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.

DSCN0110
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.)

paws

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.

Image result for samoyed
^ 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?

paws

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!

misty-amazing1-e1522167947609.jpeg

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}