05 February 2019

The Raven - a new short animation

Based on the poem by Edgar Allen Poe, this was my longest single animation to date at 9 minutes. Michael Z. Keamy did the narration and it was a solid 5 months of full time work to get it done.

This time out with the addition of simple sub-titling tools added to Final Cut X, I was able to add French and English captioning so more people can watch and understand it. I tried for a sombre but realistic tone to present to poem. I have seen a few animations that go wild with abstract shots and ideas but I wanted this to keep grounded. It was a challenge to make something that is basically some depressed dude yelling at a bird in one room for nine minutes until he passes out! I started with longer, lingering shots and then made them shorter and shorter as it progressed to give it a faster pace while keeping the ideas of grief and depression to the forefront.

20 January 2019

Demo reel 2019

A new year, a new demo reel!

12 January 2019

Chicken : 1st drawing of 2019

Just ink this time with no shading and no textured backdrop. Back to the basics in a way. Drawn on the iPad in Sketchbook Pro. Not sure how much drawing I'll get in this coming year, a lot will depend on how many, if any, contracts I get this year.

28 December 2018

Year end review 2018

Another year has come and gone and while it was not financially profitable, I did get a lot accomplished. Normally I make two animated shorts per year, this year I made ten. Ten! Two were gothic horror, The Tell Tale Heart and Dagon. I also remade and updated In the Future with Nostrodumbass and made 5 Dramatic Readings with Charles Websters Billingsworth the 3rd shorts. If that wasn't enough, I made two very short Filthy Sheep animations. Tell Tale Heart premiered at the Another Hole in the Head festival in San Francisco. I drew a bunch, took some photos, and did some graphic design for new and old clients - but not enough to pay all the bills again this year. Finding decent, paying clients has become pretty impossible recently - which is discouraging. I have been thinking of doing a Patreon funding page... but I have no idea how to do or promote that in a way that will make it likely to pay off.

I have started 2 new projects already for next year. The Raven will be my longest animated short at 9 minutes. Narrated by Michael Z. Keamy and I hope it will bring all the stuff I have learned in such a productive year into a really top notch production. Dog & Weasel is the other project. It is a cartoon about a weasel (Jon Bellette) and a dog (Watson) who fight an alien robot invasion. The idea is sort of a Warner Brothers feel and I have plans for a couple more adventure where they meet other cryptids like Nessie and Bigfoot. Mike Luce is set to do the voice of the weasel and I think it will be pretty damn funny.


Misc things included reworking my web page and logos. I also updated my CV of course and my updated demo reel will go up in the next few weeks. I have some potential jobs lining up for next year but one thing I have learned the hard way is to not count my chickens before they've hatched.

On top of all this, I decided to, maybe, publish a book of short stories. In the 90s I wrote up some tales mostly based on real life things that happened to me mostly to entertain a friend who was terminally ill. Over the years I refined them and showed them to a very few other people, a couple of them thought I should collect and publish the stories. I guess I'm finally getting around to doing that. Maybe.  I did set up the book and design it in the beta of Affinity Publishers as test project so it would be a shame not to anything with it, I guess.

20 November 2018

The Raven - Lenore painting

Almost all the visual elements are ready for my adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's, The Raven.  Most of the rest will have to wait until I get the narration recorded at the end of the month. While Lenore is most just seen as a portrait on the wall, I have a rigged version of her that will appear as a ghostly presence.

10 November 2018

éléphant - dessin/drawing

I seem to be hooked on darker backgrounds these days and trying out different techniques and brushes with my drawings. This one is outlined in crayon and tonally painted with brushes, painting and mixing different grey tones.

I am pretty happy with this one, it has some depth to it thanks to the painting. I added white crayon highlights. also something seem obsessed with and I think that gave it the "3D" look I was after.

The model for this was at the Berlin Zoo and I sort of sat on it for a few years not sure how I wanted to approach it. I did a rhinoceros from that visit already and wasn't as happy with he results as I would have liked.

27 October 2018

review: Quark Xpress 2018

I don't have a great history with Quark XPress. I used it in the 90s when it was the top page layout program out there, but I preferred other software like Pagemaker and even Pagestream which I had on my still functioning Amiga computer from the 80s. When Adobe's Indesign reached version 2, it had advanced beyond them all and I switched to that and have been using it ever since.

Recently I have had to reacquaint myself with Quark because a job that uses it to produce a monthly magazine. I knew the version at the magazine office was a little out of date and I was appalled at how little the software had changed. Well, the version there is not a little out of date... it's almost 8 years out of date! So glad to say, having a chance to play with the 2018 version, its very much improved. I still don't love it mind you, but it is a viable alternative to Indesign and Adobe's horrible subscription service.

Some of the best improvements are the in the interface which finally looks like a modern application, is much better and more logically organized and has a very nice preview window, something earlier versions lacked and made them very hard to design with. Maybe better still is the way it handles fonts and the typography in general. Also gone is the stupid adobe distiller requirement to make professional PDFs. That thing was always a pain and should have been gone long, long ago.

On the more negative side of things - the interface is improved but still not great to work in. Some things that should be easy, like adding a visible bleed to the document are hidden in weird menus you would not find unless you really look hard for them in the documentation. I hate how Quark handles images, it's the same as always and I don't get why they keep this workflow of basically an image window inside another, one to scale and distort and the other to move/scale the image within. You have to keep switching tools to work within an image. I find it slow to open as well, but even with that there is a huge improvement from the version I use at work.

A giant step forward is the ability builtin to open Indesign files, making switching to Quark pretty easy and while, again, it took a bit of time to figure out, you can break a PDF down into separate elements you can edit directly in Quark after you have imported it. Working at a magazine, there needs to be a way to have many people working on the same project and that is something Quark has always seemed to have an edge with.

 It's not as easy as Indesign and is not as full featured, but its more than up to most tasks and even makes some, like digital publishing easier than Adobe's offering.

So in general if you want to avoid the Adobe scam, Quark is a good way to do that - with one big caveat. The price. While it's available on the Mac App store now on sale for 400$ it's normal about double that for the full version. This is not a competitive price, especially for such an old software that has lost so much marketshare over the years.

Will I use it myself? Not likely, except in cases where the client insists (and pays enough for me to buy myself a licence). Affinity Publisher is still a ways off from releasing a truly usable commercial version but it already outdoes Quark in terms of interface and even some functions. Plus when officially released it's likely to be 50$-60$ with paid updates 3 years apart like their other software which will integrate seamlessly with it. If I had to use it, it wouldn't be the worst thing and I'm sure I'd get used to Quark's quirks pretty quickly.