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All Posts in Peblo

28th April 2020

Desk mate

Plywood model of a character called I made to accompany me whilst I work from home

Ever since I first started sketching Peblo, I had this idea of how he might look in 3D. Rather than a round and soft shape, I always imagined him being faceted. That way he had a very distinct silhouette and could allow me to sit him on different sides when it came to animation.

A physical version could be made from all sorts of materials. A block of wood sanded down in an assortment of angles to make a faceted shape or cast in concrete. I never liked the idea of creating a cgi version of him. Yet, the biggest issue I had was tooling up. Sanding a block of wood would look great but getting access to a standup sander was tricky. Sadly I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same effect doing it by hand.

Early sketches and inspiration

So to keep things simple, I toyed with the idea of making him out of concrete or resin. In order to do that, I’d need a mould which meant making a model of him first out of Balsa wood. Balsa wood because it’s cheap to buy and easy to cut with a fine saw.

It was actually quite difficult to sculpt because I didn’t realise how brittle balsa is. So achieving clean lines proved pretty challenging. After a couple iterations, I’m happy with the texture but might try sculpting a potato (yep I said potato) to achieve sharper lines. Then I can cover it in silicone to make a reusable mould.

Sculpting a block of balsa wood

The many incarnations of Peblo!

How he looks nowadays

I love these types of projects because you just need to get stuck in to find your way. Often you make mistakes, but that’s all part of it! Just playing it by ear is so much fun. It’s refreshing and such a contrast to my day job where you only have so much time. Deadline-free, I thought: as long as there was a similar texture and charm to the illustrated version then I’m happy. Otherwise it’s not a Peblo.

So when I had set aside some leftover plywood for my van, thinking I’d make a table out of it....I thought how often am I really going to use it?! Instead let’s make 2x huge versions of Peblo. That way I could experiment a bit, choose the best and maybe sell/gift the other one. Who wouldn’t want to be greeted by that face every day - especially during lockdown!

Getting started

I did some loose sketches by hand. I’d not drawn Peblo this big before and wasn’t too precious about him looking exactly like the illustration. So did some rough planning in pencil before cutting.

Cut once. Measure twice.

I don’t own a work bench so I have to make do with this ledge in the garden. I’ve cut everything this way. It can a bit laborious! So maybe I’ll indulge in a proper work bench later down the line. I’m sure the neighbours would appreciate something less echoey!

Coarse Sand. Fine sand.

After some sought after advice from a chippy, I used a coarse grit sand first then finished in a finer grit. I’d never really paid much attention to grit level before - but it makes a hell of a difference when you’re painting wood.

White wash

I was keen to find a way to paint the wood but not fully cover the grain because there was some really nice texture coming through. A white wash was the answer. You just water down the paint your using, and use a cloth to rub into the wood. Also it doesn’t have to be white paint, it can be any colour you like. I used some scraps to test the paint colours I bought along with ways to apply it such as a cloth, toothbrush, wire wool and brushes.

The real deal

Then it was time to get stuck in. I masked off shapes so I could make it look faceted. You couldn’t keep the tape on there for too long - otherwise you created quite strange borders. I took my time to build up the layers of colours. Switching between the light and darker colours to add depth and mimic the illustration. I added texture with a toothbrush - either flicking it to make specks or dragging it across the surface.

Painted edges

The edges looked a little odd left natural, so I finished them in the dark paint.

Finishing touch

Equally the most important aspect was Peblo’s face. I used a couple penny’s to map out where the eyes should go. 1p size so I could paint circles larger and not leave any pencil marks behind. Painting his smile and eyes was absolutely nerve racking. I haven’t got a steady hand! But I’m quite happy with how one of them turned out. It’s the circles that are a struggle, with a paint brush you ended up making so many mistakes you have keep going back over what you’ve done.

Sure enough since making him, I’ve had my photograph taken with Peblo - a neighbour is taking portraits of self isolators in Southville as part of a photography project. Interested to see how that turns 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)

30th January 2019

Peblo animation

I've been messing around in procreate a lot recently on my ipad in the bid to animate a little character called Peblo. Here's a rough animation test I did earlier today using After Effects. I really like the time delay for the facial features so it feels more realistic and charming at the same time.

Still some work to be done in animating the water and movement of Peblo as the water catches him by surprise.