Nine Months In The Making

Animation.

My first real animation wasn’t supposed to take nine months. Actually, I was supposed to have it finished in two. But a lot came up, I had a lot to learn, and I went through a period of fluctuating self-esteem that crippled my workflow.

But I’m finally done, and it’s been quite the wild ride to this point. So here we are – the super-duper-animation-post-I’ve-been-thinking-about-for-awhile-now.

Let’s get into it!

Zoetrope_Stories

My Journey To Animation: A Brief History

Like most kids, I’d played around with notepads and stop motions. At one point, I even had this little animation kit thing (it included a zoetrope and was actually really awesome – I wish I had kept it!).

Last year, I made some little animated gifs. They were really REALLY labor-intensive – lots of tracing and stuff. I documented that on Steeplechase in this post.

howl2btest2bcropped

However, I couldn’t keep folding papers into eighths in lieu of a lightboard. I had to face the fact that I needed to use the computer if I was going to take this from a passing whim to a serious hobby.

Now before you come at me with that “but-Disney-cartoons-are-all-made-on-paper-you-tech-spoiled-millenial” snobbishness, allow me to defend myself. Disney is a company made up of hundreds of people. Disney animators don’t have to worry about:

  • storyboarding
  • inbetweening
  • lineart
  • coloring
  • shading
  • backgrounds
  • sound mixing
  • editing
  • producing
  • directing
  • lack of inspiration. (Well, maybe not.)

If you’re an independent animator (meaning you’re a one-man-show), then you have to do all of that yourself. Oh yeah, and animate, too. 😛 A computer program makes it much easier and smoother to make your own animations without a inking, painting, or backgrounds department.

I ended up purchasing a drawing tablet on Amazon. Technically, his name is Cedric, and he’s Constance’s secret admirer. (Clara, I guess I should have warned you about that. ;)) After doing some research, I found out how to legally download an ancient version of Flash, Adobe’s ever-popular animation program.

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shhhh, this picture’s kinda old.

So I was all set! Now – to actually animate something.

I had heard about Multi-Animator Projects (we affectionately call them MAPs), so I decided I should start there.

What is a Multi-Animator Project (MAP)?

Basically, someone takes a song, divides it into 10-second parts, and posts it up for “auditions”. There are all kinds of MAPs (fandom, original character, vent, positivity, beginner-friendly, etc.) for all kinds of tastes. Most of them are kind of edgy or centered on Warrior Cats, but there are more than a few acceptable ones. Most of the time, anyway.

I decided to go out on a limb and just admit my noobiness to a MAP host and beg ask for a part. And he was gracious enough to accept!

So here I was, with my tablet, my Flash, my MAP part – and absolutely no idea what I had gotten into.

Zoetrope_Stories

I started by cutting the audio. I downloaded the song we were using, put it into my fancy audio editing software, and clipped it down to just my part.

Audio cutting
Totally not just Windows Movie Maker. 😉 Also you have to set a picture for it so you can turn it into an mp4 and then turn that mp4 into an mp3…and I have a weird sense of humor.

Once I had the audio for my part, I imported into Flash and set it in its own layer, so that I could start animating.

Audio on its own layer

(Layers are just what they sound like – different layers of stuff that you can stack on top of each other. For example, if the tail of your character is the only thing that’s moving, you can put the character’s still body on one layer and the tail on another and just animate the tail without having to redraw the body over and over again.)

The next step was to make an animatic – a moving storyboard. I sketched out all the poses that I wanted my character to be in and put them at the right times for the music. (We call those poses keyframes.) As in, I wanted my wolf to stand up at the first “oh-oh-oh”, so I drew him in a standing position and put it at that time in the timeline (the number bar at the top).

(Also, I was a doofus and deleted all my sketch layers. 😦 So I have virtually no pictures to show for it.)

Rough sketches came next. I filled in the gaps between my keyframes with ugly, scribbly drawings. It was important that I made a sketch for every single frame, because I’m not the sort of person who can just freehand pretty drawings.

Before I got into anything fancy, though, I made the background. (It took me two and a half hours and a ton of headbanging, hairpulling, and complaining on how hard it is to do a nice gradient in Flash.) The reason I made it so early on is simple – it’s like painting. You do the background first to get an idea of what your setting will look like before you start coloring things in, so that you don’t end up with a background that looks like a cheap mid-90s green screen job.

Background

Background + sketches
Sketches + background! This is a screenshot of the WIP I put on Youtube (I hadn’t decided I liked the heavy lines on the background yet).

After the rough sketches moved the way I wanted them to, I started on lineartthe pretty lines that turn this tornado of chicken scratch into an actual wolf. I traced them over my sketches on a new layer.

Lineart

With the lineart moving along nicely, I filled in the color. At this point, he looks flat and out of place, but we’re about to fix that with…

Color

shading! It took me a little while to decide how to do the shading. I eventually decided on running over the appropriate areas with an opaque black (so that the lineart and color shows through, but it’s darker). This was a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that I got through by listening to music.

Shading

Shading is all well and good, but without ground shadows, it was still looking funny. Of course, my wolf goes into a heavily shadowed place halfway through the sequence, so I didn’t have to do the shadows after that point, but I did need dramatic ground shadows for the first half. I have to confess that I cheated a bit – instead of trying to freehand the shadows (and inevidably messing it up, because shadows are my nemeses), I just copied the lineart, turned it all black, flipped it upside down, angled it, and set the opacity. Which was definitely much more accurate than trying to freehand everything.

Ground Shadows

After a few final touches (and a lot of celebration), I converted my Flash file to an mp4, uploaded it to YouTube, notified my MAP host that I’d finished (finally!) and…

*drumroll*

here it is!

PhotoFunia-1530206941
Click the picture to watch!

I know that a lot of you guys are not allowed on YouTube, so Madison has been kind enough to put it into her media files and give me the link, so you guys can watch! If you live in a cave and don’t know who Madi is, be sure to check her out!

(Wait – does this mean I have a sponsor? NO WAY.)

Zoetrope_Stories

Bottom line?

Animation is hard. It’s frustrating, labor-intensive, patience-testing, difficult on perfectionists…

…and SO. MUCH. FUN.

With my first animation now under my belt, I’m going to promptly sign up for another MAP. Why? I live by a little maxim, and it applies to pretty much everything. It goes:

The best way to do it better is to do it more.

So I’m going to go at it again, animate something else, and learn even more than I learned this time around.

Let’s just hope that this one doesn’t take nine months to complete. 😉

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

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If I Were A Dog {Feat. Enni and Scout}

(Okay, Enni put her part of this a week ago, and I meant to put up my part sooner, but…my life is kind of a tornado of busyness right now, so let’s pretend this is on time.)
(All images are via Google. I don’t have time to link them up today, but know that I didn’t make any of them. :))

Let me preface this by saying that Enni is one of my best friends and whenever we get together, something awesome comes out of it. I’m so lucky to have her email address. Hehe.

A few weeks ago, we were discussing dog personas and she thought it would make a terrific collab, so here we are! (Except I’m fashionably late. As usual.)

If you follow Enni’s blog, you’ve already heard about what I’d be like as a dog. And if you don’t follow Enni’s blog, you’re missing out. Click the red button to be transported to her very awesome, unique, fun world! (Link opens in new tab.)

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If Enni were a dog…

…what breed would she be?

Probably a Samoyed, just like Misty! The only difference is that I’m a bit shier. 😉 But otherwise it’s a perfect match – stubborn, alert, friendly, conservative, gentle, yet can fight back if necessary.

And adorable. Enni is a real smol bean, to use the vernacular. She’s so happy and friendly that the only type of dog she could be is a floofy marshmallow dog like her dog Misty.

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^ floofy marshmallow dog

…what would be her favorite thing to do?

I think cuddling with humans. XP

I would probably own Dog-Enni, so she could sit on my lap and lick my face and that would be pretty nice.

…what would be her favorite food?

Ice. Misty loves ice, so I feed it to her from our dispenser in the freezer. She’s trained herself to get it herself though…Even as a human, I still like sucking it. 😉

Okay as far as dog tricks go, getting ice is pretty awesome.

Image result for dog getting ice from fridge
And yep, apparently it’s possible. Unless your dog is like, six inches tall.

…what would be her favorite toy?

SQUEAKY TOYS. Have you heard them? They are terribly satisfying.

YESSSSS I love squeaky toys. I can see her having one that looks like a donut. Maybe a hamburger. I’m not sure.

Image result for dog playing with toy gif
^ actual footage of me trying to reach my goals, btw

…would she dig holes?

To be honest, yes. I think it’d be nice to have your own little personal tunnel…

And if I owned a marshmallow dog in our 100+ degree summers, I wouldn’t blame her for trying to get cool. Our dogs certainly do.

Image result for dog digging gif
^ toasted marshmallow dog

…who would end up owning her?

Uh, no idea. Hopefully somebody nice who can give us the attention that I deserve.

Translation: Me. *jazzhands*

 

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Enni is a really special person and I really hope you end up following her! She posts photography, quizzes, tips, thoughts on life, poems, adorable dog pictures, and updates on her WIP Blizzards. (Which is awesome. Just saying.)

Click below to go to On The Wings Of A Dream!

Courtesy of Enni.

 

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Hello?

My name’s Scout. I’m four months old and very handsome.

I live with my brother and my three cousins in backyard with two slides and at night I sleep in a crate on top of my cousin Chase.

This is what I look like:

scout

My mother was a Chihuahua and my father was a Fox Terrier.

They sometimes call me a Taco Terrier but I think that’s kind of embarrassing.

My other nicknames are Scouty, Scouters, Scoot, Scouty-Wouty, Wittle Scouty, Snickerdoodles, and Scoutydoodles. Most of those are embarrassing too.

I’m only about a foot tall but I bark like I’m a Great Dane.

I really like to run around and dig holes and sit on Tess’s lap, because she rubs my back and feeds me treats.

I have lots of friends, but Misty is my best friend. We talk over Tess and Enni’s chats and then delete all the history so they’ll never find out!

When Tess and Enni decided to do this collab, I wanted to do the opposite with Misty – what would we be like as humans?

But the most annoying thing happened: before I got a chance to ask Misty the questions myself, Tess asked Enni and Enni answered all the questions for Misty.

Aren’t humans cumbersome sometimes?

So all of these questions are Enni answering for Misty.

Unfortunately.

But they’re still really fun and I hope you enjoy!

If Misty were a human…

…what would she look like?

This is hard because Misty has white hair. XD I spent about thirty minutes trying to edit someone’s hair to look white (because all the white-haired people are either elderly or look sad/trying to be cool) BUT I COULDN’T MANAGE IT. So, just turn this girl’s hair white using imagination, won’t you?

I think the real Misty is much prettier. Just saying. Dogs are always better than humans.

…what would she wear?

Wintery styles. We’ll give her a black tee, a silver scarf with gold tassels, a (heavy) white cardigan, skinny jeans, and…black high-heeled boots which might be something I would wear minus the boots. 😉

I think it’s accurate…but what’s a cardigan?

…would she talk in an accent?

Misty’s breed origin is Russian but she was born in Oregon. XD Probably not? NO WAIT. She’d have a Boston accent. Totally.

She actually kind of does have a Boston-dog accent. All dogs from Boston bark like her.

…what movies/music would she like?

Live music. Listen, Misty NEVER howls with recordings – only singing or music that’s uh…live? I dunno. XD As for movies…she’d be all about the comedy.

Live music makes my ears hurt. It’s too loud.

…what would her bedroom look like?

The color scheme would be…wintery. I mean, she’s a snow dog! I always feel like people who love winter are more chill, though, but Misty? Eh, I’d say that her personality would suit a summer-lover. Strange. Anyways, here’s a picture off Pinterest for her bedroom:

Decorating theme bedrooms - Maries Manor: Winter wonderland and winter sports theme decorating

I really want to go dig in those covers. They look soooo warm.

…would she have hobbies?

Misty would adore journalism. She loves poking her nose into other people’s business – sometimes literally. When two people hugs, she barks, jumps, puts one hand on each shoulder and tries to separate them so that she can squeeze in between. XD Anyways, I think a journalist would be the perfect career for her. She would also garden since she already dug several nice holes in our yard and she’d definitely be into art as well – she might even be into carpentry; you should see what she’d done to our chairs. XD

I think that’s accurate. I like gardening too!

…what celebrities would she like?

I honestly don’t think that Misty would be into celebrities. XD

I’m a celebrity though. And she likes me well enough. Sooooo…me?

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Still Scout here.

Do you know what the greatest injustice in the entire world is?

I don’t have a blog!

Tess hasn’t EVER let me post on hers, either, until today, but she probably won’t let me anymore because I said that dogs were better than humans!

But Misty has a blog! You should go visit it.

Click the picture of Misty to visit it!

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Goodbye for now, but I hope I get my own blog someday, so I can tell you about all my adventures!

Sincerely, Scout.

(not Snickerdoodles. I’m very masculine.)

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I don’t know about you, but I thought this post was a ton of fun. Thanks, Enni for doing it with me!

Do you have a dog? What would you be like as a dog? What would your dog be like as a human?

Should I let Scout have his own blog?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

2018 Art Dumps, Issue 1

(I just tagged this post as “fun”. Seriously, Tess?)
(But I wouldn’t say I’m doing so bad. After all, this is my FIFTH post this year so far. Considering that I didn’t post last year until Februray 15th, I’m doin’ great. *looks haughtily at those coordinated people who treat their blogs like actual websites and not end-of-the-pipeline imagination dumping grounds*)

Welcome to Issue One of my 2018 Art Dumps (of which most are yet to be made), in which I show you a bunch of pictures you never asked to see and expect you to know how much blood, sweat, graphite and tears went into them. Stick around until the end and you might see something resembling actual talent.

I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, I guess. I have been making improvements. It hasn’t been quick or easy, but I’m getting there. However, I have had my fair share of creeping myself out with strange facial expressions that are a result of bad proportions. (We’ll get to a nice example of that, too.)

The other thing to note is that when I scanned these in, I could barely see the lines, so I had to adjust the brightness and contrast and all that fun. The result is that the background is almost always grey. Oh well, it’s easier on the eyes anyways.

So, without further adieu,

let’s get into it!

(Disclaimer: These are in no particular order, are sometimes kind of cringey and weird looking, and are by no means professional artwork. I’m self taught so yeah.)
(Disclaimer 2: If I catch you stealing any of my artwork I will not hesitate to call you out on it. I mean not like you’d wanna steal it, but just in case you think it’s good enough. XD)

In general my art is 75% wolves and 25% everything else. I’m intrigued to say that it’s not the same case here. The breakdown is 62.5% wolves, 34% humans, and 7% horses. (I calculated carefully, but somehow it adds up to 103.5%. We’ll say that extra 3.5% is eraser shavings.

The reason I haven’t drawn as many wolves as I usually do is because I’ve been animating wolves for that MAP thing I’m doing. (I mean, after spending an hour doing nothing but drawing wolves, I’m not really in the mood to draw any more wolves.) But I have done quite a few – including a series I call Fifteen Wolf Sketches.

F.W.S. came out of a flashcard project I had to do for my Hebrew class. We were supposed to draw pictures on one side and write vocabulary words on the other. My teacher was really miffed at me because I took wayyyy too long to do these, but I think the result was worth it. Let’s go!

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For the vocabulary word for “river”. I’d never drawn a wolf doing this so this was a ton of fun.

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To descend. Yup, they’re going down quickly – imho, the top one is to die for. LOOK AT HIS LITTLE FEETS.

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To take. My sister got so disturbed by the rabbit, it was funny.

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To put.

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To be pregnant. The passage we’re doing is the first chapters of Exodus, so yep, we gotta learn all the words. *awkward smile*

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WOOK AT TEH BEBES. THEY’RE TINY BOLLS OF FLOOF.
Ahem. To nurse.

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To go up. This ended up being one of my favorites.

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To come. Conversely, this is one of my least favorites.

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To draw water. Hey, I don’t think I did so bad, seeing as I couldn’t use any references at all for this. XD

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To drink. Well, a form of drinking, anyways. This one is more of the passive version to drink.

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To, erm, give birth. Yeah, I wasn’t going to draw that exactly, so I just drew this puppeh meeting his daddy. Awwwwwe….

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To see. Her eyebrows are like, not there. Not the best of the bunch.

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To stand.

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To call. I think I’ve drawn this drawing five times over. It doesn’t get old, though.

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To walk. Ahhh, I saved the best of these sketches for last. Here’s my wittle OC Archer, with leg positions that are SPOT ON. Ahhhh.

And now we enter the realm of the Epic Sketchbook. I really need to give him a name – if anyone has any suggestions, I’d appreciate it. He’s enormous and has taught me a lot about drawing large.

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Here’s the first drawing I did in him – sort of like a christening. I wish I’d put more definition in his ears but he’s cute.

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I am quite proud of this. It took soooooo long (like, three hours) from start to finish, but it’s so worth it. I’m so happy to have this in my sketchbook because it actually has color and makes me look like a pro. XD

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A random horse! Haha. I do still love horses. I just don’t draw them as often as I used to. In reality, they’re incredibly hard to draw and pose. But this is proof that I still do it – and I stepped out of my usual outlining style and did soft colored pencil around everything.

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In speaking of horses, here’s a partially colored cab. His gait looks subdued but meh, it’s okay. That cab was very hard to draw, and as a result the sizing is a little skewed, but it’s not noticiable if you’re just glancing (which you probably are ;))

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This driver looks quite dapper, lap blanket and all. What a shame that I never colored him.

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I suppose this also goes under the heading of horse-human drawings. I was interested in drawing humans at this point, but a little under-referenced. But it isn’t exactly easy to use references in a hotel room, which is where I did this. Because of this, we’ll ignore the fact that her horse has no near rein, her head is tiny in comparison to her shoulders, she looks like she’s about to fall asleep, and the stray lines on the bottom. Oh well.

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I had grand dreams for this drawing. I was going to completely shade it and make it look wonderful. But I suppose I sort of lost interest. It’s at this point a scrap that needs finishing.

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These buildings, though, are pretty awesome.

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(ignore the drawing on the back please. this was finished while I was just doodling.)

A little bit of human-wolf affection. Awe. My human bodies are half-decent. They’ll certainly work for now. I have the ability to convey a lot of poses using the top-secret method I use. My faces, though, leave a lot to be desired. I hide them a lot of the time with hair or other things, because when I draw them they end up looking like this a lot of the time:

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This is a bona fide Tess mess up! I dubbed her Lolina (not sure why?) and she looks like a nutcracker. The effect is worse than my scanner makes it. THOSE TEETH, WHAT HAPPENED.

It was after dear Lolina that I decided to not draw lips at all. After a bunch more like her, human faces started to make a bit of sense.

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I’ve found that profiles are the easiest to draw. It’s all in the nose. And hair is quite easy now that I’ve been practicing. I will admit that I draw most men’s hair in a certain way. It’s not the way I particularly like it, it’s just the way I’ve found that it’s easiest to draw.

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When I took the pictures for this post, this drawing was only half-done. I’ve finished it since then. (These are Nano charries :D) I really liked the facial proportions here. After I finish faces, tho, the next battle will be clothes. Because I can’t draw clothes right now to save my life and so everyone wears about the same thing.

23um97

(I added the captions. Any guesses as to who these are?)

I thought this turned out pretty good. We’ve got a few issues with the eyes/skintones but it’s pretty decent. Closeups:

I think they’re pretty good.

Beofre we get to the last, best one, here’s a scrap:

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Hey, his hair is slightly different. Whaddaya know. (This is supposed to be Robin from Ettiquette and my other nano. :D)

Now.

I always save the best for last, as you know, and so I present to you another Nano charrie drawing that came kind of out of nowhere. It’s not even in the big sketchbook. But here we go:

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Is this….a human face that doesn’t look creepy, sleepy or just….off? DOES IT SERIOUSLY LOOK DECENT? wow.

The future for my drawing? I have to master human faces. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be drawing anything else, but that’s what’ll get the practice right now.

Tell me which one was your favorite!

Any comments? Advice? Freaking out over Lolina? I welcome suggestions and questions.

Maybe next time I sump some art, I’ll have some better faces! Haha.

Sayonara,
{Tess}