Friday, 28 December 2012

Colour Script

Even though CDIH takes place in one environment, with the lighting changes it's pretty important to nail down a solid colour script for the short, to make sure all the shots/segments match the right emotional pitch, as well as making sure the colour transition isn't too jarring. These basically represent the colour palette for different points in the story - I'm only posting a segment of it right now, since I don't want to give everything away!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Day in Hell

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

This is the best time of year to be working on a winter project like Cold Day in Hell - and also the best time of year for hot chocolate and mead and sparkly things, which we all love as well. We've got some really exciting work done in this last month and really can't wait to show you guys everything, but that'll be in the New Year - so go on, go have an amazing festive season! Thanks for keeping up with the blog and for all the comments and feedback we've had from you guys - it really means a lot, and we're really happy that we can share, learn from and inspire you guys into another year. Here's to 2013!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Monday, 3 December 2012

Cold Day in Concept Art

It has to be said, the River Styx never really seems to be a happy place.

In most media I've seen it in, the visual concensus seems to be washed-out colours and a kind of sparse, rocky landscape in the distance of a wide river, usually filled with writhing souls. In my early concepts, this is pretty much what I went for. Minus the writhing.

Styx represents despair; it is the point where it is simply too late to change whatever kind of life you have led, and all you can do is give in to the inevitable voyage towards your fate.

Of course, the difference between most stories that contain the Styx and Cold Day in Hell is the emotional shift. Once it starts to snow... Well, suddenly there's hope, there's something that makes you want to live again. I wanted to represent that emotional shift in the environment as well as the characters, so once the Styx has frozen over, the colours gradually take on a sort of dawn glow.

I was happy with these lighting ideas, but not with the environment itself. The mountains don't really say anything and they allow us to easily get visually lost in the world, with no real points to anchor the camera on, other than Charon's boat. So instead I started mixing up the ideas a bit and instead decided on the concept of the edges of the Styx being made up of ruined buildings.

I really liked this idea - coupled with the mist, it has a sort of graveyard look to it. Further to this, the Styx flows underground, but in a space large enough to have its own sky. The 'roof' above is cracked, which adds to the feeling of everything being broken and desolate here on the way to Hell. Moreover, the ruined buildings very much match Charon, but contrast with the ghosts, making them seem even more out of place.

I find I often add a lot of religious symbolism into my design ethos - so here, I chose to base the ruined buildings places of worship, such as churches, mosques and temples, to push the idea that this is a place shunned by God and gods alike, like the souls of the damned themselves. But with the coming of the snow, even Hell finds itself transformed into a powdered world of beauty and magic, like any dreary English city after a cold, cold winter's night.

This much lighting change is going to be quite a challenge - I'll be doing some tests on how to go about it this week, but I reckon it's possible by switching out lighting setups and textures gradually between shots. Greens will change out to blues and gradually to purples. This needs to create a kind of mid-point, where the river is frozen but the landscape is not yet totally covered in snow. I mashed up the two concepts I already had to make a third of what kind of look we'll be going for at this point in the story.

At the moment, it looks like the environment itself will be made mostly with a combination of some models and some matte paintings. The final look for Cold Day is also going to be quite painterly overall, so it should all fit together pretty well.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Character Model - Charon

It's been a while since our last update here, but we've been working pretty hard in the mean time. So I'm proud to present the model for Charon - which I've got far too much experience working on animation projects to actually call 'finished' yet, but certainly looking very much how he ought to. I did the rough model for him myself, but he was painstakingly cleaned up and polished by Kat.

Though his design is quite simplistic, it's pretty hard to get a model version of him looking just right - mostly, it was a pretty evolutionary process of modelling and drawing over the model pretty regularly to make sure the 3D version wasn't too far from the original vision. He's also got a set of skinny little bird legs under that robe, and even though you only see them in a couple of shots, it should really help with animating his walks and so forth believably.

The ghosts are almost there too, so hopefully we'll be able to showcase them here really soon! :)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Character Design - Cerberus

Did I mention we have ourselves Cerberus in this as well? We have ourselves Cerberus.

Cerberus is the Styx's resident Hellhound, a three-headed monster of fury, spittle and malice. Well, most of the time. Cerberus may be a demon, but under all that he's still just a dog. His job is guarding the entrance to Hell, but he's also at the beck and call of several denizens of the underworld - all they need do is whistle for him, and he'll appear in a puff of smoke and a smell of sulphur (and a faint tinge of singed dog hair). Once summoned, he's only too glad to snarl, bark a misbehaving soul into obedience.
Mostly, I based Cerberus on muscle-dogs, which all seem to be very front-heavy. He's based mostly on a bulldog and a doberman and I tried to keep his as graphical as possible. The horns are useful for telling the different heads apart; they act in slightly different ways, the middle head being something of a ring-leader while the other two seem more like hench-men. If the middle head could talk and told a bad joke, the other two would definitely find it completely hilarious.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Character Designs -Ghosts

The ghosts were a bit tricky. They had to be roughly human, and also children, but there would be a kinda unwanted creepy/bleak factor which would be there if I went for something too realistic. After all, this is a story where some of the main characters are essentially dead children being ferried to hell. That's pretty dark when you put it like that. I wanted them to be something which registered as children without becoming uncanny or spooky. Primarily I wanted them to be charming and easy to sympathise with, hence the heavy stylisation and the big naive-looking eyes.

Where Charon is tall and skinny, these guys are squishy. They look like they're made of marshmallow. I liked the idea that all three ghosts essentially had the same design, since that way it initially seems like they have no real unique identity - which, obviously, they do have, and comes through very much in the animation.

The girl is the oldest of the ghosts, about 6, or she was in life. She's initially scared of Charon, but on the whole she's carefree and adventurous.

The twins are a bit younger and more timid - they have most of the same mannerisms and react to things together. They're scared of most things on the Styx, especially Charon. 


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Logo Design for CDIH

Hard at work on modelling over here, so hopefully we'll be posting that soon, but for now - we have logos! This is pretty much my first stab at logo design ever, so it was a lot of trial and error, but I like the result. I'll probably be doing it up in 3D sometime too.

 I also made a logo for the team! We're likely to make shorts together in the future if all goes well with Cold Day, so I thought it would be nice to establish a studio name so people remember us.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Cold Day On Facebook

We're now on Facebook!

Cold Day In Hell Facebook Page

Please do give us a like, we would really appreciate it. :)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Character Design - Charon

Charon was the first design I got down for this, the ferrymen who takes souls across the Styx into the world of the dead. He's a character from Greek mythology, though he's usually represented as an old man or else the classic Grim Reaper style design - though for some reason I've always imagined him with the bird head, something more along the lines of Thoth from Egyptian mythology.

Charon is more or less the antagonist of CDIH, but I wanted him slightly comic all the same - he's a bully, but at the same time a bit pathetic, hence the totally useless wings which are also quite expressive. He takes his job very seriously, enjoys routine and gets very upset if something unexpected happens. After all, the same job day in day out for an eternity, you sort of get used to things being just so...
Basically, he's just a big ol' line of action - he acts with his whole body.


Thursday, 27 September 2012


The storyboards and animatic for this is all done, but I'd rather not spoil the story, so instead I'm just posting up a few panels which will give you guys an idea of what we're working on here.

I think they pretty much speak for themselves. Next up, character designs! :)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Cold Day In Hell - Introduction!

Right, time to get this blog up, I think!

Cold Day in Hell is an animated short project being made by a bunch of animators/artists/general creative types in the UK. Most of us are a bit tired of doing work purely for showreels so we wanted to do something a bit more fun. Cold Day in Hell is a story about fun, a story which is at the same time sweet and just a little sad. It'll be about three minutes long and it'll be CG animated by folk who genuinely love animation.

So please! Do follow the blog, we'll be updating with little production logs along the way. Since we're all honest working folk, development on this won't exactly be lightning speed, but we're aiming to get it done around Christmas 2013.
Story sketches and character designs will be up pretty soon.