The Isle of Decoys is an animated film about a young female teacher
who feels socially alienated contemplates befriending a drunken old lady.
Please visit About and Gallery pages from the top menu to see more information.

Character Rig and Pipeline

Kana’s Toon Boom rig is finished. The following video is a brief introduction of the rig. It also shows you three cleaned up shots from the film:

I have another video that showcases the final look of the hand-painted style animation and also the production method for achieving the visual without intensive labor works:

Kana’s character turnaround sheet for rigging:170224_kana_turnaround

Lighting and Color Script

It came to the point where I need to make a decision on lighting and color for my film before doing animation clean ups and post production works. So I decided to spend few days to create a color script with a detailed lighting direction for each shot.


Like every other elements in the film that changes over time, lighting and color should be designed in relation to the other shots in my film. In the film, a sudden change in color hue, saturation or contrast always suggests a shift in the main character’s emotion. I tried my best to maintain the consistency between continuous shots when they do not contain any emotional turn. It was also challenging to introduce a new color scheme between shots while maintaining pallets for all characters in them.


Before I started working on the final color script, I made a mood board based on digital images of paintings I found on the Internet. First, I looked for each image that matches with the mood in each moment of my film. In my case, the Polish surrealist painter Zdzisław Beksiński’s works really match with the specific type of the mood I wanted to convey. Then I laid all images as chronological strips. Finally, I added some blur so I can only see general colors.

Concept Sketches

After seeing some good pieces at a local short animation night, I was inspired to do more concept sketches. I felt this is an important step to do sketches with pencils before working on digital pen tablets, which somehow kills the energy of my drawing.

I have been admiring Michio Mihara, Ralph Steadman, Egon Schiele, Bill Plympton, Sylvain Chomet and Ray Camoy for their ability to exaggerate proportions based on the subject’s feelings. While I was making these drawings, I tried to amplify the struggle between body parts and the gravity.

Rough Key Poses

In the past two weeks, I have been working on rough key poses for my main character animation. I got all key poses done for the station platform scene:

The shot 1 already has rough animation done in 4s. My next step is to contact animators to work on rough animation for shot 2-7 while I am working on rough keys for the rest of the film.

I also shot acting reference video for the most shots. The images below are the part of the thumbnail sketches based on the acting reference videos I shot:


Finally, I contacted new people to work on photo cut-out characters. They are making some amazing progress:


More BG + Characters

In the past two weeks, I kept working on background while started creating some characters that goes along with the images.

160306_BGProgressThe big spherical image of the train interior (TrainSeatPOV) is finally done. This background image is used for so many times during scene 2. All background images in Scene 1 are done. There are seven more images to make.

Since two friend offered to help me animating some frame by frame scenes during the Spring break, I will start working on these scenes to be ready for these people.

Backgrounds Inprogress

In the past two weeks, I have been working on backgrounds
with a friend’s help. Images above are the backgrounds in progress.
I will add more scratches, textures and photo-copied-look effects to each collaged pieces to make them look closer to physical photomontage works.

We finished 9 out of 21 backgrounds so far. In maya,
I have been rendering several high resolution images to use in
train car scene over the weekend.
This task may take another 1-2 weeks to complete.

Motion Capture / Final Animatic

I worked on a short animated film called Return Flight from December to January. My goal was to practice doing digital puppet animation. Please take a look at the trailer for the film:

I decided to explore the efficiency of Motion Tracker in AfterEffects mainly because of the tight production schedule. I found that the process is much less time consuming compare to the traditional key frame animation. I could finish animating characters for 2-3 scenes in one day during the production.

The process was very straight forward. I pasted two sets of stickers for each of my joint of which I wanted to track motions. I then recorded myself acting in front of my camera. Finally I used the Motion Tracker to track the position and rotation of the each sticker and used the data to animate my characters.


I believe this animating method is suitable for animating background characters in The isle of Decoys. The natural yet shaky motion creates an uncanny feeling that is what I have been looking for.


I also revised my animatic to incorporate the subjective POV shots. My intention is to force my audiences to see the diegetic world directly from the protagonist’s eyes. I envision this animatic to be the picture lock.


Next Steps:

  • Finish creating the background for the entire film
  • Having a meeting with my sound designer

Kana’s Point of View

POV Test from Yu Ueda on Vimeo.

This video is a test to figure out how to animate the spheric panorama backgrounds and how that will actually look on screen. In the second scene, I tried to simulate the protagonist’s point view with camera tracking and blurs.

Compositing for the scene went pretty straight forward in AfterEffects.

Please note that I am still planning to animate all side characters in photo-cutout puppet style.

Next goals:

  • Revise the animatic with the new technique (spheric panorama BG) in mind. Figure out when I use fish-eyed perspective and when I don’t.
  • Conduct a stylistic research for photo-cutout puppet and then adjust the protagonist’s design to match with the puppets.