Sunday 8 May 2016

Making Animation Templates for Animation Companion

I'm making some more animation templates for Animation Companion. I could just rotoscope myself doing the motions, but it's always a hassle pulling out a tripod and setting that up. Instead, I'm using old public domain motion studies by Eadward Muybridge as a starting point. I'm getting better at cutting up the different frames, normalizing them, aligning them, and correcting the animations to be smoother. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but they are sufficient to serve as a base for creating the general motion.

For an amateur artist like me, having a template that I can use as a base for my own art is really useful. I don't spend a lot of time watching how people move, so it would normally take me forever to figure out how to make a simple walk animation. I don't normally think about how my elbow bends when I walk. I would have to walk around lots and figure out the positions of my own limbs and then put that into an animation and try to work out the timing. I would then have to fiddle things for a long time to get things smooth. With a template, I can just drop things in approximately the same places as on the template and go.

Templates, of course, are only meant to serve as a simple guide for the artist. Different characters have different shapes and oddly shaped limbs, so an artist will always have to adapt things to their own characters. My templates are also just simple stick figures, which are suitable for getting the general motion right in, say, a computer game. In hand-drawn animation, different muscles will have to flex in each frame and clothing will move, which require more detailed templates and a lot more artistic judgement from the animator. Of course, at the professional level, these sorts of generic templates aren't useful at all because animators will purposely exaggerate all the motions and each character will have a slightly different gait that reflects their personalities.

Still for any artist who rarely does any animation, having some templates is a real time-saver, which is why I'm making more of them for Animation Companion.

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