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

2D Obstacle Course Assignment – Part 2

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post about this assessment, detailing my research into the movement of Papyrus from Undertale and Obelix from Asterix and Obelix. During that month I have sketched, lined, blocked out, and finalized my obstacle course animation. It was not a simple task to complete, and there are parts that I wish were different, as well as the several mistakes that I have come to notice.

In the thumbnailing process I first was just simply sketching the characters on a blank photoshop document, trying to work out who would be the easiest for me to draw, and it became clear, quite quickly, that one character was simply impossible for me to draw.

Papyrus and Obelix sketches 01

As you can see, I was unable to draw Obelix, and as much as I would have loved to animate him, I simply didn’t have the time left in the trimester to work out how to draw him, so I had to abandon that idea. I moved onto trying to make the supplied rig work with Papyrus.

Papyrus and Obelix sketches 02

There’s what I managed to come up with. I am inspired to draw Papyrus now. Before I do that however, I shall finish this post. When I was interpreting Papyrus onto the Normi_ *hemhem* Norman rig, I tried to find the perfect blend between the two. In the end, I just kept the scarf. Had I of had the time, I would have most certainly made the animation solely Papyrus with no sign of the supplied reference.

After the sketches came the thumbnailing of Papyrus across the course. We were supplied with two courses and told to do both. So here they are:

Rebekah B Obstacle course papyrus 1

Rebekah B Obstacle course papyrus 2

This consisted of a lot of copy and paste of the march frames. Ultimately I chose the first one, I felt that I could do more with it, and there were more unique actions in it. From this came the block out of my animation. A few differences from the planned course, but still mostly the same.

MyAnimation2

I particularly like his start/end pose, and his jump animation. They are quite cute. My lecturers told me that Papyrus couldn’t clear obstacles with his bones as elevators because that was almost the same as him clearing the course by jumping over it and bypassing everything. Well Papyrus would hate to be that lazy! So I made him climb the wall instead. My father also suggested that Papyrus slide down the slope on his butt instead of surfer like, and it did make more sense.

Papyrus Line

Next we have the lines. He’s climbing up bones now, isn’t it cool! Anyway, there are a few timing issues in this, mainly the fall down after he hits the wall and then when he’s sliding down the slope. If you can notice the other mistake I made, I will applaud you, as I am told that it isn’t actually that noticeable.

Papyrus Finished

And here is the final gif. Yes, I forgot to colour parts of Papyrus on some frames. It is hard to fill colour when the colour you are filling is almost the same colour as the workspace behind the character you are animating. In this gif, Papyrus’ fall after he hits the wall is faster and his slide flows more smoothly into the stand-up and crouch for his first jump onto the poles. When I coloured Papyrus, I didn’t want to make him pure white, but I was restricted by the colour swatches of Adobe Fla_ *hemhem* Animate, so he is cream instead. And his scarf, of course, had to be bright red.

Next time I do something like this, I want to make the character likeness more accurate, make it look more like the character I am animating and less like the images of the supplied rig. If I had more time on this project, I probably would have gone and fixed the frames of the march cycle so that he is marching a full cycle instead of a half cycle.

What I learnt about animation during this assignment was a new way of animating a character. Instead of making each moving part a separate layer in the Animate document, I animated Papyrus on one layer as solid line. This was really hard to do, but also easier for me. It was hard because I couldn’t erase lines madly when I made a mistake or when I was getting rid of guides, so this made my progress slower. However less layers meant that I didn’t have to scroll through the list of layers to find the layer I was working on, and I didn’t have to pull my timeline up to see all my layers giving me a larger workspace on my laptop’s screen.

While doing this animation I learnt that copying all required frames is important, lest you make a cycle only half complete, that there are several different ways for different characters to traverse their terrain depending on their abilities and personality, and that there are no bones in bananas.

Okay, that last point was a joke.

I really enjoyed animating Papyrus’ scarf, and working out how it would flow behind Papyrus as he moved. It was certainly easier than animating the folded wings of my walk cycle in my second trimester, but still hard, none the less. This was a fun endevour, and I’m happy with the way this turned out.

See you all in my next blog post.

~Icetail~

Link to Part 1

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

First Game Environment

Let it be said that I am a 2D animator and have no joy for 3D modeling or animating. However, messing around inside Unreal Engine is fun, especially when I can test whatever I piece together by shooting it with the default gun supplied by the program. For the past week and a bit I have been working on a game environment at the prompting of my lecturer as a “Bootcamp” to teach us the basics of Unreal Engine so we can use the skills in later projects this trimester (and in our following trimesters).

To start off with we modeled a wall section, a roof section and a floor section. We were also supplied with boring, but somewhat interesting textures that showed how big each asset was in square metres.

grey_box_1mgrey_box_orange_1m

These textures graced the models that were made for a while and we moved onto building the environment in Unreal. This was interesting, dragging all the assets around to create a game level of sorts, no matter how weird and incomplete it looked. It was also fun discovering how high the default player character could jump and experimenting with my different assets to create platforms and stairs.

bootcamp-screenhcaps-001bootcamp-screenhcaps-003
bootcamp-screenhcaps-004bootcamp-screenhcaps-005bootcamp-screenhcaps-002

As can be noted in the images above… I might or might not have messed with the light colour and made it a blood coloured tint.

After we finished blocking out the environment we were told to create our own textures for the blocks we used. I was unable to work out how to attach the different maps to materials in the material editor in Unreal, that will require some extra research in the future. These are two of the texture maps I created, however they are not present in the final itteration of this environment.

wall-texture-colourwall-texture-normal

They are meant to be wall panels, however I preferred the supplied textures in Unreal, and because of due dates, I didn’t have the time to mess around in Photoshop to create my own. So instead – this is what my final environment looked like:

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EDIT: I forgot to add this when I first typed this, so I shall add it now. Continuing on about textures, the most common texture properties used in material shaders in Unreal Engine are the diffuse, roughness, normal and metallic maps. The diffuse map controls the colours of the asset and this works alongside the normal map, which governs how light reacts when it hits the object. The roughness and metallic maps control how shiny an asset is and whether or not the asset is meant to be made of metal or not. Roughness and metallic maps are either black, white or a shade of grey. Normal maps are usually a blue, with darker blue and purple patches that show depth.

This modular approach to building game environments is interesting, I’d love to see what my group and I manage to create with Unreal for our Wild West themed “Aftermath” project. This Bootcamp to making game environments is useful, and I’m glad to say that I learnt much.

See you all in my next post!

~Icetail~

Reflective Blog Task -Your Professional Identity

It is now reaching the end of the twelfth week of trimester, and next week, week thirteen, is last week of trimester. It has been an… interesting trimester to say the least, with two CIU classes and Production 1, insanity might be a good way of describing it all. And at the end of this twelfth week I find myself reflecting on the very first week of trimester. The quote “I open at the close”, from Harry Potter, comes to mind, but I suppose that isn’t exactly correct… more like I close at the ‘open’. Week one’s lecture was about an overview of our module for the trimester, as well as “your professional identity”. Barring the overview, I wish to reflect on my professional identity as well as what professional identity means.

In the first online lecture, it was made very clear that throughout the thirteen weeks we would be learning skills that would assist us in interacting with industry practitioners and future employees. The online lecture kept comparing all the disciplines of SAE Qantm, showing us how they were the same. One thing that really stood out to me in the lecture was the heading “no future”. Underneath this heading is a singular paragraph talking about how it is common for people working in new media to not be able to imagine their future. I must say, that I have no clue where my knowledge in animation will take me, nor do I know what I want to do with it. I enjoy animation a lot, and over the Christmas/New Year break, I know that I will be continuing to play around with Adobe Flash/Animate and Adobe After Effects. Eventually I hope to write a novel then animate the scenes in it, so the story may come to life, but for now that it but simply a dream.

For the classroom lecture for the first week, our lecturer asked us how we would respond to certain scenarios online. These questions were interesting and certainly made the whole class stop and think. One question, which I’m almost sure has been a recurring question several times in the past twelve weeks, was “what kind of person do you want to be seen as online?” My answer to this question? I want my online presence to reflect me and who I really am, I don’t want to hide behind false identities. My pen-names should just be an extension of me not an entirely new me.

frostieheart-logoWith this answer comes the question – how should I act? What is my ‘Professional Identity’? Hard question, and my answer is; I don’t know yet, at one point I might of said that my ‘identity’ is Icetail of WindClan – Meta-If (that is WAY too long) more recently I might tell you that FrostieHeart is my identity or perhaps I’d claim that my name is Renée Anastasia (comment to ask the meaning behind that name – interesting story how I came to use the name). Last year during my final term of grade 12 I would have answered with “FrostieHeart Design” and then proceed to tell you about my Media studies assignment, where we had to build a brand and website for ourselves. It was never of course published, though I did consider setting the logo I created as my DeviantArt ID. Most of these names do not have or are losing their connection to me and fading away from my identity. Reasons for this can be, in the case of FrostieHeart design, just an assignment and meant nothing to me in the first place, or just a name that used to mean something, but isn’t apart of who I am anymore. I did touch on previous pennames in my last blog post where I spoke briefly on how they were once related to me.

There are many things that I need to work out, both about myself and my art, before I can start to work out my Professional Identity. I am still a student in a Bachelor’s degree in Animation, trying out new techniques and improving my own art style. It is highly likely that my identity will change many times before I settle on one solid identity, and even after I find that identity, I know that it will continue to evolve.

This concludes my final reflective blog post, but that hardly concludes this blog. I hope you marvelous readers will continue to read and support my blog for as long as I post on it.

Until next time!

~Icetail~

Week 1: Overview & Your “Professional” Identity – Self-Directed Practitioners. Medium. Retrieved 9 December 2016, from https://medium.com/self-directed-practitioners/week-1-overview-your-professional-identity-d3037f34cb8e#.jp1pepvo8

 

Reflective Blog Task – Social Media

Social media is a big part of the creative industry. It practically drives the creative industry, as it allows companies to advertise new products they come up with, as well as communicate with employees, clients and job applicants. However, despite knowing this, I find myself hesitant to use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other sites like the two I have mentioned. If you haven’t guessed from the title, or from this paragraph, the lecture that I’m reflecting on was about social media. Week 3 of this trimester had much to say about the importance of social media to the creative industry.

Image result for we interrupt this program

Before I get any further, I would like to make this note to readers; I noted in class last Friday that I should have elaborated more on my use of DeviantArt in my last reflective blog, however, as I sat in front of my laptop typing, the thought came to me that that information fits better in this blog post, instead of where I was trying to fit it.

Image result for we now return to our regularly scheduled program

What is social media? And more importantly, I think, what is social media to me? To answer the first question, I think that I need not go any further than a quick Google search of the definition.

Straight from searching “social media definition”, the result I get is this:

Related imageSocial Media
Noun
Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

This definition describes websites such as Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt and FanFiction.net. I will get more into these sites soon.

To me however, social media is a complicated thing. I do not class Facebook or Twitter as the same kind of site as DeviantArt or FanFiction.net for the simple fact that the information shared on all these sites is different.

Image result for facebookI don’t like Facebook. The only thing I use Facebook for is it’s Messenger app, and occasionally looking at the Facebook page for one of mobile games I play. I got my Facebook account a few years ago, and when I first used it I thought it was cool, but eventually, due to people typing hate at each other and bringing drama from school into their status posts, I started avoiding the website, trying to use Skype to communicate with my friends, but I found that hard when everyone uses Facebook. Because I don’t like Facebook, I find myself hesitant to participate much on Twitter. I have been told many numerous that social media is important in the creative industry, as the lecture for week 3 said; it allows you to promote your work online in a place where everyone can view it. Despite knowing this, I still hesitate to rejoin the Facebook community or take part in the Twitter community.

On the other hand, I have no problem at all communicating with artists and authors on DeviantArt and FanFiction.net. I suspect that this is because I don’t know who anyone is, and I’m not hearing about their problems all day every day. Not that I won’t help people with their problems, but I can only do so much before it’s out of my hands.

On DeviantArt I am free to share my art, comment on other’s art and have my art commented on. The feedback from other artists is inspiring and is very often encouraging. On FanFiction.net, reviewers always make sure to make their feelings known, though those feeling aren’t always the nicest comments (most of the time they are), they will more often then not give you advice on how to improve, even if it’s not always worded in the most polite way.

frostieheart-logo

Logo designed for high-school assessment

In the lecture, there were two questions asked: what name will I use, and what are the pros and cons of creating accounts under an alias? These were interesting questions questions that made me question why do I use an alias? What purpose do the pen-names “Icetail” and “FrostieHeart” serve me? Icetail is actually the second pen-name I have had, the first being Meta-If (if you have ever been on my first blog or seen my FanFiction.net profile back in 2012-2013). The only place where the name “Meta-If” still applies is FanFiction.net, where it is apart of my current pen-name (which might or might not change…). The name Icetail is one of my original character’s names from my fanfiction stories, and doesn’t do much for me in a professional sense. The name FrostieHeart, I didn’t come up with until two years ago in grade 11 when I got my DeviantArt account. Instead of using the name Icetail again I used the name of one of my World of Warcraft characters; Frostyhart (who doesn’t exist anymore sadly). While I might like these names at this current stage, I cannot see myself using them as a professional alias, they are too detached from my person to be so.

Image result for what is in a nameBut still I have to ask, what do these mean to me anyway? The name FrostieHeart probably means the most to me as a creator at this point in my life, as my current pen-name, though it has no particular meaning in general. I just thought it was cool, and it is so simple to change when I get tired of it. My real name means so much more to me. Rebekah, in Hebrew means ‘to tie or secure’, but that is inconsequential to the fact that it is the name that my parents gave me. I have come to believe that you don’t really have a name on social media, not if it can be so easily changed, merely you type a name into a small box and it remains your name until you change it, whether you inform your watchers or not is a choice that you make.

While it remains so simple to change a name on social media it is almost impossible to retain a single name, where your followers start calling you something, you eventually set that as your name, then you continue on for a few months or years until you feel so detached from the name that your followers have given you and you change your name to the next most popular name you get called, because your followers have changed and evolved, as a consequence they come up with a new name for you. It’s a form of never ending cycle that happens until you settle onto one name, your identity and brand.

However what I am going to dive into next falls under my final reflective blog task topic, being week one’s lecture on “Your Professional Identity”. I do hope you are not too bored with my blog posts, I’ve been enjoying typing them so far. Leave a comment to ask me anything you like, I will endeavour to answer everyone.

Until next post!

~Icetail~

Week 3: Social Media and Your Career – Self-Directed Practitioners. Medium. Retrieved 8 December 2016, from https://medium.com/self-directed-practitioners/week-6-social-media-and-your-career-21ec52b2b003#.cyoowm686

ARPG Character Raffle

A quick cut in from my blog posts to share this with my watchers!! The group, Ottokis, on DeviantArt is holding a Christmas Ottoki raffle:

http://ottokis.deviantart.com/journal/Xmas-2016-Ottoki-Raffle-649703412

Come join! It will be great to have more artists in the group.

But wait! What’s an Ottoki you ask?? Well this is an Ottoki:

Lythia Ottoki.png

Behold the Ottoki (well… my Ottoki, Lythia). They are otter fish. Lythia here is a Guppy Ottoki, but there are also Great White Ottokis and Dolphin Ottokis. They are really cute. My only current art of Lythia is this:

Lythia - Yes.png

That’s all I have to say on this, back to my blog tasks. Hope to see you in the art group x3

~Icetail38~