Back to the Basics

I have always been interested in improving my skills in 2D effects. Smoke, water, fire… I have always wanted a better way of portraying them, they are very painstakingly intricate elements to animate that I haven’t quite gotten right on my own. This quarter I was very excited to finally take an effects class and officially tackle some of these challenges. Before we started any of the effects, our instructor brought us back to the basics and had us do a bouncing ball. Initially I dreaded the assignment, every animation class loves to start with the bouncing ball, it feels like I have done the assignment a million times already. After sitting down with the assignment and mapping out my perspective and planning how the shadows work, I remembered why this is a perfect starting point for any class. The bouncing ball is a perfect test of the 12 principles and there is always something to improve upon. It made me think back to what my professor in undergrad used to tell me about how animation is never finished, you just hit a deadline.

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Scary Thesis Stuff

This past quarter has been very hectic. I have begun work on my graduate thesis, and after dozens of iterations and changes, I presented my topic and visual component for review. The presentation was very tense but my project was approved. My topic deals with informing traditional animation with German Expressionism and creating a nightmare sequence. I was able to keep some aspects of my original idea (the TV show pitch) and some of my original characters and settings made it into the current version of the project. (the wandering adventurer and his robot sidekick from this)

Here is some concept art and the current version of the storyboard, which is still very preliminary.

I have about a year to continue developing this project and I am excited to begin animation. I plan to continue concept work on both designs for characters/environments and story. My goal is to have tied down designs and an updated animatic by the end of summer so that I can begin rough animation by the fall. I want to extend the nightmare sequence itself and use German Expressionist art as an inspiration to really push the visuals. My design skills aren’t the strongest, and this is an opportunity to strengthen my skills and create a film that is visually striking.

Maya and Sound

Animating to sound is very interesting… In Maya, the procedure is a little different than what I am used to in Flash. After importing a very particular file type and convincing Maya to show the waveform on the timeline, you are able to scrub through the timeline slowly and place simple open or closed mouth shapes to sync to the dialog. Simply pressing play is not always reliable as the Maya playback will sometimes desynchronize from the audio, but scrubbing manually is always accurate. After making this “muppet” pass you are able to go back and make more detailed mouth shapes that fit the letters, or more specifically the sounds. Once the mouth is in decent shape you are able to go back and move the body and create gestures and poses emphasizing various words and syllables. The process was different enough from what I was used to, yet very fun and satisfying. The audio clip I used was a brief bit of dialog from Futurama, here is what I ended up with:

Illustration Storytime

My latest adventure in illustration class was to create a series of 3 images that tell a story. I chose to use a character my sister (an illustrator focusing on comic art) created and put him in a more serious scene.

The character Damien, is a seedy underground gangster character. He is a vampire so he has been around for a long time and knows how to fight. The story is that a group of men in suits arrive at the bar he is in and escort him outside where they try to jump him in an alley. The men are revealed to be part of an old group of vampire hunters and their symbol is the tattoo on the knife wielder’s hand in the second panel. They don’t realize they are easily outmatched and Damien kills them all and enjoys a victory cigarette.

This project was a big change for me, I feel like I have never approached an illustration with as much time and planning as I did for these three images. I am pleased with the end result, even though I think my perspective and characters could use some improving. (I always have to draw hands with three fingers!) I look forward to experimenting with longer projects that lead to more finished illustrations like these in the future.

Sad Text Message is Sad

My 3D animation class was recently tasked with creating a clip that showed an emotional change in a character. I chose to use a new rig; Bonnie, which was actually created by a former SCAD student. (It’s a pretty cool rig you should check it out) My clip has the character over-reacting in a very dramatic way to a text message. Here is one of the later drafts:

One of my instructor’s biggest critiques, aside from tweaking some arcs and timing, was to cut the last segment out completely. I was initially confused why he would want me to remove so much, but after seeing the new version I agree it is a big improvement! This has become the first 3D project I’ve created that I feel somewhat proud of. I am excited for the next project and to see if I can improve my skills further. Here is how the final turned out:

Also here’s a completely random doodle of the Joker from my sketchbook that happened to turn out pretty cool

jokerdoodle

Melty Faces are the Best Faces

I rediscovered an old GIF I started awhile back. The idea was to have some of the characters from Hotline Miami 2 transition into each other, by having their faces melt and distort in a fun way. Overall I think it turned out alright, but I am particularly proud of the tiger disintegrating at the end. I ran into many difficulties animating that brief portion, and tracking the blood was hard to get right (I think it still might be a little off) but the end result is very cool to see. Here is the final GIF along with the tiger, which I almost prefer on its own.

facemelt tony

Recently I worked on an illustration project with the simple prompt of “superhero.” For some reason my mind went immediately to Deadpool and Spiderman in an awkward/sarcastic/frienemy standoff. After a couple critiques I ended up creating a sort of parody of American Gothic using the two characters instead: americangothic_oldbusted

The final did not turn out very impressive and felt rushed, so I spent the next couple days re-working it in Photoshop and came up with this: spidermandeadpoolbwamericangothic_newhotness

The re-dos turned out so much better and I was proud to see they almost looked like they were made by a different artist. I am tempted to start drawing digitally like this more often, maybe even do a few more superhero doodles.

More to come soon!

Clumsy Action

I’ve completed a second cartoony animation in Maya, this one centers around a clumsy action. The reference was a man sitting on a box that crumbles around him and makes him fall to the ground. I still have a lot of work to do, I need to focus on arcs and secondary action, I fear my movements are still too stiff and robotic, but it’s getting closer..