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All Posts in Learning

28th January 2020

Blue Monday

In light of Blue Monday last week - considered the most depressing day of the year by those heads of consumerism - I thought I'd inject a little fun into my day. I've been obsessed with watching tutorials on how to dance the Lindyhop recently (a late 20's swing type dance that was huge in America). It's such a joyful thing to watch and listen to. Wish me luck with the dancing!


It was refreshing to draw people like this. I'd usually stay clear of anything that involves people. I found some great imagery online to use as reference - otherwise the people would have looked a little more blob like.

16th October 2019

Olympus OM2n doodle


Last night, I managed to set aside some time to do some drawing. It's been a little while so I felt a bit rusty using layers and choosing which brushes to shade with but I got there in the end. This is a very loose drawing (with no true perspective or source of lighting) of my Olympus film camera - I particularly like the subtle texture I've managed to create on the lens ring. It's deliberately made to look strange, creating a 3d shape in 2d form is where the fun bit comes in.

7th October 2019

Saving Svanskär

Save Svanskar boat towed out of the water at Underfall Yard in Bristol

Following a sad break-up early this year, I found myself with all this new time to spare. I'm not one to complain about having free time but it doesn't necessarily make you more productive unfortunately. Keeping busy did help take my mind off things and now I'm more motivated than ever to travel and experience new things. One thing I had always been interested in but never pursued was volunteering. Not sure where or when but if i could lend some spare time helping others then I could see the value in that - I've always been passionate about working on things. Also I didn't fancy taking up the gym or paying for some other hobby just for the sake of it.

So I entertained the idea for a little while, looking at ads on Reed, talking to friends and having a general scout for anything of interest. The National Autistic Society needed a buddy for 1-2 evenings a week for a couple hours so I applied. Disappointingly I never heard anything back and reflecting on it now, I should have fished for a proper response. It would have been really useful and rewarding working with youngsters on the autistic spectrum.

At some point along the line, I installed an app called HelpfulPeeps. A free place to post any favours or offer help to others. There's some incredibly humbling things happening on it, where total strangers impart knowledge, advice or offer help where they can. It's all self regulated and you're encouraged to swap skills instead of money.

"Painters needed to restore our boat" the ad read or something along these lines. When you clicked through to read more, it gave an account of how Greg and Tash came to own Svanskär, an old Swedish fishing vessel which had fell into disrepair. They described how much of a challenge it is and will continue to be but wanted to give it a new lease of life. There was no sign up to be a volunteer, more "any help is welcome". So that Saturday, I nipped over to Underfall Yard - where Svanskär had been towed out of the water in order to work on it's hull. Ultimately to protect it and keep it water tight.


Reusing some leftover wood, I created this A-frame sign for Greg and Tash to signpost their fundraising goal and encourage more people to get involved.

Since that first day, I've really enjoyed being part of something bigger. And whilst I have no clue about Boats, they've been really supportive and I've got to learn about knots, woodwork and Fenders (not the guitar). Everyone I've met has a wealth of different skills and ideas which brings so much to the experience. We also have a good laugh! There's no getting rid of me yet and I hope to continue helping them where and when I can.

If you want to know more or fancy getting involved, please send me a message or visit the links below.

For updates and a record of the work we've been doing, go here. If you're able to help us fundraise, you can donate here or help spread the word by sharing the same link.


27th July 2019

Happy Go Skate Day

To help celebrate Happy Go Skate Day last month I put this jolly little animation together for it. My workplace, Six shared it on Instagram as quite a few of us either grew up skating or still do it to this day so it seemed like a fitting tribute. Fortunately, I managed to finish the whole thing in just one sitting (which is unusual for me!). That said if I took any longer, I would have missed putting it out on the day so having tight deadlines are good because you are realistic with what you can do and commit to.

With that in mind, the simpler the better. Most importantly it had have soul and capture some aspect of skateboarding. I used the half pipe shape to draw a big smiley on the page, then thought about how the skateboarder should skate. One aspect I thought of was based on something I've recently been learning which is to go up and back down the ramp effortlessly and let gravity do the hard work for you. It sounds so basic and easy when you talk through it and technically it is really. All it involves is a little trust in how you're moving and patience. So when you go up a ramp, naturally you'll get to a point where you've stopped propelling and gravity will help bring you back down to Earth (excuse my very basic Science lingo), at this point you want to relax and turn your head back down the ramp to turn your board and ride away clean. Here's a much better way to explain what I just mentioned along with a video.

It was that smooth, gradual and floaty movement that I wanted to mimic in my animation. When the character races across the bottom of the ramp, I stretched his body to exaggerate his movement which is a technique I've wanted to toy with for a while.

All in all, I'm really happy with how this turned out!

19th March 2019

Peblo 2.0

In my last post, I showed the first iteration of my Peblo animation. In case you missed it, here it is again.

On a basic level, I wanted to create a scene where the main character is caught off guard by a wave and bursts out in a fit of laughter. Before shortly returning back to normal. This is my first story using the character Peblo which I created a few years back. He's been steadily evolving into a more solid idea and style over the last few months in the bid to start creating short animations with him. The illustration was created in Procreate and animated using Adobe After Effects.

In my first iteration, I learnt how to control facial expressions using sub comps and hold frames to switch between different states e.g. blinking, smile changing to open mouth. To mimic how gravity effects your eyes, nose and cheeks when you jump upright - I learnt how to add a delay to a null object. That way when Peblo giggles and starts to move up and down, his features are offset so they move a fraction of a second after his body.

The problems I faced however were:

  • How do I make the water more obvious that it's water.
  • How do I make the scene feel more realistic but not compromise on style too much.
  • Is it clear that Peblo is giggling?
  • Does Peblo move in a natural/smooth way?
  • Is it clear that we're viewing the stone from above on a beach where the waves are crashing onto the shoreline?

This time, I used various effects to help achieve the final outcome. Through some experimentation, I managed to find an effect called "Dissolve melt" which allowed me  to create a layer which looked like water drying on a surface. I used this for Peblo's face, to show he wasn't submerged but sitting just above the top of the water.

I also revisited the background, opting to move away from a minimal detail view to something that felt more familiar with the texture and colour of Peblo. This was so the viewer felt the character was in his natural habitat, and therefore easier to identify.

Just like how if you get close enough up to sand, you start seeing different colour grains and materials, I added further spots of colour to visually convey how close the scene is from the camera. To exaggerate the movement of the water, I added a stick and blue bottle top to the scene - animating them in their own unique way to create depth and realism.

As for Peblo himself, I tweaked the delay of the null objects ever so slightly so the animation felt tight and subtle. To show he was laughing, I disrupted the water by adding ripples and a turbulent displace effect to distort the detail. (I'm now thinking I should also distort the shape of the stones underneath as you would be looking through the water at them)