Monday, June 30, 2008

Woohoo woohoo, I won a monster!

My grim guesthouse short (the monster under the bed animation) won third prize in the Toronto Animated Image Society monsterjam competition! I have no idea why the judges picked me - I am sure there were lots and lots of animations that were better than mine, Grant's included - but nevertheless I came third.... despite the fact I've never even been to Canada!

I won a Monster Factory handmade plush monster toy, which is very exciting too, especially as they are one of the companies that inspired me to start making my own woolly monsters, long before I even thought about trying to animate them. Rather fitting prize really. I am eagerly awaiting my parcel from Canada containing something cute and monstrous...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alien scenery and plants...

The alien plants are finished, and I've nearly finished the set for my alien animation.
Here are the alien plants, all latexed up and shiny and bobbly:

Then there is the planet surface, which is almost finished (the photo was taken whilst parts of it were still wet):

The large hill is polystyrene cut into a vague hill shape with a hot wire tool, the smaller hills are crumpled newspaper. I stuck these to a sheet of particle board, then made a paper-mache 'clay' by soaking shredded newspaper in a mixture of PVA glue and water, mixing occasionally with my hands until it had a texture like wet clay. I spread an unever layer of this over everything, then when it was slightly drier I smoothed PVA over the surface with my hand to smooth and seal it. All in all it took about 1 litre (that's 2 pints) of PVA and 4 free local newspapers.

I bought some emulsion paint tester pots - fireside (a dark rich red), sundried tomato (a darkish orangey red) and classic red (bright post-box red). When the planet surface was dry, I painted it with the three shades of red in a blotchy manner. When that dried I made a mixture of PVA glue and dark red paint and spread on a thick layer before sprinkling 'coarse iron ore ballast' (from a hobby shop) onto it. Before the glue dried fully (but dry enough to stick the ballast in place) I painted on a thin layer of watered down PVA/paint mixture to firmly fix it, and make the colour of the ballast match the painted surface more. When that was dry I painted on a 'dirty wash' (black drawing ink, red drawing ink, a little dark red paint and quite a bit of water) so it would sink into the recesses on the set and make them darker. After that, I dry brushed a little bright 'classic red' paint across the surface to highlight the texture.

I might be adding some blue crystal clusters on the surface too, but I'm not sure yet.

I've also done the sky, which is purple:

It is a sheet of white foamboard (still 2 for 1 at the craft shop - woohoo!) which I took into the back yard and covered in spray paint. I used mostly spray paint I had left over from my student days when I worked with it a lot. I used navy blue, burgundy red, metallic purple, dark purple and light violet. The photo isn't too good because I took it when the paint was still wet, and very reflective.

Next it's onto puppet building...

Friday, June 6, 2008

More prop and scenery construction

I have my first commission, woohoo! It's a short (less that 15 seconds) slot for a music video. I've been given total creative freedom, so I am having a lot of fun with the set and puppet designs. I am setting it on an alien planet, so I can go wild with the plants and scenery which, for me anyway, is all very exciting!

I have also been constructing props and scenery for the short I am planning to make with the samurai puppet that John Hankins sent me. This project is currently on hold though until I finish the commission. I made John a rather endearing puppet and sent it to him the other day, but I can't say any more about it until it arrives in Hawaii because I don't want to spoil John's surprise.

Here are some photos of the scenery I have made so far for the samurai animation, which will be set in a garden. Please note that I am going for a very stylised look - these aren't meant to be realistic! Sorry about the bad photos. My studio has no natural light (for animation purposes) so I took them with a flash, and they don't look great.

These are some fruit trees for the background of the scene. They are wire covered in papier-mache then painted. The foliage is made of snipped up green pan scourers, and the fruits are yellow plastic ball bearings (for shooting from BB guns).

These are ornamental rose trees made from builders 'mice' wire (usually used in reinforced concrete) wrapped round papier-mache balls, which have been painted green. Then I glued on paper leaves and ribbon roses.

Here are an assortment of background bushes. They are papier-mache again. The two on the left are covered in three shades of embroidery silk snipped up and layered with Copydex (liquid latex). The one on the right is snipped up pan scourers. The 'flowers' are pearlescent seed beeds.

This is a garden ornament or memorial of some description. It's a small plastic tub with a cotton reel, a thimble, a button and a dome headed nut glued to the top of it (all junk I have collected over the years), then painted to look like marble and bronze (sort of).

The great thing about all these bits of scenery is that they are made of junk and very cheap materials. My boyfriend gave me a bucket of steel wire 'mice' as a present (other women get flowers, I get builders tools and materials - which is good because I do prefer getting random hardware) so that was free. The papier-mache is obviously just old newpapers and watered down cheap PVA glue. The green pan scourers, yellow plastic BBs and embroidery silks were bought in bulk packs from £1 shops. The silk roses were 3p each from the sewing stall on Bolton market. The most expensive material was the Copydex, which was £4 for a small bottle, but for future Copydex purchases I have found a supplier where I can buy the stuff in 1 litre and 5 litre bottles at a discount price.

I'm mid-way through making some alien plants for the commissioned animation. Here are the photos of how I made the basic structures:

These are some bobbly plants which are made from some round door knobs I got in a bulk value pack from B&Q and those useful little yellow BBs again. I had to use good old fashioned 'strong glue' for sticking the balls on, as with PVA and Copydex the set up time was too long and superglue was not tacky enough (too watery). The strong glue worked well, as it partially melted the plastic coating on the doorknobs, which seemed to increase the 'grab' and reduce the set up time of the glue. One thing I would advise - don't make 6 of these in an unventilated room like I did. After a while those little BBs looked like they were moving around of their own accord and the next morning I had a banging hangover. In future I will dig out my vapour mask to use for jobs like this!

These plants will be painted with layers of coloured liquid latex, to make them look shiny, rubbery alien plants I suppose.

This is a slightly out of focus photo of some alien trees. They are 'tumble drier balls' (£1 shop) with trunks made from wire coated in epoxy putty. As you can see, they are being painted with layers of purple liquid latex. Details will be added later with a contrasting shade of liquid latex.

I will post photos of the finished alien plants soon.

I have also made a space castle or an elaborate rocketship (or whatever you want it to be) to go in the background.

It is a bizarre combination of interesting bits and bobs I have collected over the years. Two wooden door knobs, a cedarwood moth repellant disk thingy, some wooden cocktail forks, two glue tube lids and an assortment of different beads. It was decorated with acrylic paint and plastic 'gems'.