There’s an Ira Glass quote that I’m quite fond of (which I have previously posted about on this very blog, actually). It’s something that I’ve struggled with growing up; the desire to do something well, and then struggling with the road that takes you from not doing it well, through to actually succeeding at something. There are a lot of relative quotes that you could bring up – the “ten thousand drawings” one is a good example, that you have ten thousand bad drawings inside you and underneath all those are the good ones – so every time you do a bad drawing, that’s just another one of the stack. Put it aside, crack on with the next one. You could say the same thing about the Ira Glass quote. Just do a lot of stuff.

But it’s good to have a path to follow sometimes.

Which is where Ctrl+Paint comes in. This is a website that was put together by Matt Kohr, concept artist and illustrator, who has been slaving away over the last couple of years putting together a load of really fantastic videos about digital painting – but even better than that, some basic drawing videos as well. These are proper instructional videos with homework for you to do, and fall into place as part of a course to get you drawing (and more importantly, thinking and looking properly).

As someone who missed out on basic art training, they are fantastic.

Apart from my time at Animation Mentor, I feel like I’ve never really done ‘proper’ art training. My Contemporary Art degree was really more about my writing than anything else (the art course amounted to trying to teach you to ‘think’ differently about art). As far as traditional skills go, I feel like I’m sorely lacking, and local art courses are essentially non-existent (the ones I have signed up for have been cancelled due to lack of interest). I’ve created digital art in the past, but it’s been without any solid foundation in understanding things like composition. I’ve just gone on instinct. So having these videos, with Matt’s instruction, and a roadmap of exercises to run through, is fantastic.

I’ll be diving into the videos over the next few weeks, with the intent of doing one a day (video plus homework assignment), and will be posting some WIP as I go along. I’ll be starting with the basic drawing lessons, and then move forward into the other digital painting videos as I go forward. The beautiful thing about learning traditional skills is they all feedback into the work (and journey) of animating – as Andrew Stanton put it, to be worthy of the name ‘animator’.

Check out Ctrl+Paint and have a look through the videos; if you’re looking to develop digital painting skills, or simply to start drawing better than you currently do, they are well worth a watch.

Then get a pencil and get drawing. Ten thousand bad drawings to go.



With the arrival to these shores of Wreck-It Ralph in recent days (why oh why are we getting it six months after the rest of the world, I do not know), I thought I’d throw up a quick post regarding Paperman, which I believe is being shown in front of Wreck-it. I think it’s awesome that Pixar has moved that concept of short-before-feature over to Disney; a good animated short is a joy to behold.

The combination of 2D and 3D is fascinating, and definitely gives Paperman a unique look that I think would be hard to achieve by any other means. It’s not really cel-shaded, but at the same time is far more detailed than I think traditional hand-drawn would want to go (given the amount of time and effort required to control the drawings through each shot).

Take a look. The in-betweening software is akin to witchcraft.

I’m not sure if this tech will go places in future, but anything that broadens out the range of styles that are being used in mainstream animation can only be a good thing.

Ten Keys Project

Working from the titles of the different chapters of a guide to creating successful projects; each shot was conceptualised from the title, working to find fun and entertaining ways of opening each short film.

Shots were then storyboarded and the initial concepts signed off on by the client. Assets were then created, animated and composited together. Final renders were then handed off to the editor who added sound fx and completed each shot. Each title sequence begins with the same motif of doors opening before moving into the original animation for each key. A fun little project to do, and one where I got to do some 2D hand-drawn animation; the magic trick of drawing a few lines and then seeing them move never gets old.