RGCA - Character Animation - Retrosleep

-Introduction-

Hello Polycounters, or whatever you want to be called. My name is Tom Palumbo aka Retrosleep. I'm an independant cartoonist/2d animator who is taking a leap into 3D with this contest.
Last year I entered Reallusions CTA2 Contest and won second place with my animated cartoon. I can only hope to dazzle my peers and judges once again in this comp!

-Project Synopsis-

I intended to create and rig my own character and then converting it to work in Iclone v5.51 as a non-standard character through 3DXchange. Then I will be using Iclone to animate a Super Smash Brothers style'd moveset for my character.

-What this thread will be covering-

In this thread I will be focusing on my animation workflow, using Iclone and a little bit of character design.
I won't be going into detail on modeling, since that's not what this contest is all about, and you def do not want to learn how to model from me.

-Step by Step by Step-

This is the order I will be progressing through the project.
  1. Character Concept Art
  2. Weaponry Concept Art
  3. Sketch Key Poses for each animation
  4. Use Key Poses to make an Animatic of each attack/move to be used as a reference
  5. Model Character
  6. Get Frustrated
  7. Rig Character
  8. Get Frustrated
  9. Import into Iclone through 3D Xchange
  10. Animate!!!!!!!!

That's it for the introduction post, in my next post we will begin designing our character. In my case re-designing since I'm going to build off an old character concept I never did anything with.

Though to make sure this thread isn't just a huge wall of text I'll post my current design W.I.P

tumblr_nnnp4cZfYr1tq3nlco1_1280.png

[This is The Cat Knight a human who was wisked away to a magical land ruled by kitties. He is forced to play the role of a hero when they bestow to him the legendary sword ExCatibur.]

I would like to do more things to make him look more knightly and catlike, so I'm gonna try out a cat shaped helmet and shield. I also want to encorporate cat toys into the sword hilt.

Replies

  • direx
    This is a cool character. Looks very good. Can't wait to see more ...

    Direx
  • Retrosleep
    @Direx: Thanks, I'm glad you like it. I'm trying to improve on the characters silhouette shape to remind the viewer of a cat rather than a normal human. I think I did the trick in today's session. Oh! I like your thread btw, I'll be watching it.

    -Sketch 2: Accessories-
    tumblr_nno3tpNt8l1tq3nlco1_1280.png

    [Here I was attempting to create that generic knight helmet with a bit of a cat spin on it. I also wanted it to look rather silly, since I'm bouncing around the idea that this character is embarrassed by the uniform he has to wear as the hero.

    The Gauntlet was to help bulk up the character a bit, with the addition of a helmet his head was looking really large for his tiny arms.

    The shield is a cat. That's it, nothing witty.

    The back of the sheathe say's "Hang in there". Excatibur is a pun on Excalibur. Excalibur's sheathe was said to make the owner unbeatable in battle or invulnerable so Excatibur gives the owner 9 lives and comes with a junky pun.

    -Sketch 3: Armor vs Plain-

    tumblr_nno3tpNt8l1tq3nlco2_1280.png

    Here I set up a side by side comparison for myself so I could decide what version I liked better. I really like how clean the left design is, but the right design conveys a better message about the character is about in my opinion. I felt like it was still missing something though.

    -Sketch 4: Scarfs only fit on necks-
    tumblr_nno3tpNt8l1tq3nlco3_1280.png

    So he has armor that are cat ears, and a gauntlet with a cat paw on it. The only thing I was missing was a cat tail. I did not want to just stick a tail on the character so instead I added a very long scarf to symbolize a cat's tail instead. When I did this I realized his neck was way too tiny so he got a longer neck out of the deal and I'd say it looks a lot better.

    -Sketch 5: The Holy Sword Excatibur-

    tumblr_nno3tpNt8l1tq3nlco4_1280.png

    Every good hero need's a magic weapon so here it is. It's got a cat toy ball for a hilt decoration, the arm guard is the Ichthy's symbol which i'm pretty sure is a Holy Fish symbol, and then the metal sword part.

    So now that my design is more or less finalized. My next step is to figure out this characters movement and attack animations by creating key poses. This will also help me test the readability of his design, which could be challenging with all that stuff attached to him. Also I might have put the sheathe on the wrong side...woops
  • direx
    Very nice sketches. You have all thingst thought through. ... Do you already have a 3D model of your character, or is this still under construction?
  • Retrosleep
    direx wrote: »
    Very nice sketches. You have all thingst thought through. ... Do you already have a 3D model of your character, or is this still under construction?

    I'm Currently working on the model in-between setting up my animations. I'll attatch some images so you can see how it's coming along.

    tumblr_nnt6m5IzCL1tq3nlco2_400.png

    tumblr_nnt6m5IzCL1tq3nlco1_400.png

    I got that wonderful AA going on. I'm trying to figure out how I want to set up the head. I'm thinking about how Nintendo does the Mii's. Havn't quite thought it out yet, but I want to be able to switch 2D Mouths without swapping texture files, so I think that's gonna involve a bunch of planes with mouths on them that I store inside the head and use morph targets to place them on the head to swap em around.
  • AndrePeisker
  • Retrosleep
    So unfortunately, I had some serious problems last month and basically had to dip out of my personal projects, so I am going to do thing's a little differently with this project, so I will be able to at-least submit something of interest.

    -Importing the Character-

    After creating my character, I sent it over to Mixamo and used their auto-rig service and downloaded the rig as a .FBX, from there it's time to upload our character Via 3DXchange and into Iclone.

    tumblr_nr68k8d9sU1tq3nlco1_1280.png

    Here you can see the characters being defined as a non standard character by labeling the bones in 3DXchange, this is very easy to do. You just copy the image on the right to match your character.

    tumblr_nr68k8d9sU1tq3nlco2_1280.png

    Once done you can test some default animations on your character to make sure you did everything right. I was satisfied with it, you can apply it right to iclone, or you can continue to do some editing. Which I did.

    tumblr_nr68k8d9sU1tq3nlco4_1280.png

    I noticed my mesh had some rouge geometry floating around on the head, and that the pony tail was messed up. This wasn't a big deal With 3DXchange you can actually export out parts of the character and import them back in, all without messing with the originally .FBX file. Which was great since my modeling problem doesn't import .FBX

    Anyways I cleaned up the model a bit more and then imported it into Iclone.
  • Retrosleep
    Importing The Weapon

    tumblr_nr6a1wTGXh1tq3nlco1_400.png

    So here is my characters weapon, Excatibur. We need to get this thing into Iclone. So I saved it up as an .OBJ and opened it up in 3DXchange.


    tumblr_nr6a1wTGXh1tq3nlco2_400.png

    3DXC automatically assigns the texture/color information from the .OBJ and then from there you can adjust the material settings. I played around with the sliders a bit till the metal parts of the sword gave off a bit of a shine.

    Then I imported it into Iclone as a prop and loaded it next to my character.

    tumblr_nr6a1wTGXh1tq3nlco3_400.png

    Now we need to attach the sword to his arm. I set him in a T-pose using one of the library's pre-set poses. Then moved the sword into place, after that you want to link the sword to his palm/wrist so it follows his hand around as if he is holding it.

    tumblr_nr6a1wTGXh1tq3nlco4_1280.png

    Once the swords in place, we gotta close his hand into a fist so it looks like he is gripping it.

    tumblr_nr6a1wTGXh1tq3nlco5_1280.png

    I do this using the Edit Motion Layer tool, under the animation tab. It has an amazing interface for selecting joint points and I love it.

    Once that's all done, we are going to save our pose to the library as a custom T-Pose so we don't have to keep closing his fist.

    tumblr_nr6a1wTGXh1tq3nlco6_250.png

    You could also save the character with the sword attached to your actor library if you attach the sword via the parent tool rather than the linking tool.


    Now that it's attached, it's time to set up our characters main pose. I did this again by using the Edit Motion Layer Tool.

    tumblr_nr6a1wTGXh1tq3nlco7_1280.png

    Now it's time to animate. Finally something i'm comfortable with doing.
  • Retrosleep
    So I have animated a ton of stuff already, and feel like documenting it all will be very overwhelming so I am going to break down my process for a few different types of animations.

    Right now we are gonna start simple and do a single swing animation.

    -Pose to Pose Animation-

    So how I decided to tackle animating, is by doing something I do in 2D. I create the start and end images of an animation and then slowly build up on it by adding more images in between again and again. I know that's called inbetweening in 2d. But anyways I want to make my character strike the ground sort of like Ike does as an attack in Super Smash.

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco1_500.png
    ^ This is my starting pose. It will transition from the idle animation^


    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco2_1280.png

    ^ Here is the end of this segment of animation. I want our character to hang onto this pose as he leans back and attempts to swing the sword. From here we will create another End pose which will be him striking the ground.

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco3_500.png

    ^ So I decided to call this end pose 2. This is our characters last stop on this motion. Now we inbetween, with the help of the program tweening the parts for us.

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco4_500.png

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco5_1280.png

    ^So thats the newest set of inbetween's. Now I'll show you the inbetweens of those inbetweens.

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco6_1280.png

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco7_1280.png
    ^Im sure you get the idea.

    From this point It's really guess and check for me. Sometimes I end up having to change the key poses or even undo chunks. I will say the last thing that I do is animate the hands.

    With the hands you can really just use most of the nifty preset hand poses and stack them over your animation.

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco8_540.png

    tumblr_nr7eoiWe9r1tq3nlco9_400.png

    From here We collect the clip and save it for later, after that we animate him returning to his idle sequence.
  • Retrosleep
    -End Attack to Idle-

    tumblr_nr89r9iO6J1tq3nlco1_1280.png

    tumblr_nr89r9iO6J1tq3nlco2_500.png

    tumblr_nr89r9iO6J1tq3nlco3_1280.png

    tumblr_nr89r9iO6J1tq3nlco4_1280.png

    I'm sure your starting to figure it out now, the concept behind this is pretty simple. Now I am in no way a pro 3d animator. I'm basically stumbling around with years and years of 2D knowledge in a 3d space.

    ----

    tumblr_nr89r9iO6J1tq3nlco5_500.png

    One thing that I have noticed is that things look very un-natural when it automatically tweens both feet sliding to fit the next pose, since thats pretty impossible. So I have been making sure to keep one foot in place between motions and then lift up the sliding leg to create a step.

    ----

    RESULTS

    tumblr_nr89r9iO6J1tq3nlco6_250.gif

    It's a little choppy, but I think it get's the job done.
  • Retrosleep
    -Looping Animations-

    Game characters have a decent number of looping animations. I.E Idle, Walk, Run, Dash, Fall Loop. I have made all of these but I am going to focus on the run animation I did and use it to explain how loops work.

    tumblr_nr8nn1hKbO1tq3nlco1_1280.png

    If you follow this practice when you load your animation clips side by side the animation will play seamlessly like this.

    tumblr_nr8nn1hKbO1tq3nlco6_250.gif

    So let's take a look at what we got going on.

    tumblr_nr8nn1hKbO1tq3nlco5_1280.png

    tumblr_nr8nn1hKbO1tq3nlco2_400.png

    tumblr_nr8nn1hKbO1tq3nlco3_500.png

    tumblr_nr8nn1hKbO1tq3nlco4_400.png

    Once you make a working loop be sure to use the collect clip feature to add it to the library like I have done.
  • Retrosleep
    -Cutscene Animation-

    tumblr_nr9tefWQCV1tq3nlco1_500.gif

    This win animation should get your trunks or briefs wet.


    Screens

    tumblr_nr9tefWQCV1tq3nlco2_400.png

    tumblr_nr9tefWQCV1tq3nlco3_400.png

    tumblr_nr9tefWQCV1tq3nlco5_400.png

    tumblr_nr9tefWQCV1tq3nlco7_1280.png

    -Timeline-

    tumblr_nr9tqkuLT21tq3nlco1_1280.png

    Iclones preset's came in handy for this shot. I used a few different mix move motions for walking and standing.
  • Retrosleep
    -Rendering-

    If you own a video editing software, you can do a similar render style that I basically conjured up by doing multiple exports of different settings and then compiled them in After Effects.

    tumblr_nrb3hclAj41tq3nlco2_540.png
    First Render Pass. Solid Textures 100% Self Illuminated

    tumblr_nrb3hclAj41tq3nlco3_1280.png
    Second Pass. All geometry white at 100% Self Illuminated with Ambient Occlusion on.

    tumblr_nrb3hclAj41tq3nlco4_540.png
    Third Pass. Standard light self illumination off.

    tumblr_nrb3hclAj41tq3nlco5_540.png
    Fourth Pass. Toon pass.

    tumblr_nrb3hclAj41tq3nlco6_540.png
    Final render. Created by compiling the different iclone renders using various blend options.

    You can check out the final video here.

    https://youtu.be/klCR0_0smcI
  • lucifersam02
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