In my 2D animation class, we are exploring all kinds of techniques, and the master studies are great. Thanks to Lottie Reiniger and Terry Gilliam, last week’s unit was for cut out animation, but we cheated a little, using After Effects to edit them together. I wonder if Lottie would have even wanted technology that took that much of the process out of her hands -literally?
The theme was “Ridiculous Mishap”, so my goal was to use my short story about The Imp from Lodila Valley, but since the project called for only 20-30 seconds, I pared it down. I’ll tell the whole tale someday. For now, here is “The Imp”:
If you are not familiar with Lottie Reiniger or *gasp* Terry Gilliam, check out the clips below:
Lottie actually created the very first animated feature length film – before Disney. The most fascinating part is that she hand cut every piece and took every photo herself. Astounding genius! I think she will be the focus of my first podcast for my Podcasting class this semester, about women in animation.
Cybele (si-bill-ee), named for an Anatolian goddess (also known as the Magna Mater, or “great mother”), is a genderless water creature that dwells in Lake Chitali, at the outskirts of the Land of Lo.
It is considered, like most Lodians, a hybrid of plant and animal, and cannot survive out of the water. It has three stages of transformation: pod (much like larva, attached to the parent), juvenile (free-floating), and parent (rooted).
Pods develop at the end of hundreds of tendrils protruding from the parent, and are released by the force of the next generation growing behind them. This gestation process takes seven years. The small size of a released pod increases the potential of being eaten by other water creatures, or other such demise.
Surviving free-floating Cybele (juvenile) continue to float on a 70-year long expedition to gain insight and knowledge that extends beyond any other creature in the Land of Lo. This is possible because each generation of pods absorbs the knowledge of the parent, and it continues through life only to add more. Not all water creatures in Lake Chitali are water-bound, and many bring tales of adventure from the shore. Assimilating those stories with its profound intuition, a juvenile Cybele develops vicarious experiences.
Mature Cybele end their journey after 70 years, by swallowing a large golden pearl created from the song of Ko the giant oyster, Claviger of Pearls, then sinking to the bottom. Fortified by the pearl’s energy, they take root, and sprout the tendrils that will start bearing their own pods. Once it becomes a parent, it creates thousands of offspring in the remainder of its lifetime.
Pods possess a strong incandescent light glow that changes colors according to emotions being transferred telepathically. Pink means love, green means confidence, red means fear, and so on. It is because of these translatable lights that adult Cybele are considered oracles. They are often visited by travelers on a quest to find meaning or guidance in their lives.
Seekers must swallow a pearl themselves in order to find the Cybele. To find a golden pearl, the only kind that allows the bearer access to the deep underwater realm of Lake Chitali, they must first find Nacre, the Mother of Pearls, who actually lives by a stream in Lodila Valley. She will bestow the proper “golden ticket” upon those she deems worthy, and give them precise instructions on how to find the oracle.
The seeker will follow those instructions, which includes swallowing the golden pearl, and finds the Cybele, presenting it with a question. At this time, the creature begins channeling emotion to provoke thoughts of logic and new perspective in the seeker. The Cybele then absorbs the life experience of the seeker, through a tendril that connects with the pearl in their body, and provides the “answer” they need, in exchange.
Once the pearl’s energy has been fully absorbed, and the seeker has reached revelation and epiphany, they are then released to float back to the surface, equipped with the new insight. Odis, the giant octopus, Claviger of Waves, ensures the floating seekers are returned safely to shore.
For example, a seeker may have lived an empty life of loneliness, never having experienced true contentment of genuine love from another, and may be consulting the Cybele oracle as a last hope for answers as to why this has happened to them. Upon approaching the Cybele, the large tendril will reach out to the seeker and touch its heart glow from the pearl they swallowed. The pods will then respond with pink glowing lights, and the seeker will experience pure and genuine love for the first time.
That emotion will provide a realization that they have not encountered before – perhaps a dear friend whose affections were dismissed is pointed out to them – and they will be released to float back, knowing they must embrace the love being offered, in order to feel that emotion again.
Someone who has lived a life of complacency and servitude may be provoked to feel anger, and be inspired to change their situation for the better, and so on. Anyone may seek answers, as often as they wish, as long as they have swallowed a pearl. The experience is quite intense, so most Lodians only need one to set their lives on the right course.
So I have been working on streamlining Pallo’s origin story this semester, making sure to incorporate my personal goals into every project, and my Writing for Visual Media course final was a script treatment for a movie. That one project really helped me figure out how to choose which elements to include in Pallo’s part of the Lodila Valley/Land of Lo series.
I have definitely increased my focus and intention on manifesting my animated films, and learning how to animate – even just as a beginner – has brought so much more to the surface! As of now, my plan is to create “Legends of Lodila – Claviger of Flowers” as an introductory film for a series. Here is my final slideshow…I found a perfect name for the character-formerly-known-as Frances Greenbaum, Pallo’s best friend – Putri! I’ll share the story of her name in another post.
Practice animations and character designs abound during this two week break before summer semester starts!
Please know that I am foolish in so many ways, and that I do not expect people to “approve” of things I share my opinion about.
So many artists I know get very excited when they start using digital programs to create, and tend to overshare their process (again, my opinion only). I see incredibly talented analog artists often sharing digital work before it looks anywhere near complete, or strikingly different in quality than their previous work, with the intention to sell prints. I do understand the excitement, I promise I do, but as someone who was raised by an over-sharer, it sometimes makes me cringe when I see someone who is a fantastic artist posting something that truly does not represent them or their abilities yet, and trying to sell it. I know it seems judgmental, but I do hold out to see as they improve – and they do – and celebrate that success for them. I just hold a certain standard for my own art before asking someone to pay for it, and sometimes feel like people get swept away by the efficiency of it all.
I had a couple of cute line drawings that I made one summer, during a weekend of camping and debauchery, and held onto them with the intention of someday painting them in. Over the years, I would start to digitally color them, but never really liked how it was coming out.
When I invested in my iPad Pro, I decided that these two pictures were going to be the guinea pigs for me to get accustomed to not only the tablet, but the program Procreate that all of the digital artists around me were raving about. So, I started to work on them the way I would usually do in Photoshop in the past – creating the outlines, then coloring on the layers underneath. The brushes – oh, the brushes! – made what used to be a one-session creation into a two-week long experiment in textures, colors and opacity. Did I mention there is a LIGHT PEN?!
So, I’ve done it. I finished it – it looks and feels finished to me. It looks beautiful to me. Please let me know what you think – I would love some interaction on this blog!
So, it’s time to introduce Pallo, officially. Since I’ve been making little practice animations with her, I feel like it needs to happen to start building context. Pallo is a character I created, inspired by two little girls – twins – I used to take care of in my nanny days. We were together since they were fifteen months old until they were four, and have kept in touch really well since. I was there for them learning to talk, go on the potty, hold a fork, drawing a face, on and on.
I would often record conversations, kind of like interviews, with the kids I would nanny for, to share with their parents for memories. Lots of terrible, but hilarious, knock-knock jokes, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, asking their age and favorite color, things like that. When the twins started really talking more, I worked on them saying my name. I mean, after all, I was with them almost every day! So, I would record them whenever I asked them what my name was, in order to catch the first time. I can’t express to you how cute these recordings are…so, here is “The One”.
The way that Naila was so sure that “Pallo” was correct – just repeating it over and over until I pointed the mic at her and got it nice and loud – makes it one of the funniest and cutest clips I’ve ever captured. I became Pallo, and then I created her as a character.
Pallo has four arms, for extra hugging, and has a crown of flowers on her head. In the Land of Lo, where she lives, all creatures are a mixture of plant and ocean life, and Pallo is no exception. Her “ponytails” are actually large petals, and when she sleeps, white puffs (think milkweed or dandelions) of seed fly out of a hole in her head, and the petals spread open and up to guide the seeds safely onto the breeze. Pallo is Claviger of the Flowers, and it is because of her that flowers grow in the Land of Lo.
She is also very maternal, and adopts a band of misfits as she journeys through Lodila Valley on her quest. Isi and Nin are directly inspired by the twin girls who named her. Their origin story belongs in its own chapter, so I’ll save it. Pallo goes through many emotions on her journey, each creating its own story.
Pallo’s look has evolved as I convert her into an animated character. I have added a texture to her skin, and defined a purpose for her “ponytails”, as well as adding some cool markings on her back, which you cannot often see. She wears the necklace of a Claviger (key holder) around her neck. I have given her little stubby legs for walking. She’s ready to be a star, now I just have to catch up. So, please stay tuned for more short animations as I learn to navigate my way through Adobe Character Animator and Animate to create as much as possible. Please follow me on Instagram to see some of the older posts, and the most recent, as I update that much more often. Drop me a DM to let me know you followed me because of this blog. Until next time…
My father passed away on Tuesday. He had suffered a long time, so he is free of pain now. It is only fitting that our lesson in Animation class this week was Cycle Layers, learning how to add tears to our puppets. Here is Pallo, crying:
Fortunately, I find solace in creating. I used the sound of a Sesame Street cartoon that has stuck with me since I was around three years old. Two cartoon characters sharing tears wasn’t really something that I had seen and it definitely made an impact. It was the first thing I thought of when our lesson came up. More Land of Lo to come…
I realize I haven’t posted any stories about Pallo yet, but I’ve been in college full time to learn how to animate, just for her. So I’m too excited to share this little clip I created in my Character Animator unit!
The Land of Lo (which, many years after naming it so, I found out is an actual place in the far East) was not always a beautiful countryside with an infinite lake and mountains. No, it started out as fire. An endless – and beginning-less – blanket of eternally burning fire. It became that after a period of “darkness” that occurred on the Great Mountain. The Great Mountain serves as a sanctuary and headquarters for the creatures known as The Tillers. With its rose petaled waterfall, powerful portals, and immense library of all things knowledge, it is appropriately deemed such.
The Tillers are tall, slender, and have long limbs and heads that resemble thick shark fins with gills, or even a succulent plant. All things Lodian are primarily plant or sea creature – based, as you will begin to see more and more. I created the character design based on the way my wife tied up her curtains. One day, it just looked like something, and I sketched the first idea of a Tiller. With a flowing train of robe hanging down to the ground, a meditating Tiller floats in a cross-legged position, with their arms folded in front and covered by the sleeves. They have keyholes in their chests, for which each Claviger (that post is to come) has a key that fits. They have walking staffs that have magical pearls that enhance their manifestation, and often keep pomi birds as companions.
The Tillers oversee all creation. All creation happens through meditation by the Tiller, who then manifests something that fulfills a need in the world. It is then sent in the form of a seed, to grow into what it must become. They’re pretty cool creatures. Below, there is a gallery of the progression of the character design. Simple shapes at first, then kind of a humanoid, and finally a more aquatic and plant-like entity. The final photo is of the first color portrait I created of a Tiller. The first chapter of the Lodian origins tells the story of how a young Tiller discovered the endless sea of fire, and manifested water for balance, becoming Lake Chitali once the steam settled. What came next, you’ll have to wait and see!