This week I was approached by George Smith who asked if he could work with me on this project, as I’m unsure of where this project is leading I decided that combining both of our skillsets would be great, therefore the majority of this week has been spent discussing what we want the project to be and exploring different ideas and techniques together. We dappled in the idea of the project being a story about a woman wanting to learn about poultry who moves into university with her pet chicken and has the difficulty of a rude housemate who treats her cruelly, We also had the idea that perhaps she is someone who has been taken away from the poultry life (maybe from being evicted etc.) and lives a regular life with a pet chicken, and escapes this by starting her own chicken rescue, although among exploring these ideas we felt they didn’t really lead anywhere and took away from the charm of my initial story pitch.
First, to get some ideas flowing we played about with a couple of techniques, for example, using worded prompts, starting with existing lines, one line drawings etc.
I enjoyed this process and really felt that it helped me to get some creative ideas started in my head, we then went on to draw characters in theme with the film, playing about with crazy ideas such as the chicken having more character to it.
This sparked an idea for the film, that perhaps it’s a young girl who might be a little lonely, (maybe her parents work a lot) who has a great relationship with her pet chicken, and she brings home an injured animal she finds on her way home from school that she decides to help and rehabilitate. We discussed this idea and decided to try moving it forward and started working on rough storyboards for this:
At first glance, these don’t make much sense but we have noted what each shot is and plan to improve upon these. It’s only the introduction, but this was enough for us to figure out a direction for the film. Going forward we have a clearer idea and this week I feel has been extremely beneficial to the film in developing a stronger sense for what the final product will be.
As a way of first trying to develop my story, I decided to do some life drawing, starting with chickens, using my own cockerel pippin as my reference, images from both when he was just a few weeks old and images from just days ago:
Next I decided to do some from life:
Doing these, helped me to develop some more story ideas, which I decided to spend some time refining as story outlines, shown below:
Girl lives in the outskirts of the city, spends most of her time as apart of the busy city life, but doesn’t fit in with that life, she is given the gift of a toy incubator and toy eggs, she decides to put eggs from the kitchen into it to try and hatch them.
Young girl, lives on a farm with her dad, amongst chickens, cows, sheep, horses, ducks. Father dies so girl is forced to live with her mum in the city, girl took favourite chicken with her. Mother works a lot so girl spends all day in a flat with only her chicken for company.
A step-dad is struggling to understand his step-daughter but soon realises her love for country life so gives her the gift of a chicken, which she falls in love with, the film shows their relationship grow as he teaches her about chickens and as her bond with her chicken grows.
Film starts in a car/train, showing the girl, sad in the back of the car/train, flashback to life on farm with her dad (paint-over and colour to show difference in past and present) girl and her mother (stern looking, uptight, busy with work) arrive at a flat in a busy city, they’re greeted by the girls stepfather, who the girl instantly rejects and barely acknowledges.
Young woman is evicted from her poultry farm, is forced to move to the city for basic job opportunity, (takes her favourite chicken with her) she works in an office job which drains her. One day during work she comes across a plea online to adopt some chickens who are in line to be killed, she decides to save them, then this leads to more and more chickens that need help, who she helps, her flat becomes overcrowded with chickens, she decides to open up a city chicken rescue. This could serve as an advert for the British Hen Welfare Trust.
Through these first few weeks, alongside the exploratory work I have been trying to produce some kind of storyboard, I have started a few but not completed these as when I do I can’t seem to make the shots feel like they work appropriately for the story I’m trying to tell.
I feel that I still need to solidify aspects of my story before tackling this as I believe the main issue here is that I don’t know enough of what I want to portray within this narrative.
As I’ve been enjoying the exploratory tests, I decided to continue them this week but also direct them more at my original project idea.
I started by doing some basic character designs that I plan to explore with further using more ink textures, and some of the abstract Photoshop features, here are the character designs before I experimented with them:
and below are some that I developed into designs using the colour schemes and a little of the textures from the ink scans:
Completing this process made me think about my character generally and that I want her to have compassion for animals and nature, I feel that she wouldn’t have developed this at such a young age. I initially aimed for her appear to be young, around the age of 5/6, although now I feel it’s more appropriate for her to be a little older, about 11/12.
This week has been a bit of a sticky one for me, inspiration wise, therefore I have mainly spent it experimenting within different mediums and techniques.
First, I bought various types of inks, including drawing ink, calligraphy ink and acrylic ink, I decided to combine different types of inks as I thought this would give me the best result for varying textures.
The first ink splat tests I did I decided to try working over character concepts with fine pen:
As much as I enjoyed completing this, I felt limited by only doing so using all traditional methods, therefore I decided to scan in my next works at a high resolution so that I could work over them in Photoshop:
below are the snippets that I took from these pieces before working over them:
and here are the paint-overs;
With these I was aiming to create background concepts, but with a couple I went for more of an abstract look, therefore to the next piece I decided to do the same, I just went with what shapes were in the pieces and followed them whichever way I felt would work.
Another exercise I completed included using a piece of concept work and develop a narrative based on that one image. I started with Cold Blue Nights by Efflam Mercier, and I started by creating short and to the point pieces which I would develop if I felt it had potential:
It is revealed to a young woman that she is a star, all of her life she felt like there was something more, her lifetime friend, her guardian tells her that she has a twin in the sky, the time has come and she needs her and she knows she can never return to her life on Earth should she decide to save the sky.
A woman who is fed up with her everyday life, wakes up in a distorted world, she has no recollection of how she got here, where she is, or how to get back to her life, but she knows she regrets taking her life for granted.
The world is dying, everyone knew it was coming but no one prepared for it, how could you? This story follows the ordinary life of one woman as it becomes extraordinary, family relationships are tested, as well as romantic ones and religion becomes a battle, but none of it really matters when nothing will be left soon enough.
The next piece I used was also by Efflam Mercier, Geometry of Transit.
A dwarf elf who has always believed to be one of a kind, a mistake, unheard of and totally alone realises that he was brought up on lies. Jonnland the elven creature was brought up by foul ogres, one night he sneaks out and escapes, He leaves to explore and find himself on a journey through the world that he thought he knew, but now he sees that he has a lot to learn, and to his surprise, the smallest of this world, are the strongest and discovers a lot more than he thought ever possible.
Witchcraft has always been forbidden in this land, but evidence of its existence is all around, a world that overthrows its leaders in order to allow magic once more discovers why it was banned in the first place, and fixing the world that they destroyed in this process will not be a simple task, but it must be done.
A young hybrid elf/wizard soon realises he has a unique power that most wizards crave, the unique creation of any life from any object. Little does he realise that this power holds a danger to him for so many would wish to use him to their evil favour.
Next I used a worded prompt to stem some character concepts:
I was unsure of what specifically I should be working on so I decided to work on some exploratory pieces of concept that might help me to expand on my current ideas or trigger new ones.
So I started by watching this video of Jordan’s;
Then trying to work in a similar way using similar techniques, I then played about with colouring and effects on top of these outcomes:
This actually led me to find an effect on Photoshop that I didn’t know existed, it takes the image and makes it look as if it was painted traditionally with oil pastels by adding a smoothness along with brush strokes over the image. This is something I’d like to test in future with finished renders to see how the effect would work with something like that, or perhaps how it would look on UV textures over characters.
I then tried another technique, where I started out with simple blobs and saw what I could develop them into, and ended up with these characters:
As much as I enjoyed the process of this and like the outcomes, they don’t add much to my project.
As I got up one morning, earlier than usual and noticing the cold weather having an impact on the colours of the sky, I decided to take some pictures of the view outside of my window as upon seeing it, it sparked an idea.
I started by doing a paint-over of an image but adding chickens into the garden next door:
This image had sparked a plot development, I thought perhaps my character could be admiring the chickens in her neighbours garden which might be the reason she really wants to hatch some for herself. I also conceptualised a closer up shot of what the girl might be looking at:
Below is the beginning of a storyboard concept that was sparked by my paint-over:
I was also fortunate enough to be given a huge set of Photoshop brushes, so in trying them all out I did a quick concept of a cottage in the countryside-
In designing this I thought it could be in interesting shot as a daydream for the girl, perhaps she lives in a block of flats/ a very built up area and her dream is to live in the countryside surrounded by nature.
Another exercise I tried out was writing out the plot of my film, with alternations and exploring various options and directions for the film, one option that I thought up was the idea that the girl is gifted a gimmicky “chicken hatching” toy set for her birthday, that she decides to sneak store bought eggs into to try and hatch, in thinking up this idea I did a quick concept of part of the toy:
I feel that this would be accompanied by an “incubator” something that barely resembles an actual chicken incubator as it’s designed to be appealing to children rather than to be functional. Something I came across while exploring this idea was something quite similar to this idea:
My film tells the story of a little girl who adores chickens and desperately wants her own so decides to try and hatch some for herself. This story is from my own personal experience of hatching eggs over the summer and from my love of chickens.
When I initially thought of this film I imagined the excitement of a little girl as she opened a box of eggs but the audience seeing this from inside of the egg box, once I drew this up I realised that it was extremely similar to that of toy story, this made me realise that the Toy Story franchise would be good films for me to look to as it follows the perspective of toys, therefore this is something I will look to quite a lot during this process.
Character designs that I looked at when thinking of designing my own include a lot from Disney, this is because they tend to have the general style that I’m aiming for, a sweet, likeable, happy character. Except for my design, I like the idea of her knowing herself quite well, in the sense that she knows what she likes and isn’t embarrassed of that, she’s proud of who she is and wears things that would reflect this, such as a super hero cape and a ballerina’s tutu, matched with wellies.
That brings me to the setting, I wanted this to work with my character, as a girl who is proud of her identity I thought this would be best brought out in a setting where it is less likely that society would suppress or guide her likes and dislikes, somewhere quiet and out of the way of the busy hustle and bustle of city life, my initial thoughts are quiet towns in Wales, Scotland or Ireland but this could also be somewhere like East Yorkshire. It doesn’t need to be specified within the film but I think by setting a destination my setting will come together better.
For my initial background designs I decided to play about with style, I liked the aesthetic of the backgrounds in ‘Mr Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends’ so decided to try designs in that style, this could be a direction I take my film in but I know there’s still a lot of exploration to be done in order to find out how I’d like my film to look.