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  • Writer's pictureR Cipolletta

e17: The Mermaid (It_3)

2018 iPad Pro 12.9inch + Apple Pencil 2nd Gen: Procreate 14.10.20

Story Beat 5: The 50/50 Shot

Self Assessment & Feedback:

I decided to start the process with this shot in particular because I was lacking some inspiration and felt primarily motivated by problem-solving instead. The 50/50 shot was originally a problem-solve itself, because I felt that I already had far too many story beats to begin with, and I wanted to combine the Mermaid’s spotting of the horse with her noticing its rain-like hair. Having a half-in, half-out of water shot felt like a good way to tackle this, but I just couldn’t visualise it when I was writing about it and so picked up my tablet and just tried hashing it out.

I think that the background and horse anatomy are clearly my weakest points here. The former is less of a concern for me as the focus of the story beats is meant to be about the story progression and, in this instance, the environment doesn’t have much to do with the story at all - but the horse is bugging me.

I did most of this story beat as a trial run, just to get myself moving in a forward direction, and to finally have something to show for after weeks of research and blog writing. I feel its that particular motivation that has stumped me here - with the result ending up a bit lacklustre for my taste and with clearly not enough reference drawing done on horses (and maybe environments) before getting started

Peer Assessment & Feedback:

I spoke to two peers to get feedback on this first draft, the first of whom is my course mate and roommate, Calyx Allerton-Bullard. I spent a similar amount of time with Calyx on my previous module - the creation of the Beast - and I knew it would be wise to consult with them again because of their research and applicational knowledge about animal biology and anatomy.

They spent a lot of time with me and the pose reference I showed them, talking me through various bits of horse anatomy. I gave them the pen and they drew over my illustration [ABOVE IMAGE] of the horse with one that was much more accurate. Most of the adjustments were in the body (which I had originally drawn to be much too blocky and segmented) and legs (which were slightly too thick and had inaccurate knee joints). They also spoke to me about how the horse hair I had chosen seemed too flowy in the front and perhaps not enough in the back, given horses' tendencies to flick their tail a lot even when stationary.

They changed the head and face to amore realistic one, which I felt was more of a personal choice rather than a correction (later I decided to keep my own stylised approach). They also made an adjustment to the front leg, opting for an outward angle on the farthest left leg. Before speaking to them, I had been trying to achieve this look, as I was aware that having two perfectly straight front legs was not going to be accurate, but I had struggled to make it look natural.. Calyx had much more success making it look realistic rather than awkwardly staged but at this point I was tired from adjusting the hind legs and blocky torso so I opted to keep my original design.

I chose to keep the straightened tail to draw a stronger parallel between the horse hair and the rain for the mermaid's benefit.

The other peer I consulted was Mo Sablouh, whose experience in forensic imaging has been invaluable to me in the past for posing and proportioning. He is also exceedingly good with composition and lighting.

He wrote me the following notes as feedback on my design.


  • Horse legs too thick.

  • Torso is very blocky - recommend rounding it up.

  • Murkiness to the water may better portray a river rather than an ocean.

  • Scene would benefit from addition of underwater plants.

  • Due to light reflecting off of water surface, the lower half should also have dimmer lighting.

  • Changing the terrain in the water would convey the sensation of two wildly different worlds separating the mermaid and the horse (also for realism as water erodes materials differently to air).


  • Lovely composition.

  • Mermaid seems anatomically correct - especially the shoulder blade and back muscle.

  • The pose choices are dynamic and interesting.

  • Long hair on the horse conveys a natural vibe, like a willow tree reaching down onto the water.

Non-Specialist Assessment & Feedback:

Mum loved it and had very little else to say except the heart-eyes emoji. This may be parental bias... should probably find a different non-specialist sample group in the future...


In a conversation about research, specifically when to stop researching (entry 16), my course tutor was discussing with the group about the importance of personal interests when working on a project. It hadn't occurred to any of us that not wanting to proceed with a project was sufficient justification to leave it behind.

A comparison between us as students and industry experts - whose careers often rely on their ability to instinctively tell what projects are worth pursing based on their desire (or lack thereof) to pursue it - brought us sharply to the realisation that we had all at some point held ourselves back on the notion that passion and profession could not mix.

There are many things I just don't like about this piece, and didn't like while I was creating it. There was an absence of passion, and I was clearly missing the interest and drive that would ordinarily push me to invest the extra time in the details. I just wanted to get through it for the sake of experimentation and as a result was not learning anything.

It's for this reason that, despite having originally planned to approximate all of the story beats in this format before eliminating one of the two remaining stories, I've instead decided to conclude my research into this concept now - having answered the question I needed to address (entry 16).

I will be shifting all of my focus into the Detective concept from this point on, which is a relief for me as I feel there is a lot more interesting, albeit time consuming, avenues to pursue there.


Production Video:

Including peer assessment & personal adjustments...

- R Cipolletta



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