Category Archives: animation

I Have Been Working…Really.

Ragnarok&PickachuMadness

Ragnarök & Pickachu Go Pokemon Hunting

I have a lot of things to reflect about and to write. But by the time I would have the time to put all of my scramble thoughts on paper in a concise and intelligent manner, my final assessment would probably be over. I am working to complete my projects in time but I think my blog is a good place (and excuse) for me to at least organise what I have done in a way that will be useful when my presentation comes and I am at a lost as to what to say to the row of intimidating (not really, but also yes) looking tutors.

As an introduction image I present Ragnarök running with Pikachu because I cannot fathom Pokemon-Go and the craze surrounding it.

Going Live (Guess Who Face: Bertha)

I did some completed facial painting expressions for a Guess Who face whom I gifted with a severely shaped bob haircut suffering from bang trauma and named Bertha. I think I am going to have a lot of fun painting different characters and naming them. Considering how the Guess Who board will be in the background of the project and hardly ever in the main focus of the animation, I think it would be interesting to paint portraits of myself and the others in the class. I just hope they don’t mind that I’d have to plump their faces up in keeping with the chubby visual style.

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Guess Who Face: Bertha (Neutral, Oooh, Ahhh and Judgemental Booo Expressions)

Bertha Animation Test

Little Guardian (Possible-Pighead-Statue In Z-Brush)

I spent a few hours playing in Z-Brush today. I thought that I could play it loose and create a concept of the statue design for the spirit character in my (tentatively titled) Little Guardian animation. It was fun to spontaneously go back into Z-Brush, I was limited by my computer’s processing speed today for some reason unfortunately. After a few misses (the program kept stalling or crashing) I did manage to complete a concept sculpt of the head of the statue. The statue is meant to represent the spirit’s ‘anchor’ and connection to the physical realm as well as it’s home so I wanted the design  to have more weight (literally). I thought a heavier look for the statue would give a bigger visual contrast when compared to the design of the character’s spirit form. I think I succeeded in sculpting a heavy design but I ended up with something more vague and pig-like than what I was aiming for.

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Spirit Statue Concept Head (Profile)

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Spirit Statue Concept Head (Front)

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Spirit Statue Concept Head (Three Quarter View)

I had the urge today to zone out and sketch something that didn’t require me to think too much about what I am doing or why. So I settled on spending an hour sketching quick life drawing/anatomy poses from artist training videos on Youtube. I enjoy working with a purpose but I think I also need regular sessions where I just draw from observation as well.

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Life Drawing Sketches

Maya Run Cycle

This week we had a run cycle tutorial in 3D class. We made our character run 360degrees in a circle. The process wasn’t that much different from the walk cycle besides timing and exaggerating the characters running exertion. The key pose I felt was the jump pose that takes the character off the ground and appear as if he is flying. We also used the graph editor again to smooth out the animation. I still don’t have a good handle on it and I find it frustrating to use.

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Jump Pose From The Front (Not As Extreme As I’d Like)

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Running In Maya

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Jump Pose From The Back

Personal Project: Little Guardian (Introduction & Moodboard)

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Spirit Character Pencil Sketch

My personal project work has not progressed as far as it should since its conception. I thought writing about it in a blog post will help me to develop the story and generate some ideas on how I can improve on it as well.

The story for the animation centres around a cat and a little house spirit. When I was a child I was told to always keep ‘something with eyes’ to look after my wallet, my bike or my home. ‘Something with eyes’ is quite a vague term but I took it to mean things like stuffed animals on the bedroom shelves, small clay statues by the window or even a photograph of my mother in my wallet to protect to it from would-be pickpockets. I used to believe that if a person treasured an object it would ‘grow’ a soul. I found out years later that there is an actual believe system based around that thought. Animism is the concept that non-human entities such as animals, plants, rocks and other inanimate objects possess a spirit. The spirits are not ghosts; they are thought to be the consciousness of things that most people don’t consider to be ‘alive’. As far as anthropological theories go this one truly fascinates me and I am really excited about making a short animation piece based on my little childhood fantasy.

I also knew from the start that I wanted to do an animation that featured a cat. Most specifically a cat character that looked and acted like a combination of each of my cats. I have a pair of twin Scottish Folds named Gabriel and Angelo and they have been in my life for over seven years. I’ve taken care of them both from the moment they were born so I’m extremely attached to them. Each cat has their own distinct personality and are both equally selfish, greedy and rude but there are also truly precious moments in between where they show themselves to be loving creatures. Without the risk of starting another dog vs. cat debate, I would just like to say that I believe that cats are capable of feeling loyalty and love for their person as I have experienced this myself. At the beginning of this project assignment I knew without doubt that I wanted to tell a story about a cat’s love for his human. As cats are selfish creatures, it’s naturally also a selfish sort of love. I didn’t want to pit a cat against a dog or a rodent as those narrative tropes have been done before. Thankfully, I won’t have to as cats have the tendency to make an enemy out of anyone.

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Angelo (Front) & Gabriel (Back)

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Gabriel & Angelo

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Cat Character Pencil Sketches

I’ve also created a Pinterest board for my project where I’ve pinned a lot of interesting illustrations and artwork as well as animation that I could take some story or visual reference from. Most of my inspiration for the visual style for the project is from Tonko House’s The Dam Keeper animation and Cartoon Saloon’s Song Of The Sea. I really like the use of colour and light in the Dam Keeper that supported the film’s narrative so crucially. Song Of The Sea has a visual style that I am inspired by as well but I think the main challenge for me at this point is first pin down my films story and script. Visually, I have many references at my disposal and quite pretty confident that I can create my own visual style that will work and that is hopefully unique to me as well.

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Little Guardian Project Pinterest Board

And speaking of Song Of The Sea, when I first watched a film there was a scene in particular that will always be seared into my brain. Not for the usual reasons unfortunately. There was serious shot in the film that featured a group of seals looking up at the main character in awe. The seals moved as one and were all animated with the same derpy expression that look exactly like my cat Angelo. The laughing fit that I had then pretty much ruined that scene for me. To cope with my feelings, I then proceeded to make this gif.

Angelo:Song Of The Sea Parody

Flashing Angelo

Maya Walk Cycle

We’re back in 3D class with Sang this week and hitting the ground walking with a 3D walk cycle animation tutorial. It wasn’t as scary as it seems once we broke down the key contact poses we needed to create a somewhat realistic walk cycle. Sang gave us a sheet with a 2D walk cycle chart from Richard Williams Animator’s Survival Kit and showed us some videos of walk cycle animation that looked very natural. Felix Sputnik’s walk and run cycle animation video gave me serious animator’s envy. At the end of the tutorial I had a walk cycle that looked more like it was from a RuPaul’s Cover Girl video. Sang taught us to use the graph editor to make the animation smoother as well. The graph editor and I still have communication problems though.

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Walk Cycle Contact Sheets From The The Animator’s Survivors Kit By Richard Williams

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Down Pose

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Contact Pose

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Another Contact Pose

Presentation Reflection

Yesterday was the big presentation day. All of the late nights working and raging at Photoshop and Z-Brush led to this morning and it was great! I thought that I would not have much to talk about today and I would be scrambling for words. It was not the case yesterday fortunately and I found that I had plenty to say about the work that I did and the improvements that I wanted to make when it came to this particular project. Working with Z-Brush for the first time (and as a last minute edition) was a pretty gruelling experience but once I became more familiar with the program’s interface sculpting the character became a joy. I agree with the tutors that it would be a good idea to take this character further, there’s a lot more that can be done with it and I would like to try to bring him into Maya and project the hi-poly image onto a lower poly model that can be rigged and hopefully animated someday. There’s also proper texturing, lighting and rendering in Maya that I have not explored as thoroughly as I should. Maya is an industry standard program that I feel that I must know very well but at this point I’m more efficient sculpting models in Z-Brush. But to summarise my thoughts; the project was a very productive, gruelling and educational experience. And I want more of it.

[Blog]PresentationSlides Presentation Slides (11 December 2015)

Oh and earlier this week I had my final print sale for 2015 at DUSA. I managed to get a table close to a a electrical socket so in between selling prints and smiling awkwardly at people I managed to get a little sculpting done as well. I really enjoy taking part of fairs and selling small pieces of my work. It takes a little work to search for such open events but I really hope that I would get more opportunities like these in the future.

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DUSA Christmas Fayre (8 December 2015)

Character Design: Primordial (Storyboard & Animatic)

I took a few hours away from Z-Brush today to complete my storyboard and animatic. I first wanted to pitch a scene when Primordial rises out of a mountain and tears of the rock after a millennia upon millennia of hibernation. However, being immersed in the world of Vikings tv series the past month has inspired me and I decided to incorporate that universe into my storyboard. It begins with a father and son hammering nail into wood as they build a fence at a farmstead. The son startles and misses the next nail because he notices something horrible behind his father, they both turn to flee and the scene cuts to the monster character terrorising a fleet of Viking longboats attempting to attack the goliath with teeny tiny arrows and axes. Unsurprisingly it destroys most of the boats without any effort and saunters away from the fjord.

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Primordial Storyboard Panels

Primordial Animatic

The music used as background samples from Wardruna’s NaudiR which I thought was absolutely perfect and did not require any additional background tracks or effects.

Wadruna – NaudiR

Character Design: Primordial (Concept Illustration & Turnaround)

Concept art painting time! My favourite part of any production process. I wanted to quickly conceptualise the angry and destructive personality of the character. I reverted back to my comfort zone and used the smokey black and white illustrative style that I am fond of. The head shape of the monster differs from the sketches that I was working on, I gave it another set of heavy horns along with a double set of mandibles. I wanted to make the character more intimidating and emphasise how predatory it is.

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Primordial Concept Art

I also made the character’s model turnaround sheet; front, back, profile and three-quarter poses. This process too the longest time as I was particularly concerned with making him as anatomically correct as I am able to with my limited knowledge. Drawing his tentacles from behind was the area that I had the most difficulty with. While I was working on the model sheet for Primordial I started to consider sculpting and modelling in Z-Brush instead of Maya. The character was becoming more complicated and detailed on the model sheet and concept art so Z-Brush has become the best option for me. And also the most ambitious. So with almost no knowledge or experience with Z-Brush, I am now going to embark on my first 3D sculpting project.

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Primordial 3D Model Sheet Turnaround

After Effects Class

We had a crash course with Malcom Finney today on Adobe After Effects. I’ve had experiences with the program in the past but I don’t use it that often even while I feel that it’s one of the programs I should be proficient in. He taught us basic animation, making use of the grids, keying out colours in a video for compositing, masking, alpha paints, camera tracking and compositing a 3D asset from Cinema 4D. All of this information will useful when the time comes for me to composite my 3D character into a live action plate, I’m not sure how I would fully go about it at this point but I have a better idea of the options I have now.

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Basic Animation

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Keying & Basic Compositing

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Masking A Moving Asset

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Masking & Alpha Paints

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Camera Tracking & 3D Compositing

About a week ago I took part in Pop Dundee‘s Christmas Market sale outside of the Caird Hall. As usual Vicki and Ashling were very well efficient, helpful and professional organisers. I had a long and very cold day out in the market but it was fruitful and a lot of fun!

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Pop Dundee Christmas Market