Style inspiration

Charles Huettner.

The Jump





I really like Charles Huettners’ style, simple characters with no line work. He uses black space to create an atmosphere and make the characters pop at certain times. It has a sort of pop art style to it, with the characters bold colours sticking out from the backgrounds. The main background is made up of light greys with some bits of interest like the small plants or the rubbish. There are lots of great shots and different angles capturing the scene – high angle, low angle, birds eye views, etc… There is a lot of variety. I really like shot of the plants just slowly blowing in the breeze, it helps create this calming feeling to the beginning of the film.

The film starts out very chilled and the sounds reflect that, relaxing the audience and creating a non-threatening but suspenseful feeling. When they jump we aren’t totally afraid for them, we see it as a game, as something fun – and when we reach the twist it’s that much more shocking. The wooden blocks being hit increase in speed and more are added as the blobby creatures being to swarm together en mass. The music is filled with percussion actually, and it accompanies the action really nicely.

The blobby creatures move slowly and gracefully. When one jumps up and propels himself on, his body changes shape a lot – like a jellyfish but more so – which I think is really effective. Their design is really simple, they have eyes a mouth and they don’t have any arms. Their eyes are cartoony with just white and then black pupils, which is consistent with the other characters, who have more features but are still simplified.

I’ve looked at Charles Huettners’ ‘The Jump’ before, and it never gets old. The story is so brilliantly told, and I think it’s pretty much a perfect short film story. We are introduced to these strange flying blobby creatures, and we aren’t sure what they are, and two people hanging out on a bridge. Then the blobby creatures start flying together and the two people jump off the bridge into them. When they pass through a blobby guy they experience their death. The final twist reveals that one of the people fell to their death and their friend experiences it.

The smoke effect when the guy hits the ground is really simple yet really effective. The man who is hit by a car is splattered and bits of him come off and it helps to create this sense that he has taken a really powerful hit. It’s simple, but works really well to help you feel the action.

  • For reference there are about 40 different shots in this 2:30 long film.

Winter House

I really like the colourful effect when the one character notices the llama looking one – the same colours (pink, yellow, blue) used again when he jumps on its back! Due to their lack of colour, when those bright colours are used it really impacts the action. I like the way the character becomes blobs when going over to the llama as well – it’s unusual and brilliant. The way the bird moves is really unusual and makes that character more interesting – when he gets a twig he likes he and the twig flash those same colours again – showing the audiences their importance.

The overall strange vibe to this film kept me glued to the screen. The same three colours used throughout was a nice consistent touch – especially in the credits as well. There were also some really cool transitions, and character designs. Charles has a great style and way of animating and moving characters that I think is awesome!

Charles tumblr:

Spit Ball

  • Colourful
  • Pastel shades
  • No lines
  • Simple style

Thomas Schmid


I really like this advertisement animation. It’s a rollercoaster ride through different scenes, some are abstract while others are less so. The animation feels like it slows down as the story reaches people talking about how they turned their life around – and then small bits of colour begin creeping in.

The use of space is great, and there are some really great uses of black creating this claustrophobic feel. There is a guy who walks out of the darkness into the light and he gets some colour on his character is a fantastic metaphor for taking the step away from alcoholism and into a healthier happier lifestyle.

The use of colour to denote getting better – or being whole, instead of an alcoholic is really effective. It makes the characters come to life – they are no longer just black and white and grey shapes, they are subliminally more full of life.

The ‘water’ drop into a puddle which becomes the shape of a person is really strong, and fits with the theme of alcoholism taking over someone life and body.


Seoro Oh

Afternoon class

A film about a kid trying to stay awake in an afternoon class! He’s trying everything to stay away, the turning point is when he falls asleep, and then the result is he is falls asleep as does everyone else including the professor!

  • Painted style – no line work.
  • Really cool surreal dream sequence – made up of lines and lots of different colours. contrasting the main action.
  • Some great imagery – his head turning into various heavy objects.

“When I had an afternoon class in school, I used to try to keep from nodding off by shaking my head, which felt much heavier than normal. It was so funny that, while other friends slept comfortably, I would fight against my drowsiness. I wanted to create a funny animation that captured both how sweet the drowsiness is and how hard it is to overcome. I used the fantasy elements in the film to help convey the subjective feelings and add humor to the narrative. Although Afternoon Class is based on my own experience, you may find it familiar.” [1]

David OReilly

Black Lake

(Collaboration with Jon Klassen)

David OReilly is famous for making low-poly 3D animations. While Black Lake is a bit different – it’s hauntingly beautiful it does show how he likes utilises glitch effects in his animations to great effect. The loop starts out polished and like a finished piece and devolves into this broken mess. The calming piano music played throughout is in affinity with the beginning peaceful nature of the film – but takes on a new feeling once things break down and change. The 3D mesh is like the objects skeletons, and the way the animation is progressively worsening – it kind of reflects the human condition and aging.

Please say something

This film is brilliant, and here’s some reasons why:

  • The way some walls are only hinted at, so we see what’s happening in other rooms.
  • The monochromatic nature of much of the film – (the use of gradients in general) and then the use of high contrast colours. The colour use in general – really creative and experimental while sometimes reflecting the narrative really well. I like the pink and blues that sometimes colour the monochromatic scenes.
  • The scene where they leave the apartment and we see them walking and catching the elevator at the same time, then see them in the elevator and walking outside – it’s a great way to use the frame and transition from one place to another.
  • The use of subtitles and the squeaky made up language – making the film accessible to all as long it gets subtitles (not that it necessarily needs them to be a compelling film with an interesting story).
  • The car crash scene – the way the landscape is set out when they’re driving and crash. The weird view reflects the action as they crash – as it’s not the norm/ not what you’d expect.
  • The wire models representing past memories is very clever.
  • The lovely story about the ups and downs of a relationship.
  • The sped up ending of them living together – few frames animation – I think this always looks really cool when I see it in films.

From David’s essay ‘Basic Animation Aesthetics’ –

The importance of animation aesthetics is such a subtle yet vitally important one. It might seem superficial to discuss these things, especially because cinema is so much more to do with content and story than a pure aesthetic experience, but nonetheless the visual nature of animation calls for debate on the subject.

There is a continuous raft of animation, both commercial and independent, which looks the same, and I don’t believe it has to be so.

The more we think about the subject the more playful and interesting computer animation becomes, the medium feels to me like a recently opened Pandora’s box which is still being examined, understood and tamed. [2]

David goes against normal style conventions and aims to create something that is still beautiful and appealing to audiences, but without just doing what everyone else is doing. Animators are artists, with different styles and the desire to explore different styles, and I think more and more (since this was written) we have seen that creativity emerging into the mainstream – but the industry still likes to cling to those models that they know are popular and will sell.

The External World (Trailer)

Full thing on his website –

  • Monochrome
  • Considerate bright colour use
  • Defies conventions
  • Dark subject matter – yet still visually and aesthetically appealing

WOFL 2106

This animation has the most stylised trees i think i’ve ever seen – reminiscent of Eyvind Earle. Another monochromatic animation that uses colour highlight the action and evoke different feelings throughout the film. The composition is really thoughtful, and fits with the narrative, as does the use of glitch animation. There is a really playful, creative vibe to the whole film – like pretty much all Davids work.

Jon Klassen

Jon is a world famous writer and illustrator of children’s books, and he also makes animations.  He makes the art for his books and then scans them into a computer and edits them in Photoshop, so they have a really great hand-drawn look, while being tweaked and fine-tuned on a computer!

If I decide the next story’s going to be best told with pastels, then I’ll do some pictures with pastels, that don’t necessarily have a story behind them. But I don’t keep a sketchbook of that. There are drawings everywhere and they’re very disorganized. As long as I get them into the computer, then I’m not too romantic about what the physical pieces were. [3]

His style sometimes reminds me of Eric Carle (The Very Hungry CAterpillar) because of that sort of collaged, handmade style. Jon has great composition in every picture, and because of his animation background he carefully considers everything that’s included in each frame.

The audience is always looking for symbols. You can have a beautiful illustration, but if it doesn’t have the symbols that simply communicate what you need to communicate, then they’ll get lost. It’s the same with film. You can have a beautiful sequence of shots, but if it’s not organized clearly, you get lost and the story’s gone. You’ve lost your audience, no matter how well you’ve done visually. It always has to have the idea behind it first. [3]

His art has so much texture and feeling to it, which makes everything come alive, even though it is quite cartoony. He works with some really natural muddy colours, tones and his work has a real-life quality to its colour palette – it’s not often over-saturated or overly colourful, whereas many children’s books are.

Yes, exactly. And there is artifice in illustration. You are up against your own skills as an artist. You can only play at making a fake tree. No one thinks it’s a real tree, but they know it’s supposed to be a tree. That’s way more fun than actually trying to draw a tree. [3]

Erin Kilkenny

Mountain Ash

I really like this guys style in general, but i especially like the designs in this animation. The characters are simple, but they have a certain quality that makes them really appealing – simplified rounded shapes. The landscape is really nice, and the weather effects work really well in this style.

I really like the dark storyline of this film, and how it is told progressively, as more of the characters die. Finally introducing us to a new character once they’re all dead and revealing tragically that it is a loved one of the deceased man. The red credits over the dark monochrome forest also looks really good, as simple as it is.



His use of colour is something I really like. In Mountain Ash he has a mostly black and white background, with little touches of colour (berries on the trees) and the colourful characters really stand out from the environment and capture your attention.

His Website:




This animation is amazing! The entire world is made up of real-world companies logos. Everything is not only branded, but the actual brands. The zoo animals are logo animals, like the lacoste crocodile, the MGM lion, or the american political donkey and elephant. The characters are brand characters, like Ronald MCdonald, the Pringles can guy or the Michelin man. The buildings are all branded or shaped like the logos which take up the whole side of the facade – like Domino’s pizza, and famous album covers. Some of the skyscrapers are toothpaste boxes or look like giant sweet packets. Even the crack in the ground is shaped like the xbox logo, the mountains are from the Evian brand and then the big break is the nike logo – EVERYTHING is considered and every opportunity is utilised to enhance the story.

And the story itself is great. It just continues developing and becoming more catastrophic and exciting. It starts out as a police chase that becomes a hostage situation that becomes a disaster movie. The stakes keep getting higher and higher and its a wild ride from start to finish.

 Logorama employs a stylized, geometrized CG aesthetic with non-realistic (“toon”) shading, which is commonly used in logos and helps identify them easily. [4]

What’s great about this film is it is stuff we see every single day – and it highlights that in a really satirical way. The world is covered in advertising, and it is so prevalent everywhere we go – but it becomes background noise so to speak, we just get used to it being there and don’t notice it as much – advertising is often most effective when it is subliminal. But it is constant – every media is plastered with it from TV to newspapers. Buildings are covered in billboards and ads are on bus stops and it’s not enhancing the landscape or beautifying the world its just trying to convince you to buy stuff.

The film is really colourful and vibrant – as it is made up of advertising logos and logos are designed to stand out and be noticed and that means the film is really bright and filled with colours as a result. The look of the film is juxtaposition to the narrative – this dark gritty violent story is set against a bright colourful background – and it just works really well. There’s a sinister quality to this beautiful but dangerous world.

H5’s Francois Alaux in an interview said:

We chose to do the classic approach of a classic blockbuster Hollywood film. That’s why we choose all the good cliches of using the camera. The people have to follow the story and forget the logotypes.

The Michelin guy, for example, like in casting you’re looking for a fat guy for the undercover cop. And plus with the very strong and powerful logotypes, you have to fight to push the story as the first thing to follow. [5]

They always knew the film was going to be made with logos, but the story was built so that you aren’t always relying on the logo’s to push the narrative. The characters bring it to life and are very naturalistic and use slang and curse words.

If you close your eyes we tried to do something like Die Hard, because it keeps you in the real world. We worked on shape of city, sound ambiance, sound of the street and the diner. You have to push to show that it’s real. [5]


[1] –

[2] –

[3] –

[4] –

[5] –

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s