Monday, 25 November 2013

Animation Backgrounds in Photoshop

This week I have been colouring backgrounds for animation in Photoshop. Photoshop is certainly not new to me but the method that we were using was entirely novel and I'm glad to know it as it's the industry standard way of working that allows for a style to be followed.

The line-art of these backgrounds was taken from the children's TV program, 'Frankenstein's Cat' by 'A Productions'. The aim of the exercise was to copy the style of the production as when we're not making our own independent films, we'll need to be able to follow someone else's style! 'A Productions' have a blog that they update with behind the scenes of all stages of the animation process, including their character and background development work. You can check it out here.

My final coloured backgrounds:

Monday, 18 November 2013

Speed Painting

I've discovered in the last two weeks how much I really love background painting - something I never expected as I normally concentrate on characters! With Photoshop, Illustrator and Procreate, I've been having a marvellous time!

I am posting a selection of the speed paintings I've done over the last two weeks. Each took 20-30 minutes to complete and were done from photo reference. The aim was to study colour, texture and atmosphere and I'm pretty pleased with the results! Speed painting is an incredibly theraputic thing to do so I wouldn't be surprised if you see more of these on my blog.

Photo references used: Misty SwampEvening Sky

Photo references used: Misty WoodlandWithered

Photo reference used: Melancholy

Photo reference used: Transformation

Monday, 11 November 2013

Pre-Production for Character Animation

At the start of our just-finished project, we were given a child's drawing of a character each and a sound clip of their choice to animate their character to, the idea being that once all of the characters have gone through the clean-up process and have been animated, we can take them back to the children and they can see their characters come to life! We're all very excited about it.

The sound clips were taken from the '11 Second Club'. As I can't seem to upload my sound clip on blogger, if you would like to hear it, go to the October 2009 competition on the website. The voice says, "TV is power. The power to lull, to pacify. And then when all eyes are glazed and all minds are jelly, the power to hold the world in your fist" in a deep man's voice. Imagine my chagrin then when my child drew a young girl character to animate to that clip!

Well, I am never one to back down from a challenge. First came initial responses and development of the character. Jessica was very specific with what she wanted, so there's only so much I can do before it's not her character any more!

When doing these designs, my first priority is making it a reasonable character to animate; keeping the detail down and staying with basic shapes, decreasing the pencil mileage.

Having drawn the character in 'my style' already, next I researched other styles. First I turned to other square-headed characters in popular culture and TV and then showing Jessica's drawing to my ever brilliant coursemates to see what they made of it.

Having finalised the design, next come construction sheets and turnarounds.

Down to the problem of putting a deep male voice with a little girl character! I explored a couple of staging ideas while I was still in the concept/design phase of the pre-production. Listening to what the voice is saying, it made sense in context for there to be a TV in the shot, and I thought that maybe the voice could be coming from the TV and the girl could be reacting to it.

Back to the character, how will she looks when she's cleaned up? Colour and texture model sheets.

I stayed true to the original drawing when it came to colour, using an eyedropper tool and then slightly tweaking the colours to fit more harmoniously together. Onto action and expression sheets.

Finally, I decided to stage the character inside the TV. The TV will have a mouth and eyes and the girl will be inside the TV trying to figure out where the voice is coming from before being 'lulled' and 'pacified'.

Having 'broken down' the sound (worked out on which frame each sound comes) I then had to work out what the mouth looks like for each sound, so below is a chart.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing my pre-production process!

Monday, 4 November 2013

William Kentridge and Charcoal Animation

William Kentridge is an animator from Johannesburg, South Africa. I studied him and his stop motion charcoal animations for my A Level Art two years ago. I chose him at first, knowing very little about him, because I wanted to start to experiment with animation whilst still keeping my roots in Fine Art and then because I found how inspiring his work was to me.

The particular works I was studying by Kendtridge were his 'Drawings for Projection'. These animations were created by making a drawing in charcoal, taking two pictures of the drawing (2 frames of film) then rubbing out the parts that moved before drawing those in different positions and taking another two photos etc etc. I can't find a legitimate link to any of his films online (you have to see them in a gallery) but below are a few stills to give you a taste of the style.

In each of Kentridge's films, there is always a character that is a self portrait. While Kentridge himself believes that other artists and art critics read too much into his work (as the films were made in 1990s South Africa, nearly everything is taken as a metaphor for Apartheid), I gladly used the 'self portrait' theme to help me link up my study of Kentridge to my study of the human skeleton and human nature.

Studies drawn with the help of my constant A Level companion, George the Skeleton.

Through my studies of skeletons I became very confident with the medium of charcoal and found myself ready to begin some animation tests using Kentridge's method.

My first ever animation test using Kentridge's method. Clearly I needed a better tripod!

Learning my lessons from the mistakes in my first test, I began to get more ambitious, with a life-size drawing of a skeleton. Not making it move yet though - that's the next step!

I'm not one to sit still when something needs to be done so next I was straight on to my first ever proper animation! I drew a 6ft tall skeleton with charcoal attached to the end of a metre-long piece of bamboo (a-la Matisse) and made it do a walk cycle! Each drawing took approximately 4-6 hours, so whenever I feel frustrated at the slow pace of the animations I do nowadays, I just remind myself of this little project and thank heavens it's over!

Please enjoy my first ever walk cycle. It may not be perfect but I shall always be proud of it! The ghostly effect is created by rubbing out each pose after it has been shot and drawing the new pose on top.

All of these skeleton drawings have really helped me with anatomy, which is of course of paramount importance to animation, and I'm happy to say that I have also improved a lot in the last two years!

Skeleton studies from April 2013

Finally before I end this post, here are some close-ups of the drawings seen above with their skeleton model.

Until next time!