It's sod's law...

...that as soon as you relocate, you get a job in the place that you just left! (Although I still work in Bristol too...The Aardman Adventure continues but it's got a Passion bolt on.)

Shouldn't complain though...work is work and I was in City last week when 5000 people got laid off. And there is nothing wrong with heading up to London to work every now and again. It's quite refreshing...although I wouldn't say that about the air.

Anyway, a couple in the park right outside my new residence in Bristol.


Animating in Photoshop...finally

Right…so this is going to be my attempt at a tutorial on the animation function in Adobe Photoshop CS3…pretty nifty piece of kit when you combine it with a Cintiq.

First things first…open Photoshop (and it has to be CS3 extended version, otherwise none of this will work), create a new document (whatever size you want…I use various depending on what I’m doing, usually 1280x800 and 150dpi) and make sure the animation palette is open and in TIMELINE mode.

In this mode each layer is frame and you specify how long it appears for…1s, 2s, long hold etc. You can also have a layout as a layer which is the length of the timeline…kinda handy…or even a model sheet layer for reference. You can change the length of you shot by going into the document settings and just changing the frame length...you can also do other bits and pieces with this pop up menu...explore!

Anyway, everytime you create a new layer you are essentially grabbing another piece of 12-field and sticking it to the old peg bar…in laymen’s terms it’s another piece of paper. The thing with this is you have to treat it like paper to begin with. One layer, one drawing. Onto an favourite excercise...a right of passage for near enough every animator if you will…the good old bouncing ball.

So now it’s just like animating at a table, every new layer being a new piece of paper. So go on, get your dopesheet out and start animating…hopefully you don’t need me to tell you how to do that!

Once you have done the keys then you can put them in place on the timeline and begin the breakdowns and inbetweens. This is around the point that I start putting all the rough frames into the same group…it makes it easier later on.

And after you have your roughs done (and are happy with them) collapse the group to make it a bit easier on the eyes. Now comes something which is a bit more confusing, if you plan to get beyond the rough stage. You can create a VIDEO LAYER.

Basically this does away with having the need for separate layer/separate frame, and you could actually use is to animate straight ahead if you wanted. Create one and then have a blast doing clean up frame by frame and keeping it all on one layer! If you have 2s or a hold then you can duplicate a frame easy as.

Once you are all finished, go to File>Export>Render Video. That should bring up a dialogue allowing you to export as an image sequence (so you can put it into after effect or whatever) or just do a straight QuickTime file.

Hope that helps someone out there. I know it’s only a start point, but it’s a pretty basic technique and works fine for me and keeps it close to the way I worked with paper.

Good night!

So the olympics came and went...

So since the last time I blogged the awesome-ness that is the olympics has come and gone. Now I know some people will think this is sad, but I got my name down as a volunteer for the 2012 games...don't care what I do, as long as its something. Gotta find out which company is going to do the BBCs stings so I can get involved in that...but thats 4 years away.

Anyway, life has just gone on really. Moved out of London, moving to Bristol which is pretty exciting/hectic. The people at the residential letting agencies asked me for an address the other day and that left me stumped...isn't it their job to find me one?...I guess I'm technically addressless for the week.

Work goes on too...boards get done, revised, done again, revised, fixed, worked over and finally (if one is lucky) locked. Its pretty cool here...a very organic process and sometimes the editor will interpret something in a completely different way to the one you intended and it turns out really cool...like seeing the story evolve and ultimately get stronger.

Anyway...I leave you with a picture from the games (I have more but am still working on them...I have soooo many started-but not-completed projects) and one of Dave from this afternoon. Lovely.

Goodnight...I'm going home to play video games.

PS: There are giant sheep in our office


Ashley's Aardman Adventure: Continues...

So I been keeping it back as I didn't want to jinx it, but I'm back at Aardman...only this time I'm a fully fledged story artist and not a trainee.

I'm not gonna lie...it rocks socks...and sheep go baa from the side of their mouth.


That was Intense

To quote Simon Barnes, the Times sports correspondant -

"At this ineffable level of sport, it’s time to pack away the superlatives and just give thanks for bloody sport; for these daft games we watch that produce such extraordinary things and bring us such extraordinary people."


Ashley's Aardman Adventure:...finished 2 weeks ago

Dave and Jess at the end of the first week!

Lunch times...that's right...we got a lake!

My little work zone...surprisingly tidy for me.

So 2 weeks ago we all said our good-byes to Aardman...but only for a short time hopefully! It was one of the most awesome experiences and if anyone who I know in the UK animation community is reading this then I would urge them to give some serious thought to dropping everything and applying.

It was definitely worth it and I'm gonna do my best to keep in touch with all my fellow crustees...apparently we have upgraded to crusto-maniacs. I hope they're all having a relaxing time and looking forward to whatever they've got planned next.

As for me I don't really know where I'm off to next. I have no immediate work lined up and have been relaxing for the last 2 weeks...unwinding from the 8 weeks of relentless (the drink, not the work) and getting back into some animating...I finally figured out how to do hand drawn animation in photoshop! and it ain't half bad either if you treat it like paper and don't expect a computer to have anything to do with the outcome. Maybe I'll stick a post up so everyone can learn cos Adobe sure as hell don't cover it with they're tutorials or help files...they seem to think animation is about doing one drawing and then have the computer tween it. Technically it is animation, but where is the fun in having the computer do the work? Granted, Fosters Home is all Flash, but I'm gonna guess that those guys put a serious amount of work into making the computer do stuff right, which is why it looks so good.

and now my laptop battery is dead... I will edit with pictures later

Take care all,

Shlee out


Ashleys Aardman Adventure: 1 week left!!

Final pitches are over...bitch'n...lets get drunk.

And for anyone who doesn't know...this site is awesome - www.ultimateirongiant.com


Ashley's Aardman adventure: The final hurdle.

Jeez....into the 7th week already. Where did it all go? And I got lazy and didn't blog...surprisingly.

The last 7 weeks really has been a blur. Frank, Christian, Bruce, Steve, Some improv bloke whose name escapes me, and many others have all blasted so much story info at us, it really has been one of those periods where if you stop for a second then you'll miss something. And to think its all over next Friday. I think I'll have to write a eulogy.

Oh...and tomorrow I get to meet Richard Williams before he sets off to Annecy. I almost got to share a cab with him a few days ago but it was not to be. Alas...


Ashley's Aardman Adventure: Clip o' the Day

Starting the other day, we get a clip from a film...EVERYDAY!!! A couple of days ago it was, 'Singing in the Rain' and today we had...well I can't remember what it was called but they used the line, "Badges?!?We don't have badges...we don't NEED to SHOW you NO STINKIN BADGES!". I'm guessing that anyone who knows Frank will know this...he says it everyday.


Ashley's Aardman Adventure: So what evolutionary studies have you been doing?

um...uh...eh...mostly looking into time travel in the womb. (Jess and Jay, Improv class. 13/05/2008)

Thursday...just pitched my ruffs for my second sequence. This was a speed test so we had to get a pass done quick (six days inc. a weekend...I didn't work the weekend) for approval before cleaned them up, added/minus/rework panels, etc. It went alright for everyone and we all pretty much got told to clean up for final pitch, which, to be honest, I found a bit unnerving. Rarely do you pitch and the director says, "Great! Throw a B drawing in here and there and go to clean up". Leaves you wondering if they really liked it. Anyway, final pitch next Wednesday and then it's onto the final sequences...after that we'll have first pass boarded/got some onto reels, a whole feature!! In only 8 weeks!! Whay else happened this week?? We had improv class on Tuesday which was soooo much fun. At one point (with much hilarity) we were all marching around the story room shouting, "I am a very important story artist...look at me as I march around". The guys in model making must of thought we were nuts, or just very, very, very pretentious. How time flies when you are having fun...I can't believe its all gone so fast. And just FYI, the story dept. really is as cool as it looks on the special features of DVDs (at least it is here at Aardman).
And Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is out on the 22nd!!! I've got my ticket...do you have yours?


Ashley's Aardman Adventure: Friday is for...

Oh my God!! Another post so soon after last one. How unheard of!
I discovered the scanner at work today...Revelation. I like Friday beacause:

  1. Its the last day of the week, so I get to go home to London for the weekend

  2. We get gesture drawing classes in the morning (fun)

  3. 5 o'clock is affectionately termed "BEER O'CLOCK"

Anyway, I read over the last post and realised I didn't really say much about what is happening. There are 10 of us (Me, Gabriel, Helen, James, Jess, Dave P, Dave B, Theresa, Jay and Oli) from around the UK who are being trained by the one and only Frank Gladstone (see image...i'll put some of the rest of us up next post). Apparently there is a lack of feature animation story artists over here so the whole point in this course is to knock us all into shape. The first week, we were all surprised by the fact that we have all got the brand new Wacom Cintiq 12 inch screens...very awesome piece of kit. Along side that we were lucky enough to have Christian Lignan (very talented French story artist) teaching us, so it was a hell of a start and alot of fun.

And now I am on my second sequence...and its a speed test to see how we cope with rush deadlines, so I need it all ruffed by next Tuesday for a pitch, before final first pass pitch the week after...INTENSE! But its all good.


Ashley's Aardman Adventure: I'm an Aardman Crustee

Howdy!! It's been a while but I have actually been meaning to post stuff for a while...thing is I get home on Friday nights and have stuff to scan and post but the web has been down at home for the last 2 weeks...and I haven't been there because *drum roll* I am a story artist trainee at Aardman feature studios down in Bristol!! It's 8 weeks of training and then there is the opportunity of a possible job at the end!!
Naturally I can't post anything which I do at work, so you get a doodle instead. I've been here for two and a half weeks now and am about to pitch my final first pass on my first sequence...exciting and nerve racking too. hopefully it'll work out alright. We've been doing everything paperless on Wacom Cintiq's and it took about a week to get used to the method and working out a work flow which suited me. Organisation is the key, which means I am failing miserably. Haha. Right, anyway I gotta go for a pitch meeting but I'll post this as soon as I am done...hopefully they'll (director, etc.) like it!!
So just pitched!! whew...not as bad as I imagined it would be and there was a pretty good response and some decent feedback and a few changes to make. For now that board is being shelved and we get our new sequences today!!



1.a foot race over a course measuring 26 mi. 385 yd. (42 km 195 m).
2.any long-distance race.
3.any contest, event, or the like, of great, or greater than normal, length or duration or requiring exceptional endurance: a dance marathon; a sales marathon.

London Marathon day yesterday and I got prime placement on Tower Bridge to catch the action. I took my sketchbook but the heavens opened and sent forth mighty blobs of water. Plus I took my camera and I'm still learning this photography lark, lenses and all that...anyway, PICTURES!!

A supporter in Waterloo station. You aren't allowed to take pictures in Waterloo station. I was told off.


After the front runners from the mens and womens races went through, the other elite racers started to filter across and this is how pretty much every one of them reacted. They'd run under the bridge entrance and break into smiles. 20km down, 22 left to go...just keep smiling

4 miles to go...

Big Finish, Big Smile


First post of 2008...it's a bit late really

Hello...just got told to update my blog which is fair enough really. I got a load of stuff scanned so that I can put up bits and pieces and not have to worry about having no pictures to post!! Below is some stuff from my sketchbook and some pictures of NYC...done quite a bit in the last few months whilst not blogging.