Animation Study #2

Around months ago, I had made thumbnail sketches based on a scene from a movie, Ring of Steel. Apparently, it is about swordsmen fighting in an underground tournament. The link of the video is here.

I drew some thumbnails because I find the cinematography exciting. Perhaps I should draw some thumbnails after I have time.tumblr_nj6msuVOb01tg5bybo1_1280 tumblr_nj6msuVOb01tg5bybo2_1280

2D Animation Exercise #4: Cutout Animation

My most recent 2D Animation assignment is to create a cutout style animation with After Effects. I had used After Effects before; for the second Digital Composition assignment. However, this was the first time I use it to create a vector image animation, instead of the live action surrealistic animation.

From my experience insofar, creating a model for the cutout animation reminds me of the 3D animation, a medium that required the creator to create an actual movable model and rig it, before they could animate the scene. Creating this assignment reminds me of the 2D version of the Maya animation process.

Earlier on, I did plan to have the model dancing in a funny way, but it was hard to regulate the body and the leg position to make the dance stay consistent (eg. making the feet staying in one position until the takeoff), since that body was the parent of the limbs, and therefore when I move the body, the legs moved accordingly, and I had to memorize the position of the feet frames earlier and adjust it all over again.

Eventually, I gave up, and decided to go for an easier way: swimming.

The model, made with Adobe Illustrator
The model, made with Adobe Illustrator

Digital Composition Assignment #1: Photos

Aside from the animation classes, I also studied a course named Digital Composition: a course that focuses on using cinematography to create visually stimulating videos and images.

The first assignment was to shoot a series of 10 photos, with one or two narrative linking them together. This required skills in cinema shooting and colour editing. After some discussion with a friend, it was agreed that I would use shoes as the main subject of the series.

I had arranged backgrounds and clothing to fit a more dynamic colour contrast., but when I uploaded the photos into the computer, I realized that they were not dynamic enough in colours. At that time, I realized I could edit the photos with Photoshop, where I learnt how to adjust the colours for better effect.

During the lesson, the professor commented about the dynamic colours, but also mentioned some inconsistency in the photos. From this assignment, I learnt about camera operation, scene set up, and Photoshop adjustment.

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C01 Assignments

In the summer vacation of last year, I had attended an illustration class from the C01 design school, where I had learnt several techniques and different traditional medium, including watercolour, colour pencils and acrylic. While I had not continued on the practice, the class did help me in figuring out how to create texture and lighting through observation of colours and direction of strokes. Here are the exercises made during the period.

Interior Practice
Lighting Practice with colour pencils
Snow Queen, ver. 1
Draft Version of the Fairy Tale Cover Design
Snow Queen, ver. 2
Final Version of the Fairy Tale Cover Design
The Cat and The Bird
One of the Acrylic exercise.
Final Assignment #1: inspired by a trip in the Nordic countries
Final Assignment #1: inspired by a trip in the Nordic countries
Final Assignment #2: inspired by a trip in the Nordic countries
Final Assignment #2: inspired by a trip in the Nordic countries
Final Assignment #3: inspired by a trip in the Nordic countries
Final Assignment #3: inspired by a trip in the Nordic countries

Animation I Assignment #3: Mr. Basic

About 1-2 week(s) ago, I had to complete an assignment involving a animation, where Mr. Basic (a spherical figure with two legs) is walking when he stops due to an event (e.g. obstacle), going through a thinking process, and then solving the obstacles.

During the process, I was busy with the assignments, which is why I only have a few days left to complete the animation before the deadline. During the preproduction, I made some sketches about Mr. Basic, including the model and how the figure moves.




After the warm up sketches, I began to think up scenarios of why Mr. Basic stop and how he solves the problem. Aside from drawing model sketches to clarify the angle and position of the legs in relation of the head, I also drew some storyboards. I chose the scenario in the form of the gap, since it requires lesser details.

The earlier storyboards were far different from the final version. There were three shots instead of one used in the final version. Camera movements were used in twice, one when Mr. Basic stops by a cliff, and when Mr. Basic jumps over the gap. It also involved Mr. Basic tilting his head twice to show his thinking process, which was later scrapped for being too complicated at that time.




After that, I drew some walking cycle references from the internet, in order to understand how to draw the walk cycles properly.



I also changed the storyboards, including limiting the camera panning to the jumping part. Also, timing charts were utilized to understand the frames needed for the shot.




In the end, I drew some sketches of what Mr. Basic would look like when he walks or jump, so I could find it easier to draw the key frame animation in model.



In the end, I completed around 120 frames, the tiptoeing thinking process being improvised on site. I design the timing of the motion, so the thinking process would look interesting. From the comments of some people, it may seem to work.


2D Animation Exercise #3: Walking Cycles

One of the most basic motion in animation is walking, and from Richard William’s The Animator’s Survival Kit, it is said that “walks are about the toughest thing to do right”.

Needless to say, during the lesson, I thought I could master the walking animation in no time at all, since I could memorise the five basic poses and timing of walking. I even began to draw a walking cycle draft during the lesson.

Of course, due to my frustration, I could not finish the early one, and when I began to draw one out of scratch for submission , I realized how little I know about drawing walking cycles.

Due to limited time, I could only aim to draw the arms swinging and legs moving on ones, without much reference in characterization and movement. While I am allowed to use both TVPaint and Photoshop to animate, I decided to animate with Photoshop so I don’t have to stay at school every time. Needless to say, I felt that Photoshop is not interface friendly compared to TVPaint. Drawing motions were tricky, and outlining them were even more so.

As a result, the motion seemed smooth in movement, but uncontrolled and aimless without character.

The aborted early version
The aborted early version.
Final Version, made out of scratch.

Due to the lesson learnt from the previous assignment, when I began my next assignment (Walking Cycle, with Lifting Motion), I made research on some special walking cycles. I chose ballet, for the movement appeals to me in aesthetic terms. For reference, I made some sketches about the ballet walking cycle drawn from a video, along with brainstorming what item the character will lift, and how.




As said before, Photoshop is not an easy tool for animation, especially for complex, realistic motion. It was not helped by the fact that I kept mixing up left leg/arm from right leg/arm and vice versa. Added the fact that I had to finish it under tight deadlines, the best I could do was to salvage the result. Several ideas were aborted due to lack of time, including adding a ballerina tutu for accent.

Needless to say, despite of the rushed quality, the work can be said as an improvement compared to the previous one.

Ballet Walk and Lift
Ballet Walk and Lift

Animation I Assignment #2: Jumping Column

(Update about Assignment 1: During the screening, the professor noted that while the animation is fine, the inconsistent black background is too distracting. I shall note about that)

The main objective was to create a silicon column, that could bounce in a way that convey personality.

I made some sketches to determine the estimated time and amount of jump needed, along with the timing and the progression of the shots. As learnt from the assignment, I decided to take a more economical approach. For example, I assumed 12 frames in each jump.


In order to understand how to portray the column interacting with the environment, I made some sketches about the column in different materials. In the end, while 3D was more substantial, I opted for the flat 2D style, as it was easier to portray squash and stretch through the shifting of the size.


Aside from material brainstorming, I also drew storyboards. At the beginning, I planned to show the motion in one shot, where the column interacts with the borders itself


However, in order to add more variety in the work, I decided to introduce multiple shots and 3D perspective. The shot was divided to four shots, with the third shot of the column flying up high while rotating.

Picture4The third shot required certain amount of knowledge in timing and perspective, which I tried to tackle through sketches and references. I made sketches and video references of how things move while rotating and being thrown at air. One useful book named Timing for Animation, by Harold Whitaker and John Halas, helped me in determining the principle of the motion itself.




In the end, I finished the animation earlier. From the work, I gained some experience of drawing animation in multiple shots and 3D perspective.

2D Animation Exercise #2: Follow Thru/Overlapping Action

(My apologies for the lateness, but as schoolwork became frantic, I could find less time to update the blog frequently. Therefore, I shall upload my animation exercises at once.)

In one of my animation classes, one of my assignment is to create two animation shorts, each that utilizes the follow thru / overlapping action principle.

During the process, I used different medium to animate both works. The follow thru was animated with TVPaint, mainly in school, while the overlapping one was animated in Photoshop. Needless to say, I had spent five days to finish the follow thru one, and only two days to complete the overlapping one.

For the follow thru one, I started off with one guy flapping his arm-wings as an failed attempt to fly. As the process went on, I start to add more gestures and improvised the motion, including the ballet like motion in the end.

As for the Overlapping action one, the concept is partially inspired by the frustrations I felt during school days. Needless to say, the short amount of time left to complete resulted in the rushed quality of the animation.

Follow Thru
Follow Thru
Overlapping Action
Overlapping Action

Animation I Assignment #1: Bouncing Ball

Whether I had mentioned earlier or not, I am in fact attending three animation courses at once in this semester. While it would be extremely busy, it would be nevertheless a great practice for me to handle the animation process in limited time and resources.

This video is the first assignment for one of the courses, SM3602 Animation I. The idea is the balls morphing into eyes that rips the black background into shreds with its laser sight.

Brainstorming Ideas
Brainstorming Ideas


References of eyes
References of eyes

During the Pre-Production, I had to plan the timing and the spacing of the bouncing, in order to facilitate the animation. Due to my lack of experience, it took me several attempts to nail the timing.

One of the first timing attempt.
One of the first timing attempt.
One of the final timing planning.
One of the final timing planning.

While the result is satisfying, the black background, drawn by pencil and later charcoal, proves to be too labour-intensive and distracting. Nevertheless, the production of the video provided me sufficient experience of animation production in general.