Makarelle

Interview with Roy Broomhead

illustrator and motion designer

I’ve always enjoyed art in shape or form, I have a degree in fine art and work as a Marketing Designer. There’s something quite magical about making images move so I spend my spare time animating my illustrations. I love software with a timeline but I also enjoy drawing in my sketch pad.

 

I live with my wife and two children, I enjoy running, open water swimming and cycling and I’m an occasional triathlete. I also love taking photos.

Roy's Showreel

Makarelle: Hi Roy, thanks for agreeing to this interview. We love your Instagram Feed @rb_animates. It’s inspiring to see your work as you learn the techniques to make your animations more and more complex. How did you get into art and then animations?

Roy Broomhead: Thanks, Jane.

I enjoyed drawing from an early age, my grandfather was an architect and we had reams of scrap paper and pencils around the house, I’d spend most of my spare time drawing and grew up wanting to work in art and design.

I found inspiration in TV programs like Take Hart with Morph, I remember a TV show in the 70s or 80s, I’ve no idea what it was called, where kids would send in their films and animations they’d created on Super 8 it was many years after I got the chance to lay my hands on one and play with 8mm film and projectors.

When I left school, I did a BTEC GAD in art and design and from there I went on to complete a fine art degree. I dabbled with stop frame animation on a rostrum camera in SVHS during the three years but it wasn’t really until I started working as a technical illustrator and the advent of Macromedia’s Flash – now rebuilt and renamed as Adobe Animate – that I could start animating objects and text etc.

Makarelle: Did you find that lockdown inspired you or changed the way you work?

Roy Broomhead: I guess lockdown gave me a little more headspace to think of stories and ideas and in the time I saved from not commuting and working from home, I managed to make time to start learning modelling and animation in Blender 3d which is a very powerful, free and open-source program. I used to animate years ago but the software became too expensive and projects can become very time-consuming.

What I’ve learned about timing in my 2d animations I can now easily apply to my 3d.

Makarelle: I noticed some of your sketches on Instagram, they’re great. Would you pursue this type of work further?

Roy Broomhead: All of my animations start their life as a sketch of some sort and I try to draw several different versions to get the look I’m after. I love drawing faces and playing with different expressions, this may lead to an idea for a character and a little story. I’ll draw out a quick and simple storyboard to flesh it out and help me work out camera angles and scenes.

I feel that my current work in After Effects isn’t as fluid as I’d like, I’d love to evolve my sketches to something more organic and work on some frame by frame animation as this would help to evolve a more creative approach to my work and appear more like my sketches.


Makarelle: What artists or styles inspire you and why?

Roy Broomhead: I was intrigued by animation and cartoons – because as well as drawing I watched a lot of TV – I loved Terry Gilliam’s animations in Monty Python, his style of animation was to use cut-outs to tell a story, this was a quick, cheap and cheerful way to tell a joke or a story.

Bob Godfrey’s Roobarb was another classic cartoon, this is the epitome of the scribble and boil effect where the lines of each frame don’t line up and you get the jumpy, animated, scribble effect that helps give it the hand-made feel.

These animations contrasted with the Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry cartoons from Saturday morning TV and the even slicker Disney movies of the time.

I also loved the bizarre, dark fantasy of Jan Svankmajer’s stop motion in the films Alice and Faust, something about breathing life into real-world objects, like a pair of scissors or a lump of clay was creepily captivating.

My current animations tend to use flat colour and thick outlines which is possibly inspired by reading comics and graphic novels, I hope this creates a bold, eye-catching and impactful appearance.

Makarelle: What software do you use to make your animations? And is this something people could learn themselves or would they need to go on a course?

Roy Broomhead: Adobe’s Creative Cloud is brilliant and it gives me the opportunity to play with animation in various apps. An application that is always overlooked is Photoshop. Photoshop has a timeline and you can create hi-resolution video, it’s not just the territory of animated gifs.

I use Adobe Animate – which used to be Flash – this app supports onion skinning and is great for creating frame by frame animation. I may use this for animating rough sketches and then import the roughs into After Effects to tidy up.

After Effects is my favourite, it’s massive and I always think of it as Photoshop or Illustrator on steroids because you can keyframe all your layers. It’s very powerful and is used throughout the film industry for hundreds of different applications from animation to visual effects.

Cartoon Cat Roy Broomhead

There are free or cheaper alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Blender is a powerful open-source 3d application, capable of modelling, sculpting, animating, editing and even 2d animation, so you can do almost anything within it. It’s a steep learning curve but there’s lots of YouTube videos, cheap online course and forums to help you and keep you going.

Many free apps, covering stop motion and  2d animation are available for smartphones and tablets too.

 

Makarelle: I love the talking Lego but a bet that takes ages, is it simpler than it looks?

Roy Broomhead: For those animations, I photographed a short sequence of 3 or 4 images close up and then removed the faces in Photoshop. I re-created the LEGO and Playmobil features in After Effects, creating a timeline and manipulating the original mouth shape to the various phonics over the looped photos which create the jerkiness and appearance of stop motion. I then matched the various mouth shapes to the audio of the lady talking. It’s not actually easier than it looks but when you get into the swing of it you can work through it quite quickly. It takes s a while but it’s rewarding when it flows naturally, I am particularly proud of my LEGO lip-syncing video.

Blue Guy Walk Roy Broomhead

Makarelle: What are your future ambitions for your art?

Roy Broomhead: I want to try and create some more dynamic-looking animations in the traditional frame by frame style as it looks more natural and it would enable me to be more creative. It’s a skill that takes a while to perfect. I want to speed up. I’m pretty much self-taught so I’m really learning as I’m going along as well as learning the software on some occasions.

I’d love to work as a motion designer and get paid for it, I do occasionally get commissions but I’d be over the moon to get the chance to make a living from doing something I love. Working in a team with other animators would really help speed up the learning curve.

 

Makarelle: And finally, what would you advise anybody who is thinking about becoming an animator or an artist. 

Roy Broomhead: A little bit of a cliché but practice. There’s lots of different styles, hand-drawn, vector, 2d, 3d etc. and it can be quite mind-blowing trying to learn them all, so focus on one thing at a time.

There’re so many tutorials available online now. YouTube is great for quick free tutorials and I couldn’t recommend motion designer Ben Marriott any higher for his quick and thorough After Effects tutorials, his enthusiasm is incredible.

There are paid sites like Skillshare which you may a monthly subscription and it covers all sorts of skills, not just animation. Udemy is cheap if you buy during one of their many sales. Motion Design School is reasonably cheap and they have a series of well-structured courses as well as the more expensive School of Motion.

There are some great books, The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams is one that everybody suggests animators should read. It helps break down animation sequences into the fundamentals used since the golden age of animation. Squash and stretch, anticipation and staging are a few of the 12 animation principles covered in this. If you can learn just a few of these 12 principles your animation will really start to improve.


Makarelle: Thank you so much for giving us your time!


All image rights on this page remain with the artist Roy Broomhead.