Whiteboard animation is able to create powerful, engaging, memorable and bespoke films. This blog post looks at the nine techniques that allow whiteboard animation to work so well.
Often the very first books we encounter are picture books, our first introduction to the power of rich visual language. While our books change, the power of this language doesn’t. Senior Creative Dan Stirrup reflects on this visual language from picture books to explainer films and Whiteboard Animation.
Black Holes might not seem to be visually engaging at the outset. Ultimately there’s not a lot to work with when you think of a hole that swallows light so nothing can be seen. But for Cognitive this is exactly the sort of challenge we love. Hear from Andrew Park about how he and the team visually translated Prof Hawking’s final Black Hole theory of Supertranslations.
Conveying complex ideas and feelings through pictures can be more effective than relying on mere words. That’s why people come to us - we bring stories to life in a way that’s more fun and engaging!
A lot of the time, we use characters to help aid with our storytelling which is why, as an Illustrator, I often study figures in real life and from video/photo references to improve my anatomy and sense of motion. However, through repeated practice and experience, I’ve learned that what we see in real life doesn’t always translate well into clear shots and when drawn, can feel quite lifeless. This is where a little bit of caricature is needed to stylise and give more appeal to the visual result. This is also why animated characters are often simplified and exaggerated - because they help tell a better story.
Exploring movements and poses that don’t necessarily obey the rules of real-life physics, is probably one of the best, fun and challenging things about being an illustrator. A good way to do this is by gesture drawing, which is a method of capturing the feeling of a figure’s movement. You can do this by drawing the pose as you see it in reference, then figuring out which parts of the body you can bend and push to make the pose work better. Or, like me, you can start by cutting out all the fluff and use just a few pencil strokes to capture the line of action, and then build on it. However you choose to do it, a gesture drawing should be able to fully express the action and convey the intended emotion in the clearest way possible – it’s not always just about how accurate your drawing looks (although it is important to keep things in proportions), but rather how it feels!
As well as body language, knowing how to communicate what a character is feeling through their facial expression is equally as important. The same rules of exaggeration can be applied here to intensify emotions. It should, however, be done with more care as modifying a human-like face too much can lead to an unsettling outcome - unless that was the intention!
There would be times when I need to draw a character pulling some type of expression, but not really knowing how to draw it. This is where using multiple photo references or even a mirror can help massively! You shouldn’t be looking to copy exactly what you see, instead you should study the angles, how the face squash and stretch, which bits to accentuate, and then adjust and apply it to your character.
Remember, drawing from imagination should be about using knowledge and experience – if you’re still unfamiliar or unsure of something, there is no need to feel bad about using references. It doesn’t make you less of an artist!
Working with Project Everyone on @The Global Goals we have helped them supercharge their social media by presenting their facts on project progress in visually interesting ways, driving up engagement and reach.
Everything is a story. We are hard-wired to tell stories because they help us navigate life's complex social problems. Stories are the cornerstone to what we do at Cognitive and they can be used to change the world for the better. Cognitive illustrator Alex Hedworth explores how ancient Buddhist teachings use stories to help develop meditative concentration through the power of visualisation. A process that has helped millions of tuned-in souls live a more mindful life.
As an illustrator and avid meditator I have always found the Buddhist visualisations of the meditative path to be both informative and aesthetically pleasing. Similar to the 'Storymaps' that we work with here at Cognitive the Buddhist depiction of the stages of samatha meditation features numerous visual metaphors for one of the most complex subjects known to man….the mind!
The word samatha refers to pacifying or calming the mind and this story map is a visualisation of all the different stages of this process. At the beginning of the stages the meditator is depicted chasing after a monkey that is leading an elephant on a rope. The elephant is used as a visual metaphor for the mind because of its potential to cause harm and difficulty to control. Its dark colour represents the hindrances and problems of the mind.
The monkey represents attention and its dark colour means that the attention is scattered and unruly. The monkey dragging the elephant along on a leash is a funny and clever way to depict how mischievous our attention is, wherever attention goes the mind will follow and attention doesn’t always have the minds best interest at heart. The meditator holds a goad and a rope in his hands, they symbolise the intention to tame the mind and the vigilant mindfulness needed in order to do it.
As this Buddhist “Storymap” progresses and the meditator moves further and further along the path the elephant and monkey slowly but surely fall into line. The dark colours of the animals lighten and become luminous as the various hindrances and worries of the mind are shed. Eventually the meditator gains full control as the monkey disappears and the elephant graciously accepts his authority.
Even after hundreds of years the visual language used in the depictions of the stages of meditation are still very pertinent and easy to understand. This speaks to the power of images, which have been used as a way to communicate ideas since time immemorial. It is also really interesting to see how the fundamental tools we use everyday at Cognitive, such as mapping out a story arc or using a metaphor to simplify and explain a complex idea, can be used in the pursuit of mental and spiritual improvement.