Animating Paper Cats

For this project we had to create an animation where two characters had a conversation. We were given sound clips from Scrubs so we didn’t have to worry about the audio part of this project. The most important thing was designing the characters and actually creating the animation.

This was the most time consuming project we had over the course of the year. I think I spent 5 weeks working on this, and I should point out that wasn’t just time during class. I spent a large part of my free time working on it too.

Animating Paper Cats | bluchickenninja.com

A big part of this project was spent actually designing the characters. It’s actually interesting to see how much changed between my initial sketches and the final designs. As part of my research I actually looked at character designs from the Pixar movies and it was really interesting to see how many different designs Woody and Buzz went through before they ended up on the final characters. Another little thing I learned from this project is the characters from Inside Out are based on shapes that represent their emotions.

As part of the design process I actually spent a day making a cat just to see how everything would go together and what parts would animate in the final movie. Turns out this was really important because I had to work out how much movement I would have in the eyes and ears and how I would make the mouth movements look believable. I actually spent a good amount of time watching The Aristocats that day while trying to work out mouth shapes.

The problem with these sorts of projects is I find it hard to take them seriously. We had to create a background for each character, this wasn’t something you would see in the final animation but it would help you design the character, how they move and the overall setting. For some reason I decided one of my cats was a David Bowie fan (because why not).

This went on to me creating a little Bowie-esk lightning bolt for my test cat. And then finally I created Ziggy Starcat (the photo on the left) not because I wanted to put it in my sketchbook, I just thought it was funny. This also resulted in a friend buying me a card he found in GOMA that features a cat with a David Bowie lightning bolt.

The grey cat (technically her name is Victoria) actually has the lightning bolt in the final design. It’s not in those iconic colours and it’s mostly hidden behind the eye but it’s still there.

The actual animation was done using Animate It, this is a piece of really cheap terrible software make by the people who did Wallace & Gromit. The only good thing about it is it’s ridiculously easy to use. We were animating a 30 second clip at 12 frames a second so it worked out you needed to capture something like 400 frames. We had story boards to work from but it was still tricky working out what things needed to be moved between each frame.

There was also the problem that it was really time consuming. We were only able to do the animations in class (because the PCs had the software) but that meant leaving for the day and hoping no-one touched your setup before the next time you were in. In all it meant this animation was a real headache to make.

And we’re not going to talk about how much money I spent on paper for this project.

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Leuchtturm 1917 Review

Today I’m going to tell you about my new favourite notebook: the Leuchtturm 1917. I actually came across this after I found that the paper quality in the Moleskines had dropped quite significantly to the point where I couldn’t use a fountain pen in them because the paper feathered. The Leuchtturm 1917 is one I’ve seen lots of people use (the dotted version is very popular for bullet journals) so when I had to buy a new lined notebook I decided to give it a try.

Leuchtturm 1917 Review | bluchickenninja.com

The first thing I like about the Leuchtturm is it comes in basically any colour you want. I got it in bright yellow because why not. But there is something like 12 different colour for you to choose from. It also comes with stickers for the spine so you can index your notebooks. I’ve actually found over the last year I like to date when I started and finished using a notebook. It’s just a fun thing to look back on. The Leuchtturm also has 3 index pages at the front along with numbered pages, this is another really useful detail because it saves me from having to do it manually like I did in the Moleskines.

Leuchtturm 1917 Review | bluchickenninja.com

Most importantly I can use pretty much whatever pen I want in it. I’ve found it’s nicest writing with a gel pen but I can use my Lamy Safari and I’ve even used a Copic in it. The Copic bleeds through the page slightly but thats to be expected and the bleeding isn’t as bad as what I’ve seen in other notebooks.

Leuchtturm 1917 Review | bluchickenninja.com

Basically the Leuchtturm 1917 is my new favourite notebook. It feels nice, I like writing in it and it’s slightly cheaper than the Moleskine.

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Advertising Is Hard

For this project we had to create an advertisement for diversity and it was really really difficult. I now have so much respect for people who do this as a job because holy crap this was hard. Designing the posters was actually the easiest bit of this because you also had to create the tag line and what you wanted the poster to be about.

Advertising Is Hard | bluchickenninja.com

The problem with doing an advertisement about diversity is there is so many different things you could do it about. We were given a talk about diversity but it was still extremely difficult and I ended up trying to create something about invisible illnesses just because that was something I had some experience with.

The first idea I had was to not judge people by what you see and I tried to compare that to judging a book by it’s cover but I didn’t like that idea. I was going to incorporate that really popular thing just now where you pick a book based on a few key words without actually knowing what it is or what it’s about. Like I said I wasn’t a fan of this idea.

Advertising Is Hard | bluchickenninja.com

I wanted to stay with the book idea though so I started looking a book quotes. I’ve always loved the quote from the end of Deathly Hallows Harry is asking Dumbledore if them meeting on Platform 9 and 3/4s is actually real. I thought this could be a good way of explaining invisible illnesses. After looking for more similar quotes it became clear that they were more focused towards mental health problems so I started changing my tag line again to fit in with that.

Designing the actual poster was quite easy, I wanted it to have a hand drawn style because I’ve been really liking that recently. I scanned my sketches into the computer but because they are hand drawn it was really difficult to make changes to them. Eventually I gave up on that idea and used a script font instead.

Advertising Is Hard | bluchickenninja.com

Because we had to design a series of advertisements it was really important that all three looked like they fit into the same campaign. I ended up doing this by using the same colours over the three posters as well as having the same layout and typefaces.

Advertising Is Hard | bluchickenninja.com

I wasn’t massively happy with the final designs. The adverts look okay and you can tell they are part of the same campaign. I just wasn’t happy with the tag lines. I think the idea is really important, I just think there could have been a better way of getting that across. And of course because I used book quotes I wouldn’t actually be able to do this as a real advertising campaign because of copyright issues.

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The House of MinaLima

The House of MinaLima | bluchickenninja.com

I may not have mentioned this before but I am a tad obsessed with the graphic design work from the Harry Potter movies. An exhibition of the graphic design work from the Potter movies recently opened in London and it’s like my new favourite place. It’s called the House of MinaLima (because Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima were the graphic designers who worked on the movies), it’s free to get into and it’s right behind the Palace Theatre so if you’re down in London seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child you have no reason not to visit. It’s open till February 2017 and also has a shop if you want to buy very very expensive (but pretty) prints from the movies.

The House of MinaLima | bluchickenninja.com

The House of MinaLima | bluchickenninja.com

The House of MinaLima | bluchickenninja.com

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Kirsty Doesn’t Share Food

My sister is a little protective of her food. You know that bit in Fellowship of the Ring where Bilbo goes all Gollum-y when Frodo asks to see the ring. That’s similar to what my sister does when you get too close to her food. For years I have been threatening to make a t-shirt proclaiming that ‘Kirsty doesn’t share food’ and finally as a birthday present for her this year I actually did it.

Kirsty Doesn't Share Food | bluchickenninja.com

I started off by forgetting everything we’ve learned at college about the design process and jumped in without really knowing what I was going to do. I knew the piece was going to have various food stuffs on it so I started off by writing a list of her favourite foods and doodled them. It was pointed out to me a number of times that I forgot to put Irn-Bru on this list but I did actually remember it, I just forgot to put it in the final design. Ooops!

Kirsty Doesn't Share Food | bluchickenninja.com

I then scanned these doodles and brought them into Illustrator. Using the image trace function I can turn the doodles into paths which means I can rotate and scale each food separately and figure out the best layout.

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I initially wanted to make this design into a t-shirt but that seemed like even more hassle so I decided to paint and frame it instead. This meant I had to decide what medium to paint it in. I did test paintings in both mediums, watercolour on the left and gouache on the right. I eventually decided to use the gouache as I was going for a more cartoon-y look.

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I’m not sure how other artists do this but I bought a frame from Paperchase for £15. The frame was 40cm by 40cm so I scaled the artwork on the computer to this size, leaving a 5cm border all around so I could put a mount on top. I really don’t know if I was doing this the right way, if anyone knows more about mounting paintings please tell me your secrets.

I printed the design at the right scale then traced it using the highly technical method of taping it to a window (seriously why do people buy expensive light boxes?). I used Bockingford watercolour paper for the final artwork and I was really surprised how well it coped with the gouache. No warping at all. And it was only £2 for an A1 sheet from Paperchase.

Kirsty Doesn't Share Food | bluchickenninja.com

After that it was just a case of painting and doing the linework. Then it was done. And my sister seemed to be quite happy with the result which was good.

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