Oct 262016

WordPress is the world's most popular publishing platforms, and it's currently estimated to power 26 per cent of all websites. It's highly customisable, very easy to use and it's completely free, making it an obvious choice for anything from a simple blog to an online design portfolio.

Because of its enormous popularity, there's a wealth of WordPress web design inspiration and WordPress tutorials online to help you get to grips with the content management system. But with so much choice, things can often get confusing.

So, to save you time we've done the hard work for you and picked 20 brilliant WordPress tutorials from around the web that will boost your skills and introduce you to exciting new techniques. To help you find the right ones for you, we've grouped them according to skill level:

01. A beginner's guide to creating a WordPress website

This complete guide to getting your site up and running is a great place to start if you're a complete beginner, or someone with a bit of experience looking to fill holes in their knowledge.

02. WordPress cheat sheet

Cheat sheets are ideal when you're starting out, and still useful to refer back to when you're more experienced. This one lays it all out for you and provides a brilliant go-to for any WordPress woes.

03. How to learn WordPress in one week

This step-by-step guide to WordPress is aimed at beginners who are trying to become competent with the platform in their spare time.

04. How to customize the WordPress text editor to look and function like your front-end

Use this tutorial to transform your editing environment

Using the Preview button is okay, but it's much better to be able to write your posts and see how they're going to look on the site without having to switch back and forth between view modes. This great technique enables you to do just that.

05. The WordPress community offers advice to beginners

Siobhan McKeown reached out to people from across the WordPress community to ask what advice they would give to people just starting their WordPress journey. It's an old article, but the advice still holds true.

Next page: intermediate tutorials

06. How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress

If you're serious about your site then you'll want to get to know your audience, and the best way to do this is through your traffic stats, and that's where Google Analytics comes in. It's free and it can tell you who visits your site, where they come from, when they visit, what they look at while they're there, and how they interact with your content; follow this guide to get up and running.

07. Using the Psychology of Color to Boost Your WordPress Website Conversions

Use the principles of colour psychology to pick a scheme that suits your site

Choosing the right colours for your website can have a big impact on its effectiveness, and even on sales if it's an ecommerce site. Here's how to do it right.

08. How to create a photo album gallery in WordPress

In this WordPress tutorial, the guys at wpbeginner.com explain how to create a monthly photo album gallery without a plugin.

09. Add icons to WordPress custom menus without plugins

Adding icons to custom menus is a relatively simple two-step process that doesn't involve any PHP coding whatsoever. And this WordPress tutorial will show you just how to do it.

10. How to create and customise a WordPress child theme

When looking to customise their website, a lot of people edit the theme directly. This creates a number of problems, not least that you can't update the theme without losing your changes! Storing your modifications separately as a child theme is the smart way to go – here's how.

11. The ultimate guide to A/B split testing with WordPress

Even tiny changes to the phrasing of copy or the position of a button on your site can have a big impact on how people use it. Here's how to test out your changes before you commit to them with A/B testing.

12. Beginners guide to adding Twitter cards in WordPress

Drive traffic to your site with Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards make it possible for you to attach media experiences to your tweets that link to your content. This WordPress tutorial shows you how to use them.

13. 5 free essential plugins for your first WordPress blog

There are many useful plugins available for the platform. In this WordPress tutorial the guys at WPMU.org pick five must-have plugins for your first blog.

14. How to create your very first WordPress plugin

For more control and flexibility over your site, one of the first things you'll want to know is how to create a plugin. Find out how in this simple walkthrough WordPress tutorial.

Next page: advanced tutorials

15. Responsive images in WordPress with art direction

Support for responsive images has been in WordPress for a while, in the form of viewport-based image selection, but there's another and more versatile way to do responsive images on WordPress, using art direction. This method enables you to design with images whose crop or composition changes at certain breakpoints; this tutorial shows you how to set up a WordPress site for art direction using three progressive examples.

16. Free SSL for any WordPress website

Even if you don't process sensitive information serving your site via SSL makes you look more credible, protects passwords and improves SEO. Here's how to do it on your WordPress site for free.

17. How to hide your WordPress login page from hackers and brute force

Even WordPress sites that don't get much traffic attract huge numbers of malicious login attempts. Here's how to make yourself less visible to hackers.

18. How to make WordPress easy to maintain for your clients

Remove unnecessary features to make things

In some situations, WordPress has too much functionality. This can confuse your clients and put them at risk of breaking their site, so it's a good idea to turn off things that aren't needed. In this article seasoned developer Emerson Loustau outlines which features can do the most damage and explains how to remove them to create a simpler, safer interface for your clients.

19. Leverage WordPress functions to reduce HTML in your posts

Keeping HTML classes out of your content is a good idea, because they make a real mess when it's time to redesign the site. It's possible to generate the HTML you need and insert it into the right place in the post, and then update this function when you redesign the site. This removes the need to update posts manually.

20. A look at the modern WordPress server stack

Troubleshooting is always easier when you've got a sound mental picture of how something works. This fascinating article demystifies WordPress stack, so you can make wise choices about your site and keep it performing well.

21. The ultimate guide to WordPress caching

If your website doesn't load quickly, a good proportion of your visitors won't hang around to use it. This article explains how to use caching plugins to help you get your site into people's screens as fast as possible.

22. Timber and Twig reignited my love for WordPress

Once you get properly stuck in with WordPress, the intermingling of PHP and HTML can become confusing. Twig is a template that keeps them separate, making your codebase easier to work with.

Oct 262016

Launched back in late 2014, Duet Display is an app that turns iPads, iPhones and desktops into extra display devices. Designed by ex-Apple engineers, Duet Display is regarded amongst the best iPad apps and has gone on to become the number one biggest selling iPad app in over 20 countries. This comes as no surprise when you consider that the team behind Duet Display are constantly working hard to improve the app, including the recent Duet Pro update.

The Duet Pro update is available through an in-app subscription costing just $20 a year, and enables creative professionals to access a raft of new Duet features. These updates include iPad Pro support, with the Duet Display team hoping to turn the device into a viable replacement of the Wacom tablet.

Other features include support for pressure and tilt sensitivity with the Apple Pencil for both Mac and PC (making Duet Pro the only app to offer support for both), as well as new algorithms designed for drawing that achieve both ultra responsive Apple Pencil input and high quality image refresh.

Duet Pro also offers a new image quality option which refreshes the image to Pixel Perfect quality. On top of this, the app allows for two finger gestures for Zoom and Pan, and a stylus hover feature which can be triggered by pressing a hotkey on the keyboard.

Chief Design Officer at Duet Display, Mason Hastie, explains the motivation behind these updates. "We believe these features will turn your iPad Pro into the best quality, graphics tablet for Mac and PC. We think we can greatly simplify the current creative experience and allow people to use a much more powerful device in their daily workflow, the iPad Pro."

Oct 262016

Paint & Draw is the brand new monthly magazine that’s aimed for anyone who loves making art. It’s packed with fun, useful advice from experts, and full of fresh ideas to inspire beginners and accomplished artists alike.

From watercolours to charcoal drawing, acrylics to pastels, oil painting to coloured pencils, Paint & Draw is bursting with a range of masterclasses in various media. Led by professional artists from around the world, these step-by-steps will have you creating your best art in no time. You’ll also discover all the inspiration you’ll need to keep enthused about art, with interviews and features, news and reviews. 

Win £150 worth of art materials with Paint & Draw!

So now that you’ve got all this wonderful artist insight at your fingertips, it’s time for you to create your own masterpiece!

We are giving away £150 worth of Winsor and Newton art materials for one lucky winner. This includes three sets for acrylic paints, watercolours and oils, plus top of the range brushes and different papers to experiment with. 

All you have to do is enter your details below to be in with a chance of winning this great prize!

Terms and Conditions: Entries must be received before 23:59 on 30/11/2016.  Entries must be made on the entry form above. Open to UK residents aged 18 and over. One entry per household. The winner will be selected at random, notified within 28 days of the closing date and will be required to give details of a delivery address in the UK to which  the prize should be sent. 

The winner will be entitled to £150 worth of art materials which shall be selected at the discretion of Future Publishing Limited, publisher of Paint and Draw magazine. There is no cash alternative.

For full terms and conditions, please go http://www.futureplc.com/competition-rules/.

Subscribe to Paint & Draw today, and guarantee yourself an inspiring dose of creativity every month. Get the first 4 issues for just £5 when you subscribe before 3rd November. Hurry! Offer ends soon.

Oct 262016

The results of the Love Index 2016 are in, and it looks like digital companies have continued to leave analog brands in the dust. Compiled by leading design consultancy Fjord in conjunction with Accenture Interactive, the Love Index 2016 is a data visualisation study that analyses brands according to certain criteria to see who comes out on top.

Mapped across four industries, including retail, hospitality, automotive and banking, the study uses five dimensions to track a brands performance. These dimensions are namely: fun, relevant, engaging, social, and helpful. Put it all together and you get a brand's FRESH score (who doesn't love an acronym?)

The Love Index plots the brands on a pentagon with a 10 point scale

 “Our research tells us that people use five characteristics – Fun, Relevant, Engaging, Social and Helpful – to describe and rate their experiences with brands,” says Nan Nayak, Fjord’s managing director of design strategy and head researcher. “We’ve found that many of the traits people seek out in their human relationships also apply to their relationships with brands. The Love Index reveals why people love brands, and what sustains that love.”

Digital brands were proven to rise to the top

By using their research, the Love Index 2016 can reveal that Netflix is perceived as the UK's most-loved and most-fun brand. This is down to their excellent customer service, as well as their contribution into how people consume content.

The top 10 most loved brands in the UK, ranked from one to ten, are: Netflix, Google, Apple, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Sky, eBay, and Virgin.

Oct 262016

You’ve racked up tons of data over the years – from photos and videos to music--and now you need a place to keep it all. Shoebox Pro can keep them safe and easily accessible for when you need them. Get a lifetime subscription on sale now for only $10 (approx. £8).

Shoebox Pro provides both the convenience of access and the peace of mind of knowing your files are always safe. This cloud backup system gives you unlimited space in the cloud where you can quickly store your important files. You can also view and access them anytime you want. It’ll even help you rediscover old files you forgot about with the “This Day in History” tool.

You can get a yearlong subscription to Shoebox Pro for just $10 (approx. £8). That's a savings of over 83% off the retail price, so grab it today to keep all your files safe!

Oct 262016

Politics and picture books might not seem like logical bedfellows, but The ABCs of Socialism is all about providing a fresh take on an old idea. Filled with distinctive illustrations that lead you through the for against arguments surrounding socialism, the beautifully designed book reads like a more comprehensive version of some of the internet's best infographics.

“It was a privilege to play my part in this project,” says illustrator Phil Wrigglesworth, explaining that the book came about “through a new energy in both the US and Europe for socialist thinking, with both Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn leading the way.” The book shows a series of questions and answers, which are designed to debunk common ideas about socialism and each have an accompanying illustration.

“Traditionally visual communication on the left has been very loud and shouty,” remarks Wrigglesworth, on the design and colour scheme of the book. “Jacobin has a softer, more persuasive approach.” The illustrations are played out in a mirror image of the front and back cover of the book. “As the figures and setting are quirky and fun, the book is less a lecture and more about being fun and educational,” he adds.

This article was originally published in Computer Arts magazine issue 258. Buy it here.

Oct 262016

Think of the quandary: you’re an established public service broadcaster with significant digital real estate, and product teams delivering and maintaining a backlog of requirements. How do you seek to move past those product team innovations, and push bigger changes that look beyond the here and now?

Step in Connected Studio, a partnership between BBC R&D and Marketing & Audiences that has enabled the organisation to navigate the tricky waters of idea generation. Since its launch in 2012, the team has worked with the creative industry to help the BBC advance its innovation thinking through building and testing new concepts.


The process starts by the Connected Studio team highlighting where the challenges are: those steps that will advance a particular area of the BBC, or offer something new. You need a brief, something that articulates the challenge you’re looking to address, with enough of a steer to get the creative community involved.

We realised we needed a well thought-through plan for addressing Intellectual Property when working with the external community. Nobody likes to feel exploited, especially when it comes to giving up ideas, so we provide a simple contracted premise: you come up with the idea, it’s yours! Just give the BBC an option period to decide if it’s something it wants; if not, you’re free to take it and commercialise it elsewhere. Development doesn’t go unrewarded either – teams that reach the shortlist have their time and effort covered. 

Establishing the right environment to investigate these briefed challenges is important too. In order to bring people face-to-face with the BBC, we have staged over 130 events across all levels of development, along with online submission. These are peppered with the right amount of support, insight and BBC expertise to help the ideas get off the ground.


All this helps us get a longlist of ideas down to a handful per brief that make it to the piloting stage. This is the period where ideas are funded to be developed; not in isolation, but again with the right mix of support to help shape the project.

We pilot ideas by developing them to the stage where they can be tested in UX sessions. The audience element is key here. When you’re coming up with new concepts, you need to get their time as soon as possible. Exposure to the audience is built into each stage of the initiative, from events where the ideas are being worked up, through to testing the ideas once they’ve reached pilot stage. Without the audience’s voice in the mix, you’ll never know what you’re making is right.


We then need to get these ideas out into the wild. Step into the breach BBC Taster. Taster was created to address those challenging times when we had no space to show the world all these new, experimental ideas – not only the technical innovations from the Connected Studio, but experiments from internal BBC teams that would have otherwise remained behind closed doors.

Taster presents a method for the audience to rate their appreciation of the pilot they’ve just interacted with in a light survey supported by a rigorous backend of analytics. The survey completion rate is 78 per cent, far outstripping the industry average of 17 per cent.


Since its launch 18 months ago, Taster has introduced a new angle of connection between the BBC and its audience by giving the public the opportunity to peer behind the curtain and try out what the BBC is working on. Most importantly, they can now leave their mark through feedback, to help the BBC shape future services. 

In four years, Connected Studio and Taster have established the BBC’s route to challenge, explore and iterate innovation: failing fast and (importantly) succeeding faster, whilst learning and sharing those insights across the BBC.

We are also looking to build upon Taster’s success through partnering; allowing other organisations to share access to the platform with their own pilot projects. All of this has placed the BBC in the heart of collaborative innovation, allowing sharing and partnering to take the front seat. 

This article was originally featured in net magazine issue 284; buy it here

Oct 262016

Here at Creative Bloq, we’re not against change: far from it. Every brand identity needs to evolve and change over time. And so whenever a new version of a well-known logo is released, we like to give it the benefit of the doubt. 

Rather than join the inevitable knee-jerk reaction against any redesign (which is nowadays amplified beyond all proportion by social media), our attitude is to sit back and wait a while for the new design to bed in, before making a rush to judgement.

There are a small number of cases, though, where even in the fullness of time, a radical redesign of a much-loved logo seems like a mistake. In this post, we gather together seven such cases. It’s only our opinion though: feel free to disagree wildly in the comments below!

01. American Airlines

The classic American Airlines logo

When your logo has been created by an iconic designer like Massimo Vignelli, you want to hang on to it as long as possible. And to be fair, American Airlines stuck faithfully with this beautiful 1967 design (shown above) for a whopping 46 years. 

In 2013, though, they ordered a redesign. Of course, we don’t have a problem with that. Even our favourite classic logos, like the Coca-Cola logo, need updating now and again. But in this case, American Airlines weren’t looking for a few small tweaks, a light touch of modernisation, but a root-and-branch replacement (shown below).

The new American Airlines logo introduced in 2013

Created by Futurebrand, this new logo did give a few nods to its predecessor, using the same colours and incorporating the eagle, and we don’t deny it’s a lovely design. Yet call us sentimental nostalgists, but we miss the bold, majestic and distinctively American look of the original; while the current design feels like it could be a logo for any airline, anywhere on Earth.

02. Best Western

The classic Best Western logo

Best Western has had a number of distinctive logos since its founding in 1948. But it’s this 1993 creation, with its unusual colour scheme, weird typography and slightly crazy crown emblem, that we still hold dear in our hearts. 

Admittedly this logo, which had received only very minor tweaks over the years, could have done with a touch of modernisation, along the lines of recent redesigns by TGI Friday or Hooters. But sadly in our opinion, last year the hotel chain instead threw the baby out with the bathwater, commissioning this brand-new logo from San Diego agency Miresball (shown below).

The new Best Western logo introduced in 2015

This new streamlined look is a perfectly serviceable design, but we’re sad that it makes such a break with the past and loses all the brand equity built up by the previous logo. Even the distinctive blue-and-gold colour scheme has been ditched, making it far harder to spot a Best Western hotel in the distance from your car or train carriage. 

Furthermore, by jettisoning the building-motif border, the new design fails to conveys ‘hotel’ in any meaningful way; it could easily be the logo for a software firm, a pharmaceutical company... anything, really. 

03. Black & Decker

The classic Black & Decker logo

Here’s another beloved logo (above) that generations formed a deep emotional connection with. And sadly, it’s another design that’s fallen victim of the mania for uncontrolled minimalism.

This classic 1984 logo for the hardware company, with its distinctive nut icon and bold condensed font, was replaced in 2014 by a brand new logo designed by New York consultancy Lippincott (shown below).

The new Black + Decker logo introduced in 2014

All that remains from the original is the justified stacking of the name, the ® mark and a similar, if muted, colour scheme. The new font is a vanilla sans-serif, the beloved icon has been discarded, and the ampersand has been replaced by a more modern plus sign. 

Don’t get us wrong: by itself this is a beautifully sleek and modern logo that would suit, say, a T-shirt brand, a sportswear company or an internet startup perfectly. But the sense of grunt and raw power conveyed by its predecessor is gone: and for a company known for its power tools that feels like a mis-step.

Disagree with our opinions so far? Well, now you can relax. Because for the remaining logos on our list, even the companies themselves agree they shouldn’t have been ditched...

04. Gap

The classic Gap logo

The Gap redesign debacle of 2010 has now passed into legend as a cautionary tale for logo designers everywhere. The mid-range clothing retailer had been happily using this classic type-based logo (shown above) since 1984 when suddenly and unexpectedly it introduced a dramatic revamp designed by Laird & Partners (below).

The short-lived Gap logo introduced in 2010

A complete departure from the original, the new logo was claimed to represent an evolution of the company from “classic, American design to modern, sexy, cool,” according to a Gap spokesperson at the time. 

But most people just thought it looked daft, and it kicked off one of the first design-related consumer backlashes of the social media stage. Gap withdrew the new logo after just one week of use and went straight back to the old design.

05. Tropicana

The classic Tropicana logo

Here’s another design that even the company realised should never have been changed. In May 2009, PepsiCo juice brand Tropicana decided that its classic logo, with its cartoonish feel, pleasing curve and leaf icon, was old hat. 

To bring it into the 21st century, they asked the agency Arnell (which has since closed its doors) to create new packaging. The redesign, shown below, was a radical one, featuring a new, minimalist wordmark and losing the iconic ‘orange speared by a straw’ emblem.

The short-lived Tropicana logo introduced in 2009

It was a complete disaster. Sales dropped 20 per cent because people didn’t recognise their favourite brand on the shelves. The company was bombarded with complaints, and it reverted to the previous design within two months.

06. Kraft

The classic Kraft logo

Okay, this one’s a bit confusing, but stay with us. This classic ‘racetrack’ logo for Kraft Foods shown above was in place from 1988-2012. But in 2009, Kraft Foods Inc the corporation (NOT Kraft the brand) released this totally new logo design, shown below, which had zero in common with it.

The short-lived Kraft Foods logo introduced in 2009

This bright and colourful logo is pleasant enough, but Kraft had sacrificed all its brand equity for no apparent reason; the ‘starburst’ emblem had zero connection to food and looked more like something you’d associate with an Olympic City bid. 

Thankfully, it didn’t last long. In 2011, Kraft Foods Inc. announced it would split into two new companies: Mondelez, for the global snacks business, and Kraft Foods Group. The former got a brand new logo; the latter reverted to a modified version of the old red-and-blue Kraft logo, and the confusing starburst logo was gone forever. Phew.

07. Co-op

The classic Co-op logo

It’s rare for a retail brand to make a true emotional connection with the public. But the Co-op’s roots in the history of Britain run deep. Developing over 165 years from the merger of co-operative wholesale societies and independent retail societies, it remains today the largest consumer co-operative in the UK and is owned by more than 4.5 million active members. 

The Co-op has had a few logos over the years, but it’s this classic 1968 ‘clover leaf’ design that is most fondly remembered by generations of Britons today. The new design that replaced it in 1993 (shown below) is in our opinion starker, less friendly and welcoming, as well as being a little less legible.

The Co-op logo introduced in 1993

When North were asked to come up with a new identity for the Co-op for 2016, they pitched the idea of reinstating the 1968 logo... which is just what happened. “It’s a symbol and a wordmark and that’s impossible to beat for a graphic designer. It’s never dated,” North’s Sean Perkins told Creative Review. We couldn’t agree more.

Oct 262016

A designer’s time is precious. And with client deadlines to meet, showcasing your own work can often be put on the back burner. Despite having all the ammunition needed; PSDs, logos, style guides, etc, when it comes to putting a solid portfolio together for yourself, finding the time can be tricky – and soon, that static one-pager with a cool image and lonely contact form becomes your sole presence in this digital world.   

Time shouldn’t be the main issue when it comes to promoting yourself and getting more clients. Creating an amazing, conversion-oriented personal website without the back-and-forth of a developer or having to examine of lines of code should be standard. You should be able to build a portfolio website visually, as you would in Photoshop and focus on how to best highlight who you are, what you do and how you do it. 

Here’s a rundown of some of the best portfolio websites built on Webydo by freelance web designers and digital web agencies (and hopefully it will give you a little inspiration to get started on your own portfolio website today). 

Click Through The Gallery Below

Create websites faster in Webydo

Webydo will take care of the code allowing you full creative control, down to the last pixel. You are free to design and manage your clients’ websites, entirely from your browser.

Other features include:

  • Built-in CMS and Hosting
  • Central Dashboard
  • White Label Branding
  • First-Class Support

So, what are you waiting for? Try Webydo today.

Oct 252016

The following tips break down my process for animating Bink for Eric Miller Animation Studios' upcoming web series. Bink is a curious little seafaring creature who was captured and taken to a testing laboratory. My challenge was to make the most appealing introduction to the character as possible, in just a short amount of time.

When I joined the production, rough blocking was already in place. I had to incorporate Eric Miller's vision and existing setups, while trying to define Bink's unique personality. It was essential to learn the background of the character and the larger story being set up. There was a lot to convey in each shot – every frame was important. Luckily, a versatile rig made it possible to really push the character poses and find the most appealing version of him possible.  

With such an experienced crew, I needed to make sure my animation was as professional and polished as possible. Sometimes a minute of your time can save hours of someone else's time down the road. You'll find some of these best practices listed as well. Being a good co-worker and great collaborator is probably one of the most important skills to have as an animator.

For more tips on animating 3D movies we have plenty more Maya tutorials for you, covering everything from the basics to incredible photorealism.

You can learn more about Bink here. To download all the assets you'll need, click here.

01. Understand blinks

Different types of blink can add plenty of character

Blinks become even more impactful with a large-eyed character design like Bink. Break the shot down into the different kind of blinks. There's reactionary, such as when he hits the ground or gets poked. There's natural blinks, such as during a head turn or to help keep a stationary pose alive. Finally, there's motivated blinks, which help show us what the character is thinking, such as a change of thought or a realisation.

02. Control blink curves

Make sure you get the timing right on blinks so they look natural

With large eyes, really polish the blink animation curves – they will take longer than typical blinks. Build in the slow-in and slow-outs, taking care that there's always a bit of the pupil showing (preventing a dead-eyed frame). Also, be sure to hold the close position at least two frames for it to be readable, or it will look like a flash frame. The top lid should be doing at least 80 per cent of the movement to meet the bottom lid.

03. Using dialogue

Look in the mirror to work out realistic mouth shapes for dialogue

The dialogue was interesting because it was a unique vocalisation rather than traditional words and phonemes. Relying on reference, I'd mimic the sounds and look in the mirror to see what shapes my mouth would make. It also helps to increase the height of the Time Slider. This lets you see the waveform larger and you can better visualise all the dialogue moments. Go to Preferences>Settings>Time Slider: Height 4x.

04. Motion blur

Follow these tricks to get your motion blur right

It's important to remember that your animation needs to exist beyond the first and last frame. Animate a five frame buffer so that the animation will motion blur properly at the start and end of the shot. The same principle applies as to why you don't cheat and move a character or prop into place in one frame – the resulting motion blur will give you away. You may not see it until lighting, which is a costly place to discover the problem.

05. Head follow

A Head Flow control can save you plenty of time and effort

The Head Follow control is a powerful tool if your rig has it built in. It can usually be set to follow the Body, the Local Axis, or a more traditional All. Depending what movement your character is doing, this can save you lots of extra animation and give a natural feel to the character. However, be careful trying to match poses between shots with a different follow type!

06. Use references

Any excuse to look at cat photos online

The secret to good animation is good references. Initially for the shot of Bink waking up, I had used some cat stretching reference I found online. Talking with our producer/director Eric Miller, he wanted Bink to be more of a curious toddler than animalistic. Fortunately, I have two young kids myself, so I studied how they woke up from a deep sleep. Adding those specific, unique moments makes it feel grounded and real.

07. Backstory is essential

Get to know your character's backstory in order to help your approach

Eric and I talked about the character of Bink – he has an entire backstory that isn't revealed in this first short, but it was essential to help find his character; it changes how to approach each moment of the short. Him falling out of the cage or seeing his human captors could've been played many different ways. The backstory tells you which approach gives the proper subtext and supports the overall narrative best.

08. Explore the rig

Play around with the rig and discover what your character can do

The first thing to do with a new character is just spend a day playing around with the rig. You'll find what it can do and what makes the character the most appealing. Really spend time finding good face poses. I keep a collection of good face and mouth poses saved on frames outside the shot timeline that I can always reference/copy from. With a character like Bink, keeping the eyes wide really helps with the curiousness and appeal.

09. Camera view

A perspective view and camera view will help you nail your staging

I always work with two camera views open. One is in perspective, which I pose most of the time in. The other is a camera view so I always see what the viewer will see. Often, to get the perfect staging for the camera, the rig is breaking out of view. Also, be sure to keep playblasting your animation constantly. With a professional level rig like Bink, it won't ever play back full speed just within the Maya viewport.

10. Display Layer Editor

Use the Display Layer Editor to break up the rig controls and shot assets

With a detailed rig like Bink, use the Display Layer Editor to break up the rig controls and shot assets. Always simplify the scene and only look at what you are currently focusing on. I broke up the rig for face controls, body, tail, ears, and necklace. I also set the geometry of Bink and the set/props to other layers so I could easily control their visibility.

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 211; buy it here!