Sunday, December 11, 2016

Photoshop Animation: A New Journey

It's been quite a while since I've posted on this blog. My Instagram feed on the side is always updating, you can always follow me there for quick hits. Also my Illustration and Photography page auto update when I add to my Flickr, so there is always new work to be seen.  Still, my day to day blogging has been lacking as of late.  Like most blogs it comes in waves. I commend anyone who can blog every day all day. It really becomes like a second job when you do that. Plus, I've been quite busy freelancing as of late, and most of that stuff I'm not aloud to just openly share my process on. However, I have been dabbling more into some personal things and it's time I got off my lazy ass and posted more.

Recently I've been trying to develop a new skill-set in Photoshop animation. I've always thought the Timeline option in Photoshop was really cool, but I've always been weary to dive into it. Doing frame by frame animation takes a lot more patience and time to get to that final product. I've grown pretty quick in my abilities to use Illustrator and After Effects to animate, so that excuse wasn't cutting it anymore. The bottom line is, if I want to make this part of my process, I need to practice to get quick at it. Just like I did with Illustrator. I've approached this in 2 forms so far: Pixel and Hand Drawn. 


As an avid gamer this only felt like an obvious first step into the ream of the Photoshop Timeline.  For one, making pixel art in Photoshop is quite easy in principle.  You make a tiny canvas (300x300px), and then you color in each pixel until you make something cool.  The process of making a still image is actually quite fun because there isn't much you can do to totally ruin anything.  I started by making a couple character images. One of a favorite video game character of mine, ICO.  The other was a self portrait of myself with my cat.

This much was fairly easy, but I wanted to take it the next step.  So, I began working with my character to try and make a jump animation.  It seems simple enough to start, but when you have to begin bending pixel legs and making 12 or so copies, it gets a little more daunting.  To save some time, instead of drawing the character from scratch each and every time, I would copy and paste bits that didn't change much.  For instance, the torso remains fairly straight for a majority of the animation. Also the head stays the same almost throughout.  Doing this saved me lots of time while only having to focus on arms and legs and any other secondary motion such as the shirt and hair. 20-so frames later I had the jump that I was happy with.

I forgot to mention that I created the animation in a 30fps timeline.  I tried looking up the standard but couldn't really find one.  I wasn't going for the completely old school look, and I know that most modern games today run somewhere between 30fps and 60fps, so I just went with 30.  I also wanted it to look really smooth so I thought this would be better than a typical low animation frame rate. Below is the result in motion.

As you can see those 20 frames zip right by, and about 5 of them are just the hair bounce at the end. But that secondary motion of hair, the shirt, the smoke puff, all really add to the effect of the motion.

Hand Drawn

Now that I had my feet wet in the Photoshop Timeline, I felt I was ready to explore some more hand drawn type animations.  Once again, I thought it best to start off with something I was familiar with.  About a year ago I had sketched a character in my notebook.

I had always really loved this guy and planned to do some animation with him, but just never got around to it.  Creating him in Illustrator just felt like I was cheapening his look.  He was meant to have a hand drawn feel to him.  So, with the same principles in mind from the Pixel animation, I began drawing this guy.  However, starting out was much different.  I had to make a stick figure rendition first to make sure the timing was right.

Once I had this locked down I could begin my shortened process as before.  I made a sketch of the character first. Then, instead of drawing him new everytime, I simply copied and pasted him and used the lasso tool to rotate the limbs and such.  This was the result:

As you can see,  there are some breaks in the lines near his arm. This was the result of me using the lasso tool and moving bits around.  However, it worked to speed up the process. Now I could go through and draw over everything very nicely without worrying about timing or placement.  I did that, and added some color to get the final image:
This process really taught me a lot, and I took it to the next level on my next project. Someone had reached out to me on Instagram asking if I could animate their character removing a sword from a stone, like in Zelda. Being a huge fan of that entire sentence I couldn't possible refuse. So, I began by going through the same set of steps to achieve the animation:
From there I decided to take it a step further. I brought the character and background into After Effects separately so I could do further compositing on the animation as well as give it some slight camera motion. After tweaking the colors, adding some flares and dust, I was pretty pleased with the final result:
I have to say all in all this has been a really fun endeavor and a nice break from business as usual. While I still love making characters in Illustrator, using Duik to rig and animating in After Effects, it's still nice to hone a new skill. That's it for now. I will hopefully be blogging a little more often now. Probably not every day, but at least more than once every 6 months. Also I created a Facebook page specifically for my blog and art. So if you want to support me go over there and like the page. Otherwise check out all my social links on the right side of my blog. You can follow me just about anywhere.


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