Ara's Tale - short film wip

Finally I feel confident enough to go one step further in my CG environment and try to let a long standing dream come true - the production of a short film - the initial reason I started using blender 2,5 years ago.

I decided to document my progress at my blog and here in this thread, to let the interested take part in my journey.

I will do this whole project in my spare time only and due to this fact and fluctuations of my level of motivation and my totally lack of experience with such an undertaking, I have no idea, when it will be finished, but I ( optimistically) aim for a release date end of 2009.

I do not want to give away the story but will try to find a proper balance between documenting the progress and keeping the important story parts in the dark.

Some basic facts though: The story is about a girl (Ara) and a dragon. The style will probably be somewhere between comic and realistic. Estimated running time will be 1:30 min.

After having finished the script and the first version of the storyboard, I am now starting with the design studies, first for the environment including various color/mood tests. This is currently quite educating in many ways. Not having any formal education in drawing/painting, this turned out to be quite a challenge.

The image below shows some images from the actual storyboard to give you some idea. The boards are not in order and a lot of boards are missing of course. The complete storyboard has a count of 38. (click on the image to get a higher resolution)

See next for a very first environment test - only pencil and with color.

For storyboarding and design sketching I use mypaint, which is really a very cool 2D drawing tool.

I think it will take quite some more time to get the environment and the colors as I imagine them.

I make use of the excellent guide Animating With Blender by Roland Hess and various guides and infos available on the internet. I also hope to get some useful input through this thread.

I really want to finish this one, so lets hope I have enough strength to pull this off.

I envy you.

The style will probably be somewhere between comic and realistic.

don’t do that though :wink:

Wish you best of luck for your short.

Well, lets see how exhausting this gets … :smiley:

Care to explain ? Don’t do what exactly ?

@Serialsiner: Thanks, I certainly will need it.

mixing two styles is really hard (but can have great results).
for a first serious animation project which is - I think - a bit experimental too, you shouldn’t gamble if it’s going to turn out good or not. Unless you really really have a style in your head and you really really want to go for that then I won’t stop you. (nobody should anyhow :))
Try and keep it standard(I guess) for a first. :wink:

just my 10 cents.


Ah, I understand you now. I think I made myself not quite clear. I do not intend to mix styles. It will be hard enough to maintain one style throughout the project.
It will be one style not aiming at pure realism. On a scale from pure comic style to realism I aim somewhere at 2/3 towards realism.

Ok :slight_smile:
you follow your intuition.
I’ll follow this thread.

One more bit of information and a small update.

I am using a timetracker software to track all the hours of work which are going into this project, broken down into individual categories. I am quite curious what the final numbers will be and what distribution the categories show. This should help in planning future projects.

The project started on July 15, 2009.
The actual stats are (in hours):

5:49 Concept Art
4:30 Script
21:33 Storyboard
0:08 Research

31:52 Total

I did a more elaborated and slightly changed design for the environment. I am starting to get a clearer picture how the environment will actually look. I will use this charcoal sketch (mypaint) as base for various color tests.

I also started a rough outline sketch for a view at the ledge from a different perspective, namely from the right to the above sketch. This way I will cover all perspectives relevant to the camera perspectives I will later use in the individual shots.
This should help a lot in modeling preparing the scene in blender.

Kickass concept art,keep up the good work!

I think I will be walking this path of making my own animated short in 6 to 9 months so I will definately be keeping an eye on this to learn as much as possible from your work, you are already a formidble stills artists so I will be intrested to see how you handle animation.

good luck

very nice.
Is there anyway I could help you? I’d like to.

ps. Is there any chance of you giving us(me) a taste of the storyboard? :slight_smile:

@clewer: thanks for the thumbs up

I hope I can finish this project before you start :). And hopefully something worthwhile comes out of this so you might benefit from it.

Well at the moment, the project is too much in its design phase and this is something I really want to do myself. If the project matures I might come back to your offer, so thanks for the interest.
Regarding the script/storyboard: I do not want to give away the story to the public, but if you’re really interested I could pm you a link to the storyboard. RIght now, the script is in german, so I have to translate it to english ( unfortunately not to flemish :slight_smile: )

current status:

8:40 Concept Art
4:30 Script
21:33 Storyboard
0:08 Research

34:43 Total

I am struggling with perspective and bringing my vision to (digtal) paper. But I think its important to go through this process, at least for me, as it connects me strongly to this project. But I have to draw a line at some time.
Here a view from a different perspective. Not quite correct perspective but it gives additional hints and impressions.

I think I will do another one before starting with some color tests.

Is this gonna be a sort of a cave or more like a canyon?

Its a type of canyon/gorge with a wider opening under the protruding ledge.

something I have seen several 2d artist do, though the tend to use sketchup of this, is make a quick mockup of the environment in 3d and than render it out this mockup helps in getting tricky perspective right. You could do the same thing in Blender you can than use the render as an aid to flesh out you 2d sketch.

Thanks for the tip. I think I some this technique somewhere too. But I guess I will just draw without 3d reference, as the end result is not the 2d image but the 3d model :), so this might be overkill.

The current design phase turns more and more into drawing/painting lessons. I started to work on the colors and realized I had no idea what technique to use with colors :eek:. I am still experimenting ( again: mypaint is really great ) and struggling to get what I want.
For the interested here is the current state of my color experiments.


color/mood update:

current status:

13:08 Concept Art
4:30 Script
21:33 Storyboard
0:08 Research

39:11 Total

I tried several approaches to achieve the colors/mood I envision. This is really much harder than anticipated and involved countless iterations and restarts. I realized that I am much faster in using gimp and using the brush modes (normal, multiplay, overlay etc) than trying to mix the colors by hand in mypaint.

As the color study should provide me with visual feedback on the colors/mood I think its ok in this stage to keep from adding to much detail.

See attached a snapshot of the current status which slowly gets there where I want it to be. Its just colors. The bright spot will be the place where Ara is standing illuminating the surrounding.

I will try to improve on this image to get a cleaner picture. Another idea I have is to take shots from the storyboard and apply the color scheme to these explicit shots.


every one that has posted so far is from 2007 heheh

:confused: I just don’t get what you’re saying …

I think he’s saying that most of the people posting here have been here since 2007. Back on topic, looks great, can’t wait to see the finished thing!