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It’s been a while, busy decorating and playing perhaps a little too much Overwatch lately. Anyway, next up is exercise 08 which is entitled ‘Flour sack waving (loop)’, here’s how it turned out:

Rig was created by Joe Daniels some years back, ideal for this exercise. I actually followed his posing tips mentioned on his gumroad page, to animate using the yellow cylinder controls as the primary first pass. Once I was content with the weighting and feel of movement, I then focused out onto the remaining controls to add more detail and finesse.

Flour Rig created by Joe Daniels.

Exercise taken from Animator Island.

Exercise 07 is entitled: ‘Character Thinking’. For this one I decided to try out Christoph Schoch’s Zelda rig, this is how it turned out:

I was inspired by some music recently, Secrets Of The Stars by Secession Studios. From listening to it the rough idea of what you see above began to take shape, roughly, Zelda in the midst of her thoughts of working out something, stumbles across a profound revelation.

This rig has the auto eyelid thing going, so it was a lot less eyelid animation compared to the previous exercise. Some focus was spent on the mouth area, I was making it up as I went along, basically just mouthing shapes as though Zelda was saying things flowing through her mind. Re-watching the video I think I could have added more variety to the mouth shapes. There were additional controls for the cheeks and nose area, after an initial attempt at adding some subtle motion to these areas to break up the static nature of the face, it just ended up looking weird, so in the end I took them out, perhaps I’m approaching it wrong. Still, all good, I’m learning.

Zelda rig by Christoph Schoch.

Music by Secession Studios.

Exercise taken from Animator Island.

Onto exercise 06, which is entitled ‘character blinking’. Since the focal point of this exercise are the eyes, I wanted to try the Azri rig, I find her deep blue eyes very striking:

More recently I have been listening to ‘Her Scent’ by Slipfunc, and as I was animating this scene, at some point I felt that the two would go nicely together. I think on a subconscious level, the music actually directed the animation somewhat.

Initially the blinks felt very snappy and robotic, I think I was making them far too simplistic with a ‘less is more’ approach to keying. By adding more keys to ease in/out the opening and closing of the lids, it gave them a slightly more organic feel. The blinks also felt artificial in that they all animated with the same timing, by re-scaling some of them to be slower/faster (where appropriate), it helped to break up the monotonous artificial blink feel. Re-watching the video I’m thinking maybe I should have added some half blinks too.

Some of the face rigs I’ve played with in the past would have something called sticky eyelids, whereby the eyelids would track the movement of the eyeball slightly, giving a more life like feel to the eyes (in my opinion). There are no sticky eyelid connections on this rig (not that I’m aware of) so I manually animated eyelids as though they were sticky eyelids.

I felt like I struggled most with eyebrows, just getting a feel for how exaggerated they should be, I don’t think I quite understand the intricacies of the relationship between eyes and eyebrows, so definitely an area I need to study more about.

Azri rig created by Jonathan Cooper.

Music used – Her Scent by Slipfunc.

Exercise taken from Animator Island.

Exercise 05 is entitled ‘Character head turn with anticpation’, I’ve seen this zombie rig floating about so thought I’d use this exercise to try the rig out for myself:

It’s intended to be a simple rig, so there is not much in terms of facial controls, just eyeball movement and jaw, I did miss blink controls, but honestly it suited me just fine, less controls means a more simple and straight forward experience to animate, for the most part.

Watching the video again, perhaps I could have played with the timing a little and made it more snappier, it does feel slightly ‘floaty’ overall. There were controls for the ear too, so maybe if I added some subtle bounce on those too, definitely needed if I had retimed the animation to be snappier.

Zombie rig can be found via Sony Pictures Animation.

Exercise taken from Animator Island.

This week, moving onto exercise 04 it’s a simple character head turn, one that I had attempted before (via IWTBAA) with the Mery rig here. This time I’m trying out a similar exercise on the Ninja rig:

Not much to say other than a lot of getting used to the controls, really nice rig though. The rough premise of the scene is; Ninja on the look out for his target, who has evaded him, then he notices something not far.

Perhaps I should have pushed the face pose more right after the initial head turn, to see more of a switch in expression? The focus is the head turn, but maybe I should have brought his blades into the shot more, so that you can tell he is holding weapons.

Ninja rig created by Built By Colossus.

Exercise taken from Animator Island.

Continuing with 51 Great Animation Exercise to Master, this week I take on exercise 03, the premise being ‘Brick falling from a shelf onto the ground’ :

I quite enjoyed the ever so slightly cartoony vibe in my previous task, so decided to carry that over to this, namely in the form of giving more character to the brick. I’ve named him Brixby.

All Brixby wants to do is hang around with his own kind having been misplaced. After some arduous searching around, Brixby finally spots a group of comrades resting on a lower level, the excitement is too much and he is compelled to drop down immediately. Unbeknownst to Brixby, he lands on a weak area of ground and falls right through, poor little brick.

Exercise taken from Animator Island.

Proceeding onto exercise 02 of 51 great animation exercises to master, another bouncing ball exercise, but including movement across the screen. I had attempted a similar task previously, this time round, aside from the obvious making it different, I also opted for a more cartoony feel, so there’s more squash and stretch on the bounces:

This was also the opportunity to take my findings from this post, and apply it to the above animation, effectively what I ended up doing was on each bounce, have the ball contact the floor for 2 frames, rather than one; the initial contact with floor ball stretched out, then next frame the big squash as the balls weight pushes down onto the floor. Of course this does not apply to the bowling ball at the end of the sequence, adding any squash and stretch would take away from the fact that it’s a rock solid ball.

I do believe that this method makes for a weightier bounce, with the extra contact frame, your eyes have the time to register the weight change, from out stretched to squashed, it’s subtle but enough to feel punchier, in my opinion. This makes for less clean animation curves in the graph editor, but I’m starting to understand that having clean curves does not always equate to nice clean animation.

Ball Rig 7 created by Yolanda Afán Asencio

I think the winter break has broke me and put even more of a dent to my motivation. Thinking back to November of last year, having already quit for well over a year, I started to play my favourite addiction again; Overwatch. I thought I could handle it, at first it seemed that way, but then without realising, I was slowly sinking deeper and deeper, Overwatch was swallowing me whole. Two thirds into December, I stumbled across like minded players, perhaps some of the best synergy I’ve felt in a while, the games were amazing and fun, it added to the addiction ten fold.

I had completely forgotten about animation.

In an effort to salvage what motivation I had left, and not let Overwatch impact my work life for 2021, I decided that quitting Overwatch would be the best course of action (again), this turned into my New Years resolution, along with quitting Facebook for a year, something I had already planned on for this year. 

16 days into 2021, I’m finding it hard going cold turkey like that, especially the first week, especially when you find a group of people that are so much fun to play with. I’m grateful for the time I spent with them though, it’s nice knowing there are positive players out there, for those not in gaming circles, Overwatch can be quite the cesspit of negative players.

So, I think I am on the mend, I believe I can turn this around, sometimes the best way is to retrace your steps, even if they are baby ones. With this in mind I’ve decided to attempt the 51 animation exercises from Animator Island, starting with the good old animator favourite ‘bouncing ball exercise’.

Below is my attempt at Lesson 01, bouncing ball on the spot, nice and simple, I want to try and stay positive, so that I can move past my motivational block, this ball certainly seems beaming full of positivity, I need to be the ball…

Ball Rig 7 created by Yolanda Afán Asencio

The weeks fly by don’t they? Has it really been 4 weeks since my last post? Damn.

I’ve been invited to help out with some animation for a couple of friends, for their game. Even though there is no deadline as such, doing animations for someone else imbues a little more urgency than just animating for oneself – which I see as a good thing. I’m hoping this will guide me through my procrastinating ways. We shall see.

The character I’m animating looks pretty much like an Astronaut, it’s only a proxy model/rig, so the way he looks have the potential to change. In a similar vein, I’ve created a walk cycle, but this is subject to change and iterations, once I get a feel for the environment this character is set in, but as it stands here he is currently:

Ooof, it’s been three weeks since my last post, I blame it on procrastination, but also, I had started something, then made it more work than it should be, completely disregarding the brief I had in mind, which is simply a walk cycle exercise, got there in the end, so here it is using the creature rig:

I have a huge bout of procrastination I need to deal with, going forward I might make my personal animation exercises more simpler, to see if that makes a difference. I might try lessons again, like I did with IWTBAA, to align my focus, I believe I went from lessons 1 through to 10, unfortunately lesson 11 onwards (changing weight) there seemed to be missing write ups for it – hence I stopped. I have found this one since, there are no write ups for each exercise, just a description, and it’s up to you how you approach it, I may well start this one for the next post, I need to get rid of this procrastination.

When the website High End 3D works, you can find Creature rig there, submitted by a user called oyvind.