Sunday, 29 November 2020


As stated in my previous post, I said I may try out more animation styles in the next few weeks. Well, that 'may' turned into an action and here we are with yet another style test. It's a good 'un though, so stay tuned!

The idea I wrote down for this one was a black and white 'comic' style: think classic Marvel etc., with all the nice (technical term) inking. I’ve never been into superhero comics (please don’t hate me), but I have always loved the artwork. In my quest to find a clip on my favourite stock site Pexels (totes not sponsored by them yet hint hint) which had enough lighting differentiation to enable me to get a really good shadow contrast, I came across this clip of a couple:

…And thought this kind of lighting is wayyyy cooler than boring black and white (so nineteenth century). I could have still done it in black and white as there is plenty of light/ dark contrast in the clip, but I couldn't help but want to try playing with colour- I just loved how the reds and blues looked and thought it would make for really interesting animation. I focussed on just the one of the characters for this (the one sitting up)- the guy lying down didn't have much colour contrast, plus he is a little out of focus. Also, doing two characters takes double the time: this three second clip took 22 hours. Though this clip of just someone's face took much, much longer. More on that shortly.

Before animating, I created a couple of rough style frames to see if this would work:

Style frame #1

Style frame #2

Off the back of these I decided it would work, but with a few tweaks. I went with the second of the two, the one where I added a layer of dark blues. I felt it really brought out his facial features and made the clip more interesting to look at. As the style frames were kind of rough, I went more detailed in the final outcome and added a few more colour layers, too which you’ll see shortly. This further enhanced the detail.

In the style frames I still hadn't worked out how I was going to draw the cigarette either hence the blank space, but in the final animation I settled on a way. Sometimes when I’m animating I find it becomes easier to solve issues I might have when starting the piece. I do like to plan out each shot beforehand, but if I have the majority resolved though a few bits I can’t figure out, the process of animating usually solves those for me. Maybe that’s an odd way of doing things, but it works for me!

After 8 hours

After 22 hours

The above images are screen shots of it at various stages of animating: the first after 8 hours, the second after 22 hours. As usual, I use ‘strange’ colours to draw the clip and change them at the end. This is so they contrast with the colours on screen and show up nicely, making the animation process easier. I put everything on separate layers, so switching colours is easy.

Like I mentioned earlier, this style took really, really long. For the five second duration, it took 32 hours. I think this was because the sheer amount of detail involved and the fact that I drew every shadow and highlight. I usually draw outlines and then block colour after. For some reason I thought this might take quicker that my normal style(?), yeah I have no idea why, but perhaps because I wasn’t using an outline. How naive! You’d have thought that after nine years of roto-ing I still wouldn’t be underestimating the completion time. But to give me credit, this was a style I had never used before so I didn’t really know what to expect.

I love how I really went in and experimented with this clip and it doesn’t look like any of my other work. I always say that the idea of carrying out tests such as these is so I can develop different styles and push my animation further and for this clip, I achieved exactly that. I honestly don’t think there is anything I would do differently either if I used this style again and I absolutely adore how it turned out. It looked better than I thought it might do and it would be great to do another clip in a similar manner.

Watch the clip below:

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