Friday, December 18, 2009


At the end of November our class got to go on a wee trip to Edinburgh Zoo to do some observational drawings of animals. I took my camera that day thinking that I would take lots of pictures of the animals I had drawn as reference. Low and behold I didn't, which was kind-of-a silly thing to do in retrospect. However, what I did take pictures of was most of my classmates while we were waiting on our horrendously delayed bus.

These are the pictures of the people I am proud and honoured to share a studio with. These guys are some of the most creative, influential, insanely imaginative people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and as of Tuesday/Wednesday this week, the majority of us passed first semester with very good grades! Grats guys! :D

Group Shot 1

Group Shot 2

Pamela Graham

Kieran Duncan

Suzanne Reilly

Susan "Suba" Ball (Olivia in backgound)

"DMC" Daniel McCance

Sarah Waldie

Spencer Hill

Lauren Knight

Olivia Porritt

Mark Grossi

"Flash" Gordon Henry

Lynsey Schaschke

Tom Gane

Scott Sutherland

Jamie Bell

Andrew Strathdee

"Irish Chris" Walker

"Tall Tom" Paxton

Finlay Pearston

Tara Vaughan-Smith

Kat Baxter

"Wee Kat" Hall (Spencer in the background)

Missing classmates: Fraser Murdoch, David Gorman and Dale Duncan :D

P.S. If you guys are not happy with your picture being up here let me know and it will be removed!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Final Neutral Walk Cycles

Final walk cycles I will be handing in for end of semester submissions.  They're not 100% brilliant, but I am so sick of looking at them that I've decided they're as good a they're gonna be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flour Sack Keyframes


Flour sack catch up time! I spent the whole day fixing the volume and line on my flour sack keyframes and forgot to bring them home with me! Oops. I do have the rough draft though, so I will upload that instead. I've played a lot with the timing since the really crude animatic I had in the last post. I've found that my animation is just a bunch of pauses interspersed with very shorts bursts of inbetweens. It seems to be more about timing the pauses than timing the movement between them, which is strange, and I've found this to be very unlike what anyone else is doing, which scares me a little. Maybe I'm not doing enough work. Or maybe I'm just looking at it in the wrong way. Whichever way, though, I don't feel like I have the same amount of work to do as the rest of the class. Everyone seems really snowed under and stressed and I'm not finding it too bad. Maybe that's just me. Hmmm... who knows.

Anyway here he is so far:


From this animation I've tidied it up, like I said, and fixed most of the volume problems (he starts getting kinda fat towards the end). I started animating the poster rip section at the end of the day today, and I'll hopefully get it finished by the end of the day tomorrow. I sat ripping up bits of paper at my desk to help me begin to understand how to animate it. I think I've got it down, but I guess the proof will be in the pudding. If I get it onto the line tester tomorrow then I'll try and get it blogged tomorrow night. That's if I get it done. We'll see.

Had a lecture today on animations during WWII, and they're quite scary. They're obviously quite racist and heavy on the propaganda, and watching them just now, in this day and age, it seems really unsubtle and almost awkward to watch. There was one where the "Seven Wise Dwarves", from Snow White, take all the diamonds they've collected from mining and exchange them for bonds (includes some very shameless dubbing and very poor animation), and another where it's literally just Bugs Bunny singing about how we should "Buy a Share of Freedom" by buying bonds. It's crazy!

Right, I think this is enough for tonight. I will update soon! I'm starting to lag behind with this blog so I will do my best to keep on top of it! Be back soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Punk Walk Final

Here is the final walk of my After Effects punk guy which I handed in about a week ago. There is sound with it but I don't know if it will play. We shall find out:


I wasn't incredibly happy with the second more dancey bit of the walk, but I think that was entirely down to how I'd drawn him and his complete and utter reluctance to do anything other than sulk. I did my best though, and short of redrawing him entirely I think I got him how I wanted him to be. I was slightly annoyed at myself though, 'cause that whole week I had a serious lack of motivation and if I'd persevered I think I could've made an awesome walk. A guy in my class, Kieran Duncan, had all 3D perspectives and camera flythroughs and I was/still am quite jealous of his walk. I want my walk to be the good one!! Oh well, next project I will nail it.

I also thought I would upload my animatic for my wee flour sack! That's right, one week and I've got a crude but fully understandable animatic. Not bad at all me thinks! For the brief we have to present our flour sack with a conflict and show how he overcomes this conflict and the emotion it creates. So my idea was to have this wee fat flour sack and his conflict would be his weight and how he wants to become more muscular like this other character, the Mighty White Flour sack (who's a big muscly, pinnacle of the flour sack world). Unfortunately we were only allowed one character in the animation so Mighty White has to come in the form of a poster. So, as the animatic will show, Fat Floursack walks up to the poster and tries to mimic it by sucking in his gut and holding his weight in his chest. He can't hold it for long, which upsets him. He decides that if he can't be like him, no one can so he rips down the poster and definatly struts off screen.


This week we start test animations and doing all fancy things with dope sheets and what-not. It'll be interesting. My frustration at not having the best After Effects walk has been channeled into this brief and I am going to really try and kick ass with this one. I've started staying in later when it's nice and quiet so I can get work done. I hope it turns out well.

Right, this is all I have time for today. I will update after I've had my group crit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Neutral Walk Cycle Revisited


I had a strangely productive day, this past Sunday, where I felt the need to return to my old friend the neutral walk cycle and fix him using all the constructive criticism I'd received from his group crit. The awesome thing was it all went surprisingly well. I only have him keyframed so far:


But I think he's looking pretty good. I fixed the angle of his shoulders, the curve of his waist, the shortening of the legs and the huge ape like arms. Reading over the group criticisms the only things I didn't do were more follow-through on the wrist, which should be no problem to fix, and a snap on the knee which I didn't really see as a problem in the first place.

I didn't really want to talk too much tonight, unfortunately, as I am quite tired thanks to an overly-energetic drama class yesterday which I am still suffering mightily from today. I will, however, get my ass into gear and will soon let you know how my current project, Mr. Flour Sack, is coming along and I will most certainly get an upload of the final emotional walk cycle - hopefully complete with sound - and bring Mr. Punk to a nice, happy conclusion.

Till then!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Punk Walk 3: Punk With a Vengeance


Punk hates to walk. No, that's a lie, he hates to do anything other than the one walk I've got him doing. Stupid punk.

This has been a week of not doing very much and regretting that I have done so little. I have, however, been occupied with family and overly-long boat trips to actually be in front of a computer to get work done, and now I need to cram. Punk is due in for assessment on Monday (26th October) before 3 o'clock so he needs to be done soon. Preferably tonight so I can do something else that isn't After Effects related.

I've decided, through this experience, that I am little lousy at straight ahead animation. See if I had the key poses of my punk's walk all laid out in front of me and I knew exactly what he was doing I would be fine and this would have been completed days ago. I think it's because I just went for it without actually thinking anything through that I am now struggling with him. Overall, for me, "winging it" is not a good idea. This I shall have to ensure I remedy before I do anything else with a two week deadline.

Well here he is so far...


I am off to fix him some more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Punk Walk 02

Haven't been blogging much of recent because, to be honest, I haven't really done much this week! I seem to have had very little drive for some reason and I've struggled to just get my head down and focus on work. It has been a busy week though, and out of it all I do have the beginning of the completion of my punk walk After Effects project - yey!

Here he is so far...


I went back to the beginning with this one. The most important changes with him were that I broke his feet to allow them to bend when he walks, and I re-scaled everything so he fit onto a 1024x576 screen (before he was something like 3006x2379 which was stupid). This one also has a background! Hurrah for moving backgrounds!! There is also a ghetto blaster which will appear during his walk and this will be the enzyme that changes his mood.

Last week I spent 2 hours working on my ghetto blaster and backgrounds, making them tileable and looking good and what-not, and low-and-behold Photoshop (the devil that it is!) decides to "close unexpectedly" without me having saved. Let's just say I was not happy. Not a happy chappy at all. So I angrily chalked this background up in half the time so it's quite plain, but thankfully I think it still works quite well. I only really have a day and abit to go until group crit so I want to get it done and out of the way, cause on Thursday we are getting introduced to Mr. Flour Sack himself! Really, really exciting stuff!

We do have a holiday interlude next week though before we really get our teeth in, but this is good. I'm going to use the time wisely to catch up. I don't want it to come to December and try and get everything done in a big panic. That would be silly.

Right. Let's get this uploaded and tomorrow I will begin again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

See Punk Walk. Walk Punk Walk.

Hells yeah I got Mr. Punk to walk today!


He's not uber high quality but you get the picture. If there was any way it could be looped you'd see the awesome shoulder action and head recoil as he walks, but because it's pretty tiny and unloopable it probably doesn't come through, which is sad.

[EDIT: I am posting this so Leanne can see - HALLO LEANNE! :D :D :D Leanne is my most wonderfully talented and working in the video game industry fellow 3DS Max sufferer and Pixar enthusiast friend who is soon to leave to pursue bigger things in the beautiful City of Cambridge. She always has really good feedback and she picked up on the moody vibe from Mr. Punk which I was trying to achieve. I like that I don't even need to provoke her, she has such good perspective - which I'm going to miss when she leaves!!]

So today was my first experience with Adobe After Effects, and I LOVE IT! It's been relatively easy to use so far, but, to be fair, it's like someone's taken Flash, Premier and Photoshop and made this awesome little cut-out animation program of JOY. I know I am saying this now, and will probably regret it later, but I would really love to use it for a short animation sometime. I had a lot of fun today being back on the computer and animating again. It kinda reminded me of animation using Max, and I can definitely say all those hours spent honing walk cycles with Lynn in HND really helped with today's work. My practice has paid off! Hurrah!

There are a couple of wee things I need to work on though (isn't there always). Things like breaking his feet in two so his back foot bends instead of floating off the ground at the back, and sorting out the creases in his arms and legs where they animate over one another. I have two weeks for this brief so I've got plenty of time to get it perfect. I also need to find out a better way of exporting the movies, cause the one's I've done so far done seem to work at all. That hopefully won't take too long though. We shall see.

Right tomorrow is starting soon and my sleep pattern has been rubbish these past couple of days. Tomorrow is a half day so I think it will be After Effects in the morning (if I can get into the AWESOME super secret mac room to work on it again) then Photoshop in the afternoon. Good fun!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Emotional Walk 01 - The Design


Another week begins and it begins with Photoshop! Hurrah! Learned some new tricks in class and even went as far as getting the old wacom out of the box after its long stint in hibernation. I've literally spent the entire day working on my character (<--------) and I've just right this very minute finished colouring him in. I am very pleased with how he's turned out so far.

The original drawing was scanned in and I copied/morphed him into what he is now using wacomface. I didn't have high hopes regarding my tablet talent but I am pleasantly surprised! He is still missing a leg, and if you look closely you can see his right arm through his belt (working on it!), but overall I am proud.

Tomorrow I'll be learning After Effects and I should, by the end of this week, have him in the beginnings of a walk cycle. Fingers crossed. Right now I have to cut him up into pieces so he is ready to be animated. A couple more hours work yet I think then I will be done. Or at least I sincerely hope so. Till tomorrow!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Group Crit: Neutral Walk Cycle

Hallo :D

Neutral walk cycle group crit was on Thursday, shortly followed by our new project brief, which I'll get onto in a second. Shown first was my skeleton from two posts ago who received quite a good response. The only things I needed to tweek were to add more follow-through on his hands and maybe loosen up the body a bit because it was quite rigid. Then Came Mr. Mannequin of Death, which again got quite a reasonable reception! Overall it was critiqued as "a very strong attemp" and with a few corrections he'll be spot on. They were:

  • there's a snap in his knee when the weight comes down onto it. Some people liked it, some people were not sure if it was realistic. Maybe something to look at.
  • there's a strange angle on the shoulders (which was one of those things that was staring right at me but I couldn't see it - the benefits of group crits!), I have to bring the furthest shoulder down to it doesn't look like he's walking at a tilt.
  • there's leg shrinkage which I kinda already knew about but didn't have time to fix before the crit.
  • the waist is off model. Instead of an hourglass shape it should be more paralleled convex in shape (if that makes sense).
  • the arms are a little long (he looks a little ape like) and they need to be shortened just a bit.
  • more follow-through on the hands.
So I have a little work to do. I don't know if it would be easier starting again with this one or working from the model I already have. There are somethings that I really like from the model, but things like the growing/shrinking of the legs I think I might just start over with. Probably save more time.

But yes, overall I was quite happy with it. There are some very strong animators coming through, which is getting me a little competitive (good thing? bad thing? I dunno yet). For the walk cycles I would say Tom Paxton had a very strong walk. He literally channeled his own walk into the drawings which was pretty cool and very impressive. In life drawing on Friday afternoon I noticed David Gorman (not THE David Gorman) has a spectacular drawing ability. For 5 minute poses he had full body drawings AND amazing face detail, where I was struggling to get down to the ankles in time! Then there's Lynsey Schaschke who draws how I want to draw!! It's like she's mixed Disney with Steven Silver and made beautiful, beautiful drawings! I'd like her talent now please thank you!

Right, new paragraph. New project: emotional walk. This week we learn After Effects!! We are to create a character, upload them onto After Effects in bits (i.e. arms spereate from hands, legs seperate from body, etc) and then animate them doing emotional walk cycles! Apparently it's like Photoshop mixed with Flash so it's going to be quite fun to learn. I might have to get myself a copy. We shall see.

But yes, this is all I have to say for today really. I did want to quickly add a note about a most awesome 4th year project I just came across on the VLE (virtual learning environment). Her name is Meg Park and she's doing a short film called Kahani about a boy and his dog searching his backyard wilderness for the one who's been destroying his toys. The culprit turns out to be a huge man-eating tiger and they have to find a way of defeating him. Her work so far is BEAUTIFUL and the animatic is quite simply the most awesome and inspiring thing! It really makes me want to work harder and get better! Being surrounded by such creative people is possibly the best thing to encourage you to do more. That and Steve Jobs. Man that guy is inspiration.

So onto work I go. Next post most likely will be character development (uploaded with the help of my new scanner!!) Until then.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mannequin Walk Rough

Here he is! Mr. Mannequin of Death:


And I don't think he looks too bad! I have a group crit tomorrow from 10.30 - 12.30 so we shall see what other people have to say about him. I've not even nearly had the chance to do him from the front, but, to be fair, Sharon did say she didn't expect us to have the front walk complete. Apparently she's doing things a little differently to last year, and technically we only need to have this done in time for assessment in December. I'm not becoming lazy and complacent (the HNC taught me NOT to leave things to the last minute - I pretty much didn't sleep from May through June of that year) but at least it doesn't need to be in by the end of the week.

This is just a short post for now. I have a couple of 4th Year Peer Reviews to write up (basically commenting/crit-ing on the 4th year's end of year films) which I will share with you at an hour that is not after my bed time. Tonight is Mr. Mannequin's night, and the rest can be saved for tomorrow.

Till then.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Gaits of Hell

Thank you to Mark Grossi for today's post title. Something the whole class is sharing at this moment is a slight hatred for the damnable walk cycle. We are all, however, slowly but surely learning to do them thanks to the endless amounts of trial and error and hundreds of thousands of used, crumpled up sheets of paper.

I have mastered my skeleton walk cycle! Or at least I like to think I have. It comes to a point when you have spent so long doing something that you become too scared to change or redo anything in case it ruins what you already have. The idea of starting again makes you want to cry a little and you accept what you have is as good as it can be.

I decided to concentrate solely on the arms and shoulders after my mini-crit on Thursday morning. The main problem it seemed to have was that the arms were too symmetrical. Arms aren't symmetrical. When the arm moves backwards it is pushing the body forward so it moves with power and speed. When the arm moves forward it is simply recoiling and balancing the body. The arm, therefore, slows when it is in front of the body but speeds up and "snaps" back when it is behind the body. My arms were speeding up when going past the body and slowing down when they reached their furthest apart. This was wrong. I also had to work out the shoulder movement I had missed out in the first walk (the one at the end of my last post) and in the end came up with two very different choices:


Both tests are still only keyframes but you can see the first has still a more evenly spaced arm movement, while the second has more frames on the front half of the body and less at the back, so his arm speeds up when it's behind him but slows when it's in front of him.

I had about 3 different people look at it with me, because by this point I wasn't even sure what an arm did anymore. They all agreed that they thought the first was more appropriate for a neutral walk cycle, so I went with it. I inbetweened and FINALLY came up with this:


I am glad we went for it because, when I inbetweened, I found I had spaced the keyframes better than I thought with more frames of the arms at the front of the body rather than at the back, giving me the speed-up and slow-down I was looking for. Inbetweening the second choice, I think, would have just over-exaggerated the movement even more that I already had.

Skeleton complete! YEY!

Unfortunately though, after the skeleton comes the mannequin... and good gracious do I dislike the mannequin. Let's introduce him:

Again this drawing was provided by our tutor, Sharon White, as a basis on what he should look like. With the mannequin we learn how to do a walk cycle with volume. I'm not going to lie, it has been a torment but I am slowly (very slowly) getting closer to finishing him. This is where we are after two days of trying:


Perched on my light box to my right are the keyframes and a pile of fresh paper waiting to help me inbetween. I must have him perfect AND drawn in front view by Thursday so I am away to get a move on.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Neutral Walk Cycle 01 - Keyframes Explained


I finally bothered myself to log into windows and break down yesterday's walk cycle frame by frame. Like I said in the last post, the four main keyframes in a walk cycle are contact, down, passing and up positions. Now, before I begin, I'd like to mention that everything I've learned is mostly from reading. Mainly from Richard William's "Animator's Survival Kit", which is all your animation answers in one handy animation bible of godliness, and websites such as which is written by an "angry animator" man called Dermot O'Conner who not only talks you through animation basics but has lots of lovely flash animation to demonstrate what it is he's explaining. These beautiful sources have taught me that a walk cycle has, as I mentioned before, 4 main keyframes per step (gait). If it had been up to my own observations, I would have guessed it at 3. This is why I am still noob.

So here they are as I have come to learn them, starting firstly with mr. contact position:

Contact position is, as you may guess, when the "leading foot" (in this case the right foot) makes contact with the ground. It's usually a pretty good place to start with a walk. At this point feet are at their furthest apart in the cycle, with the left foot about to leave the ground and the right foot about to take the weight. The arms always work in opposition to the leg, so here because the right leg is forward the right arm is back, and vice versa. This helps to balance the character and propel them forward into the next step.

The next keyframe is down position:

Here the right foot is flat on the floor taking the weight as the left foot is just about to leave the ground and make it's way forward. This is where the body reaches it's lowest point as the front leg is bent "catching" all the weight of the step. Also, since the arms are always a beat behind the legs, it is at this position, and not the contact position, that the arms are at their furthest apart.

After that we have the passing position where the legs and arms pass each other and the body. Here the leading leg (right) becomes the trailing leg and vice versa. Same goes for the arms. Here, because the right leg is straight and directly beneath the body, holding it's weight, the body is lifted up, so in this position the body is more raised than in contact position. Finally, the left foot, although you can't see it very well in this drawing, will pass only centimeters over the ground because, since we're such sensible beings, we naturally want to conserve energy we only lift the foot as high off the ground as we need to. This is why we stumble and trip so often.

The final keyframe is the up position:

The trailing foot (right) pushes off the floor propelling the character forward and stretching the body to it's tallest point in the cycle. The body leans into the next step, and the leading (left) foot is thrown forward to "catch" the body as it "falls" into it's next step.

Now, these are only the keyframes for one step. The second step would obviously be the same keyframes but the legs and the arms are the other way round. After that it loops and hey presto you have a basic keyframed walk cycle! Huzzah!

So having done all my keyframes and all my inbetweens (I resorted to only one inbetween, instead of two making the cycle 16 frames in total and not 24) here is the final .avi:


The main adjustments I was thinking of making were sorting out the expanding/shrinking feet and shoulder problem, stopping the hip "pop" and fixing the arms when they're at their furthest apart (they seem to hover a bit). I also want to add in more of a shoulder movement, so that when the arm is forward the shoulder is forward, that kinda thing. As of right this very minute I'm redrawing the keyframes for walk cycle 2 (walk harder) inbetween typing this up. I've fixed the feet and hip problem and I'm about to move onto the shoulders, then arms last. I'm aiming to have it inbetweened and line tested tomorrow, hopefully in time for a mini group crit.

After that we move from the skeleton (or android as Craig calls it) to a more fuller-figured maquette.

Till then.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Neutral Walk Cycle 01


This week we are concentrating on walk cycles, or more specifically neutral walk cycles. A neutral walk cycle is one without emotion, gender, weight or anything that might suggest something about a character. It is to be a textbook this-is-how-a-human-walks walk, if you know what I mean, and boy is it harder than it looks.

As a basis, Sharon (our lovely module leader) gave us this little chap as our non-descript human:

Timing is tricky with a walk cycle, and it can be really frustrating when you realise you've missed something and have to go back and rework a frame. It takes time but you do eventually get there. So far I have him keyframed, as in I have drawn the most important positions in the movement, and I have just started to inbetween, literally fill in all the frames inbetween the keyframes. In every second there are 25 frames, and an average, average, average person's walk cycle is usually about a second long (about 12 frames a step to keep it at nice round numbers). Within a step there are four important keyframes: contact, down, passing and up. In each set of 12 frames these each happen once, meaning there is a keyframe then two inbetweens before another keyframe.

The .avi is the keyframes of my skeleton, and you can see that even without the inbetweens, it's okay for a rudimentary walk. When I can I will upload the individual drawings of which keyframe is which and provide a better explanation of what happens at each stage.


Tomorrow I will hopefully have the inbetweens in which will help it flow and look a little more realistic.

Till then.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bouncing Balls


I am beginning a BA Animation at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD, or DoJ for short). We're encouraged to keep a blog of work so, to start off with, here are three of my first ever hand drawn animations.

Animation 101 usually starts you off with the Bouncing Ball. It teaches you three of the twelve Fundamental Principles of Animation: squash & stretch, timing and arcs. I'm looking into acquiring a scanner of some sort so I can upload my notebook work which explains this all further. Meanwhile the .avi files on there own will be here to keep you company.

This was my second bouncing ball, a correction of the first which was missing some pretty important frames.


Having grasped the concept I decided to play around with the setting. This bouncing ball is on a diving board:


Here I decided to play with perspective:


All three still have some creases that need ironing before I can hand them in to be assessed but overall the feedback I got from the Group Crit (constructive criticism class) was positive.

Next week: Walk Cycles.