Animation Style: light and shadow


Researching trying to unravel what type of style for the project ‘Light and Shadow’, I chanced upon this short film series titled Life Inside ‘Islamic State’. The style allows for many transition possibilities in a sketch line technique with simple shading.

Therefore I attempted to experiment with this and started applying it to the early opening scene.


Animation Analysis: Simple vs Complex

From Tim Rudder’s blog, one of the posts discusses the aesthetic of complexity vs simplicity. This provides an overall balance to the frame, adding to the notion that every frame is an art in itself and imbues the essence of life. Thus I shall aim to explore this idea of simple vs complex in the next animation project, ‘Light and Shadow’.



Light and Shadow References

The short animation films below have provided inspiration to the approach of theĀ  theme of ‘Light and Shadow’ I have chosen as my second project.

From ‘En Suspens’, I particularly enjoyed the latter part of the animation where shadows of people are projected onto the rustic factory-like environments. The effect of the shadows appearing like ink splodges gives a mysterious suggestion of what the place used to be and the remnants of life.

‘Toccata and Fugue’ has a beautiful transitions of its detailed gothic interiors that correspond appropriately with the music. I enjoy the style lighting and the amount of fading to aid in transitions.

In ‘Tale About the Cat and the Moon’, I am also interested in the technique of transition and the use of solid black, grey and white to direct the story of the narrator.

Comic Uncanny Black and White


This precedent is appropriate and useful in the making of my chosen project ‘Memories‘. There is an eerie quality of the animation, that although the main character is a little girl, the absence of love has detrimental consequences.

The next video in particular truly portrays a comic absurdity from the premise that a little girl would have the potential to rule the world. Yet just like the short film above, it ends with an unsettling outcome of a dreadful decay due to the endless desire for more toys. That once one has everything in the palm of their hands, there is a thirst that cannot be satisfied.

The qualities that I enjoy and desire to push forward in my current and future projects, as well as to shape my identity as an animator is driven by the uncanny story line and the aesthetics that accompanies it.

The simple, mainly black and white aesthetic, with one or two added colours allow different opportunities to highlight or direct the viewer’s attention. The drawing style adds to the unsettling expectations of how the film will end. That you would not expect it to be a clean happy end. There is potential to play with this expectation and to control the subtle nature of the character aesthetics.

Learning through others

Through observing step by step process of how others work provides different perspectives on the approach of animating. It is useful to build upon the knowledge of other software, the effectiveness and efficiency of producing.

The above video is by the YouTuber Toniko Pantoja and in the making of this shot, he describes the stages from concept design, how he produces the key frames to colouring, lighting and compositing the final product.

His methods of key framing and drawing the in between frames are helpful in applying them in my own drawings.

The link below is also helpful in analysing the character movements, to create better forms of movement that imparts a more accurate portrayal of life.

Taking A Step Back

Often it is difficult to just hit pause, stand up, look around and process the current situation, critically reflect the information, generate directions to progress and select the next steps to effectively move forward.

Currently I aim to define what kind of animator I want to present myself as. How from the animation industry, what role as an animator I would play in and what to specialize in. I intend to discover this through drawing, producing 2D work to begin with, modelling in 3D, looking through animation film references, and through the process of developing my understanding of the animation realm, to develop my own style.

I would like to propose simple daily/weekly challenges to complete to track my progress. Such would be to draw something daily and post what I have drawn on the blog. A weekly challenge would be watching a series of videos from Lynda or YouTube to further develop my After Effects skills. Also writing commentary on animations or short films that I like and what I feel makes it effective.