Saturday, 17 April 2010

A dog, a flea and a home

Last time I showed you the Flea and mentioned a tutorial I'd written on 'Creating Characters for Animation in Anime Studio' using the Flea as an example. For those interested the tutorial is now available for download on the Smith Micro site here......

The Flea had to have a home and, although I designed one years ago made out of matches, I was never really happy with it. I don't think a Flea would go to the trouble of making a house but would just move into some toy house. I simplified the design and came up with this in Anime Studio for the front.

I then created the side view which was much simpler being just a wall, side of the roof and a copy and pasted window from the front. I created the Flea House in Anime Studio because, as it's hanging from the dogs collar, I need it to be animated at times.

For the opening establishing shot of the film I want to have the camera slightly rotate around the character's home. Not this Flea house you understand but the main character's home but I thought this would be a good opportunity to see if it could be achieved easily in this software. You can create 3D objects in Anime Studio but you really have to make them out of geometric shapes and, as you can see from the image above, this would have been quite difficult with my design. So, I decided on a different approach. I attached the side of the house to the front and then scaled and 'tucked' the side behind the front so it was completely hidden. I then used perspective and scale tools in Anime Studio to make the front appear to be turning to the left as I revealed the side moving out from behind and scaling up.

The final result seems to be quite convincing considering it's only two main keyframes (the start and end) and I'm looking forward to trying it out and hopefully improving on it a little for the opening shot of the film.

The dog, Scratchit, had again been designed and modelled a long time ago but looking at him again recently I thought he seemed too 'generic'. I doodled in my sketchbook until I came up with elements of a design that I thought worked. Below are some of those scribbles and doodles.

I sketched out the dog properly and loaded the sketch into Anime Studio and traced round it. Here you can see the various elements of the side view split apart and ready for adding bones.

I like dogs and enjoy animating them. I was lucky enough to be asked to animate the first in - game animations of the dog in the latest Lego computer game and was then given all of the dog animations to do from then on. He was the character I enjoyed animating most. Anyway, here is my dog being animated by manipulating the bones.

The great thing about Anime Studio is the way you can use a combination of bone and point animation to animate including scaling bones and moving points for squash and stretch. Exaggerated a bit here but you get the idea....

Here is a test animation I did of the dog running complete with imported Flea House attached to his collar.

That's it until next time. I hope you enjoy these posts. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

All text and images (c) 2010 Dale Hemenway

Friday, 2 April 2010

Flea Run

Hi Everyone,

It's been a while hasn't it!? Things have gone crazy at work due to coming to the end of the new Lego video game which has left me shattered when I arrive home.

Apart from that I was asked by Smith Micro, the makers of the Anime Studio Pro software I use, if I'd do a tutorial for them. Obviously I was flattered that they asked me and also thought it'd be a good opportunity to show the whole process of creating characters in the software. I did greatly underestimate how long it would take me and the work involved however!

The manual features some great tutorials but it doesn't follow the whole process through for someone that wants to start at designing a character and end up with one they can animate fully and not just in the flat cut-out style.

Below is the test animation I did as an example to show what could be achieved. The tutorial will be up at Smith Micro next week I'm told. In the meantime I need to make the most of this Easter break and get some more stuff done to show you guys. Thanks for following .....and being patient =0)

(c) copyright 2010 Dale Hemenway