Sunday, 15 December 2013

Character Designing: Silver of Silver

These are some initial character designs I have been working on for a Third Year Animation project called 'Silver of Silver'. It's a 2D cut-out style animation. You can see the blog for 'Silver of Silver' here
They gave me the character of the peasant father to work with and were looking for a medieval-style peasant design, heavily influenced by woodcut styles. Below are the designs I have sent to the project leaders for their consideration.

These are the first designs I sent to the project leaders, however they asked for a completely re-designed character, so I continued creating designs:

Cut-out animation sketches

I started this side project a while ago and haven't found time to finish it yet. The top character was drawn in Flash in one of my initial attempts at using the software, she is based from an earlier character I created which you can see on my main art website under 'illustration'.
Following on from this I started to work out in my sketchbook how the character would work as a cut-out. I included the mouth shapes in both front and side view for if I wanted to create some lip sync with her and also various hand and eye poses. On the first page you can see the colour-coded sketch I used to try and work out what order the different cut-out pieces would sit on top of each other.
As I said, I haven't found enough time to dedicate to animating this character yet, and I'm not sure I will as there are many other more essential or exciting projects but I will keep the designs just in case. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

STORYBOARD: Zoo Troop and the Lost Pirate Treasure

I made this storyboard using a provided script for the Storytelling for Animation module of the Animation course. Over Christmas I'll be making an animatic using this storyboard - in doing so I'm planning on improving a couple of things in the storyboard I made, such as cleaning up the drawing style; improving the flow (especially in the last few frames); and cutting some unnecessary shots. I'll also need to add a soundtrack and provide clearer animation direction.
I enjoyed working on this storyboard, however I was pushed for time as we also had other big projects to hand in at the same time so I am looking forward to being able to spend more time on this project and to improve this storyboard and create an effective and engaging animatic.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Stop Motion Workshop

I animated the middle puppet in this video, the whole process took about an hour. I hadn't done any stop-motion animation previous to this workshop - I found it very interesting though and I really want to try more of it. Happily, I'm involved with a third year project that will be animated in stop-motion so I will get to do so next term.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Maya: animating walks

The top clip shows a basic walk cycle and the bottom video is a walk based on Mickey Mouse's.
I really enjoyed animating these two clips - it was a challenging process especially to start with! I used a pre-rigged model. Our teacher for Maya showed us how to study real-life walks and how to use these observations to create interesting walks in Maya - I'd like to try and find a few more real-life examples to recreate in Maya soon.

Storyboard brief 2: DEEP

This is my second storyboard assignment. For this project I was given a script for a scene and also plans of the room in which the scene occurs. I tried to pay particular attention to making sure continuity existed in my storyboard and I also tried out a couple of new camera shots that I have learnt from cinematography lessons. This storyboard is not as 'polished' as my previous one as there were more shots to include and I was also concentrating more on making sure the important scene details were being communicated clearly and without distraction from aesthetic flourishes. This time I used Photoshop to create the storyboard as opposed to Flash (which I had used previously) thanks to a friend on the same course generously taking the time to teach me how to use Photoshop - using this software had many advantages and greatly speeds up the process of creating art.


Flash: Animated short assignment

This is the latest Flash assignment I have completed - we we're given an obscure sound clip and told to animate something to accompany it. I'm not particularly thrilled with how this animation turned out but I learnt a lot making it. I employed the techniques of cut-out, frame-by-frame and lip-sync in the piece.
I found the toughest part of this project was actually working out what to animate as the sound clip was so weird and dis-jointed - my vision went through several reincarnations. I decided I wanted the animation to be creepy and unsettling, and also I wanted to try a different style than before. I was definitely pushed for time to complete this animation but in future I think I will spend longer on the pre-production as I think this will make the production process easier and smoother.
Below I have included some of the design work I did whilst brainstorming ideas for this project.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Maya: Bouncing Ball

This is one of my first animations using Autodesk Maya. As with Flash, we began by animating a bouncing ball. The ball I used for this exercise was pre-rigged so that squash and stretch could be applied to it - so even though I am doing 3D animation, the principles of the 2D animation I have done previously still apply.

It's not perfect but I improved a lot using the software by doing this exercise, especially considering I had not previously used it before. Following on from this exercise, we we're set a brief where the ball takes on a character, i.e. it is scared or excited.

This is what I animated for the second brief - there are a couple of obvious points to improve - create a more natural-looking finish; also to add the ball turning to look at the viewer as it hesitates on the edge; and maybe some more distortion as it looks over the edge.

I'm finding that animating using Maya is personally very interesting as previous to starting the course I had a strong interest in 3D modelling using 3D packages such as Solidworks and Truespace - I went to a high school with a great Technology department and teachers. As a result, I was able to experiment creating various 3D CAD models and also with 3D printing. I'm really excited to make the most of this opportunity to continue this interest on the Animation course and to see what I can achieve in Maya.

I've added some examples of the 3D modelling experiments I did before starting the Animation course at Falmouth below:

I produced this client information sheet to accompany a disaster relief shelter I designed for my A Level Product Design coursework. I used Solidworks to create the model of the shelter and zip, and Vue in the top render.

Alarm clock modeled in Solidworks

AS Level Product Design project

For AS Product Design I designed and made a nightlight - first be designing in Solidworks, and then using a 3D printer to print a real-life version of the computer model I had created. The above image shows the Solidworks model I created for the project. My design included a switch located in one of the side towers - when the tower roof was turned the light would turn on or off - this involved using a reed switch and magnet. Below is an exploded view rendered in Solidworks showing the different parts of the light:

3D printed components

Finished night light -
Right: illuminated

Friday, 1 November 2013

Flash exercise: Cubey Emotions

This is the next of our Flash briefs for the course - to animate a simple cube character displaying emotion. In the first video they must react to a sound (unheard to the audience), and in the second a small cubey must annoy a dominant larger cubey.
I found these briefs more challenging than before as I haven't much experience animating frame-by-frame in Flash. There is a lot to improved in these clips - largely the timing and easing-in and out of movement. I was particularly conscious of employing the animation principles we have discussed thus far on the course - timing, weight, anticipation and overlapping.

One of the main challenges of this was to give character to a box and circle - the character has no facial features or legs, so all of the emotion has to be portrayed using the body movement. I'm pretty pleased with how I did these - there is still room for improvement which I hope to do before I put together my showreel for the first term. To do this, I'll be working more with the previously-mentioned animation principles. Altogether, I'm very happy with my progress on Flash - I'm beginning to feel much more confident animating, which will be useful for our next brief (due next week) which is to animate a short clip of at least 15 seconds to accompany a pre-selected sound clip. 

This will involve a lot more freedom and I'm keen to push my skills and see if I can achieve some really interesting animation - mixing the different animation techniques I've been introduced to thus on this course - and also to include some more artistic elements. 

Cubey reacting to a sound

Big and small cubey interacting

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sketchbook: Cosmetic surgical procedures

I've been trying to draw more in my sketchbook following last week's sketchbook tutorial. I've got various ideas to explore and develop on from just drawing from references. Also I wanted to find different styles of drawing. 
This is an example of some of the sketchbook work I've been doing in response to those aims. 

As part of the Animation course I watched some third year film pitches last week - one in particular really stood out to me. It was called Skinister and was a stop-motion animated short with a horror plot. I really liked the themes illustrated and also the art style. So much so that I've contacted Rachel, the third year who pitched it, and hope that I can work on the project. 
I've recently become interested in plastic surgery and so I was inspired by this pitch to explore some of my initial ideas around the subject. I started by watching some videos of cosmetic surgical procedures that I could relate to. From this I did some sketches and explored some different styles of drawing. In particular, I thought that the technique of using watercolours to paint the body and then biro to draw the surgeon's hands and tools was effective at showing how the human body was delegated to just flesh during the procedures. I was struck by how non-delicate the surgery was, and I was also interested by the fact the bodies I was sketching were actively hated and not accepted.
I'm pleased with how the sketches went and will probably develop this initial work further, hopefully if I can be involved in the Skinister project I could use some of these techniques. I'm especially keen to experiment with bringing these drawings into 3D by modelling them in clay. 

If you're interested here's the link for you to take a look at Rachel's blog, the girl who pitched Skinister:

Friday, 18 October 2013

Flash Exercise: Anticipation and Overlapping

A quick exercise in Flash - we had to use a simple cube character with no legs so that the focus was on the animation movement. Before the character jumps he bends to anticipate the movement and then after jumping he bends further forward and then back again - this is know as overlapping.
The anticipation and overlapping are longer than the actual action of jumping as they are just as important to creating the illusion of movement as the jump is.
I really like exercises like this as I have always wanted to learn the fundamental principles of animation (and art) properly so i can employ them effectively. By learning how to utilize animation principles in simple exercises like this I can then employ them in more complex animations and in 3D work also.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Storyboard Brief

The brief for this project asked for a storyboard that showed two characters/objects meeting - one had to be travelling slowly and one fast. I was inspired by the ghost stories surrounding Dartmoor and decided to depict a headless horseman intercepting a lost hiker.
This is my first proper attempt at a storyboard, and I have no doubt there's lots of things wrong with it so I'm really looking forward to being able to discuss and get some critique on this project at the next class and then I can improve my storyboarding skills. I did include some aspects of storyboarding that I have learnt so far on the course - for example, the two characters are travelling in opposite directions suggesting they will meet, also their direction of travel does not change until they stop. 
I used Adobe Flash to create the storyboard as I like using the drawing tools, however in future I will be learning how to use Photoshop for tasks such as this.

Preparatory sketchbook drawings

I drew from a couple of references to get more comfortable drawing horses for this project -  Jacques-Louis David's painting 'Napoleon Crossing the Alps'; Eadweard Muybridge's photos of a galloping horse; a book on drawing horses by Lee J. Ames; also Disney and Dreamworks designs. I also did some quick drawings of my friend riding her horse to understand the movement a bit better. These are very quick and basic sketches but they were really helpful when it came to drawing out the storyboard.

Of some relevance to this project is a hand-drawn animation I did using Richard William's The Animator's Survival Kit of a horse galloping earlier this year when I was applying to studying animation. I'm hoping to create an improved version of this animation soon and look at some more of William's examples.

The individual drawings for the animation (flipped)

Following on from a sketchbook tutorial as part of my course at university, I've set myself the task of drawing much more in my sketchbook. I'm planning on trying out various styles of drawing in a similar way to how I did these horse sketches, however I'd like to develop my drawing further on from just working with references - to use sources to understand how the subject exists and works in 3D but then to use this knowledge to draw some really original styles and designs.

Foundation Final Project: Character Models from War and Peace PART 2

The finished models

This is the second post about my Foundation final project. I'll be talking more about how I sculpted the models - apologies for the bad quality photos, due to how much I ended up rushing at the end of the project much of the modelling process was done late at night when the lighting was not great.

Each model has a metal armature inside - these were sculpted using the designs I developed in my sketchbook using references from life-drawings. These were also useful for keeping the models upright whilst I was sculpting and painting them - once this was completed I cut the external wire off.

In the background of this photo you can see a collection of tester pieces I did using the clay. I tried various types of materials - plasticine, air-drying and Sculpey which I ultimately chose. Of the models, Natasha - the model on right of this photo - is my least favourite. I tried to create a dynamic pose for her but as a result I struggled with weighting - if I ever model again I will definitely spend more attention on this aspect as I would really like to create an effective dynamic pose.

These three photos show some of the stages of modelling and painting for the model of Prince Andrei Bolkonski. Even though he is lying down he has a wire and foil skeleton inside. I began by adding clumps of clay to build up the general shape and then modeled by cutting away the clay using a craft knife. For features such as the hands I modeled them separately and then attached them once the rest had been competed and there was no risk of them being accidentally squished. 

I really enjoyed sculpting details such as his uniform and definitely want to try modelling characters again in the future. I am not sure this was the most effective way of creating the models as it was all very trial and error - there were definitely a lot of issues with this method. Also, I would like to experiment with modeling for animation in a similar way to how Aardman do - i.e. creating a number of different mouth poses, or hand poses.

After nervously baking the models I started the painting process. Due to Super Sculpey's properties I did not have to paint the base skin colour - I liked the texture of the clay and how it had a quality of warmth which was great for flesh. I did add some washes of colour on the skin but tried to keep it subtle.