The Malta Independent 26 May 2018, Saturday

Maltese digital illustrator eyeing possibility of cartoon animation

Malta Independent Monday, 30 December 2013, 11:39 Last update: about 5 years ago

The work of Maltese digital illustrator Jason Buhagiar, who works on the Salty Splashes Book Series and Cartoons, may soon be taken to the next level as the US based company Balcony 7, is transitioning Salty Splashes stories into animated adaptations for television and film.

A company’s media representative speaking to The Malta Independent said the company is very happy to have Mr Buhagiar on board and strongly believes he has the potential to help elevate new characters and take the book collection into animation.

Author JZ Bingham wrote a wonderful story not only for children but also for adults who enjoy reading story time with children and Malta-based Mr Buhagiar is helping bring these stories to life.

Explaining how his characters are created, Mr Buhagiar said his clients usually send him a brief description and research follows. If he’s creating a cartoon of an animal with a human body, he studies the animal’s characteristics, colour, shape and movement from photos. He then attempts to find similarities between the animal characteristics and a human body type and the character starts taking shape. Several sketches later, he concentrates on giving it funny features but making sure the animal remains identifiable at all stages. Features that make the characters outstanding are what make characters his own and not surprisingly, this is for him the most important stage.

The possibility of Salty Splashes characters going into animation film will be a huge stepping-stone for Mr Buhagiar.

“This would really mean a lot to me since unfortunately, opportunities like this don’t happen often in Malta,” he said.

Mr Buhagiar hails from Birzebbuga and has lived in the UK for some time. He combines his artistic training with 18 years of experience in the printing industry as a printer and pre-press operator.

“The reason I decided to be a full time digital illustrator is to be able to do what I like best every single day of my life,” he said.

Digital painting differs from other forms of digital art and particularly computer-generated art, in that it does not involve the computer rendering from a model. The artist uses painting techniques to create the digital painting directly on the computer. All digital painting programmes try to mimic the use of physical media through various brushes and paint effects. Digital painting techniques and programmes have advanced significantly in recent years and users can create their own brush style using a combination of texture and shape. This ability is very important in bridging the gap between traditional and digital painting.

It all started when Mr Buhagiar created his website and was hired to illustrate several books for self-published authors and ones that sell on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Eventually he started joining social media sites and forums and came across the Salty Splashes website. He fell in love with the characters straight away but soon realised he could give these fellows something more. He expressed interest in the characters and was delighted when he received a message from the company who requested him to work on some samples.

An agreement to redo all the characters and create new ones for the whole Salty Splashes Collection followed and Mr Buhagiar is working on new publications besides collaborating on plans for animation movies.

Salty Splashes - an award-winning new cartoon series, are Movies On Paper, conceived, designed and produced by Balcony 7 Media and Publishing, in Santa Barbara, California.

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