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.

 

The Book of Life is finally OUT!!!

"Overflowing with hyperactive charm and a spectacular sea of colors, it showcases some of the most breathtaking animation we’ve seen this decade. A-" -Entertainment Weekly

Hey guys. You might have heard about a little movie called Book of Life that hit theaters today. Myself and hundreds of extremely talented people in Dallas Texas gathered to create something truly unique and beautiful, long ago. So let’s celebrate today, get yourselves some churros, have a margarita and go see it this weekend. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

And keep an eye out for Candlemaker! I was the character specialist for that character! He was SO MUCH FUN!

Click to see an animated work in progress version of Page 4 (flash only):
http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/melonytestHDxx_PAGE_4.swf
 A lot went into these panels, including the first look at 13 year old Melony, designing a plausible modern era cell phone, introducing a color palette duality (oranges=life vs blues=technology), and even the very first talk bubbles! I’ve removed the dialogue in case you don’t want it completely spoiled.
For the cell phone, I wanted it’s design to look familiar, in terms of the phones we all use today but unique to the world. It’s shape is reminiscent of a grave stone to symbolize the coming conflict and threat of death. I figure it has two touchscreens, one is more of an menu/auxiliary readout kind of thing that shows the time, functionality, menus, and battery life. It was important to show a low battery on panel 2 as the theme of “low battery/time running out” is a common one throughout the story. The crack in the screen symbolizes the fragility of technology, among other things.
I’m thinking about adding some very mild flickering lighting on her face/eyes/chest from the phone in these two panels. But this is where I start asking questions like, should there be less animation? How much is too much? Is it distracting, is it purposeful, does it add anything…etc…
To introduce young Melony, I decided to get pretty thorough with the animation. I had always said I wanted the animation in this comic to avoid describing main action — instead be minor looping things — but I thought through the small screen on a phone, plus adding some transmission-errory effects, it wouldn’t be too much. And I think it was pretty successful. To do this, I started with just one drawing and colored it, to get her final look down. Never really nailed down her design, if you scroll through the old blog entries. https://38.media.tumblr.com/38040115a4455565f903160c2337a5ce/tumblr_nawji5RBsJ1rw001so1_500.jpg
Then I went on to do some straight ahead keyframe animation — she’s not saying anything, I was just having fun and exploring. Definitely my favorite part.
http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/littlemelony2.swf
Then I added breakdowns and colored everything. I want to maintain a sense of lighting with the character work in MM, so there was a bit of experimentation there. At first I thought I’d show her with dyed orange hair with dark roots, but then decided she should be a natural strawberry blonde. Why is adult Melony’s hair a deeper orange…? That’s for later.
http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/littlemelony4.swf
Then I looked for great ways to do glitch effects. These glitch effects are only going to get more prominent as the story goes on, so they had to be legit. I knew I wasn’t going to draw digital effects with any kind of accuracy, so I found this amazing browser based glitcher — just drag and drop your own photos:
http://snorpey.github.io/jpg-glitch/
Here’s a closeup of Little M all glitched out. It’s gorgeous, I can’t wait to show it closer up in future pages:
http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PP__0029_Layer-2.jpg
Well that’s all for now — cheers!
-E

Click to see an animated work in progress version of Page 4 (flash only):

http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/melonytestHDxx_PAGE_4.swf

A lot went into these panels, including the first look at 13 year old Melony, designing a plausible modern era cell phone, introducing a color palette duality (oranges=life vs blues=technology), and even the very first talk bubbles! I’ve removed the dialogue in case you don’t want it completely spoiled.

For the cell phone, I wanted it’s design to look familiar, in terms of the phones we all use today but unique to the world. It’s shape is reminiscent of a grave stone to symbolize the coming conflict and threat of death. I figure it has two touchscreens, one is more of an menu/auxiliary readout kind of thing that shows the time, functionality, menus, and battery life. It was important to show a low battery on panel 2 as the theme of “low battery/time running out” is a common one throughout the story. The crack in the screen symbolizes the fragility of technology, among other things.

I’m thinking about adding some very mild flickering lighting on her face/eyes/chest from the phone in these two panels. But this is where I start asking questions like, should there be less animation? How much is too much? Is it distracting, is it purposeful, does it add anything…etc…

To introduce young Melony, I decided to get pretty thorough with the animation. I had always said I wanted the animation in this comic to avoid describing main action — instead be minor looping things — but I thought through the small screen on a phone, plus adding some transmission-errory effects, it wouldn’t be too much. And I think it was pretty successful. To do this, I started with just one drawing and colored it, to get her final look down. Never really nailed down her design, if you scroll through the old blog entries. https://38.media.tumblr.com/38040115a4455565f903160c2337a5ce/tumblr_nawji5RBsJ1rw001so1_500.jpg

Then I went on to do some straight ahead keyframe animation — she’s not saying anything, I was just having fun and exploring. Definitely my favorite part.

http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/littlemelony2.swf

Then I added breakdowns and colored everything. I want to maintain a sense of lighting with the character work in MM, so there was a bit of experimentation there. At first I thought I’d show her with dyed orange hair with dark roots, but then decided she should be a natural strawberry blonde. Why is adult Melony’s hair a deeper orange…? That’s for later.

http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/littlemelony4.swf

Then I looked for great ways to do glitch effects. These glitch effects are only going to get more prominent as the story goes on, so they had to be legit. I knew I wasn’t going to draw digital effects with any kind of accuracy, so I found this amazing browser based glitcher — just drag and drop your own photos:

http://snorpey.github.io/jpg-glitch/

Here’s a closeup of Little M all glitched out. It’s gorgeous, I can’t wait to show it closer up in future pages:

http://merrymelony.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PP__0029_Layer-2.jpg

Well that’s all for now — cheers!

-E

Straight ahead animation - Little Melony

This was a fun one. I’m going to time out, clean up, and color. Then I’ll add some graphical effects to make it look like a cell phone video call as well as add some glitch-art type effects. Then I’m going to insert the final product onto the cell phone…hope it works!

Using some of the character design work I had done at the start of the blog, I wanted to wrap it all up with a final sketch of Melony’s younger self. SI want to thank Jennifer Connelly, for showing me what a 13 year old girl might look like with naturally thick eyebrows. Also I wanted to show that Melony’s hair is dyed orange, the significant of that to be a story point eventually. Young Melony will be showing up in the next page which is coming along great!

Using some of the character design work I had done at the start of the blog, I wanted to wrap it all up with a final sketch of Melony’s younger self. SI want to thank Jennifer Connelly, for showing me what a 13 year old girl might look like with naturally thick eyebrows. Also I wanted to show that Melony’s hair is dyed orange, the significant of that to be a story point eventually. Young Melony will be showing up in the next page which is coming along great!

Some 3D previs for a panel on page four. I love this method because I can experiment with camera angles quickly without ever having to waste time drawing.

Some 3D previs for a panel on page four. I love this method because I can experiment with camera angles quickly without ever having to waste time drawing.

The Book of Life TRAILER 2!

Reposting from my other tumblr!

hatefarmeric:

Second Book of Life Trailer is out, put your eyeballs on it and tell all your friends, then tell the people you don’t like that you think appreciate good movies.

Lots more Candlemaker in this one who I was VERY proud to be animation lead on. Cheers!

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…