Cut-Out Animation influences

Whilst researching for my joint project on Day Of The Day, I thought about any form of cut-out animation I had seen before.  I looked at music videos and remembered these of which helped me experiment, and bring back some memories…


Charley Says‘ was a cut-out animated cartoon in the 70’s and 80’s by Richard Taylor Cartoons – which also did Crystal Tipps & Alistair.  This was quite a psychedelic looking cartoon that reminds me of  The Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine‘, but that was made by George Garnett Dunning. Things I can take from this for my work are the deliberately jumpy movement which gives it a rugged- retro feel. Back in their rave days, Electronic Punks – The Prodigy used samples of ‘Charley Says‘ in their track ‘Charly‘, (click on the picture of Tony & Charley above for the track).

Another later Prodigy track ‘Warriors Dance‘ used  a clever mix of puppetry and paper model animations as well, directed by Corin Hardy. I like the way the bands ‘ant logo’ is displayed on some of the characters and the attention to detail, the storyboard is quite dark in hindsight.  I would like to have a chance to animate a track to music, but fitting to the theme of the music must be difficult.  I love the music too.


Another amazing animator/illustrator who’s superb style influenced me is Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne).  She has done wonderful animation for music videos such as: Bim / Second Person / Lucid Edge. I love the simplified characters overlaying the real photograph and other real objects- it hadn’t occurred to me to merge my own work and other produced materials before I saw this several years ago.
Teaser/viral for company: Whipcar Ltd / Learn Big Teach Big.



Ritual- Day of the dead

This past week has started a new joint project on the theme of ritual. I had the opportunity if working on my own,  but felt that from my experience on the first project brief  I wasn’t confident enough yet with my editing skills. I’m paired with the very talented & witty Mr Mestre for this project who not only has excellent editing skills , but is an expert in Photoshop and great at choosing colour- what a great person to be in a team with!

Tuesday, I had a taste of Premier Pro– I found this difficult, firstly as I’d never done any editing in depth before and secondly as for those of you who use Adobe products ( amazing as they are) they aren’t designed for the casual user! My hopeful  Xmas present is a subscription to Adobe online.

From the original brainstorm of ideas for Ritual we thought of several options : sacrifice, hunting, celebrations, religion, festivals and many more.  We quickly decided on a  theme of the ‘Day of the Dead’.  For those who are unfamiliar with this celebration, it is yearly Mexican originated festival that like Halloween has the dead returning from the grave to reunite with their loved ones.    Unlike Halloween,  this is a joyous festival of love and fun, rather than scaring, haunting or terrifying others.

day of deadWonderful face painting, scenery and costumes are used. Central to the festivities is food and drink of all kinds- check out for some beautiful sugar skulls.

day of dead day of dead day of dead

I began researching Voodoo halfway through the week, as I’d mistakenly jumbled these thoughts in my brain. I have a soft spot for snake dancers and I was a wee bit distracted…. I had Salma Hayek in Dusk til Dawn in my mind. Anyway, I will use this later on in a different project.

Salma Hayek

Looking in to famous Mexican Artists, led me to the work of Frida Kahlo- ( Salma Hayek also played her in the film adaptation of her life.) The  use of colour within her portraits and paintings, I feel dilutes the darkness of her oftenemotional work.

The-Little-Deer- Frida Kahlo

Colour and character design has to be central to our plot development so far. Currently we’ve divided up the project so that I will be responsible for character design and Mr Mestre for the backgrounds. We’ve both contributed to the storyline and are now developing our Storyboards for comparison to start the making of the project this week.  Below are some character designs I have come up with so far…

My Day Of The Dead character designsfridge Look what I found when having a beer break!


Our plot was originally very long- too long! It involved a little girl, who loses her mum and when she arrives at the  families sepulchre in a graveyard she finds her mother spirit rising to meet her from the grave. Along the way she sees parades of people and cars.

After consultation we decided that it would be too long, and not showing enough focus on the day of the dead. Too much detail would have to go into the development of unnecessary detail.

So version 2 involved a much simpler approach. The little girl walks from her house on the left and using a side scrolling pan shot we had her moving through the town, entering the graveyard. This distilled approach allowed us to complete quickly, but focus on smaller details for movement of characters and features.

We divided up the work: Mr Mestre. worked on the background for the stills. He drew, then scanned and finally edited in Photoshop. The smooth texture and quirky perspective made this a highly suitable background for our project. On reflection, I think it draws some of its influence from Lowry. ( see his picture below).

It also reminds me of the work Friz Freleng did on the Pink Panther show. (Unlike the theme tune I didn’t agree with the statement ‘everybody loves a panther that’s pink’ – I would only watch it as a child as it was  A) a better choice than the Waltons and B) it was a cartoon.)


A Village Square, Lowry

A Village Square by L.S. Lowry


Pink Panther show by Friz Freleng.

I  developed the character designs using foam board sheets. I see my research on the day of the Dead to inspire me and give greater detail.

living dead female
characters day of dead

The final cast

Dragon frame
Capturing the stills using Dragon Frame. This was much easier this time around. Familiarity with software is they key!work in progress

Signor Rossi was a cartoon , which I loved as a child with a far better theme tune than the Pink Panther Show tune! The abstract backgrounds, psychedelic colours and catchy music I feel are reflected in our final pieces.

The final Videos. After capturing with Dragon Frame the video was edited using Final Cut Pro.

Day of the Dead COlour

A still from the video- the undead mariachi band. Click on the film for a real life version!

Our Final Colour Video

Day of the Dead COlour

Click above  for the colour video

The video was then edited into black and white.  I think in this style it looks reminiscent of Disney’s Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance. When shooting it we wanted it to be set in the 1920′- having a vintage, blurred atmosphere.

Skeleton Dance

Click to see full Silly Symphonies

Day of Dead B & W

Our Final black and White Video- click above

Overall, The videos simplicity worked in its favour. I did realise that simple does improve things sometimes! I thought it would be quicker using foam board as time could be saved in colouring each individual piece, however the fiddliness of manipulating these tiny pieces in the animation process slowed us down. Looking back- these were quite awkward to animate and even though I loved the end effect I may not use them for a while!


Brainbox Mills Studios

I have been amazed by animation, in both drawn and model form, since a young age.  I remember two particular children’s series that used to be shown on TV when I was little, Trap Door and Stoppit & Tidyup.  These were both made by British animators Terry Brain and Charlie Mills.  Together they formed Brainbox Mills.

Trap Door was extremely good for its time.  Even though each episode only went on for five minutes, it was jam-packed with unique creatures,  atmospheric environments and lots of laughs.

Click on image for a Trap Door episode from Youtube:

The Trap Door DvD cover

The Trap Door DvD cover

Trap Door,  Stoppit & Tidyup and lots of other cartoons during the 1980’s were a huge influence on me and as a child.  I even drew and made versions of them from plasticine  Fimo.  As an adult now, I still love it (and own it on DvD), it remains one of my first inspirations.  It is a shame it didn’t continue longer than it did, it seemed short lived to me.  Trap Door left a lot to a childs imagination, with what ‘The Thing Upstairs’ looked like.  To me I found this rather annoying as a kid, as I wanted to draw it.

As a child I kept getting Willie Rushton and Terry Wogan’s voices mixed up.  Willie Rushton did the voice of Berk from Trap Door, while Terry Wogan narrated Stoppit & Tidyup.  I would have preferred it if then, they had figures or soft toys made from these animations.  I feel I wasn’t the only child deprived of having a ‘Go To Bed’ teddy.

Click on image below for a Stoppit & Tidyup episode from Youtube:

Stoppit and Tidyup main characters.

Stoppit and Tidyup main characters.

Below are some photos of Stoppit & Tidyup characters I painted on a creche at a leisure centre some years back:

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti: Stoppit (close up)

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti: Stoppit

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti: Tidyup

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti: I Said NO!

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti: Eat Your Greens

Glass Graffiti

Glass Graffiti: Calm Down

Plasticine Model Animation

Following on from the drawn morphing animation, we in groups this time were given the opputunity to create and make our own characters to animate.   From modeling clay, the objective was to focus on the way our models would move to capture the ‘walk’ of the character.

Because of this aspect, I wanted my model to have weight and structure in the build to emphasise the movement.  So I created ‘Miss Strong’.Miss Strong: Stage 1 IMG_1943


Here are photos I took of the character, my design ideas and the modelling process.

If we had to do this animation again, I would have slightly exaggerated her stride and walk more.  Also I would have liked it if she was positioned in the centre of the screen rather than the far right. We animated it quickly, so in doing that she got man-handled and slightly squished in places.

Morphing Animation

Last week we worked as a group to develop our skills in how to create animation by merging two objects together.  This was done in a chain-like way, in that the whole piece flowed with other drawings so that everything continued from each other, and then formed a looped motion.

Morph Animation

This exercise worked really well, and the result was very successful.  The object I took in was a mini snake-lamp light, which I thought was an interesting item to use for this task because of its articulation.  The second was a pair of dark sunglasses.  Starting off with the first drawing of the lamp as Picture One, I drew the lamp as normal.  My next drawing was the last (the sunglasses) as Picture Fourteen, and then the middle scene drawing of Picture Seven that was a blend of both objects together.  Working in-between these three stages allowed me to create the rest of the morph-from snake light to sunglasses.

Morph Animation

Morph Animation

To me, it had a Sci-Fi, shape-shifting alien feel to it.   My only worry is that it may look a little phallic?

London Visit to Science Museum

Earlier this week I got to visit the Science Museum in London to view the joint exhibition of Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr in the Science Museum.

I found Tony Ray-Jones use of capturing ‘in the moment’ scenes of British life memorable as these black and white images were taken before I was even born, but in familiar areas.

He had a lot of beauty pageant photos ( see below) which I found interesting as I hadpreviously though them to be wholly American, not especially an English stereotype. I sketched some of these over my visit.

Sketches of Tony Ray- JonesTony Ray-Jones Beauty Pageant

Beauty contestants, Southport, Merseyside, 1967 by Tony Ray-Jones
Credits : © National Media Museum
Martin Parr section had strong visual images, also in black and white, but often  more comical.
Tom Greenwood cleaning 1976 by Martin Parr
Credits : © Martin Parr/ Magnum

Photomontage: Unit 2 Week 1

My pathway: Moving Image and Photography Pathway

New set of projects this term for my new pathway at Farnham UCA. I’m looking forward to developing my photography skills as I sometimes feel I don’t quite have the ‘photographers eye.’ I am intrigued to do some more photography projects so I can pursue my art through the lens.

As part of a group project we were given a random subject for which we had to produce a photomontage for. My groups scenario was ‘Spaceship’ – for those who know me they could guess I was looking forward to this.  We took shots around the campus both inside and out of the building aiming for that Sci-Fi/futuristic feel.  Images of buttons, switches, monitor screens and vast lighting filled my head for this photographic collage. We were limited to one camera to use in our group of five, I helped source and choose interesting images and angles for the project, but didn’t take any myself. Next time in a group project I would like to have the opportunity to swap roles, allowing others to find the shots and for me to take them!

We explored the stage area, the library and the canteen. When searching for images that could be used on the interior of a spaceship the Stage area close to the refectory gave the best output as it had sound and lighting control panels, lighting props and an artificial rocky wall texture ( chosen for the surface of the moon). The dark interior was perfect for the lower section of our spaceship for creating a different level.

There were some  photos which I would have liked to add to this project if we had been given more time/ opportunity: Taking a variety of shapes to create the wings of the shuttle, using pipes to create gun turrets and some logos/ signage for a ship number ( e.g. BFS9000). I think the addition of these things would have added a further development of character to our subject.

We were given our images on the next session, we had exceeded our 50 picture limit so the first task was to cull! We had to select the best pictures amongst the group and then arranged them onto sheets of A3 paper.


Our final outcome was celebrated amongst the class as a success, firstly because they could guess our theme without prompting and also the clarity of the images.



We have lift-off.


Final piece with feedback

Overall I was very pleased with the way this project turned out. We worked well as team, took a huge variety of photos, but culled them without argument and also our final piece represented the original word!