Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Four and twenty blackbirds ...

...baked in a pie.

I've started putting a rough animatic together from all the thumbnail boards I've made. It's like sculpting clay at this stage, seeing what takes form. I love this part of the process. It's messy, it's unforgiving, it's a glimpse of my goal. I have afforded myself the luxury of getting to a first cut of the animatic by the end of this week and then taking a break from it (the break being the luxury part ... I have a week off next week for good behaviour).

There's more design work to be done (nothing is final till it's in the shot), so I'll be doing that while I procrastinate.

ere's an early concept illustration. I initially saw these capes like little kites flitting through the trees...

Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.


As mentioned earlier in this blog, I once, many moons ago, worked with Ian Carney on a comic book called Big Ape Go Mental! It was basically a wrestling comic in the style of a warped and twisted saturday morning cartoon. This was way back in 2000 when there were only a small handful of warped and twisted shows on saturday morning television. Now you can't move for warped and twisted.

It was originally planned as a four issue mini series (I think) and then we were going to see where it went from there but the book never took off and we only ever produced one issue.

This will be appearing in bite sized chunks over the coming days till all 24 pages are up. It's a great story (Carney's a great writer) and funny in lots of places too.

Big Ape Go Mental! is ©2000-2006, Ian Carney and Ian Culbard

Monday, May 29, 2006

With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes...

... she shall have music wherever she goes.

Red Hood has been through numerous changes. The earlier post was almost there. The image attached here, which includes some past incarnations, is the conclusion. She's a little taller now and there's the additional detail on her robes (the weaving leafy vine pattern).

n a very earlier draft, the cloak wasn't all enveloping as it is now, it hung by a clasp from her shoulder and you could see the outfit she wore beneath but I came to slowly realise that the concealing cloak actually was befitting her battle scarred and jaded character. Something ceremonious about it.

As today was a bank holiday, I didn't do much work (just a little this morning while my son took a nap). My family and I set out to Clumber Park this afternoon where I took more photographs of trees and rooftops (some of which I'll include in later posts). We've had a great weekend. It's been pouring with rain, but everywhere we've driven to has been sunny and warm. Just as we got in the car to leave Clumber, hail stones started falling. It had been bright and sunny just moments before. One of those lucky weekends I guess.

Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.

Spring Clean...

Given the blog a spring clean this evening; new title logo and Grimmwood fancy link image in the links section as I slowly get my monkey brain around the most basic of basic html. Figured that after so much black and white artwork what the place really needed was some color.

Also have kind permission from the remarkable Ian Carney to publish "Big Ape Go Mental" (which he wrote and I drew) on this very blog, which I'm really pleased about because it's a cracking script and it was a shame it never saw light of day by any other means. It is one issue of what was going to be a four issue story, but you'll see 24 pages of it here, so it's better to have love and lost etc.

Anyway, better get on with converting those pages to web friendly meaty chunks.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

In a hole in the ground ...

... there lived a Hobbit.

I remembered this morning the Ice Houses of Rufford Park in Nottinghamshire and thought they would suit Grimmwood (just as background detail, tucked away in a panning shot), so I grabbed my camera and took my son with me and set off in the car. Ice houses were introduced into Britain in 1660. They were basically an early refrigerator and were often situated near lakes. When I first saw it a few years ago when we first visited the park, I thought it looked like a Hobbit prison.

We were there for a couple of hours (my son fell to sleep in his push chair, bless him) and I managed to get about seventy shots in all.

Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.

Friday, May 26, 2006

All the King's horses...

...and all the King's men.

Here is an example of the color process. I've scanned in a drawing of a Dragoon who is set to appear in Grimmwood. I imported the scanned image into Flash and got to work constructing self-trace or self-color lines (which in old money would be called a 'clean-up') using the pen tools from the toolbar. Self-trace or self-color is where the line color is the same as that of the fill. So, in effect, I use supposed shadows to highlight definition (as and when it suits) and little else. Note the shadow on the glove and the shadow of the trousers beneath; these will bleed into one another, there's nothing to set them apart. But as it will eventually be animated, movement will help define the glove being separate from the trousers. The shade of the jacket also helps with the definition.

So, I try to barely use any lines at all. I fill where fills are needed and then add brushed details (such as eyebrows, eyes and lips, and thrills on shoulder decorations etc). Fingers often require the most definition.

I have also been working on some of the finer details of the world of Grimmwood. Notably a crest which can been seen adorning the walls of Red Hood's house. Initially I had the wolf's head pointed to the left (forward). But when out driving the other day I pulled up behind a Vauxhall at some lights and noticed that the eagle (or whatever it is) on the Vauxhall logo was seemingly looking over its shoulder. It then occurred to me that it'd make more sense to have the wolf in my crest looking over its shoulder, as though it were biting its own tail as some comment of its stupidity over its ferocity. Well, that's the general idea, so, here it is. Here you'll note also a leaf design which is quite common in many of the patterns and designs associated with Red Hood.

Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

If you go down to the woods today ...

... you're sure for a big surprise.

Looking forward to tomorrow (technically speaking, later today, but after I've slept). If the rain holds off then I've got a day of woodland photography ahead of me. I want to give the trees I've drawn some texture so I'm going to go hunting for reference material. No excuse not to, considering as I live in Nottinghamshire.

Here's a piece from some of the design work I've been doing today. Click on the image for a larger view.

I am also including three pages of thumbnails from The Red Book. It's part of a rough storyboard for the film and covers only the opening segment (part of which is going to serve a section of the trailer I'll be putting together). My thumbnails are very shorthand and I often find people can't read them. But that's okay because at this point it doesn't matter that nobody else understands them. The important thing is that I understand them, and for the most part I do.

Thumbnail boarding is a lot of fun. It's the cheapest part of the production and so long as you can understand the shorthand, it's quickest way to see the film before anyone else does. I often film thumbnails just to get a feel for the pace of a film. At storyboard stage I'll post a comparrison between thumbnails and boards so you can see how storyboards make sense of all the crazy talk.

May add some photographs from my woodland expedition later tomorrow (technically today) to this post ... but that largely depends on the weather. Good old British weather. Ya gotta love it.

Update: Managed to get out and do a fair bit of reference hunting today!

Didn't need to travel far (walking distance from my house). The rain held off after all and the sunlight coming through the leafy canopy really was quite something. Added bonus: I managed to find some gorgeous ornate rooftops; inspiration for some of the buildings that appear in Grimmwood.

As background artists go, one of my favourites is Maurice Noble. I've always loved his work on Snow White. Such attention to detail. Truly astounding and deeply evocative. So, with Snow White in mind, I went out today with a mission; to find interesting natural shapes. Twisted branches jutting out at angles, tree trunks shrouded in leaves, knotted roots bursting through the undergrowth. The woods gave all these up in abundance. So I have plenty to work with now. In all, a good day and the sun's still shining.

Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Films, & Comics, & Blogs - Oh my!

I'm currently making a film, for which there's a production diary. Click on the image above to visit the site (or on the link in the links list).

Meanwhile, on the comics front; waiting for confirmation from Judge Dredd Megazine as to which issue my six page story "Monsters" will be appearing in. As and when I do hear back, I'll post images from it here, including sketches and such. The Megazine is featuring a small press spot each month, showcasing new artists and writers, which is all exciting stuff. The current issue, 245, features the rather excellent work of Dave Hitchcock.

By the pricking of my thumbs...

... something wicked this way comes.

Right at the start of making a film I like to get down on paper (I say paper, but what I tend to do is draw straight into Flash using a Wacom Tablet) pretty much where I want to get to by the time I'm done. So what you're seeing here is a sneak peek of where I'm going with all of this. There are wolves in this story. Wolves and red capes.

The wolves started life slightly differently to what you see here. They had humanoid bodies originally, but I quickly opted for lupine bodies when I saw how hungry it made them look. In the story, the wolves have been fighting the Red Hoods for a long time and have not won many battles (you may have guessed, this is a slightly different take on the traditional tale). So the 'skinny, scruffy scavenger' look reflects that perfectly.

here are three different wolves on this sheet. In principle, they mostly have similar bodies, so in these designs I've done little to change them. There is a 'generic' wolf form I've yet to design, which I'll be using for scenes with lots and lots of wolves in. All this previsualisation helps me when it comes to storyboarding the film because I can see in my minds eye pretty much what the whole thing looks like.

Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Once Upon a Time ...

... there was a blog that served as a record of the production of a short animated film called "Grimmwood".

For some time now I've been scribbling in this little book, jotting down notes, scratching out doodles and mostly producing thumbnail drawings of what will eventually become a short animated film called "Grimmwood" (currently a working title). This blog will serve as a record of the journey from this little book to the screen (be it large or small) and all the nonsense that goes on inbetween. I'll be keeping the blog regularily updated with sketches, designs, trailers, clips, production notes, and notes on inspiration as I go. Over the comings days, weeks, months (don't worry, not years), we will, bit by bit, be seeing more and more of what is in that little red book come to life.

The film is proposed as a 2D animated film of about 5 to 6 mins in length (though I'll be able to better determine that when I have a full animatic up and running... which will be shown here using the latest You Tube technology) and is the first in a possible series of films if all goes well. The film will be realised using Flash 8 and After Effects. The soundtrack will be produced with the aid of garageband. More on the actual content of the film (story etc.) will be explored with upcoming updates.

Now, if you're sitting comfortably (and I do mean very comfortably, this is the production of an animated film after all, these things do take a little time) then we'll begin.

Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

That other thing I do ...

Right now is possibly the busiest time of year for me in terms of the day job. Just finished a string of commercials for Picasso Pictures, so I can get back to more "Mad Doctors In Love" (can't quite believe that in the middle of it all I had to go into hospital! Eeek! But the lovely people at Picasso, and they really are lovely, worked around that, bless them).

I've also recently submitted a six page story to appear in Judge Dredd Megazine under the Small Press section, but more news on that later.

I'm currently preparing more pages of "Mad Doctors In Love" for the blog, but in the meantime, since it's been a while since I last posted, a word about my sponsor. Animation. Aka, 'that other thing I do' or 'what keeps me off the streets' or 'how I pay the rent'. So here's a little show and tell while we resume transmission.

I make lots of different sorts of commercials. From Max Wilde, Sunny D commercials to Golden Nuggets commercials (the Golden Nuggets commercial you see here was something of a re-vamp. This 'timelord' unfortunately didn't get more than two outings... but he got to fend off dinosaurs and lions, and I guess you ain't lived unless you've done that). You can watch some segments of the commercials and films I've made over at the Picasso Pictures website. You'll see there that I also make TV shows, having written and directed (and even voice acted in; it's amazing what jobs you get if you know the director) shows for Nickelodeon, and other stuff for television, such as animated sketches for BBC 3's Monkey Dust.

A few years ago I worked with Ian Carney (he of Sugar Buzz fame) on a number of short films for Nickelodeon called Monster Vs. Monster. Ian not only writes comics, he also writes for television. We did a couple of comic book projects together, the first was a 24 page comic called Big Ape Go Mental which never saw light of day but was originally proposed as a four issue mini series. The vibe here was Hanna-Barbera cartoons in Dimension X.

We also did a two page story called Dagmar's Dinner (more for our own amusement). The vibe here was something equally surreal. Soon after this we decided to produce a film called Dagmar's Friend. It had a modest run at the festivals. The music for the film was produced by Ollie Davis with voices provided by Kate Harbour.

Here's Dagmar's Dinner.

And here's some stills from Dagmar's Friend.

Dagmar's Dinner
/Dagmar's Friend ©Ian Carney/Ian Culbard, 2002-2006.
Big Ape Go Mental ©Ian Carney/Ian Culbard, 2000-2006.