With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s plenty of love to celebrate. In honor of the holiday of hearts, British animator, Simon Tofield, has just released a special short film named "Butterflies" to add to his popular "Simon’s Cat" video series that have just surpassed 600 million views on YouTube.
With a fresh website makeover that is set to launch, Simon’s Cat has come a long way since its debut in 2008. The feline cartoon star was originally inspired by Hugh, Tofield’s 8-year-old chunky British shorthaired furball who was so purrsistent in waking him up one morning by jumping on his bed. He thought it would make a fun scenario for a short film, and created the first episode of Simon’s Cat, named "Cat Man Do," as a way to learn digital animation.
Tofield had always loved drawing and studied art at Barnfield College then De Montford University in England, before moving back to his hometown of Leighton Buzzard where he currently lives with his three other cats, Jess, Maisy, and Teddy. “Many of the characters and settings of the Simon’s Cat universe is inspired by the woodlands and wildlife surroundings of my home,” Tofield tells InStyle.
Each video is intricately constructed step by step. Ideas are first emerged from the scribbles of Tofield’s sketchbook, then developed further into a storyboard. He then works with an animator to construct the drawings on a computer using Adobe Flash and also works with a sound engineer who creates all the sound effects while he generates most of the character noises. While many of the films range between 1-2 minutes, they take about seven to nine weeks to produce—one second of animation alone takes 12 to 25 drawings!
"Butterflies" is a sequel to last year’s "Smitten" episode (below), where Simon’s Cat tries to impress his love, Chloe, a feline inspired by Tofield’s first-ever Tortoiseshell cat that he had rescued from his garden at the age of 11:
“I created "Smitten" as a tribute to Chloe—she was a very fussy kitty, and I imagined her being the perfect love interest for Simon’s Cat. The contrast between the two characters had a lot of comedic potential,” says Tofield.
In the new film, "Butterflies," Simon’s Cat gets a gift for Chloe, however, his plan just doesn’t go down quite as expected. “I really enjoyed storyboarding "Butterflies" and included a Romeo and Juliet reference to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Tofield says. Check it out below!