Dec30
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: BooksGeneralInspiration

Here is a sheet of figures drawn by Glenn Vilppu, life drawing instructor and layout man. This is an excellent simplistic approach to sketching the fi gure for animation purposes. I suggest you study them and for the purpose of the action analysis class tonight (and next week) try to emulate them. The model will be clothed but I am suggesting that you think of the structure and attitude of the body rather than the clothing. After capturing the pose begin to consider what affect that pose has on the costume. The idea is that you don’t animate clothing running around doing its thing — you animate a character which is a body that just happens to have some clothes on it.

If you want to experiment and use a cartoon character in place of the human fi gure that is fi ne. In any event try to caricaturize the pose, which means to go a little farther with the pose than the model has done (or even could do — not being a cartoon character). (more…)

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Dec25
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: General

A well-designed character has the following characteristics:

– It will be immediately recognizable and relatable.

– It will be have a recognizable shape or silhouette.

– It will reflect the personality of the character.

– It will have physical attributes that complement the content of the story.

– It will be able to complete the actions that are required by the script.

– It will be interesting to watch.

Searching for the right gopher. Sean McNally character design sheets for Gopher Broke, Blur Studios

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Dec23
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneral

Happy Holidays from Focal Press!

Special offer! Receive 20% discount* on all Focal Press books through the holiday on www.focalpress.com. Use discount code CHEER. Orders over $35 receive free shipping to the US and Canada.

Now it is time to…LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW. Creating constantly falling snow is fun. Like the rain example, snow can be animated several different ways. The easiest way is to Motion tween a snowflake symbol along a Motion Guide path. Other methods include using ActionScript-generated snow, but don’t ask me to show how that is done because I admittedly do not know how to write scripts on that level. Let’s stick with my “analog” method of animating in Flash shall we?

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Dec18
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimationGames

Let’s get started with the terrain project. This project will begin from an empty Unity project, featuring one empty scene. The first step in creating terrain for a scene is to generate the Terrain mesh – the mesh asset (vertices, edges and polygons) that will act as the terrain. This Terrain mesh will begin its life as a highly tessellated plane – that is, a flat surface whose topology consists of densely packed and regularly spaced vertices. It’ll be our job as the project progresses to use the Terrain tools to sculpt and mould that initial terrain into its final shape, just as a sculptor shapes a composition from an initially formless lump of clay. Consider the following steps.

1. Select Terrain > Create Terrain from the application main menu. (SToP PReSS. In Unity 4.2 or above, Terrains are created by selecting Game Object > Create Other > Terraine.) Clicking this will generate a new Terrain mesh in the scene. In practice, two things happen here ‘under the hood’: first, a terrain Asset is generated in the Project panel; and second, a terrain Mesh is added to the scene as a game object on the basis of the asset. The newly created game object will have both a Terrain component and a Terrain collider component. The former will allow us to sculpt and texture the terrain and the latter to detect collisions with the terrain so that the player character and enemies will walk on top of the terrain as opposed to falling through and descending into oblivion. (more…)

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Dec16
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimationGames

To download the free project files for this tutorial,  click here!

We are going to learn how to find the stride length of a walk cycle quickly. This will be invaluable to your workflow, because a good animator should know how to put together an accurate, looping walk cycle in a short amount of time. Use this cheat whenever you start any looping animation that needs to travel in Z; for walk cycles that stay in place without having a master control counter-animated against the world IK controls (like in games), you need only make sure that, as the animation cycles, there are no visible pops in the animation.

Remember, the stride length is the distance that a character travels in one complete cycle. For a biped, this means two steps. We are going to assume a 20-frame walk cycle, meaning 10 frames per step. Also, the first and last frame need to be the same so we’re going to be doing a lot of copying keys, and a lot of math input in the Graph Editor’s stat boxes. However, knowing our stride length, this is a simple process and will quickly become an indispensible part of your workflow.

We are not going to animate the full cycle, only find the stride length and animate the feet accurately (see the additional content at howtocheatinmaya.com for a complete walk cycle tutorial). The rest of the animation on the body that doesn’t travel in Z is very simple to make cycle: copy the first frame to the last frame of the cycle, and make sure the Post- Infinity curve type is just “cycle”! Let’s give it a shot.

1 Open walk_start.ma. Goon is standing still, ready to animate. Remember that we’re going to be using a lot of math operators in the Graph Editor, so open it up in preparation for this.

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Dec11
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

Change in Size

With a single object a change in size from one frame to the next creates a sense of depth. Objects that grow appear to come closer and objects that shrink appear to move further away from us. This change in size of the objects within the scene adds visual interest and depth to the shots. This is one of the reasons why it’s preferable to stage compositions so that objects will grow in size within the frame instead of using profile shots (Figures 2.52 and 2.53).

FIGURE 2.52

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Dec09
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationInspiration

Final 3D Landscape

CREATING THE SNOW AND MATERIALS

The snow material is a simple white standard material. I did some tests using an Arch and Design material with sub-surface scattering, but it increased render time without really improving the look of the snow. In the end I did use A&D materials, but only for objects with opacity maps, as A&D’s Cutout works better with Mental Ray than Opacity in the standard material.

I think with this type of lighting (sunset with a low and relatively dim light), the modelling is more important than the shader to make it look believable. Also, using a simple shader was much easier to manage than a complex one. Indeed, as almost all of the objects had at least one snow material on them but with different maps, they had to look exactly the same.

I was not quite satisfied with the snow covering the pine trees in the foreground. There was clearly a lack of details compared to the scale of the trees. I tried to completely remodel the snow using a new selection of leaves and some tweaking in the Blobmesh parameters but that didn’t work out too well. So after testing a couple of possible solutions the best way I found was to use a Landscape shader in the Opacity slot, so when rendering we see only the upper part of the mesh.

Another trick to simulate a snow layer on the trees was to bake a set of lights placed on top of each source tree using Render To Texture. The resulting black and white maps were used as masks in the leaf materials. These maps could have been used for snow displacement, but I did some tests and it took a bit too long to render.
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Dec05
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneral

The votes are in!

At Focal Press, we publish best-selling 3D animation books, covering Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya, Adobe Flash, Adobe Photoshop, Blender, and more. So, this year, we decided to do what we do best… and take our Character Mentor contest to the next dimension.

We challenged our readers and welcomed original character, environment, vehicle, and creature designs created in any of the software we publish books in.

Pairing up with some of Focal’s most generous friends (Toon Boom, Animation Mentor, and 3D Artist) and our authors, we have officially selected a winner!

Congratulations to Calla of Torrance, California, whose work was truly impeccable… and a bit chilly!

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Dec03
2013

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneral

Creating a beautifully designed portfolio package looks professional. People will know that you take your work seriously. However, it is important to know that no matter how professionally you package your work, if your work isn’t good, then you have wasted your time creating the package. So first, spend your time developing the content of your portfolio; then, and only then, package and promote your work.

The contents of your professional package should contain the following: a business card, a cover letter, résumé, demo reel or portfolio, breakdown list, and web presence. It could also contain, if required by the company, a reel submission form and DVD label and case. Some companies only accept applications through e-mail or website and explicitly say that they absolutely do not accept mailed submissions. You should design all these pieces together, so that they form a cohesive package.

Most of these information should be present online. The rest can be printed on an as needed basis, dependent on the individual requirements of each company’s application process. A demo reel showcases your very best work, a cover letter is written specifically for each job for which you are applying, a résumé is tailored to show that you have the necessary qualifications listed in the job description, a breakdown list accompanies the demo reel with specific information regarding each clip seen on the reel, and web presence is necessary so that your information is easily accessible, whether it be a full website or simply a blog where your work can be seen. A reel submission form gives a company permission to view your work while it releases them from any prosecution or liability for any similarity found in relation to their current or future work and, if required, is usually downloadable from the individual company requesting one.

Examples for each element will be presented in this chapter. Additional examples can be found on the website www.reelsuccess.com.

LOGO, IDENTITY, OR BRAND

All your materials should be unifi ed by a design that represents you. This could be a logo that you’ve designed to brand yourself or simply a color scheme that is carried throughout all of your presentation materials.

One of the things that you do not want to do is to market yourself as a company, unless you are actually creating your own company as in Figure 2.1.

Figure 2.1 An Example Business Card of Someone Who, with Two Other Friends, Started Their Own Studio

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