Gravity Ghost

More Animal Animations

This week I finished up a few more animal animations, mostly using the method I described in the previous post (I also touched up the mouse a bit, as promised). Some of the animals were rotoscoped directly from video, but sometimes there wasn't a video of the pose/movement I wanted. My solution: a serious abuse of Google image search.

I wanted an 8-frame animation of a reindeer looking around. So I looked up images of 'reindeer' and grabbed individual frames that looked like they could make up one movement. I didn't even try to put them in order until I had a few of them in Photoshop. And you'll notice a couple of them get repeated.

Not to put a damper on things, but at least one of these is from a recipe website.

I traced frame 1, and used that lineart to align the rest of the photo references. That cut down on the jitteriness. Then, keeping the legs roughly the same, I traced the basic body shape in the rest of the images.

Did you know reindeer and caribou are the same thing? How magical.

I then decided which pair of antlers were the best. Fortunately I had two views of the same animal, one from a side view and one from a slightly turned view. I traced the antlers in both views and used those for the rest of the frames.


Then I colored that sucker in to see if anything needed changing. I adjusted some of the tail, head, and snout sizes - being from different animals, they didn't all match up. I also shaded the background to make sure I colored inside the lines and didn't leave any random marks in the background. Otherwise things looked pretty good.

Reindeer are unique in that the females have antlers too. Thanks for signing up for reindeer facts.

One last polish pass and...

Somebody's ready to eat some lichen!

And here are the rest:

What is this game about, again?

That's it for this week, Happy Tuesday all. : )

Filed under: Animation 5 Comments

Quick Animation

Just a quick post today - here's how I made an animation of a field mouse, a creature that I've never tried to draw before (and have probably only seen once or twice in real life).

I wanted to make an 8-frame animation for when something grabs the mouse's attention. It doesn't have much gameplay significance, just a bit of background flavor. This animation took me about 3 hours today, using this handy method I just made up.

First, found a video reference:


Next, I printscreened a frame with the nice side angle I was looking for. Then I traced the basic shape of the mouse.

I traced the same image several times, an old animation trick to keep the character 'alive.' If the character ever stops animating, it 'dies' on the screen and essentially becomes part of the background. That's why nearly every video game character in history has an idle animation (probably - I didn't exactly look it up).

Three splined mice? Sorry...

I wanted the mouse to look around after being startled, so I grabbed a frame where the mouse's head was turned towards the camera and traced it, too.

She cut off their tails with a marquee tool...sorry again.

I also captured a frame where the mouse was sitting up a bit, and used that as the 'startle' moment. You'll notice the mouse crouches down in the frame before he sits up. This provides anticipation and helps makes the movement clearer.

And this is a perfect opportunity for squash and stretch: on the down frame I compressed the line art down and stretched it sideways, and on the up frame I stretched it vertically and compressed it sideways. I also colored in the body to make sure it stayed roughly the same volume throughout the movement. Put all together, it looked like this:

Did you ever see such a sight in your - sorry, it's late, I'm just about to go to bed.

A bit more detail...

And then a bit of shading to give it some depth.

Believe it or not, for the purposes of the game, this animation is nearly done. The mice will never be particularly large on the screen, so I can get away with the shaggy outlines. I'll probably do one more clean-up pass to fix the tail and see if I can make the eyes less creepy. But not bad for a rush job! Now to finish the other animals...tomorrow.

Filed under: Animation 2 Comments