Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Animation techniques

As I haven't animated before I considered different ways to achieve it, I originally wanted to do fully traditional-style frame-by-frame animation where I drew the key poses and inbetweened them using the onion skin and timeline feature on Photoshop. This is pretty much what I did in the end, but I have used a couple of little tricks and shortcuts to make it a bit easier.

One thing I did was duplicate the frame and then use the lasso tool to select parts and move them slightly, this was quicker and looked a bit less 'shaky' than completely redrawing so was useful for scenes with minimal/subtle movement. So far I've mainly experimented with this technique on Nycteris' scene:

However I think it also made it look a little lifeless. I know you can combat this lifelessness with a 'wiggle' effect which I may look into, I'm not sure if Photoshop has this feature.

I have found frame-by-frame drawing to be difficult, the frames tend to jump around a lot and look quite rough. In my art my lines are always a little rough and sketchy which can be seen as an aesthetic choice or 'style' but I was hoping to achieve a more cleaner look - the jumpiness can detract from the character and the story. However a completely clean look would take a very long time to achieve and would require careful drawing of each frame.

I particularly have been struggling with animating a simple shot where Nycteris walks towards the curtain/door. I ended up rotoscoping some film footage I quickly made of me walking across my room. This was problematic as my room is small and doesn't have much walking space, and I don't have a tripod/any way to freely position a camera, so it was difficult to get the right angle. I'm not too fond of the overly 'rotoscoped' look and can think it looks a bit uncanny, especially when highly stylised characters are moving in a rotoscoped manner.

I think the rotoscoping did help me to establish key poses, but again, I've found it difficult to refine the sketchy draft into relatively clean looking animation. I've used a handful of different techniques, including using the pen tool to draw a clean line and then moving/animating that (see first gif below), but that didn't work and seemed to just draw attention to the 'off' movement. Of course the arm on here is animated wrong, but I found that using the pentool was actually much more time consuming (and less fun) than drawing the lines myself.

So I'll probably go back to drawing, though animating convincing dress movement has been very tricky. I'm aware that it's difficult to judge how the animation will look when working on a very rough, thumbnail background with no colour - I think this type of drawing will work and look much better when it's coloured and finished.

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