R&D Final Breakdown Video and Declaration


R & D Report – 250 words

For this unit we were asked to select a role and choose a R&D project. I chose Character Animation as my role and the project I chose was “2D and 3D”. I have always been interested in 2D animation and combining the workflow of 3D. For this project I researched into shaders and looked into textures. One of my main inspirations was Paper man. I wanted to merge 3D and 2D hand animation. I didn’t want the computer just to create the piece but for me to have artistic decisions. When working in 2D I wanted to add extra elements of character animation, overlapping hair over exaggerating further. I didn’t want it to look tacky I wanted to put my own flair into it. I did lots of different tests, rendering out maya vectors and outlines separately compositing them together, animating together. I ran out of the time to finish hand illustrating over at the end but I will continue this. I really thought how to develop and solved my own problems such as creating my own paper texture to capture motion of rig. I looked closely at other’s workflow who created similar work. They used 3D to animate the character and camera motion but took it into 2D by creating an illustration style. Overall I enjoyed looking into this progress as it is something I have always wanted to do since seeing Paper man. Unlike the in house software at Disney I had to work out a lot on my own to get to the end result.


Final Animation

Above is our final animation. You can now view it online Live at BBC Radio 4 at this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03vhn5x.

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This was one of my first animation live briefs, because of this I was able to get some very valuable experience. For instance interacting with client feedback, pitching to clients and collaborating. I am overall really happy with our animation, there are things I would have improved if I had more time. I would have liked to spend time polishing off some of my shots adding more in betweens and spending more time adding more lighting. However we had a really short deadline andI am really happy with the end piece.

When we was first given this brief I considered working on my own however me and Alice felt as we are lucky to live together we could create something with each other. We started the process by looking through the scripts. As each script was 15 minutes long and there was around 7 it took us two hours to read it once. However we slowly narrowed down our inspiration of the wind witches. This folklore really spoke to us and we felt we could portray some beautiful illustrations. We both wanted to do frame by frame animation, for this we had to search for plug ins and also brushes. We brought some brushes online and found a very amazing plug in for Photoshop. One of the good things I felt about this project was the fact we had to get all the preproduction development out of the way quite early. As a lover for the this stage of production it was good to give my self a time limit so we could work on the creation of the piece.

Pitching and Feedback from Clients – Because we were working on a live brief we were giving the opportunity to pitch in front of the clients twice as well as getting feedback. I was nervous to pitch but when we were actually doing it I felt confident. We were able to practice the pitch and that made me feel better. The feedback we got was to sort out the ending music so it dosen’t stop so suddenly, luckily we realised our music was meant to last longer so it was a quick change. I realised they weren’t as scary as I thought.

Collaboration – This unit is dedicated to collaboration. I have been able to collaborate with Alice, James the “music man” and 2 sound students. Overall working with Alice has been really good it is the first time either of us worked together on an animation together. We really worked together well, feeding ideas of each other and sharing an equal amount of work. We were honest with things we wanted to change or improve as well as praising to each other. We hung lots of schedules to our wall and used pintrest to create visual inspiration. It was the first time I had ever worked with music or sound. We were lucky enough to be approached by two sound students who said they would both like to work on the animation. Further to the point they said whoever didn’t get chosen would still work on the sound so they could put it on there showreel. This meant me and Alice would have to send feedback to two separate sound students. In a way it was really good experience because we had to takes on our piece, but we had to right what we wanted to change and why. One of the sound students put us in contact with a music student at Ravensbourne. We set up a meeting with the music student and was able to discuss ideas. Me and Alice made the decision to send out info packs with visual inspiration, deadlines, moodboard and suggestions.

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Above are some stills from the shots I worked on 🙂

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BBC Radio 4 featured us on 4 Stories where they put exceptional readings and dramas! We were thrilled with this!
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Article on the BBC Radio 4 about our piece.

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Put on there Facebook page, it was such satisfaction to see people sharing it and liking the animation! So rewarding 😉

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Above are some screen shots from people retweeting our work. Again it was an amazing feeling to see people retweeting our animation! A lot of people interested in paganisim and folklore have been sharing our work which has been really fantastic to see!

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Industry Exercise
Briefing page of this unit. Here are some of the notes I took during the first briefing lesson. This term sees us creating an R & D Project – research and development project.
Here is an initial mind map I created in order to understand my feelings on what to go for as there is so many possibilities for this project. I decided to think about what I want to look into for third year. What would benefit me looking into. I was able to narrow it down to two of these see below.
Above you can see my Gantt chart that I have created in order to work out my workflow for this unit. We have two other units simultaneously during this unit so organisation is key! I have tried to allow for time for the other projects as well. This consideration should mean for a more successful chance of following it! I like being able to see where my deadlines are so I can visually see the time I have.


Identified Role: Character Animation

Creative industries in the UK are worth £71 billion a year with an employee rate of 1.5 million. According to the WWW.GOV.UK the Animation industry generates £300m annually. This is animation made for: film, TV, commercial, websites, mobile phones and computer games. The demand for different content for animation is always expanding.

If we branch a little more into the animation industry now we can get an understanding of what it is like at this present time in reality. I looked on creative skillset which has really beautifully diagrams and illustrations. Something that interested me was the gender gap with 60% of men being in industry. This is a good rise for females hopefully this number will continue to rise.



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Identifying where the industry is booming, the top place is London with the South West of England as a second runner.


To survive in such roles the below characteristics is important in character animation.

  • have a feel for movement and timing
  • possess creative and artistic qualities, along with the appropriate technical skills
  • have observational skills and acting talent, for character work
  • have good communication skills
  • have good team-working skills
  • have good organisational skills
  • pay close attention to detail
  • be able to take direction  “







R&D Project

The two ideas I defined are below

Facial Animating/ emotive animating

Performance animation focusses on facial/emotive/narrative animation. Push yourself to construct a strong performing piece, perhaps using existing dialogue/sound, multiple emotions with the same dialogue, different output performances (styles or performance).”

For this I hoped to create a performance piece focusing on facial animation, understanding what to ask riggers for when it comes to facial animation, how to create smooth animation with the face, work on lip sync, how to change emotion or emphasis with one piece of dialogue. Be playful. But understand how to utilise the graph editor in depth. Be able to push myself to make a strong piece. So maybe a really strong piece of music or dialogue as suggested in the brief.

Tutorials I identified:


Above is a tutorial I found on line which broke down the facial rigging, it actually shows the workflow for this also. I think if I did this project understanding facial rigging should really be mentioned. If I understand what to ask riggers when it comes to doing my character animation then I will be able to determine terms and the rigging lingo – which luckily we have already began to work on during the workshops.


I really love this scene from Tangled which uses facial animation to create that intimate moment between Flynn and Rapunzal. There is a real sense of emotion and you loose yourself in the beautiful animation which is seamlessly done. I like the idea of having conflicting emotions or a really hard emotion to convey. For instance when I was researching last term and identifying some nice references some of people’s work which focused on crying seemed hard to translate. Crying seems like a hard emotion.

Above you can see a facial animation which tested out a rigged face, I love this animation as I feel it could be really interesting to look in to create a series of faces for one character. I could develop a character or use an existing character or figure for instance lets say choosing someone like Boudica and creating a character facial tests. I think this could also help me further develop my character development skills which is important as a character animator. I also do like the aspect of facial rigging as well which could be another pathway for this topic if I chose this R & D project.


Looking at 2D and 3D

– Looking at how to make 3d look 2d, or give a certain look. My second idea is looking at 2D and 3D and how to utilise 3d. I hope to animate a very short scene about 1 or 2 seconds long and develop how to create a 2D appearance.

The Guardian

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Produced by N9ve and directed by its founder, Alessandro Novelli,

Exclusive interview: Plenty takes on Alice in Wonderland for Good Books


In the main scene, for example, there are 110 objects just on the table, and each one, as well as the characters and the rest of the assets, were digitally hand-painted, one by one.

The film has close to 50 shots. Since there was no client (in the traditional sense), there were no limitations or a client’s final ok, so as time went by, we came up with new ideas — and that meant changes to the film — and these affected the workflow.”

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First, we animated to the Mad Hatter in 3D, because we have him rigged from the tea time 3D scenes. We also did a 3D particle simulation of the books (the ravens), and of course we animated the camera movements in 3D.

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After this process, we drew up each frame with a 2D illustration style to integrate the Mad Hatter more into to the aesthetics of the world, where big eyes, books and 2D brushes live all together in a single scene.”

I have identified some animations which have inspired me for this piece. So the above is an animation short from a scene from Alice in Wonderland. There was a huge process behind it and a really useful interview. I tried to copy here some of the breakdown of the workflow. What I really admire is how the animation is all done in 3D and then has to go through a 2D workflow also. Also not just once but 2 times with different software. I think this could be a really nice way to work on this unit, looking at the diverse ways of creating this look which creates a way of manipulate the style of the output of the piece. 

Above is another video which I came across when I was looking at Facial animating/Rigging. I really love the final output of this piece, the creator didn’t let out any secrets to how the style was created other than saying he was interested in creating the illusions. You can see in the comments how desired the look is. My guest is a shader with an outline shader. I want to try and work out how this look could be recreated.

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Paper man is critically acclaimed for its beauty! As well as being ascetically beautiful to gaze upon it, it is the only Disney animation ever to win an oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 85th Academy awards. As well as winning an oscar it won for Best animated short at the Annie awards. I believe it was the technical style that really gained it the fan based. Above is a really nice breakdown video where the creators discuss how they went about creating the look. It is really interesting to see how they breakdown the process.

John Kahrs states that “those drawings were something I didn’t want to leave behind when we went into the final product of the computer animation. I thought, ‘Isn’t there a way we could bring drawings back into the final frames of animation?'” He wanted an extension of the preproduction drawings in the final creation.

The pipeline of Paperman used Meander a hybrid based drawing and animation system which artist were able to interact with.

The inside story behind Disney’s Paperman

(This website explain the pipeline perfectly)

CG animation> Motion fields > Silhouette ribbons > Motion paper > Final lines and paint > Motion pasting > Motion betweening 

“Final lines and paint – using Meander, final line artists drew key drawings on top of the CG renders, relying on two techniques to then compute the non-key drawings but preserve the temporal coherence of the final-line stage.”

The process again talks about drawing on top of the 3D animation.Below you can see the different layers of lines beginning with clocking out the main features, illustrating features, hair shading and hair lines.

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Meander is a hybrid vector/raster-based drawing and animation system that gives artists an interactive way to craft the film, not just toon-shaded renders. “We didn’t want to do something where you send it off and the computer does something to it and the next morning it comes back and it’s done – we wanted something that spoke back to the artists,” notes Kahrs.

. “It leaves all the artistic decisions very much up to the hand-drawn animators. They are the ones that really finalize the expressive quality of the image.”

As a still shot it really looks like a 2D image.
You really do forget that it is 3D when watching Paperman.

Above you can see another video which demonstrates combining 2D and 3D this is a really nice breakdown video. It shows how the creator, Pasa Mustafa created the animation in Maya, then the 2D in Flash and then proceeded by compositing into Nuke. I think what is really interesting is you can extend the animation further in the 2D workflow. I could create further overlap or extend emotion. This is something I am really considering doing.

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I have decided to look into 2D and 3D animation. I will learn how to work 2d and 3d animation to create a more appealing animation. I will research further, choose a short animated clip I have created previously/animate a short 2 second clip. I will then develop tests to see the most appealing outcome. I want to explore merging 3D and hand-drawn animation.

This was a query another person had on a forum i liked the answer. 

So what would work is rendering the animation in a certain way then drawing key points in the animation with vector lines then applying the in betweens. It would be tricky but it could work.

Here is what the process may be like in a nutshell, Render the animation with a color render+ vector blur, then do the line work (in AE or toon boom) then apply an Alpha Cut out render from the CG animation to keep a clean silhouette.

My problem is that I am rather new to the 3D world and I understand complex theories, but I have trouble executing them. So could anyone maybe explain to me how this could be done? I know that you can render an animation several times with multiple render styles and add them together for a combo effect, but again, I have trouble with the know how.. Is this called baking, or multipassing? See, I don’t know?

I can animate fine, I just need to get a better grip on 3D. Dont get me wrong, I know a decent amount and I can work my way around the programs, I just need help with specific things like this..

If anyone could guide me the right way and forgive my lack of common knowledge in the 3D world, I would be very thankful!

Thanks in advance!


Cel shading is certainly nothing new, and you can look into some of Maya’s non-photorealistic shaders (i.e. Toon shaders) and PaintEffects stroke techniques for an idea of how to achieve some out-of-the-box solutions. But these will certainly be primitive compared to Paperman. As the video you posted shows, they go far beyond simple cel-style shading and work with simulated paper textures, including texture displacement based on motion vectors, special smart line tweening, and so on. This moves beyond the realm of simply rendering and into analyzing and applying sophisticated processing to the shot in aid of rendering. All of that stuff is way beyond anything you’re likely to find in an off-the-shelf package… yet!”








To get the illusion of a 2D look I took some time to analyse 2D work. I love the hair overlap here. Especially because you can see the artist’s strokes. To achieve the look of 2D I want to really work hand craft the hair.

Toon Shaders.

I wanted to explore lots of different ways of going about this, looking first at the tools that Maya offers. I had to change the textures, as I wanted the rig to look flate I changed all textures to surface shaders. I then worked with toon outline and shader to give it an outline.

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When I exported the toon shaders out it left the previous frame outlines.
I experimented working some quick motion with 2D hair. I don’t really like the outlines they look like 90s game quality.



Next I decided to use Motion Vector, I also decided to experiment adding elements of layers with the hair in the same way Paper Man did if you see below you can see the development from this to the start.
No texture on the hair.
Flat colour.
Adding hair.
This is how it came out of Maya, as you can see there was a problem, the face came out with existing meshes and the lips seemed to disappear. curiouser and curiouser! I will explore how to get over this further on the real animation.
I tried to render out the outlines and motion vector with no lines out. This way I could use the outlines a basis to draw over. I used a pencil brush to give it a look of hand drawn. This is roughly done but it looks closer to the look I am going for.
Here it is again with the hair we did for the top.




Creating the final animation 

So I have carried out several tests and really tried to dig in with the research, there is not many people who say how they did it so I need to work it out for myself.

I begun the workflow with animation. The role I chose for this unit was character animation therefore I took my time animating the face. As I am working with 2D and 3D I did a simple animation so I could spend a long time on the workflow. I began animating in stepped and edited the tangents after. The animation is 2 seconds and a half.

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From our workshops I realised how it important it is to keep your workspace clean, to do this I made sure all my file names were correctly written. It really has helped me feel less confused and I will be keeping this up throughout third year.


The way I thought the workflow could be would be geometry>Maya vector>Outline render>Motion vector> Composite>Clean up> Illustrate.

I wasn’t sure how I should go about doing the motion vector, I experimented with using a 2D vector pass.

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However I was having some problems of trying to link up the paper texture. Why am I doing this? I don’t want to just dump some texture on top as it looks poorly done and just like there is a texture on top. I wanted the texture to be attached to the silhouette. This is something they did in Paperman but they used vector passes.

I tried to think around this problem, I came up with quickly texturing the rig and having an image plane of the texture so it blends.

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I wanted the character bald because I am still considering adding more overlap with the hair. Adding texture to the model.
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Adding an image plane of the same texture to the animation.
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Here is the model with the texture and background.

As well as rendering out the paper textures I rendered out a Maya vector, paper texture and a bump map version of the paper just to experiment.


Although Maya vector is essentially 2D it is really flat and as you can see has no edges. I want to give it a bit more of an artistic quality instead of flat graphics.
Paper texture, I wasn’t able to texture the eyelids because the rig was kind of locked but as I merging it all together I don’t think it will be an issue.
Bump map paper texture on the model, I wanted to see how the texture would show up. Below is the composited shots.
I didn’t like the way it ended up. Although the texture is better than the completely flat work it still looks too 3D, almost like a character from a game on playstation 1. So what did I need to do! I realised that I added the texture on lambert and what I should really do is do it with a surface shader.


Fixing the texturing problem, so as I said above the paper texture isn’t working. Below you can see how the surface shader with the texture works perfectly. The problem I had however was when I tried to apply the texture to the arms it didn’t work, It dosen’t matter too much as when it is composited in It shouldn’t be obvious.




Here is how this ended up, it looks weird without any outlines but if you look closely it works so much better than my first attempt!

Another look at Toon outlines.

Now I have worked out how I will render out texture and fill I want to look at different ways to use an outline. I could use maya vector to render out outlines however when I did that the mesh of the face also were outline and no matter what I tried it didn’t go away. More than that the vector lines are really straight and look to perfect to be hand drawn that is why I wanted to take a look at toon outlines in Maya. You can see the different effects of maya vector below. There are several fill and outline properties in the render settings.


Using toon outline. I added the outline to my shape but in toon in Maya you can go a step further and choose a brush style. I scribbled out several lines to see what one could work the best. The cool thing about toon is you can learn these lines into geometry and later use them in the scene.

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Below are some options for the brush styles, there are a range of different brushes from watercolour and pencils. However doing several tests there were only a couple which I felt worked okay. Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 08.22.58

Changing the outline is simple you select the outline > Paint effects tab > Choose brush > Decide the one for you and click assign brush for outline selected. Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 09.39.01


Below are several of the Gifs I made from some of the brushes.


Normal Geometry.


Marker Outline has a nice rough look.


Surface shader and the outline


The dark pencil was one of my favourites of the choices, I wanted to test how it could look with my rig so I rendered out motion texture again below.



Here it is with two different outlines, I like the pencil the best so I will now take it onto my animated rig.shadertest13-4shadertest13-5

Applying colour and outline with paper texture.

I want to render out outline and fill colour separately so I used a used background on the whole body so only the outlines are viewable.

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You can see above how the brushes do look a little clumsy I turned the global scale down after seeing this.

Below you cans see the Maya Vector> Motion Texture > Toon pencil outlines and geometry merged.I love the output of this. HOWEVER when I render out the toon pencil outlines it is messy and animated a random geometry piece in. I decided to try to clean it up in Photoshop.



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Above is a final gif, I am sad I didn’t get time to finish this but I really wanted to experiment and work things out for my self so I did lots of test. Hand animating frame by frame takes up quite a lot of time but the end result can be very beautiful.


Briefing 13/04/16

Today was the first day with Josh. He broke down the brief so we could fully understand what we would be doing this term. We will be identifying a role to choose for a r & d project. For the rest of the lesson we were asked to research ideas for the role.
Briefing Notes from Josh for first lesson
Above is the initial mind map where I discuss all the areas I have considered delving into. I wanted to look at things I need improving on but also anything which I want to have a greater knowledge in for third year. I know I am interested in the above areas.
Initial Schedule! Looks really hectic because I was putting all three units to see my schedule… But I decided to create a Gantt chart below where you can see is much clearer.


I designed and made my own Gantt chart. As I wanted to make it clear but also personal by adding deadline notices and workshop days etc. Above you can see how drastically clearer this schedule is. Using this Gantt I will be able to utilise this time and hopefully if I follow it meet the requirements for this unit.



Workshop 1 – Rigging Biped 21/04/16

IK and FK

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Urban Dictionary definition.
The website above has a really nice simple explanation of the different Iks.
In maya there is 3 different types of IK you can choose.
SC – Single chain
Single chain can be chosen to create the motion of a characters limb. Using the single chain, means it will calculate any rotations in the joints applied in the IK Chain.
RP- Rotate plain
Rotate Plain can also be chosen to create the motion of a characters limb.
“The rotate plane solver is ideal for posing joint chains (such as arms and legs) that you want to stay in the same plane. For example, the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints of an arm driven by a rotate plane IK handle all stay within the same plane as the elbow rotates. The plane itself can be rotated from the shoulder joint by the pole vector.”
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Above you can see my print screen from using a single chain/rotate plain for the Ik in the leg.
Spline Handle 
Spline handle can be used differently to create motion for curvy shapes/twisty characters. For instance spines, tails or snakes.
When researching the differences between Parent and parent constraint I came across this blog : http://www.nerdycreator.com/blog/constraints-maya-part-2/  I loved the analogy they used to distinguish the difference between parent and parent constraint which I shall explain below. 
A parent is similar to a real parent, child relationship in the fact when a parent has a child it will always be the child of that parent no matter the future. (The relationship being the important aspect). A parent can be a child of another parent. Selection is different for the both too.
Child + Parent + P
Parent Constraint
A parent constraint creates a connection between assets to follow position, rotation and translation.  The relationship of a parent constraint differs from a parent, imagine a parent constraint more like a parent figure such as a teacher or a boss. The child must follow the instructions, the relationship isn’t as important. Selection process differs from the parent by doing the following.
“Parent is selected first +  shift-selecting the child + command (Constrain >> Parent).”

To further explain with the analogy from the above’s blog page, when using the parent the child is placed directly into the parent’s object hierarchy. The relationship is clearer. However when you use the parent constraint the child remains as a separate object. Like a separate citizen or student following a teachers instructions.

Point Constraint 
A Point constraint is used so that you can constrain one objects positions to another.
Orient Constraint
Orient constraint can be used as a way to keep objects aligned. Meaning it makes it easier to make multiple objects and having them orient at the same time. Orient constraint also allows you to control the rotation of objects and used in the joints for the rigging process.

Pole Vector Constraint – The last constraint we looked at during this workshop was pole vector constraint. Using this constraint allows you to point IK to an object. Point Constraints are a really good way to control the direction of a joint chain.

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After finding my rig I deleted all it’s history to ensure that it is nice and clean and ready to roll with rigging.
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To begin we started with the leg!  We used the create joint in maya to put placement of the joints. The points I put it was the hip, knee, ankle, ball of the foot and the end of the toe.

Above you can see some diagrams and drawings of the leg. Sanjen emphasised how important it was to make sure the joint was in the right place. The left image above shows how the hip and the knee go round in a sort of curve. Anatomy is really useful in order to create rigs that actually work well.

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Editing the joints requires not just moving with the move tool but going into the attribute editor and changing the “joint orientation”. An instance of using this would be creating a more outward joint of the foot.
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As we were working Sanjen emphasised how naming the joints and elements as you go along helps later on in the process! For instance Sanjens suggestion was: hip_l_bn_jnt_01. Later when it came to binding the skin we were able to search all joints with *_bn_* and binding it. Saving alot of time. Organisation is the key to saving time!
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Setting Orient – During the joint placements, in was important to choose the orient joint in order for the joint to move in the correct way.
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Rigging the foot! You can see the IK handles before being named. But you can imagine without the naming system and you add many IKs how confusing it can be! So name, name, name!!
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So after all the Iks are in place and everything is working correctly (Which I checked at every point) It is time to put in the nurb curbs! So why is it important to put Nurb Curbs in! The main reason why we do this is because as a rigger you don’t want the animators to look into your IK systems incase they end up wrecking the pipeline. SO we create these nurb curbs which will be parented and the and animators can use these to animate.
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Above you can see once we have created these nurb curbs we went through the process of using parent constraint. So the nurbs were joined to the joints and moved in specific ways.
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Above you can see some of the customisation of the nurb curbs I did in order to be more appealing and easier to see for animators.
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At this stage the rig is not bound to the mesh. However you can see the influence of the system for the rig.
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Side view of the leg rig.


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The next stage was the arm, I had some difficulty with this at some points but I was able to work round it. We used the cluster tool to help aid join placement. The process was similar to the legs but we put a pole vector, orient constraint and parent constraint in order to finish the arm.
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Creating the spine. Again I began by customising the spine control. Always remember to freeze transform the nurbs in order to have a clean set for animating. One of the main roles for riggers is keeping the rig clean and clear as well as making it functional.
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Add more spine controls will impact the flexibility of the character. I only did two joints here but I wish I did more but I feel confidence in the process for next time.

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Demonstrating the spine abilities above. So rigging really determines the capabilities of movements. System of connections that twist or rotate, formed with hierarchy!

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Above you can see the rig completed from the first workshop, the part I found most difficult was the arm and hand, just because it was the most fiddly bit. But overall it was simpler than what I thought!


Workshop 2 – Rigging continuation 28/04/16

After doing the initial rigging class we had this continuation workshop. We were able to look a little more into some of the tools we could use when rigging and how to make the rig clearer and easier to interact with when animating.


The workshop looked at the following:

  • Customising Attributes
  • SDK – Set driven keys
  • Blend Shapes
  • Skinning – Painting Weights

Customising Attributes


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To begin with we learnt about adding an attribute. Here you can see the UI that comes up when we go to complete this task. To explain the box we have the option of giving it a name. Then it asks us whether we would like it keyable, displayable or hidden. Choosing Keyable will mean I can use the attribute to make keys on the timeline. The Date type we chose and discussed was Float. This basically means when changing attribute in the channel box the number can float pass decimal number. You are able to limit the number by putting a minimum and maximum numeric Attribute type. As a rigger this is a good way to prevent animators breaking the rig. You can get this box back up after closing by : edit>edit attributes.
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Here you can see how I created a new attribute for index curl. As the name suggests it will be used to curl the index finger. Another way of customising the attributes is by locking and hiding aspects of the attributes. So as a rigger I know the only elements I would like the animator to do is rotate. Therefore I hid everything other than the rotate properties. Locking this will prevent the animator from breaking the rig.
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If you go into your channel control UI you can retrieve these items back once locked.

SDK – Set Driven Key

Set driven key is very useful when rigging and can help speed up the animating process for animators. The attribute controls another attribute using a driver and a driven. We do not need an FK for every element of the rig. Some other examples where we could use SDK is on a tail – wrap and unwrap. Another point to make is you can affect the way the SDK movement using a graph editor meaning as riggers we can drastically change how it moves this could be a nice conversation with animators as well. We do this action by doing the following:

Driver selected>Windows>Animation Editors>Graph Editors (Make sure SDS is located in channel box)

For instance look at the example we did in the workshop below. We added SDK on the index finger in order to make it curl the way we wanted it to. Instead of the animator going in one at a time animating the index joints using SDK will create a sort of hierarchy that controls one joint that the others will follow. It is different from parenting as you can edit the difference in values for joints.


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Above you can see the UI of the Set driven key (Key>Set driven key> Set) To dissect this you can see two main ports – Driver and driven. The driver drives. The driven is driven (As the name suggest!) This relationship means we can tell how we would like the translation to be carried out. So above we chose to make the Wrist joint, with the Index curl the driver. We want the index to drive when the animator goes to animate. We understand in order for it to move in the correct way we need to click the index joints on Rotate z to move up and down. After selecting these and applying load driver and load driven to tell Maya these are what they are. We select Key.
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After determining the driver and driven and clicking key we need to tell Maya the degrees to which the movement or in this case the rotation in accordance with the index curl. So the steps we carried out was firstly : Making sure the Rotate Z attribute was red in channel box to ensure it understood the previous commands. Then we state the maximum movement you would like : 10 for this. Then click the joint (driven) and change the rotate x the min -60 for instance. Then click Key. Make sure the attributes are neutralised out before testing.

Blend Shapes

Blend shapes are a very useful tool which can be very helpful to riggers. A blend shape essentially is a way of of making one mesh look like another, if they have the same topology and vectors. If the blend shapes are identical in vectors you can duplicate the original shape. Make sure these duplicates are well named.

For instance : GEO (for original shape) and BS, BS2 (Blend shape)

Making sure you are on Rigging menu go to deform>Blend shapes click the option box ensuring the local is ticked. Going to the channel box we can see under input, there is a new node which allows you to edit numbers and consequently mimics the two other blend shapes.

There is no limit to the amount of blend shapes you can have on maya. Meaning organisation is the real key to successfully working with blend shapes. You can carry out an organisation process by going to blend shape window.

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Here you can see an example we was given with the rig tutorial. There is a huge amount of blend shapes here which can be mimicked on the original mesh by using the blend shape properties. This also shows why we use blend shapes it allows for face deformation, character expressions. To create an illusion of breathing. Another great point is how they can be used for corrective blend shapes. If a joint for instance collapsed in itself which can happen, using a corrective blend shape can trouble shoot the problem and reset the rig quickly for animators.
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Here you can see me practicing with duplicating the original mesh to create my own expression. As I carried out the duplication I made sure to call it clear names to help the workflow.
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Using the soft smoothing tool in maya to create the deformations on the duplicate mesh.
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You can see in this image on the right the input, under character_mouth the attributes. 1 – means visible and 0 – means invisible. You can put the two on to create a whole smile. You can also slide it so it is in between a smile for instance.
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Above you can see a control curb I created for the new blend node we create. In order to connect the control curb with the blend node we used the SDK.
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After freeze transforming the nurbs we lock and hid all of the attributes of the control curbs for the selected square as you can see above other than translate y. We want the control to be like a switch.
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Selecting the control we can set a limit for how much the translate Y can go up and down. This way the animator dosen’t move it more than it should.
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Above you can see that the ctrl is the driver and the blend mode is the driven. We did the same thing as above with the index curl. However to find the blend shapes and add it to the driven we went to windows>animation editor>blend shape and select.

Skinning and Painting weights

Refresher from last lesson* Sanjen forgot to mention how to reflect the joints from last lesson. This is done by reflecting them. Make sure the Rigging menu is on go to skeleton> mirror joints. A box will appear where you can write the degrees to reflex. And it will give you the option to rename the opposing side. you can search for “l” to replace with “R”. This is another reason why to include clear names.

Skinning or also known as binding is the process of binding the joints to the mesh. In order to speed up the process of binding naming joints appropriate will save you time.

For instance Sanjen named all his joints with _bn_ to identify which were to be bound.

A quick way of binding all the joints is to search *_bn_* in the top right area in the maya interface. The * means you are telling maya to select everything with _bn_ in its name and go to skin>bind skin.

When we are skinning we are telling the vertex of the mesh to be bound to the joint. To see the mesh go to wireframe mode *4*. Select joint then shift select flesh . Skin>Bind Skin> Options box. You can instruct the binding to follow joint hierarchy. Its important to test at every stage to ensure nothing goes wrong in the workflow.

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Above you can see better the different options for binding skin. Ensuring these are correct to what you are binding is important.

If you want to change the influence on each joint you can paint skin weights. Maya on default will see which one is close to each other and dictates the influence.Painting the weight after binding gives the control back to you.

Skin>Paint skin weights. Looking in the tool settings will tell you the influence. This can be by colour or shading. Using colour you can see how the influence of the joint is determined. Blue – Not a lot, Red – a lot and white 100%. Another way of seeing the influence of the joint is to go to the component editor. Here it shows your the contribution form and the influence of joints written down.

For instance

Joint 1   Joint  2  Joint 3

0.002    0.439   0.400       = The joints full contribution is 1

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Testing the joint influence of the head.

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As well as editing the influence of the joint using the weight paint can help prevent collapsing or deformation with the rig. Sanjen suggesting key framing to test the arm in different positions to see how painting the weight was affected. Above I used the paint to get rig of some of the influence on the shoulder, after I did this there was less deformation. I still think I need to look further into this as it was the only bit I was slightly confused on.

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In todays workshop, we were introduced to substance painter. A software which speeds up and textures sophistically. Some of the benefits to using substance painter is the fact you can create and reuse smart materials, masks and bake your maps!

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Here you can see the blank interface.
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The interface is really simple and separated clearly. The Layers section reminded me of Photoshop and worked in a similar way. When you create layers you can decide on specific layers like a mask, fill,  smart layer etc. Here you can see we open the file Josh had sent us.
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On a new layer we tested out brushes, furthermore how we can manipulate and customise the brushes.
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Changing the above sliders, can change the properties of the brush.
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You can see how you can use one brush but change the properties enough to make the strokes look completely different.
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Adding a new fill layer I applied a new material. You can see I chose the wood material. However there are lots of default materials that could have been applied. Josh gave us the task to apply several materials.
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I chose the platinum material to go with the wood, to give it a stylish look! So making sure you have a new fill layer, and a new material applied you can right click add black mask. Now you can paint/select the area you want this material to be applied.
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Here you can see me painting the area I would like the material to appear.
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To change the masking fill mode changing the above selection can change the way the material is filled in. Either by selection or using UVS.
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The interface can be changed so you can view the model 2D or 3D(or both as the above).
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I redid the above step so I could add another material to my arm! I’m really happy with how it turned out, but most importantly how simple it was to texture the hand.
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Finished arm with 3 different materials : Wood, Silver and Platinum
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I want to select certain areas of the arm only do I use the polygon in the mask properties.
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I was going for a medieval looking arm, inspiration from the javelin tournament.
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Baking in substance painter.
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In the instance where you want the texture to show through the arm you need to create a folder with a new fill layer (and new material). Write clicking the material layer and right clicking to create a MG. Once at this stage changing the properties you can affect how much the layer comes through. 
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We were given some tasks to add staples on wounds, create a wound and make a ring. You can see from the above that I began to give a wound on the forearm. Josh told me to think about how cutting into wood looked like.
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Here you can see I changed the background of the environment. This can be changed really easily and allows you to see how the object is viewed in different lighting. Furthermore you can easily rotate round this environment to see different lighting.
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Using fracture and selecting a colour/material I have selected this layer and turned down the layer norm – which is similar to the opacity in Photoshop.
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After turning down the opacity I have changed the layer drop down settings to overlay the fracture to create a veiny look. As my material is wood it dosen’t look as natural as skin but it still adds another layer of depth.
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Here you can see the finished arm.


This workshop was focused on Topoligy. But further than that it took a look at trouble shooting, identifying the problems and correcting them. I was a bit worried as to whether I could correct, but as Josh explained some of the principles I was able to understand how to fix the problems.

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This was the model we were given to correct. As this object is symmetrical we was able to slice it in half so later on we could reflect our corrections.As there was already a line along the top we selected the faces of the side we wanted in the top view and deleted.
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Looking closer we saw this twisted looking face, the way around this was to snap the vertex point together and amend the affected face.
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Snapping vertex point into place and merging it.
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The numbers in the corner here was another great tool that Josh showed us. When you select faces on a mesh there should be one face appear on these numbers and depending on the shape have a specific amount of tries. On this specific bit of polygon mesh Josh said we want to make these edges simpler. How can we change the topology to make it simpler?
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Josh told us to go on Photoshop and try to work out how we could make topology simpler. You can see that this is way to complex and the previous one was simpler than this!
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This was the correct way. You can see we loose the tries now and it is replaced with a simpler, stronger topology.
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Deleting the edges and using the cutting edge tool to create a new edge in the centre. This is a way of taking a problem and figuring it till you can create a better solution, yes the other one was fine but it could have been simpler. This shows why it is important to leave time after making the model to inspect your creation.
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We did the same with the bottom of the model deleting all the unnecessary edges.
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This edge we decided to replace other edges to have a better flow to topology. We deleted and merged vertexs. Below is the final topology for this corner.
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In order to make sure that all of the vertex are merged once deleting all the other unnecessary tries we selected the whole object and merged.
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Josh said you should always manually clean up don’t ever use this clean up option to fix the promblems of the mesh. Maya will sutomatically select so it asseses it. Only use this tool to help POINT OUT where the promblems are. If you click “f” after clean up it should take you to where the promblems are.
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The next step is to duplicate the mesh and merge the vertexs. In order to place the new side perfectly we needed to make sure the pivot was centred. We scaled these vertexes till they were close enough together to merge, we continued this process on all the other points.
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The last thing we did was clear history! This is a really important step so it dosen’t build up.

The last task we were each given a different model from the people next to us. I was given a bus. We were asked to write down all the problems you thought was wrong with it and to start correcting them.

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Some of the problems I noticed:

  • Too many unnecessary edges– I simply Identified the edges to delete and tried to make the topology simpler.

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  • A lot of random Vertex – I clicked on a face and it said 1 face 6 tris. I knew there was something wrong her so selecting the vertexes I realised there was loads of random vertexes. To correct this I selected the whole bus in vertex mode and backspace to delete any isolated Vertecs.

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  • The wheels have been really overcomplicated considering they are just cyclinders.

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  • There was a face dragged out near the wheel. I needed snap and merge the Vertex.

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The other promblems which people from my bus group/Josh pointed out was:

  • There was information in the faces of the wheel if you pulled them out you could see.
  • There was a lot of history – Make sure it was cleared
  • Josh also pointed out that there was reversed normals.

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Josh gave us a file as you can see above, it opens with default the Red wax so I change for white mat cap so that it is visible in the zBrush.

We discussed what was wrong with the model if we was to export it out. This being it has been painted, has no Uvs and a very high poly count at around 2.5 mil.

What have you noticed that is wrong with the model?

Another problem with the model is the fact there are three separate sub tools, we need to merge them. We do this by going to Subtool> Merge visible> New subtool. 

The next step, we want to make the polycount low but keep all the detail. We do this by Decimation.

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Pre current Predesimation > Zplugin  and change the Percentage of k polys to 200k. Tgis will consequently put the poly count down! As you can see the count is no longer 2.5 million but instead 480k!

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You can see that this process stripped the paint from the model. We will now export him as an OBJ, making sure it is saved with a clear name.
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After we did this Josh said to export the high poly file also, you can see that when you export to an OBJ in zbrush it exports with polypaint. Polypaint allows paint without assigning a texture map.

Photoshop is per pixel colour (per vertex colour) You need higher divisions to make nicer marks. When you take the model in Topogun in comparison All those vertexes all 2.5 millions are numbers we can assign a colour to each on. Maya will not read this.

Here is the interface of Topogun.

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We load the file by File> Load Reference

Some hot keys to remember:

‘x’ – Symmetry , Orange dot shows it will snap to centre point, Right click determines draw tool or move tool , Cmd to say which point is the start and make a line round. The navigational system is the same as maya.

We begin the drawing process by right clicking, you switch from the drawing tool and the move tool by right clicking. With the symmetry on we defined the line. To clear the start line right click. You can then determine the start with Cmd. After recreating the line below it we can you use the bridge tool. 

We are going to draw over the arm, using the tube tool. When you use the tool DO NOT MOVE THE CAMERA.

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Click and drag over the arm, If I move the camera the lines will no longer line up So click and drag. Do it from the same direction, if you don’t do this you are telling topogon to start the order of the polygons the opposite way. Click drag, click drag and it will give you tubes around the arm. To confirm right click once. We have weird looking arm so the tool will not give it the shape that matches the curve. To correct this use we need to relax this. (Brush tool, relax).

The next stage was to experiment with the face. Above is a face retopology I got online. The way the face has been retopologies determines the flexibility for the animation. The majority should be quads faces however you can use triangles on the static places of the face.
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I began drawing out some tests on photoshop.
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Here you can see me carrying this into Topogun.
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I created a shortcut for make faces by going to Tool Keyboards shortcuts, simple create. You can write in the shortcut you choose and then click Assign.

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If a point does get missed the hot key to add a point – Shift. Hold down shift and select. 

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Taking it into Maya we can see the difference from the low poly above to the high poly below.
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The triangles allow to keep the detail in this higher poly model.
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We put  the low poly and the high poly on separate layers, and soften the edges of both.
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We want to use a transfer map so we can keep all the high detail.

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Turn off include materials, it will do weird things. Connect maps to shaders, after baking process. If you continue to bake normal maps you will get truck loads of materials. World space – So maya can determine what space it is looking at. Filter size you want an element of blue so it dosen’t look rasturise put it on 1. Fill Texture seams will prevent you have black seams so it will fill the gap. Make sure its on surface normals otherwise you will come back with a weird map. Geometry normals have each edge and they split out. 12 gives you a bit of leave way so it can go 12 percent over and inside. 

Above are some of the settings and why we chose these settings. 

After baking the transfer map when we view our model in the viewport it has that original detail again.

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BBC Project- The wind witch


Collaboration Project for BBC

Chosen Script: Storm 

This brief looks really exciting as it lets us work on a live brief which if chosen by the BBC will receive exposure on the BBC4 Radio website. I think choosing this brief will push me to work under a tight deadline, work with sound and music and work with such an established client as the BBC.

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BBC Brief

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The scripts we were given were really beautiful and that was without visuals! As well as being a live brief has asked for us to work in collaboration. I did initially think of working independently but I came to the decision to work with Alice as this is something which we may consider doing after leaving uni. As well as working with Alice we will be hopefully be working with the Music student/s at Ravensbourne.

We took a lot of time reading through the scripts and digesting the information. We sat down for a while and worked through the sections we felt we could visualise the best. After much deliberation and several spider diagrams( They really do help!) We decided upon doing the storm script. In the script there is a passage which talks about a Wind witch. And this is where our idea has come from.
First mind map after reading all of the scripts. I was the blue pencil Alice was orange. You can see the dots which showed the favourite stories. Below are two mind maps the top one is Alice’s and the bottom one is mine. We used the above ideas to come up with quick ideas.

As you can see we spent a long time before we began drawing, choosing the idea. The narrative and story was the most important thing. We feel strongly that without a clear story it would not work. At this point we was stuck between two ideas for the storm script so we took the time to thumbnail between Samuel Coleridge and the Wind witches.
Thumbnail sheet for a potential Samuel Coleridge Animation. I created these thumbnails using ink and water. I wanted to have very powerful shots for this dramatic script.
Thumbnails for the wind witch sheet. Some early ideas such as wind following her hair. Herself splashing into the still water to create the storm and living in the top of a tree.
Samuel Coleridge thumbnail sheet, I wanted to follow the idea of Coleridge running into the street gaining power from the storm. Some of my ideas included a giant made out of storm cloud lingering over Coleridge.
Wind Witch thumbnail sheet, some ideas of working celtic design into the hair.


Developing the concepts for the story – Like I said we spent the longest time coming up with the story. Infact it was really important for us to make something which was easy to follow for the demographic and also something which educates the viewers about British Folklore. We decided the wind witch was the best story to go with as we would felt really passionate for the story. Here is how we broke some of the ideas down into four topics.
Timetable me and Alice created in order to organise our planning, as this stage we wanted to wait till after the BBC pitch to organise the production planning although we made a rough plan.



British Superstitions – Promoting British Folklore

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Once we chose our script we did more research into the British folklore. The line from the script we were inspired by the line mentioned in the script above. I began to do some research of my own. Looking into British superstitions that have been passed down or recorded. I know that the BBC are very careful in ensuring all there information/Facts are correct. In order to represent the BBC I have made sure to note all sources and ensure that the sources are qualitative!

“With knot of one, my spell begun
With knot of two, my words speak true
With knot of three, I will it be
With knot of four, this power I store
With knot of five, this spell contrive
With knot of six, this spell I fix
With knot of seven, twixt earth and heaven
With knot of eight, is willed by fate
With knot of nine, these powers are mine
As I will so mote it be”


I found these wood blocks which were really beautiful, but showed how witches were represented. I thought the witches would be old but in this illustration the witch looks strong.
In this illustration you can see the sailor with the three knots from the witch. Alice discovered some research about the the three knots.

Witches gave, or sometimes sold, these magic knots to sailors to help them experience safe voyages (see Ligature). The release of one knot brought a gentle, southwesterly wind; two knots, a strong north wind; and three knots, a tempest.”


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I discovered articles which showed that withes were often blamed for changes in weather, wind specifically insinuated a witches present. I also did research into how a witches was identified. They were said to have a servant, such as a cat or a crow. They were also said to transform into hares. It was little facts like these which we wanted to some how merge into our animation.
I also found a book in the studyzone about witchcraft, it was said witches were actually young and were in convents a small group. The more research I found the more it fuelled my work.

Above you can see a poster from Boscastle at the witchcraft museum in Cornwall. On the right is a photograph of my sister at the same spot! You can see in the poster the witch handing over to the fisherman a rope with three knots. Showing the presence of this folklore in English folklore.

Filmic Reference

A little princess (1995) is absolutely stunning in cinematography but more than that it demonstrates a beautiful representation of weather. Each shot shows how weather can create a sense of atmosphere. How the wind pushes you forwards how snow can make you feel carefree. How rain can make you feel downtrodden and sun reminded us of freedom. I hope to be able to create shots that evoke such emotion.

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How Disney represented the Wind.

Pocahontas and the wind.

Pocahontas is one of my favourite Disney films. The beauty in it is wonderful. If you look above you can see the artistry that went into the film. Also you may notice how each shot has the common theme of the wind. One of the challenges that I may need to overcome is representing the wind. How can you draw something which is invisible to the eye and needs to be felt to be believed in? Pocahontas hair really helps with the illusion of the wind as well as using leaves to create an illusion of the blustery day. The charcoal animation is so poignant and you feel like you are one with the wind.

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery day!

One of the terms for the brief is that we need to include text at some point. Below you can see how text has been included into the shot and really works! I really love how the character plays with it it really is playful and impacts the whole mood of the piece. The words aren’t really meant to be readable as there is a voiceover so it isn’t functional. 

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Another trick that has been used in the above example is weight. We can see how tiny piglet is swept away in the blustery winds where as Pooh is able to wrestle with it because well, pooh seems to eat one pot of honey to many… Weight is a very important principle when representing the wind.


Ponyo created by Studio Ghibli has beautiful examples of storm, the weather in the piece is so stunning. It evokes these familiarity to being in the same situation, being in a car and watching raindrops, being caught in the wind. I also used Ponyo to see how Ghibli tackled the sea. The top gif is spectacular and shows this enormity of the scene. These scenes really helped me to consider how I would animate the sea. The filmic language is magical and is something to be praised.


The Wickerman

The 1973 Wickerman is a really good film that tackles pagan and folklore in a community. In this specific film you can see the eerie ness from the the subtle cues. There are some lovely impacting shots in this film. I don’t want the piece to be as sinister but I do like the understanding of this communities culture.



Poldark – BBC Inspiration

Poldark is a good reference point as it is set in Cornwall and based around the similar time to our piece. What is nice to see is how the camera angles were used without over powering the scene keeping it simple. Letting the scene breathe this is something I need to consider. It is a period drama which really uses the beautiful Landscapes to create cinematic shots which are a joy to watch. A lot of the shots are simple and focuses on the character and the interaction.



This was another BBC Programme which retells the story of Jamaica Inn which was set in Cornwall. There is a large amount of shipwrecks and cornwall referenced. If you look below you can see those british colour tones. There are some really lovely shots in this series, that are atmospheric. Like Poldark this period drama is set around the time we are making our animation so it is really good to see how others interpreted the time period. It was also really good to see the costumes.


Beautiful wide  shots.


Analysing Colour

Analysing Colour in British painters and illustrators.
Beatrix Potter is a British national treasure, her stories and illustrations are captivating. What makes the illustration so enchanting? One of the aspects is the beautiful colour choice. With natural tones of green and browns dotted with bursts of colours such as berry reds or sky blues. Furthermore they have this sense of british summer colours. Earthy with flecks of sunshine peeking in. Muddy and subtle. Furthermore Beatrix Potter is turning 150 this year so mentioning this in the Pitch could be a good way to go!



Gif from 1992 Beatrix Potter animated series (Really good!)

Happy 150th Beatrix Potter!!

 Style Moodboards


I have always admired Eyvind Earle from his beautiful work on Sleeping beauty to his breathtaking landscape art. Me and Alice both agreed on using Earle as an inspiration for this piece. I like how there are elements of simplicity yet it is also dotted with intricate design in other aspects. The contrast works really well.


Above is another moodboard of styles which will inspired us when it comes to the animation. I want there to be a real dedication to making beautiful backgrounds and representing the weather in a poetic way.

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Me and Alice also used Pintrest in order to “pin” our inspirations. We used a joint pinboard”. This means we can simply pin anything which strikes us, this in turn compiles into a giant board where we can refer back to. It really is a fantastic tool! You can see Vincent Van Gogh has been pinned quite a lot we both loved the fluidity of his painting.

Developing the Wind Witch

Initial Moodboard of witch, we had several ideas which we wanted to add such as having a seafull servant because according to some source a way to identify a witch was whether she had an animal servant. We also were considering having lots and lots of windchimes all over a forest area.

Character Synopsis


Some early character development, this character did evolve slightly but we used all these characteristics in the final animation.

Chosen name: Moria

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We decided to name our witch Moria, this isn’t really important to the story as no one sees her but it is interesting to


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Another Pintrest board for some reference when designing the character, as you can see we used Poldark as some inspiration for clothing.
Some of my character designs. I actually really liked these characters, however with the time limit we had having more complex characters would add time to our production so in the end we went with a simpler character.
Some older characters “As ancient as the wind”. I wanted to explore an older character, but in the end we didn’t want to make the character stereotypically haggard or old. A lot of our research showed young women were just as likely a witch. It would also shake off the idea of a disney witch which are conventially old and haggard.

One of my personal inspirations was Kim Novak, specifically those powerful eyebrows!
Alice Created this piece of early character concepts.
Some more of my character design. I played around with the wind trailing out of her hair. I was looking at quite dark haired people.
My character designs – Using charcoal I played around with some character faces, don’t like these character feel they aren’t as strong as they could be.
Alice created this – I love the watercolour painting she created perhaps we could get some brushes in photoshop that imitate this beautiful style.
Alice created this, she identified the heads  she liked.
Alice created this -She drew up the top 4 designs including some of my own bottom left.
Quickly developing hair.
Top head designs Alice, number 4 was my design in the end we went with the first set.
My hair designs. Playing with the motion of hair in the wind.
Alice created this body shape concept page, I really liked a plumper figure. As we chose Alice’s design for the character, she created several character sheets while i worked on the environment designs.
Developing the character personality. Me and Alice came together to think of how we would like the personality of our character to be. We wanted her to have distinctive features. Here are a range of ideas we had. We had a fun conversation when Alice wanted her to remain a good witch but I wanted to have the witch more evil. We was able to come together and circle the aspects we liked. Consequently below you can see the sheet we made.
Deciding character’s name.

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Above are some concept sheets Alice created for the Character I used these when Animating to insure the character was consistent.

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We tried to film and photograph ways in which the witch could move, we wanted her movements to be animal like and strong. Here you can see us trying to capture the poses we were able to sketch from these images after.


Costume Design

Me and Alice used Pintrest to collate ideas, after this we sketched out our ideas and then came together to work off and decide.

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I used Pintrest to compile several ideas for costume. Some of our main reference points was Poldark as it had the same setting time and place.

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Some of the first watercolours I did.
The cloak on the end was inspired by a folklore I discovered that witches were able to transform into Hares.I kept with the Mossy green colour tones.


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Above is a mixture of Alice and mine’s work, you can see how they all work together because we used the same inspirations and bounced of each other’s work.

Final Character Design


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Here is the final character with the colour palette and outline colour. Having this was really useful, we were able to keep our colours consistent. I am overall really happy with how the character came out. We used hare’s as an inspiration point. If you see below the shape of the face from the side and the large ears were all inspired by the folklore that witches could transform into hares according to british folklore. I like that we decided not to have an old witch but rather a more unique looking character. I am happy with the final costume as the outer skirt  can be blown in the wind. The colour palette really matches the look we were going for!

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Background Art

We decided on Alice’s character design, I helped decide the body shape but while Alice finished developing this character I did some background art. Below are some of the designs and thumbnails I created.

We wanted the animation to be set in Cornwall as this is one of the places the wind witches were mentioned when doing our research. We also felt there was a lot of celtic history and already existing magical atmosphere in Cornwall that it would be a perfect basis. Furthermore we are frequent visitors to Cornwall so we had a lot of images to use.


Above are all our photos that we have taken whilst in Cornwall. We used these in developing the backgrounds as well as other sources. I especially used them to note types of plants any rocks and colour tone.
Colour tests,inking and pastels.
My sketchbook page, playing on celtic, playful forms.
I used a lot of imagery to inspire these, looking at cornwall and british images. I tried to playing with complex illustrations and more simpler.
Creating really flowly lines was something I was testing at this stage.
Roughly working out the shipwreck scene.
After alot of development we tried to focus on narrowing the story down.
Alice did these pages above to also develop the backgrounds.

Above are some more photographs I took when I went to Bath. The colours from these photograph were more inspirations as well as the twisty looking trees. This gave me a first hand view of the distinctive English countryside.

Watercolour concept art.
Concept branches I water coloured.
Trying to integrate some celtic patterns into the pieces.

Thumb nailing and Storyboarding

The story to me and Alice was always the most important aspect. We took a long time planning a simple but well paced story that had a beginning, middle and end. Below is the development of the different stories we came up with. We had the fact about the rope and the witch but we wanted to deliver in a way which was exciting to watch. We created around 15 different versions of the story, we experimented and took the time to pace the piece. We created sheets to print off and work on, one for storyboard and the second for concept.
My thumb nailing.
Some of Alice’s thumb nailing.
Another version of the wind witches, this focused on watching the witch slowly walk collecting the wind as she made it to the top and then suddenly untying the rope to create a storm. The things I liked here was when the witch walked past the rope would pass.
Alice did the above.
Alice did this one. i loved the end shot of the giant clouds and the little figure something which we later took into our final piece.
Rough final me and alice did together. You can see how hetic it is and the crazy sketches as we were literally drawing at the same time.
Alice’s thumbnails.
Some of my thumbnails.
Some of my thumbnails.
Final ROUGH Storyboard – The important thing to remember is that we sat side by side while we did all the thumbnails so we were able to feed of each others ideas and thoughts. The above is the final rough storyboard. Below is the first animatic we made using the thumbnails from above. It was to understand the pacing, flow and timing. 
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We finalised this storyboard here. We worked together to create it, we wanted to ink it in the same way I did the ones at the beginning, we scanned this storyboard in, blew it up, printed it and hung it on our wall so we could develop.

Clearer Photograph of Final Storyboard with where the type will be. 


Final Animatic, Music and Sound.

After doing the storyboard we spent some time creating the animatic. At this stage we also got in contact with two sound students who both decided they would like to work with us. They said they would both work on the piece even if one wasn’t chosen. This meant we were essentially given updates and suggestions to two separate people. This really helped me organise my time and become constructive in my comments. It also got me thinking more about what to suggest to sound. As well as sound we worked with a music student at Ravensbourne. We had a meeting with and was able to input ideas as well as been given ideas. After this meeting we set up an info pack for all three students. 

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Me and Alice created these info packs after the pitch so that the sound people were aware of deadlines, briefs, technical specs, the animatic but also giving them visual reference so that they can be inspired. By doing this the sound and music would have everything they needed, this would hopefully avoid any misunderstanding.

The Pitch


On April 18th we had the pitch the BBC. In order to prepare for this we created a presentation which we showed the BBC at the BBC Old building. We created a slides presentation, showing some of the preproduction, the research, the market research and animatic. Below are some of the slides we presented. 

After the pitch we handed out a rope tied into three celtic knots with a contact information to the BBC. This was Abigail’s tip and was really well received and definitely something I will continue to do whenever  I pitch again.


After the preproduction stages we began to start some animation tests and bring the concepts to life. We divided out shots out as well to get the workflow going.

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When considering what typeface to use I looked into the development of typeface specifically in the time period when our animation is set. Baskerville was one of my favourite typefaces here, created in 1757 it is a very legible typeface.
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Some of the other typefaces which I was considering was Gill Sans and Franklin Gothic. Baskerville is a british typeface, still wildly use in online and print it is legible and evokes the same sense of time as the animation.  Gill Sans is considered the British Helvetica made much later in the 1920s. But it is a really legible type. Franklin Gothic is a gothic sans which is clear, however it is an American typeface and I really wanted the whole animation to denote British history so choosing Gills or Baskerville could be the way forward.
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My favourite typeface that Alice agreed with was Baskerville semibold italic. it has atmosphere, is British, created at the same time as the animation is set and clear.


Me and Alice made the decision to use Photoshop to animate and After effects to composite. A lot of people were surprised we were going to use photoshop only to create the piece. But we really wanted to use the photoshop brushes. It was my first time animating in photoshop, so we had to learn the workflow.

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The main reason why we wanted to do it in photoshop was because we found a Plug in  that we downloaded. The plug in really improved animating in photoshop.The above is a print screen of all these buttons.
Me and Alice knew we wanted to have a hand drawn look so we brought photoshop brushes to use in our work. We had to come together in order to work out what brushes was going to be used in the animation. This was a sheet I did to working out which brushes I liked the best. The brushes we ended up using for the main areas was “Amazing Cartoon nib” (outline) oil jotter, and the watercolour brushes. We did add some details with other brushes.
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Onion skin was very useful for quick animating.
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This is what many of my files looked like and it goes up further. I used colour to colour code it to keep it tidy.

Animation Tests

Once getting the plug in we played about with some tests. How was we going to animate certain things? Was we going to illustrate backgrounds and animate on top or illustrate digitally. These were some of the questions we had to decide. In the end we decided to draw everything digitally.


Grass test
Testing digital animation over hand painted backgrounds.
Wind test – I tried to do several tests to see how the wind was created, we ran out of time and I wish I could have longer to work on this but I am still happy with the way it turned out.
Tree concept art. I didn’t like the colour here, brown a bit to harsh maybe lighten?
Tree concept art. Here is some illustrations which I developed to made as concept art. I really like the illustrative patterns, this is defiantly something I want to carry through to the final shot. I like the colours of this shot more than the one above.
Tree Concept art. I love the moody skies over head, this is another piece of concept art for my first shot.
Designing some foliage.I experimented with the brushes we decided on to create some bushes and grass concept art.
I wasn’t sure what the waves would look like here is some concept art I did to envision the way I could animate the sea.
Concepts using the brushes we chose.

After doing these tests me and Alice divided the shots. We did still help each other out at points, such as Alice illustrating a background and me helping colour in with her shots. But below were the main ones I worked on for the production.

Here are some thumbnail sketches I did for several of the shots, doing these sketches help me confirm composition and play with form further.


Developing the storm

I decided to work on this shot first as I felt it needed to be powerful. I used my sketchbook to create several thumbnails and ideas for how I wanted this scene to look. These impacted the final design.




Below are some of the animation tests to consider how I was going to animate this massive storm after designing. The way the clouds moved and paced the scene was an important aspect to consider.



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I really liked the heticness of this animation test and I ended up going with something like this. It was inspired by Constables rapid brushstrokes.
Quick test of putting Celtic designs.
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Alice’s test.
Concept art of the piece.
Animating the small character.
Here you can see the shot in working progress.
Final Shot. This shot was created by layering different techniques and elements. I animated the grass in the foreground and the character in the wind. This was to give the illusion of powerful gusts. I added an overlay pattern on top of the clouds to give it some movement. I wish I could have played around further with the clouds but I had to move on to other shots due to the time restrictions.


Developing the shipwreck scene

I had never animated a sea before, so to begin with I watched reference. I created the below concept art to figure how I was going to go about creating.

Shipwreck moodboards – I love the composition and the power of these storms. I needed to really consider how they did this so I could put it into my shots.
On this page of sketches I did some early ideas for sea design.
Biro concept sketch. At this point I did not know how I was going to animate the sea. I experimented breaking the waves into separate forms.
I took some time doing some Sea Concept art. This meant I could take into consideration composition. The way the water flowed. But still giving that celtic touch. I used the watercolour brush for the water which accidentally led me to the above drawing.
Concept art – Creating more of a chaotic piece of concept art. I created this piece of concept art to give it a slightly darker feeling. This piece was the piece I wanted to try to recreate for the shot.
Sea concept – Using the paintbrush for the natural flow of water.
Before animating I sketched out the  “motion of the ocean.”. I didn’t want to get confused with the direction of the ways. I sketched out the key frames of the waves and in the red arrows the direction of the water and the clashes. Below you can see the different stages of the animating with the useful arrows!


When it came to creating the ship I did some research on British ships in the 1700s. One of the most famous of these ships was the HMS Victory. This was a battle ship, but It is a very important ship in naval history in Britain. I used this ship as a starting point for my designs.

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Final ship design, full sails.
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3/4 angle of the ship, sails down.
Here is the finish shot. I added certain elements at the end of animating. Such as the ripples in the water, detail to the waves such as the lines and froth at the tip of the waves.

Developing the cliff scene

The BBC asked for one shot complete, so me and alice worked on this scene together. Below are three watercolour illustrations we made together. We played around witch colour and composition.

Here you can see some sketches for the cliff scene, this was testing the composition and to see which would be most effective. We ended up choosing the bottom left.
Concept art me and alice painted together
Watercolour concept art to work out colour, composition. Me and Alice did these together.

Here is the final shot, I really like this shot, I like the slight animation in the cloud and the rustling of the clothes which Fionn matched perfectly in sound.


Here is a gif from my development stage. Showing the beginning of my animating, I haven’t timed it I wasn’t putting in rough keyframes. What I love about this shot is the colour tones. I animated the cloud ever so slightly in the background to give the shot some depth.


Developing “the third” shot

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Alice’s concept art – Alice created this piece of concept art during the pre-production stages. I used it as a basis to begin animating. The face ended up changing slightly but I am happy that the feel of the piece was replicated by the end of the shot.
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Working in progress (below and above) Here you can see me using the plug in and animation on Photoshop. This scene required different elements, such as face animation, hair, rain and lighting effects. We wanted this to be a facial reaction so we chose not to have any movement on the body.

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I spent a really long time on this shot, specifically animating and colouring the hair. We added lighting and shadows to make it more sinister.  This was one of my favourite shots to work on and I spent so long on the hair!
Animating the rain, rough facial animation to follow.
Before I animated the face, the whole shot was 5 seconds long at 25 frames per second I had to to animate 125 frames of hair.
Final Shot – This is the final shot I am overall really happy with how it came out, I spent a really long time perfecting the hair in the wind. I love the lightning that strikes light on her face.

Walking through the forest

We filmed reference of animal like walking at uni and we wanted to use this short to show her animal like tendency.

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Here are some of my ideas for this shot, I didn’t get to finish off this shot to the standard I wanted I wanted to have veins going roung the tree in celtic patterns which you can see at the bottom. I used one of these thumbnails for the environment design.

This shot was quite short, below you can see how I blocked out the shot.tree02

I experimented with having the character walk in more like an animal but when we put this in to test the pacing, it felt a bit too quick. We preferred the slow walk instead.
I tried to get round this by sketching out a slower walk.


I’m not happy with the shot, it is my least favourite I wish I had more time to work on this shot. But it was a really tight deadline and I am happy with it as a whole. (If I did have time this would be the shot I would rework. However it is one of the shortest shots so I had to make the decision to work on other shots that needed my attention.

I filmed reference for this shot and then sketched out the key poses. As I wanted the hand to be really quick almost out of the blue it didn’t have too many in-betweens. I did the rain to begin with, I wanted the rain to begin to stop at this point.

I neatened this up and added shadow and rain drops onto the hand. I wanted to add these little details to give the shot a bit more interest, because it didn’t really have much background apart from a moving clouds. I am happy with this shot overall.

First shot

The first shot would introduce the titles but was ultimatly a long camera track down the forest to reveal the witch from behind. This meant it needed to be interesting and a long illustration. Below is a sketch for the shot I created. You can see that it is a sort of L shape because the character gets up and walks through the forest. We was going to have the camera track again but when we played about with it it didn’t work that well with the pacing.


Playing further with how I was going to detail the branches and also the tree shapes.
Here was the original sketch from the animatic, I really liked this layout and ended up using it as a basis for the final one. You can see how it worked as one long tracking shot.
I added to this shot layer by adding such details as the log.
I contemplated having another track shot where we see the witch make her way through the forest however when we tested this it moved a bit fast, so we decided to make it slower paced and decided against the track.
Start of concept art I didn’t get round to finishing, playing about with flowly branches.
Final Shot -I am overall really happy with the final shot, I wish I had more time as I didn’t get to finish animating this scene, I wanted to animate the girl slightly and put foreground foliage. But as the shot has quite a lot already in it it worked out still successful!


Here is concept art of the first shot that I did, I loved the sky in this piece so I tried to recreate it for my final piece.
Here is the beginning shot I animated, we wanted this to be the title as we felt it would introduce the piece really nicely. The moody skies was based on the concept art I made for the piece. I had to rush the tree animation so I wish I had some more time for this section.