Monday, 7 May 2012

Big Illustration Party Time

Big Illustration Party Time Podcast review

Earlier, I listened to another podcast narrated by the comic illustrators Joshua Kemble and Kevin Cross who run the Big Illustration Party Time blog The subject of discussion this time around was how and why to draw up contracts being freelance illustrators and the importance they play in the working relationship you have with any one client. Working freelance can sometimes lead to verbal agreements or an agreement email and new and budding illustrators often use these to make a good impression with clients to show their willing and don’t want to turn work down or be turned down if a client runs away scared from a formal contract. The advice they gave though was not to be fooled – the client who runs away scared from a contract is a client you don’t want to work with anyway. In all honesty, I myself probably would skip the contract part if I thought it was going to send a potential client running for the hills. After all, we’ve heard in other podcasts how difficult it is to gain a clients interest in the first place without then scaring them off with the thought of holding a contract up to them. Though I can see the flip side of the argument too. Why even bother doing the work for them on a verbal agreement which wouldn’t stand up in a courtroom if they then refused to pay for the work produced. It’s a difficult one to tackle.

Reportedly, 50% of freelance illustrators don’t use a formal contract (I guess that this is a figure for the U.S and not internationally?) and Kemble and Cross admit to having not used them in the past too, thankfully their experience has shown them that contracts are a must and are kindly passing on their experiences so we don’t make those same foolish mistakes. In short contracts prevent confusion and protect both yours and the client’s interests and it is a document which can be referred to at any time. Unlike a verbal agreement which won’t stand up in court if anything goes wrong with the work, a contract is a binding document and one which will stand you in good stead if things do go pear shaped. It is the most important foundation to build a working relationship on and shows your professionalism too hopefully building such a good relationship with your clients that they will want to use you again.

Understandably, illustrators didn’t get into art to do paperwork, sure it’s tedious, laborious and boring but it is worth setting aside an hour or so to create a standardised contract. It may have to be revisited on occasions to be amended here and there but these amendments will only be a matter of lines or paragraphs rather than doing the whole thing anew every time. Basically, you want something that is water-tight and wiggle-proof where you will be guaranteed to get your kill fee, payment of fees and licensing that you agreed on. Try not to sound too fancy or over the top however, you didn’t study law, and keep it updated and as comprehensive as you feel the need for it to be. At the same time you don’t want to go overloading the contract with too many terms and stipulations. Also, remember that hiring a representative to do this sort of work on your behalf is much more reliable and they are much better at negotiating than you will ever be, that’s their job, yours is to illustrate.

Overall, this podcast was very informative and based around a subject area that is usually brushed over in school and is only a reality when you are out there actually practising your illustration... by which time it’s usually too late. I am glad for the helpful tips being thrown my way that is for sure. When TWD accountants came in to present to the class earlier this semester, touching on self-employment, contracts and laws etc the information went over my head slightly, there was just so much of it! Hearing it again and picking up bits at a time is certainly more helpful than trying to take all of it on board in one sitting. I can now see that drawing up a contract is definitely the best way to move forward and if a client then decides that they don’t want to work with you because of the contract, they probably were never all that interested in the first place. As the guys said, usually if a client doesn’t like certain terms within the contract they will work with you to compromise on them rather than scrapping you altogether.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Website address

Here's the link to my illustration website which is up to date with all my current work... enjoy!

Major Project Evaluation

Major Project Evaluation
Chloe Jones

Firstly it must be noted that I have deviated hugely from my original major project proposal which was submitted at the beginning of January 2012. My proposal was initially titled ‘An exploration of the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm with particular reference to the stories’ underlying themes’. I decided to deviate from this proposal because at the end of the first six weeks, where I was developing a body of work for the Brothers Grimm book jacket, I was still no closer to finding a resolve to that particular design problem. With there only being eighteen weeks in total (including holidays) to spend on this major project as a whole, I decided that I couldn’t afford to lose any more time on a project that was clearly not bearing any fruits. I did however, during my six weeks exploring the Puffin brief, focus on the stories’ underlying themes as I originally intended and this can be evidenced through my fairytale research which has been submitted for assessment within my lever arch file. As I realised the Grimm’s brief wasn’t being resolved, I decided that I had to change my strategy as the outcome I originally intended to produce (a book cover to enter into the Puffin competition) would no longer materialise. I soon understood that by deviating from the original Grimm’s brief would also mean that the body of work would change too including the relating work that was lined up for after the resolution of the Grimm’s jacket (puppets and costumes) and so serious thought had to be given as to what I would go on to produce instead. At first I struggled with this having been left in limbo but soon resolved to producing two children’s identification books that would allow me to develop my collage technique to its full potential.

I found having to axe a project exceptionally hard especially when this semester contributes to such a large percentage of the overall marks, but moving forward seemed the only logical solution. I have recently revisited the work of those first six weeks in order to try and salvage something, however I feel that the work I have produced since then is much stronger and of a much better standard and quality. Comparing that work at the beginning of this semester to the work I have just finished now gives me some idea of what quality control means – it has no place in my assessment exhibition, though the body of work I developed during those initial weeks has been submitted for assessment to show my progression and development of technique. Although my project has changed drastically, ironically the final outcome still links to my graduation ambitions as the two children’s identification books are aimed at the same audience that I will eventually teach (6 year olds). I still undertook my original research on Freud and Jung’s theories on psycho-analysis (also in my lever arch file) I still spent six weeks on this project. My context hasn’t changed because the books are still aimed at a younger child audience and my deliverables are similar with the body of work I produced during the first six weeks being handed in for assessment purposes to show my development both during that time and from then onwards.

I feel that this final module has highlighted the strengths and weaknesses within my work and the feedback from my interaction with creative professionals within the industry has further reinforced these. Firstly, at the start of my portfolio I have presented work from the beginning of last semester, which is painterly in style and a clash of neon palettes to answer the HUGS live brief. These images are followed by my more mature and stronger collaged subjects such as my ladybird and grasshopper. This juxtaposition of style has caused much debate between the professionals I have been to see with the preference of style seemingly split 50/50 for one over the other. I have decided to keep both styles in as I think it shows my flexibility and adaptability, some professionals will see this as a faux pas and some will agree. I do on reflection, feel that the collages are definitely stronger but I am attached to my bright Uganda images because I got so much pleasure from creating them. The weakness in my portfolio then could be viewed as the conflicting styles as it’s not consistent enough for a client like The Guardian but shows flexibility and adaptability for a design agency such as Rapport Events and Aurea Carpenter at Short Book Publishing. I suppose to fix this I need to have a firm idea of exactly who I want to show my work to and make this consistent so that my portfolio can follow suit. For example if it’s editorials that I want to pursue I don’t need to be showing Sarah Habershon painterly child friendly pieces but consistent editorial type work.

The strength in my work now is the consistency of the output. Originally I was flitting from style to style and technique to technique, which was prevalent even as recently as the end of last semester only five months ago. I’d like to think that this has now stopped and I have a true ‘me’ outcome, all the time, every time. By being consistent with the input of materials I can thus be consistent with the output of work. I use stitch and collage proportionally and this is roughly the same proportion throughout the series of animals I have created this semester, making them stronger visually as a whole. I have experimented with different papers and researched other paper based artists such as Charlie Harper to secure the best finish and this research and experimentation has certainly paid off. My colour also is much more consistent and subtle in a way that would appeal to my target audience better than the once clash of vibrant colours. This in part is down to the magazine cuttings as I can only select the colours which are available to me. Although this can have a negative effect too whereby I cannot find the colour I wish to use, but on the whole it works out for me more as a positive as it gives me more control over my palette. If I hadn’t have messed up with the Grimm’s brief however I don’t think that the in-depth exploration of this technique would have been conducted, therefore although I was frustrated at the time I am now thoroughly happy with my final outcomes.

If cost was of no importance I would like to see my two children’s nursery rhyme books printed on quality paper by quality printers. When researching costs they worked out to be around £45 each using college facilities for the high finish I desired. To have them printed externally was more expensive still. If anything this is a weakness to the finished outcome because the finesse isn’t as high as I’d have liked. I think that my self-promotion and web presence could still be stronger but I think that this will come with my building confidence in my work and starting to be commissioned. Though I can see that this is a catch-22 situation whereby I need to self-promote and have a strong web presence in order to gain those commissions. Still, this area needs improvement. Even attending events such as Drawn North-West, Spellbound Forest, Mr Thomas’ Chop House auction, Just So Festival and other creative opportunities will enable me to build up my portfolio and the awareness of me in others. I do however think that my website is a strong, easy to use, easily navigated site which features my best work. It is up-to-date, current and my contact details are very visible and are all displayed, unlike other websites I’ve seen where phone numbers and email addresses are missing.

Overall, I think that the finesse could have been slightly higher if I had had the opportunity to spend more money on the printing but I am extremely pleased with the amount of work I have managed to produce which is usually one of the weaknesses to my method of working. I feel that I have applied myself thoroughly and in a way that I have been encouraged to do so and hope that this shows through my work and reflects in my final mark.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Transformation Animation

Here’s my final Transformation Animation complete with soothing Japanese audio…enjoy!

Final Transformation Animation

My animation skills are poor; I’ll be the first to admit it. I guess that’s the reason for the arrangements that have been organised for every Tuesday morning since the beginning of the semester whereby the moving image tutor has been available to help us create a short transformation animation. I don’t see it as ‘unrelated’ or ‘pointless’ as some others do, and if you are of this opinion then that is totally fine, no offense, it’s just that everything I do and everything I see I’m inspired by and would like to feature in my creative work. My only negative thought was time. In eighteen weeks I am expected to have such a huge body of work and several quality finished outcomes – plus an animation. As I say my animation skills are poor so to pull this off I had to learn how to do it too. But as you can see my animation is here and although it’s not the most advanced it works nicely and highlights my working method.

To create my animation I used a copy stand, which held the video camera nice and secure, and filmed my stitching the dove underneath. I taped the cartridge paper between two level desks which were pulled slightly apart so that there was room for me to stitch into the paper and be able to return the needle from below. To keep the paper taught I taped two rulers underneath, one at the top and one at the bottom of the sheet and to the desk creating a basic kind of frame. So that the recording wouldn’t be too big a file (as I was recording in high definition) I kept cutting the recording at regular intervals so that I ended up with six smaller files rather than once huge one which would be easier and quick to convert later. I made the holes for the stitches with the needle first following a feint sketch and then stitched through these holes creating my initial six short film files. When I had these and checked that they played back ok on the camera I unplugged the equipment and hooked the camera up to the Mac to convert the files to movies which would be easier to work with. When they were all converted I started to sift through each file and select only the frames I wanted to see in my finished animation. This meant selecting only frames where my hands weren’t visible and ensuring that the amount of frames for each stitch etc were consistent. Then I pulled all these selected frames (over 700!) into After Effects and started to create my transformation animation.

The whole process including filming took around eight hours. I added audio to the animation afterwards which I converted from Youtube to an Mp3 file through an independent site and then pulled into After Effects and overlaid over the whole animation. My animation could be better if I had an even better understand of After Effects and the things that it can enable a user to do as it’s benefits and uses weren’t really specified, I still only know it as a piece of animation software, I don’t know how it compares to something like Flash for example. Because of this, the finished result is still pretty amateurish but I enjoyed the process and watching my work come to life. Again it could be better if I knew how to trim audio using After Effects, as I was only shown the After Effects software I don’t even know if this is the correct software to use for audio trimming or where else to turn to do this. I did initially want to apply the effects that I looked at when I produced my pre-visualisation on After Effects before I filmed the original files. Obviously because Rick was in such high demand with a bunch of amateurs I didn’t like keep pestering him for help on other bits when the bulk of it had been finished. The following of the stitches then to reveal the dove at the end had to be scrapped because there wasn’t enough time left with the final deadline looming and with Rick having other people to help too.

I think that it is important to know the basics of how to make an image you have created move. If ever I were to be asked to create a short animation using stop frame and After Effects I think I could now survive…just. Plus it helps when collaborating on projects not to have to rely on others or for others to carry you. Overall, it was a useful project and hopefully a tool I will use in the future. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Kemble and Cross podcast

Illustration Party Podcast

Highlight two interesting points that interest you or relate to your practise

Said Podcast is narrated by two comic artists, Joshua Cross and Kevin Kemble. Comic strips and cartoon drawing is something which I have no experience of and if truth be told, hold very little interest in, finding two points from this 54 minute podcast then could be difficult and rather *yawn* exciting, obviously.

Yet, still I manage the impossible. The two American guys are down to earth if not a bit too ‘hip’ with their choice of phrases and ridiculous sci-fi themed, Black Eyed Peas and Will.I.Am inspired soundtrack, they’re just about listenable though their drawl may irritate me, the vote’s still out. The first point I’m highlighting from their chat is “by making mistakes you end up coming at a better solution”. Not entirely sure which cartoonist came out with this one but you can find out more about them and the podcast at Back to the point, this does fit in just nicely with my work, working method and practise. Throughout my three year degree course I have flitted from one style to the next without doing any in-depth exploration of what I could potentially have achieved given any one method some real time, consideration and committment. During this semester I have applied myself 100% to my collaging technique, defining and redefining the style and quality of output. Finally, I have sweated over one single particular technique and whittle it down so that it describes me as an artist and what I stand for. I totally agree with this point as I have learned from first hand experience that by making my mistakes along the way I have come out at a much better place, plus what’s to gain by being perfect? I endured a three year undergrad course to do just that – make mistakes and learn from them so that I have a decent chance of survival in the real world once I graduate in July 2012. Of course there have been times in my personal work where mistakes haven’t paid off, take for example the Grimm’s project I started out on at the beginning of this semester but which eventually got scrapped for lack a of resolve, but on the whole this statement works. I scrapped my Grimm’s project – it was a mistake to even start it, but by scrapping it and making that initial mistake I have come to the resolve of producing some wonderful illustrations for my ‘into the garden’ and ‘under the water’ children’s identification books. In short, I’ve come up trumps by making that initial mistake and working twice as hard since to try and put it right. It might be a case of stating the obvious or maybe sometimes these things need saying out loud for people to be able to resonate with them and fit things into place for themselves. Plus, if I were to end up at my perfect solution straight away, where would the fun be? I wouldn’t have the chance to experiment and play with my style or develop and nurture it when I fall on frustrating times.

The guys go on to say how being an illustrator or indeed a cartoonist is a lonely existence with the greatest company being in your tools; pens, pencils etc. For me, loneliness within the institution of illustration is a choice, illustrators don’t have to be lonely or feel the isolation that so many others preach about. What happened to keeping in touch with university peers? How about taking art directors for lunch to discuss potential commissions? (taken from a previous podcast…highly informative). There are so many opportunities for creative’s not to be lonely but they choose not to participate in them. Personally, I have lined up participation in the Spellbound festival at the end of May, Mr Thomas’ Chop House auction in July and the Just So Festival in August and I’m still attending uni! There are so many activities to be involved in and failing that there’s always the option of renting studio space to share with other creative, like-minded people whereby there would be a constant flow of support, encouragement and company. Today it feels as though people have to moan at every possible opportunity rather than taking the bull by the horns and doing something about it. Here’s another point for you guys to talk about in future podcasts, the notion of ‘put up or shut up!’

Seriously though there are definite solutions to that ‘lonely’ feeling that illustrators harp on about. Sure photographers engage with their clients on a daily basis, their work is in a face-to-face environment and designers work out of a design agency (usually) but illustrators are left to fester in spare bedrooms and attic dens, I get that or at least I see where they are coming from. But the solution is simple, if this way of working isn’t working for you then find a method that does. Go and rent some studio space, collaborate with other creative people or club together to rent out a shared studio space. As a result these options all offer a support network which illustrators lack otherwise and a chance to cut costs by distributing them equally. If you research premises in-depth you should be able to find somewhere which would give you 24 hour access too so working late or early isn’t an excuse to continue your torture and in turn torturing me with your whining. If studio space is something you simply cannot afford then contact your local council who will generally be happy to come to an arrangement whereby derelict buildings will be offered at no cost just to have them occupied and thus less likely to be vandalised or used for squatting. Cross and Kemble however choose to talk about how social networking can relieve the loneliness that illustrators experience by keeping a network of creative’s on facebook and twitter. Sorry to say this guys but social networking sites are hardly an excuse for the real thing. Social networking is the root of the loneliness that these illustrators and cartoonists are facing because they are reportedly ‘socialising’ and ‘networking’ through a virtual method, ie it isn’t real, it’s all online through typing words on a keyboard and not speaking them. What happened to getting dressed in a morning and going to meet these people for real? Discuss gallery invites over coffee?

What really needs to happen is people need to start and talk to others using their voices rather than their keypads, call the art director rather than sending him/her an email. Sure they can’t talk to everybody, so offer something unique, a chance at lunch, a coffee date or even a meet in the park. You benefit because you’re seeing a real person and thus are relieving your loneliness and they are benefitting because they get out of the office and possibly a free coffee. For a bunch of people that reckon to be so advanced, it seems to me we are going backwards where real communication is no longer a necessity. Pah. Says me, sat here typing this post…

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Final Reflection and Critical Analysis

Semester 2 – Final Major Project
Reflection and critical analysis

I started my artistic journey with a BTEC foundation course in the academic year 2008/2009, prior to this I had no experience of the illustration world or anything remotely arty related for that matter. Indeed I partook in mandatory art lessons from the beginning of secondary school until year 9 (or third year for you old ‘uns!) by which time I had it drilled into my head from other members of teaching staff and my parents that art wasn’t a truly ‘academic’ subject and the thought never occurred to me to pursue it further, hence I didn’t choose to study it at GCSE even or higher. During my GCSE studies though I did choose to study Graphic Design as my Technology module instead of other options including textiles, woodwork or food technology. I achieved an ‘A’ in August of 2004. Again my rationale was to drop anything art related including the Graphic Design and proceeded with English Language, English Literature and Sociology to A-level (even though the likes of Graphic Design saw me perform to my best). When I finished school I progressed to study European Politics at The University of Nottingham which lasted for a full three months. I soon realised that I wasn’t happy with my ‘academic’ study choice. This saw me drop out of university and start full-time employment for a few years before taking the plunge to go back to university. Going back to university wasn’t initially on the cards, only after tasting full-time employment in a call centre did I know that I wanted more for myself. I returned after these few years out to Stockport College on the Foundation BTEC and the rest is history.

When I eventually started on my BTEC I didn’t really have a clue where to begin, as I say I had no experience of art. I could draw but that was about the extent of it. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and other software was alien to me, I’d never even heard of such packages let alone opened one. When Pat, Gary and Tim asked me what my style was I didn’t know how to reply, as far as I saw it I didn’t have one. My BTEC however wasn’t the in-depth, see what-you-can-do course I was hoping it would be; I managed a pass. Though I don’t remember what my final mark was, seemingly it was a disappointment. I did however manage to secure a place on the BA Hons degree with an illustration specialism which was probably owed to me doing the Foundation BTEC at the same college.

Although I eventually quit my employment I owe it a lot. By being in full-time employment I learned how to communicate on a variety of different levels, how to compromise and how to handle stressful and heated situations, diffusing them in an efficient and effective manner. This I think will stand me in good stead when it comes to applying for positions in my illustration career as I have the ability to adapt to said situations. It has meant that I’ve been able to transfer these skills and apply them to my university course making me a much more organised and flexible character. It did take a while for me to understand that although full-time employment paid my rent, it was my university studies that would eventually get me out of the work that I didn’t enjoy and into to work that I will… as I say, I learned heavily about compromise.

During my first year of my undergraduate illustration degree I did remarkably well and that even surprised me somewhat. Critical studies was my weakest and least interested area, even though I studied both English Language and English Literature at A-level, it seemed my passion for writing and the patience I needed to hold down a decent assignment had fled. Yet, I still managed to achieve 70+ in every single module, it seemed I was unstoppable. Unfortunately, I was soon to be informed that the first year of an undergrad degree doesn’t count towards the final mark or degree classification. The first few modules helped me understand the different techniques and methods available and I was eager to learn how other people worked. I was hungry to learn and immersed myself in everything around me, I started to visit galleries, something which was considered boring and stuffy beforehand and researched sources in-depth. Although others on the course found the first few modules almost insulting as they felt they were going backwards rather than moving forwards with their studies I found it a massive help and am positive that there are others like me out there who will feel the same in future years. These vast achievements were set to change during the second year however. I was forewarned that the second year workload increased somewhat and I took this on board, I was also forewarned that some people can adjust to the new wave of work and some people struggle with it at first. I was prepared for this. I had been informed, armed with this knowledge I was ready. Only in late September 2010 I was hospitalised with a serious kidney injection and put on an IV drip for ten days. Naturally, this affected my work output and had a knock on effect on my mark for that initial module of year two. Although we were made aware of the mitigated circumstances process at the beginning of the course, my ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude made me ignorant to the process and thus rushed work to get it handed in for the deadline. The rest of year two seemed to follow that first module’s footsteps with high 50’s to early 60’s marks. To say I was disappointed was an understatement, after the high I experienced in year one, year two was soon turning into a complete disaster. Strangely, in critical studies my work continued on a par with year one, achieving low 70’s in all my assignments and presentations.

On to year three, there have only been two modules in comparison to a few more in the previous years plus my dissertation. To show my commitment and dedication to my degree I made a special trip to Madrid in June 2011 to visit Guernica which I was later to write my dissertation on. I was insistent that my mark and work improve. Thankfully, the first semester module was a definite improvement on year two achieving 61, a firm 2:1, although not the 1st I was originally aiming for in year 1. I have now adjusted to the prospect of graduating with only a 2:1 and am finally happy with this outcome. I am aiming for a 2:1 again this semester in hope to achieve a 2:1 overall. During the first semester of year three I realised that utilising tools like the PDP module, I can up my overall mark. By achieving 70 in my PDP and 56 in the actual work side, I achieved 61 overall. Although the weighting in semester one was 60/40 against 80/20 this semester, I still think that doing significantly well in the PDP work could increase my mark by those all important few marks. I think that I do work well in the PDP arena showcasing my development and improvement through constant critical analysis and reflection. I engage well with industry and contact creative professionals from all creative backgrounds not just illustration and learned a lot from the compulsory residential trip to London in late March.

During this semester, from my previous blog posts, you can see I have spoken about how I used, what industry call, the dreaded red button on my own work. I think on reflection that this was a good move and it shows my understanding of when a project is not working. The Grimm’s brief was taking more time than it should have, it overran by an initial three weeks and at that point the design problem was still no where near to being resolved. It is frustrating that I was unable to interact with this live brief which would have given me an additional opportunity to promote both myself as an illustrator and my creative work. Sometimes it can be a positive quality to be able to stand back and look at the work critically and say ‘right, this clearly isn’t working’. This is the first time that I had not managed to resolve a brief, in particular a live brief and thus it felt completely overwhelming to turn my back on it knowing that this semester holds such a large percentage of the overall marks. In has made me work considerably harder since though to develop a body of work that would justify those first weeks of disappointment.

Over the course of this semester I have managed to secure seven portfolio visits with creative professionals already working within the industry. This surprised me more than anything – the fact that people out there actually wanted to see me and my work! There was no negative feedback just constructive criticism which I can take forward and utilise in my future work. It opened my eyes to just how accommodating the majority of people are, if they think that they can help you, then nine times out of ten they will. There were only three portfolio visits specified on the PDP brief but I went above and beyond this as I think that it is beneficial to my professional practice and work as I can continue working on the weaker areas identified by much more experienced people than I. Each visit has boosted my confidence in different areas and has taught me something new about both myself and my portfolio of work. I am hugely proud of my portfolio of work having come from nothing artistically. I remember my interview for a place on the BA Hons degree course whereby I showed my original portfolio to the potential first year tutors. I started off with a PVC leather effect Daler Rowney A1 portfolio which was hugely unpractical and is quite garish to look at now, looking back I have definitely come so far on this journey.

The visit to London in March confirmed for me that London is not the place I want to be. I knew before I arrived that I wasn’t much of a city girl but actually being there in that environment only confirmed my initial thoughts, though I am glad for experiencing it. The hustle and bustle of city life and everybody seemingly being a nobody merely just a passing face is not the type of environment I wish to live or indeed work in. For me, although the visit to London broadened my knowledge of the illustration industry and the types of businesses it can lend itself to, it reiterated the fact that I’m a home bird and would much prefer to stay north. It also showed me how my leather A4 portfolio is much more effective, efficient and practical in comparison to my old one! After graduation my plans are now set with the aid of this trip; I will be applying for Primary PGCE courses to hopefully start in September 2012.

This semester has seen me play with more techniques such as screen printing, utilising Adobe Illustrator, vinyl cutting, animating and collaging with the odd hint of stitch. Unlike last semester whereby I skimmed the surface of many different techniques, I feel that this semester has seen me discover my true style. I have experimented in-depth with collage and stitch till the cows came home; I truly have applied myself with a relentless attitude and as a result have now secured some fantastic outcomes. Alongside this I have produced some additional products outside of my sketchbooks such as the unique hand made sketchbooks I hand made and hand bound myself, printed cushions, printed babygro’s and my final children’s board books. Working outside of my sketchbook has taught me that there are no constraints to my art work really and it is only the sketchbook that actually provides these. I can now work to whatever scale I feel comfortable with and I can manipulate different materials to work in a more three dimensional way. I have built up professional relationships with other artistic people, such as Rick and other undergrad students working on the moving image course who helped me no end with the production of my animation and of course Kieran in the print room. When I leave the college I will also leave all of this support and of course the facilities that the institution has to offer which will mean I will need to source them externally.

I think it’s true to say that I have always been a fairly organised person, but I have also learned that planning is a great way to gain the best results from my work. Since the failure of my Grimm’s project, I have made a weekly plan for the week in advance and made sure that I stuck to it, mainly to get through the vast workload on time but also to show that I do have some free time to experiment more which I probably won’t have time for once I graduate. It seems that after 23 years I have finally learned the meaning of the phrase ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.

There are many opportunities lined up with the help of illustration tutors, particularly Jo, for over the summer months which could, hopefully, lead to more work coming my way, maybe even a commission. There will be the Spellbound Forest activity weekend in Dellamere, near Chester a few weeks after university life officially ends, Mr Thomas’ Chop House auction in July, if my work makes it that far and the actual Just So Festival in August. I intend to keep up to date with creative events that I can get involved in, even if no work comes from it, it will keep me busy and in that creative environment.

Finally, I have learned more than anything this semester that for great results you need to have a relentless attitude to your work. Sure, there have been days where I wish my alarm hadn’t gone off at 6:30, especially when I’m not in university on that day, but by pushing myself to get out of bed and get started I think that I have made the most of my time and the opportunity that studying on an illustration course offers, Gary, I truly am exhausted! Over the Easter break I put in many 12 hour days, and have seen many go by since then till the deadline, but you can only get out of things what you put in. I know myself that I have truly worked hard, dedicated as much time as I could possibly have and tried my best at everything I have undertaken, let me hope that it has been recognised and pays off on July 12th and I can finally make my Mum and Dad as proud as they should be. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Animation Pre-visualisation

Wikipedia’s explanation:
“Pre-visualization (also known as pre-rendering, preview or wireframe windows) is a function to visualise complex scenes in movie before filming. It is also a concept in still photography. Pre-visualization is applied to techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal drawn sketches or in digital technology in the planning and conceptual of movie scenery make up.”

I decided that a pre-visualization would be a great idea as I would be able to predict what would happen in my short animation and with Rick’s help was able to make this a reality by manipulating After Effects. I have saved my pre-visualization to my submitted CD with my PDF portfolio and actual animation for marking. In my pre-viz (cool dude’s terms), I have zoomed in to the dove collage I have already crafted which needed to be saved as a TIFF through Photoshop and saved to the desktop and navigated around the sewn outline. The idea of this animation is to keep the subject (dove) anonymous until the act of sewing is complete. So I will film the sewing at a zoom where you can see the whole picture but on After Effects I will zoom in so that all the audience can read is the individual stitches, then after the stitching is complete I will zoom out to reveal what the subject is, a bit like Rolph Harris ‘Can you tall what it is yet?’. I will create my animation using Stop Motion animation and under the camera stand I will sew each individual stitch of the dove and photograph it creating 2 slides per time. After the dove has been stitched I will then replace it consecutively with a further 5 doves that have already been crafted. These other doves are in different positions of flight, which means that by using the process of replacement I will be able to show my dove then flying off the page/animation. In summary, the audience will see the dove being created using stitch and then the animation will zoom out to reveal what has been created, the dove will then fly away towards the right of the screen. This will be reversed on After Effects and put onto a loop to create a short animation. I will overlay some soothing Japanese style music but nothing too rigid as I cannot time the stitching etc to anything too strict. The background will be a pure white, the stitches will be a pale blue and the wings will have a negative space. The body however will be a solid piece of blue magazine paper which will be added as the stitches are completed and the dove is revealed.

After my first attempt at stop motion animation, I decided that this process was fairly easy if I knew beforehand what I was doing and going to create and was generally organised about going to film it. I did produce a rough outline of my first animation but the storyboard wasn’t very in depth and I didn’t rely on it whilst I was filming. Additionally, I did no research into how I was going to produce my animation or give any real thought to how my Prince would look aesthetically; instead I quickly cut out male features and hoped that they would fit together. It was an outcome of pure ifs and buts. Hopefully with my pre-viz in tow, this time around I will have a much better and far superior outcome. Basically, I view my first attempt now as a trial run, I don’t see it as my final version because the replacement method was so crudely done. I have submitted this along with my final version on my CD however to show my development and the critical analysis I have made of my own work. Although I knew roughly how I would animate my first piece not a lot of thought went into it and thus I will be producing another much better (hopefully!) animation to show how I have mastered the basic technique of stop frame.