Edit: The video is complete and is now online

I appreciate it has been a while since my last post, and the time before that – there was a long delay too. I have not given up on the project, and have been working on a video for a week or so – the background track I had used was rather longer than expected, and rather than truncate it – I wanted to ensure that I had enough content for a full, animated video.
The video will use a few different looks, a few re-used motions rendered in different NPR (non-photographic rendering) styles of toon look.
Spoiler alert: There’s a lot of fluid simulations, which use computer-generated physics, and look impressive – but take so long to produce

I have spent whatever time I have available studying 2D animation like crazy, barely sleeping because I’ve been awake absorbing so much theory and knowledge about the process.

I’d like to say that I’ve not been taken off track with it, and that I’ve been fully focused on my game – the thought has always been in the back of my mind how to integrate them; how a show with the characters would work as a cartoon, and my thought was that I always wanted to make the cartoon dark: not as in low brightness or sombre, but with a dark storyline.

A change of tone

As much as I love sci-fi dystopia, and enjoy world-building a society that is deconditioned by war, destruction and fear: a near-future city ruled by corporations and higher powers, our city – I will be taking the site in a different, more uplifting direction for a while.

With the mysterious, invisible killer, Coronavirus being on everybodies minds and mouths at the moment – it’s clear that we are entering troubling times – where the entire country may be placed on lockdown because of this health crisis, and to plot and describe an environment of panic and peoples struggle to survive in an uncertain climate will not feel like science-fiction: It’ll be going on in our daily lives, and will be so raw that it’d hit too close to the bone, and would feel more truthful than the escapism of entertainment that it is intended for.

For the forseeable future, while I will still be working on the game – I will be posting a lot less about it; I feel it is my duty as a content creator to produce content that will invoke positive emotions, and I have made the design decision to make and post more inspiring creations of a more varied nature.

I want to make things that will brighten peoples day in any way possible: while before, my intention was to inform and intrigue: as long as there is a pandemic, and peoples spirits need raising – I believe that is where my skillset needs to be put to use.

I wish everybody the best of health, and to stay safe.

A rendering fluid simulation

2D in 3D [two days]

This is a rollover update, since there wasn’t one yesterday – but there’s enough content to today. It’s my last foray with 3D space for a couple of weeks while I hunker down and really get to grips with Grease Pencil, so that I’m able to produce quality animation: I’ll also need to figure out where in the universe to fit the story.

This is further experimentation in which I try to simulate 2D animation using a camera moving across the city in 3D space, and also one with sound if you watch the ending at half speed. I’ve applied the free Eeevee Comics Shader (v3.0, by Paul Caggegi to most (or some!) of the buildings to look like they are printed, like comics.

The motion is the same camera motion around the city as I used on one of the Skywatcher videos – if it looks familiar to you, except it looks a lot different now!

I wanted to capture depth but not make things look too busy; so the anonymous buildings I’ve not completed yet can blend into the background.

The frames

Let’s have a breakdown of them

With such a large scene as this, it’s difficult to control the lighting and the shadows of what the camera sees, so I’ve parented a light to the camera – so that whatever is in shot is well lit.
You can see the light falloff at the corners of the building.

I’ll finish this later!

Characters: Greenflame, Phil, Cora [2.5D animation]

I’ve taken a little bit of annual leave from the project for a few days – and being quite honest, it could have counted as sick leave too. I’m adapting to some new medication: and while it introduces itself to my body over time, it has had an effect on my habits – and I’ve been in more of an absorbing state of creativity: where I binge watch tutorials, and put my creativity on ‘receive’ rather than ‘transmit’.

See, lately I’ve found a new interest obsession that I’ve just wanted to splurge my education into, 2D animation! I’ve flirted with the idea in my mind for some time it because it’s a great way to tell stories, but never got around to it.
I’m hesitant to say it’s quicker than 3D because this is animation, if you’re doing it right – it’s a slow process no matter what your medium (waiting hours for a couple of seconds of animation to render, or spending hours drawing each frame so that they flow seamlessly from the last frame)

After seeing a video of how far along the Grease Pencil tool in Blender has come, I was blown away, and decided that I needed to learn to master it.

What is Grease Pencil?

Originally, a grease pencil was a wax pencil used for writing on glossy surfaces by traditional animators; and it conjurs to mind somebody sat at a table with a light underneath, sketching on a transparent sheet of cell drawing over the last frame.

In Blender, the grease pencil used to be use for making notes and scribbling around models, and was very limited.
Today, it’s a digital sculpting tool in a 3D software package and it has become so much more, it can (and is being used) to produce 2D animations that are manipulatable in 3D space: and each new version of Blender is bringing to the table phenomenal new features.

Source: blender.org

So, that’s it for the game?

Not at all!
In fact, I’m looking at ways to incorporate them, the cartoons will give depth to the backstory, in short, animated segments.
The cartoon will take place against the backdrop of the city, though it will look very different – cartoon, comic style.

Here’s a Freestyle render of the three main characters; these are our rogue time-travellers that the story centers around: and are the protagonists in the short story, Cora.

Here they are from a different angle, with a white background, and the versions I drew in front of them. It doesn’t matter that they look like zombies, because I’m only using them as reference for body form and perspective while I draw over them.

I drew over the top of the characters in the exact pose they’re in from the view, and then moved the reference image to the side, so that I can compare side-by-side while I add in the details.

I’ve used some glasses from BlendSwap (u:montedre) for Phil’s future visualisation predicting glasses, and headsup-display.
The original model is a pair of headphones and glasses in one, but I’ve given Cora the headphones.

This Freestyle pass collected too much unnecessary contours, so this time I’ve just used one brush to simplify things:

I’ve set a camera to spin around our three characters, and animated them with slightly involuntary movements, so I can get an idea of how they look when they move.

The MakeHuman models in a pose together.
You can see the Freestyle outline around Coras hands specifically.

I’m creating vectors around the outline of the frames
…and have my frames all lined up, so that I can just slide them along to start animating the next frame.
The drawings are 3D mesh that’s modifiable in 3D space
Add a bit of colour…