Today I want to talk a little about the ways we cheat at drawing. ^__^

When you start drawing a characters you usually have “front” and “side” concept reference images. And when you need 3/4 view at some gradation it’s always a bit tricky part. And here’s Synfig to the rescue! No, it’s not a tracing time yet, but we can use Synfig’s tweening capabilities to extend our concept references. For example, this is how we get guides for Ivan’s head at particular angle.

Notice how your brain rebuilds the inbetween positions of the head basing the guide lines as references.

The next helpful trick is to use photos as references. Yes, sometimes to figure out the correct look of some elements at certain angles or positions we have to go with shots like you see below.

Hands position on the photo...
...turned into this.

And of course we cheat by using 3D models. Of course the easiest way would be to have 3D models for all characters and do all drawings on top of them. But there is a bad part about that. My experience shows that when you rely much on 3D models in drawing, the characters loose some flexibility or some kind of “creative sparkle”. And it’s not about “uncanny valley” only. Using model clarifies your image, it allows you to make the “right” image, according to “right” rules, “right” perspective, etc. But at the same time it puts your imagination to the limits and that’s bad. Because, you know, the hand-drawn animation takes much of its effect from the exaggeration and the most cool and exciting images come exactly when you breaking some rules. Understanding that is very important and that’s why we tend to use 3D models very carefully.

Currently we started to experiment with the soldier model. The funny thing happened with shot 35 – it’s the shot where the camera makes a long dolly out and all soldiers are thrown into the air. Initially we wanted to use soldier model as a base for drawing keyframes on top. But when we put the model into animation we found that the model looks very naturally as it is.

Considering that it will be masked with some vector elements, effects and dust we decided to use soldiers as pure 3D models in this shot. Of course that saved Nikolay a lot of efforts in the keyframes drawing.

Keyframes marked as to be done with 3D models

That’s everything I wanted to confess about our cheating. ^___^ As usual, you can see our progress for keyframes drawing on the image below. Don’t forget to check the gallery page to see the recent images of this week. We hope you like them. Stay tuned and have a great week!

Keyframes production sheet (08.04.2012)

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