Oct29
2014

By: admin                Categories: Animation

The following is an excerpt from Chris Georgenes’ How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS6. Fully updated for CS6, How to Cheat in Flash CS6, is a goldmine of artistic inspiration, timesaving practical tips, tricks and step-by-step walkthroughs that you’ll wonder how you survived without it. Here, Chris helps you to create a rotating globe in Flash.

Whenever I work with masks, I feel like a magician. Masks provide the ability for you to create illusions, much like a magician’s “sleight of hand” technique. It’s all about what the viewer doesn’t see and you, as the designer, have the ability to control that. One of the more popular animation requests from Flash users is how to make a rotating globe. The first thought is that a globe is a sphere and to animate anything rotating around a sphere requires either a 3D program or painstaking frame-by-frame animation. Not so if you can use a mask. Remember, it’s not what you see, but rather, what you don’t see.

1 First step is to create the continents. A quick online image search will yield plenty of examples. Import the image into Flash and leave it as a bitmap or use the Trace Bitmap feature or manually trace it using Flash’s drawing tools. Convert it to a symbol.

2 Create a new layer and move it below your continents. Draw a perfect circle using the Oval tool O while holding down the Shift key. Select this circle and copy it, then paste it in place on a new layer above your continents.

3 Mix a radial gradient similar to the one shown and fill the circle in the layer above your continents. Make sure to mix enough alpha into each color so the continents will show through. Using the Gradient Transform tool f, edit your gradient so that the highlight edge is off-center to one side.

4 The next step is to create a mask layer using yet another copy of the circle in the bottom layer. Create a new layer above your continents, paste in place the circle and then convert this layer to a mask layer. This will prevent the continents from being visible outside this circle. All you need to do now is motion tween the continent symbol across this circle.

5 To avoid too much of a delay in the animation between the first and last frames, you can add a new masked layer with a new instance of your continent symbol. The best way to make this looping animation as seamless as possible is to copy the first frame of the continents and paste it in place into the last frame of your Timeline. Then work backwards in the Timeline and position the continents outside of the circle to the right.

6 Since the first frame is exactly the same as the last frame, and each frame in between represents a slightly different position for the continents, select the symbol in the last frame and use the arrow keys to nudge it over a few pixels. This will avoid the two-frame “hesitation” in the movement of the continents every time the playhead returns from the last frame to frame 1.

HOT TIP
You can always move your entire animation into a Movie Clip symbol so that it can be easier to position, add multiple globes and/or target with Action Script. To do this, drag across all frames and layers to highlight them in black. Right-click or Command-click over them and select “Copy Frames” from the context menu. Open your Library and create a new Movie Clip symbol. Right-click or Command-click over frame 1 of this new symbol and select “Paste Frames.”

Excerpt from How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS6: The Art of Design and Animation by Chris Georgenes © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS6 can be purchased Amazon.comBN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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Oct27
2014

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGames

The following is an excerpt from Stewart Jones’ Digital Creature RiggingDigital Creature Rigging gives you the practical, hands-on approaches to rigging you need, with a theoretical look at 12 rigging principles, and plenty of tips, tricks and techniques to get you up and running quickly.

A lot of 3D packages create bones as a “special” sort of object/node, with specific bone-only properties that no other node in the application has. One of the unusual, but very awesome, features of 3ds Max’s bone system is that any object can become a bone, grab hold of all the properties and attributes that make it a bone, and behave exactly the same. I still prefer to use bones when creating a skeleton, but the option to use anything we want is sort of cool. When it comes to currently selecting the joints and bones that make up our creature’s skeleton, it is a bit cumbersome, as we have to select through the mesh. As we do not have any controllers in place or an actual rig setup just yet, that is really the only thing we can do for the moment. However, as bones are not classed as a “special” sort of node within 3ds Max, we can edit their appearance to make selecting them easier.

Of course, we could jump into the Bone Tools options and turn on “Fins” adjusting them to better fit the mesh, but this would be a waste of time, as we can do something much better. With a bone of your choice selected, head over to the Modify Panel and add an “Edit Poly” modifier to the bone. With the Edit Poly modifier applied, we are able to go into all of the parameters, attributes, and options for the modifier and edit the look of the bone. What this means is that we can reshape every bone in the skeleton to fit our creature very closely.

Make sure to keep this as a very low-poly edit so the bones can evaluate quickly in the viewports. By doing this, not only has this made selecting the bones easier, but it has also created a low-poly “cut” version of the creature. In later stages when this creature is placed into an environment, the skinned geometry may cause the scene to slow down, and this can make the animation process incredibly difficult, as if it was not difficult enough already. By having this low-poly cut skeletal version of the creature, the animator can hide the geometry and use this instead. Obviously, this will not give the animator access to view the deformations of the creature with the geometry hidden, but it should speed the viewport up and give a very good representation of the size and mass of the creature as it moves and interacts with the environment. I usually leave the fingers out of this bone reshaping step, both because it can end up taking too long and because it is not overly beneficial for the animators at this stage.

Oh yeah, and you can mirror to the other side too! Simply copy the “Edit Poly” modifier from a completed bone, paste it to the other side, then add the “Mirror” modifier and adjust the parameters so it fits correctly.

FIG 4-44 An Edit Poly modifier added to the bones of Belraus and reshaped to fit the geometry.

Reshaping Bones

To reshape the bones of your creature, simply add an “Edit Poly” modifier to each bone and edit away. You can easily mirror to an opposite side by copying the modifier to the other bone and adding a “Mirror” modifier and adjusting the parameters so it fits correctly.

To complete this reshaping, it is a good idea to color the bones using our coloring convention. Although these bones may not be seen at all when we introduce the animation rig, we still want them to be easily distinguishable while in this base rig phase.

Excerpt from Digital Creature Rigging: The Art and Science of CG Creature Setup in 3ds Max by Stewart Jones.  © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Digital Creature Rigging can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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Oct22
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

The human eye is drawn to the area of greatest contrast just as it is naturally drawn to the optical center of the frame. The most dramatic contrast is between black and white as shown in Figure 10-13, but this principle applies even if your tonal values are relatively close, as Figure 10-14 demonstrates. No matter how close the values, the characters will stand out from the backgrounds.

Figure 10-13 - 10-14

[Fig. 10-13, Fig. 10-14] A screaming gal in a monster movie and a screaming gull in a beach picture. The eye immediately goes to the areas of greatest tonal contrast even when the values are close, as shown in Figure 10-14.

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Oct20
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

This licensing agreement might be used for background design artwork for a splash page or a comic book cover. With some modifications it could also be used to license a short story.

Artwork License Agreement -

This Agreement dated __________, 20__ (the “Effective Date”) is made by and between Beard-O-Brush, an artist, residing at ________________ (hereinafter, “Licensor” *1), and Carlo Creator, a comic book creator, residing at ________________ (hereinafter, “Licensee” *2). Licensor and Licensee may each be referred to herein individually as a “Party” and collectively as the “Parties.”

WITNESSETH: *3

WHEREAS, Licensor is the owner of the Artwork (as defined below);

WHEREAS, Licensee is the creator of the Comic Book (as defined below);

WHEREAS, Licensee wishes to acquire the rights to use the Artwork on the cover of the Comic Book, and in any reprint of the Comic Book, as hereafter defined; and

WHEREAS, Licensor is willing to grant to Licensee, and Licensee wishes to accept, a limited license to the Artwork on the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the premises, and of the mutual undertakings herein contained, the parties, intending to be legally bound, agree as follows:

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Oct13
2014

By: Walt Stanchfield                Categories: Animation

This is an excerpt from Drawn To Life by the late Walt Stanchfield, edited by Don Hahn.

On the Channel 5 morning newscast, weatherman Mark Cristi related an amusing story, but couldn’t remember the name of the person he was quoting. Barbara Beck, anchor woman, said, “Mark never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. ” It was a good story and whether the person quoted was Rodney Dangerfield or Prince Charles, it wouldn’t have added or taken away from the comical twist. (The story was about some older man who had gotten his much younger wife pregnant so she would have a playmate.)

Here is a paraphrase of that line: “ … don’t let the facts get in the way of a good drawing. ” All the facts in the world are only “grist” waiting for a good story. Or to look at it from another angle, “A good story just needs enough facts to give it a vehicle for expression. ” In other words, when you draw, draw the story (or the gesture) and allow just enough facts to creep in to give your pen something to do. It’s something like the guy who was photographing with no film in his camera. He didn’t need factual proof that he was taking beautiful pictures — he could see what he was getting in his view finder.

Many years ago Stan Green stepped into Milt Kahi’s room and said: “Such-and-such-a-scene has come back from camera — it’s on the Moviola, do you want to see it? ” Milt said, “Hell, no. I animated it. I know what it looks like. ” Well … it may be a long time before some of us will be that confident (or that conceited), but you might take a hint from one of the “masters”; that is, know what your drawing looks like before you start detracting from the story with too many facts. You know what a lot of floundering and superfluous words can do to a joke’s punch line.

Ruth Rendell, British detective story writer, said she doesn’t research the mechanics of policedom for her stories, “I find if you do it consciously (rely on facts) it doesn’t work. ” Well, in drawing you do have to be conscious of the gesture and the story. Most other conscious effort should be done in an anatomy class or curled up with a good anatomy book, remembering always that what a muscle does (verb) is more important than its construction (noun).

Keep your drawings vital, zestful, and entertaining by drawing verbs not nouns. A list of verbs should be enough to convince you of their importance: twist, bend, stretch, run, jump; look, stare, be surprised, be mad, be coy; sit, lay, lean — the list goes on and on and encompasses all the activities that a story might require. Nouns are facts: a belt buckle, a shirt, a hairdo, eyes, or a mouth. Writer Josephine Tey recognized the principle of facts versus content (story). In her book The Daughters of Time, she has one of her characters comment on a portrait of Richard III, “Whatever it is, it is a face, isn’t it! Not just a collection of organs for seeing, breathing, and eating with ….”

A couple of weeks ago Tom Sito, one of our favorite people and certainly one of our best models, posed for the evening classes. As a civil war officer, he amused us with lines like (through clenched teeth that held a cigar), “Forget it General. I’m not going up that hill — it’s too dangerous. ” Anyway, Tina Price, who has renewed her interest in drawing and possibly animation, did some nice drawing those evenings. She has been attending the gesture classes for quite a time now, and has, in my mind, recently made a quantum leap in her drawing ability. She has been concentrating on the story behind the pose, and as you can see by these reproductions of her recent work — she is right on track.

Allow me to present a couple of critiques, which were designed to open up some revealing vistas of creative prowess. One student began his drawing with something that obviously fascinated him — the box that the model was holding out in front of her body. I suggested that perhaps if he drew the body attitude first, he would then be free to manipulate the arms and box to the greatest possible advantage (staging). Stare at my suggestion of a figure and let your imagination play with various possibilities for the arms and box. You can extend them, hold them close to the body, tip the box to show the audience what’s in it or hold it up high as an offering to some deity. On the other hand, look at student’s drawing and try to do the same with the body. The choices for variations are few.

Here is another one where the model was about to pick up the box. In the student’s drawing, the twinning of the arms is rather static and leads nowhere. In my suggestion sketch, I angled the arms and hands in a way that suggests a movement toward the box. All the elements are arranged to concentrate your attention on the action, which is — preparing to pick up the box.

Here is Tom Sito as a Russian — with one of those black cossack hats on and a sword close at hand, looking for the enemy — but according to James Fuji, finding something much more welcome than some opposing military force.

This is an excerpt from Drawn To Life. Drawn to Life Volume 2 can be purchased at Amazon.comBN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

Walt Stanchfield

(1919–2000) was an American animator, writer and teacher. Stanchfield is known for work on a series of classic animated feature films at Walt Disney Studios and his mentoring of Disney animators.

Don Hahn

Don Hahm produced the classic Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar from the Motion Picture Academy of the Arts and Sciences.  Hahn’s next film, The Lion King, broke box-office records to become the top-grossing traditionally animated film in Disney history.

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Oct08
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

Cutting: What Part of the Action Do You Show?

- If you only show the anticipation of an action, the audience will wonder if the action happened or whether it will happen in the future.

- If you show just the aftermath of an action, you imply that the event already happened before we arrived to see it.

- If you show the lead up to the event then cut to after it, you imply that the event happened but while we were away from the scene.

- Whenever you don’t show the event but imply that it happened, the audience will create it in their own minds.

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Oct06
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationInspirationInterviews

By the time you’ve figured out your conflicts, reactions and tactics you probably have your events in some kind of order. This is where you want to see if it is creating the experience for your audience that you want. Sometimes you have all of the elements for a story but it still isn’t entertaining. Often this is because the story is laid out and the audience can see what is coming. It makes it boring. We already know how it will end.

What engages an audience and keeps it engaged is carefully laid out narrative questions. Narrative questions set up curiosity, intrigue or suspense in the mind of your audience. Some questions you will answer immediately—they are setups. For example in Defective Detective the first thing we see is an apartment building when a light in one window is on. Immediately your audience is wondering—who’s in the apartment? And then we can show them. Other times, when answers to the questions are given too quickly the audience loses interest. So the key to good storytelling is to make the audience wait. But it is also important to determine what it is waiting for. (more…)

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Oct01
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

1. Sometimes the best way to really sell a character is to present them in a well-polished image that puts them into some kind of context. This could relate to their function, job, or place within the world that they inhabit. It also provides the character designer with a good reason to stretch their artistic legs a little and produce a stunning piece of design that also serves as an eye-popping piece of artwork. This image by Paul Green is a superb example of this.

2. Paul began by coming up with a design for his central character. His first pencil sketches were very quick and loose as he explored shapes and proportions for the character. These provided the basis for producing a couple of full-body studies, which he finished with clean inked line-work. Although each one was built from the same base template, they were quite different to one another while sharing certain similarities, such as the cloak, goggles, staff, and flowing belts or straps. This version of the character featured a stylized physique with very broad shoulders and elongated limb proportions (stylistic decisions discussed in the “Breaking Anatomy” chapter, pages 102–107). These features created a dynamic, heroic feel for the character.

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Sep29
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

And when all is said and done, making money through self-publishing (especially with a printed title) can be difficult. To see why, let’s follow the money as it goes from the comic book storeowner’s wallet to yours.

1. Purchaser buys the book for $4.00

2. Retailer keeps approximately 40–50% of the cover price = ($2.00)

3. The distributor, who has sold the book to the retailer on a nonreturnable basis, might have bought it from you at 60–70% off of the cover price. a. So, if the cover price is $4.00, and the distributor purchased it from you at 70% off the cover price, you will get $1.20 per book.

4. Keep in mind however, that out of that $1.20 per book (if you’re lucky) you have to pay printing costs, as well as any other production costs (which can be quite considerable). In fact, these costs can actually exceed the revenue from the sales of your book. In other words, you might be losing money!

As you can see, for a smaller “floppy comic” (single issue, 22-page soft cover comic), the profit margins are often too small to make economic sense. Many artists only self-publish longer books and selling them for $15–$25 per book.

Have I scared you off yet? No? Great—let’s learn about printers!

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Sep24
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

I will refer to some shapes as “foundation” shapes since they form the basis for complex designs in the art of many cultures. The four foundation shapes are circles and ovals (which are easiest to draw and distort), squares, triangles, and cylinders. (These shapes translate into ‘primitives’ in CGI programs.) The graphic animated symbol and the more rounded, dimensional character will both be created from the interplay of these foundation shapes. A graphically styled film may use the shapes with little modification, as shown in Figure 6-13. A dimensional character’s design will seem more complex but will still use graphic foundation shapes for its basic construction.

Figure 6.13

[Fig. 6-13] A simple character may consist only of foundation shapes. EM! ® from We All Die Alone by Mark Newgarden. Reproduced by permission of Mark Newgarden.

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