Today’s Animation (11th September 2018)

Well, it has been way too long since I last made an animation. So, I thought that I’d make a neon-drenched cyberpunk style animation that is very loosely based on both my more distant memories of visiting Port Solent and my memory of a car journey to the cinema there to see “Blade Runner 2049” (and, yes, I make these art posts ridiculously far in advance).

As usual, this animation is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Port Solent Runner” By C. A. Brown

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Today’s Art (19th June 2017)

Well, today’s animation was kind of interesting. Originally, it was a digitally-edited painting – which was something of an experimental painting (where I tried out a couple of new techniques [like adding ink after adding paint]), that didn’t turn out too well. So, I decided to turn it into an animation.

Originally, this animation was also going to contain rain too, but this didn’t look too good – so I left it out.

As usual, all three of the paintings and/or animations in this post are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Neon City Experiment" By C. A. Brown

“Neon City Experiment” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (14th April 2017)

Well, there are actually two versions (well, technically four – click the links for the line art and the non-rainy versions) of today’s digitally-edited painting. There’s the full-size painting and there’s also an animated version too (that appeared in a preview post last year).

As usual, all four versions of this picture are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Intersection" By C. A. Brown

“Intersection” By C. A. Brown

"Intersection (Animated Preview)" By C. A. Brown

“Intersection (Animated Preview)” By C. A. Brown

ANIMATED Cyberpunk Art Preview :)

[EDIT: I’ve just replaced this animation with a slightly slower version (since I was worried that it flickered too quickly), which also has a smaller file size – so it shouldn’t take ages to load]

Well, although the full version of this digitally-edited painting won’t be posted here for literally ages (so, it’s also a glimpse at some of next year’s art), as soon as I finished making it earlier today, I just had to turn it into a small animation and, well, I felt like showing it off. Enjoy 🙂

As usual, this animation is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Intersection (Animated Preview)" By C. A. Brown

“Intersection (Animated Preview)” By C. A. Brown

Why Comics Are Better Than Animations – A Ramble

2015 Artwork  comics are better than animation article sketch

Like with the past couple of articles, at the time of writing this, I’m busy making a comic called “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall“, which will probably have been posted here in late October. Once again, here’s a random page from it:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall - Page 5 (edited version)" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “The Horror Of Hardtalon Hall – Page 5 (edited version)” By C. A. Brown

Anyway, for today, I thought that I’d ramble briefly about one of the reasons why comics are one of the best storytelling mediums to work in. Personally, I’d argue that making a comic is vaguely similar to making an animated film – but making a comic is also a lot better than making an animation for a large number of reasons.

Like with animation, comics tell a story through a series of pictures and words. Like with animation, comics usually tend to use a rather cartoonish art style. However, comics can’t include things like background music and voice acting – but, given how expensive both of these things can be, I’d argue that this is a bonus.

In fact, comics basically make your audience’s imaginations supply the voice acting (which means that it’ll probably be of a better quality than actual voice acting would be).

So, not only do you save money on voice acting and imagination, but you also save a lot of time when you make a comic. Even if you’re using one of those fancy modern animation programs, you’re still going to have to create at least several frames of animation for each second of footage. You’re also going to have to plan your animation carefully in order to ensure that it’s actually practical to make.

With comics, all you really need to do is to draw a few of the most important “frames” and your audience’s imaginations will “fill in the gaps” between them.

To use a classic example, if you wanted to show your main character punching someone in an animation, you’ve have to work out how to make their whole body move realistically. You’d have to work out exactly how the other character would react etc… You’d probably spend quite a lot of time animating something that would only be on screen for a second.

However, if you’re making a comic, all you need to do is to draw one panel with your character’s arm drawn back and one panel with their fist extended (and the other character reacting to being punched). You’ve only shown the beginning and the end of that action, but your audience will know exactly what happened. In other words, a comic can do in two drawings what an animation can only do in 12+ drawings.

Talking of time, one other great thing about comics is that you have a lot more control over how fast the story progresses. Although each comic panel is a snapshot of a single moment in time, you can decide how far apart those moments are. Like with writing prose fiction, you can devote an entire page of a comic to anything from a single second to a thousand years.

However, with animation, you’re limited to real time. Yes, you can show a series of scenes that take place at different times but time will always pass at the same rate in an animation. A second of animation is a second of animation. Ten minutes of animation is ten minutes of animation. I’m sure you get the idea.

Finally, there’s the subject of tools and costs. To produce a comic, all you basically need are a pen and several sheets of paper. Yes, it helps to have a digital camera or a scanner (as well as an image editing program and possibly a graphics tablet), but all you need in order to produce a comic are a pen and paper. To produce anything more than a flick-book animation, you either need a computer and/or lots of film equipment.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

How You Write Or Make Art Is Also Part Of Your Unique “Style”

Showing off. 25436

Showing off. 25436

Although I’ll be talking about the tired old subject of having a unique “art style” and/or “writing style” yet again, I’ll be looking at it from a very slightly different perspective today.

Instead of focusing on what makes our art and/or writing look unique, I thought that I’d focus on what makes our creative processes so unique. In other words, I’ll be looking at how we make art and how we write rather than what our art and/or writing looks like.

You see, we all have different things that we value when we create things. To use a gaming metaphor (and apologies if I get this wrong – I haven’t played that many RPGs), we each have different stats that we tend to focus on more than others. We try to increase our “level” in a few areas, whilst not really caring as much about the others.

For example, when it comes to making art, I tend to value reliability, simplicity of production and speed.

What this means is that I’ll try to stick to a schedule rigidly, regardless of how “inspired” I feel (even if this affects the quality of my work). It also means that I tend to make art that isn’t needlessly complicated and doesn’t consume more than 1-2 hours or my time per painting.

This also means that most of my art tends to be on the smaller side of things (eg: most of my current paintings are between 19x27cm – 18x19cm in size), because it’s quicker to fill this amount of paper than it is to fill a large canvas or anything like that.

My slightly cartoonish art style, my reliance on things like simple block colours and my preference for “faster” art mediums are all an extension of these things.

If I valued a different set of qualities – such as realism and technical quality, then I’d probably produce very different art. I’d spend weeks or months working on large photo-realistic oil paintings or pencil drawings. I’d paint more form life than from my own imagination etc….

You’d be surprised at how much what we value about the creative process can affect the kinds of things that we create.

The same is probably true, to a lesser extent, with writing. Since it’s been a while since I last wrote any fiction, my examples are probably going to have to come from my non-fiction writing since I have more recent experience of this.

When it comes to non-fiction writing, I tend to value quantity, reliability and speed. What this means is that I tend to be slightly long-winded and I often tend to use the slightly formal and old-fashioned essay writing style that was drummed into me during my education, for the simple reason that it’s almost second-nature to me by now.

It also means that I believe in sayings like “done is better than good” and I’m not usually the kind of person who will spend several days meticulously crafting a non-fiction piece that I’m going to post on the internet.

If I valued a different set of qualities, then this article would probably look very different to what it looks like now. In fact, it’d be almost unrecognisable.

So, yes, if you want to learn more about your own personal art or writing “style”, then it might be worth taking a look at the things that you value when you’re actually making art or writing. Seriously, you might surprise yourself.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Animation Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

What? Glowing red eyes are cool!

What? Glowing red eyes are cool!

Before I begin, I should probably point out that this article is just some of my random thoughts about very basic types of animation rather than any kind of real animation tutorial.

This is mainly because the program that I use for all of my animations is an absolutely ancient program from 1999 called “Jasc Animation Shop (version 2.00)” which nobody else probably uses these days. Not only that, it’s a pretty basic animation program which probably only does a fraction of what more complex (and incomprehensible) modern animation programs probably do.

Anyway, although I’ve always been fascinated by animation, it wasn’t until a year or two ago that I started making animations on something close to an occasional basis. Of course, this was also when I discovered digital animation – before this , I actually used to draw every frame by hand:

This is from 2006. Wow! My art style looked terrible back then LOL!

This is from 2006. Wow! My art style looked terrible back then LOL!

Of course, the great thing about digital animation is that you can just alter parts of a previous frame and then save it as a new frame rather than drawing each frame from scratch. Not only that, it’s really easy to make basic alterations to an image digitally, so you can produce lots of frames in a relatively short amount of time.

So, although I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to making art, animation is one of those few areas where I think that digital is better.

Yes,

Yes, digital is better

In addition to this, you don’t need as many frames as you might think that you do. Although I occasionally tried to make flick books when I was a kid, I always used to think that all “real” animations had to have something like 24 very slightly different frames for each second of footage.

I think that I’d read this fact in a book about professional animation and, well, the thought of spending ages drawing twenty four pictures for just one second of footage kind of put me off of animation for quite a while.

But, of course, unless you’re producing a major animated film the old fashioned way, you don’t actually need this many frames per second. In fact, you can get away with a shockingly low number of frames every second.

As long as the changes between each frame are slightly larger than they would be in a “traditional” animation (eg: if something moves 1mm per frame in a 24FPS animation, then it should move about 8mm per frame in a 3FPS animation), then your audience’s minds will automatically “fill in the gaps” and you can get away with a much lower framerate. Yes, this will make your animation look slightly “low budget”, but it’ll still be an animation.

For example, the looped animation at the beginning of this article is about four seconds long and it only contains a grand total of six frames, one of which is repeated at the end of the animation. So, the actual number of new frames in the animation is actually only five. Here they are:

Frame 1

Frame 1

Frame 2

Frame 2

Frame 3

Frame 3

Frames 4 & 6

Frames 4 & 6

Frame 5

Frame 5

And, since each of these frames was just a slightly altered version of the previous picture – the whole thing only took me about twenty minutes to make. So, animation doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think.

Remember, it’s ok to repeat frames later in the animation if you’re showing something happening in reverse (eg: the flames in the background dying down after they’ve flared up).

But, despite what I’ve said earlier, you can get away with even lower framerates than this if you’ve got other interesting stuff in your animation.

For a great example of this, check out an absolutely hilarious (but NOT for the easily-offended!) animated Youtube videogame discussion series called “The CCS Video Podcast“.

The art looks fantastic, the discussions are really interesting and there’s a lot of really twisted humour in the videos – so it’s not really a big issue that the framerate ( in the older CCS videos at least, not so much with the more recent ones) can be anything between about 0.5 to 3 frames per second.

In fact, you probably won’t even really notice it unless you think about it because you’re distracted by all of the other interesting stuff in the videos.

So, if you’re making something really interesting and really great and you’ve got a fairly low budget, then the animation doesn’t have to be “perfect”.

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Sorry that this article was so rambling and so basic, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂