Thursday, 19 December 2013

The sun sets on Role.

Last week was the last one of teaching and since then it's been a blur of exam note taking and questionable sleeping patterns.

Last Friday was also the deadline, which we all agreed upon, for any additional art assets to be accepted by the programmer. It was pretty tough getting everything finished off for then, but at the same time it was a nice bit of weight of my shoulders.

I managed to get a fair amount of animation in, although, as always not as much as I would've liked. Not in a negative, putting myself down way or anything, just that I really like the game and I feel it deserved to feel a bit more alive. But I'm still delighted with it.

Using the THIRD DIMENSION. *Vincent Price Laughter*

About half way through term I decided I wanted to try and use 3D animation to a. save me a bit of time, and b. make the animation look better, for the boat propeller.

My first attempt was a little off. The full rotation of the propeller was 30 frames...

...And I originally took frame 0,10,20,0 screenshots over to the sprite sheet. However, this ended up being pointless as the frames were so similar that it sort of looked like the propeller was twitching, rather than spinning.

So then I decided to choose the frames which were all clearly different, and hoped this would create the illusion of it spinning, as best as possible with 4 frames to play with. (The reason I didn't just render out every frame.)

And this time it looked much better, but it was out of alignment.

So then I tidied it up a bit, re-aligned the whole thing to be pixel perfect, and I had my final animated asset ready to be placed in game.

It still doesn't look great, but I'll know next time to include more frames by alpha, and I'll be much faster as implementing 3D objects into my 2D art to help streamline my workflow.

Below you can see some beta footage of Role. Unfortunately the boat animation isn't in this capture, but hopefully I'll have an updated one by submissions.


There's still a couple of little things wrong in this video that I should probably point out.

-The rope seems to be missing from the well.
-There's a glitch which means the middle of the game is very hard to do and is extremely slow. I'm not sure why this has just started.
-The firework moves if you collide with it, which looks really odd.

But yeah, that's about all she wrote for now.

I'll be writing up my peer review for the next couple of days, and then organising my project diary, and then that's pretty much us for the first semester game.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Child Motion Studies and Character Exploration.

I created one of these for the adult character a while back. And I also did one with both the Adult & Child version. However, it helped me flesh out the character more when I created one for the adult, and I love doing them, and so here's one for the child version.

These explorations of context are the fuel behind the module as far as I'm concerned. It's great exploring the history of the character, and getting a real sense of who they are. If I ever go in to animating without exploring the character, I have no interest in the work, and it becomes tedious. However, if I have a character I can picture in my head, then it's great bringing THAT character to life. I think that's maybe why I felt a bit lacking at the end of 4th year. Because of the amount of time I spent preparing characters, I had this huge urge to see them alive. I did plan to model and animate my characters after 4th year as I recall, but then I was lucky enough to get into Dare to be Digital.

Personality Board for Child.

Apologies - I don't have a better painting of the child yet. 

Left: Link (Windwaker Style)
Top: Young Goku
Bottom: Young Hercules
Right: Dash

I'm sure you didn't already know that...

Deconstruction and Justification of Inclusion:

Link (Wind waker)

Link's animations in Wind Waker really complement both the visual style, and the stylised character model. The animation lends Link a very innocent, but determined personality. I really dig the animation in the hair too. It's so simple and charming. This simple animation is perfect for the stylised feel of the character. I'd love to capture this in my character. Link's head bobs slightly while he runs, but it also moves from left to right, which adds this sort of bobble-head impression, which adds to the appeal of his over-exaggerated proportions. 

Young Hercules

In Hercules, the young Hercules is very stylised in his design, and the proportions are great. The proportions help emphasis his clumsiness and at the same time, his strength. It also feels like he's always struggling to balance himself, which again emphasizes his clumsiness. 

Young Goku

Again, with young Goku, innocence is a big part of the character. I guess it's more the personality of young Goku than the animation which helped me out. The resourcefulness and independent nature of him. I wanted that to be a big part of my character, with him growing up in solitude. 


In The Incredibles, Dash takes on all the characteristics of a track and field athlete. We see him stretch, jog on the spot, and generally keep his heart rate up for the entirety of the film. His love of running really doesn't let up, to such an extent that whenever he isn't running he's either complaining, sulking, or just being a general pain in the butt. Sure, this is great characterization, but, Rory, perhaps I hear you shriek, that's got nothing to do with this module. 

OK, maybe not; but maybe it does. This idea of a belief influencing the character is something which could be interesting. I know there's another character somewhere in my head who also does something similar. I think an action point should be to take a skill of my character, which in this case would be building and fishing, although of course there's room for expansion, and do pose tests which emphasize these skills. 

Honourable mentions:

Light, bouncy walk cycle. 
His rucksack should affect his run cycle.

So yeah, I've got a good amount to work on for the next few weeks or so. 

Bye for now, 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Animation Feedback and Next Steps.

I just had a great chat with Lynn about my remaining work load for this module. It really hit home how little reading I'd done into the specific animation properties which would benefit my characters I'm currently working on (the adult and the child). I've been to general. Sure it's been great doing motion studies and tons of scenario sketches to flesh out my characters, and the generic cyclic tests, but I've become guilty of not doing what I've always preached as a hugely important thing:

Looking to a massive range of existing sources for influence. 

So that was a wake up call I was glad to get. I guess I'm just adjusting to the whole interpolation of the two modules. I mean, I've done this module before, albeit to a lesser criteria or whatever, but yeah, it's thrown me off a bit in terms of delegation. 

Feels aside, I now have a bit of direction. I'm going to take my characters, and create a sort of "personality board" which represents the sort of character they are. Pretty much a mood board. And then deconstruct and analyse the way these characters have been animated, and from that see if I can perhaps direct my own animation from these studies. 

I did this sort of thing last time round on this module. I think I actually started off the module by creating a mood board of characters. Although I don't believe I looked into motion at all. So my animation sucked even more than it does now. Although the design was relatively strong. So hopefully from this new approach I'll have the best of both.

Influence/Personality Board for Adult
Top Left: Ozymandias (and Bubastis) (Watchmen)
Top Right: Li Shang (Mulan)
Bottom Left: Howl (Howl's Moving Castle)
Bottom Right: Altair (Assassin's Creed)

Deconstruction and Justification of Inclusion:


Although he's yet to be animated in a film or games, Ozymandias was an inspiration to the character by means of demeanor. In Watchmen O is always in control. He's always a step ahead of everyone else.

O is also an example of the perfect fighter, and this confidence and prowess comes across in his battle scenes in Watchmen. However, his calm confidence shines constantly, not just when fighting, and that quality is something I think is a strong testament to his intelligence. 

Li Shang. 

In Mulan, Li Shang is also a very experienced fighter, and the strong poses which support his animation give him a strong, confident demeanor also.

In my animation, I'd love to have this sort of feeling to the adult character, but with a bit more exaggeration given to the follow-through of the motions.


I really admire the animation of Howl in Howl's Moving Castle. Throughout the film Howl's animation helps support his confident personality by giving him a very organic, elegant sense of motion, like wind or water moves.

Because my character is a deity, I think this idea of fluidity in his animation will help seal him in with the rivers and the mountains of his world through harmony.


Altier is an obvious one. I hope it doesn't seem to obvious or lazy to include him in here, but I feel he's very relevant, and especially since I'm creating cyclic animations for games.

Altair's animations are some of the most appreciated in contemporary games. Obviously, considering the circumstances, I won't be aiming to complete animations as remarkable as the ones in Assassin's creed. But I do hope to at least have a strong confident personality evident within my submissions.

I think it's also important to note the attention given to specific areas of his body. For example, in areas where he wants to stay low, he keeps his head down and focused. And when he runs his body dips and streamlines, etc. I'll go more into this and the rest of these in my report.

Next up I'll do the child version, what inspired his personality, and how and why it differs from his adult self.

PS.This is what happens when I remember GIFs are a thing.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

ZBrush and I

Since my post the other day I've been focusing on 3D work. And I've been loving it.

Yesterday I started a digital tutors video which focused on the Maya & ZBrush integration. The tutorial is great and I'll be continuing on with it tomorrow or next week. 

Basically the tutorial showed me how to take low poly models into ZBrush for sculpting, and how to navigate the ZBrush UI and take advantage of its insane power. (Something I'd only ever done in Mudbox). 

So I made a simple rowing boat because of the boat my character is shown sailing in as a child in concept art from a couple of months back. I then took it into ZBrush and subdivided it a ton of times and began going through the different brushes and also messed around with Alpha, noise etc. I left off just about to UV the boat and create a normal map and a displacement map. 

D'oh. I forgot to take snaps of the boat. So I'll hopefully remember to put one up here after I grab one tomorrow.

UPDATE: I remembered. Here it is below. 

Maya > Zbrush 

Then today I decided to start something from scratch just to sort of get warmed up and to get more used to the controls before I started on a head. 

So after Dave was kind enough to lend me a 101 on Dynamesh I was off. (Thanks Dave!)

I started with a sphere and ended up with a gargoyle!

I actually quite like the way this guy's hands turned out. Arms, not so much. 

As I was basically sketching in 3D with no huge intent on creating anything specific, I kept my PDP in mind and really tried to push the proportions. I think this again really helped push the design and actually lends a nice sense of balance to the sculpture. The hands for this guy were so much fun to sculpt. They're supposed to look like he's holding on to something, and I think that comes across quite nicely. Obviously I didn't want to spend too much time on this guy, because I promised myself I would begin sculpting my character, and so there's quite a few issues. His front profile is really weak and it's hard to distinguish his mouth and (poorly sculpted) goatee-beard-thing. The side profile works much better.

So for the character I knew I needed to refer to the front of the sculpt more often and not get too focused on the side view. 

Again I started with a sphere and after a couple of hours I had the basic sculpt down and had some hair thrown in too. I liked the way the lips were looking here originally - besides being a bit to perked and narrow, and the trimDynamic brush was letting me convey the sharp stylised facial features I strived for in the concept art. I accidentally destroyed these lips and they never quite returned to their former glory. I'll sort 'em soon, though. 

One thing I did during this sculpt (but didn't actually mean to) was not actually look at my concept art once. I had stared at it so long while doing the character painting that I could just picture it in my head whenever I was unsure. Dave showed me spotlight and all, but I just never felt like I really needed it. So the sculpt is really more a likeness of the concept art, it's not exactly a direct 2D-3D translation. Like I said I was sort of just playing to the nuances I pictured in my head. 

Although I think the silhouette from my initial sketches has actually survived rather well. 

Despite my efforts to keep the front profile as interesting as possible, I think I still might've failed. Although, I think tucking the hair in just above the ears should do a great deal, and I might also make them larger. 

The side profile again with this is so much stronger; I really love the balance and the way the rucksack sits on the sculpture and gives the sculpture so much more intention and sense of life. 

~3 hours work.  
So I'll continue work on this soon. I've been neglecting a couple of other modules, so it might be a few days. But I'm excited to see where it goes. 


Ps. Here's the sculpt in Sketchfab so you can get a better feel for it :)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Work on the side: Quick Style-driven Concepts

Between trying to get the hang of ZBrush/Maya integration I decided to do some brief 2D work to remain of sane mind.

Focus on Proportion & Suggestion
The main challenge I've enjoyed through my 2D research has been in the suggestion of the line work. Less is more. I think this is something I started appreciating through the focus on the silhouette at the start of the semester.

As I stated in my PDP, I wanted experimentation with pose and proportion to be a big part of my practice, in the hope that this would make my designs far more interesting and varied. So far it would seem that it is leading my sketches to be much richer in character and appeal. At the moment however, it's unfortunate that my 2D work outweighs my 3D practice a great deal. After all, the justification for this project is the way they are captured in 3D, and how their appeal stands afterwards. So I really need to get a move on with 3D if I want to have something to evaluate. 

Cheers for now,