Walk Cycle and Body Mechanics

For this assignment, I was tasked with creating 3 seperate animations:

  • A walk cycle
  • A run cycle
  • And body mechanics, e.g. a jump.

I first gathered references for all of my animations. This included watching youtube videos of humans walking/running/etc, looking at other animations, and looking at some tutorials. I created a small pinterest board with different animations I liked. I studied some of these gifs in greater detail by importing them to photoshop and going through them frame by frame, taking note of little details. This was particularly helpful whens studying how clothing and hair move.

(Gifs seem to have trouble loading, so all gifs can be viewed here.)

The following images were heavily referenced when doing my walk cycle:

Images like this breaking down each frame were very helpful to me.

I referenced this gif in particular for my walk cycle. It’s a sort of cute marching style which I liked. I took note of how the hair bounced up and down with each step, and how the skirt would flow with the character.

This was my rough animation for my walk cycle.

I had no movement of the head bobbing up and down in my first attempt, so I fixed that with my next animation layer, on which I did clean lines for my animation.

(Gif viewable here if not working)

I added the clothes and hair on another layer. I had a rough sketch of the hair using a simple line first to get an idea of how it would move, before doing a more detailed version of it.

I received feedback on the bobbing of the head up and down from my lecturer, and edited it accordingly.

(Gif viewable here if not working)

(Gif viewable here if not working.)

I used the above gif of the girl marching as a reference, however my movements ended up being way more dramatic – a bit too dramatic for the speed of her walk, looking back on it. I think her skirt and tie sway higher than they probably would in actuality.

I coloured using simple gradients, and added a gaussian blur to the line art, as well as colouring some of the line art for her hair.

Looking back on this, I’m pleased with how the movement of the walk itself looks – it’s the clothes and hair that need improvement. I feel like the hair is a bit inconsistent, and her pigtail moves upwards on her head as the gif goes on. This was, however, good practice, as I’ve never animated clothes or hair in 2D like this, but it’s something I would love to work on more.

Next, I began working on my body mechanics. I decided to do a jump animation for my body mechanics exercise. This tutorial on YouTube was the most helpful reference when doing this exercise.

I decided to challenge myself to do a more stylistic character for this one, rather than doing something completely anatomically correct. I drew a character with more cartoonish proportions. I found this a bit more difficult, as all references are of human adults jumping, but this was something much more stylised.

I started off with my rough idea of the animation. I thought of animating the character like a flour sack or a bouncing ball, rather than thinking of it as a human.

(gif viewable here)

Next, I did another rough layer with the shape of the character and more proportional features.

(gif viewable here)

Then, I cleaned up these layers with some neater lines.

(gif viewable here)

Next, I added a rough sketch of the clothes and hair. As reference for this, I used pinterest and looked at animations and gifs of people jumping wearing dresses.

(gif viewable here)

Next, I refined the lines and erased any unecessary ones.

(gif viewable here)

And finally, I added colour, and my jump was complete.

 

Next up was my run cycle. Again, some of the animations referenced are on the pinterest board linked above. I also watched youtube videos and took some photos of myself in different positions. Doing the positions myself really helped to get a feel for the pose, and helped me figure out where the weight would be on the body.

Below is the rough layer for my run cycle. Unfortunately, I did not have time to expand on my run cycle beyond the basic movements – I wanted to get some practice with adding colour to animation, so I used my time to refine my walk cycle and body mechanics exercises.

Out of them all, I feel like the animation and movement itself is strongest in my run cycle – it was the last one I did, so I think it was just from practice I started getting the hang of 2D animation more. I would like to go back and refine my run cycle as I did with my other two animations if I have time.

Reflection

I learned a lot from working on these animations, especially with regards to colouring animation – it’s very, very different to colouring in an illustration. I can’t use clipping masks the same way I do when illustrating for animation so I had to figure out other ways to add shading. It is almost impossible to add the same amount of detail as I would when illustrating. Shading in itself is hard enough, but having the shading match throughout the entire animation, knowing where the source of light is coming from when your object is moving, is really very difficult. I ended up shading using gradients a lot, and understand now why a lot of studios do this – or don’t use shading at all. You see animations a lot of the time having very detailed backgrounds but having minimal shading on their characters, and now I know why – it’s really hard.

Reference was the most important part of all this. I was constantly looking back at other animator’s tutorials, animations, gifs on pinterest, youtube videos, and referencing my own poses. Especially when it came to how clothing and hair work. It was almost impossible to know off the top of my head how hair and clothes would react to the movement of the body, so I was constantly looking up reference for it, and still I couldn’t get it perfect. Drawing characters on top of my animations was really great practice though and it will definitely take more practice to improve my skills.

I found keeping the same scale throughout the whole animation was very difficult. I kept making legs longer, making my character smaller/bigger/etc as I added frames.I would constantly be looking back at my animation and re-scaling certain parts that managed to somehow get bigger during the animation. To combat this, for my sketch layers, I ended up copy pasting body parts almost like a rig to keep the scale consistent. Then I cleaned it up with my line art layers.

 

Professional Practice – My Showreel & Portfolio

Above is my completed showreel!

I again used my Online Angel mascot in the intro for my showreel. I wanted to have some personal work beside my name.

I would have liked to have included more 2D work, however most of my dynamic/moving work from Uni at the moment is 3D work – I’d like to update it again once my walk cycles are complete, and maybe do some personal animation practice too. Once the NI Screen animation course begins, hopefully I will have more 2D experience and can make my  showreel more specific to my interests.

In terms of my editing, I was happy with the song I chose and the layout of my clips, however next time I would like to make a more interesting title screen, and maybe make something in After Effects.

Professional Practice – CV & Cover Email

My Cover Email

For my cover email, I applied as if I were applying to Studio Meala. Studio Meala are an Irish studio. The studio creates really colourful and fun 2D animations with unique art styles. They have been hired for a few animated music videos, something I am really interested in working on. When asking Sean, the studios founder, about the studio’s experience working on that MV I was told the client gave them a lot of creative freedom and allowed them to come up with the concept. This kind of creative freedom, and the studio’s unique style, really appeals to me. They often post on twitter or instagram when they are hiring, so I keep up to date with their socials.

When writing my cover letter, I tried to express this interest and enthusiasm, without sounding too overbearing. I kept personal details such as hobbies and interests to a minimum, as they are something that will be discussed a little in my CV. I tried not to dwell too much on my specific skills as they would be discussed in further detail in my CV, so I gave a brief outline of what I am capable of.

Animation CV

This is my animation CV. My focus lies in 2D artwork, so most of my skills mentioned apply to this; however, I did include a list of 3D programs I am capable of using. Because most people would recognise my “brand” name over my real name, I used it at the top of my CV. It’s more recognisable, more searchable online, and it’s the handle I prefer using in general. Depending on the job I am applying for, I would alter this; my personal interests in art would definitely conflict with, for example, a kids show. However because some staff at the studio would already recognise this handle, and they tend to work on more adult-aimed animations, I felt it was applicable in this case.

In terms of my CV’s design, I wanted it to reflect me. I used a purple colour scheme, because it’s my favourite colour, and added my little mascot character, Online Angel.

This bloody angel represents everything I like; Retro anime, cuteness, and horror!
I added some cloud vectors to decorate the page to make it as if she is in heaven. With creative industries, you can show your creativity from the get go with a personalised CV.

I always include my experience with making merchandise, traveling and attending conventions because I think it shows my passion for drawing and creating, and sharing my work, as well as demonstrating organisational skills, and problem solving skills, as there’s a lot that can go wrong when it comes to ordering stock, flying, hotels, etc.

While 2D art is my focus, I still included my knowledge of certain 3D programs, to show my wide variety of skills and that I am flexible and capable of learning.

Science Lab – Reflection

This project was definitely a challenge for me. Unreal Engine was definitely difficult to get a grasp on. I found it very hard to find where I went wrong and why when I would run into problems, and found nodes very confusing, and still do. I would look up tutorials to get certain effects and put the nodes in place but wouldn’t quite know why I was doing it.

However, our assets look so good in Unreal Engine, it was definitely worth the effort. 3D modeling and texturing is not my strong suit but I definitely felt proud when I finally got my syringe to look how I wanted it to. I was very pleased with how it turned out with the moving, emissive green liquid. I think my team worked really well overall too – everyones’ final video looked great, and I think everyone really nailed the style we were going for.

I was happy with the models I made for this project, however I do wish I had taken on maybe one big, more complex model. Many of my models were quite small accessories. While it would have been unrealistic of me to get it done with the time I had this semester, if I were to do this again, I would like to challenge myself to make one bigger more ornate 3D model. While 3D modeling didn’t interest me at all in the start of this course, I enjoy the feeling of it all coming together when it’s fully rendered.

One thing I would definitely work on for next time is my communication with my team. I was very busy outside of Uni so I didn’t communicate with my team as much as I would have liked to, and feel like I probably missed out on some valuable feedback, or could have bounced around some great ideas with my group members, had I been a bit more online.

 

Science Lab – Final Render

Above is my final rendered video for my Science Lab!

Assets by:

Myself
Caity Kerr
Tim Vogan
Timmy Magilton
Mark Smith

Song used:
Escape from Midwich Valley by Carpenter Brut

Our initial inspirations for this project were more retro horror films, such as Young Frankenstein and Re-Animator. For my video, I wanted to give the feel of an 80s horror movie to match these vibes. I used some eerie synth music from Carpenter Brut, and made use of noise effects and chromatic abbaration. I also did a slight bit of colour adjusting to fit the vibe.

Below are some screenshots showing off our assets.

My assets include:

  • Glowing syringe
  • Surgical tray
  • Surgical Scissors
  • Screws
  • Wall shelves
  • Stairs
  • Railings
  • Tesla poles (minus FX)

 

Science Lab – Unreal Engine

After I finished my models and my teammates finished theirs, I was able to begin building my scene in unreal engine.

I built a long hallway for the opening shot, which leads into the main lab. I added my stairs and have a balcony with the surgical table on the second floor. I added a lot of decals to decorate the place, and green lighting for the monitors and test chambers.

Assembling my scene took quite some time, a lot longer than expected. While the layout itself was fairly simple, I had a lot of clutter to decorate the scene and make it feel more messy. A few of my teammates’ models were unfortunately unusable, but luckily there were still plenty of assets to use.

After assembling my scene and setting up my shots, i was ready to render, and that’s when I ran into my biggest issue – my scenes wouldn’t render.

Every time I went to render my scenes, I got an error message. When asking my lecturer for help we still couldn’t get it to work.

It took quite a while to find a solution to my problem, but eventually I found something that worked – I had to go to every single material in my Unreal project and tick these two boxes. I’m still not entirely sure why or how it worked.

There was no way to automate this process (that i knew of) so I had to manually do this for over 100 materials, which took a long time – this also happened on the day of the deadline itself so it was definitely setting me back.

Luckily, this method worked. Unfortunately this stopped the flickering lights I had in my scene from working, and I was unable to figure out how to get them working again, but at the end of the day I was just glad to be able to render my scenes.

Science Lab – Texturing & Unreal

Before I began texturing my models, I imported them to Unreal to be sure they worked. Majority of my models were fine in unreal, but for some reason the screws on the shelf I made would disappear and I had to adjust the model a few times to get them to work. The model of the screw on its own worked fine, but when combined with the shelf model, they had issues.

A lot of my models were made of metal, e.g. the stairs, shelf, and screw, so I textured them in substance with a metallic texture, then used a rough brush to add rust and dirt. (Below: shelf texturing process)

For the surgical tray, I got a texture of kitchen paper and added a blood splatter to it.

For the syringe, I textured the metallic parts in unreal and textured the green glowing goo inside it using nodes in unreal engine.

 

 

Science Lab – Concepts and Modeling Process

Our Concept

When beginning to brainstorm for our Science Lab, I created a collaborative Pinterest board for my teammates to add to as they wish. We spent some time in class scrolling through pinterest and bouncing ideas off each other, showing each other videos, films, or photos that inspired us, etc.

Movies like Re-Animator and Young Frankenstein came to mind, as we wanted to go for a more exhaggerated style rather than a realistic horror style. We looked through our inspirations and took note of any assets we thought may work with our scene.

To get an idea of what it would be like to layout our scene, we made a rough mock up of what our scene would look like. This gave us an idea of what assets we could make to fill up the space.

We ended up coming up with a story for our lab; it would be a mad scientist’s lab, a scientist who would mess around with human life and organis creatures. This would give us the opportunity to have some items like body parts, blood, etc. Our story is that a monster, at one stage, was restrained in the lab and has escaped, leaving the lab abandoned and in a state if dissaray. This would really give us a chance to make some fun assets to make a cluttered, messy lab space, plus since the monster escaped we wouldn’t have to model it.

I really liked the idea of having a sort of balcony where the most dramatic scene would take place; the re-animation of some kind of frankenstein’s monster. Two tesla poles would be on either side, and we could even use some particle effects for them.

Modeling Assets

The first asset I began developing was the syringe.

This was a very basic version of the syringe. Once I made the basic shape, I thought, how could I exhaggerate it to fit with our style?

Herbert West’s syringe in Re-Animator was my original reference, but I wanted to exhaggerate it more and began looking at 19th century medical apparatus. I like the two hoops you see on older looking syringes and decided to add those. I also tilted the vial to make it more cartoonish.

This was my final sculpt.

I ended up making a few items of medical apparatus to go beside the frankenstein operating table we had in our heads. I had no issue modeling the tray. I assumed the surgical scissors would be simple, but it ended up being weirdly complicated – it’s an odd shape and the blades aren’t quite symmetrical so I had to do some adjustments, I couldn’t just copy one half and paste it.

We had a team meeting and discussed some items we were lacking and I agreed to make some shelving and the Tesla pole.

For the shelves, I didn’t want to just make a rectangle and slap a wood texture on it. I wanted to make something that would really fit in with our environment. Caity’s wall and floor textures were a textured metal, so I decided to do metal shelves with some screws haphazardly sticking out of them. I was inspired by Dr. Finkelstein’s lab from The Nightmare before Christmas.

I used this tutorial to make the screws, and it took way longer than expected. It was a much more complicated shape than anticipated, and I made some mistakes along the way. I wanted to make the screws right so they could be a stand-alone model for decoration, and so they could be used in other assets. This tutorial taught me how to use the Lattice tool, which I found very useful with later models too.

I used it to curve the wires for the tesla poles.

 

Professional Practice Week 2 – Looking at Showreel Examples

 

This week I was tasked with looking at a few showreels that have good editing or title cards.

First, I looked for a few showreels from Irish friends and acquantances who work in animation. This showreel is by a friend named Lucy Toner, who specialses in 2DFX.

Lucy’s showreel is clean cut and focused on her area of specialty, 2DFX. It clearly shows her strengths and skills. The title card has a recognisable logo at the start and end and has her contact information clearly presented.

The next showreel is from an Irish studio, Studio Meala.

Given it is a showreel for a studio rather than a singular person, it is longer than a regular showreel would be – it is showcasing more peoples’ works, and a wider range of styles and projects. I think this showreel does a great job of showcasing the studio’s unique styles of 2D animation. The upbeat music syncs well with the showreels content. While there is a variety of styles, each segment clearly shows the specific style of animation the studio is capable and it is clear what type of animated projects they would be suited to.

Next, I had a look online for some showreels from other artists from around the world.

I found this showreel I really liked by Taqibunn on Youtube.

I really loved the art style of this animator. This showreel shows animations from different stages of completion – some animations are fully coloured whereas others remain as just linework, however each segment shows great skill and movement. No segment is too long – it shows just enough movement from each animation to understand the artist’s skill. The title card for the showreel is simple and clear, featuring the year of the reel’s publication and the artist’s username.

I also took a list at this showreel from lemoncholy on YouTube.

This showreel was shorter than others I looked at, but it doesn’t need much more. The artist’s style is very clear from the clips that are shown. The artist’s title card also works in a piece of animation for the showreel, without distracting you from their information. Their elegant linework and movement comes across great in this showreel.

 

 

 

 

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