Creating the Animations

Animation 1

As I am not that experienced in creating 3D animations, for my first animation I decided to do a basic walk cycle as I had already created one previously in the module and knew the basics. I had already sketched out a quick walk cycle for my to reference, I also used another reference image found online to guide me with knowing which frames to keyframe.

fig 1 – altering the legs on my character to try and match the reference

I first focused on creating the leg movements, and when I played them back at first they looked very awkward, but through using the graph editor, I managed to make them look much better. I made sure to move the keyframes on the graph editor so that the lines weren’t as harsh and were more curved (fig 2). I was also able to sort out some of the rotations of the feet on here, as some of them didn’t seem to flow that well at first too. 

fig 2 – Here I am using the graph editor to help make the motions of the legs look more natural

I then sorted out the movement of the arms, remembering that the arms move in the opposite directions of the legs. These were much more straightforward to do than the legs, as I only really needed to make three keyframes for them and then they didn’t need much editing at all in the graph editor either.

Once I was happy enough with the movement of her body, I then wanted to add more life into her face and I decided to use the eye controllers and blend shapes that I had added to my rig to help me with this. First, I decided to make her blink once in the animation to give it a more realistic look. I went into the shape editor for this and after selecting the frame where I wanted her to blink, I key-framed the blink. I then went to each frame either side of the blink and made sure to do those frames with her eyes open again and then played it back, but I then realised that the blink was way too fast so I changed the two ‘open eyed’ frames either side of the blink frame to being three frames before and after instead and this seemed to look more natural. I then used the eye controller to make her eyeballs move around a bit throughout the animation, and after a few attempts at this, I managed to get her eyes moving slightly, almost as if she was looking around as she is walking. 

Finally, I decided to improve on the look of her environment and I created a starry flooring pattern  (fig 3) illustrated using Procreate, and then added this to the flooring which was created out of a simple poly cube which I had assigned a blinn material to which made it a good reflective surface, I was hoping that this flooring would give it a magical sort of appearance, which would emphasise the fact that my character, Lola is a witch. I also liked how Lola was reflected into the floor. 

 

fig 3 – my illustration of a starry sky which I used as the flooring in my animation

Animation 2

I decided to create an idle cycle for my next animation. I decided to keep it very simple, like how  most idle cycles often are and decided to just have my character swaying slightly and moving her head around. I feel that this animation was fairly easy to create, firstly I used the hip controller to move her hips more to the side, I set this position as the first and last key frames. On the middle key frame, I then moved the hips to the opposite side. I then positioned the arms how I wanted them using the wrist controllers. These were also very simple, and just positioned at her side. 

Next, I wanted to add more movement to her head, I decided to have her head swaying slightly too along with the movement of her body. Fig 4 shows me altering the rotation of her head using the head controller. As there wasn’t really that much movement involved in this animation, I didn’t really have to alter much at all in the graph editor. 

fig 4 – rotating the head so that it would move with her body movements 

Similar to my first animation, I also decided to have her blink. I went into the shape editor (fig 5) and selected which frame I wanted this to be. I then selected two frames that were about 3 frames either side of the blink and made sure by these frames, her eyes were back open again.

I did run into a small problem at first with the face blend shapes not working right – the whole of the face mesh would move into a different position when trying to do the blink. I think that this was because I used my original face blend where my character was in the t-pose and I think it may have been due to the freeze transformations. To sort this problem, I created a new face blend in her new position and this seemed to work fine. 

fig 5 – creating the blink using my face blends and shape editor

Animation 3

For my final animation, I decided to try and do more of an action cycle and wanted to incorporate an object in it too and to make it more relevant to my character, I decided to use a broomstick. 

As she was still going to be stood in one spot, I made sure to make her movements different to my idle cycle. I incorporated more rotations in this one (fig 6) and first did the key frames for this movement. At first, I only did my animation as 25 frames but after doing the body key frames I played the animation through and it seemed way too fast so I altered the amount of frames to 50 instead and moved the key frames and this looked much more natural. I then altered her head movements more to fit in with her body movement by changing the rotation on the neck controller. 

fig 6 – key framing the rotations of her hip controls 

Next, I did the movements for her eyes as I wanted the animation to look more natural. I moved her eyeballs in the animation slightly to match with the movements and rotations of her head. I also incorporated a blink to the animation using blend shapes, as I had done this previously in my other two animations as I felt that the blink was a really effective way to make the animation seem more realistic. 

I then brought in my broom which was quite easy to animate. I tried to make it seem as if her eyes were controlling the movement of the broom, using her witches magic. Fig 7 shows me checking the graph editor, this didn’t need much altering but I did make the shape more curved so the motion of the broom would look more natural. After that, I animated her witches hat by positioning it back on her head and key framing it at certain rotations to match with the movement of her head. 

fig 7 – altering the graph editor for the broom

Next, I animated her arms – I kept these simple though as I wanted the main focus to be on her eyes and the broom. After animating the arms, I played the animation through and then realised that the frames where I had done the blend shape for the blink also would move her arms back into a t-pose position. I realised that this was because my character mesh includes her whole body, and I had done the blend shape with her arms still in the t-pose. To sort out this problem, I just re-did the blend shape and key framed it again. 

Finally, to add to the magical atmosphere of this animation, and to make it seem like my character was in a magical witch land, I decided to add some animated stars in the background. To make them look as if they were twinkling, I key framed them at regular intervals throughout the animation and then just rotated them all slightly (fig 8) and added these keyframes in too. 

fig 8 – keyframing the rotation of the stars

References:

(Image Reference used for the walk cycle keyframes) School of Motion (n.d.) Walk cycle inspiration [Photograph]. Available online: https://www.schoolofmotion.com/blog/walk-cycle-inspiration [Accessed 06/04/21].