Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Watercoloury Pictures

Well I hope everyone had a nice holiday. I'm still practicing with my watercolours so here's a few more of my 'attempts' for you to squint at and try to see what they were meant to be, and I've thrown in a pencil sketch to boot just to show that I've not given up on the pencils! (the truth is, out of about 10 pages of sketches over Christmas these are the only ones I'm halfway pleased with).

Anyways, next week I begin my Animation Direction course at the NFTS so I'm just getting ready. I hope this blog will become a report of my time there and if I can share any of the knowledge they give me then this will be the place I'll do it.

Until that time then, Have a Happy New Year!

Friday, 19 December 2008

North Face

Yesterday we got to go to a preview screening of a new German film called 'Nordwand' (North Face). It's all about two German mountaineers and their attempt to climb the north face of the Eiger Mountain in the 1930s. I had no knowledge of the history of this event beforehand so I didn't know if it was a successful attempt or not so I don't want to give away anything of the story if you haven't seen it.
I would like to talk a little about the other aspects of the film making though because I thought it was beautifully shot and the performances really drew me in.
The cinematography of the Eiger was both beautiful and grim. At moments it would appear peaceful and serene and then it could completely change and become unforgiving and uncaring. For me it was almost another character on screen.
The two main performances of the German climbers were also totally engaging. You really felt how difficult it must have been to scale every metre of the mountain and their endurance and skill as mountain climbers were both stretched to the limits during their ascent. There were a few white knuckle moments for me particularly when they had to 'traverse' round a difficult section of the mountain.
The sound effects and make-up were also excellent and only helped to build an extra layer of reality into the story. The howling of the wind and the creaking of snow against rock really built an atmosphere of isolation and the effects of the freezing weather on the men and how quickly it took it's toll on them was frightening.
If you get a chance to see it then I totally recommend it.Here's a quick sketch I did afterwards..

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Ray Harryhausen

I got to see another of my animation heroes this week. Ray Harryhausen was in London giving a talk about his new book 'A Century of Model Animation'. He started off with a small retrospective of all his most famous 'creatures' and then he talked about how he got started in the business and how he made his way into feature films.

He also brought along some of his fantastic creations. First he showed one of the original Jason and the Argonauts Skeleton Warriors and an early armature for Pegasus which was never used and then he brought out one of my favourite animated characters ever, Medusa from Clash of the Titans! She was so amazing and so wonderfully designed, she terrified me as a kid so it was great to be able to get up close and see her.

I only managed a few quick sketches of the models as there were so many people there but I'll try to clean them up a bit and post them soon. My time working at the NFTS is now in it's final week so this time next month I'll begin studying as an Animation Director... I can't wait!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Happy Wanderer

Today we had a very special visitor drop by the assistants room. He (I think it's a he) usually comes calling every few weeks but this week we decided to have a little life drawing session with our guest. He wandered around the room a couple of times but finally settled down on one of the spare chairs long enough for us to get a few quick sketches done. As way of thanks for all our hard work he decided to chew the edge of my sketchbook. I got a quick sketch of him doing this you can see on one of the pages and also I've scanned in the teeth marks as well to show the work of our guest. Hopefully next time we can get him to stay for more poses but we shall see...

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Richard Williams & Animated Encounters

Well it’s been another busy week of colouring ‘Yellow Belly End’ but I also got to go to Encounters Film Festival in Bristol this week and see Richard Williams give his final masterclass promoting his new ‘Animator’s Survival Kit’ DVD.

I thought he was a brilliant, we got to see loads of clips from the DVD but more importantly he had loads of great stories from the Golden Age of American 2D Animation and lots of advice on how to animate and really bring characters to life. The high point for me was getting to meet him afterwards and getting him to sign his book and just talking to him about character animation.

I only got to go to a couple of films at the festival but my favourite had to be a Russian short called ‘Malenkaia Vasilisa (Little Vasilisa) directed by Darina Schmidt. It was a traditional fairy-tale story about a small girl and her encounters with a witch in a forest. The design of the film was really nice, everything looked like it had be made out of patchwork blankets and the colour scheme was really bright and fun and the animation was great.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Something New...

Just a few quick sketches from my travels round London. It's getting colder and colder every day here (but as always no snow only rain) and still people are out wandering about in just light jackets and t-shirts.

Something Old...

Not had chance to do much new work recently as the project I'm working on is coming up to it's final weeks.. Anyways, I thought I'd post one of my favourite early illustrations. I drew this Samurai when I was 14 (which feels like a while ago now). It was all made with pen and ink and the original is on A3 paper to give you an idea of how big it is. I remember it took a couple of weeks to do because I drew it in the evenings after school. It's one of my favourites because it was the first picture I made where I really tried to look at how the human figure is built and to really think about how to create shading with only one tone of colour. Anyways I hope you like it and maybe every now and then I will post a few more early drawings. Until next time...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Grind

Not had much chance to do much these past few weeks as all time is being spent working on Yellow Belly End. I begin colouring all the characters next week so these are my last few days to rotoscope as much as possible. It's going really well and I saw a couple of the finished backgrounds the other day and they look fantastic!
Anyways, here's some sketches I've been able to fit in on train journeys and whilst I wait for Photoshop to load...

Next time hopefully I'll have more to upload.. till then, enjoy :)

Monday, 13 October 2008

Escape Studios

Last week I entered a competition run by Channel 4 in the UK where I had to write 50 words on why I love 3D animation and to cut a long story short I won! My prize is not only a copy of Maya but also a chance to go to Escape Studios in London and attend a 6-week intensive course on 3D animation! I'm a massive fan of CGI and although I've tried to teach myself every now and then I've never been able to really get stuck into it but now thanks to Channel 4 and Escape studios I will be able to learn from the very best! I can't wait to get started and learn all their is to know about 3D and start to model and animate, it's so cool! Here's a link to their website: http://www.escapestudios.com/en_GB/school.html

Apart from that I've just been working on Yellow Belly End and sketching as much as possible. I also had my second attempt at digital painting so here's a dry brush painting of one of the Colossi from the brilliant PS2 game, Shadow of the Colossus. The other sketches are people I've seen on my travels and pictures from magazines. Till next time..

Monday, 29 September 2008

Yellow Belly End

So my final animation job at the Film School has begun. For the next couple of months I'll be working on 'Yellow Belly End' directed by Phil Bacon. The film is being produced using the technique of rotoscoping so I'm currently tracing over the live-action footage to bring out the characters.

This week I've also begun practicing how to paint digitally. I really want to explore as many different techniques before Film School begins next year so to start things off here's my first attempt at painting in Photoshop. Hopefully I'll post more as I improve. I also saw Love and Death this week so here's a quick sketch of Woody Allen I made whilst watching.

Monday, 22 September 2008

National Film School and Cherry on the Cake

So my first gap in between posts.. But for a good reason.
The good news is I’ve been accepted to do my MA in Animation Direction at the National Film School in England, home to such great films as Badgered, Hill Farm and the birthplace of Wallace & Gromit (so no pressure then!)
The other reason for the gap is because I’ve just finished working as assistant animator on ‘Cherry on the Cake’ so have been so busy trying to do as much as possible before my time was up. It’s going to be such a wonderful film and I can’t wait see it when it starts to get coloured in.

Anyways, a mix of sketches this week. I’ve been so busy animating that it’s some older work from previous months. Till next time..

Monday, 8 September 2008

Animation Direction Workshop

So my Animation Direction Workshop at the NFTS is over and I made it through in one piece. I had a great time and learnt so much about storytelling and directing from my tutors, Caroline Leaf and Robert Bradbrook.

I’ve posted some stills from the animatic I designed over the week (a short 2min story about some children stuck in maths class and the crazy solution they come up with to get out of it permanently) and also a few quick sketches of some of the other people in my group; all of them were really amazing animators and artists from all over the world. We all screened our films at the end of the week and it was great to see all the different stories we came up with from the same starting point. Hopefully I will get to work with them again in the future.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Train Journey

I had to make a very quick trip home this weekend to get some things for my workshop next week so here's a couple of sketches of the people who I shared my train journey with.


A couple of things this week. I’ve updated the links section with lots of new people, so please go visit their sites and have a look.

I also wanted to let you know about a new short animation. It’s called ‘Brainstorm’ and it’s by my friend Ulrike Schulz. we studied together at the Bristol school of animation a few years ago and now she’s currently at the Film & Television Academy (HFF) in Potsdam, Germany. The whole film was done in just 4 days!

And here's a few screen grabs.

Friday, 22 August 2008


I've got a really important workshop coming up in a few weeks and as part of the prep work for it I have to come up with an idea for a 1 min short. I can't give away the plot but I will let you know that it involves a rather large bear so I've spent most of the day drawing bears and blocking out my storyboard. I'm still trying to get my story down to around the 1 minute mark so mostly I'm just editing out anything that isn't moving the story along or is just a repeat of any similar shots.

All these sketches took less than a couple of minutes each to draw (some just a few seconds) as I try to figure out the main gestures and anatomy of how a bear looks and moves.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Today Only

Well, it's all over, my 12 week stint working on Today Only ended on Friday. It went by far too quickly! I'm pleased with the work I did but I wish I could have done more! The film itself is really starting to come together now and it's so cool to see how it has moved on from the original animatic I watched about 4 months ago. I can't post any of it on here at the moment because it's still in production but if you visit Toby's blog over on the links section he occasionally posts test pieces and little snippets.

My time at the film school isn't over with just yet though. Starting tomorrow I'll be working with Hye Bin on her film 'Cherry on the Cake' as an in-betweener.

I've decided to post a couple of pictures of the directors, so here is Hye Bin making cups of coffee for everyone and Toby talking online on Skype. See how I've captured them both busy at work!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Stand Up

Ok, one last post before I start showing my own work. I just want to take this opportunity to let you know about a film I worked on last year that is currently being screened in festivals around the world.

Stand Up, directed by Joseph Pierce and produced by Jessica Levick at the NFTS is a 2D computer animation about a comedian who suffers a nervous breakdown on stage. I worked on it as assistant animator for several months, animating and drawing lots of the props and background elements.

So far it's been screened at Annecy, Zagreb and Edinburgh Film Festival (where it won second prize in the Mclaren Award for Animation) and most recently it has just won Best Animation Award at the Rushes Soho Shorts Festival beating off Run Wrake's The Control Master and Frank Budgen & Darren Walsh's Sony Bravia Rabbits into second and third place respectively.

If you're planning on going to any of these festivals in the next few months then I can definitely recommend you see it on the big screen for the full effect:

Fresh Student Festival & Karlovy Vary in August, London Animation Festival in September, Dinard (Brittany) & Anim'Est (Romania), Chicago Film Festival in October & Bristol's Encounters in November.


Ok then, I feel a small introduction is needed before I start posting more things on here. I'm a 2D animator and storyboard artist, currently working at the National Film & Television school in the UK as assistant animator on a film called 'Today Only' (you can check out the progress for this film at http://tobyjackman.blogspot.com). I'm hoping this blog will become the place where I can post all my future art and animation work so please come back soon and check it out.
I've decided to start things off with a little portrait of myself. It was drawn by Hye Bin Lee, one of the animation directors here at the school. She's making a brilliant 2D film called 'Cherry on the Cake' so look out for it at next year's festivals! The picture is made with not only pencil and coloured ink but also toothpaste! So not only does it look really cool it smells minty fresh!
Anyways, Till next time...

Saturday, 9 August 2008