51. Alpha

It’s been a while since I up-dated the blog, the reason is quite simple, I’m back at work.

My real work that is… After (almost) finishing the animation, I needed to go back to work to save money to be able to finish the compositing and music of the film.

The compositing is when you add up all the layers of animation to create the final picture. It’s usually (in my case) the main character on top of the background, but it can be much more complex, with camera moves, sfx (like rain or fire), depth of field, etc.

BG020 + DE_01_00_JIM_0001  =

JimInDesert

To be able to add the character on top of the background, each frame of animation needs an Alpha. An alpha is a black and white pictures that tells pictures where to be transparent, white is not transparent and black is fully transparent.

chekerboard

The checker board is where I want the drawing to be transparent.

Jimmy Alpha

There are various techniques to create a drawing’s alpha, in my case the line of the drawing are not closed so it makes it quite hard to use automatic techniques, so I decided to draw each alpha in photoshop. To do so I created a script that pre makes the alpha (using the magic wand) and I would correct it by hand, then save the picture as a png, which handle the transparency very easily. If you want to know more about the script gimme a shout, I’ll be happy to send it to you.

The whole process is quite short (1 min per drawing), but because you have to do it for each drawings, and I am working with big files (long saving time), it adds up to quite a lot of hours.

It took me around 3/4 week to do all the shot, I did that after work, witch doesn’t speed up the process at all, the good new is that every shot I animated so far have an alpha now, so I can work on compositing the shots.

As a little reward for finishing all the alpha, and as a joke, I edited a fake trailer for the film, it’s put together using the automatic trailer maker that comes with iMove, its stupidly easy to do and takes about 5 minutes and here it is:

As a disclaimer, those are just work in progress.

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48. Brushes! part 1

Allright, so before I decided weather or not it was possible to do any secondary animation on computer, I had to check that I could replicate the drawings fully digitally.

For this I would need a brush (in photoshop, or what ever other software) that replicates the way my pen behave on paper.

This actually means that I need to replicate what the drawn lines look like once scanned.

Step 1: What to replicate

Strokes

I start by drawing various type of strokes: Slow, fast, overlapping, light and heavy strokes.

Step 2: Understanding parameters

Params

The amount of parameters can be overwhelming  but if you take them one by one it’s actually straight forward.

– First you need to choose your brush size to match the pen. You won’t be able to change the size of your brush once its finished, it will look odd. If you need a bigger brush, youll need to scan a bigger pen and create a new brush.

From now on stroke on the right is pen stroke on the left is “cg”

size

I’ve set the hardness to 33% because the pen is not drawing perfectly sharp.

Note: the size of your brush depends on the size of your document (because it’s set in pixels) here i’m working at 300 dpi. If I was at 600 dpi i’d have to scale my brush up twice.

I keep it round because it’s a classic pen.

– Then lets set the shape dynamics:

size jitter

The size jitter “randomise” the size of the brush in the range you set (here the brush can be 50% bigger or smaller). The size is also control by the pen pressure and I’ve put a minimum size so the brush doesn’t disappear when I’m drawing lightly. (Here you need to match the diameter of your lightest pen stroke)

The size jitter represent the flow of ink of your pen and the randomness due to the paper, not the wobbliness of your stroke due to how you draw. I am not using the angle jitter and roundness jitter since my brush is round.

–  Scattering moves the brush in different axis, i am not using it here.

Textures and Dual Brush aren’t useful in this case.

Color Dynamics

color

 

Color dynamics gives your stroke a more natural/scanned look. Scanner never scan black as black, it’s multicolor darkness. Here my foreground color is a very dark blue and my background color is a very dark red. They are being mixed randomly at 57%.

A brush is just a succession of dots really close to each other. What the randomizing option does is give each dot a different value, in hue, brightness and saturation. The purity seams to multiply the effect. At -100 the brush turns black and white…

Note that if you un-tick “apply per tip” the color changes is applied to the whole stroke. It can give some nice effects.

– Transfer

transfer

Here you’ll need to set the opacity and flow of your brush. As you can see on the strokes on the left, the pen doesn’t cover the paper regularly (more or less ink comes up).

The opacity and flow are both transparency but one is applied by stroke, the other one is applied as you draw. With opacity you need to lift your pen and draw again to have a color twice less transparent whereas with flow if you draw twice in the same place in a single stroke, this place will be twice less transparent.

The important thing at this stage is to play with the pressure of your wacom pen. You might end up really easily with a completely transparent brush when your not putting a lot of pressure on your pen. You need to set the minimum opacity to something that suite you.

brush pose is some kind of 3d ness of your pen on the wacom. lets not bother with it.

– The next parameters have no options. I change them on/off as I draw depending on the effect I want to give:

noise:

noise

Adds sharp noise to the stroke.

– Wet edge

wet

Makes the center of the brush lighter and the edges darker

build-up is some kind of airbrush option.

Smoothing smooth you brush stroke, I wouldn’t use it with a tablet if you want a hand drawn feel…

At this point you should have a brush fairly similar to your pen:

red arrows show the cg brush strokes.

demo

The only option i couldn’t find is to have more opacity/flow at the beginning of a stroke, I think it would look much more natural. If anyone knows how to do this, let me know!

Sorry for the bad english, this took more time then i though and I need to go back to work…

Cheerios

 

 


44. Deadman’s little helpers

So a few students from RCDC (Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication) backed the film’s kickstarter.

I met them at the Kickstarters end’s drinks, and for what ever reason when they’re not busy at school or on personal projects, they want to help on the film… Instead of partying and having fun! Crazy peops.

So they’re helping me shading some shots. To make sure everything is consistant I made this little “tutorial” on how to shade beard and hair on the film:

Hair-Drawing

You can check it out in high quality on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/65075512

Anyway thanks Andreas, Amy, Ashley, Andreas and Matt


42. Same old, Same old

Damn, I’ve been dead busy with playing fancy dressing and drinking (for the live action of the film, obviously – well mainly) that I forgot to post last week!

Anyway there is much more black on the character now, and shading takes twice longer… If you want to start a 2d film, hand drawn, here’s an advice, make everything white! Damn that black T-Shirt is killing me.

So you can forgive me, here’s a little GIF, the walking drunk (it’s not the shot that caused me lots of pain):

Walking


39. Rewarding

I’ve got around 150 packets to prepare for the Kistarter, so I’m starting early. (And this as nothing to do with the fact that I don’t feel like shooting more live action today, NOTHING)

The lucky 15  first fellas that pledged for the book and that sent me their address will receive their book very soon.

I’m sure the post man is gonna LOOOVE me.

And to celebrate this I made a GIF, obviously. (Might take a while to load)

Book-GIF

 


38. Animating

Not much to say this week, I’ve been animating for the last few weeks, and I’m getting faster at it (not sure if it’s better though)

One more shot and I get to shoot live action again.

drunko


37. Loops

In animation we use a lot of cycles to save time on repetitive action, such as walks or runs.

A cycle is just an animation that loops i.e. the first frame and the last one are from the same motion and we don’t notice a change in rythme when the animation starts again.

Looping a video can get very tricky, but it will save a tremendous time in animation..

For exemple I’m working on a shot where the guy walks toward the camera, it’s a 10 second shot, witch would mean 120 frames to animate. Way to much.

So let’s turn this video (video is speed up):

Original

into this cycle :

Drawing

The first step is to find where the action repeats:

Selection

Now the first and last frames are kind of the same but the guy is moving forward…  Rubbish… So let’s scale and rotate him so it matches as much as possible.

Scale

It’s starting to get there, but because it’s video, nothing loops at the same frames. It needs to be fixed, element by elements:

Torso

Each individual part of the body is looped. If you don’t pay attention to the background.

Legs

Then I put the guy back together:

Loop

Et voila, if you look only at the guy,  the video is looping. You can see that I don’t loop the lower body and upper body at the same frame, same with the arm and the guitar. That’s another tricky part, as it’s important to keep a natural look, but once drawn:

Drawing

This fella can walk, forever!

An I only animated 21 frames!

Don’t forget that first and last frame shouldn’t be the same one, or you would have twice the same frame. You need to match 2 frames, and then remove the last one, if that makes any sense :)

It’s the last day of my kickstarter if you wanna chip in, it’s here: http://www.deadmansreachfilm.com