ThalFolio - Artwork Diary by Haley Brunton - Morphing Object

Morphing Object

March 2018

In a locked off shot animate a small object of your own choosing, morphing from a chosen starting point three times to either another object, a character or an abstract shape, before morphing back into your chosen object in the original position. Each transition/morphing should be different and once transformed your character, object/abstract shape should animate for a few seconds before the next transition. When done correctly your animation should loop successfully.

All work produced, including the initial idea and concept will be included in the final assessment, however the most important element will be the overall quality of animation. This is specifically related to the timing and movement of the animation.

Our brief involved having an object morph into two more objects over the course of a 15-30 second looping clip. Although we were allowed to keep it abstract, I opted to base it on the demon species from my comic who can create physical forms from inanimate objects. To start off with, we had to choose and analyse a random object - I chose a scrunched up ball of paper which I also incorporated into the demon as a sort of cape or poncho.

Since I had never used a light box or line tester before, I practiced using a very short animation. This also helped me identify a couple of things to watch out for in the final animation - notably, his ears didn't rotate with the rest of the head. For this project I simplified my drawing style, reducing the demon's body to the poncho with hands and feet sicking out, making it easier to animate.
As I decided I'd be drawing a bird as one of the forms, I also looked at different bird flight cycles and how often they flapped their wings. I eventually went with a duck as their shape fits the bird I was drawing well, and they had two wings beat per second - allowing me to do a flap in 6 frames. If I had spent more time studying birds, I probably could have the flying more realistically, flying at a less consistent speed or flapping differently. The anatomy of the wing was also unexpectedly hard - I've drawn wings before but never in motion.

First off, I created a rough animation using sticky notes. The transformation involved the ball unrolling into the demon, then he climbed onto his staff to transform into a phoenix. After flapping a few times, he poofed back into a ball and fell to the floor.

I later made an animatic on the lightbox where I moved the object around to make full use of the space. Originally the pheonix poofed into a ball halfway through the cycle, but it ended too abruptly. I added the fifth object, the airplane, to help the animation to transform smoothly. Originally, the plane bumped into the side of the frame and crashed back on itself, I later changed this to do a loop them crash vertically.

The actual process of animation was the part I dreaded most at the start of the project. However, after I started sketching the animation I found I really enjoyed it. I broke the animation into several chunks and animated small parts at a time, checking them in the line tester and altering them where needed. Most started off with just the basic shapes of the head and body, with the poncho, tail and staff added in later. The poncho was hard to get right but helped considerably with showing the weight of the demon's motions.

As I done this, I sketched everything in blue pencil. I line tested the entire animation to make sure I was happy with it and all parts ran smoothly, and if not, I knew what to change. Some sequences were lengthened or changed, but luckily this stage was fast enough to do that it wasn't too heart-breaking to scrap parts.

I then proceeded to go through every frame with a pencil, this sharpened out the lines but still residual sketches in the rougher parts. For the slower sequences I traced over the previous frames on the light box, but for the most part my sketches were clean enough that I could do them with minimal light box use. I still wanted the animation to feel quite rough, so I didn't worry too much about making sure the lines were perfectly smooth and consistent.
Satisfied with the animation after the final line test, I scanned them into the computer individually and compiled them into a video. I created 3 final versions - the first was from the raw scans. I set the computer to go through every frame and adjust them, lightening the blue sketches and making them look a lot cleaner, although this also accentuated the small errors in the linework. Finally, I went through every frame and blocked in certain parts of the demon and shadows, editing a couple of the frames in the process. This really helped accentuate the character.

While I like the raw scans and think they have a nicer, sketchy quality to them, the final version looked a lot cleaner and finished, so this is the one I submitted as my final piece. Overall, the animation was about 17 seconds and, at 12 fps, comes to just under 200 individual frames - I am very happy with the animation and excited to do more in the future!
The final animation can be viewed below.