blog

honest thoughts on improving

Hello again. A few weekends ago I went to Madman Anime fest in Melbourne. The con had a lot of interesting moments hearing from voice actors and anime producers. I think a memorable moment was seeing a pencil animation test from Ufotables’ Demon Slayer. I just froth at the mouth anytime I get to see an animation test without the final colors, just cause it strips back the layers and you can really focus just on the drawings dancing on the screen. I’m genuinely thankful to be alive in an era with anime. ;;__;;;;
This leads into me wanting to discuss some harsh facts about what it takes to really see improvement in art. I’ll mention the most core element first, which is if you don’t connect with that fiery feeling I just mentioned of how beautiful art(animation) can be, you will probably struggle to improve at all.

My second tip for improvement is to critically question the way you are thinking/talking about drawing. Often someone will tell me they feel their ‘proportions’ or ‘anatomy’ are wrong in comparison to mine. Instead of this, a bunch of other ways you could talk/think about drawing is; ‘do I really understand the form of this exact part of this persons body before I put down a line? How does this mass relate to the torso/head/rest of the body as it balances, what sort of balance is going on? Is the silhouette clear? What is the best way to caricature this persons nose? Is that a thumb or a forefinger because I’m having to squint at the model to see it properly? Ah just make it up” My point is…good art is never just one element of drawing. I would encourage artists to not stubbornly reject or obsess over a single idea. Having an open, honest critical eye is the only way I’ve been able to grow. No magical wisdom gives us an advantage. Perspective, anatomy, balance, solid form, are all elements of draftsmanship that need to be faced head-first.

Another thing I want people to know is many storyboarding jobs have become like 2D animation, but I just speak on behalf of my experience making episodic animatics. It involves many drawings yes, but whatever amount you may be envisioning, imagine way more, and heaps of unseen drawings tossed out because they didn’t serve the exact vision your directors had in mind. The concept of heaps of dispensable drawings is something that breaks a lot of artists apparently. Mustering the enthusiasm to embrace every new drawing as a chance for improvement is an attitude you either have or you don’t. A still drawing is just a drawing, but with storyboarding/animation your drawing ability must be so automatic that you are focusing on flow of acting, moving characters in believable way.

Hina Kagiyama (Touhou Project)

Another thing is understanding good animation isn’t always about fluidity. Animation should be about creating some intensity of motion/emotion with the timing of whatever you are drawing. I wish people reacted to my animations with more than ‘smooth’ but sigh…internet right? You can see whether animation is strong of weak even with bouncing balls. With newbies you’ll often see just a plain simple circle floatily moving up and down. To the viewer, this says nothing. You need to think way harder about the acting, physicality, everything!-before you even start to animate.

I feel like the element that matters more than drawing skill is always a love of art. Specifically, I don’t think you can teach a love of characters. This interest blossoms in childhood for most of us and the skill just comes from never giving up. This is where my draftmanship argument falls apart. I can’t explain to people the wonder I felt watching Inuyasha as a kid. I had seen it advertised on Adult Swim back in a year as far back as when MSN was still a thing. Because my parents mildly disproved of me watching ‘violent cartoons’ I tried to watch it online. Enduring the buffering on whatever internet we had at the time felt like a cruel test of devotion. That’s just one of countless anecdotes for what has spurred me on with art. You will always improve if you’re drawing from a pure place instead of frustration etc. I’m trying to make wordpress a place I can constructively talk about art, so I hope it doesn’t upset anyone’s inbox. Alright I’m done ranting for now! Thanks for sticking around.

animating using the FlipaClip app

The first animation here was made using Krita. I finally realised how to clip a multiply shadow later onto the colour layer. This makes adding shading more enjoyable than the last time I did it. Colouring is still a tedious hassle in this free program but hey, it’s way more enjoyable than the nasty drawing experience of Adobe Animate. The second animation is using my gorgeous new Note10 phone stylus and a app called FlipaClip. I need to give them a good review so maybe they can make it even more friendly for portable animation. My new Galaxy Note10 phone has an absolutely god-tier drawing preformance. I’m so pleased that technology has finally gotten to this stage that I could prefer a phone over my cintiq. ヾ(〃^∇^)ノ♪

I wanted to mention how much I need to prioritise blogging over social media worries. This all ties into my quest for mindfulness, minimalism and to live life my way. I choose focus over distractions, I choose to make and share art on my own terms. I’d rather be putting effort into vinyasa yoga and other pursuits that make me feel whole. It means a lot if people subscribe to this blog, because this place is my only online sanctuary really. I also have some personal projects in development. Ambitious animation ideas mean I need to be in a bubble of positive vibes in order to not lose faith. So this is the only place I will keep short updates on about art and life!

Lastly…how good is the new Dark Crystal guys?!!!!!!HOLY HELL I’M ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH IT. I am trying not to binge it all in one sitting! I sense more fanart-a-brewing, because I want everyone know how badly I love it and how we need more gorgeous content like this. Thanks for reading!

Chamberlain best yess mmm

Wanikani review + gesture dump

I got back into studying Japanese again at the start of the year. Language has always been a daunting road and because I tend to get discouraged and go off comforting myself with something I am good at (drawing?) instead.

I have kept up a daily of learning kanji through a site/app called WaniKani.  I have I have reached level 11 of WaniKani so far! If I am using more and more kanji in my posts, it’s because I actually know what the kanji says now, my dudes. もう一同日本へ行きたいです。多分将来でアニメの会社に働きたい、でも日本語を勉強する事は難しいです。

I really love WaniKani because it’s an easy way chip away at learning language on a daily basis, as opposed to formally taking a weekly class (which I also have been doing.) This leads to the second part of my post where I share some recent art, mostly heaps of daily gesture sketches from tram rides. I find it really hard to scan older sketchbooks cause I burn through them so fast lol.

So if you’re prowling around asking random internet artists how to ‘get a job in animation‘ or even just ‘wanting to improve in drawing/animation‘ (the better question)…I can’t stress the value and power of observation enough. The hard-to-swallow medicine for improving is….

  • loving to observe actual people,animals and places.
  • passion for drawing characters and stories
  • stubbornness and persistence to keep pursuing art no matter what
  • keeping the above as daily habits for years on end and…
  • not making excuses!

If you don’t see the value in life sketching….1) I’m very afraid…and 2) read the Walt Stanchfield ‘Drawn to life’ lectures ok. I would like to keep up blogging about my philosophy on art, maybe someday people will read this blog, but until then, I enjoy stream-of-consciousness-ranting-into-the-void as a cathartic way of coping with a very stressful weird year. Later.

Beatboard project

Lately I got on a roll of of approaching illustrations in a film ratio and with the same spontaneity I create storyboards, so closer to what ‘beat boards’ mean to me.  This means focusing on clarity, foreground, mid and background, simple expression and mood everything else. I feel like if I can keep working towards cinematic images I’ll become a better story artist and animator. Both storyboarding and animation are absolutely inseparable to me. This is because animation isn’t just characters flopping around, but how they exist in a world.

Also surprise surprise, more fanart. Hetalia was a series that I was super into when I was about 15. It’s precious to me because the awesome fan works created in the heyday of the series was absolutely crucial to me as a young artist. I will also defend it as a series that helped me ace history in highschool. My fave boy Russia only made me a little bit obsessed with Russian history, culture and art. Just a littttleee bit~

I’m starting to put signatures on all of my art because recently certain obnoxious people still think it’s ok to steal art. Actually, it’s gotten worse. There is a culture of all online content being up-for-grabs, however it’s only turned into this because people like to mash up content for their own Youtube and social media content. Why work hard on your own animation when you can rip off someones? Yuck.

I feel like screaming and tearing at my hair (again) by remembering recent annoying encounters but I know its not the end of the world. At the end of the day, thieves and liars don’t land jobs. They don’t make their own art that matters. Even if they do fool people, some of us have a strong moral compass. So yeah. Vent done, over and out.