Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You Call This a Crime Scene?

By this point, you may have noticed that pretty much everything is lacking outlines. This was a decision I made before I started animating, which grew out of a test to see if I could animate characters without drawing and inking and coloring. Instead, I'm animating layers of colored shapes that make up the characters, if that makes sense.

I decided to do it this way for two reasons. First, it can be a time-saver. Not having outlines means eliminating a cleanup/inking stage, and sort of eliminates a coloring stage as well.

Secondly, I'm not crazy about Flash's brushes, so getting decent lines means going back and forth to Illustrator, which isn't worth the hassle, especially since cut and paste between Flash and Illo has been broken since 2004.

But I'm kind of missing having outlines. I still have them as a first step, drawing stuff out in Illustrator:

I'll use that one Illustrator drawing as a starting point for when I get into Flash, so there is a little cleanup, but usually just once per scene, not for every extreme or key pose. Here's what this guy looks like all Flashified:

I can live with no outlines this time around. But having no inlines means I have to find some other way to define where the character overlaps itself. I thought I might avoid overlap all together by forcing myself to have strong silhouettes for every pose, but it's a lot harder to not overlap once stuff starts moving. My solution is to separate overlaps with gradients. It looks okay in still images, but in motion, it looks like everyone has dirty forearms.

So, back to animating by building up layers of shapes. It's really not any different than what you would do by roughing things out on paper. I still do the big masses first and layer on top until I get to the secondary action passes. Here's a wireframe version of a grappling sequence. Click on the thumbnail to see the animated GIF:

Each colored outline is a separate layer. Almost everything is shape-tweened, except for the hands and heads, which are symbols. The luchador's face appears to hang off his head because it's masked off except for the top corner of his brow. It looks correct when it's rendered.