Sunday, May 29, 2016

New puppet design with incredibly fluid movement



(Link to Video) Barnaby Dixon has come up with a clever new way of articulating a puppet.

Not only can the little fellow dance with his feet and move his arms and head, he can point, grab things, and even scratch his face.

"My philosophy for puppetry is to get the fingers and the hands operating as directly as possible," says Dixon.

The hand articulation is cleverly built, using fine cable articulation, with a spring running inside the cable tube to cut down on friction. Here's another video explaining how the hand mechanism works.

CG Short about Aristocratic Anime



"Symphony of Two Minds" is a short film about CG animation finding its own style amid a variety of influences. (Link to YouTube)

It begins with two cartoon characters eating a meal in an aristocratic dining parlor. They remark on how sophisticated their world is. It is visually sumptuous indeed, with hand-held photographic camera work and richly rendered textures.


But the low-class young man hasn't fully elevated himself from his origins in a hyper 2D anime universe, and he keeps experiencing flashbacks to it.

Director Valere Amirault says: "How do we choose to mix influences when dealing with a medium as new as CG animation? From live action independent movies to Japanese anime, CG animation is still a new form of media trying to find its own style, to differentiate itself from traditional cartoons."
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Via Cartoon Brew

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Facebook Live meets a manual typewriter

Yesterday Jeanette and I decide to try out an experiment.


It's the day before graduation at Bard College. Students are roaming around campus with their parents. We place the typewriter on a table in the student center, and I arrange the sketch easel.

We hope the typewriter will lure someone to pose for an impromptu portrait. First Cullan, and then his mom, try it out.

We set up the iPad to webcast the action via Facebook Live. The first session has audio issues due to problems with our old iPad (sorry). We switch over to an Android cellphone, and then it works fine. Here's the 16 minute webcast. (Link to video).


I start sketching Jeanette, but abandon the start and turn the page when Kathleen sits down. I lay down a few lines in watercolor pencils, then launch off with brush and watercolor to place the main shapes. With progressively smaller brushes, I place the smaller details.

Kathleen, watercolor and gouache 
Thanks to everyone who joined the webcast and left a comment. Let me know in the comments what you'd like to see on a future webcast. Thanks to Kathleen, Cullan, and Joe for lending a hand and being such good sports.
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My next video tutorial "Portraits in the Wild" comes out June 13. It's full of moments like this.

"Gouache in the Wild" HD MP4 Download at Gumroad

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Doing a Demo Now on Facebook Live


I'm about to do an experimental demo on the new platform Facebook Live at 2:55 EST.

It will be a clash of technologies: iPad meets typewriter meets sketchbook. Tell your friends!

Harold Speed Talks Brushes

Welcome to the GJ Book Club. Today we'll cover pages 237-242 of the chapter on "Materials," from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.

I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by my comments. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

In this section of the chapter, Speed discusses the brushes for oil painters.

1. You can use cheaper paints when you're a student, but even if you're poor, you shouldn't skimp on brushes.
I totally agree with Speed on this one. He says "A cheap brush is useless from the start and has, luckily, a very short life as they wear very badly. The best brushes last much longer."

2. Cleaning brushes. "Soap and water cleans them most thoroughly and is the best way of cleaning them. But it is a most tedious process after a hard day's work."
Here's a previous post on "How to Clean out a Brush"

3. After washing them out, the brushes "should be lovingly sucked to bring the hairs together." 
Never heard that one before. One would want to make sure to remove all the lead, cobalt, barium, and cadmium first. Or maybe pass on that idea.

4. "When thoroughly dry they have plenty of spring in them, whereas the slightest dampness gives them a flabbiness."
He's talking about bristle brushes here. It's really true. Damp brushes are flabbier.

5. Flats and Rounds: Flats are better for "laying a perfectly even tone, but give a nasty thin sharp edge...For figure work and form expression generally, one wants a brush that will lay the paint in even, flat tones without thin sharp edges." 
He's referring to flat brushes with rounded corners, alternately the modern filbert option, which has a flat cross section but a rounded tip. The image above shows a set of Simmons filberts.

6. Fashion for soft haired brushes used for flowing strokes (in the 1920s).
Speed notes that some of the inspiration came from studying Frans Hals, who apparently used such brushes. Speed generally prefers stiffer hogs' hair bristles.

7. "Always work with the biggest brush that will do what you want."
Then choose the next size bigger. Speed notes that a big flat brush is really several brushes in one, because you can use the corner and the edge for very different strokes.

8. "The brush makers have an absurd habit of making the size of the handle fit the size of the brush, instead of the size of the hand that will have to hold it." 
He continues, "Very small brushes need a very firm grip to control them as they are only used for very delicate work. And yet they are often given a handle no thicker than a match."

I totally agree, and I've always wondered about this, too. Pencils, pens, knives, and golf clubs have constant sized handles. Why don't brushes?

9. Only German brushes have an indented ring round the metal holder (ferrule) to prevent the tip falling off the handle.
Now crimped ferrules are pretty standard even on cheap brushes.

10. Cheap brushes "appear to have been sharpened off to make them a good shape, after being roughly put together; instead of the good shape being the result of a careful placing of the individual hairs."
Here's a video about how they make Escoda brushes


(Link to video)

More on brushes at:
MacPherson Arts / "Brush Basics"

Next week— Painting Grounds
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In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (with a Sargent cover)," and there's also a Kindle edition.
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Video Portrait of Hong Kong


(Via BoingBoing) There's some interesting camera work and sound design in this portrait of Hong Kong by filmmaker Brandon Li.
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If you like this, you'll also like his other film "Tokyo Roar," set against the poem by A.D. Hope.