Jazz Musician's Apartment


This is something of a long running project, I suppose. I finished it a few weeks ago, just in time for Pen & Pixel 2014 but I started it way back in the first semester. It's ended up being a kinda hybrid drawing, in terms of media. Traditional lineart, digital colouring, and traditional shading.


The assignment was part of my Drawing Principles module, while we were studying one-point perspective. After studying basic perspective in class, we were given a few titles to pick from and were asked to create a lineart-only layout. If any of you have ever seen my Interior Design and Architecture board on Pinterest, you're not going to be surprised that the title I chose was "messy jazz musician's apartment" which I explored with a 1920s, vintage film kinda twist. I used pencil to sketch our the layout originally, then cleaned it up with a brown ballpoint pen.


Fast forward a few months, and press play when the countdown to the end of the year begins. Our last assignment for the module was to choose a project we'd done during the year, and develop it further. It was entirely up to us which assignment we chose to delve into, and it was our choice how far we took it. Since I'd drawn the lineart for this, I really wanted to toss a splash of colour on it. And because I've been wanting to learn how to colour digitally for a long time now, I decided this assignment was as wise a choice as any.


I started with the base colours. In keeping with a vintage film aesthetic, I kept the palette muted and limited to just three or four colours, with a heavy leaning towards browns. Then I tried to shade it digitally and failed miserably. It was a complete and utter disaster and I'm just going to pretend that it never happened. Instead, I went back to traditional media. Bring out the trusty 2B.



Once I was happy with the shading, I scanned it and used adjustment and multiply layers to deepen the darks and bring out the highlights. The pencil gave everything a slightly grainy, gritty feeling, which I liked. When I was happy with all that, I tied everything back together in a neat little package; lineart, colour, and shading. And then finally called it done.




Animation Reel


Over the past few weeks I've worked on a whole bunch of short animations, as part of my college course. They've been a whole lot of fun! Things started simple, with a basic bouncing ball sequence, and building up as I learned more about squash and stretch, weight, anticipation and reaction, and various other elements of animation. I made a short reel just to show you a little selection of what I've been up to; from bouncing balls, to Kerplunk, to a pinball machine, and a study of light vs heavy. Hope you like it!

Charlie | Status Update 03

Today, I am happy to announce that my Interactive Programming project for this semester is finished! The last of the programming is complete, and all the glitches have been dealt with. Charlie is now capable of walking left and right depending on which buttons the user presses, and he can jump when the user presses the up directional button. The character is now unable to walk outside of the movement zone and can no longer walk beyond the edges of the forest. He interacts with two objects - a bunch of cables, which causes a bird to appear, and a colour-changing mushroom - and he breathes and tilts his head when he’s idle.

The main issues I faced in the past two weeks have been to do with program failures, absurdly large files, and extreme lag. These were largely the result of importing illustrator files into Flash CC, which created thousands of movieclip layers. The best solution I found to this problem was sacrificing vector graphics, and replacing them with flattened PNGs.

This project has certainly been challenging, but nonetheless I had a lot of fun with it. I learned a lot from the process of completing it, and I’d like to create something similar with a new character in a new environment.

Click here to download the program and use the directional buttons on your keyboard to try it out for yourself.

If the link above doesn't work, try this: http://www.penandpixel.ie/#submissions[portfolio]/17/

The White Lady of Kinsale


My latest Visual Communications assignment was based on the theme of Macabre Ireland. We were asked to go out and research a local myth or legend, and create a book cover for it using photography, collage, and photo-manipulation. I chose to base mine on the story of the White Lady of Kinsale.


The story goes something like this:

In the early 18th century, Charles Fort was governed by a man called Colonel Warrender. He had a beautiful daughter, named Wilful, who fell in love with a man called Trevor Ashurst, an officer stationed at the fort. On the night of their wedding, Wilful and Trevor took a walk along the battlements. Wilful noticed a crop of flowers growing on the rocks at the base of the fort and set her heart of having them. Trevor, eager to please his new wife, promised to fetch the flowers for her, and sent her home to wait for his return. 

Once Wilful had left, Trevor turned to the nearest sentry on duty and asked that he retrieve the flowers instead. The sentry agreed, on the condition that Trevor take his place in the sentry box. The two men switched uniforms and the sentry set off to fetch the flowers. Trevor promptly fell asleep in the sentry box.



Colonel Warrender, Wilful's father, was known to be a strict disciplinarian. Upon discovering the sentry asleep at his post, the Colonel immediately shot him through the heart. After the shot was fired, the colonel examined the body and discovered that he had just killed his daughter's husband.

When Wilful heard the gunshot, she ran to the battlements to investigate. She was so distraught by the sight of her father holding the dead body of her husband that she immediately ran to the edge, and threw herself from the fort and into the waves below. 

To this day, the ghost of Wilful Warrender is said to wander the battlements of Charles Fort, still wearing her wedding dress. 



I ended up making two trips to Charles Fort, in Kinsale, over the past month or so to do research and to gather photographs. On the second occasion, I brought my dear friend Emily with me, who very kindly wore a white sun-dress and posed as Wilful for me, despite the freezing damp and bitterly cold weather. I'm forever grateful to her! The top image is the final book cover that I came up with, and the rest are a few of the photographs I took in their original state.

Kerplunk!

I've spent the past few days finishing off this little animation project. The brief called for a person in a boat to rise with a wave, then crash back into the sea, with optional arm flailing and hat loss. It's quite short - one hundred frames, which just about hits the four-second mark - and I decided to keep it really very simple. I wanted it to look as if it were animated by hand, despite creating it in Adobe Flash (CS6 this time!), so there isn't any colour in it. I ended up drawing almost everything in every frame individually anyway, using Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V wherever I could, so it made sense to keep it looking that way. I've named my little sailor Captain Tangerine (because I used an orange circle in his stead while I was working out the timing and spacing), and I took the liberty of naming his mighty ship 'Kerplunk.' Just because I could.

Charlie | Status Update 02

The past two weeks of this project have been a blur of error correcting and playing catch-up. It’s been hectic and discouraging, but I do feel like I’m getting Charlie back on track!

I made one huge mistake in my approach to this project. I used Flash CC. I wanted to work from home so I could spend more time on it, but CC was the only version of Flash I had available. It feels like everything that might have gone wrong, has gone wrong; and almost all of the issues that arose could have been avoided if I’d been using Flash CS6 instead. I had parts missing from my character and layout, I had brushes that failed, and I had close to three thousand layers of movieclips when I tried to import designs from Illustrator into Flash. That’s naming just a few. CC was a nightmare to work with because it was unstable, unpredicatable, and painfully slow. I tried everything I could to try and get things working in CS6, but considering the not-too-distant deadline and the amount of work I’ve put into this so far, I realised that I would have to finish this project using CC. It adds a whole new level of challenge to the assignment, but I’m going to try my best to work with what I’ve got. And I will never use CC for any other projects. I’ve learned that lesson.
Despite all setbacks, I’ve managed to start working on secondary animation. When idle, Charlie will face forward, and he’ll be able to breathe (such as robots do) and tilt his head. He’ll be able to jump when looking straight, and while moving left and right. I’ve also drawn up a little bird in Illustrator, which I’ve rigged and roughly animated. The bird will fly across the screen when Charlie hits a certain object on the stage. I’ve yet to decide on whether that object will be a mushroom, a tree, or something else entirely, but I hope to add that element of interaction soon. I’m also planning to add a second interactive element, which is still in the planning stages. 
In terms of coding, I’m using scene labels and the “.gotoAndPlay()” and “.gotoAndStop()” arguments to my advantage. Charlie now walks in the correct direction and at the right speed when the user presses the appropriate keyboard directional buttons. He also faces forward and jumps when the user presses the up button. When no buttons are pressed, Charlie faces forward, and moves as though idle. However, at the moment, each scene – that is, each movement – only plays once. That means Charlie only takes two steps before he stops moving in either direction, he only jumps once, and only moves when idle once. The next step is setting those to loop continuously. Once that works smoothly, I’ll begin work on the interactions between Charlie and the environment.

Click here to try to control Charlie yourself, but bear in mind there's a lot more work to go!






Charlie

This semester in college is largely focused on one major project; developing a two-dimensional character and environment in Adobe Illustrator, and then using Adobe Flash and ActionScript to create a walk-cycle and enable a user to control the character. So far, I've finished all design aspects of the project, and I'm in the very early stages of programming the character and environment.

My character is called Charlie, from CH-4R-713, which is a short-hand version of his make and model. His story is that he is an outdated home-helper robot, which has fallen into disrepair. Over the years, he has lost some panels in his bodywork, which left vital wiring exposed. Charlie’s story involves a bird removing a vital cable from his arm, thereby forcing Charlie to leave his home in pursuit.


As with most digital work, the design for Charlie started out with pencil on paper. After research and development, I settled on the design as it is now, then drew it up in ink and scanned it. Ensuring each individual part was contained in its own layer - to make life easier when it came to rigging - I set to work recreating it in Illustrator. 

The next asset to be created was the environment Charlie will inhabit. I wanted to keep it simple - so that the focus was on Charlie and his movement – so I settled on a woodland location with a lot of gentle, organic shapes, and I kept the colour scheme quite muted. The most important aspect to keep in mind when laying it out was that it had to support parallax scrolling, so each layer of scenery had to be contained in its own layer in Illustrator, and those in the near foreground needed to be wider than those in the distant background to allow them to move more quickly.

While working on that, I was also busy getting Charlie rigged and ready to start walking. The original Illustrator file was imported into Flash and every component that moved was converted to a symbol and rigged so that they rotated appropriately. Then I added keyframes to establish the most extreme points of the walk cycle, and tweens to start making the movement more fluid. Tweaking individual frames and tweens, and adding slight squash and stretch to certain parts, most notably the spring in Charlie’s torso, helped to give it a more ‘natural’ feel. 

I’ve just scratched the surface in terms of coding the ActionScript. I have the background scrolling left and right according to the keyboard controls, but I have yet to set limits, bring Charlie into the scene, and get him walking in the right direction and at the right pace as well. I also hope to start working on an interaction between Charlie and something in the environment very soon.