Life Drawing Reflection


Over the course of this year I have found life drawing to be an informative experience, it was an inquisitive exploration of drawing techniques and their applications. Certainly it’s good practice as an artist to work with real life models as it trains you to breakdown the human form more in a 2d image rather than a reference image which has already done that for you.

There is more than you’d expect to take in when breaking down a pose and it can be difficult to remember all of these aspects when you’re moving so quickly between poses, but the continuous classes over the year have really helped reinforce some of those basics techniques. It does become clear that a big key element is practising and research, there are so many different resources and methods that it can take a while to find a method that you can work with, the book resources like Burne Hogarth Dynamic Figure drawings and some of the breakdown anatomy handout have been a big help in understanding how to build and underlining drawing that informs how it can move. I think I could have pushed my explorations outside of class further which is more with managing time and having a structure to what I’ll practice drawing and how.

Having group critiques in class were useful to see how you were progressing and what it was in your drawings that you needed to pull up more, I feel I have a better understanding of form and using s and c curves, my composition needs more work in that the line of action or centre of gravity isn’t always clear or skewed but I tried bringing in more sweeping lines to inform arm and legs placements.

For my character creation I wanted to move away from a human but I used the build and shape of one of the models and then gave it more exaggeration. I designed a anthropomorphized bird person that’s character is adventurer/hero type, I took inspiration from games like Legend of Zelda and general fantasy, this character type I feel gives a lot more variety in drawings as it needs a lot of agility and can be placed in a variety of settings and situations. This means I can display a lot of the 12 principles of animation through action movements which is challenging with a bird person’s anatomy to find that right mix between human movement and bird movement.

Using this made my character quite cartoony which is easier to play around with details and function of limbs and expressions, giving a more flexible sense of movement without it becoming uncanny. I reapplied the method of breaking down into simple shapes after drawing out a rough movement, this really helped bring more consistency  and depth to my drawings.

Imaging and Data Visualisation Reflection

I knew nothing about Maya coming into this year and I’m still astounded by how much I’ve learnt so far and partially overwhelmed by how much there is still out there to learn. This module gave us our first real challenge in Maya to build our floating cities, as the only real way to learn Maya is through application and keeping on that learning curve from the problems you encounter. It gave me a sense of accomplishment when we finally finished it even knowing there’s more I would do with it, although with getting to grips with Maya, learning what I needed and adjusting to that workflow I didn’t explore as much how we could have displayed the data in that project but here at the end of the year I feel like I’ve a better bases knowledge that I can now pull from.

This module was really self driven, the tutorials from class were really just the tip of an iceberg  of what you can do and a lot of this module has been researching and watching tutorials, looking at others work in class and asking about techniques.

The head modelling project has been fun, sculpting in mudbox feels more artistic than technical and I’ve enjoyed playing around with it, again it’s all about experimentation and looking at others workflows that help influence your own. The retopologizing is more complicated and possibly I won’t fully understand the difference between good topology and bad topology until I try animating it, because it is learning from your mistakes that brings you forward.

Head Model Sculpting and Topology

We have been given the ask of Topologising the Head of someone from our class and I am doing Emma head and she is doing mine. The process that Alec has given us, is that we should sculpt the head out first in mudbox and the bring it back into may to re-topologize it.

The process of re-topologising is to take a high poly mesh that has all the details you want and then to recreate a lower poly mesh over that which would be more suitable for animating. To have a good topology I believe you need to have as few poles (five edges coming together) as possible/ or place them where the face is unlikely to deform, and it needs to be made up of polygons (four sided faces) though I have seen some tutorials that place some triangles in the ear, because it’s a complicated shape and the ear isn’t usually affected by animation so it won’t deform.

Staring in Mudbox

I found this tutorial that gave me a basic insight to the tools of Mudbox, his process isn’t that complicated using mainly grab and wax tools starting from the basic head model in Mudbox.

Before sculpting I needed my reference images, I’m not the best photographers so I didn’t take photographs that  lined up well to be an exact reference, the meshes where two different when you changed view. Instead I used them as a guide which moved the process along faster, if I could go back I’d maybe take more from a few angles.


I tried to line them up roughly.


My first attempt at Mudbox sculpting and there’s a lot of changing while I’m trying to get the hang of the strengths of the brushes. I actually gave up on this model as I was running in with a problem with the eyelids, they looked very stretched and distorted. Trying to fix it wasn’t working so I took this as a trial run and next time would include spheres for eyeballs to work as a stand in to mould around.

A lot happier with this face, although the front view needs a bit  of tweaking, it looks too symmetrical. This was another first attempt at hair now, which is a lot harder that I though it would be. I was adding bulk with the wax tool and cutting back into it with the sculpting tool to get the basic hair shape of flow. None of this really worked and I kept getting odd dots on my face so I undid it all.

This is my finished head sculpt, with included hair and hoodie. After mostly using symmetry with my tools I then went back to asymmetrical details to make it more realistic to Emma’s face. The hair is still unfinished and will remain that way, I won’t be including it when I topologise, I again used the way tool to build up mass and then sculpting but with a scratching brush to try and emulate hair strands, I realised that I had no idea how to sculpt the bun on top so it’s not as defined.

Sculpt without hair.

Topologising in Maya

The process of topologising in Maya is, bringing in your mesh, selecting it and making it live, and then with the quad tool you draw dots and connect them as polygons on top, and because the mesh is live the dots should snap to the surface of the mesh.

A few of the second years had recommended to me to look up this tutorial and follow it as a guide to draw my topology. This is kinda when I realise that I should have left the face symmetrical in the model and then changed t after topologising it, as it would have made re-topolgy a lot easier. Although I still do use the symmetry tool where I can and the change it.

This is a very basic start to the topology, I think I restarted a few times to try and get the lines running closely together, I was also looking up other examples of topolgy so I understood more the purpose of poles being in certain places and how the sections should flow int each other.

Image result for topologizing an ear

(, 2017) An added ear ref 

This is my Head with finished Topology, that has a poly count of 3711 from an original mesh of 131200. The limit was 10,000 polygons but I don’t think I have the knowledge yet to correctly place all those polygons, I believe a would have made a huge mess.

It’s not as distinctive as I’d hoped it would be and some of the smaller details around the mouth and eyes don’t look too right when smoothed. Learning as I went made it more difficult to visualise all the pieces fitting together in the end and how spacing and polygon shape should fit into it. This project was quite a change from modelling in Maya and I enjoyed it and learning how to do it,

I would have extended it to include the hoodie but I was running short on time. I hope we get to create more using mudbox and topology in the future and to see how animating these meshes will go

Character Design


This is my character Edmund that is an adventurer/hero anthropomorphise bird person.

1.(, 2017) 2. (Pinterest, 2017) 3.(Redlhz, 2017)

I initially took inspiration from the character design of Link from the Legend of Zelda franchise I enjoy a lot of fantasy and adventure characters so I wanted to include that. I was actually thinking of possibly a mage or a witch character but I wasn’t completely happy with the designs I came up with, I decided that I wanted to move away from something human to give myself a bit more of a challenge.


I got onto the idea of a bird type character, taking more inspiration from an artist I follow on Instagram Trudy Castle I like how they play around with the idea with shape and function, they create quite clear silhouettes and stay more true to a bird than my character and still holds the appeal.

(, 2017)


These were some initial digital sketches I did to try and decide costume and colour palette, I feel the yellow contrasts nicely with the blue and also give a sense of a nice happy character.

20170512_120421I also did a lot of sketchbook drawings, with these I experimented with exaggerating the proportion size, which I then thought to keep fairly human-ish so I could be better work with drawing in motion. I had an issue with arms and feet, arms in particular, whether to keep them to a fairly wing structure or make them more human like with feathers instead of fingers, I tried to keep it wing shape, with the elbows being quite high and the only feathers that are drawn on it are the fingers.

  1. Thumblina 2. Robin Hood 3. Sword in the Stone.

An example of three different ways birds have been given arms in movies.

Collecting all these together I made my character rotation sheet which you can see at the top. I then began to using my character to demonstrate 4 of the 12 principles of animation, there may be slight overlap between them as some of the principles can be very similar in their meaning.

Follow Through.

Follow through is when you have parts or appendages of your character continue to move after the main body has stopped, this is most commonly see through the animation of hair and clothes, they will drag behind the main body as it moves forward and continue the momentum of the movement forward after the main body has stopped. This adds realism to the character and can also be an indicator of the material being portrayed depending on how much drag and follow through as well a s the type of follow through is shown.

So here I have my character jumping down, where initially their head feathers/tail and arms all lag behind and then as he lands continue forwards and downwards.

follow through


Squash and Stretch

This ties into exaggeration, animators will squash and stretch their characters in a way that may emphasis an emotion or action usually having one or two frames that are stretch/squashed beyond the physics of the character but because it’s only on screen for a short while the viewer see the fluidity of the motion but not the stretched frame.

Here I have my character in a moment of surprise, it also brings in anticipation in the squashing of the face before the surprise,  I also try tot incorporate secondary action with his head feathers to add more to the emotion.




Arch’s follow the idea that the movement of most living things will move in an arch path, so when we are drawing or animating movement it would be useful to include an arch path to give the movement a bit more personality.

Using arch’s I drew my character drawing his sword with using two arch movements, I don’t think this is the best representation of arches I can do with this character, if I had the time I would like to draw them in a sword fight to experiment with the movements. I also lose some consistency with my drawings which I would also correct with more time.


Solid Drawings

Even though a character is draw 2D it must feel like it exists in a 3D space which can be achieved by using volume, weight and balance. To do this you break you’re character down in to basic shapes such as cubes and cylinders, it helps you imagine how the character would exist in a 3D space. When drawing you’re character afterwards then keep in mind to include overlapping features and try and avoid too many straight lines and it’ll give you’re character a more natural look.

I customised my basic shape more towards my characters shape, which has a lot of curves so I included some lines to separate the front from the side. The arms I didn’t fill in as much as they are really curves and don’t actually hold much 3D  shape, I more so tried to have a guide for the placement of the hand and elbows.

solid shapes (2017). Zelda U. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].

Pinterest. (2017). character design. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].

Redlhz. (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017]. (2017). Art of Lady T. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].


Pinterest. (2017). ♡Thumbelina♡. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].

Disney Wiki. (2017). Alan-A-Dale. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].

Fanpop, I. (2017). The Sword in the Stone Image: The Sword in the Stone. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].



Two weeks and we’re back with an updated version, which hasn’t been as simple as I may have thought to get to.

Firstly you can notice the lighting has changed, we added more lights to the scene as well as Michael sorted out Light-linking and attached a green one to each astronaut.

We smoothed out the terrain and Leanna got a bump map for the texture which looks really great now, a slight issue that came from the smoothing out though is on of the characters now slightly floating which we hadn’t realised till after it was re-rendered.

We changed some of the camera viewpoints as Conánn mentioned that hey were from the wrong angle.

Final shot we again changed the design of the Billboard which was Leanna’s work which makes it look so much better now, I re-animated the lights on it flashing on as the timing was off in our old version, I also added a glow effect in after effects to give the impression of the lights turning on, which I hope makes it more understandable. Jack made sure the first astronaut was included in the shot and even raised his arms so it looks like he’s celebrating.

Conánn had also talked about out title sequence and end credits, admitted we hadn’t put a lot of thought into it before but now with more time Leanna got this great font that reminded us of the Guardians of the Galaxy font and she made a 3d title in maya. The end credits I added in after effects.

There’s more we could do to this but I think it’s a good summation of our work and I’m proud to have made it at the end of just our first year  of animation.

Freshly Squeezed

This is our animation, it seems like it’s taken forever to get it to this point but here we are. The last few days have been fixing textures and rendering a re-rendering where problems have been spotted, we should have done a thorough check before rendering really.

I brought all the frames together using After effects which I’m new to, so I’ve been quickly going through some basic tutorials on how to use it and how best to colour correct a video, our colours are nice but I don’t they came out as bright as they could have to make the character stand our more. I also tried to dim the brightness of the red lights as they were slightly too jarring, which was complicated and involved masks and tracking masks, which I’ve been told After effects isn’t great for but I must make do.

Michael put together our sounds and Jack designed our title and Leanna helped with getting the timing right, and I think we’re all pretty happy with the final outcome here, we know we need to fix some things already.

Feedback from Presentation

Over all I think it went pretty, they seemed happy with how we’d worked as a team.

Corrections for us to work on,

The first astronaut isn’t in the last shot when he was expected to be there.

Generally colours need to stand our more, Yuan mentioned that the characters should be more prominent than the background, which we could maybe also do with Lighting as well.

For lighting Conánn talked about using light-linking to attach a light singularly to the character so it doesn’t illuminate anything else which I think we can do.

There was some animation issues, just with how things were animated like the lander having more swivel and the characters being more weighted though I’m not sure how much of that we can edit before final hand in.

We also need to look at our Logo design as they felt the Uranus Juice didn’t read too well and since the other logo is based of CokaCola that it is the better looking logo.

In general we’re also going to change the terrain texture since it didn’t turn out how we liked and the colour of the stars in the background along with the Billboard at the end, I want it to pop more.




The final shot of our animation has a giant billboard that’s illuminated, I’m slightly excited about making this because I’ve really wanted to try making some Neon lights and this seems like the best opportunity to.


I’d already tried creating a neon sign before so I was using that same technique.  Though I added in some more pieces and tried to animate the intensity of the glow so it looks like it’s moving. Based of a load of Neon signs like this one below.

For building the main structure of the Billboard I wanted to have a big screen and lined with light bulbs taking inspiration from the Las Vegas sign.


I had to give more luminosity to the bulbs, because if I had one transparent sphere it wouldn’t stand out so I needed to have two sphere’s one inside the other with the outside on being more translucent. These colours are place holders since I’m not sure what our final colour scheme for it is going the be, it’ll be easy to change later, I also left a space because we’re not decided on whether we want to add a slogan as well.

Here’s a basic test of how it’ll work.


This is what the final Billboard ended up looking like. I think I’m going to look at adding in extra glow in after effects as it’d take less time than rendering out lights in Maya. The sign could be better formatted possibly but the colours Leanna has used work better together.

Doing some Animating

These are the animations that I’ve done for our astronaut, the flag plant was the most fun and interesting one to do, as well as hard. With blocking out the key poses I think tried to key in the camera, I felt I needed the camera movement there to determine how the arm movement should look as I didn’t want it to be too hidden. I tried to keep in mind the principles of animation  like anticipation and follow through it took a while to get the timing right so it feels like that flag is coming done in a swift movement.

I mistake I know realise is that our staging is off, in our animatics they look right, but I need them to be turning left since the rest of the scene is now staged to be happening over there, the scene has flipped is what I mean.

The second shot is very short in our animatic but I still animated the character turning, it’s very fast but I didn’t want it to be a still frame establishing it.

I think I’ll still be tweaking these and the camera movements, and when I have time I need to learn more about rigging a character because for this it did take a while to figure out how the controls work and how the model will stretch, which lead to starting from scratch a few times.

Making a Can Substance Painter

I had to model a can for our second astronaut to be holding which I did quite simply in Maya.

We’ve also decided to try and use substance painter for our textures, which will be interesting as I’ve never used it before but I like the examples of what you can make with it.

First of all we had to uv map our objects, which is reaking down the faces of the object so we’ll be able to paint on them in substance painter. It can be a bit complicated for curved objects so I first automatically  mapped it then going into the editor I cut and sewed edges until I had a pretty good display that didn’t have any stretching.

can uv map

Michael shared a really useful tutorial on the basics of substance painter and how to use it. I followed along with it to try and understand how to bake textures and set up the layers, ambient occlusions. Then I started experimenting with painting the aluminium material I added the logo to the car design by using the stencil tool and using a rough artist brush to paint it on.

Bringing the textures back into maya has came up with some problems, where the seams don’t line up that well and looking back I think I would have had to do my uv map out differently, like this though I re-painted it not as shiny which seems to have worked better.

version 1


version 2