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I have made body turns before in Anime Studio, but with the addition of smart bones, I knew I could improve them once more:

I already had the head turns before in the head layer, so after I finished with that, I preceded with the whole body.

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The good thing about smart bones is that I can edit things in between the views, and it stays that way! I have one dial that does everything. And it’s FAST. I don’t have to worry about changing layer order earlier or anything. The only downfall is that the layer order is set and cannot be changed if a smart bone is in use.

The key is to breakdown everythingThat way, the bones can be moved into a new position w/o changing points. Changing the least amount of points makes it so much simpler when I animate. W/ smart bones, it doesn’t matter as much, but the less I change, the easier it is for me to fix the problem. Here is how I set up the bones:

This way, I can do this:

apartWhich may seem silly to look at, but this breakdown is pretty much how I can do the full turn. I just change the points in the torso, the legs, and I am done! The head already has a side view which is easy to access with nested layer control enabled.

Hopefully you found this interesting, thank for reading! Till next time…

And another…


And another...

Sam


Work in Progress

Sam


Anime Studio 9.5 has a new feature that almost made me cry with joy: nested layer control. With this, and the enhancements of smart bones, I can now create better head turns! The way I did it before was adequate, but it still required me to tweak things around to make the head turn look decent. Now I don’t have to worry about it because I can change everything in just one Smart Bone Action. I started to build my new character, Sam, using this new technique.

I created this sketch during the summer time, but I was too busy with the other part of Bo the Creature that I didn’t quite have time to build the character. Here’s the initial design:

Initial Design

Initial Design

But looking at it now, the design doesn’t quite match with the character in mind. Sam is supposed to be more of a tough chick, a bit edgy, and definitely cold-hearted. Here is my second try:Sam closeupsam new

I also decided to go with simpler clothing.

This is not final yet, I think I might stick with this.

I did not create any expression actions like before, instead I am just going to use smart bones. It might seem like a lot, but I had a lot more action expressions.

Smart Bones

Smart Bones

The bones pretty much what they say. I just turned the dial and made some expressions. Together they work perfectly! It’s quite unbelievable actually. I was expecting so much problems, but it’s a lot better than expected! Very seamless. I’ll post a video sometime. If it wasn’t for the nested feature, I couldn’t have everything on one layer. I am really pleased with Anime Studio this time. Here are more shots:

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I haven’t created the body yet, but I will soon. I think that with smart bones, I will be able to create walk cycles as well by making my characters sway as they walk, something I haven’t been able to do before. So far the file is only 5mb! That is such a big difference from before! I noticed that the bigger file sizes lag more.

So far, I am pleased with my character. I like the style I made, but I notice it is a little more stylized than my other characters. That means I am going to have to make some adjustments. Also, I might make all my characters with smart bones because I think it is just so much better! All the hard work I put in before though :/ Oh well! I am aiming for improvement! Always!

Bo the Creature – Part 2


 

I have finally completed the second part of my video. It took a while, but here it is. Enjoy!

 

“Life wouldn’t …


“Life wouldn’t be so precious, dear, if there never was an end”
- Avenged Sevenfold


A quick test with my character Farnham


New Character? Look again


Farnham's room

Nighttime


When drawing, animating, or even creating a live-action movie, the creators have to direct the audience’s eyes to what they want them to see. It can be done by having the following:

  • Visual Clarity. The content that you want to show has to be presented clearly in the structure
  • Contrast. If you have characters in mainly dark colors, create a lighter background to make them stand out
  • Focus. Balance, and position things in a way that the content that you want the audience to see is not dominated by anything else. Increasing the blur as objects become more distant can also help.

I tried keeping this in mind when I was working on a scene. Before I knew of all this, this was the background I created:

Original

Original

I was aiming for the cluttered room look. Now that I look at it, it looks like there’s a bunch of items that are screaming “look at me” and if I were to put a character in this scene, the audience would get distracted by the randomness. So I tried something new:

Depth

Depth

The characters are in focus, but I still felt something was missing, and the eye still wondered a bit.

Not too long ago, I wrote in a post about how, in a very wordy way, the “lack of shades and shadows diminishes realism and does not accentuate shapes to improve the overall quality of a scene.” I experimented with the idea here and there with what works on this background, after I realized that some objects appear to float above the floor.

I had to fix the issue of course and who knew that shading could do so? Well certainly not me. But it definitely created a more pleasing and uniform composition. Here’s the final (for now) result:

Depth, Shadows, and shading

Depth, Shadows, and Shading

Now the characters stand out more clearly, and are also more in focus. I will probably add more blurs here and there, and maybe decrease the saturation of some objects, to make the characters stand out even more.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and hopefully learned something new, tell me what you think of this in a comment, and follow me if you would like to stay updated with the adventures of Bo in “Bo the Creature.”


When animating a character, a lot of animators observe subjects from reality to create particular movement. It could be from a live-action video, or even watching themselves in the mirror. Whatever technique they use, is fine, as long as the outcome is a believable. A believable animation, does not have to be realistic. It is important to distinguish the difference. The animator’s goal is to convince the audience of the character’s existence. If the animator manged to do so while still creating illogical movement, then the animation remains believable. When watching a cartoon, we might not realize that what we are seeing is not quite realistic, but still accept it because the structural work is below our threshold of awareness.

The animator’s work is to create movement that is a result of a character’s thought process, or a reaction to a stimulus. As long as the character’s weight and volume in space is consistent, the animator can get away with doing a lot of things. The key word here is consistent. Consistency is important throughout the whole animation. If you have been animating quite a realistic animation and suddenly bring cartoon violence, it will confuse the audience and it will start to ask questions, that don’t relate to the plot. As I have mentioned before, the animator’s goal is to convince the audience of the character’s existence. Rules need to be set up from the beginning, and need to be followed till the end. You can’t be selfish, and not think of your audience.

 

 

Mutant


Mutant

Mutant


How to Let Your Hero Beat Your Villain – Villain’s Tragic Flaw.

“A life spent m…


“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
― George Bernard Shaw

Voiceovers


image

Unless I want to end up with a silent film, I need voices for my animation. Unfortunately, I can’t hire voice actors, so I just need to learn on my own for now. I purchased a microphone recently and started to practice yesterday. I believed it was going to be easy. Boy was I wrong. I found that reading children’s books helps with my little girl voice however. After reading the same passage several times, I improved. I will try to do different voices to continue progressing. Everything else is much tougher. Especially making a guy’s voice. Even after I change the pitch, the voice I hear still sounds off. Really strange actually.

At first I planned on using a voice changing software, but I find that the quality of all programs do not meet my standard. It’s too bad since I actually liked some of the voices I got from it.

I played around with audacity’ s options, but none really seem to do what I want. I don’t know if it’s because there are limitations, since it is a free software after all, or simply because I don’t know how to use it. I am after all not an expert in the audio department.

I will try to find some good books to read, since YouTube hasn’t been much help. I guess I can’t rely on software after all. I actually wish I started voice acting earlier because learning in the short amount of time I have is going to be tricky. Nevertheless, I will persevere.


As I edit, my own creation scares me

Screenshot


Before you can start animating, you got to have a story to base your animation on. Without it, there is not direction, no end. I started my movie on an idea. When I began, I did not know where it was going, I just animated. But I know see that I did the wrong thing. By knowing where I was going to end, I could have planned a better beginning. Alas, it is too late. Not to say that the beginning of my story is terrible, but I cannot do much about it now. There is so much that goes into a story that I did not think of before I started studying how to direct it. I had my story before, but as I look back I realize that it is not a very captivating story and it doesn’t have a lot of suspense, and beats, things that are vital in a story. Really, what I should have done first, after deciding on a basic plot, was to develop clearly the antagonist and protagonist.

Crafting a villain is much more complex than I thought. It takes a lot of planning, and it is very important to know your character, especially his/her background, since it can affect the choices they make strongly. The appearances they have can have a great effect on how we perceive them, since we as humans tend to, unwillingly, judge others based on looks. I am still working on my villain for the story, which will completely change the direction. It is exciting, yet nerve wrecking at the same time. I have come up with so much ideas, that at times don’t seem to be enough, but at others too much to deal with. This doesn’t only apply to working on the villain, but for the story overall.

Brainstorming is an important aspect of story telling. I wish I had done more of that before.  I recently have been doing that a lot which caused me to modify things in the story, add and subtract. This project will be my first substantial story, so I don’t have too high expectations of myself. Hopefully it will all turn out well.

“Do all work as…


“Do all work as though you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you must die tomorrow.”

-Mother Ann Lee


Every time I draw, I always aim for improvement. As I read tips from books and articles, I found a great lot emphasized creating depth. One of the ways to “kill depth” is by drawing lines similar to the horizon. Making them go in other directions not only creates more depth, but makes a scene more interesting to watch. Lately I have been experimenting a lot with shadows and shades. It is something that I did not really include before in my drawings. Well shadows of course, but shades, not as much. As I look back at my previous work, I realize that the lack of shades and shadows diminishes realism and does not accentuate shapes to improve the overall quality of a scene. Even though my animations are cartoonish, I think having more depth cannot hurt it. My previous post exemplifies my point. Hopefully I will continue to learn more about the topic, and share more tips on this blog. 


Background of a park

Before

 

After

After

Ice Cream Man Test


A quick test done with Anime Studio Pro 9

Why should we c…


Why should we choose a road that will take us through a miserable journey, and have nothing rewarding at the end, but only regret?

Spaceship Test 1


Decisions, decisions


Making a series is going to be very difficult. Today I thought about it for a bit, and I realized that I have spent a long time just making Bo the Creature so far. I was planning to make a series, but now I am not so sure. Perhaps it would be easier to have a movie instead. It would take less energy and I could spend my time focusing on other things as well. I did not make a final decision yet, but I am considering switching my path. Stay updated, bye!

Spaceship


Spaceship

Bo’s spaceship (in progress)

Although we con…


Although we consciously know that films are not real, what makes them magical is their ability to bring us sadness or joy, to move us to tears or laughter.


One of the extra characters

Ninja Robber


“Stage magic is like the professor’s puzzle in the sense that magic is
based upon invalid initial assumptions. The magician presents a logical
“ proof, ” but obscures the fact that the original assumption (that
no trickery will be used) is actually the conclusion that we are meant
to draw from the act. In any case, it is an invalid assumption because
the magician certainly does use trickery in one form or another. A magician’s
proof consists of visual cues.”
-Unknown Author

Bone Dynamics


Yesterday I was playing around with the bone dynamics options in Anime Studio. I applied it to a walk cycle I created with Abigail and here it is:


As I stated in on of my previous posts, I decided it is time for a change. Abigail’s change to be exact. I realized this when I started to pay attention to characters’ designs. I noticed that most little girls had big, naive eyes, almost as if they were filled with hopes and dreams. I made the decision to apply that to my own character. At first I was going to start from scratch as you can see in this picture:

Abigail's new headBut then I realized that would take me much to long. So is started adding pieces from my previous version to complete the new one. Before that of course I created several thumbnail sketches of changes I wanted to make. Among those were adding freckles, changing the eyebrow shape, new hairstyle, different color scheme and other small changes. The hardest thing to pick was a new color scheme. These are some combinations I tried:

I decided to go with the burgundy style. Overall I am happy with the new design. Here is a side by side comparison:

If you have any comments, suggestions, or anything, don’t hesitate to post! More pictures/videos to come.

Farnham


Farnham

It is I, Farnham the great


Just like I did for Farnham, I decided to work on Abigail’s design to  enhance her overall appearance. It is not easy for me to part with old characters, but I think it is for the best. I made changes to her hair, eyes and color scheme. I will post pictures soon.

 


Characters are essential in a story. That is why it is imperative that yous pend a good of time developing them. Each should have a distinct personality that is memorable. Keep in mind that people have preconceptions, and judge people based on stereotypes, and physical appearances, even when they do not mean to do so. You can use this as an advantage at times. We all know stock characters such as the typical damsel in despair, mad scientist, or even the nerd. You can create a character and put him/her in a ironic situation. Doing that can capture the attention of your audience. If you have a tomboyish girl who suddenly decides to participate in a beauty pageant, it creates an unexpected situation. This could cause the audience to question the girl’s motif, guess the reason, and watch to see if they are right.

By giving your character a history, and explaining how he/she got to the way they are, it gives more meaning to the story. If your character is generally loud and obnoxious, then in a moment when he/she is quiet, it creates a great contrast.

You have to know your character inside out. Ask yourself the right questions. Start with the basics. The first one you should answer is “What is my character’s goal?” The answer will drive the character’s action and in turn the story. Other things you should figure out are name, age, location, hobby, fears, and qualities.

Basically, to create believable characters, start with an archetype, build on it, reveal the character’s motives, and show how they deal with their internal and external conflicts. Grill yourself with all possibilities until you are burned out. It is only after the development of the character is over that you should start designing your character.

Further reading:

  • Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg
  • Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels by Tom Bancroft

Good Questions:

“A drawing with…


“A drawing without tension tends to be rigid and lifeless.”
—Walt Stanchfield

“The object of …


“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
Alberto Giacometti

“Every artist d…


“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
-Henry Ward Beecher


Do not do what I did and plan before you start! Having some sketches here and there is fine, but DO NOT create full character model sheets or rendered backgrounds. It is important to get ideas out where it can be seen, so I would recommend having a notebook or sticky notes around. Think of a story, or more, that will leave an impact on the audience. Something that will immediately grab the viewers’ attention perhaps. Or maybe a story that will get them thinking at the end. Speaking of the end, you can have one in mind and create events and situations that lead to it. It does not have to be concise, but it should be clear to some extent. Never mind about minor mistakes like punctuation or grammar. Focus on your plot instead. Everyone is different of course and some prefer using a computer, or tablet instead of writing on paper to generate ideas. It is imperative that you do what helps YOU be creative best and not be limited by ANYTHING.

This is what I wrote when I was planning for a part of an episode:

Scene 1

  • The scene starts with Farnham’s movie trailer. His logo is shown (incredible oddball) and the trailer starts. He looks at his views and gets very disappointed. He thinks of stuff to buy (bubble) looks at his wallet, checks the mirror out and leaves the house.
  • Farnham is looking through dumpster of movie producing company for stuff. Finds better hat. Bo crashes gets scared off by some cats. He runs and crashes into wall or something. and gets momentarily knocked out. Farnham spots Bo (same alley) pretends to be the nice guy. Pretends he can help bo but real intention is to report him to the city to get recognized and get money. But then when he gets home and looks around he realizes that he can use Bo in his movies and make a bigger fortune.

It is important to get other people’s input. They can give you suggestions that you might not have thought of before. If a person contributes a significant amount of ideas however, I think it is only fair to give them a little credit. Isn’t it?

Mini reflection


decemberI started on my series back in December or January of this year (2013). I had the characters made, so my task at that time was to start on the story line.

studying

It was difficult since I did not have a lot of time; I had to go to school and work, and studying took a lot of free time. I tried my best to squeeze in time to work on my project. It is a long process since I am working on it by myself mostly. I asked people around me for advice and suggestion, but that was about it. Having others insights, I now see, it is every important. I always had my little book of notes that I carried around, so I could write my ideas down anytime.

I organized my finalized ideas into a binder by category.notesbook I hope I will keep filling it up until it is full. It has been 3 years since I started on this project and 5 months since I started on the animation of my series. I was focused, yet super giddy, or frustrated at times.frustrated I spent long hours working to produce about 3 mins of work. This might seem little accomplishment for such a  long span of time, but I do not look at it that way. I have had a tendency of starting projects and abandoning them a while after. trashThis time, it did not happen. I have not finished the series, but I know I will keep going with this. When I was watching my creation for the first time, I was so elated. It was not the feeling of my usual happiness, it was so much more. I had a smile plastered on my face for the whole day. I play the video over and over, excited every time I watch.elated

I want to continue experiencing the feeling, so I will continue on my project. I can only get better from here, I surely hope I will be able to capture the attention of a larger audience. Compared to my earlier animations, I definitely put more effort into this project. I can see how I have improved over the years, and I hope my progress will stay at an upward trend. Animation is something I found and would like to keep doing for years to come.


thought

As you should know, I recently posted the first part of the pilot of my series, Bo the Creature. I started the show by creating the main character Bo, the little alien creature, about three years ago.

alien yeahAt the time, I had only a vague idea of what I was going to do as always.I knew that the alien had to be cute, but I did not have a concrete story line to accompany it.

abigail and farnham I soon decided to create a supporting character, Abigail. Still I had no concrete story line, but having another character narrowed my options. Even after I created the final main character, Farnham, I had not developed my story. I only figured out what I wanted to do after I created Abigail’s mother.

determined

I was hesitant to start a series since it is going to take more work then a movie, but I am now willing to try.

Stages


I have not been able to find a clear step by step article or tutorial of what the animation process is. Since some people have asked me how it is done, I have decided to post at least one post a day about it. The title will be Stage_ and I will try to explain as clear as possible each stage of the process. Of course there are many ways to achieve something, but if you have no idea what to do, you can start here. Stay updated and subscribe if you haven’t done so yet!


The long awaited video. At last it is here. After 5 months of work, it is complete. It might seem like a little, for such a long span of time, but I have been busy, and this was a side project. Enjoy!


As you all should know, I started animating for the first episode of my series. I am finally now done with the animation of the first part, also known as “the trailer”. I am currently editing it and enhancing the scene. I have already added the narration, and video effects/transitions, so all there is left for me to do is to add sound effects and music. I hope I will be done this week with everything. I know I surely will try. As soon as I am, I will post the video up for your viewing. For now, here is a screenshot of my work space:

Progress video

Finished


I am finally done with all my backgrounds and extra things in part 1! Now time to do the storyboard. If only i had some loose paper…


Prk_tbl


ct_full Str_Dr sf_r

First Background Done!


This is the first background I finished for the start of my cartoon series: 

wldI created it using Anime Studio Pro and Photoshop :)

New Farnham


Ok, not completely new but definitely improved. Gave him more…shape I guess.

Turnaround

Turnaround


A room in Farnham’s movie:

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Farnham stars in his own movie (that’s what all the backgrounds are for actually). Some sketches of costume ideas:

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Farnham


I edited Farnham a little to give him a better shape overall. Here it is:

Farnham edit

Farnham

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