November 29, 2013

AYAP Week 1 & 2

I am now teaching full time in the days with my job as animation instructor for the Quickdraw Animation Society's Aboriginal Youth Animation Project.
Along side life skills and team building curriculum is my history of animation component. We covered a lot of content as well as made animation toys and watched a lot of movies. I took a few iPhone photos of my whiteboard notes to share with those of you who follow my blog :D
After a history of human communication slide show and lecture we move into the developments of the 1600's. I have the class make a Thaumatrope as their first animation toy assignment. I have to continually tell them to stay off the Facebook! (hence the drawing a participant did of me in the top corner of my whiteboard in the next picture)
The next thing they make is the infamous Phenakistoscope invented by Philip Plateau. This is where you have a disk with slots cut out and you face a mirror, spin the disk and peer thru the slots into the mirror and images on the disk appear to be moving. This eventually gets developed into the zoetrope and many other fantastic inventions.
We go thru the development of more animation related inventions and why they are important leading up to Edison's invention of motion pictures. We spend some time reviewing Muybridge's serial chronography and begin work making flip books, which I intend to later film for the final screening and possibly print to hand out as gifts. To the right in purple is an example of how to breakdown the stages needed to draw a blinking eye.
In another session I cover the Silent film era which includes the first animation ever made, the wonderful "Gertie the Dinosaur" by Winsor or McKay and some other hits along the way until we arrive at Disney and the first cartoon with synced sound. To the left in purple is the breakdown of artistic devices used by each film and how they pass down thru the generation. I encourage everybody to "know their history" and pay homage as we are all standing on the shoulders of greats who developed it.
I jump into my favourite era once sound is introduced and rubber hose arms. I discuss the ongoing competition between east and west coast animation and all the developments and great films it brings with it, including the ultimate demise of my favourite animating brothers the Fleischer's.  I show how Betty Boop starts out as a walk on character, and the fact that she is a dog, literally! I go from pre-cod to Disney's feature film triumph - Snow white and compare ti to what the Fleischer's are doing and how Superman eventually brings them down.
After colour is introduced we enjoy the Golden Age of animation and the massively awesome and huge amount of fantastic material produced. I do a little WW2 history lesson in there as cartoons go to war and show the first Astro boy, some UPA and a few cigarette ads featuring the Flintstones.  I segway into the commercialization of cartoons to sell products and weave my way to the first computer animated feature "Toy Story".  It has been busy since I work this job and teach some nights and most week-ends but I will also add the caveat that it is very fulfilling too.

This week-end I am teaching my final drawing class of the semester and hive the final critique followed by the life drawing event Draw 'til you Drop……….. and I just might!!!

November 28, 2013

Hanging show at DSW

The busy man that I am I offered to help a friend to hang artwork for the final show at the current Dancers Studio West location titled: Remembering Amelia.
So I got this room to work in, had to remove a bunch of stuff from the walls with a big heavy drill and yet I am not allowed to use any nails or screws or create any holes to hang the show. Lamesauce.
I managed to beat the odds and hang the stuff even with annoying onlookers judging me every step of the way. Thats why I like to work alone. Me and my level.
It ended up costing way more in materials than it should have because the great way we had discussed for me to do it wasn't allowed once I got there. So I had to run out and drop tons more money on more expensive industrial strength velcro so as to not put any holes in the wall. Geez. Once over this hump and after dropping $100 or so. I finally got the pieces up on the wall. Save people knocking them down etc. I wish I could have just gone with the original plan and done it in the time allotted. Pain in the ass, but now that it is all said and done it does look great.
One more in the main entrance hall way. A few days later I get a call asking me to hang up some more new banners from the ceiling. Did I mention the ceiling is very high and I'm freaked by heights. Plus, I'll have to go up scaffolding after being tired from working every day and night and I have to do it after my day job shift on my only night off.
Well I got over it pretty quick, and being a tiny bit frightened up by the ceiling definitely opened my fatigued eyes in fear of falling.
I'm actually really proud of the job, everything worked out and is on the level.
The final printed banners are hung and ready just in time for the performances.

Phew. He wipes the sweat off his brow. Another Batista success!

New and exciting news - HOTEL AWESOME!

I have been working full time in the day teaching animation for the Aboriginal Youth Animation project. I also teaching most evenings and week-ends. Obviously I am keeping really busy and can't get out much. In order to still have interesting interactions with people, I decided to bring the travellers to me! "Hotel Awesome" is listed on airbnb! Come stay with me:D

I had the director of the Melbourne animation Fest stay recently and he say's this:

"Firstly, a very belated huge THANK YOU for everything that you laid on when I swung through Calgary .... totally sensational experience all round."

I had two others stay since then and I'm awaiting their review on the new listing.

This week I have an Olympian from Nigeria staying with me this Sunday. Following that my next guest is the incredible animator Richard Reeves who will be staying at "Hotel Awesome" until December 15th. I am looking forward to it!

November 16, 2013

Shady dealings - Shape drawings

We create the world we see in terms of light and dark.

Today in my Drawing class, we are working on light and shadow using the shapes as reference.  As always, proper proportions are necessary as is the perspective from which you are viewing the objects you are drawing. So we begin by moving our desks closer to the lit objects in the centre of the room and prepping our drawing area for the task at hand.

Above is an example of the way light falls on objects and how we respond as artist with tone and shadow. The numbers represent the value range. We must keep in mind our value scale/ tone if the drawings are to describe the shape in space realistically.

For our purposes the optimal source of light is a single source of light where everything is illuminated by the same incident light. In our case we brought in a light source and turned out the rest of the lights in order to emulate the sun. This helps to eliminate the confusion that multiple light sources creates.
Begin by first drawing the shapes in their proper place and proportion. Determine the light and the dark tones then begin shading. The CORE shadow, which is the one on the object where the light is no longer hitting it, will be your darkest part ono the object. If the object has flat planes on the shape like a cube or pyramid, the shadows will be mainly toned equally throughout. Whereas when the shape is curved like a cone or cylinder or sphere the core shadow will be feathered as the light drops off as the surface curves.

Here is a drawn sphere with the terminology outlined in this class. It is important to keep in mind the difference between smooth and curvilinear and shapes as opposed to hard angles and surfaces which are much easier to shade.
You will notice that the cast shadows are not as crisp as they move away from the object. This is a lensing effect that must be properly drawn to make your artwork look realistic.  You can really see this emphasized in the above photo at the tip of the cone shadow at the bottom of the photo. Notice the shadow blurs out. The next thing to be mindful of is the reflected light that bounces back onto the surface. You can see here on this sphere how the left side is lighter in tone as it blends toward the core shadow. You want to have the transition be smooth when describing a smooth surface.

For reflected light to bounce back up onto a surface must be at an acute angle to that surface. IN this case the cone like pyramid shape (to the left) does not have reflected light hitting the flat area where the core shadow resides. The icosahedron object (to the right) has reflected light bouncing back up on its surface creating a lighter tone even though it is further away from the source of light and below the core shadow. If the shape like a cone or pyramid is sloping back away from the surface it is sitting on, there is no way fro the light to bounce up on it in order to create a reflected light in the shadow.
The surface must be more than perpendicular or overhanging the surface in which the reflected light is bouncing onto the object from.
Cash shadows cannot follow thru a core shadow. Instead they combine but do not increase in density.
When one objects cast shadow drapes across the core shadow of another object there should not be any criss cross lines and confusion. The pyramid to the far right cases a shadow over the cone object and where fit meets the core shadow they seamlessly blend together.

One good trick for seeing the values of the tons that I like to pass onto students is squinting. If you squint you will have a much easier time judging the many values int eh scene in which you are drawing. This also helps turn colours into values and to simplify the shapes that make up what you see.

November 15, 2013

This is too chewy, I like mine crispy

So the Bacon show is this week-end only! Saturday is the last day to see the work and make a bid at the silent auction.
 I got the basic colours laid in and the general bacon striped pattern I wanted for Chewy's fur. I did a lighter background in the sky as well.
Then I went in with a thinned Pthalo blue overtop the sky and added a few start. I added some darks and lights around the image and repainted parts that needed it here and there like the fluid coming out of the storm troopers head.

I then re applies some of the reflective metallic paints. I outlined the figures and used topic markers to draw in some grass and ground. I also scrubbed in another tone into the mid ground. All in all I really like how the piece turned out, though these iPhone photos do not do it any sort of justice. It must be seen in person, and that can be done by going to the House Gallery!

House Gallery
2607 35 Street SW, Calgary Alberta
November 14-16, 4pm-9pm
November 16 : Closing Night and Silent Auction

Sacred heart

This is the final stages of my piece that I created for the Chatterson Drive project.  I took the piece home to put in a few more hours on it before handing it over with a nice thick clear gloss protective layer.
I revisited the sacred geometry portion and drew it back in with a very thin sharpie marker. I then followed along and filled in the vesica piscis with black gesso. From this view it resembles a heart.
I used golden acrylic gold paint to dot the connection points and to add reflectivity. Here is the final piece on my kitchen linoleum, I like how the grid looked in this composition so I didn't crop it out.
Here is the iphone/instagram selfie Mandy Stobo took of us the day we started in on this project. Fortunately, my beard has come a long way in the past week. lol.

Here is the finished piece:

November 8, 2013

Harmony and Connectivity

This Wednesday evening, after work I was fortunate to be asked to join two other awesome artists (Mandy Stobo and IronbrushYYC) in creating pieces for Chatterson Drive Strategic Real Estate Solutions. We were given a subject and we were filmed by their motion department creating original pieces for a project they are pitching. They were a really awesome group and the four or so hours I worked I had a lot of fun.
They gave us an example pitch of what they hoped to achieve with the work and then they gave us each a 2 X 2 canvas to get to work. I decided to find the centre and begin with some sacred geometry. I began with drawing a flower of life using a scrap CD I had laying around. I don't know why I didn't think of this before!
I ran the fine liner I had right into the ground. I then turned to my trusty bottle of ink and dipped the pen nib in and used it like that. I then squirted some clear medium and smudged it over obliterating the surface. I water for it to dry before applying some paint.
I started by doing the touter part and edges of the canvas with some copper. I just let the brush tell me what to do and where to go and then I applied the cat pee (ammonia solution) to the surface allowing it to drip and chemically react with the copper surface.
I painted in the centre circle and allowed the chemical process to take place. Then went in with some fluorescent pink. I kinda wish I had the nerve to call it done at this point. Alas I like layers too much.

I followed suit with bright yellow and a neutral grey. I began picking out shapes and enhancing the circles. I don't know which direction will be up yet, i'll figure it out when it is done. Painting for me is a discovery. It is a challenge of push and pull in order to create harmony. In fact, often it creates itself and I'm just doing the work but am along for the ride.

I went in with some orange as time began to run out and I needed to clean up my make shift studio space.I thought I would be able to finish the piece, but my perfectionism wouldn't let me leave it as is, so I brought it home to put in a few more hours of work on it. More to come when it is done!

November 5, 2013

A little bit Chewy

My work continues on my Star Wars inspired piece for the upcoming Bacon show at House Gallery (
I clear coated the entire piece to seal in the drawing and protect the ink work before applying colour.
I began filling i the lightest colours. I used metallic paints for C3PO and the shield and Death star. I created an off white cream colour for the light areas of Chewy.
I filled in the decapitated storm trooper helmet sitting in some sort of anti-freeze type fluid. Notice the sides of the canvas are framed in something that resembles strips of bacon.
 I then rubbed in over the entire surface and sides a transparent yellow wash to help give a slightly aged look and give me an off white ground with which to continue working.
I loosely blocked in some of the sky as well as some of the leather and wood items.
I went over the entire surface with a burnt umber rub this time, also to darken the sides where I've painted the bacon strips. I painted the Death star with reflective silver paint, emphasized here by the lighting. I also repainted the power packs on Chewy's shoulder bag with the same paint and blocked in some of the background mountains.
I revisited the death star with Paynes Grey to give it more detail and volume. Then I brought in some foreground greenery and shadows. I painted in "wicket the Nibblet" with Indian red and enhanced the storm trooper helmet with another layer of white with a slightly textured application. I went over the sky. Everything will be layered at least one more time as I go forward before working on the figures to completion.
Once again, come to this awe inspiring group show. I will be auctioning off this one of a kind piece at such a low starting bid I must be crazy about Bacon and Star wars. Well, I am! See it in person.

Opens November 14, Closing Auction November 16 @9pm.

House Gallery

  • Location: 2607 35 St SW, Calgary, AB T3E 2Y3
    Phone:(403) 560-9199

  • November 4, 2013

    A little perspective

    I teach a few classes I love at ACAD. Here are the perspective class white board notes for my teen drawing class at ACAD, the days topic drawing objects in perspective. The goal for artists is to to create a 3 dimensional representation on a two dimensional surface using the rules and geometry of perspective.
    I like to start the class drawing the basic shapes that are the building blocks of art. Square, circle, triangle, cone, cylinder and torus. Then we jump into the idea of constructing shapes using isometric drawing. I so metric drawing uses This style is often used in drafting, video games; like Qbert, sim games like Zoo tycoon and The Age of Civilization and the ever so popular Minecraft. Ancient Japanese art used this method to describe large spaces by placing things further back by placing them higher up in the picture plane. Isometric projection, when you blow things apart is most often used to plan and design industrial objects, engineering, mechanics, machining, as well as to help you assemble Lego and your ikea furniture. It is a great starting point in transforming a simple square into a cube. From there the possibilities are endless as you can use simple shapes to create much more complex and organic forms.
    When I went to Ladysmith Secondary School, I was very lucky to take drafting as an elective. In this class we were taught how to read and create orthographic drawings. These are multiple drawings from various sides used to describe a 3D object. Here, I show how with a side, top and front drafting view you can turn the information into an isometric drawing of the object. This teaches how flat surfaces can be translated into a 3D representation of the object. Very important in designing and creating things, kinda like CAD on paper. Of course, in school this was the simple first object we tried. Of course, it got far more complex as we progressed in our education.
    The above examples are not perspective but how to create 3 dimensional drawings on a 2 dimensional surface.

    Perspective (from Latin perspicere, to see through) in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as paper), of an image as it is seen by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are that objects are drawn:
    • Smaller as their distance from the observer increases
    • Foreshortened: the size of an object's dimensions along the line of sight are relatively shorter than dimensions across the line of sight
    from Wikipedia - The free encyclopedia:

     To really get the sense of things going off into the distance as perspective does you need to first learn 1 point perspective. One point is great for distant landscapes and was developed around the 5th century and developed in the Medieval era. Graphical perspective based on mathematics and didn't really mature into the way we know it until the Renaissance. Here all objects above or below the horizon collect to one vanishing point in the distance on the horizon line.
    1 point is often used for interiors as well, in cartoons or any time you are staring at a flat wall. The horizon gets blocked but if you put a window in the right place you can see it. All verticals and horizontal remain constant on straight objects everything else recedes to the vanishing point making it very easy to draw train tracks, telephone poles and tiled floors.
    Then we try two point perspective. This type is used when looking at the corner of the object coming toward you or receding into space. I love daring block lettering with this technique. This type of perspective drawing is used everywhere, most often in architectural renderings. By placing a vanishing point on either end of the horizon you can really describe perspective well. After the students follow along in their notebooks as I do the drawing demo I give them the method of constructing a simple bird house in Isometric and them have them translate it into a 2 point perspective drawing. The sloped roof is the real test of understanding the rules of 2 point perspective as it is angled and does not follow the rule of vertical or horizontal and so they must figure out how to situate it so it looks correct before we carry onto the next challenge.
    As a challenge, I get them to draw the same room in 2 point but from the interior. I ask them to add the objects in their bedroom using what they have learned. The trick here is that verticals stay vertical but horizontal lines converge to either of the two points instead of staying parallel to the horizon line. I added this fish tank with light refraction on request by the student who drew the squid on the board beside my first set of white board notes. lol.
    I then taught 3 point perspective but must have accidentally deleted the pics off of my iPhone without noticing before making this blog post:( We drew skyscrapers from a birds eye view and worms eye view. More often I draw a church from worms eye view as it helps show how distorted space becomes at the steeple if your vanishing points are close together. While explaining when you are drawing everything takes your perspective in your world and thus you are the god plus I usually draw a church one my students asked me to put these into god perspective so I called birds eye view angels view and worms eye view the view from praying on your knees. I went one step further and called one heaven and the other hell. Dry yes, but it gave me a ridiculous "literal" chuckle. Dry I know.
    We looked at some of the great 1st year examples that were hung in the hallway that week while eating the Halloween candy we were given by my boss to devour. I abstained, as most were from the company Nestle, which I wholeheartedly boycott due to their openly stated evil corporate desires to privatize the worlds natural water resources for their profit. That aside, I teach foreshortening of cylinders using a nearby paper towel roll and expelling how ellipses and work. I then show in steps how to properly draw circles in perspective using the steps drawn to get the proper centre and axises using geometry to help construct the proper circle in perspective. This is so useful for drawing coffee cups and bottles and more, if it is done well it really sells the drawing, if not it looks so wrong. I cover spheres quickly as they pretty much always look the same, a shaded circle. There are other means and methods but this is a lot to cover and assimilate in just one class.

    If you like this lesson post I'd love to hear about it, drop me a comment or if you would like to learn more feel free to contact me thru my website: