With their unique style of illustration, Patchpo's work on LottieFiles often stands out. A freelance animator, illustrator, and UI designer based in London, it can be hard to catch this busy bee but we managed to steal away some precious moments of their time to learn a bit more about them.
I’m Silvia Porcu, a digital designer, my work is primarily focused on 2D animations, illustrations and UI design. Learning things for yourself through experimentation and playfulness, for me, has been the best way to learn. I’ve always been passionate about animations and film making. As a kid I would mess around with my parent’s outdated video camera, capturing spontaneous moments and creating collages of them. I taught myself the ins and outs of video editing softwares, and later, discovered After effects. This opened a whole new world for me. Every time I played with it I found a new tool, a new super power. Not only did I have the power to change time but also to enrich images with things that weren’t there.
At 18 I plucked up the courage to enter a short-movie competition which, to my surprise, I went on to win. This allowed me to leave home (in Sardinia) and take up a place at a university in Florence. Here I developed my understanding of web design, branding identity and product design. I was very fortunate to work with a great team of creatives in my first job role. They gave me a taste for working on collaborative projects and really making an impact on a brand.
After 4 great years, high on confidence and with a lust to see more of the world, I packed my bags and moved to London. I spent a year in an east end pub working as a bartender and learning English but soon took the step into full time graphic design. This allowed me to use my skills on projects for Fiat, Virgin, Mercedes, Amazon Prime, Sage and Orange etc.
I was working on some onboarding animations for an app when I came across Lottie. I was super excited by the idea that I could finally turn an animation into an interactive small sized coded file... without coding!
Before Lottie I worked mainly with GIF formats whenever we couldn't embed a video. I’d try to keep the animations light and short, but the quality would always be compromised. It was always a tricky situation, but now with Lottie I can increase the file size and keep the sharp shapes. Animations are very useful to express abstract concepts in a few seconds. It also gives that human warmth that is difficult to express online. On top of all that, it even works with Framer so it’s great for prototyping as well.
When I need to make animations with Lottie I create my assets on Illustrator and I use this useful plugin Battle Axe to import the files into After Effects. Otherwise I import the Illustrator file and I “create shapes from vector layer”.
Lottie works with Duik Bassel and with Rubberhose so it is great for character animations (in case you are looking for web animations). You just need to remember that for Duik you need to select "Guided" in the settings when exporting ("Guided" and "Hidden" for Rubberhorse).
My tip for creativity is just generally opening yourself up to nature and observing it as much as possible. Also observing human behavior in the same way. At the moment I’m propagating my Monstera Deliciosa plant. Each day I see roots growing, curving, adapting and changing. Each day they change shape! To witness the endless, evolution of things really stirs the creative juices. We, as graphic designers, also have to do this. It does not have to be a plant, an ant farm for example or anything that changes form and shape continuously would have the same effect. I also feel it is important to wash away the grey fuzz of overthinking to really access and harness creativity. Meditation does this perfectly (and by the way the ‘Headspace’ app has brilliant 2D animations!). It helps me to open my mind to new ideas that would have been otherwise blocked.
The best place for inspiration - and this will sound obvious - is looking at what surrounds us. When lockdown started I could see that a lot of people suddenly got very into yoga. I think this is partly because it is something that everyone can do at home easily following a YouTube video or an online class. From this I had the idea to make yoga practicing superheroes. This tied in nicely with the idea that, by staying at home, you were doing your duty, you were a hero in some ways.
Also, the fact that everyone, where possible, suddenly had to work from home gave rise to the ‘working from home guide’ that I illustrated and animated.
When it comes to inspiration from others, there are many animators I really like! Oddfellows, Emanuele Colombo, and Animatter, Amy Charlick, Henrique Barone, Nuria Boj, Chris Anderson, She Drew That, and-Panimation, which are also good places to find great animators.
I think, over time, motion design will become more prominent. Technology is an important part of our life and motion design can help in making this more accessible by creating an interface that is more natural and human.
We all grow up using non verbal communication, gestures are very commonly used to express our feelings and understand others. When I came to London I couldn't speak English, so body language helped me a lot! I believe we can apply the same idea to our website or app interfaces allowing them to appear more approachable, user friendly and intuitive. I see more and more businesses interested in animating their online presence.
After all, the word ‘Animation’ comes from the Latin “anima” which means “life” I think these static web pages needs a bit of anima!
I believe we have a new interesting chapter ready to be explored!
We have the tools: Lottie is a great ally for this task!
I sit at a large ashwood desk at my home studio which sits right in front of a huge Georgian window. Observing nature and the harmonious flow and connectivity of everything really inspires me. I love how the shape and texture of an object dictates its behaviour. The way leaves sway and spiral with the changing winds or a chunky tree branch vibrates as a squirrel jumps on it. I like to keep natural objects on my desk that evoke images and motions not visible from the window. Shells from Sardinia and basalt rock from Iceland.
With the exception of my Macbook Pro, iPad Pro (and charger, and phone etc ha!) the only object not directly related to nature is a large English tea pot which I keep topped with herbal tea throughout the day.
I feel this is a really good time to get into motion design. There are a wealth of informative and engaging (and free) 2D animation tutorial videos just a few clicks away. YouTube is an obvious one, within a few mins you will have learnt something, I guarantee it ! What I think is particularly good about the youtube tutorials is that they help in understanding how to navigate After Effects. Once you feel a bit more comfortable with the ins and outs of after effects, I would strongly advise you learn Disney’s 12 Principles of Animation and try to use them every time you play with your animations.
The best way to learn a craft is to learn from the masters of it. Many of them are sharing their knowledge on platforms like Skillshare and Lynda for example. Also here on lottiefile you can actually download the After Effects file that the animators have created. I think this is an excellent resource.
My final piece of advice is to expect frustration early on. Frustration is a natural step on the path to mastery. We have all gone through it! Stick with it and be patient.