View Full Version : Animated Short: Pen' Pals by Art Curry

07 July 2005, 11:56 PM
Hi CG brothers and sisters. After 6 months of festivals I would like to share with the community my first animated short film, Pen' Pals.

The story of a pencil, duelling with a technologically superior graphic pen, for the affections of his belle...
Can our hero draw his way to victory?
Will he be able to overcome his shortcomings and get the girl?

Will the villainous pen win away the damsel in distress with his impressive build and dazzling artwork? Or will she realize it's what's inside that matters?

Thanks to ENL, the file is open for download again. Thanks Alex!
Hopefully I'll have another mirror up soon.
And another big thanks to Danyrey for another mirror.

You can download it here: Download Pen Pals! (;action=setclicks;rateid=1122240127) (34 MB zip file) Right click, save as...

...and here: mirror | rorrim (

Thanks a bunch guys!

Here are some pics from the film:

I sincerely hope you enjoy the film.

Art :)

07 July 2005, 03:57 AM

Cant believe no one has commented on your great animation.

I loved the story and how you took time to introduce the whole story. Many animations nowadays rush thru it just to finish it since we all know that animations take quite sometime to complete.

Only one question...What software did you use and how long did it take you to complete? man project or group of people?...(okay....three questions...)

Apart from that...

Awesome Job and beautiful render...

Okay...watched it again and loved it even's going in my 3D Hall of Fame...

you can view it on my site in a day or two.... (

Best Regards,


07 July 2005, 04:33 AM
Hey dude, just watched the movie and loved it, thought it came together really well. Loved the animations on the pieces of paper. Not sure if anyone else has mentioned it to you, but I actually thought the big guys drawings were actually going to meet their demise when he drew the dragon. I thought the little guy drew the knight, knowing that the big marker would draw an obligatory dragon which would then set his sheet of paper on fire!!

Liked the ending you had, all round great stuff.



07 July 2005, 06:27 AM
wow friend! i haven't words to describe it. its amazing, i love story. the idea of a battle between papers with characters draw by pencils is amazing. 2d animation is great. Very very funny. congratulations! Great short. Its Fantastic :applause:

07 July 2005, 11:29 AM
Hey Art, its great to finally see this!

Love the story and animation on the whole rocks! Conveying the girl pencil by a slight twist of the hips was most impressive. The drawn stuff always seems to add an extra dimension to a cg animation, and is really well integrated into the film.

Minor crit - not sure the face shapes did anything for me, I couldn't really read them, thought everything that needed to be said could have been conveyed purely through the angle, arc and movement of the pencil itself.

On the whole a very impressive and complete short film, congrats on the festival success, hope to see another one from you!


07 July 2005, 05:35 PM

you just blow my head off!! It's really great!! I really love your style and your storyline. It's simply awesome!!!

Have you presented your short in Montreal??



07 July 2005, 05:01 PM
Hi Guys,

Thanks for taking the time to respond with some comments.

ENL: It was a group project and it took about 8 months from start to finish. About 5 months of production, 3 months of rendering, sound design and music compostion and post.
Some friends did the modelling, another helped out with the particle effects. Two others helped with the 2D animation.
I did the lighting, texturing, 3D animation and the 2D animation for the cowboy duel.

The other credits are:

Models by Ryan Kerrison and Clayton Dunford
FX by Mike Cooke
2D animation by Don Boone (samurai/sumo) Glenn Curry (kinght/dragon)
Sound desig by Kim Storey
Music by Alec Harrison

Nathan and Rafalon: Thanks!

Matt: Thanks Matt. Glad you posted a response here man. I had one other person who didn't like the "face" shapes for the pencils. To be honest, it was a bit of an afterthought. I was worried the emotion wouldn't read, especially in the close ups where the body position may not be as evident. It was a choice though, and once made, I have to live with it! ;)

Jeepy: Thanks! I haven't had a chance to screen in Montreal but I am always open to screen the short anywhere. And Montreal is a great city. It's been invited to festivals as far away as Taiwan, Lithuania and Iran. The cool thing about this short is that it's pantomime and the message can be understood by many cultures and languages. I hope that gives it a more broad appeal.

Keep it coming folks! I am open to all comments and crits.



07 July 2005, 06:04 PM
Hey Art,

Congratulations on completing your film! I know how it feels to finally be able to wrap up a large project!! :)

Overall, I thought it was a very nice little piece. Some nice emotions portrayed overall, great 2d animation, and a wonderful ending!

As for a critique, I'd say there were still a couple of things that needed work:

-there were some really hard cuts near the beginning of the film...not too noticeable...just a slight editing problem
-the facial animation on the pencils was hard to read (you've already addressed that in this thread though)
-there was some model segmentation visible in some of the close-up shots (could be easily fixed with an extra meshsmooth iteration)
-some of the bodily animation on the pencils (although smooth), was awkwardly weighted
-some of the sound effects were a bit contrived. Not too much mind you...but enough that it did take away from some of the shots though

But, that being said, overall it was a very nice piece :) Good look during your festival runs!

07 July 2005, 12:58 PM
really nice short

heres my crits

right at the begining there are a few really harsh cuts, almost jump cuts in places, where its cutting to a similar position, and it just looks really off.....

the fire fx could use some work

sound was overall very good, but as someone else said, it just seemed a bit contrived at points.......

nice work tho.



07 July 2005, 05:03 PM
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the crits.

Tyson, great to see you posting here. I am a really big fan of your work. There are definitely mistakes in the piece. I did the 3D animation in about 2 weeks. My 2D duel was doen in 3 weeks. At the time I was under pressure to finish the whole piece in 4 months. I ended up taking about twice that long factoring in rendering and the sound, post production elements. Bravo was very generous in allowing me to extend the deadline. However, I never felt like I had the luxury to go back and fix things that were already done. There was a sense of needing to push forward. This wasn't a short that I was picking at in my spare time. I had others to answer to, so to speak.
I wasn't 100% happy with the sound but that was in somebody else's hands and I basically lived with what they did in order to get the already late project in the can. The segmentation was something I had noticed too late and didn't go back and render times were already slow. It took 6 weeks to render on my computer. So, again, just have to live with some of the mistakes I guess.
Freakmotion, thanks for the crits!
The fire FX aren't what I had in mind originally but it was the best we could do. Most of the people who worked on the film with me were recent grads from my class. Not a lot of real world xp and they helped me out in their spare time. I am really happy to have had their contribution and I think it looks ok considering. It seems to work with the stylisation of the piece.
Do you guys have suggestions on how to make the cuts better at the start of the film? It's something I wasn't sure was working either, but I am so close to it, sometimes you think it works when it doesn't.
Thanks again!


07 July 2005, 05:45 AM
WOW..this is holy crap!
great critis....


07 July 2005, 07:12 AM
I like it a lot :)

07 July 2005, 12:59 PM
Hi Alom and (0)ne,

Thanks for taking a look at the short and taking time to leave a comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Pass it around to friends. I want as many people to see it as possible!

Art :)

07 July 2005, 01:39 PM
Really original and entertaining! What more can you want as a viewer?

As an animator, there are a few crits, but they've already been mentioned and explained.

Loved it!

- Benjamin

07 July 2005, 10:03 PM
Excellent. Classic. Just nice all round. Reminds me of a Pixar short... not any specific one, just in the clarity and quality of the story. Animation and cutting overall could be snappier, tighter.

07 July 2005, 03:20 AM
hi! your animation is very funy! hahaha :bounce: excellent video. Congratullations

07 July 2005, 10:11 AM
hey there!

really creative short you got there. love the idea of 2D combined with 3D animation. my only crit would be that the pencil animation could be snappier. great work!


07 July 2005, 01:44 PM
Hi All,

Thanks for the comments. There is certainly room for improvement. I never realised just how difficult it would be to animate a pencil. But that was part of the challenge. To attempt to give life to an inanimate object, with no appendages, no eyes, etc. But it was also fun.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to take the film down for a bandwidth is getting hammered. If somebody wants to offer up a mirror, it would be appreciated.

Thanks everyone for watching the film!


07 July 2005, 08:19 PM
Hey Slurry!!

If you want to show your short in Montreal this autumn there's the Glitchfest:

It's a nice festival for shorts only. There's also a ton of other one like: the site is in french though and others!

Hope to see your movie on a big screen!!!


07 July 2005, 10:52 PM
Hi All,

Thanks for the comments. There is certainly room for improvement. I never realised just how difficult it would be to animate a pencil. But that was part of the challenge. To attempt to give life to an inanimate object, with no appendages, no eyes, etc. But it was also fun.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to take the film down for a bandwidth is getting hammered. If somebody wants to offer up a mirror, it would be appreciated.

Thanks everyone for watching the film!


try this site to host your film:

Never used it, but it was posted on CGTalk a few weeks ago. I'd love to see it...

07 July 2005, 03:29 PM

I have Pen Pals hosted on my site as well...This short is too good to get lost in the Bandwidth Wars...

Feel free to visit the 3D Hall of Fame on my site ( to download this and other anims or click on the link below for a direct link...

Download Pen Pals! (;action=setclicks;rateid=1122240127)

Best Regards,


07 July 2005, 04:17 PM
Hi, thanks for hosting it ENL. I tried the link however and it looks like it points to a Warcraft message board site.

I was offered a mirror site by another CG Talk member as well and I hope to have that link up soon.
Thanks for the support guys!


07 July 2005, 07:11 PM
Sorry about's fixed now....

I keep track of how many people download files and use that board to give me that information...

You can now donwload it without any interruptions....



07 July 2005, 07:29 PM
Great Short!!

as promised, a mirror to pen pals:

mirror | rorrim (


07 July 2005, 12:16 PM

I'll definitely check out those festivals. I thought I was done with the festival circuit but maybe I can squeeze in another one!
Thanks again to ENL and Danyrey, whose generosity is allowing me to continue to share my short film - you guys rock!


victor throe
07 July 2005, 12:30 PM
that was awesome

thank goodness it wasnt done by just one person. that would have been really depressing

07 July 2005, 01:34 PM
Hahaha, thanks Victor. I certainly couldn't have done it without the help of my friends. It would have taken much longer to complete by myself.


07 July 2005, 08:43 PM
Really funny story! Awsome work!

08 August 2005, 04:27 PM
Funny, romantic and..

My preferred clip at the moment...


08 August 2005, 06:26 PM
Excellent work! I really liked it! :thumbsup:

08 August 2005, 10:23 PM
Hey, that short about the pencils was really sharp! (pun intended) I really enjoyed it!
:applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:

08 August 2005, 05:32 AM
Nice work. Good, cute story and characters. Nice use of 2d in a 3d world as well. Overall presentation is top notch and satisfiying. Very cool.

08 August 2005, 04:16 PM
Hi All,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Art :thumbsup:

08 August 2005, 11:15 PM
I loved the film but the ENDING! Priceless. I was sad for the pencil every time he had to sharpen and I saw the height issue coming. I never predicted the female pencil shaving herself down for him. And even made herself a little smaller to make him feel more manly! How touching. That was so freeking awesome. Good luck in your future endeavors.

08 August 2005, 11:59 PM
Wonderful job! I just loved it! The animation, the story, music/sound effects were all pulled together perfectly!

I can't wait to see more of your work!

08 August 2005, 03:27 PM
Great Story, great animation. The characters are very well designed, I loved it ! The end is GREAT ! Congrats man !!!

09 September 2005, 03:25 PM
Great stuff !

I'm not a professional animator, but I've seen enough animation and live film
to be able to recognize top quality entertainment !

As for the crits, my comment would be that all of the crits that have been posted, fall into
directorial choices.

Technically, storywise, entertainment factor, everything in this short is flawless !

I agree that it has a "Pixar" feel to it, both from the sense of humour and sweet ending, and
the great quality of the render. What software did you use? ... And you rendered it one machine only ?

As for taking the film down because of bandwith,this film is so good, I think you really want it to be seen by as many people as possible, until at least you're too busy to accept any more work :)


Sil 369
10 October 2005, 01:28 AM
In the sequel, I'd like to see a paintbrush - the lady pencil's ex-boyfriend - meet the two. I wonder what show it'd put on. :p :p :p

10 October 2005, 03:21 PM
This one almost slipped through. Nonetheless great short and very cool story. Really enjoyed the 2D clips.

{Plugged} better late then never :)


10 October 2005, 04:47 PM
Yo Art,
Great short.. I won't bother mentioning the crits that have already been brought up, but what I'm curious about is where you want to eventually go with your career.. Animator, story dept.. Or both? I mean.. It seems like your storytelling/directing ability really shines. I agree with the comments that this has a kind of Pixar cuteness to the quality of the story.. I think this proves you don't need super detailed characters with fancy cloth and expensive effects to have a top notch short. I'm looking forward to seeing where you end up in the future..

Thanks for the 5 minutes of fun...


10 October 2005, 05:16 PM
nice, I love it so much. Great show of creativity. Keep up the good work please :thumbsup:

5 stars from me.

10 October 2005, 05:19 PM
Nice job Art! Good to finally see it! ;) Bravo

My favorite bit was the gunslinger lighting his cigarette. Classic.

10 October 2005, 05:51 PM
nice job! congratulations... very good short and great idea! hehe
i like it, keep up the good work! :thumbsup:

5 stars :)

10 October 2005, 05:52 PM
amazing work!!!:bounce:

five stars from me!!!

this is such a cool idea, i really liked the fights betwin the drawings. and i liked the ending.

fabulous piece of work!!!

10 October 2005, 06:25 PM
nice job! congratulations... very good short and great idea! hehe
i like it, keep up the good work! :thumbsup:

5 stars :)
haha nice avatar!:D Adriana Lima is HOT!

10 October 2005, 07:02 PM
OMG i saw this SOOO many times before it was posted here. it was during my month at Vanarts they had it in the mainframe and it was just as priceless than as it is now GREAT WORK MY MAN!!!

hehe love it :P

10 October 2005, 07:05 PM
I have to commend you for your great work. Not bad for a first short but then again I'm sure you have been preparing for a long long time to create this fantastic little baby.

10 October 2005, 08:18 PM
Hay there

that is so awesome, Very good indeed

very good again, I too watched it several times before posting in here

5stars here m8

10 October 2005, 08:40 PM
Wow, what a completely fantastic short. I loved every frame. Great work.


10 October 2005, 08:43 PM
really great work :applause: the story was great and very well told and brought to life :thumbsup: keep up the great work :)

10 October 2005, 08:50 PM
Congrats on your frontpage plug Art!!!

Is this your first one?

10 October 2005, 08:55 PM
Really like the idea and story. Great quality. Great work. ME LIKE IT ALOT!Keep up the great work.

10 October 2005, 09:56 PM
yeh,u posted this at animationforum and never returned lol,anyway,great work!

10 October 2005, 10:17 PM
great story, great telling!

best regards,

10 October 2005, 10:25 PM
Oh Man story is great!! I liked everything.

10 October 2005, 10:37 PM
I though i saw "the pen pal" b4? maybe in WIP forum?
dont know.. but was great and still great!
love the cartoony smooth textures and the happy, yet not cheesy, ending!
I also do love the mix of 2d / 3d aspect: I mean the hand drawn bits! works great!
Ur work is what i call animation, like it used to b! that is my taste though, like other styles also, but this is my favourite!
love it!
5* 4 u!.. needless 2 say :bounce:

10 October 2005, 11:27 PM
:applause:what a nice & creative short~!!!:thumbsup: I loved the combination of 2d and 3d, it really really made this short more amazing. I can't wait to share with my friends, keep going buddy, looking forward your next short!

10 October 2005, 12:48 AM
One of the best animations i've seen on here. Everything is superb and the story is great too.

Very fun watch.

10 October 2005, 02:43 AM
Hey dude ... i really enjoy this one .... great story ....

10 October 2005, 10:23 AM
Wow, there is a lot of love in this piece!
And while some of the critiques may be valid, the overall quality of storytelling is fantastic. Congratulations!

The only thing that irritated me a bit was actually the clock sound that is out of sync with the pendulum... ;)

Now back to watching it once more... :)



10 October 2005, 12:41 PM
Holy Moly! Where did you guys dig this thread up from? I never thought it would see the light of day again. :)


Thanks for all the kind words everybody. I really appreciate you taking the time to watch the film and post your comments. It means alot to me.

mstram - Yes, I want it to be seen by as many people as possible so share the word! I rendered the film using Maya's Mentalray, on one computer running Windows 2000. Depth of field was added by blurring the background in After Effects. There was no motion blur on the pencils or paper. It was killing my already slow rendertime so I had to do without it unfortunately.

Sil369 - I don't know if I have a sequal left in me but a paintbrush would add a definite twist....things could get messy with all that paint!

lildragon - thanks so much for the frontpage plug. that means alot to me. i turned on my computer to see it plugged up there and it didn't register right away, hahaha. I was like, "WHAT!?"

kevinw - Where do I want to go with my career? Whereevr it takes me I guess. I got into this industry to be an animator and I am still struggling to learn and get my skills up to a professional quality. That is one reason I chose to create a short about pencils. I figured if I could make them emote without having faces or apendages, it would go along way in showing my skill as an animator. As it stands though, I think my strengths are in story and direction. If an opportunity came up in that area I would most certainly take it. I have a long way to go on the animation front. The CG animation for this films was done pretty much straight ahead and in one pass. I did it in about 2 weeks. I was on a tight deadline and didn't have time to go back and polish it up since I had lighting/texturing/rendering/compositing and other stuff that needed my attention.

ivanisavich - Yep, first time up there on the front page. It feels weird but in a good way! Thanks.

NOOB! sorry for not checking back in at the Animation Forum! I joined that site before taking off to Phoenix for a wedding and I forgot to go back to the site when I returned! There are soooo many great sites popping up on the net that focus on animation it's hard to keep up with them all and still do any work! It's wonderful, but hard! I'll definitely pop over again though. Thanks for the words of envouragement!

TINY1KG - I don't remember having a WIP thread...maybe there is another pencil cartoon around here? Thank you for your comments and compliments. I tried to make an entertaining piece, nothing too deep or intellectual - just fun. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Thanks again to everyone who watched the short and added their comments. It means a great deal to me as a filmmaker that you watched it and enjoyed it.


10 October 2005, 01:51 PM
Gr8 tale :-) 6* :-) AWARD :-) your animation is very very good, the best is idea and execution :-) These draws 2D are gr8, most animation whos I like are: Krapooyo, Fallen art, Cathedra, Rough and now of course your Pens

10 October 2005, 02:42 PM
just looked at the date when u posted...
no wonder i saw ur animation before...... was not in the WIP but in this same forum!
why didnt i post? no idea but remember it and loved it!
surprising only front page now!
guess the sun was too stong and we shall all have been wearing hats to prevent grey matter fry up!
feel bad cse, it is pbbly csew of people like me: though was great but pbbly didnt have or didnt take the time tht day...
very desolee!

10 October 2005, 06:12 PM
I became happy when I saw this movie!

I have no critique for this movie at all. Five stars!

I'd like to comment on the interplanetarysupergalactic compression of this movie. 5min 23s in 38MB? If you have the time, please explain how that is possible!

10 October 2005, 06:18 PM
Yea me too, I`m still smiling :)
excellent job

10 October 2005, 06:44 PM
Just saw this now up on cgtalk front page,checked it out,loved it.Small crits have already been mentioned so i won't repeat.Overall great story,solid all round.The score and soundFX in particular stood out for me.Well done and good luck.:thumbsup:

10 October 2005, 10:49 PM
That was funny and kept my interest. But not keeping truth to materials killed it for me. What were those pencils rubber? I was distracted the whole film because
kept thinking ok CG, CG, CG, CG, CG, CG.


10 October 2005, 01:51 AM
though the rubbers material they fitted the overall style.

thx for raising the question of the matter size Bit brain.
plse Slurry ? how do u do it? me not 2 good at thisd at it...yet, u : 5min... = 37 mg... !
had a look at ur site,again, in case i ask for already answered questions ;0/: pls, which program do u use 4 the animation?... and if u do use another program to export and compress, may i ask which? :0/ may i also ask how big was the animation originally? and yes how did u get it down to the tiny prettylooking baby of 38mg?

thk u and congratulations again!

10 October 2005, 12:32 PM
Hi Guys,

Thanks again for the comments.

Pin_Pal - I understand what you are saying. The "rubbery" pencils was a stylistic choice. Having stiff pencils wouldn't have been as interesting to me. Also, it would be very difficult to get the objects to emote, as in when Little Blue is feeling sorry for himself at the end of the film and his hunched over.

TINY1KG and Bitbrain - I used Maya Complete 6.01 for the film. As far as compression goes, I used DivX for the avi version and Sorenson 3 for the mov version, compressed from After Effects. The biggest difference you can make with file sizes is to play around with your resolution and audio. For example, making the audio 22khz instead of 44 khz reduces the audio by half. Same with the bit rate and stereo settings. Making it mono or 8 bit can drastically reduce the size of your videos.
The best thing to do is try reducing it step by step and seeing how small you can get it without comprimising quality. For an internet file, I feel you can get away with reduced audio settings.

musashidan - The music is one of my favorite characters in the film. Many emerging filmmakers overlook the importance of sound and music. The music was composed by my friend Alec Harrison. He is a very talented composer and I hope to work with him again in the future.

Hope that helps!


10 October 2005, 01:17 PM
Thank u very much to take the time to explain Slurry!
Always nice to understand where was the mistake i was making.
Really appreciated!

10 October 2005, 05:05 PM
Awesome stuff!:buttrock:

10 October 2005, 08:49 PM

Very evocative, love the drawings and expressions :bowdown:

Great work again !

10 October 2005, 01:45 PM
TINY1KG - No Problem! My pleasure!

ljSin and Cipher - Thanks for the support! Nice of you to drop in and leave a comment.

Some of the team members have seen the thread and have enjoyed all the comments as well.
Thanks to everyone.

Art :thumbsup:

10 October 2005, 09:53 AM
simply wonderful!!!
the final of the moovie moved me!!

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