During this semester we have been set a personal project. I have decided to look at Compositing and and VFX.
Add 3D elements to a photo or live action background.
Footage can be provided.
- A shot of live action footage or photo with composited 3D art..
- A break down render demonstrating the composited layers and/or post effects
For my project I can consider to look any of the following.
- Scene Continuity *
- 2D & 3D Tracking
- Matching Colours *
- Matching Lighting *
- Contact Lighting *
- Light-Wrap Techniques
- Edge Blend Techniques
- Working with Shadows
- Grain Management
- Lens Distortion & Aberrations
- Match Move
I was interested in the class and talk given by Victor Perez at University. “Victor is a Spanish film director, producer, screenwriter and visual effects artist with more than 20 years of combined experience, and has worked on a number of Hollywood films, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Victor started his career in the film industry as a photographer and digital compositing artist.
During the class Victor went over the basics of compositing showing us some Star Wars compositing and a demonstration with a rock character using the software Nuke. He talked about the physics behind light and how taking pictures was a very important part of becoming a compositor.
In the industry this role or job generally is the specialism in lighting, visual effects and compositing. The role would involve production work such as working on 3D models, VFX, lighting and compositing for studio projects. They are responsible for creating the final image by combining layers of previously created material from different departments within a studio. Although it is primarily a 2D role within the 3D world of CGI and VFX, Compositors need a well-rounded understanding of the CG process and would need to know a range of artists skills.
The main software for compositing in the industry is Nuke. I am going to use Maya, the Arnold renderer and then later experiment with Nuke importing my render passes.
Arnold provides the following passes:
direct_diffuse + indirect_diffuse + direct_specular + indirect_specular + refraction + deep_scatter + mid_scatter + shallow_scatter + primary_specular + secondary_specular = Beauty
Each pass contains an important part of an image for example Specular indirect contains reflections. A beauty consists of all the passes merged into one image
Ideas and Inspiration
At first I wanted to composite a King Kong model over Belfast during a sunset inspired by the recent Kong Skull Island poster. Then composite more helicopters over it etc.
I had quite ambitious ideas at the start but sadly due to my lack of skills and understanding of compositing and certain functions within the different software packages I had to keep my idea pretty grounded. My lecturer Alec told me to focus on a still image using AI shadow matte in Arnold.
I moved on to focus on more basic ideas. My main idea was composite the model of a car not a photograph. Many of the car advertisements are actually made using CGI and the car actually isn’t even real. I wanted to recreate a still of a realistic looking car travelling round a scenic road.
This article goes over how some companies make their Car advertisements using a special rig: https://jalopnik.com/how-they-shoot-a-car-commercial-without-the-actual-car-1782499530
Here are some examples of rendered cars:
Due to time a wasn’t going to be able to model a high quality realistic car model so I had to research and try and find a free model.
I recently watched the Audi R8 advertisement and decided that I wanted to use this us this car. If I could find a high quality model for free
I went onto Turbosquid a well known model website and found a model of an Audi R8.
This is the model I downloaded off Turbosquid.
I also looked researched images on google of roads with trees. I Also through my own camera role and picked out a few which I thought might be suitable.
I particularly liked the Autumnal images due to the extra colour present.
Introduction to Shadow Matte
When I was discussing compositing with my lecturer Alec, he told me to look at Shadow Matte within Arnold (Maya) and start to try and create basic compositing pieces using this feature.
“The Shadow Matte is a specific shader, used typically on floor planes to ‘catch’ shadows from lighting within the scene. It is useful for integrating a rendered object onto a photographic background. You can also render out shadows separately for use in a compositing package”
I looked up some tutorials and started to experiment with the shader on some models I had downloaded from Turbo-squid.
The general setup of a scene consisted of making an environment within a camera by selecting an image plane. I then placed the grid so lined up with perspective of the image. I then placed a plane on the grid and imported the Audi R8 model resizing and positing it until it looked right. I then placed some basic lights and applied Arnold’s Shadow Matte shader.
Here are some practice renders using the Shadow Matte shader:
I placed lights trying to match the light coming from the image. The textures on the car were not all working so I tried to re texture it using ai standard. This allowed me to work with some reflections while learning how to place lights and match the light from the image.
Experimenting / Test compositing
I then took the image and edited it in Photoshop and Lightroom:
This was my result from my first test composite. I added rain and I edited the colours.
I also went on to try and practice using my own photograph of The North coast and composite a dinosaur creating havoc on the beach. I used the same techniques practicing, trying to get the light to look real and believable.
T rex and Car composted. I turned the car and placed its door beside the reck to make it look more realistic.
I then went on to edit footsteps and smoke over the composite.
Final Scene Setup
I completed the same steps by creating an environment using an image as a background. I have chosen this image as my background for my final composite.
I re textured the Audi R8 model using ai standard shaders for example car paint etc.
The lights that I will need will be:
a sky-dome with an HDRI image of trees acting as a light source. It also will provide reflections.
I will have a general directional light providing shadows and reflections.
I will have 3 area lights providing light from above and behind replicating the general light within the image.
I also will have projections maps providing light projecting on the colours of the leaves as reflections. I will have 3 projection planes.
“Places the texture on a planar surface and projects it onto the object. Places the texture inside a sphere and projects it onto the object. … Defines the projection surface as a box. Maya places images on each plane and projects them onto the object.”
I used Shadow Matte on a plane to capture my shadows.
This is the HDRI map that I used. It has misty lighting which I need and it will provide reflections of branches onto the trees.
Projection maps and scene setup
Render Passes (AOVs)
After my scene was setup and I had completed some corrections I rendered out my passes using Arnold and then saved them as an EXR file. I then went on to import it into Nuke
Spillting up the EXR into the different render passes.
After Importing the EXR file I made shuffle nodes and applied different Render passes to them. I connected the passes with dot nodes and then went on to use plus nodes to combine them. I had problems importing the background image (backplate image) as it kept displaying as the wrong size. This therefore meant that the other render passes didn’t match up with the image. I messaged Alec who told me to add a reformat node to fix the image size. This worked but then the final image still wasn’t displaying correctly as the shadow and car displayed brighter than the original render.
Problem in image below:
Script of nodes:
I attached the view node to the shuffle node before the backplate and the composite seemed to display correctly.
Final Original Composite
This is a video of the render passes. I ran out of time so I don’t have break down video and I also was having problems in Nuke.
While researching local animation studios for placement, mainly based in Belfast I kept in mind that I wanted to use the placement year as an opportunity to work in a number of different mediums. This would help me gain experience and understanding on the aspects of animation we don’t cover on our University course. I am particular interested in working in 3D and hope to find a placement which will give me the opportunity to improve my 3D skills. In school, I secured work experience with JAM Media, Belfast. During the week of experience, I gained an insight into how the studio operated and the techniques they used. I also was given the opportunity to explore some Adobe products and create some simple 2D animations. After experiencing how a studio approached 2D animation projects I would like to find a studio which produces 3D work.
During class I got talking to a Masters student who started talking about a Studio called Streetmonkey who created work for the BBC etc. This sparked an interest as I went on to research the studio. While researching I found out that Streetmonkey is a production and post production company in the heart of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. They have been producing award-winning animation, motion graphics, VFX and live action for TV, film and online since 2002. I went through their portfolio and show reels and saw some work which I immediately recognised from TV. The BBC NI duck sting (Ident) and the BBC Pro 12 Rugby animated advert. I also was interested in their live action work and their VFX and compositing. I have chosen to write my cover letter to Streetmonkey. After viewing their show reels and discovering that they make a considerable amount of content for BBC NI and other well know companies that operate in Northern Ireland. I would love the opportunity to learn new skills working in a range of mediums while helping the animation industry grow in Northern Ireland.
Role that interests me
A role that currently interests me in the industry is Compositing and VFX. This role or job generally is the specialism in lighting, visual effects and compositing. The role would involve production work such as working on 3D models, VFX, lighting and compositing for studio projects. They are responsible for creating the final image by combining layers of previously created material from different departments within a studio. Although it is primarily a 2D role within the 3D world of CGI and VFX, Compositors need a well-rounded understanding of the CG process and would need to know a range of artists skills.
I have chosen compositing for my personal project as I am particularly interested in lighting and the layering of images. So far, I have been using Arnold shadow matte to composite models such as cars and dinosaurs into Maya environment scenes. I plan on starting to try and learn how to use the software Nuke which is industry level compositing software.
Animation Industry talks
The Animation Industry talks on Friday the 8th of December were very interesting and allowed us to see the range of potentially different jobs within the industry. I was interested in the class and talk given by Victor Perez. “Victor is a Spanish film director, producer, screenwriter and visual effects artist with more than 20 years of combined experience, and has worked on a number of Hollywood films, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Victor started his career in the film industry as a photographer and digital compositing artist. He then works on collaborations as 2D technical director and consultant where he developed a combination of both artistic and technical understanding of film postproduction and visual effects from a photorealistic point of view.” During the class Victor went over the basics of compositing showing us some Star Wars Compositing and a demonstration with a rock character using the software Nuke. He talked about the physics behind light and how taking pictures was a very important part of becoming a compositor. He seemed very down to earth and his class was helpful. During his talk Victor showed us his latest short film Echo. He went on to the describe the process in which it was made using pioneering, never-seen-before motion control technology and was shot in just five long takes. There were many other talks but I found Victors the most helpful as I am currently looking at compositing for my personal Project.
So our next assignment after finishing the 3D environment project is to make a 30 second short based around the theme of bravery. We have been placed in groups by our Lecturer. I am working with James, Michael and Lauren.
Initial Ideas based around the theme of Bravery.
These are the ideas we came up with during our initial brainstorming session:
Tough guy gets beat up by tiny spider. As it is spider season and lots of people are scared of spiders we thought it would be funny if instead of the spider getting squished. The spider would get his own back on the humans.
Tiny character ends up being the tough guy. Developing on the spider idea. We discussed how the character who you would least expect would end up being the tough guy and save the day etc.
Goat and Chupacabra. Another idea that we had was about a mountain goat and a creature called Chupacabra.
Mountain Comes alive. The mountain could come alive
Decided Idea- Goat and Chupacabra
The Story Idea we decided to center around is about a goat character and their run in with the mythical ‘Chupacabra’ a creature said to hunt them. (Translates as goat sucker) We like the idea of the goat trying to stand up to the creature and possibly killing it accidentally.
It started around the idea of certain breeds of goat have a genetic problem that they faint when startled, we liked the idea that the mountain goat would just freeze up and fall over at the sight of danger. We like the idea that the goat would be brave but because of its natural behaviour couldn’t help but fainting.
The Chupacabra will be more sinister coming to eat the goat but may be in for a surprise when/if he gets shown up by this small goat.
At this stage we briefly looked into the myth of the Chupacabra:
- Originated in Puerto Rico in the mid-90s
- Attacked and killed local livestock
- Has been reported across Mexico and the southern U.S
- Often described as a canine or reptile like creature
We might design our own take on the chupacabra, maybe using elements from the reports. The Chupacabra most likely is some for of wild dog but reports and imagery describe the Chupacabra as being dog like and even as far as being alien. (Wide range of different description.)
Here are some images of different versions of Chupacabras:
We have been looking at Maurice Noble for background ideas.
- Maurice worked for Warner brothers in the 1950s.
- Known for his background art he produced for Warner Brothers and MGM
- He worked on the original Duck Dodgers cartoon as well as What’s Opera, doc and the Road runner series.
- His style fits with the one we are going for.
Walt Peregoy: Scooby Doo
The background art for the old Scooby Doo series has been another style we have been considering.
- Created by Walt Peregoy for Hannah Barbera
- The painted style and dark colours would make a good base for our environment
- The shows monsters would also tie into our theme
We are also going to look into Looney Tunes for comedy references and staging as it is very close to what we are going for. For example when the Coyote holds up the sign.
We worked as team to come up with a rough storyboard Jame then took it and sketched it up for our first animatic.
Since our last presentation we have been re-working parts of the story
-We removed some panels such as the rock crushing the monster
– Sound is something we discussed and want to be more prevalent in the story telling
-Finally we needed to emphasise the joke at the end more
We worked on the animatic and made a digital version each painting different parts of it on Photoshop. We presented this digital animatic and got feedback from our lecturer and class mates.
The ending doesn’t really make sense when the goat faints so we decided to take it out of the animation and just end it when the Chupacabra gets knocked off the mountain.
I edited it and added rough sounds to try and help it read.
We worked on the story and the started to make a 3D Previs. We made some basic models and animated some camera angles.
The previs didn’t read as-well as we original thought so we re animated some cameras and scenes. Lauren then took the files and worked on the previs while Michael, James and I started to model for the actual animation.
I decided that I would design the Mountain Shack (Goats House)
I researched houses with very angular sections I looked at haunted and run down houses from Tim Burton’s Films.
I like the roof and chimney on this house but I feel like it is to square.
I really like this house it is a great size and the roof is what I imagined.
I liked the porch on this house and the circular window up stairs.
Shack Model Development
This is my first mock up model of the shack trying to take parts from the photos I researched. I used simples shapes and played with the vertices to try and make a wooden plank effect. I also misplaced tiles and added nailed down boards to give it a run down look. In the image below I added some rough colours.
I decided to make an upstairs level and a slight side to the roof to make it more visually interesting. I continued to move and planks to make them all different shapes. I added spouting and a barrel to catch water as it was a mountain shack.
I thought it would be cool to add in a weather vane but instead of a Cockerel on top I made a goat with arrows. I also added in tin cans and I modelled torn fabric based on fabric found tied to bridges and tents in Nepal. I thought this would be cool as I could add cloth simulations to it to demonstrate that the shack is getting battered by the wind.
I was testing some lights as I thought it would be cool if the wooden planks allowed light through them so you could still see the basic shape of the shack even in darker scenes.
I also added in a side roof covering barrels and buckets. I tiled it and added a slant to make it look like it was dropping with age
I also modelled some other assets like a barrel, stove for inside the shack and buckets etc
Chupacabra Concept Model
I wanted to give sculpting in zbrush ago so I decided to sculpt a Chupacabra concept. I Focused more on a dog like creature as I preferred that idea rather to the alien ideas. I used the drag tools in zBrush to get the rough shape then used carving and clay tools to build up more detail. The arms and legs didn’t turn out that well but I was pretty happy with it being my first attempt at zbrush.
I made a very basic rig for it so I could pose it beside the shack for scale and renders.
We decided that we wanted our textures to look quite cartoony and resemble a painted style. I recently have been playing the game Fortnite which has a cool style and textures are painted. I suggested this and thought it would make a good reference for our textures. Michael suggested using the program 3D coat which turned out to be very easy to pick up and really useful for texturing models in the style we wanted. It was quite like Photoshop just on 3D models.
Example texture I painted onto my barrel:
Final Textured shack
I went on to add ncloth and wind to the torn fabric. I played around with the settings for a while reducing the dampness etc until the cloth looked right.
I also wanted to add leaves tumbling around outside as Lauren was making some tree models so I thought it would be another way to make the animation feel more real. It also will be useful as a establishing shot for the shack and a build up.
I had high poly leaves and low poly leaves I assigned the high poly to the low poly so they would follow each other exactly when I moved either the high or low. I then added the cloth to the low poly leaves. This sped up the cloth allowing it to be edited in real time. I added a turbulence box and air columns to the keep the leaves moving naturally and to prevent them from sticking. I played around with numerous settings until the leaves looked natural.
I used the free leaf model provided from this Plural Site Creative Tutorial. Then made low poly and high poly models from that.
I took it upon myself to do the lighting for the scene. I particularly like lighting so it was a no brainer for me. I discussed with the group and originally we had thought that the animation would be set at night. I proposed that it would be set at dusk with an sunset through the mountains. We all agree on this and so I began working on the lights.
I created an environment to create light rays and a slight fog which pushed up the render time but allowed me to play with the light in different ways. (god rays). It also made the mountains seem distant which was nice. I primarily used a spot light placed behind the mountains to act as a sun. I then placed area lights to make a gradient of colour behind the spot light. I placed four more area lights to light the mountain range and shack from different angles so the detail of the models can be seen and they aren’t just silhouettes. I also then placed two directional lights to light the shack and general scene. The shack also has lights in side to shine through the windows.
First Light test. I used an image plane as the background
I moved on a used the most recent scene which I put together. First light test with atmosphere.
Back light added producing more colour.
More Back lights again.
Darker versions. This version looked cool but wouldn’t work for because you can’t see very much detail.
Final Scene imported and constructed. Light setup from above.
Maya viewport version.
Final lights through valley view.
During the animation process Lauren, Michael and James used the rigs to animate the scenes. I setup the ncloth for the leaves and fabric blowing outside the house. I began to setup the scene and import the ncloth . We used blend shapes in both the rigs.
I mainly focused on the scene set up while my other team members where animating using the rigs. I placed the trees and ncloth. I also then went to place mountains to benefit from the lights to give a nice backdrop. Once the animation had been imported I placed the textures in the correct file and applied textures. It was then sent around to have the remaining textures applied.
Michael and I carried out the renders. We ran into numerous problems with the render settings and the colour correction settings. We also had problems with certain animation and cameras. We sat for two days and fixed the problems and then went on to finally render. We used the settings 4/2/1/2/2/2
Problems we fixed included:
Rigs separating from models
Ncloth not colliding.
Our lecturer Alec set us the task of downloading the Jack and Jill body mechanic models and use them to create poses. This task allowed us to start to learn how to use them before we try and animate the models. The image below shows the basic controls of the rig.
Here are some poses:
Boxing and Performer
I then went on to try and animate a walk cycle and body mechanic movement using the rigs.
Before we started to try and animate a walk cycle we were shown a demonstration in class on how to approach it. I went on from there to try and animate the jack rig in class. I found it rather difficult yet great fun as you could create whatever walk you wanted.
The hardest thing about the walk cycle was making it look smooth and getting rid of the popping knees.
This is an early attempt on a walk cycle. I removed the arms and the head so I could focus on the leg movement.
The main problems were the knees kept popping.
Here is a video that explains the process and helped me during the task.
I also found this channel which provides reference walks and other movements. I used the male walk as a reference.
The most useful reference material I used was from Richard Williams Animation Survival Guide. I imported the images into Maya and used them as a rough guide for timings and keyframes.
After I tried a basic walk. I went onto to try and get a basic run. It turned out very rough but was great practise before I went onto animating my final walk cycle.
I then went on to use the Jill rig to try and animate a female walk. I used the images above as a rough reference.
I also got Jack Ellison – https://jackjellison.wordpress.com to video me attempting a girly walk.
I looked at other examples of female walk cycles on youtube to get a feel for the differences between male and and female movements. (Mainly in the hips)
This is a play blast mid way through animating the female walk. I tried to animate the arms at the same time as the legs which proved to be quite hard.
I went back and used the animators survival guide for reference for the arms.
I found the placement of the arms extremely useful as it was one of the hardest parts of the walk to get right. I adjusted the hands out slightly to give a slightly more feminine look. (Over exaggerating)
Here is a render of my final walk cycle. I rendered it out with a light to give the impression that the model is actually making distance. overall the effect worked yet the shadow makes the ground flicker slightly.
For my body mechanics I wanted to focus on some kind of extreme sport. I thought it would be cool to try out a free style move. like a backflip.
To practice before starting my final body mechanic I decided to try and animate the rig carrying out a upper cut boxing move.
I used endlessreference’s video to base my upper cut on.
I blocked out the major movements of the character based on the reference then went back to fill in some keyframes to make the animation slightly more fluid.
The animation didn’t turn out as well as I wanted and I felt like a punch didn’t really show as much movement as I wanted.
I then moved onto my backflip. I used a reference video of a backflip.
During animating the backflip I decided to turn it into a dive implementing the backflip movement into a a dive through a hoop.
Here is my final render:
We have been set the task to create a 3D interior/exterior scene that conveys a narrative. We have split into groups. I am in a group with Holly and Conor.
Storyline: We started by discussing some ideas and how we could deliver a narrative through visuals and sound.
- Boxing Arena (1940s-50s) / Pool table/ aftermath of sporting event
- Old person’s living room/ up as reference
- D day Beach/ Saving Private Ryan
- Holding Cells (which have been escaped)/ The Dark Knight
- Strange/evil bakery
- A murderer’s house/detective office (room with clues to their evil character)
- Kung Fu master’s place of meditation and training
- Stage show/eerie magic show
- 1920s moonshining / Speakeasy (L.A. NOIRE inspo)
We picked our top ideas and discussed what we could do with them before deciding on a final idea to go with.
Old Person house/Living Room
Boxing Arena/ Aftermath
We decided quite early on that we wanted to go with the boxing idea. We discussed different settings/ narratives that we could explore. We particularly liked the idea that the Mafia would be involved and there has been some sort of scandal.
Boxing Arena –
- time period could be old or new.
- Two fighters.
- Could be a scandal involved/cheating
- Old vs new boxers (end of an era)
- Possible accident/taken too far (the referee could be bad or a cheater)
- Props – Banners/flyers/newspapers
- Sound effects/music to explain story too – shouting/screaming/ whistles/ booing/ dollar bills
- Possible camera technique- newspaper/flyer flies towards camera to start story then it blows away to go towards stadium
- Animal vs man
We have decided to set the scene between the 1940s-1950s giving us a nice style and plenty of assets to make based on the 1940s.
Concepts and Imagery
Photo mashed concept
Tunnel into arena idea
Older boxing sketch idea/ based on Sherlock Holmes
Story Behind the scene
The narrative we wanted to explore was that the Mafia have been involved in a scandal during the big fight. We discussed potential ideas and did some research on the Mafia and boxers during the time period. Holly found an article about a boxer nicknamed the Raging bull (LaMotta) who deliberately a lost a fight for loyalty to the Mafia.
“We continue looking at the darker side of the boxing industry. Former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta spent five years trying to avoid the trappings of the Mafia. Known for his grit and toughness in the ring, LaMotta was called “Raging Bull.” Finally, through his brother, LaMotta was offered a deal for the championship, in exchange for loyalty to the Mafia. LaMotta signed with the devil and intentionally lost a bout.”
We decided to base our narrative on LaMotta with the Mafia being involved with our match. We decided that we would make assets/props suggesting the Mafia were involved (at the match) guns/ fedoras, money briefcases and shaded glasses.
To start we decided to make some posters based on the LaMotta fight against Billy fox
Holly came up with the main style for the posters. We then made one poster each.
Modelling the Room
I decided that I would like to come up with general room design. So I began modelling what I imagined based of reference images and input from my team. Before I started on the room I made a rough boxing ring so I could have a centre piece to base the room around for scale.
I also tried out some lighting.
I began to place shapes to create the curved arena I imagined.
I then went on and made the arena stands as rough shapes and started to make a large stand in the background.
I added in railings, stairs, temporary floor boards and some other models just to scale the scene.
Final Room Design
This is a render of the final room model and its layout.
Room modelled by myself, assets modelled by Holly, Connor and Myself.
We also discussed the idea of placing silhouettes of Mafia members which could cast shadows over the scene. This idea wasn’t used in the end due to use of the occlusion texture.
At first UV mapping seemed daunting but I gradually got the hang of it. The images below show some uv maps on some of my assets. The video helped me learn how to UV map.
As well with making the room I took my other group member’s assets and placed them round the scene. Here are some renders of our scene with our assets placed.We focused on the placement of the Mafia assets to give subtle hints. For example the money coming out of the briefcase. My main goal while making the room and placing the assets was to make it feel lived in. Like a boxing fight had just taken place.
Final Rendered Video
For this assignment we have to research the 12 Principles of Animation found in Disney’s Illusion of life and beyond
This link shows quick animated gifs demonstrating each principle:http://the12principles.tumblr.com
Squash and Stretch
This action gives the illusion of weight and volume to a character as it moves. Also squash and stretch is useful in animating dialogue and doing facial expressions. Adding exaggeration to an object in motion gives it a greater sense of weight and volume. This principle is often demonstrated with a bouncing ball. The ball appears stretched when it is falling and squashed when it hits the ground. By squashing and stretching the ball, an animator gives a more realistic feel.
This movement prepares the audience for a major action the character is about to perform, such as, starting to run, jump or change expression. For example an acrobat does not just suddenly jump off the floor unexpectedly. A backwards motion occurs before the forward action is executed. The backward motion is the anticipation.
Influenced by theatrical principles, staging helps establish mood, create focus and clarify what is happening in the scene. Do not confuse the audience with too many actions at once. Use one action clearly stated to get the idea across. A pose or action should clearly communicate to the audience the attitude, mood, reaction or idea of the character. The effective use of long, medium, or close up shots, as well as camera angles also helps in telling the story.
Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose Animation
Straight ahead animation starts at the first drawing and works drawing to drawing to the end of a scene. This animation style in unpredictable. Pose to Pose is more planned out and charted with key drawings done at intervals throughout the scene. Size, volumes, and proportions are controlled better this way, as is the action.
Follow Through and Overlapping Action
When the main body/mass of the character stops all the other parts continue to move and catch up to the main mass of the character, such as arms, long hair, clothing, coat tails or a dress, floppy ears or a long tail. They are following the path of action. Nothing ever just stops at once. Overlapping action is when the character changes direction while his tail or clothes etc continues forward. The character is going in a new direction, to be followed, a number of frames later, by his tail and clothes in the new direction. Drag is when parts of the characters body are slightly behind the main body. Eg the legs walk on but the arms and head are slightly behind. Timing becomes critical to the effectiveness of drag and the overlapping action.
Slow In and Slow Out
As action starts, we have more drawings near the starting pose, one or two in the middle, and more drawings near the next pose. Fewer drawings make the action faster and more drawings make the action slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action, making it more life-like.
All actions follow an arc or slightly circular path. This is especially true of the human figure and the action of animals. Arcs give animation a more natural action and better flow. There are some expectations for example the animation of a mechanical device.
This action adds to and enriches the main action and adds more dimension to the character animation, supplementing and/or re-enforcing the main action. For example when two character would leaning in for a kiss. The main action is the kiss the secondary action could be the hands of one of the characters playing with hair of the other.
A variety of slow and fast timing within a scene adds texture and interest to the movement. Most animation is done on twos . Also, there is timing in the acting of a character to establish mood, emotion, and reaction to another character or to a situation. Differences in time have a big effect on the final feel of the animation.
Its like a caricature of facial features, expressions, poses, attitudes and actions. Action copied straight from live action film can be accurate, but stiff and mechanical looking which won’t be as exciting an interesting to look at.
The basic principles of drawing form, weight, volume solidity and the illusion of three dimension apply to animation.
All characters have to have appeal whether they are heroic, villainous, comic or cute. it doesn’t just mean the characters are good looking or cute. Appeal, includes an easy to read design, clear drawing, and personality development that will capture and involve the audience’s interest.
Another part of this assignment was to design our own characters using the principle of appeal. At first I found this daunting as I have never dived into character design to an extent that a could just create a new character. We had to use everything we had learnt n life drawing over the past year and try and implement these skills when coming up and drawing out our characters.
From the start I knew I wanted to have a character who was a bird. My first idea was a circus bird.
After completing some very rough life drawings based on this idea I decided to research some other cartoon bird characters for inspiration etc.
description provided on Kevin/Snipe
- Even though Kevin’s a female, her appearance is based on the male Himalayan Monal pheasant.
- Many sources, including Peter Docter’s study guide to Up, say that Kevin’s species is the mythical “Snipe”, a fictional bird created to send foolish people on wild goose chases. In reality, a snipe is a kind of wading bird which has a long slender bill and brown patterned plumage.
Kevin was a particularly good reference as I wanted my character to be tall and have a similar build to Kevin.
Another character influence was Crane from Kung Fu panda. Again I chose Crane as reference due to his tall slender build. I looked at how cranes legs and wings were put together.
After some more thought I decided a Pelican would make an interesting design with its large beak and wings. I thought it would look cool placing the body of a Pelican on top of tall legs like Crane and Kevin. Finding Nemo had a pelican character which also was good reference.
Rough drawing on how wings work.
This image was quite help when looking at a birds anatomy. From imagine Fx
I also looked at the owl from Whinne the Pooh to see how he developed hands out of his wings when he needed to hold or point at something. I liked the idea on how his first couple of feathers developed into fingers when they were needed.
Based on these ideas and references I sketched some characters
I then took these and completed some sketches from different angles.
This is my character rotation. I found it rather difficult to imagine what the character would look like from different angles. Lets just say it put my life drawing skills to the test.
Silhouette version to see if the character is recognisable blacked out.
I then went on to choose anticipation, staging, exaggeration and solid drawing to show through my character.
Exaggeration. I spread the characters wings exaggerating his stance:
As I originally had thought that the character would be a circus bird so I put together rough scene based on that idea. The character isn’t coloured. There are also broken down versions.
I tried to get this image to cover a couple of the principles. I placed the lights to highlight him which acts as staging. I also made his next bend back slightly to try and show him anticipating looking into the hat.
Anticipation ,staging, Exaggeration :
Life drawing Progress over Semester 2
With first year coming to an end in a week’s time and a year of life drawing under my belt I have quite a lot to reflect on. When I found out at the start of last semester that we would have a weekly life drawing class I was quite intimidated and to be honest quite worried as many of my class mates had already had experience in foundation. After the first couple of classes I felt like I didn’t even know how to draw but as the first semester went on I began to feel more and more comfortable. By the end of the first semester I definitely had improved and learnt a lot.
Going into second semester I felt a lot more comfortable after knowing what to expect. We continued with our weekly classes. For the first couple of classes we just practiced general life drawing 30 second poses to get back into the process after our break. We then progressed to looking at different techniques for example, head rotations using Pinocchio, character rotations drawing the head, proportions of the body and using the life models to draw live story boards as they acted out scenes. We also focused on particular parts of the body such as hands, feet and the head. During class I approached the tasks with a positive attitude even though I found some tasks rather difficult and my results may not have been the best. During each class our lecturer gave demonstrations with visual examples and also walked around the room giving advice, showing us what we were doing wrong and how to improve it. I found this extremely helpful as it allowed me to take the advice and try implementing it into my next drawing. We also got some tutorials for drawing hands and feet were our lecturer would demonstrate how he would approach breaking down the drawing. We then would try this technique from different angles from around the room. We also had a theory class where we had to read articles about issues within the industry and then have a short debate. I particularly liked this class as it made me think of research in a different way which I could implement into my actual work In the future.
We also were set life drawing homework’s which included drawing Pinocchio head rotations, balance, feet, storyboards, hands and character designs. For our final assignment, we had to design our own characters based on the principle of appeal and then choose 4 other principles to show using our characters. This was challenging but a fun way to end a year of life drawing. Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed life drawing as it is has definitely improved my drawing skills and opened my eyes when it comes to designing characters and drawing anatomy. Although I still may not be amazing at life drawing I have definitely improved and picked up skills which will help me throughout the next few years.
Here are some images of my life drawings covering tasks from each week:
Our next assignment for Imagining and Data Visualisation is to model/ sculpt a classmates head using sculpting software then retopologise it in Maya.
I decided to make my sculpture in Maya first as I thought it would be easier but it ended up being a longer process so I stopped and restarted my head in Mudbox. (I choose to make Jack’s head. ) I took a side and front on photo and lined up his facial features.
Here was my progress when I was I was using Maya. I modelled the nose, eyes and mouth area.
Tutorial I followed during using Maya
This is the tutorial I followed to help me to get to grips with Mudbox and its controls.
I started again using Mudbox which is a sculpting software. I started of with a rough shape and sculpted It into jacks rough head shape. I used the reference images to guide me. I placed spheres to act as eyeballs which were also useful guides for the upper face region. I used the grab tool to pull the mesh into the shape I needed. I then used other tools such as the wax, sculpt and foam tools to build up the face. I then used the knife tool to cut in finer details such as the ear, eye and eyebrows . The smooth tool was also important as it allowed me to maintain the realistic natural look. I smoothed rough details which I had cut out. I particularly enjoyed the process of sculpting as while using a graphics tablet it seemed very natural.
Screenshots during different stages of sculpting.
Final sculpt in Mudbox Render View:
I then imported the head sculpt into Maya. I messed around bit with the ai standard textures. As I had just watched the new Guardians of the galaxy film I thought it would be cool to make the head sculpt look like a character Yondu out of Guardians of the Galaxy. I added a rough Finn which worked well.
This is the final head model with the ai skin texture not retopoligised:
After completing the main sculpt in Mudbox I then imported it into Maya to retopoligise. I lowered the mesh before importing it so it wouldn’t lag while using the mesh in Maya. I follow a tutorial by Danny Mac on how you should retopolgise and what steps to take make the mesh work well. I used the quad tool to draw a mesh over the sculpt.
I found the process rather frustrating as my mesh kept ripping and wasn’t totally symmetrical which made the process harder.
Here are some images from he process:
After finishing the mesh it clipped the sides of the model making it looked jagged and rough even after smoothing it which wasn’t the effect I was aiming for.
Mesh during construction:
I took the model back into Mudbox and lowered the mesh and then re imported it into Maya. I then started to use the quad tool again using the lowered mesh as reference. This process was easier but probably will not work for all future sculpts. I altered the mesh and reduced it so it would be under 10000 polygons. I dragged the faces around, used the smooth and relax tools to try and retain more detail.
These results when rendered were far less jaggy and rough. :
Overall I found the retopology process far less enjoyable than the actual sculpting. I will need to work on retopology for any future sculpting.