Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Entertainment

It's my first computer generated animated short! My first computer animated anything, actually. I took a class this past semester at college where all we did was work on different aspects of this one video we each created. The only premise was that it had to be about a robot interacting with something that doesn't work as expected. I got to try my hand at character modeling, rigging, texturing, lighting, sound, (among other things) and especially actual animating. It was incredible. I definitely most enjoyed story-boarding and animating. It just was exactly like what it looked like on screen, no extra bells and whistles. I was super excited to go back to my room after the first class and figure out what story I wanted to tell. I left the class having no idea what I wanted to do and had a complete story by the time I walked back. From watching previous films students had done, there was a lot of slapstick comedy and robots losing body parts very easily. So I thought I'd do an action sequence that didn't make light of itself. I also mostly saw just one robot, so I thought "What about two robots?" (oh so brilliant)

I did alright in the class overall, but there's a lot of stuff that isn't correct about this final product. The biggest animating thing I should have thought about was that the chests don't move hardly at all when they're walking. And though I tried pretty hard to correct it, there's still a lot of shapes crossing each other when they shouldn't. Those were the big things, but there's a bunch of other little errors. Beyond that, turns out the story is a bit unclear. I've had more than one person ask me why Red was acting how he does at the end. Some people got it and some people didn't. To say that disappointed me the first time is a bit of an understatement.

So... it's been a few years since I started calling myself an "aspiring" animator, and I'd still say I'm not really an animator yet. I mean after this class I am in a technical sense, but I still don't think like an animator. I don't think about how people move and what that says about them. What emotion that conveys. I haven't yet put in the hours needed for such a thing, but I will. I've learned so many things in such a short amount of time this year. I've become better at telling stories for one thing, even if I haven't improved as much at drawing them. I know everyone progresses at a different pace. I guess the important thing is to try to progress at all. I'm going to be good at whatever God wants me to be good at.


I thought I'd also include these.

I saw a lot of overly-complicated robots, so I thought I'd make it easier on myself by making the characters' designs largely geometric so I could focus on the other parts. Turns out I need the extra time, because I didn't think about how complicated it was going to be to animate two characters instead of just one- and in an action sequence.


This is the first storyboard I did. Part of the grade was to duplicate the storyboard as closely as possible (in the end he told me to change the shot of the hands because it communicated the idea even less well than the current ending). We also had to move on from camera work pretty fast, so we couldn't really go back and move it around. Which was unfortunate because while animating I found a bunch of cooler shots like this one:

Anyway, thanks God.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Break


My Fall Break was this week, and I just felt like doing something different. Well, different for me. So this is Lauren. I imagined her the night before the night before last. And drew these images the following night (which was the night before last). I experimented until I got a picture of her I was happy with. Then I decided she needed another character in the style of her world, so I drew this second character. I call him Michael. I'm not particular about names. That's just what they seem like to me.

I feel like I should explain my absence. I've just felt called to "be still." I'm learning a lot about God, and I'm growing a lot, just not in my drawing. Actually right now it doesn't feel like I'm doing much of anything, which feels strange. Anyway, I like these characters here a lot. Thanks God.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

RtGF

Okay, so I had this plan to stop messing around with ideas about the older versions of Dipper and Mabel and actually create something with it. I had this whole plan called "Return to Gravity Falls," taking place when they return to Gravity Falls to attend college there (I hoped I could kind of develop it as I had my own experience so it'd be authentic).
Then I read the wonderful, delightful Gravity Falls: Lost Legends comic, and in a single beautiful, wonderful story it pulled the rug out from under basically all my plans. I'm not upset though. I'm happy they did it so much better than I would've! Part of what this project showed me is how far I still have to go before I can write something as weird and great as Gravity Falls. I was originally going to ignore that and just put out something just to prove that I could, buuuut Lost Legends.
I wasn't going to post these drawings, but since my plans are kind of up in the air I figured I'd go ahead and share them. The above image is finalizing some notes I had about the older Mabel and Dipper design. Originally I was going to have Mabel's braces removed now, but then one of my younger cousins threatened my life if I did that. Plus Dana Terrance, an actual Gravity Falls artist, drew Mabel with braces when she recently drew a non-canon adult Dipper and Mabel.

The adult version of Dipper was going to be a little more confident and even more self-aware than the original series. Mostly I just drew this to practice his jacket.
Okay, so in the pilot episode, I was doing a theme of Mabel and Dipper feeling separated by college due to their widely different class schedules and such. Mabel, who would feel worried about being distanced from her family, was going to learn to not let it get in the way of making other life-long friendships (Which was also going to be the theme of the whole series, the same way the moral in the pilot of Gravity Falls, trust your family, was basically the theme of the whole show. I was planning to expand on that theme to include everyone, family or not). And Dipper, who was excited to meet people just like him, was going to learn to not let that keep him from letting his family still support him.
To illustrate the theme of everything falling apart, I wanted some kind of unexplained disaster to keep happening to the college buildings and parody a disaster movie. I wanted it to feel natural to Gravity Falls, and I wanted it to be a callback to a throwback joke from the original show. Hence, big woodpeckers. Dipper and Mabel would have seen birds flying away from the disasters the way birds do in cartoons. Then at the climax Dipper would suddenly realize, "Wait a minute! The birds aren't flying away from the disaster. They are the disaster!"

In the real show, Dipper had a rival named Robbie, and I wanted Dipper to have a new rival in this show. So I drew from the original design for the real character Wendy and created Cath. Something I sometimes think to myself is "natural friends like different things for the same reasons, and natural enemies like the same things for different reasons." Dipper does indeed meet someone like him, but she's a nightmare. Cath's a budding paranormal investigator, like Dipper, in the "Videography Club" that Dipper joins, but she does it to disprove or ridicule the odd things instead of to prove that they exist. She'd also maybe fill the cynic role left by Grunkle Stan (since his being in Antarctica with Ford would be one of the major plot points), and she was also tied to Mabel's plot arc in the series. Oh well.
This image would have been during the theme song. I wanted to give the feeling of Gravity Falls being a real place in the world, and of the feeling of returning to it (obviously). The reason Gravity Falls: Lost Legends effectively destroyed my plans (happily) is that (spoiler alert), there's a story in there about Mabel truly learning to accept and apologize for her selfishness. It's beautiful. It's hilarious. And it's exactly what I was going to address in this unofficial continuation. Return to Gravity Falls was going to focus on Mabel and her journey years after she caused the apocalypse, but in Lost Legends, Mabel specifically says to Dipper "It's time for us to start some new adventures! And this time I won't always hog the spotlight." It's a beautiful moment. Who am I to ruin it? Maybe I'll come up with something else someday, but I've got some growing to do before then. And who knows what God plans? Maybe someday I'll get to work with other people with their own ideas who love Gravity Falls as much as me? Anyway, I'm happy just sharing this. Thanks God.

Can You Hear Me?

This picture is some old art I did to illustrate the hard science fiction short story "Hello, Hello" by Seanan McGuire from the short story series Future Visions. I came across my drawing again recently, and I still like it. So I wanted to put it up here before I go back to college in a few days. The short story is about a woman in computational linguistics who designs a language converter that uses avatars to bridge the gap, especially so that her deaf sister can talk normally to people without them knowing. So she uses sign language, and the computer avatar talks out loud on the other end. However, the woman's daughter begins to use the program to talk to someone different who is using the aunt's computer. And because of the system, the mom has no idea who it is. It's incredibly well written, and I won't spoil the twist here. But I really liked it. So I drew one idea of what it would be like here. 

It's my old style of drawing with no pupils, and it's clear I still need to practice drawing hair. It's just so weird to practice, though. The woman has the short, choppy, shoulder length hair I usually default to. Though for the daughter's hair I did try to capture the kind of stringy, all-over the place look of a girl her age. I added a few futuristic touches to the clothes and computer table. For example, the pattern on the mom's shirt is based on the patterns of "spray-on clothes" I've only seen videos of. But the biggest future touch was artistic license. Reading the short story, it seems like the avatar is definitely not a hologram, but I wanted to show it from the back to give the audience that uncertain feeling. For the avatar's head, I tried to kind of duplicate the too-perfect odd-looking shape of a CGI person like in Tron Legacy. Not sure how well I succeeded, which probably means I didn't. I still like it. Mostly, I just like the difference in expression between the mom and daughter. God is good.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bettlebug

I'm posting this image here not because of any kind of originality, but because this is the first time I've duplicated this art style and these faces with anything that approaches quality. I guess this would be a good time to say that I'm a huge fan of the French tv series Miraculous Ladybug created by Thomas Astruc. Yep. It's a wonderfully crazy show that works so well. One of the only good superhero shows currently out there. That's all I'm gonna say about it for now, except that in the actual show the protagonist, Ladybug, is a girl and her partner, Cat Noir, is a boy. So my artwork here falls under the category of alternate universe fan art where each character's gender is reversed. I don't approve of just blindly doing that for any and all tv shows or books. In fact usually it messes up the characterization in some pretty significant ways, and I would never want the original characters in the show to be different from how they are now. But for this specific show, where the undertones of subverting gender superhero stereotypes are such a big part of the many things that make it so unique, I think gender reversal is an interesting idea to explore. Frankly, it's the kind of thing that could only be explored and done well in fan works.

Most people call this version of Ladybug some variation of "Beetlebug." I like that the best. Also, most of the art I've seen of these characters has had wildly different outfits than the originals, and I always thought that was a shame. So I drew them to be basically as close to the original as possible (give or take a belt). I drew their heads too big in proportion to their bodies, but I made sure to at least make the heads the same size relative to each other. Also I'm just now realizing I may have fallen into the one-eyebrow-raised trap. It's on the edge. Other than those small notes, I really like how it turned out! I've been meaning to post something about this show for a while, and this seemed like the right thing to do. God's will be done, as always, for everything big and small.

Friday, June 29, 2018

That Hero


My doodles of the greatest fictional superhero of all time and his first Larry-Mobile. Usually I don't like to post my drawings of stuff that other people have done because it feels like copying, but today I have a point.

This post is less about art and more about the purpose of art. I put a lot in this blog about how I want God's will to be done, but I don't always demonstrate it on here that well. I wanted to give a better example. I've placed a lot of pride in how I don't complain as much as other people do, but the problem with that is that I still complain, I just do it when I'm alone. I've been doing it more and more recently whenever I could get the chance, but today when I was complaining I stopped and remembered again that venting scientifically does not work. Then even more, I remembered a quote from Larryboy: The Cartoon Adventures episode 2, "Leggo My Ego!" The quote is "The way to feel super again is to build others up, not to make them feel small." I know that quote. I should know that! I saw that episode before I was even in school (but only last year learned what that title is a parody of), and today it feels more applicable than ever. It's been that way for most of the Larry-Boy stuff I've come back to in my adulthood, and it's surprised some other college-aged kids I've shared it with. If only I'd remembered. So now, for the practical application, I've decided on the discipline of trying to remember and say something nice about the people I'm mad at. This is especially if I've just complained about them and even if it makes me feel ashamed at first. It's so obvious I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner.
Update 8/24/17: Actually the more effective discipline has been practicing silence when I'm alone and trying to engage people and ask them questions about themselves. It's helping me to not blurt or see things only from my perspective. This is a process. 

And that's where the purpose of art comes in. Larryboy: The Cartoon Adventures does not have the best animation of all time (as hard as it is for me to admit). But the point of art is not the art itself. Art has, and always will be pointing to something else. It should be judged based on how well it conveys that thing, not whether or not it's "artistic." Art is not good for it's own sake; only if it helps people. Larry-Boy has done more practically for my life than any other fictional superhero. That's what I want to do for someone else. This is the way art, guided by God directly or indirectly, makes a real, practical difference in a person's life. I hope that makes sense to someone out there.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Sketch of Forgotten Stars

I just now realized the title of this post sounds like click bait, but no. It's a pun on the name of the book series these three characters come from, A Song of Forgotten Stars, by Mr. Kelly Sedinger. I just finished the second book in the trilogy, and it did not disappoint. In brief, it's a sci-fi fantasy story set in the distant future about two star empire princesses who crash land on a remote planet with an unusual connection to a heritage of theirs they never knew about. It's kind of like Star Wars but with much less samurai influence and much tighter storytelling. The three main characters, pictured above from left to right, are Princess Tariana, Princess Margeth, and their protector Lieutenant Rasharri, who remains my favorite character in the series so far.

When I read the first book there was no way I could draw the characters well. Now that I've improved a little I wanted to draw them as best I can. I still can't draw them as well as in my head, but it's fine. I based the portraits on the cover art for each book and filled in the gaps with how I've been picturing them. I didn't add as many details as I wanted though because A: I'm not good with details on cartoon drawings and B: there's no way I would get them all how Mr. Kelly intended them to be. I wanted to try to draw an illitar though. That's the weapon Tariana's holding in her hand. I actually picture the blades as being a bit bigger, but you get the idea. It's a throwing weapon common on Xonareth (the alien planet), and it is pretty cool. Also I drew Tari in how I picture her flight jacket, and I also included Lieutenant Rasharri's blazegun (again, my mental image of it) for fun. I also wanted to include Margeth's musical pipes but ended up not doing so. Side note: I've been including pupils more and more in my characters. I'm still not very comfortable with it, but I've enjoyed it! I'm personally very honored to have tried to draw something from this book at all. Part of me wants to make an animated movie series of this trilogy someday.

Song of Forgotten Stars official site: http://forgottenstars.net/category/song-of-forgotten-stars/
The first book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PURIF1O/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

I hope one day God makes my projects at least as good and well done as Mr. Kelly's work. God's will be done.