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Friday, July 7, 2017

Updates: Horse, Animation Related, n More

A number of things happened since I'd last Posted in Mid June.

I was testing out a number of animation programs. I still haven't done one using "Animation Paper"  (Open Source) yet. But, I did try OpenToonz, and Toon Boom's new Harmony (Advanced version).

It's crucial that my daughter & I try out different stuff, and really LEARN things, hone programs, skills, techniques, etc.

Heidi also did some horse run cycles, but she lost them, somehow.




Here's the First attempt at a Horse WALKING Cycle done in Studio Ghibli's OpenToonz:


Honestly, I found that OpenToonz was often backwards feeling, was confusing, and I would like the experience to driving your entire life in a American cars, then suddenly driving a Honda, and being completely lost. Also, I didn't like the way it drew, or interacted with the WACOM, and the RAM.

I referenced this cycle from a graphic found on Google Images.

The 2nd animation I did was in Toon Boom's Harmony (Advanced version):




If i can be frank about this, I must say that I LOVE Toon Boom! I also LOVED Toon Boom's new Harmony. But, my trial version ran out. Honestly, AFTER the first 2 days of using Toon Boom's Harmony I WANTED TO BUY IT! But, when I saw the prices, I was very unhappy about it, and according to what I read, ONLY the Premium version had audio.

Oddly, AFTER the trial version was about to run out, Toon Boom's sale's rep e-mailed me! They ACTUALLY asked me what I thought about it. WOW! So, I emailed them, and told them my honest thoughts and feelings, because I just didn't see the logic in buying it UNLESS it had audio, but ONLY the Premium version had audio according to the specs on the website, and it was almost $900 for a FULL YEAR SUBSCRIPTION on the website. The programming is SUPER. But, I'd already paid for Adobe's Creative Cloud, and is has an animation program on it...

Well, my daughter has been playing, learning, and using Adobe's Animation program (used to be Macromedia's Flash back in the day, but times change) so we decided to learn each other's styles, and make a simple animated short together, and we've been developing that since yesterday. I know everyone thinks I'm being stubborn, because I kinda hate Flash. But, I figured, well, I SHOULD AT LEAST TRY. i really gave it the ol' college try with OpenToonz and eventually just had to give it up.

Here's Some of my daughter's recent Adobe Animation work:





Here's a collaboration one she did with her friend:



Needless to say, she managed to get Adobe to do good stuff... so, that's why we decided to move forward with doing a simple project in Adobe's Animation program.


But, THEN, I got a call from Toon Boom in Canada. We talked, and they offered me a number of deals, including using audio in the Basic Essentials HARMONY version if I wanted it, but even offered me a better deal for PREMIUM, and even gave me options for permanent licencing. They sent me a form, and I was totally blown away by the offers. WOW!

Anyways, I'm STILL going to move forward and try to learn Adobe's Animation/Flash program anyway. I'm a Grumpy Gus over it, but I did pay for Adobe CC, and maybe I just need to get over myself. But, I SOOOOO WANT TOON BOOM HARMONY!

I actually STILL kept researching my Horse walk cycle stuff, and on a LUCKY ACCIDENT Google/YouTube recommended me EXACTLY what  I was looking for. I actually borrowed an animation book by Richard Williams, which is incredibly good, very technical, yet breaks a lot things down. But, I couldn't quite find what I needed SPECIFICALLY for a horse walk cycle. I'd wanted to know EXACTLY when the horse bobs the head, the tail, when the hips & shoulders move up 7 down, and the timing... and I was trying so hard, on my own to figure it out.

As, much as I loved Muybridge stuff, it doesn't actually help with those key fundamentals, and many hand drawn horse walk cycles are done by artists whom don;t actually specialize in horse anatomy, so it's often wonky. Also, I want to understand the FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES or THEORY of the timing, much like drawing in shading & lighting, or color theory... but the applied theory of the bio-mechanics of a horse walking. SPECIFICALLY walking and NOT running, trotting, or galloping. Mostly only you will find more run cycles for a horse than walking. So, that makes it a puzzle, a challenge. Something to find out, and not much exists open source, Creative Commons, or free on the net anymore.

Remember that lucky accidental video I found, which I mentioned 2 paragraphs above? Well, not only was it a lucky find of a horse walk cycle being broken down, and ALL of the fundamental principles and theory, BUT IT WAS BY RICHARD WILLIAMS HIMSELF, AND he explains WHEN to bob the head, and WHEN the shoulders and hips go up! I had ALSO been wanting to find stuff to better help me with timing and spacing, and he did that as well!

So, I will share those with you here:




This "Timing and Spacing" video is SO GOOD! The way in which it's demonstrated is perfect! There are so many principles, techniques, and more which are NOT taught in animation schools. In fact, I NEVER most of these things that are in the video in ANY of the schools I PAID to go to.

THANK YOU, Mr. Williams for PRESERVING this knowledge and passing it on! 

I am SO MUCH more motivated in furthering my self studies in horse walk cycles for my film than I was yesterday. In fact, I would like to double down and further VOW that I will use my own knowledge in this process and publish it FOR FREE for you guys to FURTHER BREAK THIS STUFF DOWN.

If you would like to see the work that my daughter & I have started for the character designs for a simple animation short using Adobe's Animation program, I posted some to Instagram:



We are mostly going with my daughter's designs for the characters. We're basing the characters on annoying experiences in our recent life. 

On a side note, I also got some promotions on a film I've been working on (The Holy Maple Tree). Usually I'm an Audio P.A. on the film, but I also set-up, and close-out the film sets. I also ended up in a role in the film over a month ago, and this weekend. But, I also got promoted as a Video Editor, but Also I am doing the television graphics for a key scene. I don't own the rights to the film, so I can't show all the graphics because of spoilers, but I CAN show some pieces that the Producer has already published publicly. 



I can show u guys this #flames #fire #animation from #AdobeAfterEffects but I can't show you the more developed final versions because it's spoilers for the #film. And I don't own the rights to that film, it's my very good friend's film. I'm also shooting tomorrow & Sunday again. I used this with #nesting technique which is basic to Adobe #AfterEffects. I painted everything by hand using my #WACOM in #AdobePhoshopCC and based my #digitalpainting on actual flame photography references. This is actually NOT intended to look realistic tho', but stylized, and exaggerated. I actually really like it tho', and could see myself using a similar technique in the future for #EffectsAnimation on traditional animation projects which I actually would want to look like art rather than too realistic. #cycleanimation #animator #graphics #computergraphics #motiongraphics
A post shared by Kandice Kathleen Zimbleman 任思麒 (@blackunigryphon) on

That was actually a lot of work to research, create from scratch, but I also did scenery graphics, motion graphics. Event the texts had to be researched, composed, and I had to create my own chrome gradient. As simple as that sounds it took hours to get it right, or days. Some details took HOURS to be satisfied with. Generally, the director wanted cheesy 90s graphics, but I often found a lot of 80s stuff that were similar to what we wanted. 

I'd reserved video games graphics, VHS graphics, old access TV graphics, old films, TV shows, and music videos. Lots of fun! 

I'm Still figuring it out, and it takes time to tweak with green screen and color keying. Still learning and figuring it all out. 



On a Final NOTE, my daughter & I will be down in Philadelphia for a WEEK starting on Monday. We're visiting my father, but probably will end up in New Jersey ALSO.

We're still running our Fundraiser on GOFundMe, so if you would like to help us out, we'd be super grateful!





Friday, June 16, 2017

Recent Qilin Character Design Sketches 002 UNICORNS

迎麒麟

Well, here were the recent character design sketches I did last week. They came up out of nowhere. I'm feeling much better about my sketching ability. It's still not at the level I would prefer, but you just gotta go through it to get to it!

I DID, however, reference 1 loosely from the late artist Ken Hultgren, whom was a lead artist whom worked on Bambi (Disney).

I still wanted, very much to stick with these designs/characters to be as simplified as possible... but, some of my artistic brain went a bit beyond it. I'm really working on trying to maintain the simplified feel. I suppose I don;t mind too much if it gets a bit Disney-ish, since they're the top standard for traditional animation, but trying to stay away from too many details like a comic book, or fine art. When doing poses like the ones I did, I wasn't sure yet how to think in simplified forms, and some of them went a bit anatomical. I have mixed feeling about that, because I don't want too much realism.

Anyways, it's a long process of development. I'm only in the pre production phase which means, lots or development, designing, practicing, experimenting, getting to know the characters, and so on. That also includes learning programs, timing, animation experimentation.

Many of THESE are the Dujiao Qilin or UNICORN Qilin.

I am also considering adding Chinese Dragons (called "Long") and other kinds of Chinese Unicorns, which are NOT Qilin.

獨角麒麟 Dujiao Qilin (Unicorns):




麒麟Typical Qilin:




NOTES:

 EYES & FACE:

It's important to note that altho' there are MANY MANY versions of Qilin for thousands of years, their heads are supposed to typically be more DRAGON LIKE. Dragons have their eyes set in the FRONT of their heads, with binocular vision like all typical predator skulls/heads.

Even tho' it's THE MOST common shape for dragons of all types by most artists (especially on the internet of whom I'm friends with countless)  we generally use a "basic horse shape head" however, we set the eyes NOT LIKE A HORSE. Horses are Herbivores (plant eaters) and have their eyes set on the sides of their heads to have wider vision, including behind themselves.

Altho' these are mythical creatures, it's important to understand biology & anatomy of live creatures, or even prehistoric ones, like dinosaurs.

The majority of my Qilin are equine or deer-like which is very common throughout most Chinese Dynasties. But, they also had bulky versions that were more oxen-like with bulky legs and very muscular, or even remind me of Western Draft Horses.



But, the EYES MUST be binocular DRAGON EYES. They MUST view FORWARD, and should be LARGE. Also, I've found that Chinese Dragons (Long) can often appear very human-like in their expressions even tho' they are also depicted as roaring like a beast. they are no common beast or brute, but were viewed in ancient times as "gods" or divine sprites/elementals. Qilin also.

Qilin & Dragons also have thick eyelashes, and distinct  brows with fluttery brows that appear to me like fishy-fins, or reptile spikes, but I've seen fluffy ones as well. It depends on the artist.

A Major reference for these comes from The Last Unicorn which were intentionally drawn with HUMAN EYES.

Mane & Hair:

I've decided to keep the beards & mustache (altho' I might lessen or delete them for females, but I haven't decided yet). So far, I generally view the one's I've been working on as MALE.

I am generally keeping the main to be more like that of a Horse. However, these beings are divine and heavenly (much like angels or fairies) so they defy gravity, because they're not fully of this world, and not entirely existing within the 3rd dimension. Their hair always flows upward, or even as tho' under water.

The tufts of hair are very typical of Chinese art (not sure which dynasties), especially on horses, but also on Dragons, Qilin, and other divine animal-like beings. Chinese "gods" ( "god" with a "little g" as there are many kinds of beings that can translate to English as "gods")  are benevolent, and these ones are specifically lucky, and life changing. The good fortune beings, sort of similar to Western fairy tales of the Fairy-Godmother whom grants wishes, or brings good fortune.

They are NOT the western equivalent of demons. The Eastern equivalent of "demons" can range from Yao Guai/Yao Gui, to Gui (ghosts) for even what are called "You" (sounds like "yo") which are basically the same thing. However, these beings are also not entirely evil, or can also be good. In the West you generally wouldn't think of demons or devils or sectors as good.

I have tufts of hair on the front legs, and the fetlocks. But, I'm deliberately keeping it super simplified, because I'm SO tempted to go more detailed, but that will screw up animation with too many details.

The tail is more Lion-like, but more like some artwork by Susan Dawe, yet simplified.


Fire:

One interesting thing about Qilin is they are often depicted with parts of their bodies on fire. I haven;t come up with a design for that yet, and for the moment I'm sticking to the hair tufts. Altho' that WOULD look, pretty good animated.


Teeth:

I haven't actually scanned any of the sketches I was making, but I was playing with the teeth. Qilin have Dragon heads, which means they have FANGS.

That MIGHT seem strange, but camels ALSO hang fangs. Also, oddly, not all camels have their eyes set on the side, but some have them set forward facing with binocular vision in their skulls.






Friday, June 2, 2017

Unicorns, Rainbows, And Stars!

I've been redoing my graphics for Tumblr, Facebook, and elsewhere.

It struck me to do RAINBOWS after I was reviewing a number of the sources I'd mentioned in my previous blogposts.

I I have almost NO RAINBOWS in my work. The only 1 I can think of was the Sekhmet one I did for a stupid rigged Furries/Anthro' contest, that I never won both times, and the winners were just the buddies of the person having the contest.

Anyways, these are VERY Care Bears & Die Lezten Einhorn (The Last Unicorn) inspired in the coloring styles. Anyways, it turns out the people LOVE RAINBOWS!

Here's actually BOTH of the Sekhmet Goddess Pieces:



Here's This Dujiao Qilin Piece Reworked


I also did a PURPLE version for DeviantART's PrideMonth thingy.


Here's the progression of a number of changes I made to this graphic. I wanted to stay more minimalistic, but I felt it needed a but of SOMETHING. I went with a cool colors vibe, and started adding a stars. Eventually, it became a rainbow.







Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Recent Qilin Character Design Sketches 001

I worked on these this month during times I was prevented from working on my animation projects at UMASS Boston.

I HATE wasting time, especially when there's things I'd rather be doing, and wishing them to be done well.

NOw that I've finally gotten these scanned, i can start to move onto the parts I really want to dive into.
But, you can't put the cart before the Qilin!
 Originally, I hadn;t planned on coloring any of these, since they're still semi-rough. But, I was reviewing some animated film references and I think I might color at least 1 of them, to see what I think about it.







Examples of Older Qilin Character Design Artwork 002


My original Qilin animation concept that I came up with several years back, was a part of my series "Eyewitness" (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) which usually involves the lead character, Lively, experiencing something extraordinary that's rather unbelievable. But, it started to somewhat rub my wrong or uncomfortable since Qilin (at the time especially) was a Chinese cultural icon since ancient times. Lively is a mixed ethnicity girl, but generally appears mostly Caucasian. But, it kinda wasn't really working for me.

So, I had to come up with a new character for that specific short story. I was living in China in 2004, and also in 2006, and I often came back to that character.

The character was named Xiao Moli (Lil' Jasmine), and due to a number of stories in the news at the time, I felt it was better to make a victim character, much like old Shirley Temple films, but a lot more realistic like The Color Purple. If you have watched any number of Chinese films from last century, it often involved the lead female character getting raped by the villain. Also, at the time, I used to listen to a lot of Podcasts, watched Oprah's talkshow, Montel Williams, and I used to be very New Age. I am also a rape victim myself.

So, Moli is a totally innocent young girl, whom found herself unwanted, and her caregiver died, leaving her homeless, and then raped, and becoming a broken person.

This would be the strong contrast to her stumbling upon a Qilin, whom blesses her with good fortune afterwards.




I actually had to scrap this story line altogether, because it's JUST TOO HEAVY to start off with. 

I am still rather proud of the original story, because I'd at 1 point even worked out how depict it without overtly doing it. Sometimes drama means you need tragedy. But, It's not going to happen in this this animated short. I want this new one to be less story driven, and more artistic, and more emphasis on making something that's beautiful, light hearted, and appealing to the eyes. Not something that's disturbing.

If you've even watched Fantasia, the animated shorts are less story driven than theme driven.


If you've ever watched the Greek Mythology inspired short in Fantasia, there's no real actual story or plot. It's more "A Day in The Lives of" and transitions from 1 group of characters to another, and is more musical based. the scenery its self is also a major emphasis because it's SO GORGEOUS that the setting is also like a character. You're in a beautiful work among beautiful beings.


Here's another example of a beautiful animated short. At the end of a Care Bear movie, there's this beautiful ending piece that is massive eye-candy!

It's SO GORGEOUS!

So, when I say I'm wanting to do something beautiful, and artistic, it's sort of like this.


There are also some Chinese animated films that are just so gorgeous!

Da Nao Tian Gong:

Da Nao Tian Gong is the Shanghai Animation Company's first major feature animated film in the 1960s. There were no animation schools in Communist China, so that fact that this was made is always mind-blowing to me!

I have watched this film so many times that I've lost count.





Nezha:






Altho' Nezha as some VERY heavy themes in it like child sacrifices and suicide, it's probably NOT for children outside of Asia due to cultural differences. My daughter, did however, grow up watching this in China, and so did my spouse.

However, this film is incredibly gorgeous, and the ending is a happy ending (unless you're a tyrant dragon god)

Hopefully, this might fully illustrate what I'm going for. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Examples of Older Qilin Character Design Artwork 001

I would like to run through my older Qilin character designs I came up with back in the GWB era. I also lived in China several times back then for long periods, spending a lot of time there and then coming back here to run seasonal art businesses in malls in which we sold custom made commissioned charcoal & pastel portraits and pop art, when there still was a Middle Class but on the decline.

I had to stop multiple times because of getting pregnant, living in China, the economic crisis, and lots of other things.

Basically,  in traditional cinematic or television character animation, the characters need to at least be somewhat simplified, because it's easier to draw, and focus on the motion, movement, emotion, and too many details slow it down. The more detailed your character design is the less likely it makes sense to really animate it, which doesn't look as good, because it's stiff. I honestly hated learning to animate using a "held cell" at AIPH because my original animation teacher at the Philadelphia UARTS was a graduate of CALARTS and taught the Disney standard style, even tho' Disney does actually use "held cells" in their feature animations they generally didn't. If you watch Japanese animation, AKA anime, their characters often have more details, but they are very choppy, stiff, and don't move very much. They tend to be more like a manga (comic book) that slightly moves and had audio. This is fine if you are producing more quantity over quality.

For my purposes, I need to have the Qilin still look like it has dragon scales, so I need to use simple old fashioned cartooning tricks to infer that it's covering in scales in whole sections of it's body. Some will be in the line art, and the rest will be in the clean-up work, especially the coloring.


As you can see, this Qilin has many many scales, lots of details. This is a NIGHTMARE to animate. It looks great as a still image, or for comics.

So, character designs need to be simplified, and stylized.

Here's a simple technique that tricks the human brain into thinking they are seeing a lot of details, when in fact, those details are merely inferred:

Close-up of my character "Lively" with a spirit dragon. See the textures that are inferred using simple colors and cots, highlights, and shading.

 With just a few lines, blots, or coloring the brain is told to see details that aren't actually even there. Also, keep in mind that THIS DRAGON is a WHITE DRAGON (with gold & silver inferred tones), and yet I have NOT USED ANY TRUE WHITE on it except it's teeth, and slightly on the highlight/reflection on the eye. I used almost NO TRUE RGB YELLOWS either.

Much of this technique is based on COLOR THEORY, but color theory in RGB (digital pixels) is different than working with inks (CMYK), or pigments in paints or pastels.




So, here's a number of my older rough designs for my original story:










I actually drew a lot of inspiration form the film "The Last Unicorn" and referenced it a number of times because I kept finding my detail-minded psyche constantly wanting to put in the details, and it was often tripping me up.


There are so many parts to the film that are stunningly gorgeous! Yet, they also use a number of tricks and techniques that infer details using color, shape, form, and color theory. In melds Western Art & Far Eastern Art. The background artwork is stunningly painted, but also this effect is achieved by the flow of the film moving from beautiful themes to dark and scary ones which heightens the contrasting vibe to each part to the viewer.

Another classic animated film that also blended Eastern & Western Art was Disney's Bambi which was the first animated film ever produced in America that employed a special Chinese artist, Tyrus Wong, to do the background artwork, and to influence the entire look and feel on the production.


I have more to write about on this topic, but I will end this entry here.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Examples of Newer and Older Animation Clips

Some more recent animation clips:

They're not all the greatest... I'm really picky. I want to do more, and better.

UMASS Boston 2017

2017 Boston Convention Center 

2016 UMASS Boston

UMASS Boston 2017


Some Older Animation clips:

Art Institute of Philadelphia 1999-2001

AIPH 2000

UARTS Philadelphia 1995-1998 Re-edited in 2001 at AIPH