Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category


Persimmon 2018

March 4, 2018

Squirrelly Sketches

This is a character I’ve been working on for animation for some time.  I find it a challenge to come up with an efficient design.   I’d really like to simplify the hair a little more as it’s still too many strokes but I’m going to try working with this for now.

An interesting thing I learned is that I think I learned more about optimization by batch-processing these drawings.  If you watch the video, I did the sketches for all of them first, then the inking followed by layers of color, much the same as they’d have been done if I were working with traditional ink and paint.    I did this to avoid switching brushes constantly but it ended up being a lot more efficient.   Turns out when you’re painting just the hair over and over again, you start thinking more about how to speed up painting just the hair and become quicker at drawing those shapes.

At the point which I had started this character refinement, I had of course been drawing the character for weeks.  I had reduced detail in the hair, face, and eyes to create a design that’s more manageable.  Working like this, I picked up a few new rules for ink and paint that I expect will save me time in the future.  In no particular order:

  • Over-color:  If coloring an area of the character that will have another layer of color on top of it, go way over the margin.   It’s easy and will save time later.
  • If you notice a mistake or omission in a lower layer, fix it immediately.
  • Work large to small.  Do the largest color areas first then successive layers with finer details.
  • Time lapse video is useful for identifying where I spent the most time.

In total, I spent about 12hrs on these drawings.  If I aim to average shooting on 2s, this is equivalent to about 3 seconds of screen time.  I am hoping this time will come down some more as I get more familiar with the character.  From the video it appears I spend about half of my working time in sketching and the other half in ink and paint.


Daily Cartooning, the Character as Calligraphy

November 28, 2016

In the wake of the recent elections, I’ve been busy.   I was shocked by the results, needed to remember the world still has good people in it.  I took a simple idea, asked some friends for advice, and then started an event.   At the very least, it helped me.  I met wonderful people, made new friends, reaffirmed friendships with ones I already knew, and felt a part of community again.     This lovely video made by Roger Tran shows the power of what we can do as a community:  So many people showed up.  Some brought signs, some flowers, all brought themselves.  We came together and became something bigger.  It gave me new strength

In reflection on this, I want to do more to help others express themselves.  I am not a professional artist but I am a competent student and it occurred to me that sharing my notes might help someone else find a means of expressing themselves that they’ve always desired.   To that end:  My notes-to-self on learning to draw economical characters are attached to this image:


and a ~1min time-lapse video of the exercise is available here:



Cintiq 15x 18SX Pen Repalcements and Compatibility

April 5, 2013

I was recently given an old Cintiq 15x sans pen and cables. I’ll make a separate post on cables shortly. But since it took me a few hours of searching, I thought I’d condense this and post it and hopefully save someone else some time. The 15x and the 18SX can use the same pens per all info I found. I’ll be referring to the 15x as it is the only one I tested.

The Bad News:
*The Cintiq 15X pen and all compatible pens are discontinued.
*The Grapphire and Intuos pens do NOT work with the 15x.

The Good News:
*After a lot of searching. Wacom-asia has a compatibility chart here:
** In case that goes away, the pertinent info is that all PenPartner and UltraPen wacom pens should work. These are pens that begin with the model number UP-###E
** For search purposes, you want: PenPartner, UltraPen, UD Series, PL-300, PL-400, Cintiq 15x, Cintiq 18x

On ebay I wasn’t able to find a ‘Cintiq’ pen for less than $130 + shipping. However, I found a UP-719EA-00A-1 for $25. You can also be clever and note that the completely obsolete Wacom Digitizer and Digitizer II tables use the early UP series pens and those can be had on ebay with pen for less than $20. I saw some listed as little as $1 but didn’t feel like waiting for an auction to get a pen.

** NON-WACOM pens: I have not tried these but I found many people claiming that pens for Tablet PCs would work. The favorite among the people who’d tried them was the Axiotron Modbook pen. However, like the wacom pens, this too is discontinued and while they were in the $10-$25 range 2 years ago, the only ones I saw for sale were closer to $100.

So if you’ve lost your pen, exhale! You’re not completely SOL yet. 🙂

I am mirroring this post on DeviantArt to up the signal.

Coming soon: Cintiq 15x USB to Mini-din wiring schematic and replacement power supplies and a DIY instructable for mounting a Cintiq 15X in an animation desk. 😉


Optical Registration of Bulk Scans

May 24, 2010

Moved recently and my animation stand is currently buried beneath boxes in the basement of our new home waiting for a house remodel project to finish before it can be put back into service. In the meanwhile, I needed to do some pencil tests.

During the move, my scanner (which had been making funny noises for a while) finally conked out, and my printer was both near-dead and no longer supported by the manufacturer so I took the opportunity to replace both with an Epson Artisan 810 combo unit. Since it comes with a sheet feeder, I thought it might be a good opportunity to check out the state of inexpensive solutions to optical registration of bulk scans.

All of these work by requiring you to black out part of the scan bed where the peg bar sits so that you get solid black peg holes to make it easy for the software to identify the location of the punches. Finding information about automatic optical registration proved difficult. There are of course many high-end solutions in the several hundred dollar range but at the moment, these solutions are out of my range.

Two solutions I did find within my price range are DigiCel’s Flipbook Lite (just shy of $80) and a free beta of a java application called ScanFix written by Duane M. Palyka.

Both applications performed reasonably well. Flipbook’s import is easier to use and it also has some built-in smarts about adjusting the contrast of the drawings to make them show up well. The only minor confusion I had with it was in configuration of the registration offset but this was quickly fixed. It also supports TWAIN libraries and was able to import directly from my scanner with no interim files. I did not invest the time to tinker around with the rest of flipbook’s features for actually creating animation since I’m already familiar with and invested in another tool however, it seemed fairly straightforward and intuitive and may well be worth looking at.

Scanfix is a little less user friendly. I had to do a bit of tweaking to my scan configuration to get files where it could reliably detect the holes. It is also in beta test and I encountered a few problems in using the optional rotations but, once I resolved these issues, it performed adequately. In addition, Mr. Palyka has been quite pleasant to converse with.

On the whole, scanning at 150DPI, the scanner imported equivalent to the fastest I could possibly photograph work on my animation stand (meaning that on average, the scanner was far faster). I even got so lazy as to write a short script to reverse the order of scanned pages so I didn’t have to resort my cels after taking them off the animation desk. Finally, the scanner does not require me to operate the camera. Throw in a stack of cels, hit a button, and off it goes. So in good situations, it’s a bit of a time saver. However, I did run into issues a couple of times where the scanner grabbed more than one page and caused me some problems with a sequence and bogged down my progress. Since this is an invisible fail until you run the pencil test, it’s a bit of a sticking point.

Still. If you’re a student or otherwise on a tight budget, both tools are worth checking out, depending on your personal needs. Though I must confess that I enjoy drawing 12 field and since my scanner does not support paper of that size combined with the scanner feed issues means that I shall not be tossing out my animation stand just yet.


Book Review

October 3, 2008

If you love making animation and haven’t yet heard of the AnimationPodcast, let me strongly recommend it.  Terrific host, guests, and content.

Clay’s most recent guest, Eric Goldberg has a new book out titled, Character Animation Crash Course

Since I’d just come off a long animation hiatus and my character animation has always been stiff, I bought a copy and the hardest thing has not been just ripping through it cover to cover.

This is the absolute best book I’ve ever read on character animation.  His style of writing is easy to read, his examples clear, and it just makes everything click for me in a way that it really hadn’t before.

Curiously, before getting his book, I’d decided to take a stripped down character and re-animate him doing the same ‘take’ over and over in different ways to convey character, emotion, etc.  In his book, Goldberg had taken this exercise one step further, starting and ending with the same pose and doing different in-betweens.  Very good stuff.

I’m also really appreciating his information on timing.  I’ve long understood timing in a strictly mathematical and mechanical sense.  I can graph parabolas like nobody’s business, and I understand how they relate to good motion, but it hadn’t clicked.  I had all the right steps in there but it was still stiff and mechanical.

Somewhere between reading Goldberg’s book and freeze-framing through Clampett animation, it all just suddenly clicked and, like Victor Frankenstein, I now feel as if my corpses have been brought to life!

Two thumbs up!  (But four frames apart to avoid twinning!)


Godzilla: Guest of Honor

January 31, 2008

Work on the Godzilla project is now complete, though perhaps not exactly what I’d ideally have liked. There were a number of problems with the shoot itself stemming mostly from the green screen being too small and outdoors with a short shooting schedule and some costume problems. However, aside from a few problems with the screen and enough jump-cuts to make any film student cringe, it came off reasonably well.


PHP… Meet Flash!

February 14, 2007

PHP is really cool! For a long time, I’ve had little directories that were full of short animations that weren’t really great enough to post about or put in my main animation archive but were fun enough that I wanted to keep them. Rather than make a database to maintain them, I just threw together a PHP script that looks for stuff with the same names and creates a web page for it. Better yet. I made it smart enough to recognize flash animation and create HTML for it on the fly if it didn’t have some specific requirement. Keen, and a lot less hassle!

So. Here’s a couple of directories of weird little bits!

Artist’s Ambush Entries

The Artist’s Ambush is a weekly get-together I sometimes join. The original idea was: A topic is created, you have 30 minutes to draw something based on it. I decided to be even MORE insane and try animating a concept in the same 30 minutes. I’ve had varying levels of success. You can find more on the Ambush at this location.

Flash Class

Oooh! Holdovers from my school days taking a Flash class. Of course, it was never any fun just doing the required assignments so I always did additional weird and crazy stuff. Have a look.


Bunnies Like to be Counted

December 6, 2006
This is just a little short I did in a couple of hours. A friend posted this audio clip online and I felt compelled to animate to it. Yay for found audio!
Bunnies Like To Be Counted


November 15, 2006
Nov 15 2006 Ambush Entry
Fluffy come home!
My entry for the Artist’s Ambush this week.

2006 FCTV Spots

January 22, 2006

The Archery Spot on YouTube

With only a week between Further Confusion and I, I thought I’d better try to get some animation done. With the help of my good friend Jon, we managed _TWO_ thirty second spots. The first, which I did solo is a rather simple 3D project created in Maya 5.

King Artie on YouTube

The second piece done in a scant four days is hand drawn, with ink and paint in ToonBoom. Jon did the keys, I did inbetweens,cleanup, ink and paint, and the sound composition and mixing.