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  1. #1
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    Animation Project

    I'm an illustration student from Sweden. I've decided to spend my three weeks free assignment on learning how to animate. I figure I might as well document what I'm doing because I believe there's alot of people in here that can give me advice.

    Wasn't sure about the section. But this is definately a study and discovery for me.


    Ambition
    I believe I won't have a shortfilm to show at the end of these weeks, though I'm hoping to have some short gestures animated with a character that I've been working on. The goal is not the finished product, rather the learning process and a glimps of the things needed to make a full animated movie. I have no experience doing something like this.


    Plans
    I don't really know what I have to do yet, but I'm starting to get the idea (after my third day of working). Correct me if I'm wrong here;

    Character sketches, showing gestures and movement. A simple shape that can be drawn over and over again without taking to much time.

    Orthos. The character obviously shouldn't be to complex to figure out how to be drawn in every angle. Have to show it in a ortho(?).

    Sculpture. I decided to take a couple of hours to try and make my character into a scultpure. To help me figure out it's shape and making it easier to bend it's limbs. Not necessary, but I wan't to do it.

    Storyboard. Maybe this isn't as necessary, since I'll probably won't be able to do a longer film. But I probably need some kind of keyframes or important frames, showing my idea before I start with all the inbetween frames (feel free to correct the terminology).

    Scanning, drawing, animating. Transfering to the computer and actually making it move.

    If the time allows it, I'll try to add some basic soundeffects or a soundtrack. But I fear it won't.


    Equipment
    Except for most traditional equipment such as papers and pencils, I have computers, scanners, wacoms and cameras. Our school computers have illustrator, photoshop, imageready and indesign but no animationprogram.

    I haven't decided in what program I should do this yet. The computer administrator of our school has tired to convince me to use Blender (which didn't support anything that he claimed) and after that he suggested GIMP with animation plugins. I'd like to know if I should demand to get a copy of Flash or if GIMP could be sufficient for the task, please tell if you have the experience. Else I have some other free programs that might be usable, though I haven't had time to test them out yet.


    Day Three
    Character sketches scanned and no sign of our computer admin. I'm aware of the problems in size and some general errors (the head bounces the wrong way when walking etc). I really feel this is what I need to be doing, my basic shapes are way to bad.

    The scanned files are not resized in relation to eachother, to show them in the right proportion to eachother. As mentioned, it's pretty obvious I'm having trouble with drawing simple shapes and even more the same shape many times.

    Tomorrow is a review day where we sit down in a group and talk about our projects. I think I'll be able to start doing some scultpures and orthos, not sure which one to do first though. Sculpture is not my favourite subject, but I guess it'll be fine.


    .peace


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  2. #2
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    are you planning on shading him for every frame?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rabid View Post
    are you planning on shading him for every frame?
    As much as I'd like to, I think I'll just stick with lineart and maybe a fill-colour if the software supports it

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    What a cool idea! Your plans look good - except you need turnarounds.
    That would be the character from front, 3/4, profile, and back (at minimum). It helps to draw the turnarounds on top of eachother on a lightboard.

    Your character is nicely simple - most new animators try to start with really complicated characters which makes it harder. I see that you are already starting out with a single step - not bad, those would make ok keys, but would need to be padded quite a bit. Remember 12 frames per second when shot on 2's, 24 when shot on ones (in the US anyway).

    Blender is a 3d program, and flash - while it might work for the style of character you've got here - takes a while to learn (that goes the same for blender - which is extremely difficult to use effectively).

    You can actually animate in Photoshop with the wacom tablet, or scanned drawings - which might be the easiest thing to do in limited time. As far as free programs - it wouldn't be a bad idea to find a free pencil test program - there are a few but I don't remember any of the names.

    Do you have a pegboard, lightboard and animation paper? Or are you planning to use some other method?
    Are you planning to animate straight ahead or pose to pose?

    General Help:

    These are the 12 basic principles of animation.

    1. Squash and stretch

    2. Anticipation/Reaction

    3. Staging

    4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

    5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

    6. Slow In and Slow Out

    7. Arcs

    8. Secondary Action

    9. Timing

    10. Exaggeration

    11. Solid Drawing

    12. Appeal

    And here are a few random tips -
    Everything moves in Arcs, not straight lines,
    characters blink while turning their heads (which is also in an arc),
    and even in a simple walk there is squash and stretch.

    Have fun with your project! With such a short amount of time to work, don't get bogged down with all of the technical aspects. Just focus on the movement.

    If you have any specific animation questions, I'd be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duchamp42 View Post
    What a cool idea! Your plans look good - except you need turnarounds.
    That would be the character from front, 3/4, profile, and back (at minimum). It helps to draw the turnarounds on top of eachother on a lightboard.
    Ah yes. I thought they were called orthos, but I might have mistaken it for some 3d modeling term. The plan was to make these today but they're starting to get on my nerves. I really want to make a sculpture first and work the ortho from there, since I'm having trouble drawing the same shape from different angles. I think I might as my friend who works with 3d to make a simple model for me, could probably help alot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duchamp42 View Post
    Your character is nicely simple - most new animators try to start with really complicated characters which makes it harder. I see that you are already starting out with a single step - not bad, those would make ok keys, but would need to be padded quite a bit. Remember 12 frames per second when shot on 2's, 24 when shot on ones (in the US anyway).
    I'm not sure what you mean with "shot on 1's or 2's. But I do figure I'd stick with a small number of frames per second. To be realistic about having an animation when this timeperiod is over .
    About the character. Even though I feel it's still abit complex for me to move around (which this project is intended to be an excersise for), do you think I need any accessories for it to further improve the sense of it moving around? I'm thinking about a belt, bag or similar to show the movement of the hips/shoulder etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Duchamp42 View Post
    Blender is a 3d program, and flash - while it might work for the style of character you've got here - takes a while to learn (that goes the same for blender - which is extremely difficult to use effectively).
    Yeah, the step to try blender has already been skipped. I tried it in 3d before and apparently it doesn't have any 2d support (as claimed by the computer admin). However, do you think GIMP would work or should I go for some other program? My options are flash trialversion or pencil (or similar free programs).
    Quote Originally Posted by Duchamp42 View Post
    You can actually animate in Photoshop with the wacom tablet, or scanned drawings - which might be the easiest thing to do in limited time. As far as free programs - it wouldn't be a bad idea to find a free pencil test program - there are a few but I don't remember any of the names.
    I've tried the Photoshop to imageready animation. It works but it's time consuming. Unless there's a smart macro or plugin for setting the opacity of the frames I think it would take too much time for it to be used.
    Quote Originally Posted by Duchamp42 View Post
    Do you have a pegboard, lightboard and animation paper? Or are you planning to use some other method?
    Are you planning to animate straight ahead or pose to pose?
    I have got a lightboard, but no pegboard or animation paper. I could use the scanners or the cameras, but I'd guess it would take a bit too much time. There's a possibility I could be able to set up a camera and take photos of each frame, using some kind of setup. But I'm not sure how it would work, or if it's any idea trying.
    Quote Originally Posted by Duchamp42 View Post
    General Help:

    These are the 12 basic principles of animation.

    1. Squash and stretch

    2. Anticipation/Reaction

    3. Staging

    4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose

    5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

    6. Slow In and Slow Out

    7. Arcs

    8. Secondary Action

    9. Timing

    10. Exaggeration

    11. Solid Drawing

    12. Appeal

    And here are a few random tips -
    Everything moves in Arcs, not straight lines,
    characters blink while turning their heads (which is also in an arc),
    and even in a simple walk there is squash and stretch.

    Have fun with your project! With such a short amount of time to work, don't get bogged down with all of the technical aspects. Just focus on the movement.

    If you have any specific animation questions, I'd be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge.
    Lot's of thanks mate. I really hope I'll be able to show something when this is over

    I'll scan some more later this day, though I managed to forget a bunch of papers at home. Been working from Edward Maybridge's Human body in motion, and I had some running and throwing sequences in shortform. Really helpful resource when working with movement and gestures!

    .cheers


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    Day Four
    I've tried to do an ortho/turnaround. It's really hard. I can't get any clay for a sculpture until monday so it'll probably hurt my progress, but I guess it's ok. With a bit of luck I'll get someone to make a 3d model for me (cough cough, anyone that reads this!). Todays scans consist of the ortho attempt, random gestures with and without reference and gestures drawn with Muybridge's bodies in motion.

    Tomorrow I have to work in a kitchen. Kind of annoying because I like to work with this, but yeah.


    If anyone has any tips on how to proceed, just tell me. I have my ideas, but tips is always appreciated! Especially since we don't have any animation teachers here.

    .cheers


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    From the looks of things I think flash would be a good idea for what you are aiming for.

    Originally Posted by MorteM

    I'm not sure what you mean with "shot on 1's or 2's. But I do figure I'd stick with a small number of frames per second. To be realistic about having an animation when this timeperiod is over .
    About the character. Even though I feel it's still abit complex for me to move around (which this project is intended to be an excersise for), do you think I need any accessories for it to further improve the sense of it moving around? I'm thinking about a belt, bag or similar to show the movement of the hips/shoulder etc.
    The more frames per second the smoother and more "realistic" the animation but it requires more work drawing, painting, etc. it pays off. You can get away with repeating the same animation over and over again like a walk cycle from point A to point B. For instance you "loop" these movements on picture: 08011702(second one) I don't know what your storyline would be so I can't help that much. Teachers like to see storyboards I think it would be in your best interests to make one.

    Good luck and hope it helped you at least a little. If you need help with anything here are a lot of artists that can help you.

    Last edited by Ferdinand Venter; January 17th, 2008 at 01:02 PM. Reason: Didn't work out as planned
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    I'll reply tomorrow.

    .peace


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    Thanks Ferdinand. I've realised now after some practicing with pixels (read on further down) that timing is even harder than making lots of frames. I should study the extremes in movement and gestures tonight to try and get some frames for animating.

    Day Eight
    General lazyness and random problems has caused some setbacks. No animationprogram except for imageready available will force me to work on other stuff even though I should try out animation during this time. Today I decided to try to move over from classic 2d digital animation (hurrr) to retro game animation, kind of the same but with a limited number of pixels and colours.

    I made some animations and some sketches for even more characters. Plan is to have a background with smurfrippof houses (yes they live in shrooms..) and try to make a pixelated version of my character jump around them. Didn't get too far with the plan but I hope tomorrow will get some results.

    Someone set the scanner resolution to alot of DPI and I haven't got much clue how to lower the filesize. Thought it was enough to "save as for web". If someone wondered about the filesize


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    Flash uses vectors and if used correct you can get a realistic nice looking walk cycle with 25 frames or something like that. Besides you can make each move cycle i.e. jump, walk, run, jog, etc. into a movie symbol which in turn means instead of doing everything over again you can just load the symbol and your animation is done. I think flash is pretty powerful for 2D animations. All i think you need is to understand animation and how it works.

    Your sketches show skill in both drawing and how cartoons show emotion without having to go to great lengths to try and convey what the character is "feeling". Your character needs a story if you got that everything will fall in place like your..."smurfrippof houses".

    Think long and hard about this because maybe your houses won't even be used in your animation. If you got a great story line no one would care if you maybe missed a few frames here and there. I would suggest work on a storyline first. Adobe ImageReady isn't suited for this kind of animation...

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    I think my previous post would have made more sense if all pictures were there. Due to the absence of a decent animation program in my school I decided to try something I like and want to learn more about, pixel/sprite animation and design. I didn't get very far, but the plan was to use the houses, scaled down, as backgrounds where my spritecharacter could walk around. Something like a SNES graphics game (which I'd really like to work on as aproject). However I didn't get that far with the thing, and now I'm back at 2d animation.

    I can't use flash in school due to legal rights, but I'm using a simple tool called pencil now. And I really don't want to make this a vector based animation, since the idea was to get better at drawing. Controlling the shapes in movement.

    Day .. whatever
    Been sick for a couple of days, really annoying. The latest news is that I've managed to get a basic idea for the animations and I've finally started to draw them. The plan is to have my little character be a ninja (duh..) and have him do basic "lessons" in ninja..stuff.. Not original and actually kind of boring, even with the twist that he's a sucker and always fails, but it's enough of a theme to get me into making storyboards and drawing.

    I have made two attempts so far at one of these 'lessons', they're exported to .swf but I don't know where to upload them. Anyone know a good site?


    Anyways, nothing to show. Except for a couple of 'shroom houses that won't be used.

    .peace


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    It's a good start now we have a better understanding of what you are trying to achieve. I'm not going to hold it against you if you don't use vectors. I like the way you stick to what you want to do. As for uploading .swf files I have absolutely no idea where to upload it sorry.

    Now that I know a little more your 'shroom houses can still work. As I said you need a storyline but you are working on it, so don't discard the idea completely, not yet anyway . The character can jump from house to house like every ninja does form time to time. You can use it as an intro "movie"

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    Sotyrboadrs.

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    Ferdinand: Yeah, that would probably be a nice idea. My plan now is to have him jump over rooftops (didn't chose the shrooms since they're not flat). It will probably be my only result after these weeks. I'm afraid I'm abit dissapointed cause I was hoping for more animated art to show, but I can't blame anyone else but me and my lazyness.

    Anyways. These are the current movies (except for a handful of walkcycles) that I've made:

    http://olof.esgames.se/thr.swf
    Supposed to be part of a 'throwing lesson'. The character would throw one knife and then take a few steps to the right, throwing knives while moving. I made this, took a pause, watched it and realised it was crap.

    http://olof.esgames.se/thr21.swf
    Same as above, but remade from the start. The timing in his leaps are way off, I should've cut off frames so he didn't appear frozen in the air. However, pencil decided I shouldn't work anymore with this and corrupted my saved files. I did manage to keep this .swf tho.

    http://olof.esgames.se/camera1-22.swf
    My current. Shows the ninja dropping from an even higher rooftop/helicopter or whatever, before he runs and jumps over a roof. He looks abit wonky in the air, any suggestions or reference pictures are welcome!

    I will try to make this last (camera1-22) into a 10-15 seconds animation before friday. I will also try to give it a moving background after I ink it, or at least clean it up.


    Tips and suggestions are always more than welcome!


    edit:
    http://olof.esgames.se/camera1-30.swf
    Last edit for tonight. I wanted to do a parkour landing, but it doesn't work that great when the half the characters body constist of a head. Yeah.

    .peace


    Last edited by Olof; January 29th, 2008 at 07:05 PM.
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    Nice walk cycles. Are you planning on giving it colour in the future or not? Just remember you dont have to have plain houses for the ninja to jump from this is what makes cartoons...more likeable. Besides there are mushrooms that look flat. A quick search in google got me these two results. Keep going.

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    Name:  Mushrooms-Print-C10064039.jpeg
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Size:  72.8 KB

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    Animation Project

    Don't know if you are still working on your project or not but I thought I'd pass on some useful reading material that I would highly recommend if you plan on continuing to work on animation projects.

    First and foremost take a look at Richard Williams book The Animator's Survival Kit
    If you really like animation then The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation is a must
    You may also find Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation book useful.

    Don't be to hard on yourself about your project. Trying to learn animation in a few weeks is a huge task. Especially if you've never done it before, are trying to learn on your own, don't have all the equipment necessary and don't have anyone to help you along the way. And starting with a character is pretty tough too. Normally when you begin to learn animation you start with a very simple object. In fact the defacto first animation that most students make is the bouncing ball.

    Take a look at this site it should really help point you in a better direction.

    With regards to the animation that you have already completed. A few things that I noticed.
    1. The overall volume of your basic shapes changes from the beginning to the end of the animation. They need to stay consistent.

    2. It looks like your characters head is sliding down its chest as he runs.

    3. Your characters head goes from very circular to more oval... this maybe in part to him turning but if you reference your character turn around it doesn't look like it would change as much as it does.

    4. With regards to having a moving background for your first animation... Don't... It will take too much time and provide more difficulties for you that should be directed more towards animating your character. Your background doesn't have to be complex, your character doesn't even have to interact with it. In fact you don't even need to worry about a background if your focus is supposed to be on your character animation.

    5. If you are going to be doing traditional hand drawn animation on paper then you need to get yourself a peg bar. There are different types that work with different paper. So whatever you get make sure they match up.
    Name:  New-pegbar-chart-4b.gif
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    The most common is the Acme brand. This will help ensure that your paper is in the same place every time you draw, and if you have a light table you'll be able to see where your character was on previous drawings. (learning how to flip your drawings will help you see some of the movement you're creating)

    Anyway, I hope this info helps you in some way. If you have any further questions let me know and I'll try and help you out as best I can.

    In the mean time take a look at this site: 11 Second Club
    May help you be inspired about making just a short piece of animation and how long it sometimes can take.

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    Your project is coming along nicely!

    Tell ya what, some fellow students at my animation school still wouldn't be able animate that.

    Now, about your rough animate. I just watched the last one, assuming that's the latest.
    The run looks pretty good right now, take care to sync the arms properly when you do so.
    I think the jumps are what need work. There isn't alot of anticipation to the jumps right now. Fixing it should be as simple as slightly stretching out his last step before the jump, and adding some squash.

    Furthermore, you had the right idea about the landing in your storyboard, i.e. having his legs stretched forward, but this isn't happening in the animation.

    Keep up the hard work!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferdinand Venter View Post
    Nice walk cycles. Are you planning on giving it colour in the future or not? Just remember you dont have to have plain houses for the ninja to jump from this is what makes cartoons...more likeable. Besides there are mushrooms that look flat. A quick search in google got me these two results. Keep going.
    I think I'll lay down the animation for now. I will probably pick it up later but the time didn't allow me to do anything more. In the beginning I had some plans on doing a coloured animation with backgrounds and all, but it did take much more time than I expected.

    Thanks for the links with the shrooms. I'll work more with those even though I'm not using them in the animation

    Quote Originally Posted by AphexTweak View Post
    Don't know if you are still working on your project or not but I thought I'd pass on some useful reading material that I would highly recommend if you plan on continuing to work on animation projects.

    Don't be to hard on yourself about your project. Trying to learn animation in a few weeks is a huge task. Especially if you've never done it before, are trying to learn on your own, don't have all the equipment necessary and don't have anyone to help you along the way. And starting with a character is pretty tough too. Normally when you begin to learn animation you start with a very simple object. In fact the defacto first animation that most students make is the bouncing ball.
    Lot's of thanks for this. After my portfolioworks (it's that time of the year..) I'll start building my light tracer (table with a light under) and I'll add a pair of pegs for animationpaper.

    True about the critique, even though it's abit late (the project is already reviewed by teachers and craps). I want to blame lot's of the problems because of time, such as the character changing size and shape. I hope it's notable that I made some progress learning to draw the same shape twice (which actually was the purpose behind htis project) even though the short films are pretty weak.

    Thanks for your help mate!

    Quote Originally Posted by HunterKiller_ View Post
    Your project is coming along nicely!

    Tell ya what, some fellow students at my animation school still wouldn't be able animate that.

    Now, about your rough animate. I just watched the last one, assuming that's the latest.
    The run looks pretty good right now, take care to sync the arms properly when you do so.
    I think the jumps are what need work. There isn't alot of anticipation to the jumps right now. Fixing it should be as simple as slightly stretching out his last step before the jump, and adding some squash.

    Furthermore, you had the right idea about the landing in your storyboard, i.e. having his legs stretched forward, but this isn't happening in the animation.

    Keep up the hard work!
    I know what you're talking about but it was very hard doing it. I think I need to learn making keyframes and use lot's of sketches when working with this more. When I've made the circular shapes for his body, and tried making them bounce synched with his steps, I moved on to his legs. My planning didn't include adding arms and other details to move synced with the animation, which led to the arms being added just before finishing it.

    I've learned that I need to plan more and I've gotten way better at precision using the wacom. Next time I'll set my goal at a lesser animation and I'll try to do it proper.

    Thanks for the reply!




    My finished work: http://img152.imageshack.us/my.php?image=04fs0.swf


    Not that much but it's the result of these weeks. I must admit I have to agree with the people that suggested that I'd make a flipbook animation rather than attempting to make a "real" one (posted in the first thread). The overall feeling was that the time wasn't enough to do what I wanted.
    The final purpose of this wasn't to have a finished movie, but rather to learn to draw and get a better grip of drawing the same shapes over and over. I would probably have more of a finished piece working with vectors in flash, but then I wouldn't have gotten any better at drawing or using the wacom.

    Thanks all for helping me along the way. I'll be back with more crappos later.

    .cheers


    .
    Currently doing my internship at Muskedunder Interactive
    portfolio - cghub - deviantart
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