Road to a short #2

animated short
April 2022

Similar to learning to draw, or just sketch, the flow of what's about to be drawn could be captured in simple shapes. The ability to grasp these basic shapes and compose them in a way that the audience knows straight away the pose/gesture/intention behind them is gold. Practice - feedback - repeats probably is the only way that one can master such skills.
Before taking a break from procedural shaders - I wanted to try packing things I learned recently into something fun. Skipping stone could be a good one. There are ripples, water surface, clear sky, stone animation with some oscillating animation, value graph etc. Aiming small is one of the things I want to keep reminding myself. The initial animations I wanted to recreate involve - the stone thrower (a man) and the stone. I decided to skip the man part for now :laugh: because most of the stuff I wanted to practice on is on the water surface.
The tales of the story is that there are a thousand ways to model the same thing. Be brave enough to experiment instead of following every thing from guides is one of the keys to accelerate. Even if its a ball with some sticks, animator who has a feeling for weight will make it alive. Rigging is an essential part for animating - the topology gives the features of 'animatable' geometries and essentially make up the 'character' of the character. A rig can simply be one bone to an extremely complex rig models every inch of the skin. Creating a simple rig with limps and torso from scratch (instead of using rigify) is a good introduction to what bones are needed, to create the actions that a specific character requires. For example, if modelling a Doraemon, essentially 2 UV spheres with eyes and thick/short limps, you don't need the finger rigs, because he/it doesn't require that details.
I have been thinking what is my priority. Should I perfect drawing before jumping into animating, should I do this before that. I will get there eventually with my drawings, but what excites me the most is bringing things alive. I love the way how things move and create a "vibe" with that movement. I need to start from walk cycles. Observing, Referencing, Reproducing, and then create.
Getting into rigging I learnt about Inverse Kinematics. Essentially placing joints in "appropriate" place with the restriction that the rig specified. Knees, Ankle, Elbow, Wrists, we can't move 360 and extend forever. The chain effect of one bone to the movement of the other bones is inverse kinematics.
Another mystery that unfolded for me is how to attach rig to a model. If you place a bone close enough to a mesh and do automatic weighing - it probably will give a good result, for example a snake. But for a body rig with multiple bones, most of the time you will need to tune the weight of each bones to the mesh. Weight Painting is a process that you can control what weight a certain bone has to the group of vertices. When a character leans forward, its spine rotate forward - the area of deform is near the waist + bit of chest. This deformation behavior can be very different for different characters, and that's the fun part. It is really fun for real.
Back to walk cycles! Having a good rig - weight painted, next is to do some pose under pose mode and animate them. I am no where beyond the surface for now, but this really helps me understanding the walk cycles from the bones' joint movement, the pivot point. As I was still traumatised by the finale of Twenty Five Twenty One, I decided to create a Na Heedo Model, then do some rigging and maybe walk cycles? the arms are so badly animated, the movement is messed up lol
I need more references - studying how different walk cycles or basic movements are done. How the bones move. So I started importing animation from Mixamo! It truly gives me joy from 1. watching the animation with my own character and 2. studying the dope sheet of the bones. This gives me joy.
The first phase! - the scenes aren't syncing :laugh: but I am pretty happy about this! :D

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