Progress Journal 18T1.2

Week 2

This week I mainly tried to focus on completing the bulk of the remaining pre-production work remaining for our current pipeline project, and to get the foundation of the animatic due in the following week. Whilst I was preoccupied for most of the week, when awaiting lecturer feedback for the final strides of my pre-production work, I was able to squeeze in some personal work at the end on the weekend.

What have you made this week?

Rapid Production Project

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Final round 3 concepts for the Rapid Production Project. Although I liked both designs equally, the feedback generally gravitated towards the left design; as it had a clearer silhouette and simpler design. In addition, this design had more uniform primitives, with emphasis on cylindrical and spherical form, rather than its blocky counterpart, which felt like an uneven blend of the two.

The second image was a lineless experiment to get a preview of the potential style used in the final sequence. Unfortunately, I found that I preferred the lined version over the experiment. Lecturer suggestions advised that I could perhaps change the lines to a lighter or “opaque” lining method, as the black lineart was too “blocky” and “overbearing.”

Miscellaneous sketches & expressions to get more of a “feel” for the character before diving into the animatic work.



Final character turnaround.

For the final round of environment concepts, I combined two previous environment concepts, and saturated the palette with deep reds and browns.

Although this was my staple for successive pre-production items, namely the layout map, I ended up doing another revision of my environment under lecturer suggestion. The values were too similar and made certain shapes hard to define from a distance.

I briefly changed the aesthetic of the scene with the addition of sharper primitives, particularly evident in the rock formations and addition of more stalagmites along the bottom foreground.

Whilst the left colour suits my intention of a fantasy-esque environment, it lacks the atmosphere generated by the second image. Perhaps with the accompaniment of foreboding music, or just by simply adding the audio, I will be able to achieve the proposed mood. Currently awaiting lecturer feedback to determine which environment will be used for the final product.

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Self-explanatory: layout maps! These were based on the final environment concept at the time. May be revised in the future, but for now I’m content with leaving them as is, as the environment, aside from a few rocks and stalagmite/stalactites isn’t as complex as other people’s projects. The “final” environment concept has enough detail to be picture the majority of the layout, and its key features.

The layout maps were separated by shots, with the addition of a plain map detailing the assets / characters.

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Based on lecturer feedback received, the storyboard was revised to include a different action and third shot. Rather than limiting the view with a single front-on shot for the majority of the last action, on the recoil and recovery, the camera will cut to a three quarter full / long shot to showcase the full form of the subject.


In addition, the last action was potentially too “mature” for the monster character. Instead of a hands-on-hip motion, the monster will scratch himself, perhaps with the new addition of a sound effect (although this may remain a desirable depending on availability of the SFX described).


When compiling the last legs of my art bible, and revisiting the brief, I realised I had neglected to include the 10+ silhouettes desired for the round 1 concepts, which I had instead done a number of sketches for. To avoid any complications, I went back, basing the silhouette thumbnails based on the concept 1 sketches, and the evolutionary sketches used later in round 2. Several sketches along the bottom line where simply experiments with shapes, form and existing animal anatomy, and whilst interesting, did not really suit the narrative. Might use them in a later project or for some original work, as I particularly like the bottom-most left two, as well as the middle.

To begin work on the animatic, I set up the necessary file structure for Premiere and After Effect projects (as they do not directly import files, rather only references of where they are), and worked on the timing in the Premiere file, capturing stills of the storyboard to work as stand-ins for what will eventually be replaced with animatic / final footage.

I additionally began work on stand-in rigs for the animatic:

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Workshop: Rigging

Despite being chiefly focused on 2D rigging and animation for the current project, the workshop for basic 3D facial rigging seemed worthwhile enough to attend during Thursday’s class. Rather than focusing specifically on the CAT rig, as we had done in previous classes and assessments, we looked at creating a skeleton from scratch, modifying the bone geometry, structure, length, etc. with the Bone Tools interface.

Although the CAT rig is a good option for starting out, I found that it lacked the freedom of creating a rig from scratch and is bound by weight and other artificial limitations which incur a lot of time when having to edit manually. Even with the issue of having to free-form when creating the skeleton, it is a more viable option in the long run and can be applied to just about any model.

Before the skinning process, the bones of the rig were bound to several control objects, which are the staple of effectively controlling the rig. Applying control objects to the bones opens the gateway for manipulation of the model, etc. as well as the applications of constraints, several of which we applied during the duration of this workshop.

Most notably, limit constraints were applied to control the degree to which the position / orientation of the bone may be changed, as well as a “Look at” constraint, which bound the eye mesh to a control object. Whilst the mesh was parented to the body mesh, and moved in accordance with it, the assigned constraint meant that it moved in place to “face” the control object, serving as an easy method to change the direction of a model’s eyes.  It is important to note that, when using this constraint, you must enable “initial offset” to preserve the eye’s original position prior to the addition of the constraint.

Unfortunately, due to an abrupt fire alarm practice, the workshop was cut short and we were unable to fully delve into the rigging of the mouth.

Specialisation Progress

During this week I intended to start working on my specialisation research, in order to prepare for the report due at the end of the following week. I spent several hours cataloguing research, as well as drafting up a research document for further topics to explore, potential experimentation, and preliminary research to include in the specialisation initiation report.


For this project, I found that, in particular, my environment and composition knowledge was sorely lacking, and thought it would be viable to delve into those areas before approaching a 2D animation project. This specialisation project will be split into two themes: composition, perspective and environment art, followed by After Effects experimentation, and other methods of 2D animation. This project will hopefully culminate in a small 2D animated product demonstrating knowledge of After Effects functions, the foundations of 2D animation and detailed environment compositions, achieving optimum visual interest.

Personal Art



The above character is fairly new to my roster — and whilst I’m happy with their overall design, as seen here:


I find myself regularly revisiting smaller details, particularly their face shape, and other small details. I scrapped several sketches during the process, but believe that the second doodle will probably be their finalised design. The pointed nose / greasy-looking hair really helps to solidify the “trickster” look I was hoping to achieve.

Portrait of an original character, a mini-revamp. Mainly revised the structure of his face, colour palette and the shape of his horns. Experimented with colour overlays, as demonstrated by the two different versions.

What have you learned?

Viewed Resources

Workshop: Sub-division


  • Subdivision is applied to a model to either add detail, or to potentially “smooth it out” and achieve optimum topology in a high-poly method (Autodesk, 2018)
    • Although 3Ds Max offers three kinds of subdivision surfaces (OpenSubdiv modifier & HSDS modifier), the MeshSmooth modifier, or more commonly, Turbosmooth, are the most familiar and “easy” to work with. Turbosmooth
  • Skin modifier BELOW subdivision modifier. Saves time skinning, unwrapping, etc.
    • In order to attain sharp edges, add support loops near edges before applying TurboSmooth.
    • Triangles and poles have a strong tendency to cause “weird smoothing artefacts,” but can be hidden by minimising their effect; most often done so by making their surface flat (completely, if possible) or by including them in closed off / tight areas in the mesh. For organic, humanoid models, triangle polygons are commonly stashed away in the armpits, groin, joints or “anywhere with natural creases in the surface,” (Holden, 2011).

AUTODESK (2018) Subdivision Surfaces. Retrieved on 15 Feb. 18 from

Holden, D. (2011) Subdivision Modelling. Retrieved on 15 Feb. 18 from

Rigging Workshop functions


  • Animation –> Bone Tools
    • Skeleton: Create bones. Start from the bottom. Deselect
    • Bone edit mode. Zero out the bottom bone on the X axis.
  • Look at constraint. Click Enable initial offset




After Effects | Character Animating

Plaskow, R. (2013) How To Make a Cartoon | For Beginners – After Effects Tutorial | Ross Plaskow [Video]. Retrieved on 12 Feb. 18 from


When animating a character specific to After Effects, in order to rig the limbs and facial features effectively each separate asset needs to be specific to a single layer.

Using the .psd file format allows for easy transfer between Adobe Programs, and in this case, from Photoshop to After Effects. The file retains all layers and assorted effects.

When using this method, it is a good idea to create a separate .psd file for the mouths of the character. For ease of use, make sure it is to scale in relation to the main file. (Make a “mouth guide” layer just in case you need to scale the mouths).

  • Rotate the anchor point of each separate limb / etc. by pressing Y and dragging to a new area.
  • Parent all assorted layers to the body to avoid rotating, positioning, etc. each individual layer. Highlight layers and parent.
  • Alt + Right to shit keyframes and align them with ones on other layers.
  • “Easy Ease” F9
  • Anticipation movement.
  • Mouth stuff:
    • Put each mouth on its own frame so you can select whatever mouth you want by typing in the frame name.
    • Composition settings à x number of mouths = x number of frames
    • Highlight them all (alt + 1), then use the square bracket tool to make them one frame long individually.
    • Shift + Left then enter.
    • Enable time remapping (14:46)

Plaskow, R. (2013) How to Make a Cartoon | Character Animation – After Effects Tutorial [Basic Walk-cycle] [Video]. Retrieved on 12 Feb. 18 from

After Effects

Puppet Pin Tool

“The Puppet effect works by deforming part of an image according to the positions of pins that you place and move. These pins define what parts of the image should move, what parts should remain rigid, and what parts should be in front when parts overlap,” (Adobe, 2018).

Adobe (2018) Animating with Puppet Tools. Retrieved on 12 Feb. 18 from

Time-remapping (mentioned in this tutorial)

“Speeding up or slowing down an entire layer by the same factor throughout is known as time-stretching. When you time-stretch a layer, the audio and the original frames in the footage (and all keyframes that belong to the layer) are redistributed along the new duration,” (Adobe, 2018).

Adobe (2018) Time-stretching and time-remapping. Retrieved on 12 Feb. 18 from 

After Effects | 2.5D Camera/Layers

C.M. de la VEGA (2010) After Effects Tutorial – Create the 2.5D Effect [Video]. Retrieved on 17 Feb. 18 from


  • After Effects importing .psd file format: choose the composition option, merge layer styles into footage.
  • Make a copy of your psd layer in After Effects, name it “reference,” and the original a 3D layer, by activating the 3D switch. 
    (retrieved from )
  • P for position. Place it into Z depth, place it closer to the focal point of the camera. S for scale; and sale the layer to fit the same size as the composition. Repeat process with other layers as desire, pushing back or forward depending on the composition desirables.
  • New camera; 50 mm. New null object; named “Move Camera.” Parent the camera to the null object. P + Shift R to place key frames for the rotation and movement of the null object.
    • Make sure to apply “easy ease in.” Action path can be found at Animation menu, then by going to keyframe assistant. Make sure the key frames are selected before applying this function.
  • Blur a layer by heading to the Effects & Presets tab, search “fast blur,” put a value of 5 to blur a little bit of the background.

MrKlay (2014) Cartoon Animation Tutorial – Part 4: Make a Scene [Video]. Retrieved on 17 Feb. 18 from

  • Work with transparent .pngs when importing files into a scene if possible; as .psd files incur a larger file size.
  • Y to bring up and change the anchor point of a layer.



Rotoscoping 2D Animation from 3D Pre-Vis

Storytelling in Environment Composition

  • Adding in a hero element ( “an element in the painting that really sticks out and has a large focal attraction”) helps to add a storytelling component to a composition.
    • e.g. lines and subjects pointing into the painting and to important focal points helps to draw the eye of the viewer to a certain area, if not already accomplished by the composition, enhancing (Feghali, 2018).


Blender Guru (2014) Understanding Composition [Video]. Retrieved on 15 Feb. 18 from


  • Broken down into a hierarchy of needs: Focal element, structure, balance.


  • Focal point:
    • Something that the viewer is drawn to immediately; the focus of the entire composition. A strong focal point helps to “ground” the viewer.
    • Altered by contrast, saturation, scale, lens focus, motion blurring, lighting, etc.
  • Structure:
    • The organisation of elements, usually based on a rule
    • e.g. rule of thirds, golden ratio, pyramid, symmetry, full frame
  • Balance:
    • Ensuring the visual weight of the image is evenly distributed
    • Visual weight includes the size, contrasting elements, saturation and faces of figures of the image, usually dictated by a horizontal / vertical line. Must be weighted evenly on either side.

PerspectivePaolo Uccello, Chalice,1450

Paolo Uccello 
Perspective Study of a Chalice

circa. 1450
Pen on Paper, 29 x 24 .5 cm,
Uffizzi Gallery, Florence

  • “The Italian master, Paolo Uccello, epitomizes the rebirth of pictorial space that took place during the Renaissance through the use of perspective illusionism. Uccello and his fellows incorporated the math of perspective vanishing points to render the third dimension into their art works.”

Retrieved from on 17 Feb. 2018.\

Catalogued Resources


Schleifer, J. (2011) Animator Friendly Rigging: Creating rigs that don’t bite. Retrieved from 

  1. Feghali, W. (2017) The Keys to Great Compositions in Digital Painting: Understanding & Improving Your Compositions. Retrieved on 13 Feb. 18 from
  2. Izzo, R. (2018) Mastering Storytelling: With artwork by Disney artist Luca Pisanu. Retrieved on 13 Feb. 18 from
  3. Feghali, W. (2018) Painting Environment Concepts in No Time. Retrieved on 13 Feb. 18 from
  4. Feghali, W. (2016) A Tip On Painting Massive Environments. Retrieved from
  5. Greyson, E. (2017) PAINTING Studio Ghibli Backgrounds – Digital Painting Process [Video]. Retrieved on 10 February 2018 from
  6. Feghali, W. (2016) Digital Painting Basics – Introduction to Speed Painting – Concept Art Tutorial [Video]. Retrieved on 10 February 2018 from
  7. Ward, P. (2002) Picture Composition. Taylor and Francis. Retrieved via
  8. Glebas, F. (2013) The Animator’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Animation. CRC Press. Retrieved via
Toggl Report


Obstance Course: Project Initiation / Research

Chosen character: Bugs Bunny


Evolution of BUGS BUNNY (1940-1990). Retrieved from

Early era Bugs Bunny was delineated by the cartoon styles of the 30’s and 40’s age, reminiscent of the walk cycles of the then-defining Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released in the late 30’s (1937). Barrier writes, “His Disney pedigree was evident in his contour, an awkward merger of the lean and streamlined Max Hare of The Tortoise and the Hare and the round, soft bunnies that Thorson had drawn for Little Hiawatha,” (2003, pg. 361).


With the release of A Wild Hare in the July of 1940, the iconic style and movement of Bugs Bunny finally solidified as the precursor for the modern version seen in revamped versions of the Looney Toons franchise.


Porky’s Hare Hunt (1938) is noted as one of the first iterations of Bugs Bunny, then-nameless. Whilst the rabbit in this film is “a rural buffoon: very loud and oppressively zany…He is somewhat magical, as if he were a magician’s white rabbit: he pulls himself out of a hat…” (Barrier, M., 2003, pg. 359), he evolves into a much cooler, graceful and controlled character, other “far more insinuating,” (pg. 360), “stand[ing] more nearly straight and is sleeker and trimmer,” (pg. 361).

His upright saunter, run and walk is a stark contrast from the swagger present in his older iterations. His running cycle mimics the following walk cycle demo; although with variants to his arm position depending on the cinematic and situation Bugs is presented in.


Retrieved from

In most examples, his arms remain upright and outstretched when being pursued by an adversary. It could be possible to incorporate this into the project; to give Bugs a “reason” to be running / escaping through the obstacle course.

Wells (2013) writes of several iconic Bugs Bunny gestures:

Bugs Bunny’s laconic sense of superiority is established by his carrot-munching proposition, ‘What’s up, doc?’, or his call-to-arms when his current adversary temporarily gains the upper hand and he confirms: ‘You realise, this means war!’ (pg. 39)

It could also be possible to incorporate Bugs’ tendency to “break the fourth wall,” as many of his sequences play “directly to the audience, wink[ing] at them, and call[ing] them to witness his embarrassment, but does not shrink from asides,” (Bazin, A. as cited in Furniss, M., 2009, pg. 67).

Other potential movements aside from typical running and walk cycles can include:

  • Jumping into a rabbit hole
  • Saunter / slow dance cycle
  • Sliding (particularly down the “ramp” area of the obstacle course
  • Idle motions (e.g. classic chewing of the carrot).


Obstacle Course A:

ooga booga.png

ooga booga2ooga booga3


ooga booga4

Obstacle Course B:




References used:

Barrier, M. (2003) Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Wells, P. (2013) Understanding Animation (Second Ed.). Routledge. Retrieved from

Furniss, M. (2009) Animation: Art and Industry. Indiana University Press. Retrieved from

Other resources / videos:
Model Sheets / Stylistic guide:



  • Improved idle animations (e.g. thinking, tapping feet, chewing on carrot)
  • Delay more before acting
  • Exaggerate animation (particularly jumping sequence at the end)

Will most likely be using obstacle course A for the final animation.

Pirate’s Gold: Rigging, Scene Assembly, Animation


In order to create an opening / close animation for the chest, I had to bind the pieces to a “digital skeleton,” creating a hierachy of joints that, although simple, meant that I could pose the model into a desired position. With only two different ‘limbs,’ the chest was relatively easy to rig. After adjusting the pivot point of the lid to the bottom of the hinge…

nice.png…allowing for the opening of the chest…nice.png…I went on to link the bottom of the chest onto a “control” object (basically allowing me control of the entire chest) and then the base to the lid. The result is a hierachy of joints in which the control object is the parent or “root joint,” with the remainder linked to it. In essence, you move the control object and everything else follows, whilst if you moved the lid, it would not have any influence on the other joints. That’s the rigging done!

Scene Assembly

The scene assembly was fairly straight forward, although in the beginning I made the mistake of trying to import multiple objects at once and ended up with a weird merged document that I could not decipher. After ditching the “shortcut” method, I imported the assets individually and set to work assembling the scene.

Although we are only given a few types of models, I chose to vary their size, angle and direction to create more visual interest. Even if they’re only copies of the same models, the variation means the scene isn’t as bland as it could be.


I mainly wanted to centre the vegetation around the chest board, as it’s the focal point of interest and is likely to be where the camera is going to circle around.


The view I had for this project was a quirky, comedic animation so I tried to reflect that in the animation by adding lots of squash and stretch elements. Having certain elements drop from the sky and onto the board, namely the palm trees, allowed me to showcase the tool to its full effect. Because the trees varied in size and timing, I tried to vary the point of impact and the ripple effect, giving each tree its own individual animation, even if it was a little time consuming!


Still of the palm trees entering the scene, with accompanying squash and stretch motions.

Rather than having the crabs drop from the sky and getting squashed (I know I’m not exactly going for realism, but it didn’t exactly feel right), I had them appear from below the scene and bounce back down. If I had left the grass surrounding the board alone before it actually opened, it would have probably looked a little odd, so I made the decision to have them “pop” up after the board opened in a similar fashion to the crabs.


Progression of the crab entering animation, which was applied to all three crabs in the scene, though at varying intervals.

I additionally added some idle movements to the vegetation both on and around the perimetre of the board. I wanted to create an effect similar to “swaying” in the wind for the grass and palms – mainly to avoid a static-looking animation once they had finished entering the scene.

To add a comedic element like I mentioned before, I decided to have objects “squash” some of the idling crabs in the background whilst the camera focuses on one in particular (largely inspired by the entrance animations). The first crab, circling around the board, is first squashed by the chest, whilst the second is launched off the board by a starfish appearing beneath it, and the final one to be squashed by a shell after getting excited over the coins pouring out of the chest.


R.I.P. little buddies…

When assembling the coin particle I ran into a ridiculous amount of problems when I was trying to edit it at home. Coins would only appear for a select few frames, wouldn’t appear at all, wouldn’t register as coins, but rather as “crosses,” would appear as multiple events in the particle viewer to the point where it confused me… (detailed below in screenshots) …just to name a few of the errors I ran into.


As I was becoming progressively more hindered by time constraints, my tweaking of the particle system (including redownloading the .zip file, restarting the program multiple times, reissuing the shape instance in the particle viewer, reordering the setting in the particle viewer, deleting the old files and bringing in new copies, messing around with the quantity multiplier – both the viewport and render settings, double-checking the timeline to make sure I wasn’t mistiming it, moving the position of the deflector, and double checking just about every other setting you could think of) I sent a .zip file to one of the lecturers containing all the assets and my scene. To my surprise, it worked perfectly on his device. With little time to waste, I assumed the problem was with my own laptop and just uploaded the .zip file to Google Drive to render at the university the next day.

Although I wasn’t terribly ambitious about the animations and didn’t see a progressive narrative (besides a crab ignoring his friends and getting excited over coins), I feel that it was a good introduction into animating in 3Ds Max.

Creative Media Curation

Platforms like PinterestYouTube and Spotify are crucial for appreciating, developing and honing my creative interests. My personal Pinterest account, having been used for over a year, is one of the best ways to collate inspirations and curate ideas for personal and academic projects.

Anyone with a Bachelor of Animation is bound to have a place to throw animation-related inspiration, and I am no exception. Whilst this board covers the basics (mouth movements, walk cycles, etc.) my special interest in the Avatar: The Last Airbender shows, with martial-arts-inspired dances derived from the styles on the show, to actual bending sequences used in the episodes. With one my main influences going into the animation industry, it’s no surprise it makes a feature here.

My “academic” account (never thought I’d use those two words in a sentence) is mainly used for developing class projects, for example, Thin Lines, a short-story concept about a disgruntled son given the chance to enact revenge on his father.

In terms of personal projects, mine range greatly from small length stories, isolated character ideas to fully-fledged universes with a planned graphic novella to accompany them.

Having a strong interest in body horror and symbolism associated with it, with inspirations drawn from the likes of Silent Hill, my monster inspiration board contains a plethora of grotesque, deformed creatures, easily influenced by fantasy and religion. I suppose it’s a bit of morbid fascination on my part.

Creating the backdrop in an original universe is just as important as the story itself. For, without the scene, is there even a world to begin with? My setting inspiration board, drawing on a range of different moods, from fantastical to dismal, stimulates ideas for my own personal projects. Whilst the pictures are not solely specific to any one project, they contribute already-existing story worlds and help develop new ones along the way. 

The personal projects I keep mentioning make an appearance here too. In my Bewitched verse, two races, derivative of the stereotypical angels and demons nuance, have boards that encompass real-life cultural influences (locations, dress, appearance) that have allowed me to flesh out their fantasy counterparts. Whilst the ‘seraphim’ and their culture are derived from imperial east Asian cultures and are set in a volcanic region, the inspiration behind ‘cherubim’ culture is drawn from the ancient Egyptian, Greek and middle Eastern eras, with a little bit of Christian symbolism on the side.

Specific original characters (OCs), such as Lamya, the seraph protagonist in Bewitched, also have their own boards. Exploring symbolism, appropriate songs and aesthetics within an individual context has not only help me develop her character arc, but her appearance and moral standpoint as well.

Other examples, from other original projects include: