“Life wouldn’t be so precious, dear, if there never was an end”
- Avenged Sevenfold
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A quick test with my character Farnham
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:
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:
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:
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.
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
― George Bernard Shaw
“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.
A quick test done with Anime Studio Pro 9
Why should we choose a road that will take us through a miserable journey, and have nothing rewarding at the end, but only regret?
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!
Bo’s spaceship (in progress)
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.
“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.”
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:
But 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.
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.
- Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg
- Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels by Tom Bancroft
“A drawing without tension tends to be rigid and lifeless.”
“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
“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:
- 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?
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. 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. 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. This 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.
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.
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.
At 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.
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.
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.
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:
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…
Ok, not completely new but definitely improved. Gave him more…shape I guess.
A room in Farnham’s movie:
Farnham stars in his own movie (that’s what all the backgrounds are for actually). Some sketches of costume ideas:
I edited Farnham a little to give him a better shape overall. Here it is:
A video of Bo!
Here’s Farnham’s room. As you can see, he lives in a basement. I was going for the messy and cluttered look when I was designing this. When I actually create the backgrounds, I will of course make it more polished and actually follow perspective rules (in the sketches I did not!) Sorry for the poor quality:
I am not sure yet what I will be using to compose the background yet. Photoshop’s brush properties are intriguing but lacks the vector manipulation aspect. I will probably be using Anime Studio in conjuction with another software.
Planning, Planning. Making a cartoon requires A LOT of it. Here’s some of my notes (excuse for the messiness it is only my first draft – no edits):
Farnham is looking through dumpster of movie producing company. 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.
Takes him home makes him comfy, makes him believe that he is going to help. Doesn’t get along with granny’s
dog so granny didn’t like bo and told him to stop playing with toys and get a life. after getting bo on his side, he tricks bo into making movies.
Then Bo gets separated from the guy
(Abigail’s mom tells abby to say thank you) Bo meets Abigails as she chases her balloon (with icecream) and he runs away to find his spaceship. They collide. At first she stares at him and he stares back
I finally made a complete 360 turnaround of a character. And it is Abigail’s mom! Here’s the result: