Wednesday, 31 July 2013

22. Hiroyuki Imaishi: Tight and loose

Today I have tried to capture the style of Imaishi, probably best known for his work on 'Dead Leaves'. Imaishi strives for hyper stylisation in his work, his character becoming box-like and his block shading turning fully black. I wonder whether he's a fan of Mignolas work as his character, with their deep block shadows reminisce of Mignola especially his graphic novel and Hellboy work. From a kinetic viewpoint Imaishi is very concerned with his key frames as he snaps them in accenting the movements simultaneously. The in-betweens are very loose though, retaining properties of the original sketch and deviating from the model. He is playful with these and physics, bones and all the rules seem to melt only to snap back into the key frame. To achieve this I sketched out a boxy figure with solid keys. I added some block shadow but kept it a bit lighter for the sake of clarity. 

The in-betweens are very loose, limbs folding and coiling against invisible forces, the body melting kinetic forces distorting the model only to snap back to it's very square model. A fun style of animation and well suited for the action sequences Imaishi is famed for. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

21. Sakuga week: Shinya Ohira style walk

Recently I've been studying some Japanese animations. In particular it was 'sakuga' which captured my imagination. The animators which are given large freedom to create their vision in a very different studio structure than in the western world. Starting with the likes of Yoshinori Kanada and who was instrumental in development of modern art consciousness in Japan (the melting dragon - Harmaggedon), evolving the traditional wood carving to a flat proto-animated art, often working in limited animation. Kanada is rather hard to imitate, mainly as his work requires a lot of time to execute, so for my first 'sakuga' series of walks I chose Shinya Ohira. Ohira has done the Animatrix  Chase (Kid's Story) skater scene which a lot of people are familiar with, amongst others. His style is very idiosyncratic as figures start to literally melt away with frantic movements, lines carving multidimensional movement and resembling organised squiggles. I worked with two nuances of colour aiming to capture the flow of the movement and energy within the figure. With each of these styles I will be concentrating on those animators/ 'sakugas' whose style essence is in their movement as there is a large number who specialise in more illustrative depictions. 

Monday, 29 July 2013

20. Cocco Bill rubber hose walk

Since I mentioned Cocco Bill in walk 05. I really wanted to do a full silly rubbery walk involving idiosyncrasies of Jacovitti. The legs twist and loop creating additional momentum. Joints are not only just broken but elongated allowing for additional flexibility n order to follow and create movement arcs in figure 8. In order to emphasise the legs and as a little homage to chamomile drinking fast draw, the arms are relatively static, locked at the elbows with 45 degree shoulder swing giving the figure a riding composure. The torso and the mead follow this dynamics as there is a one frame delay in the leg movement and head bob. The toes are flexible though the feet regain some rigidity. On the back foot pass they almost hit the elbow making the arc symmetrical under the corresponding 45 degree mirror to the arms.  

Friday, 26 July 2013

19. Rubberhouse floppy walk

On a hot and sunny lets get the walk nice and floppy.Loosening up from the rigid body movements of last few sessions I wanted to refer to a more playful era. back to the rubber hose. The bones are traditionally soft and joints. The body is a little bit more rigid but the spine retains flexibility. The hands are created in a counterbalance. For this one I wanted to create a walk sheet in order to showcase some of the complexity. 

On the upswing I also allow the break of the joints in order to create the flow of the limbs and hence create wiggle in the ankle on the lounge.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

18. Side sway extreme walk

Today I wanted to work a bit more on a moving torso and how that would affect the walk. Instead of having forward and backward swaying I opted for sides. The entire figures extremes work in curvilinear perspective. The walk itself is relatively simple with only a small lean to the front.  This gives the expression of a wide-boy character. Maybe in future playing more with body would create a drunken impression. This time concentration was on extremes and the way the body would be moving in relation to the camera. with stretches fading back in the distance. Tomorrow I think I'll loosen up and get a bit silly.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

17. Fighting guard, stalk walk

As the last walk was exercise into the movement and sway of the body due to the arm swing today's walk cycle is quite the opposite. I wanted to see how body would react if the arms were relatively static within their body position. To do this I used a future in a fighter 'guard' position. 

The figure would be approaching and as the legs would extend the torso would bend to keep the guard up. The figure is advancing by dragging the back leg upon which it has to maintain weight distribution in order to keep the arms up. As the torso would twist elbows come towards knees balancing the figure and giving it protection as well as hitting the 'invisible perpendicular'.
The forward foot curls just a little bit maintaining the balance on the balls of the feet. Head is straight and protruding forward with hands reaching out to sides with a torso crunch. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

16. Front torso arm lead walk (or human gorilla knuckle dragging stomp)

Deviating rather sharply from the sneakiness of the last two walks, I wanted to try my hand at something bolshier. 

This time I wanted a figure which is decidedly top heavy and the torso swings would push it's locomotion by creating drag on the legs to move forward in order to maintain balance.  Head is creating a small figure eight as it swings in unison with torso. In order to portray the top weight  the foot bends at the arch drawing the rest of the body to it creating a little wave. The torso, under stress from large arms would be protruding forward at all times, arms bend at an elbow on a back-swing and shoulder protrudes on the lead swing, creating an aggressive visual simian simile.

Monday, 22 July 2013

15. Sneaky, drag n' pull walk (or lounging marionette)

Continuing on from the sneaky walk development I wanted to try my hand at another one. The importance of this sneak is keeping one foot on the ground dragging just before bringing it up for a tiptoe action. The character does a 'lazy' lounge and then tiptoes to next key position as the balance is regained with the back foot. The body has to contort to achieve this and the figure hits 'invisible perpendicular' just before easing in. 

In order to give the movement more interest I added a key pull in the up motion. This would be adding force on torso making the figure appear more puppet like before sneaking in, maintaining invisible perpendicular. I wanted for the character to move like a wave, with a strong break into another position. 

The centre of balance is in the upper torso for the whole walk, front leg leads the locomotion and arms swing with the force applied to torso twisting while the head bobs with responding to upwards pulling. A marionette effect is created.

Friday, 19 July 2013

14. tiptoe, crane, sneak walk

Inspired by yesterdays walk having avian stork quality today I wanted to embody the crane more. I also wanted to shift the theme of the walk to a sneak. The character is still really gawky but this one is done on tiptoes, which will be useful when I start dwelling into animal walks where bones have evolved differently with a same blueprint. 

Emphasising the sneakiness of the motion I allow for one double frame as the weight is spread out on the body. The foot (and the toes) are placed in  an downwards arch as the body perfectly balances in order to bring a wide step through. To give propulsion for this movement there is a deep sink in the extreme and a circular rotation of the hips extending through the knees. Having enjoyed this I feel another sneaky walk is due after the weekend. Happy walking!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

13. gawky, precise, breakin' walk

After yesterdays slacker 'Gaston' inspired walk I've tightened the walk for today. Keeping the relaxed overtones I wanted to portray a more precise walk. Like a stork in human form. I've kept arms lazily swinging from side to side, and this time animating the torso as well into a swaying motion adding and responding to a larger lower locomotion. 

In order to gain such height and to accent the movement I have a strong extreme sing after key step. This time a adding another element of play the knee leads and shoots to the side with a foot poised, this creates the sway in the shoulders, and subsequently the head. 
Keeping the sense of play in the following extreme accent I break the leg, giving more force and precision to the stomp, and  creating drag on the other leg in order to counterbalance it. This pushes the head forward as the core weight falls through the knee joint. The whole movement is done on just eight frames keeping it minimal.
The whole movement is done on just eight frames keeping it minimal.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

12. slacker, swing walk

Breaking up the rigidity of last two sessions I decided to spend a little bit more time on this one and slow the movement down again. Doing a slacker like character and having a long slow step this could be achieved. I modelled this movement on Gaston by AndrĂ© Franquin, casting my mind back to childhood memories of the lovable but ingenious quintessential slacker. Lanky with a small lodge and a large head. 

The whole body would be moving. So to break it down I did the key frames first. Arms were simple as they were swinging with an rubbery bend, almost breaking. There is an added floppiness in the feet adding more to the relaxed attitude of the character as the foot lingers for one frame before flopping down. Initially with only a small head bob and hunched body the character seemed a bit down. Gaston was always happy and I wanted my slacker to be the same. 'Voila' a little swing of the body gave me the right emotion as the avian thin neck keeps the hunch throughout. There are 14 frames here per cycle. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

11. heavy set, small step rush

This time I wanted to introduce more weight to my character, and how that extra 'baggage' would affect the movement. 

I was doing a similar movement as previous two with a minimal frames (8) concentrating on getting the poses expressive and strong keys. The steps are small but heel based as the character seems o be rushing, to give more of a sense of urgency his head is trying to go forward, but due to his weight it's mostly going up in order to provide counterbalance to his body. His arms are a lot straighter on the downswing creating a counterweight to the belly wobble. 

The weightiness is further emphasised by a bigger bend in the knees in the small steps. 
Tomorrow I'll slow things down.

Monday, 15 July 2013

10. proud march with certainty

After a lovely hot weekend moving straight in with a recap of everything I've learnt so fa in this marching movement. I wanted to do a contrast from the stomp of last week, mainly by straightening the character up. 

This walk cycle is on a minimal of 8 frames almost breaking out into a run. The legs are quite militaristic knees straightening up and kicking out before coming to ground heels first. In order to give character a feel of pride the back was leaned back all the way throughout and the wight from the body was sinking in at 165 degrees from the hip, propelling the figure forwards. Breaking up the militant theme, the arms are bent at the elbows and the fists punching high, akin to a runner crossing the finish line, getting parallel with the head and the elbow getting parallel with the shoulders on the downswing. Tomorrow it may get heavy!

Friday, 12 July 2013

09. determined stomp

For the end of the week i did a reductionist walk cycle. This exercise had a double aim. One was to see to how many frames I can reduce the cycle whilst it still worked without being jittery (8 frames) whilst the other was the emotional representation of a stomp. The body is continuously leaning forward with the neck pushing the head forwards at almost 90 degrees to the body. The face is looking only slightly down maintaining the forward momentum. The character looks like it's cutting through air with it's head. The shoulders are swaying side to side, elbows getting in line with them for the accents on the extremes. It's the continuous air 'punching' giving an air of aggression. The bipedal locomotion is from the hips, with thighs moving just under the hands. The walk engages heels adding to the forward lean of the character. Altogether all the elements work in unison creating a determined stomp, with a bit of aggression and retentiveness. Enjoy the weekend and happy walking!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

08. happy, carefree walk with a spontaneous hop

Keeping in the flow of simple walks I played it up a bit working on a little hop midway. Back in the ancient times of animations a hop was a common feature harking back to the optimistic characters of post depression era to the pre-war Minah bird. The trend would later continue in the UPA style simplified animation of the mid fifties as a convenient trick to give quirkiness and depth. In my animation I did one hop after two steps. The character seen jumping over something gives an impression of a carefree spirit able to leap over problems. In order to achieve this I literally positioned the jump as jumping over an obstacle, feet poised to the front with only a slight elevation of the back. Adding to the spontaneity of the action there is no anticipation before the hop. To further emphasise this his arms are loosely swinging with the sway of the move, hands and wrists relaxed, going with the flow.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

07. determined, proud, stroll

Today I went for a more traditional walk. Feeling more confident in the weights and structure I did a character going for a stroll. A part of these exercises is emotion of the character and the ability to coney that with visuals alone. This one will be determined, almost a stomp but not quite there. There is an element of pride an regality. In order to show determination and some regality the forward step (extra squiggled for highlight) is emphasised and accented, borrowing straight from a military walk. The arms give a sense of pride as they playfully swing across the chest. In order to give it more realism the left on has a looser circling around the elbow allowing for a small drop. To portray a sense of pride head is up straight with a strong chest out posture and shoulders are swinging side to side and up and down in a controlled arcs i line with the hips. It makes the character look confident and determined, knowing where its going for a stroll. A distinct improvement when compared to last week. More to come tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

06. simian, ape, scuttle

I decided to do an ape like walk this time. More of a scuttle really. I started with a rough sketch of a simian with it's familiarly elongated (compared to homo-sapiens) forearms. 

Then I needed to study how the body would be affected by the locomotion, spine bending inwards, dipping and then expressing itself outwards. The character would be making a small jump, then follow that with a moment of body re-adjustment before doing so again. It's head would be forward jutting keeping the equilibrium with the (imaginary) horizon line with little bobbing due to the animal nature. The character is falling on it's front limbs, just as the back legs are pushing it onwards. I did the 'left' side in blue and out of sync with the red (right) side of the body. The foot adds a bit more push and the arm is a little bit quicker in action allowing the right one to be used more as a balance giving the whole character asymmetrical and therefore a more interesting locomotion.

Monday, 8 July 2013

05. fun, whacky, esoteric walk

With this walk I wanted to remind myself of the fun and wackiness that early animation walks had for their audiences and for the animators working them out. I aimed to produce a happy walk full of swing. The limbs were rubbery whilst still retaining their skeletal structure and size ratio. There is a little hop in the character as the back foot alms touches his back, creating a nice negative space there, akin to Cocco Bill comics of Jacovitti. 
This time I put in the key frames first, creating a simple walk. Then I started playing with it, adding extremes and following with accents before inbetweening all of these. Result is a fun walk cycle of 32 frames. (still working on 2s)
Unfortunately this took a good hour, leaving me very little time to shape the torso and rest of the character. I decided to have a 'sand-bag' torso and to leave it at that fulfilling the aim of the exercise.

Friday, 5 July 2013

04.1. slouch, drag, lazy walk (the sequel)

The finished version of fourth day walk. I've added torso, head and an arm. Once again I animated without key frame, discovering each new step in response to overall weight impositions of the walk.
The torso has some nice bends to it and squashes (despite being somewhat spud-like). I've tried to give a sway to the head as well giving it a more three dimensional feel. One thing I'm noticing on the review is the size issue and this is something that can easily occur without keying. (note for future!)
The arm is very loose responding to the hip movement like a set of bones, it would have been more interesting doing something else with it but the walk feel would have changed. One of important qualities I wish to learn doing this is portraying character emotion through the walk itself.
The character works relatively well on a cycle loop.
This week has been a steep learning curve. Some good recap lessons and a couple of walks with various success. Excited what will next week bring. Two days to have a ponder.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

0.4 slouch, drag, lazy walk

Here we go: day 4 and back to the walk cycle!

 After exercises of last couple of days I felt I'm ready to dive into the walk cycle. So to understand anything we need to break it down into small bits. And then slow it down. With those in mind as well as large concentration of movement in walking is on legs (unless the character is doing hand walking, but maybe that is something for the future) I'll be working on a lazy walk. I'll try to get the character slouched, arms swinging and feet lazily dragging one in front of another with weight distribution falling just in front of its core and then sway back. 
This is a quick sketch of the character, and I'll be using different layers in order to concentrate on the bones and overall volumes of the walk.
As the walk is really slow this will be around 25 frames (I'm working on 2's).
I have animated this progressively, discovering every new step as I progressed onwards. i wanted to understand the weights and movement of every frame. In future I will use this knowledge to make my 'key' frames, hit extremes and do intelligent in-betweens. 

It took quite some time though and after an hour I had the walk cycle and a beginning of the body.
Once I looped the cycle and aligned it to centre there are some lazy dragging feet there. The movement comes from the hips as feet drag on the floor and create a nice flop.
Tomorrow I'll be adding the rest of the body keeping the 'discovery' sentiment. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

0.3 flight drop loop-de-loop

Onward with the plan. Today I did another blob. This time i concentrated on the speed of the movement and the overall weight of it. To give myself a bit more challenge a 'loop-de-loop' was initiated. I did the outline of the movement first.

There is a central mass of the blob, a type of musculature and this one is very strong as it's able to push itself off from the ground, A certain amount of squish and stick was given in the ground contact as well as the change of shape dependant of the trajectory the blob on in order to further describe the movement to the eye, making it a kind of super-blob.

In addition to this I added limbs. They describe the movement much better, accenting all the extremes. As the blob falls down, the limbs add an impression that it's speeding up with it's own intent and then they 'push' the blob further up.

I tried to see whether the movement can work in a 'stationery viewpoint' and unfortunately it does not seem to be the case. 

Important lessons learnt with the squash, stretch and twists of the figure. Some good recaps on the basics principals too. I think I'm ready to tackle the walk cycle again tomorrow :)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

02. Crawling, pulling, rotating, dragging

Yesterday I felt I jumped in the deep end with the animation. Looking back on it I did not achieve what I intended to and felt uncomfortable during it. The is good - it means I'm learning. With the hindsight I'm looking to remind myself of some of the basic ball techniques, the softness and the fun of animation before I go into the chunkiness of the bones, where subtlety will be all important. So for today I'm gave myself a different challenge. Still a walk cycle of sorts, but without legs, understanding the basic locomotion of a blob, similar to invertebrate molluscs. I gave myself an arc which this will follow. 
So along the arc there is a smaller 'tug' and a bigger 'drag'. Once I animated the 'body', I've felt confident enough to add the arms / tentacles to this character, thinking of the rotation of the 'shoulders'. The movement is a similar of swimming front crawl. I've reminded myself of the drag given on body push, gravity effect and silhouette importance. I think I may do another blob tomorrow, maybe with a drop just to consolidate before moving on to the next step.

Monday, 1 July 2013

01.apish proud swing heavy walk

Right here is the first cycle. 
I think I took just over 45 minutes for this one. Body and legs (in red) 30 minutes and 15 for the arms (blue). I was aiming for a heavy walk with a swing. The character would have some sense of pride so chest out. On assessment there is a bit of a limp. The right foot hits the floor fast and resets, the left one is much slower. A way to 'fix' this would be to add a few more frames. However a better pacing and body positioning would achieve this. Looking at the body his shoulder drops too adding this effect. The perspective of the torso is nice, but there is much work to be done. Arms are just swinging, and they are not really adding anything to the character apart from bulk. It's the first one and if it was perfect with intent I wouldn't be doing these. Hope for improvement tomorrow. For these cycles I will be working on 2's as ones would just be an insane amount of work and it's only in the fast actions ( like running) where there would be any difference. 

The beginning

They say that walk cycles in animation are some of the hardest things to achieve. To get the character imbued with life to walk across the screen one has to understand movement, muscles, bones, gravity, acting and storytelling in order to convey this complex motion. Many great animation books cover walks in details. R. Williams intro of seven months walk cycles is awesome to behold. Whichever medium (drawn, virtual models, stop-motion) is used the principles are the same. 
In the past, whenever I came to a walk cycle in animation i would get the sweats and a feeling of dread. Usually all of my reference material would come out but and I would get a result which I was adequate for the scene in question. However I never felt I understood walking in the same way as I did construction of a body for example. I understood perspective, muscle positioning, bone alignment weight of the line, lighting and colours. These things came from twenty years of intense drawing and a truckload of life drawing. If I would have to draw a figure, whatever the brief, I would be confident I could do it, and more importantly to explain what I did. I believed in order to be a great animator I would have to learn his to do this, and what better way than walk cycles. So I've set myself a challenge!
Every workday (Monday to Friday) I will do a walk cycle. 
In order to keep my attention on the animation and not on the rendering of the characters I will keep this to a 30 minute set.
This will also help motivate me, after all it's only 30 minutes a day and could be before I launch into work, in a lunch break, or maybe just before bedtime. 
I may go over 30 minutes if I get engaged in it, but 30 minutes is the minimum I'll spend on it. 
There will be no copying of cycles from others, references are allowed especially live ones, but I will be having fun with these, stretching and squashing and playing with various aspects. 
To do this I will use Flash, and a Wacom tablet. It's the fastest way to do this as I will inevitably have different body shapes throughout. 
It's about continuous practise of my craft and improvement of my skills. 
Enter: Walking With Ogi: WWO