Friday, November 30, 2007

Walk Cycle Update

Nothing major, just revised the shoulders in the frames where they were out of whack, & tweaked the torso in a few spots. The overall motion looks much better now I think, but the arms still need work, they are out of place in a few frames still. The entire thing is 15 frames on 2's right now, but I might add a couple frames if I need to to help smooth the motion of the arms, we'll see how it looks when I clean it up though & go from there.
Here is the updated version:

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

AF Winter Challenge - Walk Cycle

Well, got a new challenge from the Animation Forum the other day. This one is a bit more involoved than the weekly character design contests are, as we have to complete a well planned walk cycle. I'm really excited about this one as I know it will force me to push myself & I'm bound to learn something new :)
Here is the Challenge & it's description in full.

My first step of course was to do some homework. I found a number of great resources for planning out & executing walk cycles, and I suggest you give them a look. Some stuff gets repeated, but it's well worth reading. There's a ton more out there just a google search away, but these are a good base.

Idleworm Walk Cycle Tutorial

Walk Tutorial by Mike Brown

Preston Blair's page of walks (reference)

Now that I've done some research, I can start thinking about what kind of walk I want to attempt. I ended up deciding on a combination of sorts, where my character is going to walk very slowly on screen in a downtrodden/forlorn sort of way, then find something on the ground that perks his spirits up & makes him skip/prance off into the distance.

Sounds good right? So how do we do this? How do we plan it out? Well I'm loosley basing my char's walk on Preston Blair's "slouch" walk. Although I think (hope) that I've put my own touch of originality on it. But that gives me a general idea of how I want my contact poses to look. "Contact" poses are when the feet are farthest apart from each other & both touching the ground. The contact poses are the most extreme positions in any walk. Now, I don't usually give hard & fast rules, at least I try not to, but CONTACT POSES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION IN ANY WALK CYCLE!!! IF YOU DO NOT START WITH THE CONTACTS THEN THE SKY WILL FALL AND THE THIRD WORLD WILL BE SENT BACK TO THE FOURTH!!!

Well, your walk will likely suck anyway.... Seriously, the contact poses determine the length of your character's stride. This is hugely important to the rest of your walk, and if you screw up the contacts, it will be like building a house on sand. Spend some time on these poses & it will save you LOTS of time later on. Once you have your two contact poses, the rest just needs to be filled in & the only limits are your imagination & creativity.

Here are my 3 contact poses. They are frames 1, 8 & 15, with 1 & 15 being the same drawing. This establishes a full looping walk, & even just playing these two frames will give the semblance of a walk.

As you can see I add little notes underneath my roughs so I know what needs rivising on each frame when I eventually get to cleaning up.

Now I can put some more thought into the personality of this walk. I've already got a pose that suggests he's a little bummed out, & to stress that even further in the walk I want him to do a couple things:
1) Drag his feet like they weigh 50 pounds each.
2) Have lots of weight & take a lot of effort to lift it. I'll do this by manipulating his up & down motion through the walk, making him take a long time to get up to his high point, but coming down into his recoil position very quickly.

To plan this out, I drew up a couple of charts (I don't know the proper name for these if there is one) to help me place my frames & get a feel for the timing of the walk. The first chart shows the frames spaced in relation to each other & marked at different heights to indicate keyframes, inbetweens, and breakdowns. (with a couple mistakes on my part, but that's what it's supposed to show :)

This next one again has the frames spaced out, but this time along a motion path that I drew for the top of his head. Now the timing of the walk becomes much clearer, as you can see that he will go from the high point(frames 7 & 14) to the recoil (low point, frames 2 & 9) in only 2 frames respectively. However, to get from the recoil to the high point of the walk it will take 5 frames. This should give me the slow up/fast down motion that I said I wanted.
C = contact pose
R = recoil pose (downstep)
P = Passing pose
HP = high point
IB = inbetween *note* more of these will probably be added

Just to sum up in case it is unclear, I begin the first chart with frames 1 & 15, and frame 8 spaced directly in the middle of them. These are the three contact poses from the first image above. Right between the contact poses I put the passing poses, frames 4 & 11, so his legs will pass each other right at the mid-point of his step. I then split the distance between the contact & passing poses and added the recoil frames, 2 & 9. Then I did the same for the high points, frames 7 & 14, putting them directly between the passing & following contact poses. Now I have all my key frames spaced out, *note* on the chart I should have made the marks for frames 2 & 9 the same height as 1, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15. The tallest marks represent keyframes. I then put a few inbetweens (the smaller marks) between some of the keys, to make for the timing I want. Notice all the inbetweens happen between the recoil & high point. This is how I will get the slow-up/fast-down motion I've been mentioning.

And here is what I have so far roughed out. Still have a bunch of inbetweens & breakdowns left, which are the blank white frames right now. I also noticed that in a couple frames I have the shoulders going the opposite way that they should to counter the hips. That's why it looks jumpy in a few spots. I'm probably just going to finish the inbetweens first then tweak the shoulders where necessary. Overall though I'm extremely happy with how this is shaping up so far. If you have any crits or comments please feel free to give them, I'm always open to suggestions. Also I'll post updates here of course, but if you're interested you can keep up with my progress in this thread.

Hope some people found this helpful, it's by no means a bible to go by, just a record of my workflow you can compare with your own in the off chance it's useful.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Flip Boom! Kid Friendly Animation Software!

Toon Boom just announced the release of a new product, Flip Boom. It is an animation program with a kid friendly interface, easy to understand large buttons, and all the tools needed for animation! I decided to check out the trial version to see if this is something I would recommend to people I know. I just did a little 10 frame animation of a flower growing to get a feel for the program. Now, already using TBS, most of the keyboard shortcuts are the same, but even if it was the first time using the program, one could easily learn all the tools in almost no time. (Especially with a helpful parent nearby). The program incorporates a brush, & paint tool for drawing & coloring. An eraser tool for fixing said drawings, and a select tool that you can use to resize or move drawings, or select them to copy & paste. It also allows you to change the brush size, and if the youngster is lucky enough to have a tablet already, it supports pressure sensitivity as well. Almost forgot, it has a fairly extensive color wheel as well, 60 colors plus greyscale from white to black. You can hold 8 colors in your palette, and change them by double clicking to open up the color wheel. Flip Boom also has an onion skin feature, which is essential to animating, which allows you to see a washed out version of your previous & next drawings. It also has a feature called "Draw behind" which lets you, well... draw behind other stuff. This is extremely handy since the program only allows for one layer. With this feature you can draw something in the background wihout worrying about messing up a line or area in the foreground. It basically gives you some room for error & makes a little "coloring outside the lines" harmless. There is a easy to use, quick playback tool to preview your work, and you can view it at 3 different speeds, I'm not sure what the frame rates are, but my guess would be 12, 18, & 24, or something around there. You can export to Quicktime, SWF, and AVI as well, which is sweet. The only small knock I have is that there is no shape tool at all. I know it is meant to be simple, but I can see a kid getting a LOT of use out of circles & squares, as opposed to drawing everything freehand. Especially if they are using a mouse. It's not a huge factor & I still highly recommend this program for any kid about 12 & younger. However I would also suggest to Toon Boom that they add shapes in the future. Also 2 layers would be nice, but that may be a bit much to ask for. Anyway, here is my example of something any 6 yr old can do, & most likely do better! A quick flower growing:

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Monday, November 19, 2007

The Turn Update

Nothing major, just added a very rough 3rd layer of a waitress getting "goosed." I've got a lot of ideas for things to add to this & I'll keep posting updates as I refine/add to it.

This pic is 3 sheets on top of each other, so it gets a bit fuzzy, but you can make it out.

The Turn update

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

CD 20 - "The Turn"

Another week, another character design challenge at the Animation Forum. This week's was pretty simple: Draw yourself in 20 years.
I decided to put myself at a poker table, and I ended up really pushing myself on a couple of angles that I'm not used to drawing. I'm glad I did.

Little background info & sidebar: I got my "Pat the Pirate" handle from a very drunk guy at a poker game. There's a few regular games at bars near me, and one night I happen to be playing with my hair down & a bandanna on. We had just gone from 4 tables to 2, and a guy I had never met was at my new table. He was hamered & slightly annoying, but he was also a huge fish, & was donating chips like crazy... so I could deal with slightly annoying. Anyway, the next time the waitress came around, he orders a beer & then out of the blue he orders one for me too, saying "Get this guy a beer, he looks like a f***ing pirate!" And he continued to do so for the rest of the night. :) All I had to do was listen to "Dude all you need is a parrot on your shoulder!... You should get a f***ing parrot man! A parrot & a boat!" & things of that nature, until me & the rest of the table drained him of his chips. lol, it was a good time though, & the pirate thing kinda stuck as my poker persona. When I got into animation, it only seemed natural to stick with it for a pseudonym.

Anyway, the pic is done in pencil on 2 sheets of vellum, I haven't got it on one sheet yet, so I'll show them both first, then together, where you'll see I had to cut & paste & bump the contrast/brightness. I think this is another piece I should add to & finish, really happy with the hands. I'm calling it: "The Turn"

I made the drawing a 1st person perspective view, so YOU are at the table looking at me across from you. You can see that you hold the Ace/King of hearts, while the board shows the 10, Jack, Queen, and 9 of diamonds. There is one card left to be dealt. I have just pushed all me bullion on the table. The coward between us has folded. Now what'r ya gunna do ye scurvy-ridden scallywag?!

The pics are too big to embed here, so here are links, let me know what you think!

Layer 1
Layer 2
Both together

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CD 18 walk inked

Well here is the inked version. I tried something with bitmaps for the coloring which I think I like. I'll keep playing with the idea & see what I can make with it. It certainly has some possibilities, but it seems so far to make for some gigantic files. We'll see... but please let me know what you think in the meantime.

In lieu of the media player that doesn't seem to work, here is a link:

CD 18 Walk Inked

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CD 18 update

Added frames to the walk & got the first frame inked. I'm starting to like this character too, now I need to think of a name & a story for her :)

I'll post more when I get to the transformation. No plans to use that for anything but I think it will be a great exercise for me. I have another exercise of sorts in the works, but I may hold off until I finish that & show it step by step, because so far I like how it's shaping up. In the meantime, let me know what you think of this character & the walk so far. Cheers .

The media player here won't work for me, so here's a link to a SWF version that loops: Walk SWF

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Monday, November 5, 2007

CD 18

Well, another character design challenge at the Animation Forum. This week's was about a "normal" woman who on her 30th B-day makes an announcement to her family & friends.

Here is the description we got & the requirements for this week's challenge:

Ignatius Metranom is a simple woman. She has a good job at the grocery store, married to a wonderful man she met in college when they were both studying psychology. Her adopted parents love her dearly and today is her 30th birthday and she has told her family that she has an important announcement to make. All her friends and family have shown up. Ignatius is going to inform her family that she is really an alien scout from a far off land and the Earth is going to be invaded within 20 minutes.

Requirement: Design of Ignatius's two forms. Bonus points for doing a mock up of her big speech. You can also do the two forms in mid-transformation.

I didn't start until late as usuall so I didn't get anywhere near as much done as I'd have liked...go figure...
I got a simple & super rough walk cycle of Ignatius, but it's more of an animatic than a finished animation. Quite a few more frames needed, foot doesn't bend or show any weight etc, but for something I did in less than an hour it works. (animating wasn't part of the requirements anyway :P) My hope was to have her walk into a room w/her parent's & boyfriend waiting, then animate the transformation to alien form by having the alien rip its way out from inside, then proceeding to tell the crowd that "I'm not like other girls!" ...or something to that effect. Anyway, all I got done was the crappy walk & the design of the alien, but alas, no transformation. I may try it anyway just to prove to myself that I can(along with smoothing out the walk). But this is my final entry for the challenge.

CD 18

Couple points on the walk itself, while the feet suck & the legs don't quite have the motion I was shooting for, they are straight on purpose. I was trying to make her have a very short stride with quick, snappy steps. I think I'm on the right track, but it needs work & was a first attempt. I tried making her legs come forward very quickly & going back a little slower. To make up for the difference in time I ended up keeping the front foot still in place for an extra frame. It will look a lot better if I sub in a drawing of the front foot being bent & absorbing some weight. Also, if you watch the upper legs it looks decent, but the lower legs tend to look like only one is moving at times. Might be an illusion, or might be that they are too symmetrical & the very similar motion paths make it hard to tell which leg is which when they are passing. On a positive note, I do like the motion of her hands. I wanted her to be a little bit prissy looking but also plain-Jane-ish. Also since it was a quicky, I didn't have to get into pumping arms & such.

That's all for now, but I will post an update when I clean up the walk & if/when I do the transofrmation.

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