Alex York's Art & Animation Blog: October 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Character Walks

After getting down the core elements and principles of animation, we've begun the process of learning character animation itself starting with one of the most simple and mechanical things one can do: walk.

There are just a few basic keys to most any walk: stride, squash, cross-over, step. With these simple keys, one can lay the foundation for a good character walk. With these in mind after a few simple structural tests, we were to take an established character from tv or film animation, break it down to its core structure, and then animate that in a walk. We were to do both a walk cycle and a perspective walk.

Being a great admirer of Japanese animation, and of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, in particular, I chose to use two of the Ghibli characters. For the walk cycle, I chose Chihiro, and for the perspective walk, I chose Totoro.

Chihiro walk cycle

I feel mostly good about how these came out. For Chihiro, in between our assignments, I'd like to go back, tighten all of the drawings up to bring her closer to model, and adjust a few things. Looking back at it, her head goes through an extreme low and then high. I'd like to possibly change up the poses to give her a little more hang-time at the bottom of that head arc. Also, a classmate mentioned that her head turn is a little mechanical, almost creepy. I can see where he means that. (He was talking about when her head snaps back toward the camera.) So, essentially, that's going from the beginning to the end of the cycle, so it may just be a matter of fixing the hook-up drawing (final drawing of the walk-cycle) to make that transition smoother and less robotic. Overall, though, I like the smoothness I achieved, and it gave me both confidence and humility to see what's it like to move even a pared down Miyazaki character.

Totoro perspective walk

Totoro's perspective walk was a lot of fun to do after Chihiro's walk. Truth be told, I'm not sure that I really technically got the structure in his legs correct, but from the model sheets I was working with, this seemed a good approximation. He's sort of like a big teddy bear, or like Winnie the Pooh, but with a much larger rib-cage. He's a fat character, but he's also very strong. I may go back and add some drawings to give him some more hangtime/rest on the downs, which will translate into a greater feeling of power and strength in his walk. Also, I think I'll get him to walk off the screen with his mouth open. It'll be fun!

I greatly enjoyed the walks, and I look forward to doing more.

Note: Chihiro and Totoro are characters of Studio Ghibli. I do not own any rights to the characters or their likenesses for reproduction. These projects were done purely for educational, non-commercial purposes, and, thus, have no bearing on the Ghibli market.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Animation Drawing So Far - Capilano

Our first animation project was just a kind of free-for-all where we each animated a few seconds of a box transforming and morphing into stuff and then returning to the box to have a class "anijam" or animation jam. It was a fun way to start the program off and showcase the personalities of each person. Above is my contribution.

After the anijam, we started to go into the core mechanics of animation and learned about contact, squash, last point of contact, volume consistency, drag, and more. We did some basic bouncing ball exercises and then moved into working with the floursack.

The floursack assignment was mainly to show understanding of keys, timing, jumping, squash/stretch, and drag.

Next, we started to elaborate on the floursack, giving it arms, legs, and a head. We started to work with a more fully formed body (very much like Stitch) and began focusing on overlapping action. I think the understanding of overlapping action for me didn't really hit until I watched a video of Glen Keane lecturing at Calarts. As he was doing a brief animation demonstration for the class, he told them (I paraphrase) to think of animation as having a handful of cards and though you might want to just throw them all down at once, the trick is to use them one at a time. This helped me tremendously as I began to finally grasp what overlapping was all about.

Thus, the Stitch assignment was to show an understanding of the core principles of animation and to show Stitch rise from lying on his back, get hit on the head, get dizzy, and then fall back to the ground, showcasing overlapping action and drag in the fall and reactionary bounce. All the while, we were to keep the volumes on model as best as we could. We could use keys and time it our, or we could in-between after keys. So, I did a slight mix. I feel good about how it came out.

Then, came the walks... (to be continued)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Capilano Animation, the first Month!

Greetings, friends! It has been entirely too long. Between moving to a big city, a new country, and starting an intense full time classical animation program, I've not had much time to dilly-dally (code for "blog"). Instead, I've been becoming accustomed to the soul-vacuuming rain of Vancouver and started to develop lung, back, and eye problems due to being continuously bent over a desk working on drawings ten inches from my face. Basically, I'm in love.

There is so much to tell, so much to talk about. In fact, there's so much that it is in fact TOO much to blog about. As well as I happen to be murderously refusing myself sleep at the moment to pump out a blogpost lest the months between iterations become years.

The Commercial Animation program at Capilano has been really good so far. It focuses on deeply understanding the core technical aspects of classical animation and integrating this understanding with solid and continuing advances in drawing. What I put on this blog for the next approximately two years will be primarily from work at Capilano. As such, this will include assignments and tests. I want to use these to show my friends and family my development as an artist and animator. Also, I want to make these available for the time being in the online space to allow future and other present animation students the chance to get even more perspective on animation education in the world. Your comments, feedback, and critique are always welcome.

With that, I'm posting some of my life drawings from class to this post. I hope you enjoy them. Soon I will post some of my actual animation tests and assignments.

Artwork and images Copyright 2011 Alex York.