I'm over there now! ApertureJam.Blogspot.com

Hi there,

I'm back after a long break from blogging and even from drawing, and it's good to be back.
Sorry there hasn't been any updates since the end of 2012. I have a couple of posts lined up for the next few months, as well as a bit of drawing and animation to do.

Any how you'll now find me and the blog over at ApertureJam.blogspot.com.
I'm leaving this blog up but any updates will be at the new address (it's not really new, I registered it in 2006 or 2007).

Thank you as always for your support.


Aye-Aye Model Sheets

Here are the Model sheets and some poses for my cartoon "An Eye for an Aye-Aye".
These designs were created in 2007 for my Student film.

Model Sheets
Pose Chart


Superhero Shots

 In 2009, I created some brief animated shots of Superhero animation, this was to be used in the background of a scene in a live action short film by Midnight Kingdom Films.

The shots were animated traditionally with Pencil on Paper.
The animation was digitally cleaned up, painted and composited with open source software.
Software used included Monkey Jam for linetesting, Pencil for clean up, Gimp for ink and paint and Wax for compositing.

Other Links:
View 'Michael John Shadbolt' on YouTube.
My previous post on the Open Source Software used.

Botur's Fight Squad

Click to enlarge
In Mid 2010, local Writer, Michael Botur sent out a call for Illustrators to help visualize 'Botur's Fight Squad'. 333 superheroes and supervillains of the Fight Squad universe.

These were my contributions and interpretations of several Squad Members.

From left to right:
Rumrunner - A Cigar-chomping, Prohibition era Rum Smuggler.
Piebald - Unassuming Janitor with a penchant for spills and stubborn Stains.
The Challenger - Ultra Patriotic, Star spangled American Super Man.
Resident Weasel - An Egg stealing Weasel.
Escapegoat - The mountaineering Markhor.
Hellbender - A teleporting Salamander.

Other artists, specifically the talented Jon Kay, have profiled many of the other Fight Squaders but with many more illustrations to go, I certainly haven't seen the end of Fight Squad.

For more information:
Botur's Fight Squad Facebook Page.
Michael Botur's Tumblr
Jon Kay's Website


Untooning and Smudgey Brushes

I've been playing around with the Smudge Brushes in Photoshop recently.
Smudging Pixels around can be strangely rewarding. No wonder so many of you do it!

Ok, these aren't your typical Untooned drawings where actual Textures from Photographs may be used. But they're a step in the right direction.
Self Portrait Untooned
The Aye-Aye Untooned

Keep Smiling.

Bonus Feature:
Here's 'Regurgitate' in a fun little Animated GIF format.

Gadzooks! I'm Back!

Hello World,

My Blog is up again albeit with a lot fewer Posts.

What Happened?

While on Holiday in 2011, In one Epic Finger Swipe, I accidentally (read: Stupidly) Deleted all the Images from the Site via my Smart Phone.

Smart phone, not a Smart User.

That was my cue to take a break from my occasional Postings for a while... That 'while' turned out to be a Year or so.


I come back to you now with "Jeff Cook and the Cartoons".  However, I decided to scrap most of the Older Posts in lieu of Uploading the Lost Images again.


So lets get this show on the Road and I'll try not break anything this time.

Signoff 2.0


Lip Sync in Progress


This past weekend I dug out a scene from 'Aye-Aye' that was only partially animated on paper. Also, after a long absence from Flash, I'm giving it a go again.  Putting those things together I bring you a Lip Sync, Clean Up Linetest.

 For those wondering, "An Eye for an Aye-Aye" is a cartoon short that I work on every now and then. You can follow the development of the short by clicking the label - Aye-Aye.

What is he saying? Well, that will have to wait for another time.
Click the Pic for Biggies... But not too Big. 



'Arts at the Bay' 2010

Last week I returned to my old High school, Lynfield College, to teach a group of Primary school students some tips on drawing cartoon characters. This was part of the annual 'Arts at the Bay' program organised by my High school Art teacher and head of the Arts faculty, Yon Ankersmit.

'Arts at the Bay' is a program where students from neighbouring Primary schools take part in one of a variety of workshops which Lynfield College is offering for the day. This year the workshops were Maori Flax weaving, Pottery, Jewelery making and Cartooning. I took a class of 10 students on the cartooning workshop and it was a great experience as I have never prepared or run a workshop before.

The workshop ran for 3 hours but time went by very fast. I started off by screening my Showreel to the class and handing out some samples of my work. Students were each given their own sketch books and stationary packs as well as a set of model sheets with different characters that I had prepared for them. I then gave each of the students a demonstration on  character construction which they took part in along side me. The students then tried drawing different expressions on different characters and customizing them with hair styles or clothing of their own invention. I was very impressed.

"I hope you're all still drawing with the sides of your pencils, Yes! I know it feels weird."

I want to thank all the Students who participated or helped out on the day. I was so impressed with the enthusiasm you showed in the class and in your sketch books.

Remember that drawing is a skill that you can keep developing and I encourage you all to stick with it. There are infinite tips, tricks, methods and styles but when it comes to drawing, be comfortable and have fun as no rule is set in stone.

I want to give a big Thank You to Yon Ankersmit for getting in contact and allowing me to put together this workshop too.

Thanks Guys.


"An Eye for an Aye-Aye" July Preview 2010

Here is a preview segment from my short cartoon. It's most of a sequence, there are a couple of shot's which I haven't Cleaned Up yet and so they weren't included. I won't be putting up a lot of video's from "Aye-Aye" anymore, not until the cartoon is finished anyway. I will be uploading video's from other animations I work on though.

This is just a short sequence from my cartoon. I'm quite deep into this now and I would really appreciate any feedback you could give me. Be it on Style, character design, animation timing, anything really. I just need to know that people are actually going to want to watch my cartoon when it's finished. Please leave a comment here or on the video page and share this preview with your friends too. All help is welcome.

Show notes and technical bits:
3 of the shots in the segment were made in 2007 while the 4 other shots were all made 2010.
The way each of the shots was put together varies greatly.

In 2007 I was in my final year at Freelance Animation School. Those shots were Cleaned Up traditionally with pencil and paper, then Scanned one frame at a time. The animation frames were coloured in Toonboom and the backgrounds were coloured in Photoshop. Toonboom would trace over my Clean Up drawings and Vector them. 

The quality of the vector depended on my pencil clean up along with the size and quality of the original drawings. Doing it this way, any dirt or registration marks left on the paper during scanning would need to be erased later in Toonboom. It wasn't always possible to find all the bits of dirt on the frames.

 From 2008 onwards I have been working with some Open Source software to achieve the same results as with Toonboom and Photoshop. These days my animation shot pipeline goes a little something like this...
  • Traditional Hand Drawn animation - Pencil and Paper on an animation desk.
  • Line test the animation using a webcam mounted to an old photographic enlarger - See Here
  • If I'm happy with the timing of the shot then I start Digitally cleaning up the captured frames. I do my clean up in a program called 'Pencil'. Digital CU can take the same amount of time as Traditional CU.
  • Although pencil has colouring capabilities, I like to do all my colouring and background art in Gimp.
  • Then when the shot is cleaned up and coloured I use a program called Wax for the compositing.
  • Audio is done with Audacity and then my final edit is made in Pinnacle Studio 12 (which isn't Open Source).
I will go into these steps in more detail one day but that probably won't be until things wrap on "Aye-aye".



'Aye-Aye update' - Style Guides / Cintiq 12WX

Hey guys,

Today I have the style guides for the two characters in my short cartoon. That pesky Aye-Aye and Tim Portans. I had posted the Tim Portans style guide in the last 'Aye-Aye update' which you can check out here. All of the character frames used here are actual frames from the animation.
For any new readers passing by, I'm independently working on finishing my short cartoon "An Eye for an Aye-Aye", A cartoon which started out as my student film in 2007. I work on it in my spare time and the majority of the software I use for clean up and Ink & Paint are Open Source or Freeware.

You can track my progress on the project here. I'm hoping to have it finished and online by the end of the year but it's still too early to confirm that as I have other animation projects and work commitments happening as well.

This week I bought a Wacom Cintiq 12WX and I am very impressed with it. Since my last tablet was a $75 model, the jump to Wacom has been pretty amazing. I've only had it for a few days so I haven't properly put the Cintiq through its paces yet but it has already sped up Digital Clean-Up.

If you have been following my posts on Twitter and Facebook I mentioned that I had to slightly rearrange my room to find a better place to put the Cintiq without packing away my animation desk, which I still plan to animate on. This is good as I bought the Cintiq to speed up my current animation methods instead of entirely replace the old methods.
Thank you to all who have checked out my updated Showreel online, it's had over 100 views now and every view counts. I plan to upload updated Showreel's every 6 months or so, look out for the next one at the end of the year.

In one of my next posts I'll upload an edited sequence from "Aye-Aye".



Showreel June 2010

Here is my updated Showreel of traditional hand drawn animation. It includes full colour shots and rough pencil tests.

Music: 'Sweet Georgia Brown' by Latché Swing.
All the content in this video is hand drawn, with paper and pencil (the traditional way) and then Cleaned Up, Coloured in the computer and composited together into a final shot. This was all done by me and mostly with Open Source software.

Here is a list of clips I have used:
  • Several colour shots from "An Eye for an Aye-Aye" bookend the Showreel. This includes 2 shots where we hear my character, Tim Portans speak for the first time.
  • The Superhero segments are animation made for background use in the short film 'Michael John Shadbolt'
  • The Line (pencil) tests include a clip from "An Eye for an Aye-Aye" and 2 early animation clips I made at Freelance Animation School.
  • All 4 of the 'One Shots' to date are also include throughout the video.

Let me know what you liked or disliked or maybe tell me about something you want to see more of.


Preview Clip

Here is a shot from my short cartoon "An Eye for an Aye-Aye". You can see the original pencil test, followed by the final composite. This was a slightly more complicated shot to put together as I ended up with the following layers:
  1. Tim Portans
  2. The Branch
  3. Gun Smoke 
  4. Prop Shotgun (briefly)
  5. Background
I'm very happy with the way it's turned out.

This was created mostly with open source software, The sound effects are from http://www.freesound.org

Thank you to gcmax, nthompson and Alienxxx for the sounds.


Digital Layout

Here's a scene layout with digitally cleaned up elements. I didn't actually export a line test with the clean ups, I might have to try that with the next couple of scenes I work on.  Anyway the colouring for this shot is complete, I'm just putting the sound together and I'll be posting it online once that's done. Next month I might edit a sequence together to get some feedback on how things are coming along, as I'm not always working through the shots in sequential order so this hasn't been possible yet.

Check back soon to see a finished shot or subscribe to one of my video accounts to be notified when it's uploaded.

Thanks guys.


'Aye-Aye update' - Model Guide - Tim Portans

Hi folks,

Here is a style guide for the main character from my short cartoon. You can read more about him here and find images of him and the Aye-Aye scattered in previous posts. The shots above are all cels from the cartoon, digital cels.

I'm going for a retro cartoony style in a classic 'man vs animal' scenario. Don't worry, the shot gun will play a very minor part in the cartoon and I won't over use the pop out eye gags.

The Update: I have completed a couple more shots but I'm still not sure when it will all be said and done as one of the harder parts is yet to come (reanimating old and incomplete scenes which don't fit in anymore).  At the moment, the plan is to drop one of the shots (which is basically filler anyway) and hopefully make an intro for the beginning.

In other news, I'm going to be doing a write up on my animation pipeline in its basic form. I've already outlined this, just haven't gotten around to writing it. As for the next video, I'll either wait until I have enough shots to make a 30 second trailer or I'll post a mid year Showreel. I'm not sure yet.
Thanks for all the support recently (especially from friends and family), it's much appreciated. Remember to check my facebook page and recommend it to anyone who might be interested.
I have also posted this image at The Big Idea. Have a look at some of my other posts by clicking on my Big Idea Profile.



Poster - "Kiwi Kong VS. Giant Squid"

This is a poster I've been meaning to put together for about a year now. Finally done.

Last year I drew and cleaned up a personal poster design but that was as far as I got with it. Now almost a year later I've pulled it out and have coloured it up.

The idea was to make a faux movie poster for a B grade Monster movie, and this was the result. Two creatures duking it out above the streets of Auckland.
It's something I would like to make into a short cartoon one day... or maybe a cartoon within a cartoon. Deep!

Hand drawn, Pencil on Paper.
Inked, Coloured and Composited with open source software including 'Pencil' and 'Gimp'.
The folded paper background was "Tea Soaked" and scanned.

I have to get a copy printed for my room, can anyone recommend the best printers in Auckland to get this done? I'm thinking of getting it printed at A1 size. Also if anyone thinks they might be interested in one of these, then be sure to let me know. I selfishly made this for myself and don't know if it appeals to anyone else.

'Til the next one.