Burn the Biscuit - 02 - Lucy

Carrying on from last week, I've been looking forward to sharing this little character. 8-year-old Lucy is one of the main protagonists in Burn the Biscuit. She's the youngest in the family, and adventurous in spirit. Light and agile, she's quick thinking, full of energy, and very focused. Here's a little collection of development for her; including colour studies, a turnaround, and an expression sheet. :)

Burn the Biscuit - 01 - Development Sketches

Now that I'm a fourth year animation student, I have two significant projects - amid a sea of smaller ones! - to concentrate on over the next few months. And I'm excited about both! I can't wait to share some of the ideas I've been developing for all of those, but first, I've been wanting to share an older story pitch that I developed last year! 

The story is called Burn the Biscuit, and basically told the story of two children fighting over the last cookie in the jar. With that much to go on, I began sketching loosely; just having fun with character ideas, the overall feeling I wanted the film to have, camera angles and shots I might like to use - that sort of thing. 

I really enjoyed this stage of the project. I was taking inspiration from everything around me, and essentially curating a collection of images to draw from as I continued the project. Stick around for the next few weeks and you'll see how! :) 



Saying Goodbye to the Summer and Marching on to Fourth Year

Just a little check in! :) For the past few weeks, I've been making the most of what was left of the summer holidays. I've been on some amazing adventures, with some wonderful people, and now I've returned to my desk(s) full time with new energy. Good thing, too, because I'm going to need it this year more than ever! I haven't planned what's on the horizon for my blog yet, but I have a few projects and works in progress that I'm very excited to share, so do stay tuned! :)  

Harley Quinn, and the run up to DCC

Click to enlarge! :)

I can't believe it's August already. 2016 seems to be rushing past at record pace! It's going to be a crazy busy few weeks though, with a few adventures and projects I've been very excited about for some time now! :)

One of the events I'm most looking forward to is Dublin Comic Con this weekend! I can't wait to hang out with a few fellow creative people, meet new people, discover new art and new stories, and experience all the buzz of the convention.  Last year I came away feeling endlessly inspired and motivated; and I expect no less this time 'round. It's always fun to try to spot as many cosplayed characters as you can as well (I'm expecting a lot of Harley Quinns and Jokers this year, considering the approaching release date of Suicide Squad), and I can't wait to pick up my copies of some books I worked on this year too! (You can read about those here and here! ) Hope to see some of you there!

The Guards - Comic Lettering and Design

Earlier this year, I was invited to join a project that got me excited immediately. The Guards, an independent comic with a brilliant creative team behind it, is finally ready for the release! Act 1 will be launched at Dublin Comic Con this year, and I promise you it's worth picking up a copy! Written by Shane Ormond, with art by Kevin Keane, and working with editor, Colin O'Mahoney; I was delighted to provide comic lettering and design for the book. I think the team did an incredible job, and I am so proud and delighted to have been a part of it. 

A detective story with a difference, the book follows the journey of Kate, as she discovers that there are far worse things out there than gangsters and murderers... and they need her help. 

So, if you're looking for a great story, with wonderful art, and presented to the highest standard; do be sure to check it out!

Edit: Reviews are out already! Take a look over at: Irish Comic News!

None Shall Pass - Comic Design and Lettering

I had so much fun with this one! None Shall Pass, created by John Murphy of Bold Puppy and pushed a step further with LS Comics, was of those projects that really makes me fall in love with graphic design all over again. A great team of talented people came together to work on this teaser-version of the book, and I was utterly delighted to have been a part of it. Many thanks to Eoin of LSComics, John of Bold Puppy, Robert Carey, Dee Cunniffe, and Cormac Hughes! 

My part in this project was lettering the sequential pages, and designing the overall aesthetic of the book, including front and back covers. So, I began with the character biography pages, because I felt like it'd be a great way to establish the overall graphic language. I was given the character designs and the text, and then I created 6 drafts to send on for review. They were all celtic-inspired and a little bit rough, to enhance the type of character and story that the book aimed to capture. Some of them included blood splatter-effects, others included old scripted text to capture the age of the myths that these stories originated from, and others included sharp angles and edges in the form of borders to try to capture the harshness of the content too. In the end, the team decided to move forward with the 6th one (which was my favourite too!) and so I pushed that design a little bit further, and carried the styling throughout the rest of the book. 

The next step was figuring out the covers. These didn't change much from my initial proposal, which included the illustrated wolf's head, and the same graphic style that I'd established in the character pages. The most significant changes were in logo and text placement. 

Above, you can see the final book. Just 8 pages to create what I believe is a powerful teaser for the comic. Overall, I think the team did an incredible job on this, and I'm delighted with how the end product turned out. 

PS This preview comic will be available for free at the Lightning Strike Comics table at Dublin Comic Con this year, while stocks last, and on a first come, first serve basis! 

Curiouser and Curiouser | Set Extension Project

Last semester in college, I studied Previz and Comp, and I very much enjoyed it! I don't know quite why I waited so long to share this - I'm delighted with how it turned out! Set extension is an interesting project to undertake; much more common than I ever imagined in the film and TV shows you see every day, and an incredibly satisfying result when it works well. One of my favourite things about this project in particular was being able to combine so much of my own personality and my own adventures into one little scene! I used photographs I had taken from a few of holidays and day trips I've been on, went on a few new shoots, and I even included myself in the scene - all wrapped up in a fantasy, Alice in Wonderland (my namesake, which I absolutely take after!) theme. Can anyone recognize any of the places that feature here?

Above, you can see stage one of the process for the project. I began with a rough matte painting, including all the elements that I wanted to use in my final design. Then, I edited that file, being very careful with my layers in Photoshop, until I was happy to sign off on my matte painting. Then, I moved into Maya and started constructed some rough 3D geometry. Once I was happy with how that looked; I started to project the layers of my matte painting onto my 3D geometry.  I did a few test renders to spot any errors that might cause problems, and then rendered the final version of the background (without the character). While I was doing all that, I was also preparing the greenscreen element. This included recording myself in the studio in college (Thanks for the help @RichToTheArdYo, @JohnArmstrong94, and @SamIsWoong), importing that file into AfterEffects, tweaking the screen matte and adjusting the final keylight. I then combined all those elements together in AfterEffects, added a few adjustments, and finished off the project with an audio track. That render left me with this:

Which, you can see, is not the final result! A wonderful thing about this project (which is SO rare, but shouldn't be!) was that when this assignment was handed in, my next assignment was to implement the feedback I was given. I am immensely grateful that I was given that opportunity, because it meant I was able to push myself that little bit further and produce a piece I can be truly proud of, and I absolutely believe that this kind of feedback-based assignment should be used more. That's the way it is in the industry, so that's the way it should be in college. So worthwhile, and so beneficial. Here's the processes I went through to push this project up a level at this stage. 

The main details that I corrected at this stage of my project were: fixing resolution problems on the bridge, brightening and adding more details to the wall and arch, added some damage to the bridge, fixed scaling issues with the character, corrected floating issue with the character, and overall correction of edges, colour, and more. All those fixes and edits amounted to this:

Finally, to finish this project off, I was asked to create a breakdown of it. That meant exporting every 2.5D element as an individual layer in After Effects, adding my adjustments in layers, and using a few simple swipes to reveal the steps involved in the process. 

Overall, I'm delighted with how this project turned out! I think I managed to achieve the fantasy adventure scene that I was hoping for, I was able to learn a lot and push my skills, and explore my creativity in new ways for sure. Hope you liked it too!

PS: if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that this time last week, I was chasing giant white rabbits! It seems I'm in a very Alice in Wonderland kick right now... I might make that more intentional sometime soon! :) 

Zippo Advert - Update 03

Click to play! This project has been a long time coming (you can read about Update 01 and Update 02, if you like), but I'm finally sharing the final render. It was something of an experiment, which meant it came and went with a whole bunch of challenges, but I did have a lot of fun with it! 

I'd love to revisit this project at some stage in the future though. I learned a huge amount through the experience of creating this, and I do think I'd be able to produce a better overall standard if I attempted it again. That said, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out, and hope you enjoy it too! 

Little Red

For the past three weeks, I've been kept busy with full time work placement in an animation studio in Dublin. It was fun, I was able to develop my skills, and I met a few wonderful people along the way. I gained so much more from the experience too; discovering what it was like to live and work in the biggest city in Ireland. I'm incredibly thankful to have had that opportunity, but it did take some getting used to... and I was exhausted from it. When I got home, I spent an entire day just sleeping, thinking, writing, and drawing in an effort to get my energy levels back up to usual. So, to kick this blog into its usual routine again, I thought I'd share one of the pieces I did that day, which helped me get back to my usual self again. :)

I didn’t do a whole lot of planning or prep for this one. I just had this idea that I wanted to create something warm and inviting, while trying to capture the feeling of relaxation growing into passion. In my mind, I was seeing a lot of warm reds and gold. With just that very vague guideline to work with, I hit the ground running with a soft, creamy base using almost cloud-like, low opacity brushes. From there, I developed a loose sketch – nothing too complex, just whatever came naturally – and added a kick with a solid block of crimson. At this stage, I had moved on to firmer, rougher brushes and a higher opacity setting, adding a little weight. I liked how it was looking – building on the causal, relaxed feeling I was looking for – so I continued that style with Red’s clothes and carried the same colour throughout the linework too. 

Next, I toned down the opacity again, and started building up the tones throughout Red’s features, never straying too far from the colour scheme I’d already established. At this stage though, I felt like the background was a little too relaxed, bordering on boring… and I wanted to capture passion and energy as well as relaxation. So, with that as my goal, I swapped out the cream background and replaced it with a vibrant crimson, laced with sweeping golden swirls. I kept it loose and fluid - a visualization of creativity and ideas coming to life – and experimented with layer styles until I was happy I’d achieved what I’d set out to do. A few adjustment layers later, and I feel like I did just that.

Overall; I'm happy with how this one turned out, and happier still that I'm feeling more like my usual self than I did before I started. Drawing just because is a pretty wonderful thing. :)

Two of a Kind | Ruth Butler | May 2016

The latest release from Ruth Butler and I! Two of a Kind is the May installment of our monthly musical adventures, which you can see here! Enjoy!

Things have been busier than ever in my little corner of the world! Between finishing the semester in college, making progress with freelance projects, spending time with wonderful people, moving (temporarily!) to Dublin, and starting a (short-term) intern position... I think it's safe to say I'm exhausted. I think it's safe to say I'm exhausted! Apologies for the lack of updates lately; I'll be back to regular scheduling real soon! :)


Preparing for Pen & Pixel 2016

It’s amazing to think that we’ve made it through another academic year already. In LIT Clonmel, that means a few things: it’s deadline season, it’s exam season, and it’s almost time for the annual Pen & Pixel exhibition!

So for the past little while, I’ve been busily curating some of my favourite works from the past year, preparing to make my submissions. It’s a fun process; going through the archives on my blog and scanning my hard drives, picking out the work that I’d most like to see hanging on the walls in college. And I’ve had a really, really busy twelve months, filled with a myriad of very fun projects, so there’s a lot to choose from! 

This year, I’m hoping to submit work in a few of the categories; of which, my favourite is illustration. From the digital painting set, HeartBurn and BrainFreeze, to self-portraits and film-inspired art, I’m excited by the possibility that some of those projects might be seen by a wider audience. I’m also incredibly excited to see what illustrations my fellow classmates have been working on too; there are so many talented people here, and Pen & Pixel is a great opportunity to catch up with people and discuss all the creative endeavours that people are involved in. 

I also hope to submit work to the photography category this year, which is something of a change for me. I got myself a DSLR last summer though, and I’m happy with quite a few shots I’ve managed to take with it. So, why not submit some of those too? I can’t wait to see the other photography on display though; we’re a creative, digital media college, and there are countless talented photographers walking these corridors. And it’s always fascinating to see what other people see through the lens.

Finally, I’m hoping to submit to the video category. I’ve done a lot of little video projects this year, in many cases with music by Ruth Butler, and I’d love to see some of that work on display too. It’d be a strange – but very welcome – experience to watch those videos as part of an audience! I’m even more excited though, to see the other video work! This year, for the first time, there will be graduation films on screen! Next year, that space will be occupied by the work of my class group; so I’m really looking forward to seeing how those turned out!


Overall, it’s been a crazy busy year, both inside and outside of college. Pen & Pixel is my favourite way to wrap everything up: sharing and seeing so much personal work and course work from people in every year group, from all different kinds of backgrounds. It’s a brilliant way to connect with fellow creatives too, and it’s a great indicator of all the great things to come! The doors are open to everyone too, so if you are free on the 25th of May, anyone with an interest in media should absolutely consider coming along! Be sure to keep up with the college Facebook pages too: FB.com/AnimationLIT and FB.com/creativemultimedia. And of course, if you like my work, be sure to check out: www.facebook.com/onecuriouschip too!. 

Table for Two | Ruth Butler | April 2016

It's been a super busy few weeks coming up to the last classes of this semester, but it's pretty satisfying to be finishing off so many projects I've been working on for a while. There's a bunch of things in the pipeline that I really can't wait to share! Ruth and I are still keeping busy with our series of musical adventures too, and we've just released our latest music video; a romantic little tale called Table for Two. The fifth in the series!