Finding appealing poses in classical art galleries

Today I went to Gemäldegalerie Berlin, which is a huge gallery of classical art near Potzdamer Platz. It’s lesser known than the museums/galleries at Museum Island but is packed full of legendary art so well worth a visit. I didn’t plan to do a lot of drawing today but ended up spending about 5 hours walking around noting down cool poses in some of the paintings. There’s a gallery below of some of the things I noted down, they are all very quick 30 – 60 second drawings just to remind me of what I was looking at.

Examples of grouping fingers into graphic shapes (taken from some of the paintings).

Examples of grouping fingers into graphic shapes (taken from some of the paintings).

It’s surprising how many of the posing issues we talk and learn about in animation can be found in these extremely old paintings. For instance I found artists who had been ‘simplifying’ hand/finger poses into graphic shapes as early as the 15th Century. That is, grouping fingers together and separating only one or two digits. I didn’t use to spend much time looking at such old and biblical paintings but am now finding a new appreciation for them (in the posing of characters).

If you are an Animator or Illustrator, next time you are at a gallery full of classical painting / art try looking for elements within the paintings you find appealing. I feel like I learned a lot from it and found some great characters within some of the old portraits. I also find it really helpful to look at what I consider unappealing poses too. Especially in very early paintings. I think there’s a lot to learn from considering what makes one pose in a painting less / more appealing than the next. And by the way, Italy is well known as a motherland of awesome Renaissance art but I think German art of the same period is seriously underrated. A lot of the stuff I saw today by old German masters was as good as the stuff I saw while travelling around Italy. Just interesting to note I guess. I’ll definitely be going back for another look around!

Hieronymus Holzschuler

Hieronymus Holzschuler by Albrecht Dürer – a quick sketch I did of the facial expression

This dude above (Hieronymus Holzschuher) caught my eye as soon as I walked in the room with the painting hanging in it (obviously above is just my quick sketch, you can find an image of the original painting online). His portrait is almost comical to me because he looks so suspicious and mistrusting. On listening to the audio info I learned that he actually used this painting to intimidate his staff! He’d keep it covered up while he was in his office, then would remove the cover when he was gone to remind people of his GLARING presence!

Here is a gallery of some of my doodles:


Posted in Animation, Art & Doodles Tagged with: ,

Pictoplasma Festival – Berlin 2014

This weekend I went to take a look around some of the Pictoplasma showcases here in Berlin. It’s a cool illustration / animation festival Polly Love told me about and also holds workshops (Pictoplasma Academy) for illustrators. The focus of the festival was character portraits so I got to see a lot of really cool character designs. The animation is more skewed towards illustration and art than what you’d find at a festival like FMX but I found that very refreshing as I came from that background myself :)

The Pictoplasma Portrait gallery was particularly enjoyable because it showcased all of the best works of the artists involved with the festival. We went on the ‘Character Walk’ and visited a few of the single artist exhibitions dotted around the city too which was interesting (even if some of them were a bit hard to find!)

Here are some photos:

Posted in Art & Doodles, Events Tagged with: , , ,

FMX 2014

FMX 2014 Haus der Wirkshaft

Well the journey to Stuttgart wasn’t so painful this time. I flew from Berlin this time which was a considerably shorter journey than my 21 hour coach trip from Cardiff last year! The festival was amazing but I’ll try and keep this to my main highlights.

iAnimate students at FMX 2014Firstly, the recruitment presentations and the actual recruitment teams were really great this year. I had loads of good feedback off many companies and found that there were many opportunities available for people looking for them. I just want to say thank you to Illumination McGuff, Disney, Luxx Studios, Animal Logic, Trixter, Lima01, Liga01, MPC, Method Studios and Double Negative for looking at my work and giving me helpful feedback. Also a massive thanks to Chip Lotierzo from Blue Sky and Ed Hooks who both went out of their way to give me some feedback and have a chat even though they were only there to give lectures. I met loads of other great people this year during the festival too including two fellow iAnimate students (we’re in the picture on the left)! This year I also met at least 10 other Welsh animators! Somebody said that Cardiff University / Atrium had a booth in the school area so it was good to see some them all there.

I had the chance to catch the second half of Ed Hook’s Acting for Animators workshop too which was great, because the room was full last year before I got there! I highly recommend FMX if only to go and see Ed Hooks. His workshops are really informative and he’s a entertaining lecturer too who keeps the 3 hour sessions feeling alive.

As an animator, I was mainly focused on any talks relevant to that so here are some other great talks that happened at FMX this year. Chip Lotierzo gave an interesting one on some his work in Rio 2 and how he uses Laban Movement Theory to put lots of dynamic and rhythm into his shots. It’s very interesting and I’m going to give it a go for my next shot. You can think of it as a music notation (but for animators in this case). You draw a line of activity to the audio before you start shooting reference or drawing thumbnails to give an impression of the type of motion throughout the shot.

Another useful talk was Chris Landreth’s ‘Making Faces’ which was all about the muscles of the face and why they are important to know for animators. He made a really good case for it and even if I don’t go as far as learning the individual medical Latin names for the muscles I will definitely be memorising what each one does. Hannes Rall, Regina Pessoa and Juan Pablo Zaramella also gave great individual talks on their unique styles of animation. I’m also excited to see how Luxx Studio’s new feature animation Manou the Swift is going to develop because it’s good to see a German studio taking character animation to such a scale.

There were loads of other great talks I haven’t mentioned but these were my favorites. Here are some other photos I took during my stay in Stuttgart:

Posted in Animation, Events Tagged with: ,

Keyframe MP – The animator’s new media player!

I wouldn’t usually blog about a company’s product but this one is an exception. Chris Zubrigg has made a media player called Keyframe MP especially for animators and it totally kicks Quicktime Pro’s ass! After using this you won’t want to use anything else. It’s currently on beta release so you can get it for cheaper than when it does a full launch.

Some of the features I like about it are:

  • The ability to scrub audio (to check lip sync).
  • The ability to make serveral types of bookmarks and save them to disc. This is such a nice feature because it enables you to save bookmark snippets and easily study reference / other animations at any time. I’ve been bookmarking sequences from Aladdin, Roger Rabbit and loads of others and it’s doing me a world of good.
  • Quick horizontal flip tool (to view the animation a different way around).

There are loads of other features too like being able to sync the player with your Maya timeline. Here’s a video:

Posted in Animation Tagged with:

Moved to Berlin!

I now live in Berlin! I’m not sure how long for this time but I really loved it here when I worked here before so I’m looking forward to the coming months :)

A few exciting things are happening soon. In two weeks I’m going to Stuttgart to attend FMX 2014. It looks like there are loads of great lectures on animation and VFX so I’m looking forward to going to those and meeting a load of cool people again. I’ll be blogging about anything interesting I learn here, so look out for it!

It looks as though my old employer from Berlin, Animas Film is releasing their shortfilm Automatic Fitness soon too so I’m looking forward to that. I made several 3D animated promos for them in 2012.

I’m also just finishing up Workshop 5 with Jacob Gardner at iAnimate. It’s been a great few months and I’ve again learned loads and produced some nice work. I’ll be posting my work in a few weeks after I’ve finished :)

Posted in Animation, Events, iAnimate, Uncategorized

John Cleese on Creativity

I found this talk really inspiring. It’s an old video of John Cleese talking about creativity. He goes through a number of different theories on what helps / hinders creativity.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with:

FMX 2014 – ticket office is open!

It was my first time going to FMX last year so I’ve been waiting eagerly for the tickets to become available for 2014. Well now they finally are and I’ve got mine already. For any other iAnimate students, there might also be a casual meetup for any of us who are going…. I hope to see you there! :-D

Posted in Animation, Events Tagged with: , , ,

Software for Animators with insomnia!

If you are like me and study an online animation course whilst maintaining a day job, you are likely to have experienced a little difficulty getting to sleep from time to time. This is because you might come home from work and then spend the few hours before bedtime doing an animation assignment. I read up about this and apparently the blue light in computer monitors / smartphones can stop your brain thinking it’s time for bed. So when you finally do go to bed, you lie there for hours before falling asleep.

I have been using some software that tracks the daylight hours and applies a red filter to my screen as it gets darker outside. It is actually very pleasant and I believe it may help people with this problem. The software I use is free for Mac and called F.lux. I’m sure there’s an equivalent program for Windows. I also downloaded an Android app for my smartphone called Twilight which does the same thing.

Happy sleeping!

Posted in Animation

Progress Reel for WS4 at iAnimate

Sooo after several months of hard work, here is my progress reel for workshop 4 of iAnimate. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about lip sync and facial acting. Luke Randall has been an awesome tutor and as usual the whole iAnimate community has helped me loads. Especially for the first shot, which I had to redo again from scratch over the past 3 weeks because of a computer crash. Thanks to all the people who gave me bits and pieces of my files so I could reanimate it! Backup system is now firmly in place. I still have two weeks on this workshop left so these shots are in progress.. this is how they are at the moment though so pretty close :)

Posted in Animation, iAnimate

For all Maya animators who have a lot of lag after updating

Recently I upgraded to Maya 2014 on a mac and now have lagging problems. I thought initially it must be my computer even though it ran fine before. However today I learned that it is a bug with Maya and can be easily fixed.

The ‘Default Quality Rendering’ option is the culprit and is causing loads of lag when you try to scrub through an animation. If you switch it to Viewport 2.0 renderer instead Maya will play things at a reasonable speed again. Enjoy :)

Posted in Animation Tagged with:


David Talloy Thomas

Greetings! I'm David Thomas, a 3D animator from the UK. Now I live and work as an animator in Paris. I'll use this blog from time to time to as a sketchbook and talk about animation or what I'm up to. Check out my showreel if you've got a minute and drop me a comment or message if you want to chat! student