… in an animation that’s just a marginal detail – like a tiny but telling image in the border of an illuminated manuscript – within a project I’m working on for English Heritage, the launch of which will be announced soon.
The animation began with the construction of a simple maquette of the Kraken, and a drawing of the stricken ship.
Below, the maquette is placed over the drawing to give a rough impression of how the two will work together.
The schedule allowed for only minimal animation, and to that end the Kraken was a simple build from two layers: a top one of the head with four tentacles, and a layer beneath with two tentacles. While we didn’t have the time to produce a more elaborate ‘coiling’ animation, the two Kraken layers moving independently of each other give an impression of writhing tentacles. All of the animations for this project have to run on loop, and to that end have been designed as tiny narratives that have a start and a finish, and can endlessly repeat.
The Kraken and ship were scanned and delivered, along with my animation storyboards, to our collaborators at the Bristol-based Gravitywell, an award-winning digital agency that develops websites, iphone/android apps, and SEO services. Laura-Jane Alison is project manager at Gravitywell keeping us all to schedule, and Matt Doyle is the lead designer responsible for the animated sequences. I think you can very likely tell from the Kraken animation that we’ve been having a lot of fun with the project. The scans have been digitally coloured according to the palette agreed between me and English Heritage’s supervising art director for the project, Becky Baker.
Artists and illustrators have long been drawn to the notion of sea monsters going head to head with ships, and there’s no shortage of visual material exploring the theme, both historic and contemporary.
The Kraken is a particular favourite of tattoo artists, and in a painting I made some time ago of an inked fisherman, I added a tattoo of a giant Nautilus reaching out to grasp a clipper.
The main source of inspiration for the Kraken in my animation, is this illustration by Denys Montfort in Histoire naturelle, général et particuliére des mollusques: animal sans vertébrés et a sang blanc, Volume 2, published in 1801.
But for those of you who remember him, I suspect I’ve been channeling the spirit of Captain Pugwash.)