Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Below are a few environment renders, set elements, and a shape language guide. I still have a few more environments to get though, but I'm starting to really nail down the look and feel of the film.

The coral reef will be my most fabrication heavy environment. This set is also the bit of fabrication that I am looking forward to most. I'm going to begin sculpting the bones out of foam this week.
This environment will be the first layer explored by the puppet. I'm debating if I want to animate the branches as stop motion elements or in After Effects using the puppet tool. I think I'll do a few tests to figure out which aesthetic fits the film best. Furthermore, this render helped me to identify my influences for surface textures. Mary Blair is my primary influence. 

Assets to help me define my render style. I'm going for painterly, but graphic in silhouette.

I'm still playing with my shape language—finding that fine line between graphic and geometric. Primary influence: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hot Wire Construction

After checking out the prices of manufactured foam cutters online, I decided to do a little digging and learn how to make one myself. I checked in with some friends I made while interning in LA, and they gave me great advice. 

 12 foot, 16 guage extension cord
Nicrome wire. 16/28 gauge wire 
Bots, washers, and nuts
Scrap wood
1K Variac Dimmer

There are a lot of different ways to build one of these. I found this link to be a good resource. Reading the comments was very helpful:

It actually works! Best results with the Variac set between 5 and 7.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Break Studio: Dye Tests

I spent my first evening of Spring Break in my apartment doing a batch of dye tests while catching up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu (btw, great show, check it out). I have two main fabrics to work with—a textured white cotton material and a more complex woven upholstery fabric. The cotton took the dye really well. The upholstery worked better than I expected, but it did come out a bit darker than I would like. 

So far so good. The process of using iDye packets is pretty simple and worked as expected (no surprises... which was a surprise). The dye is a powder that you add to water, then add fabric, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 30 minutes. The tests took all evening because I did 4 batches. 

A little goes a long way with iDye—a dusting of dye powder did the trick. 

Huzzah! I didn't burn anything. 

Scarlet, pumpkin, and pink iDye pigments compared to the original fabrics above.
 Far left: upholstery fabric treated with pink iDye.

Friday, March 6, 2015


A fun test with UV paints. The next step will seeing how they hold up under water.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Testing 1, 2, 3...

First off, I’d like to say that the teachers at CCS are ridiculously awesome. They will do whatever they can to help their students. They have great ideas and are constantly popping into my studio with advice or just to check in. CCS instructors rock!

One of my instructors lent me a large tank to do some key/materials tests. I whipped up puppets (in literally 30 minutes—gotta stick to that production schedule), and spent the evening filming in the studio.

A few quick keys later, and now have some pretty solid test footage to work with. I feel like I’m in a good place (production schedule wise) going into spring break.  

Runner Diaries: Munro Crafts

An instructor turned me onto Monro Crafts in Berkley. The have all of the usual craft store items (particularly related to jewelry), but they also have some really specific things that you can’t find anywhere else. I was super impressed by their selection of polymer clays and sculpting tools.

Munro Crafts Bead & Jewelry Supply
3954 12 Mile Rd, Berkley, MI 48072
(248) 544-1590

So. Many. Beads. 

I'm a sucker for good adhesives. I officially love this shop. 

Runner Diaries: Thrifting

 My hometown has recently upgraded to a super thrift store. This place is huge— back in the day it was our grocery store. I popped in to see what I could find, and ended up staying way too long. I found loads of great stuff for my sets and puppets.

Uhhh, who knew there would be crazy long line? Guess I'm not the only one on a budget. 

Walled Lake Thrift Store
730 N. Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake, MI 48390
Near W. Maple & Pontiac Trail

Killer fabrics! I'm hoping to use the blouse on the far left as a coral texture. 

Runner Diaries: Haberman Fabrics

Found a great fabric shop in Royal Oak. I definitely recommend skipping the trip to JoAnn's and checking this place out. 

905 S Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067
(248) 541-0010 

This place is amazing! Probably the best selection I've found in Michigan. The staff are great and very helpful... and didn't think I was crazy when I explained what I plan on using the fabric for—always a plus.

This is what I like to see!

I want to use this fabric as a base coral texture by adhering/stiffening it and attaching it to my scenic sculpts.
Now I just need to learn how to dye it. 

Couldn't resist! I found this beauty on the bargain rack. I have just under a yard, but if I can even out the coloring, the little bit I have may go a long way. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Runner Diaries: Research Trip to Tropicorium

One of my instructors turned me onto a place called Tropicorium in Romulus to do some research. They breed coral there and really know their stuff. I spoke with the owner—he absolutely loves what he does and is overflowing with information on salt water creatures. I learned a lot from that trip. 

I took the video below to study the way that UV light interacts with various corals and creatures. The video isn't great, but it gets the job done. I can also look back on how the sea life moves with the current, which will be helpful later on when I'm ready to animate. 

20080 Inkster Rd, Romulus, MI 48174
(734) 782-2622

Lion Fish
I think I found a tank! Bad news... it's at least 200 lbs.  
Japanese Dragon Moral Eel 


I'm really enjoying this book. Not exactly a light read, but I'm learning a lot about goddess worship throughout history in contrast patriarchal systems of worship. 

Early Ideation

This sketch is the first visual representation for this film. 
After a series of fantastic and vivid dreams, I started keeping a sketchbook next to my bed to help me better remember these ideas. It paid off! While interning in LA, I had a dream about a goddess that separates the earth and sinks slowly to the bottom of the ocean where she encounters a series of interesting creatures.  

Early goddess sketches: