Thursday, April 7, 2011

Logo Facelift

Hey all -

We're about a week or two away from finally wrapping our investor's portfolio.

Not much to report on. Thought I'd throw this up here - played around with the logo, gave it some texture.

That's it for now,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Digital Painting #3 - Asleep in the Glow

Here is the next digital painting, probably my least favorite of the three so far complete.

This piece was problematic for a few reasons. I'm not thrilled about the composition, the color palette, or the rendering. I tried a bunch of different techniques to try to make it look better, but alas, none of them really cut it.

I wanted to play around with character designs in these pieces, but so far I've been too reluctant. This is the epitome of that reluctance.

Next time I'll show some pages from the long talked about investor's portfolio!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Digital Painting #2 - Odds Bodkins' Magical Five & Dime

Here is the next in the sequence of digital paintings I'm doing for the ol' investor's portfolio.

I started looking at some of the 101 Dalmations pre-viz artwork about half way through working on this and immediately felt inadequate and stiff in the style I was working. I feel if I was doing this in actual acrylic instead of digital paint it'd turn out more like some of Peregoy's work - more graphic, free, and engaging.

This works for what it is; a colorful sketch to punch up some of the text in the portfolio.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Digital Painting #1 - Snow & Trees

Hey folks -

Busy month. Did this. Now I'm doing other things.

One of those things is finishing up some digital paintings for B.C.

Reason being; Our Investor's Portfolio will benefit from having some more explicit artwork than just character designs. It is also helpful for me to experiment with different color designs/character approaches. I'm using this era of production to explore the visual landscape of my imagination per this film. These paintings are some of the landmarks along this road. They are mostly sketches. Please don't consider them 'final products'. I don't stand behind them with that much certainty.

They are explorations. Here is the process:


Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Merry (late) Burp's Christmas!

December-January is a busy time of year. It's easy to get off track in the holiday hustle. It hit us a little bit around Burp's Christmas land. Each week I try to send out an eMail to the members of our small team - the last one I sent out is dated 12.11.10 - almost a month ago! That's 1/12th of a year. That's sloppy leadership.

Anyhow, before I got knee deep into advent, I finished up these character designs:


...though a little late.

I think Gunther is my favorite, his final design will probably be somewhat close to this. I'll have to work out Tommy's character more, he seems so generically bully-ish right now.

We're still trying to pull ourselves out of our first phase of production. At this point, I'm a little concerned that it's taking so long, but so it goes. We need to get our ducks in a row, and we need to do it fast, less we lose momentum before we've really even begun to fight.

This Valentines Day I'll be releasing The Romantic on the internet for free download/streaming. Hopefully that'll get some eyes over to Burp's Christmas. We'll see. Regardless, 2011 is a big year for us. Wish us luck!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Character Profile: Walter Burp

Looking back at this blog, for me, is kind of like watching one of those time lapse videos of a flower growing up. What happens in weeks can look like it only took seconds. The first post here was made on July 22nd 2009, a year and a half ago, but you can flip through the entries and take in the artwork as if it was created simultaneously over the course of a couple days. Since that first post in 2009 I've been spending a good portion of my spare time visually conceptualizing this film. At times I get a little sad at how slow this is moving, as if I'm growing older and losing some of my power. Or watching days ripe with potential slipping by. Working full time, saving for a house, planning a marriage, maintaining my relationships, and being a redemptive, missional person uses a good deal of my resources - very little is left for creative pursuits. It is disconcerting - if you don't exercise your talents, they start to get uncoordinated and flabby. I'm starting to feel that way. I long for the day that the logistics of my life allow for this to get more of my energy.

This is at the forefront of my thoughts as I realize that it has taken a year and a half for me to finally have some polished artwork on one of the most important characters in Burp's Christmas, Walter Burp.

Walter's design poses a couple of challenges. The first is most apparent: the wheelchair. It is always easier for me to draw organic things (people, trees, mountains, lakes, animals, etc.) than it is to draw man made structures. There is math in structures, and with that comes calculation and planning. Working in perspective slows me down. It's something, with more time, I'd practice over and over. For now I have to make do with my limited abilities.

In After Effects animation (go to this post on World Building to understand more about A.E. animation), perspective is always tricky because you can't move the camera with the same tilts and angles that you can with any other form of animation. You kind of pick one eye level for the characters and stick with it. Then you use other cinema tricks (and the fact that it is a cartoon and people will suspend their realism for you) to make the audience feel comfortable. We will have a couple tricky perspectives, but those will be the exception, not the rule. This works well with people but is slightly trickier with man made rectangular things, such as wheelchairs, because there will always be scenes when the angles of the wheelchair won't align with the angular logic of the room. I think we can still fudge it, but part of doing so will require an appropriate and widely applicable 'generic' perspective on the wheelchair to begin with.

The second challenge is that Walter is selectively mute and therefor must convey his emotions through his facial expressions and body language alone. I imagine our animation of him will be very subtle, so I went with a pretty clean, clear design for him. His eyes are big and unfettered with eyelids. It looks as if he is always staring, always pondering, always perceiving the world. This is true to his character in the script.

There aren't many maroon wheelchairs out there, but I wanted this thing to be kind of quirky - as if they got it from a thrift store, or a friend of the families. It's old and clunky and reflects the families economic disposition. They can't afford a better one. I wanted it to be too big for him. If you look at some of the above images, you'll notice that his shoulders are hunched. I never want him to be comfortable in this thing, it's a constant burden. Unwieldily and cumbersome, he's not strong enough yet to make it work for him. This drives his frustration and volitive temperament. It's very difficult for Walter to feel peaceful, or in control, so it becomes all the more glorious when we hit those grace notes with him.

So there he is, Walter Burp. Sooner or later I'll do a drawing of him in profile, but it seemed unnecessary for now. We need to get our Investor's Portfolio out, and there is much work to be done.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Designing our Logo

Well, folks, our first stage of this production is rapidly coming to an end. Soon we will be making our investor's portfolios and we'll shift into our next phase.

Currently, Mike Almquist (of and I have been drawing up some logo designs. This is not necessarily an easy task.

A film's logo can carry a lot of weight. There are instances when the logo might be the first image someone sees in association with a film. In this case, the logo is making the first impression. The audience is already identifying (or not identifying) with the film based solely on the sequence of letters they see before them. Ideally, then, the logo should be a visual representation of the soul of the film. It should both compliment and represent the film's aesthetic as well as it's spiritual identity. It can speak to the artist's tastes, inspirations, and awareness. This, of course, is ideal. Sometimes the logo is just a sequence of letters.

This does not mean that the logo need be fancy or over complicated. I have seen many successful animators simply trace Garamond a few times into an animation loop that is then juxtaposed over their opening shot. Though a relatively easy solution, this is not necessarily thoughtless. When this works, this style has a humble, homemade charm to it. It's quaint and warm, and can compliment a film whose artwork is pencil or watercolor based.

Even something bumped out in Comic Sans or Papyrus might, just might, live into a logo's full power (though, admittedly, it is unlikely), depending on the film. There are no rules, really. Art is organic and will be so long as it is produced by organisms. There are many great suggestions on how to feed, water, and grow your art, but each piece takes genesis in an entirely unique set of start conditions and as such is shaped mostly through the spontaneity and complexity of existence. Even craft is chaotic when contextualized. When we zoom out.

The above image is the first go I had at making a Burp's Christmas logo. I drew it rather hastily during the early days of what would become a long love affair with hand drawn, whimsical type face. It graces the front of our BC business cards, rendered in green ink instead of black, where, to be honest, it doesn't look half bad. But it will not do for our final feature.

I want the logo for Burp's Christmas to partially pay homage to Christmas script of yore. It is by now tradition for most Christmas films and stories to be adorned with a Dickensian style classicism. Curley cues and flourishes. The idea of the traditional English Christmas is such a powerful archetype that dominates a healthy portion of the general populations imagination of Christmas.

Let's take a look at some examples:

Of course there are many exceptions to this rule. A whacky, slapstick holiday comedy is more likely to use a shiny, modern bubble font to get their point across.

But regardless, there is something in the collective Christmas consciousness that anchors our modern celebration with tradition of the past. Humans are creatures of ritual, we crave them, though our manifestations of these cravings can and certainly do differ remarkably. We want to take communion with ghosts - those of the past, and those of our past selves. The season is littered with nostalgia and ruminations on 'days gone by'. The scents, the sights, most of them derive their power not necessarily for their immediate beauty, but by their inferences to the scents, sights, and perceptions of other times. This is bittersweet - the visceral sensation of emotionally experiencing linear time.

These ideas are part of the soul of Burp's Christmas, and it is only appropriate that the logo is scribed with such concepts pooled in the inkwell.

The first go at the BC logo attempted to do this, but ultimately failed because of my rookie capabilities in graphic design. It's true, in this avenue I am an amateur, at best. I know what I want, but I have yet to entirely develop the neural pathways that will allow my imagination to hit the pavement and find manifestation in reality.

So I passed the buck, kind of, to my dear friend Mike Almquist (who designed The Romantic's website, amongst many other beautiful tshirts, album covers, and posters for various musicians and bands). For direction I pointed him to some old UPA and 60s text design, which may have been bad advice on my part. I didn't want something modern, that's for sure. I did not want the flashy bubble letters I mentioned above. Or something that would be more at home on a dollar store Christmas coloring book.

Below are two examples he concocted:

Both are heading in the right direction, but are not quite there yet, and I'm afraid taking direction from me can sometimes be paradoxical. I envision a logo that is unique and new yet has in it's DNA the genetic heritage of "fonts of yesteryear". It must be whimsical, charming, and warm (the hot chocolate, fire in the fireplace, lights on the Christmas tree feeling); yet it must also carry some weight, power, and majesty (the mystery of the nativity, the choir of angels, the light in darkness). I'm not sure this is even entirely possible.

I took another shot at designing the logo myself, this time with a bit more experience under my belt. Here is the result:

What you see above isn't really a 'final draft'. It might be fancied up with some texture or glow effect. The colors aren't official (no, we won't be putting a blue rectangle with white interior font on all our materials). We'll probably add in a couple more snowflakes. But the lettering is done.

Not 100% there, but might be useful for the time being. Of course, we have til the end of production to really finalize our logo, but for now we need something to put on all our printed material for fundraising, etc.

As it is Thanksgiving, I shall leave you now so I can help my mom get the house in order for guests.

Hey, it's almost Christmas.