Design Discourse Essay.

Design Discourse

In the module, design discourse, we have learnt many processes since September, such as animatics, storyboarding, research development etc but with the first project we were very much thrown in at the deep end.  Our first project lasted 6 weeks, it was given the title of ‘Perception’ and we were told to make a film on the subject. It could be animated but if so, must be limited. We were given no more information other than the word ‘perception’. We then were put into our groups. I was with Hannah Loughridge, Megan Houston, Katie Noble and Niamh Cunningham. With what we had learnt on week zero we quickly got to work writing hundreds of words and ideas on post it notes and sticking them to a window. We took photos of this and went home and each did research on what perception is and certain ideas, we came up with many ideas, such as how we perceive the world,  is it correct or construed? And how music and sound plays a part in our emotions and our mental health.

How we view the world could be as simply changed by what we are, an insect will see everything like mountains and skyscrapers, but a bird may see large cities to be nothing but dots beneath them.


We looked at the idea of, when you put your headphones on you are transported to another world, for example, this drawing was inspired by Stairway to Heaven.  music thought

When discussing wether we were going to do live action or animation we looked at the likes of 500 days of summer in the scene when certain things are animated such as the birds. This scene also helped us with perception because in this scene the main character felt like the world was wonderful and nothing could ever be wrong again. 500daysofsummer

i had also done a very rough little storyboard telling the story of a teddy bear who wasnt wanted anymore when his eye fell out, he was took to a charity shop where he finally finds a new home. As you can see, this is before i understand storyboard proportions and how to annotate them with action, shot, scene etc.



This was an image that was very quickly edited to show the world in different colours to show that perhaps we are colourblind and the world isn’t as we think it is. Landscape-Fall-Creek-Falls-and-Snake-River-Idaho

colour blind world

This quickly turned into some dark and twisted ideas and we came upon the idea of ‘the seven deadly sins’ We originally wanted to make an animation depicting these sins and the punishments for example, gluttony would be punished my being boiled in oil. However, not only was this too dark but it would have been to difficult to visualise 7 sins in a 2 minute film with only 6 weeks to create it.

We quickly realised that if we wanted to create something like this we could only focus on certain sins and it would probably need to be live action. We decided to focus on Vanity, Wrath and Pride. As Niamh is a model outside of the course we decided to create a story around the life of a model where things have gone wrong and she is constantly doubting herself, her image, her life etc all within a voice in her head. We took great inspiration from mental health such as Anorexia, Schizophrenia and self harm. We began working with prosthetic makeup to create wounds. To do this we used liquid latex, red food colouring, face paint, makeup and a lot of time and effort.

As you can see our first attempt at wounds wasn’t that sophisticated, done with tissue paper and paint, the paper dried crackly and made Niamh look like she had very old skin. blood open wrist

blood wrist

Before we started on Niamh’s face i decided to take one of her modelling images and add in wounds using photoshop to give us an idea what we wanted to create.niamh edit

We began the process by painting on liquid latex.


We even experimented with the nails, using fake nails, eyelash glue and red food colouring wich was effective but wasn’t as essential to be included in the film. naill


This is the finished work, which was very convincing as many people believed it to be real wounds.


As you can see we all worked as a team, here i am working on Niamhs eyes.mwniamh

And here is Megan and Hannah working with the liquid latex. Untitled-1

We even added a chin gash.




We worked on finalising the story next and created our storyboard.











Once we were happy with our story we began shooting the film, we shot most of our film in Niamh’s house and some in one of the study rooms in the library. We encountered problems and had to reshoot scenes as it had gotten dark outside and shots were going from broad daylight to night time shots and it looked bizarre and would have messed up our continuity. When we reshot and edited our film complete with sound we showed it to some students for feedback, a few couldn’t understand what was happening and we realised the sound needed to be changed, and thus another evening recording our voices saying awful things (Niamhs thoughts) in the library study room began.  Once we edited this into our film we found that everyone we showed the film too fully understood it.

Within this six week project we encountered many problems and learnt how to work as a team in many ways, Hannah let us use her camera, tripod and computer to shoot and edit, we all chipped in to buy items we needed and we became friends by the end of the project as well.

For the next few weeks of Design Discourse we were taught about the 12 principles of Animation using Adobe Flash.  First we were given a bouncing ball, a bowling ball and a balloon, we had to show how they would fall down stairs taking into account, bounce, momentum, weight and timing. This was a lot of fun but also tricky to perfect, especially if you are new to flash and need to learn about frames, keyframes and tweens.


We then were taught something a little more difficult with a little bunny, his tail, nose, mouth, ears, eyebrows, hair, everything could be moved and animated. We had to make him look alive and with realistic movements, which made timing and thought much more difficult as there was much more to think about, but again it was enjoyable and I feel it helped many of us understand the principles of animation much better.

Another little project we had to help us learn about these animation principles was based on Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.

We were shown a 40 second clip from this animated film about 2-3 times. Then we were given the sound clip from it and told to draw about 50 drawings in storyboard form showing exactly what happened within those 40 seconds of film, so that if I gave my storyboard to someone else they could clearly understand and go and make the film.

First of all we were given about a half hour to practice drawing Pooh Bear and Piglet and then were set to work, I really enjoyed this project and even did a little extra work discussing the style and colour of Winnie the Pooh.

Here are some of the storyboard drawings and character drawings

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Our next project was based on sound. Each group was given a different film clip with the sound removed. My group consisted of me, Tyrone, Hannah, Charlie and Aidhann. We were given a Frank Sinatra film called Suddenly.  We were given a written script to know were we needed to include voices. We then had to go find, download and record sounds that we thought would fit correctly within the film.  The first sounds we searched for were the obvious ones such as gunshots and train sounds. We then realised we needed sounds we wouldn’t even think of, such as the sound of a brick being thrown into a mans back, a gun falling onto a carpet floor etc. Timing sound was the least of our worries, our biggest issue was deciding whether a sound needed to end or it would be continued, for example, we see the train and hear the train but when the film moves to a different shot, should we still hear the train? Etc We also realise we needed many different gun shot sounds as hearing 2-3 repeatedly doesn’t sound very realistic. I found this project difficult but I also feel I have benefited from it.

Because of this project I did a lot of research on sound in my sketchbook and really enjoyed learning about it.

For our next project (which I thoroughly enjoyed) we were all asked to find a sound clip that lasted about 30 seconds and write down all the dialogue and give it to another team. We decided to take a clip quite well known from ‘Hocus Pocus’ and gave it to another team, we were given dialogue from a film which at the time we had no idea what it was from, we now know its from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. What we did take from this dialogue was that it was based in New York or another American city in the 1920-30’s. We also guessed it was from a ‘gangster’ style period.

We were then told we had to make a 30 second animatic using this dialogue and so my team of me, Tyrone Owens, Hannah Loughridge, Charlie Maxwell and Aidhann Scott got to work.  We had one week to create this animatic and we were a bit fed up drawing people so we decided to anthropomorphise our characters. Aidhann thought it would be really funny to make the animal characters, farm animals and showed us the film Spotted by Gobelins on Youtube.

It was comical and had great cinematography. We loved the idea of the film being in black and white, I had mentioned Schindlers list and how the only colour in the film was the red of the little girls dress. In this time period the style in New York was glamorous and beautiful and we liked the idea of having the lead character wearing a red dress (highly inspired by Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and then bringing in other hints of red throughout the film, and so we set to work with character development. I began designing a cow character, then a sheep. Tyrone thought It would be nice to have the lead characters as cats, and once we saw his designs, we were sold on the idea.


colour cow1

colour sheep outline sheep








crow colour crow outline




The story was based on a male and female cat character having a fight, the female leaves the house to go on a night out with her sheep friend, they are both wearing red dresses, the male cat in anger grabs a gun, goes onto the roof of the building and waits for her return to kill her, when they arrive the sheep gets out of the car first, the male cat mistakes her for the female cat and shoots her. The film ends. We spent a few hours working out this story and drew out a rough storyboard on post it notes. Here are some of the rough post it note story board pieces.




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As we only had one week at this project we did not have time to create a professional looking storyboard and we quickly decided who was creating each shot of the animatic and got to work. I love the song ‘why don’t you do right’ by Peggy Lee and we thought it could be a nice idea to include this song throughout, by being on the radio, having someone whistle it etc, so that when the sheep is shot we hear the line ‘like some other men do’. And we even decided to name this animatic ‘Like Some Other Men Do’.

However, over the break I decided to re design a more professional storyboard and scribbled in red to show were the red would be in the film.










I am pleased with the animatic considering we only had one week, however there is a lot that could be improved and worked on if we had more time, this project really showed how well we worked as a group, as our tutor was shocked at the amount of work we had created within one week.

However, when trying to upload this film to youtube an error occurred that we cannot seem to figure out. Each time it uploads with uploads with a lot of the sound missing. The link below is the film with full sound being recorded on Hannah’s phone as could not get the actual file to upload correctly, sadly.

Since September until now we have done a lot of work in Design Discourse alone, not to mention Creative Elements, we have heard some presentations on cinematographers, Title Sequence Designers, art directors, and concept artists and we have really learnt how to analyse film. We have looked at Roger Deakins, who’s work in True Grit and Skyfall I found very inspiring, we looked at Kyle Cooper who did the title sequence for Se7en and we also looked at many concept artists for game and film, work from Feng Zhu truly inspired me and when our tutor showed us his youtube tutorials I was so excited.  His tutorials have helped me a lot.

Some of Roger Deakins work below.

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Some of Kyle Coppers work Below.


Here is some of Feng Zhu and his students incredible work.

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Jeff Kurtti released great books such as the Art of Tangled and the Art of Brave, both i own. They include some amazing work by Glen Keane and Claire Keane.  There is also some beautiful images in these books of work by James Aaron Finch who worked on concept art for the Princess in the Frog. All these art amazes me and always makes me want to do more work and try and improve.

frog6 jamesfinch-PATF_03 princess PrincessandtheFrog-concept-03 PrincessandtheFrog-concept-06 rapunzelFACE_2 "TANGLED" Concept Art Flynn ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Tangled-Concept-Art-disney-princess-16838481-839-470 tumblr_lltrdxB5Pg1qfba9po1_500

Since September I think it is safe to say I have learnt a lot and have benefited from Design Discourse enormously as my work and thought processes have changed completely when facing a project.  Even  basic knowledge with such things as computer commands has changed. Even though, I primarily work with Sketchbook Pro, my knowledge and understanding of Adobe Photoshop has improved as well.

Reading books has helped me as well. I recently purchased The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, this book has helped  me with many things, from understanding basic animation to sound, going from drawings to computers, the ink and paint process, how making 2d animation has changed so much, how computers have changed the animation and film industry and so much more. I also took books from the University Library such as the Animators Survival kit by Richard Williams and from pencil to pixels and The Animators Notebook by Tony White which have all helped me a lot.

baloo Book_the_illusion_of_life



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Since I have started this course I have become even more determined and excited by animation and have experimented on many little projects on my own, such as animating a ballerina and her walk cycle, and I have also spent some time working with mudbox so that when I begin learning maya I may understand a few basics a little better.

I am thoroughly looking forward to the rest of my time studying animation and am excited by the possibilities and thoughts of were I may one day be with a career in the Animation Industry.


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