A few years ago, I found an old TV at my Granny’s house. I tried to turn it on, but the technology was so out dated that there wasn’t even a power socket to connect. It seemed a shame to throw out. I really liked the look of it and wanted to give it a new life. The desplay screen on the inside was like a giant lightbulb, and there were no imput holes to plug in a computer. I’m not a trained electronics person to mess with that stuff, so my next thought was to install a small tablet on the inside and keep the TV box shell for cosmetic purposes.
However, there were complications with the screen I bought, and I wasn’t able to use it in the end. After thinking for a while, I realised that I had a lot of crystals in storage from when I used them as decorations at the book launch for my novel “The Wish Bringer”. I realised that I could use the TV shell as a display case to store the crystals. First I removed the electrical components, cleaned all the parts and spray painted the case red (to match my other red decore). Using recycled cardboard, I made a small ramp to place inside and covered it with fabric, that way the crystals at the back can be seen, and placed some battery powered fairy lights inside to complete the look. The batteries run out very quickly, so maybe in the future it would be wise to change them out for outlet ones, but other than that, I’m very please with this project. It’s been a few years already since I made this cusomisation. However, everytime I look at it, it gives me joy and pride for making such a one of a kind piece. It’s also a good example of repurposing something that would’ve been thrown away and making something inspiring out of it.
Drawing backgrounds and different angles are often challenges for artist, which include animators, storyboarders, comic artists and mangaka to name a few. I’ve come up with 3 easy ways to help and take your art to the next level. Using Dolls and Toys, Making Paper background Models, and Using Digital 3d software and games
This article is accompanied by a video tutorial:
Using Dolls and Toys
When wanting to draw characters from different angles, it’s useful to use posable dolls as reference. In the example below, I wanted to draw a cut where a knight was charging towards another knight on his horse. I also wanted the ‘camera’ to pan around the character as he ran to make the shot more dynamic. Drawing the charging scene itself is a challenge, because horses are difficult to draw for most people. However, drawing a camera pan really adds another layer of complexity to the design.
I got a posable Harry Potter doll and sat him upon a horse statue with a pencil in his hand, placed them on top of a Lazy Suzan turn table and took videos from different angles and positions. I then used a dragon shaped piggy bank over to the side as scale reference.
This is solution is extremely easy and cheap to re-create. I didn’t need reference for details, so it didn’t matter to me what kind of toy I used as long as I could move the limbs to the position I liked. Artists are known for using the wooden mannequins as pose reference. However, some toys have a lot more articulation and have the added benefits of coming with face, hair and clothes, which gives you more points of reference.
After that, I can import the footage to my computer and watch it in slow motion to study the poses. Depending on your artistic style, you can copy the poses in your own style, or draw directly over the videos and rotoscope it.
Making Paper background Models
When I was a little kid, I remember making paper doll houses with my cousin Stephie. The process was extremely easy, all you had to do was fold paper to make boxes and trays. This became the inspiration for the next process.
Drawing backgrounds to scale is a real skill. I’ve read plenty of books and know the formular of how to draw perspective, but let’s face it, drawing accurate perspective is BORING. Haha, (soz background artists :p). Here is another very easy way to create reference that you can use multiple times for backgrounds and settings.
In this example, I wanted to draw the inside cloister of a cathedral. The architecture is very repetitive in that there are arches, symmetrical windows and columns. While it is possible to copy photos and have a still background image, what if you want to walk down the halls or see the corridors from different perspectives? The answer is having a 3D model where you can go around it from all angles!
To do this, I went into photoshop and made an A4 canvas (the size of my printer paper), and on the long plane, I drew the basic shapes of the corridor. I drew an arch with symmetrical windows and columns and copy and pasted them next to each other. Using the ruler tool, I made rectangle and square shapes as guides. That way I could print out the shapes, cut along the dotted line and glue the parts together. I made several of these rectangular cuboids and placed them in the position I wanted. I placed the models on top of my cutting mat, which had a grid on it. Using the grid can be useful too because it shows the lines moving towards the Vanishing Point, which can be an extra point of reference. After that I used a Go-Pro type camera with a warped fish-eye lens to go down the corridors. (You can just as easily use your phone or webcam to do the same thing.)
In the same method above, you can export the footage to your computer and use the shots for reference by copying the footage or rotoscoping it.
BONUS TIP: If you want to draw a scene in different times of the day, or with special lighting, you can position desk lamps around your models and study the way light and shadow hits them.
Using Digital 3d software and games
This method is a bit more difficult, because it depends on having extra skills and computer software. If you know how to do it, you can create 3D models on a digital animation software and use that as reference. I personally, I can’t use 3D software, because I get motion sickness. Instead, I use the Sims 4 to help create scenarios. In the Sims you can create houses and buildings and have your Sim character perform actions like dancing or eating. You can either take screenshots or using a screen capture software, record what’s happening. This can be useful for everyday life scenarios. However, if you want something more complex, like a plane taking off, you wouldn’t be able to do that seeing as there are restrictions within the game. Though, if you are making a fantasy type story, you could always use a fantasy style 3D game as reference too.
WARNING: I’ve noticed that a lot of Webtoon/ webcomic artists have been using Google Sketch Up in their comics. However, instead of using it as reference, they have been tracing over the shape in such a precise way that the backgrounds end up looking very boring. I would suggest that you use these methods as guidelines, but to
Last year, I was facinated in painting unconventional items, such as instruments. In December I custom painted this adorable tamborine inspired by Stevie Nicks. The video below goes through a very detailed process, which includes: masking and priming the surface, transfering the design using carbon transfer technique, painting the design using acrylic paint and paint markers, fixing mistakes and damaged areas, and sealing the paint.
For those that are familiar with my Youtube Channel, I normally post videos showing digital art. In comparison, painting real objects needs a lot more time and space to not only prepare the materials, but also to prepare the space and lighting to record. Because of these extra factors, I created and used a special camera rig to use with recording traditional art and physical objects. I make blog post earlier on how I designed and made it, if you’re interesed in making one.
Please CLICK on the video below to see the full tutorial on how I painted this tamborine.
I’ve been using Adobe Character Animator CC to create a virtual vtuber avatar of myself to record myself speaking for some of my most recent videos. I think it’s great and really fun to use. For me, I get really nervous recording myself directly in front of a camera, (and it’s even worse having to edit the footage). Therefore, I think it’s amazing to have the opportunity to use my art to create a character of myself, which eliminates some of the stress, and lets me focus on the more important stuff – sharing my art making process and techniques with you guys. This speed drawing video is about how I designed the background art, based off my real desk. I hope you enjoy it!
Please CLICK on the video below to see the drawing process on how I created this background, which includes spoken commentary.
I have always loved creating my own booklets and used to make photocopy style comics and magazines. Though, an actual hard cover book was always too complex for me to figure out at the time. Towards the end of 2020, my curiosity was sparked again and I wanted to give it a go.
The Vlog below talks about the process of creating my first hard cover book, from dying the paper, sewing the spine and making a paper press, as well as the challenges I faced along the way. Book binding is a whole discipline in itself and difficult to execuite well. However, I thought this was an endearing project and it gives me so much joy using the final book as a journal to write and sketch in. Each page is individually dyed and has it’s own texture and colour. (And it also smells delicious!) I intend to try out more book binding styles in the future, but for the time being, I’m very happy with how this one turned out.
I’ve been recording my own music and dialogue for years to go with my animations and videos. However, it’s always such a hastle getting all my equipment out and prepared, especially if I have to travel. This last year I decided to come up with a solution and build a PORTABLE MUSIC STUDIO inside of a briefcase. It’s a cheap, lightweight and professional way to record dialogue, music and sounds on the go, especially if I have to visit clients or friends. I’ve already tried it (as demonstrated in the video), and it works really well and takes away the hustle of setting up random bits of equipment.
It’s still a bit difficult to focus on performing, and recording documentary footage, which is why the guitar video bits don’t sync up. However, I have discovered the wonders of Adobe Character Animator and making my own character avatar, which has allowed me to playfully express myself, without having to be directly. I think it’s pretty cool.
(For those who wonder what I sound like singing… now you know.)
For the last few months I’ve been working on a music video for a folk musician called SONiA disappear fear, and I am happy to be able to share it now.
I first met Terry, SONiA’s wife and manager, serendipitously last year at Sydney airport when I went to pick up my boyfriend, Edu, who came to visit me for Christmas. We chatted a bit in the arrival lounge about flights and arrival times, and learnt that she and SONiA were in Sydney to perform for some music festivals. I said that I was an animator and we exchanged details. A month or so later, I met up with SONiA and Terry again and we agreed to make some music videos together.
The first one being a trailer for SONiA’s new retrospective album, Love Out Loud, celebrating 30 years of her career. From our conversations and listening to her musics, I learnt that SONiA was the first openly gay folk pop musician, in both her music and her lifestyle, (as opposed to artists who came out later on in their careers). She has been a great advocate for LGBT+ rights and fair treatment of marginalised people. SONiA’s lyrics and songs are quite illustrative and are often drawn from her life experiences of being Jewish and owning and embracing her identity of being gay despite living in a society that doesn’t always approve.
Despite her demure appearance, I could tell that SONiA was a real bad ass, and I was incredibly impressed to meet someone who was so sincere and brave to not only live out her truth, but also be positive and kind enough to share those experiences in order to inspire others and create positive change in the world.
It was a lot of fun creating this album trailer. SONiA was supportive of my art style, and very generous about giving me free rein to experiment and design creative cuts, which was aided a lot by her colourful and illustrative lyrics. While it was important for it to look good cohesively, I also had to navigate a delicate balance of highlighting each song’s message, while keeping the snippets short and fluid. Over all, I’m proud and pretty happy with the overall video.
Please check out the animation & making of videos below =)
Looking at the current state of animation in Singapore, in terms of independent animation, a very eclectic yet still Asian style has emerged, simply because Singapore is just so cosmopolitan and that really shows in the work of the students. One could say that nowadays there isn’t a localised style anymore, because everybody on the web could look anywhere they want, but I still firmly believe that your own real lifestyle not only the online world severely influence what you’re doing. – Hannes Rall
Last year in October, I had the privilege of flying over to Singapore for a week to visit the Arts Media and Design department (ADM) at the Nanyang Technological University(NTU), on behalf of the Melbourne International Animation Festival, which was this year’s school of focus for the festival. I also had the privilege to meet with Associate Professor Hannes Rall, notable German independent animator, and one of the founders of the animation department.
The whole week was an intense experience absorbing and experiencing the rich diversity of cultures, religions and languages compacted in this dense cosmopolitan, and literal jungle, that is Singapore.
I was met at the airport by Assistant Professor Bernhard Johannes Schmitt, stop-motion animator from Germany, and together we crossed to the opposite side of the island to NTU. The campus itself is in its’ own town within a humid rain forest and home to between 35,000 – 40,000 students and faculty.
The ADM building was an impressive architectural structure.A popular site for wedding photos, this modern structure appears as though it was carved out of the hill, blending its metal beams and glass walls with a grass roof and the surrounding forest. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well equiped the inside of the building was, especially for an art school, housing a Motion Capture Lab, Stop-motion studio, recording booths, and drawing spaces among other specialty creative rooms within the greater design department.
Through out the week I was also guided by Bernhard, Hannes and Associate Professor Gray Hodgkinson, New Zealander CGI teacher, where I learned more about the history of school and the direction of Singaporean animation. I also had a chance to interact with several students, witness their art practice and review their works. Notably, on the ground floor is a small cubicle village, reminiscent of those at PIXAR. Final year students are allocated a space where they are able to work on their end of year projects. I saw shower curtain doors, pots and pans, mattresses under their desks, and shoes and slippers lined up outside their little corridors. It was funny, yet interesting to see the dedication of the student where their life was in the studio. There they’re able to focus as individuals, yet be close enough for open communication amongst their teams, which certainly shows in the excellent quality of films produced.
One afternoon I had the opportunity to interview Hannes about the evolution of the animation course and the Singaporean animation scene.
You came from a history with graphic design before moving into animation. How did you first get into academia from there?
At the time there was already a kind of pioneering class at the State Academy of the Art Institute in Germany – there I studied under Professor Ade who also founded the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film. He was teaching in the framework of graphic design with a class already specialising in animation. And so I did the program and then started a career which combined and consisted of independent animation as well as taking commission work in comics, animation, illustration, storyboarding, quite a wide range of things.
At some point towards the late 90s, about a decade of professional experience under my belt after graduation, I felt it would be a good time to venture into part-time teaching. So I did that with two institutions in Germany until 2004. In 2004 I saw an advertisement on Animation Blog Network which was looking for full-time faculty to start a new school within the University, NTU here in Singapore. I thought that sounded pretty cool because I would be able to participate in really building a program. So I thought okay let’s give it a try. I did my first two semesters, really liked it and I think my work was really appreciated here, so I decided to stay.
Since you were starting the school from scratch, who were you teaching with and what were the main focus points that it started off with?
The starting point for the school was to bring for the first time the idea of teaching design and animation and film and so forth, all of these so-called applied Arts to University level, which didn’t really exist before in Singapore. For that reason it was important to create a curriculum which brought together all the aspects of university, so-called well-rounded university education with a specialist approach also in the various disciplines so that the goal was that the students will have a good academic general education but to really be able to later on be hired and employable in the industry. The idea was also to create a school that would focus on the students finding their own artistic voice.
We always had the idea to bring together the traditional and the digital and create a seamless combination and to enable the students to choose their emphasis or their focus during their studies according to their own interest and strength. In the beginning we were about 5 people in the animation faculty. Through the years some people come and some people go, but overall, I think we always try to keep a balance between the more traditional side of animation – people who are very experienced and good in drawing design production design, character design and so forth and people who are strong on the technical side who are very capable of implementing things in CG and in different technologies.
It was always very clear to us that we wanted to basically offer the knowledge of all major disciplines in animation and techniques to our students, so – including stop motion including drawing animation, but also all the various computer techniques. We have been confirmed by our industry partners that a strong artistic foundation is very important.
We spoke yesterday about how in high school the students have two routes to go down which is the JC and the Polytech routes. Could you explain a bit on that?
Hannes Rall: During what could be the equivalent of High School in the US, there is a split of the students into various schools according to their academic level of achievement and also to their choices in order to go into a more vocational training, which would be the Polytech. The JC route is where normally the academically higher achieving students will go. The major differences between these two types of students who are both coming into ADM is that the Poly students frequently will be familiar particularly with the technological aspect like specific software, for example, Maya for computer animation. The JC student wouldn’t have that technological background. Sometimes the JC students bring in smart new ways of thinking and new ways of looking at concepts. They can be very smart and capable on either side in each way. It cannot really be said that one type of student would outrank or kind of be better than others, so it seems that over time it levels out somewhere. It is very often the case that there is a slight majority of Polytech students that would be going into more technical specialised effects like visual effects for example. For our program a specific challenge because we need to be able to close that gap as much as possible by ideally providing a pedagogic environment where you can challenge the more experienced students a little bit more and also create some interactions there where the more experienced students can help the less experienced ones. I think it’s quite unique to Singapore and university education in these fields in Singapore.
Talking about collaboration, a lot of the students prefer to work in groups for their final-year project, can you talk about the dynamics of that?
Usually they do graduation films, though we also allow the exceptions to do related projects like graphic novels, or concept art related to a specific topic. We don’t force them to do either single or individual or group projects, it’s up to them in the end. In terms of group work; its a very good training experience for something which happens on a macroscale later in the industry. The dynamics are very interesting. Ideally naturally one person evolves as a director of the whole group and in the same way other members of the group would find their respective roles as technical director or like more producer holding the whole thing together. I think that has been a very good rehearsal in many ways for them also to figure out their later possible roles in the industry. We had one person several years ago who was very good at doing the producing of a group. She was not the person who did the major artistic input, but she moved on to become an assistant producer first with Lucasfilm in Singapore and then went on to be very successful with her career as a producer. There’s not a clear inclination of group projects being better than individual projects or vice versa because I think we have seen really extremely good projects over the years as well as very successful individual projects. The big advantage of individual projects is that there is no discussion in that sense. There is a focus there and no artistic vision needs to be discussed, at least not amongst the larger group. The downside is if you’re working on your own and you’re not really in control of what you’re doing and the scope of your project, it’s easily can become overwhelming. We as professors and as mentors try to prevent this as much as possible from happening, by always keeping close watch over the project. We meet on a weekly basis during the semester with the student which allow us to track the progress and also alert the students if their plans are a bit too ambitious.
As far as the working environment, you have really impressive studios here, quite noticeably, the students have their own cubicle village downstairs. How did that kind of community culture start?
In the beginning we had a more conventional environment for our final year project, so the cubicles are exclusively for the final year. That happened around 2010/2011 where we completed a big renovation of the area which also included the addition of the motion capture studio and the motion studio. So we thought of this idea of having all of these cubicles for the student which would be very good to create a friendly atmosphere. I think the final year projects really took off and improved a lot since then, I mean I would not say that’s the only factor; hopefully, but that’s really some parts of it. This particular animation is such a laborious and focused effort, in terms of workload I would sayit exceeds in many other disciplines so we thought it would be very good to have an environment for the student which allows them to focus on their work but also as a community which allows communication and collaboration so groups can have their cubicles close to each other which is actually very often the key to the success of group project; because they need to communicate constantly so the artistic vision stays on track and that it doesn’t get lost. The students always get very excited to get their cubicles and it’s something which we’re really happy about to have that environment.
Where do you see the future of Singaporean animation within the Asian context of the animation scene?
I think actually what has emerged since we started the school here and also our other major government initiatives and other schools here in Singapore is that the skill level is continuously increasing because people are educated better.They’re learning more things, they’re more open to all kinds of influences. I think it would be safe to say that ADM has played quite a crucial role in forming and building the foundation for thriving independent animation seen in Singapore. I think it is quite natural that this very open worldview has kind of wrapped up in a positive way the works that are being done.When I came here for my own research and with my artistic background I took a huge interest to learn about the different cultures here, the difference Asian cultures which are existing peacefully in Singapore and to see what other artistic traditions there are, and how could the students integrate that into their own work.
On the commercial side of things or industry-related side of things. Some animators are fillers for the industry while doing their own independent films, whereas others go full-time into the industry.Since I came here in 2005 two things have happened; I think there’s a wider range of international and local companies that are being present in Singapore. There are also a lot of our alumni who are working in these companies, which is a very good development because a lot of our graduates are now in positions where they could also introduce our current graduates ways to find work.
After our interview, I asked some of the students and alumni about their experiences studying at NTU. These are their responses:
Current student Jasper Liu specialises in preproduction. He loves the medium of animation and chose to study at NTU for its variety of subjects such as storytelling, character design, motion and drawing, its’s also a great environment to meet like minded people.
Giang Do is an exchange student from Vietnam specialising in 2D hand drawn animation. Giang chose to study at NTU for its great facilities and notable teaching staff, and sees animation as a medium that is able to blend illustration and Fine Arts with narration.
Graduate, Darren Lim, said that a decade ago there wasn’t any other opportunities to study animation at a university level and is really grateful to have had the chance to study at NTU. He favours a “2.5D aesthetic” and works as a creative designer at Finch Company GoBear making digital graphics and animated ads.
Ronald Fong was so amazed by the CG effects in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man that he chose to study at NTU as a 3D artist. He has since gone on to work as an animation lead, storyboard artist and director at various companies and has since co-founded his own animation company, Masonry Studios.
Within the week, I had further opportunities to meet the students and discuss their work. I presented a few talks about the animation climate in Australia plus notable highlights and films from the Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) 2017. The rest of my time was spent going through the archives of student films from the past 10 years in order to curate this year’s School of Focus program. Though intense, I was very satisfied with things that I’ve learnt, and the warm hospitality that I received.
For the last 2 days of my trip, I left the self contained town of the university campus, and went to the city centre to explore and see more of Singapore. The area that I stayed in was called Little India. During the day I ventured out exploring the streets. The narrow and crowded sidewalks somehow managed to squeeze in kiosks and booths ranging from electronics to dried flowers. In an arcade I met some locals who recommended me their favourite food stalls (Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan and Chinese), though the thing that stood out the most to me was being able to buy coconuts bigger than the size of a child’s head for the equivalent of 2 dollars.
On the other side of town, I visited a Cat Cafe, China Town and the harbour where I saw Singapore’s iconic Lion fountain and Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The luxury of that area was overwhelming, where I accidentally found myself in a high name brand shopping centre with a river running though it like Venice. What really stood out for me was visiting the Gardens By The Bay, especially the 2 massive green houses in a shape of a bra. The rainforest dome houses a man made mountain with different climate controlled areas for different types of plants. It was an amazing contrast to the metropolis outside.
As I reflect on this trip, I think back to Hannes’ words in the opening paragraph, that the Singaporean experience is a unique eclectic collection of cultures mixed and coexisting on tiny island. Though situated in Asia, it takes many western influences as well that are as much a part of its evolving culture. After seeing the excellence of the work produced by the students of NTU, and speaking with Hannes and the faculty, I look forward to seeing the continuing growth of the Singaporean style within the world of animation.
Design art is different to copyright because it patents the shape, pattern and ornamentation
of the design, enabling the designer/ company to monopolize that particular design for 10 years.
Trade marks or ™ patents names and logos. It is important to register your business name or domain main before someone else takes it and says you stole their name.
When enabling people to use or hand over patenting rights you need a contract. Contracts can be oral, in writing, partly written partly orally or implied by people’s conducts or actions, but the best way is a written contract.
Contracts are like promises, which are legally binding and hold consequences if broken. They are used to flush out issues and let each party know what is happening, without misunderstandings.
Licensing (giving permission
Assignment rights (ownership)
This was the area that I got a bit lost in, so I hope I can explain it ok (@.@)
You can either structure yourself as an unincorporated or incorporated business, which means is your business run by you as an individual or is the business an entity in itself. Some examples of an unincorporated business (who works for profit) are sole traders, partnerships or joint venture and for incorporated it’s proprietary Ltd company and co-operative.
A person who is a hobbyist can earn income and doesn’t have to pay taxes, but at the same time they can’t deduct expenses from tax. If they happen to make over a certain amount then they have to become a professional.
The next point that was addressed was being an employee in a company compared to a contractor from another company/ or free lancer. If you are an employee you have to work a certain amount of maximum hours, you have payed leave, workers compensation, tax and superannuation. Also anything you create at work is copyrighted by the company you work in compared to as an individual.
Finally, the last point was on using your art for prizes and competitions.
They have their own terms and conditions
Are you eligible for it?
Is there an entrance fee?
What happens if you don’t win? (Do you keep your copyright?)
Do you license or assign your copyright
The use of your name and personal information (Do they give you credit for the final product?)
Attendance at events (at your own expense)
Here’s an example of how artists can be tricked into signing off the ownership of their copyright. Presented by Catherine Moffat a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Ourimbah campus:
Say for example, some of your friends are in a band and want you to design their logo, in return they will pay you a few dollars or buy you a few drinks, or something like that and because you’re friends, you say ok. All is going well until your friends make it big and start touring, meaning that the original logo that you designed is now being printed on merchandise such as CD covers, t-shirts, hats etc… After seeing this, you then ask your friends if you could get some royalties, but they then tell you that they have signed their rights off to their recording company. The recording company then says that you have no rights to the image anymore because you sold it off for those few beers in the beginning.
The moral of the story is when agreeing to design something for your friends (or clients), make a licencing contract in writing, which states that you still own the copyright, but you give them permission to use your image. If one day they get famous or use your image for profit, they would then have to pay you back royalties.