Thursday, March 26, 2015

Concept Art: RUNEPAW

So here's a nice thing: having worked with Falmouth Uni's Animation and Visual Effects Department a few times in the past few years (I mainly talk to them about narrative structure, because a lot of student animators can create a thirty second piece in their sleep, but when they have to do something more than four minutes long they tend to shout 'Awk' and fall over), it became apparent that this year is really really good. Or to be fairer to the other years, their collective art style would seem to lend itself very well to the sort of animation I like writing for.

Which made me think 'Hmmm'. 'Hmmm', I thought. And I looked at a few written outlines I'd been noodling about with, and wondered how much better they'd be, and how much more inspired I'd be to work them up into something richer and more interesting if, say, I had a room full of really talented drawists doing lots and lots of concept art for me.

And they went for it! Hahahaha idiots (I love you guys). As part of their professional development, I've given them three very brief outlines, and they're doing concept art, and then I'm giving them feedback, and then they're revising their work, and where we end up, no-one knows. Except hopefully, they'll have a portfolio full of concept art they wouldn't otherwise had, and I'll have some developed outline pitch documents with lovely art, and they keep the copyright on their work so I can't pitch anything involving their art without their permission.

Obviously the spectre of 'hey guys do this work for me I can't pay you but think of the EXPOSURE' is going to lurk over this, but they will get course credits. Also I've tried to recreate the feel of a genuine animation creative workshop by giving them a) sweets and b) a bucket of lego to play with while we talk, so there's that.

Anyway, the process has begun, so I thought I'd put the first few pieces up. Where I can, I've linked to the creators' blogs or tumblr feeds or whatevs, but for GOD'S SAKE PEOPLE get a Twitter account, I get so much work now from Twitter, it is essential if you live in Cornwall like an idiot.

Here's the first outline:


Animation for pre-schoolers, teaching navigation and simple words.

Following the adventures of Ingrid Runepaw, a brave Viking mouse, and her intrepid crew of mice, rats, stoats and one rather cold lizard, as they explore the frozen North in order to uncover stories of adventure and derring-do – while having no small amount of adventure themselves.

RUNEPAW is all about exploration and stories, teaching children the basics of map-reading and navigation (why does it get warmer as you go South? Can you sail off the edge of the world?) and uncovering retellings of classic myths and legends as they go (the animation moving from 3D CGI to older forms of animation, such as 2D or stop-motion as the stories are told).

I needed some character art, some background/environment stuff and... anything else they fancied doing really.

AND NOW SOME ARTINGS. This is just a brief selection really, there's some more great stuff which hasn't made it into the Google Docs folder yet, but I'll put it up when it appears.

Grayling Breckon

Sophie Rippington

THEY ARE SO GREAT. The other ones are great too, with a more Disney/Dreamworks influence, but they're not online yet.

The interesting thing is how much it makes me go back to the original concept and redefine it. I'm already chucking out the mixed narrative/story within a story idea - if the characters are this loveable, I want to spend time with them. Also I need to figure out the rules of this world: are the animals aping a viking culture that's around them? Is it set in the modern day, but the animals have their own culture? Or are there no humans in this world, so the animals have stepped up to fill that niche, as it were. How do they perform basic metallurgy (seriously, I have to think about this).

More to follow.