This week I have been exploring animation and the techniques and processes of animating pixel art. We started off by learning about the history of animation and then moved on to different practices with animation and creating our own sprite animations using Photoshop.
History of animation
This week we have been exploring animation and animating pixel art. We have been working on basic and advanced versions of punches, jumps and walk cycles but before we get into that let’s talk about the history of animation and where it comes from.
Animation has been around for 185 years. The first record of animation was the Phenakistoscope made by Joseph Plateau and his son’s. By looking through the slits it breaks up the movement stopping the images from becoming a blur and making run fluidly. After this, the Zoetrope was made in 1833 by William Horner. Like the Phenakistoscope you had to look through slits to see the images moving. This was then developed into the Praxinoscope made by Charles-Émile Reynaud. Unlike the Zoetrope the Praxinoscope used mirrors so you didn’t have to look through slits in the side.
Then in 1872, Eadweard Muybridge started using sequences of pictures he had taken of animals and people. This was the first insight into how the body really moved. Then in 1928, Walt Disney came along with Steamboat Willie which is a Cel animation that use Disney’s multiplane camera that uses multiple layers so they can change the foreground layers but leave the background the same.
From here we progressed to what is know as the golden age of animation where animation became part of popular culture. It was here that Disney and Warner Brothers started to develop more into the giants we see them today. In 1930 Warner Brothers released ‘merrie melodies’ series and seven years later Disney released snow white the first feature length animation to use hand drawn animation.
1960-1980 is the Animated TV era where people started to make animated shows for the growing TV ordinance. These shows include Yogi bear and The flintstones. The pink panther took the best-animated film in 1964 and Fritz the Cat was released the same year as the first X-rated animated film.
It was in 1984 that the first CGI (computer generated imagery) with The Adventures of Andre & Wally B which was the first fully CGI short film. Then in 1995 Toy story came out as the first fully CGI feature length film. And from here we went to incorporate animation and CGi into almost every movie, T.V show and game.
An explanation of processes
An explanation of the problems you were given, i.e. creating a series of animations in Photoshop using a character no more than eight pixels high
Animating Pixel art
To start off our work on animations I had to get an understanding how the body moves. To do this I had to act out the actions that we were doing. So for the walk cycle, I walked around and watched others.
The first animations we did was a basic punching animation. To start off with I set up my Photoshop document so that is was 32×32 pixels. Once this was set up I made my eight-pixel high sprite. Making the sprite look human in such a small space was a challenge as I didn’t want to expand him out because the proportions would look too weird even for me.
Continuing on from the creation of my sprite I made multiple copies and started to edit them so that they where different parts of the punch.
Frames for punch animation.
With my copies now done I set about setting up my animation tab. I first went into the windows tab and opened the animations tab. From there all I had to do was set each sprite to a frame so that it flowed in sequence. The end product was a fast but effective punching animation.
To slow this down I simply added more frames.
Punch Animation Slowed
I repeated this process for the basic jump and walk cycles we did. The only difference was that the jump and subsequently the walk were much harder than the punch.
Jumping animation and Frames
For the walk animation, I had to go a lot more in-depth on how the whole body moves rather than just the legs. As a result, I did not finish this animation fully but it does look like it is walking.
Walk cycle Frames and animation
Some of the problems that I faced whilst doing this project was the limited characters size and getting the right moments. I solved the movements by watching videos and watching others act them out so I got an idea of how the body moves when you do these actions. For the problem of the pixel limited I stuck to very basic shapes and characters using shading to give a more 3d look.
I also started to make more advanced versions of these animations adding different effects and moments to them. For the walk, I changed his look to a more robotic one and added an animated smoke cloud and eye.
I added some extra moments to the jump animation as a way of testing my skills.
Team logo and Production name.
We Have been designing our finalised logos and deciding on our final name and slogan. We worked as a team and decided after comparing all our designed to go with Danielle one since to looked both nice and simple.
After reconsidering our name we decided to stick with the current one of Dimensional Arts and started to think about different slogans to go with it. After considering the possibilities we decided the slogan of ‘A megaton of Media’ would be appropriate.
Social media banner
This project has helped me get a better understanding of the different challenges that I will eventually face when it comes to animation my actual sprites. For research, I partook in acting out the motions I was animating and watching what other were doing for it. By watching others punching, jumping and walking around I was able to see exactly what the body does whilst it completes these actions. I also watched different videos that slowed down the process. Admittedly I could have looked at different images and read some descriptions of the movements that might have made it slightly easier.
Now armed with this information I can plan how long it will take to deal with the animations for sprites and the background if I animate that as well.
I was using all the knowledge I have learned and my new pixel art related skills in Photoshop. Mainly I used my skill in digital drawing and colour to make my character more like a person rather than some weird blob.