I’ve been wanting to do some rotoscoping using analogue techniques for a while now and I finally was able to do so as I now own a printer (yay). Probably a little more excited about that than I should be, but I’m an artist type person and stuff like that gets me excited, so there! As you know if you follow my work, a lot of what I do combines both analogue and digital techniques, so creating some rotoscope pieces not using the computer (or at least not fully) seemed like the next logical step. I often use paint and other analogue methods as backgrounds and/ or to add texture, though never rendered a piece fully by hand.
The closest I’ve come to doing so is this short test piece:
As you can see, I printed out the frames and used different media to mark make. I liked the effects I created, though never since took it further than this clip.
Introduction over, I will now talk through the process of creating my first hand coloured piece. Note: everything I do in the computer is still done by hand, drawing every frame using a Wacom tablet, but it basically cuts out the step of scanning everything in.
For this piece, I decided to draw the outlines on computer first, then print those out and do the colouring by hand. This decision was because after printing out some frames as a test I found it hard to trace each frame accurately. As my printer is only monochrome some of the shading was hard to make out when printed. I also printed 4 images on each page, so they were quite small and therefore a little pixelated, which again made it harder to trace the outlines accurately. Yes, I could have printed out one frame a sheet, but I’m quite conscious of being environmentally friendly by using as little paper as I need and not wanting to use ink unnecessarily.
Going into this, I wasn’t quite sure which medium I wanted to use, as I had quite a lot of ideas and didn’t know which one would work the best or to depict what I had envisaged. To help with my decision, I printed off eight frames: four with a solid black outline and four with a light grey outline. This was because I didn’t know how each might look when printed- would the solid black outline look too harsh against textured, analogue colouring? Which is why I thought I would print off one in grey too. With these outlines I was able to create some style frames using various media (below).
All the techniques I tried:
Sharpie (regular colours)
Biro + gel pen
Water colour pencils
Sharpie (unnatural colours)
Black felt nib
It turned out that the black outline looked much better for what I wanted to achieve here- the grey one wasn’t very visible and didn’t give a strong enough image.
The pencil and watercolour pencil didn’t scan very well, so needed altering in post, whether that be by Premiere or Photoshop.
The Sharpie’s bled a little, especially on the second one- not sure whether that was the effect I wanted to create. I do want it all rough looking (well hand rendered/ textured) or I may well have done it by computer, but I still want it to be appropriately neat for each medium. If that makes sense. Probably not!
I added the original frames over the acrylic paint one and the ‘graphic novel’ kind of style one with the black felt nib, to make the outlines stronger. I felt with the original frames brought back in, it really made the image stand out and definitely will be a technique to take forward into the final version.
After studying each image carefully, I came to the decision that one of my favourites was the one which I painted. So I decided to start with that. The pencil came a close second and I think I might use that technique in a future piece (yes, there will be more)!
The painted one had a fantastically bold look to it which I loved, especially when overlaid with the original frame. I also thought having brush strokes on each frame would add lots of texture and a boil to it, which you rarely get when colouring by computer. This is why I wanted to do it by hand- to get a look which is as far from computerised as possible.
So, now for the fun bit: painting! I do enjoy painting a lot, but hadn’t done much for a while, so it was a quite refreshing task. With the added bonus of not being sat at a computer for the 24 hours the paint section took to complete. I used a combination of acrylics and emulsion (didn’t have enough colours of either to do it in one medium) and used one coat of each. I wanted the paint to have large brush marks on it as I wanted it to be as textured as possible.
I went over the lines a fair bit, because I didn’t want there to be any white gaps on the character and I knew I was going to overlay the images with the original outlines I made on the computer anyway. When scanned in, I took each painted frame into Photoshop and matched each with the corresponding outline. Once in the swing of things, this didn’t take as long as I thought it would and before I knew it, I was able to import the image sequence into Premiere to export. TVPaint lets you export the animation frames with the frame number surrounding each one if you check the ‘slate’ box when outputting your animation. This was super useful when using printed frames or else I would have no idea which ones would go where.
The whole piece took 41 hours and 20 minutes for 4.5 seconds of animation.
I am really pleased with what I created here, though if I were to do something differently, I would have liked it even more textured. This is something I can build upon for future versions of this, but for a first go, I am super happy with it. I think it turned out a little better than what I was expecting. It would have also been nicer if it was a longer piece too, but I had no idea how the thing would pan out, so didn’t want to do a ten second clip to find out it would look terrible!
As always, watch this space for semi-regular write ups about my creative processes. Here’s the clip: