Leah O'Donnell

Animation BDes (Hons)

Specialising in prop design with elements of fantasy and horror, with a special interest in production management.

About

I love to explore the fantastical and the macabre in my digital illustrations. Macabre iconography and a dark colour palette are always my go-to and are my favourite elements to work with. My biggest influences include Mark Ryden, Nick Cross and American McGhee, who like me often look for the beauty in what others find unnerving. As a young teen, I fell fast and hard in love with gothic music, and explored this new love via drawings in my sketchbook and consuming as much weird and surreal animation as I could. To this day my favourites remain 'Over The Garden Wall', 'Coraline' and 'Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids'. With all my work I set out with a clear idea of what I want to do, but during the process, I will research, study and observe extensively. This flexibility allows me to incorporate unique or unexpected elements into my design that elevate it beyond my initial idea, while still keeping the original spirit of the concept. There is a clear line of thought through my work, which when seen allows the viewer to follow along on my artistic journey. With my art, I achieve the same feeling these cartoons evoked in me; an exciting fear, and a desire to explore the unknown. The vivid colours and round linework I employ to aid in drawing you in, then the hint of something unusual, like a skull or a knife in a child's hand sends you reeling with uncertainty. There's no fun in predictability, hence why I enjoy using colour and style to subvert expectations.

A sheet showing different angles of an old medieval book. The book is brown with gold detailing. The title of it reads “Ye Olde Plague Doctor Handbook”.

This is a turnaround sheet for the main prop of my thesis film “Sickly Sweet”. It is a book the Plague Doctor character uses to keep track of all his remedies and potions. The sheet also features screenshots of when the book is seen in the film.

A sheet showing different angles of an old medieval lantern. It is brown with four window glass panes, and has a candle burning in the centre of it.

This is a turnaround sheet for the lantern the Plague Doctor uses at the beginning of the film. It is used as a strong source of light in the dark and eerie atmosphere we created in the film.

A sheet showing different angles of a glass potion bottle. It has brown cork and the liquid inside it is bright pink.

An additional prop used by the Plague Doctor in the thesis film “Sickly Sweet”.

A sheet showing different angles of a brown leather satchel. It has a darker brown patch stitched onto the left side.

An additional prop used by the Plague Doctor in the thesis film “Sickly Sweet”. His bag is where he keeps his books and his various potions.

A sheet showing different angles of a pink school bus, includes views of the bus's top,bottom, front and back views. The windows of the bus are teal blue the wheels are black, and the stop sign is pink with the word “Die!” written on it.

My prop design concept for a school bus, inspired by the Melanie Martinez album K-12. I used this project as a way to re-imagine the K-12 universe as a videogame. This bus would be used as a long range weapon by the main character.

A sheet showing different angles of a victorian style parasol. The parasol is lilac purple with teal blue ribbons and pale purple frills. The handle is a darker purple with a teal blue ribbon tied around it.

My parasol prop design concept for the K-12 project. The umbrella would be used as a shield by the main character.

A sheet showing the different angles of a switchblade knife, which a character standing beside it for size reference. The switchblade's blade is silver, and the handle is striped in pastel rainbow colours with dark purple accents. The character is a young girl, with split dyed hair in pigtails and wearing a purple pinafore with matching sneakers.

My switchblade prop design concept for the K-12 project. The switchblade would be used as a short range weapon by the main character.

A sheet showing a turnaround of a young girl character. She has a gap-toothed grin, split dye hair, and a yellow and purple pinafore, with matching purple shoes. She has teal blue ribbons tied in her hair.

This is the character design I created to support my K-12 project. Her name is Crybaby and she is the re-imagining of singer Melanie Martinez's persona. She wears many costumes and hairstyles, so I narrowed it down to her iconic split dye pigtails and redesigned the official K-12 album's uniform.

A sheet showing different angles of a large stone spoon. The spoon is made out of green rock and has repeating circular patterns carved into the handle in a darker green colour.

A turnaround showing a prop design I did for a fellow classmate's storyboarding project, set in Neolithic Scotland. The prop is a large serving spoon made out of stone, with ceremonial patterns carved into it.

A sheet showing different angles of a small stone doll. The doll has a square head with two eye and a nose, and has a curved body, hands and feet. It is made out of green stone with two circular green patterns carved into its left shoulder.

A turnaround showing an additional prop design for my classmate's storyboarding project. This figure is a Brodgar Boy, a stone doll carved in Neolithic times that young children would play with. This Brodgar Boy is carved from the same stone used to carve the spoon.

Please support me by following me on my social media links. I hope to create even more colourful and exciting content in the future.

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