Colourisation



I'm back in college! This is one of the first assignments of the year; to colourise a black and white photograph that has something to do with the 1916 Easter Rising. The photo I chose was taken in 1915, in Cork City. It's of a group of the Irish Volunteers, including my great-grandfather, Sean Scanlan (second from the right in the back row). Click through to see the original photograph and my progress with it.



The picture when I found it was in a pretty bad way; there were fingerprints, tears, scratches, and splattering all over it. So the first step in the process was trying to repair as much of it as I could. After some thought, I decided to crop and straighten it, then used the spot healing tools and adjustment layers to make further repairs.



Next up: masking everything out. Using garishly obvious colours to keep things separate I selected various parts of the image according to what colour I wanted them to be in the final version. So all the green uniforms fell under one mask, all the pale faces fell under another, and so on until everything in the image was some form of violent hue.


Once everything was selected, it was a case of tweaking the colours, and making overall adjustments to the image. Using all the reference I could find from the time and from uniforms and things that have survived, I tweaked it until I was happy.


Competencies Performance and Development Programme Icons


Three things: Dublin is cool, icons are fun, and working full time in a graphic design company is a curious experience.

A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to go on work experience in Huguenot. The people there were brilliant! I was given a project brief on the first day which I worked on for the two weeks; to design a set of icons and posters for a management training event. I've never explored icon design before, and I had only used illustrator once or twice in the past, so everything was pretty much new to me. So I learned a lot from it!


The first few days were spent researching and sketching. I was gathering thoughts and developing ideas on the ten titles I was turning into icons, while keeping a consistent style in mind as well. Then, using Adobe Illustrator, I started to draw up the final designs, tweaking and changing them as I went through each one. Once I was happy with the icons themselves, I started thinking about poster designs, colours, and typefaces. I did more research, explored various colour schemes, studied typography and went through a range of layouts, forming a clear, concise overall image.


I'm pretty happy with the final result. And I'm very grateful for the opportunity too!

Race Against Time


Back in the first semester of college, we were tasked with creating a stop-motion animation inspired by a turn of phrase. I picked "Race Against Time," because there never seem to be enough hours in the day and I'm a (motorbike) racing enthusiast. I come from a family of petrolheads, too, so getting my hands on props for this project wasn't too difficult either. The helmet and gloves were my own, the steering wheel came from my brother's kit car, the overalls are my brothers, and the clock faces were given to me by an old art teacher who'd worked in an antique clock shop at some point.
I first started capturing images for this project one late night in a multi-storey car park in the city. It was a fun night out with my dear friend Emily, but ultimately ended prematurely, as it turns out taking photographs for a few hours there was frowned upon by security...

So, a change of scenery was called for! Thankfully, Emily's father let us loose in his office building for a night when no one was around, and it turned out great. In that one night, we spent many long hours moving things inch by painstaking inch, taking hundreds of photos, and making many a fresh cup of tea to keep us fuelled up. By three in the morning, we'd just about run out of steam, but we'd managed to capture everything I needed to string together a minutes' worth of stop-motion. What do you think? Was it worth it?



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.

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.