Maya: 3D character

To further our practice with 3D animation, we signed into an animation tutorial website called Animation Mentor, in order to teach us the basics of animating a full character in Maya.


After downloading the character from Animation Mentor, I opened up a new setup in Maya and selected the animation setup. I then used the attributes editor to add a key-frame to all of the character’s limbs after selecting frame 1 in the timeline. I then moved the character’s left leg up, causing the leg to bend for the first frame. I repeated this process for both of the character’s legs to creating a walking motion.


App design: target audience and design ideas.

For an app design lesson, we began creating our own app wireframe for a personal/schedule app. For my wireframe, I have chosen to work on a Coffee app.

First, I had a look at some wireframe examples to give myself an idea of how I want my wireframe to look.

wireframe example
wireframe example

Then I began drawing out my own ideas for a wireframe for my coffee app using simply a piece of paper and a pencil, using the web results i found as inspiration.

Target audience

In order to get a better idea and outline of my target audience, I looked online to use market research to establish what demographic that my App is for.


For a Coffee-based app, my target audience most likely would not be children or young teenagers, as most people in that age don’t have much interest in coffee or where the best places are to buy them, so I won’t make my app for people of around 5-16 years old.

As most coffee-drinkers and people who are interested in coffee are adults of around 19-onwards, this will be an adult-oriented app where emphasis will be put on the recipes on how to make the different types of coffee, and how these types of coffees were originally made.


As coffee is enjoyed by many people of different races, backgrounds and cultures, I will try and make my app inclusive of all of these people and be available to anybody who wants to enjoy using it.


Design elements

Colour pallet

Most colours associated with coffee are warm shades of black, brown, white and beige, so these are the colours that I will primarily use in designing my app.

Adobe kuler pallet

coffee app colours

Visual style

I have decided to keep the visual style to a simplistic layout that keeps the app easy to explore and follow. In doing so, this will make the app accessible to anybody in my target audience and allow them to easily use it.

The aesthetic will have a friendly, inviting feel to it, almost like the feeling you would get from a living room. So, I will use rounded edges and images with an animated, cartoonish feeling.


Legal and ethical considerations

While creating this app, I must make sure that I do not plagiarise anybody else’s or any other companies apps or other creations on mobile, and any images I happen to use will be credited in this blog or on the app.





App design: What makes a good logo?

A logo is a small image used by companies and organisations to identify themselves and their products. All companies do have a logo such as McDonalds, Playstation and Coca-Cola, who all have identifiable and memorable logos that send an appropriate message to their audience. The best logos are designed to be:

PlayStation_logo.svg_mcdonalds logo.png

  • Simplistic: Keeping the logo to a simple design makes it memorable and easier to identify for viewers. If you add too many graphics and shapes to a logo design, it becomes too cluttered and makes it more difficult to remember. It is also a way for companies to simply bring across the theme or subject of their product, for example, Adidas’s logo is three, simple parallel rectangles with the name Adidas below it, and it has always been recognised as a shoe retailer.adidas logo
  • Versatility: You must also make sure that your logo can be used on a variety of different products and be able to be printed differently, for example, is the logo just as effective in black-and-white as it is in colour? Or does is it just as identifiable at this size on this T-shirt as it does at this small size on this mug?
  • Appropriate: Your logo must also follow the theme of your products or the company’s products, so if you were making a logo for children’s products you wouldn’t use dull, drab colours and an un-interesting font, you would go the design direction that Toys’r us went in and use bold, bright colours and a humorous and friendly font.



  • Timelessness: While designing your logo, you must assess whether it will still be just as memorable and well-designed 5, 10 years onwards. Again with the Coca-Cola logo as an example, it has hardly changed over the years that it has been used, due to it’s simplicity and the timeless, memorable way that the name has been written.

coca cola logo



The Golden Ratio

The main way of scaling in logo design is using what many designers consider to be the scale that is most appealing to the eye and that is the ratio of 1.618, otherwise known as the Golden ratio. Many graphic designers have adhered to this ratio to scale their logos and make them versatile.

Negative space

To help make your logo look simple you can make smart use negative space to add extra meaning and personality to a logo design. For example, NBC used a small and subtle piece of negative to make their rainbow coloured droplets logo identifiable as a Peacocknbc-logo.jpg



















Maya animation: Lighting

Lighting: In a 3D space, light is used to create atmosphere, and since the light is digital in Maya, we have a lot more control over how and where it is used.

The system that Maya uses to process it’s lighting is Arnold.

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 09.47.25.png

Types of lighting:

  • Ambient: the lighting used to create atmosphere and to uniformly brighten all parts of a scene, and for simulating a combination of directional and
  • Directional: Used to cover a certain angle or field using rays of light and is useful for far away scources
  • Point: Light that radiates from a certain point in all directions
  • Spotlights: Creates a cone of light in a singular direction
  • Area: Used for lighting a single space, however it takes a longer render time than other lighting types
  • Three-point lighting: Key light=main source illuminating an object, Secondary light= highlights the details in an object, and back light, which distinguishes an object from the background

Attributes of light

  • Intensity= the strength of a lighting effect
  • Cone angle= the width of a light direction
  • Penumbra= the soft edge of a cone angle
  • drop-off= how much light diminishes at the outer-edge
  • colour= sets an RGB colour for a light effect, which affects the colouring of a scene.
  • Decay= How much lighting diminishes away from the source of a light.


Aim from/aim at is the distance and angle you aim at an object with the intensity remaining the same, which has an affect on how it falls on an object

Cone radius is the size of a cone of a light source

Lighting tips:

  • Look at photography for good techniques
  • Think in terms of balance
  • Avoid being overly dramatic
  • Avoid over-saturated lighting and hues
  • We normally only need a small number of lights
  • Try and avoid disco-like colours and effects

The different types of shadows in a scene are:

Hard shadows

Soft shadows

Fall-out shadows


Games design: Character descriptions and designs

Aaron: Aaron is the hero of the story and is the one destined to save his village and Dawnworld from the evil of the dark sorcerer Daugrim, along with his allies Erius the Wizard and Cainas the Dragon. He begins the story as a normal blacksmith’s apprentice who is curious about the wider world outside his home, but as the story unfolds, he develops into an experienced warrior and explorer.

In the game, his skills include fighting with his homemade sword (which you can upgrade) and his use of different types of magic, taught to him by Erius, such as Fire, Shield, and Air, which allow him to jump higher and reach platforms that he couldn’t before.

Here is some concept art that I developed for him:


Erius: Erius is an enigmatic and powerful magic user who is the first one who is aware of Daugrim’s increasing influence on the world. The most that some people know about him are that he is one of the last of a dying caste of powerful Protectors, who are the chief defenders of Dawnworld. His wide array of knowledge and worldly wisdom is an invaluable guide to Aaron (the protagonist) and Cainus (the dragon) and is arguably his greatest asset on their journeys.

He is a master sorcerer with near unmatched magical ability, using spells and enchanted items to his advantage such as teleportation, energy blasts, and fireballs (which can both be upgraded in-game with currency). For example, if the player got themselves stuck in a section of a level where they cannot avoid a projectile Erius would be able to teleport to safety and avoid damage.

Erius concept art




Daugrim: Daugrim is the dark sorcerer who tries to take by force the world he feels is owed to him by corrupting its inhabitants and spreading his influence across the land using his ever-growing army of evil creatures and the corrupted members of different races. He observes his domain and the rest of Dawnworld from his citadel in Nekar, the shadowey, hollow land that he has claimed as his own.

His power rivals that of Dawnworld’s most powerful sorcerers as he uses necromancy, dark energy and soul-manipulation to deadly effect, and he is on a never-ending quest to grow his power by amassing all the magical knowledge in the world.

Daugrim concept art




Film studies: Making an opening scene

In our first lesson of learning to make our own opening scene, we looked at some other opening scenes from different films, such as “Children of men” where we learn from the opening 5-minutes through the use of location, such as a near future London, and different props like a cage of immigrant people, that humanity is dying out, and we also looked at the film “Moon” which let the audience know of it’s futuristic setting through the use of music, scenes and camerawork.

For our film-making assignment we first had to come up with ideas (in our groups) for places to film, the shot types we would use and the props and costumes we would use.

Location: We discovered an ideal location for our shoot, which is a an old hallway in one end of the college. The fact that the hall uses less lights makes it ideal for the film-noir style and it’s also a very enclosed location which should make for a claustrophobic atmosphere.

Costume: We decided to pick a white shirt for our actor to use, as it would make the fake blood stand out more, and make a contrast with the dark lighting.

Props: To add a sense of drama, we made use of fake blood for the scene, to give the audience a hint of what took place before the character became imprisoned.

Shot-list: We created a series of shot-lists, showing our ideas for what the different shots we would take could look like.





film-making: stages of production

Idea: When a person or a group generate a basic idea for a film, video-game or play, and begin developing certain aspects such as

  • Script (ideas, time, dialogue etc.)



The preliminary stage in film-making, stage-direction and game creation where the director and other team members plan the shots e.g. storyboards,  write and revise scripts, and establish the cast of the film/ show/ voices of different characters.

Aspects of pre-production

  • Hiring cast and crew
  • Funding
  • Establishing location/recce
  • Set-building
  • Props
  • Shot list
  • Storyboarding/ Animatic
  • Concept art

Production: Where the film’s cast and crew begin shooting

  • Filming
  • Live sound and audio
  • Re-shoots
  • Live special-effects (practical effects)
  • Stunts
  • Script updates
  • Logging (ensuring shots are good)
  • Video and special-effects/ composition


  • Foley ( working sound so important sounds are picked up)
  • Soundscape (natural sound)
  • Soundtrack (music)
  • Digital special-effects (e.g. CGI)
  • Compositing
  • Marketing/merchandising
  • Pre-release screenings
  • EDL (Edit Decision List)
  • Paper edit (More efficient and economical)

Games design task 2: Characters and Story concept

In the first step of task, I’m going to come up some story and character ideas and eventually create a story concept for my video-game.

However, before I create my game, I will need to do some research on different video-game concept art and artists in order to compiled them into mood-boards for inspiration.


character design mood-board
Character design


fantasystructures mood-board
Fantasy buildings


video-game environments concept art

Game Setting/Story

My favourite idea for the setting of my game was an epic fantasy setting similar to Lord of the Rings, which would be converted into a 2D platforming style of gameplay.

The beginning level could take place in the main character’s Medieval home village (Guelder). Aaron, who is the main character of the game will be facing an evil sorcerer (Daugrim), who is trying to conquer the world.; Daugrim’s quest to conquer the world starts at Aaron’s village (Guelder). Aaron is the leader of the village and as such, he will be the protagonist of the story through which we play the game.

The gameplay revolves around Daugrim and Aaron. Daugrim uses his powers at the beginning of the game to convert all of the villagers into his slaves, while Aaron’s task is to release all of the villagers back to their previous state by giving them a magic potion that he acquires during gameplay. In addition Aaron needs to go through the worldand fight evil creatures that Daugrim releases during gameplay.

Aaron uses his blacksmith hammer, a home-made sword and certain types of magic such as fire, lighting and shield to kill off the creatures while collecting the potion which releases the villagers, and his last task is to defeat Daugrim. By defeating Daugrim, he reverts the world back to it’s original.




Aaron: The lead character begins as a reluctant hero, working as an apprentice in his father’s smithy, but as the story continues, he embraces his heroic side and becomes one of the world’s protectors. This character should have an American-British name like Aaron or Jon.

Erius: A character that guides our main character and assists him in travelling the world, while also having his own abilities and magic powers. A name that is more enigmatic and “fantasy” than the Protagonist’s suits this character more. Erius is part of an almost extinct caste of Wizards, and he has taken it upon himself to continue his caste’s work and protect the world from dark threats, but can also be tempted by the evil side of magic.

Daugrim: This character acts as the main villain of the story and is the character that the two main characters must defeat in order to save the world, and should be a dark reflection of the protagonists, for example using evil magic rather than benevolent magic.

Cainas/Dragon: This is a character that will belong to either the hero or the Wizard character and could either bring comedic-relief to the story or be a plot device character, for example, it can possess properties that can be used for good or evil, such as a type of ancient magic that no-one else in the world possesses

Extended Story synopsis:

Our story begins in a humble, small village with traders selling their wares, farmers gathering crops, and blacksmiths forging weapons and armour for warriors fighting in distant lands, who come across the village. In one blacksmith forge, Aron, who dreams of one day adventuring to far off places, works as his father’s apprentice, but is unaware that his life is about to be turned upside-down in the blink of an eye.

The village suddenly became overrun with it’s corrupted citizens who had been taken over by a dark magic. Aron discovers, with the help of a strange Wizard named Erius, that this is the work of the enemy of the free world, a dark sorcerer named. So Aron, with the help of his new friend and guide, sets off across the world, to end the dark lord’s control over his home, and the world.

Throughout their adventures, Aron and Erius make their way through various locations and meet different races such as dwarves and elves on their way to the Dark lord’s domain.

Narrative: This story will be told through a series of levels in the form of quests, each of which end in a boss-battle with a significant enemy or general of Daugrim’s army. As the player makes their way through these levels, more of the plot is revealed through dialogue bubbles between characters, or perhaps, short cutscenes.



The gameplay is a platformer, metroid-vania style, where different loot you collect on your way through levels can access different areas and secrets.

For example, if you come into contact with an area you cannot access yet, you will be able to find an item to help you in a later or earlier level, such as boots to enable you to jump higher, gauntlets to break objects faster or a spell-book to learn new magic. These will let you access the area to gain new items or more currency, to spend in vendors around the level, which supply you with armour and upgrades like more health and magical energy.

metroid level.jpeg
An example of a Metroid level ( Metroid 2: 1991)




Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 09.26.03.png
example of video-game character design







Film: Shot sizes and types

Extreme close up (ECU)

Close up (CU)

Knowing and understanding shot types is essential to film-making

Tight head-shot


Head and shoulders shot

Close shot

Over-the-shoulder two shot: Gives a sense of the audience being involved with a scene and gives the actor head-room, letting us see him/her

Low-angle two shot

The establishing shot: Used to establish the location of a scene and gives the audience a-lot of information about a scene.


Django Unchained

This shot tells us that it is set in a wesstarwarsestablishingexample.jpglarge_north_by_northwest_example.jpgAvatar-landscape1.jpg


My favourite Retro-style video-games


Shovel Knight


Shovel knight is a game that was created as a modern day call-back to classic retro platformers and tells a story about a character called Shovel Knight on a quest to rescue his partner, Shield Knight from an Enchantress and a group of themed knights, who also serve as the game’s bosses for the end of each level.

I particularly enjoyed Shovel knight for it’s retro, 8-bit aesthetic that didn’t feel out-dated as it had an upgraded polish and more colour variety, thanks to modern technology. The characters are also charming and occasionally funny due to inventive and unique character designs such as a knight who’s armour is based on a deep-sea diver’s uniform and has a Mortal Kombat-style grappling-anchor as a weapon. As a result I really looked forward to each boss-fight, and also because each boss-battle was different and offered a unique challenge.


The gameplay was very much based on retro games from the 80’s, so it attracts gamers who played the video-games that were released back then, but, thanks to updated controls, it is also accessible to more modern, current-gen gamers. You make your way through the variety of levels by using your shovel-based weapon to slice and jump on your opponents Mario-style, and also to bypass obstacles to find hidden Treasure chests containing music papers to unlock tracks in the soundtrack you can listen to whenever you want in the hub-village, and different weapons and abilities, such as a pair of gauntlets that let you destroy breakable objects faster. These are especially useful, as with them, you can access secrets that you couldn’t before.


Sonic the Hedgehog 2


Sonic’s graphics have usually been very bright and colourful, using mostly primary yellows, blues and greens. This, combined with the fast-paced and cheerful music gives the game a great sense of energy, which really compliments the gameplay. Each level’s backgrounds give the game a real sense of depth, for example, in Casino night zone, the background gives you the feeling you’re in a brightly lit, Las Vegas-style city at night, when really you’re simply playing on a 2D plane. It doesn’t seem like a pixel is wasted.

The game’s characters have entertaining and colourful designs that fit their respective play-styles. For example, since Tails is more air and flight-based, his character has 2 tails that let him fly and hover for a short time. The titular villain Dr Robotnik ( or Dr Eggman) has an inventive futuristic, mad-scientist aesthetic, complimented by the fun, animal-inspired designs of the non-boss and boss enemy robots ( He even has a futuristic air-craft with a high-tech wrecking ball under it!) . These make each encounter fun and put a different spin on each boss-battle at the end of each level.


The various levels in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are very fast-paced and fun to play, thanks to the extreme speed of the protagonist and his quick dodging and bouncing skills, which he will use to defeat minor enemies and boss-enemies. With Tails, the levels have a verticality to them and so have secrets and hidden rings (points) that you can only discover using Tail’s flight ability.

Each level, much like Shovel Knight, ends with a boss-battle, in this case, most likely Dr Robotnik. These boss-battles each test your game-skill in different ways, like dodging trails of flames fired out of a lava machine and hitting it at the right time. The way that Dr Robotnik always has a new robot for each level ending give the bosses a new twist every time so that they don’t feel so same-y, and so you look forward to every one.


Wario Land: The Shake Dimension


Wario-land uses a bright and colourful hand-drawn and hand-animated 2D art-style for it’s environments and characters, giving the game an almost anime/cartoon style that is very entertaining to look at and play through. The backgrounds keep that same hand-drawn feel and these, combined with the well animated NPCs (Non Player Characters) make you feel as though you’re playing within a Studio Ghibli or Disney production, and one that’s entertaining to look at, at that!

Every character is animated in such a way that they feel like they were animated in a 2D digital stop-motion fashion which gives the same impression as a game with animated pixels and sprites but still keeps that cartoon-ish art-style. This was a clever way of making the game stand out from among other Nintendo titles and gives the game a definite charm while playing it.


In a fashion similar to Super Mario Bros, you play through a certain amount of “worlds” (5 in this case) by playing the world’s levels and facing a boss at the final level of each world. Each level has it’s own secrets and treasures to unlock, which require you to use the game’s controls in creative ways to obtain them.

The game’s subtitle “The Shake dimension” is a reference to the fact that Wario can pick up enemies and certain objects in the game and shake them until loot falls out of them. You do this for health and extra coins, and for, every now and again, progressing in a level by activating switches using a ground-pound attack by shaking the Wii-remote and using a shoulder-charge attack.

At the end of each world, you’ll face a unique and challenging boss enemy that tests whatever new abilities you’ve learned in the world’s levels, for example, a giant Aztec-inspired robot or a race-car driving daredevil you fight in an upgraded unicycle! Each boss-battle makes for a rewarding and fun challenge, especially when you defeat a boss with all the level’s extra achievements completed.



The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


Unlike the other games that I’ve mentioned, Zelda ALTTP does not have you play it from a 2D perspective. Instead, it situates the camera top-down, so you can explore the vast world that Nintendo has created. However, much like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Shovel Knight, the game has a bouncy, bright Sprite/pixel aesthetic, and this charm gives the game a euphoric feeling throughout gameplay.

Because Nintendo only had limited console power to run all of the game’s pixels, not once piece of the environment feels out of place and a majority of the objects are interactive, leading to new dungeons and secret items.

The design of the characters make each NPC and playable character feel as though they’re part of a lived in world and yet also really help give the vibe of a Japan-style fantasy tale. Because every object and NPC has a reason for being where it is, nearly every character you come across has their own problems and small, contained story to tell and brings the world to life even more because of it.


As I said before, the story takes place in a large world full of secrets, dungeons and quests. These, you access through different abilities and items, such as a grappling hook which you can use to get through a dungeon full of pitfalls that you couldn’t get past on your own.

Every dungeon and quest leads to a multitude of rewards and treasures and are ultimately, usually completed by defeating a boss-enemy at the end. Each of these offer the challenge of using a well-timed sword swing or use of an ability to defeat (ala the Dark Souls series) and make for a great way to test out your items.

Interacting with the assortment of environments is necessary to discover hidden secrets and Easter eggs (an inside joke or hidden feature in the game-world), such as a chicken where, if you hit it enough times, a whole flock of chickens will fly in from off-screen and attack you!