At the end of a bitter battle with a dragon, a knight searched its layer and discovered its egg among the treasures. Feeling its warmth he found himself unwilling to kill an innocent, unknowing creature. Instead the knight wrapped it carefully in his cloak and cradled it on his saddle as he rode all the way home.

This is the opening of a story I wrote a few years ago about what happens when a knight tries to raise a dragon. In short, nothing good. Today’s drawing is of the young dragon the knight keeps chained, and drugged with herbs.

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Corlath, King of Damar, from The Blue Sword. He and Harry do not always see exactly eye to eye.

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These next characters come from Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, a fantasy novel I adore. As it’s set in the desert land of Damar I took inspiration from The Prince of Egypt for design. Harry (full name Angharad) is the heroine, and I show her here near the beginning of the story when she has been kidnapped by the hill folk.

Though I took time to colour her I really like the pencil lines, so I’ve uploaded them on their own too.

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Captain Frederick Wentworth, for those who haven’t read (or watched) Persuasion, is the love interest of Anne.

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Persuasion is one of my favourite Jane Austen novels (I find it hard to choose between it and Pride and Prejudice) so I thought I’d draw Anne Elliot for day four. I wanted to draw her in a style similar to some of the cartoons of that time – lots of lines and hatching.

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Fraser was enjoying a walk on the beach with his dog when he came across something extraordinary …

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Inktober is an annual drawing challenge which I’ve taken part in before, but this year I’ve decided to do it a little differently. As the name suggests the drawings are supposed to be in ink, but this year I’m going to cheat and draw digitally. My aim with this challenge is to develop my character design skills, so I want to focus on that and not on my inking skills. I will also be taking the weekends off as I think it’s important to have a couple of days to rest or catch up, depending! To that end I’ve created a list of 23 characters (some mine and some from favourite books), many of which I’ve been meaning to draw for a long time.

Elsa is the first – not wholly a character, but certainly caricatured for my Selkie storyboard.01_Elsa

I was in Edinburgh yesterday for an animation event, so I spent some time drawing in the museum on Chambers Street. I sketched a sperm whale skull and a haughty-looking llama as well as some of the visitors. The sketches are pen on paper, but the tone was added digitally.01b

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I’ve been busy with work and a family wedding, so it’s taken me a while to post anything new! Here’s a group of studies from one of Muybridge‘s wonderful sequences.

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These drawings are from last week, but it took me until now to cherry-pick the best to upload. They’re all studies from Bodies in Motion; most of them are of neutral expressions but some of the short poses (between 30 seconds and 2 minutes) were of a variety of emotions. With the longer studies I really focused in on the eyes, nose and mouth to get to grips with the structure and form.

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More studies from the Bodies in Motion website! I began with some 30 second sketches, all of which were very rough so I haven’t uploaded any of them. Next I went through one of the motions spending a minute on every drawing. Finally I spent quite a long time on a study of one image.

The gif below is a bit jumpy because I was only drawing every third photo, but I think there’s still a good sense of the overall movement.Ballet_0101

Last week I went to a show of students’ work where Katrina Ellis, a weaver and life model, modelled with some of her fabric. It was fun, and challenging, to draw.

Recently I signed up to Scott Eaton’s Bodies in Motion website, which is stuffed to the gills with stunning figure references. The ‘Motions’ feature sequences of photographs of people dancing, leaping, and fighting. What’s lovely about it is that moments of action can be studied which could never be held by a life model.

Today I began by studying a sequence, playing each frame for 30 seconds. Getting all the information down was a challenge (I’m a bit rusty).

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After drawing the gestures I took a bit more time to study one of the images.

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I’m looking forward to exploring this site more. It’s possible to used the randomised ‘Quickdraw’ feature for free (as long as you register) and you can also view thumbnail images, but the plans, which give you various levels of access, are currently on sale.

A couple of weeks ago I watched Jaws for the first time. I’m not a fan of horror, which is one of the reasons I avoided the film for so long, but I found it to be much more of a thriller (with a couple of bloodthirsty scenes). One of the things I really liked was the development of Chief Brody, especially in relation to the Mayor, Larry Vaughn, so I’ve gone back to study the cinematography and acting in some of the scenes where they’re together.

There will be mild spoilers below, so if you’re like I was and haven’t yet watched this classic from 1975 you may want to avoid this post!

The first scene I sketched from is when Brody is cornered on a ferry by Vaughn and various others. Brody has just reported a young woman’s death as by shark attack, but Vaughn and the medical examiner try to convince him that her death was caused by a boat’s propellor. He’s unconvinced, but he’s overruled.

From the beginning of the scene Brody is trapped in the corner of the screen. He’s trapped on the ferry, too. He’s surrounded by the car and by Vaughn and by a whole crowd of Vaughn’s cronies. Though he’s the taller man, Brody’s always leaning on something or leaning out of the way. Vaughn even grabs at him at the very start. The Mayor is completely in control, and Brody is unable – and unwilling – to do anything about it.

 

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After the second attack there’s a meeting. The islanders are angry, mainly because they don’t want the beach closed. Vaughn doesn’t want it closed either. Brody has the whole island against him – even the sign in the hallway at the beginning of the scene, which he walks into. Like the previous scene, he’s constantly surrounded by people and pushed to the side. Even when he’s in a position of authority when he stands to speak Brody is a small figure squeezed in a corner, dwarfed by those he’s speaking to, and in one shot even trapped between a door and a window.

At the very end of the scene, after Quint the shark hunter offers to track down the man-eating shark (for a fee), Brody’s finally given a ‘hero’ shot. The camera looks up, slightly, and he’s no longer stuck between the door and the window. It’s Quint, or his experiences with Quint, that will help turn Brody into the hero.

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After Brody and Matt Hooper, the oceanographer, go out to search for the shark they confront the Mayor, telling him that he must close the beach. Throughout the scene – mainly one, long shot – the three characters move around each other as the power dynamic shifts. Vaughn ultimately remains in control of the situation – he usually has the most space on screen – and Brody, as ever, is powerless – ending up squashed to the side and dwarfed. The beach remains open.

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A dramatic shift occurs after the third attack when Brody’s child ends up in hospital. Chief Brody forces Vaughn to hire Quint, using all the body language that Vaughn previously employed against him. It’s now Brody who dominates the screen and has all the space. He even reaches into Vaughn’s pocket for a pen, echoing their first scene where Vaughn grabbed at Brody’s arm. Near the end of the scene, Vaughn’s crushed into the corner of the screen. At the very end, Brody walks directly into camera, filling the screen as he enters the second half of the movie and joins Quint to hunt for the shark.

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If you’ve enjoyed this you may also like to see the studies I drew from The Sound of Music.

While my sister and brother-in-law were visiting, a neighbour told us where we could watch badgers. I’d always been under the impression they only ventured out at the dead of night, but he assured us that from around 7pm was a good time to see them. After one false start (we misunderstood his instructions and ended up in the wrong wood) and a wait of about half an hour my sister and I saw a family of four badgers running about, scratching, and playing. I didn’t take my sketchbook – next time I will – but I took my camera, and though my pictures weren’t great the footage I filmed worked pretty well. The sketches below are studies from the videos I recorded.

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While boarding the Pigeon Crumbs animatic I posted a few weeks ago I drew these reference sketches and character models to help me figure out how the character would look, feel and act.

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My dog is notoriously difficult to photograph, let alone draw. This afternoon I managed to capture her in the garden as she munched on a very old tennis ball and an offcut from someone’s fence.

I led more high school-age animation workshops this year, expanding on the morphing workshop from last year. This time everyone who took part was in complete control of their own piece of animation between their character and the next person’s. Whether the character melts, explodes, shatters, or morphs, this was planned out in thumbnails before it was animated. I also asked those taking part to begin with simple shapes – this encouraged them to animate the movement before animating the details.

The results are fantastic!

 

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