The Hallow An overview of my experience at Learn Squared as a student of Ash Thorp's for Main Title Design

The brief for The Hallow was fairly loose. We were to take minimal client input and explore ideas using mind mapping to create an original title sequence piece.

"America, the early 1700s. A land surveyor loses his bearings during a blizzard. Utilising his unique skills, he must fight back against nature to return home"

From the few lines of text I had to go on, I mapped out a few ideas both visually and textually using storyboards and mind mapping techniques taught by Ash. He really breaks down his workflow process very well, and it makes the whole process very accessible for any project.

The idea I had for The Hallow was to use the blizzard to visually represent the change in the surveyor's person as he struggled to survive in the harsh conditions. I likened the experience to a religious text, much like you might have seen in a story in the bible. The tools being frozen, broken and refracted in the icy surface to explore the feeling of wanting to change but being trapped and unable to.

One of the things I took away from the process was how to quickly turn small amounts of information given by a client into something workable and powerful which I could then send back and iterate on. The whole process is a fantastic method worth applying to many different fields, from the title design industry to creating keyframes for trailers and planning out a new video project. I really enjoy making keyframes, and the skills from Ash's lessons really helped me focus more on the planning and thought process behind creating a project.

The scene setup was fairly simple. I modelled out a compass, a map scroll and a cross using Cinema 4D. I also created a giant cube of ice and placed the models inside, half facing out of the ice to represent the ideas i had explored in the mind map. The ice material came out really well, i used a lot of lighting and reflections to keep the scene lit and the refraction of the ice distorted the models exactly how i had wanted.

I used volumetric lighting with area shadow mapping. It gave a sense of atmosphere and cold air to the scene. I used a mixture of different camera angles and distances to try to create space between the items and the ice texture.

I used Photoshop to add texture, colour grading and typography to the final keyframes. The renders themselves really needed more contrast and texture. It saves a lot of time in the rendering time to do some of the work in Photoshop. The compositing I did here really pushed the theme across and helped lift the renders out and bring them into a more finalised form.

If you would like to work with me on your own project, please contact me at

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