Friday, 30 October 2009

life drawings and continued 'conversations' project

Above are drawing from my sketchbook that I have done for the 'coversations' project. I think I'm getting used to drawing things faster and taking in the action and what is happening in the situation a little more and getting it down on paper. Most of the above drawings are from tv programmes that I was watching and paused quickly to sketch out. I think next it would be a good idea to stop pausing the film and try and get as much information from the scenes down as possible so that the action keeps moving and I can try and draw the images from memory or as it moves.

Doing some acting was quite funny in our lesson and I think some pretty good conversational photos were taken that we can work from. I will therefore also use these to maybe do some more detailed and neater drawings from to improve on drawing situations like these accurately.

The next lot of images are from the last life drawing class I went to. I unfortunately missed the previous two, and this stood out in my first few drawings. I think there is a noticable improvement from the start to the end of the session.

We started out by drawing the figure without looking at the paper to get more of an idea about shape and lines and how to visualise what we are putting down on paper.

We continued to do some really fast poses and a mixture of longer ones. I think I prefer to do the faster ones, trying to get the information down and because you can see the movement between the poses. However when doing this I tend to leave out a lot of detail such as hands, feet and facial features which is probably what I need most practise at.


Of all the projects we are doing at the moment, I think the experimental animation is one I need to think about a little more. I really want to try sand animation and just mess around with different mediums, maybe combining them and seeing what works. However I'm yet to actually experiment yet.
I have chosen the piece of music that I want to use and I have gone through it and made a kind of dope sheet, just to get a better idea of where the accents in the music lie in relation to the frames. By doing this it means I can hopefully be really free with the sand or medium and know roughly where the beats in the music are to do something more exaggerated within the image.
I had a very quick try at using couscous to animate with yesterday, however had to leave for work so didn't really get a good chance to actually film anything. I would quite like to try animating with different coloured medium that is sand like. Maybe using chalks to change the colour of salt so that I can use a range of colours and add them to the piece with the sound changes. Maybe if I made enough I could build up the mix of colours so that by the end of the piece I had a whole mixture of colours being manipulated in the scene.
I think I really need to get going on this piece and start to try out a lot more and see what works and what ideas develop from experiments.

emotion change animation....

Above is the final of my emotion change animation that I handed in. I started by working my way through really rough sketches of the character and what I wanted him to do and the emotion I wanted him to go through. From this I then built up and did straight through animation with the purple lines and then went over them, filling the character out a bit with the black outlines.

I think the movement I was aiming for and the emotion change is there, but I think it could have been exaggerated even further. For example, my character is moving quite quickly at the beginning of the sequence, however it could have been even more jumpy and excited and really exaggerate the key poses and maybe have had less inbetweens to fasten up the movement. Similarly, when he realises there isn't anything inside, he could be moving even more slowly, and sort of sulk back down into the sitting position, and really emphasise how upset he is by making him move in an extremely gloomy and dissappointed way.

I did go through and draw out the lines of action in the key poses, which I think are quite good and work well, however you don't notice them as much when the piece is playing and eveything is moving and I feel perhaps these too could have been taken even further and really stretched them.

When watching it there appears to be quite a noticable change in the dimensions of the character. I thought having sketched it out and outlined it I would have avoided this or noticed it more when I was drawing the shape of the character. I need to take more care in making the character remain the same size thoughout and I think if I hadn't have gone over him with the black lines there probably wouldn't be a very noticable change in mass.

Having said that, I am pleased with the final outcome and I think the mood change is visable which was the point of the task, even if it could have been exaggerated a little more.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

stop motion workshop...

This week I went to the stop motion workshop to have another go creating some puppet animation. I really love the style of stop motion and watching films that were made using it. I find it incredible when you know how it was done and find it really interesting to watch the 'making of' to see how it all works. As a group we tried a little scenario just getting used to the puppets. It was really rough and we were just messing around with them so it wasn't at all acurate or realistic. When Anne gave us a task to do, and with lots of guidance, the puppets moved more smoothly and I learnt a lot more about the way they needed to be moved and the speed in order to carry out a movement in a more natural way. We tried a head turn..which is harder to get looking right then it sounds...

Mine was the middle one. I was quite pleased with it. I think it looks quite natural but I found it tricky getting the puppet to move a very particular distance as they tended to move back slightly or jolt way too far in the direction of movement. This is something I'd really love to get the hang of and have a lot more practice at animating in the future.


Above is the next stage of my animation. Still quite rough but the timing is working ok, and the piece flows better and quite smoothly. I will continue to change it as I work over and neaten it up a little. Having spoken and looked a lot at the line of action and movement this week, I think that it is really improtant to get this across in my next project. I can see now having watched things like Charlie Chaplin, animations, silent films and even dances such as ballets that tell a story, just how important it is to get the movement across and to exaggerate it. The audience need to be able to understand the movement simply through the actions and the way the characters are moving. It is therefore very important to make the movements as clear as possible so that it is easy for the audience to recognise and understand them. I will make sure that I put this into my characters emotion change by working through the sequence and drawing in the lines in every key frame to make sure they are working.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

changing emotions....

After my attempt at doing a heavy lift in 2D I spoke to Andy for advice on how to make my 2D work better. I found that I was making the drawings very neat and basically started with the finished versions rather then doing roughs to make sure all the timing was accurate and the sequence was working well before adding any detail. So for this 'changing emotions' project I started it in a very different way. I did sketch out initial drawings just to get ideas of what I wanted to do. I decided I wanted to do it in Flash so I began to sketch out the timing just so I roughly knew where each movement needed to be...

Thursday, 22 October 2009


As I've tried both 2D and 3D I thought I may as well have a go at stop-motion. This isn't great as I did it at home with a DIY morph, stills camera and window ledge...but it kinda works...

Trying a 3D lift...

So, I've had a go at doing the 3D Dee character lifting a heavy object. Although it did turn out alot better then I thought it would, there are still all the ususal bits n pieces wrong with it.

There are the odd parts where the hands/arms disappear into the box..which just isn't natural...I really should have made the hands stick to the box so that it moved with the arms of the character once he had hold of it as this would have made it easier to combine the two movements, rather then keying them seperately.

The action of the lifting and manouvering the character around the box to be able to lift it I think is ok and it does look as though he is struggling. However, keeping the hands and box together and the timing definately can be improved. Although he picks up the box slowly due to the weight of it, it would be much more effective if he put more effort into picking it up and having parts where he used strength and the movement gets a bit faster, for example when he manages to get the box onto his shoulder. This would probably be done with a lot more aniticipation and the movement would need to be quick to get the weight up there.'s an attempt for the time being...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Experimental animation

Having thought a little more about the experimental project and listened to the music a bit more, there are two pieces that stood out, but one in particular that I'd like to work with which is quite african sounding and fast, with lots of accents that could be used and synchronised with movement.

So far we have looked at quite a lot of pixellated animation, which I think is a really interesting technique and certainly very different to most animation seen.
However, the idea of creating a very expressive piece to music reminds me of the work of Erica Russell. Although her work is planned and probably quite structured, she times everything beautifully and the shapes she uses to create the dancing characters work so smoothly and blend perfectly with the sound. I would love to achieve a piece of animation similar to her work, but in a more experimental way or medium.

I have also looked at work by Caroline Leaf and the idea of sand animation. I have seen quite a lot of this in the past and seen some films of live shows with people creating amazing images changing from one to another in sand. I'd love to know how this can be achieved and look into it a bit more. Maybe it would be possible to combine the two ideas of using images and sequences of changing shapes and dancing movements that Russell creates, however using sand.

Definately need to do more research and some experimenting!!

Advanced Maya project...

If I'm honest I havn't got very far with this project yet. I really wanted to try and get into Maya this year and I'm positive I still will, but as this project is the optional one, I'm finding that I'm pushing it to the back of my 'to do' list and getting the character animation and drawing side of things done first..which I suppose is a good thing..except I'm getting a bit lost with this now!
So far I've taken the photos and managed to line them up in photoshop to use as reference in Maya. I have staretd to model my face, however I have definately made waaaaaay to many polygons when adding all my edge loops. I have the basics of my face, and from the side I can see similarities..its heading in the right direction, however due to all the points I've made, the more i tweak it and pull and push it, the more out of shape it's getting and I'm forever finding bits sticking out in all kind of odd places. SO...the plan is, to remove a fair few of my polygon and loops to make the model much simpler. By doing this I'm hoping it will be much easier to get into the right shape. Having done this I can then duplicate and reverse it and start modelling the other side of my face.

After this I need to try creating the eye. Although this was last week I still need to get it done, and I think working from my notes and what Georg told us in the lesson I should be able to do this a little more successfully! so..lots to do for this one :S

Drawing project cont.....

I have done a range of drawings since I last posted the project on here. Some of them are really rough and quick drawings, mainly from TV programmes and films where people are interacting. I thought this was a really good suggestion as the camera really focuses on the body language of the actors and how they are acting towards each other. I found this really useful, particularly to do some faster drawings to try and get as much information about the characters down quickly as the film continued.

From this I found that without detail, it's quite hard to tell what the characters are doing and I think it is important that in furture I need to concentrate on the shape of the figures and almost exaggerate their movements, emphasising what they are doing, particulalry when thinking about animation.

I have also done some more detailed illustrative type drawings to keep up the character design and because I wanted to try some neater, more finished ideas. I got inspiration for these mainly from photos or just thinking up situations that would create good moments between characters. I was quite pleased with the outcome of these and enjoyed doing them.

I really like the illustrative style characters such as of Joanna Quinn, particulalry becasue of the energy and expression she puts into each of her characters.

I think getting the body language and expression into characters the way she does is definately something to aim for and use as inspiration when designing characters and continuing this project.

weight lifting...

So our next assignment for character animation was to animate a figure lifting/pushing an object in order to show weight. When first thinking about it, you wouldn't think it would be hard to make a big block or rock look heavy, but when you're animating it, suddenly you realise it's just a drawing on paper or an object in Maya and doesn't have any is therefore completely up to the character and the way it reacts to the object to make it appear heavy.

Again I wanted to try it out in a few different mediums and see which one turned out best. So far I have managed to complete it in 2D, which took longer then I thought, and there are still some areas I would change and maybe add a few frames into to get it working a bit better...

For example the first part where the character is sizing up the object..thinking about how to lift it probably needs a bit longer and a few more frames in it to make him move a bit more smoothly. Similarly the step up to the object could have a few extra frames again just to make the walk better and prehaps exaggerate him taking on the challenge.
The lift itself is ok. I could have put a bit more of a struggle into it, such as straining a bit more, or shaking slightly as he tries to lift, but I think the speed change and body shape shows the weight of the object quite well.
I would like to try a similar action in 3d or stop motion to see how different they look, or if I can get it working a little more smoothly.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The walks are back...

For the character animation project we have starting doing walks again..just getting back into the basics before trying to animate them in a more characterised way. I couldn't decide what medium to do it in and thought it was probably best to have a go at both to make sure I could still remember how to do it! I had a couple of attempts in 2D...

Above is the first attempt which I think went ok, there are just a few things such as the head changing shape quite a bit, not squashing and stretching correctly and the arms also look as if they get longer in the inbetween phase when they are to the side of the body. The shoulder movement looks ok but I could have probably put a bit more into the hips. Its also moving quite quickly and is more of a strut then a natural walk. so, attempt 2...

I definately think the second one is an improvement. The walk is more natural, not too exaggerated, the arm swing works better and flows in a smoother way and I think the body movement overall jsut has a better appearance. The head now stays the same size, however it may need a bit of squash and stretch as something about it still doesn't look quite right. I attempted creating a walk in 3D using a new rig. I thought it was working quite well, and I got the legs moving well and the arm swing going smoothly with the body. I think I then tweeked and moved around the rest of the body a bit too much and got to the point that when I played the walk it was a bit jutery and not very natural. The figure's head seems to move around quite a lot which I wasn't too aware of when animating it. The main problem with the walk however is the speed. I managed to play it back in Maya twice the speed and it works quite well as some of the juddery movements aren't as obvious and look smoother. However when creating a playblast the speed goes down and the walk doesn't look this definately needs to be changed...another few attempts at this one maybe...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Beginning of a new year...

Back here again..and straight into a few new projects, all of which seem really interesting and I can't wait to get into them properly.
I'd never heard of the 10/11 second club before last week, but it's such a good idea and something that would be so good to get into doing every month. I think this would improve my character animation greatly and would be really good practise for lip synch. Having looked at quite a few of the examples on the website however, I do find it a bit intimidating as a lot of people posting on it have a lot of experience and are producing really great quality animation in hardly any time at all! Definately something to aim for though!
I'm not completely sure how or what medium I want to use for the character project. I would love to try out 3D as I still havn't used it for any real project yet, however I think I would be a lot more successful and be able to put much more character into a 2D drawn animation as I feel I have much more control over it. I may try and have a tester of both and see which outcome is more sucessful for me.

I've already found the 'conversations' drawing project helpful when thinking about characters and design in terms of postures, movement, the way people sit, stand, express themselves. I have only done a small number of drawings so far, most of which came from photos I already had. To further this I need to go out and draw people in natural situations.

I'm enjoying getting back into drawing after not doing as much as I should have over the summer. I found I was a little rusty when we had a life drawing session, however towards the end I was improving, but I think it will take a few more lessons to get up to where I was at the end of last year.

The experimental project should be quite good fun. I'm looking forward to trying different techniques and playing around to find an interesting way of animating. It could be really expressive and good practise using music to really get the timing right. Again I don't really know what medium I want to use for this, but I'm up for trying out a few different things to see what works and I also need to decide on one of the pieces of music and start to doodle out a few ideas and images.

So...a lot to get on with! bring it on!