning of a piece. This knowledge has encouraged me to consider the materials that I use within my work with more care. I have also learnt that you can contradict yourself within your work, you can convey two different concepts through the use of materials, forms and objects. Again this has encouraged me to consider the materials that I use, the forms that I create and the objects that I select more carefully as everything has connotations that I may or may not want to imply through my work. In a piece that I made for an editorial project I was more aware of the materials and colours that I chose and the forms that I used as the image was for an article about a sensitive topic and I wanted to convey that sensitivity through my work.

This study group has also allowed me to consider how different mediums can convey the same messages and concepts, for example, we have looked at how the grotesque can be portrayed through clothing, artwork and photography. I have learnt about the importance of tactility and design in relation to the body and how these things can have a huge impact on how someone interprets a piece and what they take from it. I have learnt about liminality and how things can shape-shift through meanings, motifs, physical changes and how people perceive something. I am now able to consider all of these concepts when creating my work, I am now more selective of materials as each material has its own connotations, I consider the objects that I choose to include in my work as different objects hold different meanings. I also think about how I can contradict myself and how multiple meanings can be conveyed through the things that I choose to create and include.

I have also learnt how to analyse my work and others effectively in this study group. Through the concepts we have discussed I am now able to identify them in pieces of work, allowing me to think of certain materials and forms in a way I had not considered before. I can now analyse a piece of work by picking out concepts and annotations and then backing this analysis up by finding theories from academic writers.

I have learnt about how artists can be cross-disciplinary in order to convey messages, for example as an Illustrator I can use materials in a collage in order to convey concepts or create three-dimensional objects and forms to use within my work.

This study group has made me more aware of the motifs that I can include within my work, and that there is a process of selecting and discarding in which I can specifically select concepts and connotations to include or discard in my work.

The concepts that we have discussed surrounding femininity have allowed me to look at images in a different way, It is now apparent to me how castration anxiety and the phallic woman is a common theme in art and everyday things such as advertising.  

 

My working process has changed since last year, I have taken more time to analyse my chosen images that I used for my most recent essay. I found it easier to start my planning earlier and to repeatedly go back to the analysis with fresh eyes in order to see more within an image. This also enabled me to add more to my analysis by discovering new concepts and ideas through theories which I could see applied to the images I was looking at. To improve upon my last essay I needed to do more independent research into theories that I could use to backup my analysis. I was sort of successful at doing this but I occasionally found this process difficult when looking for quotations from books  which I could use to support my argument. I found some books which related to the topics that I explored didn’t have anything that I could use to support what I was stating in my essay. This wouldn’t have been an issue if I had had more time to do this, but as I only had a few weeks to write my essay this became a problem as the process of looking through books for relevant information was time consuming. I should have also managed my time better as I found it difficult to do this essay and stay on top of my field project work at the same time.

I found the process of planning the essay using the columns analysis just as effective as last time, I find that it helps me to sort my thoughts effectively which then makes it easier to write my analysis is essay form. I think that the idea of looking at the bigger picture when writing a conclusion helped immensely, rather than re-writing what I had already said I was able to talk about my practice and how the meanings and concepts in the images really show how materials and forms can be used to convey meanings.

Constellation has taught me to be more mindful when considering the materials, forms, textures and objects that I want to include within my work as all of these elements have their own connotations and meanings. It has also taught me to question things and to be more inquisitive when looking at a piece of someone else’s work or my own. It has also taught me how new meanings can be created through the juxtapositions of materials and objects and the combinations that can me made from these features.

Space is the Animated Space – Model Making

An overview of all the different models that I made of my spirit that I could use in the animation.

In order to animate my spirit I needed different models that would enable it to transform into different materials. I wanted my spirit to start as a two dimensional drawing in the sketchbook and then eventually change into a three dimensional figure. I started by making paper cut outs of the monsters which I painted with acrylic paint to add some texture.

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I then made another set of paper cut outs using train tickets which I then painted a thin coat of white acrylic on top of. This set of paper cut outs would be used for the monster once it has eaten a train ticket so it would look like it had taken on the colours and patterns of the ticket.

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I also made a multicoloured set of models of the monster which colour be used if it were to eat some pages of a picture book.

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I then decided to start making three dimensional models that I could use in the animation. The first one I made was made from plasticine and string. I used the plasticine to create the rough shape of the monsters head, body and feet. I then wrapped string around these, I then made the arms out of plasticine but I didn’t wrap these in string. The idea for this version of the spirit is that it would look like it had eaten a ball of string.

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I also made a model of my monster from cardboard. I started by drawing a net that would create a box for the body. I cut it out and folded the sides so that it made a 3D cube. Then i stuck the arms, feet and ears on. The mouth was made by cutting a hole in the box and adding paper teeth. I thought that this version of the spirit worked really well as it was visually consistent with the two dimensional models and it was really clear what it was made out of.

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The final model that I made of the monster was supposed to resemble a cactus. I used green plasticine to create the monster, I wanted it to look really similar to the clay model that I originally made so that it would appear visually consistent. I then used tooth picks to add cactus like spines to the model. The idea was when it came to filming I could make it look like the spines were emerging slowly from underneath the skin. The idea for this model is that the spirit would come across a cactus somewhere in the studios and eat it making him turn green and prickly.

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Space is the Animated Place – Research

Some research that I have done for a new project about animating spirits that could potentially live in the art building at uni.

The idea for this project is to create a group animation about spirits or monsters that could be living in the Cardiff School of Art and Design.

For this project I wanted to create an gremlin inspired creature that I could animate running around the art school being mischievous and inquisitive. I started by doodling some ideas of simple monsters and spirits. Some of the ideas were inspired by the animation Spirited Away.

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John Kenn Mortensen – Sticky Monsters

I then decided to look at another artist in order to inspire my work. I looked at the book Sticky Monsters by John Kenn Mortensen. His monsters are quite terrifying but odd and his drawings gave me ideas for some for monsters and spirits.

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I decided that I quite liked one of the monsters that I had drawn and that I was going to use it for my project. The idea behind the monster is that it is a spirit that craves inspiration, it goes around the different studios eating things such as books, drawings, plants and materials and as it eats these things it changes colour and form. For example eating a picture book would make the monster multicoloured or eating some clay would then make him three dimensional and made out of clay.

Screenshot_20171211-155645I then made a model of my spirit to see what it would look like as a three dimensional model.
We were then put into groups so that we could discuss our ideas and come up with a way that would allow the spirits to meet and how we could animate this. From this we decided to start the animation with all of our spirits leaving their sketchbooks where they were created.

To do this I looked at Wendell McShine an artist who works in print, instillation and animation. His work references african art and it is usually about idols and Gods.

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Wendell McShine – Rainbow Hill

His animation Rainbow Hill gave us lots of ideas for how we could animate our spirits as he uses pop ups, pull outs, paint, drawings and paper cut out figures to animate the work in his sketchbooks. From watching this animation I decided to use a paper cut out to animate my monster leaving the sketchbook as I thought this would be the easiest and most effective way.

For this project I also did some reading on Spirits of Place and Genius Loci. I have been reading the book Spirits of Place which contains short stories written by a range of people, some about themselves, about places they’ve been to and experiences they’ve had of spirits of place. I think this reading has helped to me come up with ideas for my spirit and what it represents and what I think is important in a school of art and design and what is important in my subject illustration. In my case I believe inspiration is important within my subject and the school.

Image result for black dog dave mckeanI have also looked at the graphic novel Black Dog by Dave McKean. This book briefly mentions genius loci but the use of materials, textures and collages inspired me in this project as they are an important part of my spirit. The way that the artist uses ayers of paint and paints on ripped pieces of paper that is then stuck together to create a canvas inspired me to try something similar.

Penguin Book Project

A 2 week project where we had to produce some colour roughs for a book cover for the book Noughts and Crosses.

For this project I decided to focus on the simpleness and dynamism of cut out shapes and how they can be used to create a bold book cover. The idea for the cover was inspired in a workshop where we had to use cut outs to explore ideas and themes within the book in order to create a cover. This was an easy way to brainstorm ideas and to develop them. I really enjoyed this process as it allowed me to experiment with materials and shapes. The idea behind my design is simple, its meant to represent the contrast between the noughts and the crosses and the fact that in the book two characters reach out to each other from opposite backgrounds. I liked how in my original roughs the hands looked like something dripping and growing as well as a hand which I thought could represent the characters growth and their journeys in the book so I decided to stick with representing the hands with an organic and simple shape. I enjoyed experimenting with materials and processes in this project such as mono printing and collage. I also enjoyed experimenting with typography and how it can be incorporated into my work. I enjoyed learning about how book covers can be interpreted and how they can be used to communicate themes and ideas from a story. I think that researching successful book covers influenced my design and how I presented my ideas. I think that the way that I approached the project worked quite well, I started by using thumbnails to quickly jot down ideas, I then used paper cuts and collage to develop these ideas. Once I had decided on a successful idea for the cover I used more paper cuts and collage as well as mono printing to experiment with texture and composition. If I was to develop my work I would like to experiment more with mono printing and screen printing to bring more texture into my work. I also think that screen printing could be an interesting way to develop the typography on my designs.

Penguin Project – Research

Some research on eye catching book jackets that I have done for my latest project Penguin Book Project in which I have to create a book cover for the story Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

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One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Illustrated by Ioana Negulescu 2012

I think that this image works well as a book cover as its quite striking and bold. I also like how the image relates to the story but it doesn’t give too much away. I like the use of colour, I think that they work well together to make the image lively but not too busy. I also like the different textures in the image, I think that the texture of the bark of the tree contrasts well with the texture on the pills.

To Kill A Mockingbird Illustrated by Madelyn Farley 2017

I think that this image works well as a book cover as it is very dynamic and striking. The contrast between the bright yellow background and black hand makes the book very eye-catching and intriguing. I also like the handwritten font, I think that it works really well with the image, I think that it allows the image to communicate in a more personal way.

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The Big Sleep Illustrated by Hayley Warnham 2013

 

I think that this image works well as a cover as it is also quite dynamic. I also like the use of collage as I think that it contrasts nicely with the block colours behind it. I also like the use of negative space within the image. I think that the type font also works to well because of the sharp edges between the colours and the collage. I think that if a handwritten font was used it would just look messy and unprofessional in contrast to the other aspects of the image.

Grimms Fairy Tales Illustrated by Tim Parker 2012

I really like this book cover and I think that it really stands out as a design. I like all the different textures in the image, the wolf’s fur, the tree trunk spine and the red tongue. I also like the contrast between the blacks and greys with the red tongue and yellow eyes, it makes these features stand out in the image. I also think that the mixture of handwritten font and typed font works really well, I also like that some of the words are bigger than others to emphasise them.