Final Reflection

I believe the human spirit is indomitable. If you endeavor to achieve, it will happen given enough resolve. It may not be immediate and often your greater dream is not something you will achieve within your own lifetime. The effort you put into anything transcends yourself for there is no futility even in death.”

Monty Oum, 1981-2015

If you had tried to tell me last semester that I would be part of this program with all these amazing and caring people I probably would have waved the idea off.  I was upset about a lot of things and I had just moved here from my childhood home in the country. I wasn’t optimistic of anything. It took some effort to let go of that and allow myself to really trust people but it’s been so worth it. I’ve never had a better school semester.


My project idea was originally going to be an animation, focusing on how someone seems to deconstruct over time because of stress. I wanted to start off with the lines in the film being clean and precise with full colour and shading which would slowly begin to deteriorate and look more and more like things weren’t adding up. I planned to have the lines go fuzzy along with the color going bland and monochrome to show how someone feels when they’re stressed out. After a long time of going over the idea and redesigning it, moving things around and designing characters around original ideas I decided I would rather make a webcomic. A webcomic is sort of just like it sounds: it’s just a comic people can access online from any device. Animations can convey emotions but the kind of animation I wanted to do wouldn’t have any dialogue and thus could not show what I wanted to show as far as character development went. I used programs such as Paint Tool Sai and Comic Life to bring my idea to life.

Over the course of this semester I have learned more than I think I ever would have in a regular semester of school. Propel has taught me that I work better with no bells and no teachers hanging over my shoulder or chatterbox students one desk away. I’m not required to listen to a 30 minute lesson on something I’ll forget in an hour anyway. I chose what I was interested in and I chose how I wanted to present it. I worked in an environment that I could more or less control (I could sit anywhere and any way I wanted, with whoever I wanted). I learned better communication skills (as well as the other 6 c’s, character, citizenship, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking) through activities and challenges as well as learning how to be a leader in some situations (Tiger’s Den). Everybody did more presentations in this one semester than they ever would have done in a normal school situation and while I don’t believe I’m any better or worse at presenting than I was, a lot of the people here will say they feel more confident or sure of themselves now than they were before. I’ve also learned to be adaptive while still remaining myself. If I had stayed in a regular school situation I would have still been in a rut so Propel has really opened my eyes to new parts of my own personality and abilities.

I don’t think a lot of people realize how hard art can be. You can nod and say yes, painting is tough. Yeah, I think sketching can be a little difficult. I don’t really think people understand how much artists struggle daily to be able to express themselves or get an idea to translate from their head to their hands and then onto paper without being misunderstood somewhere along the way. Even still, more people think traditional art is harder than digital art.

Traditional art is defined by something you physically touch. You put the pencil to paper, you smudge everything with your thumbs, you mix the paint yourself etc. Traditional art is just as hard as digital, though. The same amount of effort goes into both of these techniques. The only difference between the two of them is the fact that with digital art, all you need is your favorite program and a tablet.  While my project was focused on how people do and don’t deal with stress, it was also a way to show that no art is easy. Digital art isn’t just a three click process, it takes hours of adjusting and blending and sometimes it just doesn’t even look the way you want it to so you scrap the whole design.

When I first started my project I didn’t really anticipate how tough it would be. I knew how to shade and colour already so I wasn’t worried about learning any of that. What really stumped me was formatting the images into the comic program in a way that wouldn’t reduce the quality. There was also the constant trouble of my pen pressure coming and going. Pen pressure is what helps you change the thickness of the lines or colour without having to do it manually, all you do is press harder on the tablet. Occasionally a tablet won’t register with the installed driver and starts to act as just another mouse which makes the lines jagged and all one thickness. I also forgot to account for the days where I would struggle to enjoy drawing. Art block is infuriating when you need to be able to something and you want to finish a project but you just heavily dislike your own art. I didn’t take art block into account but thankfully I had scripts to write if I couldn’t draw anything but it was still frustrating, a comic is reliant on both text/dialogue and images. If I could have done this differently I would have teamed up with another artist so it was less work on both of us. One of us could have sketched the cells and the other could have lined them or vice versa until the cells were done, working around the script until everything was completed. Making a webcomic alone is really stressful. It’s worth it, though. I’ve never actually tried to do something like this and I’m so glad I did.

Propel has been such a unique experience. I wouldn’t have gotten it in a regular school situation where bells dictated what I did and when I did it. Every day would have been the same as the one before it and everything would have been just as predictable. Propel has been something new in every sense. No day has been the same as the one before and there has never been someone hanging over my shoulder pressuring me to do an assignment a specific way to get a certain grade. We’ve all had the freedom to work on what we want however we want which is the way school should be. If all schooling was like this I’d probably want to go to school instead of dreading every single day.

I won’t ever have a similar experience in the future. Propel was unique and it won’t be something I can recreate in another situation later on. I’ve made so many friends and other connections and done more than I would have if I hadn’t decided to join this program. I feel that I’ve grown more as a person than a lot of the other kids my age have. I’ve been given more time to look critically at situations and think about world issues as well as learn about how other people might think. I’ve learned to be more accepting while remaining critical and its made me wiser. Obviously I still have a lot to learn, I’m only seventeen, but I feel like my mind has been expanded farther than most at my age. I’m sad to see propel end but I know it has to for me to move on and do more ambitious things. I’m thankful I had the chance to do this and I’m confident I’ll be able to be more inventive later on in life because of it.


The Future Today

If there was a picture that could bring together all of my sadness about Propel being so close to ending I would insert it here. I’m so sad that everything is coming to a close so soon, Propel has been such an amazing and interesting experience that I don’t think I can ever recreate.

With all the time that I have left I’m going to just polish off my comic and really just try to make it as aesthetically pleasing as I can. I’m proud of what it’s going to become and I’m really excited to show everybody what I’ve been working on this entire time. From now until the very end I’m honestly just going to floor it and pour all my efforts into making this project excellent.

I don’t have any fancy little full colour images for you this time but I do have part of my planning process! Hopefully that’s just as interesting.

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Dawn of the Final 14 Days.

Blog number seven. I’m pretty sure this is our second to last blog which is really sad to think about. Propel went by really fast for some reason and I don’t really want to leave.

I’m pretty much done chapter one, implementing text and arranging cells into something that looks nice. I have ¾ of the second chapter’s script done and I’m planning on drawing cells as I go along (or at least sketching some). Chapter one was the longest chapter by far and it took the most work only because it was just really slow.

Hopefully chapter two will flow better than one did.

In the meantime, have a pretty background picture (it took me an hour and a half, in case you’re wondering.)


To Infinity and Beyond

Hello internet, it’s me again. I haven’t been too exciting lately but I can tell you some details about my project and that’s pretty  nice to say.

Mostly all I’ve been doing is working on the script. It’s kind of grinding work- I like it! But to be honest with you, it’s really tedious sometimes. I know where I want to go with this story and the characters, I have a big long document with everything laid out for myself. It’s one thing to write the story down in my own words but it’s another to write it down as a character.

I realized though that one page of script writing in a Word document is actually worth a lot more than it seems. It’s kind of like an exchange rate, x amount of Euros is worth much more in Canadian dollars and so on. Because comic pages are only three or four boxes/cells per page and there isn’t much dialogue per page, the amount of script that I’ve actually written will make more pages than I initially thought which is really exciting!

We also got to finally see our Propel Jr. kids! Mine were kind of quiet. They were nice though, they asked me lots of questions and worked well together so that was really nice. I’m excited to see them again.

Eye of the Tiger

Hello, internet. Happy fourth blog! Last week was kind of full. Pi day, Tiger’s den and really getting into projects.

I was initially dreading Tiger’s Den because I’m not really good at mingling with new people. I was kind of worried I’d be with a group I couldn’t work with or a group I wasn’t comfortable in but in the end I wound up making a new friend. We didn’t win but I think that’s fine, I showed up and tried my best and that’s the bottom line.

We also got letters back from the 5’s and 6’s and I’m excited to meet the kids who actually wrote them. I was surprised to find a lot of the kids had an interest in sports (even if that wasn’t what they would be doing their projects on.)

I really got started on my project, though, and that’s what I’m really pleased about. I have about a page and a half done already as well as character designs. Hopefully before spring break I can start laying the pages out into real pages!

Greek Salad

Good day, internet, how are you? It’s me, Aimee and I’m amazing. Really, I am! This week has been really good. Not in the sense that it was action packed or anything like that, it was pretty relaxed. Lots of stuff was packed into this week, things like the idea for Tiger’s Den and going to the Winnipeg Art Gallery/WAG. Specifically at the WAG, we got to see the Olympus gallery, something all about ancient Greece and their art/aesthetics. We got to make tiny little Greek pots/plates at the end!

I also got into making some real concept art for my animation and I put some supernatural sublevels into the plot (because why not?). I also worked out some of the plot and some ideas for specific scenes. All I need to do is learn how to string it all together into something interesting instead of it all being just a bunch of unrelated points.

Another interesting up and coming event is our partnership with Samuel Burland School with the grade 5’s and 6’s. Apparently, we’re going to help these kids with what is more or less a ‘junior Propel’. They have something they’re passionate about and hopefully one of us can be of assistance- someone who’s interested in novels could help a kid write a small book, someone else who’s into sports and film might help one of the kids make a short video about their chosen sport. I’m kind of terrified because I’m not amazing with kids but I’m excited- I can share my ideas and techniques with someone younger to give them a head start and maybe fuel the next generation into making something amazing.

Garden of Contemplation

Hello, internet, its Aimee again with my second blog.

We’ve finally begun projects which I was like. Super excited to start from the beginning so hey, there’s a perk. For now my project goal is to try and do a half hour mini-film, something hand animated and possibly full color but in my head black and white would also work. It’s going to follow a detective who starts out sort of green behind the ears, eager to do work through his transformation into something sinister and jaded (via stress on the mind and the taxing process of catching a killer. Or in this case, several.) I want to do significant research on how stress affects the human brain and other stuff- other disorders, situations and what makes a criminal do what they do. Other things, too, like the process of how they go through processing a crime, how they pick it apart and reconstruct it into something they can actually read to say oh, look, these people could be suspects.

Everyone also went to the Human Rights Museum, which was neat. They had exhibits on things like the holocaust and residential schools in Manitoba/around Canada. There were even a few exhibits on gender identity/sexuality equality and rights which were really interesting. The museum was totally unbiased, the only thing that was presented was facts and that is really important when it comes to history. Everything is so easily distorted by opinion and bias, it’s cool to see something that doesn’t roll like that.

I’m looking forward to really getting into projects so hopefully we can crack down on that soon, I’m super eager to really get into building the world my animation will reside in. Hopefully the next time I update I’ll have some concept art to show you!


Adventure: Begin!

Hello! My name is Aimee and this is my first blog. I’ve been in the Propel program for maybe three weeks now but I’ve got literally no sense of time so I could be here for a month and no know. Propel has been way more interesting than I initially thought it would be- not because I expected it to be boring or anything because project-based learning sounded neat, but more so because I’m cynical about everything. I have the attitude of a crabby old lady, to be honest. The first day was mildly intimidating- everyone seemed ten times more capable of things than me, like they already knew why they were there and what they were doing. I’ve found out though, everyone is actually really chill and not as terrifying as I initially thought. Our first outing to a place called Codebreakers totally proved that too- everybody was really good about working together and I think a lot of the people here were just as nervous as I was. Codebreakers taught us to work together outside of our comfort zone which?? Turned out to be super useful later on.

We also completely redesigned the room(s). The room went from vomit purple to a calming blue and the other room went with a maroon red. The thing that was important though was that everything was done in separate units, but each unit made up a whole group effort. Finishing the entire thing was a satisfying feeling, honestly.

In general I actually really enjoy the program. I actually really want to come to school every day versus forcing myself to get out of bed just to sit at a desk for like. Eight hours. I’m still weirdly nervous about everyone/thing but I’ve kind of settled into a group of my own and I’m getting more comfortable around everyone in general as time goes on.