Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Character Rigging

I've been meaning for the absolute longest time, to post screen grabs of what the network looks like in Toon Boom Harmony. This is a character rig I built for a personal project. 

For non animators, I don't even know how to quite describe this to you. This is not for hand drawn animation, obviously. This is a character "puppet" rig. For each part of the character, there is a module for that piece and then they all have to hook up to pegs. Then I added a lot more technical things to this to make it work just right. For example, if the arm goes over the body, an outline appears so that the arm doesn't get lost over the body color. I did the same with the flower in her hair and got really crazy with the modules. It's a lot, but it works very nicely! Yes, it's far more technical than Flash, but once you know it, it's far superior! During Christmas break I am hoping to find a few days to animate. Several jobs and potential jobs have been keeping me really swamped. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Princess Leia

I've been in the mood to draw Star Wars characters lately. You'll find out why soon enough. ;) This is just a quick sketch.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Personal Project Update

I don't believe that I have posted any Toon Boom Harmony animation yet. Here is a shot that I animated last month with Harmony. I love having this fantastic animation program at home. It's way more technical than Flash, but it has far more capabilities and fewer bugs than Flash. In my spare time, it took me two weeks to do a thorough rig of this character. The animation is smoother, and my work flow was a lot faster than what I had previously done in Flash. (Buying a Cintiq also helped a ton too! I have been so much more productive with it.) When I have more time, I'll post a screen grab of the network for this rig. (I just had a spare ten minutes to post this. Look for another post or add on to this later.)

Also, here is a background for that same personal project I'm working on. I really don't like drawing layouts and backgrounds, but I find myself having to tackle it. Here's one that I'm fairly happy with for now at least. 

more later! :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Halloween!

(Sarah, left. Catherine, right)

After all these years, we finally went for the creepy twin factor for Halloween. We went to a party and really enjoyed seeing everyone's reactions on the street, train, bus, and party. The best reactions were on the bus because we sat in the very back seat in the center. Every person who got on the bus was startled. It was great! This will most likely be a repeat costume next year! 

(Catherine, left. Sarah, right.)

Have a safe and fun Halloween party weekend!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Artist Statement

For an art show that I currently have a few pieces in, I had to write a short artist statement. This was the first time I had to share one, so I figured that I might as well share it here too.

As a traditional animator, I gravitate towards graphic, illustrative artwork. I prefer to do my drawings on paper and then do the final artwork on the computer. With this method, I have a greater control over texture, color, and a subtle handling of layers with different opacity. My personal artwork aims to capture the beauty of life through long, flowing lines and calm, peaceful colors. Much of this artwork embraces spirituality, nature, and love. These elements are often missing in many people's lives. My artwork seeks to deliver calmness, warmth, and happiness to the viewer. As time passes, my artwork is growing into the direction of embracing and loving life.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Morning Sketch

Here's a warm up sketch I did this morning. I wish this reflected my life. In the mornings, I pop out of bed and head straight to the computer. I'm too much of a workaholic. I need some more lazy time. ;)

I just found some cool Photoshop brushes! I think it was installed when I installed my new Cintiq. Here's a closeup to see the texture:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Steampunk Piggy: Fly to the Sky!

I'm giving this whole Threadless thing another go. Please vote for my design! People are really harsh on that site and vote 0's on everyone else's designs to knock down competition. ($2,000 for shirts that get printed. I would use that for rent and food or a Cintiq for work. People are cut throat on that site!) Please vote a 5. I need all the help I can get. Thanks! ♥

Score this design: "Fly to the Sky!," to help it get printed on Threadless!

*UPDATE: Please vote for Catherine's as well! Thanks!

My Raggedy Doctor - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monster Infestation!

Yes, it's that time of the year again, and we have a monster infestation! Catherine and I made these a few years ago and still love them. For more photos, you can check out the original blog post HERE. This year we have a better camera and the photo turned out great! I love October, I love the fall, fall clothes, changing leaves, hot tea, apple crisp..... :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Animation Process

I am always surprised by how most people know little to nothing about the process of animation. FINALLY I am writing a blog post about animation. This is a very short explanation for non-animators. A lot of thinking and tweaking goes into every step, but this is just a quick summary.

My twin sister and business partner, Catherine, and I recently did a rush job for a commercial. We were asked to animate these penguins for a three second product shot, and we had very little time. They had never been animated before, so first we had to create a model sheet based off the penguins on the boxes in the grocery store.

Then we sketched several different poses for each character to get the final poses on the box. We had to clean them up and color them to send for approval. We actually sent them two sets of poses and this is the one they really liked.

Next we thumbnailed out the animation. I don't have an example to show you, but I can describe it. Basically thumbnails mean a series of small sketches to get ideas out. This planning process is used in almost any visual art project. Once the idea is nailed down, we start rough animation. Rough animation starts with a pose test which means timing out the poses. Then animate it- flesh it out, adding more drawings. Animation is normally done at 24 frames per second. This means that there usually are 12-24 drawings per second. 12 if it's held on twos or 24 if it is on ones. Normally with rough animation, there are a lot of passes over it (redo, redo, ooops, fix that, and that, change this....) to keep changing things and making it stronger and stronger. For this commercial, we did not have that luxury. 

Below shows the process of one of the penguins from the first rough pencil test to a revised animation test. The clip at the bottom has all three penguins throughout the stages of animation. The client thought that the first test was too graceful and we added scrambling to it as requested. Ideally, we would have loved to have 12-24 more frames to work with. It's a bit quick, so don't blink! After the animation was approved, we had to draw in the details. 

Once the drawings were on model and fairly clean, we hired two coworkers to do final lines for us while we finished up the other drawings. After we scanned in the final lines, we fixed any lines that needed fixing. (Sometimes the lines get vectorized kind of wonky.) We went through and placed in the pupils and eyebrows for many of the drawings. Eyes usually are a trouble area which have to be perfect. Below is an example of the inking and coloring. After we colored the animation, we had to animate the shadows. 

It was a fun, fast job, and we had very happy clients! What a great feeling!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ren Fair Girl With Cat

Wow! I just realized that yesterday was the 6 year anniversary of this blog! That's over 300 blog posts! Wow. I can't believe how fast the years have been flying past! Busy, busy!

I figured I should post something for this, so here is a sketch inspired by our trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire last month. I'm sure I will have plenty of other Ren Fair inspired sketches to come. I sure took plenty of reference photos!

I think I am also going to be putting a blog post together about the process of animation. Or at least I'll show the different stages we went through on the penguin animation. I'm surprised that most people have no idea how animation is done. Hopefully I'll have time to do a post soon. I've been busy with work, friends, family, and a personal project. Nice to be busy I guess....

Thursday, September 06, 2012

I'm Flying!

I was quite frustrated last week, and went out for a walk in the middle of the afternoon. I saw this family walking my way. They all smiled at me and the kids chirped "Hi! Hi! Hi!" Then the little girl yelled, "I'm flying!" That really made my day. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Been swamped! Quick Update!

My twin sister/business partner, Catherine Satrun, and I have been very busy with work lately. To keep up with work demands, we have upgraded to Toon Boom Harmony and are very excited to explore all the possibilities! For anyone unfamiliar with this software, it is the highest end animation software available for hand drawn and "Flash" style animation. The new tools are mind blowing. I love it! I can't wait to dive in and do some "puppet" animation. We have done a bit of it at work, but not home for our personal projects yet.

I would like to share two work examples which I used this software. In the bird animation, I did the final line work on these. Doing cleanup and final lines directly onto a Cinitq in Harmony provides the best quality possible. In this age of giant HD television screens, it is essential for the commercial business. This is what clients want these days. I still prefer animation to be hand drawn, but when it needs to be cleaned up, it's best to work in the computer. When hand drawn final lines are scanned, the program vectorizes them and can interpret them oddly, not giving the best quality. If there is time in the schedule, usually those lines often have to be touched up after it is scanned, especially in the area around the eyes.

The second example shows an end product shot Catherine and I did for a rush job. The client decided last minute to have animation in the end shot, and also needed a new product illustration. We were hired on to do it in ten days. These characters have never been animated before, as far as we know, and we also had to create the model sheets. Then there were acting/animation revisions as well, trying to figure out how these characters would behave. (We did hire help to get final lines done on paper for us to scan.) I am going to write up a whole blog post on the process of creating this shot. When most people hear three seconds of animation, they naturally think it would only take a day or two. For hand drawn animation, this is most definitely not the case! Most of the animation was done on "ones," but we ran out of time and a tiny bit of it was on "twos." I'm super swamped with work at the moment, but will scan in my roughs and get examples together for a new blog post as soon as I can. (Whenever I have a free evening.... some day soon, I hope!)

Monday, August 20, 2012


I have been very swamped nonstop, so I haven't had any time to draw for myself in quite a while. (I can't even recall the last time I had a day to totally relax.) To make up for lack of new posts, I just wanted to share this jellyfish picture I took about a month ago at the jellyfish exhibit at the Shedd. They are amazing creatures to watch and I would love to animate them someday. If you are in the Chicago area, I would recommend checking out this small, but very nice exhibit before it leaves. :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

old sketch

Here's an old sketch I doodled in the car on a road trip over a month ago. I have been super busy, so there will be a lack of new drawings for a while. Work is going very well, and I'm very happy to be busy at the moment. More later....

By the way, I am LOVING animating with the Blackwing pencil! I'll post drawings and animation once the commercial airs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blackwing Pencils: My New Love! ;)

After hearing about Blackwing pencils for half my life, I have FINALLY bought some recently and am in love with them! Blackwings were these really awesome pencils that animators adored, and then they were suddenly discontinued in 1998! *gasp!* For many years I heard stories about how wonderful they were, and finally in 2010 another manufacturer decided to make a version as close as possible to the original. Then in 2011, they made one even closer to the original, which is the one pictured above. There is also another kind of Blackwing pencils with a white eraser. I haven't seen or tried them. You can check it out here: Blackwing Pencil

The Blackwing 602 are truly beautiful pencils, and the lead just glides across the paper like velvet. You have to have a light, delicate touch to avoid getting too dark with the lines. Let the pencil "kiss the paper." :) Unless you're a storyboard artist and are going for fast, bold sketches. But beware, it can smudge quite a bit, especially if you use it in a sketchbook. It is also great for tapering lines from thick to thin.

If you would like to hear about the sentimental value these Blackwing pencils have for animators, check out Jenny Lerew's blog post from 2005:

 If you would like to try it out, you can buy a pack at Amazon or for $20. If you would like an original, I'm sorry to say that a pack of vintage pencils sells for over $100 on eBay! :o

Blackwing: Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed

Happy drawing!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I love revisiting old pieces, and am quite happy to have gone back to this one. This turned out quite nice compared to the original. I am also making a physical art piece out of this. (just need a new exacto blade) Fingers crossed that it will turn out! more later....

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Beat The Heat!

This is one of the hottest summers I can remember. We have three days in a row of 100+ degrees and I get uncomfortable with just 80 degrees. Just as I was finishing this drawing, a small storm quickly blew through here, so I added rain. I think it's a nice touch. Hopefully it cools down. Otherwise I'll be dreaming of snow again tonight. ;)

Monday, July 02, 2012


I just got back from a road trip today and had done quite a bit of sketching in the car. Here is one sketch from last week. More to come......

Friday, June 15, 2012

updated self portrait

Okay, it's not much of an update. I just tweaked a few things, primarily giving myself lipstick and an earring. I also tweaked the eyes. ;)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

drawing the spine

I thought that I should go ahead and share what I have been up to lately in class. For any regular blog followers, you may remember that early this year I finished building a small skeleton. Since then, I have been focusing on drawing. Here are a few studies of the spine. They are not meant to be "art." These are studies in trying to better understand the skeleton and more importantly, draw more three-dimensional. I love this class and look forward to continuing to develop my skills in the years to come. :)


On another note, RIP Ray Bradbury:

"I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true- hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it." -Ray Bradbury

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Here's a close up of a work in progress. I will get back to it either tomorrow night or next weekend. 

*Edit: I still haven't gotten back to this one yet, but I have full intentions to finish this!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Maggie Evans

Very quick sketch loosely based off Maggie Evans from the original Dark Shadows tv show. (season 1) She's a very confused character to say the least.