Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The future of animation

The future of animation will be build around the artist. The days of large studios is coming to an end. Artist now have the ability to work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Free and open software has also given these home based artist tools to do high quality work. Imagine the possibility of animation work force that can scale beyond the boundaries of the studio infrastructure to produce animation faster and more efficiently. Robert Valley a prominent animator,  character designer and comic author has embraced this new paradigm of creating animation. “You have an idea, you turn into a book, the book is a storyboard for the film.”  Robert continues on the say that the ultimate goal of his projects is to make a film, and that creating a book reflexes one part of the animation process. Robert Valley like many artist today art creating home studios to create their work, “Unlike 10 years ago, I can actually sit here with my computer and Cintiq and I can basically do the film here.” Microfunding services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have also given artist a way of funding their projects that allow them to work outside of market research or corporate interest.
Technology and the internet have opened the channels for artist to create stories that are personal and cutting edge. Phil Tippett Studios has returned to their roots of stop motion animation with the project “MAD GODS” which is funded through Kickstarter. The proliferation of 3D forced Tippet and many other stop motion animators away from their preferred creative expression. Through independent funding sources, web based distribution channels these artist are helping to decentralize the control of animation production and return it to the individual artist.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Small Task

3 pm: Phone conversation between Nick and I.

Nick: Hey Bethany can you do me a favor?

Bethany: Sure.

Nick: Can you post something to my blog that says I am without technology and will blog as soon as possible.

Bethany: Okay!

Ideas run through our heads. We decide that I will draw a picture of a cabin and explain the circumstances. I am overly excited.

I hang up with Nick and run to Fresh Friday's on Garfield St. (a gardener's exchange). The whole time I think about how awesome my post is going to be. I even plan a "shout out" section.

6pm: I help close down Fresh Friday's and head to Trinity Lutheran for their monthly meal. (It's always free and usually delicious). Throughout the meal I talk about Nick's blog, how awesome it is, and how I get to post on it. After eating I hurry home, overly excited to post to Nick's blog.

7pm: I get home. There's dogs. I forgot about the dogs. We take a long walk. I envision my drawing, a cabin on a cliff.

8pm: I clean off my desk and sit down to draw.

8:30pm: 3 drawings later and I have nothing good enough to post to the blog. I decide that since I have no drawing skills it will be best for me to draw directly into the computer using a program. I Google free drawing software and download SketchUp8.

9pm: After watching a few tutorials and attempting the cabin I decide that I should stick to something I know. I head into Google Docs and create a new drawing. (Thanks to note taking during Geo Science class I feel as though I can handle a drawing in Google Docs.)

9:07pm: I Google how to draw a cabin and find this website.

10:00pm: AHHHHH. Move object back, move object forward, line up lines. Why is there no snap in Google drawing?

11pm: I head into Photoshop to color my "not quite finished cabin." I'm tired, grumpy, and hungry. I am no longer overly excited. This simple task was not so simple.

12am: I have forgotten how to use Photoshop and decide that it's time to go to bed. I don't save anything.

12:17am: I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking about my cabin and this post. I jump out of bed and turn my computer back on. Now for some reason Photoshop is working. I quickly color my "not quite finished" cabin, place in a chimney, and save it as a jpeg.

12:45am: Time to post.

1am: Victory!

1:07am: Don't think you are getting something tomorrow. Well maybe. Maybe I'll just work on it all day long and get you a picture of our family, stick person style.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Open Movie Project: Milo Project

Peanut Butter Jelly Jam ( Milo Project ) is a project to create a 2 minute animated short using a transparent production processes and open source software.  

The short is about a boy named Milo who is left home alone with his musical robot babysitter named MP3. His mother steps out to run an errand. While out mother gives Milo permission to make a snack and reminds him not to make a mess, but mom returns home to the fall out of  Milo’s snack making independence.

Completion of this animation will serve as portfolio piece for finding more animation work for me and the artist who work on the project. This project will also include a teaching and learning component. Allowing interested artist professional and amateur to learn the process of creating sequential media.

In keeping with the Open Source nature of this projects I wanted to make all aspects of the production available to the public. As I move through the process of creating this project I am hoping to document the various skills, software and technique needed to make a project of your own.

The first step in making any story is to establish a history for the characters. To do this I am creating a 23 page comic book. The book will allow me to design the character locations and assets that may be used in the film. I have created a document on the eight essential steps to creating comics pages and will be expanding on this as I go through the various steps. The comic and its associated Kickstarter will also serve to generate revenue to help funds for the final project.

I would like to also invite everyone to participate the creative process. I will be making my working script available to the world. I want people to experience the journey from the beginning of the production all the way through completion. 

What I hope to show is that when I begin I am squarely focused on what happens and less on grammar, structure or style. This allows me to get the whole picture out quickly so that I can begin refining. I break down the idea into components and address them one at a time as I refine the story. Please take a look and feed back is welcome!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Disney; King of the hill since 1937

Topic 2_2: What was Disney’s greatest contribution?

No single studio has contributed the the animation industry more then Disney. The studio brought the industry many innovations. Everything from the use of sound in their early cartoons, to the refining of digital 3D. Disney’s technical innovations have always redefined the edge. But the greatest contribution of the Disney Empire was the creation and employ of the storyboard. “I had never seen a storyboard until I came to Disney’s in 1933. We outside of of Disney’s had always thought that he had some great secret that made his cartoons so perfect. When I saw the the storyboards I thought, AHa! That is it!” said Dick Huemer(Maltin, 30). Although there were many other pieces of the production that lead to “perfect” cartoons the use of storyboards allowed the animation teams to see the story as a whole before a single frame was animated. The boards along with the creation of a team of artist squarely focused on story would help to make the Disney animation stand alone. All of Disney’s cartoons had solid beginnings, middles and endings, full stories in the absence of dialog. Today storyboards are an essential part of all video production, from live action short films to visual effects heavy summer blockbusters. The term is storyboard has even made it way into the world of software development as a tool for visualizing user interfaces and customer interactivity. The storyboard is an obvious and perfect bridge from going trom ideas expressed orally or writing to visual mediums, be it user software design or feature production.

Topic 2_4:What do you think is the future of the studio?

 The Disney Studio is now a global corporation that employs over 148,000 people in the United States. Disney has purchased Pixar Studios and Marvel Entertainment Group and with these properties the   studio has an endless library to pull from for merchandising and production. Involved in a number of industries animation is just a part of what they do. The studio is now headed by John Lasseter of Pixar, the studio has the potential of reclaiming its position as the number one animation production house, but there is a terrible trend that plagues studios of Disney’s size the need to constantly generate revenue. This I believe leads to the production of safe film that don’t move the medium forward in any way. Even for its size Disney is not static.Outside of the big pipeline productions small teams work on pet projects that bring new things to the forefront. Paper man a Disney short about two passing strangers is challenging the way 2d and 3d animation can be married on screen. Disney research and Pixar research and development teams are constantly looking for more ways of making the workflow easier and less invasive to the artists allowing them to express and create the beauty that we see on screen. Even for it size I believe Disney will have a place in defining what the animation industry will be.

Although Disney animation has always been a leader in the field of animation. Their wide spread audience forces them into a box. What are some of the genre and subject matter would you like to see Disney explore?

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Collective Conscience

My father in law was one of the few people I let read an early version of the book. He loved the stories, but was frustrated they didn't continue. So he suggested one way to approach a book of incomplete stories was to let the audience decide which one should get finished. So that is what I am doing. I am letting the readers decide which story I should complete for Emerald City Comic Con. I want to know which of my stories should I continue. I will take the comic which received the most votes and make it into 23 page book to be debuted on the web and at Emerald City.

To participate get a copy of the book by downloading a copy or by coming to the Jet City Comic Con this weekend and buying a signed copy from the author. Once you have acquired a copy, read through and decide which of the stories you connect with the most. Then make your voice heard by going to my blog ( and completing the single question survey.

The survey runs from September 22nd until October 22nd. so please cast you vote. After the survey closes I will be create a Kickstarter Project to raise funding for a professional print of the winning story.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Here is a little information about some of the stories in the book.

Kat and Bunnie is the story of punk girls in the pacific northwest trying to be heard in the world. Kat the child of a a former pop duo, is reluctantly convinced to start a band by her friend Bunnie. While trying to make a little extra cash modeling for a local artist Bunnie finds out her mother, a former herbivore rights activist had an affair with a carnivore.

 The Head Trip is a roman a clef about my life while living in Los Angeles. Roman a clef is French for "novel with a key," it describes a novel about a real life with a facade of ficition. In my book The Head Trip I have replaced characters from my life with vampires. The story is about a artist searching for his voice while trying to survive in Los Angeles, until a friend introduces to a culture of vampires who use him as puppet on the international art stage.

Path 2 Nowhere is a story about Nick,  a love sick super hero who goes to live on Earth with his friends Roxy and Karma. Roxy and Karma have been exiled to earth where they live their live as house hold pets. Life is good until one of Nick's ex's comes looking for him, and has no problem conquering the planet to find him and win him back.

 Make War is about a space gun captian who uses her current position to hunt down and destroy the man who broke her heart when she was younger. When she finds him she is willing to sacrifice the lives of an entire city to make him pay.

Love and the Blade is a story of love, revenge and betrayal. The story revolves around Kage, The masked man, and Kin, the blonde assassin, both had been taken from their homes as children and raise a the edge of the sword. The two are alone in this foreign world until the meet on the field of battle. But their blossoming romance is cut short when betrayal brings and end to the reign of Lord Asano, and the lives of these star crossed lovers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Figurative Journey

Looking forward in this class, please indicate your goals. 
This class will allow me to refine my figure drawing with an emphasis on light and shadow. I understand light and shadow, but I have never really taken the time to master it. I would also like to focus more closely on anatomy, planar surfaces and gradation, and develop a more sculpture feeling in my work. But even with all my focus on detail I would like to achieve a more simplistic accuracy. 

How much do you expect to learn? 
I am hoping to pick up new skills techniques, but mostly I am hoping to develop patience. I have learned in the last few years that the longer you work at a drawing the more polished and refined it becomes. I began figure drawing while pursuing animation, where the focus was more on speed then developing the image. It will be nice to slow down and really think about the form. 

Describe why you are taking this class. It may be just to meet the requirements of the school. It may be to master the human form. 
Life drawing is at the core of everthing in the world of storyboard and 2nd animation. I believe it is the thing that seperates a good animators from a great one. The mastery of the human form gives one the ability to rapidly and easily imagine the characters in any situation from any angle. If I could I would have a figure drawing class every semester, but I will have to supplement with the open drawing session in my area. 

List areas that concern you: Nervousness? Fear of not following through? Looking bad in front of the other students? 
Time, I am very over committed person. I have always had a habit of committing to many things personally and professionally. Since I began school I have not taken on any new projects. My full focus needs to be on school and finishing up the projects I have. 

How much time do you plan to invest each module? 
Study for Libyan Sibyl
red chalk drawing
1510-11 (Italian Renaissance)
The time that I spent on my extracurricular activities averaged about 30 - 40 hours a week, when my family would let me spend that much time at the computer. But I have been trying to manage my time better so that I leave time for family, work,   projects and school. I am hoping to spend the suggested time for each course plus additional time for working on skills improvement. I would like to put at least 30 hours a week in to my school endeavors. 

Also, make a list of all the benefits that you'll get when the class is over. Completion is always a good feeling. Confidence in your drawing abilities, which extend to other areas in your art, is another one. List as many as you can. 
I hope to have a few new pieces for my portfolio
I would like to regain my life drawing speed 
I am hoping find some inspiration for making new works
build a foundation for my future artistic pursuits
Completion, I have always had trouble with follow through

I hope someday to even partially achieve the skill of Michelangelo I would be happy with what I have achieved. 

Nick Butler
September 10, 2012

Animation Pioneers

The animation industry has always been moved forward by people who bridge the gap between technician and artist. John Randolph Bray was perhaps one of the most important figures in the early days of animation. Bray was always looking for the balance between quantity and quality. This drove him to find inventive ways of overcoming hurdles related to producing animation, such as the shear volume of individual drawing it takes to create believable motion. Many of the animators at the time were comic strip artist who worked primarily alone. Although Winsor McCay, creator of Little Nemo, employed his young neighbor to assist with backgrounds for his dinosaur animation Gertie, he primarily worked alone. Bray realized that in order to be successful at animation there needed to be more efficient distributed processes for achieving quality animation. His animation patents helped to document his attempts and allowed others insight into his processes helping to move the entire industry forward.
Although Bray was instrumental in improving the process for creating animation it was Winsor McCay who set the bar on quality. The quality of his drawing was reminiscent of the work of his comic strips. Some historians cite Gertie as the first real animated character, I believe this was due to impact and quality of McCay’s animated image. McCay would stand in front of the screen where Gertie was being projected and interact with her. He would finish the show by entering the cartoon world and riding off with her. Gertie exhibited many of the same emotions as it’s animation predecessors, but Gertie’s constant motion and dog-like portrayal connected with people on a deeper level. 

Animation like many industries tends to move forward with the help of technology and innovation. Animation has seen a wave of changes since the application of 3D techniques, what do you think will be the next big technology in animation?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

There will never be enough time

If you are a creative person who has to maintain a not so creative job to pay for your creative endeavors then you will understand, that there is never enough time. Although this is the case those of us who love what we do create that time. Because it always comes down to how bad do you want it. Like a marathon runner the artist with family, work and social commitments must push them selves beyond the breaking point. I have been trying to take a vacation for the last week and have constantly had it interrupted by work and other commitments. So I have had to make time, but vacation is not feeling so much like vacation. What I have started to realize is that vacation is an illusion. If you want a happy family vacation means your family is the focus above all else. I haven't been doing the best job at this, and now my vacation is being cut short, so when I intended to spread some work out throughout my vacation my early return means that I am going to vacation even harder. I have been working on my entry for the Punked! comic project, and it will get my full attention when not spending my time with the family. They are usually in bed early and so I stay up to draw. I am super happy that my family supports what I do and will allow me to spend some of our vacation time in front of the computer doing what I love. But I want to get these pages done so we can enjoy the little time we get.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Robot and the Vampire

I am participating in a zine project call Punked!!! The book is focused on all things punk. The Indiegogo project is more then 100 percent funded, but you can still contribute to helping us. I am excited to be contributing to a group project. It will be a nice change of pace from some of my personal projects. I am aiming for a 5 page story to intro a concept that I has been boiling in my head for about a year. I have been focused on developing the characters and figuring out the style. Here is a little preview art for the story. The book is aiming for a November release at the Short Run Small Press Fest!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Comic Coloring Process

I did not realize the price difference when I made the decision to make the Head Trip a color book I now understand why so many independent comic projects are black and white. I am minimalist so finding ways of reducing the amount of work that goes into generating high quality comics has been a challenge. To figure out what the look and feel would be for the book I started with the digital coloring technique of current professional comics. Modern technologoy has given the comic industry an endless range of color. Not only do professional comics get amazing colors, but a number effects can be applied to comics giving them a fidelity that starts to reach the image quality we are familiar with seeing on the big screen. I don't have a preference on coloring style, but I also don't like to spend months working on a single page. Comic for companies like Marvel and DC are produced by a team which includes, writer, penciler, inker, colorist and editor. Indie comic publishers are required to fill all these roles like Sunday comic cartoonists. It was the Sunday cartoonist who influenced my work the most namely the work of Bill Watterson the creator of Calvin and Hobbes. The three color print process limited what the artist could do, and so the artist found creative ways to creatively use this limited palette. Limiting the palette cuts down the amount of choices I have to make, and helps me to maintain simple lighting and shading techniques. I bounce between painting on my iPad or coloring in Photoshop with the Wacom tablet. Digital is great, but I am starting to find traditional techniques much master and easier to accomplish. I am waiting for the day when the gap between digital and traditional techniques closes, they are getting there.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Boards I had all but forgotten

There are many advantages to Facebook, but today one of its many ways of keeping you informed through advertising brought a forgotten project back into my life. One of my many brushes with my dream job of story-boarding on a professional project with a actual studio. Almost 2 years ago I was given the opportunity to take a storyboard test to work on a Tom Hanks project called Electric City. It was a last minute interview and I would have gotten the job, except I was living in Tacoma and they need someone in LA. Well although I didn't get the job the experience was very affirming to my ability to storyboard at a professional level. I worked on it for 3 days while my parents were in town simultaneously fighting a cold. Well the little image on the side of the Facebook page may me jump with joy, cause I was curious to see what had come of the project direct by Joel Trussel. Electric City was created on a tight budget with the hopes of exploring new area of inter-media. All the shows are release on the internet and it is closely tied in with an online game and other web 2.0 elements. Well I didn't officially work on it, but I want to share my storyboards and give you an opportunity to check it out. It is kind like Johnny Quest meeting Blade Runner. Here is the link to my story boards and underneath that is the link to the show. Enjoy.

My boards:

Link to the show:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Phase 2 Cover Design

The goal is to create a Cover that will catch peoples attention and serve as print for sale at the cons.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Covering your bases

For the past 9 years I have been figuring out what it means to be an artist. This journey took me to many places in my artistic career, where I had to learn hard lessons of humility an patience. Part of that journey has been my attempt to create a book I called "Nick Butler's Head Trip." The book was supposed to be a semi-fiction autobiography following me on my journey through my time in Los Angeles. Well one thing I struggle with is the ability to stay on task, and so I would move between all my projects when I became bored with the one I was working on at the time. This led to creation of a lot of great stories, but also led to a lot of incomplete projects. Well I have decided to clear my plate by taking all these stories and compile them in to the new "Nick Butler's Head Trip." What I have realized these comic excepts better represent my journey then any single narrative. The stories directly correlate with my state of mine at the time I created it. For the cover shown here I have illustrated the characters from the stories chasing me down, and the stories that I have been keeping in my head spilling out to the world. This project has allowed me to move on. I can now look to the future to new projects and new opportunities.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Back into the Groove
Back in February my life experienced a number of major changes. Our family had a new addition, Oroonoko Butler, we move from my brother house to downtown, and I started a new position at work. Change can often be very difficult, but the human species is especially adapted to it. My life has always been in flux, the child of military parents, we were never in one place more then 4 years. Well, we are settled into our new place, my wife Bethany has a new degree, and I am returning to my mission to make my stories into comics. The Head Trip was a project that I conceived years ago while living in LA. Initially the book was going to combine all my stories into a single narrative that followed a depressive artist through his journeys in the city. I produced art and writing for the book, but it became overwhelming and fell off my radar. Well now it is back, I have decided to create a series of story sketches, giving the audience and chance to view into the mind Nick Butler. The sketches all center around love and relationships and are all based on my past. It is good to be back at it and having the support of family and friends pushing me down the road.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Vent!

I have always used my art as a way to cope with my environment and bring some sanity to the madness that makes the world go round. The great thing about drawing is that it is a release. I need to do this more often, because my characters tend to be pretty expressionless. Today I decided to make some "Angry sketches," because today was a good day to vent. Damn Tuesdays. It is interesting how the lines help to capture the agitated and jittery feeling of anger. When you draw emotions you have to feel it. I find my self smiling and my mood changing when I draw happy scenes, and dipping and darkening for the inverse. You have to be careful not to ruin your day while working on a scene requiring you to go into a dark place. Maybe that is why my characters are so often dead pan, because I have worked for so long not to let emotion cloud my rationale thought and now I don't really feel anything. I think it is a time for a change, I think it is time to reclaim that which i have lost in the pursuit of stability. It is time to get angry and bust through the creative blocks that keep me from finishing. It is time again to delve into those dark places, explore them and bring back art from the abyss to share with the world. This is my thing why the hell do I anything else.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Evening Gowns and Hand Granades

I always thought the idea of James Bond was farfetched, and especially disliked the male chauvinism. I think it was all the exquisite parties that attracted me to the world of espionage. Bond seemed to always have some reason to get dressed up and go sip martinis. As agent alpha in the covert intelligence agency Flush, I have made it my mission to de-throne the James Bond wannabees and to look good while doing it.

~ Selma Casa, Agent Alpha