CHARACTER ANIMATION

DESIGN / ILLUSTRATION / ANIMATION

Reginald the Drake

This was an individual project completed as part of my university course. It focussed on the design and creation of a character and then bringing that character to life using animation.

the final animation

Process



Character #1 - The Gecko



Lethargic Lizard

This sleepy humanoid gecko character was my initial idea. The core concept of the product that he would've appeared in is that it would've been a short-film aimed at children. He would attempt to keep climbing a tree but fall asleep halfway up and fall back down. I thought this may be an interesting challenge as it would allow me to attempt to put a lot of emotion and personality into how I animated the character.

I ended up not going with this character because the cartoony style was difficult for me to consistently draw and I thought attempting a different style wouldn't suit the character.

Character #2 - Fallout Boy (Not the band)

Moodboard

Formal Forager

Another Idea I had focussed on this character who is a post nuclear scavenger. I think animating his movements would've been too simple. This is because many of his limbs and facial expressions are hidden by his clothes. I thought this would make it easier to animate but it also takes away from the amount of emotion I could have the character show and would detract from the challenge of animating the character

Character #3 - Dragon

Moodboards

After toying around with some other characters I began to muse over the idea of a dragon character. I wasn't sure exactly what type of character this would be when I started out.

Amongst these examples there emerged a sort of design that was something I was very interested in. I wanted to include the long neck as it adds a lot of potential for anticipation in my animation. It would also allow me to exhaggerate some movements more which would give the character a lot of personality. With it being forced to lift his head and long neck every time he needs to look around adds to the lazy feel of the character. The eyes remaining half-closed.
After a little while, I decided I'd narrow down the design a little more and made a new moodboard. I decided to change my dragon into a wyvern.

Sketches

So I played around with a few different ideas, from having more tall and noble features to a more beast-like feral design, I even tried out how a baby dragon might look.
In the end, I decided to use the idea from the gecko character I was developing and create a lazy dragon. The idea being this character would be in a childrens film with the overall moral advising against laziness. A dragon who'd grown fat and lazy on the treasures and gold he'd accumulated, needing to actually be active to save his home or something to that effect.

Style guides

Faces / Personality

I made the decision at this point that the head being as large as it was in my initial sketches didn't fit with the rest of my design, with most of the other proportions being relatively realistic instead of having a cartoon-style. I cleaned up the design a bit from my initial sketches. Changing the strange spine-like protrusions from it's back to these pointed feather-like spines.
At this point, I also changed Reginald from being a Dragon (with 4 legs and 2 wings) to being a Wyvern (with 2 legs and 2 wings attached to it's front limbs.) Reginald is quite a young drake, and though lazy, I view him as being rather a cheeky character, thus all his expressions are mildly cartoony from the front.

Style Guide

I did a little bit of research into flying animals, looking at various birds and flying squirrels, but in the end I decided that the Wyvern's wings fit a bat's wing-style best and modelled the movements in it's arms after a Bat's. This made the animation of the flapping of his wings very intensive since a bird flying has a relatively stationary body, yet bats bodies move with their wings. This gave me a lot more room to work with the anticipation behind the movement so I think was the correct choice in the end.

Click image for fullscreen.

Background

moodboard

I wanted to make sure the background was bright and colourful, this is because the target audience for the product this character would be included in would be children and I wanted to make sure all the colours were bright and appealing.
I grabbed a bunch of images of google images so that I could have a few samples for the types of clouds I wanted and the colours I wanted.

Painting

I spent some time looking around at a few images of skies to use. I found a few images which I thought fitted the concept and Painted a long sky for Reginald to fly across which would loop in the background. This was all painted in a program called Manga Studio 3.

Animation

This section includes a lot of gifs, if you are using a slow internet connection please be patient

Planning

Something I wanted to ensure was that it looked like a lot of strength was needed to be put in in order to keep this creature in the air.
Partially because of how one of Reginald's main character traits is his laziness, the movement had to seem sluggish but still have a significant amount of power behind it and partially to exhaggerate the size of the creature and the weight behind it's movement. I did this by having the creature fall the second it's wings surface area was minimised and slow when the wings opened up more.

Here I added a sort of "tail-wag" to the flight pattern that Reginald would use to ensure his stability whilst In the air and began planning out the specific form of Reginald beyond the basic shapes. Including the webbing of his wings and how the neck connects to the head.


Keyframes

This is the animation with about 10 keyframes. It shows the bulk of the movement. I think if I were to go back and change anything, I would make the tail move less, and the body move more during each flap of the wings, to exhaggerate the power behind the movement.

Adding in more frames

Here I added the keyframes which made the movement a bit smoother. I think that I could've made the loop have a slightly cleaner transition over to the next time it plays as there's the slightest of pauses in between each loop.

Background movement

Here is where I added the background and animated it's movement with the wyvern. This helps to show just how fast the wyvern is moving, I think if I were to re-do this, I would've animated the clouds to move slightly slower across the screen.

Final

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, The fire breath was a bit rushed towards the end and I should've had it occur across two loops of it's usual fly-cycle as the fire dissapates to quickly and there's not enough time for the anticipation on the wyvern's head re-tracting before the fire.