Saturday, 11 October 2014

'Queen Khalifa'...

I drew this as a gift for one of my supporters on Tumblr who I've only just recently had the pleasure of connecting with, but has been such an encouragement & genuine supporter of my work.

Just a little something to say, "thanks"... Titled it, 'Queen Khalifa'.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Influences of Royalty...

Continuing on from my previous costume design for this character, here's the latest... Gave this one the name, 'Joseph'.

For this costume, I took influence from Ancient Egyptian (Kemetic) plus a few traditional West Afrikan fashion influences of royalty... A very common misconception people have of Afrikan history is that other than Egypt (for the few who are aware Egypt is in Afrika), nothing else of equal or greater significance occurred... This couldn't be further from the truth.

Afrika has always had a rich & ancient history of powerful civilizations with great Kings & Queens. One such figure was the West Afrikan Emperor, Mansa Musa, who was ruler of the Mali empire during the 13th century, & is historically recorded as to have been the wealthiest man to have lived at that time; & some say to this day... It is said that during his well known pilgrimage to Mecca, when passing through Egypt, he gave out so much gold that it literally threw off the Egyptian economy.

 Here's a documentary on the West Afrikan Empire of Mali.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Representation Matters...

Here's the finished illustration of a character I designed a few weeks ago for an early & developing theme of 'The Great & True Afrikan Histories'... This theme, which I'm extremely passionate about, primarily is to create content which represents, celebrates & honors the Black Afrikan culture & it's true/ rich histories. I set myself this goal as something that will be an ongoing theme because, firstly, I truly believe that 'representation matters'; generally & especially when we talk of mainstream media... Something I was always aware of as a young boy (though never really understood) was that the reality I lived in being black was in no way near represented enough in media (particularly TV) to reflect not just my reality, but general, 'social' reality in itself. Secondly, as far as Black/ Afrikan history went, this was (is) a history that was not being told, or told accurately (in media & in schools).

So with all that being said (which brings us to now), I feel a strong conviction & responsibility to play what part I can in addressing these issues & telling these histories with my talents... So with each illustration I post, I'll be including links to video lectures, documentaries & articles which highlight information on various great & ancient Afrikan civilizations, plus major events in TRUE World history, which unfortunately most of us have never heard... [Disclaimer] Some of it may seem controversial & much of it probably tough to process, but my ultimate intention is to educate & celebrate... I hope you'll join me on this journey of discovery, learning & the celebration of wonder & mystery in 'The Great & True Afrikan Histories'  ;)

This character's outfit I designed as a ceremonial-type attire, as I imagined him to be a young man/ Prince about to earn his 'Rite of Passage'. The white marks on his skirt (wrapper) represent 'cowrie shells', which are quite common in the traditional fashion of many African cultures.

His skin I wanted to be jet black for many reasons; the main being to unapologetically celebrate it as the badge of strength & beauty that it is...

For some reason, though he'd be a young man in his very early 20's, the visual of him having a crown of white hair was appealing to me... Strong, fearless & noble; I decided to give him the name 'Samson' (after my Father, in his youth).

I have two more pieces (for now) I'll be finishing off soon, but hope you dig this one for the time being. More of my work here.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

One month at Tiger...

Hi folks! Hope you're all healthy & well? I can't quite believe how fast 2014 already seems to be going! It's been roughly one month & a week [updated below] since starting at Tiger Aspect, so thought I'd share my experience so far with you all.

So for those who missed my last post, I'm currently employed by Tiger Aspect Animation as a 2D character animator on the second season of the 'Mr Bean: Animated' show. I had initially planned to make a post at the end of my first day there, but never found the time.

Day one was great. We were given a tour of the studio by the production manager & then shown to our desks, where we had place-cards waiting for us at our allocated work stations [classy]. There are 3 teams of animators on the production; I was one of 6 in team 1 starting that first week. Team 2 followed the week after, & team 3 the week after that.

A little about the production... We're working in Cel-Action (CA); a program originally created for producing advanced cut-out-style animation... I'd used it years ago on one of my first industry jobs for a studio called Dinamo Productions where I was an animator on a Welsh animated TV series called CNEX. Here's a scene from the show [I animated the couple in the bed]...

Needless to say, but since it had been so long since I'd opened the software, I needed to have a crash course to familiarise myself with it again, which the studio ran for about 2 or so weeks. During those few weeks, I quickly discovered that today's version of CA is far FAR more advanced than what I remembered or ever thought it could be. The layout & interface was more or less the same, but the things you can do in it now + the results you can achieve really are quite incredible. I'll save going into the details of that for another post, but for the most part, a finished scene could easily pass for something that was hand-animated. Here's a showreel of an old friend of mine which demonstrates just a little of what can be done technically within the software.

*UPDATE* Since it's taking me so long to find the time to write this post, this in now current my 6th month at Tiger Aspect [haha]... Crazy!  So much has happened between when I first began composing this post to now, like the studio craftily surprising me on my birthday with a sing song & customised cake that almost gave me a stroke!

It's actually become somewhat of a tradition at the studio, so you can just imagine how much cake I've eaten over the past 6 months... Just last week in fact, there were 4 birthdays! For those who haven't seen me in a few months, I may look a little looser around the hips & chin area, but don't be afraid, it is me.

It's been an incredibly challenging but progressive few months getting to grips with the software whilst adjusting to series animation production time-frames. It's generally more of a faster pace than working in commercials, but again, I'll go into the details of that in another post. I will say I do miss the extra freedom I had being freelance, but only from a 'personal work' point of view... For those who know me well, I'm someone who likes to create & be creative all the time. I have films I want to make, paintings/ illustrations I want to produce, & generally much I aim to achieve which all require a lot of time, focus & dedication. So I'm finding I now have to be a lot more disciplined with my free time... This more than anything else is what I'm dealing with most.

All in all though, I'm very much enjoying my time here! I'm working with a bunch of positive & very talented individuals who are brilliant at what they do in their given areas of production. Also many opportunities are presenting themselves which confirm that this is currently where I'm meant to be, & I know I have God to thank for that.

Signing off now, but here's a full crew photo for those interested in counting how many people it requires to produce this 2nd season of Mr Bean TAS, in comparison to the 1000's it took to produce the first... Can you spot me?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend & have a positive week!
More to come...


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Sketch Dailies' 'Aquaman'...

Hello all! Apologies for my lack of presence here; I'll give you a great excuse on the next post (which has been in 'draft' mode for the past couple months) ;) Anyway, here's an 'Aquaman' piece I did as a fun first time contribution to the Sketch Dailies community. [line-art version below]

I've been off sick the past couple days, so got a chance to put a little more time & effort into the rendering... Working on 'Mr Bean: the animated series' is certainly keeping me busy (more news there in the next post, so stay tuned)... I think this is actually the first painted piece I've done this year, so felt good! Hope you like & feel free to share. [More to come]


Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Year, New Beginnings...

Happy 2014 everyone! Oh how time flies... Feels like only yesterday I was writing my annual list of "Things to do/ Achieve in 2013", yet here I am again, now compiling a new one.

Last year really was one of the most exciting, pro-active & eventful years I've had... Industry-wise, at several stages I was actually having to turn down other freelance work as I was far too busy to take on any more (crazy!). Just to share some of the highlights with you; I had the pleasure of working for Aardman on a short commercial job for 'Swatch' watches (which I'll post up as soon as I get a copy of the masters). Worked for a great studio called ETC (Electric Theatre Collective) as an animator & character designer on a series of idents for 'Talk Talk' which featured on the X-Factor TV show. I was there for about 5 months, & it was a great experience as I got to work with old friends of mine I hadn't seen in years, plus make some new ones too. Best of all, I learnt a lot! Thanks to these two "superstars", Daniela Negrin Ochoa & Margot Tsakiri-Scanatovits (who were animators also), I now know how to animate in Photoshop (Thanks ladies x)! I attended two epic weddings of good friends of mine; one in Serbia & the other here in London... 

And lastly, as of late December, I moved into my very own brand new apartment! All these things I have God solely to be thankful for. I still have a whole bunch of picture frames to put up, but for now, here a snap of my studio corner.

In other news (which I really should've mentioned above), back sometime in December, I was contacted by a producer from 'Tiger Aspect' (a British TV production company here in London) with an invite to interview for a job as an animator on the 'Mr Bean animated series' (now entering it's 2nd season). Admittedly, I initially wasn't looking for such a role, as I've been freelance for the past 6-7 years & have been fairly comfortable; but from walking through the doors of the studio, being greeted by a very jovial receptionist, observing that all the employees had smiles on their faces- seeming genuinely happy to be there; lastly, to the fact that the interview was one of the most fun & informal I've ever had... I got the general vibe that this would be a great place to work. I accepted the offer a few days later.

So as of the 27th of this month, this'll be my new 'industry home' for the first half of 2014.
Here's to a happy, healthy & prosperous new year for us all!