The imaging and data visualisation module reflection

The goal of this module was to teach us how to work with different animation software, starting with Maya. The first main assignment involved the basics of modelling while using lights effectively followed by rendering. My group and I were tasked with creating a floating city based on an actual city. Good team-work and communication was essential and I believe we achieved that. I enjoyed this challenge as it helped with my learning. I found the biggest challenge to be time management and I feel that this was an essential skill to develop for the working world.

The second assignment required me to model a face of another student. I found this task surprisingly difficult as I did not anticipate the amount of things that could go wrong. I explored many different ways to approach the task and eventually found the way that worked for me. This task forced me to explore therefore I learned key skills for my future development.

Having very little digital experience I greatly valued this module. I feel like my abilities have greatly enhanced and I am now much more confident with animation software. Our lecturer Alec was very helpful and approachable. Alec gave each student plenty of one-to-one time which helped ensure that we all knew what we were doing.


The final step of the process: retopology

I did not expect the model from ZBrush to deform in Maya. After bringing in my final head sculpture, I noticed a massive difference in the way it looked. The skull was completely deformed and looked as if it was missing structure. I went back in ZBrush and attempted to make modifications as I thought might fix it when I’d bring it back into Maya. The result was a model that did not look like Beata anymore, but the lack of time at this point forced me to go with it.

I have done the retopology on half of the face and placed the outline polygons then took the model out and extruded the rest. In the end I used a mixture of techniques and I’m not sure if it worked. I’m disappointed that the resemblance is not there anymore.

For the ZBrush modelling I only used the front picture, as the profile one was difficult to work with. There may be an angle issue with it. I didn’t feel the need to juxtapose my model on it until I started working in Maya with the new mesh that I was trying to make as good as the initial model.

Madam Mo

Here is a video of some assets I animated for our project. It starts with the intro I was putting together for the presentation, a couple of sets of different arm movements we put on random robots in the crowd for the end scene when they cheer, followed by my attempt to animate Molly’s robots. I wasn’t doing too great with them so she had to animate them in the end. It continues with an arm movement test I was doing with my model and ends with a crowd reaction scene.

For the last shot, Molly and I sat together and figured out how to put the camera in focus, which made us both extremely happy.

Sound credits to Mr Brandon Beatz_By_B-Don 😉 found on Hitrecord.

Character Design

The four principles of animation that I chose to focus on for the character design assignment are anticipation, staging, exaggeration and appeal. In my sketchbook I have tried to demonstrate each of these principles.

At the beginning of this semester I challenged myself to create a character each week, no matter how bad the result would be. I used day to day objects as inspiration, also animals and doodles. The character I chose to develop for this assignment is one of the results of this challenge.

My character is an interdimensional sentient being, profession: dessert collector, male. His purpose is to collect the best human cakes and bring them back home to impress his peers that constantly ridicule him. His biggest wish is to steal the royal cake from the queen, but always fails.

To create a personality that would have the villainesque appeal appropriate for the type of character that he is, I looked for inspiration in The Pink Panther, the anthropomorphic cat named Katz from the show Courage the Cowardly Dog and the Looney Tunes character, Bugs BunnyThese characters are curious, cunning, charismatic and in the case of the pink panther, enjoy food. My intention is to emulate a similar attitude in my design.

My character is intended to be an instigator. Dramatic and semi-comic, he’s meant to have quirks in motivations and aspirations. He does not understand why humans eat the cakes that in his world are deemed priceless pieces of art and believes that stealing and preserving them makes him a hero. This reasoning gives him a tremendously confident attitude that shows in his posture and walk.

In my sketchbook, I tried to depict those attributes by placing my character in a few different settings. To demonstrate the concept of staging I have drawn a few examples:

The first image on the top left is an example of bad staging. The viewer’s attention is drawn to the bright colours in the middle of the frame, away from the main action in the foreground. This might suggest that another character will enter the frame or that something important to the narrative is going to happen in the background. In the following images I arranged the objects differently, creating a perspective that leads the eye towards the main point of action. Having the action in a scene become obvious sets an expectation for the natural follow up action, thus creating a feeling of anticipation and opening the possibility of surprising the viewer.

Below is the initial concept and silhouette of the figure.

The basic shape of this design is made of two teardrops. I chose this shape for its non-threatening look that allows the character to be menacing in personality and keep its comical attributes at the same time. The appeal of my character is meant to come from the fluidity of its shape and its general nonchalant attitude. Given that in the past I have constantly avoided shades of red and pink based on my dislike of them, I have taken it as a challenge to incorporate them in my work in ways that I would be satisfied with. Pink was chosen as the dominant colour for personal reasons while the blue and the yellow were added to balance it out and add dynamism to the design.

In my sketches, I believe I have demonstrated a good understanding of staging, anticipation, exaggeration and appeal as described by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

More examples in my sketchbook.

Appeal in Animated Design

Explanimate!. (2017). The Art of Designing Appealing Characters for Your Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017]. (2017). JEAN BAPTISTE VENDAMME INTERVIEW. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017]. – from LinkedIn. (2017). Story and Character Development for Animation – Preview. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Peck, S. (n.d.). Atlas of human anatomy for the artist. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thomas, F., Johnston, O. and Thomas, F. (1995). The illusion of life. 1st ed. New York: Hyperion.

YouTube. (2017). 1. Squash & Stretch – 12 Principles of Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017].