There are a whole host of ways you can create a piece of character animation. Below, we will compare and contrast four different Jumbla-produced character animations, explaining the differences in technique and subsequent style!
2D RIGGED ANIMATION
The above video is a 2D animated TV commercial we made for Industry SuperFunds. We started by drawing the characters in Illustrator using vectors, meaning the images can scale to any size without pixelation.
Next, we rigged the characters, which is the process of attaching a “skeleton” to the images. We then composited all the elements (including the backdrop) on After Effects and gave movement to (“animated”) the characters.
HAND DRAWN ANIMATION (RIGGED)
With Industry SuperFunds, the characters were illustrated in a flat, anatomical manner: all of the characters’ poses came during the animating (“adding movement”) stage. By contrast, with the Wilderness Society videos, almost everything was hand drawn using Photoshop. So, rather than giving shape to our characters during the animation stage, the characters were drawn “into” their pose.
The animation, done in After Effects, would then just tweak or alter that slightly (the characters would still need to be rigged). This means if we needed the character to then take on a different shape, we would have to draw them again. While this process is more time consuming, it lends itself to a style that’s rich in detail and unique in appearance.
Both the Industry SuperFunds and Wilderness Society videos effectively use “cutouts” which are then rigged and animated. One of the limitations, however, is that it’s hard to depict a character doing a more complex movement, such as “turning” or “pivoting”.
In the above example, for Scottish Water, we wanted to show moving characters from a side-on view. To do that, instead of creating cut-outs and then animating them (which wouldn’t look quite right), we employed the very time-consuming – but worthwhile – technique of frame-by-frame animation. The drawings for this were done in Flash, and all the elements were composited together on After Effects.
In some ways, this is reminiscent of the technique used in the early days of cartoons, where you would create each frame manually. Today, this is made slightly easier thanks to a software technique called onion-skinning. This basically gives you a semi-transparent image of your previous frame, so you can manipulate your new frame accordingly, without having to “re-draw” everything from scratch.
MIXED MEDIA: 2D AND 3D
Finally, this piece created for Pause Fest is a blend of everything! All of the liquid throughout the clip was created through hand-drawn frame-by-frame illustration (made in Photoshop). Other assets, such as the beating heart, lungs and brain were modelled in 3D (using Modo) before being rigged onto a 3-dimensional skeleton, then animated. Finally, the compositing – pulling the smorgasbord of scenes together – was done on After Effects.
These are just some examples of ways animation can give life to characters. Thankfully, at Jumbla, we don’t limit ourselves stylistically. We’re as diverse in our techniques as we are with our ideas and concepts! Get in touch to find out how we would recommend executing your project.