Hercu-Liz Project: HERCU-LIZ

Hercu-Liz

Hercu-Liz

Very first designs of Hercu-Liz

Very first designs of Hercu-Liz

 

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Hercu-Liz.

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: 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

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Zsuzsanna=Zeussanna

Zsuzsanna=Zeussanna

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

Medusa

 

Hercu-Liz Project: Brainstorms

Brainstorm
Brainstorm

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

Brainstorm: Influential Heroes & Heroines.

Brainstorm

Brainstorm: Influential Villains & Villainesses.

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.

Dressing

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)).

Movement

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)

Life Drawing- Mixed Media

My first life Drawing session since 1997. I was nervous of being quite rusty at this! This was a life drawing exercise that didn’t solely focus on pencil skills- we had to use graphite sticks, charcoal- crushed and normal, white paints and indian inks.

Challenges for me throughout the day included: successfully remembering and implementing the measuring method, setting up a stable easel, drawing quickly and with precision. Life drawing is normally time bonded – but we only had 3 minutes per pose! Our final composition was a longer session involving all the materials and techniques.

Successes: I feel I captured the models proportions and position accurately, I completed them in time ( and for those of you who know me – you understand how little I like to be rushed!) and it was well placed on the page- unlike my other attempts at life drawn pieces his feet didn’t hang off the page.

My prelim 3 min sketches.

Life Drawing

 

 

 

 

Using Inks- you brush water over your sketch, then drop in ink using a paintbrush.

Life Drawing

Life Drawing Life Drawing Life Drawing

The completed image once dried. I was proud of his arm.
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The final life drawing of the day. For this we had to use a graphite pencil in a stabbing method to create texture and depth. We were advised to think of something that had recently annoyed us. The noise of fifteen angry artists was deafening! Life Drawing

When I next do life drawing I wonder if it would be harder to draw a woman? It might be interesting to draw a person drawing objects. A future post is on Richard Williams who advises every artist to do as much life drawing as possible as it’s important for artists.

Xmas Project – Traces (part 1)

I loved taking the photos for this project as I found this a really intriguing idea to follow. Marks and traces involved initially taking photos of items of things that could have been left behind- specifically after Human activities or festivities.

My initial thought was to: left over food, litter, graffiti, abandoned clothing. As I had a full three weeks to gather the information, I took them whenever possible.

Even though I’m not a fan of detective stories and murder mysteries, I did feel I was on a ‘case’. Or maybe it was the Xmas spirit. Anyway, taking photos around Woking, Farnham, London and Dublin was amusing. Even if my enthusiasm led to me taking photos of bones from Christmas Dinner, discarded umbrellas and crouching in public for the best shots of rubbish! It was pointed out that my photographing in toilets might be a step too far…

Here are a selection of my favourites:

These are a selection of images based on the theme of grafitti. Amazing how much you can find when you look.

  Traces

Traces Traces

Leftovers: Christmas is the season of many dead birds and other animanls- these were what was left….

Traces Traces

Traces

Litter on the streets- Urban litter is really easy to find! I was fascinated by some of the back stories that these items could show us….

Traces Traces TracesTraces

Overall, I found many more interesting things that I thought I would. I found some fascinating objects- you don’t look for how many items we discard until you have a camera attached to your wrist and a need to document it! I really became absorbed in the process behind the project and am pleased with the themes I explored.

If I were to do this project again, I would have only focussed on the projects listed above- Litter, Leftovers and Graffiti. I think that to increase the atmosphere I would have shot a variety of times. A future post is on how we then used these items using Photoshop.

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 http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/dod/index.html 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- http://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org. ( 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!

COMPLETED PROJECT.

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.)

background

A Village Square, Lowry

A Village Square by L.S. Lowry

the-pink-panther-classic-cartoon-collection--20060126042734513-000

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!