Wednesday, 14 October 2015

BAO Mask 3D Warper - New plugin for After Effects

Create 3D geometry using masks, project textures onto distorted planes, export the geometry to other 3D apps that communicate with After Effects, this is one of those plugins that re-define what's possible inside of After Effects.

Can by purchased over at

Friday, 4 September 2015

Using Illustrator for illustration

I've used Adobe Illustrator in the past for logo work, but never considered it for illustrations. That would seem odd to most digital artists, so to be fair I gave it a go over the last two days to see if I could work with it.  As a child I remember our family had a pet duchshund, so here's the quick sketch that started me off

After looking at some reference material I decided my initial sketch was pretty accurate so started the slow frustrating process of making it inside Illustrator.

I found things slower because (A) I'm learning and (B) using the path tools with bezier handles is more work than Anime Studio's simple path curves, however they are more precise perhaps. Textures were added later in Photoshop which is a bit of a cheat.

The following day I decided to do another one, based on the family cat. I know I want to do a more complex and larger piece, but now is not the time, for now I'm keeping it simple.

This time around I had a better idea of what I was doing, it was still not as fast for me as using Anime Studio but it wasn't painful. I'm definitely going to keep at it so that I can be equally comfortable using both software choices.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Illustrating in Anime Studio Pro

I've been exploring the idea of using Anime Studio Pro as a tool for creating one off illustrations, ASP is designed for animation however some of the line/vector tools and simple layer system make it a faster workflow than Illustrator or Photoshop.

It's illuminating to show my first sketches. Primarily when I'm designing I want to capture the idea, quick and rough. I get a good directive of the sort of energy or personality I'm trying to retain  for when I go into the rather methodical impersonal world of vectors.

I'm always surprised at how much stuff in the doodles ends up in the final work.

In the following example, the first drawing was a tiny scribble, spring-boarding off an idea for arm placements. Everything I needed to know was in the first doodle, when I figured this was going to be Conan O'Brian I did another quick doodle for his head, only then did I go searching for references.

Since I was pretty happy with the illustration of Hipster-types I thought I'd do another one of people. I chose to do a random group waiting for a bus (this turns out to be a fairly common idea I found).
This sketch was pretty complete as a starting point. Notice the small man  / woman in the vest, I had no idea what I was going for and figured I'd resolve it in the final image.

But I never did, is it a short feminine man or a man-ish woman? It's the weakest part of the image because I don't know what I'm saying with that character, but then they're random people so perhaps I'm not mean't to know.

Click on the images for larger views.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Ouroboros animated

Ouroboros thingy

I'm not sure what this character is or why this character is, but it may get used in the latest project.
I've been doodling random characters into my kiddie sketchpad and this is one now translated into an animated vector inside Anime Studio Pro.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Anime Studio pro 11 at half price.

If you were thinking about buying this software then now would be a good time to act.

ASP is a great solution for a small studio that needs or wants to deliver 2D animation. It is relatively easy to get up to speed with it and start pumping out animation. This is not a paid comment, I just like and use the software and want to see its development continue.

Another Solid


I figured out (sort of) what the next project will be and have started translating some of the character designs into Anime Studio pro. Here is a test to see how this design sits on either a solid color or a white background (as both will be required). There will only be the one color plus black.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

More pastel vectors

Just another variation of stroke type. I'd rather be able to get this sort of edge on the interior fill than on the stroke. Adding a stroke to get this effect inflates the proportions, then you have to compensate by shrinking the original vector.

Pastel shapes

I am going to explore some of the style options in Anime Studio Pro, there are various brush types and so forth for creating a less vector look. Below I'm using a brush style on the outer stroke of the shape to give it a rougher edge.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Mohair Sam, completed.

I don't think I can post it on YouTube because they will likely block it for the music, and have been delaying uploading it for the last few days since starting to question it's value. However I need to move on so here it is.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Dyna/4Cap -- SIGGRAPH 2015

I'm less interested in seeing this technology being put to use in production than I am in how mesmerizing these jiggling wire-frame people are to watch.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Stealing from the best.

I copied his moves frame for frame to get his signature "duck walk" right. Above is a screen shot of Anime Studio Pro with a reference movie placed in the background.

The workflow and ease at which I can have an idea, sketch something down and then make it happen within a matter of hours is testament to how good the software is.

For that reason I won't be posting any updated videos until the whole work is finished. I have about 45 seconds left to fill and I don't need to rush it.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Latest Video Update

The video has been updated again, I'm re-posting it here so that it is top of page for the moment.

Sunday, 9 August 2015


The whole western themed section is done and I'm really happy with it. Here is one of the backgrounds I made.

Friday, 7 August 2015

I made a horse today.

I planned out the next shot that will involve a western themed riff, putting 'Red' into cowboy mode. He'll ride into town with a wanted poster for Mohair Sam. I painted up a horse concept in Photoshop.

 And here's what that design looks like vector-ized in Anime Studio Pro.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Updated Video Notice

Just a note to say I've updated and replaced the video below two posts down to include the story-boarded shot in the previous post.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Planning shots

When I was listening to the music deciding if I'd use it, I  had the whole animation playing in my head, needless to say none of that has made it onto the screen so far.

I've simplified. The characters demand it, let's face it, they're faces with arms.

I'm usually doodling away on scraps of paper trying to work out what the next set of shots will be and how they might look. This next shot has been through many ideas, but the lyric had me somewhat perturbed, "chicks are makin' reservations...", how does one illustrate that?

I went into Photoshop and tried to pin it down because sometimes the doodles aren't enough.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Three days of animation.

Here is a little update with my Complementaries characters. I got bored after rigging them so they sat there for a while doing nothing, or perhaps I just didn't have a reason to animate them.

Anyway, I found a tune I liked that I could imagine them singing, 'Mohair Sam' performed by a European Band from the sixties. I liked the naive singing style with them singing an american song and not quite getting the pronunciation down. I'm going to try and do the whole song, but for now here is the first half minute.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Miss Blue

Probably my least favorite, she will be the most difficult to animate because of her pudgy limbs. I just can't find the passion for Miss Blue. Perhaps she will surprise me.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Rebelle Digital Watercolor Demo

Rebelle is something I've never used and didn't know about up until now. This video by a user speaks for itself. You can try the online version or download a demo, or purchase a full version which is very reasonably priced.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Face Expressions

A range of face poses for Miss Green. I apologize for melting your eyes with the choice of background color.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

First Poses

I copied the bone rig from Yellow and used it on Green. It was easy to do. Got the face working like the other two characters, in that I can move it around the body, move the eyes and pupils independently of each other with everything being masked correctly (the most challenging aspect of these simple looking character designs).

  But no face expressions yet.

The Female Colors

This is 'Green', the third character in a group of four based on complementary colors. I'm only posting it because she took a short time to create so I feel I'm getting quicker with the vectors and masking in Anime Studio Pro. She's not rigged yet but I'll try re-using the bone rig from Yellow.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Some Poses.

I've gone in and fine tuned all the limbs with smart bone actions to fix any weird bending issues, so knocked out some quick poses, he'll be a strange character to animate because of his low hanging arms.

Mr Yellow

The second character (Yellow) rigged and ready (almost) for animation.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Look Development in After Effects

I animated some of the face expressions and added a lighting effect to the Red character. I exported a PNG sequence out of Anime Studio Pro and brought it into After Effects for some experiments with backgrounds and textures, trying to get a feel for a final look if I where to take this exercise further.

Prepping for acting and talking.

I've created a number of smart bone actions for the face. The smart bone dial button makes this a bit quicker than it was in Version 9.5. I'm not sure if this feature was introduced in version 10 or 11, its certainly handy.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Baby Steps ll

Digging deeper into Anime Studio Pro now, adding smart bone actions for eye blinks and some bone controls that allow me to move the face around for a subtle 3D effect.

 photo RED-Sneaky_zps9e8pxt2s.gif

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Anime Studio Pro 11 Frame by Frame explained.

Animation artist Chuck Kenway did this excellent walk-thru of the new Frame by Frame process in Anime Studio Pro 11. This really helps explain how it can be used as part of a complete work-flow in your productions, with all layers (outline, color, shading) being referenced off the first blue pencil layer. Any changes the animator makes to the first layer is passed on up the chain of referenced layers.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Baby steps.

I've been hard at it, getting back into the Anime Studio Pro work methodology.  It's been slow going too, I only vaguely remembered anything from the last time I'd used it. It got to a point where I had the character set up but I had no idea what order of layers and bones I should adopt.

Then I suddenly had to get the version 11 upgrade before the 33% discount offer expired and that helped a lot. After watching a bunch of Victor Paredes videos I had some idea of how things should be set up, so here is the first thing I've animated with Anime Studio Pro 11.

 photo RED-Walk_zpskasz6oyw.gif

Still somewhat confused with the key-framing steps, but I feel like I've  jumped a major hurdle and ready to get serious again.

Friday, 29 May 2015

New Character Designs

With the latest version of Anime Studio Pro out I really want to get reacquainted with the software (I've forgotten so much). To get the ball rolling I thought I'd design some new characters, something simple to start with. Meet "The Complementaries".

You can't get more simple than some basic shapes. I spent some face time with the surface Pro (something else I've been neglecting of late) and worked up some character sheets, this being the one I felt worth pursuing. I'll still be using Anime Studio Pro 9.5 I guess, there's nothing particularly challenging about any of these characters animation-wise that would necessitate getting version 11 (apart from the discount pricing right now).

I don't know what I'm doing with this variation, over complicating things probably.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Frame by Frame and Plastic Animation Paper.

I'm sure most traditional animators already knew this, but there has been this program around for years that has become free because the developers consider it old and ugly. However it seems pretty cool to me, admittedly I'm not a traditional animator and I've only played with it for about an hour.

 photo Talking-boy_zpsl5i99ryb.gif

I know my example animation is rather shit, I just want to put something up on the blog that looked like F.B.F animation. I think this is a really nice little app to work with and you can even bring in sound files if you need to animate to audio. The developer was trying to crowd fund an upgraded version called Animation Paper but unfortunately they didn't hit their target so I don't know if that'll ever happen. But till then we have this, for free.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Jeans On

I should've mentioned this in the previous post. From 1976, the bouncy jingle for a Brutus jeans commercial proved so popular that the bouncy jingle was re-written to become a massive pop single.

I'm sure there are other examples, however it remains more likely that an established hit be licensed and used for a product campaign than the reverse.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Coke 2015_Nobody Like You.

The latest Coke campaign unveils a classic pop tune hammered together by song writing duo Rock Mafia and newcomer Francesco Yates. The tune serenades Coke, the taste, the bottle and perhaps the singer's girlfriend, so it works both ways. I've listened to the campaign version, infused with Coke-centric sound bites and "fizz pop clink" effects, and listened to the longer straight version that lays less heavy with the references. Both are great, although I think the version with the Coca-Cola sound effects is more honest, given that this is the inspiration behind the tunes actual existence.

Coca-Cola "Nobody Like You" (Agency: Brunner) from S77 on Vimeo.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Another Animation test. The Wingman

Having recently done some corporate work that required character work, it put me in the mood to I do more character stuff in After Effects. I'm using the DUIK script again, in this case it's used for the inverse kinematics (IK) on the arm and that's it. Mostly I just used solids with masks and the Stroke effect to create everything inside After Effects.

I found the audio here. If you download the sample pack, make sure to download that and not the Audio Recording and Editing software on the same page as I can't vouch for that. I really need to get back to using Anime Studio Pro, but I'm enjoying figuring out how to pull off animation in After Effects as well.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Standing Desk solutions

Last year I took time out to build a standing desk, it used adjustable legs to achieve the required height. The end result looked like this and cost about $200 or so.

At the time I was unable to find an affordable solution off the rack, however things have since changed and I have now discovered this.

The prices are quite reasonable and had this been around at the time I would have gone for this. The obviouse advantage is that the height adjustments can be made easily at any time, with my hand made model I have to clear the desk, upturn it and adjust each leg separately.
More information at VARIDESK Australia.

Behold the Beholder HSP - 3 Axis Stabilizer for smart phones

Here's a review for a handheld stabilization rig for your smart phone by Mikey of AE Tutes with Mikey.

More info at

Friday, 1 May 2015

Death of Grooveshark

A visit to one of my go to places to find music revealed this;

I guess the problem was that anything we can listen to on our PC's we can record. I'll miss the quick search for various song covers and artist offerings that afforded me.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Andrew Kramer speaking to Andrew Price

The Video Copilot is interviewed by the Blender Guru.

It's an Andrew on Andrew talk fest.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

VISITING -Episode 1

This ongoing project by Louis du Mont on which I've posted before has finally produced it's first episode. Virtually a one man operation, although all credit to the few others who have helped make this thing look so good and professional (I particularly loved the sound production), we can now see the potential of this scenario in context of a narrative.

Visiting Episode 1 from Louis du Mont on Vimeo.

A great start, but keep them coming, I want more.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Some Tasty Surface presets for Lightwave 3D

I've uploaded these to so they will be available pretty soon. Here's the promo I put together for the fun of it (and to test out the surfaces).

Friday, 27 February 2015

Playing with DUIK

I downloaded the famous and free 'Duik' script for After Effects and got to putting it to work. This is the first bit of 2D inverse kinematics puppet animation I've ever done in After Effects. I plan to do more since I'm supposed to be teaching it this year.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Renault and a Beck tune = Wonderment plus

I was alerted to this stunning campaign by Andrew Comb, it's a very unique approach for a car commercial,  it's almost a music video. Almost? Let's call it a music video. Sexx Laws from Beck's Midnight Vultures album and the new Renault Twingo pair up to create a kaleidoscopic trip to anywhere and everywhere. Done by these guys.

Monday, 19 January 2015

More Victor Paredes.

I always want to highlight work by Victor, not just because it is so nice, but because it so well demonstrates the power of Anime Studio Pro as a great animation tool.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

MyPaint update and a thing called Webchemy

MyPaint works fairly well on the Surface Pro, but you will need to use the keyboard for rotating the canvas and zooming.
While on the MyPaint site I checked out their links to other open source paint apps. The one that got my attention was a thing called Webchemy, you create shapes with it and it has mirror modes so you can block out interesting Rorschach-like designs quickly. Some artists are using this in a serious illustrative way to produce complex images, for me its more an idea generating device, as the controls don't feel at all fussy and you can just start creating shapes without giving it too much thought.

The app exports PNG on transparent background and also SVG (scaleable vector graphic), so you can take these starting ideas somewhere else and work them further.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Testing out MyPaint

MyPaint is a free open source paint program along the lines of others such as Krita (which I briefly reviewed late last year). The main thing I discovered upon firing it up is that it seeks to be very minimal, with the tools kept at bay as much as possible. I've only spent about 20 minutes with it but it is very easy to get into and I'm having fun with it.

I'm using the Bamboo tablet with this since I haven't installed it on the Surface Pro yet, I have no idea how it will perform on that device. My first impression is that the brushes are cool, being nice and responsive to strokes, and actually, very customizable, so there's a lot to investigate.

Below is the very first thing I did on it with a wacky wet brush that I chose at random.

One thing different about MyPaint is that it doesn't start out with a document size, you just have this (supposedly) endless canvas that you can later crop to the size of the artwork. The aim of this program is to concentrate on creating artwork, it has no manipulation tools, filters or color grading options, and that's fine because it keeps the whole thing stripped back and occupies a small space on your hard drive.

Getting used to the Surface Pro 3

I recently aquired a Surface Pro 3 i7, specifically to allow me to illustrate directly on the screen rather than on a Bamboo tablet, which you'll appreciate operates separate to the screen. However I'm determined to get get better with both devices as there are times that I'll want the bigger screen of a PC.

I really like the Surface, I took it out today and did a bunch of doodeling in Cafe's and shopping center sit down areas. I enjoyed the experience of working digitally in open and public environments, it energized me in a way that is different to working at a desk.

 I was trying to get used to the slippery smooth glass screen when using the pen, so I concentrated on simple lines and strokes. Each illustration was unplanned, simply based around the first stroke put down and growing out of that. I'm still finding myself, trying to work out what sort of illustrator I'm going to be, and the Surface is like a magic sketchbook. Here are some of the better doodles I turned out today.

I'm also falling in love with the brush sets of the artist Kyle T Webster, I purchased pretty much all of them and it's such a joy to go through the list, select a brush and see what it brings to the work. I recommend them highly to anyone working in Photoshop.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Not proud to be an artist right now.

Well it seems virtually nobody stood up for free speech, few publications dared to reprint the cartoons that inspired the killings and we got instead a hashtag movement and a candle lit vigil attended by the masses who'd never bought or heard of the magazine to begin with.

There where big signs held up stating "Not Afraid". Really? Not afraid, when some goon in a home-made battle ensemble raids your place of work and points an uzi at your face? Most sane people would totally fail the not afraid test at that juncture.

The fact that most newspapers and media outlets went out of their way to not re-print the cartoons shows me that our writers and artists have given in and accepted the new set of limitations imposed on their freedoms by men with guns and knives, they have shown that they are "Very Afraid!".

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Happy New Year.

So barely a week in and we have a mass shooting in the center of Paris, the offices of a satirical magazine (Charlie Hebdo) is raided by two thugs and at least 12 people have been slaughtered. The magazine's crime is that it has a sense of humor, and the Islamic thugs who executed this vile destruction do not.

It is vitally important that comedians, cartoonists and writers continue to ridicule the Islamic religion as they do all other religions, the danger is that attacks like this make Islam a special no go zone, we can't afford that, not in a free society. 

So you turn up to work in your fun office with cool people, suddenly there is noise, chaos and panic. Now the room is covered in blood and your co-workers are dead, where do you go from there? I'd forgive these victims if they suddenly lose the passion to tell jokes about a religion that inspired such killings, but I cannot respect others who decide to remove Islam from their material.

Any of us could become victims of such crimes, provoked or not, just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If satire and social commentary is your stock in trade, you'd be living in no better time to practice it. To ignore certain disturbing global trends for fear of being targeted, is to choose to be vanquished without even a battle.

Any form of self censorship, whether prescribed by the individual or the state, is precisely the outcome that Sharia law would enforce, such political correctness is Sharia under another name.

Normally I'm at pains to keep anything remotely political out of this blog, however since the subject of Just Add Motion is art related, I want to report how saddened and disappointed I've been over the years to discover how cowered and fearful most artists actually are, the image of brave young revolutionary sold to me in my younger years turns out to be mostly mythical, and in actuality the art community seem easily turned and the first to bend. Therefore I'll not be surprised if few in the arts community stand up to defend the satirical actions of Charlie Hebro, I'd actually be surprised if any do, such is the timidity of the art world today.

It is a sad thing when artists and writers are slaughtered for their beliefs, and a sadder thing when fellow artists and writers feel justified in keeping quiet about it.