Meeting Fraser Maclean

I was incredibly lucky to win a prize draw at the port folio reviews at Dee Con Gaming and Anime convention this year. The prize was an hour meeting with animation veteran Fraser Maclean to chat about my port folio and his experience in the industry. He has worked on films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam and Tarzan and is author of “Setting the Scene” book about layout in animation.

The pointers he gave me where:

  • My character animation was really observational but I need to bring that into my backgrounds as they are lacking and bringing the quality of the film down.
  • Observe landscapes and interiors the way I observe people and animals and my backgrounds will get better.
  • My backgrounds and characters all have the same colour hues, the character gets lost in the background, try blocking out the colour in monotone first.
  • Go to Sketch Crawls to sketch landscapes with other artists.
  • Watch Looney Tunes cartoons and look at their backgrounds.
  • Go through a few scenes in films and cartoons I like and thumbnail it out in a sketchbook to see how the scene  is laid out.
  • Avoid having the character in the centre of the shot all the time, its boring, try more dynamic shots.
  • Avoid having “dead space” in my shots, where everything is happening in one area and there is an area where nothing is happening.
  • Try to put more atmosphere into the shots using colour and angles, instead of the same static background and camera angles.
  • be more creative with the camera, it should act like another character in the film and not just be a tool to get from point A to point B.
  • Fruut the pigeon griffin was a great idea but I didn’t draw enough attention to it, question the main characters identity, use cut-aways or supporting flashback material that would tell the audience why.
  • Make sure my work has a more polished off finish, not as much construction lines etc.


He also mentioned a lot of books that I should have a look at:

‘The Noble Approach’ by Tod Polson.

‘On Film Making’ by Alexander Mackendrick

‘Water to paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong’ by Michael Labrie

‘Magic Colour Flair: The Art of Marie Blair’ by John Canemaker

‘Prepare to Board! Create Story and Characters for Animated Features and Shorts’ by Nancy Beiman

‘Paper Dreams: The Art and Artists of Disney Story Boards’ by John Canemaker


He also forwarded me a few websites for illustrators and things he thinks will help me to look at:

The next couple of weeks I am going to take Fraser’s advice and practice layout thumbnailing of scenes from cartoons and go out and sketch some landscapes now that the sun is coming out here!

I am really honoured I had the chance meet such an inspirational artist. I will use all of his advice in the future when making my films and this will make me a better artist.




Go Rock Festival 2014

Last month I started work on some promotional material to advertise for this years Go Rock Festival in Gourock.

I worked with my CSM classmate Maxim Northover on the animated promo.

Check out Max’s work here:

We liked the idea of doing an 80s style rock version of the previous film we worked on together “Parties” and thought this project would be perfect for that. After brainstorming some ideas and agreeing that a mix of 2D and stop motion animation would be fun we decided to revive one of the characters and focused on the wolf.

Alan Barr did the music for the promo, you can check out his stuff here:

When designing the character I had a few rock bands I love in mind such as The Scorpions and Skid Row. Thus Skid was born.

Go-Rock Wolf Colour

It was then time to get him into an epic 80s shredding pose and onto a poster for the festival. The Background is a simplified view of Dunoon from Gourock, I tried to capture what the town looks like at night.

Go Rock Poster

When it came to the animation I wanted it to look as 80s as possible, so I decide to animate my segments of Skid in bright green 80s neon lights using Adobe Flash.


Overall I think my flash animation, Max’s stop motion animation and Alan’s music worked really well together and I really love how the promo turned out.


Manipulate Festival: Animation in Scotland

In February I went to the Animation in Scotland event as part of the annual Manipulate Festival in Edinburgh. This year was hosted by Joanna Quinn, it was great to meet her again and thank her for the great workshop she ran at Central Saint Martins last year.


There was lots of cool animations from Edinburgh Collage of Art being shown and I finally got to see “Making of Longbird” by Will Anderson “I am Tom Moody” by  Ainslie Henderson.

Will Becher was also there giving a talk about his experiences from graduation to working with Aardman. He also brought his models of Gromit and the characters from his films “Boxed In” and “The Weatherman”.

20140208_142522 20140208_152613

Axis Animation and Red Kite were also giving talks and there to answer questions about their studios and the challenges of starting a career in animation in Scotland.

Its was a really interesting and informative day and I will definitely go again next year.

There and Back Again

I’v finally got round to reviving my blog from Central Saint Martins and decided to keep it going. 

The two years I spent at Central Saint Martins in London were the best of my life so far. I learned so much from great teachers, met really amazing people and became a better artist. These photos are really special to me and will remind me of my amazing adventure I had at CSM. 






Since coming back home from graduating I have worked on a few things including animating a couple of shots my lecturer’s film about  the late Bob Godfrey, and a freelance job illustrating characters for an educational comic strip about William Wallace. 

I have an idea for a new animated short and will start working on the concepts really soon!

It feels good to be blogging again, will post again soon 🙂


Fruut the Ugly Griffin Part 20

2 days before the deadline for the Degree Show and  I’m still trying to get all the colouring done! With all the shots left being long ones with multiple full body characters its getting crazy!

I wanna thank the guys that have offered to help me with the colouring, Its taken a bit of the pressure off. 🙂


I’m also adding some water drops to Fruut in the shots after he was kicked into the water to make him look more wet and also to make the water itself look less solid with small splashes.

Fruut Reflection Background00037


Fruut the Ugly Griffin Part 18

I wanted to do something a little more interesting for the credits than just scrolling text on a black screen for this project. There are a lot of films that have really creative end credits like the Kung Fu Panda movies, Legend of the Guardians and Bolt. But my absolute favorite end credits to any film will always be the ones after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Sketches by Alan Lee are set to the song “Into the West” by Annie Lennox, there’s something so powerful about these two things together that gets me every time!

Here is one of the credit title cards I’ve been working on.

Credits1 copy

Fruut the Ugly Griffin Part 16

I finally have a rough cut put together of all my work in frogress so far. Its nice to see it on screen and not just on stacks of paper!

The next steps is to finish some of the animation off, some walk cycles etc. I’m also learning a brand new programme to composit the final film in, Darryl has kindly offered to help me go over the process of this in TV Paint. I’m really excited to use the scan cleaner feature to get rid of the paper around the drawings much quicker than manually erasing it frame by frame in photoshop which was what I was going to have to do until I found out about this beautiful software! And the final result of this is much better looking too, resembling the old xerox method. Here is a screenshot to see how it looks.

Kristi Scan Clean Test

Once this is all composited I can colour the whole thing in a new layer underneath.