May 012020

FX is any non-character animation.

Traditionally, when you first start learning animation, you start with effects. You learn how to make a ball bounce, to animate a balloon with a string, a swinging vine, various falling/tumbling objects and so on. You need to develop your skills on simple, primitive objects and the underlying physical forces before attempting complex character and creature animation. From the very start, what you are doing is effects animation.

The idea is that these early FX exercises give you the best foundation in animation, whether you decide to become a character animator or an FX animator in 2D, 3D or even stop motion. Gradually as you develop these skills and gain more confidence, you can try adding character to these objects. For example, a common animation exercise is to give life to a flour sack, making it behave as if it’s a character, focusing on acting with weight, emotion and appeal.

Many animators have an eye on character work and move quickly beyond the ball bounce and flour sack exercises to develop their character animation skills. Others decide to stick with FX and dedicate themselves to the mastery of the elemental forces like fire, electricity, water, smoke, gravity and light.

Why FX?

FX and Character animation are specialised fields in their own right. The difference is that character animators without much FX experience will readily admit that they find it difficult to master technical, complex FX like water and fire. FX animators, on the other hand, usually find it a little easier to move into character animation; they already have that rock-solid foundation and well-developed sense of timing that character animators take years to develop.

So it’s my opinion (and I know many of my character animation colleagues would back me up here) that FX animation is the best way to learn animation as a whole, even if you ultimately aim for character work. Why not both?

The BCA FX Course

I originally developed the “BiteyCastle Academy Effects” course (BCA FX) because I was constantly hearing from animation students and enthusiasts who had spent hard-earned savings on outrageously expensive animation courses. So many students come away from such courses feeling disappointed, or even ripped off. It feels good every time a course member says that they’ve learned more in 3 months of BCA FX than they did in 3 years of college.

So, sure you can pay $2500 for a weekend workshop hosted by some Disney legend, or pay $500 for a pack of videos recorded by someone who may or may not care about your progress. You may even get a certificate at the end! But if you’re serious about learning animation, you should know that it’ll be a long-term pursuit. Who knows? It may become a life-long passion.

The BCA FX course currently has just over a year of content and is aimed at teaching you not just FX, but how to set out on the animation path. For beginners, the basics taught throughout the course give you the perfect introduction for learning any kind of animation. For experienced animators, you’ll underpin your existing knowledge with new insight and reinforce good animation habits.

If you’d like to learn more about the course, check out the sign-up page which has all the information you need, and a bunch of member testimonials. Of course, if you have additional questions, feel free to drop me a line, or hit me up in my Twitch stream where you can find me doing animation every weekend.

The Final Moments

 Posted by at 2:48 pm  8 Responses »
Mar 032020
The Final Moments

Ever wonder what happened to the people of Brackenwood? Why is Bitey the last of his kind? This new image depicts the final moments of the Dashkin, Viccans and Trogues as a portal opens from another world and the Yuyu suddenly appear. What happened next? We don’t yet know! If you’re interested in watching the ►►

2D in 3D process

 Posted by at 6:38 pm  3 Responses »
Jan 182020

As you may know the Prowlies Wildlife Documentary was a “test project” to see how well I could integrate 2D animation in UE4 environments. When it was complete, it was featured on the Twitch Community Spotlight and got some attention on Twitter. I attached Prowlies to my Epic MegaGrant application as a “prototype of a ►►

The Viccan’s Hideout

 Posted by at 1:46 pm  2 Responses »
Mar 062019
The Viccan's Hideout

Lemonee of Brackenwood lives deep in a forest hideout, safe and hidden from the Yuyu invaders. Protected by the forest’s magical defenses, she has everything she’d ever need to survive alone here until the end of her life should she choose to do so. But as a young girl she saw her people taken by ►►

Above and Below

 Posted by at 10:57 am  2 Responses »
Dec 062018

My latest project is the Brackenwood Wildlife Documentary Series where I introduce Brackenwood wildlife in short documentary-style episodes with voice over narration. The first episode was Fatsack, the second episode under construction is Prowlies. Update Dec 11, 2018: The completed scene, now with creature animation and finishing touches. All the animation and FX are animated ►►


 Posted by at 11:14 am  2 Responses »
Nov 262018

Here’s the first test scene for the next Brackenwood wildlife doc featuring prowlies. The animation was done entirely in Toon Boom Harmony. The top half is a background still from my UE4 river environment. The lower half is all hand-drawn 2D, including water FX, shadows, reflections and creature animation. Surface movement and underwater refraction was done ►►

Game Over

 Posted by at 12:56 pm  12 Responses »
Nov 112018
Game Over

Due to a severe clash of personalities and wildly divergent goals and priorities for Brackenwood, the working relationship deteriorated beyond repair and I made the decision to end the Dashkin project on Oct 24, 2018. At its heart, Brackenwood is the story of the last of his kind; a lone dashkin exploring an empty world. ►►

Unreal Brackenwood

 Posted by at 6:08 pm  8 Responses »
Jun 082017

As you may know, Brackenwood is a 2D animated series created in vector animation software. I started making early Brackenwood in Flash (Adobe Animate) and now in Toon Boom Harmony. Like most cartoon-style 2D, characters are generally outlines filled with colour. The result is often called ‘cel-shaded’ effect. I’ve been super excited about the prospect of dynamic ►►

Moving a castle

 Posted by at 2:20 am  3 Responses »
Apr 282017

If you’re a member of the FX course or an otherwise regular castle visitor, you may have noticed some things have changed in the past few days. An ex-colleague has kindly taken some time aside from his work to help me move the site. As anyone knows, when you roll a huge old castle to a ►►

Dec 022016

Most weekends I stream my current projects on Twitch. In December 2016 I conducted a couple of Q&A Toon Boom Harmony demonstrations, aimed at those Flash animators who wanted/tried to learn Toon Boom but never quite clicked. This stream covered almost all the basics, but there are still many features to see. One thing I ►►

Patron rewards

 Posted by at 10:28 am  3 Responses »
Apr 092016
Patron rewards

The Brackenwood Patreon continues to grow and real progress is being made on the Last of the Dashkin sequel. Here are two of the physical rewards I’ve been working on for the Brackenwood patrons. The video below is a short time lapse of the card ink process. I’m using metal Hunt nibs and black Parker Quink.

You’ll Never Guess!

 Posted by at 7:46 pm  15 Responses »
Mar 222016
You'll Never Guess!

If you follow me on Newgrounds and social media, you might have seen that Brackenwood is making a return this year. After the cancellation of the Dashkin game and me being promoted at work, Bitey seemed to have no future. In years past, he was so real in my head that I could even have ►►

Dashkin dies in the end

 Posted by at 9:30 pm  54 Responses »
Jun 232015
Dashkin dies in the end

2009 In December 2009, I released The Last of the Dashkin and promised fans that it wouldn’t be another 3 years before the next Brackenwood story. 2010 In November 2010, I messaged Sean McGee to ask if he was interested in working with me on a Brackenwood game. My plan was that the game would be the next ►►

Amateur to Expert

 Posted by at 11:50 pm  8 Responses »
Dec 152014

I recently received an email from a young fella who said he was feeling out of sorts for a direction in life and he asked me about how I got to where I am today. In fact over the years in emails, conversations and interviews, I’ve answered this many times in different ways so I thought ►►