Mark Making

To complete the animation part of my masters project I need to gain more confidence in actually applying pen to paper! I have no trouble using photoshop, editing video or illustrating on my wacom tablet, but the last time I applied charcoal to 150gsm smooth white was an awfully long time ago…

So to gain my confidence back in my own physical drawing abilities I went back to one of my favourite lessons, from my BA course, Life Drawing.

With some trusty charcoal and my original oil pastels (let’s hope they still work) A3 pad under arm, I wandered into the life drawing class, not knowing what to expect. It’s all very help yourself, the easels are lined up on one wall and the chairs the other, small board or long board and a plan chest full of various types of paper with accompanying bulldog clips in a box.

“Just use the cheap paper for these first fast poses,” recommended the tutor, so I and the other 7 students duly set ourselves up whilst he sorted out why we had 2 life models turn up.

Eventually it was decided to use both models together for the first half of the session so they remained clothed and struck their first shared pose.

I felt it easiest to try with charcoal to get my eye back in and as I concentrated let my fingers take over.

I knew immediately that I wanted to make strong flowing marks, not mess about with tiny fine touches, just to capture the line and essence of the figure. I always found it harder to draw people with clothes draped as they can hide so much, but I tried to just use similar strokes to denote the shape and hang of the garment. I found an old trait crash straight back into my life drawing, no matter how big the paper I couldn’t get a whole figure onto my piece of A2, and I concentrated on only one of the models, I wasn’t interested in trying to get their pose together correct, I just wanted to feel like the lines were flowing and have confidence in my marks and movement.


I was pleased with the pictures although the tutor pointed out that I seem to have a habit of making the heads too big, but he really like the angular feel to my drawing.


I tried an oil pastel, but this went terribly wrong, she’s come out too wide and has none of the poise and delicacy of her actual figure come through, she was – obviously – wearing a tutu, but what I didn’t draw was the beautiful ‘enpointe’ she was making with her right foot in her ballet shoes.

I did try a really quick angular line only drawing but didn’t have time to finish this before the model left so that the chap could do his single longer pose…

wpid-IMG_20140227_144403.jpg leg_cu arm_cu

This style of life drawing is straight from my past sharp strong lines with lighter lines and a smudge to denote shading/shadow. I am really pleased with this image and it has the essence of the texture that I want to get into my animation for my Masters Project.

Masters Draft Proposal

MA Project Proposal FormTT

so this is the start of the end…. The masters project itself. I had a lot of wrangling to do with this, should I go with my heart or my head… It’s still a little fuzzy but I’m trying to do both. I think the very first idea of bringing an extinct bird back to life still has  a real drive and purpose to the idea, but through the different modules I want to experiment more with my own mark making, not just in the computer and I still want to give people a reactive experience to remember, rather than a passive, onlooker approach.

                                                          MASTERS PROJECT PROPOSAL FORM

Section 1: Description of Project

Outline your current practice, ideas and creative intentions for the project, including final outcomes. with reference to existing research and practice in the relevant areas of study. For collaborative projects, give details of each person’s role in the project. (max. 300 words) 

I am interested in line, form and movement, particularly figuratively using rotoscoping, but want to use current technology to make art playful, such as motion sensors, projection mapping and Augmented Reality to introduce interaction.

I would like to produce an interactive installation which on first viewing might appear as a static gallery/museum space, until the viewer steps into that space and their presence triggers a visual animated reaction from a physical object. As the viewer steps further into the space another sensor will continue the animation drawing the viewer into moving and interacting with the space even more. The lines would change in character, media and complexity, but would capture the essence of the original movement.

The scenario: as you enter the room a small statue of a great bustard is on your right, as you step closer to take a look a sensor is triggered and an animation is projected onto the statue, which takes the form of a drawn Great Bustard taking off (as a bird would when you approach it). The animation moves across the wall behind the statue, flying away and the form is stripped down to a single dancing line.

In an ideal world I would use Augmented Reality to overlay the static with the moving, but, as yet, not everyone is aware of AR or has the ability/device to download the technology, so as not to exclude anyone I want to use sensors for the triggers. I will provide leaflets and business cards (postcards) which will have the same experience using AR on them for people to take away my art and view it at home, spreading awareness of what it can do to further peoples knowledge and understanding.


Section 2: Methodology

State your research methods for the project and provide a rationale for their suitability for this type of study, with reference to existing research and discourse on relevant methodologies. (max. 300 words)Looking at what already exists for interactive/reactive art. Making art more playful is proven to make it more memorable.

Layering over existing items/objects will re-invigorate them in a non-destructive method.

My animation will experiment with visitors experience of ‘art on the wall’ although AR is a perfect platform for this, in a show situation you need to think about making it accessible, so using motion sensors/pressure sensors, makes it a more shared non exclusive experience. Whilst still providing printed information which will give the ability for people to experiment with AR in their own home… taking my art/animation away with them…



Section 3: Bibliography / Key Sources

Give references to images, texts, websites, artists, designers and other sources that are relevant to your project and contextualise your study. ARTsense, FACT, Marco Tempest, Sander Veenhof, John Craig Freeman, Jason Ohler all exploring AR in art and information.

Geoffrey Mann’s glass sculpture from his exposure series ‘Flight Take Off’ embodies the feeling of movement in a single solid piece. Erica Russell dancing animation. Joanna Quinn, figurative character movement. Saul Bass, flat graphic style animated titles.




Section 4: Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcome Provide an explanation of how your project will demonstrate your ability to meet each of the Learning Outcomes for the Masters Project Unit.
LO1 Evaluate current issues, practices and initiatives associated with your field of study in relation to the development of your work. Augmented Reality is not accessible to everyone at the moment, but if people can experience it in the gallery space in a live situation they may be more inclined to try the AR at home.
LO2 Demonstrate understanding of the materials and processes associated with your subject through experimentation, research and application. I need to look at sensors, interactive art, printmaking, life drawing, rotoscoping, and animated movement. 
LO3 Devise and generate a body of work that demonstrates innovation in its approach; challenges existing perspectives and shows a reflective and critical approach to your subject area. I will initially be looking at quality and texture related to mark making to get the right textural feel to my animated sections, then I will be able to progress onto the actual animation.
LO4 Critically evaluate and apply appropriate methodologies and research findings to your project Once the right mark making technique is decided upon I will then be able to expand it for the final film. I will need to get the right type of sensor into my space for the whole project to work.
LO5 Articulate the content and ambitions of your work to peers, specialist and non-specialist audiences, verbally and in writing, in an appropriate and professionally viable format Using sensors in the final show will enable anyone to interact with my intended experience, but I will give out leaflets on the use of new technology – Augmented Reality in particular –  for a personal experience and to aid understanding through AR.
LO6 Plan, organise and produce an original and creative body of work to a standard that reflects the professional expectations of your subject area. I will need to acquire footage of the Great Bustard taking flight, or of a bird with a similar gait and get hold of or create a rough 3d model plus filming dance and experimenting with mark making, through print techniques and go back to life drawing classes to gain a more natural drawing hand

Section 5: Resources and Schedule

Provide a plan outlining your project schedule and indicating resource requirements where applicable (this may be attached as a separate sheet)Check that the sensors will work the way I want, to make it a reactive space. Film the movement, both of a dancer and of a Great Bustard. Test mark technique and rotoscope. Test projection over a model and test the sensor reaction working together.

Resource requirement: sensor technology…

Section 6: Risk Assessment

Outline any potential risks, particularly Health and Safety and/or ethical issues that could affect the project. It is recommended that you seek the advice of your tutor and relevant NUA staff, e.g. the Health and Safety Officer, before completing this section. Continue on a second page if necessary. 

The lighting in the room will need to be dark enough to see the projected animation, but not dangerous to cause a trip hazard. The sensor technology also needs to be unintrusive.



This is a cinemagraph

New York City-based photographer Jamie Beck and Web designer Kevin Burg “hand-stitch” together her photos and his Web design to make animated gifs they now call “cinemagraphs.”

Simple and clever they started making them in 2011 and have become extremely successful with this technique. The washington post article explains all you would ever need to know…

and find their own pages here…

My particular favourite is of the chap reading a paper in the middle of a park, it looks like a static photo until, hey, he just turned the page, witty but subtle.

It’s playful, but of course has it’s limitations, if you wanted to have an exhibition of these, you would need computers and ipads as you can’t print and mount them like traditional photos, so they are very much stuck in the internet pages, and they repeat the small movement over and over, it’s not interactive it’s passive.

I like interaction and hope to incorporate a physical interaction into my Masters project…

Chris Landreth – 3D maya

Chris Landreth joined Autodesk in 1994

where he defined, tested and abused animation software as it was being developed.  Chris’s work was a driving force in developing Maya 1.0, in 1998.

His 2004 film ‘Ryan’ (with the National Film board of Canada and Seneca College), pioneered a style he calls “Psychorealism” which he uses to show the psychology of the characters.

Chris’s mastery of Maya in his film is mind blowing, not only has he got fully rendered 3D figures and characters of real people, but he has then removed areas to translate psychological problems into something visceral, that we can all see.

The way that the characters warped and grotesque defects change with their mood and what they are saying perfectly emotes what can be hidden by psychological problems, Chris does an amazing job through the 3D world he has created, that draws you in, but never lets you forget the underlying problems people have.

Showing what is normally unseen, to be seen.

 Ryan received the 2005 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and over 60 other awards, including prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and Grand Prize at the 2004 Ottawa International Animation Festival.

The film itself is an interview between Chris and Ryan Larkin, an Academy Award nominated animator (walking 1970) who learned his animation from Norman McLaren.

Animated Classical Art – retrofitting animation?

Rino Stefano Tagliafierro has created this amazing animated version of classical paintings.

Startlingly beautiful to begin with, as it progresses it seems to become slightly more macabre, and a little bit disturbing. The paintings are beautifully rendered and only here and there can you see a slight hint of where Rino has had to make up the art behind the moving element. Erotic and sensual the animated movement adds to the scene in some paintings, but only detracts from the beauty in others. If the thought of movement was behind the original creation of a painting I think the outcome would be different, but for these classical romantic images as the film moves on, it just makes me feel less. The image itself is so well known, that to see it move is almost unseemly, the paintings are perfect and my imagination has always given flight to it’s own thoughts about before and after and the caught expression, that moment held on canvas. Beautiful though beauty is, I’m not a fan.

But because it is almost retrofitting the images, if forethought and the end result was to move the image, as in my Masters proposal idea, perhaps it will fare better?

A little like the 3D films that have been made for the sake of a sword pointing out of the screen at you, it’s not what the intention was and it doesn’t add to it…

The intention must be the whole finished result, not just for the sake of the technology.

Carravagio, Vemeer, Rembrandt and Rubens are amongst the artists in over a hundred paintings.

A full list of all of the featured classical artworks can be found here


Born in 1980.
Italian experimental animator and director.
He graduated at the ISIA of Urbino and IED -European Institute of Design in Milan.
He has made many music videos for major Italian and international artists: FourTet, Stumbleine, Digitalism, Mobbing, M+A, ORAX, Fabri Fibra, Big Fish, Morgan, Eva, Mario Venuti e Vittorio Cosma. Collaborated with studio Bazzani for the production of fashion video for designer Antonio Marras and Kenzo and with studioN!03 for videoprojection and interactiveinstallations for exhibitions, museums and special events. Over the years he has had experience in visual art and videomapping with Claudio Sinatti and assistant director, art-direction and compositing with the study K48.

Interactive art – Aparna Rao: Art that craves your attention

Looking through some old ted talks, I came across Aparna Rao and this fascinating TED talk about some of the art pieces she was working on last year (August 2013) her art work is playful and puts no barriers between the viewer and the art. The art itself senses movement near it or in the room, Aparna doesn’t talk about all the technical sides to her works, this type of art is more a kinetic art, but the playful way in which she puts the pieces together delight the viewer, making them smile and enjoy the work… Do they see it as art or is it installation, or technology, or is this the beginnings of a new way of experiencing art… For Aparna, it seems the interaction between her ‘shy’ little characters and the random  movement of a viewer in the different spaces it’s all about connection and then disconnection.

Her first piece is Imperial Monochromes the art space has several panels of art on the wall, but they are all messily arranged, but as you enter they autonomously form into a neat grid layout, as if you have disturbed them at play, and caught them being naughty. After some time passes though, they relax back into their disorderly state.

 So here it appears as if it’s the viewerthat’s sort of instigating the sense of order among the panels, but it could also be the other way around, that the panels are so stuck within their preconditioned behaviors that they sort of thrust the viewer with the role of a tyrant.

her second piece is a delightfully innocent ‘sculpture’ called ‘Handheld’ where a piece of A4 paper is held by two delicately carved tiny wooden hands, that appear to tremble with the natural forces of outstretched arms over time, as they start to quake with the effort of holding in the same position

 we’re sort of trying to evoke a self-effacing gesture, as if there’s a little person with outstretched arms behind this enormous piece of paper. That sort of likens it to the amount of strain to be at the service of the observer and present this piece of paper very delicately to the viewer in front of them.

Next is a work called Decoy, which appears to be a very needy household object that desperately tries to get your attention by waving and rocking, but once that is achieved, it gets bored and just wants to wait for the next person…

It appears to be mass-manufactured like it came out of a factory like vacuum cleaners and washing machines…. we like how this consumer aesthetic sort of depersonalizes the object and gives us a bit of distance in its appearance, at least.  And so to us this is a kind of sinister being which is trying to distract you from the things that actually need your attention, but it could also be a figure that needs a lot of help.

Next Aparna introduces a large scale piece called ‘clappers’, the viewer approaches what looks like a  scaled down amphitheater where 996 little figures will clap, or not dependent on their ‘mood’ , they have their own free will.

So to us, I think we’re really looking at an audience as its own object or its own organism that’s also got a sort of musical-like quality to it, an instrument. So the viewer can play it by eliciting quite complex and varied, nuanced musical or sound patterns, but cannot really provoke the audience into any particular kind of response. So there’s a sense of judgment and capriciousness and uneasiness involved. It also has an alluring and trap-like quality to it.

And the last on in this talk is ‘Framerunners’, Aparna took the idea for the frames from a real window in their studio and managed to place inside the frame depth the little framerunners themselves, but she wanted them to have a more realistic puppet like quality and in collaboration with a Zurich firm was able to manufacture a naturalistic hand manipulated movement  which is sweet and comical. But not only are they immediately endearing and engaging, again these little figures react to the viewer, it’s almost as if the watcher has disturbed or frightened them and they dash back into the safety of the nearest frame.

So to us, this work also presents its own contradiction.These figures are sort of entrapped within this very strong grid, which is like a prison, but also a fortress, because it allows them to be oblivious and naive and carefree and quite oblivious of the external world. So all these real life qualities that I talk about are sort of translated to a very specific technical configuration

For me this artwork is the other side to augmented reality as this is real physical involvement, your presence changes the art and what it does, perhaps in the future Augmented Reality will be more like this,   rather than having to use an intermediary device to see the movement… It’s also self contained within the piece rather than an extra screen that could show the film on interaction with someone entering the space.

Food for thought on displaying my artwork…

Max Fleischer – rotoscope

A small explanation of Max Fleischer and his technique and patent for his invention of the rotoscope…

Max Fleischer The Rotoscope and Koko the Clown – Koko’s Earth Control

Amazing to think that in 1939 he was using 3D diaramas for his painted cels to be filmed in front of to give real depth!

Betty Boop – Snow White and other Fragments POPEYE – Max Fleischer


When the Disney short ‘Paperman’ came out last year I watched it and thought it looked great, but not until now have I investigated how it was made.

Fascinatingly they created it in full 3D cgi animation and then hand drew the lines back over it to give it a real feel, harking back to Disney’s heyday.

I couldn’t put my finger on  the visual look at the time, but watching the behind the scenes films (below) meant I understood the process fully, some comments at the bottom of the youtube page question why they went to the trouble of CGI if they were just going to draw over the top, but it wouldn’t have the same effect, the 3D makes all of the shadows and perspective motion perfect, whilst the handdrawn lines seem to reduce the perfection of the 3D over the top, whilst adding lovely pencil texture, it’s a beautiful combination.

This link shows how they combined the cgi with the hand drawn.

Full film on The Movie Blog.

Introducing a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, first-time director John Kahrs takes the art of animation in a bold new direction with the Oscar®-nominated short, “Paperman.” Using a minimalist black-and-white style, the short follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him. Created by a small, innovative team working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Paperman” pushes the animation medium in an exciting new direction. (from The Movie Blog)

Behind the scenes – the drawings, fascinating snippet clips of original hand drawn Peter Pan

The Look, making a believable immersive world to tell the story.

The idea