Welcome Animators or wannabe-animators!

I decided (if I’ll have enough spare time…) to create this free collection of Lessons, Tutorials and Tips about this AMAZING job, based on what I’ve learned in my career and experience as character animator! 😉
I’ve been working in the Animation Industry since 10 years and before that…3 years of Animation School! I really, really, REALLY love my job, I really do… I love animation and I like to share my passion (and why not? My knowledgments) with other people!
For any questions, topics that you would like to talk about, you can contact me!
If you want follow my Blog, or subscribe to my YouTube channel or Pinterest or Twitter! 😛

About Me

My name is Chiara Porri, I’m Italian and I came from a lovely small town on the sea in Tuscany!

I always had a natural needs to pour out my creativity, I started with drawings, comics, paintings and much more…!  After the High School I attended an Animation Course in Turin, Italy (for 3 amazing years) and from that moment…I never stopped. 🙂
As Character Animator I worked for Tv Series, Movies and Videogames. Here you can find a link to my Vimeo Channel so that you can have an idea of my job as Animator: Chiara – Vimeo Channel

At the moment I’m working as freelance animator and I will try to find the time to add always new contents on this blog 😉

In my spare time I create tv series pitch, short movies, animation tests, ….this blog…, concepts for videogames, comics, I sew handmade puppets, I love cooking,  long walks in the parks and…I love to play with my American Staffordshire Terrier…Evy!evy01

I Like To Present

INK – Character RIG

I want to introduce you the Official Rig for my Channel – INK 🙂Ink_Rig3.gif

I wanted something simple to better show you same basic principles and I love the 2D effect in general!

Finally is ready and I already started to use it for my new lesson! 🙂

(the Rig is not available for download)

How to make the best use of this channel!

Little and quick video with some explanations 😛

Animators Corner #2

– A BLOODY NIGHT-

When an animator creates his own game…

In this second video I show you an indie game created by an animator, Emanuele Leoncilli! It’s a pixel-art action game released on Steam  😉

Animators Corner #1

– Animator’s Survival Kit-

This is the first video for ” Animator’s Corner “ where I will talk about different topics: books, movies, softwares, games…. everything that comes up in my mind connected to the animation industry.
I want to start showing you the masterpiece of the animator books, written by the animator Richard Williams (animation director of “Who framed Roger Rabbit”), and published in 2001 (FF).

 

Tutorial #07 – How to Refine a Shot

-How to Refine a Shot –

PART1: Before start to show my workflow to Refine a Shot I need to do a quick explanation of the main tools of the Graph Editor (for Beginners), here the main topic:

– Introduction to the Graph Editor
– Main Useful Tools
– Create a Cycle Animation
– How to Bake an Animation
– Quick fix gimbal Lock and Flipping with Euler Filter

In the Tutorial I used the “Alya’s Rig” https://www.facebook.com/AlyaRig/

PART2: I will use an animation I made a while ago to show you my workflow when I have to refine a shot! 😉 ANIMATION SHOT

In the Tutorial I used the “Eleven Rig” http://elevenrig.blogspot.it/

—————–

“Refine a Shot – Graph Editor” – RECAP (BEGINNERS)

GE01.png

First of all, it’s not something you have to be scared of!GE02a.png

I know exactly how you feel when you open it for the first time, ’cause when I started this job, I tried to avoid it as mush as possible, I found it too

 

…. “technical”, I had the feeling to lose part of my instinct and I always preferred to work directly in the viewport, like “I don’t care how my curves look like! The animation works so ….it doesn’t matter!” but…in hindsight, now that I’m used to work with it and I know how useful and important is to make beautiful animation, I would like to show you and explain the Graph Editor in the easiest way, so that you can focus on the important aspects and you don’t be too much intimidated by it! GE03

When you have your keys on the timeline, open the Graph Editor

Window –> Animation Editors –> Graph Editor

(I’M USING MAYA 2015, so … if you have other versions you may find it a bit visually different!)

Like any other panel you can click in the button right angle to scale it and adjust it as you wantSchermata 2017-06-22 a 16.57.04

Or, you can change the layout of you view scene by choosing the Persp/Graph option and you will have the view scene splitted in 2 windows: with your camera in the upper part (in this case you have the persp but you can change it with the camera you prefer) and the Graph Editor below. By clicking in the middle you can change the size of the windowsSchermata 2017-06-22 a 16.57.09.png

Select all the controls of your character and … as you can see your animation is visualized in the Graph Editor as CURVESSchermata 2017-06-22 a 17.05.18

Each curve is the rapresentation of the motion of the different axis, that you can see on the leftSchermata 2017-06-22 a 17.05.23

You can select each axis one by one, or select multiple axis by keeping press shift!

To Move in the Graph Editor, just do as with the viewport navigation:

  • Pan: press Alt or Option and middle-drag 
  • Zoom: press Alt or Option and right-drag

To Fit the entire curve in the window: point on the graph editor and press A

If you want to zoom on a part of the curves: select the keys and press F

GE05.png

I’m going to show you the tools you’ll use most of the time from this menu:

_________________________

GE05_cycle.png

When you have an animation and you want to create a cycle (a walk cycle or anything else you need to loop) the first thing to do is to open the Graph Editor and switch on the Infinity to visualize the cycle from VIEW –> INFINITYSchermata 2017-06-22 a 17.23.58.png

then… select the curves and from the menu Curves turn on the cycle on both Pre Infinity and Post Infinity. In this way you will cycle before and after your first and last keys

cycle1

an other type of cycle you can use is the CYCLE with OFFSET, in this case when you have the first and last keys values different (for example like in a walk cycle forward, or in a cycle in place when you move forward the main control with the first and last keys with different values) the cycle starts from the values of the last and the first keys (in a progressive way)

cycle2

If you want to take off the cycle: just select Curves –> Pre and Post Infinity –> Constant

_________________________

GE05_bake.png

in some cases you will need to bake your animation: this means that the software will convert each frame in keyframe (this is useful in case you need to convert in keyframe a cycle or to keyframe a constraint, or to export your animation for a game engine and other cases)
to bake the keys, go on CURVES –> BAKE CHANNEL and open the options:

here you can choose which part of the animation you want to bake: you can decide to bake a range of frames based on your current time slider or to chose a range typing the start and the end.

And the interval between the keys: you decide if have a keys any 1/2/3 or more frames

_________________________

GE05_euler

this is not the only way to fix a Gimbal Lock or a Flipping rotation issues, and it doesn’t work always, but it works in many cases! 😉

so, if you have this type of issues you can try to use the EULER FILTER: you can see in the graph editor the curve with the issue (should be pretty visible :P)

select the keys and go to CURVES –> EULER FILTER! Schermata 2017-06-22 a 17.52.32.png

_________________________

GE05_refine.png

This is my personal workflow when I go to refine an animation.

I’ll use this animation I made a while ago, this is the final version

For a matter of time I’ll show just a little part of the animation and this is the blocking I started fromBLK.gif

If I’m sure that the blocking works well, that everything is readable, that I have the right timing, appealing poses (nice and readable) that perfectly fit’s the character mood …..so… when the biggest part is done, what we are going to see in the shot is already there, I just need to refine the animation: make everything fluid, polish the curves, adjust the spacing, offset some parts and add some details!

I set in spline (or auto tangent) all the keys and…let’s see how it looks likeAUTO.gif

if you have done good blocking (adding the right keys in the right position, with a good timing) when you’ll convert your tangents in spline, the result should be something enough clear and polished! 😉

BUT … if you just started to animate recentlyyou may have something more chaotic the first times! Schermata 2017-06-22 a 18.35.31.png

Some animator tends to add too much key poses during the blocking, two many acting choices or too much breakdowns and in-betweens, and when they convert in spline … the graph editor is a bit confusing! Sometimes they have to delate most of the blocking and re-do the work, so here some tips for your blocking:

so don’t be angry if the first times you will have something more confusing, you’ll get used to it with the experience! 😉

My version already works but the movements are a bit roboticAUTO the character needs life and a bit of love ! (Don’t care about the lip-sync ’cause I just added some poses in the BLK and I’ll try do do an entire lesson just for the lip-sync ’cause it would take too much time)

the first thing I’ll go to adjust is the:Schermata 2017-06-22 a 18.45.10.png

for example: the first movement is too slow, everything starts to move too soon so I want to keep the first pose for more frame. But I don’t want to freeze it, I just go to slow it down!

In the timeline I quickly add keys and move them back or forth to edit the spacing! This will make the process faster, ’cause after that… I’ll go to clean them in the graph editor but I already have the right spacing to work with and is also faster ’cause in this way I can move all the controls at the same time and not one by one

after I worked on the timeline, I go to clean and adjust the curves in the graph editor, trying to smooth the motion.


Now I will adjust the Moving Holds at the end of a movement, slowing down the spacing in the final part! To do that I add an in-between before the last key pose, with a value really close to the final one, so the animation stops more softly.

If you reach the final position too fast and then you don’t keep a bit of motion (a great motion and suddenly a flat curve with no motion at all) the resault will be an abrupt stop and very mechanic motion.

If the stop is too slow (so if we have too much motion at the end) the result is not realistic anyway and would result too floaty


Now I go to add Follow-through and Overlap offsetting same parts, example:

  • offset the upper torso from the middle torso, the neck from the torso, the head from the neck
  • the same for the arm, I need to offset the forearm, from the arm, the wrist from the forearm, and the fingers from the wrist
  • same for the leg, shin offsetted compare to leg, foot offsetted from the shin, and toes from the foot

after the blocking I have all the keys on the same frames, so each part of the body reacts, starts to move and ends the motion at the same time, on the same frame with exactly the same timing!  We need to add variation, ’cause each part would react in a different way and time!

To offset the keys I just select all of them (a controller at the time) and I drag them forward in the graph editor or directly in the timeline as much frames as I need, then I adjust the curves in the graph editor and I add some in-betweens when necessary (adjusting shapes, arcs etc)


Then I add more Breakdowns: I add the blinks where needed or I simply adjust them, I animate the squash for the head and I check my arcs!

I want to be sure that each movement follows a nice path: the arm, the head, the chest…you can use motion trail to visualize the paths of your movements and adjust them to create smooth and nice arcs!
To use the motion trail you have to select the control of the parts of the body you want to check, and in the Animation Tab, go on Animate —> Create Editable Motion Trails and then turn on the visibility from Show —> Motion Trails
the software will displays a red line that is your path of action. Anytime we move the control (so we change the position), the trail changes. You can also turn on the handles to adjust the arc. In this example you can also see a motion trail displaying a figure 8 path, that is very used in animation, for example for the swing of the arms during a walk.
Why arcs are so important? Most of the movement should create an arc in their path of action, this makes the animation more fluid and more realistic!
BUT There some particular cases where straight paths are necessary so … always keep in mind the type of animation you are doing and make your decision based on that.

In the in-betweens and breakdowns you can use deformers to adjust the shapes to better follow the arc.


before the arms stops I added this little settle back and forth ‘cause the gesture is pretty fast and strong, so adding a simple slowing down at the end would take off a bit of power from the gesture, resulting too soft! I already have a smooth and slow movement before, when she moves the pencil while she thinks and stalling before make the question, so… it’s more interesting to break this rhythm adding a faster and stronger movement when she finish the question, also the contrast with the soft bended arm before and this straight rigid line at the end helps to emphasize the acting!
What is a settle at the end of a motion? Some type of movements need to settle after the stop! A sort of soft or strong rebound back and forth
An object reaches a forward position, then goes back and forth 1 or more times!

If the object (or the character) is composed by different parts, they will stop at different time and different way to settle!


Now I add a bit of movement to each part of the body, this because we should always move the entire body!

A human body is composed by parts connected to each other and each part has an influence on the closest one!
So even if with very subtle movements, in most of the cases we should consider that when we animate a part this should affect an other one.
In my blocking I didn’t add any movement to the right arm, it’s totally freezed in position and also there’s no movement to the lower part of the body, the hip, ’cause this parts actually don’t do nothing, but they need to react anyway! Something soft, but enough to make it part of a body in motion, and not a separate object and also to add vitality to the entire animation!

I look throw each poses to be sure that are nice and readable, I use deformers if necessary to adjust arm and legs shapes
I check if there’s some compenetrations with props and environments or with the body itself!

I check the eyes, the more important part to make a character alive, eyes are so important, the look have to be focused on something (unless the character is thinking to something, or…other particular cases where the eyes just stares off) I check the pupils position, when a look is on a side, keep attention to don’t put the pupil too inward, it’s unnatural, and we lose the characters life! So keep at least half of the pupils visible!

I go to add all the little details at the end, like the offset of the prop, the pencil, that must has a bit of delay compared to the hand movement. I add the hair animation and….that’s it!

I hope this video helps a bit to show you how useful the graph editor can be, and how to approach refine to make your animation looks better! 🙂

Let’s share feedback and tips for your Animations!

I created this new session “Your Animations” to give you a space to share your shots, exercises, animation test, cycles… YourAnimationsTitle_Base2.png

I receive a lot of emails and messages with your shots asking for feedback! I’m always happy to help (sometimes it could take some days but I try to find the time to answer to all of you) but … right now it’s a bit confusing ’cause I receive your emails (with your shot’s link) on my emails, facebook, youtube, twitter, linkedin….and can happen that I miss some of them! SO.. 😀 I thought to create this new category to gather all your shots and questions so that everything is more clear and organised and I’ll easily have access to them! 😉

You can use the comments below to share links to your animations or ask questions! In this way also the other people could give their feedback if they want or … help with some questions/topics! 😉 Hope this will make the “feedback process” more easy!

 


Me BMan – June 23, 2017 at 8:06 pm


Brenda Ibarra Ruvalcaba – June 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm

So, in general, your main problems cames from the poses, after that you will also have to adjust the spacing and smooth the curve, right now everything is too linear and there’re a lot of pops/jerks here and there! All this things create the mechanic feeling)!

Hope this helps, and remember to always start with the blocking and create good poses, spend time on this step, it’s super important!! 😉


Ankit Singh  – June 28, 2017 at 17:03:55


Me BMan – June 30, 2017 at 9:34 pm


GLEB45 – July 12, 2017 at 1:48 pm


ROSANA – July 21, 2017 at 5:58 pm

 

Little Update!

I know….it’s been a while since I’ve posted my last video but in this month I had (in order):

  • a RELOCATION ( from Hamburg to Italy )relocation
  • a “PROBLEM” WITH MY RIGHT ARM (unfortunately I’m not ambidextrous) arm
  • And….I also started an EDUCATION COURSE for my little “tank” EVY……evy

so, I was a bit busy.. 😛

BUT! I’m working on some new videos and soon I will post a lesson based on another animation principle “ANTICIPATION“! So, wait for updates! 😉 LessonTitle_ANTICIPATION.png

Alya’s Facebook Page

My friend Eyad Hussein created this Facebook Page where you can follow the progression of his amazing rig ALYA that will be available for download very soon! 😉

Schermata 2017-05-02 a 19.36.35.png

18209234_666029010260844_7920042157227307922_o

I already used this rig for some lessons and animation test and I definitely recommend you to download it as soos as it becomes available! 🙂

Tutorial #06 – Animate an Head Take

-Animate an Head Take-

Learn how to animate an Head Take in two variations, a soft take and one more cartoony! 😉

This tutorial is connected to the Lesson 07 where I explain the principles of SQUASH and STRETCH!

In the Tutorial I used the “Eleven Rig”eleven3

“Eleven Rig”

After the tutorial I suggest you do do the Exercise#3 “Animate an Head Take”Exercise_003

Lesson #7 – Squash & Stretch

Let’s continue with the Principles of Animation … let’s see how to handle with “Squash & Stretcht”! 😉

(In the Lesson I used the “Eleven Rig”)

Exercise #3 Animate an Head Take

If you watched the Lesson 07 you should have enough knowledgment of the principle of Squash & Stretch to create this simple basic exercise. You can follow the Tutorial 06 where I show how to animate two variations of head takes: one soft and an other more cartoony! 😉

Feedback is always Welcome! ;)

Lesson #6 – Slow In & Slow Out

Let’s continue with the Principles of Animation … let’s see how to smooth our animation with “Slow In & Slow Out”! 😉

(In the lesson I used the rig “Pete” by Long Winter Members)


——————————-

Slow In & Slow Out RECAP

The Slow In and Slow Out principle or Ease In and Ease Out is so important but also really easy to understand and put in practice!

The concept is:

 an object doesn’t have a constant speed during a movement. It will have an acceleration at the beginning and a deceleration at the end

slow_in_slow_out_02.png

So, will starts slower, SLOW IN, increase the speed in between, and ends slower before to stop SLOW OUTslow_in_slow_out_03.png

To add a Slow in and Slow out to a movement we need to change the spacing of the in-betweens at the start and the end

If we have an object that moves from A to B and the tangent is linear, so we don’t’ have any variation in the speed, we would have a stiff and mechanical movementslow_in_slow_out_06.png

But…if we have the same movement, but we just change the position of the in-betweens  near the first key pose and the last one, the movement result more soft, smoothed, and realisticslow_in_slow_out_07.pngslow_in_slow_out_08.png

Always remember that we are doing cartoon, so to have a more appealing animation, we can also exaggerate this principle!slow_in_slow_out_09.png

This doesn’t mean that you have to encrase the timing of your animation to have more in-betweens at the start and the end. It’s always based on the speed of your action. In a faster action you will have few frames but you still can manage them in order to have a slow in and slow out

slow_in_slow_out_10.png

Changing the curve in the Graph Editor is very easy to achieve the result we need, using a FLAT tangents we already have a smoothness on the extremesslow_in_slow_out_11.png

if we use the SPLINE tangents we can reach the same result using the handlesslow_in_slow_out_12.png

We can also add an in-between near the first pose, and an other near the final pose, and move them on a value closer to the extremes, until you don’t reach your desiderata effectslow_in_slow_out_13.png

But…keep attention!

When you adjust the handles don’t create this type of curve, where it goes on a higher (or lower) value compared to the last pose valueslow_in_slow_out_14.png otherwise you will have a backward and forward movement. So, if you just want to smooth the forward movement, the curve should be like this one belowslow_in_slow_out_15.png

slow_in_slow_out_16.pngSlow_In_Slow_Out_Pendulumlook how smoothed is the movement on the two extremes. SLOW FAST SLOW

But…

with the same key poses and timing, but with a different spacing, we would have a linear movement, that is really unrealisticSlow_In_Slow_Out_Pendulum_Linear

As you can see in the graph editor , I created a Loop animation so I have the two poses at the beginning and the end with the same position, and an other extreme in the middle with the pendulum in the opposite direction, in this case the tangent is LINEAR, that’s why we have this stiff effect, the interpolation has a uniform velocity, so all the in-betweens have the same distance between each other

…just switching the same curve in FLAT, the spacing of the in-between change and the movement is more realistic

If we create the same movement with a character, the principle doesn’t change, we will always have a movement that start slow, takes speed and slow down again

Slow_In_Slow_Out_Character_FrontSlow_In_Slow_Out_Character_SideSo … use this principle, with all its variations, for your objects and characters animations!  It’s easy and quick to achieve and your animations will change a lot! 😉

Work in progress

I’m working on the new Lesson but in the meantime I’m also working on this Shot for a friend with Alya Rig 😉

When the shot will be finished I will post a breakdown video on how I created the shot, step by step! 🙂

This is just a wip, a sort of animatic, I put together some poses of the 3D charcater and I painted over them to create the outfits (the 3D outfits version will be modeled at a later stage). In this way I already can choose the timing, the main poses and actions and I will have a more clear idea in mind when I will start the animation!Alya's_show_animatic

So far, I created some sketches, studied the outfits and the concept of the shot! It’s an introducing video for Alya so we will show her in different styles…it will take a while to finish ’cause I never have enough free time but…I’m really enjoying working on it! 😉

Tips #3

– TOON SHADER –

Here a different way to render your character! Are you a fan of 2D style? A Toon Shader is an alternative choice! 😉toon01

To create a Toon Shader you just have to select the geometry, go in the TOON Tabtoon02

here you will find different TOON style, I usually use SHADED BRIGHTNESS TWO TONEtoon03

after you click on one of the options, go in the ATTRIBUTE EDITOR and edit the two colors in the COLOR TABtoon04

one lighter, one darkertoon05

That’s is! 🙂 But…toon06

 

I like to present: BLAKE

Here an interesting character for your acting shot, created by Jason Baskin

blake1

Blake is a customizable man with some different options for appearance and some clothing accessories, rig and model are really well done! 😉

Free Download here

Tips #2

– RHYTHM OF YOUR SHOT –

When you start your animation, I always suggest to create a BLOCKING first!rhythm01.png

Set your tangents in STEPPED mode, in order to have a Pose to Pose, with no interpolation between keys!rhythm02

In this simple example, the Timing and the Rhythm of the shot is too boring…Timing_oldIt’s not interesting… all the keyposes, the mains action, have the same speed and a regular timing!rhythm03

Add variations in the intensity and speed of any actions helps you to have a more interesting shot! rhythm04.png

In a Blocking phase is really easy to adjust timing and spacing just moving your keyposes, change them or add some new breakdowns!rhythm05.png

In this new version, the Rhythm is much more interesting!Timing_newI added this variations: different spacing and intensity for each actions, more breakdowns, some anticipations, some exaggeration…and now also the mood of the character is more clear!rhythm06.png

rhythm07.png

I like to present: SQUIRRELY

A very nice rig for your shot is this little squirrel rig created by Josh Burton

Squirrely is also perfect for your first exercises! Test some basic animation principles… playing with his long tail!

Free Download in The OFFICIAL SITEsquirrely.png

Follow the Blog!

I’m really enjoying doing this blog! And I’m happy to receive good feedback from you and your enthusiasm for my teaching method!

This is the reason why I created this Blog! So…THANKS! 🙂

As I already said I can just create stuff for the blog in my free time, but my Big Dream is to be able, on day, to do this… full time and also do private on-line mentoring! Because…I really love to follow and guide other animators or those who need some tips and suggestions to improve their skills! 😛

So, what can you do to help me to realize all this? Continue to do what your are doing! Follow this Blog to don’t miss my Lessons and Tutorials, Subscribe to my Youtube Channel, my Facebook page or Twitter! Likes, Share with your friends! 🙂follow03.png

I like to present: ALYA

– ALYA – You will love this Rig!

As animator you can do great stuff with this great rig created by Eyad Hussein! 😉

The rig is not available yet but will be realeased soon (probably the end of this summer) but I suggest you to fill the pre-registration form so that you will be one of the first to receive an email when she will be ready for download! 😉Alya2alya2