June 11, 2016

Moving On

Hey hey hi everyone!

I'm retiring this blog, as I have found myself to be a lot more active on other websites.  I'll leave this blog as it currently is. Should you wish to see future updates, you can find them:

On Tumblr.

Or Instagram!

Or Facebook ;)

Thanks for checking this place out: it means a lot.  Have a super duper awesome day!

Ember Process 5

It's been a year today since I released Ember online.  And also 11 years since I moved to Canada.  Time flies!

I put together one more Ember process post.  It's a "multi-video video" this time, each showing different stages of the film as it went through production.

Top left: Storyboarding.  I boarded a large chunk of the film before starting the school year.  Lots of little timing tweaks happened during the first couple of weeks.  I planned on animating to the music, so more small changes in timing were made once Denny finished his awesome track!

Top right: Compositing.  I spent a lot of time on the compositing, and that video more or less shows how I went about it.  Lots (looooots) of problem solving in this stage.

Bottom left: Animation!  Those are pretty much all the pencil tests for the film.  I timed the whole film out on X-sheets to figure out the exact timing of the music and the actions that the characters needed to perform and then used TVPaint for all the actual animation.

Bottom right: The final film.  Not much else I can come up with for a description here.

So that's it for the "official" Ember process posts.  I still have plenty of random things from the film lying around, but I'll probably just randomly upload those to my Tumblr sometime, maybe :)

Previous Ember posts can be found here:
Ember Process 4
Ember Process 3
Ember Process 2
Ember Process 1

June 08, 2016

Goodmorning Baltimore!

So I did another themed drawing.  This time it revolved around Hairspray, whoot whoot!

This turned out super bubbly, but I suppose that's fitting with what I was aiming for.  I love Hairspray.

Try viewing your day like Tracy Turnblad, people!

June 04, 2016

Madame Lestrange

Bellatrix.  One of my favourite villains!

May 27, 2016

Horsies - Part 2

The other half of the horse drawing scans!  Compiled on another page ;)

May 26, 2016

Werewolf Ballet

We did another art theme-thingy at work.  This time we drew werewolves.  I came up with the idea that this werewolf really liked ballet, so I started researching that and really, really fell in love with ballet!  There are so many beautiful poses to see!  Definitely going to look into that more.  Anyway, here's the werewolfy:

May 25, 2016

Horsies - Part 1

I've been drawing some horses at work recently, so, naturally, I started drawing horses all over my sketchbook in the last couple of days.  Here's a select bunch:

May 23, 2016

There Are Always More...

Yes, there are always more face drawings.  Always.

May 07, 2016



I'm not really sure where I'm going with this.  Found a nice brush while doing this though!

April 23, 2016

Hands, Feet...

... and a Wolfy!

Just some compiled drawings from the recent sketchbooks, because I finally started doing that!

April 21, 2016

I Animated a Thing

I've been planning on doing an animation test of the character I did in my online course last autumn (which can be found here).  I tried animating something a bit more detailed than what I usually do, which, of course, required a little more time.  I've been working on this periodically over the last month-and-a-half or so and learned a good chunk of things from it.  I animated this in TVPaint: love that software!  So yeah, here's Hyde.

 Of course, I couldn't resist adding in a slight multiplane pan :)

April 20, 2016


I wanted to do something orange and this is what became of it.  Summer is just around the corner!

April 16, 2016

I Like Caramel Correttos

That title is pretty irrelevant to this post, but it's the best I could come up with.  So, what have I conjured up this time, you may ask?  Well, it looks like I did another fox thing, and that's because... Well, I don't really know why.  I just did another one.  I want a Caramel Corretto :)

April 11, 2016

Monkey-Monkey. It's a Monkey

Whoops, forgot to upload this here.  Oh well.  This is still from last week.  I am doing a short animation test (roughly 10 seconds), so that's taking up most of my spare time at the moment.  I'm currently inbetweening, so it's not far from being finished :D

But yeah, have a monkey.  I'll get around to scanning my recent sketchbooks sometime this week.  I actually scanned one last week, but for some reason the scans never got sent to my email address.  Oh well, Second time's the charm... I hope :)

March 29, 2016

Is It a Weasel?

Worked on this on-and-off for a couple of days.  It's a more finished version of a rougher sketch I uploaded earlier.  I still don't really know what kind of animal it is, but I did look at weasels for colour inspiration.  He's a gardener though: I know that part!

March 19, 2016

Elephants Are Not Dogs

More elephants.  I had a lot of these, so I compiled them.  So... elephants.

Because sometimes you just want to post twice a day.

There Was a Great Big Moose

Random drawings from the last several weeks.  I noticed I have quite a few things to upload, so here's a page with... uuhm...  Yup, mainly animals :D

March 03, 2016

Ember Process 4

So yes, this here is the tree that went by the name "TwistyTree" throughout the filmmaking process.  Until that one fateful moment where my friend Jean-Samuel Roux decided it needed another name.  He really kept pushing for it, so I've just given in.  So there you have it: The "Jean-Samuel-Roux" tree.

The Jean-Samuel Roux tree was the one tree that I had the most fun with and spent the most time on.  It is based of the "Knotwilg".  A tree that you see a lot in The Netherlands.  Originally, there were supposed to be two separate trees, but then when I was researching, I stumbled upon this image which inspired me to do something very different  Drawing the whole thing out was great fun, since I loved putting all those little swirls, patterns and wooden textures on it.  Making it all appear balanced was tricky though.  I kept on having to get rid of details in places where I went overboard.  The Jean-Samuel Roux tree was also one of the last trees I painted, so I used the experience I gained from the other trees and applied it there.  A large problem I had with all the tree layers was that they would all enter the water in a straight, horizontal line, making them all appear flat (which they technically were).  The only solution I could really come up with was to have the trees exist out of many different layers that got smaller as they came forward in Z-space, which, of course, also helped with the multi-plane effect I wanted.  I went back-and-forth between Photoshop and After Effects for this one a whole lot.  So yeah, that's the Jean-Samuel Roux Tree.

Also, check out Jean-Samuel Roux's blog here!

One of the last trees to show up is an oak tree.  I mainly added that one because we had a giant one in our yard when I still lived in The Netherlands and I remembered it for having cool-looking leaves.  I never had to paint the top, but I had fun with the part of the trunk that did show up.  And of course... all those blades of grass :D

Then here is the last tree of the film.  I honestly don't really know what type of tree this is.  I just went with the same visual style of the other trees.  I was mainly interested in that circular shape, so my main focus was on getting that to work with the oak tree in the background.

The lilies, or so called "Gele Plomp lelies", are the things the salamander uses to move over the water.  Here they are as seen from above.  I wanted to make many more not-as-detailed lilies to add in the background, but time ran out.  These took quite a bit longer than I anticipated, but oh well.

Here are some of the non-tree objects in the film.  Well, technically those are tree roots.  The flowers that the dragonfly stands on are "Gele Plomp" flowers that have not yet fully bloomed.  The lantern-sticks are... made up.

Lanterns from scene nine.  The lanterns in the film are actually based of a flower called... "The Lantern Flower".  Yup, they're real.  I painted these particular ones in a super high resolution, since they each would appear on-screen really large for a split-second while the camera trucked-out.  Of course, that only ended up being for about a single frame with ginormous blurs on them, so in the end it didn't even matter.  Lesson learned, but at least I get to upload them here in high resolution, so there's that (Still not even half as big as they really are :P).

A close-up of the Jean-Samuel Roux tree, painted for scene seven.  I applied a small blur to them for the final film though, so here's a slightly more detailed view.

Right, so for the following scene I actually spent a long time painting all these little thingamajigs for in the water.  It was so much fun, and I was so excited to apply these slight wavy filters in After Effects that I had planned for weeks and to make them all move in a direction to make the water really 3-dimensional and cool-looking!  So...
It was way too distracting.  Really, it was quite ridiculous how attention-grabbing those things were.  And since they were in no way the point and focus of the scene, I had to tone down the movement and the opacity of those underwater-particles a lot while also blurring them so they wouldn't attract to much attention.  Another lesson learned.

And finally, here are a whole bunch of remaining trees.  Some are only visible for a split second, while some are partially covered by other things.  That seems to be a thing that comes with multi-planing.  But still, I had a lot of fun creating all these trees, because, well... I just really like drawing trees!

Previous Ember posts can be found here:

February 23, 2016

February Thingies

I'm currently working on a little animation test, so I'm focusing on that a little more instead of sketching.  Still, here's a select bunch of digital sketches from the last week or so.

February 18, 2016

Ember Process 3

This post and the next will feature the trees and background elements that I painted for Ember.  I was super excited to start designing and painting the trees, and had to keep myself from going overboard on the storyboards.  I did the design-and-line work for all of the backgrounds between October and December 2014.  I spent that following Christmas break doing a large part of the painting.

 The first tree is the main tree that the salamander starts on.  This was actually one of the last trees I painted, which is what I planned on doing.  I did the other backgrounds as "warm-up", as I wanted this particular tree to stand out quite a bit, along with the originally called "TwistyTree" which is in the background for the majority of the rest of the film (that particular tree has since then been renamed, however, but more on that later).

The main tree also got a special lighting treatment that appeared after the first lantern was lit.  I planned on having "special lighting treatments" all over the place when a new lantern was lit, but there simply wasn't time for that.  Still, here's the main tree with its highlights:

The original stage I used for the storyboards looked like this.  I had to continually alter it for the different horizon line levels I had planned for in the different scenes.  And yes, the first lantern was originally going to be on a stick.  Also, the salamander and dragonfly were going to be walking on rocks in the water.  However, the environment was going to be based on elements from a Dutch landscape, and large rocks aren't really a part of that.  Those rocks instead became lilies and tree-roots.

This is what the WIP line version of the main background looked like.  The trees on the left were done for the end credits. I had very particular shapes that I wanted the the trees to create through multi-planing, so this is more or less how I went about planning that.

The grass at the beginning of the film was also tricky to put together.  Not so much in creating it, but more so in properly planning and compositing it.  I split them up in ten different levels.  There was a lot of back and forth between After Effects and Photoshop for pretty much all the background elements, but the grass required the most tweaking.  Actually, no, the TwistyTree required even more.  Oh well.

I later separated all those blades of grass, plants, and cattails so that I could use them as fore- and background elements in other places.  I created a little library of them all.  This is said library:

And here are three background elements.  I painted all those blades of grass in the film manually.  I was too stubborn to turn them into brushes or copy and paste sections of them.  Plus, I liked the way it looked :D

That's all for now.  Part two should be up not too long from now.

Previous Ember posts can be found here:
Ember Process 2
Ember Process 1

February 16, 2016

Sketching With a Wannabe Pencil

Some digital sketchbook drawings from recent times.  Many of those hands are from Spirou comics :D

February 15, 2016


I wanted to try something else again.  And so this happened.

January 23, 2016

Faces and Dragons

Some more compilations.  A whole bunch of faces from the last couple of weeks and a page of dragons that I drew over the Christmas break while watching behind-the-scenes videos about Smaug.  That was a long sentence.

Also, check out Alan Stewart's Instagram.  I'm sure some of these were inspired by his amazing dragon drawings from a while ago.

January 20, 2016

Compiling. That's What I Do...

Yes.  Compiling things.  Here's more!  This description is very descriptive.

January 19, 2016

I'm Compiling Again

Had a whole bunch of digital sketches from the last couple of weeks, so I started compiling again!

January 16, 2016

A Little Bit of Everything

Here's a whole bunch of stuff from the online course, life drawing and sketchbook.  I can't really think of what else to describe this with.  So there :)

January 06, 2016

Ember Process 2

I knew very early on that I wanted to create a large multiplane environment in which I could use multiple camera angles.  I looked a lot at Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends to see how the levels were put together.  I would literally enter a level, find a particular area with water and move left, right, up and down on the spot for some hours.  Man, they really are gorgeous games.  Anyway, I discovered they created some sort of horizontal water-plane that had vertical planes with artwork that intersected it.  That is what I wanted to do for Ember.

It sounded simple enough, but actually executing it was very, very difficult.  Anyway, here is the first After Effects test that I did in August 2014, where I was discovering camera settings like "Depth of Field".  It's all fun and games when working with three small layers like here, but when there are 200+ levels of high resolution artwork to be processed, After Effects gets a little grumpy.

People kept on mentioning that I needed to add reflections.  I kept looking around on the world wide web to see if there was a way to make the water plane reflective.  Alas, I just couldn't find a way.  I ended up doing exactly what I was trying to avoid: duplicating all those layers so that I could flip them upside down under the water level.  After Effects will keep up.  Right?

Nope.  I ran into a LOT of technical problems.  One thing that I just couldn't solve was the water level randomly popping up and down during camera movements and depth of field changes, resulting in the reflections partially showing up above the water levels:

In the end, I decided to just render the final credits without the reflections.  Partially through that render I decided to export the After Effects file to try it one more time on another computer and... it... worked?!  I don't know how, but I immediately cancelled the first render and started rendering the credits with the reflections this time.  Rendering those credits in HD took two full days on nine computers.  Yup...

So now onto some dragonfly stuff.  I wasn't quite sure how I was going to tackle the four wings.  Animating them by hand would have been fun, but I really wanted to create a particular blurry look for them when they were in flight.  Early on, I tried creating a basic 3D-wing rig in Toon Boom.  Blurs were not being helpful at first, but after a lot of tweaking, I was able to get the desired effect.

The dragonfly has four wings, but whenever it flies, each wing multiplies by three for a total of twelve wings in every flight frame.  All of the wings have different blurs applied to them and all together they were able to get the look I was after.  The inner tips of the wings all come together at one point, which became the point of attachment on the dragonfly.

And to end this post, here's quick 1.5 hour animation test done to see if the whole idea would work.  Thankfully, it did :)

Previous Ember posts can be found here: