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.