I’m up to 1 minute and 48 seconds of animatic now, and I estimate a total length of a little over 3 minutes.
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Monday, 30 August 2010
Animated Performance by Nancy Beiman is one of the first animation books I’ve come across that doesn’t tell you how to animate a bouncing ball. It doesn’t tell you how to ease out and in. Nor does it explain any method of creating a walk cycle. This is extremely refreshing as it means that in purchasing this book, you are purchasing a full book and not just a few pages tacked onto the same animation technique that you’ve got in ten other books on your shelf.
Nancy Beiman, professor at Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Canada, has put together a gem of a book that I just can’t put down. Bypassing all the basic animation concepts, she concentrates on performance – getting an animated character to be believable as a living entity. While the contents are not all completely new to me, they are explained in a way that hammers home a lot of things that aren’t covered in many (if any) books out there. Each chapter has several exercises to try too, and they are exercises that will not just teach you things, but actually give you something worthy of putting on your showreel!
I’m a third of the way through the book so far (although I’m skipping the exercises until I’ve read it all), and I can’t wait to get reading again. I heartily recommend it to anyone who already knows their squash from their follow-through!
“A broader application of write what you know recognises that the idea of you is complex in itself. You, in theory at least, know yourself. But your self is made up of many selves – the girl who wanted an older brother, the high school misfit, the college student who dressed in black and wanted to join the French club…. You are, in part, not only the person you once were, but also the persons you have tried to be, persons you have tried to avoid being, and persons you fear you might be. All these are people you know…. Fiction based not on you own experience, but on experience you’ve observed is also writing about what you know. You know by empathy. You know by living.” – Jerome Stern
Another anatomy day today, concentrating on the eyes in relation to the head. I still can’t get it right. In this example, I messed up the eyes (left) and so traced the skull off and tried to add the eyes again (right). Better, but still not quite right.
Here’s a couple of drawings from later in the day where I went back to drawing the whole head. I seem to have developed a habit of making the nose too large, as with the image on the left. I think I did a slightly better job with the one on the right though, so decided to call it a day after that one!
I mentioned an anatomy book yesterday, saying that it was graphically far superior to my previous books on the subject. Well having now read the section about the head, I can conclude that the text is just as good :)
Sunday, 29 August 2010
In my quest to learn anatomy, I’ve been looking on the net for a good book on the subject. I’ve owned a couple of anatomy books over the past couple of years, but have been unsatisfied with them. My first book, Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet contained lots of photographic reference, but didn’t explain things in great depth. I sold that several months ago and bought another that was recommended by my colleague, also called Anatomy for the Artist, this time by Jeno Barcsay. I was initially impressed by the level of explanation in this book, but later started to get irritated by the images. They were all side and front views, with very little in three quarter views, and there was very little help as to how to approach drawing the body parts. There is also a stunningly small section on the head that goes into virtually no graphical detail about the bones!
So today I had another look around the net and came across The Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Rogers-Peck. I didn’t go buying it just yet as I didn’t want to end up with yet another dissatisfactory book, so I managed to find a pdf of it for preview purposes. I’ve only had a look at the section on the head so far (it was naturally the first section to look at, given the travesty of the Barcsay book!) but it seems to be great!
The section about the head has several clear orthographic views of the skull, as well as lots of images of other three-dimensional angles. But where it comes into it’s own is how it breaks the skull down into manageable pieces that are easy to understand. It’s a complex set of bones and when a book presents the lot in one go, it’s really hard to work out. Thankfully this book doesn’t do that so much. It also has images showing how the fleshy parts of the head relate to the bones underneath. I haven’t actually read the accompanying text yet, but the images alone are a hundred times more useful than those in the previous two anatomy books I’ve owned. This one is the next book on my “to buy” list!
Well I finally got round to starting my anatomy practice today. Tanked up on caffeine, I spent about three or four hours drawing some skulls using images I obtained from Bone Clones and then layered flesh over the top of them. The result was less than astounding in general, but I have discovered that my biggest problem is with drawing the eyes, which is of little surprise to me. I seem to consistently manage to put the face on one plane, but have the eyes on a completely different plane. How do I manage that?! I even went to the trouble of drawing myself a load of perspective guide lines in the hope that they might aid me, but they didn’t. Here’s my favourite attempt of the evening (although I’m scraping the barrel to find a favourite!). This was actually the first one I drew, and as such I made the schoolboy error of putting the eyes too close to the top of the head. Note the misalignment of the eyes with the face. If anyone can offer any tips on placing the eyes properly within the eye sockets, I’d very much like to hear from you!
This head was based on an Aborigine skull. Perhaps he would have looked a bit more like an Aborigine if I had looked for some reference images to find out what Aboriginal facial features are like. The nose in particular is completely wrong for his ethnicity.
I find it very difficult to work with images for reference. It’s very difficult to assess the relative placement of features. I do have a cheap skull model that I can use, but it’s not the most accurate thing in the world. I need to get myself up to the Manchester Museum to look at a proper one in the flesh (ooooo pardon that horrific pun, completely unintentional!).
I also managed to find what seems to be a great anatomy book tonight, but more on that in the next post!
As part of my studies of the human skull, I was hunting around online for pictures of the bony things, as well as good images of live people to study. I came up with a couple of fantastic resources, so I thought I’d share them in case anyone else is interested!
1. Firstly, I found a great site with lots of really detailed skull images. It’s actually a shop that sells accurate casts of bones, but it’s brilliant for reference too. Find it at http://www.boneclones.com/
What’s amazing is the variation between skulls of different ethnicities. For example, have a look at the European Male on the left compared with the Aboriginal male on the right.
I never really realised how much we all vary on a skeletal level. I wonder what evolutionary benefits these differences have given us all. I noticed that the Aboriginal and African skulls seem to have larger nasal cavities. I wonder if this improves their breathing?
2. Next I found a section of the University of Wyoming site that has several Quicktime VR files of skulls and other bones. With these you can turn the skull around at your leisure, seeing it from a variety of angles. Great stuff! Find it here. I've put an example below, so just click it to activate it and then click and drag across the image to rotate the skull:
3. Finally, I stumbled across a fantastic resource. It’s a virtual head demonstration made by NVIDIA, the computer graphics card manufacturers. This is a downloadable program that displays a realtime CG male head that you can rotate to absolutely any angle you wish. Even better, there are two lights that you can move around, casting shadows over the head, revealing it’s structure. You can find it here: http://www.nzone.com/object/nzone_humanhead_downloads.html.
You do need a fairly powerful graphics card to get it to work though. My PC is beginning to age a bit and so it runs fairly slowly for me, but it’s still usable. I really can’t stress enough how good it is for reference. Moving the lights around and observing the shadows and highlights on the model really make things easier to understand. I guess people with a 3D monitor could get even more out of the program.
I took several screenshots from the program and printed them out, along with pictures of skulls, to put in a file with my anatomy notes that I started a couple of days ago.
Thursday, 26 August 2010
I’m noticing more and more that my drawings are being held back by a lack of anatomical knowledge, so I’ve decided to try to rectify that. I have some anatomy tutorial videos that I’m hoping to follow along with in a bit of a crash course. I watched the first of them tonight, on the topic of the head. I decided to make notes as if I was in a proper class, so I figured I’d share them here! Just click them to see a larger, readable version.
I also set myself a bit of homework to practice before I watch the next video.
Friday, 13 August 2010
I just got back from a holiday in Turkey. While I was away I kept a sketchbook and managed to draw in it on 13 of the 14 days we were there. Looking back on the sketches is actually rather demoralising as I recall them being much better than they actually are! The pages are presented here in the order in which they were drawn, warts and all. My aim was to end the holiday at a better standard than I began it. I’m not sure whether I have accomplished that or not.