Welcome to hesirAnimation…

I am a one time freelance Illustrator and Creative Consultant who currently lectures in Animation and Games Design at The Hull School of Art & Design, in Kingston Upon Hull, East Yorkshire, UK.

The principle aim of this site is to act as a test bed for sessions and workshops for the Animation Courses on which I teach as well as a repository for ideas, inspirational links and potential projects.

Here you should find links to all manner of Animation Links, Tutorials, Advice, Tips and Tricks, Portfolio/Showreel building exercises and little Animation Experiments,

…all of which you should be able to try for yourselves.

I hope you find something useful or inspirational while you are here.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Animation is by its very nature an exaggerated medium and often, historically, culturally/politically and inextricably contains images, themes, suggestions of violence, and subversive ideas.

I teach adult learners at degree level. This site is pitched at that level. I hope in time to add a section with some younger animator friendly links –  MEANWHILE! Not all the animation links on this blog may be suitable for younger animators, show some discretion as a parent or teacher. Watch the animations first, before allowing those individuals YOU are responsible for to gain access to material YOU do not wish them to see, thank you.



The Aesthetics & Symbolism in the Scene/Scenario – 2

Occasionally concepts and things associated with those concepts intertwine forming a language of images and symbols that allow us to discuss or reference them at a glance.

Many times these symbols are agreed by an individual culture, but (depending on their exposure to the rest of the world over time) these symbols may well eventually fall into the common visual language used by other cultures too.

Churches and cathedrals, armed forces and sports teams, all use symbols that veer from the archaic and inaccessible, to the agreed and understood.

The Brief:

Following your early project investigation into “symbolism in the scene”.

“Imagine a scenario in which a cypher (1) wearing a mask enters a scene/environment (2) dedicated to a deity/power/force/avatar (3).

The character takes of their mask and looks at the representation of the deity/power with some evidence of awe/emotion…”

  1. …a “character as symbol” – in this case representing one of the symbolic elements you have already begun to research (See PART 1).
  2. …in this case a an interior, a chamber, a cave, a temple space etc.
  3. …that represents the opposing/related symbol from your original choice range (See PART 1).

You can to fulfil this brief create a series of storyboards, or a single image, or a series of set designs for this piece.

All your early research (from PART 1) should be attached to your submission.

The Aesthetics & Symbolism in the Scene/Scenario – 1

Aesthetics and Symbolism of the Scene/Scenario – 1.  Looking at Cinematographic Styles, Period/Specialist Setting or Scenario research, Colour Palates, Elements of Production Design related to deeper meaning, Concept and Style Sheets. Jungian and Freudian imagery.

Part 1 – You are asked to analyse at least one of the following films, making notes on the imagery, and use of production design, cinematography, symbolism, colour etc to further the narrative:

Also you should try to look at Carey Meyer & David A. Koneff on “Firefly, The 10th Character.

Part 2 – Following a discussion in the studio with your tutor and peers, you are to write up (with imagery) your findings on what you have seen and discussed. Don’t just explain what you have seen in terms of listing events, or the colours used in the sets. Think about whether sets were aimed to be warm, cool, foreboding, welcoming… how did they achieve this? How might you achieve it in your own work, where have you attempted to develop this way of working?

Part 3 – You are to design and develop scenography, cinematography, costume and design palettes for a range of characters/settings, scenarios, moods and atmospheres based on the following:

1, The Seven Deadly Sins; 2, The Muses; 3, The Planets; 4, Chess; 5, The Senses;

6, the Zodiac.

 You should aim development of your designs toward one of the following media/entertainments:

1, a theatrical/operatic stage performance; 2, a costumed, mobile, festival street performance (day or night); 3, a mature audience oriented animation; 4, a period costume drama (live action, film); 5, a children’s, action/adventure animation series; 6, a fully-immersive, 3D game.

 If you are brave enough, you could roll a dice to pick from each group. Each of your Aesthetic Explorations should include: Research into the psychology of images and symbolism, mood boards that use colour palettes, textures, materials, objects, symbols and cyphers, lighting schemes and related art and design elements and iconography from historical and contemporary sources, and perhaps even typography (depending on your choice you may wish to develop an overarching scheme, then choose just 2 or three individual elements for full development, certainly no less than two).

Your work is to be presented as design boards, some animated/film tests may be appropriate.


Suggested reading and research areas: Try and evidence all the discussions, interviews and related reading you can find on the creation of aesthetic schemes that production designers, art directors, cinematographers, stage designers and others who must take these issues into account in their work, perhaps some reading around those practical subject areas might be a starting point. As might areas to do with psychology (Freud and Jung), semiotics, symbolism, colour theory and artistic composition. In Addition: There are interviews on many film DVDs that are available (and that you probably own or have access to at home) upon which designers discuss the reasoning for their artistic/design choices (this is a great resource that you should exploit). Also: Look at the work of Sarah Greenwood, Ben van Os & Jan Roelfs, Mark Friedberg, Dante Ferretti, David Boyd, Colin De Rouon & David A Koneff. Jack Cardiff, all of whom would make good staring points for your research into this project.

Characters, Cashing-In & Copyright – A Mini-Brief

This brief was set for Yr2 Animation students looking at the Creative Futures Contexts Module with the intention of providing a more studio practice oriented context for an investigation into areas such as Copyright, Plagiarism & Intellectual Property (an area students at this level are asked to familiarise themselves with).

You are asked to (1) design a character that could be used in an animation context.

The character could be part of a kids action TV show, a funny character, a character for a product advert, a character for a full length animated movie, a website icon, or any other character design contextualised as an intellectual property ready for commercial exploitation, the character can be designed for any animation medium, and for any genre. You should develop your characters in the usual way not settling on the first iteration, your final designs should follow standard animation conventions for presentation.

Once your character designed you are (2) to investigate:

  • Copyright relating to character design.
  • Plagiarism relating to character design.
  • …and the parameters of the term IP in relation to character design and protecting your design ideas.

Then (3) write up your findings discussing how you might protect and fully exploit your design in a commercial context, and how others might seek to exploit your design for their own interests, or even suggest you have plagiarised your design.


Audience – Mini Brief 3b, pt 2

So, having developed (1) 30 or so scenario/story/narrative ideas based on the five choices given; and (2) developed five branded items…

You are now asked to develop an idea for an animated TV/movie theatre advert that promotes one of the developed products from list 2, using a narrative based on one of the developed ideas from list 1.

Following the conventions of TV advertising you should be looking at no longer than 30 seconds.

You should also spend some time gathering resources and making notes on various animated advertisements.

Your project development should include but not be limited to, ideas, refining of original thoughts, visual reference and style guides, colour palettes, rudimentary dope sheet with sound/foley notes and and possibly storyboard and animatic.

Where do the advertisers get their Ideas from? Have you seen the documentary Art & Copy?

Audiences – Mini-Brief 3a

As individuals you are to come up with at least half a dozen short narrative scenarios (a couple of sentences each or a paragraph to describe a scenario no longer than 30 seconds) for each of the following inspiration points/titles.

What is the setting? What happens? What if any is the conflict? Is there a character? If so who is it, or what are they? Do they enter and/or leave the scene?

Narrative Scenarios

  • The Balloon.
  • The Found Object.
  • The Animal Familiar.
  •  The Basement.
  • The Boat on the Sea.

Come up with a specific item/and brand name* for each of the following broad commodity ideas… just one for each.


  • A Power Tool.
  • Breakfast Cereal.
  • Mobile Connectivity/Internet Access.
  • Brand Training Shoes.
  • A Chocolate Bar.

*Your brands can be invented, your product should reflect something familiar as suggested.

Single Frame & Sequential Image Communication 2 – Sequential Imagery

This brief set of notes where delivered as part of the Year 1 animation delivery:

Part 1 – Single Frame Imagery – Q&A session?

  • How many types of single image communication can you think of?
  • Can scale effect how we see an image?
  • How much information can a single image convey?
  • What do we know about Semiotics, Sign and Symbol?

…plus, a whole set of additional notes and links can be found >HERE<

Part 2 – Sequential Imagery – delivered from notes and links below?

The term Sequential Art* describes a series of images or artefacts arranged in a sequence, to be read by the viewer, in order (or several orders), with a view to communicating a concept, narrative or some other intentional message.

*coined by Animator and Comics creator Will Eisner in 1985 in his book Comics and Sequential Art

Obvious examples include (but are not limited to): Comics, Storyboards, A series of paintings or etchings, A sculptural frieze, Mural work (including large scale graffiti) and Mosaics, Tapestries, Greek Jar glazes, Children’s picture books etc.

Other early examples of sequential imagery include: Cave Paintings and Pre-Columbian Friezes and Picture Manuscripts from South America.

Elsewhere, historically, other commentators and innovators have delved into the use of sequential imagery also – for example, photographers such as Muybridge.

Whilst clearly from a technical stand point the term includes Film and Animation (and perhaps even Games, though many games it should be pointed out are non-linear), it can also include many other graphical phenomena (including Infographics, Timelines, Limited view and Navigable illustration) not least of which, is writing.

Hieroglyphics, for example, are a sequence of images that convey meaning, as are oriental glyphs/pictograms, and to be fair… so are individual letters (despite how we now separate the concepts of writing from image – but writing IS, or more correctly, were, really just made up of a series of little conceptual pictures,ˈpɪktʃə/… or,  pict – ure – s, or  P,  i,  C , t,  U,  R,  e,  S,).

The move from singular sculptural forms to friezes of the type found in early Egyptian culture eventually saw a calculated effort on the part of the developers to organise their narrative in the graphical communications through the use of more accurate, methodical and repeatable “phrases” or symbols through the very same medium of wall paintings.

The Egyptian hieroglyphics we are today familiar with through history lessons and popular culture references are a simplification of more complex mural style imagery into more manageably reproducible graphical forms; much the same as the proto-writing of other early cultures such as the Phoenicians, The Canaanites and the Chinese.

Comics, despite their slow acceptance by academia, or wider popular culture, are still the most commonly accepted evolutionary form of Sequential Art.

It is a form which is still continuing to evolve. See >THIS< by Scott McCloud.

Over the years, artist/creators such as Will Eisner and Scott McCloud look at this evolution from comic’s historical predecessors, to early art, to the print based comics we know today, and finally on to comics on the web. McCloud in particular has scrutinised the medium in his books Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and more recently Making Comics.


Acting as Part of the Animation Process

This discussion is part of a brief and investigation for students in Year Two Animation, for the module “Acting, Aesthetics and Audience”.

Some elements of the brief [2 & 3] is designed to get animation students away from the computer and drawing table, and into the habit of acting out the emotions/gestures/reactions and movements of the characters they are attempting to bring to life.

You are in most cases your own most convenient model. Rembrandt and almost every artist since has known and exploited this idea.

Animators are no exception… Check out the image of Chuck Jones below.

“When a young artist asked me for advice on drawing the human foot, I told him, ‘The first thing you must learn is how to take your shoe off, and then how to take your sock off, then prop your leg up carefully on your other knee, take a piece of paper, and draw your foot.’”  – Chuck Jones


Walt gurning

Chuck Jones posing as Bugs to get a pose right.

“Film and stage actors can spend a lot of time getting into character. Similarly, animators require a wealth of knowledge to be able to give genuine personality to the images. They’ll use whatever references they have, even if it means gawping into their own reflection or strutting like Woody. “If you walk into any of the animators’ offices they’ve got a mirror. We’ve got a room that we call the acting room where they will rehearse and work through an action, and we are constantly shooting reference footage. It’s funny when you’re doing research trips to retirement homes, like we did for Up.

– A.J. Riebli (Pixar animator Interview)


Part 1 You should probably begin by researching animated shorts [and related media] that involve character development, and in particular the “acting” of the character.

You can look at live action film too of course, in particular, acting on the stage and actors that performed in the “Silent Era” of movie making – games and character animation in cut-ways, and idling motion is acceptable research too, if part of a broader investigation.

You should also look at the relationship between “acting” and the animator.

• What exercises do animators participate in when  developing convincing and appropriate characters through acting out situations or developing believable drama. Consider the use of  workshops in which animators “act out” and develop short scenes.

Acting for Animators – Some links

1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEY-MIbC8No

2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8TS-E2pxek

Pixar’s Acting Room – http://bob.ryskamp.org/brain/?p=2241

You may also wish to look at:

Richard WilliamsAnimators Survival Kit –  Pages 315 through to Page 337.

Mike MattesiForce

Walt Stanchfield – Drawn To Life – Chapters on Gesture (Vol 1) and Expression (Vol 2).

…all of which can be accessed through the Old Media section in the studio, or the Library.

Part 2 – You are then to work together as a group to develop a short narrative, 1.30 to 2mins in length that establishes four characters and their relationships. The scene, narrative must allow all the characters to interact, and must incorporate both dramatic and subtle movement.

For example, your characters could be: 

  • Four office workers/managers from the same company at deadline time.
  • Four characters onboard a pirate ship abandoned by their captain.
  • Four strangers at a birthday party awkwardly meeting in the kitchen.
  • Four astronauts onboard a spacecraft during a crisis.
  • …or four characters in a scenario of your choosing of course.

You are to continue to work together as a group to develop the four characters and the scene, with each student eventually taking ownership of the characterisation of one of the characters.

These characters should have distinct personalities as shown in their movements/actions, demeanor or dialogue. Your characters can leave or enter the scene, or be there all the way through.

Any dialogue should be there to enhance the characterisation, it should not lead the performance.

Remember the “acting” is the important aspect here.

You should also consider investigating the following areas as part of this development:

• Character based research including, but not limited to, Personality Types, Traits (see Dave Perry on Games Design), Jungian Archetypes and Characters based around those Archetypes, Stereotypes and Motivations (see Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung).

• The idea of “Conflict” as Dramatic Impetus (remember our discussion about Die Hard, conflict can be subtle as well as obvious).

Part 3 – Once developed, you will be asked as a group to perform the piece to camera.

This can be done away from an audience, in a venue of your choice (props and settings are not particularly important).

You will then take the video footage of the piece and develop the animation as individuals in a medium of your own choice; looking at emulating and exaggerating the actions you produce as live action to better show the emotions and intention of your characters.

As part of this process you should investigate and make notes on the following processes and practices amongst others:

Rotoscoping, motion-capture and new developments in “performance capture”.

The above animation or animation product is to be presented as part of your hand in at the end of the year.

As part of your hand in you are asked to reflect and evaluate your investigations/work and the work of others. Your blog and your reflective practice therein is an important element of this brief.

Andrew Gordon of Pixar was asked about what they look for in a young animator –

“At the end of the day, we’re looking for people that have a quality or a sensibility of either animation or design. Whether it be designing characters, a storyboard or being an animator, there really is something that that department is looking for.

“…it comes down to having good idea. And good sensibilities. It’s not about having a perfectly polished walk cycle; it really comes down to the ideas and the acting ideas as well.”

“With my department (animation) we’re looking for people who are great actors or that show tremendous potential. If they have some serious acting skills, we will take a chance.

That’s half the battle you know, really finding those types of people.