Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas & New Year!! :D

Hello PlingPlongers.

So, another year has vacuumed up into the atmosphere.  How was yours? Did you remember to keep inspired? Did you achieve all your goals? Was it a great year? Was it not so good? Fear not! As there is another year upon us, and we can make this one count, or count even more!

When I first started this blog, it was all based upon New Year Resolutions. To do a drawing a day for every day of that year. And somehow I kept to it. But rarely have I (or most people I know) ever kept to one of those "resolutions" - it's much easier to set a vaguer/bigger aim, and complete little goals along the way.

I think it's important to think about "resolutions" (whatever time of year that may be) and re-asses your goals and what you want.Whether it's to learn something new, practise something you haven't done in a while, or keep practising something you already do. There's no need to wait until New Year's day to start something.

For the coming year I plan to focus more on the characterful side of things (rather than all the VFX personal shnizzle I've been doing over the past year) and I want to produce a lot more creative art work, not just related to animating; painting, drawing, making, you name it. So watch this space ;). After making things for Christmas presents and painting some pictures for people, I've forgotten how nice it is to be surrounded by cut up card and paint brushes everywhere! Meeting Claire Keane back in November really inspired me. Just to take some time out and actually make art in the way you love and want to, makes so much sense, because it will always reflect into your other work too.

And also she said to "Never give up!".

It's fun to collaborate and bounce ideas with your peers. I'd love to see what people produce over the next 12 months. I'm sure there's some interesting things in the making already. Hopefully I'll have a few more updates on my short film too this year, lots have things have taken shape over the past month, very exciting!

I've got my eye on The Dam Keeper

Shaun Tan - Having just received one of his books as an early Christmas Present "The Rules of Summer". I also just found out he made "The Lost Thing". It's such a beautiful book, full of marvellous poetic snippets, teamed with the most extraordinarily wonderful paintings. They look van Gogh-esque. They are rather yummy.

Be sure to keep up to date with what's out there, adverts, films, art work, local exhibitions, you never know what might trigger an idea for your next piece.

This year has also been a success for Animgather! Two successful outings have been arranged so far, so definitely watch this space for more in the coming 12 months. Check out our shenanigans here: - hopefully we'll see some of you there!

I hope you guys are all ready for the New Year crashing our way, and remember to keep inspired!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, and here's to a VERY Happy (creative) New Year! :)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Pin Cushion

I've added a ton of new pins recently, and I've been delving deeper into "Drawn to Life" - so just wanted to remind you to go and get inspired! Whatever your discipline, hobby or passions, it's important to remind yourself why you love them, and what gets the juices flowing. Be it art, sport, magic, animals, whatever! Take out a little time in your day to go and get that fire back in your belly

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Recently I've noticed I've seen a lot more interesting adverts on some of the non-terrestrial channels, and it has really opened my eyes to some of the work out there.

Yesterday I saw this cute 2D animation for TalkTalk TV:

 Inspiration can come from anywhere. Keep your eyes peeled!

Thursday, 5 September 2013


Today I looked up the synonyms for "inspire" and I loved the fact that one of those was "animate". So definitely remember to get inspired and create!

This video isn't actually 13 minutes long, there must have been a mistake on the upload, the short is the first couple of minutes, it's fab!

An ex-Mclaren crew member, Edwin, made this:

"Good morning, good evening and good night!"

Monday, 2 September 2013

Resources anyone?

Ever wanted a giant list of articles and resources, well you're in luck, this crazy fella made one

Superbly inspiring...

Great panel talk from the Pixel Challenge. Check out all four

iAnimate Discussion Panel - Part 1 from iAnimate on Vimeo.

Cinema Squid - a really cool site of screenshots from films, lots of inspiring iconic stills

Illustration - A pinterest board full of illustrations

Sketch Adventure - "Never a bad time to make a drawing" here here!

Photoshop Brushes - New to photoshop painting? Check this out!

Thursday, 8 August 2013


The photos from Animgather are now up online

The venue plans are brewing for the next event, so watch this space!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Linky winks

Stuck for drawing ideas? generate a scenario here: 1000 things to draw

Another great online life drawing tool! Creates you little life drawing sessions with references, if you are not able to get out to a real life class:

Should I work for free? NO!

Charlie Kaufman: Screenwriting lecture

BUG - great inspirational videos to get those creative juices flowing

Kenny Roy's website is filling up fast! If you become a free trial member you can get a free day for every @sk video mail question you send it! So if you send in 30 questions, you'd get another free month! It's got some great content, definitely worth a look.

Need to work out a timezone to work out your class times if you've joined a new animation school? Use world time buddy.

Rad Sechrist Drawing Demo

Bodies in Motion

10 top insults from

Brendan Body's Flight tutorial - this is a MUST! It's brilliant and very clear.

Great little short about being an animator done in stop-motion by Bruna Berford

Stop Motion - Occupation: Animator from Bruna Berford on Vimeo.

TED talk - what makes a hero?

All links collected via wonderful colleagues, blogs,  and friends

Thursday, 1 August 2013

MORE inspiration

A cool CG parrot for Frozen Parrot Bay

I found a great little article with some videos about how Jerry Seinfield write a joke

And here's the joke

Documentary on Body Language

Interesting Kellogg's origami advert:

Friday, 26 July 2013


Adam Buxton's BUG

We went to another episode of Adam Buxton's BUG at the BFI last night, courtesy of the fella! Last time was a special, and this time was an episode, so a slightly different setup  but with still a super amount of inspiring material. I've including a bunch of links, that Adam showed, that you should really wrap your eyes around. It's a combination of clips from both of the shows we saw:

Jack - Breach

Arctic Monkeys - Do I wanna know?

Satellites - 'Wasteland'

Professor Kilq - Wire and Flashing Lights

'Sweater' by Filip Sterckx for Willow - using projection techniques to give the illusion of different environments but actually in one room on a travelator.

'Remedy' by Filip Sterckx for Willow - projecting onto sculpture

'Cirrus' By cyriak for Bonobo

Adam Butxon 'Counting Song' by cyriak

'Wasting my younger years' - London Grammar - using pinhole cameras to create a type of bullet time

'Moving' - by MPC for Travis 

If you would like more updates from Adam, check him out on twitter

Remember to get inspired!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Animgather 2013

Phew, Animgather was a great success!

The sun came out, about 55 people showed up, and everyone had a great day!

There was food, ice cream, drinks, and most importantly PEOPLE!

We even created a small stop-motion film of a walk cycle, each pose had a different person, and we attempted to do it in size order.

The overall reaction, I got from the day, was that everyone really enjoyed themselves, and the question I got asked the most was “When is the next one?” – so watch this space!

We've had a mention on here

All the photos will be uploaded here shortly -

If you’d like to keep updated on the next event, check out the FaceBook page , twitter account @Animgather, and for any more information email me at

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Some cool bits

Really cool advert for Ginger Grouse

Honda "hands"

Inside Jaws - Be sure to check this out, overwhelmingly great.

Interactive randomiser and simplify tool for Maya. You do have to download the whole toolkit, but it's worth it.

Interesting PR technique, really love this gag: Hot Malm - after you have clicked on the main bits, click the monkey!

The BoxTrolls trailer, can't wait for this one!

A list of animation festivals to submit your own film to, go on ;)

Progression reel of Monsters University

Always stay inspired

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Wiggles and Doodles

I've been thinking a lot about drawing recently after seeing a post about a book* by Tom Bancroft, which I promptly ordered with my addicted to books trigger finger. It made me think about the teachers and classes I've been apart of since I was young, and how one is influenced by these people.

At the start of the book there's a brilliant introduction, by Tom and a foreword by Adam Hughes;  they both talk about the passing of knowledge down from their mentors to them, and from them to us. It's an enlightening few pages, and definitely worth buying the book, just for that advice alone.

I've been lucky enough to have found a couple of people, so far, that have really influenced my work and only afterwards do I realise how much they have helped. If you have that kind of relationship with someone at work, home, school, or wherever you may be, then definitely don't take them for granted. You might not realise it right now, but they may be a huge influence over your whole career.

I also believe negative experiences are a necessity, as they teach us what not to do, how to approach things later, how to be better, and to spur us into the positive!

I've also (somehow) managed to be on the other end of the spectrum (a little bit). I used to run an extra life drawing class at university, as part of a society, where each of us would help the other members with our stronger discipline. For example, there were lighters teaching the rest of us what they knew about lighting, and then riggers, modelers, matte painters and so forth. I'm mentioning this because, if you have this opportunity, grab it by the horns, as learning as a group, and sharing the knowledge you have, only helps you to understand it even more!

Anyway, time to stop babbling, I just wanted to mention a few things that I had picked up along the way (in no particular order, unless stated :P)

1. No one line is a bad line.
     - Always learn from your mistakes and triumphs, I also keep a back log of my old work, it's a useful    reference to see how far you have come.

2. Comparing - Negative Space
      - This I started to notice in life drawing and portrait classes. My mentors would always be telling me to compare the distance between the heels of the feet, the elbow to elbow, the top of the ear to the eye, and this can also be employed using negative space exercises. Both of these can make you see proportions in a totally different light, it's a bit like looking at a drawing upside down and noticing something that sticks out.

3. Reference
     - From a young age my Dad tried to convince me this isn't cheating, and it really isn't! There's no way you can create things without some kind of influence, or my favourite word inspiration. This also relates to animation, there's so many things you might end up animating, you always have to study first.

4. Look where the line is going
    - Now this line was from a book I read (I think) but i'm not sure which one. I'll be sure to reference it as soon as I find it. Instead of finding the line, whilst you draw, have a look where you imagine it might end up, rather then just diving in and hoping for the best. It's a really interesting exercise, let me know how you find it.

5. Feeling, questions and shape
    - This was mainly drummed into me at Alex Woo's crash course gesture lecture. As the life model stood there, he'd ask what is this pose to you, what is it saying, how do you feel, what's the story? Shape was also equally as important, as everything is really just made up of shapes, and different shapes can really portray different feelings. When I hear someone say "ooh I can't do hands, they are so hard", (I've said it to myself in the past too) I now tend to think that is just a mind set, as they are just another shape, made up of other shapes. I suggest that pick a subject you think may be harder then another and concentrate on it for a month or two, you see them in a whole new light!

6. Anatomy
   - This clearly is studied in most fine art courses and probably more prominent for modelers (super detail wise). But recently I took part in a sculpture workshop, where we built up the human anatomy from the inside out, we studied all the bones and how the muscles linked together and where they sat. I didn't realise how much it would effect my drawing, but after the course had finished I coincidentally went to a life drawing class, and I suddenly could see why a certain muscle was in a certain place, and what it was doing, and it made much more sense how the body was holding itself, it was a massive eye opener. I completely recommend a anatomy sculpture class, plus it's really fun!

7. Practice
  - Theory is great, it is great to research the greats, and different techniques, but ultimately you need to practice as often as possible. Try even just setting aside 10 minutes a day to do a little doodle, maybe on your commute or at lunch time. Practice, practice, practice!

Anyway, these may or may not be relevant to you, but I thought I'd share them nonetheless. I hope they were useful. Maybe you can share your won list of tips you've picked up along the way? ....For now, you can get your face stuck into some great links, courses and books:


My friend wrote a piece here about Drawn to Life (a must have!) on

An interesting article in setting up your own art education for 10K

Searching for the perfect pose
How to draw lively loses SPONGEBOB!
Character Design boards
Perfect Posing
Eye direction
Expanding your mental toolbox
Dynamic Poses - a great source of reference if you can't make Life Drawing class this week

London courses/groups:
- The sculpture class tutor I had: Patricia Barker, and there's a class on soon!
Candid arts life drawing
Adrian Dutton life drawing
Storyboarding for $10!! by Leo Matsuda - a story artist and Walt Disney Studios

Great drawing/anatomy books:
*Character Mentor
Drawn to Life Vol 1 & Vol 2
The Figure in Motion

Remember to always keep inspired.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


A few videos I've watched this month that I thought were inspiring :)

John Lasseter on Hand Drawn vs CG animation

Incredible artworks  Most of them look like photographs, although I'd like to see what these artists can do when they break the rules.

*SPOILERS* - I'm mainly saying "spoilers" because it's in the sense that I don't like watching too many trailers before seeing a film, I haven't said anything that might spoil the plot :)
I got to see Monsters University at an early preview - it reminds me of learning to animate, and finding mentors and friends, be sure to check it out, it's brilliant.

I've been working on a big post about drawing, so tune in next time and remember....

...keep getting inspired!

and a disney meme to finish off the bad it's good?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Busy bees and slow pokes.

Well hello there!

Okay, so I've been pretty lame the last month or so (hence the slow pokes title), BUUUUT that's mainly because I've been a busy bee trying to get on top of everything.

In terms of keeping on top of everything, I learnt a distinct lesson this past month.

Have you ever thought, oo I want to aniamte this, or I want to create this other thing, and i've got to do that and that and that, and this movie, and this short, and this for my reel, and this for practise, and this for that job here, until your 'To Do' list is as long as a piece of string?

Well, I was getting boged down and overloaded with things I wanted to do on my giant (and I mean HUGE) infamous 'To Do' list. I have to admit, I do like to keep a list, as I'm sure a lot of you do to, but it was eventually becomign a burden and getting me down, because I wasn't getting the time to spend on it that I would have liked. So, as me and my other half travelled on the train to take a break in the country, we decided it was a good idea to create two lists, "To Do NOW" and"To Do Another Time" (catchy eh?).

I picked some realistic goals for the present time, and put my achieveable priorites on the first one. Then anything extra I put on the second one, folded it away,  put it in a safe place, and saved it for later*. I don't know if you guys feel the same or whether it's a totally obvious thing, (and I'm slow on the uptake) but it'll be worth sharing if it helps someone!

I feel 100% better about the work I'm producing now, as it's influenced a motivated, positive mood, and reminded me to enjoy the work I'm currently doing. As all these 'to do's' will eventually get done, and it becomes a much better solution then spreading yourself too thinly. I hope this little tip helps, as up until now, I was putting far too much on my plate, so really my advice is; make sure your eyes aren't bigger then your belly ;).

*later being anytime in the future, when you've finished your current set of proirites.


Here are some of my favourite links and vids that I've seen in the past month or so, hopefully they inspire you too :)

Micro Mayhem! from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios on Vimeo. - The perfect head turn workflow lecture. The site is definitely worth joining, the amount of advice and information is crazy!

Jude Brownbill's Reel

Eye Direction and Proximity - check out the book, it looks awesome!

Making the Animated Short: Andrew Jimenez

Some funny fox reference..

For more clips, I collect them here

Monday, 25 March 2013

You better be getting inspired...

Have you remembered to get inspired recently?

A few videos below to help you out....

Kina Grannis - In Your Arms from Greg Jardin on Vimeo.

Awesome Disney Pixar intern reel

Animation Reel from Uri Lotan on Vimeo.

and some funny use of lip syncing...

There were some more videos I wanted to share, but they aren't uploaded yet. The first and third video were all shown at the Best of BUG show with Adam Buxton. Adam's show is all about music videos, so it's a great place to find aniamted music videos, some really interesting work and interesting directors. He also had a special guest, Edgar Wright. Edgar showed the proof of concept for the upcoming Marvel film Ant Man. It looked really cool! There was a clip online, but they might hve all been taken down by now. We only have to wait a couple of years :D. Keep on searching!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The start of the festival season...

Hello hello hello!

Wowie what a couple of weeks it's been! Finished off on a major project Galaxy Chocolate Ad, and then I went to an animation festival called Animex.

I definitely have the festival bug this year, and I'm going to attempt to pop along to as many as I can afford!

Animex is a mighty festival in Middlesbrough, England, that has been running for 13 years altogether. Run by some spectacular lecturers from my old University. Over the years I've had the pleasure to meet an amazing array of incredible people, Eric Goldberg, Mark Walsh, Stuart Sumida, Ed Hooks, to name but a few.

...and this year was no exception.

There were lots of animation talks including Ed Hooks, Alastair McIlwain (Staandlooper), David Au (Rough Draft), Will Becher (Aardman), Murray Barber (The Mill), Ferran Domerech (MPC), Andrew Whiterhurst (Double Negative), Stuart Sumida, Hans Rijpkema (R&H) and Rob Dressel (Disney).

If you ever get chance to go to a festival near by or this one, in fact, don't pass up the opportunity.  It's such a great buzz, to meet all these very talented enthusatic people. It's a perfect place to make friends and meet old ones.

...because I'm a little afriad to babble on too much about how wonderful this event is, here are my favourite quotes from the event:

"We don't have problems, we have opportunities"
                                                    - Andrew Whitehurst

"The avoidence of failure is not the same 
thing as pursuing success"
                                  - Ed Hooks

"You've got to be prepared for your work to 
be thrown away. 
The joy is in doing it. If it gets out, it gets out!"
                                    - David Au

"If you don't recognise even a tiny bit of the caricature, 
it's not funny anymore....real life informs caricature"
                                              - Stuart Sumida

"Getting into the right frame of mind is all apart of the 
process of starting somethin new"
                                                  - Alastair McIlwain

I particularly liked Alastair's talk, it was filled with insight on how to open up your mind to creativity and how to achieve this. The link between a closed mind and goign through the process to achieve an open one:

Closed, soultion specific --> space --> time --> more time --> confidence --> Open, abstract view

But this can also be reached by....

Closed, soultion specific --> humour --> Open, abstract view

...the power of humour. Just like how John Cleese explains in the video a posted a while back called "On Creativity".

I can't wait to go to another one and meet even more people and get inspired! Hopefully I'll see you meet you there too :). If you'd like anymor infomation on Animex and thigns i saw/heard, just drop me an email. 

Otherwise visit

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Time out

Always take a time out.

Yesterday I did some café sketching, which I hadn't had time to do in a whole long time. I had forgotten how much fun it is! I really recommend you try this out, or on the tube, or at the zoo, at the supermarket, or the park, anywhere really. In fact Emma Coats posted an answer about this to someone yesterday on here blog, here.

It's a great place to observe people, how they act on their own, how they react to company, how they react when they realise you are drawing them! It's really interesting and can spark off some great ideas for your animations or artwork. Also, (if you can) it's a great time to switch off, and take some time out to collect your thoughts. Just take your sketchbook wherever you go, if you find an opportune moment, then your prepared to whip it right out!

Especially whilst there is a lot of rollercoastry type motion in the air within the industry, a little time out for yourself just to take a deep breath might be just what you need.

Now, I know this might not be everyone's 'cup of tea' (eh eh, get it? *I'll be quiet*) for a time out, so make sure you take one, whatever that might be, playing some sport, reading a book - also these and many more are other ways of observing, and building up that mental library of ideas.

Sooooo get out there and sketch (or whatever you fancy!)

P.s the thing I heard most last week from industry professionals was to 'draw draw draw' - I'll be expanding on this in my next post :)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

Remember to get inspired! Remind yourself what got you into your discipline in the first place, what made you fall in love with it? It is Valentines Day afterall. Make sure you remind yourself on a regular basis, so you can feel that all inspiring oozzing feeling that drives you forward...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


I'm sure everyone has felt deflated, unmotivated, in a creative rut or whatever you decide to name it (and if you haven't, well....then....neeeeerrr), so I decided to make this post on some of the top tips I have found whilst I have be scouring the internet for solutions....

(In no particular order)

Top Tip #1 - Just start scribbling. 

"Just start scribbling. The first draft is never your last draft. Nothing you write is by accident." Taken from this article.

If i've ever tried to help someone with how to start learning to draw, I usually tell them a couple of things to get going: 1. Start with the cheapest rubbishy paper and lots of it, 2. don't through any of the rubbish away. 

When I used to run life drawing classes for a social club at University, I started off with a warm up session to start with (like most of the life drawing classes I had ever attended). So people could scribble on the page, get warmed up, have a play, using the medium of their choice. 

I tried to encrouage the people that felt less confident to just make some random scribbles and scew up the first page a bit, so then the paper is ruined and anything after they produced on that page would only be better. It was basically an exercise to help them forget about a big gaping white blank canvas in front of them. They always looked like a rabbit caught in headlights when they first started. But the most rewarding thing was I saw this technique help them gain much more confdence in their ability and not worry about what they put down on the page. I read somewhere once, "well, are you really going to frame it and hang it in your hall?" - and this really made me stop caring about making mistakes in my drawings, if anything, mistakes are what you want, as you can only learn from them! I think this is important to apply to everything, just do it, you learn from doing. 

Top Tip #2 - Find Your Slogan 

I like this first tip from this website. I've para-phrased it below:  

Your slogan doesn't have to be a long meaningful deep poem or anything like that. Aristotle has a brilliant way of looking at things:

"We are what we repeatedly do"

He also links to someones struggle with motivation, be sure to give it a quick read and have a look at the comments too.

"If you say to yourself “I am what I repeatedly do” and then you ask yourself “What do I repeatedly to every single day? What does my average day look like?”, it really makes you face reality."
I don't believe it's critical or something you should stress about if you don't have your own, but I personally love the idea of it developing eventually, even if it's a feeling, rather then words. But I definitely think Aristotle is right, if you practise everyday, youll become what they want to be. You're own "slogan" might come to you as you progress in you career, hobby or whatever it may be. For me, in most recent months (hence the blog) is "Remeber to get inspired".

Top Tip #3 - last but not least "Start small. Really small" 
taken from this website

Sometimes the night before you've had that feeling, "tomorrow is going to be sooo productive, i'm going to get up adn do this and this and this" adn then you wake up, and you don't feel like it much. Or you feel like you've come to a dead end in something.

Come at it again from a different angle and start really small. I notoiced recently (if i've found myself in a procastinating whole) I can rick my mind back into my work. I'll start with somethign really tiny I can complete. Then before I know it i'm in full swing and a few hours have disappeared.

"If you are having a hard time getting started, it may be because you’re thinking too big. If you want to exercise, for example, you may be thinking that you have to do these intense workouts 5 days a week. No — instead, do small, tiny, baby steps. Want to wake up early? Don’t think about waking at 5 a.m. Instead, think about waking 10 minutes earlier for a week. That’s all. Baby steps."

Anyway, I hope these little tips help you with some motivational bugs I've come across along the way, there's sooo many tips on the internet it's untrue, so it's impossible to note them all.

....and here's some inspirational videos for your viewing pleasure ;)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

it's all in the story....

I've been to a few lectures recently, where they have really hammered home that everything is telling a story. A life drawing session with Alex Woo really emphasised this, "what is the pose telling?". So i figured I'd like to write about getting into the mood for writing a story, whether it's for a 2 second animation shot, or a short story or whatever it may be! My dad has always talked to me about this, about every little project i've done since I was young, how everything has a story, a punchline, a pay off. But you've got to find the things you want to tell and it's all about searching for the ideas.

There's a few personal ways I like to do this, or at least attempt to. Keeping a sketchbook of ideas, brainstorming (I especially like a big blank wall and post it notes for this) and looking at inspirational material. It's always good to be up for trying new ways to find ideas, I believe, as you never know where the next new idea might sprout from.
Anyway, so when I first started collecting blogs visually (bookmarks just don't cut it anymore, I can never remember what's on where, who posted what etc.), I came across Emma Coats, a storyteller, on various different social platforms. For a time, Emma ran a little challenge which was called "next five", she would pick a photo from flickr and ask people to storyboard what they thought the next five shots in the story would be. It was a really great exercise, it made you see pictures differently, and how each frame tells a part of the story. Also, seeing how other people interpreted it was a great experience. I really recommend this little exercise, it helps your brain get into gear, I found.

Emma also has a blog "Story Shots", where she often answers questions and gives out story telling tips and tricks, so it's definitely one to watch.

Below is a list of story basics that she picked up from her time at Pixar. 
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

I think this fab post below, from Emma's blog, rings true to what I'm trying to explain in this post :D
"What holds you back from creative endeavours?
What I work on won’t be any good. It won’t be worth the time invested. It will suck.
  • It’s not any good yet, as long as it doesn’t exist.
  • Do your best, it’s all you can do. Your best today is not going to be your best in a year - UNLESS you don’t do anything between now and then, UNLESS you don’t learn from your mistakes.
  • You’re investing time in making your project great, but big picture you’re investing time in YOUR skills. You will do better next time. 
Scheduling - hard to find the time to do what I want to do.
  • Finding time when you have a family or a fulltime job (or both) is really difficult. An hour here or there can make all the difference.
  • If you don’t have a family yet, think about whether creating something is more important to you than watching TV? Video games? Hanging out with friends? Sleeping?
  • A quiet writer buddy can help keep you on task: you both show up to the same place at the same time and work on stuff. As long as you feel self-conscious about goofing around on the internet while she (or he) is being productive across the table from you…
I don’t know where to start. I procrastinate.
  • Make a list of what steps you need to take to start. Make a stupid-detailed list. Like, “1) find a pen. 2) find a reference picture of a snowy forest. 3) sketch the rough. 4) do the thumbnail value study. 5) etc”  —- if each step is trivial enough, it’s not difficult to start. Once you get a little momentum, it’s not difficult to keep going."
"....Sleep is very attractive when a project isn’t going well, or when the next steps are overwhelming. Time to make a ridiculously long detailed list of trivial steps…"

Find her on twitter here @lawnrocket
Her Google+ - usually where she posts the "next five" challenges

And whilst we are on the subject of story, a few years ago I attended the Pixar Masterclass, when it came to London. It was made up of two classes, animation and story telling, with Andrew Gordon and Matt Luhn. Their notes were phenominal and here are the points that affected my work the most:

- Can you describe your story in one sentence?
- What story are we telling?
- What does the protagonist long for?

They seem simple, but they really helped me think about things from different angles. 

I hope these particular story notes are helpful in creating your own stories. If you missed it I posted a video below, John Cleese On Creativity. It's a superb lecture about creativity and definitely worth a watch. 

Get writing!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Clips of the Week

I figured Friday's would be a good day to dish out my favourite clips from the week. Coined by an old colleague who used to dish them out at work :). I hope they inspire you too...

Shugo Tokumaru "Katachi"

Qualcomm Snapdragon 'Coming Soon' - This looks like a movie trailer! I wish I could have worked on this. Great job guys, looks fantastic.

The Elder Scrolls Online The Alliances Cinematic Trailer

Glen Keane Dancer Animation

A conversation with Edith Head - remind you of anyone? :D

Hans Zimmer: the Conscious of Creating the Film Score

How to build your creative confidence - David Kelly

Bad Lip Reading 

Being Creative - John Cleese

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Continuing the theme of inspiration, this is perfect....


"The Animator Letters Project is an ongoing effort to gather handwritten letters from professional animators; each sharing their stories and words of wisdom, as a source of inspiration and encouragement for aspiring animators."

It's such a brilliant idea. It enables you to see where people have come from, how they got there, how long it took them and what inspires them. 

So, a few of weeks ago Willie announced Steve Anderson would be taking part in a Q&A (who has entered a letter to the site, see below) , and he would answer peoples questions. His letter inspired me, so I wanted to find out what inspired him. But first his letter...

Artists are emotional creatures. We feel things deeply. We see the world around us, react to it and base our work off of those reactions. Our work represents ourselves. It’s us. Not just what our bodies can produce but what our minds and hearts have to say.
We want people to like what we do. If we didn't we’d just draw, paint, sculpt, dance, act and write in our own living room with no documentation or recording of it. But we don’t do that because we want our work to be seen. We want to express ourselves to people and, in turn, produce a reaction in them. Our emotions create the art and our art creates emotions.
But there are days when our emotions get the best of us. They let us down. They didn't give us the strength and motivation that we need when we’re discouraged or struggling. They convince us that we are “no good”. That we have no talent. Or that the talent we do have us not as much as, or as good as, the talent of another person.
Ultimately, the struggles that we have- the creative blocks we all face- come from comparing ourselves to others. I’m not as good as that person. I’m not as successful as that person. That person is at the level I want to be at and I don’t have it in me to get there. I do this constantly. But I realized a few years ago that what I SHOULD be doing is comparing myself to myself. I find that when I step back and evaluate where I've come from, and where I am in relation to that. I feel much healthier. Block out all those other people and focus on YOUR work. Are you better today than you were yesterday? Were you better yesterday than you were the day before? Better than you were six months ago? A year ago? Twenty years ago? If the answer is “yes”, then you’re on the right path. If the answer is “no” you've got work to do. But the only person you have to be better than is yourself. That constant growth, improvement and evolution is the mark of a healthy artist. Instead of looking around the room to see what everyone else is doing, keep your eyes on your own paper. YOU have to be the best artist you can be and the only person that can drive that evolution is YOU!
Steve Anderson"

Hand written and read out live versions by Steve are on the site HERE
This is what I asked:
"I just pondered, whilst you talk about concentrating on your work etc, what kind of activities do you do in your own time to get inspired? Anything out of the ordinary to get the creative juices flowing?"
Here is his response:

"Everything we do as artists and storytellers must reflect the world we live in. It’s all an interpretation of life. So my inspiration comes from my observations. The people I see, the people I know (family, friends), the things they do. Also observations about myself. My thoughts, feelings, worries, fears. And then questions about all of it. Why do I do what I do? What makes me feel a certain way? What do I think may have motivated someone else to behave the way they did? These things lead to characters, situations and themes that may ultimately lead to a story. Or maybe not. But it keeps my mind going.
As far as keeping the juices flowing, these kinds of observations do that for me. But also writing them down. Or sketching them. I love sitting in a public place and doing quick sketches of the people around me. I love to doodle weird characters. I bring that up because for me, it’s a way to draw “incorrectly.” I love to stretch and pull facial features and body parts in very odd ways. We’re so conditioned to draw “correctly” that it’s very liberating to have an outlet to break the rules. I keep a journal and try to write as often as I can about thoughts, experiences, ideas, etc.
These are things I do. There’s so many different ways to do it. Whatever you choose to do, if you can stay fearless about it, that will help. Not afraid to “mess up”, to draw a bad drawing, to write down an offbeat thought. These things are for YOU, not for anyone else. Hope this helps. Thanks for your question!"
I wanted to share his answer, as I thought it might help people that are maybe a little stuck in a rut. I don't know about you, but I find hearing how other people get inspired, can be inspiring in itself. I wanted to take my creative research in a whole new direction, and his answer totally helped, and I hope it helps you too! So, go ahead and share what inspires you!

For the full edit and the rest of the questions go here

And whilst you are there, check out the other letters. There are some truly inspirational words there for every budding animator! Great work Willie.

Find it all on twitter too:

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

2013, lucky for some.

Well hello there,

It is a brand new year, with brand new objectives. And I want to change up the way I use my blog a little. I love using the pinterest board, animpin, to log things I like or that I see that would be inspiring to people, but sometimes I feel it get's a little lost, especially if people don't use pinterest. So, here's to making this blog a little more productive in every direction.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to a very Happy New Year.

Have a think about your realistic objectives for this year? What do you really really want to achieve?

Along with those, always remember to get inspired. I bang on and on ..and on..about this with my friends and co-workers, and I even have little post it notes to remind myself to do it too.

If you are ever in a creative or any kind of rut for that matter, I believe it's essential to go back to the roots that truly inspire you, whatever this may be! For me it might be watching a film I love, or listen to a piece of music, or going out on my roller blades with my friends to roll around (mostly on the floor). I also like to collect pictures from magazines, and save these for a rainy day to practice painting skills. You never know when you might use those pictures. I'd also really like to hear what you use for inspiration, the more ideas the merrier!

On that note, here is some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing! You have probably seen some of these, but just a small collection of my favourite from 2012:

Cooley! - Josh Cooley - Story Artist at Pixar Animation Studios

Jamaal Bradley and his blog, including this shot with it's breakdown here. Jamaal also announces live #anmichats from time to time through twitter (@JamaalBradley), usually 10 spots available so you have to get in there fast!

Tame Impala - Feels Like We Only Go Bacwards - Cool animated music video

Dumb ways to die - cute animated video

And for some more inspiring folk, I have a friends list on the right hand side, that'll i'll be adding too.

So, anyway, I'd like that to be the main focus here over the coming months. You never know where the next idea might spring from.


Remember to get inspired!