I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable women (missyjack) wrote in spnroundtable,
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable women

Ask The Artist: fraggledragon

One of the great things about Twitter is that it has introduced me to parts of fandom beyond the walls of LJ. It was there that someone linked me to "Supernatural Animation" late last year, and when the second part appeared, I though the artist would be a great guest here on the roundtable.

You can view her animated Supernatural films on YouTube: Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

The artwork here is stunning, from the amazing renditions of Sam, Dean and Bobby , through to the little details, and the whole look and feel is very "Supernatural". And its not just the art, there's a wonderful story here with great characterizations, delicious hurt-comfort and a killer cliffhanger at the end of Part Two.

But enough from me - over to fraggledragon to tell you more about her work...

Hi everyone! missyjack asked me to join in and be artist of the month for April, and wow did that blow my mind!

When she asked me to become involved I had to think about it. Reason being, I had a look through the previous pages and was blown away by the talent. Did I belong here? Was I good enough? Well, that is not for me to decide, but I am thankful to missyjack for the opportunity to speak here among these brilliant artists!

I am a 35 year old Scot, a qualified nurse specializing in Brain Injury by profession, and an artist and writer by hobby. I am self taught in everything I do, with exception of my nursing in which I have a Bachelor of Science degree. I always wanted to be an animator, but courses of that nature are pretty scarce here in Scotland. So I decided to teach myself for fun, finding out what programs I would need etc.

The programs I use are Adobe photoshop CS3, Jasc Animation shop pro, After Effects CS3 and Virtualdub. I also use an A4 Medion graphics tablet, an Apple Macbook, and lots of spare time!

I have only made five animations, up to and including part two of the Supernatural Animation. My first attempts were for Stargate Atlantis, and although the are terribly basic, I love them very much as they were my first and helped me learn the process of animation.

I have made a very short animation for you all, so that I can show you how I do it.

missyjack asked me why I decided to make a Supernatural animation and how I make them. It started when I drew a picture for a competition for a UK Supernatural Convention called Asylum 3.

For the competition I drew a picture of Dean in a graveyard on the computer. I ran the picture through a 3D program, printed it out in both normal and 3D and took it to the convention with some 3D glasses. I overheard someone saying that it would be cool to see something like that animated and it got me thinking about it.

Having already made an animation previously, I decided to give it a go. In part one of the Supernatural animation my drawing technique was poor. Even now I am learning how to draw on the computer.

I am self taught in both the drawing and animation, so the way I do things are probably more time consuming than the way others do it. But this is the way I taught myself, and the only way I know.

To start with, I make the story outline and create the storyboard of it in my note book. From the story board I break it down into parts and how they are to look and decide on the speech for the story, and work from there.

I make sketches then paint them in Photoshop. The end pictures have layers that I can animate, (lips, eyes etc) and can have up to twenty or more layers, depending on what is to move in the picture. I save all the small movements individually as frames in jpeg files.

The frames are then put into Animation Shop Pro where they are animated, which is where I add blackouts, fadeouts, shaky cam etc. Animation Shop uses a lot of memory, so I need to break the animation down into three files. I then splice them together in another program, then import it into After Effects to add the speech bubbles and any other tweaks that need made. (Like the car headlights in part one.)

Then it is just a matter of throwing it through Virtual dub to add the music and the final render is complete for upload.

It is the drawings and making of frames that take the longest time. Sometimes the drawings/frames take up to a day each to finish (when I get time to work on them), and that is where I get impatient! But I pushed my impatience to the side for part two, and took my time for a better result. Once the drawings are all done, the process only takes a day or to for adding speech, music and final render.

Before animating, part one had over 1400 frames, part two had closer to 2400 frames and I can see part three having more again. When we see the Butchers room from Sam's perspective in part two, that was 294 frames alone, made from one photoshop drawing.

My Sam drawings always bugged me, so I did not really work on him much in the first part as I felt I just could not get him right. Dean was never great either, but Sam bugged me the most. But a comment on the original video on youtube, said that Sam does not have a 5 o'clock shadow, and that's when I kicked myself. It made me look closer at Jared Padalecki's face, and notice that he is more red and pink with no shadow, so worked on better drawings of him.

So hopefully, thanks to that one comment, Sam is looking better for part two. I definitely put more work into the original drawings for part two, reason being, I had no idea that people would like the animation so much, and I felt that they should get a better quality!

Someone commented that it is like watching a moving fanfic, and I suppose that is exactly what it is, an animated fanfic. I love to read and write angsty things, so I quite liked this analogy.

Many thanks to missyjack for posting on my behalf, as I although I have an LJ account, I never really got used to the site. I still can not believe I am here as an artist of the month, it makes me feel like a child that stole a sweetie from the candy queen! I am very pleased to have been asked to speak here and I hope that you have enjoyed listening to me ramble about my work. If you have any questions, I will answer if I can. I may not know how to use the site well, but I can read and answer comments :D - fraggledragon

Tags: ask the artist
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