Thursday, 29 September 2011

Research: Ian Mcque concept art

Ian Mcque is a concept artist for Rockstar games and his artwork looks good for inspiration in my character design project. Filled with many airships and a few images of people on the ships will help me with some of my ideas.

Thankyou to Jolanta for posting this on the group blog.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pirate Monsters Backstory and Synopsis

I don't know whether I've over thought this and complicated it too much but this is my idea for my Pirate Monsters cartoon -

Back story:
After a huge natural disaster to the planet 4 crystals are formed from the four elements, Earth, Ice, Fire and Water. 5 Sky pirates friends gather the crystals in the hope of forming a light crystal to renew the earth but four of them are betrayed by the other member who summons a crystal of darkness opening a portal to another dimension. The four hero pirates are sucked into the portal while the fifth sky pirate summons monsters from the other dimension in order to rule the world and its skies. The light crystals power overwhelms the crystal of darkness and destroys it while shattering the elemental crystals in quarters sending the pieces all over world in order to stop the villainous sky pirate from creating another dark crystal. The villainous sky pirate is turned into a monster himself for his cruelty, enraged, he smashes the light crystal and throws the remains into the ocean below.

The lead hero is an 18 year old orphan male accompanied by his friend a 17 year old orphan female. In their orphanage they are read stories of 4 sky pirate heroes who through sacrifice made the world a better place to live in but were betrayed. The two children are infatuated with these stories and make it their aim to become sky pirates and battle the evil sky pirate in search of the four crystals and banish him and his crew back to their cruel dimension.  The mischievous pair head off into the streets catching a glimpse of two necklaces of the same kind which the female loves and exclaims that they can be a sign of their friendship. The male steals the necklaces but when placed around their necks they let out a bright flash of light. Believing them to be the shards from the crystal of light, they swear to each other as friends they will find the crystals of elements and form a new light crystal. The two young adventurers climb aboard a docked sky ship in cloaks in hope to become sky pirates but are caught by the captain. Just as the captain of the ship is about to throw the two off the ship he notices the glowing necklaces and takes off the hoods revealing their faces. The captain is stunned as he believes to recognise the pair from somewhere and agrees to let them become sky pirates after hearing their interest in finding the crystals in order to banish the sky pirate villain. The two new recruits help the captain on his adventures to find the elemental crystals while their feelings of friendship begin to become more.

Some explanation –
The four hero pirates are made up of two couples who found true love while the 5th betrays the two couples in jealousy of their love. Before the two couples leave on their quest they leave their children outside an orphanage in order to keep their identities safe until they return as they believe that their fifth member  is not as trustworthy as he seems.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

27/09/11 - Character Design lesson 2

Todays lesson was looking at shapes and styles within characters that we see in cartoons. Although we don't see triangles, squares and circles within characters consciously all the time they are there constantly to give us feelings about the character we are seeing.

Square shapes emit slow, heavy and rigid characteristics
Circles emit safe, soft and light characteristics
Triangles emit fast, sharp and dangerous characteristics.

These shapes don't exactly fit into the characters proportions but fit closely when defining what type of character the person or creature is that is created.

Now our task within the lesson was by looking at an iconic character figure out their body shapes and then twist them to make them look slightly different and give off a different characteristic. My character was Jafar from the Aladdin Disney film.

As you can see he is mainly made up of triangles, even his staff fitting into a triangle shape at the head of the snake. My idea was to make him more rectangular - muscular and broad.

I found the exercise in class to be rather difficult today as I couldn't get the hang of changing a character without it looking wrong to me. This is the first attempt and when Justin came round to inspect and chat to me about it he said that in terms of the idea it worked but I had changed the facial features of Jafar too much and therefore it didn't look like him anymore. In the top left of the image Justin showed me an idea of what a muscular Jafar's head would look like. I then made another attempt which I think was a little bit more successfull.

This effort looks a lot more like Jafar but I still felt like I struggled in this exercise. I feel something to take away from these classes is that I need to practice my pencil skills, I need to be sharper and more expressive which is something I need to address to make my drawings look better.

My final image is of Hercules again from the Disney film.
I was attempting to make the character a little more simplistic much like the characters from the Kim Possible series but I found it quite hard and the character turned out much the same unforunately. Next to my drawing is Justin's thoughts on how it may look which was a good help to make me understand better.

For my character design project I am going to need to work on my pencil skills in order to create more expressive drawings. And I need to explore character design styles much more to understand them and make sure I use them effectively in the the tone that I am trying to create for my 80's cartoon reboot.

Research: Other Influences that I can think about...

Final Fantasy 12 -

Some things to think about for maybe another synopsis idea is Final Fantasy 12 where a group of heroes band together to rise up against a war between two empires. The main character Vaan wants to be an adventurer and meets sky pirates Balthier and Fran. I now have thought about a story set between two warring kingdoms one of humans and one of monsters where after a band of Monster sky pirates board a supply ship a war is waged between the kingdoms. I'll do more thinking in to this idea but it's a sound idea.

Sky Pirates of Valendor -

A webcomic which may be of use to look into for ideas -

Sky Pirates of Valendor recounts the adventures of Pirate Captain Tobin Manheim and the rest of the crew of the Rogue’s Revenge. Set in the fantasy world of Valendor where giant continents float on oceans of sky! A mix of steampunk and high fantasy where magic co-exists with futuristic technology, Valendor is a fully realized world, with complex social structures, a guild-driven economic system, and a host of political intrigue.
Sky Pirates of Neo Terra -
I came across a comic based on a game being released on the Nintendo DS to do with sky pirates who are in a great race. The world is inhabited by tribes who have come after the world before was destroyed. This could be an idea to look into as a third synopsis idea was concerned with looking into the idea of a world after an apocolyptic devastation.

Character Design: Synopsis Ideas

1st Idea - 

Young boy
Cursed as he is playing along the beach with a female childhood friend with a monstrous arm by the pirate king in revenge for his father killing the father of the pirate king.
To stop the curse from spreading he is given a tooth necklace from his father stopping the curse from spreading to the rest of his body. Then on his 18th birthday he is told to gather a pirate crew and seek 12 parts to a map which will lead him to a magical book which he needs to use to banish the Monster Pirate King and his crew to the depths of the underworld and release the boy from his curse.
The necklace holds great interest to the Villain as the boy doesn’t realise that the tooth is a key to the chest that the book is encased in therefore tries his utmost in stealing the necklace from the boy to use the book to summon terrible sea monsters and become king of the seas.

2nd Idea - 

A young boy is prophesised as being the one to stop the reawakening of 7 of the most monstrous pirates. The young boy overhears a captain of a pirate ship speak about a map in their possession which leads to 7 mysterious islands not shown on any other map. The boy smuggles himself on the captains ship but is caught and forced to work on the ship. The boy gains the captain's trust through a few battles by showing great courage in protecting his captain. The captain tells the boy that he is sick and will not be able to continue running the ship and tells the boy that he is the pirate boy that is the one to stop a monstrous crew from awakening the 7 islands which will release 7 monstrous pirate kings. The boy is given a magical cutlass by the captain and is told that he must combat the seven crews of the pirate kings led by a mysterious leader known only as Black Beard Jack to stop them from activating each islands mysterious power and releasing their fallen captains.

These are just my initial ideas I'm going to to discuss them and see how it goes I've got another idea im pondering on at the moment but just stuggling to figure some key things of its world to drive the narrative forward.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Research: Pirate Power Rangers

Research: Monster

In looking at ideas for monster I looked into the definition/s of the term first -


1. a legendary animal combining features of animal and human form or having the forms of various animals in combination, as a centaur, griffin, or sphinx.
2. any creature so ugly or monstrous as to frighten people.
3. any animal or human grotesquely deviating from the normal shape, behavior, or character.
4. a person who excites horror by wickedness, cruelty, etc.
5. any animal or thing huge in size.
So in terms of villain for my project I need to think along the lines of an anthropomorphic beast pirate. So I've got that figured out it's just finding out why these pirates are monstrous? Is it because of the MacGuffin that they are like this - such as a curse put upon pirates, much like the curse in Pirates of the Caribbean which they are trying to get rid of? 

Much more to think of so I will go ahead with a brainstorming session in order to come up with a few ideas as to what my synopsis is going to be.

Research: Animated Pirates of the Caribbean Figures

I found a couple of models that are 'animated' interpretations of the Pirates of the Caribbean characters which I think will be good to take some inspiration from as well as the actual films themselves in terms of character design.

Research: Jake and the Never land Pirates

A spin off series from the world of Peter Pan Jake and two other children hunt for treasure around Never Land where Captain Hook steals from the children crew to which they go and take it back. Just another part of research to add maybe looking into a more childish theme for my cartoon.

Opening -

Research: Monsters and Pirates

I came across a cartoon called Monsters and Pirates

Opening -

Synopsis -

The story begins with the crews of the Eldoradoand the Aurora involved in a bloody battle to be the first to find the treasure of the Atoll of the Mists and earn the Pirate School diploma.

No-one knows who’s going to win the challenge, but then there’s is a dramatic turn of events: tired of teaching at the school, Professor Espadonlays an ambush for the children, so that he can seize the treasure. Flinnand Alisea, the captains of the two crews, decide to join forces and, together with the aspiring pirates, they defeat the dreaded Espadon.

Professor Montego, the new headmaster, makes an exception to the rule and awards the diploma to both crews. But there is no time to celebrate the end of the school term because the new pirates cannot wait to take to the seas. Spurred on by his grandfather, Captain Flinn wants to retrieve the lucky star of his homeland, Dolphin Island, plundered many years ago together with the possessions of the inhabitants of the island.

Alisea, on the other hand, wants to leave immediately to show her father that she is a real piratess; Thomas is a little doubtful about this but he throws himself headfirst into the adventure because he wants to become rich. The crews soon find themselves sailing, racing each other once again, toward the same goal: the treasure of Captain Barracuda, the most dreaded pirate that ever sailed the seas. Each crew has one third of the map with the missing piece in the hands of Krill, the gruff boatswain of the dreaded Barracuda.

This challenge is full of action with ghost islands, erupting volcanoes, petrified forests and dramatic turns of events that culminate with the mutiny of Thomas and the two monsters of the Eldorado, who feel that Linda is too good.

Aliseais saved by Flinnand boards the Aurora together with the grumpy old boatswain, Krill. They reach Thomas and the monsters on the treasure island and defeat them. Flinnhas succeeded: there is a huge celebration on Dolphin Island! (Episodes 3-7). Everything seems to be going well for Flinn and Alisea, who are no longer forced to fight each other and can live happily together on the same ship. But the tranquility does not last long, because Thomas and professor Espadonhave decided to take revenge on the Aurora, and this leads to a series of entertaining and fantastic adventures on the high seas and on islands inhabited by strange, funny creatures.

(Story courtesy of -

I think that this is a brilliant find for me and will definitely propel some thoughts behind my own synopsis and the character design as well.

Research: The 7 Most Terrifying Pirates from History

First things first I thought I'd better look into history of pirates and I came across an article on The article talks about 7 of the most terrifying pirates explaining their back stories and why they are considered to be so scary. I think this article will help in conceiving an idea for the villain and may help me with coming up with a MacGuffin that the Villain may seek.

Here is the article by Eric Yosomono - The 7 Most Terrifying Pirates from History

Fran├žois l'Olonnais - He ate someone's heart!!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Maya Tutorial: Car Start

Here is the start of the Mustang tutorial completed.

Maya Tutorial: Jaw Bounce Generi Guy

I look forward to the rest of the lip sync tutorials!

Narrative: An idea

Alan's group tutorials were extremely helpful I found and I'm glad due to the smaller class that we get time to do them. In terms of progress the group has bounced many trailers and thoughts on the genre off each other but we weren't able to bring anything together. Alan has brought us together and made us think more into the story. After the chat with Alan the group has swerved in favour of a comedy storyline which is going to be extremely difficult. We have to become comedians and make sure our timing is strong with the comedy otherwise we are going to have a trailer of cheap gags.

An idea was put forward through our tutorials that maybe our characters never actually made it to Mars and actually find themselves in somewhere like the Grand Canyon but the characters think they are on Mars. I have drawn out an idea of my thoughts on how we may want to approach our trailer. (This is just an idea characters involved and story moments will be discussed in group and changed to suit the groups overall idea).

Thursday, 22 September 2011


Had a quick chat with Alan around ideas for my characters in the character design project. I threw an idea around which isn't very concrete to which he guided me into the idea of a MacGuffin. By thinking of a MacGuffin I can shape my characters around it, creating a world around it for my characters to decide what parts they would inhabit in that world therefore producing their back story and characteristics. For example in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie the MacGuffin was the coin medallion which Willaim Turner possessed which drives the narrative and brings out the backstory that Will's father was a pirate. The Villain is after the coin to break the curse upon him and his crew which William obtains from his father. If I can come up with a MacGuffin to propel my story and drive my character design with a purpose then this unit is going to be much easier for me.

So off to do more research into history of pirates and monsters to come up with a MacGuffin!!!

Character Design: Pirate Monsters

In our first character design lesson we were presented with a deck of cars and asked to choose 2 cards from the pack which from a table on the brief we would be given two genres to splice together. I chose from the pack Pirate Monsters which obviously brought Pirates of the Caribbean to my thoughts which would undoubtedly play some role in my research.

Stereotypically we think of pirates being dangerous thieves of the sea, hunting for treasure, beards, hooks, eyepatches, wooden legs and the wonderful catchphrase ARRRR!!! This is obviously a root to look into such as the characters from Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) or Captain Hook from Peter Pan. Thinking along the lines of a hero for the cartoon William Turner would be a good place to start, being more of a 'landlover' turned pirate with good looks and bravery. And then for a villain I have the pleasure of the inspiration from Davey Jones and his squid-like face. In an effort of making an 80's show be kind of light hearted and silly the sidekick could be that of a kraken type beast (sidekick for the villain) but be quite small, clumsy and not very intimidating. These are the first obvious parts of research I will do but I definitely will move on to different horizons for sure.

Fig. 1
An example of something which I have only just come across is a cartoon from the 90's titled The Pirates of Dark Water produced by Hannah Barbera. You can watch the opening here. The series followed a group of adventurers in seek of the thirteen treasures of rule which would stop the alien planet Mer from being consumed by a substance called Dark Matter. The series looks very much fantasy based but could give me great inspiration in styles.

Fig. 2
Other ideas that I feel I should look into are the characters from Disney's Treasure Planet which is Treasure Island in space....

Fig. 3
Or take some character design features the videogame series Dynasty Warriors has for characters such as the former pirate Gan Ning...

Fig. 4

References -

Fig. 1 -

Fig. 2 -

Fig. 3 -,0,214,317_.jpg

Fig. 4 -

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 review

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) - Quentin Tarantino

Fig. 1
Kill Bill is essentially a revenge film in where 'The Bride' wishes to leave a group of assassins in order to carry out a normal life. However it doesn't go down well with the leader Bill who sends the remainder of the team to kill her at her wedding. 'The Bride' despite being shot in the head falls into a coma but unfortunately loses her baby she was pregnant with and 4 years later wakes up and sets out for revenge against her 4 partners and her leader. 

Fig. 2
A thing to note from Kill Bill is the blood. There is a lot of it. Kill Bill thrives on the over the top and this is definitely apparent in the gore that is produced from the over the top but still adrenaline fuelled scenes. When swordplay comes in to the mix of the film limbs and heads are sent flying accompanied by an almost laughable amount of blood which surreally spurts from the remaining torso. Even though the film enters the borderline ridiculous through its gore it brings so much style into its scenes. In an orgy of violence at the end of the film The Bride takes on the Crazy 88 where no limb is safe as she cartwheels, fights on banisters, and slides around the nightclub cutting through each member in a black and white filter. McCarthy agrees but extends with " As in a martial arts wet dream, the yellow jump-suited Bride hacks, thrusts, whirls, spins, cartwheels, jumps, bends and slides around the premises as she lays waste to this grunting and groaning crew. For this dazzlingly prolonged sequence, which employs extensive wire stunts but no CGI, the colour bleeds into black-and-white, presumably, as was the case with "Taxi Driver" and its de-saturated climactic bloodbath, to avoid MPAA ratings problems. But whatever grisliness is skirted visually is more than made up for by the accentuated sound effects, which are amazing throughout."(2003)

Fig. 3
Tarantino's films are an insight into the directors own taste in cinema. He has a taste for violence but incredible attention to dialogue and usually favours a non-linear timeline. Tarantino being a fan of spaghetti westerns and martial arts movies, Kill Bill ultimately evokes conventions from both genres splicing them together. The music as always with Tarantino produces the western genre in the film accompanied with stylish martial arts, all wire and no cgi, it all just seems to work together as revenge flick paying homage to all that Tarantino loves. And in a way of progressing the story he throws in an anime to show the childhood of O-Ren Ishii which being rather stunning reinforces Tarantino's postmodern attitude towards his films. Sim writes "The devices of pastiche, parody, and doubling coding so apparent in Pulp Fiction are once more drawn upon in Kill Bill...Here the world of American gangsters and street life is forsaken in favour of homage to Hong Kong and Japanese martial arts films...with the reference to Sonny Chibi, who made his name in films concerned with samurai warriors...a further set of intertextual references point to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, acknowledged in the revenge theme and also in the soundtrack...To embed the film further in Far Eastern popular culture, Kill Bill includes an anime scene, that is used not simply for decorative effect but to advance the narrative. The overall effect is one of unsettling the audience."(2005)


Text - 

McCarthy, Todd. (2003) - Kill Bill: Vol. 1 -

Sim, Stuart. (2005) - The Routledge companion to postmodernism - page 315 -

Images -

Fig. 1 -

Fig. 2 -

Fig. 3 -

Ed Wood Review

Ed Wood

Ed Wood (1994) - Directed by Tim Burton

Fig. 1

Ed Wood is a biopic of Edward D. Wood Jr. who has been labelled as being 'the worst director of all time' looking into his life through the 50's. It follows the films he made during the period including his most famous Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), his transvestism, and his friendship of the unemployed horror star Bera Lugosi.

Fig. 2
A staggering thing about Burton's film is not just the recreation of the sets of Wood's films but the uncannily likeness that Depp and the other actors and actresses share with their characters, most striking being Landau as Lugosi. Much of the screen time is placed upon the relationship that Wood and Lugosi shared and is incredibly touching. Wood realises that the once great man is falling and cares for him as his drug addiction spirals out of control paying him the respect Wood's knows he deserves. McCarthy writes in his review "Lifting all this enormously is Landau's astounding performance as the old Hungarian. Looking (thanks to a terrific makeup job) and sounding very much like the real thing, Landau brilliantly conveys the ego, pride, hurt and gratitude of the man in his twilight and, despite his character's grand theatricality, gives the film its most human moments." (1994) Landau plays the character well giving a strong performance as the audience sympathise with the crashing ego of a star as he struggles through hurt producing touching moments with Depp's Edward.

Fig. 3
Although labelled as the worst director Burton's film finishes on a high for Ed as he leaves his premiere of Plan 9 (1959) to marry Kathy. The audience root for Ed as Burton reveals his struggle with revealing his true self as a lover of women's clothing, the fire and ambition that Ed had and the friendships he had with many misfits. Burton has rescued Ed Wood from the critics slightly in this fiery and comical portrayal of him and showing the utmost respect on leaving out his downfall to alcoholism. Burton wants to show the heart that Wood had in producing his own vision in the comical lengths such as the theft of an octopus. Maslin in her review writes "His daring deserves to be legendary: he made films on a shoestring, raised funds by hook or by crook, and really did steal a fake octopus for use in a scene with Bela Lugosi, who had to wrestle with the thing in a shallow pool of water (as depicted in "Ed Wood"). He also lovingly resurrected the aging Lugosi, rescuing him from oblivion just as Mr. Burton rescues Ed Wood today." (1994)

Fig. 4
A comical film with heart wrenching moments the attention to detail that Burton pursues in his attempt to recreate the sets of Plan 9, the likeness of the characters and the obvious respect that he shows the flawed director in his characteristics produces an enjoyable watch.



McCarthy, Todd (Sep. 6, 1994) - Ed Wood Review -

Maslin, Janet (Sep. 23, 1994) - Ed Wood - Ode to a Director Who Dared to be Dreadful -


Fig 1 -

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Fig 3 -

Fig 4 -

Character Design First Lesson

For our first lesson of the character design unit we looked at different types of character design (mainly the Disney way) in heroes, villians and sidekicks. This was enjoyable and opened up my eyes to the similar format that Disney uses on their main characters. We were handed cards and chose 2 which we would then splice together to create 3 characters as if they were a reboot of a popular 80's cartoon.

I picked out Pirate Monsters. I'm pleased with pick but I know I have to be careful in not bordering the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm looking forward to the unit and learning much about character design to improve my imagination and my overall work.

Within the lesson we were given a task of splicing two things together. My first pick from the cards was a Martian Elvis. The first thing to grasp was which time in Elvis' life would I portray this character in and for me it was a no brainer as being the more comedic fat Elvis. The first drawing I created however I was thinking more on the stereotypical alien known as a 'gray' which I didn't think was successful and I wasn't entirely comfortable.

 As you can see from what I've written on the sheet I needed to do a bit more thinking and let myself loose a bit more. I thought about a splice between the Martians from Mars Attacks and Roger from American Dad and so this is what I came up with second time around.

I felt much more comfortable the second time around and I feel this is a much more accomplished effort. When discussed further and if I'd had time to develop the character it was brought forward props that he may have such as a fishbowl and air pack for him to breathe and then maybe a ray gun.

After I'd finished this idea we were all given another quick character to splice and I picked out a Giant Cop. We were urged to not deal with background in an effort to express the size of our characters to which I thought I may struggle. So I came up with the idea that because he's a giant he didn't have a big enough police hat so I thought about having a police light tied around his head and then give him huge muscles with a vest and ripped trousers. Upon his feet to make him look more gigantic are police cars which he uses to get around quicker.

I enjoyed these classes and I look forward to researching and designing my own 3 characters for my Pirate Monsters cartoon reboot.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Year Begins

Another year has begun at Rochester and viewing the timetable shows that this is going to be a very tense 5 weeks at least. (I'm sure that this will continue throughout the year). Anyway we have been divided into groups of three, my partners being Justin and Sasha and we have been given our film title


I think this is going to be quite a challenging project as Mars has been portrayed in so many films but I'm sure we will pull through with a very strong idea.

The group has posted research into trailers of films that will be useful for our influences and history of genre. Check out the Destination Mars blog at

Monday, 19 September 2011

Summer Stuff

The finished concept piece from the earlier summer idea.

And work from working up at the Sidcup branch of SC Motor Factors, learning from the graphic designer I learnt new skills in programmes such as inDesign and Illustrator. 

Firstly my favourite poster which I created was for car clutches which was distributed to all the branches of the company and attached to customer invoices.

For the website the graphic designer wanted a car cutaway where the visitors of the website could roll over certain parts of the car to which they would flash and expand. This is just the picture of it all together all created on illustrator.

Another little project was for Jackie Hagan, creating a poster for her pop-up shop at the deaf cat