Revisiting the basic walk cycle.
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Yes, I’m playing with more animation software after a long hiatus. There’s this odd program called TVPaint that I’ve tried before, but never had enough patience to figure it out. I say it’s odd, because it’s made in France, was originally developed over 20 years ago for the Amiga(!) and has a unique interface that doesn’t use any OS X conventions at all. Tech support is in broken English, and if you buy the software, you have to wait for an archaic USB dongle to be shipped to you. But it’s been steadily growing in popularity among independent animators.
One reason I hated it before is that it didn’t really have dual-monitor support. But now that I’ve restricted myself to one monitor for drawing, I don’t have to worry about that. And, in spite of the loss of screen real estate, I’m finding it much more pleasant just to use it on one screen. Unlike Toon Boom’s Animate, which I paid big bucks for, its palettes are compactly arranged and are easy to quickly hide when you don’t need them.
Once I watched a few quick tutorials, I realized that, in many ways, the software was also more intuitive, especially in terms of quickly creating extremes and breakdowns and adjusting their exposure. Although I’ve only scratched the surface in terms of features, the fact that I can do basic animation without remembering a million keystrokes or struggling with the timeline is a positive sign.
Also positive is that the software is far more actively developed than Animate, which hasn’t had any sort of update in 2 years or so.
On the downside, there’s that dongle, and it doesn’t come cheap. And I’ll admit that it seems silly to buy yet another piece of animation software when I haven’t proven any actual animation aptitude.
I’ll sleep on it.
Well golly, this is still in a sloppy state, in so many ways, but I really need to move on to my next bit of practice (or maybe the 11-second contest if the April sound file appeals to me). I think I was fairly happy with the movement early on, but for me the hard part was keeping Mary looking consistent from frame to frame. I didn’t design her for animation, and if I really wanted to use her, I should have drawn a model sheet in advance, and really nailed down how she’s supposed to look from different angles.
Here’s an example of a model sheet, of that fish-lady from the Little Mermaid:
Obviously, as I get better at drawing, and better at planning, I’ll be better at animating relatively complicated characters like Mary Rae, but whatever I do next will definitely be more along the lines of Elmer Fudd, as I mentioned before.
Once I have the motion exactly how I want it, I can start to worry about filling in the details.
Ren and Stimpy animator John Kricfalusi has lots of great advice for budding animators, and makes a great argument for using simple early-1940s characters as the basis for animation practice. By then, animators had nailed down the best practices for animating, but were still tentative about moving beyond typical pear-shaped characters. So they’re perfect vehicles for a beginning animator to conceptualize how cartoons move and carry their weight, without getting thrown off by any zany stylization that later evolved.
So, after trying to animate a girl with a ponytail, I think my next twick will be the mercifully bald Elmer Fudd.
As I mentioned before, I’m doing a very short animation in which Mary Rae sees a spider, hauls off and smashes it. This here is the seeing part, and it’s pretty much the same as the Kerkel clip from last week. However, I’ve also explored moving different parts at different speeds, such as her ponytail. In fact, when I come back to this, I’m going to give her ponytail a few more frames of drag; right now it settles too quickly, I think.
The timing for this animation actually comes from Eric Goldberg’s “Character Animation Crash Course.” I’ll make it my own by coming up with interesting breakdowns and overlapping action. So, look for that within the next couple days.