Meet the Team Project: Animation Research

In the first week of this trimester at SAE, in my Studio 2 class, we were told that our main assignment was to be a Meet the Team video that was to introduce new characters into am existing franchise. We were split into teams based on whether we had chosen to do 2D or 3D animation, and then we decided on a franchise to create these original characters for. My team elected the cartoon “Samurai Jack” as our franchise.

This blog post has been made to discuss how I am to be going about animating the shots I’ve been assigned, however to do that, I should first show and explain my character.

Samurai Jack MTT character model sheet FIXED

This is my character, she is an ice mage. Of our characters, she actually has the shortest screen time. In the video she will be the apparent villain. And though I have designed four different views, she will only ever be seen from front on.

One of the requirements of the brief is that we rig our characters so the group had to then research 2D rigging, or puppet animation. That required to break my character a bit, so that she could be rigged. Here is her sprite model sheet.

Samurai Jack MTT ice mage sprite sheet

Now she can be rigged. Currently, she is rigged in accordance to Robin Fuller’s video on puppet rigging, using the second technique mentioned; parenting.

It works for me, and is easy enough to use, and makes the most sense. The set up is easy to. At least, in my opinion, it is so. It does everything I need it to do for this animation. It most likely wouldn’t be the technique I would use if I had more scenes to do with my character, or if I needed to animate some more complex movements, however, and there are more efficient ways of setting up a 2D character rig. Like the Duik tool add on for Adobe After Effects, which contains many advanced tools to make for easy animating.

However, for this project, I shall just stick with my parent rigging, where I have attached all the pieces of my ice mage, in a hierachy, starting from the torso, working outwards to her hands.

Here we have some of my reference images of my own hand in the position that I was drawing my casting hand in. Twenty photos and two videos got me the movement and poses that I needed, to have the ice mage casing magic. I can’t embed my own video’s to my blog post however, so I can’t show you the video reference.

Another piece of reference I used, was Khadgar, from Warcraft, in the Warcraft movie, when the main characters have their first altercation with the Orcs.

khadgar-as-seen-in-the-warcraft-movie

Now that’s magic. It is a good example of the hand movements in casting, although with magic, it’s hard to come up with an exact casting stance, since it would rely on the character’s personality and the situation that which they are in.

And now that all of that has been adressed, I’d like to leave off here by sharing some of my thumbnails for a few of my shots that I will be animating. The order is up down, left to right.

MTT Thumbs

I didn’t feel like drawing the mage again, so I took her model sheet and reconstructed her in each frame. With the arrows, I think I’m going to have to discover a better way of representing the movement through the air.

Well that’s all I have to say on this. Thanks for reading! And I’ll see you all in my next post!

~Icetail~

Reference
Blackburn R. FrostieHeart on DeviantArt. DeviantArt. 2015. Available at: http://frostieheart.deviantart.com/
Duik – Rainbox. Rainboxprodcoop. Available at: https://rainboxprod.coop/en/tools/duik/
Fuller R. After Effects puppet rigging tutorial. YouTube. 2013. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsuOXXEo9qI 
Jones D. Warcraft. Universal Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment; 2016

Character Creation: The Design

Vague descriptions be gone with my newest character: Seraphina. She is a dancing elf with many styles of dance in her repertoire. Her design wasn’t easy to nail down but in the end I think I did pretty good.

So meet Seraphina:

Seraphina Ref

This wasn’t just improving my character creation skills, it was also me working on my proportions (what are those?) and hands (I can’t draw hands, I know).

Sera’s design was based around the blood elves of World of Warcraft, the belly dancers of the middle eastern countries, and the Shuvani Romani Kumpania whom I have seen at the Abbey Medieval Festival here in Australia. Her pose is a mix between Celtic river dancing and ballet.

ThumbsWhen I was thumbnailing Sera, I found myself leaning more into the ballet, ballroom and the long flowing skirt style of romani dance. They worked more with what I need for my story. I liked the way the skirts would flare out as well, creating opportunities for great dynamic poses. I played more with skirts than pants in my sketchings as well. Thought in the end I went with the poofy genie style pants. In the sketches you can see below, I also played around with the star design, trying to make it a part of her. I’m not entirely sure if I succeeded in doing so, but I tried hard to make it a part of Sera.

Sketches

A major design reference that I used during this stage was Olivia from Fire Emblem Awakening. I was inspired by Olivia’s outfit, and the way it fits the character perfectly, showing her personality and is a good representation of her role in game.

When I was typing Sera’s backstory, I was trying to think of something that was interesting but not cliché. I tried to get it to a point where I could continue in a story with a good reference to personality, who she is, and what she values. I hope that I did a good job.

Name: Seraphina
Nicknames: Sera, Nina
Stage Name: Starlight Seraph
Age: 18
Occupation: Travelling dancer/Master Dancer

Race: Elf/Álfur
Eye Colour: Cyan
Skin Colour: Golden Brown
Hair Colour: Dark Red
Height: 159cm
Weight: 56 kg

Seraphina grew up surrounded by the dancers and musicians of her father’s travelling group of entertainers. There she learnt and mastered many different styles of dance, her favourite style being Ballet. When her father retired, Sera took over as leader of the group, where she continues her family legacy in front of audiences everywhere.

In Seraphina’s group, your stage name is always given to you by your audience. When performing, she earned the name ‘Starlight Seraph’ from a band of pirates who described her as being as elegant as her namesake, the angels. This name became official when Sera was performing and the same band of pirates called her that, causing the other patrons to start calling her ‘Starlight Seraph’ as well.

Sera is bound by a marriage contract with one of the pirates whom are regular audience members. This contract guarantees the protection of Sera’s travelling group. Sera likes her betrothed, but refuses to show it, often giving her suitor cold glares as he tries increasingly extravagant ways of winning her over.

Seraphina’s sister, Rhapsody, chose music over dance, and often accompanies Sera as a master musician.

In this I also tried to iron out several story points that I will use. Such as Seraphina’s relationships, and who she works for/what she works as.

All up this was a fun experience, and I hope to continue improving my work and that I finally manage to finish a story. I shall do it! I will succeed.

Please leave a comment to tell me what you think! See you all next time!

~Icetail~

Research Blog
Seraphina Ref

Character Creation: Research

I need a character for a story I’m writing, but I haven’t been the greatest at character creation, I’ve just made vague descriptions, never really ironing out details and making it up as I go along. This isn’t a very efficient way of designing characters. So, some research is needed to improve my skill, and, as conscequence, improve my characters.

IllidanA most of the sources I have looked at tell me one thing consistently: make your characters unique. In the words of Andra who wrote ‘10 Quick Tips to Help You Design Characters Like a Pro‘, “ideally, you should design your character so you can recognize them even if they were naked and bald.” Hmm… lets apply this to my Original Character that I am using in a fanfiction at the moment. Lythia Balfour is blonde, wears a military uniform similar to the character Jade Curtiss, has violet eyes, and is technically blind. Not that unique, I haven’t ever mentioned her having scars of any kind, though being in the military she is bound to have some. I haven’t even drawn her once. Okay, well lets compare Lythia to another character, already designed, completely unrelated; Illidan Stormrage from World of Warcraft. No need to look far, I have him as this paragraph’s image. Lets see, discounting purple skin, since that is a Night Elf trait, he has black hair, unique to him (for his race), his tattoos are unique to him. Horns, wings that are always present? Definitely unique. A tad less unique since the release of World of Warcraft: Legion, but the edition of Demon Hunters into the game, hasn’t subtracted much from the unique appearance of Illidan, as the character customization screen doesn’t allow customization that looks like Illidan (really, any unique character is impossible to replicate without mods).

linaren_darkshard_by_frostieheart-d9n643qAnother tip that I have read consistently? Colour. Choose your colours wisely. Colour is important for characters, you want to use the right colours, and you don’t want to use too many colours. “Typically, dark colours such as black, purples and greys depict baddies with malevolent intentions. Light colours such as white, blues, pinks and yellows express innocence, good and purity. Comic-book reds, yellows and blues might go some way to giving hero qualities to a character design,” as stated in the article ‘20 top character design tips‘ written by the staff of Creative Bloq. Seems easy right? Well, not really, lets look at another one of my characters; Linaren Darkshard. (This paragraph’s image). As can be seen, she is exhibiting colours that are highly saturated and clash as a consequence of this. While I acknowledge that I created Linaren for a high school surrealism art assignment, I can’t do much more with her than that, and that somewhat bugs me. I might end up redesigning Linaren eventually.

One particular article shared dos and don’ts for character creation. The one ‘don’t’ that I noted the most was “Inconsistency in your characters will jar your readers mightily.” Well… to the guys at Reader’s Digest…. I humbly apologise. I have noted inconsistencies in many of my characters, no matter how much I avoid them. I have failed you all. The main inconsistency… in my OC Lythia. Recently in her story, I revealed that she is blind, but I didn’t really explain how she could see very well. The explanation was flakey and I’m sorry to admit that I am probably never going to fix that. HOWEVER! I will take note of this fact for future reference. Planning is important. I should probably learn to stop writing half baked ideas and fully flesh them out before beginning my plan ((But… It works with drawing!! Why can’t I do the same for writing??”)).

So with all these tips, written here, and unmentioned, but on the articles, what should I do?

Well, lets start simple, outline what kind of character I’m looking for:

  • Female
  • Dancer or Musician
  • Traveller

Okay, so with that, I can start designing. So I should ask myself these questions:

  • Who is she?
  • What’s her story?
  • What’s ethnicity does she belong to?
  • What colours does she wear the most?
  • What style of clothing does she like wearing?
  • What’s her name?
  • Personality?
  • What are her goals?

And with that, I can start drawing ideas. Perhaps I’ll end up with a pink skinned alien girl wearing a lime green tutu. Hehehe, as fun as that sounds, I suppose we shall see. It’s been a long week. See you all next time~

~Icetail~

Reference List
10 Quick Tips to Help You Design Characters Like a Pro. (2017). PiXEL77. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from https://www.pixel77.com/10-tips-design-characters-pro/
Staff, C. (2017). 20 top character design tips. Creative Bloq. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from http://www.creativebloq.com/character-design/tips-5132643
Marks, C.S. (2017). Five Traps and Tips for Character Development. Liferichpublishing.com. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from http://www.liferichpublishing.com/AuthorResources/Fiction/Five-Traps-and-Tips-for-Character-Development.aspx