Posted by: Leslie White | August 20, 2015

Leslie’s New Blog!!!

MedHeadArts is being reborn (pheonix style) as AnimationSquibbery. I will no long be making posts on MedHeadArts. In other words, I am retiring my MedHeadArts blog and starting a new one: AnimationSquibbery, which you can follow here:


Posted by: Leslie White | July 17, 2014

Glen Keane has animated a ballet dancer (!!!)

Glen Keane has animated a ballet dancer, and it is stunning! His new animated short “Duet” follows a boy and girl through their lives from infant to adults. I’ve been sketching ballet dancer poses for the past year, and seeing his figure poses makes me realize how much I have to learn. Below are a few screenshots from the animation. Look at his poses!!! I wish I could have shared this animation with my SFSU animation class back in March. One thing we didn’t touch upon in the class (though I wish we did) was how to draw figure poses without becoming a slave to anatomy and proportion. I still feel a lot of uncertainty in my own drawings when it comes to intentionally “breaking the anatomy”. I find my drawings look very wooden and stale unless I put a lot of exaggeration into them. Here is the link to the full animation in HD:

Screen shot 2014-07-17 at 7.45.49 PM Screen shot 2014-07-17 at 7.47.18 PM Screen shot 2014-07-17 at 7.48.06 PM

Posted by: Leslie White | July 17, 2014

Sketches from my “Drawing For Digital Animation” class

Dance Jump Lay

Posted by: Leslie White | April 4, 2014

Stephen Colbert likes my art :D

I’m geeking out just a LITTLE.  It seems that one of my illustrations from the Summary For Policy Makers was shown on the Colbert Report last night! How exciting for our TSU Graphics Team, and for scientists who brought this figure into being!

Watch the Video Clip HERE!

IPCC on the Colbert Report


This is one of my figures in the Summary For Policy Makers. A version of the gradient bars existed in AR4.

I am a Scientific Illustrator for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To quote our website, the IPCC was established by the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization,  “…to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change…” So every few years, the IPCC  produces a book. Or rather, it produces three books, because there is a LOT of information to assess and share. This time around, I am illustrating the second book, which focuses on the Impacts, Adaption, and Vulnerability related to climate change. My coworker Yuka is our Web Administrator, but she has been working on the graphics long before I started this job. Our book is several thousand pages long, and contains over 200 illustrations. These illustrations range from simple charts to complex and highly conceptual infographics. Those are the illustrations I’ve spent the past 10 months working on.

Because the book is so long, it becomes somewhat…unusable for anyone not willing to sit down and read the several thousands pages of information. So the IPCC also produces the “SPM”, which stands for Summary for Policy Makers. It’s a super condensed summary of the most critical information for governmental policy makers around the world. This SPM doesn’t simply get published like the rest of the book. A Plenary is held to review the SPM line-by-line, and the governments of the world participate in this review process.

So that is what I was doing in Japan last week: it was the Plenary meeting to approve the SPM. There are 9 figures in the SPM, so I was there to make real time edits to the figures based on the feedback from the government delegates and the IPCC co-chairs. At first, it was surreal to see my illustrations projected on three giant screens, being carefully scrutinized by over 100 governments.  Mostly, I was just amazed by the tremendous amount of work put in by the scientists, delegates, and support staff. Our Japanese hosts were wonderful, and we were lucky enough to see the cherry blossoms bloom.



Posted by: Leslie White | January 24, 2014

Frozen (is amazing)

The more times I see Disney’s new animated film Frozen, the more I find to love about it. Below is my super-obsessive review of the film, which focuses in on a random assortment of elements that really stood out to me. WARNING: major spoiler alerts below, so if you haven’t seen the film….back away slowly….

Character animation of Ana and Elsa
I am so impressed by the animation of these two characters. The body language and facial expressions are beautifully done. Elsa has some particularly wonderful moments during “Let It Go” and the reprise of “For the First Time in Forever”. You can see some of Idina’s own facial expressions come through in Elsa’s singing performances, which really makes her voice meld with the character design.

this image belongs to Disney :)

this image belongs to Disney 🙂

Brilliant Comedy
Disney has given us a type of 21st century comedy that we only got a taste of in Tangled. And the result is spectacular. Ana adds a lot of comedy with her bubbly and endearing personality. And Olaf’s scream is hilarious!

Fabric Issue
There seems to be something slightly off with the rigidity of Ana’s coronation skirt. It’s a beautiful but complex pleated skirt and it doesn’t seem to crumple the way it ought to. The movement was distracting, just like Stoick’s beard in How To Train Your Dragon. Does anyone else see this?

Let It Go
By far the most evocative Disney song since Color’s of the Wind. Both the song itself and the animation will leave you with chills. I’ll try to be as concise as possible because WOW I could on and on….The character metamorphosis that Elsa goes through in this song is beautifully executed. The scene opens with her alone in the dark on the snowy mountain side. I feel like everyone can identify with this moment – a moment where you are alone in your failure, and the strange relief that comes with it. It is wonderful to watch Elsa finally rejoicing in herself. By the end of this number, she is literally radiating light as she strides out into the sunrise and belts out the last note.

The plot is fantastic. Disney gives us a satisfying twist on the true-love-can-break-the-spell paradigm. There was one possible outcome of this story that I’m surprised Disney didn’t work in: Ana having fire power. I was waiting for this revelation the whole film, and it never came. My hunch is that perhaps this may be something that gets worked into a sequel, but I’m surprised it didn’t happen in Frozen. Ana having fire power fits – she has red hair, is a spark of hope and energy, and she truly has a fiery personality. The first time I saw the film, I thought Ana’s discovery of her own power would be the element that could counter balance Elsa’s ice. I guess we’ll see though – this movie has sequel written all over it.

This snowman is one of the best comedic side characters Disney have ever created. Constantly falling apart and reassembling himself, often losing his nose, extremely funny – this little snowman is hilarious to watch. He also has a unique high-pitched scream that makes me laugh every time.

I could go on and on, but my lunchbreak is just about over. 😉

Posted by: Leslie White | January 14, 2014

My first walk cycle first walk cycle

Have a lot of fun with this! I’m using Photoshop to illustrate and After Effects to assembe. The live file updating is perfect for refining each movement quickly.

Tonight one of my 3D animations will be featured in a new National Geographic documentary on PBS! The documentary is called “Skeletons of the Sahara”. It explores an incredible human burial site that was discovered in the Sahara Desert by paleontologist Paul Sereno.  I had the amazing opportunity to work with Paul during my graduate studies. I built my research project around one fossil in particular, a male skeleton known as “G3B8”. I used CT scans of the fossil to produce a highly accurate/detailed digital 3D model of the fossil. I then animated the fossil standing up from his 9,500 year old burial posture. Hope everyone can catch the show!

It airs tonight at 10pm Eastern/Pacific, (9pm Central Standard time)


Posted by: Leslie White | October 21, 2012

Wine making

Yesterday I got to participate in the coolest step of the wine making process: grape pressing! Paul Brown (a professor I work with at Stanford) is a wine maker and he invited me to help press grapes to make Pinot Noir. The grapes came from Rosella Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands (a premier wine making district in California).

This is where we did the pressing.

Sarah cleans out the tank with an iodine/water solution.

Looking through the door at the bottom of the tank. After being washed with iodine, the tank is rinsed with citric acid. This helps promote fermentation.

Decanting the wine from the stainless steel fermentation tanks into buckets. The buckets are emptied into the tank from the earlier pictures and yeast is added.

After the stainless steel fermentation tanks are emptied, they are a ton of grapes left in the bottom – many still completely intact and in clusters. The berries are scooped out and put into a slotted wooden barrel. The clusters must be separated/crushed by hand (for some reason the press can’t crush them if they’re still in cluster form). This was the messiest but most fun part of the process.

The berries are then pressed within the barrel, and all the juice comes out at the bottom. The color was beautiful! We kept tasting the wine at this point because the flavor changes dramatically as the berries get pressed. Everyone seemed to think that this was going to be a particularly tasty batch.

Posted by: Leslie White | October 9, 2012

Cave project concept art

A Blue Whale in a cave lake? Why not!?

I’m trying to move things along with a personal art project that I’m calling the Cave Project. I’ve recently become interested in caves, particularly the Infinite Cave in Vietnam. It seems like the perfect environment for a story to take place, so right now I’m trying to hash out what that story might be. Here is some concept art 🙂

Cave shelf

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