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  1. #61
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    I'm giving a presentation on the development of this project tomorrow and it occurred to me that I haven't posted any updates in a while so over the course of today I'll be posting some development stuff which I'll use in the presentation.



    Starting with some reasoning to why I chose Jacopo Tintoretto's Saint George and the Dragon.

    The strong sense of movement in the piece really appeals to me, everything about the story seems to have been captured in a single image. The princess running towards the view with Saint George and the Dragon fighting in the mid-ground.

    I had a flick through some comics knowing I'd find something to get this point across and it wasn't long before I found what I was looking for:
    Name:  ComicBook2.jpg
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    This images shares a very similar composition to Titoretto's painting. Superman is fighting Cil Gand (I think) in the middle-ground while a defenseless dockworker flees towards the viewer.

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  4. #62
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    One of the most major changes that happened relatively early on was the decision to make the animation comical rather than serious. My initial idea was to have quite a serious, sombre animation, where the Horse ended up dying and the Princess was made out to be an unappreciative, selfish character.

    I intended to make George a relatively humble character, simply doing his duty with no anterior motives. This was all good and well during the animatic stage but as soon as I got round to morphing Josh Burton's Morpheus rig into George and posing him, I rapidly began to realise his comedic potential...

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  5. #63
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    Haha, that third face. So how far along into the short are you?

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  6. #64
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    I've finished it as of about half an hour ago. I'll be uploading it soon but it's getting assessed on Friday and wont have it's final soundtrack until Wednesday next week, so not before then. Annoyingly I wasn't very disciplined with keeping an updated blog (what this thread was meant to be) and now this post is slightly incriminating of that fact, but never mind.

    Here's a bigger image of the cave from the original animatic. There was a point when I was considering keeping all the backgrounds drawn and in black and white like this to try and aid the gritty feel I was going for before it got turned around by Morpheus' cheeky grin.

    Name:  CaveAnimatic2.jpg
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    And then some development of the cave shot in terms of what layers I wanted and what they'd be doing...

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    Last edited by Smashed_Pumpkin; June 15th, 2011 at 08:03 PM.
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  7. #65
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    In fact here's a few more scene development shots. For each shot I wanted to know exactly what I would be working with in terms of the 2D layers to get a sense of what I could make the 3D characters do within those environments.


    This shows a few ideas for the forest scene at the start where the princess is picking flowers.
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    This is the scene where George is with his horse out on the hills before gallantly racing off to save the princess without delay.
    Name:  GeorgeAndHorseDev.jpg
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    My scanner seems to make the colours on these a lot more vibrant than they look in my sketchbook...

    And finally the scene where the princess finds herself trapped by an outcrop of rock.
    Name:  CorneredDev.jpg
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  8. #66
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    Here's another image of me trying to get my head around the notion of layering 2D planes to emulate a parallax effect when they move individually.
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  9. #67
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    I ended up settling for an ncloth skirt on the princess as rigged clothing always looks a nightmare. Little did I know the nightmare that is ncloth...

    I did spend far too long playing around with the stuff though. Here is me trying it out on the horse, he wasn't too happy about it.


    Here's the dragon having a go...


    Last edited by Smashed_Pumpkin; June 15th, 2011 at 09:31 PM.
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  10. #68
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    Colour and strife!

    Being colourblind means it's always a bit touch and go when it comes to doing anything colourful.

    Here's two images, the first of which I was almost happy with, until I showed it to someone else. It turned out I had been referencing a really badly scanned version of the painting and hadn't realised.
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    After a few tweaks with the right colouring I got to this one. I'm hoping it's a bit better but I haven't put it past anyone yet.
    Name:  Forest03.jpg
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    This is a frame grab from the "point of view" shot of the dragon running through the forest.

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  11. #69
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    I am officially no longer a student! Now begins the frightening task of finding a job. I've decided that instead of allowing myself to spiral into bottomless pit of anguish and despair at the prospects of being unemployed, I'm going to make sure I do at least one (however simple or quick) animation every day.

    Today I downloaded the good ol' Andy Rig and had a bash at a walk cycle, something I haven't done in a while and never quite mastered. I don't think I quite got the legs working properly, his left one seems to be snapping a bit too much on it's forward contact position. Also the hands are doing some weird rotation shenanigans. He could probably also do with better muscle tone in his neck, haha.



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  12. #70
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    Today I've done a run cycle based on Richard Williams' 6 frame runs from The Animators Survival Kit. I must say I feel a bit stumped on this one as it just looks crazily fast to me. I'm sure I've put too much up and down on the head and body and too much swing in the arms but even so it seems very very fast to me. Anyone here tried a six frame run? Is it meant to look so fast?



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  13. #71
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    Whoa! it totally does look too fast! A 6 frame run can be pretty cartoony - and Andy has pretty long legs which is working against you. One thing you might want to consider is that as the runs move faster, often the character is leaning into it more to help sell the action.

    Be careful on the walk - the head looks like it's bobbing up and down TOO much, and the hips look like there's no up/down rotation. Do you have the arms set on IK or FK?

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  15. #72
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    Thanks for the feedback Rabbit Run, I'll be re-trying the run in the next few days taking what you've said into account. This week I've had the last shows of my final project at uni so haven't really been able to work on these cycles. As soon as I read what you said about the angle of the body leaning into the run I realized that must be a significant factor in whether it looks believable or not but I also think you're absolutely right about a 6-frame run being very cartoony. I'm not sure I'm able to push my poses far enough to achieve the 6-frame run in 3D just yet but I'll keep trying.

    With regard to the walk, yea I think I just added "head bob" as a matter of course and, as usual, went over the top without going back and making it more subtle. I think you're right about the hips because I don't recall adding any (x?) rotation too them. The arms are IK. I used to try my best to keep arms on FK as much as possible because I liked the automatic smoothness it achieved but then my mentor told me to use the motion trail tool to make the hands follow nice curves and I've found having the arms on IK makes that a lot easier to control the motion trail curve. I'm still not sure what is best to be honest.

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  16. #73
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    Been ages since I've posted and unfortunately I haven't had too much time to get much animation done even thought I planned to get something done every day.

    Anyway, I'm about to start sending out job applications en-mass so here's my current reel, hopefully you guys could give me a few pointers on what you think. I'm very much open to changing it and doing entire pieces to add to it, I'm just trying to think of what parts should be replaced first.

    I think most of it I've already posted on here but this is it as my current reel.



    Link: http://vimeo.com/26872043

    P.S. Anyone know why I can't seem to see the embedded video?

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    I'm by no means a professional so take my opinions as the useless amateur drivel that they are (lol), but I think it looks pretty darn good. If anything the I'd take out the first example of the horse running, because you pretty well show that you can animate a quadruped later and in more interesting ways (with backgrounds and interactions). Same with the person just walking, it's fairly boring compared to the rest of your reel. Well-done, but boring.

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  19. #75
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    Thanks for the kind words Dorabletoon, I must say I think you're probably right that I should cut boring stuff but I don't really feel confident about the more complicated bits. I haven't got any biped walking apart from that cycle in the reel but I think you're right about the first shot of the horse running seeing as there's the riding shot later on too.

    I'm grateful of any advice regardless of the givers experience so don't hold back because you think you don't know stuff. I find that being able to compare a variety of opinions and reactions almost as valuable as the actual advice and suggestions they contain.

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  20. #76
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    Here's a quick update on what I'm working on at the moment to keep me busy while job hunting. My brother is a software developer and has been working on a game for a little while now which he would like me to do the animation for. It's dawning on me that doing 3D animation from scratch is quite a daunting task considering I'll be modelling, rigging, texturing and animating it all myself.

    Here was my first try. The game is very similar to Puyo Puyo but with a few offensive/defensive power ups. The opponents are going to be a variety of different robotic animals and they will be displayed as an animated portrait next to their game space and they will react to the progress of the game. (if you've played Puyo Puyo or Dr Robotniks Mean Bean Machine you'll know exactly what I mean).

    This was my first attempt at quickly modelling a mole character although at this stage it was actually going to have a separate lower jaw to reduce rigging difficulty but I've since moved on from that.

    The turn around was mainly to test the quick bump map I made as I'd never made a bump map before. Happily I found it to work pretty much how I expected so hopefully I'll have some nice maps made for the final characters.


    This one was a follow up after deciding that a separate jaw working on a hinge idea was lame. I'm trying to steer clear of blend shapes for this project as I think the time spent making a decent set of blend shapes wont be worth the amount of animation time each character is used for. This one has a very basic 9 (I think) bone structure and I'll be adding more to it to allow expression and intricate mouth shapes. It's lacking eyes because it's going to be wearing an awesome pair of hi-tech goggles (much cooler than the ones in the previous video.

    I'm hoping it wont be too difficult to maintain a robotic feel with a smooth-bound skin but my brother mentioned he quite liked the idea of organic movement with robotic textures and I think I agree. Will have to see how it turns out.

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  21. #77
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    Wow smashed, the mole rig looks great, the movement works very nice for me, it has a "pixar" feel to it, if my newbish dictionary can spit out some form of description that would be it, haha
    keep up the good work!

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  23. #78
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    Thanks Traptsoul, that's a wonderful compliment but I must say I think I was quite lucky with how well the simple rig allowed for that movement. With the rig as it is now, a yawn is about the extent of what he can do. I get the feeling that as I work more complexity into the rig it might lose some of the simple charm that it has now. We'll just have to see though. My aim is to have him able to make most mouth shapes needed for speech. In-game the character will take up a relatively small amount of screen space so not too much detail is needed.

    Here's a quick update on a design for the goggles. I'm not too sure about these, they feel too clinical and not "whacky" enough for what I'm wanting.

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    I also think once I've done textures it'll look a lot close to what I'm going for. The shininess is only there because.....well....because it's SHINY!

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  24. #79
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    Ugh, a pretty lame development has come up in that I probably wont be able to have nice smooth animation in the game my brothers programming due to it simply being too much of a weight on memory. He doesn't want the overall game to be a particularly large file and we worked out that just 10 seconds of animation at a relatively low resolution would be more memory than the rest of the games graphical assets combined. It's now going to have to be a combination of low frame rate animation and animation done through the code, in-game. I must say, being the naive artists that I am, I had no idea pre-rendered animation was such a memory in relation to the other things in the game. He has told me that for the next project he'll implement 3D models to be rendered in-game instead of using pre-rendered frames. yay!

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  25. #80
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    Lots of improvement so far in here those horse runs are really strong.

    Over all I think your character work is still a little mechanical.
    For example the hand tapping has the fingers coming up in unison, they come down pinky first and roll through which is good, but initially they should come up unevenly. My index and middle fingers go higher than my ring, my pinky is sort of spastic and doesn't curl much... weird... I'll always feel self conscious about that now lol.
    Get someone to perform the action for you and watch very carefully. Getting the nuances in an action is the difference between tv quality animation and feature quality.
    Now is the time to start analyzing the way people act. watch people's hands when they're speaking, watch movies and pick apart the body language, the facial expressions.
    The first instinct as an animator is to do a lot, cram as much as you can into that dialogue scene. Sometimes less is more. A little movement can say more than a grand one...

    picking apart your character animation (one with the computer errors.)
    Try and avoid the character looking at the camera, unless it's a solid story purpose.
    Watch out for 1-2-3 actions.
    Flick ball - lift head- change expression. It can make your stuff look mechanical. Try to overlap movements, - as the arm settles from the flick he could begin to raise his head. - before the head settles he sees the screen and his expression changes.
    Also consider reaction time. If he sees something on the screen his reaction wont be immediate. look - huh?.... ZOMG. ....

    When he throws the little paper ball, give him a chance to react to that failure before moving on to the computer screen - I missed ... typical... done yet? - of course not....

    lastly- watch for consistency in your eye direction. In the scene where he's flicking the balls (head tilted to the side. He looks up and just to the right of the camera- in the next scene he's looking almost 90 degrees from the camera- so the computer is moving.

    Your in a great position considering your experience. All this is stuff is nit picky.
    As you get more confident with your basics you can get really up tight about every nuance. I had a fantastic animation teacher for maya and he would go right into the fingertips in the graph editor and tweak every little frame (he worked at pixar- top shelf guy!)
    Anyways, I'll stop rambling now- happy sketching

    Last edited by Rhubix; August 14th, 2011 at 04:28 PM. Reason: found 2 more pages >.< dur
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  27. #81
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    Thanks a lot for the great feedback Rhubix I think you're right about the character work being mechanical, and especially a few of those shots of the computer error guy. That project was overly rushed because I kept adding to it instead of refining what I had. It was meant to be around ten seconds in duration but ended up over thirty.

    I'm starting a "show reel upgrade" project where I plan to model, rig and animate one biped and one quadruped character. They'll be fairly simple with most time spent on the animation but hopefully I'll have some new animation to post soon. I'll post some progress shots when I start rigging. At the moment I'm living off a shoestring and desperately trying to get a relevant entry level job. I'm hoping showing a bit of rigging/modelling (which my reel is currently lacking) will open a few more doors for me, especially at entry level, where I'm unlikely to walk right into animating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smashed_Pumpkin View Post
    I'm hoping showing a bit of rigging/modelling (which my reel is currently lacking) will open a few more doors for me, especially at entry level, where I'm unlikely to walk right into animating.

    My focus is on 2D, but from my experience there are plenty of entry level animation jobs. Lower budget shows love baby animators because they're cheaper and are willing to work all hours day and night for the experience.
    rigging and modeling jobs are more difficult to get.

    Creating good rigs is near on astrophysics once you get into the scripting and fancy stuff like hair and clothes.
    I spent about 2 weeks grappling with a script to turn the lower arm with the wrist and it near drove me mad. My scrip was right, my weights were all painted just so, my skeleton was correct - but the whole thing exploded and started candy-wrapping every time the character moved his hand. My teacher and a bunch of his buddies from various gaming and movie companies passed it around for a while and couldn't solve the problem...It should be working fine.... My teacher even stripped the whole arm down and re built it from the bones up and it still didn't work.... I pretty much gave up on rigging after that.

    Modeling is fairly popular and there are usually crazy gifted anti social guys who devote their life to it. It's not enough to have the character look correct but you need good edge looping and mesh flow.
    I know 2 people who spent 6 months as unpaid interns to get modeling experience >.< The job market's pretty tough lately.

    It's hard to say what the best approach is, focus and get a really powerful animation reel or spread yourself out and have a little bit of everything but less polish...
    I suppose you should take a look around your area and see what employers are looking for.
    Around here bigger studios keep most of the departments separate smaller mom and pop houses and freelance stuff want generalists.

    Best of luck

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  30. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhubix View Post
    My focus is on 2D, but from my experience there are plenty of entry level animation jobs. Lower budget shows love baby animators because they're cheaper and are willing to work all hours day and night for the experience.
    rigging and modeling jobs are more difficult to get.

    Creating good rigs is near on astrophysics once you get into the scripting and fancy stuff like hair and clothes.
    I spent about 2 weeks grappling with a script to turn the lower arm with the wrist and it near drove me mad. My scrip was right, my weights were all painted just so, my skeleton was correct - but the whole thing exploded and started candy-wrapping every time the character moved his hand. My teacher and a bunch of his buddies from various gaming and movie companies passed it around for a while and couldn't solve the problem...It should be working fine.... My teacher even stripped the whole arm down and re built it from the bones up and it still didn't work.... I pretty much gave up on rigging after that.

    Modeling is fairly popular and there are usually crazy gifted anti social guys who devote their life to it. It's not enough to have the character look correct but you need good edge looping and mesh flow.
    I know 2 people who spent 6 months as unpaid interns to get modeling experience >.< The job market's pretty tough lately.
    That's quite encouraging to hear to be honest. Also I should mention I'm only planning to dip very lightly into modelling and rigging. I'm not planning on my show reel being applicable to specifically rigging or modelling positions. I would more like to have just a few examples to show that I'm trying to really get my head round a broader section of the production pipeline than just animation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rhubix View Post
    It's hard to say what the best approach is, focus and get a really powerful animation reel or spread yourself out and have a little bit of everything but less polish...
    I suppose you should take a look around your area and see what employers are looking for.
    Around here bigger studios keep most of the departments separate smaller mom and pop houses and freelance stuff want generalists.
    This was actually something I was faced with when I started my animation course last year and I chose to focus entirely on animation. As a result all my work has been with free rigs downloaded from the internet. And I must say I haven't yet had any feedback about this being an issue and even with the project I have in mind, I have every intention for the animation to be the strongest point, I just kind of want to be able to bring my own characters to life.


    To show how simple the rigging and modelling I'm doing is, this is about the complexity of the model I'm going for and the rig wont get particularly more complex either. I might get round to painting a half decent texture but even that's pretty low on my priority. Today is my second day working on it and I'm just champing at the bit to get started on some animation!



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    Looking great,smashed pumpkin.Working on something 3d myself.

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    I really like that flat 3D model that you did, Smashed. If you are having a tough time getting an animation job, just try to get a regular one and practice animating for yourself. Plus, it also helps to study old cartoons and see how they're animated.

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  33. #86
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    The actions on your demo rel still seem very mechanical to me. Like when the woman sees the butterfly her head just seems to shift left in order to get a better look at it. that shift should probably come from the neck and her head should tilt down as it swivels around. It shouldn't just shift over.

    Also the part with the knight and the horse. The horse is moving its head around like a pigeon noticing something. That could be funny, but it's overdone so it looks too sudden and therefore mechanical. The knight also appears to be moving in a very strict pose-to-pose sequence instead of following broad arcs which would make him seem more human.

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    Gosh it's been a long time since I've posted anything on here! *blows the dust off*

    Melviso, thanks a lot. What 3D stuff are you working on? Get it posted on here!

    FightingSeraph
    , cheers! I was trying for a very simplistic model but with fairly "heroic" proportions. Teaching myself rigging is quite an experience as I'm having to do almost every step multiple times, failing, learning and improving with each. You're absolutely right about getting a job and I'm about to start broadening my search. The potential for an internship is on the books at the moment so fingers crossed that'll materialize and give me a bit of experience.

    Ccs, thanks for the feedback, it's always appreciated. You're right about the butterfly girl shot, I was to some extent wanting to give a sudden change in feel when she spotted the butterfly but after reading your comment and watching it back a few times I can see you're absolutely right about it being "robotic".

    Again with the Saint George animation I can't really make any excuses apart from that I was on a really restrictive time budget and so many shots had to be given the "I suppose that will have to do for now" treatment otherwise I simply wouldn't have completed it all in time. Some of the shots, especially of the princess are little more than smoothed pose to pose, while more of my time was spent of things such as the dragon and horse.


    Last night was the private showing of my course's final projects at the National Gallery here in London and I've finally got round to uploading it onto youtube, so here it is.



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  35. #88
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    Funny animation video.The princess became the knight..that's gonna ruin his reputation.This could make its way on tv as a mini episode of this knight and how he always fails at saving the day.

    I gave up on the 3d stuff and switched to 2d animation.The animation involves fire,water spells and I am pretty sure it will be difficult pulling it off in 3d.

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  36. #89
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    fun video! I love those backgrounds - was it all multiplaining or did you use toonshaders?

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  37. #90
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    Thanks guys,

    Rhubix
    , I'm not sure what you mean by multiplaining or using toonshaders. The majority of the backgrounds were photo collages with a few Photoshop filters and then sketched over. The parallax effect in some of the scenes was done just by manipulating the movement of each layer in After Effects. The scene from the dragons point of view however was done entirely from scratch, images in Photoshop but setup and rendered in Maya with a manually animated camera. I did also use the colour pallet from Tintoretto's painting of George and the Dragon as a little salute to the inspiration.

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