Happy walk draft scribbley thing

Blogger's stupid video upload hates me. Arrrgghhh. It doesn't really seem worth waiting in Vimeo's 30 minute processing queue for a silly scribble like this. Ah well! Enough moaning.

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Volume problems! Volume problems everywhere!

Still desperate to avoid looking at that sodding sad walk cycle for what feels like the fifty billionth time, I decided to have a crack at getting something drafted for the happy/confident/strut after Frenchy kicks the ball. This is what came out. As I was making it I was astonished that — gasp — I was really enjoying myself. I felt fairly okay about knowing the rules of walk cycles, and almost-but-not-quite feeling confident in breaking them. I was enjoying seeing my character (to quote Withnail & I) "prancing like a tit."

I dunno, I was kind of happy with how it was going at the time (despite obvious problems which I'll discuss in a moment) but I may have just been on a bit of an 'animator's high,' but looking at it now I'm not so sure. It's not really what I'd planned for the walk initially, and that's not so much what bothers me — if I keep working at it, it will definitely still work with the scene I have planned. I'm just feeling iffy about whether I should continue it or just re-do it another way.

The first step looks alright so far, aside from some arcing problems with the hip that I need to go back and adjust. His hip rises up on the front leg as he drops down — I think it should go back and stay at the same level, before rising back up and over as he brings it forward. I think. I'm not sure? The second step I just need to completely re-do — I think I need to add a little more drag to the leading leg as he swings it forward to give it a little more life.

I think the body overcomplicates matters with its changing shape and volume. I keep getting lost as to where the hip should be — I think if I make it a basic circle (as I did with the stair climbing) it will be easier to consider things like rotation/tilting of the body and help me track the position of the hip more accurately.

Stair climbing V1, take 2

 

Unfortunately not too much progress today, but I figured I'd post what I've got so far. I've tweaked the stair climbing very slightly — now he walks across the screen to reach the staircase. I'm still really unhappy with the first walk cycle so I will certainly go back and re-do it to smooth it out a little. 
Not too sure how happy I am with the slow down as he stops, but unfortunately it's difficult to animate without having a finalised walk cycle leading up to it. I'm thinking of it as a placeholder for the time being.

I've started trying to nail the arm movement as he goes up the stairs — the first part I'm actually fairly pleased with as he brings his hand up and over back onto the banister, but then it seems I lost my groove on the last step as it just kind of jiggles about uselessly. I'm going to go back and re-do it so it matches the earlier movement.

I'm feeling a little better about things. Though I don't think I've made too much visible progress I feel like I've learned a whole lot. Something as simple as his hip rotation as he drags his weight up the stairs has been astonishingly beneficial. I'm feeling a little more confident about arcs and limb movement and such. Certainly haven't mastered it yet but I think it's getting easier! (Or maybe I just lucked out...)

Stair climbing V1

Hopefully I'm not going to jynx it, but I had a much better day today. Managed to get the stair climbing all drafted out and ready to go!



I'm not sure why but Vimeo appears to have skewed the frame rate/overall duration very slightly but hey-ho. It took me a while to get the hip rotation right (major thanks to Ron for suggesting it!) but I'm actually fairly pleased with the results.

It's far from perfect of course, I'm sure there are still countless things I could fix, but I think it's working. I'm satisfied that I've managed to actually do something and get results. Dare I say it, I might even be a very teensy-tiny bit proud that I managed to keep working despite how crappy I've been feeling.

Anywho — unfortunately he's just an egg with legs at the moment... next I have the challenge of the arms and head. I'm actually quite pleased with the little drawing at the beginning of him standing at the foot of the stairs. It sounds daft but I'm hoping that it might help me to balance out the first walk cycle a little bit!

Touch wood that this good streak continues...

Sad character walk Flash test

Deciding it might be a good idea to try working in Flash for this project as opposed to Photoshop. Despite the lovely textures and lines Photoshop gives you, the lack of anything vaguely resembling an onion skin is a complete deal breaker. It's making things pretty complicated for me, so I'm currently trying to convert my sad walk cycle into Flash:

I don't think it's going so well. Flash has considerably less options when it comes to frame exposure (in Photoshop my frames were set to display at 0.06 of a second but played back at 25fps, creating smooth movement and rather nice timing) In Flash it's literally singles or doubles which has jarred up the timing on my walk cycle massively. This was shot on 2s and it looks jerky as all hell, so my only option is to whack in more inbetweens or just leave it as it is. Aggghhh. The hips are problematic, especially on the front leg when it comes forward. I know it should be coming up and forward (shouldn't it?!) but...

I'm really not happy. It's looking so awful so far, I just cannot seem to get this to work. I'm having such difficulty with the arms and I don't even know why. I've tried acting out the walk myself so many times and really paying attention, but I just can't seem to nail it. I think I'm being blinded by panic again which is stopping me from working consistently.

Sorry, I can't even type a coherent blog post at the moment. I think I need to take a step back from this bit for a while and try tackling something else. I'm feeling very conscious of the time constraints and though this is something I can comfortably tackle over the Christmas period, I'm feeling frustrated by my lack of progress.

Assorted character tests

I was getting really quite stressed and upset over the stupid walk cycle so I took a step back and moved onto something else to give my brain a break. I ended up knocking out some very quick tests in Flash which made me feel a bit better.

I found that animating in Flash is distinctly less stressful than Photoshop. I think because it's actually an animation software — the onion skin makes things much easier in terms of figuring out movement and such. In Photoshop you lack the ability to view previous frames at once which makes things significantly more difficult.

That being said, these are still pretty crude but at least I'm beginning to sort of get somewhere.

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This is a test from the scene after he reaches the top of the stairs. Originally I wanted him to sort of scuttle along the rail but I figured that a slow sort of sliding-creep thing would be more fitting.

I shot it again on 2s which I think looks a bit better:

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Still needs inbetweens and cleaning up, but it's mostly just a test for the movement and such.

I also started messing around with the ball kicking idea:

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It's little more than a few quick scribbles but I'm just trying to nail the poses and rough movement. It's very difficult — I'm having trouble working out how to get the actual kick to have any power. I want the kick to be pretty exaggerated and then have him come forward, back down onto his kicking leg, straight into the next walk cycle. Don't know how easy that will be.

I dunno. I'm still feeling pretty crummy about the whole thing. I really don't even know what's wrong with me — I'm just having such difficulty finding my feet with this project. Feeling very overwhelmed with it all!

Sad character walk V3, take 3

Had another extremely difficult day with this one. I really, really struggled to progress any further. I ended up "cheating" slightly and trying to rotate some of the limbs in order to figure out what was wrong with the arcs and I think I got something relatively satisfactory out of it (don't worry, I'll certainly go back and re-draw over it!)


I tried several times to figure something out for the arms but I'm finding it quite tricky. I don't think they should have much swing to them — kind of just hanging there, swaying with the motion of the body. I tried it myself a few times and noticed that when my arms hung loose like that they swayed forward with the leading leg, as opposed to a conventional walk cycle where they swing with the opposing leg. I'm not sure how well this will translate to animation however! It could look pretty awkward, so I think I'll mimic the same movement but have them swing with the opposing leg.

The leg movement isn't quite what I'd hoped it would be but at this stage I think I'm going to need to just move on as soon as possible. I'm feeling very concerned about this whole thing...

Sad character walk V3, take 2

My head feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool and my bed is calling my name, so forgive me if this is a little garbled!

 

Started adding inbetweens and whatnot — I don't know if it's just because I'm so tired but it's really starting to give me a headache. I just can't get it to look right.

There are still problems with the crossover — I keep messing things up when I re-draw the frames for the opposite leg — I think because the rear leg is slightly smaller so I need to be careful and make necessary adjustments to make it fit with the angles of the front leg.

I think I need to perhaps tilt the foot upwards a little more (and perhaps delay it for a bit) before he brings it back down to help give it more power. It's a little too soft at the moment. He's quite a heavy character so the down step needs to carry more weight.

Also, when he comes down, the volume of the trailing leg/foot radically changes, creating a bit of a 'snap'. Need to look at adjusting that and perhaps add some more inbetweens to pad it out a bit

I'm really disappointed in myself — I wanted to get the legs completed to a satisfactory standard tonight so I could focus on the arms or something tomorrow. Oh well — there's no sense in working whilst in a flu-induced stupor, it'll just create more problems later on. Let's see what the morning brings!

Sad character walk V3

Here we go again!!


Rather than struggling on editing my old walk cycle, I decided to just start fresh using my old frames as reference. Sometimes it's quicker just to start with a blank canvas — tweaking my old animation was just needlessly complicated and frustrating, because you kind of end up locked into your old mistakes and limited by what's already there... if that makes sense?!

Andy gave me some great advice on the position of the legs. Previously it appeared as if the toes dragged through the ground. Here I've tried to rectify the problem by marking where the hips would be, allowing me to easily give them a little torsion (is that the right word to use?) and lift the leg a little further off the ground, mostly solving the problem.

The mood isn't quite there yet — obviously without inbetweens the timing is off, making it look a bit angry!

I attempted to act out the walk a few times and I noticed that, rather than in a "conventional" cycle where the heel brushes the ground and the foot smoothly strikes the floor, I tended to bring my foot straight down very suddenly. When dragging my feet, my toes were very slow to come off the floor and they were dragged almost reluctantly upwards. I'm going to experiment with this timing by delaying the lift of the toes until the last possible moment when they're dragged upwards before coming straight back down much faster.

It's interesting to note how, without any inbetweens, this walk is very similar to how an "angry" cycle might look. In an angry cycle the character might bring his feet up very fast and slap them straight back down with very little pause — similar to here. This could save me a lot of time later on if, for my angry cycle, I can refer back to this cycle and simply make minor adjustments to timing.

Sad character walk V2

 
I began to attempt cleaning up the lines of my previous attempts and trying to nail the rest of the inbetweens. I'm really, really not at all happy with it. The leg volumes are a little more consistent and I think the timing is very nearly there but it just wasn't working for me at all. 
There are masses of problems with the feet — they don't really flop and drag as I'd like them to. They also delay in the centre of the body at the crossover which looks pretty weird.

Later on, when I attempted to add the body, I found it extremely difficult because I'd drawn the legs first with no consideration of the character's torso. I ended up with all sorts of problems like knees ending up where the chest should be.
 

You can see I struggled — I really couldn't figure out how to fit the body around the legs. That shouldn't have happened; I shouldn't be needing to try and fit things around other things. Everything really just needs to work together. I think it's okay to focus on the movement of one body part at a time but I really need to consider how the character's body will move in relation to the legs.

In general I think I tried to be too refined and controlled with my lines. I need to relax and be a bit looser in these early stages — I think that's why my first attempt had so much more character to it. Despite being flawed and rough, it had a little more personality to it.

Still, as they say, third time's the charm...

Sad character walk — 2nd draft

 
Slowly getting there! Added a lot of inbetweens to smooth things out a bit. It's still quite choppy but I think the timing of the legs is mostly there at this stage, though the feet aren't quite as smooth as I'd like and the volumes are pretty inconsistent. Now that the basic movement is there, though, I can work from that and start tidying things up a bit. 

Something with the legs looks really off to me but I can't quite put my finger on it. It's almost like it seems to fast? I think maybe I've just got some dodgy inbetweens that need fixing up. I'll need to re-check my arcs.

The torso is pretty much just a placeholder and I plan on completely redoing it — I should have left it out, having it waggle about is quite distracting.

"Sad" character walk practice

Knocked out a quick test-type thing earlier today; been on the go hunting for cows and windmills all weekend (more on that later...) so not had much time to sit down and animate solidly.
 
I didn't do much forward planning for this, simply scribbled it out and ran with it. It was mostly an attempt to loosen up a bit and get into the rhythm. It's less than stellar — missing inbetweens all over the place, generally quite messy — but it acts as a sort of framework that I can build from. I'm already able to see what I need to change in order to get the right mood for the character. It's far too quick, for instance. A sad character wouldn't move his legs very fast. He would almost kind of shuffle along with as little leg movement as possible, so I need to look at the timing and try to delay his legs a bit. Make them very slow coming up, a little pause before bringing them back down a little faster and more deliberately.

I think I've got the right kind of idea with the foot dragging and flicking —needs smoothing and refining, but I think it's kind of there? I'm going to film myself (or an unwilling volunteer) as a reference and have another crack at it.

Character maquette

Andy made a great suggestion — making a small character model to help get an idea of how they'd look from all angles. So I did!

I'm hilariously bad at modelling, but it was a neat exercise and I had a lot of fun with it! The beret looks more like a flat cap and one of his arms is really limp and keeps falling off, but I feel quite fond of it.

Somehow, I managed to buy the kind of clay that remains pliable and never dries. Frenchy will forever be squishy :( 

Rough storyboard

I've been a little preoccupied with Digital Skills this week. Finding it a bit tricky to divide my attention equally between projects, but I've managed to get some more prep work done. I feel more comfortable doing extensive prep work before jumping straight into animating — in my experience it tends to yield better results for me, even if I'm just doing goofy pencil tests.
I'm starting to finalise some of the key poses for my storyboard at this point, just to make drawing the keyframes easier for me. It will save me a massive headache later if I'm not having to continuously re-tweak them 'til they look right...
Stair climbing scribbles were referenced from a Muybridge image I nabbed off Google! I'm relatively happy with the puddle poses at this point. I think I could stand to make his reaction a little more exaggerated and flamboyant, with lots of ridiculous hand flapping. I think that "sad walk" with the trailing arms on the left is a bit too much — he looks more tired than anything.

I've drafted out a quick storyboard to give me a solid reference for the sequence of events:

I'm not too pleased with the posing and body language in some of these frames (notably the stair climbing and puddle bits) but I've now got a fairly solid idea of the sequence now, so I can start producing some preliminary tests. I'm hoping to get a few test shots done this weekend so that I can start timing it all with an actor out on Tuesday, ready to start putting it together!

More character sketches



Some quick doodles done during the lecture today, still experimenting  with my character and thinking about how he might move. I wasn't sure whether to post these these up or not, but I quite liked a few of the poses so I thought it might be worth putting them here. I'm beginning to get familiar enough with him to see him move around in my head which is really quite nice, but also kind of annoying — he won't leave me alone. He started tapdancing across my thoughts at 3 in the morning. He has absolutely no concept of personal space...

Walk & ball exercise: Further character development

Spent a little more time with Mr Frenchy today, trying to get a feel for his personality and how he should move. I toyed with giving him a face but I thought it looked stupid and didn't really work, so I'm probably going to scrap that.

I wasn't too sure how old he should actually be — after being briefly inspired by George Hautecourt of the Aristocats fame I toyed with making him a bit of a crazy old coot with a walking stick.


Though I kind of like it, I started worrying that adding props was venturing too far into the realm of 'overcomplicated.' I'm not sure if props are 'cheating' and take away from the movement? Or do they add interest? It's a grey area. Or maybe I worry too much.
Not too sure how well I could work this guy into my initial idea so I played around with it a bit more.  I want to stick with being a bit down to begin with, so he's kind of shuffling along, dragging his feet. Maybe he gets hit in the back of the head with a ball, staggers along in pain — reaches a flight of stairs, and he's afraid of heights, so as he's getting higher he starts getting more and more anxious and keeps looking behind him.
Then I thought that maybe he reaches the stairs first. He climbs up them, slowly, slowly, then reaches the top and he's standing there, peering over the edge, gripping the rail for dear life. His knees are quaking and he starts inching his way along, hand-over hand on the rail. Then he pauses, takes tiny shuffling steps forward to catch up with his arms. If that makes sense.

Then, a ball rolls past him? His fear forgotten, he follows it, gives it a good kick and is really pleased with himself, starts strutting, swinging his arms, swaying his hips?

I'm not too sure where to go from there. I'm toying with the idea of the puddle again. He's not looking where he's going and just walks straight into it. Then he gets wound up 'cause his good trousers are all wet and just kind of storms off. 

I wasn't too sure about this idea at first, but now that I come back to it I'm starting to see potential for little bits here and there. Rather than being a generic, super-deep cartoon puddle, maybe it's just a little one — but it's muddy, and he puts his foot straight into it, and he's standing there staring at his sopping leg in disgust. 

I'm still worrying though — is this too complicated? Is the design okay? Personally I don't feel he's too complex; he's quite fun to draw and I'm having a bit of a laugh with him so far. But the movement — will that be okay? How will I animate the shuffle? 

Just gonna keep playing around and seeing what happens. If there are no crucial adjustments I need to make I might start rolling ahead and seeing if I can start getting to grips with some of the movement.

Character walk & ball exercises — initial concepts and designs

It's been one of 'those' days.

The new part project kind of got off to a bad start for me. I don't know whose hands these are, but the drawings coming out of them certainly aren't mine. It was weird — I was talking to Jazzy and there seemed to be an endless flow of stuff, but as soon as I sat down to get them onto paper, everything just went. Proper idea constipation.
I got a few sketches down — including one with a flamingo that I actually quite liked — but as Andy rightfully pointed out it would have proved to be absolute hell to animate.

I started running loosely with something using the balloon, puddle and football — my idea was to have the character enter, a bit down in the dumps maybe, then to have a heart-shaped balloon with a letter attached drift by. He reads the letter as he walks along; whatever's written there really cheers him up and his whole demeanor starts to change. He maybe starts skipping, totally overjoyed ——
—— doesn't see the puddle approaching and falls right into it (ridiculously deep). He clambers out and is sopping wet, so he's kind of swinging his arms, weighed down with water, really angry and fed up. He encounters a football and boots it out of anger. It ricochets off the side of the screen and smacks him in the face, knocking him to the ground.

It sounds fairly fleshed out on paper but I didn't really manage to get too far with it. The character design tripped me up a bit.

I was really grateful to have Andy floating around today — he was really helpful and introduced me to a little yes/no game that I initially struggled with. Once I stopped overthinking everything I got much more into it!

As a result, I ended up with a fat old French man who can blink and is quite athletic, but doesn't like Mexican food.

Started doodling a few things to try and get a feel for the character. He still feels alien to me but I'm going to keep ploughing through and see what I can come up with. I'm definitely not there yet — still feeling a bit frustrated and lost, but it's definitely progress and certainly a vast improvement over the horrors of the morning. The character idea is definitely fun and quite exciting!

Walk cycle 10, take 3

 

Cleaned and more refined version of the previous walk cycle. I made a number of small changes to the arms, hands and feet. Most notably is the swing of the arms; I removed the 'break' in the joint as it swings forward. Breaking the joint helps to add a bit of flexibility but I didn't feel that it really fitted with the gentler sort of effect I was going for. I also fixed the problem with the arm lagging as it comes forward — only a minor change but I feel that it's a lot smoother now.

I'm quite pleased with the flick of the hand as his arm is at full extension! I'm less happy with the arm as it swings forward — I think there's a bit of a kink in it somewhere — but otherwise I'm reasonably satisfied with how it's turned out. I'm certainly starting to understand the mechanics of the arms a lot more now.

Walk cycle 10, take 2

 

Feels like I've been tweaking this forever! I re-did the arms and head at least four billion times each because I simply could not get them to look right. The arms are far too long, I think, and they seem to change length in a couple of places. I'm really not that happy with the head but this was the best out of all five of my attempts. I think it's alright, it just looks a bit 'floaty' and doesn't seem to match up with the body. I can't quite put my finger on it.

I'm reasonably happy with the arms, I think they're an improvement over the last several attempts in terms of looseness, but there's still room for a lot of improvement. The way they swing back bothers me — I don't think they come back far enough and it seems as if they linger in the same spot for just one frame before coming forward which looks a bit strange. The elbow is too low on the forward swing as well.

I kept the hands pretty simple. I quite like the flick as they come forwards, but again, really not too pleased with the backwards swing. 

Overall I think it's passable as a finished attempt but I may see if I can go back and make some minor tweaks to clean it up a bit.

Shoot me again — version 3, take 3


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More slight adjustments, mostly cleaning up lines and adding in a few little details here and there. I think there's still a bit more I could do to it but I think it's mostly at the stage where I'm happy with it (maybe I've just gone blind to the faults!)

Had a bit of fun making the hair flap around again — it's not terribly realistic but I think it adds a bit of interest and keeps things from looking too staticy. I wasn't entirely sure what to do with it at the end when he pulls right back. I tried a few different things, like having it flop back a bit before bouncing back up but it didn't really make sense. Having it flop over his eye was more of a happy accident — tried it out of desperation and ended up pleasantly surprised with how it looked.

Shoot me again — version 3, take 2

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Started cleaning up the lines a wee bit and trying to fix some volume problems. I added a couple of inbetweens and removed a few duplicate frames to help smooth it out a bit. I think it's looking better now but where he pulls back at the end is still really bothering me. The action just doesn't look right — he doesn't seem to move in an entirely natural way and his height is a bit inconsistent. Scrubbing through it frame by frame is helping to pick out the problems, but I'm having a bit of trouble with it. I think I'm worrying too much which is clouding my focus a bit.

There're some details missing (tail doesn't move and entirely vanishes in some frames) but I'm going to work on refining what I've currently got before I start trying to polish it too much. I need to look at refining the mouth shapes a little more.

I've also managed to finish the walk cycle from the previous posts, but unfortunately some slight technical problems (water + laptop = BAD) have gotten in the way. I don't think there was any lasting damage done and my computer's been drying out for the past couple of days so hopefully I'll be able to get that up tonight.

Shoot me again — version 3

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In-progress retake of the "Shoot me again!" line. This time, I tried to keep the character's expressions and body language more angry or explosive. Originally I wanted him to draw backwards, sort of sarcastically, but I was having terrible difficulty in pinning the body language down. Instead I opted to have him throw up his arms as if shouting the last part — "I ENJOY it!!"

Admittedly I quite like the beginning part — I feel that the little detail of having his eyes blink at slightly different times helps to give him a bit more personality! Overall though I'm not entirely happy with it so far. I think it's more in keeping with the tone of the dialogue but I may have overcomplicated matters with having the entire body involved. There are a lot of proportion and volume problems — keeping the character looking the same from all angles/directions is something I struggle with!

Walk cycle 10

I wasn't happy with how the arms on my previous attempt were looking, so I removed them entirely and re-did them from scratch. I added a few more inbetweens on the legs and I think I'm fairly happy with the way they move now. I'm not sure about the feet — they still feel a bit stiff and lifeless to me so I'll have to see what I can do about that.

 

I think I'm mostly there with the movement of the arms at this point, they're certainly loosening up nicely and I'm fairly pleased with them, but I feel the flick at the end is a bit too much. I want something a little bit more subtle so I'll have to see what I can do with that. I'm not happy with the rear arm for a multitude of reasons (all of which are hard to articulate) but I'll be tweaking that some more before I really start refining my lines. Once I've tweaked the arms, I'll be looking at adding the head and hands.

Walk cycle 9, take 3 & 4



I tried to solve the jolting problem by lining up the feet more accurately using the grid at the bottom, but ended up making it worse. The upper body is totally out of sync and I really cannot figure out what's wrong with it.

I'd hoped that, if I went in and tried to clean up the lines a bit, the problems might become apparent and I'd be able to fix them as I go. I got a bit carried away though and ended up completely re-drawing most of it! I think it looks better, though I'm missing some inbetweens. Again, I went straight ahead instead of pose-to-pose so I accidentally ended up inbetweening the arms as I went meaning they're much smoother than the legs. The arms are a bit at odds with the legs — the shifting of the shoulders implies a lot of twisting in the upper body but the hips remain quite static. It looks a bit strange. I need to add some more inbetweens for the legs and maybe rotate the hips a bit more, but I think it's getting there.