Before I drew this I did my usual scan of pinterest for reference images to work from (stuff like goat horns, faun, satyre etc…) and I then did a few sketches of what I thought the character might look like and how it might pose, but nothing seemed to work. This occasionally happens and I suppose it’s a bit like writers block, except, well, for art. What I’ve found, through much trial and error, is that if you continue focus on what you can’t do then you’ll never get anything done (or worse, you’ll hate what you produce). Instead work around the problem and the answer will appear in a more organic manner. In this case, as I’ve mentioned, the character was the problem. My issue was trying to make the character pose in a certain way and I was drawing blanks (pun intended, thank you). So instead of focusing on this I decided to start drawing a background in which the character would exist. I must have spent no less than a minute sketching a very rough tree before the answer came to me and the rest of the illustration grew from there. It seems obvious, but the best characters come to life when they are put in imaginary situations or are reacting to the world they live in in some way. That has been, in my opinion, why some of the most interesting characters I’ve drawn recently appear to be reacting to something. To hammer this point home to myself there is now a note pinned to my board that reads “With characters think about; the world, interaction, reaction”. I think this fairly sums up in a succinct manner a great many aspects of character design without getting too specific, which is a good thing because you can’t see the woods for the trees sometimes.
I severely underestimated how long it would take to complete this! Firstly, the previous animation came in at 1.5 seconds, was 12 frames long, and it took me about a day to complete. This one is 3.8 seconds, almost 40 frames, and there’s a lot more going on, so I’ve no idea what made me think I could do it in a day.
I felt a bit more comfortable navigation the process this time so that helped speed things up. The original idea (and the reason I probably thought I could complete it so quickly) was that the mouse would run in and slide to a stop in the middle of the scene, but it occurred to me that I wouldn’t learn all that much about how animate the character in different poses and facial expressions do that, so I changed direction (literally). It’s still not as smooth as I’d like it to be and frame to frame I can see I’m consistent in drawing the proportions, but I’m getting there I think.
The major challenge here (apart from… well… all of it) was the “fall and get up”, as I’ve never drawn those poses before I don’t think. I found myself having to act it out and think about what limbs I was moving and then translate that to the character in a different 3D plane. In hindsight I should just video myself from the angle I want and draw that. The other challenge here was adding the light, which for this test was direct light and a bit of bounce light. I’ll maybe start getting a tad more adventurous with the rendering of light and shadow as I progress, but really the focus will be on getting the movement right as a before I attempt to get too fancy.
The top image is the next background for the animation. This next scene will probably last a little longer than the previous one – perhaps five seconds or so. The colours are fairly muted/desaturated because I want to keep the focus on the character who will be running in from the left.
This background previously would have been pretty quick to draw, but I’m now trying to visually develop everything, insomuch as I’m drawing multiple designs of all the props until I settle on what I think looks appropriate. The pictures in the frames on the wall are of cheese FYI.
I’ll try and pump out the next part of the animation tomorrow or Thursday!
I’m not much of an animator if I’m honest. I made two animations while I was at uni and both were made over two years ago. We were specifically told to avoid walk/run cycles because they would be too difficult to animate and extremely labour intensive. They were right. To be fair it didn’t take me as long as I thought it might – I thought about 12 hours, but it took about 6 – but it’s also not as smooth as I’d like, however the jerkyness (not a word) seems to work for the character. I could go back in and add more frames, but this is only a test for what is gonna be a bigger project.
Going forward I’ll be doing more background art and potentially animating some more scenes. I genuinely enjoyed making this, but it’s going to take a fair while to master the basics, I do however own “Drawn to Life” which is a book of all Walt Stanchfield’s teachings on animating that was compiled while he worked at Disney.
With these pieces I’m simultaneously trying to create a believable world (well, as believable as a world can be with sentient woodland creatures) and build up my background painting portfolio for animation (I will be adding colour at some point as well).
The top piece is a zoomed in version of a pervious concept that has be rendered a little more thoroughly. I literally cut and pasted from the older concept as it was worth using same dimensions and angles, plus it saved me a bunch of time in having to redraw.
The bottom concept gives you a more complete idea of what the mouse’s house will look like. I’m going to fill this with more props to give it a more lived-in feel as it is little more than a shell of an idea at the moment.
This was a fun piece to do (even if it took a while to finish, but i’m sure you’ll all appreciate that procrastination won’t get done on it’s own). I added the lighting effects to the main character in the same why (I hope) that SPA Studio’s did for their movie, Klaus. There’s a lot to take in to consideration for the lighting in this piece, which subsequently made it quite tricky to pull-off, and I’m still not a 100% sure I’ve got it right. So, what are the principles of lighting I’ve used here;
Ambient light – this is the soft light coming in from the moonlight on the top planes of the character.
Contact shadow – simply the darkest shadow where two things touch.
Bounce light – this is the light that bounces up from the desk where the lamp light hits. So all the planes that face down get illuminated.
Direct light – this is the light cast directly from the lamp.
Rim-light – this is the thin strip of bright light we see around the edge of the character and certain objects cast by the moon.
There also the texture of things to take in to account. Wood for instance is less reflective than polished metal or glass and thus has to be rendered appropriately. Anyway, that’s enough technical waffle. Hope you like the piece and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process GIF up top, and whether you’d like to keep seeing them. Cheers
This is another concept for a children’s book. I feel like there’s lots of potential and character here to explore – who, what, where, how etc… This place feels lived in and practically built, even if it seems a little unstable in places. Is it an island or part of a larger mainland like so many seaside towns? I expect we’ll be finding out more about this place in the future…
Three hour digital sketch that I’m going to tidy up and colour for the portfolio. The idea was taken from a fantasy book I’m reading at the moment by Miles Cameron (if you’ve not read his work, I highly recommend him). I’m excited about this one!