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Character design: Pirates of Penzance

October 30, 2016 in ENO

Finally, the pitch has came to an end, I was assigned by ENO clients to design the case of the Pirates of Penzance for Anna’s film. To be honest, I was really surprised when I found out Natasha and Christopher wanted me to do the design for it, since the opera I chose was Lulu and the concept art I did had more of a dark and gruesome atmosphere. That also means I will need to redo another completely new style to match the design for Anna’s film. However, I am so grateful that I could work on this project with such talented and nice people in the same group.

In the beginning, I did some rough character designs and tried to play with various colours, it was quite fun, my team get to choose which one they like the most, offering me opinions what they prefer so I could amend it and do the model sheet later. I didn’t mind redoing it over and over again, as I had very good feedback, and in the end we were all happy with the design.

Later on, we went to see Natasha at ENO’s rehearsal studios, we showed her our animatic and design style and thankfully they seemed very pleased with it, what a relief! I do love Anna’s animatic, I think it is really funny and amazing. There are a couple of minor changes they asked for, but that was to be expected.

Character design

Here are some of the designs I made based on Anna’s descriptions on how the 2 main characters are supposed to be like: 2 investors from the Victorian era, a tall lanky boss in charge of everything, and a short one, clumsy and dim. They are both business men, looking to make more money, but they have a good heart (so they aren’t really evil).

The tall one is supposed to look like a business man, they are business partners, money means everything!

I guess I ran out of ideas of how to design pirates, it turned out the tall one is a bit drunk and the chubby one is slightly tipsy somehow…..

For their personalities, the tall one is clever always with careful consideration. By contrast, the short one is sort of dull but rather tough.


Model sheet

After my team picked the characters for the project, I did the model sheet with 4 different costumes and hopefully they would have some fun trying out rigging in After Effect later on.

Dressed in their business attire (in their office).

Outdoor clothing

Dressed up as pirates on the stage.

The wrong change of clothes, victorian women’s dresses.

ENO pitch

October 22, 2016 in ENO

After the last week practice pitch, I got some valuable feedback, such as the story is a bit too long and follows the opera to closely, so I started considering cutting it down a little bit. However, since I already did the storyboard and concept art, I want to at least show it to the clients first to know whether they like the animation style or not. It’s not all just about the idea but the method I want to present the animation as a whole.


The animation is about Lulu who is surrounded by admirers, and she always tries to manipulate them, until one day when her life takes a turn for the worse.


The story starts with Lulu relaxing at home, having a smoke, and flirting with some admirers.

Her possessive husband comes home and catches her infidelity.

He becomes insanely mad with jealousy.

He pulls out a gun and points it at her.

They struggle and in the middle of the fight, she ends up shooting him.

She’s sent to jail, and when she is finally released, she falls on hard times and ends up becoming a lady of the night.



Since I’ve always been a fan of classical style, I wanted to create a vintage feeling, with a dark and gruesome atmosphere.


While doing the research on the operas, I’ve been fascinated by the theatrical stage designs, and the unique approach they use on stage, so I tried to inspire myself from it.

I’ve tried to design long scenes, where the characters walk around, without making cut scenes. Instead the character will move left to right, as the story progresses, similar to an actor on a stage.

flirting copy2

flirting copy1

In order to try out rigging in AE, I did the model sheet.

Lulu character final

Concept art

September 8, 2016 in Practice

Since I completed my short animation, I have felt the need to do something completely different to relax myself a bit. Even through this is supposed to be a blog about animation, but I wanted to practice more concept art and backgrounds, as I will definitely need to improve myself for the final animation and I will need to try out lots of ideas in a relatively short time.


Fantasy: a forest from a fairy tale


Realistic: Cold and isolation

(I’ve been watching lots of documentaries about The Everest, so I think that’s where the inspiration came from)

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 22.51.14


For this artwork, I’ve picked 3 keywords: darkness, hidden, shelter, and this is the result:


Fantasy: I was trying to think of a nice background for a Pirates of Penzance animation. After doing research on the opera, I imagined a bright atmosphere, with cheerful notes:

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 22.50.56

Colouring my short animation

September 4, 2016 in The Old Operating Theatre Museum

I had spent about one and a half months colouring my short film in Photoshop and, finally, I managed to complete it. Honestly, I’ve tried insanely hard to colour it, as if it took forever to get it done. It’s truly time consuming. On the bright side, I haven’t had any major issues while doing it, all I needed was A HUGE AMOUNT OF PATIENCE, that’s all!


Needless to say, there were many difficulties which are rather challenging for me to make the film. Since this is supposed to be a 1 minute animation  but I chose to present it in a documentary style which contains a great amount of information throughout different periods of time, so I had to compress it and focus on the important events and  the treatments of the disease. Apart from that, I did quite a lot of research on distinctive backgrounds and costumes from 18th to 21st century before I even started doing my animation, that really stressed me out as I was already afraid of not having enough time to get my film done.

Having narration for my film is also a big challenge for me because the animation is presented in a documentary way, in that case, I need to be very careful not to mess up with all the information or audiences might not be able to understand the story after all. Moreover, I had serious trouble matching each narration with my scenes, not sure if I did it alright but what I did is that I listened to every sentence of  my narration, then I counted and marked it down in my TVPaint file to remind myself how many seconds per shot. Probably because I’ve never done this before, I was struggling to keep the time.

Here are all the backgrounds I’ve done to fit different periods of time.

For 18th century, the castle is the core of the background design.


19th century in London, I’ve used a horse and carriage to set the time, as well as Big Ben to give a clear understanding of the location. Vintage style was carried out on decorating room and clothes patterns. Children are enjoying a warm afternoon soaking up the sun on their bed at school as a treatment.


When it comes to 20th century, the location switch to a hospital and the tone of the backgrounds turns into blue, as it was a cold night, all the TB patients are coughing hard and waiting for the antibiotic injection.


Eventually we get to 21st century, a London street background design featuring the famous red phone box, many colourful shops, double yellow lines on the road, pedestrians, bikes.


And, again, I’m so grateful that I completed my very first time of a micro film, it was such a great experience!

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