This week was the Animation JAM, where we took the characters we made last week in the Character JAM and brought them to life using animation.
This is the final iteration of Eli’s animation I created this week. I decided to animate Eli’s movement cycle as it felt the most character-representative to animate. This animation loop shows a lot about Eli’s character and what kind of a person he is, for example the way his cigarette shows he is puffing a lot while he wheels himself along. Eli is an alcoholic and is out of shape, so I tried to represent this in the animation with the cigarette smoke and the way his torso moves as he wheels (showing he is overweight). Despite the addictions however, Eli is a determined Detective and is keen to do his job which is shown in the animation through his persistence to keep wheeling rapidly and not slow down or give in. The way he moves his arms is the most representative of this persistence, as they show his dedication to getting to work.
When I first started attempting to animate Eli, I struggled as I had not really done much animation before and didn’t really know where to begin. I decided to choose what to animate first (Eli’s movement cycle) and go from there.
I then did some rough sketches in order to decide what parts of Eli exactly to animate. The three I came up with were his arm movements, smoke trail from his cigarette and spoke movements of the wheelchair wheels. These three are the most representative of his character (his movement shows his personality – tired but determined, and the cigarette reinforces this).
I began with animating his arms. I felt that those were the most important aspect of the animation as they would be most representative of his character and how he moves. The first iteration didn’t look amazing, but I felt they got the point across and showed his arm movement in a way that represented his determination well. I started off with some storyboard-style sketching, before moving on to creating the animation digitally.
Once I had the arm movement down, I started moving the rest of his body with the arms to give a realistic wheeling-himself-along animation to Eli.
The next step was to fix up the body movement slightly (it doesn’t quite look right here) and add some smoke trails to Eli’s cigarette. I also researched wheelchair movement and propulsion and saw that there is a little push at the end of the wheeling to add momentum, as seen in this animation I found online here –
So I decided to add that push in a few more frames for the arm movement.
At this point I started to add the finishing touches to Eli’s animation. I gave him simple hands to replace the empty stumps he had before, and improved the cigarette smoke so that it didn’t look like he was breathing it back in during the back half of the animation. i also added several more frames to the final push of the wheels, to really give that sense of adding momentum right at the end of the arm movement.
I then added colour to the animation, and smoothed it out a bit more with some final frame additions. The final product is at the top of this post.
Overall I felt that even though the animation doesn’t look like much, it does get it’s point across. It says a lot about Eli’s character, that despite his addictions and loss of the use of his legs he is still determined and persistent, and ever passionate about his job. I also think that the animation looks very smooth and realistic, and is overall a good stab at animating considering I have only done animation once or twice before. It took a surprisingly long time to do, and for me it was also quite difficult. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this week it’s that animation takes a very long time even just to get a few frames.
This animation JAM taught me a fair amount about animating (drawing frames, different animation framerates and programs that I can use to make the process easier are a few things I learnt), and despite the long and arduous process I look forward to using animation again in future projects, as in the end I felt my animation worked quite well.