Tag Archives: tools

What is Layered Animation?

The last weekend of January I had the incredible opportunity to take a masterclass by Pixar Animator Michal Makarewicz. The 18-hour programme of lectures, Q&A, and live demonstrations in Maya covered important topics for animators such as planning, acting and performance, animating dialogue, polish, and many others. However it was Mike’s explanation and many live demonstrations of the layered animation approach that I found most interesting. I hadn’t heard of it until the lead-up to the weekend, and although I had an inkling what this might be, the masterclass clarified Mike’s layered animation practice in detail.

Since the masterclass weekend I’ve been researching online for resources about the layered animation workflow, although there’s no substitute for participating in a learning opportunity like that in person. The live demos in particular left even seasoned animators floored by Mike’s ability to speedily get CG characters acting convincingly! Given attendees were requested not to record the sessions, here’s my notes for animators of what I learned about layered animation, using online references to explain things more visually and to point you to further resources.

Summary

Points covered in brief:

  • Layered animation is an approach, like straight ahead or pose-to-pose. It doesn’t necessarily use the animation layers feature of Maya etc.
  • The idea is to animate the main driver of a character’s motion in your shot, usually the Root, maybe the Head, for the whole shot. This is like a base layer. Then animate the next most important controller for the whole shot, then the next, building up the whole performance, layer by layer.
  • Mike treats each component on each controller, ie. a single spline in the Graph Editor, as a “layer”. Other animation teachers seem to treat something like a limb as a “layer”.
  • The expertise Mike showed in movement analysis and the concept of portraying the energy of the movement, rather than being guided by golden key poses, seemed to be pivotal in making layered animation, as Mike uses it, especially effective.
  • Mike’s demonstrated the concept of a “Master curve” by copying and pasting keys from one spline to another, then adjusting the pasted spline for its new component in the Graph Editor. A way of speeding up his animation workflow.
  • This article discusses drawbacks to the layered animation approach.

I hope the greater detail in the full article is helpful especially for anybody wishing to try out this approach to animation. Read on for some video examples, too!

Continue reading What is Layered Animation?

Costumes and cosplayers from Nine Worlds Geekfest 2015

This time last month I had the good fortune to venture back up to London for Nine Worlds Geekfest 2015. I’m unsure how  I first heard of this event… possibly via word-of-mouth? Now in its 3rd year, I’ve been intrigued by its vastly pan-geeky melting-pot of content, commitment to minimising barriers to enjoyment for people due to age, gender, orientation, race and so on, and slick online presence. Continue reading Costumes and cosplayers from Nine Worlds Geekfest 2015

London Drink + Draw comics artists’ meet-up

A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed an afternoon of meeting new and familiar faces and engaging with some (optional) drawing challenges in a friendly central London pub. I’d heard of the event via Twitter, eventually sourcing the chatter down to the @Art_Blitz Twitter account, through whom I registered (as there were limited spaces!)

I found it refreshing to draw in the fun, social atmosphere, and it reminded me of the benefits and unwinding that forgetting your worries and simply doodling can do for an artist.

Art as play. Creative oxygen.

The Witchblade image has been coloured just today, using Manga Studio 5. I used a mix of the default tools, and some additional brushes by FRENDEN. Pleased to get nice results with tools I’m just getting acquainted with! Besides colours on that image, I’ve used a new Gillott 170 dip pen nib, the familiar stainless Japanese G-pen, and aquarelle pencils for colours on the ginger-haired boy.

Many thanks to Dean and Dave for organising the event. :)