Sunday, November 05, 2006

Birds in Hats--Beginnings

Inspired by Sven's storyboarding for his project, I decided a great way to start my mini-animation exercise for Halfland (as Mike had suggested I do) would be to sketch out the action, even before I begin to create the puppets. This is my first attempt to realize the Birds in Hats supporting cast characters.

I don't draw. My sketches are hybrids of photomontage and illustration. I can only illustrate with images in Photoshop. Making this sketch tonight was EXTREMELY helpful towards making the film. I thought I would never need to sketch or storyboard my project because it was just--me--after all, I didn't have a crew that would need the concepts communicated to them. HA! What about communicating the concepts to myself!!? So the biggest lesson tonight was that, yes, sketch everything, and further, storyboard the action. Preliminarily put it down on paper/screen sufficiently to be clearer about how to block it out on set.

Tonight I also learned about my little birdie friends here. What I learned, that I didn't know before making the sketch is...

That their little hats hang on the branch!

That the biggest hatbox sits in a natural nest!

They don't fight over hats like I thought but rather over the hand-mirror! This is obviously because they both look so adorable they each deserve to see!

The male's hat isn't decorated with a feather--duh. He decorates his silk top hat with leaves that he collects!

This is so cool. I can't wait to sketch out the action tomorrow!



  1. Wow Shelley, I love that!

    You're doing it the right way... make the movie in your head before you make it.

  2. Anonymous7:06 AM

    Fantastic. I like to see progress and this is a big step. Of course my favorite parts of Halfland are the puppets. They are all such characters with an enormous amount of dimension. I love how you bring them to life. PK

  3. Birds in Hats!! I've been waiting for them to pop up :)

  4. Great way to work S, It looks real good. That should speed up your overall process a bunch.

    I like the bird with the top hat. I was thinking of making a top hat for one of my characters. Actually a stove pipe hat. I will be curious how you go about fabricating that if you do make a top hat.

  5. Anonymous11:42 AM


    Y'know, Shells, I'd like to see 1/2L in a storybook format. Not as a replacement for the film -- just conveying the story in multiple mediums. If you were able to pop that lovely image out in one night... I bet you could do a killer storybook in two weeks. Y'know, as long as you didn't force yourself to be perfect -- if you did one or two of these per day, and gave yourself permission to go back at the end and replace any that you couldn't live with. (The trick being to not go back and replace anything until AFTER you'd finished at least a first draft of everything.)

    ...We've seen a little of your graphic design work -- it's stellar, and you're fast. AND you already have these insanely rich collections of reference images to draw from! Scanning, photoshopping... It's all already assembled in your head -- what if you went ahead and assembled it all digitally now? Digital collaging using images you already have has got to be fifty times easier than trying to fab things from scratch.

    And I know you're a fan of online publishing. You don't have to try to go national -- but once you have the images, it's no big deal to send them to or shutterfly and print out a book! You could shoot for xmas/hannukkah/solstice/new year's, or for valentine's day. Just a small press run.

    And if you decide later on that you're not 100% in love with the storybook, that's OK. You can always make another one -- same material, different approach.

    Where to start: Pick up a pen and do some illegible thumbnail drawings of the key scenes for 1/2L episode #1, as you see them in your head. Next to each of them, write one or two sentences that very simply describe the action.

    Leap from there to scanning in your reference images, and fussing them up into images like the one you did yesterday.

    2D image making is clearly a big strength for you. If you start where you're strong, the area where you're still working hard for what you want -- 3D fabbing -- will come easier on the second pass.

    ...Just my 2 cents (and about a buck fifty in change). :-D

  6. Anonymous12:09 PM

    (An afterthought, later in the day:)

    Heck... What if you did up the storybook using photoshop, then turned the images over to a painter, and produced a bona-fide children's book?

    (Children's books need not necessarily be aimed primarily at children, of course. The best ones speak at least as much to the adults who are reading them.)

    ...Feel free to ignore this comment entirely. It probably pushes the envelope too far -- but as "another option," I felt compelled to add it to the list.

  7. Thanks, Ma Peeps. Isn't this great, all of us making progress and visiting to egg eachother on?! I feel like we've developed a real online "salon d'avancement" with eachother. (I just made that term up, in French I think it literally means the "room of where things are" (their status) but I mean it more like a turn of last century group of artists who meet over good coffee in a favorite cafe and discuss what they're working on and inspire eachother.

    Anyhoo, yes! I very much intend to make a print book of Halfland, for sure. It was always in the back of my mind to do after the whole film was done, but I really like Sven's idea instead of making a version, then making another, and another should I like to. These are magic days, my friends. Days where we can indeed create books (and films) with more miraculous tools more easily available than ever in history. But I'm preaching to the choir on that.

    Plus, I intend to create many children's (of all ages) books all my (our) life. I'm always squirreling away story ideas to develop later. I'd like to make them as a collaboration with PK up there. I want to take fun, simple tales that open minds to worthwhile life lessons, etc. And dare I say, if Paul and I ever get the hang of pop-up/paper engineering that may play a part in it too. I looked at one of our pop-up technique books a couple weeks ago and darn if I hadn't made some kind of mental breakthrough! I finally understood what the diagrams were showing. So, we'll see.

  8. You got it, Mark. I'll for sure show how I make the silk top hat. What size were you thinking of for yours?

  9. You are full of creative ideas!! I love the details of the little hats...Hall tree in the sky!

  10. Hall tree, yes! Thanks Corey!


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