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Better late than never. Last week Jutta and I got out to the Aardman exhibition at our quaint little local, ACMI, to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s a photo essay with poor quality photography and little in the way of an actual essay. Enjoy the magic!

I liked this little guy. Seems that the folks at Aardman occasionally prop up their legitimate feature animation endeavours with shady advertising work. Money grubbers. However, when it ends up in cute character designs like this, I can’t stay angry.  Look at his tiny little feet! 

Replacement animation faces (I think) from the series Angry Kid. I vaguely remember watching these a long time ago. Before Youtube, I think, if you can remember such a time.

Colour guides for something they worked on. Admire the out of focus, tilted composition indicating action and intensity. Behold, the low light functionality of the mighty iPhone 4s. I’m always telling my students to make notes on their character design iterations. Now I can point them to this. Good enough for Nick Park, probably good enough for all.

I sometimes imagine I too might possess a pair of mechanical pants. I’ll settle for my electric bike.

Expression sheets. I wonder if the Aardman house style stemmed from Nick Park’s unique penmanship, a unilateral style virus of sorts.

Watercolour concept art. Back in the day when it wasn’t all digital. Or maybe there are still traditional concept artists?

A wax crayon illustration by Peter De Sieve. Out of focus and wonky as per. Love the confidence in these lines. You can tell there are a lot of miles in his pen.

A great way to storyboard a moving camera, tracking a moving subject.

As someone who is a traditionalist and a storyboard aficionado, it always heartens me to see this sort of thing. Almost like thumbnailing for comics. Capturing story without frills. 

Mood board reference images for the gang in Shaun the Sheep. Research and preparation!

Artistic triple reflection shot with Dutch Tilt and extreme foreshortening. I call it the spoonbender.

How to horrify children ages 3 to 11. From Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Fake advertising! Making constructive use of their unsavory experiences with the world of consumerism. The life of a cartoonist indeed.

Fantastic orthogonal technical drawings. I learned and practiced this in Melbourne during my senior high school years, where I was a steady A student. Then I moved to Queensland in the middle of year 12 and discovered that all the students were using Autocad software, whereupon I promptly settled into life as a D average student, becoming one of those kids who doesn’t really know what’s going on, constantly annoying their cohort by requiring ongoing assistance. Fun! Referencing and copying existing artworks allows for a broad variety of stylistic output. Case in point.

This set is quite amazing. The detail in all the Aardman sets is beyond belief.

I almost feel ashamed to post such terrible photos here. For better ones, try googling Aardman and ACMI together. Or better yet, head along and take your own!