December 31, 2013

Last Blog Post of 2013: Goals

Yesterday I was asked if I have any New Years resolutions for 2014. I used to set New Years's resolutions. Now in my life I'm constantly setting goals for myself. I keep striving to be a better artist, a healthier person and a good wife and friend. On December 10 my husband and I started eating healthier and regularly exercising together. We both have our own fitness goals and we are being realistic about them. Working on our goals together is rewarding. An ongoing goal of mine is to create honest artwork. When I create or animate a character I want to be honest about who the character is, how they feel and what actions they would take. It's the trickiest thing I think about animation. The principals can be mastered but a dishonestly animated character or story will not feel believable.

Starting next week I will be taking an iAnimate workshop on body mechanics with Jason Anastas (a fellow Sheridan grad!) that will take me until mid April. My goals related to taking this course are for me to get better at animating with Maya, and to polish my animation skills. I'm going to be crazy busy doing homework on top of my day job. I sure hope I'll be able to keep fitting in occasional workouts during the next four months but I know I'm going to have much less free time. To make things easier on myself I'm going to try to cut out time spent in other ways. For example, cooking simpler meals at home. That will take less time and there will be less dishes to wash. I'll do what I can to best balance my time. I will likely blog about my experience with iAnimate.
This picture is a meal that my husband made over the holiday break. It was one of the best meals I've ever eaten and it took him 3 hours to make. There were many dishes to wash.

See you in 2014!

December 27, 2013

Creating Hand Drawn Animation Entirely Digitally

I've been using Toonboom to animate scene 10 of my short film. I'm creating hand drawn animation for this scene, but doing it fully digitally. Having a set of top notch digital animation and drawing tools at my disposal is wonderful. I can do things that would be more of a hassle to do with pencil on paper. However I still find it a bit awkward sometimes. It's just... weird... sort of... for me to create drawings with a vector line and a tablet pen. It's hard to tell if this medium is helping me work faster or not. At the very least I don't have to scan drawings, sharpen pencils, punch paper and composite my work. On the other hand I don't get to do those things. I miss flipping actually. I feel like I had perfected my ability to control how much I see through my drawings on the light table and it was more comfortable than digital onion skin. I want to keep going though so I will push forwards.

My goals now are to get a bit faster, manage my time well, see progress happen on my film regularly and do honest work. I'll spend the last couple days of my holiday break on Pickled but from January 6 to April 13 I will be putting all my spare time towards an iAnimate course to further my practise of 3D animation. So my goal of seeing regular progress is not going to happen for awhile.

Here is a screen cap of the scene I'm currently working on:

December 24, 2013

Sculpture and Props for Animation Reference

I am no sculptor, but I gave sculpting Birdie's head a shot yesterday. I picked up some Premo! Sculpey, some wire and a few shaping tools at Blick and spent about 7 hours creating this:
I may sand it down now that it's been baked and I guess I could keep going with it... I'll probably leave it as is though and just add some hair. While it isn't a great sculpture I think it will serve it's purpose. I built it so that I could have a reference for while I draw Birdie's head. It's one thing to imagine her head in different angles so long as it's level, but imagining how such a cartoony head would look at tilted angles is more difficult.

Animators have often had props and sculptures of all sorts through the years to help them imagine the different views and possibilities if characters and objects. Kent Melton is an amazing and experienced sculptor and I remember seeing the sculpts he did of The Incredibles cast in the movie's art book. Here they are:
A famously animated scene aided by props is that of the car chase scene in 101 Dalmations. A cardboard model of Cruella's car was built and filmed for use in the film. You can learn about that in the Making of 101 Dalmations video at the 22:31 mark.

Here is (left to right) Production Designer Ken Anderson, Story Artist Bill Peet, Directors Wolfgang Reitherman and Hamilton Luske holding two car models from 101 Dalmations:
The live action images shot of the car models were transferred directly to cels and painted. Hand animating rigid objects such as cars is a difficult task and tackling the issue this way saved a lot of work and stress.
Here are a couple more gorgeous sculpts by Kent Melton of Rapunzel for Tangled:

And here are some images of my Birdie head work in progress!
Just some Sculpey here:
Beginnnings of a wire and aluminum foil armature:
 The aluminum base is done here:
I had no idea what I was doing. I found the Premo! Sculpey hard to work with. I worked pieces of it at a time in my hands to soften it a bit and then I gradually wrapped strips around the armature to flesh it out.
 The basic shape is achieved:
 Here it is with facial features added!

Scultptors are amazing. This stuff is hard.

December 16, 2013

Toonboom Tip #6 - Creating Templates

This is a mini tutorial for creating templates in Toonboom Animate. There are two types of templates; Action and Master.

Right to Modify Library
You will want to create a folder for your template in the library. Right click on "Animate Library" and select "Right to Modify". The lock symbol will then disappear. Right click on "Animate Library" again and select "Create New Folder". You will see a little tab appear to the left of the Animate Library folder that you can click to open up and see your new folder. Right click on the new folder and select "Rename Folder" to give it a smart name.
Master Templates
These are what you create to save and use character rigs.

For the rig/artwork that you want to make a template of, add a keyframe on every layer of that rig on the timeline. A good way to do this is to collapse a rig on timeline and using the shortcut F6, make a key. Make sure it's set to stop-motion keyframe as we're not attempting to save animation at this time but simply a template of a rig.

So now, click and drag the entire rig from the left of the timeline (where folders go) by selecting the master peg. (The rig is collapsed now.) Drag it into your new folder on the right side of the library. A window appears giving you the option to name this new template. Give it a smart name.
Action Templates
These are what you want to create to save animation, drawings, keyframes or a combination of those. It's possible to copy animation from one character rig to another if the rigs are set up in the same way. When you drag and drop your action template back into a scene, it will look for the structure style it was created with.

When you have some animation, drawings or keyframes on your timeline that you are ready to make into an action template, drag select those frames on the right side of the timeline. Drop them into the library.

TIP: If you drag and drop an action template first before bringing in a master template, there may be some z depth issues. This happens because the action template doesn't fully understand the structure of a rig. It understands the animation/drawings/keys that it copied to the library. So it's a good idea to bring a master template into a scene first, and then drop action templates onto that. 

Saving actions templates are excellent for things like blinks. A blink is something a character is going to do again and again so why not capture that animation and reuse it to save time?
Summary and Links

To create a master template of a rig, drag a collapsed and keyed rig from the left of the timeline to the right of the library. Here is a great video that covers this information and goes into some more depth about creating character rig turnarounds for Animate.

To create an action template, drag select animation, drawings or keyframes from the right side of the timeline the right side of library. Here is another great video that covers creating action templates.

Check out my past Toonboom Tutorials! I've done 5 so far. All the topics I cover are important and basic. They're ideal for animators picking up Toonboom for the first time whether they come from a Flash background or not.

Take a Deep Breath...

Here is a small taste of a big scene I've been working on! It's been so addictive to work on this. I hate doing a bunch of work and ...