Production Update 100

It’s been a busy week, so let’s recap the progress. I had a great meet up with a couple local independent film makers, where we discussed writing and some other aspects of film making. In terms of writing, we tackled short and long form stories and even touched on dialogue. It is great to have resources and individuals to discuss things with and get each person’s unique perspective on various aspects of writing.

I was able to get in a few of my 3D modeling tutorials as well. I have already learned quite a bit and the keyboard shortcuts based on repetition are going to save so much time later. Aiming to get a few more of these knocked out this week and to wrap up the modeling portion of the first course.

I wanted to spend some time this week on my artist alley posters and had a really successful week. I finished up the second drawing and was able to ink, color and shade both pieces I have been working on. I am aiming to wrap up one of the posters this week.

In preparations for my first artist alley appearance, I also designed and ordered some cards for people to be able to pick up and remember the series and also has links to the blog and social media outlets. They should be here at the end of the week, so you can bet that I will be sharing those online once I get them!

The only thing I didn’t get done this week that I wanted to, was the animatic for the portion of the motion comic I am working on. The current plan is to get on it tomorrow night and get it things timed out and roughly rendered. Also planning on attending a one day “mini” con in my hometown next weekend. it will be their fist event so I am eager to see what they came up with.

Rage Session 7: Tips for Character Design

I haven’t wrote a “rage session” for a while and I had this topic on my mind for a while now. It started one night on a Facebook discussion with one of my friends who was struggling with some character designing for a character in an animation he was working on. So I thought I would share some thoughts and more on it and also some process behind what I do for character design, such as; choosing hair (color, style, etc), clothing, distinguished marks and more.

One of the main things that potentially gets overlooked when designing characters is functionality. What I mean by that is, does what the character wear, use and even hairstyle match what the character is doing. Let’s look at the below example, Tomb Raider.

0078868740008_500X500If you are not familiar with Tomb Raider (Lara Croft), she usually is out in the wild looking for treasures and solving puzzles. The places she explores range from the jungle to ancient ruins and more. She often gets into danger, hence why she is carrying weapons. Do you see where this is going? Her shorts and tight shirt are to help not only keep her cool in the jungle climates, but they also won’t interfere with her as she is performing all of the jumps and running throughout the world. If her clothes were baggy, long and not tight fitting, they could get in her way if she has climbing or other maneuvers to perform. She has a little pack to carry items in that she finds on her journey. Notice her hair? It’s in a ponytail, otherwise her hair would be in her face as she was running, jumping and tomb-raiding. Her design is practical for the world she will be living and interacting in.

Let’s take a look at a couple more characters.

Rurouni+Kenshin_wallpapers_89These two characters are Kenshin (left with red hair) and ShiShio (Blue and on the right). The characters are set in historic Japan, which is why the two characters are wearing traditional clothing. The main points of these characters are ways of converting their history into their character design. For instance, Kenshin has a scar on his face. In the story, Kenshin was an assassin and killed many people. The scar is a way to show the viewer constantly his past. If you were flipping through channels, and came across this show and saw Kenshin, without knowing any of the story, you would immediately tell he had a rough past.

Shishio on the other hand, you get the same vibe of a troubled past. However, the bandages are a little more mysterious because we don’t know why he is covered in them. This uneasy and mysterious vibe help play into his role of the bad guy. We eventually find out they are covering his burns, but he could have easily been scarred like Kenshin from a blade or he could have some kind of deformation, skin disease or more.

So let’s take one last character, Light from Deathnote.



Light is a high school student that discovers a notebook in which he can use to kill people. However, the majority of the story is based heavily in the real world which means his outfit needs to be the same.

Light is a smart kid, the smartest in his class and a master at planning. To reflect his high IQ, his school uniform needs to portray that it is a higher end school. The tie and jacket give his uniform that extra boost of prestigiousness. His pants appear pressed, he is sporting dress shoes and the shirt is tucked in as well. You could argue that all of this is pretty normal, which it is, the show is based in the real world with some other worldly aspects. But we are overlooking one key area to Light’s character, his hair. His longer hair reflects his darker mischievous side.

When Light is distressed, his hair and tie are used to reflect his inner emotions and become frazzled and unkept. So it is important to see how you can use these supporting design elements to help convey emotions if need be.

If you have your own favorite characters, look at their design and see how it fits and supports their role in the universe and if it is functional as well.



Rage Session #6 Anticipation

Last week we discussed some timing and pacing, which is a pretty expansive and might go into another post as well. However, today we are going to switch gears and go into a topic that kind of supports timing and that is anticipation.

Anticipation is an animation principle that crosses over into the world of story writing as well. If you have taken any writing courses, you may also have heard the term foreshadowing as well. This means that we you lead up to certain events, or you can lead the audience on (tease) and not go through with the actual pay off.

Foreshadowing helps events in your story make sense and seem less random. There are different degrees of foreshadowing. For instance you can have a very subtle hint of foreshadowing, like a character could mention something in an inner monologue or in a conversation. They don’t need to dwell on the topic, but something mentioned even in passing can be enough to plant a seed of a potential plot twist.

These types of foreshadowing can be sprinkled in multiple times if you want the audience to pick up on it, or you could simply use it once or twice. If you use subtle foreshadowing, you can get some pretty large payoffs and unexpected turns. For instance two characters could be talking and one mentions how badly they dislike another character. You have now given the audience a bit of knowledge into the relationship between characters, and by opening that door, you may need to resolve that conflict.

Conversely, you could argue that continual foreshadowing of an event leads up to a large payoff as well. Imagine a show where a boy and girl character hint at a relationship and finally get together after several seasons.

In both instances we are building up an anticipation for a future event. By setting them up in certain ways, we can help control our audiences emotions. When using the subtle foreshadowing, it’s possible to sneak things past the audience leading to more surprising events. Not all events need to be foreshadowed, but I am a believer in using it when possible. If you consistently foreshadow an event it is just a matter of time until that needs to be resolved. Imagine the relationship between Kagome and InuYasha from the series InuYasha. The whole series we can see that there is a spark between the two characters, but we have no idea if Kagome is going to stay in feudal Japan or if she is going to return to her own time.

The longer you play out consistent foreshadowing, the more critical it is to have it pay off. If two characters have a discussion and one mentions something in passing, but we don’t do anything with it as a writer. Such as the above example about a character disliking another, if we choose to do nothing with this then it seems like a harmless sentence. But, if we have two characters continually in an emotional flux and then don’t resolve the issue, your audience is going to feel let down after the payoff.

One of the reasons, in my opinion, that InuYasha is a great example, is because we know something between InuYasha and Kagome has to happen before the show can end. Will they stay together or will Kagome return home? Will she still visit? We are consistently teased, however, the payoff comes in it not being predictable. We know Kagome is going to have to make that decision and some point, and that is why we keep watching. Is she going to stay in her era or remain in feudal Japan. Now if the entire story was in feudal Japan and Kagome was born and raised in that time, the story becomes a little easier to predict. In the actual story, Kagome needs to decide to stay with someone who she has fallen in love with, InuYasha, or she has to return home to her family.

With this struggle set up, we can see Kagome going either way and makes us eager to hear her decision. She stands to lose something no matter which way she chooses.

Anticipation is also something I read about when I was learning about storyboarding and background design for manga. That is something called a set up. Let’s say we have two characters battling to the death for the fate of the universe. They are both engaged in an epic struggle and all of a sudden, one of the characters uses a weapon and defeats the other character. Seems a little anticlimactic right? It seems like a cop out, that we didn’t think things through. However, if we set the stage that the characters were fighting in an room with weapons, or a previous henchman was defeated and lost is weapon etc, we can ease into a resolution through those means.

Imagine a typical slasher movie. Our main female character is running from a crazed killer. As she stumbles and trips trying to get away, she comes across a payphone. Wait, what? Yes, she comes across a payphone. Well, that was convenient… That’s how an audience thinks in scenarios where there isn’t a set up. All we need to do for this to be a more successful piece of the story is to foreshadow the phone. If this was a comic, manga or movie, we can suffice by showing the phone in a shot or background before the character interacts with the object. This way the audience knows that object exists in this environment and it exists before the character interacts with it. In a straight writing style you can set it up through your description of the environment as she runs or that she spots one and makes her way towards it, or she even knows that one exists a few blocks away b/c she walks past it all the time going to school.

By filling in spots like this, you can craft a story that should be freed up from plot holes and have the audience enjoying themselves.

Rage Session #5 Timing > Possibly Part 1?

This week I thought I would write about some more tips in storytelling, today’s topic is Timing. Timing might be a hard concept to grasp when you are first starting out with your writing. First off, timing is not only relatable in terms of writing but also animation. While I was in college learning about the 12 principles of animation, it was striking to me that each animation principle could be brought to the world of writing as well.  I will refer to writing in a couple different ways in this post, and probably will need a follow up at some point because it is such an interesting and wide topic. However, the first being the literal meaning of actual time.

For instance, let’s revert back to our story of the child going to the store along with preparing for a test and dealing with a bully. If we time frame this story within one school year, we now know of an exact time frame the sequence of events operates in and when it starts and ends. Within this time frame, we can add many more layers to our story. For instance, if the bully and the kid become friends towards the end of the school year they could be disappointed that they won’t see each other until the start of the next school year.   On the flipside, if the conflict between kid and bully is resolved early in the time frame, they have the entire school year to be friends. We could even change this time frame to cover an elementary school career or the high school years of the characters.

You can operate in a universe where time is a little looser. For instance look at a show like Dragonball Z, they never tell you how long the battles last, there is very little reference to the passing of days in certain periods. Other shows use time even looser than this, and that is perfectly fine. Let me explain why.

I occasionally will watch some reality TV, mostly Top Chef. Last year they had their season finale as a cook off between chefs and the winner was the first one to have the best 3 dishes out of 5. The show operated in a one hour TV time frame. So what happened, was Chef A won round one, Chef B won round 2, Chef A won round 3, still on the edge of your chair? I wasn’t, I knew who won round 3 was going to win in 4 rounds. The reason I could tell was the winner of the 3rd round was announced about 45 minutes into an hour long show. Unless they were going to cram 2 cooking rounds in the final 15 minutes plus commercials, time can work against you. By locking in a timeframe, your audience now has an idea of how long they can expect a resolution and the closer you get to that time the more the audience expects a resolution.

Timing can also be used to emphasize key points in the story, in the regards of how much time is spent on a certain event. If you get the chance to watch Flowers of Evil, as I reviewed last week, you can see the timing in that show is very methodical and calculating. By acting in a slower and more calculating manner, they can build up more emotion in areas. For instance, after the climatic scene in episode 7, episode 8 has very little dialogue and it revolves on 2 characters going home. Now some people thing that it was boring or arrogant for them to spend an entire episode on that, however, I look at it in a different regard. The 2 characters had a major turning point in their relationship and I felt that episode 8 was exactly how I would feel as a person in that moment as well, the characters seemed to live in that moment and it emphasized one of those nights that we never want to end. There are earlier episodes that had 2 or 3 school days in them, by using an episode for just one night, tells the audience the importance of that night for the characters.

Note, there will also be critics of your work no matter what you do. You just need to be able to separate the ones being haters and the ones actually trying to provide you with feedback and useful thoughts. “This sucks” is not valid feedback. If that person doesn’t explain why it sucks or why they would have done it a different way, I would generally rule that comment as garbage. Writing like everything else takes practice and you shouldn’t be writing to please an audience, you should be writing because you have an interesting story to tell and share with others.

Just like an epic battle in Dragonball Z wouldn’t be completed in 1 episode, by spending more time in certain areas, you can use it to build up the importance of the event. The reason for this is because viewers want that climatic moment to be worth it, they want the pay off of their time being invested in your story. Whether its a 26 episode series or a 100 page book, the payoff is what sticks with the audience. We have all seen a bad movie we didn’t like how it ended, we didn’t like the payoff of our investment in time of watching the film.

Have you ever seen a film or read a book where all hope was lost and the odds were stacked against the characters so much and then an event or something happens and the characters turn out ok? That is also based on timing, just like when you hear someone say that so and so has great comedic timing. This is timing in more of a sense or emotional way. This comes in a variety of ways and formats it is impossible to name them all here. In films it could be a character who you thought was dead showing up to save the day. In comic books and manga they actually set frames up so cliff hangers are at the end of the page, so that short amount of time it takes you to turn a page you are filled with suspense to see what happens next. This of course happens in books as well, hence why we have “page turners”. Even tv shows have this in the form of the timing of commercial breaks and how episodes end in a series, its to keep your audience coming back for more. The building of events creates this moments where we can turn the story one way or another or use it as a breaking point before another chapter, episode or film.

Through these turning points that timing creates, we can create a fast paced action story or a slow methodical story with one or two distinctive pay off points. The slow methodical approach is similar to when you go to a horror movie and are teased about being scared, but they drag it out to the point it gets to be unbearable, but in a good way. For instance a person enters a room and sees something run into another room and the character tries to track down what they saw, only to jump cut to something creepy and scare you. There are benefits to both ways and it usually is determined by the story you want to tell.

I think that’s quite a bit to digest for now. Next week we will tackle the topic of anticipation and how that can effect timing.

Rage Session #1- Writing Story Outlines

I recently was having a discussion with a friend that wanted to get into writing, and since I have been too busy to really sit down and watch anything to review and enjoy… I thought I would start a little mini series on some things that I do to help me write, things I gathered from other artists and maybe some resources to help my friend and whoever may check this out and be interested in writing.

First off, the most important thing is to just write. It’s no different than drawing, and I had a professor in college that said we all had to make 10,000 bad drawings before we made one good one. Somedays that feels like the case.

So today I wanted to take some time to start with the basis of each story, and that is an outline, a path, a direction in which your characters go. Of course there are times when breaking the rules is ok and in some cases needed, but that will come with experience and will depend on the type of story you want to tell.

We are going to start with a basic story outline, which consists of 3 parts (such as a 3 act play). Which we will call the beginning, middle and end. However, there are 2 areas, one that lies in between the beginning and middle, which we call the rising action and the resolution, which lies between the middle and end. So our story path looks like…

Beginning>>>>>Rising Action>>>>>Middle (climax)>>>>>>Resolution>>>>>Ending

Every story needs that climax, we need a reason to care about the character or a way to connect with the character on their journey. For instance, if we have a short story about a kid waking up and going to the store, we have a beginning and an end but we have no climax, no meat to the story. The climax in most cases, will be a problem a character or your characters come across. So perhaps in our story on the way to the store, the kid loses their money so they can’t buy what they need. The problem our kid now faces, is the fact they don’t have money to get what they were going to buy.

So lets say that our story begins with an introduction to our character, the kid. We now have a middle point in the story where the kid loses their money on the way to the store. This is where the rising action comes into play. When you hear the word foreshadowing, that usually comes into play here. If you watch scary movies, music is a really good tool for foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a technique used to prepare the audience for something. For instance, in scary movies they will use tense music to prepare the audience for a scary reveal. On the flip side, there are films that will use music as foreshadowing but it will lead to nothing, or after the reveal of nothing they get you.

The main thing to keep in mind of foreshadowing, is continuity. So lets say in our story we introduce our character getting up in the morning. They are getting dressed and we foreshadow a problem by the kid putting on a pair of shorts that have holes in the pocket. This way when the kid loses the money its not a shock to the audience, the money fell out of his pocket. Another route we could go, is on the way to the way to the store, the kid is flipping his coin in which they are going to buy something with and drops it in the sewer, this is still a route to get from Point A (the kid waking up) to Point B (the climax of the kid realizing they lost their money). And even another route we could go is by foreshadowing the character is forgetful. For instance as the kid is getting dressed, they forget to tie their shoes or forget their coat or something. That way the kid didn’t lose their money, they simply forgot it. But it still gets us from the kid waking up to realizing their money is gone.

So now that we have our character waking up, foreshadowing a way they lost their money and we have reached the climax of the character realizing their money is lost, we need to work towards resolving the issue and ending our story. The resolution will depend on how we actually want the story to end.

If we choose to end our story by the kid getting their money back, or go with the path of the kid not getting their money back, we will have different paths to go which will need to be addressed accordingly. If the character has money at the end of the story, then we could fill in our resolution (the way we resolve the conflict or climax) with an appropriate story. In this case, the kid could back track and find their money if they lost in through the hole in their shorts. In the event the kid forgot the money, they could return home and find it. Money lost in the drain while playing with it? The kid could find someone to reach the money or even someone who gives him money or buys his stuff at the store.

If we choose the alternate path of the kid losing their money, they could backtrack and not find the money that fell through their pocket. If the kid forgot the money, they could return home and not find it, or another family member could have mistaken it as their own. With the storyline of dropping the money in the sewer, the kid could simply not find it or try to recover it and fail, or no one will lend him some money.

There are no right or wrong paths you can create, as long as it makes sense in the overarching story your telling. This is a solid start to outlining short stories, but the same principles will apply to telling long form stories, which I will talk about next week. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or have anything to add.