Demo reels, the Good and Bad

I’ve been looking at a lot of Demoreels/Showreels, trying to distinguish what makes a Demo reel work. There are a lot of good examples that are easy to find, though I feel a lot of the time it comes down to experience, more time working in the industry gives you more opportunity to create high quality polished work compared to someone just starting outand has yet to find their niche.

It’s been slightly difficult to see past the big quality gap and work and look at the nuts and bolts of putting a Demoreel together, but here’s some examples that exhibit strengths and downfalls.

Joe Han, Animation Demo Reel 2016

Now obviously this artist has a lot of finished work, but there’s some great editing in this. The music adds to the tempo of the animations mostly being action fast paced movement, it gives it a burst of life. They show a good variety of work between stylized and realistic, sticking to roughly the 2 minutes guide. They showcase more of the individual game characters as this seems to be the industry they work in more. They’ve also included a Demo reel Breakdown in the description of their video clarifying what they worked on.

Possible criticisms I would have is that there isn’t enough breakdowns of their work, what they’ve done isn’t always at the forefront. Also their isn’t a lot of contact information, it would be nice given the quality of the work to be able to see a website or portfolio as well.

Kim Hudson, My Animation/Art Showreel 2007

Again I’m aware this demo isn’t produced by a professional and I believe it’s their first demo which is also quite dated but it’s good to point out some pitfalls.

Now first thing is that their opening is far too long, there’s some minimal animation but it’s far too static, it lasts for 16 seconds and considering I’ve read that some employers may only look at 10 seconds of a demo reel there is nothing there to grab their attention. This continues through the animation, shots and transitions drag too long and the music choice makes it all feel slow, nothing is exciting. They don’t include any information about what work is theirs (only mentioning what isn’t), even if it’s all their own work I feel it’d help to define their skill set to the employer.




Week Review 1/10/17

Unfortunately this week I’ve been struck down with a bug, and had to spend half of my week in bed. My group has been great and very understanding and I can now finally get back to working on our Project.

For Monday we were just collecting a lot of general inspirations and styles, I looked into a lot of different architectural styles and from that started researching more into Gothic and some Arabic architecture, particularly turkish and moorish design. I think that both of these design types have a grandness too them, they have intricate details and both seem to favor the over use of arches, some of the best examples are cathedrals and mosque.

Santa Maria del Fiore   

  1. Santa Maria del Fiore  (Kaminesky, 2017)
  2.  Flying Buttress (Anon, 2017)


3. Player Hall  (Society and Society, 2017)

4. Courtyard of the Lions  (Society and Society, 2017)

What was a lot harder was to try and find examples of interiors for these time periods, I could only find a few resources that gave some insight but this was from websites that aimed more towards recreating these interiors in modern day, so I’m not sure if they have much accuracy or base themselves off stereotypes.

Considering this challenge I feel we’ll need to be flexible with our designs, use what resources we can but not be afraid to experiment with change to fill in blanks or help tell the narrative we want to portray.

Medieval interior design:

Arabic interior design:

On Monday, Charlotte, Lauren and Debbie were able to meet up and discuss the research they’d done as well as what narrative direction we would want to take.  They came to an agreement with perhaps a Harem from the middle east, bringing in our Arabic theme and brothel themes from before.  Debbie linked me some great articles about Hurrem Sultan who was a  powerful  and influential concubine (and later wife of the Sultan) during a time period know as the  Sultanate of Women (the Reign of Woman) and Haseki  Sultan which was a title meaning the favorite of the Sultan, which Hurrem was.

Currently our idea is to model the bedroom or living quarters of one of the Sultans Haseki’s, showing off it’s opulence. Going further we were debating ideas of possibly an assassination attempt on the Haseki from maybe one of the Sultans jealous wives or another Haseki. Our research revealed that a lot of the concubines were slaves or beautiful women that had been kidnapped from other regions, so this led to the idea of maybe she would be trying to escape from the Harem and back to freedom. We  want to add a sense of life and movement to our scene, not to create simple a picturesque environment but something that seems lived in and too add some character to an otherwise unknown figure.

From there our group was continuing with collecting research on Harems and Sultans, and starting to create some concepts for the environment and layout of our scene. This was mostly done by the other member of my group as I was still sick in bed, they kept me updated with evolving layout ideas and what aspects they knew our scene was going to involve.

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When I was finally able to meet back up with my group on Thursday we were able to finalize the design of our layout and the create a list of props that we’d need to model. Breaking this list down into three categories of essential to non-essential we delegated the props to each other and are now at a position of starting to model.

I personally feel I still need to create some concepts and designs so I can better determine in my head the space we’re working with and the aesthetic we’re working with.


  1. Kaminesky, K. (2017). 10 Gothic Cathedrals of Medieval Europe. [online] Touropia. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
  2.  Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
  3. /4. Society, N. and Society, N. (2017). Moorish Architecture. [online] National Geographic Society. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].

Start of Second Year

Summer is finally over and it seems almost odd but familiar to be back at Uni, dusting off the Maya skills and trying to motivate myself to get back into a routine.

Our first class of the Year is with Alec with Animation Strategies, and we learn about what are going to be the major projects we’re working on this year,  a group Modelling project of an Environment, a Walk cycle and a Dynamic Action, a Short Animation and our own Personal Project. I’m actually quite excited for all these projects, not entirely sure how it’ll work out in the end, but there’s a fresh buzz of ideas and concepts flying about and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

This year we’ll also be starting to look for placement, which has me a little worried, but I feel like I can pull through the apprehension and hopefully find myself a spot somewhere.

Animation Strategies Walk Cycle

One of the first tasks of this semester is animating a walk cycle. To do this though we obviously need a character to animate. Alec has provided everyone in the class with a copy of the Jack and Jill rigs created by Joe Daniels, these are great looking characters with nice appeal and the rigs aren’t very hard to figure out and move quite fluidly. It may be worth purchasing the other rigs as well so I can practice more animation with a wider range of characters, but for now I’ll see how I can handle animating Jack and Jill.

(Rigs!, 2017)

On his blog Joe has more information about all the controls of his rigs,

For Thursday we just had to get used to posing the rigs

A standard action pose but it was good to practice creating tension in a character like they’re about to pounce.

A break dancing pose, I wanted to see if I could believably portray weight


Messing around a bit, a character in free fall preparing to land.

this pose was sort of awkward with the male model twisting in a difficult way, I’m not too sure what he was trying to do with his left arm, this is more a snapshot of action but I don’t think it quite has that flow, but it was very fun to place together.



Rigs!, N. (2017). New Rigs!. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Sep. 2017].

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.