First Steps & Goals · Issue #4 · 2022
About my first steps towards my next short film, progress on my goals in 2022, more playing with materials in Blender. Also with a great animated movie recommendation!
This is “The Inspired Animator”, a newsletter about my adventures in animation, illustration & the creative process! Discovering new tools, experimenting with them, talking about failed and proven workflows with occasional tutorials, or behind the scenes of my animations and techniques.
Dear Inspired Animators,
In this issue, I have a lot of small topics. Starting with my first steps towards my next animation short film, a short bit about finishing up my latest client work, some updates of my experimentation with Blender, and more sharing of my goals in 2022, as well as giving an update on their progress.
Let’s get started right into it!
Baby Steps towards Short Film
My goal for this year is to create at least one little animated short film. I have already chosen the story I was going to do first.
My partner and I were sending each other stories back and forth when we were separated across continents due to the pandemic. One that she sent was called “A Tale of Fat & Loss”. It’s a kafkaesque little narrative about a girl trying to lose weight.
Until the beginning of March, I still haven’t done anything to progress towards that goal. It’s time to start.
What is the smallest step I could do to get started? — Storyboard Thumbnails!
Storyboard thumbnails I would consider to be a step even before storyboard where I am trying to find out how to frame the story and what shots to create for the storyboard.
I would consider myself pretty inexperienced in storyboarding, so this is always a daunting task for me and I needed to get off the ground without too much anxiety about the quality I am producing, yet.
I set myself a time limit of 30 minutes each day to draw as many storyboard thumbnails as I can.
So far, I have done 4 little pages in 4 days. An experienced storyboard artist would probably laugh at that number. I had some difficulties getting started, so I am happy to have done something at least.
Another thing that makes it difficult is that I don’t even exactly know the character design yet. And it even keeps changing as I go, because at the same time I try to write down ideas, or thumb sketch them down.
It’s a pretty loose workflow at this point.
My whole plan is not to create a masterpiece here with this short film. It’s rather to get into the habit of making short films, and getting the confidence to make more short films down the road.
Finishing up a Product Video
For quite some time I was working on a product video for a NoCode AI workflow building startup. The work is finally coming to an end and I hope to share the product video soon.
Here’s a little snippet:
I am quite proud of the result and can’t wait to share.
And I learned a lot along the way:
How to effectively cut animations to music.
How to time transitions perfectly.
How to work with clients more efficiently for both parties.
How to make web interactions look more interesting
I will share my learning in future articles on Medium.
Material Shaders for Blender
As I was experimenting last time with rendering some of my illustrated patterns in Blender I have created a couple of shaders and materials!
A material to render sandstone with some dirt in the crevices and a gold-plated material with some decay and patina.
I love playing around with Blender and often get carried away just playing with the different shader node configurations. It’s just so satisfying to get that instant feedback from plugging one socket into another and not exactly knowing what’s gonna happen.
If you like to play around with Blender you can have them both here:
As a subscriber to my newsletter, you get them both for FREE!
Progress on Yearly Goals
I have three personal goals for this year, I think I haven’t shared them completely here. Only one of them — “Create a Short Film in VR”.
The other two are:
Small Bets — Release 12 Digital Products
Writing Habit — Release 24 Pieces of Writing
Number 1 is related to my financial independence. I want to have more income that is not based on freelance work. Rather from something I created myself — products, courses, videos. From all of that, I want to generate what is called “passive income”.
Well, it’s never truly passive, to be honest. It takes a lot of work to create, and then it also takes some work to maintain it. The only thing passive about it is that it’s not tied to the hours you work.
I have not figured out the best product or ways to sell things yet. That’s why this goal is about creating 12 different products and seeing what works.
So far, I have released brushes for RoughAnimator, After Effects scripts and presets, a background illustration pack for web and app designers, and now the above-mentioned Blender materials all on my Gumroad page.
To this day nothing has outsold my first digital product ever that I created 6 years ago: My Ultimate Walk Cycle Reference Pack. It had only a couple of sales when it was released, but it was sold at a higher price tag than all the current products I created.
In general, I see better sales on products that are “on-brand” for me and my followers. Which is mostly in the direction of handmade frame-by-frame animation. Even though I am still figuring out what “on-brand” for me will eventually mean.
Number 2 — The writing habit is something I wanted to do for a long time. Write more. Share more. I have a lot of knowledge and writing helps me realize it. It helps me think more clearly. It let’s me see what I am good at and where I can help others with sharing that information.
If I don’t put it down into words, I will forget it. Especially all the learning that I do along the way.
Writing truly is like a superpower. It can transport you back in time and relive experiences and refresh the skills and knowledge that you had.
There are obviously 2 types of writing.
Journaling, helps you clear your mind and write down your history and you feel it.
Focused Writing, helps you write your knowledge down for a specific topic to educate. Yourself and others.
I am doing both, but my goal is related to focused writing!
To keep track of my yearly progress of these goals, I created this little achievement timeline for myself, which I will keep updated:
Apropos writing, I actually did quite a lot of writing just a couple days ago and released these pieces:
The Loneliness Trap of Indiemakers: About how lonely freelance life can be sometimes and how to tackle it.
🎥 Animated Movie Recommendation: Turning Red.
If you have been on social media and follow a couple of artists you might have seen it all over your timeline. Turning Red is a sweet coming-of-age story about an Asian-Canadian teenage girl and her struggles with her mothers’ expectations, as well as the tumultuous times of early puberty and the first period.
The animation was great, the story was touching and the 2000s nostalgia hit home for a millennial like me, who was around the same age at the same time.
I love seeing these stories from the girl’s perspective. When I was growing up most of the movies and media was about the coming of age of boys. I remember things like Superbad. I enjoyed these things as a boy, because it normalized my awkward experiences with growing up. And I’m happy that now girls get the same type of movies and series!
It also allows me to see my boyish behavior in a different light and how something I did, could have been perceived by someone with vastly different experiences from my own — girls.
Another recommendation that goes in this direction and a series I adore is Pen15. If you loved Turning Red, I highly recommend it!
🐤 A New Twitter Tool: I use mostly Twitter for my sharing online. But the Twitter interface doesn’t make it easy to do basic things, like staying up to date with the people you actually care about. That’s why The BlackMagic Sidebar is pretty awesome. It lets you “favorite” people and leave notes on them, it lets you categorize your bookmarks, schedule tweets and so much more. And it integrates perfectly well with the Twitter UI.
I’ll test it for the 2 weeks trial period and see if it’s worth paying for it, but so far, it’s pretty dang good.
🤩 Discovered Awesome Animator: Havtza
Havtzas animations blew me away the first time I saw them appear on my timeline. They already have a large following, but they are new to me!
Well, that’s a wrap for this week! I hope you stay inspired!