Elsinore - Wooden Houses - Animated Music Video

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Plant Logo

Before I started the Elsinore video I took on an animated logo project for a vertical farm in Chicago called "The Plant." The Plant is an old industrial building that has been turned into an indoor farm. I will be posting updates pertaining to the music video in the near future, but I just wanted to spend a some time to get this project finished up. The first version I put together was not exactly what the client had in mind.  I am waiting to hear back on the revisions. Here is my most recent version:

The difference between the two versions is just the smooth vs. rough outline of the building. When I animate this I am planning to have the corn husks open up while the building outline draws on. I thought that the rough outline would help to give the outline a sort of hand drawn look, as though it were drawn with a charcoal pencil or something like that. I have not yet definitely decided on one version or the other and welcome all input. here are some close up versions of the outhlines:

I can see the merits of both. I suppose ultimately it will be the person using the logo who decides, But I certainly appreciate feedback.

So, the logo will start with the ear of corn. The husks will peel back. I am trying to decide if I want to have the corn already appear with the kernels missing to form the letter P or if I instead want to start with an intact ear of corn and have the kernels come off of the cob, either as kernels of corn or as popcorn.

I started out by hand tracing the kernels on an ear of corn from a photo:

 I then removed the photo and added a yellow fill to the corn:

and then added shading to each kernel individually:


Before I put this together, though I  had a very different version going. My plan was to have an industrial building. The lights in the windows would turn on to form the lowercase letters. they would then shift from orange to green to kind of mirror how projects like this vertical farm are a part of the trend towards sustainability and environmentally friendly or "green" businesses. Simultaneously a leaf would sprout from the smokestack of the building to form a capital "P". I also made a simpler version without the window idea.

The client felt that these versions were too cartoony and too "night time." They also pointed out that they would be limited in their uses. It would be difficult to incorporate into a business card for instance. There were earlier versions which were plainer. but were ultimately leading towards this. The client also wanted something that included something the plant might grow, specifically something edible. In writing they say, "write what you know." So, I guess since I grew up across the street from a corn field I drew (or traced) what i know.

I also owe a great deal to my sister, Lauren, for helping me with this design. based on an earlier version of this she whipped the following logo up in just a few minutes:

And of course, as always some credit goes to Batman:

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I went texture hunting today. I plan to use these as the textures for the characters' clothing. To get a better idea of the effect I want to go for take a look at the short video at the bottom of my previous post.

My sister is in town from D.C.. She came in as a surprise to our parents. As always on her visits she wanted to hit the thrift stores in town. I was planning a trip to the fabric store to take pictures of cloth but figured a thrift store would be just as good. As you will see in the slide show, the images are not terribly flat in many cases. I can see this causing problems, but it could also work well with the effect. At the very least it will make it more difficult to repeat the pattern. These'll be enough to get me started and if something's not workign I'll at least be at a point where I know specifically what I need. For the most part I wasn't taking these pictures with particular video elements in mind, just gathering patterns I found interesting. We'll see what I use.

I'm going to work on the wolf next and try to hone in on the character design.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I have been doing some sketches for the video. For our six-month anniversary my wonderful girlfriend Kinzie gave me a storyboard notebook made by Moleskine which I have been using for these sketches.

So, the video will be based on "The Three Little Pigs" but will veer quite a ways from the story and use it as sort of a frame. The video will center on the third pig and the wolf. At the beginning of the video, the pig leaves an apartment it has shared with the wolf and builds a wooden house. THe wolf discovers the pig has left and sets out in search of its companion, stopping at two houses inhabited by other pigs before finding the right one. They are reunited at the end of video. Also, to not drift to far from the intentions of the song, the characters' appearances will not be definitely animal or definitely human but be somewhere in between, human with animalistic features.  My first step is striking that balance and settling on character designs.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not very good at drawing. Lines tend not to go where I want them to. When I'm working in Adobe Illustrator I have the opportunity to adjust and tweak that which I have drawn by hand or to start with geometric shapes  and curves and use them as building blocks in order to get the end result I am looking for. So, these drawings may look bad in many cases but their purpose is to help me get concepts down and to hopefully improve my drawing ability.  In the end though the crappiness of my drawings should not end up in the finished product.

That said, I started with some sketches of the pig:

Here's the pig looking like Mr. Rogers.

The pig in profile looking evil. 

... and the pig looking like a turtle.

I wasn't thrilled with how these are going but I thought I'd try doing some storyboard type sketches. Here are the first two shots of the video:


The pig leaving his apartment with its suitcase. I'm going to try to include objects in the scenes that will make it look like the pig character has a curly tail without giving it a curly tail. In this scene for instance there is something sticking out of the suitcase. As the pig is building its house perhaps there will be something on its tool belt. In this opening scene the pig exits its apartment and onto an elevator.

Here we have the pig getting into a taxi in front of the apartment building which will take it to an empty lot where it will start building its house.

I decided to get more specific and draw a bunch of eyes. These are for the pig. these are all fairly similar but I found something I liked and worked on iterations of that.

While I was at it I figured I ought to do some Eye sketches for the wolf as well. I'm still not too happy with any of these.

Back to the pig:

I like this last one the best, though I expect I'll end up with some lesser amount of detail. I'm not crazy about how the head on sketch turned out. I may have all of the characters appear in profile all the times.

I'm also considering using a masking technique for the characters' clothing. The idea would be that the shapes of the clothing would reveal a stationary patter underneath. To illustrate this concept I put this very simple video together:

I can see how this could get to be too much very quickly but I've wanted to do something like this for a long time and I'm going to see how it looks.

I'm going to work on the wolf design next. I'm less sure of what I want to do with the wolf. Stay tuned.