Wednesday, 27 November 2013


I love this video by Big Lazy Robot Studios that questions the nature of consumer culture. Apart from the cardboard surrounds, and the smoke that comes from the big robot, the rest of the animation is done in 3D. Their previous work Keloid shows the skill and passion the studio put into all their work, with staff credits that include working on projects for Weta and District 9, I'll certainly be keeping an eye on these guys.

IDIOTS from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Black and White Knight, Alternate Game Idea

Whilst working on my 'Stained Glass' game concepts I came up with an interesting alternative to my idea. Experimenting with my base mesh and the ink and paint render I came up with the idea of a kind of 'Two-Face' knight, one where the player can choose their own light or dark path. The game would be a 2.5D side scrolling platformer when the player changes their direction of movement the whole world changes in a Zeldaesque light/dark world mechanic, little bunnies would become raging worgens and friendly villagers, horrific demons. The art style would be akin to that of Limbo but with a Celtic design to the environment and assets.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Illuminated Knight Base Mesh

Once I had inked up my character profiles I steamrolled ahead with translating the designs to 3D. I wanted to keep the character as low poly as possible and concentrate on topology to make it easier for UV layout and animation.

At under 3500 polgons I'm really happy with the results, it still needs some optimisation, but after that I can concentrate on UV mapping.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Weekly Targets

  • Finish inking up my character poses
  • Create the base mesh of my character in Max

Loop De Loop - And the creation of Rocktopus

As a break from our main brief and as part of our work based learning, I was asked if I wanted to join with the animation students in designing and animating a character for an online bi-monthly animation contest called Loop De Loop. I thought it would make for a nice respite from the level I'm creating in UDK as it has been taking up my every waking thought. I sometimes find it's better to have a break from such a project and then come back to it with fresh eyes. It was also an opportunity to learn more about After Effects, animation, and character design restricted around the choice of supplied music.
I chose the track 'Bionic Commando', a mix of electro, rock, and retro 16-bit computer game music. With only a week to do the project I wanted to keep the character very simple so I could concentrate on the animation, which had to loop.
I created a variety of characters based around a 'Rock' theme, but the music had a slightly 1950's alien section to the score, that inspired me to create the character that I've dubbed 'Rocktopus'. I imagined a cartoony version of Cthulhu rocking out, but that evolved into an octopus that has taken control of the body of a dead rocker, whilst throwing a little bit of myself into the shape and personality of the character.

I began to ink up the character in Adobe Illustrator, taking care to separate each element that would be animated, when importing the file into After Effects.

After completing the illustration I then imported it into Photoshop to separate each element onto their respective layers and to prepare the file for import, as After Effects will keep the Photoshop layers intact.

In After Effects I installed a plugin called DUIK, that enables you to set up IK rigging in a similar way to IK rigging in 3D. I used it to create bones and controllers for my character to make the animation easier. Moving the controllers moves all the bones along a chain rather than moving each limb individually. The other challenge whist animating was to make your character move in time to the beat of the selected track. Luckily the Loop De Loop site provided a link to the site All8 which allows you to tap along to a beat and work out your frames per beat at a selected frame rate, 24 fps for this project.

I made a rod for my own back when it came to the character I chose as it's essentially two characters to animate, so each limb had to have it's own IK chain and controller which became a bit overwhelming when working with the layers in AE.

In relation to the brief my final animation fit all the entry requirements, it looped, it danced in time to the beat, and the character was unique. Given more time I would've liked to have put in some strong highlights and shadows but this would have required more elements to animate and given the time constraints that wasn't possible.

Surprisingly my submission was chosen as a finalist for the competition, and after seeing the quality of the other entries I was really happy, even if I didn't win, especially as I'm doing Games Design rather than animation, and I was the only one in the college that got chosen. It has spurred me on to get more of my work out there, and enter as many competitions as I can.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Mischief Maker

I've used Adobe Illustrator to 'inkup' quite a few of my drawings on previous projects, but the line work tends to remove a lot of the dynamism of an image, that you get with a pencil sketch. I'd heard good things about a program called Mischief so decided to use it to digitise my sketches. Mischief is the closest I've come to using pencil and paper on a computer compared to other digital art packages, retaining some of the sketchiness I wanted to keep. It also has great features such as an infinite canvas that means you can keep zooming into the canvas and add unlimited levels of detail, resolution only comes into play when exporting your image.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Weekly Targets

  • Ink up the sketches I've already created
  • Create a simple character design for the Loop-de-Loop animation
  • Animate the character in After Effects

Monday, 11 November 2013

Character Poses and Initial Animatic Development

I wanted to create an animatic from the storyboard I already had, it's a great way to quickly mock up a 'functional animation' that would help when I translate the scene into 3D. To get the poses I wanted, for each scene, I photographed a fellow student in various stances. It just so happened that the hall at college made for a perfect substitute for the church aisle in my scene.

Once I had the reference imagery it was easy to draw my character design around the poses, to portray the character emotion in each scene.

In conjunction with the poses I started working on some of the background elements for my animation. I used Sketchbook Designer to create vector assets of knight silhouettes that will be animated in the background as my knight character opens the cathedral doors. I also experimented with animating and projecting these assets as shadows, on a simple 3D scene, as proof of concept.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Character Expression Sheet

To help develop our characters further, we were given an assignment to create different expressions for our characters. Even though my character choice made the process a little trickier as he's wearing armour, it was good to work within those limitations. Instead of using the face to express the characters' emotion to the player, I should have drawn full body poses of the emotions I want to convey.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Weekly Targets

  • Start working on my character turnaround sheet based on my moodboard
  • Continue filling in the expression sheet
  • Take photographs that I can use as reference when sketching out the poses for my animatic