Thursday, 5 September 2013


A quick animation I made in ToonBoom for the Illustration Friday topic Lush. Cheers!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Zouk la petite sorciere

During the Annecy Animation Festival I discovered a charming series of books called Zouk by Serge Bloch and Nicolas Hubesch. Just for fun I had a go at animating Zouk on her broomstick, trying to capture the style of Serge Bloch's illustrations.

And here is a little making of:

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

TVPaint - Fire Brush

I recently discovered this brush in TVPaint and had a lot of fun with it. It allows you to quickly draw quite realistically rendered fire with a brush stroke. It is essentially just a two tone brush revealing your chosen texture. You can also smudge as you draw with the 'shift' setting to create some realistic fire blur.
It's nice to play with but I think it could look out of place or too generic if used on a production. Like using word art or photoshop filters.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

What happened to Clean Up?

Clean up animation seems to be a dying art at the moment and it really bothers me. It has gone from a key animation process performed by experienced, skilled and valued artists to tracing animation with a fine line by uneducated artists on unacceptable low salaries. The fact that clean up artists produce the final drawings and movement the audience will see on screen seems to always be over looked and unappreciated. Bad clean up can make Glen Keane look like a first year student, this is not an over exaggeration!

My theory is that this all began with DIsneys invention of the assistant animator. Having an artist work under another in this way had knock on effects to clean up and gave everyone the impression there was some kind of hierarchy to the importance of artists in the animation process with animator at the top, clean up in the middle and inbetweeners at the bottom. This is such a damaging idea. Each process is as vital a last. Clean up is not something that should just be considered a stepping stone to animating or a lesser job than animating. It should be praised and respected for what it is, a damn hard and invaluable job in any animated production.

I was fortunate enough to begin my career on The Illusionist where I learnt, for the first time, what clean up really was and how to do it at an extremely high level. I learnt clean up needed skills quite different from animating but at the same time required knowledge of how to animate. I came to realise a good animator does not always have the skills to do good clean up. I would not consider myself a good clean up artist, probably because I know what it involves.

Clean up is not, in any way, a case of drawing over the animation with the final line. It was never a job for an assistant animator, although that seems to be the job title for clean up now.

Clean up animation is the process of taking tied down animation to the final drawings you see in the finished film. The artist uses keys and charts from the animator to construct the character and put it on model. They will read any intention from the animator and stay true to any performance or movement. The animation drawings can often be quite lose. If the animation drawings are too clean but off model or lacking any consistently it can make clean up much harder than it needs to be or even mislead the clean up artist. Clean up artist must know, at least, the principles of how to animate. This includes the ability to make intelligent inbetweens, as shown below. Due to budget restrictions clean up has come to include inbetweens in many cases as the job roles share the same necessary skills.

Most people find this kind of mistake funny or silly but it happens! A scene came back to be fixed on The Illusionist were Tati was picking up a hose from the ground. The inbetween had the hose jumping off the ground before Tati's hand reached it. The belief that clean up is easy, tedious or repetitive is false. It can be very rewarding.

This example from Beth Witchalls is a clear example of how clean up alters the animators drawings by correcting proportions and volumes to have a controlled model throughout the scene. Nearly all animators draw their characters slightly differently. It is the clean up artists jobs, as a team, to correct this consistently.

This is only a brief explanation of what clean up really involves. My main point is that the skill for real clean up seems to be disappearing. Today a lot of studios, even those on large features, are tracing animation or cleaning up without this basic knowledge and the skills are not being taught or passed on. Due to clean up being considered less important than animation clean up artists are being paid less and expected to work as fast as animators. This is yet another misconception. In general, high quality clean up takes twice as much time as animation.

A lot of the blame can be put on the animation schools. A lot of most students first jobs are in clean up but they have not been taught how to do it. They then move on from their first job after tracing animation believing it is clean up and apply for other jobs believing they can do clean up. This may sound harsh but it is happening. It is sadly true that some studios would rather have this than pay for real clean up but surely as I said before the damage is inevitably dealt to the final product of the film and subsequently the animation industry.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The trickiest part of this challenge was working out how to animate the rain! In the end I went and looked at My Neighbours the Yamadas for some clues on approaching it!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Quad Reference

Unfortunately hadn't had time to get round to this one quite yet, but I was also planning on getting in on some quadruped action. I'm not particularly confident with quads yet, so I was doing a little research. Thought I'd might share (click the text)...

Interactive 3D dog skeleton

Richard Williams on basic quad movement (video)

101 Dalmations page from Andreas Deja's blog

Muybridge, animals in motion (full thing online)

Tips on drawing and animating quads

Dogs on treadmill (video)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Animation Challenges: 3 - Scaredy Dog!


I wanted to have a go at animating a quadraped moving and turning around, and I also wanted to catch up on the Emotion Change challenge, so I included a change when the dog 'sets'. I decided to use a Preston Blair dog model so I could get animating straight away.

Here's the video I referenced.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Animation Challenges: 3

Here are the new challenges for spring 2013!

(the technical challenge)
Referencing is something most animators do not do enough of. We often dive in and presume we know how something should move. Referencing could involve finding an image sequence, video reference or even recording yourself. For this challenge you have the freedom to animate whatever you like as long as it is from something you have referenced. For example, animate a bird flying taking off whilst referencing a video of a bird taking off, preferably frame by frame. I would suggest avoiding rotoscoping because you will learn to see more when you can't just trace the action. All the great animators have done this and still do. It allows you to build a library of convincing actions and principles in your mind that will strengthen every subsiquent piece you animate. Remember, you don't necessarily need to copy every frame. Try to pick out the keys and extremes, and then breakdowns to guide you. Have fun and try something complex or challenging, you may even want to apply this challenge to the others.

(the performance challenge)
A lot of character is found when a character reacts. 'Acting is reacting'. Animate a character reacting to a changing weather condition. For example; it's snowing, it's cold, it starts to rain, the fan stops working during a heat wave. There are many ideas and scenarios to play with.

(the acting to audio challenge)
Same as last tome. Animate to this slightly longer short audio clip.

Female character; ''Hey, I know you.''
Male character; ''Hello. You know me? Cool. I mean, yeah you do. Do you?''

If you have any questions or technical problems just comment to this post.
Any form of animation is fine.

The next challenges starts 1st July.
... And remember you can still post any animation you have unrelated to the challenges.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

30 days of animation

Last month I decided to animate something everyday for 30 days. This is the result.
It was difficult to even think of what to animate most days. I spent a few hours on average for each day, sometimes it felt like all day. I originally intended to do them quicker but they usually didn't get going till the late evening. This also meant all the days where only 'first passes' or 'straight aheads'. After the first 5 days I realised I should try to maintain a reasonable quality. It wasn't easy, a lot of time was spent hitting a wall but I had fun trying something different everyday.

Le bal de Rémy (Circus Marcus) / CC BY-NC 3.0

Monday, 25 March 2013

Everybody falls the first time...

ooops from Dom Elsey on Vimeo.

Hey everyone. Just animating some things outside of grad film stuff. Needs some fixing - so feedback me please!!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Friday, 8 February 2013


I was going to finish my last animation challenge this week and post all three but I have to make a short trip away. Instead, I thought I'd compile and share all my odd pieces of test animation and unfinished pieces. Sometimes I have the urge to just animate something, this is often the result.
Challenge post coming soon..

Friday, 25 January 2013

Animation Challenges 2 - Where are we?

Hey fellow Animation Challengers!

I decided to work backwards and start with the advanced challenge first. In this test, I wanted to have the character move around while delivering the dialogue, as in my previous lip sync tests, my characters were glued to one spot.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Walk Cycles during Spin Cycles

Not an animation challenge, but just a couple of quick experiments while waiting for my washing machine to finish.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Animation Challenges: 2

Thanks to everyone that took the time to post for our previous set of challenges, its a positive start!
It seems the beginner challenge was the most popular so I have taken the difficultly of these challenges down a notch and focused on some less ambitious challenges.
I hope you all have a chance to join in again this new year and enjoy these new ones.

Beginner: WALK
(the technical challenge)
Whenever we animate a walk it is almost always from a profile view. Animate a character, human or animal, walking toward or away from the camera.
Walks are a vital skill for character animators. It should not be something you lack confidents with so it's always good to practice.

Intermediate: EMOTION CHANGE
(the performance challenge)
Some of the most interesting scenes in film occur due to emotion change. Animate a character changing from one emotion to another. You could choose anything from a close up showing just the face or a broader action with the whole body. Remember to check your animators survival kit, avoid moving directly from one emotion to another. Think about the reasons they are changing their emotion. An unexpected surprise, a slow realisation? 
There is no one way of doing this so have fun and try a couple of variations if you can.

(the acting to audio challenge)
Same as last time. Animate to this short audio clip.
Male character; "Guys.... where are we?"

MP3 is recommend for best quality.

Right click and download here

If you have any questions or technical problems just comment to this post.
Any form of animation is fine.

The next challenges starts 1st April.
... And remember you can still post any animation you have unrelated to the challenges.