This is a blog following the production of "Merry Melony", an animated graphic novel about a woman in a surreal world.

I'm Eric Drobile, Lead Animator at Reel FX Studios and cocreator of the worlds most fattening webcomic, Hatefarm. Hope you found this blog helpful and/or entertaining! If you have any comments, questions or crits, don't hesitate to use the "Ask Me Anything" link below.

 

f1rstperson asked
I saw the first episode of this when it came out on Newgrounds, and ever since I've been hoping to see more!! Excited to see Merry Melony on tumblr!

Thank you kind one!

beelzebub4sale asked
Hey Eric! I was wondering what audio (non vocal) you will use for Merry Melony? Loops, ambient noise, actual songs?

Mostly ambient noise loops, with some sound design to match animation. As for as music, it will be very selective (only certain panels) and just be reduced to a few chords, looping, very minimal.

laboratorylurker asked
When is the next trailer?

For Book of Life? Probably in the next month.

MerryMelony.com

Share Please!! But keep in mind…it’s majorly a work in progress…

Temporary website soon!

Tonight I’m going to set up merrymelony.com and hopefully have the first three pages up and animated by the end of the weekend. Excitement level: tits.

Sketch for the website splash page, coming pretty soon along with the first 3 animated pages…yeahyeahyeahwoooo!

Sketch for the website splash page, coming pretty soon along with the first 3 animated pages…yeahyeahyeahwoooo!

The final BG plate took much longer than I wanted to with the grayscale-first fail, but happy with the end result. I’ll be tweaking and layering in animation next so if you have any thoughts, send them my way!Melony needs to be redrawn a bit so her line quality fits the scene — I drew her too large and had to shrink her. Water will have animated highlights so it won’t be so dull looking.Yay! Getting excited!

The final BG plate took much longer than I wanted to with the grayscale-first fail, but happy with the end result. I’ll be tweaking and layering in animation next so if you have any thoughts, send them my way!

Melony needs to be redrawn a bit so her line quality fits the scene — I drew her too large and had to shrink her. Water will have animated highlights so it won’t be so dull looking.

Yay! Getting excited!

Page 3: Lessons learned so far.

Not even finished with the third page but had enough stuff to show and talk about process, so here goes! Growing up my least favorite things to draw were houses, cars, and trees. Today I still hate them and, more or less, they are all present here.The pressure is high with this drawing as it not only tackles my creative fears, but it is the first establishing shot of the series, so I wanted it to be kind of ‘grand’ and, well, drawn well.  Even with all the ‘preproduction’ exploring I did over the course of the past year, I still hadn’t really settled on a “final look” for environments, and therefore not a solid process. Working on this has been experimental in a lot of ways.

First I want to thank Paul Wolfer for his suggestion to give the house a basement. With his architecture background, he saw many mistakes I didn’t address, but the lack of a concrete foundation or basement was unforgivable. I think it helped on all accounts.

Successful steps:

-Starting with a rough, grey underpainting to layout the environment. This worked well for me because it’s the only way I can figure out any kind of perspective. It let me tackle the linework in a confident way, and let me explore and reiterate with some mild grace.
-Going over the underpainting with Flash brush tool for linework. Though tedious and Flash is pretty not amazing for linework, it does a lot of unexpected, fun things with lines, and it would match the line look for the animated things, (done in flash), so I stayed with it for steady BG’s. This way, when the water is animated, it will be relatively seamless with the BG image in terms of line quality.
-Using 3D Melony to plan out character staging/perspective/posing. This is the first time I’ve shown her I think. I’m a little embarrassed because she is a rush job and only meant to plan out drawing. She is pretty ugly up close, with her model, rig, and deformations all being thrown together. Still, she gets the job done. It will help me keep her on model as well as push camera angles to extremes. Here, I brought in the background rough I was working on into Maya, and layered Melony over top. Then I brought that image back into Flash to more or less trace, but look for opportunities to make her better with every line, of course. We are really far away in this shot, so much detail isn’t needed. She will be slightly animated as well.

Failures:

-Greyscale value painting overtop the linework to make final coloring easy. So at the top you’ll see a refined greyscale value painting that I think looks pretty good. The hope was I could use the method of dropping the colors in under the value layer to speed things up. Well, I completely forgot how much I hate this method, as you have to do a lot of guessing as to what the colors are actually going to be like once you get photoshops math done (whether it be a multiply layer, color layer, or so on)…completely unintuitive, and is too easy to get muddy or unrealistic lighting combinations. So I’m scrapping the value painting per se — I’ll be referencing it a lot as I do my color redo. It was a helpful exercise. It helped me bring focus through value in a very dense image, so I’m going to try to keep that. But I won’t be trying this method again as it is doubling up on work.

Hope you guys found some of this interesting and as always hit me up with questions. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of “I don’t agree with your decision to keep posting progress/individual pages of the comic”, which I totally get. My philosophy here is to build interest in the project as well as offer a resource for budding artists/writers trying to figure stuff out like myself. It’s my feeling that this kind of “overexposure” (put negatively) or “behind the scenes look” (put postively) treatment will become more and more common in all forms of entertainment — especially the indie’s trying to get their tiny project off the ground. If it annoys you, you may not want to follow this blog and wait for merrymelony.com to arrive…which will be a long time from now, just sayin’. :)

Rock on guys!
-Eric

The primary panel layouts I want MM to feature are close-up/intimate, yet simplified character moments —  contrasted by spanning, far-away, highly detailed and textural environments. I hope through the “visually dense” environment establishing shots we can tell the environment’s story simultaneously with Melony’s. Treating the environment as a character makes sense within the core story, and here is my first attempt at it the visual language that entails.
This is the linework for page 3, the first time we see an environment. Coloring and animation for this panel is next up — the water below needs subtle motion and I am considering some other things. But animation on environment panels will be seriously downplayed until it becomes relevant to the story. Melony will be chilling in one of the rooms, have yet to draw her.

The primary panel layouts I want MM to feature are close-up/intimate, yet simplified character moments —  contrasted by spanning, far-away, highly detailed and textural environments. I hope through the “visually dense” environment establishing shots we can tell the environment’s story simultaneously with Melony’s. Treating the environment as a character makes sense within the core story, and here is my first attempt at it the visual language that entails.

This is the linework for page 3, the first time we see an environment. Coloring and animation for this panel is next up — the water below needs subtle motion and I am considering some other things. But animation on environment panels will be seriously downplayed until it becomes relevant to the story. Melony will be chilling in one of the rooms, have yet to draw her.

Not Merry Melony related but I have been working my butt of on it!



Proud to finally present the BOOK OF LIFE TRAILER!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP01tEMzt40 Been working on this baby for over a year now as an animation lead/character specialist. My character gets revealed next trailer, “Candlemaker” voiced by Ice Cube!!! SO EXCITED!
Please give it a share and enjoy!

Not Merry Melony related but I have been working my butt of on it!

Proud to finally present the BOOK OF LIFE TRAILER!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP01tEMzt40

Been working on this baby for over a year now as an animation lead/character specialist. My character gets revealed next trailer, “Candlemaker” voiced by Ice Cube!!! SO EXCITED!

Please give it a share and enjoy!

I had neglected to do much preliminary design work for the panel design on the last pages. With this I loaded up Photoshop, blocked in a bunch of shapes, and then worked out edge details. I’ll bring this into Flash, recreate it with vectors, and page 3 shall be born. Spoiler: It’s 4 panels of environments!

I had neglected to do much preliminary design work for the panel design on the last pages. With this I loaded up Photoshop, blocked in a bunch of shapes, and then worked out edge details. I’ll bring this into Flash, recreate it with vectors, and page 3 shall be born. Spoiler: It’s 4 panels of environments!

walterostlie asked
I wanted to start playing around with animation, but I've no idea where to start. I was thinking of doing the animation in Photoshop, but it doesn't really feel like it was setup for animation in mind. I know a lot of people use Flash, but I like a more hand drawn then vector look. I started to mess around with Pencil2D it seems intuitive but drawning isn't as 'crisp' as PS. What do you use or what would you suggest learning with?

I’m using Flash CS3, which is perfectly fine to use for traditional animation if you treat it that way. Although I hear ToonBoom is more updated/suited for that kind of thing, and is more popular among professional 2D animators. I don’t know that it’s very difficult, but I would definitely suggest a trial of Flash to learn the ropes — it’s pretty simple.

Here it is — the first page of my animated graphic novel: “Merry Melony” Book One: “Memory”!
http://drobile.deviantart.com/art/Merry-Melony-Memory-Page-One-441312017?ga_submit_new=10%253A1395190984
Open to comments and suggestions as right now it’s not 100% official! While I’m still working things out there is room for modifications. Eventually it’ll be up on it’s own website, but until then, there are many things to figure out.
With this page, I wanted it to have a lot of animation, to be part of the hook, to set the mood (the moment in this story should feel very alive”) and to experiment with how far I wanted to animate things. The next few pages will by contrast have very little animation. I want to use the amount of animation as a storytelling device. This took quite a long time and I’m hoping no other page takes this long… :D
More on the way! The next page is the title page….

Here it is — the first page of my animated graphic novel: “Merry Melony” Book One: “Memory”!

http://drobile.deviantart.com/art/Merry-Melony-Memory-Page-One-441312017?ga_submit_new=10%253A1395190984

Open to comments and suggestions as right now it’s not 100% official! While I’m still working things out there is room for modifications. Eventually it’ll be up on it’s own website, but until then, there are many things to figure out.

With this page, I wanted it to have a lot of animation, to be part of the hook, to set the mood (the moment in this story should feel very alive”) and to experiment with how far I wanted to animate things. The next few pages will by contrast have very little animation. I want to use the amount of animation as a storytelling device. This took quite a long time and I’m hoping no other page takes this long… :D

More on the way! The next page is the title page….