Saturday, March 19, 2011

Creators MIA!

Creators MIA!

Things are happening in the land of Dreamkeepers - read on for links to tutorials, reviews, and youtube extravaganzas in beguiling German accents!

It may have been easy to miss these recent news tidbits since I've been MIA for the past two months.

Not "Missing in Action" - "Missing in Animation."

Burrowing happily in stacks of paper keyframing and tweening away, I've been neglecting the internet - sorry to everyone for the interminable delays on e-mail replies, the ghost-town art accounts, the long lines on facebook, and the fire-and-forget impulse twitters. The twitters are Liz. I have no control over that.

But I should be coming up for air soon, because the animation is done! Or at least, all the animation involving pencil and paper. Ta-daa!

...If you wait, I'm sure the trumpet fanfare will sound any moment here.

With the commercial animation's line art completed, the next step is coloring. Thanks to our kick-ass freelancers, that's already well underway. We're still embroiled in production, so it'll be a while before we take a serious breather and show some animation samples online. But in the meanwhile, keep an eye on our art accounts, we're posting some of our fancier color swatches in there. Plus, here are the tutorials and fun I promised up above:

Color Blocking Tutorial!
Designed to help out our freelancers, we decided to make it a public tutorial blog, because why not? If you fancy coloring comics or animation frames, swing on by.

Make Your Own Light-Table!
All the animation I was yakking about above, and which we are currently coloring? I made it on a lightweight, collapsible, affordable light table of my own design and construction. If you'd like one for yourself, here are instructions for building one.

Youtube Dreamkeepers Montage - in German!
If you thought reading DK was like watching an animated movie before, wait until you see this. A German reader (I LOVE IT WHEN HE TALKS!) orchestrated this youtube montage of comic scenes, complete with a beautifully timed soundtrack - check it out!

Dreamkeepers Comic Review by an Aeronautical Engineer
If you ever wondered what a rocket scientist would think of our graphic novels, now's your chance to find out.

More postings and fun are on the way this spring - including Adventures in Egypt, (with grandma photos), animation samples and previews of our commercial, a blog covering the oft-asked-about possibility of a Dreamkeepers show, and we'll be posting our old 2005 animation for the original television pitch. Additionally, we've been filing & discovering caches of old David artwork in our apartment, including the pre-dawn concept development from which Dreamkeepers originated. So, at some point in the future, we'll be revealing that as well.

'Till then, thanks for your patience, and enjoy the weekly Prelude updates!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Build Your Own Animation Light-Table!

For those who've been keeping tabs, you know I'm in the midst of some traditional (hand drawn) animation.

But without access to a studio or a professional light table, how does one go about animating their own cartoons?

If you said "computers" then SILENCE! I like to keep things Neolithic around here. Next you’ll be denigrating my hunter-gatherer skills.

Liz & I have animated without the benefit of studio equipment in the past, using whatever was at hand:

Upside down reptile aquariums.

Glass coffee tables.


Not the most sophisticated setups - but using what we had was more effective than complaining about what we lacked.

However, for this recent endeavor I didn’t want to compete with a psychotic lizard for aquarium privileges.

Expressly for this project, I threw together a light table of my own design. It had to be lightweight and collapsible so I could carry it to and from work, and set it up anywhere. It took less than a day to build. Considering my way with tools (using them as creative implements for injuring myself in the mocking shadow of prefabricated furniture) I'm fairly amazed that I was able to pull this off.

Here it is:
It’s extremely simple to use - just stick a flashlight or something underneath it, put your paper on top, and go to work.

For my fellow old-school animation aficianados, here’s how to construct one.

The most expensive part is the fiberglass/plastic clear stuff. I got mine at Lowe’s for about $50. Aside from those clear plates, all you need are hinges and glue. That’s seriously it.

This is the design sketch I made:

Here are some photos of how it works:

You’ll need five plates of plexiglass - measurements are in inches, and if you don’t use my dimensions very precisely the world will end:
The Base - 15 x 15
The Drawing Plate - 12 x 15
The Stand - 6 x 15
The Filler (So the hinges are aligned for folding-flat action) - 4 x 15
The Stopper (So the Stand can’t slide back when you’re drawing) - 2 x 15

I also used a broken scrap to make a corner on the Drawing Plate, so the papers have something to sit on without sliding off. Just an FYI, we use normal 8 ½ x 11 paper, with no peg-holes, and no animation peg-bars. I find it’s faster to just line the paper up and start drawing, and use scotch tape to keep things aligned during cleanup animation.

I purchased the thickest plexiglass available, 1/4 inch, for maximum durability. I didn’t have to cut it to size, either - there was a guy at Lowe’s who used a cutting station to chop everything for me!

Then I bought four simple hinges, and some superglue - specifically Loctite super glue and Loctite glass glue (I used both).

The rest was pretty simple - very carefully, I lined the pieces up and glued them together one by one, pressing with my full weight for about a minute on the chunks being glued. Make sure you get everything squared off, and the hinges are facing the right way and stuff before you do the deed, because this glue is no joke.

I initially thought there was no way that glue could hold metal onto glass, and thought one of the hinges would pop off on the first night. But this thing is holding together nice and solid - so, voila!

Add a flashlight or two, and you’ve got a transportable, collapsible light-table, which works even better than the expensive easels they had at my old animation job. And it certainly beats struggling for supremacy with vindictive reptiles.