Hercu-Liz Project: HERCU-LIZ



Very first designs of Hercu-Liz

Very first designs of Hercu-Liz


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The whole concept to how this project was born, constructed and based around my character who is the female version of half-god hero Hercules.

She has no fear.  No mortal weakness.  No remorse for slaying deadly beasts and isn’t bothered when having to clean out the largest, malodorous stables known to man.

I wanted to create a brave, strong and loyal female character to be in the league of influential characters such as Wonder Woman,  Xena (Warrior Princess) and Red Sonja.

Hercu-Liz is calm natured and always there to help, but she is not to be pushed around or taken advantage of.  Step out of line with her and she shall dish out the pain.  When designing Hercu-Liz, I went into deep details of the star-sign that she was born under.  Making her a ‘Libra’ as this is a sign of balance, which shows her heroic personality of right & wrong by slaying creatures to save others.  I also wanted this to relate to Greek symbols, as the horoscope sign for ‘Libra’ is very similar to that of the Geek letter ‘Omega’ (meaning ‘great’ or ‘great O’) which I found very fitting for the character.

I am hoping to include this as a symbol for her, maybe adorned on her breast plate, or shield (if I design one?).  I would like her to wear different outfits during the scenes, even if it is just two or three different designs it could add a bit of versatility to her?

Should Hercu-Liz use or have weapons?   Hercules used a club, sword and bow & arrows in some of his labours, but he seemed to have strangled and throttled his enemies to death most of the time.  Should Hercu-Liz use the same violent approach?





Hercu-Liz Project: The Lernaean Hydra

Hydra art

Hydra art

IMG_4757Another one of my all time favourite mythical creatures is the hydra, an almost immortal huge snake with many heads.  Some portray hydras with two or three heads, where as the Lernaean Hydra that Hercules fought had seven.  Most of the paintings done in the sixteeth-century of hydras were given an almost dragon style look, where I wish to keep it looking more snake-like.  From my designs I wanted from the start to stick with the heads as very distinctive serpents, no ear-fins or beak like mouths as past versions looked.  Even though I experimented with different head designs, I still preferred the straight forward common snake look.

Some hydras also had lion-like bodies, but I really don’t like that method, so I’m am giving my hydra a complete snake form, like my Medusa.  To me this feels more serious, more threatening and more dominating as opposed to a mammal section which to me looks quite silly (apart from ‘King Hissss’ from He-Man, as that worked well).

I spent a great deal of time deciding on how many heads my version the hydra should have?  I originally wanted seven as that is the number of the Lernaean species had, and I was going to add a theory behind this as each one being one of the seven deadly sins.

Eventually, I have gone with five heads as it became too complex and complicated to draw, even still image designs-let alone animating it!

Hercules was accompanied by a friend, Iolaus when they both killed the beast together, however I am not intending to have an extra character help Hercu-Liz with this situation.  Reason being is that it would add more time, and might confuse the viewer as all the scenes are going to be short and quick like trailer clips often are.

I might have close-up shots of Hercu-Liz despatching each head inbetween scenes?

Hercu-Liz Project: Stymphalian Bird

As I mentioned before on the part one of the Medusa project post, I am not fond of drawing feathered wings of birds as I just find them tedious to do.

The Stymphalian Birds were flesh-eating birds of prey with sharp bronze beaks, talons and feathers.  How I am going to try and animate this scene?   I plan to avoid any wing flapping motions as it would drive me mad in the process of this hand drawn scene, so I want to have the shot to be cut straight to the scene of Hercu-Liz having one of the birds in her grasp.  This would be to save any ‘swooping in’ motions as I find it may prolong the short scene too much?


Hercules used a bow and arrows to despatch the birds, but I want my heroine to handle the matter without having to use long range weapons as I want the main character (Liz) to be in every scene.  I could still have a back view of her firing the arrows into the air, or a small image of one of the birds in the distance as she does this?

I’ll have to go back to the storyboards for this, but either way I was very influenced by political artist Gerald Scarfe in the designing of these bird creatures.  Looking through some of his great books like ‘Drawing Blood’ and ‘Monsters’ really inspired me to try and imitate his style in the designs.  Also researching into what breed of bird I can use to work from shall be a test in itself.


Stymphalian Bird

Stymphalian Bird

Hercu-Liz Project: Medusa pt. II

My Medusa design

My Medusa design

Back to Medusa.

After lots of quick sketches and then more detailed versions in my sketchbook, I eventually came up with a final design for my Medusa.  This is the version I liked most, mainly because I overcame the laborious task of animating her serpentine hair, by replacing how ever many snakes she has, into one slightly larger and more aggressive one.

Not only was I satisfied with that look, but also replacing her bow and arrows (which Ray Harryhausen equipped his Medusa with), but rather a giant python to aid her.  It was a tight choice between this or a menacing trident of which I thought would be a great weapon for her.  I think the python pet would suit her more, the trident-although a mean looking weapon, have been used before with characters such as Neptune/Poseidon or even the Devil.  Having the snake as a weapon would be more of a challenge for Hercu-Liz also be a ‘two against one’ scenario.


I really like the idea of this battle in an animation form.  I shall try my best to do this with what skills I have, but I know it won’t be an easy task.

Hercu-Liz Project: Zeussanna the Amazon Queen


Zeussanna designs

Zeussanna designs




After all the beasts and labours Hercu-Liz must conquer, I wanted there to be an eternal challenge for her.  A main rival, of equal or even greater godlike powers – like Skeletor is to He-Man.  Mumm-Ra is to Lion-O.

I was looking at Muscle and Bodybuilding magazines to copy and draw the muscular physiques from, for my Minotaur designs.  I found in the issue I brought an advert for ‘Scitec Nutrition’ with a bodyfitness champion modelling for it.  What caught my attention (apart from her inspiring form), was this female bodybuilder’s name: Zsuzsanna Toldi.

As soon as I saw the letters, it was like they all moved around and jumbled up to create the name ‘Zeus-Sanna’!  I thought this was the perfect name for my main enemy for Hercu-Liz, with the ‘Zeus’ part of the name being a personal connection to her.

There is potential with this character design as I wanted to include some Amazonian Warriors in this project, as this was one of Hercules’s labours in which he had to obtain the girdle from the Amazon Queen.  Zsuzsanna Toldi being a female bodybuilder/fitness champion helped with my sketchbook designs and artwork as she is practically an amazonian herself.


Hercu-Liz Project: Medusa pt. I

Medusa design sketches

Medusa design sketches

Hercules did not fight with the Medusa, It was Perseus that was sent to slay and bring back her head.

However, as Hercu-Liz is my very own version of the demi-god hero, she can battle a whole variety of mythical creatures.  I really like the idea of Hercu-Liz out to slay the Medusa herself or even some of her Gorgon sisters even?  The other Gorgons differed to Medusa as they were described as having wings (like Harpies), and talon-like claws as hands.  I prefer the actual design of Medusa because of her snake-body replacing the legs, and I am not too fond of drawing feathers wings, especially if I am to animate this.

I could however, overcome this task with the wings if I changed them for feathers to bat-like wings, that should be slightly easier to draw and to animate?

The Medusa is probably one of my most influential characters still to this day.  Her design as a character.  She is versatile in ways of defeating her foes, and she is unique in a very haunting way.

Medusa designs



Hercu-Liz Project: Minotaur

Greek mythology and the creatures involved in the mythical tales have been a big influence on me since watching Ray Harryhausen films and Dungeons & Dragons cartoons as a child.  This mixed with my passion for strong female characters has merged together in this project for the final part of my Foundation course at the Farnham UCA.

Digging deeper into researching more about the ancient Greek myths than I had known, inspired me to add more characters to this Hercu-Liz project.

Hercules (Roman)/Heracles (Greek), did not actually fight with the Minotaur, Theseus was the man that was sent into the labyrinth to do the brutal task of slaying the hulking beast.  As Hercu-Liz is my own equivalent of the great hero, I can change and choose who and what I would like her to fight against on her journeys.  Although I would like to stay true to the myth of the actual labours that Hercules had to do, there are some fantastic creatures that I find most inspiring that he did not face.  The Minotaur being one of them.



Minotaur Designs

Minotaur Designs









Hercu-Liz Project: Brainstorms


My animation is to be based on Greek Mythology – but with an interpretation of the Greek hero as a female character my own concept: ’Hercu-Liz’, a portrayal of Greek heroines, mythical beasts, place and settings.  The designing of weaponry, armour, clothing as concept art.

So far I have developed brainstorms of influential artists, characters and mythical creatures to aid me on this quest of creation.



Brainstorm: Influential Heroes & Heroines.


Brainstorm: Influential Villains & Villainesses.

Marks & Traces. Pt. 2

I have gotten over my fear of Photoshop!  I was becoming more and more frustrated and flummoxed with the complexity of it.  I would thought that it’ll just be a slightly more advanced version of ‘Deluxe Paint 2’ that I had on the Amiga 500?  Boy was I wrong.  To me, using Photoshop for the first few attempts is the equivalent of trying to pilot the ‘Millennium Falcon’ blindfolded!

I found the whole concept of layers and background baffling.  Quite frankly, the only ‘Magic Lasso’ I was familiar with is Wonder Woman’s Lasso Of Truth.wonder-woman-lasso-of-truth

Magic LassoBut…

I am working my way towards getting on the course of Computer Games Art, so I knew I had to start to become more comfortable with it.

For the ‘Marks & Traces’ project we had to use my digital nemesis to merge my photos (which I took over the Xmas break) with a drawn version.

Firstly I scanned in my experimental hand drawn copies, of which I thought we needed to work from?  This wasn’t the case as I hadn’t realised that we were to take the standard original photos into the workshop lesson, not the modified ones.  This held me back due to my mistake, and therefore had to do them again in my own time.  This was fine, as I managed to achieve the objective in the end.

Here are my finished ‘Marks & Traces’ pictures done in Photoshop:

Traces in Photoshop

Traces in Photoshop

bucket bin chickenbone4 drained umbrella2 urban door

Richard Williams

Richard Williams –

What does he make and how? 

Richard Williams was passionate about animation from the age of ten. He started with cell animation, moving onto in recent years computer animation. He is most famous for his work on ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, a film combining  acting and animation.

What is the idea behind his work?

Richard animates fictional characters in an extremely life-like fashion. He captures expressions, personalities and characters all with humour in his films. Also, he is very detailed in the movements that he shows in his characters.  The way Williams shows animals with human characteristics (anthropomorphism) is unique.

Abe's Laugh

Abe’s Laugh Williams, R. (2001)

What can I extract from his work to help in the development of my work? 

Richard Williams was given the great advice from Disney Guru Dick Kelsey:

“First of all kid, learn to draw you can always do the animation stuff later.” p25 Williams, R. (2001).

This is really important to me as I don’t have knowledge of editing work, but I do have the drawing techniques! He was told this at fifteen. From this he has become very stylised with perspective, colour and detail. Reading this made me ‘re-realise’ that drawing is essential to have good quality animations.


p 255 An exam in flexibility Williams, R. (2001)

“Emery Hawkins said to me ‘The only limitation in animation is the person doing it, otherwise there is no limit to what you can do. And why shouldn’t you do it?’ “ p20 Williams, R. (2001).

You can have no boundaries in animation- you can make the most ridiculous and impossible idea come true- this is what I find inspiring about this field.

How and why is he important in his field?

Williams has over his career, won three Oscars and three British Academy Awards (as well as 250 other achievements).

In the 1960’s he could be described as having saved the industry by hiring experienced animators when other companies were letting them go. Richards hired key personnel from DIsney to Warner Brothers to work with his company.

Recently, he can be credited with revamping modern animation and saving it from becoming outdated. His animation masterclasses were turned into a best selling book, series of DVD’s and now a Ipad App.

Are there any related practitioners who are relevant?

Within Cell animation the studios of Hanna Barbera and Disney are directly comparable. However, it should be noted that The Pixar team, having just finished Toy Story , attended his Animated Workshop Series (Wroe, N.   (2013)).


Body action Predominating Williams, R. (2001)

What has been said about his work, do I agree?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the first feature length movie to blend live action and animation. At the time the critics were very excited about it:

“Dense, satisfying, feverishly inventive and a technical marvel…” (Benson S. 1988)

Still to this day, I watch and enjoy this film, not just due to it’s intense and smooth animation but also the fantastic character design. Not forgetting Jessica Rabbit…

jessica-rabbit Click on Jessica for the trailer….

I agree that he is a  “pioneer of hand-drawn animation” (Wroe, N. (2013)).

Benson, S (1988), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Critic Reviews writing for Los Angeles Times, At: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096438/criticreviews , (Accessed on 26.10.13)

Williams, R. ( 2013) The Animator Survival Kit online, At: http://www.theanimatorssurvivalkit.com/biography.html ( Accessed on 26.10.13)

Wroe, N   (2013), Richard Williams: the master animator for The Guardian  At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/apr/19/richard-williams-master-animation,( Accessed on 26.10.13)

Wells, P (2013) , Williams, Richard (1933-), Written for the BFI Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors, At: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/868599/ (Accessed on 26.10.13)