Friday, 30 May 2014

2D background project PART 2

Finally are the main backgrounds. I did all of these of Photoshop. I found it very difficult to start on these as I tried many different techniques. In the end I decided to draw similarly to how I work in Flash.

(Repeated from Part 1: The main drawings had to be developing on from any storyboard we had produced on the course so far. I chose 'Zoo Troop and the Lost Pirate Treasure' as I really like pirates and have always been influenced by the Monkey Island series - here was a chance to use the techniques I have learnt from years of studying backgrounds by Steve Purcell and Bill Tiller.)

Here is an example of my working process for the exterior coloured background:

Here's the original storyboard shot that I had to work from. This is only a rough drawing and so there is quite a lot of freedom in how the layout can be drawn.

First an initial sketch in Photoshop to get the perspective and general composition.

Then I began adding details, I drew all the components on different layers so they could resized, moved or mirrored. This aspect of Photoshop makes it very easy to work with compared to traditional drawing.

Here is the final line-art. I really liked it at this stage and was pretty surprised at how well it had gone. I definitely started developing a strong style here.

The first stage of the colouring process. I decided to work by getting the basic colours done and then to add shadows and light to add depth. I'm not sure if this is the best way to work but this was the first major piece of colouring I had done using Photoshop so the process was really trial-and-error.

I added some dark overlays to create the right colour for a night-time scene.

And finally I added the shadows and light. I tried to think specifically about where the light would fall - there are three light sources: the main one is the moon and then there are also the two lamps. I found a good glow effect on Photoshop that I added to the moon and also to the surfaces that would particularly reflect the light such as the metal cannons.

For a first real attempt on Photoshop I'm really pleased with how this turned out, I liked it most at the line-art stage so I think I need to practice more effective colouring-techniques and work on my colour theory. I used complementary colours such as the purple and gold but I'd like to improve my future coloured pieces.

Here's my double-panning layout for the project (I did one double pan instead of two single layouts). Again, it is set on a pirate ship. I added foreground elements to frame the scene. I did this before the coloured exterior which really helped as I could practice my techniques in Photoshop and I think you can see how much improved I was by the time I did the exterior piece.

This is the coloured interior background. I am not so pleased with this piece. It was the first one I did so I was still learning how to draw how I wanted in Photoshop, I also used a different colouring technique which I don't think is as effective. Again, I have objects in the foreground framing the piece and I made use of both harmonious colours and complementary (the green and purple). The light sources are the chandelier and the candles, the window also provides some light although it is night time outside.

2D background project PART 1

The final deadline of the first year. I've been really trying to learn Photoshop this term so I'm pleased to have been able to do a large chunk of this project in Photoshop. There were a number of short tasks and then 4 main drawings required. The main drawings had to be developing on from any storyboard we had produced on the course so far. I chose 'Zoo Troop and the Lost Pirate Treasure' as I really like pirates and have always been influenced by the Monkey Island series - here was a chance to use the techniques I have learnt from years of studying backgrounds by Steve Purcell and Bill Tiller.

Here are some of the drawings I did for the first part of this project:

1. Five perspective drawings were required. I worked in blue animation pencil for these. The church below has 2 vanishing points.

2. Next were composition layouts, these were to be copied from existing animations so we could learn what made a good composition. Below are layouts from Mulan, Princess and the Frog, Beauty and the Beast and 101 Dalmatians.

3. These drawings I were most uncomfortable with, I tried to experiment and practice using Photoshop and also to introduce colour. The requirement was to show atmospheric perspective using trees and foliage. I need to practice creating more definition and depth but I feel this was a good start.

4. Tonal drawings. We had to make 3 of these, the one below I did during a practical lesson and I was pleased with how it came out as I was really thinking about how the light would fall, where the light source was... I've realised from this that lighting is a very important element of backgrounds. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Life drawing

Here is a selection of the life drawings I have produced during my year on the Falmouth animation course. Initially I was disappointed with how my drawings were turning out, I was used to longer poses of about 30 minutes - 2 hours from my previous fine art course, so I was unused to the 30 second poses of an animation course. However looking back at the drawings now I can see how they are more useful for animation than my previous drawings. I would like to continue practicing my traditional life drawing skills in my own time though as I still consider it important.

These are some very short poses, about 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length. Focus was on the line of action, balance and weight. This technique was the one I found hardest to learn but luckily it is quick to practice.

Some longer poses. From last year I was used to working in pencil so I had to adjust to using media that you could not erase, and also to work faster.

Here I did some measuring technique as I had already learnt but due to how the short the poses were (5 minutes) I couldn't spend too long on the measuring and accuracy.

Shading and defining of 3D depth.

Experimental techniques.

The first drawing is looking at areas of light and dark, this was actually successful as the drawing really stood out of the page and appeared 3D.

Perspective studies. Again I was still finding it difficult to define the perspective without taking a long time measuring.

Shadows and areas of light.

This piece became more stylized, which is something I often really like in my work.

 Finally! Some measured life drawing! Unfortunately we only had 30 minutes for this but it was so nice to be able to become really immersed and focused on one drawing and spend a lot of time on accuracy. I will definitely be trying to more like this in my own time, as well practicing the new techniques I have learnt.

This is slightly different - normally I am very uncomfortable doing portraits from life but by applying the techniques I have learnt for drawing th human figure whilst drawing the face I was able to produce something I am quite pleased with. The ear needs improving and I need to do some anatomy practice but I am pleased with the proportions and depth in general.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Experimental Animation

Here's a project I recently did on experimental animation. The brief was to produce 3 short animation pieces and one long piece all without using a computer during the actual animation process.

The first piece I did was using film. I scratched into each frame with a needle. Honestly I found this process very boring and limiting but it was interesting to do a very different method of animation. The film was run through a Steinbeck machine and filmed with a P2 camera, thus the camera's reflection.

My second piece I was more excited about. I wanted to try doing animations that could not be done easily on a computer, so for this one I made use of different paper textures and patterns. I definitely see potential for this method of animation as it allows very stylized aethetics and the inclusion of human hands which is very interesting. I suppose it is a form of self - reflective animation and relates back to Gertie the Dinosaur and Duck Amuck.

I thought this technique would be very simple and generic but I actually really enjoyed working in a tactile medium such as plasticine as it inhabits the same 3D space as we do. It seems easier to give them life. In this clip I tried to add the animation techniques we learnt in 2D such as overlap and anticipation so as to give more life to the shapes.

So having decided I wanted to work with stop motion clay I wanted to make the animation much more planned. To this end I made an animatic on Flash, this also meant I could time the movement to the music we were given. The music was supposed to be a big factor in the animation so I wanted to pay special attention to that element. 
I animated the balls so that they appeared to be dancing at a ball, and I'm really happy with the sense of life and joy that is created just by moving shapes.

When I came to actually animate the piece however it was so straight forward as just following the animatic. The animation process took a very long time, I was animating for 8 hours non-stop, using a P2 camera in one-shot mode. I also had to make dozens of colourful balls and due to a lack of clay shot in scenes so I could remodel balls into different shapes depending on what was needed for a particular shot.Although I started out filming close to the animatic, I deviated after realising how long it would take.  The most difficult thing was keeping track of how many frames I had shot in order to keep matching the music. Giacomo helped me a lot with this process, and I used his hands in the film as I wanted to remain behind the camera directing shots.

Although I struggled with this piece and didn't stick to the plan I was very happy with the outcome, the balls express happiness and seem to be dancing. All the effort counting shots paid off as it fits very well with the music. I'm not sure I want to do this method of animation again though as even though the outcome was good, I just prefer other methods but it was still interesting to try.

Quick juggling reference

A very quick animation I did in Flash to show the movement of juggling. I'm just very pleased with the ease and confidence I could animate this with compared to when I did my first juggling animation as it shows how much I've learnt on this course so far. It's been an amazing year.

Elowen and the Bramble Bush FINISHED

So here is the finished Mazed animation - Elowen and the Bramble Bush. It still needs sound design by the client but we have completed are part of the project. This was a struggle to complete but I'm pleased with a number of elements of the animation - most particularly the character design. You can see my role in designing the characters here. The script we were given was very complex so I think it's a good achievement to have been able to condense it into a 90 second animation. One of the most important lessons I learnt from this project was to be more demanding and confident in my ideas due to my role as director.

I gave a presentation along with the rest of my team on the history and theory behind this animation, below are my slides and what I said from this presentation:

Our main influence for how to present the story we were given was the Bayeux tapestry. We developed this aesthetic style with Cornish motifs such as the Celtic borders you will see in the final piece. We also adapted it by using local colour schemes influenced by Bodmin moor. 

A tapestry style meant we could use cut out animation which was quicker and simpler.

The style was simple enough to be appreciated on the small screen of the iPhone. The scrolling creates an interesting relationship between 11th C tapestries and modern iPhone scrolling.

Using scrolling would make the animation self-reflective, i.e. it would draw attention to the fact it was an animation which makes it interesting and more fun. It's also different to the typical Hollywood style of editing so our animation will be more unique and outstanding.

Scrolling presented a number of problems when I started storyboarding as I could make use of closeups and the characters had to moving constantly left to right. In the end we did not use scrolling except in one scene of the animation but the design elements still remain in the animation and give it a tapestry atmosphere.

As director I made the storyboards. Because we had only 90 seconds to portray a complex story I tried to make the most of misc-en-scene in order to subconsciously communicate plot to the audience. For example, in this scene the king is in the foreground so emphasis is placed on his angry reaction, the two important characters are central.

For this scene I changed the original storyboard to reflect the importance of the princess and prince by placing the in the center, it also creates a more dramatic and lasting ending.

Finally, this scene was again changed in the layout stage to give more information about the plot just by how the characters were placed in the scene. The main character Elowen is central so important, but her physical disconnection from her sister and dad reflect her emotional distance also. The king remains in the foreground and thus still and important character. I employed the rule of thirds throughout the storyboards.

Motion Studies Showreel

My Motion Studies showreel for summer 2014. This contains all of the motion studies exercises I've done on the animation course so far plus the dance project. The dance project involved animating a dancing figure in Celaction and then adding extra in Flash. Celaction was a tricky program to work with and working in it just made me appreciate the freedom and ease of Flash. I had to work in a particularly smooth style in Celaction and so it was interesting to take this and make it more fluid in Flash. I was particularly inspired by Ryan Woodward's Thought of You

I attended dance class to draw the dancers and so I was inspired by the drawing style I used during this, and I really wanted the final animation to follow the small style. The music used in the clip was played during the dance class. In Celaction I paid attention to the technical aspects of movement, whilst in Flash I allowed myself the freedom of expression. I really liked this style of animation and want to try more in the future.

Mazed Ident

Once last thing we had to do for Mazed was an ident. I found it hard to come up with a concept that was simple. We were learning an new programme (After Effects) so it was essential to keep the idea simple and effective. I planned to use characters for a long time but then decided it would be simpler and more graphical to not use one.
I wanted a stylish ident that was smooth, so I went for a more graphic design approach. The transitions were also very important as we were learning how to use Alpha channels specifically for this project. I made all of the assets on Photoshop and put them together using Flash and After Effects and then had to render in four different formats for the hand-in.

These are my initial brainstorming and ideas. An important part of this project was branding, so we had to choose 5 brand values and design an ident to communicate these. Although most of my ideas included characters I choose not to use one in the end.

 I wanted to link my ident to the original Mazed animation I worked on so I used one of the backgrounds as my main source of influence, however here you can see I styled it and considered different compositions.

A quick test using After Effects. This was made when I was considering an even more graphical approach, however I abandoned this when I decided it was too sterile and not appealing enough especially for Mazed's family audience.

A moodboard, included are the characters from my Mazed animation. You can see how I am going for a graphical approach, however very bright and colourful with a lot of influence from iPhones as this is where the Mazed animations are viewed. In my final ident I played on the movement of scrolling on an iPhone.

The project storyboard. Even though the ident is only 10 seconds long it was useful to go into a lot of detail just to make sure everything was very clear when it came to making the animation in an unfamiliar program.

One of the requirements was to use alpha channels. The above video shows the alpha channels for my ident - the black is transparent and the white opaque. This means that if footage is playing the ident can appear smoothly over the end of it, instead of an abrupt cut.

Maya 3D Environment

This project was very difficult, I had to deal with creative challenges and technical challenges. I found Maya complicated to model in, however as I got closer to finishing this project I began to feel more confident doing so. There were several new features of Maya I had to learn for this - modelling, lighting, camera movement, rendering, projection mapping and texturing. Now I feel I know the basics of all of these so this project was very helpful.
I wish I had more time to add details to the model, however I had to be careful not to make too many polygons in the model. So instead I should practice texturing so I don't need to slow up rendering. Another useful skill I learnt was how to use Photoshop better - I used this for the Digital Matte Painting.
Since deciding to learn Photoshop this term I have begun using it much more, in fact I used to for all 3 of the projects due in this week.