My beautiful Mum. 

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David. 🙂


Looking at “Fitting In”_Cinematography

I decided to study how other Animation films approached the lighting and camera angles of their movies to inspire myself and my group for our animation short film, “Fitting in”. Although we’re not shooting a live action scene, the way we story tell through our camera can make or break what we’re trying to say.

I looked at some beautiful stills from an animated movie called Mr. Peabody and Sherman for cinematic inspiration.

Concept art from Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)

I thought the lighting of this attic scene would help us understand better the lighting effects of our skylight in our scene. This concept art made me think about whether we want a warm toned attic or a cool toned one. Both are stunning visually but convey very different messages.


This dark blue/green piece evokes emotion. I think we could use a similar colour in our animation lighting to evoke a similar reaction in our audience (especially during the heartbreaking moment when our main character doesn’t fit in the box).


I was really inspired by the dynamic camera angles achieved in this concept art. Being almost at ground level creates a sense of scale and the foreshadowing of something dramatic to come. This is a possible shot we could do in our Animation “Fitting In” to emphasise the scale of the bouncer or create a feeling of the cube being an outsider in the long line of cylinders.


I feel like the lighting of our animation will play a key part in our storytelling process since our characters can’t physically speak or use their arms.

We can emphasise the emotions of our characters through our lighting colour choices:

Yellow/golden light: Used mainly at the beginning and shining mainly on our main character to emphasise their sense of joy and hope at getting into the box. This not only conveys our main character’s positive emotions but lights them well so they are the main  focal point for our audience.

Red lighting: Could be used to shine out of the box to light a scene that involves tension such as when our main character meets the huge, intimidating bouncer. OR, we could use this colour of lighting to emphasise the change in mood from a sense of joy to confusion about not being able to physically get into the box when they try.

Blue lighting: This lighting colour would be perfect to shine on our main character as they realise the impossibility of them physically fitting into the box. When our little wooden cuboid peg starts to walk away slowly from the box we could have a blue light coming out of the box to shine on him; creating a sad ambience.


One of the easiest things to do, in our animatic, is to place too much emphasis on too many characters at once. This makes things much more difficult for the audience to pick up on where we want them to look during a shot/scene. If we make sure that whatever shot we are doing, there’s not too much going on all at once and the audience’s eye is drawn to one action at a time. It makes shot transitions much smoother and the story flow better overall. If you distract the viewer from the main action, they miss out on the key storytelling moments.


Due to the fact we have such a short amount of time to tell a story in our animation, we need to make the most of our camera angles and shots. There is no time for unnecessary shots of things that don’t really matter or drive the story forward. As a group, we spent a lot of time creating detailed side characters such as small wooden cylinder characters and our bouncer. This was good as it made us understand more fully, as animators, the environment the main character is surrounding themselves with. However, we then found ourselves creating too many camera shots revolving around them, rather than our main character. This gave us less time to tell the main story we were trying to tell.

In terms of shots, we need to focus our attention on the main character and make sure our cinematography always leads back to focusing on him; capturing his main emotions/key movements.


Another thing we need to make sure we don’t do is cut shots too quickly. Looking at our original animatic, we tried to do too many shots and cut them far too quickly; it was impossible for the audience to pick up what was actually happening.

We could use the lighting of our box to change scenes in a interesting way and make a cut much more fluid looking. e.g. one of the lights from the box could move and flash brightly into the camera lens and then we transition the scene to the next one as the light moves on.


Our characters won’t be talking so sound effects are a huge part of making our animation film come to life. We are planning on finding sounds online for the closing of our attic door and dance music for conveying the story of the toy shapes being at a club. We thought about recording our own sounds but felt like that didn’t match the feeling of our animation.

Additional Reading:


Image references:

Google Images – no images above are my own.


Life drawing has been one of my favourite parts of the animation course so far. Coming from a background of very traditional art, it has been great to be able to continue working with my hands on the page rather than staring at a computer screen all day long. Practicing gesture drawing and learning about the techniques behind drawing well has made me really question and change my own approach to drawing.

I feel that every theory and practice covered in class has been presented in a way that I could easily understand. It kept it interesting not knowing exactly what the next topic of interest would be or what we would be doing! Yes a lot of the research had to be done independently which was sometimes challenging but it forced me to really study and learn.

Everything we have covered both inside and outside of life drawing class has made me more confident in my ability to draw. I remember the first few classes were extremely challenging as I already had my own approach to drawing which was hard to push myself out of. There were lots of incorrect techniques I had picked up along the way in my artistic journey. However, I have picked up new techniques and have already begun to implement them into my work and I can see how much my work has benefited from this. In a way, I am learning the key rules in order to “break” them in my own way! Well, put my own spin on them I should say! Lol sorry Michael haha

I feel that, everything I have learnt since day one of life drawing class has made it possible for me to be able to achieve the character design I have to submit for final submission. “Benard” the Koala may never have come into being or look the way he did if I hadn’t have learnt the things I have from life drawing class.

My character design, “Benard” the Koala.

With Benard, I took my time researching real Koalas and what they get up to in the wild. I watched videos, took notes, studied science books and bounced ideas off others. After having talked about the importance of researching before creating a character design in class with Michael, I felt that this was a vital step in the design process. I wanted to know the facts before I could use my creative license to add personality and individuality to my Koala character design.

KOALA - early concept 1

The reasoning behind his design can be seen above in the picture

Looking closer at the reasoning behind his design, I tried my best to focus when creating the initial design, on creating a solid drawing. This took several attempts haha.

I then thought more deeply about how his body shapes could reflect his role and personality as a character. I knew he was a young male Koala who was headstrong about not sleeping his life away like the rest of his kind; a coffee barista, a free thinker who wasn’t afraid to step out and be different (a Koala usually sleeps 18-20 hours a day)!


Life drawing classes have enabled me to not just imagine a character, but be able to physically draw it down with more confidence in my ability.

The classes have also made me think deeply about the what and why of what I want to create, and not just the how.

I am immensely thankful for having the opportunity to learn skills and approaches that I would never have come across otherwise. I am excited for where my new skills gained will take me in my future sketching projects in the world of animation and beyond!

Original Character Design

It took me a long time to decide on what kind of character I wanted to design for this life drawing project! I tried drawing butler style penguins to human like cheetahs but nothing seemed to be working. All I knew was that I was intent on drawing an animal of some kind.

Finally, after much consideration, I came to decide on creating a character based on the cute Koalas from “Down Under” 🙂 Ever since I was a kid, the main subject matter I found myself drawing were images of animals from National Geographic magazines. I distinctly remember with fond memory, sketching wild animals from far off places. My love of animals has continued to stay with me since those early days.

So without further a do, here is my journey to creating a Koala character!

Before I started any drawing or even attempting to establish the personality of my character, I spent a long time researching what makes a Koala a Koala. I learnt a lot from these videos above on the fun facts about the life of a Koala.

After watching these videos, I noted down the key facts about Koalas that stood out to me. This quickly lead to me drawing up in my head the beginnings of a character idea.

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I got some visual inspiration online when googling Koalas:

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I thought it was best to try and gain most of my visual inspiration from real life Koalas rather than relying completely on drawings that other artist’s have created.

The interesting facts about a Koalas hands and feet made me take a good look at their anatomy:

Koala-paws-caption-A koalas-right-hand-or-forepaw-A-and-foot-or-hind-paw-B

I continued my research with some interesting reading from old encyclopaedias at home. I even found a short story explaining the overall look and behaviour of the Koala!

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And also found more in depth research into Koalas from another encyclopaedia below:

I then went on to make a board on Pinterest with lots of visual inspiration found across the internet.

Early concepts

Trying to establish the key shapes in the underlying drawing to build upon; a mixture of hard edged shapes for the ears/part of the head and softer, circular shapes for the rest

In between my research and sketching out character design ideas, I watched multiple videos exploring the best ways of approaching creating an appealing character.


I thought about if my young male Koala character design could reflect similar traits as the young boy in this character design below. I used both animal and human references as my inspiration in the design process because of the human style job my Koala would have as a coffee barista. It seemed only natural that he would have some human like tendencies in his design and movement.


I also looked at old and recent character designs from successful animation studios revolving around animals when thinking about my character design. This tutorial for how to draw Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from Disney’s Zootopia (2016) really helped me to simplify and establish the shapes of my Koala character design as best I could.

Below is one of the first sketches I did where I attempted to draw the entire face and body of my Koala character. I liked that he seemed friendly and happy which was what I was going for! The only issue was the eye design. It looked too human-like so I did another couple of sketches exploring the possibilities of a more cartoon style eye.


An early concept, this time adding more character


Developing on the possible nose and eye shapes

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KOALA - character turnaround 1KOALA - character turnaround 2


Giving my character depth

After having spent a lot of time thinking about the visuals for my character, I decided to try and work on giving him more depth. This started with trying to figure out his name.

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I found this name online when looking up Australian style names beginning with “B” to make an alliteration with “Barista” haha.

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The story just kind of took on a life of it’s own from the beginning of this project. Researching a bunch before beginning the initial designs really helped cement in my head the kind of character I wanted to create.


Exploring my character as a solid drawing:

Character Design_KOALA1Character Design_KOALA1version2

Exploring staging and exaggeration:

Character Design_KOALA2_part2


And lastly secondary action :Character Design_KOALA3part2

The main body of the character has moved (including his head) towards the side of the shot to listen to a conversation but his ear then tilts upwards and out to emphasise this action.

This task has definitely sparked my creativity and I feel so invested in my character now and his story that I think I might carry on working and editing this work over summer 🙂


Additional Reading:

Children’s Britannica. (1989). 4th ed. Auckland: Encyclopaedia Britannica, pp.234-235.

Sullivan, K., Schumer, G., Alexander, K. and Mintz, A. (2013). Ideas for the Animated Short. 1st ed. Independence: CRC Press.

Thomas, F., Johnston, O. and Thomas, F. (1995). The illusion of life. 1st ed. New York: Hyperion.

The young children’s encyclopedia. (1985). 8th ed. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, pp.158-159.

Image references: