The battle of Rostam and Sohrab

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This was the next story I tried to visualize. I was always interested in Poe’s dark and mystery stories and I thought it would be a new experience to choose a Western mystery story to visualize. I also watched Poe’s movie collection. The story had three characters and mostly happened inside a building. This was the first time I drew a storyboard. My storyboard for this one was simple and I used 3×5 cards for one-minute quick sketches for each scene. The material I used was pencil. After drawing the whole storyboard, I came to realize that although it was an amazing story to animate, it was not about me.


The reason I chose this story was because we had an old copy of the novel at home when I was a child and I was interested in characters and the mystery of it. I also watched Hitchcock movie Rebecca which was inspired by this story. I started to draw the storyboard for it. First, I used black and white-water color and I spend more time and added more details to each frame, but I came to realize that black and white was not enough to express emotion at each frame. I used watercolor and drew the storyboard for the whole story. First, I summarized it and then I started to draw each frame. At this point and based on my research I added arrows to each frame and scene to show the camera movement, and also, I wrote some notes under each frame to give more information to the audience.


Over a year ago, I took a Shadow Puppetry course at the Theater Department. The course was about making shadow puppets using Super Black Cardboards. We worked on a project as a team. The project was about a Japanese story that was narrating a Samurai’s life who ended his life for his honor. I drew the storyboard for this story multiple times. I used pencil, ink, pen, watercolor for sketching the scenes and characters. I also made puppets. We had five rehearsals for the show. There was a big screen inside the room. Underneath the screen there was a wooden board that puppeteers would hide behind and move the shadow puppets behind the screen so the audience could watch the show and the movements of puppets. There were some scenes during the show which we projected on the screen. I used Harmony, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects to make the digital parts for the projection. I also made a silhouette short animation of this story using Harmony for the first time and I added sound to it. I drew each part of characters’ bodies as separate parts in Adobe Photoshop then added puppet pins in Harmony and rigged them for the animation.


In my country which is located in the Middle East, we grow up watching Western TV series, listening to western music, and we learn about the history and art of Western countries at school. Many years ago, there were lot of tourists coming to my country from the West and they used to work on oil. I was raised hearing those stories from my grandmother and my parents. Our life is influenced by Western culture as well. Ever since I remember I was watching TV or listening to radio or reading books about Holmes adventures so it was always at the back of my mind. I wanted to visualize one of my favorite stories of Holmes. I chose The Speckled Band, which was a deadliest snake from India in this story. The story has a connection to the East. I drew the storyboard for it using Adobe Photoshop. Then, I illustrated and colored each character, scene and decorative thing for the story. I also drew some conceptual illustration of some scenes using watercolor. I chose a realistic style for illustrating each frame. For animating and rigging, I drew separate parts of characters to attach them together by using Puppet pin in Adobe After Effects.


After experiencing and learning from visualizing all those stories, I became more confident that the story I needed to start working on for my thesis should be related to me, my culture, history, and art. I wanted to use art to show who I am and what are my concerns and use art as a tool to communicate with other people around the world who know little about my country. I decided to choose the most famous love story in my country and the Middle East. The two male and female characters in this story are the symbols of love in the Middle East. Singer and composer Eric Clapton wrote a song called Layla for his lover who was one of The Beatles singer’s, George Harrison’s wife. Layla was inspired by this story.
The female character’s name is Layla and the male character’s name is Majnoun which means crazy, he was crazy for her. They never got married. It is a very old and interesting story, there are lots of old books with traditional paintings of this story and lots poems telling their love story. For example, once Majnoun was sitting with a pot in front of him at one of the village paths with other people, and Layla came and was passing across that place, she hit Majnoun’s pot and broke it and left the place, Majnoun stood up and was so happy, other people asked him why he was happy while Layla broke his pot, he answered, why she broke mine if she was not interested in me?
During my bachelor’s courses, I had Persian Painting course which is called Miniature and it has very long history and background and we learned how to draw Miniature by using Gouaches, gold sheets, watercolor cardboard, different brushes, and other materials. These painting were developed in each period of Kingdom in our history and each period had different and their own style of painting. We also have unique calligraphy, which I studied at high school as part of Graphic Design. For this animation, I decided to show the most of our culture and art by taking inspiration from the Layla and Majnoun story. I drew the storyboard and illustrated and colored each character using Adobe Photoshop, and then separated their body parts for rigging in Adobe After Effects. I made a short animation using Miniature styles and Persian Calligraphy and Islamic motives. I rigged and rotated individual elements, changed their positions, and worked with Camera movements during the animation.



For my thesis, after putting effort into learning storyboard, animating, rigging, camera movements, and etc, and also becoming more confident and determined of what I want to show and visualize, I finally believed that the combination of all these experiences could help me make a better animation. The Battle of Kings is a story inspired by one of the stories of Shahnameh, which has happened in history and history repeats itself. My concerns and the reason I chose this story was to show the culture and place where I was born and grew up in, as well as to talk about the current situation in my country using historical events that are repeating themselves in our current time as a metaphor. The story describes the Persian Kingdom in the ancient times, where the first human rights charter was written by Cyrus the great king of Iran in Hakhmaneshi’s period more than 2500 years ago. Cyrus, was the first king who paid the workers and gave salaries to pregnant female workers while he did not let them work during their pregnancies and many other good things that he had done for his land. In this story, there is a good king and queen who are ruling Persia and a bad king who attacks Persia and at the end he will be defeated by the king of Persia.


I was born and raised in Iran in two different cities in the Middle East, then I moved to Turkey and after that to the United States. I was raised with reading about Iran’s history and epic poems and stories. Since my bachelor’s degree was Handicrafts, I had a chance t learn and explore in many different areas that represents Iran’s tradition and culture such as Waving Persian Carpet, Pottery, Glazing, Glass, Jewelry, and Persian Painting which is called Miniature. Iran has a very long history and is an ancient country. While I was in Turkey I studied Architecture. Iran has a unique art and architecture and literature. For the first time two years ago, I started an animation about one of the most famous epic stories of Iran and I drew images and showed them as slides to tell the story. The purpose of it was to be prepared and experience how to visualize a story that I was grown up with and It represent the costume, culture, architecture, and geography of Iran and how the power exchanges during history.
My academic background in Architecture helped me in creating scenes easily with concentrating on the details of history itself. Drawing characters took a quite bit of time to come up with the characters personality to support the hand drawing of each design.


After selecting the characters of my story and determining the scenes, I tried to understand and develop a number of factors. The main ones were; who are the main characters, what are their role in the narration, what are their motivation, how to show their personalities and how to make them unique. As a result, I have decided to concentrate on the following:
1.The Concept: I was inspired by an epic story from Shahnameh, the book of kings, which is a long epic poem book written by the great Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 CE and is a national epic of Greater Persia. As we all know, the history repeats itself. The story is about the battle between two kings, the good king and queen that rule Persia and the bad king or evil character that is the king of Turan country, and attacks Persia to occupy it but at the end he will be defeated by the good king.
2.Character and Personality: I concentrated on two important subjects in the characters: Their facial expression and their clothing styles which goes back to thousands of years ago. I tried to reflect the characters’ personalities by simplifying their appearances.
3.Colors: I used water color and pen. First, I drew the rough sketches of characters using pencil after that I colored them using watercolor paints, then I refined the edges by black pen. I used somewhat Middle Eastern skin color, hazel black eyes and light brown-hatches for the girl’s hair and mainly used red for the evil men’s suit.

My Thesis Journey
The battle of Rostam and Sohrab
Tell Tale Heart
Cherry Tree of the Sixteenth Day
Sherlock Holmes
First Animation
The Battle of Kings 
Storyboard and Characters
Character Design
Drawing and Sketching
2D and 2.5D Effects
Voiceover and Sound Effects
Compositing and Editing
The Battle of Kings

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