I took some of the characters of Percy Jackson and the Olympians book (that I recently read) and decided to design them and make animated head rotations to see how the designs and the style would work animated. Also as a practice to get use to TVPaint software setting myself a goal of making two characters a week in any free time I got between university projects.
Rough design of the characters from the book:
This can be the first time I've been animating human characters and not faceless puppets for animation practice. I was aiming to improve:
-Working myself around the shapes of characters I designed fir animation made me realize that the construction is essential to keep consistency, even in the details.
-Testing how the design is fit for purpose was a really important practice. Having to decide abandon details or solve curly hair.
-The face feature I found more difficult to keep in consistency were the eyebrows. Until I realized how the layers worked on TVPaint..
- It started taking me 3 hours getting satisfied(~ish) with the rotation and at the end I could work it in around 1 hour.
Organization as key to achieve...anything
Working on several different projects at the same time during my MA led me to the first and more important lesson: organization is vital. As I have noticed in my research, storyboard artists (and freelance artists in general) need to be perfectly organized to tackle all the challenges of a production and keep the pipeline flowing, but the concept goes further, since work needs to coexist with independent practice, study and the ordinary life. The ability to multitask is appreciated in this scenario, and it’s something the industry values greatly, but, at the heart of it, what counts is efficient scheduling, skill that I had to learn during the first months of the MA.
The time I spent getting to a workflow and learning how to prioritize aspects in a production or in my own projects was worth it, since now I know the way to perform more efficiently without stressing over getting things done.
I spent my first weeks understanding how I work, to be able to improve as much as possible in a short time. I kept a record of my work times next to a task list, to check the relation between what I had to do and what I was actually getting done.
Currently, my activities are divided in three categories: projects of the MA, skills development and academic research. My schedules are separated by project, each having a different set of requirements and timeframes. Also the general approach to each is different and it requires a specific adjustment in the development pipeline.
I personal use minimum 2 Schedules, Personal and Professional Practice Schedule
Refers to software training, practice in animation principles, life drawing, colour studies and speed painting. It also includes the MA lectures, industry scoping, readings about animation, composition, storytelling, and interviews with professional artists
Finding a way in in which I complete my goals was more efficient every week and that is how I developed this “weekly goal” schedule.
In this way I can see quickly the specific thing I am working on a week and determine their priority.
It also help me to see if I am overloading by having too many or too little tasks.
It is a personal way to maintaining each project running without feeling overwhelmed by it and that has been helping my practice since I started making it every week.
- Work smarter not harder, meaning that there are several resources online for scheduling from the web, from your phone...even from excel.
- Some use and only use the classic pen and paper on a notebook. But working on several projects even more if they are collective projects using online ways of planing is a probably a smart option, in my opinion,
- Excel is a perfect tool, only by the fact you can use tables that are already there, and that Drive from Google and Microsoft and probably more services have their version, that can be updates online.
By this moment I am fairly used to organizing important data in my online schedule, since I can adjust it and , overall, be more professional about important data.
Following a schedule also implies knowing when it requires certain flexibility to respond to the different problems that each project may have during their production.
I’ve always knew I was interested in narration through images, being this the center of my practice for many years. This is why my research into the animation world started from knowing what role in the immense pipeline intersection my innate interest in drawing belonged to.
My final decision of becoming a storyboard artist for animation came after a long process of first, to understand how things actually work in the animation industry; second, to explore the scope that the different positions in an animation crew have, so I could see in which one I could really feel satisfied; and third, to identify the type of projects I would like to be part of. But it is, as alway,s a decisions that should be made alongside practice considering that in a creative career is not only important to know the aspects of the work but also to have the experience of doing it.
My initial research led me to find information first hand, communicating with storyboard artist from around the world via email, about what is to be a storyboard artist in the industry. WIthout leaving aside other tools like books such as Levy, D.B. (2006) Your Career in Animation, and even more online resources like Creative Skillset (2016) Animation Job Roles (animation) and the pages of the same animation companies, they usually have no secrets about what they aspire to get from someone applying to any of the different roles in their studios.
After coming through with my initial research on how the animation industry works ,my idea of storyboard changed and I started to perceive the possibility of a professional development in this area. For being a storyboard artist in animation, generating clear images for the rest of the team to work from is a priority. For this reason, as Richard Williams says in his book The animator’s survival kit (Williams 2001, p. 23) “Drawing should become second nature, so that the animator can concentrate on the actual actions and the timing of them and give the performance life”.
I took video reference for makings believable limp and not make it look like an animation mistake, that can happen quite often with limps)
Video reference -> making the walk cycle a Loop -> add details
I made a quick sketch of any variation I could think for a corpse.
I choose the designs that where closer to what I was looking and more appealing.
I like the idea of this magic - spirit light inhabiting a corpse
For Animation: testing the pipeline
Thinking about the animation, how I had a deadline to submit it and that I could only work in photoshop I tested for a way to color while saving the major part of inconsistencies and to make no background.
Animation Clean up:
It is a long process, but the best way is to go by steps in all frames While doing it, I keep checking how is it looking without any background and also correcting things I find looking weird from the previous steps. (I think it could be more efficient with some adjusts from the beginning)
Screenshot of how I animate in photoshop.
The Key is having the correct actions in the keyboard and a lot of patience for keeping the layers organize
The Mask of the Necromancer
The mask is an artifact used to revive a corpse moving it by its bone; the mask generates and artificial breath of life that inhabits the
corpse until it falls apart or the mask is taken away.