Category: animation

I have found quite a lot of people who use the multiplane technique for animation, but was struggling to find an artist that used it – let alone an illustrator! fortunately one of my tutors mentioned Clive Walley, and the fact that he was an artist who used this technique in his work – layering up the individual pieces of glass with paints.

The clip below is taken from YouTube - and shows him creating a piece of work that was called ‘Brush stroke by Clive Walley’ and was shown at the Flip Fest 2007


Here is a second, more intricate piece – found at



As i am now looking at using this technology (in a very rough format i have to say – not Disney standard) i need to research the use of the ‘multiplane’ camera that Disney created. Just watching the video below (from is amazing! I love to see traditional techniques, there is something really special about Disney’s early work.

As i watch this i can see endless options for illustration, although there are many obstacles to be overcome – reflection from the light, the camera, how to light it, how to soften the light etc. One of the tutors has advised me to use either a white sheet or tracing paper around the glass and to form a tent and then to light it from the outside – as i am intending on doing the photography outside i will be using daylight so hopefully this will help.

Other people’s work that i will be looking at are  Clive Whalley, who uses this techniques with paint, and also Edward  Westons Peppers’ who uses white plastic tubes to take the photos in which gives a lovely soft light to the images.

Many more posts to follow!

image by Karen Cheung, taken from her home page 6/3/12


Karen started out studying zoology at Cambridge, but found that she enjoyed drawing animals and doodling instead (bet her parents were pleased about that!! lol) she then decided to do a second degree, this time in illustration (bet this pleased them even more!!) but the results of her studying was that she got a first class honours in illustration at bristol UWE, do ity must have been the right decision hey?

She made a film whilst at uni called ‘headache hotel’ which she showed us, it was created from simple lines, but i often find these the most appealing, rather than the digitally coloured ones – this can be seen on her website, as well as other anomations that she has done.

This film enabled her to send it off to the BBC to the animators of the year award, where she got short listed, and it was then played at animation festivals all over the world.

In her final year at uni she said she started panicking about what she was going to do and started drawing lots of weird things like dead things, she mentioned that you shouldn’t do what you don’t want to do if you aren’t passionate about it, and concentrate on what you do want to do.

She wrote a book for children whilst at uni called ‘sheepless’ which she entered for macmillan and she won. The book was made using mixed media, she said she used pencil, ink,acrylic, watercolours and crayons – anything she could get to hand really. Her book however didnt get published as they thought it was too gory, which really makes me question what the Macmillan Picture book competiton is all about as i have seen a few that have won it and not been published…is this not part of the criteria for judging it, are they not supposed to look at how it appeals to children? Because if they dont then what exactly is the point i wonder?

Karen did say that she wasnt a very confident person (as she stood in front of a couple of hundred students in the lecture hall) and that she did go to London to knock on the doors of design agencies to try and get work, but she admitted that she didnt push it.

She made a short film in her final year ‘welcome to the zoo’, and after graduation she had a degree show in London in a gallery, where her agent ‘Jelly’ were next door at the time and they saw her work and contacted her a few days later offering to put her on their books. This was in 2006 and at the time they were quite a new agency. She did say that this agency is not appropriate for children’s illustration though and mentioned one called plum pudding.Karen said that to get work as a children’s illustraot you really need to be able to show mock books you have already done.

She recommended that when you put your portfolio together you make it concise, and that you don’t put everything in there, as it then looks like you dont know what you do and what your strengths are.Whens he finished uni her tutors told her to go to studios, and so she went to 10 and showed her show reel.She made sure she had her website up and ready for them to look at.One of the studios sat and watched it with her and they were called ’12 foot 6′, they then rang her and asked her if she would do charcters for paramount comedy channel, of which of course she agreed.They wanted her to do animation but she didnt know how to do flash, so they actually sat with her for an hour and taught her – amazing!

Karen has worked for quite a list of clients, which are listed on her website but they include Paramount, Virgin Central, Virgin Media, Bookstart and a lot of car companies for some reason. I am wondering if this is what happens when you have an agent and let them find the work for you? Karen said she pays an amazing 30% to her agent, but she thinks this is worth is as she then doesn’t have to deal with money and fiances, she doesn’t have to speak to the clients, or go out and get the work, and she thought this was good as she wasn’t very confident. I really wanted to say to her though, don’t you think if you did deal with these people ou would become more confident?

At the end of the talk, which was very interesting, Karen spoke to us about getting work after uni.She said that when you are at uni you get advise from the tutors, but to take it with a pinch of salt as this is only their opinion, and it is also important to listen to other people about your work.Keep playing at your work, don’t get too tight, allow yourself to have happy accidents as they can take you down a new path! Be critical of yourself , and keep asking yourself if this is the best way to do something.

She talked about self promotion saying that you should be brave and approach people (this surely was meant to be tongue in cheek after she had said how un confident she was earlier?) turn up on doorsteps, and don’t take it personally when you get turned down as it happens a lot.

She also has a store on etsy, which she makes soft toys, but doesn’t earn much from it, she also does xmas cards, and she is on twitter and uses companies like spoon flower and envelop to make cushions.She also does Helfa Gelf as well. She keeps her hand in and does Life Drawing, and does a print making course at Yale College, and she says she tries to do a drawing every day!



‘The Ice Book is a miniature theatre show made of paper and light. An exquisite experience of fragile paper cutouts and video projections that sweep you right into the heart of a fantasy world. It is an intimate and immersive experience of animation, book art and performance.'(taken from the

i have tried to attach it but unfortunately i wasnt successful, so here is an image from it where you can see that the house background is made from paper, and then a video of the man is somehow combined with it to bring it to life, where he opens the door of the house etc – truly truly amazing and well worth watching on :_

The Ice Book

The following is their description of ‘behind the scenes’ taken fromtheir website, and is easier for me to just copy and paste it rather than re writing it all in my own words – i am acknowledging that it is their work and words so hopefully that is ok…..

One of the prizewinning episodes of 26 adventure stories made for small children and animated by the Danish paper sculptor Thok: 1960. For more information go to

Great stuff!! amazing what you can do with a piece of paper – has given me some ideas now! And if you look at this, done in 1960, and then compare to other animations that are done nowadays i can honestly say i have got more enjoyment watching this one!

Superb Animation – food dance

This really is my sort of animation!! Simple, yet incredibly creative and effective – especially at the end where they all start singing and then turn into flowers!! Excellent, and also shows you how th animation can be truly enhanced with the music and sound that is put with it!

This is the last of my posts recording the ‘narrative futures’ talks at the symposium at FACT on thursday.All of the presentations were based on the same theme connected with the future of the narrative, This particular skype talk lead on from the presentation by  Helen Bendons  on the ‘Locating Narrative’ project in 2008 where it was possible for the audience to interact with the landscape to create a mediascape experience.

Andy Hunter is the CEO and co founder of ‘Broadcaster’  which is described as :-  ‘an app for iPhone and Android that creates intimate and immersive experiences by unlocking pictures and audio relevant to where you are. It turns your smartphone into a multimedia guide to the world, and everyone can contribute.’ It continues to say:-

‘Go exploring with Broadcastr and you’ll find memories, insights, and enriching information about eclectic and everyday places on every continent on Earth. Take a walk while stories about your surroundings stream automatically to your phone. A celebrity chef whispers in your ear as you stroll past his favorite restaurant; a renowned architect guides you through lower Manhattan; a comedian shares a hilarious personal anecdote at her favorite bar. Your movement through the world becomes your search query. Download the app. Take a walk.’ (taken from

Hunter said that they have a user community of over 20,000, and that you can walk around different areas and learn anecdotes and information about people’s experiences of the areas. He did say that you had to be within 150 feet to be able to access the information. In his talk the example he gave was being able to walk around New York listening to the events of 9 – 11, which to be quite honest i found extremely distasteful, but i am sure that it would be interesting to experience in other formats.

He is also the co founder of ‘Electric Literature’ , and commissions writers to contribute to it. He said that  he used it to promote literature, and wanted to create meaningful experiences using social media, the format being short stories.

On thursday i had the pleasure of attending my first symposium at FACT in Liverpool. Not really knowing what a symposium was i was a little wary about what lay in store. I must admit for the first half an hour i felt totally out of my depth as i realised that the speakers seemed to have digested an academic dictionary before attending the session – and i wondered if it was also going over the heads of the other attendees?

The symposium was opened by the curator of Fact – Omar Kholeif, and incredibly well informed man, who was just a wealth of information on the ever changing role of the narrative.Omar introduced the type of questions that would be considered during the symposium as:-

*has the internet changed the way we  tell stories or give out information?

* has it altered our attention spans?

* has it made us more or less engaged?

* what role has the hyper-linked society?

* how can social media be used to its full capacity in narrative formulation?

Omar discussed whether the internet had changed the way we looked at things – with reference to art he mentioned the website  where art can be explored in a virtual environment, through the internet. My initial thought was that this saddened me a little as so much of art is experienced by actually being within its presence, but then i suppose if the art is conveyed in a digital  format then there wouldn’t be that much difference would there? However we seem to be breeding a world of solitary experiences, encouraging the use of the internet, the computer, the viewing of the digital format……..i tried to be open minded as i listened to the speakers throughout the afternoon…..

As i am very interested in the effect digital media has on our imagination and also our engagement in a narrative i was really looking forward to listening to this symposium. The list of speakers were :-

Andy Campbell – writer and media artist

Andy presented an interactive experience called ‘inanimate alice’. This is a digital experience that unfolds over multiple platforms, the series producer being Ian Harper of the Bradfield Company (  and the writer being Kate Pullinger. He says that there is no book,TV or film series attached to it, and that it is designed to be read from the screen only.He classes is as a ‘digital novel’, where technology meets literature! Originally it was purely web based but it then morphed into being used in the classrooms (on interactive whiteboards) and they have found that because of the interactive aspect of it it is actually encouraging young learners to use their literacy skills, and has also inspired people all over the world to develop their own episodes.

Inanimate Alice uses text, sound, images, games and much more. It tries to get maximum participation from its users,by including games and such like where the reader has to complete tasks as well as reading in order to progress ( i am wondering though at this stage what makes the experience that much different to a Playstation or Xbox game where most of the time participants are having to read and problem solve to progress through the game? – Have they worked out the fact that as kids are so pre occupied with gaming that they may as well include it in the reading experience or else they will not be able to compete? On first looking at inanimate alice i felt totally over stimulated with all the digital information that was being thrown at me.At one point there is a mobile phone on one side of the screen where you are supposed to be taking part in a game, whilst also reading the text at the other side and also listening to some very upbeat sounds and seeing moving colours and lights – all a bit too much for me, whether that is because i have ‘irlens’ syndrome ‘i don’t know, or whether it is to do with my age and the fact that i am not a ‘gamer’ and am not used to it i don’t know.

Here is a teacher called Sarah Brownsword who does a pretty good job at explaining what it is all about:-

You can also experience this more on the official website –

I think i am going to test this site out on my 12 year old and let him play on it and give me some feedback, as at the end of the day it is kids of his age that will probably get the most out of it.

I was concerned though about the effect on the imagination in children and whether or not we are just flooding their senses by over stimulating them. I was pleased to hear Andy say that as Alice herself is never shown in the episodes young children have actually been encouraged to draw alice and create their own. This is good, but i did wonder why they could not encourage more participation with reference to creativity – it is not all about a child’s ability to read – it is about children’s ability to also be able to create from what they read!! They did however mention that there are only 4 episodes so far and that they think that episode 5 may consist of contribution from others, so that in itself is quite creative, however as this application is aimed at all ages, i wonder if they could create one that is only geared at children and included much more scope for children to create their own characters, sounds etc?

I may post again after my sons experience!

The incredibly talented Daisy Dawes - in her studio (image from Liverpool Echo)

Yesterday we had the total hour of attending a lecture given by Daisy Dawes, who is a model maker and children’s ilustrator. It was a whirlwind of an hour where Daisy took us quickly through her career to date, and told us of all the wonderful people she had worked with and the projects she had been involved in – a truly busy lady!

Daisy was very fortunate to be born into a creative family, both her parents were ceramicists and she grew up around 3D work, so it was not surprising that after completing an art foundation course she then continued her education at Plymouth University where she studied animation.Here she was able to develop her model making,which had always been of great interest to her.

Daisy was  again very fortunate to have an amazing start to her career as she met up with Roy Scott, who was a Harry Potter model maker, and found herself working on a production of Harry Potter called ‘The Philosophers Stone’ (Warner Bros).In this film she told us that she was responsible for designing and putting the windows into Hogwarts, of which she said they were given a huge budget, but then they had to be created to a huge scale as well.

After Harry Potter she worked on Pingu (hot animation) in Altrincham, but also continued to write and create storyboards for people.She also worked on ‘Rex the Runt ‘ (aardman) and she felt that it was when she worked for Aardman she learned the most about model making.

With the rise of CGI there became less need for model making and so she decided to turn her interests towards creating books , but using her model making skills she created ‘puppets’ for the stories and then photographed them and used them in the story. The puppets are made of Bolsa wood and wire, so that their limbs can be moved easily.These models were used in her first book ‘Get Ahead Fred’ – of which she brought the models in to show us.

Her first book

some of the puppets in 'get ahead fred'

the man himself - and his interchangeable hats!

Daisy talked a lot about how she progressed through her career, how she promoted herself and the opportunities she had. This was invaluable. One of the places she said she went to was the London Book Fair, where she left some of her ‘packs’.She then returned home and pretty soon got a call from Maverick Books (children’s book publishers) and this then led to her starting to publish children’s books. She has also done lots of other things to promote herself, some of them including dressing up as an Egyptian to work with children in Manchester.

She recommended that we constantly researched into the different publishers and their type of work, and the work they are looking for at the moment.She said it was important to be current with your information.She recommended the’ Writers and Artists Yearbook’ particularly the one aimed at children.

Talking about her own work she said that she felt it was important to have a clear style and then to stick to it, and that as you go into the market you will come across people who will try and dilute it or change it and that you need to stay true to yourself. Daisy said that she didn’t write for children necessarily but that she “writes for anyone who wants to read it”. She admitted that she had been approached by people for work and turned it down as she wasn’t happy with what they were going to do with her work, or the way they were going to portray it. She says she doesn’t ‘talk down’ to kids, and quoted Roald Dahl as saying “children are a bunch of savages” – she takes this to mean that children are often underestimated, and they are actually capable of grasping so much more than we think they are.She commented that children do not always want the cute and cuddly, and that quite often they like the grotesque – i would agree, but would say that it was also dependant on their age, very young children and babies don’t necessarily want to look at scary, gory images!

Daisy said that it is important to look at the market, and that there are so many ways to get your work out there – ebooks, amazon, apps for IPad etc, and that you need to constantly look at how your work can fit into these markets.She recommended that you made your characters versatile so that this opened up opportunities for how it could be used int he future – ie used for film/ animation/ merchandise etc.She said that one of her next projects she is working with a composer and an animator, and is taking things ‘off the page’ and taking it into theatres etc and reaching the audience in a different way.

She said she has had many many rejection letters, from agents and publishers, but said not to be disheartened as each publisher and agent is looking for something different, and it may not be that your work isn’t good enough, more that it isn’t right for their company.Her advice is that we should look for the right publisher, and that it was all about connecting with the right publisher for us. – don’t go with the first one that shows interest as they may not be the right one!

As well as writing books, model making and animation Daisy admitted that sometimes you have to do other things to bring the money in until you get your name known, and she has worked a lot for the Tourist Board, writing brochures for them, but then has also done a lot of work in schools with the children, read at libraries to groups of kids, done events at Waterstones, done penny readings in Liverpool – on the stage reading her book and many other things.She says she is fortunate now though to be able to support herself and earn a good income doing what she loves.

Some good advice Daisy gave was on what to include in your ‘pack’ – the one that promotes you, and the one that you may just leave somewhere in the hope that it will be picked up by the right person…..

  • CV
  • Profile about yourself (saying what you do outside of your illustration)
  • A photograph of yourself
  • A list of projects you have/are working on
  • Show reel  or DVD if animation
  • Your manuscript (if it is a picture book then the full manuscript)
  • Some examples – printed papers and concepts

As well as the London Book Fair Daisy also recommended Bologna Children’s Book Festival in Italy, and in fact classed it as the biggest and best in the world, she said that there were dozens of people there to help you!

In conclusion – the hour with Daisy was priceless!! I went to speak to her afterwards, as she had read the book to us ‘get  ahead Fred’ and i had noticed that she had used ‘rhyme’ in it (which i loved and thought that was where the humour came from) and i was interested to know if anyone had  ever tried to put her off writing in rhyme as  i had sometimes been discouraged in the past because of the fact that rhyme does not always translate into other languages and that can sometimes limit your potential as far as publishers are concerned, with reference to selling the rights to the international market.- she very kindly encouraged me to be true to myself and do what i felt passionate about, and that there were still plenty of successful illustrator/authors that were writing using rhyme. I took her advice , continued to develop a book that uses poetry, and am hoping that it will be successfully published in time – thanks daisy!!

Thought i would put this on the blog, and then i know where it is for future reference,  mind you why i would want it i’m not sure, maybe it’s just to acknowledge the amount of work it took drawing each individual frame? or that i managed to do it at all? Who knows, but for the sake of posterity here it is!!