I recently saw Hilda a new Animated series on Netflix and an adaptation of Luke Pearson’s graphic novel series with the same name.

Cover of Hilda the graphic novel

It has made me think about the stylistic changes that look place in adapting the Graphic Novel characters into animatable ones. Bolder lines, a simpler shape based structure and more dynamic drawings, have all lended help in making a successful adaptation.

Main Character of Hilda the Netflix series

At the same time keeping the colour palette largely the same and the idea behind the characters, story and artwork have helped ground the series in the work it is derived from.

Similarly, I am hoping the adapt the original Patachitra art style I have been inspired from for my English National Opera idea into a form that is animatable but still true to its source. I am also hoping to be able to safely tread the line between adaptation and appropriation.

Patachitra Workshop Results
ENO Pitch Illustration


I have been curious about Rotoscoping, a labour intensive but often underestimated process. This technique was created by Max Fleischer in 1912 using a machine that served as a projector that screened a film with real actors doing what the artist needed for the animation, they were traced frame by frame over celluloid resulting in a more fluid and realistic result. This would be later used in Disney’s Snow White, Superman and the music video “Take on Me” by A-HA (The single wasn’t a success until it was released along with the video).

For this post, I looked at Jason Archer’s work, as an example of what rotoscoping can achieve in a music video. Archer is a director and animator best known for his work in “A Scanner Darkly” an adaptation of Philip K Dick book, featuring a star-studded cast, namely Keanu Reeves,  Robert Downey, Jr., and Woody Harrelson. A ‘Grand Theft Auto’ aesthetic and a frustrated Director creates an interesting confluence. The animators use Rotoshop, a vector software that interpolates the in-betweens automatically.

Archer being Texan has a pronounced hispanic influence and has been criticized for the political opinions he expresses through his work and murals. This drew the attention of Molotov, a Mexican band, who hired him to create the music video for “Frijolero” a song that is, ironically, against the United States. This video earned him a Grammy and an MTV Video of the Year Award and was a great success in Latin America.

The animation is objectively really crude and simple. He implements a blocky colour scheme and is more about the content of the lyrics and expressing an idea than about having very detailed movement. Everything is bold, sexualised and strongly suggests sympathy towards immigrants crossing the border.
Although personally, I don’t really like the style I enjoy the symbolism behind the simplistic design. The colours are suggestive of political parties, the stencil look mirrors the Mexican police with its bottle green branding (In the past they would wear green and, then they would GO away or the cream palette that would resemble the uniform they use nowadays), often called Gringos.
I will attempt Rotoscoping in the future because it will help me understand camera angles and I find it interesting as a Graphic Designer.
La Franco, Robert (2006). "Trouble in Toontown". Wired magazine. Archived from https://web.archive.org/web/20081027181824/http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.03/scanner.html, on October 27, 2008. Retrieved July 31, 2007.

"A Scanner Darkly Production Notes". MovieGrande. 2006. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2013.  

Torres, Natalia (2013). "Molotov, la bomba loca" [Molotov, the crazy bomb].  

Adaptation of Art

While visiting home over the summer I had the fortune of taking part in a two day workshop by a traditional Patachitra artist. Patachitra is a traditional folk art form from West Bengal, India.

Patachitra Workshop Results

This has helped set of a series of events for me in looking at how an art form can be adapted to tell a story. Tara books is a publishing house in India that is know for employing folk artists and asking them to use their art form to tell modern stories. The most well known of these is ‘The London Jungle Book’ by Bhajju Shyam (2004), where the traditional Gond artist was brought to London and asked to interpret the city through his art.

Page from The London Jungle Book (2004)

Similarly Patachitra art has been adapted in ‘I see the promised land’ (2010) that uses the art form to tell the story of Dr King and the civil rights movement in the United States.

Cover of I see the Promised Land (2004)

Great Expectations, Great Responsibilities

I’ve just found out I’ve been selected that my pitch to the English National Opera has been selected! While I’m waiting to find out who my teammates are I’m thinking about what skills I need on my team. Given that the idea has a very specific style. I am hoping I’m assigned to teammates with these skills. I want to be able to incorporate ideas from my group and make the project an engaging process for them and one that they can learn from. I also want to avoid creating a hierarchical group structure because these are my peers who know as much as I do about animation, and so I hope I can learn something from them. I am very worried about the responsibility of being affecting more than my own grade.

The idea I’ve pitched is about two tigers escaping a flood. This came together as a confluence of various ideas. It mostly comes from experience in my childhood. I’ve spent a lot of time when I was young traveling around with my father to remote forests in India.

Image from my ENO pitch

Having spent many nights camping out on machans with my father, he would tell me stories about Tigers and Wolves and leopards. One on my favorite stories was about a Tigress who saves her cubs from a flood in Dudhwa National Park. A favorite book from my childhood is ‘Tara A Tigress’ by Billy Arjan Singh about a Tigress Arjan Singh hand reared.

I hope I am able to do the idea justice.