Werewolf animation!

Brrr, chills. This time H.o.p. does a werewolf animation. With captions. He had to do two separate files as the rudimentary program only handles 18 frames. Why would a caption require its own file? Because the W grows werewolf ears, that’s why! Anyway, a werewolf and neopet go up onto a cliff to howl in the moonlight. Notice also how, as the werewolf turns its head from left to right, the earth’s shadow passes over the moon.

You have to appreciate how much time it takes an eight-year-old to do these things, especially on this level of involved movement.

Two new drawings painted in Photoshop have also been added in his 2006 gallery. With Elmo he deliberated on the idea of the moon and cloud reflected in the window, and added shading on the side of Elmo away from the moon.

Elmo looking at the moon

Love the antenna poking through the clouds in the below drawing.

Sesame Street at night

H.o.p. enjoys the idea of people looking at his work and putting it up on the blog. Is very excited about his gallery, for which I need to do his own entry web page. He comes over and wants to read this entry and smiles and starts talking about other things he wants to do in the future to put up. And he brings up his robot animation I posted yesterday and wants to read the entry for that.

Link to H.o.p.'s latest animation

It’s of Tim and Moby cutting off a lightswitch. Keep in mind that he’s working under the constraint of a primitive program in which he can only use 18 frames. He’s really getting the idea of slowing down the action. (And yes he spelled “off” incorrectly.) The blue dots at the end of the short are Moby’s lights coming on, Moby being the robot.

I know H.o.p. would appreciate a comment.

Fury of the artist

H.o.p. is furious at me. He believes I lost a drawing of his. I probably did. I probably threw it away. He draws ten thousand pictures a day and it’s impossible to keep them all, which he would do if he could. We haven’t the room so I sort them out occasionally and throw away the obvious prep drawings and many others. He says, anyway, that up front was a drawing for an animation he was doing and it’s gone now. So, he is mad. I think it is also the cold. We have both hit cold-cranky.

Attempting to clean up the enormous mess of files on my computer, art and photos everywhere, I started sorting through all our digital files from the middle of 2004 when we got a digital camera. I was also sorting out pics of H.o.p.’s art and have been reflecting the past few days as to what happened where throughout 2004 I did a pretty good job of recording and scanning H..p.’s art and this somehow collapsed in 2005. I realized, going through all the folders of photos what happened.

Everything became art. And it became too much to keep up with.

Going through the photos I realize there isn’t a single thing eventually that isn’t art or performance here at home. I knew that at the time but it has been so much a part of daily life that I didn’t really how *everything* was art. There were no more plain photos of H.o.p. It was H.o.p. in costume, H.o.p. performing, not just drawings and scans of drawings but photo after photo of digital drawings he was doing on multiple computer programs, turning everything into art, spoons rearranged to be art, whole sections of rooms rearranged to be art, a sudden multiplying of sequence art, photo after photo of sequenced drawings or puppet performances. And finally H.o.p. took over the camera (my dad had given me a better one) and began taking hundreds of photos that were all art exercises, conceptual art, blurred and apparently nonsensical images as well that he did on purpose going for a particular effect, photographing everything not to record it but to make something new, to make a story. And ultimately hundreds of digital photos we had also to discard as there was no saving all of them, still leaving a copious record. He’d also begun experimenting with video but then our camera broke and our replacement camera turned out not to have sound, which took a lot of the fun out of it. And now tons of animations. He was going through them last night and was scrutinizing his older ones. “That’s no good,” he said. “All my older ones look just like separate pictures. They don’t look like animation.” He was saying he didn’t want others to see them because they weren’t like real animations and weren’t any good. I told him no, they were excellent for what he was doing at the time. That he needed to do those to learn, all part of the process.

Below is a picture he took in February. Deliberate. He plays with the camera continually, jiggling, doing high contrasts, dark against light, seeing what he can get out of it. “Isn’t that cool?” he says. I was going to adjust the levels in Photoshop but it softened the contrast and he didn’t want that. “Change it back,” he said. “I want it like it was.” He had done several videos first, the camera on the chair, so he would know exactly where to stand to get the effect he wanted.

There were a number of images that were almost all white, such as all white with a streak of blue-white, that he got out of jiggling the camera wildly while taking pictures of the white plastic venetian blinds. “Isn’t that cool?” he said. Done deliberately.

And always loads of stills from animated movies or flash animations so he can study them.

Against ceiliing light
H.o.p., age 8

New gallery for H.o.p.

He’s been practicing drawing dinosaurs. It’s the main interest right now, dinosaurs and dragons and robots.

I thought he did a great job with the below airplane. Love how it’s scowling.

Slowly, I’m putting together galleries for 2005 on back. It’s interesting to look at them and watch his skills evolve. I have also now a number of animations from 2006 to put up.

H.o.p. instructs me on art and I give just a tad return instruction

Every little budding artist is eventually struck by realism, at least for a period of time. H.o.p. tonight was looking at a drawing of two Egyptian women embracing, an older and a younger woman, in a story of his, and he was struck by the realism of the illustration. He decided to tell me about how you draw something so it looks real.

“Look how real that looks!” he says of the illustration. “How do they do that?”

“Do you want to draw something that looks real like that?” I ask.

“Yes! How can I learn that?”

“Well, you’ve seen my paintings. I do things that look real.”

“No. You use a computer. That’s not real. You don’t draw.”

“True, I use a computer for my painting right now.”

“Mom, I can show you show you how to make things look real. if you want to make something look really real you put a white dot on it for the reflected light and then put a shadow with it. Now take this robot for example, I’m drawing the shadow first. You can draw whatever you want to first. Does the shadow look real? I’m trying to make the robot look real, like he’s light and dark at the same time. So I draw a little white dot on the robot which is the light reflecting on him. The light is reflecting off his forehead. Just like the light is reflecting off that human’s forehead. I want this drawing to look like it really happened. Now time again for the shadow. This would be a good marker for the shadow…”

Thus does eight-year-old H.o.p. instruct me on making things look real with magic markers.

Since he’s adamant on making things look real, I wait a bit and then mention if he used conte crayons or pencils for drawing he could add shading. I only once in a blue moon critique anything H.o.p. draws, because he’s done so well learning on his own and pacing himself just with my giving him books and showing him things online. But I figure it’s time to talk about shading.

“I don’t want to use crayons!”

“These are a different type of crayons.”

I show him some pictures of realistic drawings done with conte crayons.

“I want those crayons!”

I show him some pictures of realistic drawings done with colored pencils.

“I want to do that!”

He does have a few colored pencils and some pastels. Maybe it’s time to get some more. He hasn’t wanted to do smudging or anything before but I go ahead and pull out some available oil pastels and ask him for a piece of paper and do a quick sketch of an imaginary apple with some highlight and shading, talking about light and shadow.

“My drawing is better than yours,” H.o.p. says. “See?” He holds up his robot next to my apple, says, “See? Look! Mine looks more real.”

Then he looks at it again and says, “Oh, yours looks more real.”

“Honey, yours is great! I was just showing you a little about smudging.”

“I guess yours is what you call a masterpiece,” he says in a disappointed voice.

“No, it’s not. Yours is great! I was just showing you smudging.”

And seriously, mine was just a lousy apple sketch done in a few seconds. His was a carefully drawn robot. His was better.

Man, I hate teaching. He puts down his markers for a while and plays with cars.

“I know how to draw pirates!” he says finally. “And to make it look more real, I can use those crayon things!” And he pulls them out.

“Wait, H.o.p.” I go and pull out for H.o.p. the remainder of what pencils I have. He’s thrilled. I do this because I know that it’ll be better for him to smudge with pencils instead of pastels at first, just because of his temperament. He likes his hands clean and the pencils will feel less nasty.

“Thanks, mom!!!”

And he sets about drawing a spaceship and another robot. He draws for a while and then gets up and washes the color off his hands and then comes back and finishes his drawing.

“Does the picture look totally real?”

I say it does, though it doesn’t. I know to him it does and he’s making a great effort and he’s learning something completely new. He’s not liked to use pencils or anything other then pens or markers before. He’s bang up with markers doing marvelous vivid pictures and can see a cartoon and recognize and memorize immediately what makes the character and draw it. He’s been so marvelous at cartooning, imparting personality and expression econimically and immediately, that I’ve pretty much stuck with these interests as far as drawing. This is his first time with something like pencils and adding shading directly onto a subject. The light direction for one part of the robot is from the left and changes to the right by the time one gets to the feet, but s’right.

“I can’t wait for dad to get home so I can show him! He will think it’s totally real! And I’ll tell him no it’s not, it’s a picture! This is my first real drawing with pencil!”

He’s loving it.

“You know, people learn shading and light by looking at a thing and drawing it, like that cup,” I tell him. “That might be something you’d like to try one day.”

“Yeah. But right now I’m drawing another pencil picture of the robot running through smoke.”

He has already picked up that pen and pencil go real well together. He’s doing another picture where it’s pen and pencil.

Gotta be careful with these things, with giving a kid some tips in such a way that they don’t feel overwhelmed or their ability negated.

“Can I use all the tools?” he asks.

“You can use every tool you want!”

“I’m proud of myself!”

A plasticene post

Now, after that depressing last post, on a brighter note, we have loads of plasticene (for claymation), not all the colors H.o.p. would like, but we’ve got gobs and he’s now finding it difficult to think of what to do for his fledgling attempt at a movie. I quickly realized, as he went through ideas, one after another, that though we also now have aluminum wire for armatures (expensive!!!) that doing armatures is something best reserved for the future and more dedicated projects. Like far in the future. What was I thinking when I started talking armatures to H.o.p. a couple weeks ago? Much over enthusiasm on my part. Lots of over enthusiasm on my part. I’ve now been having to talk him out of armatures, as I realized that he would, of course, want a new armature a day.

So the past few days have been me convincing him it’s just fine to make characters out of the plasticene with no armature, that these will do just fine for his first endeavors. Little squat figures. Having convinced him, he is now trying to figure out what his first figures should be. He keeps making and squishing and making and squishing. I asked him this morning if he’d come up with any firm ideas and he said no because his movie must have a villain too and he hadn’t decided on a villain. I remind him he should make this first one as simple as possible, maybe even just one character, but he says no, there must be a villain. In the meanwhile, he keeps making new storyboards, looking for the right story, the right characters.

He is now talking having a robot that first looks like a cup and then transforms into an evil robot that takes over the earth, but he’s not certain about any of this.

Reading up on Stop Animation for H.o.p.

Some time Monday the landlord is dropping by to look at the radiators. We’ve had glorious heat all weekend. Turns out that the heat was supposed to be on all last week but the person sent to check out the boiler’s health and turn it all on didn’t cut it on, they just checked its health and cut it back off. So Friday the heat was cut on and I walked back inside from talking to the landlord about not much of anything and there was, as he promised, heat wafting down from the ceiling. “You’ll need to remember to empty out the buckets,” he said to me. Small buckets hang down from our radiators in two of the rooms, to catch the drips. I told him the buckets were dry all last year. “They might be clogged,” he replied. And so he is going to drop by and check and see if they are clogged. Funny when a working radiator means it drips.

So, I promised myself I would clean clean since the landlord was stopping in. I would clean out the refrigerator as I planned to show him the door handle that simply snapped off one day. Didn’t come unscrewed, just snapped off this refrigerator which he dragged in last November to replace the old. We successfully superglued it back on and it stayed for a month or two and then snapped back off.
Continue reading Reading up on Stop Animation for H.o.p.

Stop animation character study

When we got back from vacation we kicked straight back in to relentless rut. I’m going to meditate on that some today. While working.I am constantly amazed by this child. Hates anything that isn’t to do with drawing or (now) animation possibilities. Math? Numbers? He’s got a bit of that dyslexia thing going and also out of pure disinterest couldn’t write a simple addition or subtraction equation to save his life. He doesn’t care. You couldn’t get him to care. If I was an Unschooler that would be cool, but I don’t have it in me to be a diehard unschooler. I entice him with Flash animations of math because all he cares about is art and animation. And he sits and draws it all. Plays one brief bit over and over and over studying the animation. All the other homeschoolers are speeding along with studies and if I ask him a simple equation he gets this clouded look in his eye and either smiles brightly at me and throws out any number that pops into his head or scowls and says, “Boring!” and goes right back to drawing. I tell him he’s going to need this other boring stuff to help him out in the future with his art, he’s going to need to know math. “Hmmm,” he goes and there will be a flicker of concession to learning these other things. (He also knows more than he thinks he knows or cares to know.) Then also for sake of mom’s emotional health he’ll buckle down for a while and consider things like pints and cups and quarts and gallons, like we were working on yesterday. Day in and day out I wait for the opportune moments to squeeze a bit of that boring stuff into this brain and try like hell to make it not boring so he’ll be interested. “Put him in school where he’ll learn some discipline!” you say, but he’s disciplined as hell. Fiercely disciplined, it’s just all directed to making the characters in his brain come alive.

Last week he didn’t want me to throw out a box of styrofoam pellets. He said they were perfect eyes. He took them and went through laboriously drawing pupils in different positions on them for some of his clay creations.

I spent the last couple of weeks looking up animation and stop animation sites for him. We’ve only been to a couple, I put most on reserve so he doesn’t get overwhelmed. Yesterday (after the Zoo’s Halloween day, which he found disappointing as he admitted afterwards he was expecting stories over a bonfire for some reason, however he did love the storyteller but didn’t like the big crowd, which the animals also didn’t like) we spent at animateclay.com. He watched those little clips over and over, looked at armatures and how you craft the clay and put them on the armature. I pointed out how people use different heads for the characters and in stop animation make different mouths etc. and stop the camera and change them out. And he’s looking and drawing like crazy throughout.

Then he sits down last night and he works on sketches for a stop animation character he wants to do. And I looked at it this morning and saw how precise this little seven-year-old was being. And those little beautifully drawn arrows, and such assuredness of line. He can still barely write his numbers, just throws them out of his pen, getting them out of the way as quickly as possible. And out of that little hand comes also these incredible sketches with no hint of stutter in line, no guessing, no pencil foreplanning. In his head and onto the paper it goes. I know people out there couldn’t care less, but my jaw just drops. “Oh mi’god,” I say, “What am I going to do…?”

He was all excited afterwards. He was going to make this thing. With our help of course. He was ready to make it right then and get to work with it.

When I was seven I couldn’t have whipped out a sketch with this kind of fluidity, couldn’t have begun to. I look at just those little arrows alone and think, “Damn.”

And I think, “Damn”, because he’s ready to make this stuff and start filming. And we don’t have what he needs to do it. Believe me, if we had it, he’d be doing it, too.

He’s out this evening watching the stop motion animation feature, “The Corpse Bride”. Armatures with silicone. All digital. And I took the time to ferret out what looks like a good stop motion animation forum and joined it and am hoping they can give some advice on what to do as we can’t buy expensive armatures and don’t have the equipment needed. And he’s raring to go. I imagine many of them started out as kids in the same situation and will be able to offer some good pointers. I hope they don’t say, “Hmmmph, a kid.”

One day this summer I looked in the camera to find he was doing his own stop motion animation studies and he has me film him jumping and falling etc. so he can study it frame by frame.

Two more movies from H.o.p.

H.o.p. likes the idea I’m posting his movies for friends and relatives to see, and this afternoon he did two for the blog. The little program he works in employs a fundamental form of flippad onionskinning. What you draw is what you get. No panning and zooming. No copying of images you’ve already drawn and pasting in.

In which a red bird is pursued by a monster bird. I like how the monster bird snaps at the bird and red tail feathers fly.

– The ocean
– Out of a wave (on the left) a sea monster’s dark and light green tail emerges.
– A second sea monster leaps from the ocean, seen from behind so you don’t see the head, only the feet

It’s difficult finding on the web animation that other children have done, but I eventually came up with some submissions at Amazing Kids and was able to show H.o.p. what some other children were doing. I’ve only just started looking.

A couple of ghost animations by H.o.p.

All right, so family and friends are primed and expecting to see fabulous little animations (linked below) by H.o.p. Well, come on, what you’re going to be seeing are animations by a seven-year-old done on his rudimentary but pretty ingenious little Reader Rabbit program where you draw and overlay little sketches and can turn them into a movie, and I think H.o.p. is using it to great advantage, figuring out building of story and how to use POV, which he already has done for a while drawing lots of still images that are supposed to be a story. The more ambitious would be using Flash or some such, but working in Flash even makes me crazy.

They’re not detailed drawings and they fly by too quickly to see much of anything as he’s not doing a lot of frames in the ones below. He has better ones but these are the two he wanted me to film for Halloween. (I had to film them on his computer screen with the camera.) They’re very dark and elements are difficult to see at times, which is my fault in sizing them down and compressing them.

-The ghost (several frames)
-The ghost becomes two clouds
-The ghost reforms
-The ghost descends into the grave at night, headstone behind it
-Headstone against dawning blue
-Full day, headstone against white sky
-For some reason transition to night sky with moster (white dot)
-Monster (white dot with legs) lying on ground after tripping
-Ghost reappears at night and becomes two clouds again

-Human walking
-Transition to human running to edge of cliff
-POV of human looking over green edge of cliff to ground below (I was pretty impressed with this change in POV)
-Human falls over cliff (little spot of blue sky high above)
-Moby the robot appears for some reason
-Human on brown ground at bottom of cliff
-Human’s position changes
-Human covered now by red blanket in bed, it’s day (the thought bubble above shows the cliff was a dream)
-Transition to human getting out of bed and a ghost appearing behind him
-Human turns and sees the ghost which changes to look like a cloud
-The ghost now appears behind the human in a closet (the ghost against black background)
-The human turns and sees the ghost
-The ghost talks to the human
-They hug, being friends now
-They walk off toward the horizon.


H.o.p. thrusts a paper in front of my face and in his nasal cold sneezy voice says, “Guess what that is?”

Blobs with faces.

“That’s smoke and that’s pollution. They were the bad things let out of Pandora’s Box.”

Yes, indeed the ills of the world released from Pandora’s Box.

“Except for hope,” H.o.p. says. “Hope was left.”

I think now is not the age to discuss with H.o.p. that some people believed hope was a curse.