Progress Journal 18T1.5

 Week 5


Rapid Production Project

For the theory side of this project, I finalized my Animation Planning with the addition of thumbnails and accumulation of some additional resources. Elaboration can be found here.



These will serve as the basis for my animation, etc. which will be revised over the next two weeks. Already I’ve noticed some additional movement that could be incorporated into my Shot 3 animation, and these have otherwise acted as a guide for how I’ll look at approaching the frame-by-frame animation at the end of the second shot.

Whilst going through and doing a review of my latest Rapid Production Project render, I found that there were certain areas of the sequence that were lacking in background noise, as the audio track provided does not include any ambience (or at least any noticeable ambience). To remedy this, I went searching for some royalty-free audio resources that I could add to my sequence to make it better-rounded and set the scene.

Premiumbeat (2016) 15 Free Ambient Background Noise Tracks. Retrieved from

Although the chosen track was actually “windy desert” I edited it with a low-pass to make it sound more akin to cave ambience / wind outside the cave. I may keep searching for alternate tracks if time allows, but for now, I’m happy with leaving it.

Looking at the background I had prepared for the third shot, I felt that it was a bit static and looked into adding some life to it with volumetric lighting and the like. The following video details some testing, experimenting  mainly with blend modes, the volumetric lighting and dust resources I had found, tinting, colour levels and blurring.

I used a variety of blend modes on the different overlays used in the following tests. It was mainly a combination of previous recommendations (detailed in preceding research notes) and some self-guided experimentation. The light leaks were modified using either overlay or screen blend modes, in addition to restriction their areas of spread with feathered masks. Sharper overlays, such as the dust particles were added using “lighten” and tint to modify the colours to match the scene, combined with opacity tweaks depending on how subtle a look I wanted to achieve.

For the lighter dust particles that were mainly used to “fill” the scene rather than dictate the light leaks / ambience, I used a “lighten” blending mode, which essentially turns black pixels transparent. In accordance with my concept images, I aimed to have the dust look like little “fireflies” or just fantasy-esque floating lights, rather than just dust caught by the light; and this effect is particularly evident in the second test.

I found the colours of the first test to be quite nice, but I lacked in conveying the atmosphere I wanted to achieve. Going back into the curve editor, I found that I had added a bit too much red in the RBG levels, and it ended up looking “cooler” than I wanted it to be. I found that adding more green (as seen in the last experiment) made it feel less inviting, which is what I aimed to achieve. In addition, I felt that it was a bit “empty” especially in comparison to the last experiment. Although I added two dust overlays, it felt empty in the darker areas of the composition, particularly seen in the left side of the background. This was achieved by adding a feathered mask to restrict it to one area. I had originally aimed for the dust / volumetric lighting to only be visible in the lighter areas of the composition, but it just ended up imbalanced and not cohesive enough for the final sequence.

Despite the second experiment having much less in the way of overlays, I liked the subtly of the “lights,” which served as a strong point of interest without detracting too much from the light source in the background. Another point of interest I enjoyed is the “pulsating” colour levels, which made the background light source look interesting in comparison to static levels. The main fault I drew from this test were the colour levels. Aside from being too dark overall for the character rig I had made previously, I also found it to be too warm for what I intended.  The contrast is nice, but I feel that I should lighten it with some volumetric lighting / light leaks if I chose to use this test as the basis for the final sequence (which, at this point, is unlikely).

The last test is probably the standard for what I want my final composition to look like / achieve. The sheer amount of overlays means that the character rig underneath them all will definitely look “tied” to the scene. Although I originally had reservations about the colour of the scene, when combined with volumetric lighting (using an overlay blend mode) I enjoyed the result. Aside from some issues with the light leaks (which I can restrict using a feathered mask or opacity keyframes) I’m satisfied and will likely use this composition as the basis for my composition. I will extend the composition length, add / lengthen keyframe duration, before adding my rigged character (with ease as it was animated in a separate composition).

Upon revision of the rig, I found that there were several distortion errors around the neck / shoulder area.


I’m still not entire sure what cause this, as I had modified the rig myself and avoided using the auto-rig (which had caused by distortion issues in the past).

Even after trouble-shooting for several hours, I found no discernible solution to the error, and ended up going back to a clean non-rigged version of the same composition, and made some edits. This does mean that I will have to rely on puppet pins to animate the limbs of this rig, but I will still be able to utilise Duik’s controller options for the rotation / movement of elements such as the tail, head, neck and body. I will have to rely on sight and key-framing of the puppet pins to ensure that they remain roughly the same length. On the bright side, I’m able to add some squash and stretch for the more exaggerated movements in the animation.

Premiumbeat (2017) 21 FREE 4k Fog Overlays for Video Editors and Motion Designers. Retrieved from

  • Creative license: free to use in personal and commercial projects, but restricted in redistribution / reselling. “By downloading, you agree not to resell or redistribute these free assets.”
  • Most effect when changing the layer style / blending mode of the footage layer to Screen, which displays the black values of the sequence as transparent.

I used a similar mask technique in the following, around the portion of the fog I wished to include in my rapid production project. The mask was feathered so the fall-off blended nicely into the background, and then I edited the colour correction using the Curves effect.

  • The overlay was colour-graded to match the background, and also key-framed to slightly change over the course of the shot.
  • In one of my specialisation projects, I used a tint colour effect to match it to the theme of the composition.

Most recent update of my Rapid Production Project. I’ll add in the volumetric lighting tests done in the above tests within the next week, in addition to refining the third shot animation, finishing some rigging tweaks and get onto animating the frame-by-frame animating needed to complete the third shot.


I used built-in plugins to create the following experiment, without the addition of any external features, snippets or resources (save the font used on the text). Expanding on the example, I used the same technique to add multiple fractal overlays and light sources so that the text shadows overlapped each other, etc. This experiment was not intended to be visually appealing, but rather a means of getting a grip on the techniques discussed & utilised in the aforementioned video.

The prominent topics I learned was the construction and implementation of a 3D scene in After Effects, using masks to bind light sources, the employment of said light sources, using fractal noise (and keyframing the evolution so it appears animated), feathering masks, adjustment layers, the radial fast blur effect and adding expressions to bind effect layers to light layers.

Accumulating some of the resources listed below (including the Video CoPilot action essentials 2) I did a quick experiment using a piece of art provided by a friend (Source).

I used a similar method to animate the fractal noise and bound it with a track matte to the red colour layer. In addition to the evolution animation / keyframing, I added a blend mode (shade) so that the red appeared from underneath. Alternatively, I could have used a Luma Matte so the lighter values were transferred into transparency. The volumetric fog layers were downloaded from a source listed in the resources section below, whilst the fire was taken from Action Essentials 2. I had a fun time incorporating some of these After Effects functions to bring some “life” into character art, and will probably look into integrating this into some of my future personal work.

Personal Art

This week I mainly used my down time to complete some personal character art rather than delving too deep into commissions. The following character is part of an original game with several others over the net, and following some design changes, I wished to really hone in on their current look, accompanying an outfit reference with an “official” profile shot.

Using a lace resource I had found a few weeks ago I added a blur filter and tucked it away in the background, hoping for it to act as more of a featurette than detracting too much from the face. I made use of my soft shading method again here using Paint Tool Sai, before going into Photoshop to mess with the colour levels until content. I’ve found that I have been switching between the two programs a lot more recently, relying on PS for post-processing elements such as blurring, text, colour levels / curve editing and filters. Hopefully in the future I will become more comfortably with the program to look into painting with it.


I did a variety of staple outfits (with some variations of the same one) in order to accommodate for the journey this character undertakes. Over the course of the story, they will travel from a Southern, humid continent (likely using a pirate ship or the like for passage) to a much dryer (albeit cooler) northern continent.  I am thinking of using the body reference as a basis for a character turnaround if I want to use this design in more serious original projects, but for now, they’re more of a fun design to bounce around and draw without any real connotations, as is the like with “unofficial” original stuff.

From left to right; sailor’s casual wear, commonly paired with an undershirt or swapped for a heavier jacket in colder climates; variant on the sailor’s casual wear, which is most commonly worn on the journey between continent; empress’ palace day gear, usually buttoned up during formal encounters and paired with jeweled accessories depending on the company; “adventuring” gear, used for hunting trips and ventures into the province, drab and plain as to not draw attention, but still sleek enough to be held to their high standards.


After Effects | Plugins / Scripts / Miscellaneous

Kramer, A. (2016) [Updated] New Workflow Plug-in: FX CONSOLE. Retrieved from 

  • A designated keyboard short-cut is binds the effects tool console; allowing you to access the Effects & Presets tab without leaving the composition.
    • Effect is quickly applied to whatever layer is selected
  • “Favorites” option; useful for regular use of effects / those with complex names, etc.
    • Bound to an individual keybinding that can be viewed once the FX Console is active
    • Can alternatively ‘blacklist’ functions based on the way you want to use After Effects.
  • Screenshot function; serves as a quicker way to render out screenshots rather than going through menus and having to export via the render queue.
    • Can additionally be copied to a keyboard and pasted instantly
    • Stores screenshots in a ‘gallery’
      • Hold shift + down arrow key to bring up thumbnails of specified sizes


In preparation for my specialisation project, I gathered several special effects packs and After Effects templates to experiment with once I get into the meaty parts of my After Effects experimentation. I plan to combine my own artwork (most likely environment compositions) with these effects. I have done some preliminary experimentation with 1-2 singular packs in my Rapid Production Project, and plan to expand to include other elements that aren’t restricted to just dust and lighting overlays.

One resource I found of note was a master collection of over 220 free assets, sourced from Shutterstock Video Editor Toolkit.

Maher, M. (2018) Video Editor Toolkit: 220+ Free Animations, Presets, Overlays, and More. Retrieved from

  • Contains the following:
    • Animations and Transitions
      • Icons (46)
      • Shapes (34)
      • Transitions (9)
    • Look-up Tables
      • .cube LUTs (52)
    • Overlays and Elements
      • Light Leaks (21)
      • Dust (2)
      • Volumetric Light (14)
      • Sparks (45)

Maher, M. (2018) Video Editor Toolkit: 220+ Free Animations, Presets, Overlays, and More. Retrieved from

  • Animations are already packaged and ready to add to compositions, etc.
  • Transitions can be applied using Track Matte Keys either in After Effects or Premiere (converting to Luma Alpha).
    • *Remove the track matte key at the end of the transition footage, or, alternatively, place a copy of the footage underneath it.

Greer, D. (2013) Free HD Stock Video: Smoke Effects. Retrieved from

  • 4K resolution of smoke stock video clips; created by photography director Mitch Martinez.
  • The black background in these resources were stripped by using layer effects. Personally, I used a lighten blending mode, and then applied a tint effect to change the colour of the smoke.
    • The tint effect automatically defaults to a black and white tint. In the event that I wanted some more ambient light, I would have changed the darkest value to accommodate for the light & corresponding tint I desired.
    • I used several elements of this pack in one of my specialisation experiments, adding a tint effect and lowering the opacity to fill in the background.

Gree, D. (2015) Free After Effects Template: Distortion Kit. Retrieved from

  • Contains a “template” to create digital distortion within an After Effects template. Mimics the look of an outdated television graphics / found footage film.
  • Filters include: Noise, colour boxes, flicker, tuning, turbulence, rolling distortion, pixel blending, rolling bars, chromatic aberration and colour TV pixels.
    • Effects can be customised within the scene options, using a modifiable slider.
    • Although I have yet to use this template in a specialisation experiment, I plan to hypothetically add several of these effects into a science-fiction-inspired composition that I will possibly draft in the coming weeks.

Nguyen, V. (2016) Free Light Leaks Pack: CREATIVEDOJO.NET. Retrieved from

  • Creative license: free to use in personal and commercial projects; but may not be redistributed in your own commercial/free products. Only available from the source linked.
    • Light leaks are pretty much a staple of any video composition. I used several of these resources (albeit subtly) in my rapid production project, in conjunction with other dust overlays.

Test examples:

  • Author Nguyen recommends playing around with blending modes (specifically add, screen and colour dodge) in combination with colour grading to increase visual appeal within compositions, e.g. colorizing the light leaks and combining them to form “longer / random” leaks (which is a technique I experimented with in RPP; combining opacity keyframes and multiple light-leak overlays to hopefully create a “random” and surreal lighting effect).

Vegasaur (2015) FREE Light Leaks & Film Burns for Beautiful Optical Effects. Retrieved from

  • Creative license: free to use in personal and commercial projects, but restricted in redistribution / reselling. Attribution not required.

Premiumbeat (2017) 15 FREE Camera Shake Presets for After Effects and Premiere Pro. Retrieved from

  • Creative license: free to use in personal and commercial projects, but restricted in redistribution / reselling. Attribution not required.
  • I could potentially use this effect on a science-fiction-inspired composition, or an ambient-horror-inspired one. I aim to include camera shake effects / Duik wiggle effects in order to add some “life” to an otherwise still scene.
  • Contains the following (all contain heavy, medium and light movement variants, bar the zoom camera, whose presets have been linked below):
    • 24mm Camera Shake Preset (4K and HD)
    • 35mm Camera Shake Preset (4K and HD)
    • 50mm Camera Shake Preset (4K and HD)
    • 85mm Camera Shake Preset (4K and HD)
    • Zoom Camera Shake Preset (4K and HD)
      • “Crazy” Zoom
      • Light Slam Zoom
      • Light Slow Zoom

Other resources:

Although the following resources do not correlate directly to any of my existing products, they could potentially be useful in future projects, potentially in commercial work, as most of them are royalty-free. Even those that do not allow for commercial use, I may utilise them in personal sequences in the future.

Maher, M. (2015) Freebie: Movie Marketing Pack. Retrieved from

  • Movie Trailer Rating tag
    • All organised under the layers tab.
    • Standard film ratings are already pre-edited and customised.

  • Movie Poster Template

Ward, C. (2015) Free Animated Icon Set for Video Editors. Retrieved

  • Pre-rendered footage; created in After Effects, most suited for use in that program.
  • Creative license: free to use in personal and commercial projects, but restricted in redistribution / reselling. Attribution not required.

After Effects | Lighting

Noel, J. (2016) After Effects Tutorial: Lighting Basics 101 & How to use Lights [Video]. Retrieved on 8 Mar. 18 from

  • Parallel Light
    • More “advanced” version of a spotlight.
    • Generally scene can be illuminated better when using this light than with a spotlight.
  • Spotlight
    • Typically the most common light used in lighting compositions.
    • “…will shoot light inside its cone, but sometimes will fall out to the edges.”
    • Fallout depends on the light settings. The specular (brightest point) will be most evident in the middle of its cone.
  • Point Light
    • “…will shoot light in every direction from the light source.”
  • Ambient Light
    • Will expose every 3D object evenly in the scene, akin to a ‘fill’ light.
    • Can act as a method to subtly change the colour of the entire scene.

Adobe (2018) Create a camera layer and change camera settings. Retrieved from

  • Light types are divided into the following:
    • Parallel lights emit directional light from an “infinitely distant source.” Can be likened to a distant star, such as the sun.
    • Spot lights are typically constrained by a cone, and can be likened to a flashlight / spotlight.
    • Point lights are less defined, unconstrained, omnidirectional. Can be likened to a bare light bulb.
    • Ambient lights have no direct source and casts no shadows. Serves well for filling up the entire scene as a fill light, adding to the overall brightness rather than serving as an actual light source.
  • Other settings of note:
    • Cone feather: correlates to the edge softness of a spotlight. NOTE: this is only applicable if the light is a spotlight.
    • Casts shadows: defines whether the layer can cast a shadow or not
      • Accepts shadows must be on for a layer to receive a shadow (which is the default option). Casts Shadows material option must be on for a layer to cast shadows (which is not a default option).
    • Shadow diffusion: softness of a shadow in correlation to its distance from the ‘shadowing’ layer. Only applicable if cast shadows is selected.

Premiumbeat (2017) Use Blend Modes to Layer Footage + 16 Free Overlays | [Video]. Retrieved from

After Effects | Cameras

Adobe (2018) Create a camera layer and change camera settings. Retrieved from

NOTE: Cameras will only affect 3D layers (or 2D layers with an effect with a “Comp Camera attribute.” This enables the active composition camera/lights etc. to simulate 3D effects).

  • Custom variables such as Focus Distance, Aperture, F-stop and blur level can be manipulated using the Depth of Field settings…used to mimic realistic cameras, etc.
    • Aperture: refers to the size of the lens opening, tied directly to the depth of field; e.g. increasing the aperture also increased the depth blur.
    • F-Stop: ratio of focal length to aperture; aperture changes to much this value when it is modified.

After Effects  | Volumetric Lighting & Dust

SonduckFilm (2017) After Effects Tutorial: Volumetric Light and Dust (No Plugins) [Video]. Retrieved from

  • New composition; acting as a placeholder so that it can be easily switched out later.
  • When using the provided resource pack, high contrast elements can become easily overlayed through the use of layer modes.
    • Using something like ‘hard light,’ as shown in the following example, will ‘bring out’ the lightest colours as a transparent element, whilst preserving the darkest hues. (The narrator noted that this is typically his favourite function, as it ‘blends’ with the underlying layer rather than being completely transparent over the top).
      • This layer effect “multiplies or screens the input colour channel value…The result is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the layer…” (Adobe, 2018).

Creating a ‘fog’:

  • A new solid is created, then a noise and grain effect (Fractal Noise) is applied. Increase contrast at your discretion.
  • Under the effects tab, set a keyframe for “evolution” at the beginning and end of the timeline; with the end keyframe set to ‘1x.’ Under the ‘transform’ tab, a keyframe is added for offset turbulence. The offset turbulence in this example is set to the right and downwards but can depend on your preferences / nature of the composition.
  • Opacity is lowered, and a blend mode is applied (most commonly screen or multiply depending on preference).

Creating an ‘introduction’ layer:

  • Layer >> New >> Adjustment layer.
  • Under the effects tab, you can apply whatever effect suits the composition, e.g. Gaussian blur. With the effect selected, click ‘U’ on the keyboard to bring up the keyframe.
    • (in this example, remember to click ‘Repeat edge pixels’ in the effects tab).

To add a camera ‘wiggle’:

  • Parent all the composition elements you want to move in accordance with the camera wiggle to a null object.
  • Inside the null object, Alt+Click the position expression in the bottom composition layer panel. Remove the text inside the expression box, replace it with “wiggle(.5,5)”

To correct colours whilst inside the composition (and prevent having to go and edit images outside After Effects) simply go to Effects > Colour Correction > Curves, to bring up the following:


NOTE: remember to turn on motion blurs on all your layers before rendering out the project!

TipTut (2017) Fire Sparks Particle Effect [No Plugins] | After Effects Tutorial [Video]. Retrieved from

  • New Solid. The effect “CC Particle World” is applied.

Premiumbeat (2017) Detonate: 40 FREE Explosion SFX and VFX Elements. Retrieved from

  • Compatible for just about every NLE; including but not limited to: Premiere Pro, FCPX, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve, etc.
    • 15 Free Explosion VFX: Canon Blasts, Fireballs, Groundblast, Oil Rig Fire, Large Plumes, Shockwave, Smoke
    • 25 Free Explosion SFX: Blasts, Bombs, Mine Explosions, Grenades

After Effects | Layer Styles

Adobe (2018) Blending modes and layer styles. Retrieved from

  • Blending modes are divided into eight sub-categories (mainly based on the similarities between their functions; and do not appear in any one Adobe program, and the following only act as a guide).
    • Normal: the layer is typically not affected by the colour of the layer beneath it unless the source layer opacity is under 100%.
      • Dissolve blending modes, however, may turn some of the pixels transparent depending on their colours.
      • Normal, Dissolve, and Dancing Dissolve
    • Subtractive: tend to darken the colours first and foremost (may also mix colours depending on the type selected).
      • Darken, Multiply, Colour Burn, Classic Colour Burn, Linear Burn, and Darker Colour
    • Additive: tend to lighten the colours (may also mix colours “much in the same way as mixing projected light,”).
      • Lighten, Screen, Colour Dodge, Classic Colour Dodge, Linear Dodge, and Lighter Colour
    • Complex: performance is dependent on the different operations applied, underlying colours, and also if the colours are lighter than 50% grey (?).
      • Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Linear Light, Vivid Light, Pin Light, and Hard Mix
    • Difference: creates colours based on the differences between the hues of the base layer and the layer being applied to create a new result.
      • Difference, Classic Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide
    • HSL: transfers the components of the HSL (hue, saturation and luminosity) from the base colour to the result colour.
      • Hue, Saturation, Colour, and Luminosity
    • Matte: as discussed before, these blending modes can be likened to a “stencil.” These convert the matte layer into a ‘stencil’ for whatever underlying layer it is applied to.
      • Stencil Alpha, Stencil Luma, Silhouette Alpha, and Silhouette Luma

Stencil (left) shows all layers below the stencil layer through the frame of the alpha channel of the stencil layer; silhouette (right) cuts a hole through all layers below the silhouette layer,” (Adobe, 2018).

  • Utility: serve “specialized utility functions.”
    • Alpha Add and Luminescent Premul

Character Rigging | DUIK

Lowery, O. (2015) After Effects Duik: Rigging & Animation Tools [Video tutorial]. Retrieved from

Auto-rig with bones

NOTE: Duik cannot create IK rigging straight from the Puppet Pin effect. Each pin is connected to a null object, or “bone.”

  • Bones should be renamed from the generated default names to correspond to the body parts they represent; ideally something that Duik can reference simply.
  • In the Auto-Rig panel, there are options that detail the ‘recommended’ naming conventions for the bones in your rig.
    • Prefixes / suffixes are also applicable using this method. Generally, as long as you have a clear mention of one of Duik’s keywords, it will recognise it.

  • Select all the bones; head to the Auto Rig tab > Full Character rig option. Select plantigrade / digitigrade / ungulate depending on the type of character rig.
  • Even if you have not named the bones accordingly, Duik will provide you with the option to go in and edit the hierarchy individually, but will obviously miss out on the time-saving auto-fill function. The naming should be completed prior.
    • “Remove all” should be the option used if the character is lacking a body part that the auto-rig provides.
    • Bones do not need to be parented at this stage. Duik will complete the parenting hierarchy automatically.

Bloop Animation (2013) After Effects: How To Build a Mouth Rig for Lip Syncing (2D Animation) [Video]. Retrieved from

  • Shortcut for trimming layers are the left and right brackets, which correspond to either direction.
    • Set timeline to show keyframes rather than seconds by clicking the time in the composition panel whilst holding “control.”


  • Each mouth should be one frame long. The entire composition needs to be shortened to the total amount of frames that correspond with each mouth (This can be achieved by dragging each mouth a frame forward on the timeline). It should only last for as long as the mouth shapes are on the timeline.
  • Once the composition has been trimmed in this manner, right click in the timeline tab and use the “trim composition to work area” option.
  • To crop the composition to solely fit the mouth area:
    • Use the “region of interest” option located at the bottom of the viewport.
    • Going into the Composition settings, select the “crop to region of interest.”
  • To enable time remapping: Layer > Time > Enable Time Remapping. (Tab can be found at the top of the window).
  • Null object is created and scaled to match the mouth composition size.
  • To add the slider, go into the Effects panel, type in “Slider Control” or, alternatively, go into the Effects tab on the top of the window > Expression Controls > Slider Control.
    • Basically generates an empty slider that doesn’t do anything by itself.
    • To link both properties, Alt + click on the Time Remap function, and drag the pick whip to the Slider control in the null object above.
    • Go into the original mouth composition, paste in the following expression:

a=thisComp.layer(“mouthCtrl”).effect(“Slider Control”)(“Slider”)


  • …and make sure that the “mouthCtrl” variable matches the name of the null object with the bound property.
  • Edit the slider range by right-clicking, selecting Edit Value, and then making sure the value corresponds to your total number of layers / mouths / elements / frames.
  • To make sure the slider doesn’t cycle through all the keyframes after, right click and select “Toggle Hold Keyframes.”


Torculas, D. (2017) (:60 Second Tutorial) Adobe Premiere Pro CC: Audio Muffle/Underwater Effect (Sam Kolder, ValDays) [Video]. Retrieved from

Catalogued Resources

School of Motion (2017) 5 Free After Effects Tools [Video]. Retrieved from

Noel, J. (2017) How to Create Audio Reaction Effects. Retrieved from

Ward, C. (2014) Free After Effects Preset: Ouroboros. Retrieved from

SonduckFilm (2017) Top 10 Text Presets in After Effects. Retrieved from

Toggl Report 


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: